Rain Prior to the Flood
Note that these statements are consistent with the plate tectonic theory I've already described. North America, Africa, and Europe had collided, forming part of a large continent called Pangaea, and raising mountain ranges. Much continental area was near the equator.
Another Scientific American article about fossil footprints found at Laetoli, Tanzania, said:243
See page 51 of the article for a photograph of these footprints. There are tracks to the right of the footprints that belong to an extinct three-toed horse, Hipparion. In general the animals preserved as fossils at Laetoli are similar in type to the animals found in the area today, but also include extinct types. The inclusion of extinct species is evidence these fossil beds must be pre-Flood. The Footprint Tuff is subdivided into a number of layers:
The article goes on to describe the further extensive deposition of volcanic ash, the development of new volcanoes on top of the old ash falls, the faulting and uplifting of parts of the area, and the resulting extensive erosion.
Various books on fossils display photographs of fossilized rainprints. The above evidence shows clearly that the rainprints could not have occurred after the Flood. There are simply too many geological events that have happened between their formation and exposure. Note that this does not depend on any dating methods other than the assumption that a huge number of geological events cannot be compressed into a timescale of just one year, at least, not without invoking miracles. As just one example, the Montceau-les-Mines fossils were laid down in an era that much other evidence shows was prior to even the age of dinosaurs. Since dinosaurs clearly did not exist after the Flood, the rainprint fossils must have been laid down before the Flood. Genesis 2:5, 6 says:
Based on this scripture, the Society said in the Aid book:244
If this interpretation of Genesis is correct then it is a clear case where the Bible contradicts a demonstrable fact. If this is unacceptable, then what is the correct interpretation?
Apparently recognizing this difficulty, Insight245 said the "time referred to is evidently early on the third creative 'day,' before vegetation appeared."
If Genesis 2:5, 6 actually refers to the third creative day, and not the entire period before the Flood, why does Genesis not explicitly state this? The rest of Genesis chapter 2 gives a history of man's creation, so a reference to the lack of rain in verses 5-6 makes no sense unless it describes conditions existing at the time referred to in verses 7 to 24. For example, verse 7 says:
How could verses 5-6 make sense unless they directly relate to what follows? Why does Insight say the time referred to is evidently early on the third day? Evidently because the Society recognizes the fossil evidence. We seem to be left with the conclusion that Genesis 2:5, 6 either contradicts fact or makes no sense.
Barnes Notes on the Old Testament gave an explanation of Gen. 2:5 that may make sense but still has major difficulties. It said:246
Note that Barnes Notes ignores the geological problem raised by the reference to the lack of rain before the Flood. If Genesis' use of "shrub of the field" and "plant of the field" really is limited to the plants in the immediate vicinity of the Garden of Eden, part of the difficulty is resolved. But Barnes Notes' disingenuous speculation on what "shrub" and "plant" really mean here has only marginal support in the original language.
A check of how the original Hebrew words are translated in other places in the Hebrew scriptures shows that they are often used to refer to all sorts of vegetation, not just the kinds that man cultivates. The New World Translation generally renders the words as "bush" and "vegetation" rather than "shrub" and "plant." Gen. 21:14, 15 tells how Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness, where Hagar "threw the child under one of the bushes." This "bush" was growing in the wilderness, not a cultivated field. Job 30 describes Job's bewailing of his condition, and verse 7 says: "Among the bushes they would cry out; Under the nettles they would huddle together." This is clearly a reference to bushes (note with nettles) in uncultivated land. Gen. 1:29, 30 shows that "vegetation" refers to all sorts of plants: "Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth.... I have given green vegetation for food."
There are also difficulties with how Barnes Notes explains the original word for "field." While it is often used in the sense of tillable field, it has a much wider sense. It can be used in the sense of "ground," "open country," "territory," "the wild," "land," etc., not just in the sense of a tillable field. For example, the New World Translation renders Gen. 27:5 as "Esau went on out into the field to hunt game." Did he go into his barley field to hunt game? Probably not; the New International Version renders it as Esau went out into the "open country" to hunt. Gen. 32:3 speaks of the "field of Edom" (NWT) or "country of Edom" (NIV). Gen. 2:19, 20; 3:1; and 3:14 speak of "the wild beasts of the field" (NWT). Again, are these wild beasts of a barley field, or the wild beasts of the earth?
Clearly there is no compelling argument from the Hebrew language that Gen. 2:5 refers to the time of creation of Adam rather than some time on the third creative day.
242 Daniel Heyler and Cecile M. Poplin, "The Fossils of Montceau-les-Mines," Scientific American, New York, September, 1988.
243 Richard L. Hay and Mary D. Leakey, "The Fossil Footprints of Laetoli," Scientific American, New York, February, 1982.
244 Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 440, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1971.
245 Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 728, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1988.
246 H. C. Leupold, Barnes Notes on the Old Testament: Exposition of Genesis, pp. 111-113, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960.