The Enigma of the Ice-Age
1. Neither those who believe in Creation nor those who believe in Evolution deny that there has been an Ice-Age, but opinions differ sharply as to when it occurred, how it occurred and if it happened more than once. There have been many theories, but none have yet adequately explained all the data. In 1815 Mt. Tambora, Indonesia, exploded and in the following year the world saw no summer, there was little food, world-wide starvation and stock markets crashed. At the time it was suggested that the volcanic activity had been triggered by a fly-by of a large asteroid causing the earth to wobble. In fact, there is evidence from archaeological work that this indeed happened several times in the past indicated by the repeated re-orientation of ancient Egyptian temples. Further, from volcanic activity today it is known that ash is shot high into the atmosphere, reducing sunlight for considerable time; this would have been a major contributing factor to the 1815 disaster. Possibly something similar happened to trigger the Genesis Flood and an Ice Age which many believe followed it.
2. Professor Louis Agassiz [1807-1873] was a Swiss naturalist and familiar with glaciers. He believed he saw evidences of former glaciation e.g. tillites or rocks scattered about in fields [drift] and striations or scratch marks left on bed rocks by hard pieces of rock entrapped within slowly moving ice. In addition, there were occasional erratics or large rocks far removed from their source and apparently abandoned by the melting ice. In former times, such evidences had been attributed to rapidly moving waters of the Genesis Flood over a short period of time. Now they were being interpreted as having been produced by slowly moving ice over a long period of time. Agassiz's suggestion of an Ice-Age had the immediate effect of negating the belief in Noah and the Genesis Flood. In 1846 Agassiz emigrated to North America and promoted these ideas. There is no question that the arctic regions were previously lush pastures where there is now ice so that some kind of Ice-Age did occur. However, tell-tale evidences such as the rounded nature of tillite rocks or those rocks trapped within glaciers proven to be sharp and broken generally caused Agassiz’s glacial theory to be abandoned.
3. In 1961 a creationist approach to the problem was offered by Whitcomb and Morris with their now classic The Genesis Flood. North American Creationists have since generally adopted the hypothesis advanced in this work; it is offered under their title: The Glacial Period. This states that the ocean temperatures immediately after the global flood were slightly higher than today due to the addition of the hot salty waters from the “fountains of the deep” [Genesis 8:2]. Evaporation of the post-flood ocean water was thus increased while in the cooler, darker atmosphere caused by the volcanic ash, the warm, moist air precipitaed as snow that eventually packed down into glaciers. The glaciers advanced south, cooled the regions ahead bringing snow precipitation further south and eventually remained as year-round ice. The formation of ice was intensified by the albedo effect whereby the summer sunlight was reflected, so that once this process began, the area then tended to remain very cold throughout the year. The process was gradually brought to a halt as the oceans cooled and the volcanic ash settled. In this theory there was only one ice-age and it was an immediate post-flood phenomenon. Earlier in the twentieth century there was a similar theory advanced by creationists of the day who pointed out that there was “a firmament in the midst of the waters dividing the waters below [oceans] from the waters above” [Genesis 1:6]. The waters above were said to be ice particles like those around Saturn while the eventual collapse of this ice ring moderated the ocean temperature.
4. In 1990 climatologist Michael Oard offered a refined version of the Whitcomb and Morris theory for a single Ice-Age following the Genesis Flood. He identified it with the geologist’s Pleistocene era 1.6 million years before the present, but in fact just over 4,000 years ago. He pointed out that volcanic ash and dust in the upper atmoshere produced by volcanic activity during the Flood, would have reduced the summer temperature in the central land mass of each continent by as much as 15 degrees C. Moreover, the winter snows did not melt, but rather compacted, building up over the years. The land areas adjacent to the oceans, however, were warmed by the warmer ocean, producing sub-tropical to temperate conditions in these regions, which included the entire Arctic Circle. At this point, there was no ice cap over the North pole, while the circulation of these warm waters would explain the extensive coral beds beneath the present day ice fields. The evaporated ocean water, now locked up as glaciers, would lower the ocean level by several hundred feet, exposing land bridges at the Bering Straits as well as providing a land route to Australia. Upon leaving the ark at Mt. Ararat, the animals multiplied and migrated via these warm land routes, some of them finding their way to the lush pastures that have since become the Arctic Circle. In the meantime, the dust in the upper atmosphere began to settle, summers became warmer and ocean levels began to rise, cutting off the land bridges. The fresh water from melting glaciers flowed predominantly north to the Arctic Sea, as do most rivers in Canada and Siberia today. Fresh water floats on salt water and it freezes at a higher temperature. Thus it began to freeze in the subsequent northern winter darkness. This was the beginning of the Arctic ice cap. The melting glaciers brought about flash floods carrying vegetation and animals off the coast of the Arctic shores, while the harsh climate caused the tree-line to migrate approximately 2000 miles further south.
4. Among the multiple theories offered by the scientific Establishment to explain the Ice-Age, some of the most popular include: [A] obliquity of the earth's orbit about the sun [the Milankovitch Theory], [B] a wobble in the earth's spin as seen in the precession phenomenon and [C] a slow variation of radiant energy from the sun. From the creation viewpoint it is believed that [A] the earth has always been inclined to the ecliptic at 23.5 degrees because after the Genesis Flood God promised Noah that seed time and harvest times will not cease [Genesis 8:22]. The evidence for a wobble [B] was offered in note 1 above while this likely began at the time of the Flood and has since dampened out. However, there may well be valid reasons for [C] i.e. a slow variation of radiant energy from the sun. Generally unknown until recently there was a “Little Ice Age” that affected all of Europe from A.D. 1300 to 1850. This is well documented in literature and paintings. Prior to this there was a very warm period from A.D. 800 to 1300 when Greenland justified its name; earlier, during the Roman occupation of Britain, grapes grew as far North as Scotland! We may well ask: Are we now in a warming phase that has nothing to do with carbon? The cycle is about 600 years.
5. For many years textbooks spoke about four Ice-Ages and sometimes as many as twenty-eight. The reason was not always clearly spelled out but multiple local floods were necessary to have provided the sediment for the multiple rock strata. There was no mechanism known that would cause rising and falling sea levels that could not be universal but since stratum containing marine shells were found on mountain tops it was proposed that volcanoes caused land surfaces to rise and fall. While this was true it was only a local effect. The theorists then proposed that this vertical movement was caused by multiple Ice-Ages. It was argued that in each case the ice built up over a mile in thickness and the weight of the ice depressed the land surface below sea level. When the ice melted the land received the sediments from the sea and eventually the land surface rebounded. With over twenty stratum evident in Europe the theory was eventually abandoned. The current wisdom is that there have been two Ice-Ages: the first is called the Pleistocene era which lasted about a million years. Then warming began in what is called the Sangamon period and this was followed by the second Ice-Age. Warming began again about 20,000 years ago and is called the Holocene.
6. In 1986, a "frozen forest" of tree stumps was discovered on Axel Heiberg Island, Canada's most northerly point of land. The tree trunks and branches with blackened leaves were horizontal and easily recognized to be of the meta sequoia variety; some had 18 inch diameter trunks, while the wood was still fresh. All this in growth positions 2000 miles above the present tree line! Moreover, the unmineralized bones of alligators, camels, lions, bears and mammoths were found in heaped profusion beneath the fallen trees. The forest and remains are officially claimed to be 40 million years old, however, this author knows that samples of the wood were subjected to the Carbon 14 test and found to date at 41,000 years! This has never been reported.
7. Siberian trappers have been finding the bones of animals and particularly the bones and tusks of the mammoth [Mammoth imperator] since the time of the Roman Empire. To this day there is still a steady trade with auction houses dealing with hundreds of tusks every year. Normally, these discoveries consist of a jumble of bones, but in 1901, just above the Arctic Circle on the banks of the Beresovka River, a complete mammoth with fur, skin, flesh and internal organs was discovered, allowing scientists to make a complete examination. The creature did not die of starvation and its mouth and stomach were full of buttercups and sedges in seed, thus placing the time of death in August. The creature had a broken back leg and an erect genital, indicating that it died of suffocation, probably frozen lungs. Interestingly, the hide was covered in thick hair, but the skin had no sebaceous glands to provide oil to waterproof the coat. Northern foxes and mammals that live in the harsh Arctic regions all have the essential oil glands, otherwise they would freeze and die when their fur became wet. This is further evidence that the Arctic regions were at one time temperate. For the mammoths and all the other animals to have inhabited this land, there must have been sufficient food. Throughout most of the 20th century, reconstruction of the mammoth showed the creature, much larger than the elephant, digging about in snow-laden ground for a morsel of grass. Elephants eat about 200 pounds of grass per day! More recent reconstructions show the mammoths living in lush pastures. It is said that the mammoth became extinct 10,000 years ago. This figure was derived from cave paintings at La Cambarelles, France, showing the mammoth was contemporaneous with intelligent man. We can be sure that had these paintings not been discovered and authenticated, we might have been told that the mammoth became extinct 40 million years ago.
8. Ancient maps, e.g. the Pirie Reis map, have been discovered which show Antarctica as an ice-free landmass; this landmass has since been confirmed by radar mapping. Another map shows Greenland as three separate islands. Again, this has been confirmed by radar maps and historical documents. These early maps tend to confirm that the Earth is subject to a slow variation of radiant energy from the sun.
TFE Publishing, 33 Ontario Street, Suite 112, Kingston, ON. K7L 5E3