Did you know that plate tectonics and continental drift is used in 7th and 10th grade California science textbooks to back up evolution teaching?
“According to the theory of plate tectonics, Earth’s landmasses [continents] have changed position over time because they are part of plates that are slowly moving.…The movement of earth’s plates has affected the evolution of living things,”1 according to the 7th grade textbook, Focus on Life Science. The 10th grade textbook, Biology by Miller & Levine, further reenforces this concept, stating that, “Over the long term, the process of continental drift has produced…dramatic changes in Earth’s biological landscape,”2 driving the process of evolution forward.
Is this really true, though? We can certainly observe the effects of plate tectonics today. For example, we can measure the distance that earth’s plates travel per year (on average, 3-5 cm)1,2, and we can see how the landmasses on either side of a fault are ‘offset’ by a large earthquake. We also find evidence that Earth’s continents were connected in the past. For example, the east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa match each other perfectly, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Also, fossils of the same land animals are found on both continents, showing us that were once connected, enabling the creatures to walk across what is now a vast ocean.3
We can be fairly certain that Earth’s plates have moved in the past, based on observational science. However, in order to answer questions like, “When?,” and “How long did it take?,” we must step into the world of historical science, where assumptions must be made, because we weren’t there to observe what actually happened.
While most geologists assume that because earth’s plates are moving slowly today, they must have always moved slowly, the Bible seems to paint a different picture of Earth’s past. When God separated land and sea in Genesis 1:9, He commanded that “the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” This seems to indicate that the dry land was gathered into one place as well; i.e. a pre-Flood “supercontinent.” Later, in Genesis 7:11 and Psalm 104:6-8, we are told that the global Flood of Noah’s day began when “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth,” and ended when, “the mountains rose,” and “the valleys sank down.” The Bible is speaking of real, tectonic forces at work during the Flood cataclysm.
Beginning from these passages, creation scientists have put forward a new model of the motions of Earth’s plates, called Catastrophic Plate Tectonics. In this model, the ‘fountains of the great deep’ represent mid-ocean rifts (like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge), which broke open at the onset of the Flood, causing Earth’s plates to shift rapidly. The single land mass created during creation week (which creation geologists call ‘Rodinia’) was fractured, and the resulting landmasses were later brought back together during the Flood, forming Pangea, which then separated to become today’s continents. This model has been shown to work extremely well in explaining Earth’s surface features, including mountains and rock layers, as well as features of its interior structure.4
In summary, plate tectonics is an observable, testable process, but the models of how it worked in the past must be based on assumptions. So, we are left with the choice of either accepting the words of fallible men who weren’t there to observe the past, or to make the Bible, the Word of God who always was there (and who never lies), our starting point for understanding reality. Who will you choose to trust?
Free resources for further study:
1Coolidge-Stoltz, Elizabeth. Focus on California Life Science. Boston, MA: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. 284. Print.
2Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Miller & Levine Biology. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006. 554. Print.
3Tarbuck, Edward J., and Frederick K. Lutgens. Earth, an Introduction to Physical Geology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005. 37-73. Print.
4Snelling, Andrew A. Earth’s Catastrophic Past. Vol. 1. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 2009. 683-711. Print.