The recent discovery of fossilized trees in Antarctica leaves researchers with unanswered questions which some Bible scholars think they can answer: a global flood that occurred precisely as described in Genesis.
A team of scientists led by Erik Gulbranson, a paleoecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, discovered a forest of fossilized trees in Antarctica’s Transantarctic Mountains. They claim that the collection of evergreens, deciduous trees, and gingkoes is the “oldest polar forest on record from the southern polar region.”
The scientists claim the fossilized remains indicate a catastrophic global event in which 95 percent of the species on Earth became extinct. They believe this massive die-off was caused by greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes, which raised the planet’s temperatures to extreme levels and caused the oceans to acidify.
“What we’re trying to research is what exactly caused those transitions to occur, and that’s what we don’t know very well,” Gulbranson said.
Dr. Tim Clarey, a geologist from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), believes he has the answer that the researchers are searching for: the Biblical flood in the time of Noah. Dr. Clarey is an advocate of Young Earth Creationism, a theory that the universe, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of God less than 10,000 years ago.
“This discovery should be no surprise to those who take Genesis as literal history,” Dr. Clarey wrote on the ICR website. “These discoveries demonstrate that a much warmer global climate existed in the pre-Flood world.”
They haven’t dated the forest precisely but the researchers believe it flourished about 280 million years ago before being rapidly buried in volcanic ash, which preserved it down to the cellular level.
Dr. Clarey’s Biblically-based explanation of the fossilized forest is significantly different. Prefacing his comments with the disclaimer that he “does not advocate these dates of millions of years as accurate”, Dr. Clarey described a different series of events that led to the fossilized remains.
“These trees were buried rapidly during the global Flood described in Genesis,” Dr. Clarey wrote. “Temperate and tropical plants and animals were caught up and quickly buried in the ash, mud, and sand that engulfed them in this cataclysmic event.”
Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jewish physicist with a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has a text-based understanding of the flood that precludes a global catastrophe scenario.
“When the rain fell before the creation of Man, the Hebrew term used is ‘pnei ha’admah’,” Dr. Schroeder said.
But a flow would well up from the ground and water the whole surface of the earth. Genesis 2:6
“For the flood in the time of Noah, the words used are ‘pnei ha’aretz,” Dr. Schroeder noted.
And on the seventh day the waters of the Flood came upon the earth. Genesis 7:10
“‘Ha’adamah’ never appears again by itself in the Torah,” Dr. Schroeder said. “Haadamah refers to a global phenomenon, but ‘haaretz’, as it describes the flood, refers to a regional phenomenon.”
“This scientific discovery has nothing to do with the region so it has nothing to do with the Biblical flood story,” concluded Dr. Schroeder. “The flood certainly happened, but it did not destroy the entire world.”
“Every word of the Torah is from God given to us at Sinai, but not every word should be understood literally, exactly as it is written,” Dr. Schroeder emphasized.
The Antarctic researchers also noted the similarities between the volcanic global catastrophe 280 million years ago and current theories of global warming.
“There are obvious parallels to contemporary climate change,” Gulbranson said, “Which is less extreme but similarly driven by greenhouse gases.”
Ironically, those who warn of global warming predict that it will lead global flooding, similar to the Biblical scenario. Dr. Schroeder is skeptical of this connection.
“Climate change is constantly going on,” Dr. Schroeder said. “Whether it is getting warmer or not is data that needs to be presented and considered. The debate is over what is causing the change. It could be industrialization. It could also be a wobble in the earth’s axis, which takes eons to express itself.”