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‘To the Ends of the Earth’: How did continents arise?

If by looking the world map you ever had the impression that the Brazilian coast fits perfectly with the west coast of Africa, like two pieces of a big puzzle, know that it was exactly from this interpretation that the theory of plate tectonics emerged.

In the 19th century, the French geographer Antonio Snider, having read Genesis 1.9,10 and analyzing the geological profiles and fossil sites of the two shores, he considered that there was a supercontinent that, by the catastrophic action of the great flood described in Genesis, gave rise to five continents we know today. However, his theory went unnoticed perhaps because he coincidentally published it the same year that Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species (1859). In addition, he published only in French – which possibly limited its access even further. Anyway, because of Darwin's best-seller, publications dealing with the biblical view of creation of the world no longer attracted people’ attention as before.

However, the creationist theory of Antonio Snider, wholly unrelated to the flood, was widely developed and adopted by the scientific community in the 1960s. But nowadays it is kept under uniformitarian assumptions, which stand that the separation of continents is due to the movement of tectonic plates on which the they are supported, but slowly and gradually over millions of years. As the continents still move slowly today (two to fifteen inches per year), uniformitarianism states that this rate has remained relatively constant for a long time and, knowing the distance between the continents today, it is estimated that the supercontinent existed millions of years ago.

Contrary to what we learn at school, uniformitarianism is just partially supported by scientific evidence that have been collected in recent years. Findings of erratic and rapid changes in magnetic polarity evaluated in ocean drilling with magnetometers and the geology of regions such as Peru, Chile and the Aleutian Islands (Alaska) are compatible with rapid tectonic activity understood by catastrophism. Thus, the geological findings are consistent with a hybrid model that seems to have been a rapid subduction movement of plates (a converging movement of tectonic plates where one plate slides under another often causing earthquakes and volcanic activity) followed by slow movement of these same plates. The flood described in Genesis beautifully combines this hybrid model in which there is an abrupt movement of plates (beginning of the flood) followed by their slow movement where water would flow off the continents, dragging a huge amount of sediment to the oceans.

As an event of this magnitude cannot be repeated, the only way to analyze it is by using 3D models on supercomputers. Thus, in 1993, Dr. Steve A. Austin developed a model that is considered one of the best available to portray what may have happened during the Genesis Flood.

In this model, plate movement is initiated by cracks in the ocean floor adjacent to the supercontinent that made this floor, denser and cooler than the mantle below, penetrate it, causing deformities and consequent increase in subduction velocity. The hot mantle, in turn, by contacting water, would lead to a bulky evaporation in the form of vapor jets, which would splash water in the atmosphere over 70,000 km, leading to its precipitation on the surface of the Earth as rain. In this regard, the Bible says: "In the hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights"(Gen. 7.11,12). Then "the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained" (Gen. 8.2).

Thus, the duration of the rain "forty days and forty nights" described in Genesis probably occurred while the plates were in subduction process. Furthermore, in this model, the ocean, by being in contact with the hot mantle, decrease its density compared to the pre-Flood ocean and reach a level more than a thousand feet above the previous, according to the biblical text that says: "And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the water increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and increased greatly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered."(Gen. 7.17-20).

The water would not only invade the supercontinent that would be dramatically changed, but would also carry a huge amount of sediments and marine organisms we found fossilized in all of today's continents. Once the subduction process was finished, the ocean floor would stop warming, increase its density and form gigantic basins and reservoirs to receive the waters that were still draining, reconfiguring mountains, valleys, plains and all we can see today in our continents. Not coincidentally, Moses wrote that "the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat "(Gen. 8.3,4).

With a catastrophe of global proportions, God brought judgment to the earth that was already flooded, no with water or sediments, but with violence and immorality. Our continents were formed, increasing the distance between people who subsequently spread and repopulated the earth as God had commanded. However, although the geographic distance increased between the continents and their peoples, God, for his great love, mercy and grace, shortened such separation in the hearts of men when Jesus Christ commanded, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all people "(Mark 16:15).

Ev. Leandro Boer

 

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