Ice Age: Answers to Basic Questions

ice land and sea
by Geoscience Research Institute

Was there an Ice Age?

Yes. There was a time when glaciers covered large areas of North America and northwestern Europe.1 Most scientists believe there were several ice ages, but some creationists suspect there was only one Ice Age, with fluctuations that produced the appearance of more than one. Ice caps still remain in Antarctica and Greenland, along with many glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are several lines of evidence that show the presence of ice sheets over much of northern North America in the past. This evidence includes moraines, glacial polish and large boulders known as erratics. Glaciers tend to flow downhill, very slowly. As the glacier moves, more ice is added to the glacier’s head, so the glacier may appear to the causal observer to be stationary. Glacial movement scrapes up rocks from the ground surface and pushes them to the sides and front of the glacier, forming piles of unsorted rock debris. The rock piles along the sides of the glacier are called lateral moraines, while the one at the tip of the glacier is called a terminal moraine. When glaciers move over solid rock, they leave scars in the form of scratches or glacial polish. A glacier may carve a U-shaped valley into the mountains as it moves. Large boulders that fall onto the surface of the glacier will be carried downhill, sometimes for many miles. When the glacier melts, the large boulder, known as a glacial erratic, may be deposited far from its source. These and other glacial features are common over large areas of Canada and parts of the northern United States, showing that these areas were once covered with ice.

When was the Ice Age?

Probably not long after the Flood. Many records point toward climatic cooling and establishment of glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere in the uppermost Pliocene,2 which is near the top of the geological column. This would fit well if at least the upper Cenozoic is post-Flood. A lapse of time between the release of the animals from the ark and the onset of the Ice Age would provide time for the animals to disperse across the northern continents before the ice accumulated enough to block further dispersal.

Why doesn’t the Bible say anything about the Ice Age?

The Bible records the history of the people who preserved the knowledge of the promised Messiah. The Ice Age is not relevant to that history. On the other hand, references such as Job 38:223 may indicate a cooler climate in early biblical history…

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image credit: Jon Del Rivero