The Omphalos Hypothesis

The Omphalos hypothesis was named after the title of an 1857 book, Omphalos by Philip Henry Gosse, in which Gosse argued that in order for the world to be "functional", God must have created the Earth with mountains and canyons, trees with growth rings, Adam and Eve with hair, fingernails, and navels (omphalos is Greek for "navel"), and that therefore no evidence that we can see of the presumed age of the earth and universe can be taken as reliable. The idea has seen some revival in the twentieth century by some modern creationists, who have extended the argument to light that appears to originate in far-off stars and galaxies (although other creationists reject this explanation [1]). Many creationists believe that Adam and Eve had no navels, and that the trees in the Garden of Eden had no growth rings. [2]

Gosse, however, did not assert that God deceived us, only that any act of creation of human, animal or plant would "at the instant of its creation present indubitable evidences of a previous history"[3] in far more subtle, microscopic and unavoidable ways than the presence or absence of hair or navels. He presented it not as an hypothesis but as a law or logical necessity: any created organism must be "from the first marked with the records of a previous being". [4] The alternative, he argued, would be a created earth in which trees (larger than saplings) would exhibit no seasonal growth rings.

The book is available as a free ebook from Google at


1. How can we see distant stars in a young universe?
2. Did Adam have a belly-button?
3. Gosse, Philip H. Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. John Van Voorst, London, 1857, pg. 335
4. Ibid, pg. 336

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