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Why no mention of the Ice Age in the Bible?
Today’s feedback, from Thomas McFadden in the United States, asks why there are no biblical references to the post-Flood Ice Age.
I have just read the article https://creation.com/the-extinction-of-the-woolly-mammoth-was-it-a-quick-freeze. In it Michael Oard discusses a rather long-lasting geological event, a post-Flood ice age, that seems to have started hundreds of years after Noah's world-wide Flood. Should we understand that the human authors of Bible texts, written during the period of time Oard proposes for the Ice Age, were unaware that the Ice Age was happening? Or, must we accept that God did not chose to include in the Bible anything about it? I think I read that something in the Book of Job may be a reference to the Ice Age but that seemed very vague in comparison to the scope and significance of Oard's post-Flood Ice Age. Is there a creationist consensus of any sort as to why humans who lived through the period of the Ice Age (even if not near the ice) did not record it?
Geomorphologist Dr Ron Neller responds.
Thank you for your question Thomas. From articles on our website you will see that the Post-Flood Ice Age began immediately after the Flood when the ocean temperatures (and possible atmospheric volcanic dust) favoured the build-up of ice on the continents. This build-up continued, it is estimated, for 500 years until it reached peak ice, and then began to melt back over the following 200 years.1
This is a long period of time compared with our human lifespan. The changes would have occurred slowly over decades and not been obvious to the people living at the time. We look back at geological records and create temperature estimates for past climates and can have all this information on a single graph. So, we can label the different parts of the graph as “Ice Age”, “Medieval Warm Period” and “Little Ice Age”, etc. But those alive at the time would not have had that long-term perspective. They would not have thought of themselves as living in the Ice Age, or the Medieval Warm Period, for example. These are labels that modern scientists have applied. In fact, it was only an Ice Age when compared with the period of history we live in, which came afterwards.
The other issue is the area of the earth that the ice build-up covered. Published diagrams showed it covered parts of Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of some southern continents. There was no ice cover in the Middle East. Also, the area of ice cover would have grown and contracted over the centuries. People living at that time—including Abraham, born about 350 years after the Flood2—would not have been aware of this global situation because they did not have rapid travel and wide communications. We have only become aware of the past extent of the ice cover in the last 150 years. So, they would have had no concept of an ice age.
It is interesting that there is not much discussion about the local climate in the Bible. I see that it snows now in Jerusalem, but such snow is not discussed in the Bible. However, they were familiar with snow and ice. If you search a site like Bible Gateway, you can see that snow is mentioned some 25 times and ice even less. So, although the very early book of Job mentions ice and snow in a few places, including Job 6:16, 37:10; 38:22; 38:29–30, that reference is vague, as you say, and not necessarily confirmation of the post-Flood Ice Age. Joshua 3:15 includes a comment that the Jordan River was in flood stage, and we know that would have been due to the snows melting on Mount Hermon, something that still occurs today.
In summary, the Ice Age is a modern concept invented to describe a unique period of climate on the earth. This period of unusual climate only became obvious to us in the last 200 years after considerable geological exploration globally and after considering the geological history that covered a time-span of thousands of years. The ice sheets did not extend to the Middle East. At the time, the people would not have been aware that they were living in what would become a unique period of climate history, and so would not have thought it was something unusual or notable.
All the best,
Scientist, Speaker, Writer
Creation Ministries International—Australia
References and notes
- See, for example, Oard, M.J., What caused the Ice Age?, Creation 36(3):52–55, 2014; creation.com/what-caused-ice-age. Return to text.
- See the table of chronology in Cosner, L., How does the Bible teach 6,000 years?, Creation 35(1):54–55, 2013; creation.com/6000-years. Return to text.
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