The Freshwater/Saltwater Shuffle

Question: What is the significance of the freshwater fish groups represented by the individuals pictured below?

Saddled Bichir, a representative of the Polypteriformes. (Click for credit)

Atlantic sturgeon, a representative of the Acipenseriformes (Click for credit)

A bowfin, representative of the Amiiformes (Click for credit)

Believe it or not, the answer is as follows: The most recent evolutionary analysis says that nearly all saltwater fishes* evolved from fishes that were members of these freshwater groups!

Confused? You should be. Let me see if I can help clear things up for you. Greta Carrete Vega and John J. Wiens recently published a scientific paper entitled, “Why are there so few fish in the sea?”1 In it, they attempt to explain why there are so few fish species in the seas as compared to the number of fish species found in freshwater sources. After all, the seas cover about 70% of earth’s surface, while freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams cover only about 2%. Despite this huge difference in living space, there are significantly more freshwater fish species than there are saltwater fish species. With all the resources at their disposal, while haven’t saltwater fishes diversified into many more species?

To answer this question, they looked at DNA data as well as fossil data regarding the ray-finned fishes. This group contains about 96% of all fish species (from both freshwater and saltwater), and it is the most diverse group of fishes in the seas. When they compared all the fishes, they found that the freshwater fish groups represented by the individuals pictured above make up the basal groups for all the ray-finned fishes. In other words, according to their analysis, these three freshwater fish groups came first, and the currently-living saltwater ray-finned fish evolved from them! Indeed, their analysis indicates that the freshwater common ancestor of the Polypteriformes and the Acipenseriformes pictured above appeared about 300 million years ago (using scientifically-irresponsible dating techniques), and the first ancestor that led to the currently-known saltwater fishes evolved from these groups more than 100 million years later!

Now remember, not all saltwater fishes are ray-finned fishes. However, the vast majority of them are. So according to this analysis, the vast majority of fishes that are currently living in the ocean actually evolved from freshwater fishes! Now, of course, this appears to contradict what we see in the “geological column,” since the first fishes that appear there are supposedly marine fishes. Not to worry, of course. There is an explanation. According to the authors:2

Our results suggest that ancient extinctions in the marine environment may have wiped out the earliest ray-finned fishes living in the oceans, that the oceans were then recolonized from freshwater habitats, and that most marine fish species living today are descended from that recolonization (leaving less time for biodiversity to build up in the oceans)…This pattern of ancient extinction and more recent recolonization may help explain why the oceans are now so species-poor, even for fish.

So…in order to believe the supposed evolutionary history of most currently-living fishes as well as geological-column reasoning (which doesn’t work very well), here’s what you are forced to believe: Fish first evolved in the seas, and this eventually led (somehow) to freshwater fish. Then, mass extinctions in the oceans occurred, wiping out nearly all saltwater fish. Then, the freshwater fish were (somehow) able to recolonize the oceans, “rebooting” the evolution of saltwater fish.

I am glad that I’m not an evolutionist! I just don’t have enough faith to believe the wild scenarios that evolutionists must concoct in order to force the data into agreement with their cherished ideas.

* Note that “fish” is the proper plural when you are discussing multiple fish of the same species. On the other hand, “fishes” is the correct plural when you are discussing multiple fish of different species. An aquarium with 8 goldfish is full of fish. However, an aquarium with 7 goldfish and one angelfish is full of fishes.
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1. Greta Carrete Vega and John J. Wiens, “Why are there so few fish in the sea?,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 10.1098/rspb.2012.0075, 2012.
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2. “SBU Researcher Finds Surprisingly Low Fish Biodiversity in the Earth’s Oceans,” Stony Brook University Press Release, Feb 10, 2012 – 10:36:20 AM, available online.
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  1. A homeschooled science geek. April 26, 2012 4:41 pm

    Wow, I always wondered how salt water fish survived the flood. Guess they didn’t!

  2. Jessica T. April 26, 2012 6:48 pm

    Dr. Wile, I enjoyed this post a lot. Anything about Creationism and biology gets me going, I guess. :)

    I have a question, though. How would you answer the question the scientists asked: Why are there so few fish in the seas, as opposed to freshwater ecosystems? I definitely agree with you that their explanation is rather ridiculous.

    Thank you!

    • jlwile April 26, 2012 8:24 pm

      Thanks Jessica. That’s a really good question. Based on what I know, I can give you what I think is a more reasonable explanation. It might not be correct, because I haven’t done any real research specifically on the matter, but I have studied baraminology quite a bit, and it indicates that adaptation can lead to many new species. For example, current data indicate that all cats (from lions to Siamese cats) probably descended from members of the original cat kind. I expect one reason so many species formed is that there were so many different ecological niches to fill, and over time, the cats filling each niche became isolated from one another. As a result, the populations in each niche quickly adapted.

      If we apply the same kind of thinking to fishes, then, a few distinct fish kinds can lead to all sorts of fish species, as long as there are lots of different ecological niches to fill and those niches lead to isolation between different populations of the same fish kinds. Now if you think about it, the chance for isolation is significantly higher in fresh water, as you have lots of lakes (for example) that are hard to get in and out of. Each lake is probably slightly different, so different adaptation occurs in these isolated lakes, and in the end, lots of species are produced. The seas, on the other hand, don’t offer nearly as much chance for isolation. It is easy for a fish to travel quite widely in the seas. As a result, even if a fish population is adapting to a specific niche, it will probably be visited by other fish that are able to reproduce with its members but are not a part of the population. This will “dilute” the adaptation that is going on, slowing down the process of forming species from kinds. As a result, there should be less diversification among saltwater fishes, and that’s what we see.

  3. Jessica T. April 26, 2012 9:30 pm

    Thanks for your answer, Dr. Wile! It was very helpful and makes a lot of sense. Baraminology sounds like an incredibly fascinating topic! I’ll have to check it out in more detail someday when I have time. :)

    Thanks again! God bless!

  4. gracekalman April 27, 2012 10:19 am

    A new battle cry for the global warming people– A warmer climate could cause dinosaurs to re-evolve! Do YOU want your great-great-great grandchildren eaten by a T-rex? 0_o

  5. A homeschooled science geek. April 27, 2012 2:46 pm

    @grace ha ha ha. I read that a certain global warming “expert” thought that UFO sightings are up due to global warming. He thought that the aliens are concerned with what we are doing to our planet.

    @dr wile. Grr, I really need to stop taking evolutionists at their word. -__-

    Thanks for the link :).

  6. John Wheatley May 21, 2012 1:54 pm

    “Wild scenarios”… really? You think that’s a wild scenario? Whether or not it’s true, it doesn’t take too much stretching of the imagination. An invisible being who made everything in 6 days, only to destroy it all with a flood because in his omniscience he somehow failed to realize that that it would eventually come to displease him, and who later fathered himself through a virgin and got himself killed because it was the only way he could think of to forgive the humans he had created for being so rotten. That, dear old Dr. Jay, is a truly wild scenario.
    I think fish populating tributary rivers connected to their marine environments, then later repopulating the marine environment from those same rivers seems rather plausible in comparison.

    • jlwile May 22, 2012 7:00 am

      Thanks for your comment, John. Yes, I do find this evolutionary scenario to be pretty wild. It’s not just a matter of “fish populating tributary rivers connected to their marine environments, then later repopulating the marine environment from those same rivers…” First, you must have marine fishes evolving into the freshwater fishes represented by those three groups. That’s a difficult task in and of itself. Next, you need a calamity that virtually wipes out the marine ray-finned fishes, but leaves those tributary-dwelling ones unscathed. Then, you have to take the fish that have adapted to freshwater environments and get them to go back to the marine environment and succeed so well there that they establish entirely new populations and “re-evolve” into entirely new marine-dwelling species. Oh, and by the way, none of this can leave any fossil evidence, because the the standard view of fish evolution (which has been taught for decades) was based on the fossil record, and it didn’t contain this wild scenario.

      However, the Biblical scenario is not wild at all. Given the fine-tuning and amazing design of the universe, it is clear that an almighty Creator is responsible for it all. Indeed, such evidence is what turned me (and others, like double-Dr. Alister Edgar McGrath) from atheism and started me down the road to becoming a Christian. There is also an enormous amount of evidence for a global Flood. In addition, there is an enormous amount of evidence for Christ’s death and resurrection.

      Perhaps you think this is wild scenario because you don’t understand it. After all, God did not send a worldwide Flood to destroy the world because his omniscience failed. He sent it because He gave people free will, knowing that some would use it to turn away from Him. At the same time, however, He knew that the only way people could really be people was with free will, so even though He knew the consequences, He gave them the gift anyway, despite the pain that it caused Him.

      Also, the Advent of Christ and the Atonement that his death and resurrection brought was not the “only way” God could think of to forgive people. It was the best way. It showed how much He wants each of us to come to Him. He loves us so much that He gave us his only Son so that through Him, we could have eternal life (John 3:16). That’s not a wild scenario. It’s the ultimate expression of love!

  7. John Wheatley May 22, 2012 9:21 am

    First of all, I’m looking back at my post yesterday and realize it came off a bit more snide than I would have liked. I do think the Christian God is an incredibly unlikely entity, but I could have imparted that a bit more tactfully. My apologies for my tone.

    As to the substance of your response. When you invoke “fine-tuning” and “amazing design,” you seem to be saying that the Universe as it is today was a foregone conclusion. That the Universe was some sort of “goal” from the outset. Yes, if the Universe as we know it was a pre-planned end state, then it would be outrageous to believe it could be accomplished by chance. The only way you could achieve this “goal” would be for somebody to design physical laws to work in a particular way. But if it weren’t a pre-planned end state, then the Universe we know and love is simply one of any number of possible Universes. This one just happens to be the one we got.

    Yes, the Universe is astounding. One could contemplate it for a lifetime and never exhaust one’s sense of wonder. And yes, if the initial physical conditions that provided the parameters for the development of the Universe had been different, then of course the Universe itself would have developed differently. It would be unrecognizable to us. Unimaginable to us. We wouldn’t exist within it. It would be a different Universe.

    So? You seem to be saying, “Imagine if things had been different – then things would have been different!” Perhaps I’m being obtuse, but this does not seem to be a particularly strong proof that the Universe was designed by a sentient being. It just means that if the laws of physics were somewhat modified, we wouldn’t be around to contemplate them. I’m comfortable with that conclusion. I don’t think my existence was something that was planned. If you *do* think your existence was planned, if you think your human life is so darned special that the best explanation for it is that some supernatural being out there planned to create you and wanted you to live on a lovely orb called Earth, then yes, I understand how the idea of a divine Creator might be attractive to you. The Universe must have been designed in this specific way to accommodate your existence, and only a God could have done that. But if you take the position that you are simply a remarkable product of the existing laws of the Universe rather than a special project of divinity for which the laws of the Universe were designed (a perspective that takes you down quite a few notches in cosmic importance), then you can see the state of the Universe is merely one of many possible states that might have been. That doesn’t imply design. At all.

    My very long-winded point, which I presume you’ve gotten by now, is this: stating that the Universe would be different if the laws of physics were different does not argue for supernatural design. It’s only an argument for design if you wholeheartedly embrace the questionable assumption (and good scientists, as you point out elsewhere, don’t assume things) that the Universe was created for the purpose of sustaining *us*. That seems pretty prideful, if yous ask me. It ranks up there with the notion that Christians long held dear that the Earth was the literal center of the Universe. Another assumption that was good for the ego, but was not ultimately supported by the data.

    As for the other links to which you directed me. Well, I was actually hoping for something more. Marine fossils in the Himalayas and in the upper layers of the Grand Canyon as evidence of the great flood? Are you serious? You really accept the “flood” explanation over plate tectonics and uplift? You think the flood is a better supported theory? And evidence #6: “Rocks don’t bend, they break – ergo, God created a flood.” Wow. And the essay with evidence of Christ’s birth and resurrection – all of the citations are from the Bible. Yes, the Bible says that Christ lived, died, and was resurrected. Using the Bible to prove the Bible seems a little, well, unconvincing to one who does not take the Bible as literal truth. If I took the Bible at its word, there we be no need to present “evidence” to support it. I know of other religious texts that say similarly outlandish things about their central figures. But I don’t buy it, because there is no evidence outside of those books to support their stories. Any good reason to accept the Bible as actual fact upon which to base scientific opinion as opposed to, say, the Koran or the Tao Te Ching or the Bhagavad Gita?

    Anyway, I’ve ranged far from the evolution of fishes. I apparently have too much time on my hands.

    • jlwile May 22, 2012 2:06 pm

      Thanks for your reply, John. I wasn’t really put off by your tone. I was more put off by your inaccurate description of the Christian view.

      I agree that saying, “Imagine if things had been different – then things would have been different!” is not much of an argument for the existence of God. However, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that in all our experience, the presence of design indicates a designer. Indeed, when archaeologists do their work, they often use designed artifacts, not human remains, to conclude the former presence of humans in an area. They often even make inferences about those humans from nothing more than the designed artifacts they discover. This is proper scientific reasoning. When we see design, we conclude the work of a designer. The same is true for the universe. We see obvious design, and the most obvious conclusion is the presence of a designer.

      Your idea that had the laws of the universe been different we wouldn’t be around to study it is true, but it means very little. The question to ask would be WHY are the laws of the universe the way they are? Are you really willing to believe that it is blind luck? Imagine that you are put in front of a firing squad. All the marksmen aim their rifles at you, they all fire, and yet you remain alive. Are you really willing to just say, “Well, had things gone differently, I wouldn’t be around to think about this, so the fact that I am still alive means that I am really lucky.” Of course not! You would seek an explanation as to WHY you are still alive, even though the odds say that you should clearly be dead. The same holds true for the design we see in the universe. The odds say that none of us should exist. However, we do. The obvious question is, “Why?” If luck is your answer, then that is hardly scientific.

      Your statement that the argument from design is only a good argument “if you wholeheartedly embrace the questionable assumption (and good scientists, as you point out elsewhere, don’t assume things) that the Universe was created for the purpose of sustaining *us*” is also quite false. After all, when I was an atheist, I did not assume that the universe was created for the purpose of sustaining us. Indeed, I assumed the opposite. The same could be said of Dr. Antony Flew and double-Dr. Alister Edgar McGrath. We all started out assuming the opposite, and the argument from design convinced all of us. I am not saying that this shows the argument from design is correct. However, I am saying that it shows your statement to be quite false. The argument from design is a powerful argument, and it is scientifically quite sound.

      In terms of your response to the other issues, I was hoping for more. At minimum, I was hoping you would actually read the content of the links. Your comments, however, show that you have not. For example, the Flood evidence article specifically discusses why uplift doesn’t work for an explanation of fossils so commonly found at high elevations, and it uses plate tectonics to explain this. In addition, as the article explains, bent rocks are expected in Flood geology, and they are specifically not expected in the evolutionary view of geology. Thus, bent rocks do provide evidence for the Flood. Indeed, the link shows some of the many reasons why Flood geology is the best scientific explanation for the geological features we see on earth.

      The link for the evidence of the resurrection does not just rely on Biblical citations. It makes historical arguments and shows that the resurrection is the best accounting of all the facts. So it doesn’t use the Bible to prove the Bible. It uses history and sound reasoning to show that the resurrection is the best explanations for the facts as we have them.

      Now you do ask a good question: Is it reasonable to accept the Bible over other religious documents? The answer, from a scientific point of view, is absolutely yes. The Bible has been demonstrated to be the most accurate history of its time, and it has been demonstrated to contain scientific, medical, and future knowledge that was simply not available to the people who penned the words.

      You are right that a scientist should not make too many assumptions. I started out with an unscientific assumption that there is no God. The evidence, however, convinced the scientist in me that not only is there a God, but He has revealed Himself in the Bible. I am not alone in this. Other scientists have also been convinced. This doesn’t necessarily show that Christianity is true, but it shows that there is a LOT more evidence than what you are willing to consider.

  8. Jacob May 23, 2012 10:42 pm

    I’m going to throw my opinion into the fray with Mr. Wheatly.

    I’ll leave the science to you, Mr. Wile. I think that you’d be better than I would on that.

    In any case, what I wish to address the part on Jesus. Jewish Talmuds speak about Jesus. His crucifixion with Pontius Pilate is definitely real. So that’s one bit that isn’t outlandish.

    I think that it would be good to use the Bible for evidence of the Bible. After all, they would be witnesses to the things that happened in front of them. That does not make them instantly correct, but let’s look at the resurrection in three other ways than the testimonies of 500 men and women. They are philosophy, logic, and scientific.

    In the realm of philosophy, I could speak for hours on this subject, but I believe that a book clearly answers the question “Did the disciples REALLY mean that Jesus resurrected?” I say read “Socrates Meets Jesus” and go to the last chapter. Definitely a worth while read.

    In the realm of logic, we should focus upon the power of deduction. No other explanation can logically explain Jesus’ body disappearing from the tomb. Therefore, we should listen more to the eyewitnesses, no matter how radical it seems to be.

    In the realm of science, we have at least one possible bit of evidence. The Shroud of Turin. While it is strange, there is research done on the Shroud. You should watch its special on History Channel, it is really interesting. I definitely am not saying that the Shroud actually is Jesus’ burial cloth, but if it is, why isn’t it wrapping up a body?

  9. John Wheatley May 24, 2012 1:20 pm

    Dr. Jay, I hardly know where to begin. So much to address. But let’s start with the simpler stuff. Actually, let’s just address one point. Let’s address your flood. I will admit I originally only read the bullet-point argument for the flood, not the more elaborated arguments the author provided. I could perhaps be faulted for that, except that upon reading the link for the first argument (i.e. fossils in high places), I see that it was even more absurd that I had imagined. Reading it word for word reinforces my opinion that it’s nonsense.

    You and this guy with the website say the flood happened, and you point to fossils in high places as evidence. It is a good question – how did those fossils get there? On my side, we have loads and loads and loads of EMPIRICAL DATA that explain the presence of those lofty fossils. (If you want me to give you some citations, I can recommend a few good books, but I will assume that you have some familiarity with the empirical evidence and/or are competent to find it if you wanted to examine it yourself.) What do you offer up in response to empirical data? Some guy with a website whose only evidence – literally, his only evidence – is his *interpretation* of a *translation* of the biblical passages. For example, he cites Psalms 104:8 “They went up over the mountains; They went down into the valleys, To the place which You founded for them.” This means that as the waters receded, the mountains rose by geologic uplift? For the love of… seriously?! Wow. I wouldn’t have gleaned that idea from that verse. Sounds like the water went up into the sky and down into the low places to me. Doesn’t sound like geologic uplift. But hey – that’s my interpretation, isn’t it? If dude with the website wants to think the Bible says the mountains rose through uplift as the flood waters receded, then I guess he’ll think that.

    Ultimately, this guy says: There can be only one explanation of fossils in high places, namely, a flood must have covered the Earth. So he’s not starting out with a null hypothesis and one ore more alternative hypotheses. He says flatly: the Earth was covered in water by a flood.

    How scientific.

    Then he ponders the questions of exactly how the Earth was covered in water. What evidence does he provide for the mechanisms by which this was accomplished? Empirical evidence? Why, goodness no. Empirical evidence will provide no light to be shone upon the assumed flood. So to what dimly lit corner does he retreat? Genesis. Genesis 7:11 says that when Noah was 600 years old, “the fountains of the deep were broken up.” His interpretation of this verse is that not only was there lots of water coming out of the Earth (reasonable interpretation there, I think), but that the crust of the Earth itself was shattered enough to allow hot magma to be spewing forth everywhere on the ocean floor (and apparently ONLY the ocean floor for some reason), and being lighter than the solid crust, effectively became the new ocean floor that rose enough for the ocean waters to spill over the land. I think an objective observer who was investigating the problem of fossil location would be unlikely to find magma and seafloor uplift in Genesis 7:11 and subsequently decide it’s fantastic support for a scientific hypothesis. But a highly motivated Christian, apparently, sees magma and seafloor uplift right there in black and white AND thinks it’s the best evidence he can provide for a great flood.

    So, what we have here is a guy who says, “There is no way this flood could not have happened,” and then offers tortured interpretations of Bible verses to prove it. Again, using the Bible to prove the Bible. Empirical evidence of these occurrences? None to be found.

    I could eviscerate the other 5 “pieces of evidence” of the great flood, but you and I both have lives to get on with.

    I remain quite unconvinced about your flood. I don’t think that’s a prejudice on my part, either. I think it’s because the evidence you have provided is so incredibly scanty and relies almost entirely on a really old book of mythology that I find incredibly difficult to take seriously (and, believe it or not, I tried for many years to take that book seriously). I think this argument would only be convincing to a.) a person who already believes in the occurrence of the flood and/or b.) somebody who doesn’t need empirical data to form a foundation for their opinions.

    • jlwile May 24, 2012 4:27 pm

      John, I am glad that you did actually read the article, but it seems you did not understand it. Please allow me to help you. First, “this guy” is Dr. Andrew Snelling, who holds an earned PhD in geology. This, of course, doesn’t mean he is right, but it probably means that he knows more geology than you or I. Second, your claim that Dr. Snelling’s only evidence is his interpretation of a Bible verse is quite wrong. In fact, he says:

      Could the continents have then sunk below today’s sea level, so that the ocean waters flooded over them?

      No! The continents are made up of lighter rocks that are less dense than the rocks on the ocean floor and rocks in the mantle beneath the continents. The continents, in fact, have an automatic tendency to rise, and thus “float” on the mantle rocks beneath, well above the ocean floor rocks. This explains why the continents today have such high elevations compared to the deep ocean floor, and why the ocean basins can hold so much water.

      He also includes a citation to back up his argument. Now…you might disagree with his reasoning, but you have not given any evidence to support your disagreement. Instead, you made a demonstrably false statement about his reasoning. That’s not very scientific.

      I am very well acquainted with what old-earth geologists say about the fact that there are fossils of marine creatures on top of mountains. I am also knowledgeable enough about geology to understand that it is a very poor explanation and that the Flood explanation is significantly better.

      You seem to be very unfamiliar with the basics of Flood geology, because you try to indicate that Dr. Snelling doesn’t have any empirical evidence to back up the mechanism of the Flood that he discusses. Let me help you get acquainted with that evidence. Dr. John Baumgardener (another person who probably knows more geology than either of us) has a detailed model for how the fountains of the deep opened, and as you can see from his model, it has an enormous amount of empirical evidence to back it up. If you were familiar with this data, you would know to what Dr. Snelling is referring.

      Since you couldn’t even accurately describe the first piece of Dr. Snelling’s evidence, you will pardon me if I don’t believe that you could “eviscerate” the other important evidence that Dr. Snelling gives. Please feel free to try, however.

      You might remain unconvinced about the Flood, but until you actually read and understand the arguments, that doesn’t surprise me. As Dr. Snelling’s analysis shows, there is an enormous amount of empirical, geological evidence for the Flood. That’s why I became convinced of it even though I did not want to believe in it. Even after I became a Christian, I believed that the Flood was simply a metaphorical story that communicated some profound truths. It wasn’t until after I seriously looked at the data that I realized that the evidence for its reality is overwhelming. As you can see from a simple perusal of this blog, I follow the evidence. Thus, your suggestion as to who would be convinced by such arguments is quite false. I did not want to believe that the Flood was a real event, and evidence means everything to me – it’s what turned me from atheist to Christian.

  10. John Wheatley May 24, 2012 4:45 pm

    You have missed my point entirely. I will give Dr. Snelling his due – he knows that continental crust is lighter than the material below it. Good for him. However, this “evidence” is not evidence that God put those fossils up high by means of a great flood. It does not bear directly on the question, which is why I did not consider it relevant to his point that a flood occurred.

    The only direct evidence he offers in this regard is Biblical, and as I point out, it doesn’t even say what he wants it to say! You have failed to address the point – the only evidence he offers are tortured interpretations of the Bible.

    I have to wonder to myself if the evidence to which you constantly allude is so derned good for this flood theory, why I am unable to find it in respected peer-reviewed journals? Let me guess – a great conspiracy against the Bible and its adherents? The devil’s keeping it out of the classrooms?

    • jlwile May 24, 2012 4:50 pm

      I have not missed your point, John. Dr. Snelling gives direct evidence for why uplift is not a good explanation for fossils being at the top of mountains. Sure, he quotes the Bible, too, but that’s not his empirical evidence. His empirical evidence is the relative density of the continental and ocean crusts. This is direct evidence, and you seem to want to ignore it because it contradicts the explanation that you prefer. Once again, that’s not very scientific.

      Flood geology is not found in the standard peer-reviewed journals not because of some grand conspiracy, but because of the nature of peer review. As many scientists lament time and time again, peer review tends to reinforce existing paradigms instead of promoting new ideas.

  11. John Wheatley May 25, 2012 6:32 am

    So the single piece of empirical evidence to support his flood theory of fossils at high altitudes is that the Earth’s crust is lighter than the mantle. Well, of course it is – that’s why it’s on top. Call that “evidence” if you will. It applies equally well to the regular old scientifically accepted theory of fossil deposition, too. Oh, but you also have the Bible stuff on your side. Gee, I don’t know how I managed to not be convinced. Our theory doesn’t include anything nearly as cool as a 600 year old guy who talks to God.

    True, the peer-review process does tend to reinforce already accepted theories. Of course, good data that support surprising conclusions are also quite likely to make it into journals. It would be of great interest to many people, including atheist scientists, to learn that there was good evidence of a great flood. Even atheists like to hear that Biblical stories may refer to real-world events. Why do you think there were so many peer-reviewed journal articles printed about the shroud of Turin?

    • jlwile May 25, 2012 11:02 am

      John, his argument that the standard explanation of these fossils is wrong is based on the fact that oceanic crust is heavier than continental crust. Please read the quote again:

      Could the continents have then sunk below today’s sea level, so that the ocean waters flooded over them?

      No! The continents are made up of lighter rocks that are less dense than the rocks on the ocean floor and rocks in the mantle beneath the continents. The continents, in fact, have an automatic tendency to rise, and thus “float” on the mantle rocks beneath, well above the ocean floor rocks. This explains why the continents today have such high elevations compared to the deep ocean floor, and why the ocean basins can hold so much water.

      So it’s not that the earth’s crust is lighter than the mantle. It’s that portions of the earth’s crust (the continental portions) are lighter and therefore rise above other portions (the oceanic ones). Note that you are wrong when you say that this fact applies equally well to the standard explanation of the fossils. Indeed, the standard explanation does not work, because you would not expect continental crust to be underwater in normal circumstances. Only a flood could cover continental crust, since it would naturally rise above oceanic crust. Thus, once again, from a scientific point of view, the Flood explanation is superior. You might not like that, but I follow the evidence, regardless of whether or not I like what it says.

      There have, indeed, been peer-reviewed articles about the Shroud of Turin. However, they come to the (correct) conclusion that it is of Medieval origin and not Christ’s shroud. Now…had the Shroud been dated as authentic, it still might have made the peer-reviewed literature, because Christ’s existence and crucifixion have never been seriously doubted by anyone who knows the relevant history. Thus, there would have been no upsetting of paradigms. When data upset paradigms, it is very hard to get them in the peer-reviewed literature. This has nothing to do with conspiracies – just with the nature of peer review.