The World of Geology
November 11th, 1956 @ 8:15 AM
THE WORLD OF GEOLOGY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-11-56 8:15 a.m.
All of this should have been delivered in one sermon, but I had to break it up into three parts. That is, it’s three thus far. Before I get through, it may be five or six parts. In the ninth and the tenth verses of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis:
Wayyōmer Elōhim –
And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place –
in one bed –
and let the dry land appear." –
wayhi ken – just like that, just like you would turn on a switch –
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas –
yammim, plural, "seas" –
and God saw that it was good. –
Then it speaks of the world of botany – wayhi ereb –
And it was evening –
wayhi boqer –
and it was morning –
[from Genesis 1:9-10, 13]
Now, I say this sermon, this message, these addresses, they ought all to be one. Last Sunday morning we spoke of The Waters of the Sea; this morning, of the dry land, the geology, then next Sunday morning, The World of Botany. But they all ought to be together because all of it was made on the third day [Genesis 1:9-13]. But for lack of time, three parts; and I hope you can remember them because they all ought to go together. So this morning we speak of the dry land, the world of geology – rock, stratum, strata – the crust of this Earth.
It’s an ancient interest, geology. Herodotus [484-425 BCE], the father of history, the first Greek historian – the first man who ever tried to write out what he saw and heard in the Earth – Herodotus was much interested in geology. One of the things that intrigued him was the fertility of the Nile Valley, and he went down there and studied the soil and studied the country and attributed the delta to the creation of the Nile River.
Way back yonder, as a contemporary of Christ, Strabo [64 BCE – 24 CE] lived. He was the greatest Greek geographer, and Strabo was much interested in geology. Fossils fascinated and attracted him, and, contrary to the controversies of the times, Strabo said they were made of organic matter. One time they lived, these fossils, and he was right.
You know, could I parenthesize to say these vast, vast illimitable deposits of limestone, how much of it is there in the world? Oh, there are great, vast, illimitable deposits of it – limestone. All of that used to be organic matter. It was made out of shell, made out of substances, incrustations. Sometimes in one square inch of limestone there may be thousands and uncounted thousands of organisms that lived and died and deposited it there and made limestone possible.
Well those ancients probed into those things and were interested in them. Actually, the science of geology, the study of this world as God has made it, is a modern science. Really, it began in about, oh, 1775. And in our country, it is greatly accelerated because of the presence of oil. The geologist got his name from the study of the rocks and the fissures in the crust of the Earth trying to locate vast oil deposits.
Oil is an ancient thing known back there as far as mankind is known. Used to find it in little pools and crevices of the Earth, and they use it for medicinal purposes. In the kingdom of Babylon, they used it for building purposes to cement mud brick together. And when America was discovered, in Pennsylvania the Indians there were using it for purposes of medicine.
First oil well was drilled in 1859, not very long ago – 1859. It was in northern Pennsylvania. It was sixty-nine feet deep, and it had a production of fifteen barrels a day. Now, oil is second to agriculture in its vast, vast financial stipend, rewards. But it’s a world of tremendous interest to all of us.
And to any man who reads it all, there’s only one reason for the Middle East, our particular interest in the Middle East outside of the humanitarian interest. That’s because half of all the deposits of the oil of the world is over there in the Middle East. And did you ever consider how the Bible – you can’t go beyond it – the Bible says the last battle of time, the battle of Armageddon, is going to be fought over there – the last one, Harmagedon? [Revelation 16:13-16] Har your Greek word for – your Hebrew word for "mountain, hill," and geddo – the little town there on the edge of Esdraelon: the battle of Har Megiddo, the battle of Armageddon as the Greek has it. And things all move in that direction.
Why didn’t the Bible say the last battle would be fought in Scandinavia, or in Scythia, or in Ethiopia, or up there in Gall, or over there in India? Why didn’t it? The last battle, God’s Book says, is going to be fought on the plain of Esdraelon, the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:14, 16]. And the whole time and circumstance of life flow in that direction.
How’d those men know that? They said that thousands of years before oil was discovered, anybody ever heard about oil as such – those great deposits of oil. That’s the Book; that’s God. We’re going to look at that seeing the end from the beginning.
Now let’s go back to this thing of geology, God making His world. When you enter into a study like that, you enter into vast, vast and uncounted ages of time. I started to write out some of them. Let’s just sum it up, though, because it’s not a particular interest to us.
There are five great geological eras, geological ages. One: the first one’s called the Proterozoic. Then the next one is called the Paleozoic. Then the next one is the Mesozoic. Then the fourth one is the Cenozoic. Then the last is the Post-Tertiary Age. Now those are vast, vast groupings – five of them.
In that first one, the Proterozoic, there are, there are five great ages in that age. And then the next one, the Paleozoic, there are six great ages in that age. Then the next one, the Mesozoic, there are five vast ages in that age. And then the next one, the Cenozoic, there are five great ages in the Cenozoic. And then the Post-Tertiary: there are two great ages in that which comes up to us. Thousands and thousands and thousands – and then there’ll be another author, and it’ll be millions and millions and millions – of years. I read not very long ago, a few days ago, where one of these geologists had discovered a leaf in one of these deposits that he said was sixty million years old – those vast, vast, vast ages.
Well, where does all that come in here in the Bible? Well it’s simple, to me, if you’ve been coming along with us from the beginning of these studies. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth" [Genesis 1:1]. Back yonder, in the far distant and dateless and timeless past, for time is a creation – just as this world is a creation, time is a creation – there was a time when there wasn’t any time. And there’s going to be a time when there’s not any time.
Time is a thing. It’s a created creature of God. And it started there and it ends there. Beyond that, there’s not any. Beyond this, there’s not any. Just like your human life: you weren’t here, and as far as this Earth is concerned, you won’t be there. And you just have this space in here that God gave you. Well, all of time is like that. It starts here, a definite creation, and it ends here, a definite creation. Time is a thing that God made.
Now, God looks upon it just like God looks upon space. It’s easy to think about the infinitude of space. You go on and on and on and on in any direction you want to start, go on and on and on and on, and finally out there you’d think, well, you’ll meet a wall. You’ll meet a fence. You’ll meet a barrier. But if you went on and on and on and came to that fence or that wall or that barrier, why, in your mind you can’t conceive of there not being something beyond that that goes on and on and on and on and on. That’s infinity; that’s space.
Same way about time. And to us, an age seems to be a vast, vast accumulation of hours and days and years. To God it is nothing. A thousand years in His sight are as a day, and a day as a thousand years [from 2 Peter 3:8]. Time is nothing to God – merely one of His creations. So back there in the dateless past, in the dim dawn, God created this great material universe that we see.
Now the ages in that creation nobody knows. A man will look at it and he’ll say, "Now this is sixty million years." Another one will look at it and, "That’s a hundred million years."
That’s nothing at all. In God’s sight, God’s sight, sixty million years could be as but a moment in our time. It is nothing at all.
Not only that, but if you’ve been coming to these morning services, there came a tragedy into the earth. Satan who ruled it was the instrument of its destruction, and the Earth became tōhu wābōhū [Genesis 1:2]. It became a waste and empty and void and unfurnished. And Isaiah 45 says God didn’t make it that way [Isaiah 45:18]. It became that way, "And darkness was upon the face of the deep" [from Genesis 1:2] and the world was buried in a watery grave.
Now how long did that last? Nobody knows. There’s not any time with God. God is timeless. It’s infinite. All infinitude is in Him. Just like space is infinite, so eternity is infinite and there’s no time in God. So how long the Earth was covered in waters and how long darkness was upon the face of the deep nobody knows. It’s in the province of God with whom time is nothing – just one of His creatures.
So when we come to these ages that a geologist will say, why, that’s just nothing at all in God’s sight. A hundred million years is but as a watch in the night in the sight of God [2 Peter 3:8]. So it’s nothing at all, I say, when you read the geologist and he speaks of these vast, vast ages. The only thing that I’m saying the Bible says is this: that when God recreated this world, He did it in six days [Genesis 1:3-31]. That’s all – just what the Bible says.
The Bible doesn’t have anything to say about those vast geological ages except back yonder, God made it in the dim, dateless geological past [Genesis 1:1] and that the Earth became dark and void in the dim, dateless, geological past [Genesis 1:2]. And how long the Earth remained that way only God knows – great geological ages.
But when God recreated this world, He did it by fiat. He spake and it was done. Just like that, God spake, and He chose to do it in six yoms, in six days, with morning and evening, when God remade this world [Genesis 1:3-31]. Now, this world that God made shows all of those geological evidences that you read here in the Book that the Earth was buried beneath the dark and frozen and turbulent waters.
This man who began the modern science of geology – a man by the name of Dr. Abraham Werner [17-1817] who was a professor in the school of mines in Freiburg, Germany – in 1775, he began, I say, modern interest in geology. And to my amazement, the theories of that man who was just speculating, philosophizing – the theories of that man are exactly as you read them here in God’s Book. He said that the great layers of the Earth were made by water and ice and vapor and fossil and the accumulation of the vast ages of time. That was his theory about it; and it’s exactly what it says here in the Bible.
And you put with that the igneous elements, the fire elements, in this Earth, as God originally made it, and you’ll have the Earth made just exactly in geology – read it in geology – just exactly as you’ll find it here in the Book.
Now this Earth, God says, was buried beneath the waters of the sea [Genesis 1:2], and God lifted up great continents here and there and there. And when He lifted them up, He made great basins and gathered the waters, plural, the waters into the seas, plural, into one bed, singular [Genesis 1:9-10].
Now, you’ll see that wherever you look at this world, the great strata of the Earth are not just here on the raised continental shelf, it’s down there in the sea too. You’ll have a mountain here and strata of rock way up there thousands of feet. You’ll find that same strata of rocks down here on the ocean bed. God just did it like that. It used to be like this: great stratum – or plural, great strata – one on top of the other.
And then in this world, you’ll find it like this. God raised it up, and there’ll be a strata, a stratum of rock up here, and it fits exactly a stratum of rock in the bed of the sea. And the sea is just like the terrain of the continent. I read in Ripley that the highest mountain in the world has never been seen. It’s buried in the ocean down there between South America and Africa, thousands and thousands of feet high. But no man’s ever seen it – a great mountain range down there in the ocean. They have plateaus, and gorges, and canyons, and valleys, and great rock deposits and everything down in the ocean just like you have it up here on the land. It used to be all buried, all of it, and God raised the dry land up and the waters were gathered into the basins of the sea [Genesis 1:9-10].
Now, the reason for that is plain: to raise the land up making a typography of our Earth makes the rivers flow. You’d have abysmal swamp if it all were flat and dry, flat and wet. And then if it were raised up too high, it’d all be a desert up there. God did it just right so He could make it to rain and things to grow and the Earth as He recreated it here on this third day.
Now, it says, "And God let the dry land appear . . . and He called the dry land Earth" [Genesis 1:9-10]. And then in that, in that dry land, He commanded His seed and His roots and His sprouts to begin to grow and each one to yield fruit after its kind [Genesis 1:11]. So one of the things that God created when He raised up this dry land, one of the things that God created was soil. Now, did you ever think about soil as such as a creature of God? Why, I never did in my life.
Dirt. Who’d think a handful of dirt is a creature of God, a creation of God? Did you know the most marvelous thing that you can look at or pick up is a handful of dirt? God made it, and I’m going to show you that just as fast as I can.
When you think about dirt, why you say, "Well, a rock was pulverized, mashed up, eroded by water and wind and rain and elements and freezing and contraction and expansion and broken up. And then on the inside of all that broken up rock, why, you have maybe some decayed vegetable matter, you have humus. And put all that together and that makes soil, and plant a seed in the soil and the thing will grow."
Well, now that’s what I thought. That’s what I thought. Well did you know, unless God did something to create that soil, did you know that rock would stay rock forever and that vegetable matter would stay vegetable matter forever? God has to create something there in order to make it possible for a plant to use it, to imbibe it, to digest it, to assimilate it.
And it’s just like milk. Did you ever think about milk? Did you know a scientist can take all of the elements and color and make milk just exactly like you’d get it out of a cow – just exactly? The only difference is you can drink the milk that the scientist makes and you’ll starve to death, but you can drink the milk that the old cow will give and get fat. That’s the only difference. That’s the only difference. The cow does something that God taught her how to do. And when you drink that milk, you can assimilate it.
Now that’s the same thing about soil. God has to do something to the soil to make it produce.
Well, let me give you an illustration. Here’s a farmer and he’s got a big field, and out there on that field he scatters fertilizer. All over that field he puts fertilizer. Did you know if God didn’t do something that fertilizer would just stay fertilizer forever just out there on the ground? The rock would stay rock and the fertilizer would stay fertilizer.
But God created something when He made the soil. And I have two things that I want to show you that God did when He made soil – when He created it.
First is this: on the inside of that soil, everywhere in this Earth, God has placed busy, tireless little workmen that a scientist will call "enzymes" – enzymes. On the inside of that soil, everywhere in this Earth, are little enzymes, and they are immortal. They go on forever. They don’t ever die. They don’t ever quit. They don’t ever get tired.
And those little enzymes take the rock that is crushed and they take the fertilizer that is placed on the fields, they take dead vegetable matter, humus – they take all of that and they so work on it and so change it – they’re catalytic agents – that they transform it into elements that a root can reach down and a plant can reach down and absorb it into itself and build plant structure and grow fruit and grain that an animal can eat. God’s enzymes do that, and they don’t ever get tired; and nobody knows what they are. They’re vastly, intricately complex: a chemical, little organisms, but they’re everywhere. God put them there. And when you pick up a handful of dust, on the inside of that dirt are God’s little enzymes by which He manufactures soil that makes possible plant growth.
All right, now, another thing that we found out just recently. When God created His soil, when you bury in the ground all of these pigs that have died of cholera – – and I helped do that one time when I’s a boy. All of our hogs died. All of our pigs died – all of them. Every one of them died of hog cholera. And we dug a great big place on the farm, and we buried the hogs and we buried the pigs. It was an awful calamity to us – – cholera.
And I do not know how many people I have buried. And in the days when I was a boy and started to preach, they didn’t embalm the bodies. People didn’t have any money to have anybody embalmed. They just buried them. And on the inside of that soil, we buried people that died of scarlet fever and tuberculosis and infantile paralysis – all of it down there in that soil.
Why doesn’t the soil become source of terrible devastating epidemic? Why doesn’t it? Filled with those germs, all of those seething masses of corruption, why doesn’t God’s soil become veritable cesspools of horror and terror and threat? Why doesn’t it?
You see, I told you God created the soil. Soil is a creation of God. Soil purifies itself. Anywhere in the world, on top of the highest mountain, down in the deepest declivity, anywhere on an island or a continent, anywhere in this Earth, God’s soil is a creature of God.
Well, we have just found out on the inside of that soil is a little thing called penicillin, and the very minute any kind of corruption and any kind of disease gets into that soil, God’s little penicillin specks, infinite little things, start immediately working to clear it out in order that God’s soil might stay fresh, and clean, and pure. God did that.
"Oh, preacher you just don’t know! We did that."
"A&M College did that."
Well A&M College can do some things, Coach Morgan, but they can’t do that! Isn’t that right? God did that! God did that.
Soil, this dry land, is a creation of God. And for all we know, penicillin is just one. There may be five dozen other little old tiny infinitesimal things down there in the soil that we haven’t found out yet that God put there in the beginning. We’re just now beginning to learn just a little bit of what God hath done.
All right, now, we’ve got thirty minutes more. Now, now let’s go to the world of mineralogy – talking about how God made his Earth: mineralogy.
Mineralogy is – mineralogy is a study of the crust of the Earth. Everything that’s in the crust is subject to the study of the science of mineralogy. Now, a part of the study of mineralogy is crystallography. That Greek word krystallos was the Greek word for "ice." But those ancients marveled when they saw quartz, crystallized quartz, and so the ancients said that is water turned into stone. So they called quartz krystallos.
And that idea was not challenged until this man Werner challenged it in the seventeenth century. They called quartz, the crystallization of these minerals, they called it krystallos, "ice" – water turned into stone.
Now, I have never in my life, not in my life have I got into anything – – and I knew nothing at all about it – – I never got into anything as interesting as crystallography.
God made those things, and it is amazing. It’s stupendous. It’s a whole world in itself what God has done. Why did God do that – a crystal? Sometimes you call them diamonds, sometimes you call them beryls, sometimes you call them emeralds, sometimes you call them rubies, amethysts, topaz, garnets – all kinds of glorious crystals.
Why did God make them? That’s an unusual thing. There’s not an animal in the world that can eat them. They don’t break down into rocks. An enzyme doesn’t work on them. As I studied, the only thing I could think of that a crystal is good for is if it were small and a chicken swallowed it, the chicken could use it as a gravel in its gizzard and help digest its food. That’s the only thing I can conceive of that God would make crystals for – only thing.
All right, you just read in the Book here and you’ll find out why God made His crystals. And the way He did it was marvelous:
Thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod . . . Gold, blue, scarlet, fine twine linen . . .
Foursquare it shall be . . .
And thou shalt set in it those stones, four rows of stones: the first row shall be sardius –
or you might say a ruby –
a topaz, and a garnet . . .
And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
And the third row shall be a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst.
And the fourth row shall be –
an aquamarine –
a beryl –
an aquamarine –
an onyx, and a jasper"
[from Exodus 28:15-20]
And God says that they are for glory and for beauty. God made his gems, God made his crystals down here, just for the sake of doing it – just because He thought they were pretty. That’s all. Just like God made His sunsets. Why did God make a sunset? Why the sun could sit in the west and everything be grey, and it’d be just as good. But God made His sunsets just to look at, just because He thought they were pretty – that’s all. And God puts those gems down here in the world, He says here in the Bible, for glory and for beauty. That’s all – just to capture the colors of the rainbow and hold them in prison for men to look at and love and admire and rejoice in.
And the way He made those crystals is an unbelievable thing. You look at it just for a minute. Let’s take an amethyst, an amethyst. You know, the Greek word for "drunkenness" is methistos, methistos. Methu is "strong drink," methuo is "to get drunk," methistos is "drunkenness."
Now put alpha privative on that, amethistos – a way to cure drunkenness. Pliny, for example, in one of his letters, writes to a friend and says, "I’m sending you an amethyst" – that is, a beautiful cut stone that has the power of curing your drunkenness.
It was Alcoholics Anonymous. That was what it was – tryin’ to get people cured of their drunkenness. Now that’s where you get the word "amethyst." It was used back there in those days for those purposes.
Now, an amethyst crystallizes. And that’s one of the laws of crystallizations. Whether it’s big – – and some of those crystals will be over five feet long and maybe twelve or fifteen inches this way – – the thing crystallizes, and one of the laws of crystallization is this – that the angles are always the same. The angles of the plains where they come together, they’re always the same. The groupings are always the same.
And if there’s a facet on this side, there’s always a corresponding facet on that side. Now, an amethyst always crystallizes into a rhomboid. And that’s those hexagonal oblique – you knew, a crystal. I haven’t got time. It’s a rhomboid, and it crystallizes into a rhomboid.
All right, you take a hammer and shatter that great big amethyst crystal, and it’ll break down into hundreds of rhomboids. And then you take a iron pestle – an iron mortar and an iron pestle – and grind it and look at that purple sand, and every piece of purple sand will be a little rhomboid. And then you take that purple sand and put it under a great steel mill and grind and grind it and look at the flour under a microscope, and the flour will be rhomboids! Oh, you did that? Yea. Or you all did that?
Or take a topaz. When you break it up, it’ll break into orthorhombic forms, another geometrical design. And grind it in a powder and all the little specks will be orthorhomboids. Or a garnet: it crystallizes on an isometric geometrical form. And when you grind it up and powder it, it’s all isometric particles. How in the world does it, nobody knows. But it just crystallizes that way. And every part, when it’s broken down, it crystallizes that way, right before your eyes.
Over here – – oh, we must quit! – – over here in the great picture of the beautiful city of God:
And the building of the wall that was of jasper: and the city was pure gold . . . And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnets with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony –
another word for that’d be agate –
And the fifth, onyx; the sixth, sardius –
the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, the beryl –
or an aquamarine –
and the ninth, the topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus –
that looks like jade –
and the eleventh, a jacinth; and the twelfth, an amethyst.
When God made His beautiful city, He took the crystals that He’s made, and He garnished the foundations. For why? For glory and for beauty – that’s what it says in the Book. God did all that. The Lord did that.
Ooh, where does the time go? Where does the time go?
Now, next Sunday we take the world of botany.
Now, Mr. Souther, while we sing one stanza of a hymn, there’s somebody here this morning to give his heart to the Lord or to come into the fellowship of His church. While we sing, would you into the aisle and down here to the front and stand by me in this moment of appeal while all of us stand and sing?
THE WORLD OF GEOGRAPHY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Ancient interest in geology, Herodotus, Strabo
II. Modern interest
III. Five geological eras
5. Post-tertiary Age
IV. Time is a created thing
V. God’s created things