Friday, January 20, 2012

The Earth that Adam Knew?

What did the earth look like at the time of Adam’s creation? Later, when joined by his wife, they were given the grand privilege to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) Then, according to Bible chronology, 1,656 years later[1] the earth was flooded in the event called the Noachian Deluge.—Genesis 7:11, 12; 2 Peter 2:5, 6.

Was this land that saw the creation of the first intelligent physical person, Adam, and that experienced the devastating deluge, a single supercontinent? Did God do that? Did he create Adam on a supercontinent and then flood it? And did this deluge result in the subsequent supercontinental breakup into the modern continental configuration? This is exactly what young-earth creationism teaches. (Refer to Figure 1.)

Figure 1: a young-earth creationist poster
On the left, earth is depicted with a single supercontinent, but during the “Flood Period” the supercontinent is depicted as splitting-up into our modern configuration on the right.

While young-earth creationism teaches that Adam was created on the supercontinent which divided during the Deluge, it is wise to consider the situation from the Creator’s perspective. Plate tectonics is healthy for the earth and has resulted in many beautiful features of the land: diamonds, gemstones, and precious minerals on one end, and breath-taking mountains on the other. On the other hand, a supercontinent would create environmental extremes with a lush coast and dry interior because, as one scientist notes: rain clouds would not have been able to penetrate far inland. In such extreme climates, only a small proportion of the land could support life.” Indeed, the vastness of the supercontinent’s landmass would also provoke extreme weather. He explains: “Monsoons form because of temperature differences between the land and ocean. If you have a huge land mass, it warms up a lot and stimulates a mega-monsoon.”[2] Eventually, the supercontinent would start to divide, triggering seismic unrest and volcanism. Is this really an environment that God would want to create his first intelligent physical creation in? The reasonable answer is no. While it would have been conceivably easier for the primeval couple to “fill the earth” with their posterity and for the animals to have been gathered to Noah’s ark on a single landmass, after taking these other factors into account, it seems extremely unwise, and even unloving, to create Adam on a supercontinent. Thus, we have another reason why young-earth creationism is unreasonable.[3] Adam’s posterity would simply need to spread around the diversified world using land bridges and boats, and God was ultimately responsible for selecting and bringing the animals to the ark. It was Noah who brought them into it, as well as foodstuff.—Genesis 6:19-21; 7:2, 3.

But what about 2 Peter 3:5, which speaks of the antediluvian “earth standing firmly [or “having stood together” (Kingdom Interlinear Translation)] out of water”? (New World Translation) Does this translation of “standing firmly” or “having stood together” from the Greek imply a compact supercontinent standing out of water? No, for at the very least it means there was solid land protruding from the water. It simply cannot be used to teach that Peter believed in continental drift! That would simply be going too far and assuming he knew what we know.

Regarding the future of the continents, and the looming supercontinent that is estimated to form in about 250 million years, humans living on earth millions of years from now will have to wait on the Creator, the “Former of the mountains,” to see how he will direct matters.—Amos 4:13.

Concerning Genesis 2:5, 6
A consideration of Genesis 2:5, 6 is in order, paying attention to salient Hebrew words, which have been included below:
“Now there was as yet no bush of the field found in the earth [erets] and no vegetation of the field was as yet sprouting, because Jehovah God had not made it rain upon the earth [erets] and there was no man to cultivate the ground [adamah]. 6 But a mist would go up [or, “springs would well up”—NET Bible] from the earth [erets] and it watered the entire surface of the ground [adamah].”
Verse 7 is necessary to read in order to place these verses into their chronological sequence. It informs us that “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man [adam] out of dust from the ground [adamah].” This is more significant than many realize. Verses 5 and 6 are thus placed before the creation of Adam, during the second creative day described at Genesis 1:10-13. It was this watered soil, adamah, that Adam was created from. Thus, it must have preceded Adam. Significantly, when God told Noah at Genesis 7:4 that he would ‘make it rain on the earth,’ Noah did not seek clarification as if he had never experienced that before.[4] Thus, we may safely reason that it had rained during the antediluvian period. From this consideration we may postulate that while “rain clouds would not have been able to penetrate far inland” on a supercontinent, there probably were springs that watered the interior. However, this still does little to make a supercontinent a desirable place to create mankind on, taking those negative factors considered above into account.

[1] The “1,656 years” reference reflects the traditional paradigm that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are calculable and complete. However, to be fair, I must point out that this is an interpretation that does not account for specific evidence indicating genealogical selectivity. Regarding genealogical listing, Insight on the Scriptures cautions us that “often only the more important family heads would be named in those lists dealing with the more remote past,” and that “the chronicler himself may have skipped over sections because they were not necessary for his purpose. And they are not necessary for our purpose today.” (Vol. 1, “Genealogy, Bible Genealogy Is Reliable.” 913) Thus the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies are not necessarily calculable and complete.

[2] Williams, Caroline and Nield, Ted. Pangaea, the comeback. October, 20 2007

[3] For a more comprehensive deconstruction of young-earth creationism, see: Genesis Defended.

[4] See the January 15, 1998 issue of The Watchtower, page 9 paragraph 6.

See also:

Labels: ,