One of my favorite places on Earth is northern Michigan. As a child, I spent many summers on Lake Michigammi in the upper peninsula and grew to love the land of birches and pines. We can learn from the geological history lessons of northern Michigan.
Returning to this area over 70 years later has been a shock. When I was a kid, the people made a living harvesting and using the trees to make wood for construction purposes and to make paper. That industry still exists, but tourism and the construction of elaborate homes have replaced the trees as the basis of the northern Michigan economy. People have been buying large plots of land, building huge houses, and calling their property a “forest preserve.” Unfortunately, this practice includes the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the many inland lakes, limiting the general public’s access to this water wonderland.
Michigan’s state rock is the Petoskey stone, a beautiful coral often used to make attractive jewelry. The interesting thing about the Petoskey stone is that it is a tropical coral that only grows in warm water. Obviously, there has been a change in the climate because Michigan is not a tropical paradise. In our time of concern about climate change, we find the geological history lessons of northern Michigan indicating that Earth’s climate has changed in the past.
Another lesson from northern Michigan is the action of ice over time. Everywhere you look, you see huge rocks weighing many tons that could not have been placed by running water. These rocks come from many places and are all different. As a public school earth science teacher in South Bend, Indiana, I would take my students to the local gravel pit to hunt for unusual rocks. One student found a jasper conglomerate from Bruce Mines in Ontario. It had glacial groves and was hundreds of miles from its origin. We also found pieces of raw copper from outcrops in northern Michigan. One student found a diamond from an unknown Klondike area somewhere to the north. The geological history lessons we learn from the enormous rocks, the sand, and the many lakes is that, at one time, glaciers covered the area.
So how much time did these climate changes take? Knowing the geological history has been essential for oil drilling, coal and copper mining, and agriculture in Michigan. These things were part of how God prepared planet Earth for human habitation. Some religious people have tried to explain these things by Noah’s flood, but most ignore any attempt to explain the method and just say, “God did it.” That avoids the question of how and when.
Genesis 1:1 is undated and untimed, and the Genesis account uses the Hebrew words “bara,” meaning to create, and “asah,” meaning to make. Creating from nothing (bara) is used in verse 1, where it applies to space, time, and matter/energy. It is used again in verse 21 for the creation of the first life and in verse 27 for the creation of the first humans. Making (asah) refers to taking what was created and changing it. It is used in verses 7, 16, and 25. Chapter 2 verse 3 summarizes what God had done by using both bara and asah.
The geological history lessons of northern Michigan show us God taking what He had created and molding the Earth to prepare it for human habitation. As we understand more of what God has done, it becomes evident that all we see around us is the work of an intelligent Creator who cares about His creation and the humans He created in His image.
— John N. Clayton © 2023