Anyone who has taken time to examine a globe in detail has probably noticed that the continents look like they could fit together. Often, this appearance has been likened to a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of which have been pulled apart. It is not difficult to imagine the continents fitting together as one large land mass. In fact, the idea that the continents once joined together in a single land mass is standard teaching in most middle-school and high-school textbooks. This massive land conglomeration is known to most as Pangea (also spelled Pangaea). Evolutionary-based science books, including many Earth science books used in public schools, suggest that many millions of years ago, Pangea existed as the main land feature on the globe. Due to rather slow processes, known as continental drift, the continents lazily drifted apart over millions of years. With an array of impressive terms such as plate tectonics, sea-floor spreading, polar wandering, and paleomagnetism, evolutionary scientists explain the division of Pangea using uniformitarian philosophy in which present conditions and rates of drift are extrapolated back through millions of years of supposed Earth history. In Focus on Earth Science, published by Merrill, the following typical explanation is given for a facet of the plate tectonic theory:
The average rate of spreading at the East Pacific rise is 4 cm/year. The Maximum distance from the ridge to any trench is 10 000 km. If the spreading rate is constant, then no existing Pacific Ocean rock should be older than 250 million years. To date, no rocks older than 200 million years have been found in the Pacific Ocean basin. Thus, the evidence supports the plate tectonics model (Hesser and Leach, 1989, p. 449).
Several problems exist with the typical evolutionary explanation, which will be discussed directly. There is some legitimate evidence, however, that the continents did, at one time, fit together. Many rock types and formations abruptly end on the coast of one continent and just as abruptly begin on the coast of another continent. In numerous instances, these similar rock patterns and formations are found on the very continents that seem to have fit together in the past. In fact, well-known creationists have used the idea of Pangea in their explanatory models of certain geologic phenomena (see Baumgardner, 1994). At present, even though the idea is far from proven, there seems to be no scientific evidence that overwhelmingly suggests that Pangea could not have been an option. Nor is there any biblical evidence that would rule out the possibility that all land was once conglomerated. Certain biblical passages even hint that such might have been the case. Genesis 1:9-10 states: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear;’ and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas.” Admittedly, these verses deal more with the water being gathered together in one place than with the land. Yet, it is not an unreasonable possibility to suggest that if the water was in one place, then the exposed land mass was in one place as well. No biblical passage militates against the idea that all the continents once were together as Pangea.
The fundamental problem with most evolutionary explanations of Pangea’s separation comes in their application of uniformitarian principles. Since we see the continents drifting only a few centimeters a year at present, then, according to uniformitarian thinkers, that must be the rate at which they have drifted for millions of years. This explanation fails to account for geologically catastrophic events on a massive scale. In truth, while the continents may have been connected in the past, they did not drift lazily apart over hundreds of millions of years.
In the April 23, 1999 issue of Science, Paul R. Renne and his team of researchers put forth the idea that a huge flow of magma and volcanic activity began the process that “drove the land mass [Pangea—KB] apart to create the Atlantic Ocean, at the same time dispersing evidence of the eruption widely on the margins of four continents” (Sanders, 1999). In the opening paragraph of their article, Renne and his colleagues discuss “the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP), which is associated with the disruption of Pangea and the opening of the central Atlantic Ocean” (Marzoli, Renne, et al., 1999, p. 616). Their thesis was that, due to new “high-precision geochronological analysis” components of CAMP can be related “to a single brief magmatic episode...with an estimated original extent of volcanism over an area at least 4.5 x 106 Km2” (Marzoli, Renne, et al., p. 616). In layman’s terms, the split of Pangea began to take place in one huge, cataclysmic volcanic eruption.
While Renne and his colleagues most likely would not endorse the biblical Flood model, their findings fit perfectly with the idea that the geological activity during the Flood could have greatly accelerated the rate at which the continents spread. In the Genesis account of the Flood, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up” (7:11). This statement has long been recognized as evidence of heavy volcanic and magmatic activity during the Flood. Such volcanic activity on the ocean floor would also speak to the idea of an accelerated rate of sea-floor spreading. The force and magnitude of the Global Flood, coupled with the ensuing volcanic and geologically cataclysmic activity, would certainly supply adequate causes for accelerated rates of continental drift.
Was there ever a single land mass known as Pangea? It is possible. But if there was, the uniformitarian model of continental drift provides an inadequate explanation for its separation. The catastrophic events surrounding the global Flood supply a much more feasible model for the separation of Pangea.
Baumgardner, John (1994) “Runaway Subduction as the Driving Mechanism for the Genesis Flood,” [On-line], URL: http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=research&action=index&page= researchp_jb_runawaysubduction).
Hesser, Dale and Susan Leach (1989), Focus on Earth Science (Columbus, OH: Merrill).
Marzoli, Andrea, Paul Renne, et al. (1999), “Extensive 200-Million-Year-Old Continental Flood Basalts of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province,” Science, April 23.
Sanders, Robert (1999), “New Evidence Links Mass Extinction with Massive Eruptions that Split Pangea Supercontinent and Created the Atlantic 200 Million Years Ago,” [On-line], URL: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/99legacy/4-22-1999b.html.