Cliff's Edge

A Dissent from Deep Time

One geologist’s bold challenge

Clifford Goldstein
A Dissent from Deep Time

From about age ten to twenty, I lived in Miami Beach. Within that ten-year span, I watched the Atlantic—one wave, one ripple, one current at a time—chew away the shore. Having no more sand to erode, large waves would smash into hotel walls, spraying saltwater into the freshwater pools above them. 

One stormy day I was trudging across a catwalk ten feet high along a hotel beach wall, waves banging into me as I clasped the handrail for dear life, loving every insanely dangerous minute of it. 

I moved away but, on return visits, watched for a decade as barges dredged up the ocean floor and poured it on the shore in order to recreate and rebuild what had been lost. Most of the wide beautiful beaches of Miami Beach are man-made.

Though I never measured the rate of erosion, it was fast enough to where I could watch the shore vanish—after only ten years.  

And yet how many billions of years old is all this supposed to be?

Scientific Blasphemy

I hadn’t for a long time thought about the eroding of Miami Beach until I read a book by Monte Fleming, a PhD in earth science and an assistant professor of geology at Loma Linda University. The book’s title is Stories About Earth’s History: A Geologist’s Dissent from Deep Time. [i]

A dissent from deep time? That’s scientific heresy, blasphemy even. Making a claim like would have been like in ages past declaring that the earth was not immobile at the center of the universe; or that heat was not caused by phlogiston; or that there was no luminiferous aether. All these were scientific truths that the knowledgeable never doubted.

And now this Dr. Fleming has the chutzpah to challenge what the knowledgeable today don’t doubt, either: that the earth is about 4.543 billion years old?

What does he dare claim, and why?

Eroding Confidence

Because we are transient entities whose personal experience of time rarely exceeds 100 years and who cannot, even abstractly, conceptualize 4.543 billion of them—Dr. Fleming introduces his book with examples of just how long that is: your hair could grow around the equator seventeen times; a snail could make 186 round trips to Pluto; and a turtle could walk to Proxima Centauri. 

He then points to facts on the ground (well, actually, not on the ground but facts about the ground) that challenge deep time. After using examples of lighthouses that, due to erosion, had to be moved inland, he  points out that North America is covered by layers of rock, supposedly hundreds of millions of years old, but simple math and basic historical measurements show that the ocean would have eroded it down to sea level in a small fraction of that time.

In other words, given the current erosion rates, a land mass as old as North America should have disappeared aeons ago. And yet, here it is, all 2,600 or so miles wide of it. 

What gives? Though he mentioned potential arguments to explain this anomaly, such as redistribution of sand and uplift, he explored why these don’t work. Which means that either the erosion rates had been, for some unknown reason, much slower than they are now; or (and this is the burn-him-at-the-stake heresy) the earth is nowhere near as old as scientific tradition declares. If it were that old, then, given the current rates of erosion, we should have been underwater billions of years ago and stayed underwater.

One would assume that earth scientists would have addressed the problem of why “the current, measurable rate of coastal erosion has not razed the continent.” Yet, Fleming writes, the “textbooks I studied for my MS and PhD in geology never mentioned this issue, and I’ve never seen a scientific article on the topic.”[ii]

All the Rivers Run into the Sea, Yet the Sea is Not Full[iii]

Dr. Fleming brings in the next issue: rivers that flow into the sea deposit not only water but also mud, sand, and rocks, that is, sediment, as well. And the rate of sediment accumulation has been measured by earth scientists. Yet, as with coastal erosion, the numbers come up way short for deep time.

“According to one prominent study,” Dr. Fleming writes, “all the world’s rivers together deposit about 15 billion tons, or 5.6 km3 of the earth’s land into the oceans annually.[8] Several other studies give figures in the same ballpark.[9]At this rate, all of earth’s land would erode down to sea level in just 22 million years.” [iv]

Twenty-two million years? Impossible. But it gets worse. At current rates, if the Amazon River alone “had access to all of the land on earth,” he wrote,  “it could carry it all to sea in just 372 million years—8% of the supposed age of the earth.”[v]

Surely, with data that blatantly contradicts the standard geological dogma, deep-timers must have debunked this heresy. Yet Fleming wrote, “Again, in many textbooks and scientific articles spanning years of graduate school, I didn’t see this issue addressed even once. It’s simply not on the radar: people generally aren’t asking questions about it. I have seen rare mentions of the topic in scientific literature,[13] but the authors assume that long ages are true, and therefore conclude that past erosion rates were extremely, impossibly low. We know from actual measurements that this isn’t the case.”[vi]

Extremely slow erosion rates? Invoking this concept without an explanatory mechanism violates a sacrosanct assumption of science (it must be assumed because it cannot be proven): the continuity of natural law. When you get on an airplane built twenty years ago, you assume, and rightly so (though it’s only an assumption), that the laws of aerodynamics existing then will exist today as well. If the natural laws behind electricity, gravity, conductivity, etc., don’t remain constant, nothing would work. In fact, a major premise behind evolution is that life began billions of years ago from the same laws of physics and chemistry that exist today. For these scientists, then, to argue for slow rates of erosion is not only to violate a principle of how science is done, it’s also to change the goal posts in the middle of the game. It is, in a sense, fudging the numbers to fit the data, a practice more common in science than most people realize. (Even Einstein once did it!)

“The present is supposed to be the key to the past at least in some respects,” Fleming wrote, “but when we can’t extrapolate current conditions back more than a few million years without leveling all the continents, the idea that the present is the key to the past undermines the deep time it was intended to support.”[vii]

Ancient Biological Molecules

Jumping ahead over a few chapters, one comes to what’s, perhaps, the most fascinating part of this book: the discovery of organic material, a lot of it, that could not exist if the fossils were anywhere near as old as deep time says. It’s like finding, on a ninety-five degree day, a small bowl of ice cream still solid and cold even though you were told it has been sitting outside in the heat for twelve hours. 

“Even the people,” Fleming explained, “that make the discoveries know that their evidence presents a problem for deep time. One researcher wrote ‘The idea that original soft tissue structures and the native structural proteins comprising them can persist across geological time is controversial, in part because rigorous and testable mechanisms that can occur under natural conditions, resulting in such preservation, have not been well defined.’[42] In other words, ‘Everything we know about the preservation of soft tissue in nature indicates that it just isn’t possible over such long time periods.’ But the researchers know that they have indeed discovered original soft tissue.”[viii]

Such as: a full genomic sequence in a horse bone allegedly 560-780 thousand years old; the DNA of a termite supposedly twenty-five to thirty million years old trapped in amber; biological molecules in squid ink supposedly 160 million years old; or blood vessels and cells in the bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex.  These organic molecules, it seems, haven’t read the geology books.

Even more astonishing is the discovery of living organisms, bacteria, in rocks or salt or ice that we’re told are tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, or even hundreds of millions of years old. Living things!

“Generally,” Fleming continues, “the arguments have been most intense between those who make the discoveries and those who demand that such discoveries simply can’t happen. Many of those who discover these biological specimens understand the problem they bring to light for the scientific community, and search for some way to preserve these molecules and bacteria for vast periods of time. What everyone knows, but no one dares to say, is that the real argument revolves around the age of the earth. People contest these discoveries only because they point directly to the fact that the rocks, salt, and ice of the earth are only a few thousand years old.”[ix]

Other Anomalies

Monte Fleming’s book deals with other things that should not be but are, things like Mount Everest at a mere 29,029 feet high when, if with deep time were true, it should have grown, by some calculations, 1,400 miles high by now (for comparison, the International Space Station orbits at 254 miles above the earth). 

Also, who hasn’t seen how quickly an animal or fish carcass rots? “Dead things,” he writes, “break down quickly. You know this from experience—if the power goes off and you have meat in your refrigerator, it doesn’t take long for disaster to ensue. Out in nature, the process happens even more quickly because any dead animal attracts scavengers—everything from buzzards and hyenas to maggots and ants.”[x]  Why though, are so many ancient animal and fish fossils preserved in rock when modern environments don’t produce fossils? Why hadn’t the carcasses rotted away before calcifying? He has picture of a fish fossil with another fish, its meal, still in its mouth—which implies that “its death and subsequent burial may have been a matter of seconds or minutes.”[xi] All through the book, he gives examples in nature that could be better explained by a world-wide flood than by deep time, even though these examples tend to be glossed over or ignored by the-powers-that-be just as, for more than a thousand years,  phenomena better explained by an earth orbiting the sun rather than vice versa were glossed over and ignored by the the-powers-that-be, too.

Bucking the System

And just as the powers-that-be didn’t like their geo-centric model challenged, the powers-that-be today don’t take kindly to what threatens their deep-time paradigm, the reigning assumption on which their careers, their research, their prestige, and their worldview, rests. It’s a tragic irony: science, which began as a revolt against the establishment (ever hear of the Scientific Revolution?), has now become the establishment and is just as intolerant of dissent today as were the Aristotelean dogmatists who made life miserable for Galileo Galilei half a millennium ago.

Imagine what would happen if the paradigm shifted to a model that didn’t allow for the billions of years that we’ve been assured were absolute fact. It would destroy the theory of evolution, and it’s hard to fathom all that comes down if that house of cards, upon which so much of the modern biological worldview sits, were to tumble. It would be the intellectual equivalent of another Copernican Revolution, which didn’t come without centuries of resistance, not only on false religious grounds (the church viewed everything though the distorted and broken lens of Aristotle, the Darwin of that era), but by those who had scientific evidence for a model that, nevertheless, had to be discarded. 

I’m no earth scientist. I can’t testify to the validity of Monte Fleming’s arguments. But they make sense and, if nothing else, show that the reigning scientific paradigm about the age of life on earth is nowhere near as air-tight as the intolerant dogmatism of the scientific-industrial complex has convinced itself it is.  Thinking of myself at 15-years old being pummeled by waves from a beach that, before my eyes, had vanished, gives me some personal empirical confirmation, at least for the erosion argument, which, if true, helps expose evolution as the creation myth it has always been.

[i] Fleming, Monte. Stories About Earth’s History: A Geologist’s Dissent From Deep Time, Kindle Edition, p. 1.

[ii] Op. Cit., p.11.

[iii] Ecclesiastes 1:7.

[iv] Op. Cit. 1., p. 18.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Op. Cit. 1., p. 21.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Op. Cit. 1. p. 75

[ix] Op. Cit. 1. pp. 78-79

[x] Op. Cit. 1. p. 83

[xi] Ibid.

Clifford Goldstein

Clifford Goldstein is the editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide. His latest book is Risen: Finding Hope in the Empty Tomb.