A group of young-Earth creationists have finally settled on when they think the Ice Age occurred. In short: just a tad over 4000 years ago.

Young-Earth creationism (which I will abbreviate YEC for brevity's sake) is the pseudoscientific field formed by the intellectual children of 16th-18th century and early 19th century proto-geologists and flood geologists; YEC researchers are trying to interpret the history of the Earth through a combination of divine revelation as recorded in the Bible and the known geological record. Flood geology, as a valid scientific pursuit, went out of fashion in the mid-19th century (because scientific discoveries showed that it made no sense), only to come back into a much-less-prevalent existence in the late 19th century with the rise of fundamentalist Protestant Christianity. This is the form in which it continues to this day, as a pseudoscientific field that only remains in existence because of fundamentalist Protestant Christians, with occasional input from zealous individuals from other faith traditions. Ever since it came back, it had a tough time coming to terms with something that geology had figured out in the mid-19th century: the planet's relatively recent history showed geological and biological effects of having suffered an Ice Age*, a period in which glaciers advanced, extending towards the equator, latitudinally, and down from mountains, elevationally, only to recede afterwards, and then to repeat in waves of advances and retreats.

YEC researchers and organizations have had a tough time of trying to figure out when an Ice Age happened, because the Bible makes absolutely no mention of an Ice Age. To play Devil's advocate (...which might be the absolute wrong phrase here), the Bible is extremely bad at talking about events that weren't happening in the Middle East; it's almost as if Yahweh seriously didn't want his Chosen People to know about anything going on outside of their local environment. Or maybe he told them but they didn't write it down. But YEC researchers, using a combination of the Bible and the geological record, have tried to figure out when the Ice Age occurred, and they generally decided that it would make the most sense if it happened after the Flood: it was a natural climatic event that occurred after the flood waters (which used to be held above the sky and below the Earth) had retreated from the surface of the land.

Two months ago, Answers in Genesis, the Australia-based YEC organization that is doing the most to push YEC pseudoscience in Australia and the USA, published, in their occasionally pop-"sci" journal Answers, an article from two of their researchers that discussed when the Ice Age occurred.

Advertisement

According to Snelling and Matthews (2013), the Ice Age started around the year 2250 BCE, and ended around the year 2000 BCE. Interestingly, this new chronology also allows them to estimate when certain other events occurred. Mastodons first appeared somewhere around 2270 BCE. Woolly mammoths first appeared around 2210 BCE, and spread into North America around 2170 BCE. Humans moved into the Americas around 2050 BCe and Australia around 2100 BCE. In the former case, humans were following mammoths; if you were among the "Babel fugitives" who crossed Beringia 4060ish years ago, you could be "eating mammoths as you went".

Now, of course, all of these ages are ridiculous. But it's very brave of Answers in Genesis researchers to finally put dates on how extremely recently they think that events happened, so that those of us in reality can know exactly how wrong their viewpoint is and why they never ever deserve to be taken seriously. It takes a form of chutzpah to claim that people have only been in the New World for barely over 4000 years, and so their chutzpah is appreciated, as long as they don't claim it's science.

We will see if other YEC researchers and organizations agree with Snelling and Matthew's research, since not all of them will, but for now, let us all remember the Ice Age that ended 4000 years ago. For alerting me to this amazing discovery, I extend a hat tip to PZ Myers at Pharyngula, and to Answers in Genesis's facebook presence for giving more details about Snelling and Matthew's findings.

*Of course, I'm only going to briefly mention here that, as io9 discussed a little over a week ago, that there have been multiple Ice Ages in the real history of the Earth, our current Pleistocene one is just the most recent, and there was a much longer ice age in the Carboniferous. But YECs think the Carboniferous was a period of depositional time that occurred during the Flood and its short recovery, so their version of history doesn't include that ice age.

Image credits: The online version of Snelling and Matthew's paper, care of Answers magazine.
Edited for clarity and more links on April 17th.