The picture on the cover of this issue is a beautiful portrayal of one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world in which we live. When water freezes, the ice produced seems to be very hard. The fact of the matter is, however, that it behaves as a fluid. When ice is put under pressure it flows. Take a small piece of ice and put it between your teeth in the back of your mouth and bite carefully on it--not hard enough to break it (or a tooth), but gradually increase the pressure. When you do this, you will feel the ice start to give and behave like soft candy. I used to have my students do this in my earth science classes. You can imagine the look on my principal's face when he came into a room full of kids biting on ice and looking at it as they gradually changed its shape. The ice in the picture on our cover has done the same thing. As snow piled up on top of the bottom snow, it turned the bottom snow to ice and the ice began to flow, gradually moving down the side of the mountain like toothpaste squeezed out of a giant tube. This flowing ice has many messages to tell us. Like all of the creation, it speaks of God's wisdom and design. There is history, science, biblical support, and prediction all recorded in the message of the ice. When you look at the bottom ice, it is the most beautiful shade of blue you have ever seen--another testimony to the beauty God has built into every nook and cranny of the creation. Let us look at some of the messages of the ice.
There Is and Has Been Global Warning. Those of us with some background in science have for the most part watched with amusement the attempts of politicians and the media to make global warming an issue they can use for personal agendas. If you have even a general awareness of what the history of North America has been, you know that there have been periods of cold and periods of warmth. This is true of every part of Earth. When ice piles up in glacial formations like the one on the cover of this issue, it begins to flow starting at the bottom of the ice pack. This flow has massive force behind it, and it acts like a huge bulldozer pushing rock and sediment in front of it carving and plowing through the area. The valley you see on our cover was produced by the ice pushing down through the area during a colder time. As the ice moves it leaves grooves and scratches in the rock. This tells us which way the ice was moving. It leaves tell- tale piles of rock where the ice stops called moraines. The picture was taken from the top of such a moraine.
All of these features are seen in the United States as far south as the Ohio River. In Central Park in New York City there are well-known glacial groves and striations in the granite that makes up the bedrock of that park. There are literally thousands of examples like this all over the world. I have been involved in the past in studies about Lake Michigan with an oceanographic ship from the University of Michigan called "The Inland Seas." We have taken cores from Lake Michigan that tell of the history of the lake. In all cores there are long sections with no organic material and no microscopic organisms. Most cores have dark lines which contain massive biological material and the remains of many forms of life, but there were large sections representing long periods of time which were devoid of life. There is a great deal of evidence that the lake was covered with ice year-round for many years. All of this says to us that the earth has been much colder in the past than it is today.
Between the layers that are sterile in the cores we have been talking about, there are layers full of the muck that contain the remains of biological material. Some of the items found in these dark areas are semitropical plants and animals. It must have been much warmer during times between the glacial periods--in other words, periods of global warming. Whether or not mankind can cause or increase the severity of these periods of warming by greenhouse gas emissions is an area that needs study, but the fact of global warming cannot be disputed--either now or in the past.
Uniformitarianism is Not True. Another interesting message that can be seen in the ice is that one of the main assumptions of neo-Darwinism is not true. Neo-Darwinism assumes that the processes operational today on the earth are the only processes that have ever functioned on the earth. The textbooks usually express it "the present is the key to the past." The idea is that all of the earth's history has been molded and shaped by erosion, volcanos, weathering, glaciers, landslides, etc.--processes we see working today. This is an area where the biblical record takes exception, because the Bible clearly tells us that there have occasionally been events which are not happening today. These events are rare, but they do have a significant effect on what the earth is like. The flood of Noah, the plagues in Egypt, and the events surrounding the death of Jesus are all examples of things that are not uniformitarian in nature.
It is important to emphasize that glaciers, volcanos, and landslides are all uniformitarian because we see them operational today. Ice cores taken in places where the ice is miles thick have shown us that there have been events totally unlike those happening today. In some places we see cores that tell us that there has been a time when ice covered the whole planet--not just continental or mountain glaciers. There is evidence of volcanic eruptions that blanketed the whole planet with large amounts of ash indicating an eruption far beyond anything we have ever seen happen in today's world. Cores have shown that on rare occasions there has been a strike upon the earth of asteroids or comets that deposited large amounts of iridium, osmium, and rhenium--elements found in astronomical objects like these, but not found in significant concentrations in volcanic eruptions on the earth. The age of one of these deposits matches well with the age of a crater in the Yucatan that appears to be one place where such an object struck. Other sediment studies show that a similar process may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The Bible indicates that consistency is the rule of things in God's plan. Hebrews 13:8, for example, says "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever" and while that speaks of the teachings and love of God it is also the lesson of biblical history. Events like the flood of Noah are the exception, not the rule. When they do happen, however, they have a profound effect on the affairs of mankind.
The Earth is Not 6,000 Years Old. In our day of wild erroneous teachings about the rapture, the tribulation, and the physical political reign of Jesus on David's throne for 1,000 years in Jerusalem, the question of time continues to be an issue. The Bible does not give us the time frame in which things happen, and continues to attempt to pry us away from political thinking and understanding that Jesus' kingdom is "not of this world" (John 18:36). Whether the earth is old or young is not a biblical issue and is not answerable from the Bible without making assumptions that are invalid.
Ice cores make it clear that the earth is older than 6,000 years. When snow falls in the winter in cold climates it leaves a clean thick layer of ice and the snow on top compresses the snow underneath. The beautiful blue ice seen in glacial ice is simply compressed snow--something we can duplicate in the laboratory. During the summer months the snow does not melt much, but the top of the snow that fell during the last snowfall of winter gets very dirty. Pollen, dead bugs, feathers, dust, leaves, mold, and a variety of other biological and seasonal debris can make the snow black by the end of the summer. When snow falls again the next fall it will cover this black layer and put a new layer of ice on top of it. In Alaska I have seen road cuts made through areas where hundreds of black lines indicating summers are alternated with the white bands of winter.
Ice cores taken in Anarctica and other very cold places can be thousands of feet thick. Scientists have been studying these cores which reveal many things about the past. The ice traps gases so the history of the earth's atmosphere can be studied. Pollen tells us what plants lived in the past, and tropical plant pollen found in ancient cores again tells us that this is not the first time this planet has experienced global warming. The number of black lines containing bugs and pollen numbers far more than 6,000--in some places the number is far in excess of 100,000 telling us that 6,000 years for the age of the earth is a human tradition without scientific support or biblical support.
New Species of Life Come and Go. These cores and the insects and pollen trapped in them also tell us that one part of the design of this planet is that species of plants and animals come and go as time passes. We see insects in ice cores that do not exist on the earth today. Many pollen samples do not fit any known plant of the time in which we live. In many cases these insects and plants seem to be related to forms we do recognize, but they have clearly gone through change allowing them to survive in an earth that was different in many ways than what we see today. Those who cry out in alarm that global warming may cause some forms of life to become extinct need to look at the history of this planet. God has designed life so that as the climatic conditions change, life can adapt. Racial characteristics of humans speak of the same wisdom, because every racial characteristic--from skin color to eye shape to hair texture--is a design feature suited to a certain environment. Animals or plants that cannot adapt become extinct, and are replaced by life forms that can adapt.
We need to point out that what we have said here is in no way a biblical issue. These kinds of changes and adaptations are shown in the Bible. What Jacob did with Laban's flocks in Genesis 30 is this same kind of control--in this case exerted by man. The biblical word "kind" and the way it is used in the Bible does not contradict this fact of change. First Corinthians 15:39 defines the word "kind" for us and is stated in very broad terms. "One kind of flesh of birds" for example does not mean blue jay, stellar jay, canadian jay, etc., but rather refers to the group. Changes that would produce the more than 142 different varieties of chickens that we have in the world today are not at odds with the kinds the Bible talks about. Species and kind are not the same thing. New species may come into existence, but new kinds do not.
God's Wisdom and Planning is Incredible. The more we learn about ice and the more messages we see in ice layers, the more amazed we have to be at the wisdom and planning of God. Not only is the ice itself an incredible tool in sculpting the planet and storing water for us, but it reveals wonderful messages about God's wisdom and planning in the world in which we live. It lends a whole new meaning to statements like "have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses in the hail?" (Job 38:22, NIV).
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