This is one of the stranger teachings of Ellen White. We have to test it though, because she did claim that every time she put pen to paper it was a “ray” from the throne of God. In order to provide proper context I am going to quote the preceding paragraphs.
“The entire surface of the earth was changed at the Flood. A third dreadful curse rested upon it in consequence of sin. As the water began to subside, the hills and mountains were surrounded by a vast, turbid sea, Everywhere were strewn the dead bodies of men and beasts. The Lord would not permit these to remain to decompose and pollute the air, therefore He made of the earth a vast burial ground. A violent wind which was caused to blow for the purpose of drying up the waters, moved them with great force, in some instances even carrying away the tops of the mountains and heaping up trees, rocks, and earth above the bodies of the dead. By the same means the silver and gold, the choice wood and precious stones, which had enriched and adorned the world before the Flood, and which the inhabitants had idolized, were concealed from the sight and search of men, the violent action of the waters piling earth and rocks upon these treasures, and in some cases even forming mountains above them. God saw that the more He enriched and prospered sinful men, the more they would corrupt their ways before Him. The treasures that should have led them to glorify the bountiful Giver had been worshiped, while God had been dishonored and despised.The earth presented an appearance of confusion and desolation impossible to describe. The mountains, once so beautiful in their perfect symmetry, had become broken and irregular. Stones, ledges, and ragged rocks were now scattered upon the surface of the earth. In many places hills and mountains had disappeared, leaving no trace where they once stood; and plains had given place to mountain ranges. These changes were more marked in some places than in others. Where once had been earth’s richest treasures of gold, silver, and precious stones, were seen the heaviest marks of the curse. And upon countries that were not inhabited, and those where there had been the least crime, the curse rested more lightly.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 107-108
Above, notice that she is giving us a breakdown on the state of the planet after the Flood. I would challenge anyone to prove these claims in the Bible. Where does it say that the mountains were in perfect symmetry before the flood? Where does it say bodies, trees, and precious metals were blown around and buried? This isn’t in the Bible at all.
As absurd as my objections may sound, the fact is that Ellen White is making Biblical claims. It is fair to ask for scriptural support for said claims. Below we see that she continues her teaching in explaining how the flood brought about volcanoes:
“At this time immense forests were buried. These have since been changed to coal, forming the extensive coal beds that now exist, and also yielding large quantities of oil. The coal and oil frequently ignite and burn beneath the surface of the earth. Thus rocks are heated, limestone is burned, and iron ore melted. The action of the water upon the lime adds fury to the intense heat, and causes earthquakes, volcanoes, and fiery issues. As the fire and water come in contact with ledges of rock and ore, there are heavy explosions underground, which sound like muffled thunder. The air is hot and suffocating. Volcanic eruptions follow; and these often failing to give sufficient vent to the heated elements, the earth itself is convulsed, the ground heaves and swells like the waves of the sea, great fissures appear, and sometimes cities, villages, and burning mountains are swallowed up.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 108-109
We can see from Ellen White’s teaching that she is claiming volcanoes as a post flood judgment. I don’t know of anything in the Bible that teaches that, but this is what she is claiming. She seems to feel the need to give details though, and these can be tested.
Let’s breakdown her claim point by point:
“The coal and oil frequently ignite and burn beneath the surface of the earth”
I am understanding this as the primary cause of Ellen White volcanoes. It seems this event of coal and oil burning together underground is said to start a chain reaction resulting in a volcanic eruption.
“Thus rocks are heated”
“limestone is burned”
“iron ore melted”
“the action of the water upon the lime adds fury to the intense heat”
“and causes earthquakes, volcanoes, and fiery issues”
“As the fire and water come in contact with ledges of rock and ore, there are heavy explosions underground”
What does burned limestone look like? She cannot mean that the limestone is melted, because she juxtaposes the burning of limestone against the melting of iron.
Why does water add intense fury to heat? I thought it would reduce heat. How does a reduction in heat underground cause an earthquake? I thought that had something to do with tectonic plates. Do you have to deny tectonic plates altogether to be an SDA?
Why does water and fire coming into contact with rock and ore cause explosions? I genuinely do not know if that is true or not. It just sounds weird.
I am obviously not a geologist, and I cannot afford to pay one to send me commentary on this specific teaching of Ellen White, nor can I find one that has already been done. I can perform a lay analysis though and will provide one. Her claim is that this process of volcanic eruptions starts with the mixing of coal and oil, that of course burns underground. I cannot verify that but lets presume the claim is true. If that were the case we would expect to see coal and oil wherever volcanoes are found. This is easy to do, coal and oil are very valuable and the locations they exist can be displayed on a map.
A very popular volcanic formations is the pacific ring of fire. You probably heard about it as well in your high school geology class. This is a chain of active volcanoes circling the pacific ocean. See the picture below that I found on Wikipedia.
Next is a picture that gives us a graph of all volcanic activity
Next is a picture of coal deposits around the globe, also found on wikipedia.
And below is yet another picture from wikipedia mapping out the oil reserves across the planet.
Some important things to notice are that we find coal and oil in many places with no or very few volcanoes. Take a closer look at the middle of Russia, eastern Europe, and the middle east. We also see these deposits in high quantities along the Atlantic coast, yet we don’t have an Atlantic ring of fire.
Furthermore, one would expect that if Ellen White were correct we would find large quantities of oil and coal along the pacific ring of fire, yet we don’t see any more there at all, in fact there seems to be almost no coal along the west coast of the Americas. How can such a critical element required for volcanoes be lacking on the pacific ring of fire?
There is simply no connection between oil and coal, with volcanoes. You have to know that if there were this would be proclaimed from the rooftops by SDA as proof of Ellen White.
The only logical conclusion is that Volcanoes simply don’t work the way that Ellen White said they do. She was a false prophet end of story.
“And you may say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?” When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deut 18:21-22 ESV
If you came here actually curious how volcanoes work and are feeling a let down right about now I found a pretty decent article HERE that you can look at.