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Author Topic:   The Great Creationist Fossil Failure
Dr Adequate
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Message 1 of 1163 (785944)
06-13-2016 2:08 PM


Creationists are dimly aware that the fossil record exhibits order, although (as we shall see) they don't really know what this order consists of. In the creationist imagination, the fossil record has crude, primitive organisms at the bottom, and then as one works up through the sedimentary layers the organisms get progressively more sophisticated, complex, agile, intelligent, etc, culminating in the awesome wonder that is Man.

To explain this imaginary fossil record, they have produced some imaginary mechanisms.

---

The first mechanism ("differential mobility") involves creatures running uphill to escape the Flood. Those with superior speed, intelligence, stamina, etc, were able to make it higher up the antediluvian hills before perishing, thus sorting them as (creationists suppose) they are sorted.

You will note that for the sorting so produced to be consistent, the race must always be fair: that is, every animal must start the same distance from the top of the nearest hill. For clearly if some slow cumbersome brute were to cheat by starting off near or at the top of the hill, it would arrive at the summit while its more gifted competitors were drowning lower down its slopes. Or if a fast wily animal such as a cheetah started a long way from the nearest hill, then it might drown and be buried in Flood sediments while a slower but more opportunely placed Triceratops, having started on or near the lower slopes of the hill, was still determinedly plodding upwards.

How this exquisite fairness was arranged, no creationist is prepared to explain.

You will also note that the hills need to be more or less of a height. For consider: if on one hill the dinosaurs only make it halfway up, whereas the modern mammals gain the summit, then what will be the result when animals take refuge on a different hill which is only half the height? Would not the dinosaurs and the modern mammals end up in the same strata, contrary to observation?

Still, this is perhaps a minor quibble, since there is nothing to stop creationists imagining that all the antediluvian hills were in fact the same height. They have imagined much, much sillier things to plug the holes in their hypotheses.

A more serious objection is our inability to find the hills. In the creationist scenario, we would have a hill containing no fossils and presumably consisting of igneous rock, covered over with sedimentary rock (the sediments being deposited by the Flood) with the fossils distributed on the former surface of the hill. But this is not what we find.

We might also object that we do not in fact find fossil organisms sorted according to their speed and agility. For example, it is not really conceivable to suppose that a predator such as Gorgonops could have been outrun by a three-toed sloth, and absurd to think that it could have been outrun by an oak tree. Real geologists attribute its position in the strata to the fact that it lived in the Permian; "Flood geologists" have a more difficult task.

---

So creationists also drag in a second mechanism, "hydrological sorting" (which real scientists usually call "hydraulic sorting"). Objects in an agitated fluid (such as the raging waters of the flood) will tend to be sorted according to characteristics such as shape and density, and this is supposed to explain why (for example) velociraptors end up in one set of strata while gorgonopsids end up in another.

One objection that immediately occurs is that the sediment in the geological record is certainly not hydraulically sorted: if it was, all the larger particles would be at the bottom, and the geological record would grade up from conglomerate to sandstone to mudstone and limestone. This is not what we observe. We should like to hear any explanation of how the fossils got to be hydraulically sorted but not the sediments in which they lie.

We might also reason like this. If hydrological sorting gives us (let us say) a velociraptor buried in sandstone, then it must have the same hydraulic properties as sand. This sounds a little improbable, but let it pass. Now, if we also find (let us say) a gorgonopsid buried in sandstone, then it too must have the same hydraulic properties as sand.

But in that case do we not have to conclude that a velociraptor has the same hydraulic properties as a gorgonopsid? So why are they never found buried in the same strata together?

---

Some objections may be raised against both mechanisms equally. For example, we can find in the same strata a given species of dinosaur, their young, their nests, their eggs, and their footprints. Are we to suppose that the eggs ran uphill just as fast as the adult dinosaurs did? Or that it just so happened that the eggs of a given species always have just the same hydraulic properties as the adults that lay them? (Footprints, of course, cannot be transported by water at all.)

---

The third mechanism ("ecological zoning") is explained as follows by the creationist Henry Morris: "Marine invertebrates would normally be found in the bottom rocks of any local geologic column, since they live on the sea bottom. Marine vertebrates (fishes) would be found in higher rocks than the bottom-dwelling invertebrates. They live at higher elevations and also could escape burial longer. Amphibians and reptiles would tend to be found at still higher elevations, in the commingled sediments at the interface between land and water [...] Mammals and bird would be found in general at higher elevations."

One obvious objection is that these ecological zones would necessarily differ not just in altitude but also in location: they cannot be stacked one on top of another like different floors in an apartment complex, with the mammals living over the reptiles, and the reptiles above the fish. But in the fossil record we do find land animals and other clear indications of a terrestrial habitat directly above marine fossils and sediments.

What is more, we find the reverse, in locations which have undergone multiple transgressions and regressions of the sea. So for example in the rocks of the Grand Canyon not only do we have terrestrial formations with terrestrial fossils sitting directly on top of the marine Redwall Limestone, but also we have the marine Kaibab Limestone sitting directly above these terrestrial formations.

---

This leads us on to the fundamental creationist blunder which we mentioned at the start of this discussion: they have not the faintest idea what the fossil record looks like, and so are contriving their explanations for something that isn't actually there.

It is not hard to discover the roots of their confusion. They have grasped one fact about the fossil record: that it upholds the theory of evolution, and that they need to explain this away. Given this premise, they have deduced what the fossil record must look like (rather than actually looking at it, which would involve work). And since they do not know what the theory of evolution is, or what data would support it, their deductions are entirely at odds with what the fossil record looks like.

For what they seem to expect is that the fossil record should be a recapitulation of the medieval concept of the Great Chain of Being: invertebrates on the bottom, then the fish, then the amphibians, the reptiles, and finally the mammals in all their glory. To quote Morris again: "These higher animals (land vertebrates) would tend to be found segregated vertically in the column in order of size and complexity [...] The general order from simple to complex in the fossil record, considered by evolutionists to be the main proof of evolution [yes, Morris actually wrote that!] is thus likewise predicted by the rival theory ..."

But evolution is not in fact the story of the Great Chain of Being, but of the branching of the Tree of Life; and five seconds' thought would have told the creationists what the theory of evolution does actually predict. For, obviously, we expect any group of organisms to persist in the fossil record until it actually goes extinct. And invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and reptiles have not gone extinct. So we would expect to find (for example) lizards in the most recent sedimentary rocks, because they are still with us: whereas apparently Morris would expect them to be absent because they are small, simple, primitive, lower down the Great Chain of Being; we would expect to find small invertebrates alongside large mammals, not in the least "segregated in order of size and complexity"; we would expect to find fish in the most modern sedimentary rocks, so long as the sediments are marine; since tortoises are still alive, we expect to find them in more recent strata than animals which are larger, faster, and extinct; and so on and so forth. And this is what we do find.

We have, therefore, the creationists' own assurance that their model of the formation of the fossil record predicts and explains features of the fossil record which it flagrantly, blatantly, does not exhibit. And this in itself is sufficient to destroy their model.

We should not anticipate that any creationist will ever explain the actual features of the fossil record in terms of the Flood. It is unlikely at this late date that any of them is going to find out what the fossil record looks like, an activity which would both contradict their prejudices and involve doing some actual work. But I invite any creationist who wants to to give it a try.

And of course anyone else is free to point out problems with the creationist model as it stands. I can think of several more, but this post has gone on long enough ... and the horse is dead.


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AdminAsgara
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Message 2 of 1163 (785946)
06-13-2016 4:10 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Great Creationist Fossil Failure thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
PaulK
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(1)
Message 3 of 1163 (785951)
06-13-2016 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
06-13-2016 2:08 PM


I would make a minor correction. Simpler organisms do not disappear from the record. There is an upward trend in the maximum complexity, but I suspect that the minimum complexity has been far slower to increase - except, perhaps, at the very earliest times.

I should, however, also make a further point. The order in the fossil record has been known for 200 years - 200 years of - literally - worldwide scientific investigation. It is an established fact, far beyond any reasonable doubt.


This message is a reply to:
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vimesey
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Message 4 of 1163 (785952)
06-13-2016 4:40 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
06-13-2016 4:30 PM


far beyond any reasonable doubt

The age of reason, I fear, has passed.


Could there be any greater conceit, than for someone to believe that the universe has to be simple enough for them to be able to understand it ?

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Taq
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Message 5 of 1163 (785953)
06-13-2016 5:06 PM


Isotopes and Fossils
For me, it is the correlation of isotopes and fossils which make no sense in the YEC flood model. None of the mechanisms listed in opening post would explain why every dinosaur fossil is found below igneous rock with a specific K/Ar or U/Pb ratio. It doesn't explain how a flood is able to sort leaf debris and insects by their 14C content in what appears to be varved lake deposits, or even how trees and insects who are supposedly alive at the same time could have differing 14C content.
  
Dr Adequate
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Message 6 of 1163 (785958)
06-13-2016 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
06-13-2016 4:30 PM


I would make a minor correction. Simpler organisms do not disappear from the record.

That's what I said.


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jar
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Message 7 of 1163 (785959)
06-13-2016 5:37 PM


As the world turns & Days of our Lives & To Tell the Truth ...
Iterations.

There are many periodic things known in reality, day & night, summer & winter, wet & dry spells but the Biblical Flood is not one of those things. It was a singular event (even though there are two different mutually exclusive flood tales in the Bible even the Creationists do not claim there were two floods).

The Flood itself is described as taking about a year from beginning to end with all of the water rising happening in a relatively short 40 day and 40 night period.

So when we run across something like the Green River Varves, millions of repeating layers of fine sediment then coarse sediment then fine sediment, millions of iterations of the same pattern all stacked neatly, we need to look for some flood process, procedure, model, method, mechanism or thingamabob that might explain what is seen.

One layer is pretty easy to explain by flood effects. During the rapid rising water lots of debris would get picked up and when the rise stopped and recession began would get deposited. During the initial water level fall the coarsest material would get deposited first and then as things slowed down the finer materials.

But that is simply one iteration.

The Green River Varves repeat that cycle over and over and over again forming millions of layers.

To get a million such iterations in just the one year that the flood lasted would require at least two floods every minute of every hour of every day for the whole 365 days with each new flood somehow not disturbing the layers put down just a half hour earlier.

So far no such flood process, procedure, model, method, mechanism or thingamabob that might explain what is seen has been presented.

Some things have been suggested like tides, but unfortunately those are only twice a day not twice a minute.

Even if we tried to use the 6000 years YECs claim instead of just the claimed flood year we would need something that repeated every two days for all of the 6000 years right up to today and yet no such effect has been seen in that area for hundreds of years.

It's amazing.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

  
herebedragons
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Message 8 of 1163 (785967)
06-13-2016 11:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
06-13-2016 2:08 PM


Good post Dr. A

I guess what gets me is how every creationist "mechanism" works independent of other "mechanisms" and which one is invoked depends on the particular argument. For example, "differential motility" is used to explain the order of the fossil record. But then when in a discussion of the geological column, we have all the land being stripped down to bare rock in order to generate enough sediment to form the mile deep deposits, then being rapidly deposited as the flood recedes. The seemingly contradictory nature of these ideas - land being stripped bare from top to bottom and animals running to the highest points - is completely lost on creationists since they are meant to explain different things.

The quality or logic of an argument is irrelevant to a creationist since they already know what the right answer is. Even if an argument is obviously irrational, it doesn't matter because it comes up with the right answer anyway.

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


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NoNukes
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Message 9 of 1163 (785972)
06-14-2016 2:22 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
06-13-2016 2:08 PM


When I say this thread in the proposal bin, I spent some time looking at what Creationists generally say about the fossil record these days. Clearly some time has gone by since the first of the exchanges between Creationist Science proponents and others, and it is to be expected that some arguments have been refined.

ICR's has a page on the subject to be found here: http://www.icr.org/article/real-nature-fossil-record/

Generally speaking, this article does not deal much with scientific rebuttals and surely a criticism that the fossil record is not what Creationist propose is directly on target. Essentially none of the criticism Dr. Adequate cites is addressed. On top of that there are more BS assertions such as the following:

quote:
The fossil record can be deemed essentially complete. Darwin was concerned about its lack of transitional forms, hypothetical creatures that demonstrate one type changing into another over time. He was hopeful they would be found one day.

But extensive exploration and fossil discovery in following years have not brought such in-between forms to light. The vast majority of taxonomic orders and families which live today are also found as fossils, yet without fossil transitions. We can be certain the record is substantially complete.


This article bears at 2010 copyright date and Dr. John Morris is identified as the author.

One comment I did not see mentioned in the OP is just the outright denial that there is any way to assign time periods to fossil. This argument is not so much a defense of the creation science model as it is an attack on the science, without regard for the limitations in the creationist view. Probably a more successful route, because trying to explain the actual record Biblically does not work.

Examples of other arguments along this line or simply asserting a simple Biblical model and attacking science without doing much of a fossil record comparison:

http://www.gotquestions.org/fossil-record.html

Mentions of Nebraska, or Piltdown man without full context. Simplifying the creationist model by saying "fossils represent death" without even paying lip service to what the fossil record actually looks like. This should sound familiar.

http://creationtoday.org/creationist-challenge/

Puts forward the all animals are complete, no transition animals in the record despite evolutionist predictions. No real discussion of the Biblical model. Poses questions for scientist like "Who invented gravity" and "How could there are equal numbers of male and females". No, I do not exaggerate here.

http://www.creationism.org/topbar/fossils_en.htm

Asserts that the fossil record matches science without any detail.

quote:
The evidence of Earth life's one time massive destruction in the Great Flood lies beneath your feet right now; we call this the fossil record.

The talks about their not being any transitional fossils.

AIG page:

https://answersingenesis.org/...ur-national-monument-in-utah

I found AIGs entry the most surprising. Just a posting of an overview of the evolutionary explanation (nothing objectionable really, just a glossing over without detail) and a presentation of the Biblical view with a mention of the fates of clams and dinosaurs, but noting nothing else needing much explanation.

But included is a discussion of an error made in identifying a "Brontosaurus" from fossil remains. Again, a dig at science with only superficial review of either the science model or the Biblical one.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


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Faith
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Message 10 of 1163 (785973)
06-14-2016 2:25 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
06-13-2016 2:08 PM


It is because there is no clear way to explain the supposed order of the fossil record that I now avoid it. But there are plenty of other proofs that the whole idea is a delusion, mostly having to do with the millions of years between "records" and the fact that the "record" is so neatly stacked in layers of different kinds of rock which defies the explanation of normal death and burial. A major proof against the Old Earth explanation is the apparent lack of normal surface activity on the earth as shown by the relative flatness of the layers, and some of knife-edge flatness, all the way up through the "Quaternary" period, at which time massive disturbances of the surface of the earth are evident for the first time in all that history. This is evident in the Grand Canyon particularly, where the layers are exposed to such a great depth, but it is easily enough inferred from less clearcut exposures. I've proved this many times.
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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15804
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(1)
Message 11 of 1163 (785974)
06-14-2016 2:35 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Faith
06-14-2016 2:25 AM


Faith ... the stuff you've made up about the geological record isn't true, remember? We showed you photographs.
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Faith
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Message 12 of 1163 (785976)
06-14-2016 4:25 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Dr Adequate
06-14-2016 2:35 AM


You "show" a lot of false stuff. Who cares? What I said is true.
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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15804
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 13 of 1163 (785979)
06-14-2016 5:42 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Faith
06-14-2016 4:25 AM


You "show" a lot of false stuff.

Yeah the photographs are lying. I bet they're in league with the rocks. Reality is all one big conspiracy to make you look bad.

It's working.


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 Message 12 by Faith, posted 06-14-2016 4:25 AM Faith has responded

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jar
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Posts: 28698
From: Texas!!
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Member Rating: 2.6


(2)
Message 14 of 1163 (785984)
06-14-2016 9:04 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Faith
06-14-2016 2:25 AM


Faith writes:

It is because there is no clear way to explain the supposed order of the fossil record that I now avoid it.

Almost correct. There is a clear way to explain the fossil record and folks have been explaining that way to you for over a decade now. The clear way is that species have evolved over the last billion or so years and their remains are found in the materials and environment of the earth at the time they lived and died.

Faith writes:

But there are plenty of other proofs that the whole idea is a delusion, mostly having to do with the millions of years between "records" and the fact that the "record" is so neatly stacked in layers of different kinds of rock which defies the explanation of normal death and burial.

And here you depart in fantasy. You offer no proofs that what we see was not created over billions of years. The layers are not stacked neatly and the actual content of layers varies depending on the location of any given column. Further, it does not defy an explanation of normal death and burial but is exactly what should be seen if in fact what we are looking at is the record of billions of years of history.

Faith writes:

A major proof against the Old Earth explanation is the apparent lack of normal surface activity on the earth as shown by the relative flatness of the layers, and some of knife-edge flatness, all the way up through the "Quaternary" period, at which time massive disturbances of the surface of the earth are evident for the first time in all that history.

Again, as has been explained to you many times over the last decade or so none of that is true. There is no knife edge flatness but rather the clear evidence of weathering, erosion and subsequent overlaying. There is evidence of massive disturbances and those too have been pointed out to you.

Faith writes:

This is evident in the Grand Canyon particularly, where the layers are exposed to such a great depth, but it is easily enough inferred from less clearcut exposures. I've proved this many times.

Again Faith, that is simply not true. Consider the Great Unconformity, where from about 175 million years of material to over a billion years of material is simply missing.

Now granted you simply deny such things exist or that what is seen means what folk tell you it means but the fact is irrefutable that the current explanation of normal processes we see today over billions of years of time adequately and totally explains what is seen.

Edited by jar, : appalin spallin there ----> their


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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edge
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From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 15 of 1163 (785986)
06-14-2016 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by herebedragons
06-13-2016 11:25 PM


I guess what gets me is how every creationist "mechanism" works independent of other "mechanisms" and which one is invoked depends on the particular argument. For example, "differential motility" is used to explain the order of the fossil record. But then when in a discussion of the geological column, we have all the land being stripped down to bare rock in order to generate enough sediment to form the mile deep deposits, then being rapidly deposited as the flood recedes. The seemingly contradictory nature of these ideas - land being stripped bare from top to bottom and animals running to the highest points - is completely lost on creationists since they are meant to explain different things.

The quality or logic of an argument is irrelevant to a creationist since they already know what the right answer is. Even if an argument is obviously irrational, it doesn't matter because it comes up with the right answer anyway.


A classic example of ad hoc explanation(s).
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