Perspective: Ice Ages Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism

NO! This does not imply that science is above the Bible (Scripture). Ellen White invariably stated that the Bible was the only guide “… the unerring standard” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, 425). We accept that. YES, it does mean that God’s Second Book, the Book of Nature, should be used to amplify Scripture, or in the usage here to elucidate the natural world of the past. “All true science,” she wrote, “is but an interpretation of the handwriting of God in the material world” (Christian Experience and Teaching, 66). We have adopted this approach.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thank you for a thoughtful and thorough consideration of YEC and the evidence for ice ages. I particularly appreciated the quote from Young and Stearley, “‘Proving’ the Bible or Christianity with spurious scientific hypothesis does not honor God and can only be injurious to the cause of Christ. We must not defend God’s truth by arguing falsehood on its behalf…”

I do wonder though what you consider happened about 6-10 thousand years ago during creation week in your two-stage creation theory. The ice and lake cores you mention contain pollen from plants dating back much further than 10 thousand years ago. In addition, the accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere, which you mentioned, occurred largely due to the photosynthesis of early plants and algae over billions of years. If plants were already present, why would a second creation of plants be necessary on the third day of creation week about 6-10 thousand years ago?


The authors have convincingly demonstrated that a post flood ice age, as postulated by some YEC advocates, is a preposterous notion. However it seems they’ve gone on to imply that so long as you allow for the earth itself (and the universe) preexisting prior to creation, Genesis can still be read literally.

In addition to the excellent points raised by @brentonreading regarding evidence of vegetation in the “preexisting” earth, there are also other problems. For instance, the authors appeal to ice core research to demonstrate the impossibility of a post flood ice age occurring circa 2000 BC, but this same research conclusively demonstrates there could not have been a world-wide flood any time in the past approx. 90,000 years. Thus Genesis cannot be read literally in its reference to a flood that covered the whole world.

Another problem is that within the rock from which some of the canyons were apparently carved during the last ice age (circa 12,000 BC), are numerous animal fossils. (Ref this link for an example)

This rules out the possibility that those animals were created after the last ice age, during a recent creation week.

Then there are conflicts within the Biblical creation stories themselves, where the order of creation is different in the Genesis 1 story as compared to the Genesis 2 story. They cannot both be literally correct.

And in Exodus 20:11, God is quoted as saying “in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them”. Here the earth itself is identified as being created within the 6 days. And the reference to the heavens must be interpreted as including the sun, moon and stars - also created within the 6 days.

So if one really wants to read the Bible literally, one must support YEC. Once you realise the utter impossibility of YEC, why even attempt to harmonise your views with any of the literal details?


Why is that so hard to understand? Right or wrong, the centrality of the Sabbath in the Adventist identity runs the whole issue. There are certain foundational beliefs that the church will not revisit no matter what. That may sound laudable, but it might also be a sign of a lack of faith in the leading of the Spirit. The assumption that has to be made by the Adventist stand, is that the Christian message, through the centuries, up until William Miller showed up was not complete or sufficient. It must also be assumed that there is no more for the church to learn or consider, contrary to what EGW has said. In essence, this is an ultimatum to the Spirit that no more guidance is needed - we know it all.

We talk about “God’s second book”, and mean it to be nature. Realistically, nature must be God’s initial book since the written word didn’t show up until man had contended with life and belief for quite some time. Granted, the study of nature exploded in recent times, but nature was the only manifestation from God before writing was even invented. To ignore the science that studies nature is to deny that God has anything to do with all the discoveries science has brought to mankind. It’s to deny the basis for medicine and the technology the church is more than happy to employ.

Obviously this is a difficult issue for the church; and it takes courage and faith to deal with it honestly. The temptation is to take the shortcuts through church dogma and call it faith. If the church would cut out micromanaging how we individually relate to this issue and many others, it might facilitate our growth as well as its own, by supplying a framework for study and leave it up to God and the Spirit to do its work. As Jesus said, the Spirit is to lead us into all truth; but as it is now, the Spirit is crowded out by the strident stance the church is taking out of fear. The same thing happened as Gallelio made his discoveries known and was almost killed for it.


is there any evidence that the heart and mind of man have improved over time? humanity needs a Redeemer. God sent His Son. Recent is necessary to Sabbath keepers only. the Cross is necessary for all humanity. The centrality of Christianity is the Cross. Only a Creator/God could make it so. tom Z

p.S. Great distances are measured by the speed of light. great time is measured by the decay of carbon 14. That is based upon a constant supply of Carbon 14 over the history of atmospheric carbon 14. we know that is not so. China alone is producing more atomlspheric Carbon than the world in the days of Moses.

The point is we just don’t know about beginnings. We do know about assurance even in very troubled times. TZ


You elegantly point out that :
“The centrality of the sabbath in Adventist identity runs the whole issue”.
In another post elsewhere, you again made an articulate point:
“The elephant in the room is EGW”

Since the seventh day sabbath is embodied in our very name, a six literal day creation has always been one of Adventism’s paramount beliefs.
And as long as we find the phrase ".six thousand years " in the SOP “red books”, conservatives will have a perennial problem extending the age of the earth beyond that time frame.

For me, extending the age of the earth raises a far more profound, pertinent, and perplexing problem: It calls into question the very nature of God.
Since “the fall” when thorns and thistles and other calamitous evils prevailed, misery has been endemic on this planet. A recent internet post postulated that the Old Testamemt had more violence that the Quran.
Violence implies murder , rape, genocide, torture and every imaginable atrocity.

Since God/AllahJehovah, has the ultimate power to adjudicate both the beginning and the end of the age, the longer He allows misery/suffering/agony/anguish to continue, the less loving and compassionate He appears.

Conversely, because EGW’s Great Controversy scenario, confers some decision making/ arbitration on " the universe " by which I assume she means " unfallen " Angels and “beings”, it is difficult to conceive that these beings could contemplate human misery with EQUANIMITY for a period of multiple millennia.

Conceding a 70 000 – 200,000 year period for HUMAN life on earth, would tip me into the atheist camp. I already find the STENCH of six thousand years of abject misery on this planet to be TOO LONG for a loving God’s nostrils to tolerate.

So I was very pleased that in the presentation, although ice samples clearly show pollens, ice ages, volcanic eruptions and other major events to have extended back multiple millennia, that the authors still offer the hope that mankind has only inhabited this planet for six thousand years.

This whole creation story is fraught with multiple theological trapdoors, allowing Christians to plummet into atheism. One wonders why God in His wisdom was not more articulately clear in His description of events, assuming His omniscience allowed Him to preview these quagmires.


Thank you brethren!!!
Your insight into the impact of Young Earth Doctrine (?) on the thinking of educated young people both within the church and outside is beyond calculation… Thank you for sharing your tnoughts and learning on this vital issue. Jim Bussau.


This is interesting however invaribly certain assumptions have been made by the researchers which may or may not be valid. The Bible (epistle of Peter ) warns us against assuming that all things have progressed in an orderly fashion since creation (whenever that was) and that there have not been global catasrophes .

That thousands of mammoths perished suddenly and were instantly frozen on the plains of Siberia is fact not fiction but does the ice core samples pinpoint that climatic event.Maybe maybe not.

Part of the problem as I see it is assuming that the story in Genesis that the creation of mankind recorded in the first of the book is the same as the creation of A&E recorded later.
That is not necessarily so and there are a number or facts recorded that seem to suggest that many years if not eons separate the two stories.

For example warning A&E that death would result from disobedience would be meaningless unless death was something they could see and comprehend.

The suggestion that Adam was “the son of God” appears to differentiate him from the humanoids of the early part of Genesis .

We do not know for sure of course but it is unreasonable to assume creation only a few thousand years ago especially when the Bible could be suggesting a longer time frame.

If SDAs allow the Bible to speak for itself instead of looking at it through the prism of EGW perhaps a more rational understanding would emerge.


"For me, extending the age of the earth raises a far more profound, pertinent, and perplexing problem: It calls into question the very nature of God.

Since “the fall” when thorns and thistles and other calamitous evils prevailed, misery has been endemic on this planet. A recent internet post postulated that the Old Testamemt had more violence that the Quran.Violence implies murder , rape, genocide, torture and every imaginable atrocity.’

My answer to this very important question is:

God cannot do the logically impossible. God cannot create a married bachelor. God cannot create a mostly free and autonomous system where wrong choices will never be made!
Let me state this again: God is not able to do the logically impossible, such as create a world with ‘free and autonomous’ creatures where wrong choices and/or mutations do not happen!
If God would create a closed system with no free choice it would be like the garden without the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” peopled by totally ignorant beings, unable to relate as rational creatures—preprogrammed automata.
Augustine in his apologetics manual

The Enchiridion, writes, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.”
The Creator made possible the above outcome by creating beings with free will and moral aptitude who would choose their own destinies.

Christ Provision
The Creator, before he created, took responsibility for “all” the effects of freedom that ‘open creation’ would unleash in human society. God did this by punishing himself on the Cross, taking the responsibility for our sin. God did this from the beginning. “Foreordained before the foundation of the world, but manifested at the end of time for your sake." I Pet. 1:20
"The Lamb . . . was slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8
We see from these verses that The Creator, from his eternity, saw and re-acted to the sin situation before it actually ‘happened’ in the stream of earth-based time!
If this were not so then when mankind first sinned, mankind would have died “that very day.” Gen. 2:17.
Symbols of the Cross were placed on mankind before the event the symbols pointed to happened. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Gen. 3:21
The need for Calvary was “foreknown” and the benefits of the Cross proactively applied. “Who saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began.” II Tim. 1:9

The Creation Provision
The reality of the death of Christ on Calvary was pro-actively applied to mankind in the garden, thousands of years before the event. In the same way, the effects of sin (death) were applied to nature before creation.

The Creator, before He created, would foreknow perfectly the negative outcomes due to free choice, and from the beginning He would design nature with the ability to adapt and maintain balance.

Nature was “made subject to vanity, not of its own [God’s] will . . .” Rom. 8:20 which is not referring to Adam but to God.

Death and predation–“Vanity” according to Paul, would be a reality until the “restoration of all things.” Acts 3:21
The Creator, in the final day, would free nature from this “bondage and corruption.” Paul again reminds us, “The creature was made subject to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him [God] who subjected the same in hope.” Rom. 8:20

“In Hope!” There is an inner sense in human hearts that something is wrong with this world, and a desire or hope for a “better country.” There is a hope in the heart of man for God, and a sense that God in heaven is good, and that things are wrong here, but there must be a plan.
Our desire and hope for a ‘better world’ resonates with Scripture’s promises that “. . . the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Rom. 8:21

In the New Creation, mankind and all of nature will experience freedom and Perfection --goodness will be realized on earth as it is in heaven without over-ruling free will!

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Have you ever heard a sermon in an SDA Church on Deut 5:12 as opposed to Ex 20:8? I never have, and I’ve often wondered why that is.

I applaud the authors of this article, for accepting the evidence of Science and the detailed record it has left of major events in the Earths history, including remarkably accurate dating methods. I wish they would have extended this just a little and given us some evidence and dates for Creation Week and the Flood. I’ve looked in vain for any Scientific evidence and the associated dates for either event within the last 6ky.

It pays to keep in mind, that the mainstream Scientific understanding we have today was developed initially by largely Christian individuals whose worldview and preconceptions was exactly that of Divine Creation, Creation Week and a global Flood. They were forced away from that worldview by evidence, not by preconceptions. Many YEC supporters today seem oblivious to this historical fact and act as though modern science is largely an artifact of an incorrect worldview of methodological naturalism biasing our interpretation of data. This is completely inverted from reality. It was data which forced a change in worldview instead, and many still cling to the old worldview and reject the data.


Evidence of glaciation in West Africa? I think Africa is part of the earth and mostly these researchers appear to focus on Western phenomena. By the way the absence of the Sun can create ice everywhere…and the sun appeared on the fourth day. Err but the water could roll…

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“cannot”, “must”, etc., are assumptions that define an argument with “conveniently” limited outcomes for subsequent rationalizations and “proofs in paradox”… human intellect is way too limiting sadly.

Should listen to Tom’s perspective, more encompassing of non-bias and relevance to living today.

“The point is we just don’t know about beginnings.”

For decades now, Christians baffled by the enormous amount of data supporting the extreme age of life and the planet, have clung to this false hope. Its true there are great mysteries, but that does not justify such an agnostic conclusion. Beginnings may be clouded–the origin of the universe, the origin of life–but we have successful dating methods for much of the time spent since then–especially the last 10,000 - 50,000 years

One month of spare time, spent understanding a single dating technique such as dendrochronology, ice core analysis, or c-14 dating, will disabuse anyone of this idea that “we just don’t know”.

We DO know, and it is time to stop pretending that we don’t.


Dendrochronology: dating based on tree rings --> cannot be used to force an age of the earth greater than 6000 years for two reasons: 1) God could, and almost certainly did, create fully mature trees, with rings; and 2) tree rings are not added consistently, as scientists also know.

Carbon-14 dating: based on the percentage of C-14 in the atmosphere, assumed to remain constant over time --> cannot be used to support life on earth greater than 6000 years because C-14 levels are 1) actually known to fluctuate, 2) tied to atmospheric conditions in the upper atmosphere which may well have changed at the time of the Flood, and 3) dissipate too quickly for accuracy beyond a short time period.

Radioactive age dating: based on half-lives of radioactive elements such as uranium (U) which finally result in lead (Pb) after decaying fully --> cannot be used to support long ages of life on this planet because 1) a false assumption is made that a particular sample was ALL uranium before decaying to lead, and this simply cannot be proven or known, 2) dating rocks in order to date fossils is a stretch to begin with, because those rocks could well have had any particular proportion of radioactive elements and the elements to which they later decay at any time in the sequence of their formation, and 3) assumptions are made, which have not and cannot scientifically be proven, that the decay rates have remained constant over time.

Coral-drilling dating: based on layers in sea corals --> cannot be used to date life on earth for the same reasons as the dendrochronology.

After the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, many scientific theories, such as long ages for rivers to carve out canyons, and for “forests” to be fossilized “in place,” were laid to rest. Things happened in a matter of months, not eons. Any modern scientist who intentionally avoids seeing such evidences before positing some long-age theory necessarily becomes suspect of having an agenda. That agenda is common in this world: it is an unwise agenda that seeks to avoid a knowledge of God, of His ways, and of His laws.


Although this may not be the best place to post this comment, I would like to say something about evolution:

  1. If Jesus Jesus is Creator, how is it that he, giving himself for his creation would use a process that is selfish at the core: survival of the ones who can get ahead by any means possible? Dawkins even calls the genes selfish.
  2. Eternal life does not make sense. If I were allowed to live forever, I would be a creature left behind, as the more recent ones would have “progressed” further, especially if progress is based on death, the replacement of less fit by the more fit.

Two, not one but 2 big BLATANT appeals to “authority” in the first pargeraph …

In Europe, it was actually pastors and priests who had hobbies of examining Natural Phenomenon that got interested in glaciation, rock formations of where they lived, and land development. the Alps and Scandinavia. Pastors in England also became curious about curious things found in the ground by farmers, just like those on central Europe.
Since Latin was the main foreign language of the Educated, they were able to converse with each other in Latin correspondence.
Geologists at that time – those looking for minerals to mine also noted similarities of structures in many areas.
It was the Geologists and Theologians who began developing a concept of how the Earth crust developed before Scientists became the main investigators.
Initially, all this conversation through Letter Writing was confined to Europe. There was no conversation with Americans, so ALL this knowledge and information that was floating around Europe was pretty much unknown in the Colonies. By the time it came to America, America was in the midst of the Religious Awakening, and that took up the main interest of the day.
Adventists at the time were just common folk with what then was basic education, so all this was out of their view also. Work, family, and Bible reading took up their time. So until about the time of George McCready Price, SDAs were out of the loop, except for perhaps, Charles Darwin’s, the Origin of Species, that he had felt pressured to compile, complete, and publish in late 1850’s.
I was at the Library yesterday reading magazines, and on the New Book Shelf was a huge book [even very heavy] called the Voyage of the Beagle. Full of 4-color photo plates of geology, people, places, creatures he would have seen going around the world. Many drawings of peoples he would have encountered and their various cultures. It also had many pictures of the things he would have collected on his trip and sent back to London. Many insects and other things not known before his trip.

Again, Adventism was out of the Loop on all this stuff. So all THEY and most of church goers in North America had was Ussher’s Chronology, and what little information was in Genesis 1-20.
While in England and the Continent, educated person’s were abuzz with active and shared curiosity and investigation. More questions than answers about the Natural Phenomenon they saw around them.


I appreciate hearing all of you grapple with this difficult topic. I don’t think the answers are simple, but I do think they are important, and I fear we lose credibility when we fall back on a literal week of creation 6,000 years ago without solid data. For a long time I have been looking for a model that agrees with the bible and observation…I believe it exists, but I am yet to find it. I appreciate the author pointing out things we need to consider…and even if the dates were off by a factor of 10 (which I doubt) things still wouldn’t fit in 6,000.
What are some models that some of you have considered? Tim Price

David, when you say “Ice Age” are you referring to the time when pretty much all of Canada and the northern edge of the US was covered in ice (considered by some to be 12,000 years ago.)
To me the Milankovitch seems to be gaining favor (contrary to the link). The theory seems to indicate an older earth, as well as provide a dating mechanism not reliant on radiometric methods. As I work towards a model, this seems to be a very important piece. (I’m not familiar with the Oard theory…thanks for the link.)

The gap theory you mention has intrigued me for some time…not because I like it, personally I love the traditional creation story, but because it might makes sense. God makes the earth a few bacteria and maybe a plant (are we OK with bacteria and plants?) and leaves for a couple billion years…then returns 6,000 years ago and makes Adam, the animals and the real plants. This would seem to solve a lot of problems if it weren’t for the fossils of T-Rex, etc. I’m not comfortable with God using survival of the fittest…could it be that the Devil was working with survival of the fittest long before the Garden of Eden? …and the Garden was God beginning to reclaim the earth?

I have a few more questions about how you see the flood supporting the ice age later…


Eventually the only logical conclusion many, including myself, come too ( and it may take some time) is a version of theistic evolution. I believe it is the only model that honestly fits within our scientific understanding but still provides a meaningful role for the scriptural story of origins and need not diminish the role of the cross. Polkinghorn’s explanation of of evolution and natural evil as a necessity for Gods gift of free will is useful. The story of the fall can be viewed as a description of mankind’s growing awareness of good and evil in a general sense or a literal point in time that God intervened in the evolution of man and gave humans that uniqueness that distinguishes them from the other great apes. How this all fits into the Adventist perspective of the great controversy is an interesting discussion that I have never had the opportunity to divulge in as the Adventist community rarley permits open discussion of such things so I read widely, think a lot, and comment now and then on this blog.


God sends the Jews out to kill the neighboring countries, (men, women, children, and animals).
God stops the sun from circling the earth so the Jews can have more day light so they can really kill peoples who don’t have that type of god.
Today all three “peoples of scripture” believe God will come down and kill those other people that don’t understand God right. If God can’t get the job done right, lets strap bombs on our back, and fly bombers over head, and cut power and water to starving people, to get God’s work done faster.
Many people thing God wants women to be baby factories to flood the world with “our” type of bible believers.
This “dog eat dog” world of evolution and of the bible seems like the same world.