Yosemite: A Testimony Etched on Stone

Since ancient times, man would carve into rock a testimony of past events.  Examples include petroglyphs created by native Americans, Independence Rock on which Oregon Trail pioneers carved their initials, but it also includes geology around the world on which God carved evidences of the global flood.   We will present below the evidences observed in Yosemite National Park and you be the judge.

Yosemite provides three evidences that support the events described in the Bible:

  1. Granite

  2. Glaciers

  3. God's Faithful Witness

Half Dome
Half Dome

In Yosemite, etched by a glacier.

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Independence Rock
Independence Rock

Etched by pioneers in Wyoming on the Oregon Trail.

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Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs

Etched by Native Americans in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

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Half Dome
Half Dome

In Yosemite, etched by a glacier.

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Evidence #1: Granite

 

The igneous rock Granite actually provides two testimonies to a Biblical timeline.  The first is observable to the unaided eye and centers around how it was formed.  The second testimony is hidden deep inside the rock and is observed with the help of an electron microscope. 

Yosemite Valley

Granite Recipe Card

Place all ingredients including Feldspar, Mica, and Quartz into the following geologic pressure cooker:

  • Extreme pressure and heat

  • Partial melting

  • No air

  • Voids in the earth’s mantle

  • A cooling mechanism

Granite is not formed today in a natural environment; not at the quantities and extent that it apparently formed in the past.  Something geologically very unusual must have been happening to allow the vast quantities of granite to have formed.  

But, what would have allowed such an unusual geologic condition to exist? 

Something like this ...

Genesis 7:7-12

7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

The Bible says that the fountains of the deep were broken up.  This may indicate that there was a break-up of the tectonic plates which are the foundations of the oceans and continents.  Many Christian geologists believe that break-up of these foundational plates could easily account for the cataclysmic events necessary to cause a global flood.  It is also believed that these plates were rapidly moving during the one-year flood and crashed into one another forming new continents and geologic features.

The Bible indicates this happening over the course of a year.

Map showing today's tectonic plates. Red arrows pointing away from each other are plates that are pulling apart.  Arrows point towards each other are where plates are colliding (subducting).

Subduction & Granite Formation

Subduction is still happening today but at a very slow pace and granite is not being produced.  However, at some point in the past, significant amounts of granite were produced.  The geologic conditions caused by a global flood, as described in the Bible, would account for the extreme temperature and pressure due to rapid subduction.  It would also allow for the other recipe components of partial melting of source rocks, the absence of air, voids in the earth's mantle, and a cooling mechanism.  By the way, there is a growing consensus among scientists that these processes needed to occur in a relatively short time period (geologically speaking).

 

12 to 25 miles deep

Placement

Ascension

Generation

“Even the conventional long-ages geologic community now regards the formation stages of granite plutons, after partial melting of source rocks to form granitic melts, that is, melt segregation, ascent and emplacement, to be “geologically extremely rapid—perhaps even catastrophic.” 

 

The Genesis Flood also provides two mechanisms for the exposure of the granite rock.  Remember, the recipe for granite calls for no air.  It had to be formed underground.  But, the rapid tectonic plate movement would also cause rapid uplift (or crumple zones) for subducting plates.  This quick and catastrophic uplift, forming the Sierra Nevadas and other major mountain ranges of the world, would shed huge quantities of flood waters causing massive erosion, thus exposing the granite.  The other mechanism is the next testimony that we will discuss which is observed in Yosemite National Park.

 

But, there is also a testimony God has hidden deep inside the molecular structure of granite.  

Take a journey with me into the zirconium crystal inside one of the components of granite ... biotite.

Proverbs 25:2
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Uranium is an instable radioactive element (or isotope), which means that it releases alpha and beta particles (radiation).  By shedding these particles, the parent isotope becomes a different daughter isotope.  The time for half of the parent isotope to decay to the daughter isotope is called half-life.  Uranium has eight alpha-particle decay stages from the instable parent Uranium-238 to the stable Lead-206.  As observed today, half-lives for these eight stages range from a split second to many thousands of years.

As the alpha particles are “shot out” from the source, they leave a path of destruction in the surrounding material; much like a bullet through a book.  You can think of each of the eight alpha-particle emitting Uranium isotopes as a different caliber gun from which the bullets travel different distances.  Each isotope leaves a path of destruction by its alpha bullets in all directions. When sliced by an electron microscope, these paths of destruction look like rings ... or halos. 

So they are called radiohalos.

It takes 500 million alpha particles to form a single dark radiohalo as observed in this electron microscope image.

At the current decay rate, Uranium-238 atoms would need nearly 100 million years to produce that many alpha particles.  

This would seem to support the idea of millions of years to form granite.

But there is a problem ...

Sometimes radiohalos are observed for only one or a few of the Uranium isotopes.  Polonium-210 has been observed to have formed radiohalos.  If it only has a half-life of 140 days, how did it form a radiohalo?  Adding to the mystery, when these isolated radiohalos are observed, there is no radioactive source present in the middle.

 

The isolated radiohalos are for isotopes that are soluble in water. It is believed that water (steam) flowing through the granite mobilized daughter isotopes, and subsequently dissolved the radioactive source.

Polonium-210

It is  interesting to note that this phenomenon is noted in granite from around the world and is not a regional or isolated occurrence.

But, wait there is one more reason why granite could not have formed in millions of years. 

Since radiohalos can survive only at and below 150°C (302°F), based on observed evidence, the radiohalos had to be generated very late in the granite formation process. By this time, though, most of the Polonium would have decayed away. Any Polonium halos that might have formed earlier would be destroyed by the heat.

Meaning … the granite must have cooled within a very short period of time for a Polonium halo to have formed. 

So,  let's summarize ...

  1. Granite doesn’t form today, there must have been a very unique geologic situation.

  2. Granite must have cooled very rapidly in order to capture the radiohalos of the short lived isotopes.

  3. The decay rate of the Uranium isotopes had to have been faster than observed today in order to produce enough alpha particles to record a visible halo.

What testimonies does granite provide about the earth's history as presented in the Bible?

  1. The formation of granite is no longer an argument against a young earth and a 1-year global flood but is actually a testimony to a very unique situation that included rapid tectonic movement, accelerated nuclear decay, and lots of water … consistent with the flood conditions described in the Bible.

  2. Radio-isotope dating methods rely on a consistent rate of decay which results in age estimates of millions and billions of years.  But we see in granite evidence that supports the idea that decay rates may have been very different in the past.

For more information and technical support of these concepts, please refer to Catastrophic Granite Formation Rapid Melting of Source Rocks, and Rapid Magma Intrusion and Cooling and Radiohalos—Mysterious Bullet Holes in Rocks
by Dr. Andrew A. Snelling; 

Evidence #2: Glaciers

 

Josiah Whitney, chief of the California Geological Survey, held the wrong theory about the formation of Yosemite Valley. Whitney thought Yosemite Valley was formed not by glaciers but "the bottom of the Valley sank down . . ." John Muir recognized that it had not been formed by a cataclysm, but by a long, slow, natural process in which ice played by far the major part. Muir was able to prove the glacial origin of the Valley, and discovered live glaciers in the high Sierras, but Whitney never accepted it. He mocked Muir as a "mere sheepherder" and "ignoramus." Yet, Muir convincingly proved the glacial origin of Yosemite Valley and related features through painstaking study, which he published in his Studies in the Sierra. Muir’s views eventually prevailed in the scientific community.

Yosemite Ice Age Progression
Yosemite Ice Age Progression

Height of the ice age. Most likely around 500 years after the global flood described in Genesis 6 - 8.

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Yosemite Ice Age Progression
Yosemite Ice Age Progression

The waning of the glacier.

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Yosemite Today
Yosemite Today

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Yosemite Ice Age Progression
Yosemite Ice Age Progression

Height of the ice age. Most likely around 500 years after the global flood described in Genesis 6 - 8.

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4,737 ft.

As testified by the nearly 4,800-foot scar on Half Dome, Yosemite Valley was shaped by glaciers during the ice age.  You might be surprised to find out that, although most scientists believe in one or more ice ages, evolution-believing scientists have a very difficult time identifying potential mechanisms for the initiation of an ice age.  But, not so for Christian scientists who use God's Word as a guide.  The global cataclysmic flood described in Genesis would be a perfect catalyst for an ice age.  It most likely commenced within 100 years of the flood and lasted approximately 700 years.  This chronology would place the ice age during the days of Abraham and Job. The Book of Job actually has more references to snow and ice than any other book of the Bible.

Geology and earth sciences can be separated into the  following three biblically-based time periods ...

  1. Antediluvian (before the global flood), approx. 1,500 - 2,200 years

  2. The Ice Age, approx. 800 years

  3. The Equilibrium Period, approx. 3,600 years

Michael Oard has a Masters Science degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Washington and is now retired after working as a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service for 30 years. He has researched and speaks on the compelling evidence for Noah’s Flood and the Ice Age that followed, and how the incredible wooly mammoth connects to biblical history. Michael has published many papers in his field in widely recognized journals and has written An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood, Ancient Ice Ages or Gigantic Submarine Landslides?, The Missoula Flood Controversy and the Genesis Flood and The Frozen Record. He is also author of Frozen in Time, The Weather Book and Life in the Great Ice Age.

Yosemite is a testimony to a post-flood ice age that occurred relatively recently.  Literally etched on the rocks and landscape are the following signs that convinced John Muir that a glacier formed this now famous valley.

  • Receding Glaciers

  • Moraines

  • U-shaped Valleys

  • Striations

  • Erratics

  • Sequoias

"Down beneath these miles of snow the ice is shifting, grinding, slicing, leveling, building, making a sierra here, a broad valley there, scooping out a Yosemite, leveling off a plain, polishing boulders, marking rock ledges with the handwriting of God, making ready warm glades for grass and flowers, mountain slopes for majestic forests, homes for birds ? breaking ground for beauty." - John Muir

You can think of glaciers as large ice bulldozers. As they progress, they grind up anything in their path including granite, trees, and landscape.  Dirt and  debris (called glacial till) is pushed in front and to the sides of the glacier.  The piles of glacial till that are left after the glacier retreats or melts are called moraines.  Glaciers will also leave large "pot holes" which when filled with water form glacial lakes.  You can observe these throughout the high sierras and the northern part of the United States.

One of the best evidences of a recent global flood and subsequent ice age is the continual retreating of glaciers.  John Muir wrote of this phenomenon he observed in Yosemite and Alaska in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  He also mentioned that explorer George Vancouver did not observe Glacial Bay in Alaska in 1750 because it was completely iced over. When Muir visited it in 1880, the ice had retreated 40 miles.  Today, the ice is  found to have retreated another 25 miles since Muir's visit.  Is this due to climate change?  You bet it is!  The earth is still in the Equilibrium Period recovering from the effects of the flood and subsequent ice age.

Testimonies Etched on Stone at Yosemite

Striations

Striations are scrapes and scars left on the face of granite from the glacier.

U-Shaped Valleys

U-Shaped Valleys are indicative of a past glacier. Water eroded valleys and canyons will typically be V-shaped

Erratics

Erratics are boulders, sometimes very large, that were picked up with the ice flow, but were deposited where the ice melted. They usually have rounded edges and are in places were there could be no rock fall.

Glacial Till

Moraines are formed at the front and sides of the ice flow and are comprised of particles of many shapes and sizes. Thick of it as a pile that an ice bulldozer pushed up.

One other testimony found in Yosemite consistent with a Biblical timeline are the Sequoias. According to the National Park Service, the oldest Sequoia trees are approximately 3,200 years, which dates back to the time of King David in the Bible.  If the flood occurred approximately 4,500 years ago and an ice age lasted another 700 years, that would mean that the time the oldest Sequoias trees standing today, would  have been  saplings a little bit after the  ice age.   

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Map of  California Sequoias and Redwoods

“It appears, therefore, that just where, at a certain period in the history of the Sierra, the glaciers were not, there the Sequoia is, and just where the glaciers were, there the Sequoia is not.”

–John Muir

Ancient Glaciers of the Yosemite Region

Evidence #3: God's Faithful Witness

 

Chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible, provides a working definition of faith ... "sure of what is unseen and certain of what is hoped for". The chapter continues by providing an accounting of many of the men and women in scripture that were examples of being sure and certain of things unseen and hoped for.  In every generation, God has His faithful witnesses who operate more on their faith than what they are currently observing.  John Muir was one of them.  True, John, was a keen observer of nature and natural processes ... a true scientist.  But he also understood that there was a Creator and that creation was an expression of the glory of that Creator.

Listen to John's own words, excerpts from his journals, which reveal his heart for the Creator.

The above scenes were filmed in 2019 in Yosemite National Park with the permission of the National Park Service.  Professional actor, Lee Stetson, who played John Muir for the Ken Burns The National Parks: America's Best Idea 2009 documentary series, appears in these video clips.  This was part of the WGR Southwest, Inc. environmental documentary series "Restore: Undoing Damage from Man and Nature".  The WGR series can be accessed by subscription at WGR's FORGE Training website.

Sometimes it is tough to be in the minority.  We get the impression that truth resides with the majority.  John Muir's ideas about how Yosemite was formed was considered by the majority of his day to be absolutely crazy  ... in fact, they thought he was just a crazy wild man running around the wilderness. 

As Christians, we believe that the source of truth is God's Word - the Bible.  Today, we are becoming more and more the minority  ... especially if we hold to the belief of a world and universe that was created in six days and a global flood that happened during Noah's lifetime.  But based on his writings, if he was still alive, I would not be surprised to find John Muir once again aligned with the minority.   John understood the intersection of faith and science.

"Now the sun breaks forth and fragrant steam arises.  The birds are out singing on the edges of the groves.  The west is flaming in gold and purple, ready for the ceremony of the sunset, and back I go to camp with my notes and pictures, the best of them printed in my mind as dreams.  A fruitful day, without measured beginning or ending.  A terrestrial eternity.  A gift of good God."

My First Summer in the Sierra, Chapter 5 The Yosemite