Can Science Go "Back to Genesis"?
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
We often state that Genesis is foundational to the rest of Scripture, and without a good foundation the rest won't make much sense. Unfortunately, Christians are typically poorly taught in these concepts, and thus have difficulty in formulating and implementing the Biblical world view as it relates to society as well as doctrines built on creation.
But how about scientific research? Can we do better science and understand the past better by going "Back to Genesis"? Before answering, let me point out several truisms regarding science. First, we can never have all the pertinent data. The data we do have exist in the present, and are studied in the present via the scientific method. When dealing with creation and/or evolution, we are attempting to reconstruct past events by interpreting evidence, which exists in the present, the results of past events, which were not observed and cannot be duplicated. Furthermore, the interpretation of any set of facts relies, to a great extent, on one's view of the past held before studying the present data. And finally, proving any view of the past is quite impossible. We can, however, compare competing views.
If one holds to a naturalistic worldview, that person will interpret all data within that scheme. Data alone cannot force a change of perspective. But if one holds that the supernatural events given in Scripture really occurred, (i.e., Creation, Fall, Flood, miracles, etc.) then the present data will be interpreted within that model.
The Flood of Noah's day, if it happened the way the Bible says, would have deposited many layers of sedimentary material full of dead creatures (later turned to rocks and fossils). In order to fully understand the rocks and fossils, we must first recognize this.
When we do, we will be able to make "predications" about the geologic data. Since the Flood was a catastrophic event, we ought to see evidence that the majority of rocks were deposited rapidly by dynamic events, not by slow and gradual processes. Erosion would also be extensive and different from modern erosion. Since the Flood was global, we should see that processes operated on a regional or continental scale, not merely on a local scale. We should see that late in the Flood, as the earth began to adjust to a new equilibrium state, we should see evidence of late-Flood mountain uplifts and massive volcanic eruptions.
And that's exactly what we do see. In fact, almost all geologists have adopted a much more catastrophic stance in recent years, proposing interpretations as turbidities, basal conglomerates, etc. Individual beds are now recognized as being regional or even continental in scale, not local, like modern deposits. Erosion in the past, producing large river valleys, peneplains, and incised meanders was quite different from modern erosion, which accomplishes comparatively little. Almost all mountain chains and volcanic episodes occurred more recently than the major depositional episodes.
We can't prove Noah's Flood scientifically, but we can show that the evidence, properly interpreted, points to a global, catastrophic event like Noah's Flood. The evidence is compatible with Biblical history. It is exactly as it should be, if the Bible is true.
By going "Back to Genesis," we can make sense of the geologic evidence. Conversely, if one denies the Flood as history, the evidence is difficult to interpret. The Biblical framework works in science, and strengthens our faith in God and His Word.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.