June 13, 2014

NEWS: Earth has "Oceans" of Water Deep Underground

I'm pretty excited about a recent discovery of large amounts of water deep in the Earth, in a mineral called ringwoodite,[1] because it confirms something the Bible says. This water is trapped within the mantle, some 410 miles down. If this water exists all around the globe in the mantle, then there could easily be about three times as much water trapped down there than all the oceans contain! This is a huge reserve of water. It has implications about the early Earth that help bolster the Bible's statement about how the oceans formed.

Job 38:6-11 says: “To what were [the earth's] foundations fastened?  ... Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’” (NKJV). This passage, clearly referring to the early Earth and its formation, seems to indicate that the seas or oceans formed primarily from water apparently coming out from the inside of the earth. That has been my interpretation of this passage for years, now. As I wrote in my book entitled Genesis One Commentary:
Consulting with Job 38:8-9, I believe we see that the primitive earth had a thick, dark “cloud” surrounding it that prevented sunlight from reaching the earth’s surface. . . . Before that, apparently the global ocean or sea was created partially from water within the magma oceans that bubbled up and filled the atmosphere (Job 38:8).

It is possible that the primitive earth was hot and the water came up and created a watery, steamy, thick atmosphere that blocked out the sunlight. As the earth cooled, part of the water condensed and formed the global ocean, while the other half remained in the atmosphere and continued to make for darkness. This primitive state of the earth was roughly 4.3 Ba by modern dating methods. The giant global ocean was relatively shallow compared with today, and the atmosphere was thick and dark with moisture and likely pollution such as methane and carbon dioxide.
It has been assumed that most of the ocean waters came from comets that struck the early Earth—even though one study had shown previously that there was likely plenty of water within the earth’s early magma oceans to form a significant global ocean. Now, however, with the finding of vast amounts of water in this ringwoodite mineral deep in the earth, there is good reason to believe that the early Earth really did have plenty of water to form much of the oceans. As one report has said:
The water in the mantle rock, which could equal the amount of water in the world's oceans, may be an integral part of sustaining water on the surface, Smyth said. It also implies that the Earth's oceans likely formed from water stored deep beneath the Earth, rather than from a comet or asteroid, as other scientists have theorized, Smyth said.[2]
Thus, even though this is very preliminary, it seems likely that the above interpretation of Job 38:6-11 is valid and another good example of the amazing scientific accuracy of the Bible.

June 12, 2014

News Related to Day Five (Gen. 1:20-23)

Creation Day 5, as I interpret Genesis 1, was a time when extent kinds of social sea creatures were proliferating (Gen 1:20a), and when birds were first forming (Gen 1:20b). It seems to correspond with the time from roughly 250 – 65 Ma.

A problem that non-Bible believers could raise in regard to the Bible’s Genesis timeline is that land animals were forming at the same time as sea creatures. Additionally, it is arguable that birds formed much after land animals were already coming into being.

However, both of these objections to the timeline are erased when you consider only (1) soulful/social animals (Gen 1:20,24 LITV), and (2) modern/extent kinds of animals—e.g., those sea creatures that “swarm” presently in the waters (Gen 1:21), and those land animals that presently “creep” on the earth (Gen 1:25), and animals no longer evolving into new species but reproducing more strictly “according to their kind.” The animals being discussed in Genesis 1, as I interpret it, are the basic animal kinds that did not go extinct before Man walked the earth.

Here are some recent stories that may help confirm the Bible’s timeline:

1) An Early Bird Had a Digestive System Like Living Birds [~140-110 Ma]

One bird that existed within perhaps only 10-20 million years of the first “true” birds already had a complex digestive system similar to modern birds:

“This [fossil bird] reveals that the complex system of muscle contractions responsible for moving food from each section of the digestive system, capable of working in both directions, had already evolved in Early Cretaceous [140-100 Ma] ornithuromorph birds. This muscular system makes the digestive system of birds highly efficient by allowing items that would take long periods of time to digest to be regurgitated, reducing the weight of digestive system as it processes food.”
My guess is that birds were forming even before 160 Ma. By about 130 Ma most of the features associated with modern birds were already genetically activate. In contrast, the vast majority of modern kinds of land animals (e.g. mammals) had not begun to appear by 130 Ma. The last common ancestor (LCA) of mammals goes to only about 65 Ma. For birds it would appear that the LCA was at least 160 Ma.

2) Adult Dino Found With Feathers When Previously Unknown [~75 Ma]

So, apparently feathers were more common on theropod dinosaurs than previously known. A new discovery indicates that all dinosaurs called ornithomimid may have had feathers:

“The researchers found evidence of feathers preserved with a juvenile and two adults skeletons of Ornithomimus, a dinosaur that belongs to the group known as ornithomimids. This discovery suggests that all ornithomimid dinosaurs would have had feathers.”
The point I would make is that dinosaurs were the temporary forerunners of birds. You could even say that they were large “pre-birds.” The genetic information within dinosaurs may have become so specifically limited such that they would either go extinct or evolve to birds. Most of them did go extinct, perhaps because of a lack of new unexpressed genes that would allow them to rapidly adapt. God seems to have intentionally set dinosaurs up for extinction, in my opinion. In any case, many dinosaurs appear to have “sprouted” feathers for various purposes, even though feathers are highly specialized for flight (as best we know from modern feathers).

3) Rate of Formation of Some Fish Kinds Dropped to 1/5th About 50 Ma

Once the new genetic information within fish was exhausted, they slowed in their rate of speciation. A new study has found that the rate dropped around 50 Ma for some class of fish (spiny-rayed fish) to about one fifth of its previous rate. Thus, depending on extinctions, etc., something like 75-91% of spiny-rayed fish kinds formed from about 150-50 Ma, while the remaining kinds formed in the last 50 million years.

Put that together with the fact that about 90-96% of sea creature species died out around 250 Ma, and you can infer that the primary time when fish species were forming was from about 250-50 Ma.

On the other hand, mammals began forming around 65 Ma. Perhaps something like 90% of modern land creatures formed from 50 Ma until the present time.

The Bible is accurate in placing the primary speciation of modern sea creatures and birds before the primary speciation of land animals.

Here is a rough estimate of the percentages of modern families of animals that have existed in the last 250 million years:

June 11, 2014

The Garden of Eden

(Note: I apologize in advance for not having all my cross-references for this post.)

Genesis 1-3 give details about the place where the first true humans lived. Should we take this story as mere poetry rather than literal? Or does science and archeology confirm the Bible’s account? I believe that there is a strong case to be made for the Bible being literal history, and here is why. First, though, temporarily throw out any preconceived notions of what the Bible is talking about or the time period to which it refers, because science has taught us that the earth is old and humanity has a much longer history than was previously believed.

My theory has been that pre-humans lived in East Africa before Adam and Eve’s time. These were human-like animals with greater intelligence than any other animals, though still not up to human levels. The Out-of-Africa model I believe is partly correct. Though there were other pre-human migrations out of Africa, only one migration resulted in true human civilization, around 75,000 years ago (100-65 Ka). This migration ended with only one individual surviving and moving all the way to a place later called Eden. The pre-human individual somehow became Adam. (It is probable that this pre-human died and was revived and given a human spirit and so became the first true human.) With careful analysis of the Bible, Eden can be identified as somewhere near the Persian Gulf, I believe.

So, given this theory, let’s list some points about the data uncovered related to the first humans who lived in the Near East (this is one interpretation of the data):
  1. The most-recent migration out of Africa of the ancestor(s) of all modern humans occurred roughly 100-70 Ka 
  2. Some very early individual(s) settled near the Persian Gulf [~100-75 Ka][1] 
  3. During this time, the sea level was lower and the Persian Gulf would not have existed 
  4. There would have been four rivers in this area, possibly coming together as one river: the Tigris, Euphrates, Wadi Baton (going into Arabia), and Karun (going into Iran) 
  5. This area would have been an ideal, well-watered “oasis”,[1] with fresh river water and springs 
  6. The Fertile Crescent, in this area, could have supported many fruit trees, nut trees, and other edible plants—even year-round
  7. Later, the Persian Gulf flooded 
  8.  A very large flood could extend from the Persian Gulf up to the base of the mountain range that includes Mt. Ararat in Turkey.

Now, here’s what the Bible says in comparison:
  1. The first human was somehow moved to Eden (Gen. 2:8), which was near the Persian Gulf 
  2. The river in the Garden of Eden split into four rivers: the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon (going throughout Arabia), Gihon (going toward Iraq/Iran) (Gen. 2:10-14)
  3. Eden was a well-watered location (Gen. 13:10; 2:10), better than surrounding places (Gen. 4:12, 16; 3:17-19, 24)
  4. Eden had both “fruit” trees and edible plants (Gen. 1:29; 2:8-9, 16) 
  5. Later, the populated areas in and around Eden were flooded (Gen. 7), though there’s no way of knowing just how big an area became occupied by humans 
  6. A large, universal flood (i.e., all true humans died other than eight people) flooded the area up to the “mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4).

As you can see nothing here is contradictory. In fact, the degree of agreement is striking. Could Moses have guessed about this or created an accidental parallel with true human history going back to 75 Ka? Not likely.

[1] Consider that Genesis accurately describes the rivers “going out” from Eden (not to be confused with “flowing out” from Eden). From the perspective of someone following the river going through Eden, it parted into four rivers, two of which are easily identified as Tigris and Euphrates. The one called “Pishon” is described as going through “Havilah,” where there was gold and precious stones. Havilah is elsewhere associated with Arabia in the Bible (cf. 1Sam. 15:7; Gen. 25:18). It is well known that Arabia has had gold and other precious stones. There is an ancient, dry riverbed that runs through much of Arabia, the Wadi Batin. The one called the “Gihon” went into the land of “Cush,” which is elsewhere associated with Iraq (cf. Gen. 10:8-10) and Iran, some believe. This may well be the Karun river (or the Karheh river) that joined up with Tigris and Euphrates. People of Moses’ time, living well after the Ice Age, would not have known about these other two rivers joining with the Tigris and Euphrates. It would be unlikely that they would even know about the Wadi Batin river to begin with. Yet, the Bible accurately describes these four rivers, and it notes that they once joined into a single river.

[2] Genesis describes this place as a fruitful paradise, where the first Man lived. Though the concept of pre-humans versus humans seems artificial, no one really knows for sure exactly when fully-modern man arose. Many of the major attributes of modern man, however, seem to have begun around the time of the Out-of-Africa event, roughly 100 Ka. This includes wearing of clothing (~70-200 Ka), religion (50-300 Ka), complex language (~100 Ka), domestication (15-140 Ka), and understanding of music and art (~30-60 Ka, or earlier). That this area now under the Persian Gulf would have been a paradise around the time that a branch of early Homo sapiens (our ancestors) migrated from Africa and formed settlements near it is pretty well established, however. Around 75-100 Ka, a small group of Homo sapiens left Africa and migrated up to the Persian Gulf area and settlements eventually were formed to the east of this area. This would be what the Bible is saying was the start of humanity.

[3] Noah’s Flood was plausibly described, if it were a large but localized flood in the Near East. Because the Bible describes detailed geographical markers in the Near East that still exist, we can be relatively certain that Noah’s Flood was not a global flood, as is usually believed. A global flood would be much too destructive for these geographical markers to have survived, which is why global flood proponents suggest that the Tigris and Euphrates mentioned in Genesis 2 were very different rivers from the ones of today with the same names. (Another clue that it was a local flood is in Genesis 8:5-9. The “tops of the mountains” became visible, v.5, but the text later says that the “whole earth” was still covered in water, v.9, which means that “whole earth” is not to be taken as all-inclusive of every bit of land on the whole globe.) People of Moses’ day would not have typically known that a large flood was possible as described in Genesis. The flood described in Genesis is plausible because a super-storm near the gulf could push water into the plains near it, causing flooding all the way up to the base of the mountain range of which Mt. Ararat is a part. Again, a global flood ignores this plausibility factor and attributes it to mere coincidence. Too many coincidences just don’t float, pun intended.

Putting all this together, you see that the Bible may be describing something very profoundly accurate scientifically and historically, but nothing like described in most Sunday school classes. We should take the Bible literally and factually, not purely poetic and allegorical.

[1] http://www.livescience.com/10340-lost-civilization-existed-beneath-persian-gulf.html