Tales From The Road: The Big Bang In 1980
I’ve heard a lot of talk about the Big Bang in the past 38 years. No, I don’t mean that light-headed sitcom on television. I also am not referring to the hypothesis that all creation suddenly and magically appeared from a loud noise. As I said in my Nov. 30, 2011, Reflection: Big Bang Theories and humanistic evolution make intriguing science fiction, but do not give us useable knowledge. Rather they are diversions which turn us away from Almighty God who created us, and from Jesus Christ who loves us and died for us.
So, what am I talking about?
If you are more than 38 years old, remember where you were at 8:32 a.m. (PST) on Sunday morning, May 18, 1980.
Now, can you tell me what event produced a very loud noise, belched out more than 540 million tons of ash over seven states, lowered the mountain summit by 1,300 feet, and sent more than five cubic miles of dirt, rocks, and mud over the landscape?
If you said “the Mount St. Helens eruption” you are correct. And it was a catastrophic event!
Quoting Mary Bagley from LiveScience on Feb. 28, 2013: “In terms of economic impact, the Mount St. Helens eruption was the most destructive (volcanic event) in U.S. history. Fiftyseven people are known to have died. More than 200 homes were destroyed. More than 185 miles of roads and 15 miles of railways were damaged. Ash clogged sewage systems, damaged cars and buildings, and temporarily shut down air traffic over the Northwest. The International Trade Commission estimated damages to timber, civil works and agriculture to be $1.1 billion.”
Carol and I visited Mt. St. Helens recently and I cannot begin to tell you in this Reflection how the visit emotionally affected us. We had seen the event on television back in 1980, we heard about it on radio, and we read about it numerous times; so we were knowledgeable about this historical episode. However, this was the first time we saw the mountain and surrounding terrain first-hand; and seeing it for ourselves was an eye-opener!
Carol and I drove up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory situated about 4,300 feet above sea level and spent all afternoon looking and learning. In my mind, I can still see the side of the mountain collapse and slide down to the valley. Then, within a second, the top and side of the mountain erupted into a hellish inferno, with clouds of steam and ash being propelled up to 15 miles into the atmosphere.
Quite often on the 48-mile drive from the Silver Cove RV Resort, we stopped to gaze in wonderment at how this part of the state had been changed. The level of Spirit Lake is several hundred feet higher and the Toutle River valley has been reshaped. The magnitude of the event is almost overwhelming.
But as terrible and horrendous as it was, there was an interesting side-note to the event. Evolutionists and students of geology have attested for quite a while that it took thousands to millions of years for rivers to carve canyons and gorges out of mountains, prairies, and rock. They affirmed that it took eons of time to produce the multi-layers of rock and dirt we find in mountains and canyons. But they didn’t factor in events like earthquakes and volcanos.
It took a geologic event like the Mt. St. Helens eruption to verify that canyons, gorges, multiple layers of soil and rock, etc., can be produced in hours – if not minutes.
Because of 38 years of rain, snow, wind, and more earthquakes, the landscape no longer looks like the moonscape when President Carter visited it in 1980, but the area around the mountain is still a stark and barren land. However, the forest is ever-so-slowly making a come-back.
I strongly recommend this visit to anyone who has time and plan to spend a full day. Drive east on Highway 504, and stop at visitor centers and viewpoints along the way. Take pictures. The extent of the devastation unfolds with each mile, yet you’ll also see nature’s amazing recovery.
If you don’t have much time to spend, the Mount St. Helens visitor center at Silver Lake located on Hwy. 504 about 6 miles off I-5 is a great place to start. But if that visit inspires you, you have only 50 miles to go to the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
Then, you’ll probably hear coming from your mouth: “Oh, Wow!”