From a biblical perspective, the advent of continents plays a critical role in God’s transformation of Earth from “formless and void” to an environment teeming with diverse life-forms. In fact, the formation of continents warrants mention as one of the miracles performed on the third day of creation. The formation and motion of continents plays an important role in the history and development of Earth’s habitability from a scientific perspective as well.
A recent discovery provides further evidence that the Earth's continents have moved and changed dramatically over time. Around one billion years ago, the bulk of the continental landmass was clumped together into a supercontinent called Rodinia. Around 800 million years ago, Rodinia began to break up, causing Earth to plunge into the Cryogenian period. During this period, glaciers covered nearly the whole Earth numerous times in events called "snowball Earths".
Shortly (on geological timescales) after the end of the Cyrogenian era, diverse, complex organisms explosively appeared on Earth. The Avalon explosion and the Cambrian explosion represent two such events. Some scientists argue that the change in Earth’s surface that occurred during the Cyrogenian played a critical role in the subsequent introduction of diverse life. Many of these changes resulted from the breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent.
In typical models for Rodinia’s topography as shown above, the North American continent (referred to as Laurentia) sits next to East Antarctica. After the breakup of Rodinia, the continents drifted apart and back together a couple of times until they ended up in their current configuration. Recent finds in Antarctica support this model by demonstrating that rocks unique to North America also exist in Antarctica. Three lines of evidence point to a juxtaposition of East Antarctica with North America:
- Geological: similar strata found in both locations
- Dating: zircons in the rock formations of both continents date to the same age
- Isotopic: the chemical composition of the granites in both locations match
For most of Earth’s history, only single-celled organisms lived. Yet shortly after the tumultuous Cyrogenian era, an abundance of advanced, multicellular organisms quickly appeared on Earth. The breakup of supercontinents led to dramatic changes on Earth’s surface and, in the case of the Rodinia breakup, led to environments where more-advanced life could not only survive, but flourish. Such results fit comfortably in a model where a supernatural Designer is transforming an otherwise desolate planet into an environment suitable for advanced life, particularly humans.