Heads I win, tails you lose
Coin flipping is a way of choosing between two alternatives. The person who calls correctly wins. It’s often used to make decisions at the beginning of games and sports. But if someone says “heads I win, and tails you lose”, then you always lose! That’s not fair. But it’s how people often treat the Bible. They are willing to accept many ideas, as long as they aren’t based on the Bible.
For example, Australian researchers have investigated Aboriginal stories describing times when sea levels were lower than today (Reid et al, 2014). The orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories were written down after Europeans arrived in Australia in 1788. The stories describe coastal flooding which the researchers identify with the rise in sea level since the last ice age to its present level about 7,000 years ago on the geologic time scale (Appendix A). See Appendix B for the equivalent biblical dates. The team analyzed the contours of the land where the stories were told and used reconstructions of prehistoric sea levels to date the origins of each of the stories. They claim that these stories can be 10,000 years old which represents accurate oral transmission across 400 generations. Nunn and Reid (2015) expanded their analysis to 21 stories about coastal drowning that in most cases was considered likely to recall the effects of postglacial sea-level rise more than 7,000 years ago. They also noted that “no Aboriginal stories are known that talk of the sea level falling and exposing coastal lands”.
Andrei Simic, professor of Anthropology (USCLA, California) has said, “As a general rule, folklore and oral tradition are not stable enough to be taken as inherently accurate witnesses of events from the remote past … As a general rule, unwritten legends that refer to events more than 1,000 years in the past contain little, if any, historical truth”. “The consensus appears to be that memories of particular events/persons can generally survive no more than 500–800 years, largely because the original information (core) has by then become completely obscured by the layers of narrative embellishment needed to sustain transgenerational interest in a particular story” (Nunn and Reid, 2015).
Reid et al (2014) state, “The evidence provided in this paper of widespread, consistent, and datable stories describing events prior to 7,000 years BP, suggests that such a view is unnecessarily pessimistic”. In fact, they claim that “the initiators of (these) oral traditions (were) … eyewitnesses to history”.
Nunn and Reid conclude, “If the scenario set out in this paper is valid—that a body of commonly themed stories does point to unbroken transmission over hundreds of generations—then this speaks of cultural continuity in multiple instances across time-spans previously deemed highly improbable”.
The Hebrew Pentateuch was compiled and written by Moses in about 1,440BC, which is about 3,460 years ago. Would these (and other) researchers accept the accuracy of the Hebrew stories in the Pentateuch? Probably not. But these stories were written down and transmitted in a textual form and not just oral like in the case of the Australian Aboriginals. Moses was literate as he had been brought up in a literate society in Egypt. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that the Pentateuch was available in written form about 2,170 years ago. And the time gap is much shorter, 3,460 years compared to 10,000 years. If 10,000 years represents about 400 generations, then 3,460 years represents about 138 generations.
Researchers are willing to believe an oral story that they believe is 10,000 years old, but they are unwilling to believe a written story that is 3,460 years old. That’s inconsistent! It shows their bias against the Bible.
According to the Biblical timescale (Appendix B), the oceans would have reached their current level about 3,800 years ago, which is 3,200 years less that the geologic time scale. This implies that the Aboriginal stories were probably 3,700 years old (3,900 minus 200), which is more credible than the 10,000 years quoted by the researchers. It also represents about 148 generations. This can explain the supposed “extraordinary longevity for these stories” (Nunn and Reid, 2015). And the supposed unbroken transmission of these stories over 400 generations. The post-glacial sea-level rise was probably more recent than is assumed by researchers using the geologic time scale. So the Bible provides a more credible explanation of these orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories than the geologic time scale.
No matter what happens, the geologic time scale is never questioned. It’s always accepted. And no matter what happens, the Bible is always questioned. It’s always rejected. Regardless of the evidence, the geologic time scale is never questioned. It’s always accepted. But it’s regarded as being “scientific”! What would it take to disprove the geologic time scale? It’s not possible to disprove it because the evidence is always interpreted in terms of the geologic time scale! That’s not a proper scientific method at all. It’s historical science, done badly. It’s like having a double-headed coin. And regardless of the evidence, the Bible is always questioned. It’s always rejected.
Peter explains why the Bible is generally rejected today, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ [God’s final judgment of the universe] He [God] promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation [naturalism; uniformity with no intervention by God].’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (2 Pt. 3:3-6NIV). Scoffers ridicule Christians in order to intimidate them. They think that God does not intervene in the world. But God intervened when He created the world and when He sent the global flood as a judgment on humanity. He ultimately is in control of the universe.
When extrapolating backwards in time, we need to recognize that naturalistic assumptions don’t apply to the flood and to the creation of the universe. These were unique events that we have no examples of today. They had a supernatural cause. For them, the past explains the present, rather than the present explaining the past. And as the geologic time scale extends past the boundary condition of the creation of the universe, it’s inconsistent with the Bible. That’s why it’s hypothetical and not real. A realistic model in historical science must respect the initial boundary condition.
Lessons for us
As the Bible provides a more credible explanation of these orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories than the geologic time scale, let’s be sceptical of the geological time scale. Unfortunately, many people are willing to believe an inferred history and reject a recorded history. This means their belief about the past is driven by an anti-biblical presupposition.
Appendix A: Geologic time-scale
The geologic time scale is a system of chronological dating that relates geological strata to time. It attributes most of the rock strata to geological processes occurring slowly over a long period of time. This hypothetical method relies on presuppositions such as:
– Slow deposition of rock strata over millions of years.
– Fossil succession based on biological evolution.
I am not aware of any research that has tested these assumptions. They are the naturalist’s “Bible”. Evolution and the geologic time scale have become academic dogma, and those who question them are regarded as heretics.
When reporting a new fact about how the two helixes in DNA unravel, Jay Wilde said, “Science is a wonderful way to gain knowledge about God’s creation, but by its very nature, it is tentative. You must always be willing to re-evaluate what you have been taught about science, because much of what you have been taught will eventually be shown to be wrong.”
Appendix B: Biblical dating of postglacial sea-level rise
The events of Creation week (Genesis 1) and the Genesis flood (Genesis 6–9) are the major shapers of the geologic record from a biblical perspective. It attributes most of the rock strata to geological processes occurring rapidly over a short period of time.
According to the Bible, the global flood in Noah’s day was about 4,500 years ago. The flood would have laid down extensive layers of sedimentary rock. As there is evidence of glaciation on the upper surface of these rocks and the ice remains today at high latitudes and altitudes, the ice age followed the flood. In fact, the flood probably caused the ice age. And there was only one ice age rather than many as is often inferred. Calculations indicate that that ice age maximum would have been about 4,000 years ago and the oceans would have reached their current level about 3,800 years ago (Walker, 2015).
It was the biblical flood that provided the conditions on earth that caused the ice age immediately after the Flood. The primary driver was warm oceans and a secondary factor would have been volcanic dust and aerosols high in the atmosphere. Oard estimated that the time to reach glacial maximum was about 500 years. This was based on based on a 25% depletion of solar radiation and a 12.5% decrease in the current values of the atmospheric and oceanic heat transports. And the time for the ice sheets to melt back to their present size was estimated to be about 200 years. This was based on energy balance considerations – the periphery of each sheet would melt first, and quickly, and the interiors more slowly.
This Biblical dating of the postglacial sea-level rise is an example of historical science that is consistent with the historical record in the Bible.
Reid N, Nunn P D, and Sharpe M, 2014, “Indigenous Australian Stories and Sea-Level Change”, Proc. 18th Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, Heinrich, P Ostler, N (eds), 82-87.
Nunn P D and Reid N, 2015, “Aboriginal memories of the inundation of the Australian coast from more than 7,000 years ago”, Australian Geographer, 47, 1, 11-47.
Walker T, 2015, “A preliminary age calibration for the post-glacial-maximum period”, J of Creation, 29, 1, 6-8.
Written, September 2019