Massive glaciers entombed the earth about 2.6 million years ago – or so we thought!
The latest ice age actually began less than 5,000 years ago, two scientists argue in a dramatic article that rewrites most of what we thought we knew about paleoclimatology.
“After two centuries of research, we now have enough information to begin recreating scenes from the rise and fall of the Ice Age,” Andrew Snelling and Mike Matthews write. The fossil record and a trail of clues from an ancient document place the start of the last ice age at 2250 BC, they argue – and its end just a few centuries later at 2000 BC.
The new dates, if confirmed, call into question not only the scientific consensus over the climate record – it also promises to completely rewrite our understanding of a huge range of fields, from geology to biology.
Of course, none of this will ever be confirmed, because Snelling and Matthews are Creationists, and their article, to put it scientifically, is crazy.
Mammoth in the room“When Was the Ice Age in Biblical History,” published in the most recent issue of Answers magazine, tackles one of the biggest problems facing Creationists. Massive glacier-carved valleys and the remains of animals better suited for colder climates have always presented insurmountable evidence of a recent ice age – one never even hinted at in the Bible.
It’s always been an elephant in the room for Creationists. Or better yet, a mammoth.
Give them credit for audacity: Snelling and Matthews try to explain the complete absence of a Biblical ice age as a passing omission. That world-changing epoch when giant sheets of ice spread across the planet? It happened – it just didn’t seem worth mentioning!
The recent ice age is covered in Genesis 11: 18-26, the authors argue; it passed by in the background during one of those infamously boring “some ancient guy begat another ancient guy” ancestry lists.
This makes for a difficult timeframe. Genesis 11 may seem like it drones on for millions of years, but if you add up the generations it only spans a few hundred. Fortunately, Snelling and Matthews have an answer for that, too: the entire 2.6 million year ice age revved up and then faded away in just two and a half centuries.
“It is hard to imagine such extreme changes in weather, landscapes, and vegetation during the rapid Ice Age,” they concede in one of the article’s few encounters with reality. But that’s exactly what they want us to do.
Bad science, and bad Creationism
Needless to say, the idea that glaciers, sabre-tooth tigers, and even Neanderthals all appeared and disappeared so fast and so recently is at odds with every atom of scientific and historic evidence in the universe.
Snelling and Matthews aren’t just arguing against a broad theory of history; to make their hypothesis work, they have to argue against basic and well-understood scientific facts like the rate of carbon 14 decay.
And the rate of tree growth! Compressing a multimillion year ice age into 250 years means compressing contemporary records of forest growth as well, the University of Liverpool’s Adam Benton wrote.
“This means that Answers…wants you to believe that entire forests can become established in a few years,” he writes.
“When Was the Ice Age in Biblical History” is full of ridiculous implications: trees springing from saplings in the blink of an eye, Scandinavian farmers growing wheat fields atop mile-thick glaciers, a Pleistocene epoch shorter than the brief history of the United States. But the most hilarious implication is that even if we accept their theory, Creationism ends up looking pretty slow-witted.
Think about it: none of the information here is particularly new. Snelling and Matthews figure out their dates by looking at fossils we’ve known about for over a hundred years, and comparing them to a religious text that we’ve had for several thousand. No back-breaking archaeological digs or painstaking genetic analysis here – just simple speculation and evidence anyone can find on Wikipedia.
And it took Creationists “two centuries of research” to come up with this? That’s an entire ice age!