by Bill Nugent
Pliny the Younger gave us the only surviving eyewitness account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The volcano obliterated the city of Pompeii. One of the features of the Vesuvian eruption was pyroclastic flows in which huge clouds of thick, red hot ash, thousands of degrees in temperature rushed down the mountainside at over a hundred miles an hour. Bodies of people and animals were encased in hot ash to form casts that cooled and looked like statues to the amazed excavators who dug the site beginning in 1748.
Pliny’s account consists of two letters he wrote to the historian Tacitus. Pliny was just 17 years old at the time of the eruption and was staying at the home of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, at Misenum on the north shore of the Bay of Naples.
The population of Pompeii was about 20,000 and many thousands perished. Many from the neighboring villages of Herculaneum and Stabiae also perished. These communities were literally buried in lava, ash and pumice. Their locations were forgotten until found accidentally nearly 1700 years later.
Pliny’s letters to Tacitus were discovered in the 1500s or about 200 years before the archaeological excavation of Pompeii. Some of what Pliny wrote seemed fantastic and exaggerated to those who read his account. The excavations, however, confirmed the truth of Pliny’s writing and indeed the half was not told them of the magnitude of the destruction and rapid burial of the cities.
The book of Genesis is also an eyewitness account. God is the eyewitness of the history of early earth and He inspired Moses, the writer of Genesis, to record the actual sequence of events. Some of the events recorded in Genesis seem fantastic to modern readers but as excavations around the world continue, the truth of Genesis is vindicated.
Scholars and historians believe the words of Pliny. Why shouldn’t they also believe the words of God in Genesis?
One fantastic but true event in Genesis is the global flood catastrophe recorded in Genesis chapters seven and eight. Such a worldwide event would certainly leave many layers of geologic evidence all over the earth and that is exactly what we find.
All of us are familiar with the beautiful white cliffs of Dover in southern England but did you know that this immensely thick layer of chalk deposits extends for literally thousands of miles across much of Europe and the Middle East? These chalk beds with the same chemical composition and same fossils can be traced across France, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Egypt and as far east as Kazakhstan.
Chalk is calcium carbonate and is derived from sea shells and coral but here it is spread over high continental crust. The standard, uniformitarian old earth explanation is that these areas were all an ocean bottom for millions of years. Such an explanation is impossible when you consider that continental earth crust is lighter than ocean basin earth crust. A continent always remains elevated and never sinks to become an ocean bottom. The fact that these sediments are so thickly dispersed over a continent is one more proof of the fact that great undersea volcanoes and mega-earthquakes (Genesis 7:11) thrust ocean waters and sediments out onto the continents during the flood catastrophe. Genesis says that water covered all the land. Sediments precipitated out of the water.
In North America we see almost exactly the same kind of continent wide evidence. The Grand Canyon in Arizona gives us a cutaway view of six megasequences of rock strata. Geologists have known for more than 50 years that these rock strata so clearly seen in the Grand Canyon are not local in nature but extend for thousands of miles across North America. Rock layers of the same composition, containing the same fossils and same ordered layering are seen all across the midwestern US and across the Appalachians and into New York, New England and Southern Canada.
The Old Earth explanation consisting of the claim that North America was once an ocean bottom is untenable. There is much evidence of rapid deposition of the sediments. One evidence of rapid deposition is that the chemical composition and size of particles is very consistent within each layer but the sediment layers are very different from each other. This indicates that the particles were sorted by rapidly flowing water.
Another evidence for rapid deposition is that the borders between layers is often knife edge sharp indicating that there was no erosion or bioturbation between the times the sediment layers were deposited. (See Answers mag. Sept-Oct 2011 pp. 100-103 “Transcontinental Rock Layers” by Andrew Snelling, Ph. D.)
All of the continents have thick layers of sediment. An interesting fact is that the fossils in these sediment layers act as clocks that show that the layers were deposited thousands, not millions of years ago. I’ve mentioned in several DTF articles that blood remnants and even blood vessels with flexible tissue have been found in dinosaur bones. There is no way that such fragile tissue could remain intact, inside dead bones for million of years.
Recently new molecule mapping techniques have identifiedfragile proteins in fossils that were found in rocks falsely thought to be millions of years old. Teams in England and in Sweden have found the proteins keratin and collagen in fossils. The British team found keratin in a specimen taken from the famous Green River formation in the US. The Swedish team found collagen in a Mosasuar (sea reptile) fossil. (See Answers mag. Sept-Oct 2011 p.34 “More Soft Tissue in ‘Old’ Fossils” by T. Mitchell M. D.)
The finding of blood remnants and fragile proteins in fossils is consistent with a young age (less than ten thousand years old) of earth. Traditional old earth evolutionists have offered only very strained explanations of how soft tissue could be preserved in fossils that they claim are millions of years old.
Answers magazine has major feature articles on each of six main geologic evidences for the Genesis flood.The six main geologic evidences are: “1) Fossils of sea creatures high above sea level 2) Rapid burial of plants and animals 3) Rapidly deposited sediment layers spread across vast areas 4) Sediment transported long distances 5) Rapid or no erosion between strata 6) Many strata laid down in rapid succession.” (ibid. p. 101)
Historians accept the literal accuracy of Pliny the Younger’s eyewitness account of the Vesuvian eruption. I certainly expect that in time, all historians will come to accept the literal accuracy of the Genesis account of the flood. The evidence for it is overwhelming.
The Bible foretells another worldwide crisis that will occur at the end of this age and it will culminate in the second coming of Christ. This worldwide crisis is called the Great Tribulation and it’s not a flood but it’s a time of mankind’s reaping of what has been sown.
At His first coming, Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 prophecies written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. No other figure in all of history can match this claim. Christ lived a life of perfect holiness and taught us great things and then died for our sins and was raised from the dead. In His suffering and death on our behalf, He paid the penalty for our sins. Since Christ paid the penalty for our sins, God offers forgiveness through Christ.
Call on the name of Jesus today to receive forgiveness of sins!