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Mammoth Elephants and the Bible

By Richard Gunther


Dateline, Wednesday evening, TV3 presented a brief item about a mammoth elephant, which was found deep in the northern hemisphere, where permafrost holds the land in an icy grip. As I recall, the corpse was discovered in the Taymyr Peninsula in Siberia, and had to be chipped from its frozen tomb, and then lifted as a rectangular block to a place where scientists could begin the slow process of thawing it and documenting each part.


   The assumption was made, during the program, that the elephant was 11,000 years old and lived contemporaneously with humans. This latter statement is verified by human artefacts depicting mammoths (such as the Amerindian cave paintings), but the former statement is based on the theory that there have been many Ice Ages. As far as the evidence is concerned, there is proof that there was only one.


   It is also assumed that mammoths have become extinct, yet there have been sightings in the Eastern Ural mountains and Vladivostok in Russia of mammoth-like elephants, and I have seen photographs of round-headed Nepalese elephants.  This indicates that the genes which produce the characteristic mammoth features are still available in other elephants.


   The TV item showed the preserved mammoth remains contained in a single block of frozen soil, with the tusks poking out one end, then the scientists began their forensic work, using hair-dryers, to slowly examine every detail of the block.


   The mammoths have long presented a mystery. It has been estimated that about 25,000 of these huge creatures were killed by sudden freezing, or some disaster. One specimen, in Berezovka, has been reported as still standing up, with undigested food still in its mouth, but most specimens are mangled and broken.


   The usual question is “How did they die so quickly?” Was it a sudden drop in temperature? A flood? How could the land be lush and green one day, supporting huge herds of herbivores, then suddenly frozen and hostile the next?


   One explanation is called ‘Crustal Displacement’, a theory once advocated by Einstein. This theory proposes that at various times in the past the ice caps have built up irregularly, causing a sudden shift of the whole mantle, due to centrifugal forces caused by the spin of the earth, at which time the whole crust, or outer ‘skin’ of the earth has moved a few degrees – like the skin of an orange slipping without tearing.


   The landmass which was once nearer the equator and thus warmer, suddenly shifts to the pole and freezes – so the theory goes.


   Personally I cannot accept this, because of two reasons. The first reason is because the Bible says several times that the earth is “established or “fixed”, that is firmly anchored. The second reason is because the Bible chronology does not allow sufficient time for crustal displacement to occur, nor does it allow for more than one Ice Age. If we follow the Bible, there is simply not enough time for all the theories to happen.


   However, if we approach the mammoth question from the evolutionary point of view, we must include vast ages of time, in which almost anything can happen, but the Biblical perspective narrows the time-span down to a few thousand years. These tow views are mutually antagonistic.


   One Biblical approach to the mystery of the frozen mammoths involves the global flood, described in Genesis. According to this account, water descended from above the earth, and burst upwards from below the land. This upward-moving source of water would have been warmer, perhaps also consisting of volcanic steam and molten rock. In this way the oceans would have risen in temperature.


   Now contrary to what most people seem to think, the best way (or so I have read) to achieve an Ice Age is not to cool the earth. All this would produce is a frozen earth. The so-called ‘nuclear winter’, even if it were possible, would simply cause the whole planet to chill out. The most likely way to produce an Ice Age is to warm the oceans. This would produce greater evaporation, which would then precipitate in the form of snow. Within a hundred or so years vast areas of the colder regions of the earth would be blanketed in snow and ice and glaciers would begin to flow.


   As I see it, after a century or so immediately after the (Biblical) global flood subsided, a rapid Ice Age ensued, freezing the north and south poles and covering much of Europe in ice.


   Gradually the oceans cooled again and the precipitation eased, while the sun’s warmth began to have a greater effect, thawing the land, but leaving Siberia and northern Russia under permafrost conditions. Of course the retreat of the ice would not have been even or steady. There would have been years when it advanced a little, then retreated again, which is why scientists today propose several Ice Ages, but the same evidence which they quote to prove several ice ages, can just as easily be quoted to support an uneven thawing and retreating of a single Ice Age.


   If we accept the Biblical explanation for the death of the mammoths, we can logically answer the question about their origin.


   Originally God may have created only one basic elephant, with the genetic potential to produce all the different varieties we have recorded up to today. In the same way God could have created a single pair of cats or dogs, from which we have bred some amazing varieties, due to their inherent gene potential. This would have reduced greatly the number of land animal pairs which Noah needed to house for the duration of the flood, and it provides a logical explanation for the fact that many similar types of animal can successfully interbreed.


   But getting back to the TV program, what we were told about the mammoths (and this is something I think everyone will agree on) is that a huge number of strong, healthy creatures were destroyed quickly and suddenly, along with their habitat. This catastrophic event flies in the face of those scientists who maintain that the history of the world has not been marked by any sudden changes. The frozen mammoths are a testimony to past disasters, and possibly a warning to us today not to become complacent.


   If it has happened once, it could happen again.

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