Grand Canyon
Geology What do the Rocks Say?

What do the Rocks Say?

The rocks don’t speak, but they tell a story of the past. The question is, what kind of story do they tell? Do the earth’s rocks originate from a Big Bang as products of slow change due to natural processes over long periods of time? Or do these rocks tell a very different story about the earth where the basement rocks were formed by a divine Creator in the very beginning and then subjected to worldwide catastrophic forces caused by the Genesis Flood?

Old Earth Hypothesis
The most popular postulation taught in earth science class today is that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. This date was proposed using rocks not found on the earth but by dating rocks found on the moon and meteorites on the earth. It is assumed that the earth’s moon, meteorites, and other planets were formed as remnants of the Big Bang at about the same time. Along with this assumption, scientists believe that the earth had to take billions of years to cool. Eventually, they believe, with natural geological processes working on the crust with wind and water erosion, volcanic activity, sedimentation, earthquakes, plant tectonics, and other transforming activities, the earth slowly came to be as we see it today.

James Hutton and His Uniformitarianism
Geologists have termed this idea -slow processes in the rock record taking long periods of time using the observable natural geological processes – uniformitarianism. This idea was developed by James Hutton (1665-1728) who believed that the earth’s history is cyclical and accompanied by natural processes that are endlessly repetitive. He published his work titled Theory of the Earth in 1795. Hutton’s geological research took place on the east coast of Scotland, and in 1788, he found unique rock formations on a cliff facing the ocean straights that caught his attention. This cliff of rocks was classified as an international geological site of historical importance in 1961 because of Hutton’s work. It is located at Siccar Point, found on the coastline of the county of Berwickshire on the east coast of Scotland. It is here that Hutton would create deep time going against the biblical account of a young earth of thousands of years. In this, he denied the geological evidence of a worldwide flood that at that time geologists of the day upheld.

Horseshoe crab on sand

At Siccar Point, on the east coast of Scotland at least 65 million years is missing between rock layers.

At Siccar Point, we observe two types of older vertical sedimentary rocks made up of sediments of sand called sandstone and mudstone made of hardened stone-like clay. These rocks point upward and are capped with younger sedimentary rocks running horizontally.

When two rock layers meet and a large gap of evolutionary time is absent in millions or billions of years, geologists term this as an unconformity. At Siccar Point, at least 65 million years is missing from the record and is obviously named Hutton’s Unconformity. This distinctive rock formation produces questions that need to be answered. For example: How do you explain the missing time? What happened to rocks that made them stand up vertically? Hutton would become famous by answering these questions and speculating what occurred in the past. His story about this geological rock formation was centered on what he interpreted as rocks formed by an ancient seabed that was twisted around, lifted up, and eroded over a long time. It produced the distinctive vertical sandstone and mudstone formation that is evident for all to see. The younger bedrock would be deposited by the ocean, and Hutton interpreted this formation by using deep time and slow minute changes from natural causes that are not observable today. James Hutton is considered the Father of Geology for his Uniformitarianism belief that is still used today. Hutton also introduced the concept to our earth science courses that rocks recycle themselves endlessly. With his research on the rock formations of Scotland and the British Isles, he concluded that the inner earth houses the fundamental forces to recycle rocks, as evidenced in volcanic eruptions that can be seen and measured today in the magnitude of nuclear bombs. He believed tremendous amounts of heat and pressure formed a new rock with a crystalline structure beneath the earth. If this rock melted into the form of magma (liquid rock), it would develop different kinds of rocks such as granites, basalts, and mineral streams like we observe presently. He assumed that the continental rocks would gradually wear away by natural processes deposited into the earth over deep time and recycled endlessly. Today this recycling process has been modified and taught under the umbrella of deep time.

In the case of James Hutton, we see that rocks tell a story of the past and the theory of deep time comes only by interpretation because no one actually witnessed it. His big idea was focused on Uniformitarianism, which reflects gradual change that we cannot observe. He assumed without direct evidence that the sea would rise and move large landmasses upward vertically, as seen on the famous Siccar Point. It was simply his imaginative interpretation of how he read the rocks, not objective or observable. Hutton’s everlasting recycling is also based on speculative logic that fails the realm of modern empirical science. This is contrary to what the fathers of modern science, Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton, gave us in the beginning of modern science which was the foundational knowledge to make the scientific advancements we witness today. Ideas are like stories – some believable and others implausible.

Charles Lyell and Darwinian Evolutionists
Charles Lyell (1797-1875), a good friend and inspiration of Charles Darwin’s, became a dedicated geologist after practicing law in England. He was elected joint secretary of the Geological Society in London, the oldest geological society today, enlisting over 12,000 worldwide memberships. In the 1830’s, he was a professor of King College, London. He was a staunch follower of Hutton’s Uniformitarianism and made it the most accepted method of studying geology that is still being used. He was detailed in his observations and a copious journalist in recording his findings.

Both Hutton and Lyell were revolutionists in the way they read the rocks. They believed that deep time had unlimited power to make dramatic changes. They gave us the motto, “The present is the key to the past.” Hutton and Lyell believed that natural processes like wind, water movement, and even earthquakes and erupting volcanoes would go on endlessly through time blindly and slowly producing the geological formations we observe in the present. It’s nature working through time without the fingerprint of God. They promoted the story of the rocks that lead the world into secularism. Lyell’s publication of the Principles of Geology, a three-volume edition published from 1830-1833, became Darwin’s gospel during his famous HMS Beagle voyage where he began to form his ideas of evolution that are now accepted worldwide. Darwin was Lyell’s geological disciple journaling the different geological formations occupying most of the notes he wrote in length on his 5-year journey. Darwin became Lyell’s eyes on his voyage and used his uniformitarian ideas of slow change through deep time to develop his theory of evolution. Darwin understood that, like Hutton and Lyell, his theory was subjective, and its foundation was based on conjecture. Species evolving into other kinds has never been observed or measured because Darwin used the same idea of slow, gradual change.

The theory of Darwinian evolution is based on the Hutton and Lyell story of the rocks giving nature’s time the power to turn an amoeba into Homo Sapiens. Even the evolutionary tree of life abundantly filled with millions of species effectively placed and given a prominent position on each branch is a clever conjecture. It’s all nature’s miracle, and the God of the bible is displaced.

Young Earth Hypothesis
The rocks tell a different story for those who believe in God as their Creator and believe in His Word as true when it describes a young creation under 6000 years old. The Dutch anatomist and geologist, Nicholas Steno who had a young-earth belief, recognized a worldwide flood where rocks were formed and deposited in a short period of time. In his Dissertations Prodromus (1669), he brilliantly gave us a foundation for geological stratification that is known as Steno’s Law of Superposition. Those who study earth science are familiar with this concept as it is foundational in understanding basic geological formations.

Another noted historical example of one who read the rocks from a young-earth perspective was John Woodward, English naturalist and geologist, and founder of the Woodward Professorship of Geology of Cambridge University. Over the years, Woodward collected an impressive array of fossils which included numerous teeth of the extinct megalodon at least 3 times the size of the great white. Today these fossils are incorporated in the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge. With his research and collection of fossils and rocks, Woodward demonstrated that Noah’s flood explains the stratification of rock layers embedded with marine fossils. He supported the fact that the flood contained “one common mass” of sediments that would eventually be settled out with heavier particles and fossils.

Horseshoe crab on sand

Noah’s flood explains the stratification of rock layers embedded with marine fossils.

We see this in the current fossil record, where 95 percent are marine invertebrates, mostly shellfish and clam creatures. In his Essay Toward a Natural History of the Earth and Terrestrial Bodies (1695), he addressed this issue. He also brilliantly produced an elaborate catalog describing superior rocks and minerals. Unfortunately, by the end of the nineteenth century, the uniformitarian way of reading the rocks coincided with Darwinian evolution as it was winning the minds and souls of the world. Without deep time there is no magic ingredient to make the drastic changes we see today in geological formations and evolutionary biology. Genesis Flood (1961), a book by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb, has sold over hundreds of thousands of copies unifying the evangelical church in creationism. This effort began the Modern Creation movement that has expanded to all parts of the world. It’s how I became a young earth creationist and began our Creation Studies Institute in 1988, motivated by Christ’s calling to follow the Word of God with the truth of Creation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We support the viewpoint as described in Genesis 1:1 that God created matter, space, and time in the first verse. In the following verses, Genesis 1:2-3, energy and the powerful forces that hold everything together were created on the first day. We are also told that on the third day, God separated the water from the land.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:9-10)

Water is an essential ingredient in forming rocks. It is found in hot magma when it comes up to the earth’s crust in liquid form, and as the temperature drops, it solidifies in the form of hard rock. This rock is categorized as igneous which also includes granites, also known as basement rock, where our continents set. According to the creation model, the basement rock layers were formed in the first week of Creation, particularly in the first three days. It is also supported in 2 Peter 3:5, “For this, they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” Water is an essential compound for life and is also a necessary compound for the composition of the earth’s structure.

Along with granite being made in the first week of Creation, there are also metaphoric rocks that form with enormous heat and pressure that create the foundation for our continents. This is exemplified in the Grand Canyon by Vishnu Basement Rocks which are composed of metaphoric rocks called schist and granites. It is appropriately described as the Great Unconformity that we can witness almost everywhere around the globe. Currently, there is no widely accepted scientific explanation amongst geoscientists for billions of years of missing time. It is an area that divides rocks from identifiable fossils, the Cambrian period, with rocks absent of any fossils. In the young-earth hypothesis, there are not billions of years missing because in the first week of Creation, all the basement rocks that make up the continents were already in place, understandably void of any recognizable animal and plant fossils. The next layer would be the first layer of sedimentary rocks formed by the worldwide flood that had the ability to lay down fossils that would harden in the sediments. In the layers of the Grand Canyon, a mile deep hole in the ground, the rocks can be read by the different formations of sediments deposited during the flood. For example, the layers just above the basement rocks on earth is the Cambrian period covered with an explosion of complex creatures with no explicable cause. This phenomenon is identified as the Cambrian Explosion. That certainly fits the biblical model where sea creatures, particularly heavier ones, became fossilized at the lower level of the ocean buried by a cataclysmic worldwide flood just as Woodward predicted in 1695.

Horseshoe crab on sand

These basement rocks found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon intersect with strata much younger, missing billions of years in evolutionary time.

The Grand Canyon is an excellent example of different kinds of rock strata not caused by Hutton’s Uniformitarianism but by a catastrophic universal flood. The Tapeats Sandstone is an excellent example of this, which lies just above Vishnu Basement Rock. It is believed that this was the first layer deposited by the flood as the oceans began to settle. These rocks are made of sand sediments solidified with specified conditions, including evaporation of a watery matrix and hardening minerals. The mechanism to lay down coarse sand sediments can only be scientifically explained by high-velocity currents driven by water in a single catastrophic event.

As predicted by the Biblical World Flood, we observe the sorting of sand grains with the denser falling out first at the bottom and the fine grain on top caused by multiple surges ordering the sand in layers making a hard rock foundational layer. This is precisely what we observe today.

The young-earth hypothesis suggests the sedimentary rocks should be laid down by the Genesis flood over the continents, as seen in the Grand Canyon. That’s what is found at the earth’s surface, where at least 73 percent of the continents are sedimentary rocks. It is interesting to note that of all the rocks that tell the story of the earth, only sedimentary rocks give us an accurate idea of the past. It is the only place the sediments are cemented, forming different kinds of strata, and where all the fossils are found that speak loudly of the worldwide biblical flood. The bible warns us that there will be those who will scoff at us for our belief in the Creation account in Genesis by stating,

“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” (2 Peter 3:5-6)