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Current Issue

A Different View of Yellowstone National Park

by Patrick Nurre

When I became a believer in Christianity in 1972, there were very few books that attempted to explain how the Genesis Flood could account for the age of the earth and the geological wonders in our country.

Today, however, we are wonderfully supported by thousands of good books on the subject, and we are more informed about it than ever before. I call this the catechism of creation – learning the “what” of creation.

I have noticed, however, that many have not been able to bridge the application of that catechism. Our kids can recognize the error of millions of years of earth history, but many cannot apply the Genesis account of the Flood to what they see around them. They need field study to flesh out what they are learning in their studies!

And when it comes to field study in geology, there is no better place to start than Yellowstone National Park. So pack up the family car, and let’s get going!

Yellowstone became our country’s first and the world’s first National Park in 1872, signed into law by President U.S. Grant. It was designed to set aside and protect lands from commercial development so that all could enjoy the natural wonders of our new country.

Morning Glory Pool

Morning Glory Pool

Most people in the 1800’s were unaware of the geological features in what is now Yellowstone National Park. In fact the first American of European descent, John Colter, who had seen these wonders in 1807-1808 brought back fantastic accounts of fire and brimstone, steaming hot pools

and spectacular erupting water spouts. His description soon became known as Colter’s Hell. People thought he was nuts.

The first official geological expedition to record and verify Colter’s Hell was the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Many of the thermal features in today’s Yellowstone were named by this expedition.

As with the other national parks, Yellowstone is viewed officially through a lens of uniformitarianism. Park authorities rely on this idea to explain the history of the earth; it can be defined as the present is the key to the past. In other words what we see today has been going on throughout the billions of years of earth history. Uniformitarianism is supposed to explain the geology of the earth from a naturalistic perspective – without reference to the Bible or what it has revealed. Consequently, official park literature will give fantastic dates for the age of the park area, based not on science, but on their view that the earth was created out of fire in a time long past.

This brings me to the heart of a Yellowstone adventure.

Let’s examine just one facet of Yellowstone from a different view – a Biblical view: the Yellowstone Caldera.

THE YELLOWSTONE CALDERA

Yellowstone Caldera

Yellowstone Caldera

Much of Yellowstone National Park is a caldera – essentially a super-volcano that erupted and then collapsed in on itself at some time in the distant past. And one of the first things that captures my attention in Yellowstone country is the vast amount of volcanic rock – thousands of cubic miles of it! Many scientists believe Yellowstone to have been the largest volcanic eruption in earth’s history. To put this into perspective, the amount of volcanic material that was erupted from Mt. St. Helens in 1980 was .25 cubic miles. The amount of volcanic material that was erupted from Yellowstone’s caldera and the surrounding area was over 10,000 cubic miles! That is 10,000 cubes each measuring 1,000 miles long by 1,000 miles wide by 1,000 miles high! This is a staggering figure and should cause us to reflect on just what the significance of this earth-shaking event was.

That brings me to the Genesis Flood. Geologists have written off the historical account of the global flood in Genesis as nothing more than a myth or children’s story. But wait a minute – we don’t see volcanic eruptions today that even come close to Yellowstone’s eruptions. The present simply cannot be the key to the past. Something else must have

happened. So, I turn to God’s revelation – the historical Scriptures for answers. It is my opinion that the Genesis Flood is one of the most neglected historical events when it comes to interpreting earth history and by extension, Yellowstone.

When the “fountains of the great deep burst open” on the first day of the Flood, this would have set off a series of volcanic chain reactions of such magnitude that the earth would never be the same. Thousands of observable cracks in the earth’s crust testify to the outpouring of magma and crustal upheaval. The fractures in the earth that ensued would produce terrific volcanic eruptions the likes the earth would never see again! Some of those were the eruptive events of Yellowstone, which helped to create the Yellowstone Caldera.

Geologists today attempt to explain how volcanism has shaped and formed our earth, atmosphere and even our oceans by way of millions of years of past volcanic eruptions. Volcanism is a nasty and destructive geological event. It is not a creative event. Not only is there the destructive power of moving lava as in Hawaii today, but there are all kinds of poisonous gasses and choking ash that come from these things. The very nature of these things would have worked against forming any kind of suitable habitat for life. And Yellowstone was the largest volcanic

event! A trip to Yellowstone should remind us of the greatest geological event in earth history – the Genesis Flood and what it did to the earth because of man’s sin!

SPECIMEN RIDGE

Specimen Ridge

Specimen Ridge

Without a suitable framework for viewing the park, errors can be, and are made, in interpreting its features. One of those is an area called Specimen Ridge. It is an area of fossilized trees and plants in volcanic ash and mud flows, found in the northeast part of Yellowstone. This was one of the amazing finds of the Hayden Expedition. They proposed the idea that these were 40,000 years of successive petrified forests. This explanation was allowed to stand, not because of the science supporting it, but rather because it fit their long-ages worldview. This idea remained entrenched in the official Park explanations until 1980.

WHY 1980?

Mt. St. Helens in Washington State erupted in 1980. Thousands of trees were moved into Spirit Lake by way of volcanic flows. It looked eerily reminiscent of the petrified trees in Yellowstone. Consequently, geologists began to change their story of the petrified trees of Yellowstone – the trees had been moved into their present place by way of volcanic mudflows, the same as at Mt. St. Helens! They were not buried in place over thousands of years.

There are so many other features to examine in the Yellowstone area: Ice Age evidence, earthquake effects, rock types, and of course the marvelous geysers, hot springs and mud pots. And all of these are evidences of the enormous power of a global flood, but more importantly, of a God who is not silent. Make a trip to Yellowstone from a new perspective. It will change your life!

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