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Creation 22(3):56, June 2000

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Message in a bottle


Photo by Allen Fredericks

An old bottle, entombed in conglomerate rock, has a surprising message for visitors to the Maritime Museum in Cape Town, South Africa.1

In 1986, divers salvaged this glass treasure, along with other historic items, from the wreck of the British troopship, HMS2 Birkenhead. Around 2:00 am on the dark morning of 23 February 1852, her metal hull ripped open on a treacherous rock pinnacle some 150 km (100 miles) south-east of Cape Town. Within 20 minutes, she broke apart and sank in roughly 30 m (100 ft) of water about 1.5 km (one mile) off Danger Point. Sadly, 445 of the 638 people on board perished—most of them young soldiers headed for the frontier in Eastern Cape.3 But the bottle does not just speak of the fragility of life.

What is remarkable is that the bottle is firmly embedded in a solid rock-like mass. Bits and pieces from the ship have mixed with material from the ocean bottom, and been cemented together. On closer inspection, it can be seen that the ‘rock’ comprises a ceramic jar, basketware, iron corrosion products, pebbles and shell fragments. Impressions of other bottles are also visible in the conglomerate. It has obviously formed since the ship came to rest on the ocean floor on that fateful night.

But why should it be amazing that minerals precipitated from seawater could cement all these things together into solid rock?

But why should it be amazing that minerals precipitated from seawater could cement all these things together into solid rock? After all, the wreck had been on the ocean floor for over 130 years which, in human terms, represents a long period of time.

The reason people see this situation as extraordinary is that we have been culturally conditioned. We are constantly told that geological processes like petrifaction, fossilisation, and stalagmite formation take millions of years—an unimaginably long time. This constant barrage of a slow-and-gradual evolutionary philosophy is antagonistic to the Bible’s clear teaching of a recent creation and catastrophic world-wide Flood.

This unusual bottle, entombed in conglomerate rock, salvaged from the bottom of the ocean, shows us that rocks do not need millions and millions of years to form as evolutionists and other long-agers tell us.

Reference and notes

  1. The assistance of staff from the South African Maritime Museum is gratefully acknowledged. Return to text.
  2. HMS stands for ‘Her (or His) Majesty’s Ship’ and is used to identify British naval vessels. Return to text.
  3. gans.co.za, accessed February 2000. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Kenneth L.
"This unusual rock, encased in conglomerate rock... shows us that rocks do not need millions and millions of years to form..."

Decades ago, I took a geology course in university and was told that the sedimentary rock layers comprising much of the Earth's surface had been laid down and hardened into rock over hundreds of millions of years.

At the time, as an impressionable young man, I unquestioningly accepted this explanation. So strong was this cultural indoctrination, that it was decades later that I even began to be open to the idea that there could be an alternate explanation that would better explain the thousands of feet of rock strata on Earth. And this was after decades of reading the Scriptures as a Christian!

So what finally opened my mind to that possibility? A Christian friend lent me several copies of Creation Ex Nihilo magazine (today called Creation magazine). I was immediately impressed by the quality of authorship and information in the magazine, and I subscribed soon after. That was the beginning of my liberation from the delusion of supposed billions of years of Earth geological history and evolution.

That was nearly twenty years ago, and I'm still a subscriber, and still gleaning fascinating information from qualified scientists like creation geologist Tas Walker, who wrote the article above. I highly recommend Creation magazine and its sister publication Journal of Creation to anyone who is struggling with these questions or who simply wants more information about it, an example being the above article.

Kudos to the writers and staff who produce these publications for consistently providing readers with information we just can't get from so-called 'mainstream' sources. You are doing the Christian community in particular a very great service.

Sorry to take up a little too much space here, but I see the information in this article as being crucially important to creation science. This is hard evidence that not only does it not take material laid down in seawater millions of years to harden into rock, but that it takes literally less than 200 years, and possibly much less time than that!

This runs counter to everything I was taught as a geology student decades ago, namely that it took at least thousands, if not millions of years, and great pressure, to form sedimentary rock. And now we see that it takes only a few years and very little pressure, if any! This certainly lends scientific credibility to the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) idea that the Genesis Flood, only about 4400 years ago, produced the bulk of the sedimentary rock strata, including the fossil-bearing rock strata, that cover much of the Earth's surface today.. And once that idea is recognized as scientifically valid, it destroys the whole notion of biological evolution over hundreds of millions of years, since the fossils in those rock layers can be seen as remnants of the Flood, and not as a record of slow and gradual evolution.

This is nothing less than a monumental scientific discovery that should be on the front cover of every scientific journal and magazine that pertains to geological history and the origin of life on Earth.

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