Answer by John Mackay
In 1620, the English Scholar, Sir Frances Bacon suggested in Novo Organum that the similarities seen in the structure of continents was “no mere accidental occurrence”. By the early 1800’s Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) had studied the geographical distribution of plants and rocks on different continents and noticed distinct similarities between the Atlantic coastlines of Africa and South America. Humboldt noted the mountains of North America even seemed to have geological similarities to some ranges in Europe. He concluded the Atlantic Ocean had been excavated at the time of Noah’s Flood, and the ocean was water left from Noah’s Flood.
In 1858, an American expatriot, Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, published a book with the title “La Creation et Ses Mysteres Devoiles”. He was the first scientific author to suggest continents had moved long distances across the surface of the earth. He suggested that the single land mass, referred to in Genesis 1:9 (And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so), had split during Noah’s Flood. He used the coastal fit of Africa to South America as evidence, and drew a number of convincing maps to show how continents may once have fitted together.
In 1859 Darwin’s theory was published, and Lyell’s anti catastrophic uniformitarianism was in vogue, so Pellegrini’s use of Noah’s Flood as a mechanism cost him credibility. The result is that most people in the 21st Century do not know that Continental Drift was first suggested by a creationist, and had nothing to do with millions of years, or the theory of evolution, but the land mass spit began when the fountains of the deep broke open at the start of Noahs Flood which gave rise to the fractures which define the modern continental plates. (Genesis 7:11).
Consequently, in the minds of most people, the father of modern Continental Drift theory is German meteorologist Alfred Wagner who published “Our Wandering Continents” in 1915. By the mid 1900’s, Continental Drift had become interwoven with the evolutionist millions of years framework. The theoretical Southern Hemisphere super continent, Gondwana, was named by Eduard Suess (Professor of Geology University of Vienna), in “The Face of the Earth” (4 volumes published between 1885 and 1909). The word Gondwana was derived from a kingdom in central India inhabited by the Gond people where fossil leafs such as Glossopteris were first discovered. These fossils along with the plants Gangamopteris and Dichroidiumare also found also in sedimentary rocks in South America, Australia, Antarctica and South Africa, and are used as evidence these continents had similar climate range, plants etc. The next step in the argument is to say such fossils also prove these continents were once joined together, broke up and ‘wandered’ apart to form today’s continents.
This theory is presented as a fact of history in most text books. But we always urge a historical perspective on scientific theories that are presented as history. When this editor was first a geology student, the in thing at my university was Geosynclinal Theory which accounted for continental structure and mountain building etc. Then a new Geology Professor came to the uni and he pushed continental drift. The end result was a good lesson in how the same facts get looked at through different glasses and yet when only one set of glasses was used, the theory was taught as fact regardless of its weaknesses.
The moral of the story is – never treat scientific theories about the past as real history no matter how convincingly they are presented. History requires witnesses – science as history does not. Which also means you must never use popular scientific theory to interpret Biblical passages. So when it is suggested that the Bible text “in the days of Peleg the world was divided” ( Genesis 10:25) is a reference to continental drift, such a thought would never have occurred to Moses or the Israelites, and in the context of Genesis, a simple check of when Peleg lived shows its primary reference is to the Tower of Babel (Genesis 10 and 11) and therefore the division of the people. Nevertheless a simple reading of Genesis 1:9 “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”, tells us that prior to the flood there was only one mass of water and therefore since dry land is the only other thing mentioned, there was only one mass of land or one continent, which is why no animals had any trouble getting to the Ark. After the flood the world is totally different with the seas and many continents etc.
Were you helped by this answer? If so, consider making a donation so we can keep adding more answers. Donate here.