Creation 37(2):12–15, April 2015
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A dangerous view
Lying flat on my stomach so as not to be blown over the clifftop at ‘Whaler’s Way’ in South Australia, I inched my way closer to the edge to look down at the view. It was breathtaking—foaming surf crashing into the rocks far below. But then my father’s stern voice interrupted my reverie. (I was in my early teens at the time.) “David! Come back from the edge now!”
Though I recognized the non-negotiability of his tone, I remonstrated: “Why? I’m being careful.”
He said that the cliff could collapse “at any moment”. I reluctantly obeyed, despite being super-skeptical that this ‘eons-old’ solid rock would ever succumb to my puny weight. However, today I’m very grateful for my father’s warning. I now recognize that forty years ago I had a very dangerous view of geology—a view predicated on the utterly fallacious idea that rocks are millions of years old.
Plunge-prone perilous precipices
Spectacular cliffs dominate long stretches of Australia’s coastline. As a youngster, my all-time favorite trip on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road was the famous London Bridge, a double-arched natural ‘bridge’ jutting spectacularly into the sea, named for its resemblance to its famous namesake.
It was fun to walk out to the end (along with hundreds of other tourists at peak holiday times), knowing that you were traversing the foaming surf below via two strong arches of natural rock.
But no-one can do that any more. It all came to a dramatic end at about 3:30 pm on 15 January 1990, when the arch closer to the mainland collapsed unexpectedly, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part—which was now of course an island.1
They were rescued by helicopter just as night fell, and thankfully no-one was hurt.
With the value of hindsight, it’s eerie to watch videos of people walking across the London Bridge in the 1970s and 80s, just as I had done.2 If only I, and they, had realized the danger! I now have a very different view of the world from what I had then. I now know that today’s spectacular cliff scenery isn’t millions or billions of years old, but dates only from the global Flood of Noah’s day, about 4,500 years ago. Viewing the landscape as being only thousands of years old gives one a very different vantage point— a much safer position on which to stand.
And a thousands-of-years-old perspective makes much more sense of the increasingly-frequently documented ‘unexpected collapses’ of geological features. The dramatic falling down of London Bridge is not the only rock slump to afflict the Great Ocean Road scenery just in my lifetime. In 2005, one of the ‘Twelve Apostles’ dramatically collapsed right in front of camera-toting tourists.3
And in 2009, ‘Island Arch’ became an arch no longer, but two islands instead.4 Later that same year, one of the limestone rock stacks known as ‘the three sisters’ also crashed down into the sea.5
When these events are reported, park rangers, tour guides and other quoted observers marvel at the incongruity of it all, yet nevertheless persist in using millions-of-years evolutionary terms, e.g.:
“One of the famous Twelve Apostles collapsed into a heap of rubble yesterday, destroying in seconds a landmark nature had taken 20 million years to create.”6
“You think these structures are going to last for a while and certainly not actually see one collapse in your lifetime.”7
“It’s pretty unbelievable … it won’t be the same sort of photo any more, but it is evolution.”7
Actually it’s not evolution but erosion, and it’s happening fast8—too fast for the uniformitarian millions-of-years paradigm9 but right in line with the Bible’s 4,500 years since the Flood. And it’s not just our surf-battered coastlines vanishing before our very eyes, but high-and-dry geological features, too.
Slumping scenery (see it before it disappears forever!)
As its name implies, Arches National Park in southeastern Utah, USA, is renowned for its many natural rock arches. Like the much-photographed Wall Arch for example. Alas, Wall Arch cannot be photographed any more, because some time during the night of 4th August 2008 it collapsed, its debris blocking and forcing the closure of the popular Devil’s Garden walking trail below.10
The opening beneath the Wall Arch span had been 21.6 metres (71 feet) wide and 10 metres (33 feet) high, making it the 12th in size among the over 2,000 arches in the park. The nearby Landscape Arch has a much greater span. Often described as being “longer than a football field”, its opening is 93.3 metres (306 ft) wide and the full span itself is 132.3 metres (434 ft) long—making it the world’s longest natural arch (see photo left).
However, the walking trail under the arch has been closed, as park authorities warn of rock falls from it, or even its total collapse. But how does that sit with oft-heard pronouncements that “Millions of years of erosion and weathering are responsible for the most beautiful natural wonders you could imagine.”11 The incongruity of it all is evident in the following transcript from an online videoclip of a travel documentary’s narration and park ranger interview comments:
“This land has a timeless eternal look. Park ranger Sharon Russell knows this place, and understands that looks can be deceiving. ‘Probably when people first come into this area and certainly I thought this when I first came, is that, “You know, it’s rock, it never changes.” The more [time] you spend around here, you start to see that the rock really has a story of its own. It’s really evolving.’ … Over eons, erosion carves soft sandstone into long thin slabs called fins. If the fin develops a large enough hole, you’ve got yourself an arch. … This fragile beauty called Landscape Arch, is one of the oldest. It’s longer than a football field, and in places, only 11 feet thick. In 1991, Sharon and a tour group watched one of the most dramatic events in the landscape’s five-million-year history. A 73-foot-long slab tearing loose. A visitor with a video camera was shooting at the time. ‘All of a sudden we heard this crack, it was just like lightning hit a tree right next to us. And knowing that lightning wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity, we turned around, and under the Arch was just … huge cloud of dust coming up.’ If you want to see this incredible formation, you might want to hurry. ‘We don’t know how long it’s going to be there, it could go tomorrow, or it could go in a hundred years.’”12
They’re right to suggest that if you want to see Arches National Park’s ‘celebrity rocks’, you’d better hurry, as just since 1970 at least 43 of its arches have collapsed.13 So much for the idea that this place has “a timeless, eternal look”!
Given the increasing availability and ownership of hand-held video devices in recent years, it’s hardly surprising that more and more tourist-recorded film clips of rockfalls-as-they-happen are being posted online for all to see. Hearing the voices of surprised tourists adds to the drama! E.g. there is an action-shot video of the crumbling Cliffs of Moher in Ireland,14 a dramatic falling-away of a section of the North Cliffs in Cornwall,15 and the frighteningly too-close-for-comfort footage from a seashore in France of the adjacent cliff crashing down as people on the beach run for their lives.16 Thankfully, in all these instances, no-one was hurt. But unfortunately that’s not always the case.
Collapsing cliffs, deadly dangerous
My father’s stern warning about cliff tops being unstable was horribly vindicated to me recently when just such a tragedy occurred in Australia. The unexpected death of a 23-year-old university student, French national Fabien Ardoin, in the Royal National Park near Sydney received international news coverage. He was with a group of friends enjoying the scenery near Wedding Cake Rock when the 40-metre-high sandstone cliff he was standing on suddenly “fell from under his feet”.17,18 He “is believed to have died instantly in the fall”, but it was many hours before emergency workers were able to reach, and retrieve, his body.
Actually, Mr Ardoin’s death is the latest in a long string of tragedies over the years, according to government authorities. For example, Geoscience Australia commendably warns the public that “Natural rock arches can collapse suddenly”, “Cliffs and overhangs drop rocks”, “Ledges let you down”, and points out instances in just the last four decades or so where a dozen people have died in Australian rock collapses.19 However, incongruously (as my own experience attests) Geoscience Australia also publishes extensively a long-age ‘history’ of the continent’s geology, saying e.g.,“The landforms of today are the result of prolonged, continuous processes of movement and erosion over millions of years”.20 The dissonance of such a claim against the reality of geological ‘icons’ disappearing right before our eyes (or tragically, from under our very feet) should be obvious to all.
In conclusion, evolution and its pre-requisite billions-of-years is not just a philosophy that hurts the church21 and is a menace to society22,23,24 (especially to the weak25,26,27 and the unborn28,29), but also for people simply enjoying the scenery while on holiday, is a downright dangerous view. When it comes to the creation/evolution issue, your view of the world—and the consequences thereof—really does depend on where you stand.
References and notes
- Patterson, M., London Bridge collapse survivor relives fateful day, standard.net.au, 24 August 2013. Return to text.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Flyn0O3dyjA. Return to text.
- Apostles lose one of their own, edition.cnn.com, 4 July 2005. Return to text.
- Great Ocean Road rock formation crashes into the sea, theage.com.au, 11 June 2009. Return to text.
- Rock crumble not an Apostle but a Sister, news.com.au, 28 September 2009. Return to text.
- Australian Dreaming: One of the twelve Apostles falls in Victoria, swhite.antville.org, 5 July 2005. Return to text.
- Walker, T., ‘12 Apostles’ shock, Creation 28(1):33, 2005; creation.com/12-apostles. Return to text.
- Walker, T., Vanishing coastlines—fast erosion means the world is young, Creation 29(2):19–21, 2007; creation.com/vanishing-coastlines. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Age of the earth—101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe, creation.com/age, 4 June 2009. Return to text.
- Wall Arch collapses, nps.gov, 8 August 2008. Return to text.
- Himiak, L., Utah’s Arches National Park—an overview, usparks.about.com, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- Utah’s Landscape Arch-1991.mp4, youtube.com/watch?v=4iSWGd3w1nw, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- Adventure lovers’ paradise: Arches National Park [47 pics], lovethesepics.com, 28 January 2012. Return to text.
- Cliffs of Moher collapse 17 September 2009, youtube.com/watch?v=Id3HFxs2A8w, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- North Cliffs failure—amazing cliff collapse caught on camera!, youtube.com/watch?v=ZVjr4mii3cE, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- Cliff collapse caught on video, youtube.com/watch?v=gvSe27Ht-NY, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- White, N. and Walker, I., French male model Fabien Ardoin plummets to death as cliff crumbles in Royal National Park, dailytelegraph.com.au, 9 June 2014. Return to text.
- Michael, S., Police say photo did not cause French cliff fall victim’s death as friends pay tribute to ‘ambitious, charming’ guy, dailymail.co.uk, 10 June 2014. Return to text.
- Geoscience Australia, Shore Safety brochure, ga.gov.au, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- Geoscience Australia, Australian landforms and their history, ga.gov.au, acc. 20 October 2014. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Why evolution hurts the church, creation.com/evolution-hurts-church, 26 October 2014. Return to text.
- Matthews, M., Tragic truth—Pastor Gino Geraci at Columbine and Ground Zero, Creation 25(3):10–15, 2003; creation.com/tragic-truth. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Inside the mind of a killer—The Finnish high school tragedy shows once again that ideas have consequences, creation.com/killer, 9 November 2007. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D. and Nunn, W., Sorry, atheists, but you’re wrong: The death of ‘Love your neighbour’, creation.com/king-hit, 5 June 2014. Return to text.
- Grigg, R., Eugenics … death of the defenceless: The legacy of Darwin’s cousin Galton, Creation 28(1):18–22, 2005; creation.com/eugenics. Return to text.
- Doolan, R., Euthanasia ‘out of control’ in Holland, Creation 15(1):17, 1992; creation.com/compulsory-euthanasia. Return to text.
- Target disabled, says Peter Singer, Creation 27(1):9, 2005; creation.com/focus-271. Return to text.
- Grigg, R., Ernst Haeckel—Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit, Creation 18(2):33–36, 1996; creation.com/haeckel. Return to text.
- Bates, G., Legalizing abortion: No-one is safe anymore—Compromise on ‘made in the image of God’ is taking us into Hitler’s gas chambers, creation.com/abortlegal, 5 September 2008. Return to text.
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