by Stephen CaesarGlaciers and the Flood
Many creationists connect the Genesis Flood with the Ice Age(s), the occurrence of which was first deduced by Harvard creationist Louis Agassiz in the 1800s. This connection has been strengthened by a scientific expedition called North GRIP (North Greenland Ice-core Project), run by Danish scientist J. P. Steffensen. New Yorker magazine reported on the work of Steffensen and his team, and what it means for catastrophism:
"Over the past decade or so, there has been a shift in the way scientists regard the Earth's climate. The new view goes under the catchphrase ‘abrupt climate change,' although it might more evocatively be called neo-catastrophism, after the old, biblically-inspired theories of flood and disaster….[I]t is supported by overwhelming empirical evidence, much of it gathered in Greenland. The Greenland ice cores have shown that it is a mistake to regard our own, relatively benign experience of the climate as the norm. By now, the adherents of neo-catastrophism include virtually every climatologist of any standing….[T]he earth's climate has been in flux, changing not gradually, or even incrementally, but violently and without warning" (Kolbert 2002: 30).
The last Ice Age, known as the Wisconsin, supposedly occurred about 20,000 years ago (according to flawed old-earth assumptions). By drilling down into the glaciers that currently cover 80 per cent of Greenland, North GRIP has provided geologists with a witness to the rapid transition out of the Wisconsin.
The New Yorker reported: "What the record [in the ice] shows is that it was a period of intense instability. The temperature did not rise slowly, or even steadily; instead, the climate flipped several times from temperate conditions back into those of an ice age, and then back again. Around fifteen thousand years ago, Greenland abruptly warmed by sixteen degrees in fifty years or less. In one particularly traumatic episode some twelve thousand years ago, the mean temperature in Greenland shot up by fifteen degrees in a single decade" (Kolbert 2002: 34 [emphases added]).
The article noted that "scientists working on the Camp Century core [one of North GRIP's locations] weren't sure themselves what to make of what they had found" (Kolbert 2002: 34). Sigfus Johnsen, one of the scientists on the research team, commented, "It was too incredible, something we didn't expect at all" (Kolbert 2002: 34). The magazine also noted that another GRIP location, called Dye 3, "confirmed all the most significant Camp Century results, demonstrating that findings which had seemed anomalous were at least reproducible" (Kolbert 2002: 35).
Most important is the apparent cause of these catastrophic temperature fluctuations-a massive infusion of fresh water into the oceans. This coincides with the Genesis Flood, which included a gargantuan amount of rain, as well as fresh water from below the earth's surface (Gen. 7:11).
The New Yorker reported: "No known external force, or even any that has been hypothesized, seems capable of yanking the temperature back and forth as violently, and as often, as these cores have shown to be the case. Somehow, the climate system-through some vast and terrible feedback loop-must, it is now assumed, be capable of generating its own instabilities. The most popular hypothesis is that the oceans are responsible. Currents like the Gulf Stream transfer heat in huge quantities from the tropics toward the poles, and if this circulation pattern could somehow be shut off-by, say, a sudden influx of fresh water-it would have a swift and dramatic impact" (Kolbert 2002: 35 [emphases added]).
Phrases such as "a sudden influx of freshwater" and "a swift and dramatic impact" certainly invoke images of the biblical Flood. Moreover, as the article pointed out, the evidence for neo-catastrophism is so overwhelming that it has been embraced by nearly all geologists.
Kolbert, E. 2002. "Ice Memory." The New Yorker, 7 January.
Stephen Caesar has recently completed his master's thesis in archaeology at Harvard. He is the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.1stbooks.com.