Was There An Ice Age?

When Christians hear about an ice age, they tend to think that this idea is connected with the evolutionist’s theoretical timeline of billions of years of earth’s history, which refuses to accept the teaching that God created the world in six days. For example, the well respected, and helpful online resource Wikipedia tells us:

“An ice age is a period of long-term reduction in the temperature of Earth’s surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Within a long-term ice age, individual pulses of cold climate are termed “glacial periods” (or alternatively “glacials” or “glaciations” or colloquially as “ice age”), and intermittent warm periods are called “interglacials”. Glaciologically, ice age implies the presence of extensive ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres. By this definition, we are in an interglacial period—the Holocene—of the ice age that began 2.6 million years ago at the start of the Pleistocene epoch, because the Greenland, Arctic, and Antarctic ice sheets still exist.”

The website of the United Kingdom’s BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) quotes this extract word for word and advises the reader to go to the Wikipedia website for further information. The BBC is intolerant of the creationist position, and constantly promotes the evolutionary agenda. Independent broadcasters follow the same path.

One might despair feeling that expert opinion is against the Bible narrative but, as always, the Christian needs to keep in the forefront of his mind that God’s Word is always right and we have nothing to fear from the attacks of unbelievers. I remember reading some comments made by the highly esteemed Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones about the attacks of “experts” on the reliability of certain facts set out in the Bible. Basically his assurance was this: Don’t be overwhelmed by the opinions of so-called experts – there will be other experts who will contradict them; our faith doesn’t rest on the opinions of experts, rather it depends on what God has written in His Word.

Undoubtedly there are certain indications in the geological record that suggest there may have been an Ice Age. Dr Jake Herbert, who holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas, has stated that “there is strong geological evidence of an ice age.” Dr Herbert adds: “Today, receding glaciers often leave behind recognizable geological features such as drumlins (elongated ridges) and moraines (rock debris carved and then deposited either along the side or at the end of a melting, moving glacier). Since these features are also found in lower latitudes than today’s ice sheets and glaciers, it is clear that both the northern and southern hemisphere ice sheets extended to lower latitudes than they do today and have since melted.”

These comments are significant because Dr. Herbert is a creationist and also is an advocate of belief in a “young earth.” He says that the Bible’s “short timescale is critical in explaining the Ice Age.”

Another writer who supports Dr. Herbert’s position is Dr. Michael Oard who informs us that most creationists agree that there was one major Ice Age following the Flood recorded in Genesis.

He asks the question: Did the Flood Trigger the Ice Age? As this subject is outside my limited knowledge of science, I will quote Dr Oard’s response:

If uniformitarian scientists have severe difficulties accounting for ice ages, how would creationists explain an ice age or multiple ice ages? Let’s start with the recent ice age.

When attempting to account for ice ages, the uniformitarian scientists do not consider one key element—the Genesis Flood. What if there truly were a worldwide Flood? How would it have affected the climate? A worldwide Flood would have caused major changes in the earth’s crust, as well as earth movements and tremendous volcanism. It would have also greatly disturbed the climate. A shroud of volcanic dust and aerosols (very small particles) would have been trapped in the stratosphere for several years following the Flood. These volcanic effluents would have then reflected some of the sunlight back to space and caused cooler summers, mainly over large landmasses of the mid and high latitudes. Volcanoes would have also been active during the Ice Age and gradually declined as the earth settled down. Abundant evidence shows substantial Ice Age volcanism, which would have replenished the dust and aerosols in the stratosphere. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets also show abundant volcanic particles and acids in the Ice Age portion of the ice cores.

An ice age also requires huge amounts of precipitation. The Genesis account records the “fountains of the great deep” bursting forth during the Flood. Crustal movements would have released hot water from the earth’s crust along with volcanism and large underwater lava flows, which would have added heat to the ocean. Earth movement and rapid Flood currents would have then mixed the warm water, so that after the Flood the oceans would be warm from pole to pole. There would be no sea ice. A warm ocean would have had much higher evaporation than the present cool ocean surface. Most of this evaporation would have occurred at mid and high latitudes, close to the developing ice sheets, dropping the moisture on the cold continent. This is a recipe for powerful and continuous snowstorms that can be estimated using basic meteorology.

Therefore, to cause an ice age, rare conditions are required—warm oceans for high precipitation, and cool summers for lack of melting the snow. Only then can it accumulate into an ice sheet. The principles of atmospheric science can also estimate areas of high oceanic evaporation, the eventual depth of the ice, and even the timing of the Ice Age. Numerical simulations of precipitation in the polar regions using conventional climate models with warm sea surface temperatures have demonstrated that ice sheets thousands of feet thick could have accumulated in less than 500 years. Therefore, the total length of time for a post-Flood Ice Age is about 700 years. It was indeed a rapid Ice Age. This is an example of bringing back the Flood into earth history. As a result, processes that seem too slow at today’s rates were much faster in the past. The Flood was never disproved; it was arbitrarily rejected in the 1700s and 1800s by secular intellectuals in favor of slow processes over millions of years.

One of the great books that defended the account given of the Flood in Genesis was written by Drs. John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris. Published first in 1961, The Genesis Flood has sold more than 250,000 copies. It is a magnificent book, full of significant information, showing how the evidence we have available from geology fits very well with what is revealed in the Word of God. The authors do not rule out an ice age, but they do point out that the phenomena cited in its favor do not necessarily demand one. They say: “Many of the evidences for ice sheets such as tills, striations etc., can be interpreted as well or better in terms of catastrophic diluvial action.”

In conclusion, we may confidently affirm there is no evidence of multiple ice ages covering billions of years. Bible believers need not stumble at the teaching that there was an ice age that followed as a direct result of the flood recorded in the Bible.

Rev. FergusonRev. Gordon Ferguson is a retired Free Presbyterian minister and now serves as Principal of the Whitefield College of the Bible, Northern Ireland.

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