Two challenges from a YEC professor

He asked me two things that related to his belief that a worldwide flood in Noah’s time was involved in the deposition of fossils and the laying down of rock layers…

“Why are there marine fossils in the Himalayas?”

“Why are conformities in the layers that are worldwide?”

Any thoughts about how to respond?

I don’t know the answers off the top of my head but I’ll look them up and I’ll also tell you how to look them up. The first step is to know that mountains develop in different ways. The main ways mountains are formed are by folding, faulting, volcanic activity, igneous intrusion and metamorphism. These normally are connected to magma, heat, tectonic plates and continental collision.

Around 40-50 million years ago the continents India and Tibet collided with each other. As these two large landmasses smashed up against each other, it begin to fold the rocks pushing them up higher and higher. Kind of like if you smoosh sand together using your hands spread out. As they get closer to one another the sand piles up higher. Though I guess smooshing two pieces of clay together would be a better example.

So as India and Tibet smashed against each other, the edges were forced up high and higher creating the Himalayan mountains.

You’ll notice that India was closer to Antarctica and between it and what’s now Tibet was the India ocean. So as the land masses collided and the rocks begin to form up, the land below the oceans water was pushed up higher and higher and therefore, some wildlife was stuck on top and fossilized.

There is also some other evidence to consider. The geological strata is superimposed. Much like if you laid a red towel down, then a blue towel on top, then a pink towel on top and then a stripped blanket on top of that. The layer on the bottom is older than the newer layer on top. So if you found pieces of skittles between the red and blue towels but you found chips between the blue and the pink, you would know someone first ate the skittles and then the chips. Well the fossils do the same thing. If there was a global flood we would find animals layered by mass or size. But we don’t see that. We see small animals and large and small mixed together and they also often are showcasing a more and more divergent form from their basal forms. So by that what I mean is that we never find humans before the earliest monkeys. We never see primates predating dinosaurs.


The answer to the first of course is plate tectonics. Others more geologically literate than I can assuredly answer the second more precisely, but my immediate response would be to say that seafloors and their strata develop similarly across the globe (that is related to tectonics as well).

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What conformities?

The fossils are different.
The layers are different.

How are the similarities which do exist any different than what we would expect from the timeline which science has established?


One word: gravity.

Floods, mudflows, landslides, lahars and so on all wash sediment downhill, so marine fossils at the tops of mountains are the exact opposite of what you’d expect in a Flood Geology scenario.


To more directly answer this question (and to echo more succinctly what @SkovandOfMitaze already shared in much more detail above) … there are marine fossils in high mountains because those masses were not always high, but were at one or more times below sea level. Fossils formed there, and then they were later pushed up as moving plates collided.


Because there were marine organisms in between India and Asia soon (geologically soon) before they collided, and those rocks got pushed up a lot by the collision.

There are some events that affect the entire globe, like shifts in global climate, major asteroid impacts, nearby supernovas, massive flood basalts, etcetera.

Here’s one that flips that around: why are global planktonic foraminifera distinctive for any given age of marine layer? Given oceanic current speeds, it takes a few centuries for them to equalize across the globe, and we can observe a sequence of appearances and disappearances that all look equally old relative to other index fossils, radiometric dating, and stable isotope ratios.


Most of the fossils are different. Planktonic foraminifera look essentially identical across the globe at any one time.


This is a question from a YEC professor??? My o’my.

The Himalayas are the world’s tallest mountains because they are the youngest and have not eroded to the extent of other ranges. They are still rising at an easily measurable rate of over 1cm/yr. The fossil bearing rock is all sedimentary, including shale, limestone, and dolomite. To have such formations reach such rarefied altitudes involves processes which take much longer than a kitchen renovation. First, the sediment must accumulate. Igneous rocks such as basalt and granites erode and water flow under gravity pools material in basins and estuaries. Plankton lives and dies and their remains fall to the ocean floor along with other ocean creatures. Time passes. Then, these deposits are driven by tectonic movement to depths where pressure, temperature, and time process them to the familiar types of rock presented. Time passes. Finally, over tens of millions of years the collision of plates leaves this material with nowhere to go but either under or up and over. Marine fossils are found in the Himalayas because that is entirely what would be expected.

All that is a very general overview. Geologists have a much more detailed picture, with traceable histories of various individual formations within the mountain range, and none of which involves a global flood. The timescales involved in the accumulation of sedimentary material alone is contrary to YEC. Even ignoring the required durations involved, it is incoherent to claim that it is possible to simultaneously disrupt and accumulate biogenic sediments, and bury and process rock while at the same time pushing into the sky.

David R. Montgomery is an actual geology professor who has worked in the Himalayas, and has written a worthwhile book countering YEC claims - The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood .


I’m glad he’s asking questions. Thank you for interacting with him.

That’s such a good point. As a kid/teen I just took it at face value when a YEC speaker said that was proof of a global Noah’s flood. I never really considered how exactly giant flood waves would pick up a bunch of shells, drop them on top of a mountain, and then retreat while leaving all the fossils there. I made the mistake of thinking that all people who were given a microphone in a church were well versed in their subject matter.


If I recall correctly, fossils on top of mountains were one of the first things that early geologists picked up on that told them that wherever, whenever and however extensive Noah’s Flood was, it couldn’t have created the fossil record. It’s one of the oldest arguments against a young earth that there is.


The fact that the fossil and geologic record could not have been produced by one event is yet another piece of evidence that argued against the type of Noachian flood promoted by YEC’s. This is a speech given by Adam Sedgwick as he stepped down as chair of the Royal Society in 1831.

So even by the early 1800’s it was obvious to even the those who once supported the YEC version of Noah’s flood that the evidence just wasn’t there. Notably, this was even before Darwin.


Yes of course.

I did not mean that all the fossils are different. I mean the overall mix of fossils does vary with the region. A great many (perhaps even most) are indeed the same or similar. Fossils tend to represent the most populous species and these tend to be rather widespread, especially those which travel far and those which existed over longer periods of time. But the point I was making is that there are differences in the fossils showing fossils are not the result of a single worldwide flood. And as you mention above, even when they appear to be the same, a more detailed look at them is far more consistent with changes over vast spans of time rather than a single catastrophic event.

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hmm im not so sure that is an accurate statement. there are many examples of fossils found in such circumstances that are the same! There are also rock layers that are similar in different regions of the earth…how could these have been deposited at different times by different events? Its not so simple as what you claim.

To be honest, i dont think that the real answer the O.P should be seeking answers in the scientific debate…that is simply a “he said, she said” argument from different sides of the courtroom. It descends into a “i have more scientists on my side than you do” slanging match that gets nowhere.

The real area of study here is a theological one…if you are to be a Christian, you are forming a new philosophical view of your existence.

An individual must reconcile their theology such that it remains consistent across its pages and aligns with the entire theme of the writings that are that philosophy.

The failure of many individuals on this forum is that they think that science explains their philosophy…it does not. Science is nothing more than a tool of trade…and from experience in the trades, their are many ways in which the same tools may be used to construct the same object with different methods and interpretations. We see things through different eyes, it is up to the individual to reconcile their faith with the world around them.

An atheist sees the world currently as improving…even though neither environmentally nor socially is that the case. The Christian knows that the world is getting worse…and that is because despite the flare of advertising from lying politicians, the Bible prophecies that things will not get better but far worse “man will do evil continually as in the days of Noah” (paraphrahsed biblical theme).

The above paragraph could be seen as a dilemma for TEism, evolution used to say we are evolving into something more advanced, i do not personally think TEism has an adequate explanation for that conflict with the bible prophecy and observations of what is really going on around us in the world right now. Clearly, the traditional evolutionary model has been intentionally changed over time when it became obvious it was deeply flawed. When i look at Christianity, i do not see the fundamental beliefs as having changed at all…they have remained the same among those who follow the Bible closely.

There are some world wide distributed geological features. Sea level, which is global, has cycled higher and lower several times over millions of years in response to climate changes such as the ice ages, and these changes can be geologically tracked. The asteroid impact KT boundary can be found in locations such as widely flung as New Zealand, Italy, and throughout the USA, and no dinosaurs have ever existed in the time represented above this line. There are no deposits at all, however, which are consistent with a global flood.


The type of global flood promoted by flood geopseudology. Some are compatible with a very-long past global flood, but they are also compatible with that not being the case.

Yep. YEC geologists would wonder that too. That is not how they believe that fossils got on the top of the Himalayas either.

Nice try. “Time passes.” But of course, organisms do not sit on the ocean floor waiting to be fossilized as sediments slowly accumulate. They would rapidly decompose, even the bones, and never become fossils. Fossilization requires rapid burial–burial deep enough to exclude oxygen and the microbes that would cause decay and also exclude the scavengers. Slow accumulation of sediments just doesn’t work for fossilization.

Imagine the jumble of dinosaur fossil graveyards. How did all the dinos die together at the same time and in the same area? Are they then buried by slowly accumulating sediments carried by the wind? Or water? Either way, how are these bones, soft tissues, and even sometimes their last meals and skin preserved when buried slowly?

Dead animal carcasses can’t just sit on the ground or the floor of an ocean or lake and slowly wait for sediment to cover them so they will fossilize. They need to be buried rapidly.

Nautiloid shells are exposed in the walls of Grand Canyon in a 2-meter layer of rock called the Whitmore Nautiloid Bed. It’s a huge bed that extends over 300 km (200 miles), as far west as Las Vegas, Nevada. Most of them are facing in the same general direction.

How could that event, and many others like it, have happened with slowly accumulating sediments?

A “long past” global flood? Yes, there is evidence for a global flood. But if each water deposited layer was laid down in one global or continent wide flood, one after another a long time ago, were there several global or continent wide floods?

For things that aren’t of much interest as nutrient stores (like aragonite), it can be pretty slow (decades), and they don’t look any different than if it had been minutes. The matrix does look different, however. Getting 40 mm long Lithophaga in a shell entering from the inside takes a while after the animal died, thus the shells with such had to be exposed for a while.

Not for intact vertebrates, or other things that have multiple pieces not held together by something tougher than muscle tissue. It does work for “here is a worn bone” or “here is a layer of shells”, which are vastly more common than intact dinosaur skeletons.

They lived in a group, and something happened to the group, like getting stuck in mud, or components of a volcanic eruption burying them, or a river flooding.

Well, I haven’t studied it myself, but consistent current directions would probably do that, given that those shells were floating before death.

This is somewhat different from what I was referring to, but since sea level goes up and down globally, there are equivalent transgressive/regressive pulses across the globe. There are dozens of “short-term” (~40 ky) ones that went up and down by a few tens of meters up to about 100 meters, fewer longer-term shifts, and then very-long scale changes, like the Eocene Climatic Optimum, where sea levels stayed ~300 m ±100 m above current levels through most of the Paleocene and Eocene.

What I was referencing was the fact that once one gets back to the Archean, it gets very difficult to tell whether there was any land above sea level or not. Anything since then, yes there was some.

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