Podcast: Flood and Fossils

The fossil record has been caused by many episodes of major flooding through Earth history.  Discussion Group talk given in July 2022.

Talk given during the longest period of drought in the Uk that I can remember.

#2 De-Evolution of Horses

In Chile searching for a means to understand evolution and creation as both representing the truth, I remembered something that I had read in a Creationist book some 12 years earlier in 1980.  I remembered the comment that the horse had ‘de-evolved’ not evolved.  In effect, the primitive horse possessed four toes on the front legs and three toes on the back legs.  Over time these had been reduced to one.  The modern horse runs on one hoof on each leg i.e. one toe on each leg.  This adapts it to fast running in grassland environments.  (Incidentally the evolution of the horses’ teeth actually created these grasslands).  This equine story is presented as a classic textbook proof of evolution.  I’d stored this insight I’d read about in the back of my mind.

1992 Chile: Loss of parts – that rang a bell.  I’d read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin aged 14 and again aged 19.  It was my favourite book.  Darwin based much of his argument for Natural Selection on the observation of rudimentary organs.  Many organisms have organs and parts that no longer serve a function, and yet are present in a very rudimentary way.  When, in new circumstances an organ is not useful, it is reduced by Natural Selection until it is hardly present in some species, although fully developed in others.

Darwin commented that if species were created, then the presence of reduced, dysfunctional organs and parts makes no sense.  Why would God create a form of life with dysfunctional parts?  The God proclaimed by the church is a God of purpose.  This is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the operation of Natural Selection, and thus the belief that species have evolved from previous ancestors.

And yet, is this not the seed of its own destruction?

Quest for the historical adam

Each of God’s creations was whole, complete and perfect. Mankind was one of these creations.

He created them male and female, with the power of language, each possessing a soul.

God has never created a half-creature. He did not create a ‘hominid’ or upright walking, human-looking, non-human nor cause it to evolve from apes.

The historical Adam could be located 6000 years ago in the Neolithic, or come from prehistory 750 000 years ago with Homo heidelbergensis, or be located at the origin of the genus Homo some 2-3 million years ago.

Primitive members of the genus Homo; Homo habilis, the tool-maker or Homo ignis (Homo erectus), the fire-maker may have looked slightly different to ourselves and have a low hair-line on the forehead, but these were full human beings. Even the oldest fossils of all belonging to the human line, when reconstructed with human features rather than ape features, come out looking human.

The status of early, primitive members of the human line, in the eyes of the Creator, was that of having the original perfection and dignity of Adam and Eve, although we know they fell.

Quest for the historical Adam

The first humans

Job’s Dialogue with God

Job came from the land of Uz. He is probably Jobab mentioned as a younger son of Joktan in Genesis 10:26. If so he was a descendant of Noah via Shem who lived before the tower of Babel and before Abraham.

Uz was his grand father’s nephew, or some sort of second cousin twice removed (Uz appears in Genesis 10:23). Lands were named after tribal leaders.

Uz was located somewhere where the Sahara Desert is now found in North Africa. At the time, this land provided pastures for the herds of camels, sheep, oxen and donkeys which Job owned. He was a rich man.

In Job 6:15-17 Job makes reference to intermittent streams that flow from thawing ice and become torrents from melting snow. At the end of the Ice Age the climate of the Sahara was very different to what it is now. This shows how ancient the Book of Job really is. It may date from the earliest written texts of about 3200 BC.

The Book of Job gives a unique insight into life during the early Neolithic among the Semites and their strong faith in God prior to the time of the Patriarchs of Israel.

The story recounts a tale of woe: Job’s extensive herds of oxen, donkeys, sheep and camels were carried off in tribal raids and his servants were killed; then his brother’s house collapses on his sons and daughters killing them as they were feasting; finally Job is afflicted with an unsightly disease of sores. Satan who appears in the story says to God that Job will curse Him to His face when his own body is struck. Job’s wife says to him, “Curse God and die.”

The rough time that Job is experiencing gets even rougher when his friends pass judgment upon him saying he only has himself to blame for the suffering in his life. Job will not concede that this is the case. Job will not admit guilt and holds onto his integrity.

The book of Job is mainly about understanding God’s justice, but it is also the context of one of the most ancient references to God as Creator. At this time people thought that God clothed Himself with the clouds of the storm, throwing lightning to the earth like spears and spoke with the voice of thunder. This is voiced by Elihu in his discourse in Job chapter 37.

god speaks to job from the storm and out of the thunder

God answered Job from out of the storm. This is a paraphrase of Job:38-42: God thunders:

Who is this that darkens my counsel with words devoid of understanding? Stand up and brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?  Tell me if you know all this?  What is the way to the abode of light?  And where does darkness reside?

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?  Can you loose the cords of Orion?  Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the Bear with its cubs?  Do you know the laws of the heavens?  Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

God mocks Job and asks him, were you born when I created all these things? He goes on, who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?

The Lord finishes his discourse saying, will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him.

Then Job answered the Lord: I am unworthy – how can I reply to you?  I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

It ends with the Lord saying that Job’s three friends had not spoken of Him what is right, while Job had. Job is ordered to make sacrifices on their behalf to obtain forgiveness. After this Job is restored to health and prosperity, coming to own twice what he had before, and has seven more sons and three daughters.

The book of Job is an extraordinary book of drama, poetry, observations of nature and truth about God and the human condition.

I wish to conclude with the thought that none of us were there.  Nobody witnessed creation nor saw the Beginning.  But someone was there; God was present, the Creator of the universe.  He alone knows how creation happened.  He alone has power to create.  He brought matter out of nothing and created life from non-life.  

God alone saw creation as it unfurled. We cannot comprehend the fundamental things unless God reveals His purposes to us. Humility is the condition required for the gaining of knowledge and the understanding of things. To find wisdom let us seek it with the One who does know the answers to our questions.