Answer by John Mackay
The first ‘modern’ mention that earth’s continents had once been joined together is found in the 1596 Thesaurus Geographicus, compiled by Flemish map maker Abraham Ortelius who is commonly regarded as ‘inventor’ of the modern atlas. 25 yrs later we find English Philosopher Sir Frances Bacon suggesting the similarities seen in the structure of continents was “no mere accidental occurrence”. (Novo Organum 1620). By the early 1800’s Alexander von Humboldt 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 Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, published a book with the title La Creation et Ses Mysteres Devoiles. He was the first science author to suggest continents had moved long distances across the surface of the earth, and suggested the land mass, referred to in Genesis on day 3 had split during Noah’s Flood. Genesis 1:9 states: God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so so if the water was in one place then the land must have been in the other place i.e. one continent. Snider-Pellegrini then used fossils he had found as well as 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. This would also make Genesis the oldest written reference to a single land mass.
However, around the time Snider-Pellegrini’s work was published Lyell’s anti-catastrophic uniformitarianism was in vogue, so Snider-Pellegrini’s use of creation and Noah’s flood to explain the origin of the continents was ignored. In 1859 Darwin’s evolution theory was published, which built on and reinforced Lyell’s unformitarianism and turned people further away from believing Genesis was the real history of the world. The result is that most people in the 21st Century do not know Continental Drift was first suggested by creationists and had nothing to do with millions of years, or the theory of evolution. Consequently, in the minds of most, the father of modern Continental Drift theory is German meteorologist Alfred Wegener who resurrected the idea in his book The Origin of Continents and Oceans 1915. In 1937 Alex du Toit (South Africa) published Our Wandering Continents and by the mid 1900’s, Continental Drift was fully integrated with millions of years of evolution and would eventually involve several supercontinents Gondwana and Laurasia merging to form Pangea, which later broke up to form modern continents. Since then the theory has evolved several more times.
The theoretical Southern Hemisphere super continent, Gondwana, which broke apart to form today’s southern continents, was given its name by Eduard Suess in The Face of the Earth (4 volumes published between 1885 and 1909). Suess was Professor of Geology at the University of Vienna. The word Gondwana was derived from the kingdom of the Gond people in central India where fossils such as Glossopteris leaves were first discovered. These fossils are found also in sedimentary rocks from South America, Australia, Antarctica and South Africa, and are used as evidence that the continents on which they are found, were once joined together and had similar climate range, plant species etc.
So what can we learn from all this? When this editor commenced his University degree in Geology in Australia, continental drift was not the ‘in thing’, so we studied Geosynclinal Theory which seemed to work. By the time I had finished my degree, we had a new Prof and Continental drift was in. Now the current version of Drift Theory is taught as real history even in High School. The evidence hadn’t changed at all. Only minds have been altered. Warning never marry your mind to a theory unless you wish to divorce your thinking from reality. Genesis never pretends to be a scientific theory. It does claim to be the Word of the God who was there rather than the opinions of men who were not. Choose wisely what you believe about the past as consciously or unconsciously you will build your future on it.
Image of Continents: NASA
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