Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
From time to time, we receive inquiries asking why there seem to be no fossilized remains of humans buried in the sediments of Noah’s Flood. Creation Ministries International does not share our Catholic perspective in matters theological, but they have published many excellent articles on natural science topics related to Creation and the Flood, including a very good article on this topic.
A few years ago, a Catholic geological engineer sent me some comments on this subject as an expert in the field, and I would like to share them with you now in this newsletter. I will then conclude with some reflections on the urgent need for all Catholics to remember the global extent of Noah’s Flood as we contemplate the “signs of the times.”
Contemporary Natural Disasters and Noah’s Flood
My friend’s comments were inspired by a landslide that occurred in Oso, Washington, on the morning of March 22, 2014, at the juncture of five glaciers. Her letter explained that:
The unstable slope was composed of smectite clay, a type of clay that is known for its shrink/swell properties and is highly expansive. As smectite reaches its liquid limit (maximum soil moisture before failure) the soil loses its cohesive properties and begins to flow. Smectite rich soils are often high in sulfur due to their volcanic origin and are therefore highly acidic. In addition, subsurface soil pressure reaches negative values within expansive soils which results in quicksand type properties.
The unstable slope was located up-gradient from the Stillaguamish River and a suburb had been constructed within its flood zone. Subsequent forensic analysis illustrated that the slope failed in a succession of three slumps, with the last slump behaving like a cue-ball on the preceding slump movements, thus propelling the landslide at a greater force downslope. The entire suburb was buried within minutes and the construction debris of the homes had traveled several hundred yards. Of the forty-seven victims there were four survivors. One of the survivors was a four-year old boy, found in his attic by a rescue dog. A Blackhawk helicopter had to bring in first responders to cut the roof open and bring this child to safety.
The remains of the deceased residents were located at the distal end of the landslide among the construction debris; not one body was found intact. Recovery of the remains proved a difficult task; first responders had to race against the effects of the negative soil pressure and acidic action of the soil all while working in conditions that proved treacherous to their lives as well. The recovery, handled over several days, was successful and the remaining details are unnecessary. This was the single most fatal landslide in United States history and we should be proud of our first responders. Our first responders are heroes that risk their lives and often suffer years of PTSD in the wake of these events.
Natural disasters come in the form of landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, etc. and each disaster has varied devastating effects on human life. Hurricanes will splinter trees and turn the splinters into shrapnel while volcanic eruptions destroy all terrestrial life at temperatures of thousands of degrees. All of these disasters would have been present in the wake of a Great Flood, a catastrophe that eliminated every human life on earth save for eight people. A flood can trigger an earthquake, earthquakes trigger tsunamis, all of which trigger liquefaction of earth materials. The resultant effect is the loss of life, of course, but also the loss of identifiable remains.
The fossils that exist now would have been buried post-catastrophe, during sedimentary deposition of settling flood waters. This is a necessary consequence within a geo-mechanical model. This also explains why most fossils are marine fossils and that human remains are not prevalent within the strata. This can be explained geochemically as well. Calcium and magnesium precipitate more rapidly and preferentially compared to other elements. In general, fossils are the result of precipitation and permineralization with respect to calcium. Silicate rich waters produce petrified fossils (petrification / silicification) and iron sulfide rich environments produce pyritized fossils. These fossilization processes require rapid burial, otherwise organic decay, acidic decomposition, and other natural processes would consume the remains.
The devastating geologic effects of the Great Flood must be recognized, but for us the humanitarian implications of Noah’s Flood hold a much greater value. It is akin to Plato’s cave allegory. The recognition of the historical authenticity of the Great Flood requires us to consider the strength of God’s power, the consequences of His justice due to our sinfulness, and the goodness of His mercy. As the gravity of His justice weighs on our collective conscience (I will leave it to our brilliant theologians to elucidate the spirituality of these notions) then we can understand the import of creation apologetics. The recognition of the Great Flood’s devastation on human life leads us to value life that much more. And if we hold human life in such high esteem, how much more precious are our immortal souls?
“A Punishment Worse than the Deluge”
In 1907, in his encyclical Pascendi, Pope St. Pius X warned of the rapid rise and spread of modernism, “the synthesis of all heresies,” whose “principal doctrine,” he wrote, was “evolution.” For most of the twentieth century, the modernists tried to cloak their revolutionary, evolution-based novelties in traditional language. In recent years, however, the modernists seem to have stopped trying to justify their views with appeals to Tradition. Nor do they seem to feel any shame over their blatant rejection of the traditional teaching of the Church. Instead, they consider themselves superior to those they regard as simpletons who still adhere to traditional doctrines of faith and morals in places like Africa.
Indeed, the modernists do not seem to care that their wholesale rejection of the Faith makes them incapable of evangelization in the traditional sense of the word. They have their own plan to preserve and even expand their communities. By welcoming everyone into their churches, regardless of their sexual orientation, marital status, unorthodox belief, or moral conduct, the modernists are confident that they can maintain or even increase attendance in their dying churches and maintain their real estate. The modernists look forward to a gradual merger into a one world religion based not on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but on a sentiment of good will and an expectation that the various religions of mankind are giving way to a new religion that will fulfill all that went before, in which the Pope and the Bishops of the First World can act as a vanguard.
The modernists do not care that 50 million babies are killed every year in surgical abortion or that another 250 to 500 million are murdered by various kinds of contraceptives. They do not care because they are convinced on the one hand that the needs of those who are visible in this world must take precedence over the needs of the invisible, and that, on the other hand, the god of evolution has so obviously made death an integral part of his plan for mankind that he must intend to bring all of his creatures through death to a good end, whether through annihilation, reincarnation, or universal salvation.
Under these circumstances, we can appreciate the significance of Our Blessed Mother’s warning to Sister Agnes Sasagawa at Akita, Japan, on October 13, 1973, the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, in the year of Roe vs. Wade, when She predicted division within the Church and said that we would suffer a punishment “worse than the Deluge” if we do not repent and turn back to God.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. Our friend Helen Dickey has created a beautiful pamphlet that can be used to evangelize atheists and agnostics with the scientific evidence for creation. You can download it here, or you can request hard copies of a tri-fold version of the same pamphlet from the Kolbe Center by sending an email to Hugh Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.P.S. Fr. Austriaco,O.P., and Fr. Chaberek, O.P., have posted their replies to the first of six questions on Genesis 1-11. You can now read them along with the Kolbe Center’s answer at this link.