The ice age has become something of a fixture in the culture. It has featured in at least four movies and popular culture, as well as being a standard evolutionary talking point. Many school children can identify creatures that evolution teaches lived in the ice age such as Woolly Mammoths and Saber-toothed Tigers. However, the popularity of an ice age has led to some misconceptions about it, both regarding the creatures that lived in it and when it occurred. This article will attempt to explain what the ice age was, when it occurred, and how it fits into the origins debate.
The ice age theory was first proposed in the mid 1700s as an explanation for the strange placement of boulders in the Swiss Alps. It was not a coherent, worldwide theory, merely a localized explanation, but scientists in other areas began to take notice and apply it to displaced rocks in their areas. By the mid 1870s, the theory had expanded into something similar to what we hear advanced today.
The Ice Age theory is somewhat deceptively titled. It says nothing about the formation of the polar ice caps. In order for there to be an ice age, the polar ice caps must be pre-existing. However once these exist, the theory essentially states that glaciers formed from the ice caps. These glaciers then slowly spread away from the poles, covering much of the earth as temperatures drastically dropped. These moving glaciers carry with them rocks, some of impressive size, and tend to erode the land beneath them, gouging deep gullies and gorges in the earth beneath them. Evolutionists claim there were at least five of these ice ages, spread over millions of years, and they were partially responsible for the extinction of many animals, including dinosaurs.
Creationists largely agree that there was in fact an ice age. However, where the differences come into play, is in the number. Most creation scientists believe in just one ice age, lasting several hundred years. Polar ice caps likely formed either during, or just after the flood as the poles went into their six months of darkness and froze. This would have been aided by massive amounts of volcanic ash in the air from the many volcanic eruptions that would have occurred during the global flood. The ash would have reflected much of the little sunlight the poles receive back into the atmosphere, effectively reducing the earths temperature. Further, the water that covered the earth during the flood would have been very warm. This warmth would have lent itself to high levels of evaporation, increasing humidity and thus increasing precipitation. In the polar regions of the world, this precipitation would have fallen as snow. Once concentrated at the poles, this frozen water would have concentrated into icy glaciers. As these glaciers increased in mass, their weight would have begun slowly inching them away from their cores, accelerating as they gained mass. Eventually, ice would have covered around thirty percent of the earths surface, largely in North America and northern Europe. However, as the ash settled out of the air and the oceans cooled, the earth According to creationist scientists, this entire process would have taken somewhere between five and seven hundred years.
Of course, evolutionary scientists strongly object to the timeline presented above. However, they lack an explanation for the origin of the polar ice caps, which must have existed prior to the ice age. Further, their proposal of multiple ice ages ignores features called moraines, which are found in many places across northern Europe and North America. These are piles of rocks deposited on the edges of advancing glaciers and left behind when the glacier melts back. If there had been multiple ice ages, we should find multiple moraines over top of one another or intersecting one another. Instead, there is only ever one moraine found. While some undoubtedly could have been carried away by the glacier passing over top, if the moraine had sat there for millions of years, it would have left impressions in the ground. These impressions should be found beneath other moraines if there were multiple ice ages, yet they are not.
Scientists of the creation persuasion use the Bible to determine roughly how long ago the ice age occurred. Based on Peleg, in whose life the earth was divided, they have determined that it began at roughly the same time that God divided the languages at Babel. Of course this is an approximation, but it would explain why there was such a sparse native population in places like northern Canada and the upper reaches of Russia and Scandinavia. When humanity dispersed from the tower of Babel, only the hardiest settlers or the most desperate would have braved the advancing ice to head further towards the poles.
The ice age does have origins implications. The evolutionary model is their best attempt to explain the extinction of animals such as Woolly Mammoths and even some dinosaurs. However, the model fails to explain the polar ice caps or how Mammoths were quick frozen, which will be discussed in a future article. The creation model explains these problems and provides a reason for the ice age to arise in the first place which is consistent with available data.