20 The Fossil Record
“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” Lk 19:40 (NASB)
Charles Darwin and those of similar materialistic belief seek to involve the fossil record in their philosophical faith. Upon close examination of the fossil record, even if we ignore that the flood described by Genesis is the most likely source, the fossils themselves testify to the accuracy of the Creation account while crying out the failure of Evolution as viable theory.
Darwinian theory supposes gradual change over time. Darwin expected to find an almost limitless number of transitional stages between similar but distinct animals or plants. Hoping to find evidence in support of this idea, he developed his now famous “tree of life” sketches. In Origin of Species he acknowledged some of the potential flaws in his theory including the possibility that systematic gaps in the fossil record might not get filled in.
There are systematic gaps between kinds in the fossil record just as there are between creatures living today. The same gaps exist in the fossil record as exist today. There are many breeds of horses, for example, but no physical evidence of any transitional creature between horses and donkeys, llamas, or camels. Evolutionists have given up on demanding humans descended from apes. Instead, they now contend apes and humans share a common yet missing ancestor. There are glaring gaps, for example, between birds and reptiles with no viable evidence of a transitional animal. There are peculiarities in nature, like the duck billed platypus, yet there remains a huge gap between this animal and birds other animals that appear more similar.
There is no good way to determine the age of a fossil. We know fossils can and do form relatively quickly. The question of dating is not the time it takes to make a fossil. Since Evolution requires upward development of complexity over a long period of time, it is assumed that the fossils of the oldest creatures are buried deepest. It is next assumed that certain types of animal “appeared” at certain key points in the evolutionary process. Fossils of these key animals, called index fossils, then serve as relative age markers. The time required for evolutionary development is then estimated. From this Evolutionists put together a framework to explain the development of the diversity of life.
Taxonomy is the branch of science that deals with classifying life. For example, taxonomy is used to distinguish plants from animals, mammals from fish, and tigers from horses. The closer two different species are, the more detailed the descriptions must be to identify one organism from another. Taxonomy relies on differences rather than similarities to classify organisms. The principles of taxonomy are just as useful in distinguishing fossils.
Darwin was looking for a continuum of progressive links between kinds. Paradoxically he used taxonomy to build his tree of life. In a similar paradox, taxonomy is used to identify index fossils. Taxonomy is possible precisely because the continuum Darwin predicted does not exist. There are systematic gaps between unique kinds of organisms. The intermediary stages required do not exist in the fossils or in contemporary living nature.
The sheer quantity of fossils found around the world is astounding. Distribution also tells us a great deal. Certain types of fossils tend to be clustered together in certain geographical areas. For example, large numbers of dinosaur fossils are often found relatively close together. This is often accounted for by saying the animals traveled together in herds in a relatively small area. It is far more likely that such great animals grazed vast areas. Since fossilization generally requires a flood (or in some cases volcanic activity), it seems more likely that herds were washed together into common graves by the power of a some water catastrophe. Geologists and paleontologists who believe in Evolution will accept local or regional flooding and in so doing they construct a framework of small-scale catastrophes over time. Creationists simply place it in the context of a single planetary flood.
The Grand Canyon is a spectacular gulch lined with layers of various kinds of rock and amazing fossils. There is no disagreement that running water cut out the Grand Canyon. Uniformitarianism says the Colorado River cut the canyon over millions of years. The Biblical model of a worldwide flood catastrophe paints a very different and much faster picture. In the Genesis flood model, tectonic plate motion resulted in compression which in turn resulted in the rise of great mountain ranges including the Rocky Mountains. In the latter stages of the biblical flood, the water receded into the ocean basins. Thick layers of sediment in the Northern Arizona region were still saturated and soft when the Rocky Mountains rose and the water began draining into the collapsed oceanic basins. Most of the erosion resulting in the formation of the Grand Canyon took place in a matter of a few months of constant, powerful, water runoff.
The theory of one great catastrophe (as opposed to many successive small catastrophes) is further supported by geological peculiarities like polystrata fossilized trees. There are excellent examples of petrified trees passing through multiple layers of rock strata in the Grand Canyon. The obvious implication is that the layers were not laid down (or cut out) over a long period of flood cycles, but rather by a single event.
Perhaps the matter could be settled if we had a good way to tell how old the rock and its fossils actually are. The two main dating methods used to estimate fossil age are by using index fossils and radiometric dating. Radiometric dating is unreliable, inconsistent, and involves too many assumptions. Evolutionary geologists generally reject radiometric dating except where the results approximate what is expected using the index fossil method. Unfortunately neither the arbitrary index fossil method nor the radiographic method can give us any real, useful, information about fossil ages.
Related Topics: Creation