Great Turnovers!

The book of Job contains interesting allusions to "overturning" of mountains and of the earth that, on the surface, appear to have relevance to geology. One must say "appear," because Biblical creationists like me can be accused of being overly literal! "He putteth forth His hand upon the rock; He overturneth the mountains by the roots" (Job 28:9). It is God "Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in His anger" (Job 9:5). "Behold, He withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also He sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth" (Job 12:15).

The Hebrew action verb in these verses is haphak, and, like many words, it can carry a number of different meanings depending on the context.

Among its usages, however, are ones that are clearly physical and literal. For example, in Joshua 7:8, "Israel turneth |haphak| their backs before their enemies"; in Hosea 7:8, "Ephraim is a cake not turned |haphak|"; and in Gideon's dream, "a cake of barley bread tumbled |haphek| into the host |camp| of Midian" (Judges 7:13). A particularly graphic usage for haphak appears in II Kings 21:13, in which God says, "and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning |haphak| it upside down." Of course this offers no proof that Job's usages were meant to be taken literally; it merely opens the possibility. But could there have been a literal overturning of the mountains, and of the earth?

Most freshman geology students are impressed to learn of whole mountain ranges that have been up-faulted by 30,000 feet, often overturning strata on their flanks. Sections of sedimentary rock 1,000 feet or more in thickness have obviously been overturned in true topsy-turvy fashion in Nevada's Basin and Range province. Whole mountains are known to have slid 60 miles or more. Even more impressive overturnings are known in the subsurface of western Wyoming, where oil-bearing sandstone layers have been folded repeatedly, having been overturned by the thrusting (or sliding) of gigantic slices of earth.

These things are truly amazing, yet the average geologist almost yawns with boredom as he declares they happened at imperceptibly slow rates. His confidence, however, is derived more from a faith in the enlightenment dream of uniformitarianism than from observable fact. As reprehensible as it may seem to most geologists, there is nothing in science to forbid the possibility that these events involving overturning were truly catastrophic, and that God had a hand in them. Maybe Job knew something modern geologists don't.

The grandest of "overturnings" may have taken place when continents like Africa and South America moved apart from one another. The most credible geophysical models available to science indicate these movements took place in orchestration with a complete overturn of the earth's mantle and crust over a timeframe of months rather than millennia. Global plate tectonics is best interpreted in the context of a year-long flood. ICR geophysicist John Baumgardner has worked for years to develop this model for catastrophic plate tectonics. (See

Geology knows of "overturnings" of mountains. Global tectonic models work best by invoking an overturn of the earth. Job may have been right, if we will dare to take him literally. Perhaps Job had divine geologic insight into events back in Genesis.

*William A. Hoesch, M.S. Geology, is an ICR Research Assistant in Geology.

Cite this article: Hoesch, W. 2007. Great Turnovers! Acts & Facts. 36 (5).

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