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Disagreements on the post-Flood boundary: a reason to doubt biblical creation?

Published: 8 May 2021 (GMT+10)
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The location of the Flood-post-Flood boundary in the rock record is a long-standing disagreement among creation researchers (figure 1). Some advocate for a low boundary at or near the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) horizon, which is associated with the ‘extinction of the dinosaurs’. Others place it much higher in the Cenozoic, even as high as the Neogene-Quaternary boundary. How should a layman handle a long-standing disagreement like this among creation researchers? Is this a cause for doubting biblical creation overall? Jonathan S. from Germany writes:

Dear CMI team,

First of all: thank you for your efforts and all the information you provide for free. I really enjoy your articles, and they have tremendously impacted my faith.

Recently, I started to dive into the question of the post-flood boundary. I think there is good geological evidence against the K/T-boundary (I have read every article by Oard, Clarey, and Walker on this topic). However, I am quite puzzled about different evidence regarding fossil-succession (see Ross (2012) or, more recently, Arment (2016,2020a,2020b)). I have read through your published exchanges and find that these problems are mostly ignored or belittled by doubting the fossil database’s overall precision (see Walker vs. Ross or Oard vs. Arment), which I find wanting.

I write to you because this topic turned out to be a real stumble-stone for me as both analyses seem very solid yet contradict each other.

Could you provide some ideas that might help reconcile these positions?

Best,

Jonathan

CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your email. I have tossed it around to some of the geological minds here because you’ve raised a very important issue.

Shaun Doylefig-1
Figure 1. Live options for the location of the Flood/post-Flood boundary relative to the geologic column.

The post-Flood boundary issue is an ongoing debate within the creation geology community, and it’s one that is not yet resolved. You raise an incredibly good point about datasets in tension with each other. On the one hand, there are many strong geological reasons to place the post-Flood boundary above the K-Pg horizon. The most important of which include: the sheer volume of Tejas megasequence sediments (they form 20–30% of all Phanerozoic sediments!),1 the fact that many of the thickest and most extensive coal beds are found in the Cenozoic,2 and the fact that much of the oceanic crust is Cenozoic in radiometric ‘age’ (so, did the continents still have hundreds to thousands of km yet to move at the end of the Flood, as a K-Pg post-Flood boundary would seem to imply?).3 I have not seen K-Pg post-Flood boundary advocates deal with this adequately in print.

But does this tell us precisely where the post-Flood boundary is? No. Clarey has suggested it’s at the Neogene-Quaternary boundary,4 but there are difficulties with that option. Arment’s recent work,5,6 as well as Ross’ arguments from a few years ago,7 show that there isn’t a nice line in the Cenozoic to draw between Flood and post-Flood fossils. They argue that this cannot simply be cast aside as ‘uniformitarian interpretation’. The fossil patterns are too systemic for that to work. Plus, Arment especially makes his case not simply from uniformitarian biostratigraphy, but also from baraminology and post-Flood biogeographical assumptions. And, as you’ve pointed out, the responses from Late Cenozoic post-Flood boundary advocates haven’t really addressed this issue well up till now. I agree with you on this (though I speak for myself on this, and don’t necessarily speak for all of CMI). I think Arment has made a powerful case against any idea that we can posit a distinct and globally synchronous ‘post-Flood boundary’ in ‘geologic column’ categories (e.g. saying that ‘the post-Flood boundary is at the Eocene-Miocene boundary’—or the Neogene-Quaternary boundary). Ross also suggested that the highest level we find a major discontinuity in the global fossil record from creatures alive today would be the most likely place for the post-Flood boundary.7 Since the K-Pg seems to fit that criterion, that seems a likely place for the post-Flood boundary.

But does that work? Does the work of Arment and Ross argue for a K-Pg post-Flood boundary? I think that moves too fast. To argue against a higher post-Flood boundary is not to argue for a lower one. Nor does it argue against one that varies with respect to geologic column classifications. Plus, the very same data presents a biostratigraphic problem for a K-Pg boundary: practically all fossils of recognizably extant mammals are confined to the Cenozoic, but if they are all post-Flood, where did all the fossils of mammals we recognize go? Did they all just get eroded away? Nor does it solve the geological difficulties with a K-Pg post-Flood boundary.

There is a third option we could consider: a ‘variable boundary’ view. Oard8 and Walker9 have suggested the boundary may be variable with respect to geologic column assignments (e.g. the post-Flood boundary may be in the ‘Miocene’ in one area and the ‘Pleistocene’ in another). (This can be somewhat confusing, since Oard has been perhaps the main proponent of a ‘Late Cenozoic’ post-Flood boundary. However, he has also made it clear that he doesn’t think there is likely to be a distinct and globally synchronous ‘post-Flood boundary’ in ‘geologic column’ categories.)

But this view has its challenges, too. First, is it an ad hoc saving device for a high post-Flood boundary? This doesn’t make much sense. It simply acknowledges that there are global features of the Cenozoic rock record that are difficult to explain as post-Flood. This is manifestly true. But unlike a uniformly high boundary, a variable boundary proposal allows for the local geology to speak most loudly on the question. But the biggest difficulty with this view is that it calls into question a lot of cross-linked geological work long-agers have done. If the latter is an option, then it would require a lot of work to uncover and fix.

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with good geological reason to doubt a K-Pg post-Flood boundary, good paleontological reason to doubt a globally synchronous post-Flood boundary that can be correlated with standard geologic column categories within the Cenozoic, and a lot of work to make the variable boundary proposal viable. It seems to me that this means we don’t have a good proposal, right now. Instead, I think we should look at the most fruitful option to explore at present. That I believe is the variable boundary proposal. We cannot simply assume that the geologic column categories that may work well for long distance correlation of things during the Flood will apply equally as well to a boundary. What if the post-Flood boundary isn’t a sharp disjunct, but is a gradual transition? Wouldn’t we expect local geology to provide the clearest clues on the specifics of a boundary case like the post-Flood boundary? As such, general chronological indicators may only ever provide a first approximation for the post-Flood boundary. We need then to be guided by local geology.

I’m not saying that the variable boundary view is correct, or even the most likely to be correct. I’m just saying that the questions revolving around the boundary make it the most open-ended and fruitful proposal for future research. Starting with stricter boundary views seems more likely to create confirmation bias, at present.

Interestingly, both sides of this debate have suggested that the location of the post-Flood boundary may differ from place to place. For instance, Snelling (who generally advocates for a post Flood boundary at or near the K-Pg boundary) has placed the post-Flood boundary in Israel during or at the top of the Oligocene.10 And it’s reflected in the theory behind defining the post-Flood boundary for both parties, as illustrated by Oard11 and Whitmore and Garner.12

So, if both parties are willing to move away from hard-and-fast boundaries that are tied to a single position on the geologic column globally, why is there still such a big debate? It has to do with the nature and extent of post-Flood catastrophism. Exactly how much is too much? Whitmore has made a case for the feasibility of extensive post-Flood catastrophism,13 but it hasn’t really convinced Late Cenozoic proponents.14 And, admittedly, I can understand why. Consider this statement from Whitmore on the global tectonics in a post-Flood world:

“If the Cenozoic is mostly post-Flood, there has been a significant amount of plate tectonic movement in post-Flood times (a good bit of the ocean floor is Cenozoic; Austin, et al., 1994). It also appears that many mountain ranges had significant amounts of uplift late in the Cenozoic (Ollier and Pain, 2000), although many had significant amounts of uplift prior to this too (like the Rockies and the Appalachians). Both continental movement and mountain uplift have great geomorphic implications. Plate position affects ocean currents which in turn affects ocean temperatures, weather patterns and climate. Mountain uplift of course can lead to many avenues of denudation.”13

This presumes his perspective and doesn’t give us any reason to think so much Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT) is geologically plausible in a post-Flood scenario. But this is all he says on CPT and the Cenozoic in this article. This is frustrating, because he does the work to show some level of plausibility on other fronts. But as far as I can see this is the biggest geophysical problem with extensive post-Flood catastrophism, especially since Whitmore accepts CPT.

From this, it’s probably plain that my sympathies rest with a tendency to place the post-Flood boundary higher in the Cenozoic rather than lower. But they are sympathies and tendencies; I’m open to revising them in the light of new and better data and research. There are simply too many tensions between datasets and too many unknowns at present to be sure one way or the other. So, more research needs to be done. And it needs to be done in an interdisciplinary way. This interdisciplinary approach, unfortunately, has not yet been done. The closest one finds to it is our forum on the Green River Formation back in 2006. However, this was in some respects more adversarial than collaborative, and both views have difficulties. Plus, neither author has changed their minds in the 15 years since, and both have other supporters for their views among creation geologists. Indeed, you should notice that this debate often follows disciplinary lines: the more people lean on palaeontology, the lower they’ll place the boundary; and the more they lean on the physical rock relationships and geophysics, the higher they tend to place the boundary.

All this to say: I’m about where you are. I’m undecided, and I’m not sure what the answer will be. I can’t go along with a strict K-Pg post-Flood boundary, but biostratigraphy provides difficulties for a single line high in the Cenozoic, too. And I say this after following this debate for 15 years, and I have edited most of the articles in Journal of Creation on this topic over that time.

But here’s the ‘rubber hits the road’ question: is this a cause for doubting biblical creation? Not at all. All broad frameworks have anomalies and difficult-to-handle datasets. After all, models are simplified representations of reality. Is it any wonder that reality is more complex than our theories often account for?

Consider theoretical physics, right now. Both quantum mechanics and general relativity are well grounded scientific theories, and yet we can’t combine the two into a single explanatory theory. Does this mean one or both of them need to be modified or abandoned? Yes. As they currently stand, they can’t both be true. That’s basic logic. But we don’t know which one is the problem. Or perhaps they’re both problematic. We just don’t know. Similarly, the current apparent conflict between geological and fossil datasets concerning the post-Flood boundary is only ‘as far as we know’, and we don’t really know all that much. We certainly don’t know enough to reliably mark the post-Flood boundary everywhere.

Plus, our warrant for believing in biblical creation doesn’t rest on resolving this debate. Rather, it rests on what the Bible says about creation and the history of nature, and we can trust that because Jesus did. If you trust in Jesus and the Bible he believed in, then you’re on solid ground for believing in biblical creation. Don’t let this debate sway you from that. But keep reading! And watch this space! Research often moves slower than apologetics appreciates, but the lesson there is to rest your apologetics on the firm foundation of the Living Word and his written Word rather than the theories of men (even men who believe in the Word). See Unsolved mysteries for more information on handling these sorts of issues.

Kind regards,
Shaun Doyle
Creation Ministries International

References and notes

  1. Clarey, T., Carved in Stone, Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, TX, p. 326, 2020. Return to text.
  2. Clarey, T.L., Floating forest hypothesis fails to explain later and larger coal beds, J. Creation 31(3):12–14, 2017. Return to text.
  3. Clarey, T.L., Local catastrophes or receding floodwater? Global geological data that refute a K-Pg (K-T) Flood/post-Flood boundary, CRSQ 54(2):100–120, 2017; p. 116. Return to text.
  4. Clarey, T.L. and Werner, D.J., Compelling evidence for an Upper Cenozoic Flood/post-Flood boundary: Paleogene and Neogene marine strata that completely surround Turkey, CRSQ 56(2):68–75, 2019. Return to text.
  5. Arment, C., To the Ark, and back again? Using the marsupial fossil record to investigate the post-Flood boundary, ARJ 13:1–22, 2020. Return to text.
  6. Arment, C., Implications of Creation Biology for a Neogene-Quaternary Flood/post-Flood boundary, ARJ 13:241–256, 2020. Return to text.
  7. Ross, M.R., Evaluating potential post-Flood boundaries with biostratigraphy—the Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary, J. Creation 26(2):82–87, 2012. Return to text.
  8. Oard, M.J., The geological column is a general Flood order with many exceptions, J. Creation 24(2):78–82, 2010. Return to text.
  9. Walker, T., Research needed to resolve questions with late Cenozoic post-Flood boundary, J. Creation 28(2):63–66, 2014. Return to text.
  10. Snelling, A.A., The geology of Israel within the biblical Creation-Flood framework of history: 2—the Flood rocks, ARJ 3:267–309, 2010. Return to text.
  11. Oard, M.J., Defining the Flood/post-Flood boundary in sedimentary rocks, J. Creation 21(1):98–110, 2007. Return to text.
  12. Whitmore, J.H. and Garner, P., Using suites of criteria to recognize pre-Flood, Flood, and post-Flood strata in the rock record with application to Wyoming (USA); in: Snelling, A.A. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 425–448, 2008. Return to text.
  13. Whitmore, J., The potential for and implications of widespread post-Flood erosion and mass wasting processes; in: Horstemeyer, M. (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism, Vol. 7, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Article 15, 2013. Return to text.
  14. Oard, M.J., Flood processes into the late Cenozoic— part 7: critique of a post-Flood Cenozoic, Journal of Creation 33(2)99–106, 2019. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

How Noah's Flood Shaped Our Earth
by Michael J Oard, John K Reed
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The Geologic Column
by John K Reed, Michael J Oard
US $15.00
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Flood By Design
by Michael J Oard
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Missoula Flood Controversy
by Michael J Oard
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Readers’ comments

Harold G.
I enjoy reading these types of articles as it helps me think about the issues with the different creation theories. I have a wild guess, which might help or just be really wrong. What if the continents were located in the tropic and subtropical regions during the pre-flood era. These continents broke apart during Noah’s flood and formed the Pangaea supercontinent. Several hundred years later, Pangaea transitioned to our modern land formation, using a slower version of CPT (I.e occurring over several hundred years instead of one.) Peleg was the first to observe this transition, which is why his name is associated with the Earth dividing. This hypothesis would suggest that the K-Pb boundary indicates the end of Noah’s flood and the Cenozoic sediments indicate Peleg’s division. Others things can be observed such as: (1) Nearly all maps of Pangaea have Turkey in the inner curve explaining why God allowed the ark to land there. It was central to the supercontinent. (2)The continents were mostly together allowing the animals to fill the Earth. (3) God’s “fill the Earth” command is unique to this period (and to the creation era.) God wanted the animals and man to spread out before the Earth divided. The command is never mentioned again after this era. (4) The animals and then humans most likely settled in the upmost northern and southern regions as the land was mostly still hot from the flood sediments. The warm oceans provided lots of rain. (5) most of plate tectonics happened during this period. Anyways, it is fun speculate.
Shaun Doyle
I see three major weaknesses with your proposal. First, the "division" of Peleg's day was most likely linguistic, not geotectonic (‘In Peleg’s days, the earth was divided’: What does this mean?). Second, that much tectonic activity after the Flood, which is even more than proposed by K-Pg Flood boundary proponents, would've made life inhospitable. Third, there is no mechanism to generate the second, slower, episode of CPT. CPT was driven by the density contrast between the more dense pre-Flood oceanic lithosphere and the more buoyant lithosphere created via seafloor spreading. Basically, the pre-Flood oceanic lithosphere served as the 'fuel' for CPT. Once it was all 'consumed' (i.e. subducted into the mantle), the 'fuel' ran out, bringing plate movement to a virtual standstill. With no 'fuel' left for a second CPT episode, there is no geophysical means for it to occur again. (see Clarey, T.L. and Werner, D.J., The pre-Flood world resembled Pangaea, J. Creation 34(2):8-11, 2020).
Timothy Clarey
Great commentary, Shaun. But one thing to add is that geologic column research has revealed continuous deposition of limestone and salt (marine rocks) across Syria, Iraq from the Cretaceous upwards into the Miocene (at the surface). This clearly demonstrates that the area of the future Tower of Babel was under water from the Cretaceous deep into the Cenozoic, and across the K-Pg. And these marine rocks extend across much of Turkey and Europe too. It's near impossible to get off the ark into water and still accept that the Earth was dry at that point as the Bible states.
Shaun Doyle
Thanks for commenting, Dr Clarey. A very important point to consider, indeed.
Caleb W.
I think one of the biggest reasons for this disagreement between geological and paleontological evidence is that they rely on different definitions for the end of the Flood. Is the Flood considered to be ended when tectonic plates return to their normal activity, *or* when depositional processes cease to create fossils. There is an excellent chance that these were not precisely simultaneous, and that the second would have been delayed. Creationists commonly agree that fossilization continued at a heightened rate for some time after the Flood to account for post-Flood fossils; indeed, proponents of the K-Pg boundary must invoke this to a larger extent. It's quite possible that these processes continued to fossilize animals that were killed during the Flood even after the Flood was (geologically) finished.

A second consideration is how similar the pre-Flood and post-Flood habitats of Cenozoic animals actually were. While, of course, the entire pre-Flood earth was essentially destroyed, it makes sense that the post-Flood world would have most closely resembled the last pre-Flood environment to be destroyed. First, this would be the highest in elevation, and therefore the coldest and least lush. Second, plants, microbes, and other non-terrestrial animals would be most likely to survive from this latest environment. Therefore, there is a good possibility that post-Flood animals would have occasionally adapted in similar ways to their pre-Flood counterparts. This is the main reason why today's fauna is dominated by mammals and birds: they were able to adapt more easily because their pre-Flood and post-Flood environments were more similar.

I would opine that these considerations make the challenges of Ross and Arment somewhat less serious than they would initially appear.
Shaun Doyle
Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with your second issue; see Order in the fossil record for more information. And I think that poses a challenge for a K-Pg post-Flood boundary. Basically, it reduces to: if the post-Flood boundary is at the K-Pg, where are all the Flood fossils of animals we still see alive today?

The first issue, though, doesn't really address the challenge Ross and Arment pose. Their fundamental complaint about an Upper Cenozoic post-Flood boundary is that fossils of extant genera are found in Lower Cenozoic rocks, often in the locations where they are found alive today. Most tend to agree that when God put land vertebrate 'kinds' on the Ark, those 'kinds' roughly correspond to the taxonomic rank of 'family', which is above genus. (This isn't a safe assumption to make across the board, but it does seem to be a useful 'rule of thumb'.) Thus, these fossil genera most likely represent post-Flood dispersion and diversification. Otherwise, we have to posit not only that many of the same kinds came back to their pre-Flood locales, but also that post-Flood diversification so closely mirrored pre-Flood diversity as to fool us into thinking that the Flood fossils are post-Flood varieties. Or that evolutionary/long-age documentation of the fossils and rock layers is seriously skewed in a globally systematic way. Or that God put on board the Ark 'sub-kinds', but even that doesn't solve the biogeographical conundrum. The point is that the auxiliary theories needed to avoid this issue for a Late Cenozoic post-Flood boundary are rather implausible. A variable boundary proposal seems to me to be the best way around the conundrum, but I have to admit that it's basically conjecture, at this point.
Thomas R.
Thank you, Shaun, for taking the time to give a response to my commentary and questions.

I did think your response in the main article was very appropriate.

As for relative dating via radiometrics, given the absolute chaos in radiometric dating results, it seems like the use of such methods is much better at telling what type of formation is in hand (chemical composition, source material, etc) than it is for relative chronology.

Cannot Cenozoic layers be laid down on one side of the planet while Mesozoic layers are laid down on the other?
Shaun Doyle
Thanks for the response. On relative dating, that is the key question. Most creation geologists would say that Mesozoic and Cenozoic layers wouldn't have been laid down at the same time. (They wouldn't say "couldn't"; none of us can say that, since God can do what He likes, especially in a one-off event like the Flood.) They think the geologic column presents a globally applicable relative order. Why? There are global-scale systematic patterns (including but far from limited to radioisotopic ratios) that seem to have some consistent causal/chronological meaning. People on both sides of this debate affirm this, e.g. Tim Clarey (Empirical data support seafloor spreading and catastrophic plate tectonics) and Marcus Ross (Improving our understanding of creation and its history). Might we be just seeing artifacts of uniformitarian confirmation bias? It's possible in some instances, but as I think both these papers show many of the patterns are widespread and pretty hard to ignore. Better to work with that assumption, I think, unless and until we have good reason to abandon it.

That being said, there remains a live school of thought among creation geologists that is deeply suspicious of even the classification schemes used by long-agers, believing them to be unavoidably skewed to some extent by uniformitarian assumptions (A developing schism in Flood geology, see also Rocks Aren't Clocks). They advocate for restarting from the ground up, essentially, and redoing the task of classification and observation from a more self-conscious biblical foundation. We can only build causal theories on the basis of that sort of work. I personally don't agree with that project. I think it's too deconstructive to be practicable, and we don't have the resources to even attempt it as a research community. Plus, I think that, if we need to be more skeptical of uniformitarian classifications, systematic holes in our theories explainable by such an issue will eventually reveal themselves. They might say they have identified such holes; I think they may have identified some holes, but in some cases not enough to completely invalidate the theories they are critiquing. Research is an exploratory enterprise, and seeking best explanations for the available body of evidence is the best we can do. The key is remembering that the best explanation of the currently available body of data is only the best approximation to the truth that we currently have; it's not a final truth. It should be held to tentatively, and we should always remember the provisional nature of our reconstructions of the deep past. But the most productive ways to improve our models are to get a better model, or get more data that demands a better model. If we can't do either at present, then let's work toward one or both!

Still, it's a voice in the creation research community I don't want to see die. Why? We need our critics. We need our deconstructionists to keep us honest about the true tentativeness of our theories. We need to be reminded how provisional and tentative reconstructing the deep past is. And we need to remember that the data we often use to build our theories was classified according to an anti-biblical framework. That can be a source of error in our own theories, and we need to be sensitive to it. If we forget that, we can easily become entrenched in a certainty in our theories that is not warranted by the data, whether biblical or physical. Indeed, isn't that the very problem we see in the evolutionary establishment?

As you can see, there are a lot of background issues behind this debate. And the relation of those other debates to this one isn't always straightforward. Working through these issues will take not just good collaborative research, but also a hard look at some of the philosophical issues in the background. There's a lot more work to do!
Jonathan S.
Thank you very much for addressing my question in such a lengthy and honest way,
I really appreciate all the time and effort!
As a YEC, I think I am used to living with so far unresolved mysteries and problems. For me, the bigger problem was the lack of fruitful discussion and openness to different positions. Especially the exchange between Oard and Ross was discouraging as I felt that Ross's argument was completely ignored and "refuted" with cherry-picked data. I would have preferred an honest "Interesting, we just don't know yet" instead of a "my model is superior, and your data must be wrong if it does not align." Has there ever been another exchange between the two?
I would love to see an open forum that - as you mentioned - does not turn out to be adversarial.
Again, thank you very much for that great answer! :)
Shaun Doyle
Thanks Jonathan for your response. I'm glad to hear doubt isn't a major concern for you regarding this issue. Hopefully that part of my response will be useful to others who are more inclined to worry and doubt because of the divisions and disagreements among creation researchers.

As to subsequent exchanges between proponents, I haven't seen any in print. There was a panel discussion on the post-Flood boundary at ICC2018. Todd Wood noted "an undertone of competition between two models", which agrees with my reading of the literature (you can see his comments at toddcwood.blogspot.com/2018/08/panel-discussions-at-2018-international.html).

I get the impression that both schools of thought have become pretty entrenched in their presuppositions, and are both struggling to see past their global 'first pass' solutions to the problem. There are all sorts of reasons for this; perhaps problems of over-specialization, different assessments on where data ends and interpretation begins in the secular geological literature, and perhaps even different assumptions about more basic epistemological matters. But part of the issue is that there are genuine difficulties in reconciling different datasets. This issue isn't going to be easy to solve.

But let me say this: what we have in the literature now won't be the end of the story. I know that for a fact. There are papers coming through on precisely the interactions you mention that will hopefully add something constructive to the debates you mention. So, watch this space!
Philip S.
Thanks - I am not a fan of the 'Recolonization' model, just thought it should be mentioned, as so many good Brit geolly-boys argued for it, and I went on several field trips with them, and only one that I know has changed his mind - Paul Garner. For certainly the massive 'late' deposits argue against well it, but it does have that one very good point you didn't address - how can so many creatures survive to such a late stage in the Flood when all the original land surfaces they lived on would have been quickly smashed to pieces or covered?!..... But as well as that, some 'species' successions even seen to survive THROUGH the Flood at some places in the 'Tertiary'! .......Look at the so-called 'Horse Series' - which although merely variations, large or small horses - seem to be fossilised on the the very places where they are found, post-Flood....? Does that mean that many creatures went back to those very same places even though all land surfaces, even continents, were completely changed? No, I don't understand this, either, and am no geologist! Thanks for your forbearance....God bless
Shaun Doyle
Would all the original land surfaces pre-Flood creatures inhabited have been smashed or covered early in the Flood? I don't think so. I think the research of Tim Clarey from ICR is crucial, here. As he mapped the geometry of the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, they seem to show that there was a progressive inundation of the land that peaked with the Zuni megasequence (upper Mesozoic) (see How the rocks fit the Flood for an introduction to his research). At an rate, my reference to the Fouts and Wise ICC paper in my previous comment explains why I don't think we need to posit the complete destruction of the pre-Flood land as a consequence of the early Flood.
Raymond S.
From the time the ark rested until the departure there were 7 months and 10 days. The mountain tops began to appear about a month and a half after the ark ran aground. In those last 5 months the waters went back and forth and gradually receded. This implies that higher ground would be done with the Flood while lower elevations were still in the Flood and could receive more deposits or reworked deposits. It would make sense that late Flood and post Flood deposits should be discontinuous and different in different areas depending on elevations and late Flood runoff patterns.
Jeffrey C.
To me the uncertainty and controversy are indicative of real science being pursued by us limited beings. I find your article edifying, thanks! I suppose we all do well to not get too hardened into our "theories"! We all do well and make more progress towards converging on reality when we take James' advice and "be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" -- and let devotion to Christ and His teachings dominate our conversation.
Thomas R.
I would think that paleontology would be a very poor way of determining flood boundary on a global scale. Particularly because the layers are identified by uniformitarians through the use of index fossils, but also because there is no reason to think any given animal should follow a chronological sequence of fossil formation from one side of the globe to the other.
If (at least some) fossil beds are formed from mats of floating bodies settling back down on rising land surfaces via retreating waters, then why on earth would anyone try to think of them in terms of chronological sequences just because of what types of animals (or plants) are in them??
It seems most reasonable to approach the issue by analyzing the scale of any given formation, while considering post-flood catastrophe (such as ice age or post-ice age flooding).
As for post-flood tectonics, it does not seem at all appropriate to place all plate movement during the 370 days of the flood.
This, because physics should dictate an oscillation or energy dispersion that follows a declining curve over time - and not a sudden end (zero) to the energy dispersion.
Think of a ball bouncing on the floor whose altitude gets lower and lower with each bounce. It finally goes through a rapid series of very low, rapid succession bounces before its energy is converted to rolling rather than bouncing.
Similarly, we expect more frequent and violent earthquakes and volcanoes immediately after the flood, but less and less as time goes on.
The settling down of the crust should take years beyond the initial collisions.

Finally, how many of these studies have taken altitude from sea level into account when searching for this boundary?
Surely the sheer roundness of the earth places some limits on the boundary formation?
Shaun Doyle
There is controversy among creation researchers on the utility of fossil data for classifying global scale phenomena like a global burial order or Flood boundaries. For more on this controversy, please see Flood/post-Flood boundary forum.

Regarding tectonics, with regard to the Cenozoic oceanic crust, it comprises a third to a half of all oceanic crust (depending on the ocean). And there are several factors that indicating that the oceanic crust gets older the further it is away from a spreading boundary (Empirical data support seafloor spreading and catastrophic plate tectonics), and the match to radiometric profiles on the continents, there is reason to think we can treat the geologic column time designations as a relative chronology, though of course we reject the 'millions of years' interpretation (Do radioisotope methods yield trustworthy relative ages for the earth’s rocks?). At the very least, this is the dominant view regarding those who accept Catastrophic Plate Tectonics, as most people who advocate for a post-Flood boundary at or near the K-Pg boundary do. However, this implies that much oceanic crust was formed after the K-Pg boundary, and there is no significant geological evidence of the plate speed having slowed around that boundary. So, how can those who hold to a K-Pg post-Flood boundary explain this? This is powerful evidence against a K-Pg post-Flood boundary, and clearly suggests the boundary was somewhere in the Cenozoic. Indeed, based on the oceanic crustal evidence, it seems the plates only slowed in the Pliocene (Clarey, ref. 3). This is evidence for a Late Cenozoic post-Flood boundary.
Norman P.
Could not the God of Daniel, who revealed the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar's great forgotten dream that is still being actively fulfilled in our day, resolve this matter if he so chose? Do our noble researchers forget to consult Him on such matters? Are those who aspire to find the remains of Noah's Ark seeking a sign, other than the sign of Jonah? Does 1 Corinthians chapter 1 shed any light on the principles involved? I would guess that the Lord has other ways of providing apologetical grace in such areas of genuine scientific enquiry. Certainly no need to doubt his verifiable word!
Shaun Doyle
God could step in and resolve all sorts of disputes if He so chose, including more important ones than this, but He chooses not to. And as far as I'm aware most who study these things are committed Christians and biblical creationists. They believe that what God said He did. However, the Bible doesn't resolve this debate. To resolve it, we have to go beyond the Bible to try and figure out where the post-Flood boundary in the rocks actually is. And there's a lot of unknowns and anomalies in that data that make it hard to figure out, even for experts. So, there's bound to be disagreement.
Jerius W.
Interesting article, however, it seems most of these discussions seem to rely on the secular column / timescale, whether or not the time is used. Keeping in mind the layers of the column can be found in part and in the orders established, one must go back to the authority of the Bible. Rather than trying to fit the flood to the column / timescale, the column / timescale should be modified to fit the flood story. The column has all of the many divisions to fit millions of years which is in error and one must keep in mind the catastrophic reshaping of the earth happened in just over a year. Therefore I would think many of the events overlapped considerably. I would suspect the KT boundary anyway as the fact remains that most life requiring land ended during the flood. I propose we provide an AT (Ark Time) boundary and stop trying to fit an atheistic time scale to a Biblical factual event. This may not satisfy the original question, it just strikes me that trying to fit a Biblical event in to secular timescale is the wrong approach. One should never loose faith because of issues of secular beliefs not working, they were established to deny God. Go back to the Bible, that is the authority that matters. It will always be correct as the word and history that God has kept for us.
Shaun Doyle
I use the geologic column classification scheme not because I necessarily agree with it, but because it's the dominant way the rocks are classified. Basically, it’s the language we have to speak for the different positions to be meaningful to a wider audience.

Nor am I saying I disagree with the general accuracy of the GC, either. Most creation geologists agree that it represents the physical rock record quite accurately. However, some competent creation researchers view it as an irreducibly uniformitarian construct that should be abandoned and replaced. Theirs is a minority view, but I think it still deserves a hearing.
Roy UK H.
I agree “Our Faith in Christ and The Creator of all things” does not depend on the resolution of such debates.
We have received the knowledge that Our Messiah is also the God of Creation, and that Jesus of Nazareth is The Christ promised in the Scriptures. The Genesis account of Creation, the fall of mankind thro disobedience, and the consequent judgement by a Global Flood that removed all the wicked from the Earth is one account that we can entirely rely on. The 6 days are wonderfully progressive and logical to provide an Earth and an environment to support all manner of life. When first formed the Earth was covered in a mass of water, and only later did the dry land appear. I have done the maths on the volumes of water and there was plenty to cover the mountains just as it says.
The Books of Enoch and his grandson Noah also bear witness of those days and are eye-witness accounts, both of Creation and of the Flood, that are even older and more detailed than the Books of Moses. Lost after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70, multiple copies of Enoch have since been found in Ethiopia and amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. Multiple copies indicate that the pre-flood accounts were well accepted and used in teaching.
I am positive about Creation and the Flood. They are confirmed in secular literature from around the world. Bill Cooper’s AFTER THE FLOOD has been a delightful confirmation of the genealogy of the descendants of Noah after the Flood. It is a history that needs rewriting. Similarly, we would do well as believers, to note the extra detail of Heaven, Earth, and the Judgement of the Global Flood. It answers much that secular science cannot even attempt. As to the “Geological Table” anything over 6,000 years can be discounted as totally unbelievable.
Dan B.
Good, balanced and detailed answer. Always worth pointing out that evolutionists/old agers don't all agree on all issues either, e.g. the moon's formation or the cause of the dinosaurs' extinction. And yes, it's natural that the entrance of new data will either move debate towards a consensus or seem to make things more "confusing". Let's be clear, the exoplanet data have really messed up astronomers' previous ideas about how our own solar system formed, and they're still out wondering about this.
Philip S.
Yes, as a YEC myself, I see no problem with a variable boundary, just as various Flood uplifts massively uptilted and scrambled, reformed, some of the still soft sediments and 'Periods' in the Flood itself.....BUT, this once again ignores the fact of many believing in a late-Flood fossilisation on PRE-Flood mountains and high elevations - the 'ecological zonation' by hydro-dynamics idea - when the fossil heights were all only formed in the Flood and mainly only upraised in the Late Flood! ...... The old, Pre-Flood earths surface was completely macah - 'blotted out' - just as 2nd Peter reiterates...... Yet the massive, major Alps-Himalaya etc oregenies were only formed 'Late-Flood' nr the so-called C-T boundary, so even if fossils formed very early on at low, original sea & land levels and uplifted in the Flood to form the mountains, as some would be - surely they could not be preserved on Pre-Flood lands & sea beds!?.......Tens of thousands of feet of catastrophic Flood sediments were formed from and ON the old land surface which would have been massively broken up by 'the Springs of the Great Deep' etc, never to be seen again [except in broken boulders, gravel, sands, muds etc].....The 'Fossil Record' is one of massive, almost complete earth's surface destruction and reformation, and although you say there are three ideas for a Post-Flood boundary you haven't even mentioned the 'Recolonisation' theory even though it too has one massive fault!....And that regards the same faults as a late-Flood boundary - how can so many creatures survive to such a late stage in the Flood when the land surfaces they lived on would have been quickly covered or smashed?!.....Some 'species' successions [local variations] even survive THROUGH the Flood at some places in the 'Tertiary'!
Shaun Doyle
You're right, I didn't mention the Recolonization model. I didn't mention it because I think it has far too much sedimentary rock to explain apart from the Flood. The two highest megasequences, the Zuni and the Tejas, which span half of the Mesozoic and most of the Cenozoic, make up more than half of the Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks across several continents. In the Recolonization theory these would all be post-Flood. Moreover, much of the impetus for the Recolonization also rests on the assumption that certain types of rock formations would take too long to form to have formed during the Flood. I think this is a wrongheaded approach, since the Flood was a one-off cataclysm for which we in many respects only see through a glass darky about. It's begging to be refuted, and from what I've seen there are many occasions where catastrophic interpretations of such rock types have arisen through subsequent research. At base, I regard as intuitively plausible the assumption that the majority of (at least) the Phanerozoic rock record is the result of the Flood. I think the evidence one would need to overturn that assumption is too much for Recolonization theorists to bear. And since in the last few years we've actually seen the rise of positive models to explain the rock relationships of the sedimentary record on the context of the Flood that get in a lot of data (I think especially of the work of Tim Clarey of ICR), we now have a positive explanatory framework in which to explore a lot of these questions that didn't exist when the Recolonization model was developed.

As regards the meaning of words like machah and mabbul, I think attempts to use them to argue for specific models of the Flood overread those words. They don't imply a destruction that leaves no discernible evidence behind. Indeed, they may even suggest evidence left behind of the destruction. For more on this, I highly recommend this study: Fouts, D.M. and Wise, K.P., Blotting Out and Breaking Up: Miscellaneous Hebrew Studies in Geocatastrophism, The Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism, Vol. 4 , Article 20, 1998; digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/icc_proceedings/vol4/iss1/20.

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