EGW Absurdities: Geology and Volcanoes!


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.


Source: Wikipedia

Next is a picture that gives us a graph of all volcanic activity


Source: Wikipedia

Next is a picture of coal deposits around the globe, also found on wikipedia.


Source: Wikipedia

And below is yet another picture from wikipedia mapping out the oil reserves across the planet.


Source: Wikipedia

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.




About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
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8 Responses to EGW Absurdities: Geology and Volcanoes!

  1. Larry Truelove says:

    I think I can help you a bit with her remark on limestone. When pure lime is exposed to water, it produces heat. But it must be lime and not limestone. The calcium in limestone is similar in properties to sodium. They are near to one another in the periodic table.

    I have observed water soaked lime catch paper afire in our dumpsters at work. Research it and you will see that pure lime and water generate heat. I don’t know how much but some. It’s entirely possible she observed this but her knowledge of chemistry was lacking. I hope this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      That makes a lot of sense thank you for commenting. To be fair, I believe that her comments are simply a reflection of the time that she lived in. But since she did claim that every word she wrote down was inspired I would argue that it is all up for the test. If she was writing simply as herself I would not have made this post, but her claim was that the teachings came from the Throne of God.


      • Larry Truelove says:

        Thank you. I am learning a great deal about SDA-ism. I find your blogs informative and well documented. I was never SDA myself but I have relatives who are or were. And as I present the statements of EGW to them, they either attempt to change the subject, doubt the veracity of the evidence or simply try to make it appear that EGW actually meant something else. But what they almost never do is to take them at face value.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Armchair Theologian says:

        I was the same way. Back then it was easier to ignore things because the internet wasn’t as prevalent. You would only hear about something she got wrong once in a blue moon, so the explanation provided would make sense. But now you can see dozens of things she got wrong all at once in full context, it becomes very hard even for the most zealous to ignore that kind of evidence. I have noticed that those which are aware of these inconsistencies but remain SDA end up attacking the Bible and will claim it is okay for her to make mistakes. But the problem is that as soon as you do that you have now allowed Joseph Smith and everyone else to meet the standard of prophet. There really is no escape when you think these things through.


  2. cyrus a. ellorin says:

    This is what I have learned, having born into a SDA family, believed its teachings until God challenged me to prove its teachings in the Bible. My first discovery of its erroneous teaching was in 1956; I was 16, and decided to become a SDA minister, but made irrelevant after discovering a teaching to be unbiblical. From that time on, I made it a point to not read her writings because in so doing I immediately feel being caught in a web of statements appearing to be Biblical for the purpose of laying the groundwork for deception. It is the systematic way of mixing truth with lies to deceive. That was how Eve fell to sin.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. See Genesis 7:20 to 9:17. Then with meekness and the heart of Learning, Be a deligent Searcher of the Bible,And the the Truth will be revealed unto you. Indeed what she Said is Exactly Truth. Let not philosophy or any deceit Sweeps your Faith my Brother( Colossians 2v8).May the Good Lord be with you and me( Us).


    • ACTheologian says:

      I believe in Noah’s flood. I’m not objecting to that. The Bible doesn’t teach on volcanos though. I don’t know if you noticed but it sticks to topics concerning faith and morals.

      Ellen White however doesn’t. And if you noticed I actually took her seriously and proved her wrong. So now you know she is a false prophet just like Joseph Smith and others.


  4. Bert Svensson says:

    It is recently estimated that volcanoes emit about 600 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, probably more. This has not always been known, carbon dioxide is invisible. Where does the carbon dioxide come from? Known coal deposits are organic coal from plants and animals, so where does the carbon dioxide from the volcanoes come from? It is too early to draw the conclusions about volcanoes that are drawn here. I accept everything that is scientifically proved, but until something isn’t, I have to regard it as theories and opinions.


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