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Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Large, Detailed Study Confirms Another Failed Evolutionary Prediction

Posted by jlwile on November 8, 2012

The La Brea Tar Pits as imagined by Charles R. Knight (public domain image)

Paleontologists have long recognized that the fossil record produces a serious problem for the hypothesis of evolution. Almost thirty years ago, Dr. David Wake and his colleagues stated:1

With natural selection operating in a changing environment as an agent of adaptation, we expect to see changes at the organismal, ultimately physiological and morphological, level. How, though, can we explain the paradoxical situation in which environments change, even dramatically, but organisms do not?

In other words, evolution predicts that in a changing environment, organisms should change in order to adapt. However, when we look at the fossil record, we don’t see such change. Instead, while it is thought that earth’s climate changed dramatically in many different ways throughout the fossil record, the fossils themselves show that the organisms living on earth didn’t change much at all. This has been called the “paradox of stasis,” and while several attempts have been made to resolve the problem2, none of them have been found to be satisfactory.3

In an attempt to understand the paradox of stasis better, Dr. Donald Prothero undertook a series of amazingly detailed studies. With the help of a small army of students, Prothero studied the fossils of all the common birds and mammals that have been preserved in the La Brea tar pits of Los Angeles, California. According to the standard geological view, these tar pits preserved species that lived in the area over a period of time when the region experienced wild climate change. It is thought that 35,000 years ago, the Los Angeles, California area had a very similar climate to what it has today. During the height of the last ice age (20,000 years ago), however, it was significantly colder and significantly wetter. As the ice age waned, the climate returned to what it was 35,000 years ago.

From an evolutionary point of view, one would expect that over the course of this dramatic change in climate, the birds and mammals living in the area would have experienced some amount of evolutionary change in order to adapt to their surroundings. However, that’s not what this series of studies found.

Here is what Dr. Prothero and his colleagues say about their results:4

Thus, the data show that birds and mammals at Rancho La Brea show complete stasis and were unresponsive to the major climate change that occurred at 20 ka, consistent with other studies of Pleistocene animals and plants.

In the end, then, the paradox of stasis is real. I seriously doubt that Prothero expected to find otherwise, but I think the value of this series of studies is found in its detail. The fossil analysis was so exacting that even small evolutionary changes would have been seen in the data. There were some small changes found, but none of them exhibited any kind of pattern related to the supposed climate change that had taken place. Instead, the small changes that were seen appeared to be random.

What do the authors conclude? Here is what they write at the end of their paper:

Such stasis, along with the examples documented from nearly all other Pleistocene mammals and birds, argues that organisms are not as responsive to environmental change as classical neo-Darwinian theory predicts.

So how can the paradox of stasis be resolved? Here is what Dr. Prothero recently wrote:

No matter how many presentations I give where I show these data, no one (including myself) has a good explanation yet for such widespread stasis despite the obvious selective pressures of changing climate. Rather than answers, we have more questions — and that’s a good thing! Science advances when we discover what we don’t know, or we discover that simple answers we’d been following for years no longer work.

I strongly agree that science advances when we discover that the simple answers we’d been following for years no longer work. Many scientists have already seen that the “simple answer” of evolution doesn’t work. Science will advance as more scientists come to the same conclusion, and a more reasonable explanation for origins is adopted.

REFERENCES

1. Wake, David B.; Roth, G.; and Wake, M. H., “On the problem of stasis in organismal evolution,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 101(2):212, 1983.
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2. See, for example: Suzanne Estes and Stevan J. Arnold, “Resolving the Paradox of Stasis: Models with Stabilizing Selection Explain Evolutionary Divergence on All Timescales,” The American Naturalist 169(2):227-244, 2007.
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3. See, for example, a rebuttal to #2: Kaplan, Jonathan, “The Paradox of Stasis and the Nature of Explanations in Evolutionary Biology,” Philosophy of Science Assoc. 21st Biennial Mtg (Pittsburgh, PA), Contributed Papers, Item 4286, 2008.
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4. Donald R. Prothero, et. al., “Size and shape stasis in late Pleistocene mammals and birds from Rancho La Brea during the Last Glacial–Interglacial cycle,” Quaternary Science Reviews, 56(21):1-10, 2012.
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Comments

48 Responses to “A Large, Detailed Study Confirms Another Failed Evolutionary Prediction”
  1. Kevin N says:

    This helps to confirm that stasis is a characteristic of species.

    The results of this study, on the other hand, cause serious problems for the most prominent current YEC model of post-flood speciation. The baraminology model has hyper-rapid radiation of species after Noah’s flood in order to explain the current diversity of organisms on Earth. If this high rate of diversification were occurring throughout the formation of the La Brea tar pits (post-flood deposits), one would expect to find, for example, the basal species (e.g. “dog kind”) in older deposits, and a richer diversity (coyotes, wolves) in the more recent deposits. Unless the diversification all occurred in the first hundred years or so after the flood, as these organisms were running from Ararat to their present homes.

  2. jlwile says:

    Kevin, you are once again trying to apply old-earth ideas to a young-earth paradigm. I can understand why you would do this, as you are thinking like an old-earther. However, you must think like a young-earther if you want to see how the data relate to the young-earth view. In the young-earth view, these animals did not fossilize over 35,000 years. They fossilized all at once, during the Worldwide Flood. As a result, you would expect stasis, as they all come from the same time period. Thus, rather than presenting a problem for the young-earth view, these studies support the young-earth view, as they are exactly what the young-earth view would predict.

  3. Kevin N says:

    Jay — By just about everything I’ve read from YECs in the past twenty years, things like the La Brea Tar Pits are post-flood features. The tar pits are stratigraphically among the most recent features in the area, and are formed from asphalt coming from deeper sedimentary rocks, which YECs would say were deposited during the flood. The tar contains an Ice Age faunal assemblage, and most mainstream YECs teach that Ice Age equals post-flood.

    I’m not sure how one squeezes the Ice Age (even if one ignores the vast evidence for multiple advances and retreats of the ice) into a few centuries after 2400 BC; while the saber-toothed cats, mammoths, ground sloths, and such, evolved from the cat-kind, elephant-kind, and sloth-kind, and rushed to North America, only to get stuck in oozing asphalt. As all of this was happening, history was going on in Mesopotamia as if nothing semi-catastrophic was happening elsewhere in the world.

    I was once a YEC, and have been reading YEC material for decades, so you cannot say that I cannot think like a YEC. I understand what they are trying to say, but it just doesn’t work. If the La Brea Tar Pits are post-flood deposits, then they ought to contain a record of the hyper-evolution that YECs maintain happened in the centuries after the flood, and they don’t. Stasis is strong evidence that there has not been a high rate of diversification in the past 35,000 years (old-Earth) or 4400 years (YEC).

    If you want to continue to advocate that the La Brea Tar Pits are flood rather than post-flood deposits, I can point out the problems with that position as well.

    It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Fortunately, it isn’t Biblically necessary either.

  4. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I am not sure what YECs you are reading, but they certainly don’t represent the prevailing opinion on the La Brea Tar Pits. Here, for example, is an overview YEC article that says the fossil assemblage is the result of a worldwide Flood. The author published more in-depth articles on the subject as well (here, here, and here) Here is an article by another YEC author that also states the fossil assemblage is the result of the worldwide Flood. Even those YECs who don’t think the Le Brea Tar Pit fossils were laid down in the global Flood think that they were laid down in a local catastrophe. Either way, they represent a snapshot in time, and as a result, you would expect complete stasis from the fossils, which is what this series of studies show.

    You say, “I’m not sure how one squeezes the Ice Age (even if one ignores the vast evidence for multiple advances and retreats of the ice) into a few centuries after 2400 BC; while the saber-toothed cats, mammoths, ground sloths, and such, evolved from the cat-kind, elephant-kind, and sloth-kind, and rushed to North America, only to get stuck in oozing asphalt.” That’s seems to be because you haven’t read much on the issue. Not only do YECs have no problem with the ice age, the relevant data are much more consistent with the YEC view than the old-earth view (see here, here, here, and here to learn about these facts). Also, if you have read anything from YECs on this issue, you know that no YEC thinks the fossils in the Le Brea Tar Pits come from animals getting stuck in oozing asphault. That’s the “entrapment hypothesis,” and YECs have continually pointed out the scientific problems with such an absurd idea.

    The old-earth view doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Fortunately, it isn’t Biblically necessary either.

  5. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    A basic problem with the “La Brea Tar Pits formed during Noah’s Flood” hypothesis is one that plagues YEC flood geology in general, and that is the problem of biogeography. While many of the animals preserved in the asphalt are extinct, a good number of other fossils are of species that are native to Western North America today, such as elk, pronghorns, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. If La Brea was formed during the flood, it is interesting (to say the least) that these organisms died in Los Angeles and other places in North America during the flood, and then after the flood, the surviving members of these species somehow knew to run (and that is pretty close to what they would have had to do) back to North America without leaving any stragglers between Ararat and North America. The same would be true for native California plants that are found in the tar; somehow they got deposited in California during the flood, and their seeds didn’t get washed all over the world but ended up in California after the flood as well.

    Another difficulty you face is that of continuity. If the tar pits formed during the Flood, it is interesting that the asphalt is leaking to the surface today. The deposits formed recently (before the entire area was urbanized) are of the same type that are characteristic of the fossil sites. The simplest explanation is that there is a continuity between modern deposits and those immediately in contact with the modern deposits.

    The articles by Weston were completely unconvincing. In his third CRSQ article, he uses the failed ecological zonation model to explain the general vertical distribution of fossils (in the “Diluvial Sorting and the Geologic Periods” section). A summary of this is that mammals were more mobile than more primitive animals so ended up in the younger rocks. Oh my, I’m not even sure where to begin on that one, and I’ll just leave it hanging, except to say that I don’t think a mouse could have outrun a T-rex, and I’m not sure how large numbers of animals survived the early-Flood scouring of virtually all of Earth’s surface. He then goes on to (very briefly) describe how piles of bones near the end of the flood (or slightly after) were spread across the landscape and washed down the newly formed hills and got deposited in the tar pits. How these ended up all belonging to a cohesive ecological assemblage is bewildering to me, but YECs dismiss these sorts of problems with an arm wave of “unexplainable by uniformitarian geology but easily explainable by YEC.”

    I’ve got more I could say, but that is enough for now. I’m off to listen to Dr. Jeanson of ICR.

  6. jlwile says:

    Kevin, it is good to see you have given up on the idea that this study presents problems for the YEC view. Yes, the tar pits were formed in the Flood, and no, biogeography doesn’t present a problem for this fact or the YEC view in general. As seems to be a typical pattern for you, rather than actually addressing the YEC view, you mischaracterize it. I don’t know of any YEC who postulates that the animals on the ark somehow “knew to run” back where they existed before the Flood. Instead, as Simon Conway Morris points out in his book, Life’s Solution, similar environments tend to result in similar adaptations. As the archetypal kinds migrated from the Ark, they adapted to fit their environment. The similarities between pre-Flood and post-Flood animals are a result of that well-known effect. And no, the animals didn’t have to run. They had all sorts of time to slowly migrate to where they are now. Consider how quickly cane toads are infiltrating Australia right now. They aren’t doing any running, but they will take over Australia in no time. In order to learn what YECs really think about biogeography, you should read some YEC discussions of it. This article would be a good place to start your education on the issue.

    And no, continuity is not an issue, either. In fact, continuity present a huge problem for the old-earth view when it comes to the Le Brea Tar pits. Contrary to your assertion, the fossil assemblages have all sorts of characteristics that are inconsistent with what we see happening now at the tar pits. Many fossils are found disarticulated, and there is a lot of intermingling of skeletal parts, which is utterly inconsistent with the idea that the events which led to fossilization had any significant similarity to what is happening now. In addition, the lack of teeth marks on herbivore bones, the ratio of carnivores to herbivores, the huge number of water beetles, and the water saturation of wood debris speaks strongly of water burial. This is obviously not consistent with what is going on now!

    I am not surprised that you didn’t find Weston’s articles convincing. Once again, this seems to be because you refuse to address the YEC arguments in any meaningful way and instead simply mischaracterize them. No, the ecological zonation model has not failed, and no, Weston doesn’t use only it to explain the order seen in the fossil record. To learn what the ecological zonation model is, you should once again read some YEC materials on it. This article would be a good place for you to start your education. As you can see from this article, contrary to your mischaracterization, the ecological zonation model has nothing to do with the mobility of animals. As the article says:

    This ecological zonation model for the order of fossils in the geologic record4 would argue that the lower fossiliferous layers in the strata record must therefore represent the fossilization of biological communities at lower elevations and warmer climates, while higher layers in the geologic record must represent fossilization of biological communities that lived at higher elevations and thus cooler temperatures.

    Note that there is no reference to the mobility of animals in the ecological zonation model. Now…as is the case with any serious scientific hypothesis, the YEC view considers many factors, and the mobility of animals is one of those factors. However, it is not the only one, and it is not a part of the ecological zonation model.

    As you can see, then, the La Brea Tar Pits are an excellent example of how the YEC view is superior to the old-earth view when it comes to analyzing the geology of an area, and the series of studies discussed in this article provide yet another confirmation of that view.

  7. Chris says:

    ‘ Instead, as Simon Conway Morris points out in his book, Life’s Solution, similar environments tend to result in similar adaptations. As the archetypal kinds migrated from the Ark, they adapted to fit their environment. The similarities between pre-Flood and post-Flood animals are a result of that well-known effect.’

    Quite a remarkable statement to read (especially when delivered without the slightest sense of irony) from someone who regularly (for example only a few posts prior to this one) attacks biologists who dare invoke convergent evolution to explain incidental observations of similarities between divergent clades.

    Apparently invoking convergent evolution on an absurdly massive scale and conveniently involving just the right set of animals is just fine as long as it is used to explain away the similarity of supposed pre-flood species to post-flood species in the same area.

    I’m afraid you can’t have it both ways: either convergent evolution occurs and is a valid way of explaining the occasional similarity of features between species or clades (or, as in this case, a whole series of clades) – or it is a ‘just so’ story created to make the observations fit the model.

  8. jlwile says:

    Chris, I think you are a bit confused. Let me help clear things up for you. Kevin didn’t understand why the post-Flood animals in California look like some of the pre-Flood animals in the Le Brea Tar Pits. As the quote you give indicates, it is because the archetypal kinds that were preserved on the ark ended up adapting to the same climate, and that made them look very similar (if not identical) to their pre-Flood counterparts. This has nothing to do with convergent evolution.

    Remember, convergent evolution is about how completely unrelated organisms end up having similar features (morphological or genetic) by sheer chance. I am not talking about completely unrelated organisms at all. I am talking about animals that are all part of the same kind. Thus, they are all related to one another. They all had the same basic baranome, so when they encountered a similar climate, the same basic baranome adapted the same way it had in the past.

    So yes, convergent evolution is a “just so” story used to explain around the data when it isn’t convenient for evolution. YECs don’t need to rely on such contrivances, since the YEC view is significantly more consistent with the data.

  9. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    What did I say that made you think that I “have given up on the idea that this study presents problems for the YEC view?” I stated why the La Brea Tar Pits are difficult to explain as a post-flood deposit, and why they are difficult to explain as a flood deposit.

    It is clear that many of the tar pit fossil deposits cannot be explained by the simple trap-and-die model. It didn’t take anything from the YECs to prompt paleontologists to come to this conclusion, and a brief survey of papers on the internet (e.g. here) provides evidence for a more episodic nature to the fossil deposits, which could include short-distance transport of bones. The bones are often disarticulated, but they are not intensely abraded as one would expect if they had been transported in a sandy slurry in Noah’s flood.

    Biogeography is a major problem for YEC flood geology as a whole, and for the La Brea in particular. No, I did not mischaracterize the YEC view. I used the word “run” because organisms would have had to move quickly—over a period of a few brief and very recent centuries—to get re-established in the exact same place that they had been buried during the flood. This is not what Conway Morris wrote about in Life’s Solution, with his emphasis on the ubiquity of convergence. If it had worked by convergence as you suggest, then one would have had, say, a deer-like organism in the Los Angeles basin during the flood that got trapped in the La Brea, and real deer living there now. They would not have been the same species during the flood and in recent times, any more than a marsupial wolf is the same as a dire wolf. You are misusing Conway Morris’s ideas. But this is irrelevant really, because what got deposited during the flood need have absolutely no correlation to post-flood (e.g. recent) communities.

    Weston, in his discussion of fossil sorting in the rock record, clearly states that “vertebrates are in the higher levels of strata because they possess much greater mobility,” and that the geologic column is a record “of increasing mobility and therefore increasing ability to postpone inundation.” This is silly. I have not misrepresented either him nor how fossil sorting is commonly presented by YECs. Even with the refinements that you refered to, with elevation and climate, the hypothesis makes no sense, even if one “thinks like a YEC.” Once the early stages of Noah’s flood scoured Earth’s surface, these fossil assemblages would have been mixed and re-ordered, and one should expect the resulting fossil record to be chaotic rather than orderly.

    The La Brea Tar Pits are hardly an “excellent example of how the YEC view is superior.” Instead, YEC explanations involving a community of organisms, ranging from insects to birds and large mammals, somehow staying together as a package only to be deposited all in the same place at the end of the flood takes a wild stretch of reason to accept, especially when these organisms are in many cases the exact same species as what have lived in the area in recent times.

  10. J.S. says:

    I have read Weston’s papers and also the Woodard and Marcus (1973) and Howard (1960) paper that he cites, and I think he makes a very compelling argument for a Flood origin. However, some of the remains have an essentially modern aspect, and one 11-18’ deep deposit contained both human artifacts dated at less than 5000 years old and a variety of shells, suggesting to one worker the possibility that an Indian camp was located near there. (Howard, 1960) A human skull was also found that appears to be that of a Native American. (http://www.laweekly.com/2010-05-27/news/sticky-situation-at-the-tar-pits/) Also, Vine Deloria has noted that Native Americans had a tradition of coexistence with many now-extinct Pleistocene animals such as giant beavers, saber-tooth tigers, mammoths and giant deer. (Red Earth, White Lies, 1997)

    All this suggests to me that the possibility exists that at least part of the deposits are post-Flood. To me, the real geological story here is not the bonebeds, but the massive infiltration of upper sediments by the underlying petroleum source. Figuring out the timing of that event would appear to me to be key to further understanding of Ranch La Brea.

  11. Chris says:

    ‘Remember, convergent evolution is about how completely unrelated organisms end up having similar features (morphological or genetic) by sheer chance.’

    It seems that you are confused.

    I would love to quote a textbook, but unfortunately mine are at the office so I’ll have to resort to a website. This definition from Science Daily does the trick:

    ‘In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.’

    Convergent evolution does not result from ‘sheer chance’. This is complete nonsense. It results from two unrelated organisms facing the same or similar selective pressures – i.e. they adapt to similar environments, *exactly the same mechanism you claimed applied in this case*.

    Yes, convergent evolution is usually used to describe analogous features in distinct clades (as opposed to re-evolution) – but the principle is exactly the same as the one you claim explains the similarity of creatures in the La Brea tar pits to those we find in the area today. The only difference is that in one instance we are talking about species separated by their evolutionary history (clades), in the other we are talking about separation by time (before/after supposed flood).

    ‘They all had the same basic baranome, so when they encountered a similar climate, the same basic baranome adapted the same way it had in the past.’

    I would like you to explain to me why this rule applies to these animals evolving similar traits to their ancestors when exposed to the same environment but does not apply to organisms in different clades evolving similar traits when exposed to the same environment.

  12. Keith says:

    I love Dr. Prothero’s attitude in that last quote. With a mindset like that, maybe he’ll give some serious consideration the YEC view on the so-called “stasis” in the La Brea Tar Pits, instead of instantly dismissing it like most evolutionists would do.

  13. jlwile says:

    Kevin, since you fell back to your old habit of mischaracterizing YEC views, I assumed you had given up on the incorrect assertion that these studies present a problem for the YEC view. I am sorry I misunderstood.

    You need to study the Le Brea Tar Pits fossils a bit more carefully, as the literature is clear that many bones found there have been abraded. In fact, one of the links I initially provided quotes a study that says this:

    Many bone deposits appear to represent concentration under fluviatile conditions after the bones had lain on the surface for some time. This is supported from the character of the enclosing sediments, size of the fossil pockets, and the abraded and weathered nature of the bones (Woodard and Marcus, 1973, p. 68).

    So yes, the fossils are exactly what you would expect from being buried in a catastrophic Flood.

    Of course biogeography is not a problem for the YEC view or for the proper interpretation of the Le Brea Tar Pits, as the link I provided to you before clearly shows. And yes, you did mischaracterize the YEC view. In fact, you still are. As I told you before, animals would not have to run to get to where they are today after the Flood. Normal migration behavior would bring them there, as the cane toad infiltration of Australia is showing. Also, like Chris, you seem confused about the mechanism of adaptation. YECs don’t use convergence to understand why pre-Flood and post-Flood animals are the same. They use the fact that there is a certain level of information in a a genome, and if you start with that information, you will find similar adaptations to similar conditions. Thus, continuity is not an issue in the YEC view. In fact, it is expected.

    You continue to mischaracterize Weston, and now you are stooping to quote-mining to get the job done. For those who have not read Weston’s excellent work, let me provide a full quote so that they will not be influenced by your mischaracterizations:

    Thus the geologic column can be reinterpreted along the following lines:

    (1) of increasing mobility and therefore increasing ability to postpone inundation; (2) of decreasing density and other hydrodynamic factors tending to promote earlier and deeper sedimentation, and (3) of increasing elevation of habitat and therefore time required for the Flood to attain stages sufficient to overtake them (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, pp. 276).

    Now that we see the full quote, your mischaracterization is clear. As I stated in my previous reply to you, mobility is just one factor used in explaining the order of the fossil record in a given area. You are trying to say that it is the only factor Weston used, and that is clearly a mischaracterization. In addition you said that mobility was a part of the ecological zonation model, while the link I provided previously clearly demonstrates it is not. That is yet another mischaracterization on your part.

    It is also a mischaracterization of the YEC view to claim that you wouldn’t expect the fossils to be orderly. Of course you would, as Weston’s excellent article clearly demonstrates.

    The La Brea Tar Pits are, indeed, an excellent example of how the YEC view is superior. The YEC interpretation explains the fossil assemblages found therein in a way that is much more consistent with the data than the old-earth view.

  14. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your input, J.S. I was not familiar with the new information that you linked. As I said previously, even if these are post-Flood deposits, they were obviously laid down catastrophically, so they represent a snapshot in time, and as such you would expect stasis in the fossils, which is what the series of studies I wrote about demonstrate.

  15. jlwile says:

    Chris, I am sorry that I wasn’t able to clear up your confusion with my previous reply. Perhaps I can here. Obviously, in the evolutionary view, there is no such thing as “completely unrelated” organisms, as all organisms are supposedly related to the last universal common ancestor. The definition you present is more precise, using “distantly related” rather than “completely unrelated.” Thanks for the clarification. That more precise definition still tells you that I am not using convergent evolution, as the animals I am discussing are very closely related. They all belong to the same created kind. Thus, convergent evolution does not apply here, according to the definition you present.

    And yes, convergent evolution does result from sheer chance. Remember, convergent evolution is working on remarkably different genomes, yet by random mutation, it just happens to come up with the exact same random mutations so as to produce genes that are identical or nearly identical. That’s sheer chance. Natural selection only tells you how the mutations are preserved. Sheer chance is the only mechanism the evolutionist has to explain how those mutations occurred to begin with.

    No, the mechanism of convergent evolution is nothing like the explanation for continuity at the Le Brea Tar Pits. There is no luck involved. The baranome of each created kind contains a specific set of information. Since YECs follow the evidence and understand that information cannot be added to a genome, any adaptation that occurs is working with the same set of information as any adaptation that occurred previously in the same created kind. Adaptation simply selects the information that it will use. Since two creatures in the same created kind are working with the same information, similar conditions will select similar information.

    Now you can hopefully see why this mechanism doesn’t apply to organisms that are not related to one another. Since organisms from different created kinds start with different sets of information, they cannot select the exact same information. As a result, they cannot “converge” to the same genetics or morphology.

  16. jlwile says:

    I hope you are right, Keith. If nothing else, Dr. Prothero is showing that he is more of a scientist than a lot of evolutionists I read!

  17. J.S. says:

    It occurred to me that repeated events of earthquake-induced sediment liquefaction might be a satisfactory mechanism to explain the unique geological features of Rancho La Brea, including:
    (1) location in the Santa Monica Plain (SMP), which is surrounded by active faults,
    (2) stratification, including igneous and metamorphic cobbles, presumably from the mountains surrounding the SMP,
    (3) bone beds not spread throughout the SMP, but confined to the area of the current Museum, through which a stream was running at the time of discovery, indicating a lower topographic elevation,
    (4) a 2’ layer of hardened asphalt on the surface which did not contain any bones at the time of discovery,
    (5) broken-up asphalt blocks in some of the layers, and
    (6) human artifacts 8-11’ below the surficial hardened asphalt layer.

    See this video for a demonstration of how objects trapped in liquifying sediments can sink under conditions of shaking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xow8X-bVDqM . Earth tremors may also have created fractures which would have allowed mixing of hydrocarbons with the surficial sediments. Periodic liquefaction might explain why one layer had the possible remains of an Indian camp, while other layers contained distinct faunal assemblages. It might even be possible that the lower bone layers were late Flood deposits, while the upper layers were early post-Flood, as indicated by the C-14 dating.

    However, the primary problem that I see here is the assumption by both YEC and OAE geologists that that fossilization events are both constant and widespread enough to record speciation events over long periods of time. For example, Marcus Ross recently wrote in the Journal of Creation, “Intrabaraminic speciation events may be recorded in post-Flood sediments, leaving a fossil record of diversification within baramins leading to the present.” For that to be the case, however, fossilization must have been constant and extensive enough to produce a good timeline of post-Flood life.

    But how do things get fossilized? By rapid burial deep enough to remove remains from the zone of biologic degradation, or by preservation in some other manner, such as the acidic environments, or the cold temperatures. Rapid deep burial is usually ascribed by YECs to the Flood, while the other mechanisms are present-day modes of fossilization.

    It would seem to me, since the dominant surface process on the earth today is erosion, that the only way that rapid deep burial of organisms can occur in post-Flood time would be almost exclusively through tectonic events such as earthquakes or volcanoes. That being the case, I don’t see how cave, fissure, tundra or tectonic-related fossilization events can be thought of as constant or widespread enough to preserve a record of speciation under either a uniformitarian/actualistic or a YEC post-Flood scenario.

    And thank you again, Dr. Wile, for providing a forum for all these opposing views to be discussed in a civil manner–most of the time, anyway! :)

  18. Kevin N says:

    Jay — We are talking past each other once again.

    Your longer quote from Weston doesn’t help you at all. Three leaking buckets (mobility, density and hydrodynamics; elevation) don’t make a better bucket brigade than one leaky bucket.

    –Mobility — The geologic column is not a record of increasing mobility of animals. There are highly mobile organisms preserved in the Paleozoic; there are highly mobile organisms preserved in the Tertiary. There are sessile organisms preserved in the Mississippian (you don’t get much more sessile than an adult crinoid), and sessile organisms in the Miocene. You might reply that an elephant is certainly more mobile than a clam, but I would respond to say that a sloth is certainly less mobile than a dimetrodon. Additionally, a mouse might be able to flee from the rising flood waters, but it wouldn’t make it very far. A mole would have even less ability to flee from rising flood waters, but moles are found near the top of the geologic column, not down near the base.

    –Density — The fossil record is not a record of decreasing density. There are shelled invertebrates in the Cambrian; there are shelled invertebrates in the Pleistocene. There are fish in the Silurian; there are fish in the Oligocene. There are land vertebrates in the Devonian; there are land vertebrates in the Eocene.

    –Elevation — The geologic record is not a record of increasing elevation. There are shallow marine fossils in the Cambrian; there are shallow marine fossils in Quaternary deposits. There are terrestrial environments preserved in Paleozoic rocks; there are terrestrial environments preserved in Cenozoic rocks.

    Snelling’s article doesn’t help your cause either. He writes about the increasing inundation of the land at the beginning of the flood, and that this explains how stromatolites occur at the bottom of the column, with shallow marine invertebrates occurring next, and so on. He ties this all in to mobility and elevation. But this is nonsense, as whatever scouring of Earth’s surface that occurred at the beginning of the flood had to have its extent cover at least the full distribution of Cambrian rocks. In other words, from the beginning of the flood, just about all of the organisms that would later make up the fossil record had to be suspended or floating somewhere in the flood waters. Mobility and elevation would no longer make any difference, so all you have left is density and hydrodynamic factors, and these are insufficient to explain the vertical distribution of fossils.

    None of these proposed mechanisms, alone or in conjunction with one another (or combined with floating mats or ecosystems), would produce what we see overall in the fossil record. And they certainly would not produce what we see in individual fossil sites such as the La Brea Tar Pits. Again, there is no YEC mechanism for taking a pre-flood community—mammals, birds, insects—that all go together in one ecosystem, and depositing them together just where that community lives today, and with no accidental mixing of exotic organisms such as ammonites and trilobites. It is a complete and utter failure, and should not be taught as Christian apologetics.

  19. Chris says:

    ‘ Remember, convergent evolution is working on remarkably different genomes, yet by random mutation, it just happens to come up with the exact same random mutations so as to produce genes that are identical or nearly identical.’

    This is a gross mischaracterization of convergent evolution. The genes that direct the development of bat wings are nothing like the genes that build insect wings – yet this is a good (and commonly used) example for convergent evolution. The same would apply to bird and bat wings, for instance.

    I am aware that you like to highlight instances of particularly striking examples of convergent evolution (i.e. evolution of similar or identical chemical compounds in divergent clades), but these are exceptions. Exceptions, however, that we would expect due to the sheer diversity of life (play the lottery a a few million times and you’ll probably win).

    ‘Since YECs follow the evidence and understand that information cannot be added to a genome, any adaptation that occurs is working with the same set of information as any adaptation that occurred previously in the same created kind.’

    This statement simply flies in the face of the evidence. There are multiple will-established mechanisms which add information to the genome, including insertions, duplications, transposons, viral DNA etc.

    ‘Adaptation simply selects the information that it will use. Since two creatures in the same created kind are working with the same information, similar conditions will select similar information.’

    This claim runs completely counter to current and past biogeography and the fossil record. For example, how are we to believe that, for example, animals like the brown bear or the coyote (which, at least until very recently), were or are still found in California today managed to ‘re-evolve’ from the ‘bear kind’ and ‘dog kind’ ancestor that walked off the ark, but that so many others like mammoths, camels and tapirs didn’t manage to do so? We still find animals of these ‘kinds’ (elephants, tapirs, camels) around the world today in habitats remarkably similar to those of California – yet they are completely absent from North America today. If their ancestors off the ark had all the genes required to permit adaptation to these environments (as evidence by the descendents elsewhere) – how come they didn’t make it to California, when the bears and coyotes, for example, managed to do so without a hitch?

    Secondly, if the ancestors of the various (or just one?) ‘dinosaur’ kinds had all the genetic information necessary to populate the great diversity of biomes we see today before the flood – then how come they are no longer around in vast numbers today? How come there are not supposed ‘post flood’ deposits of these dinosaurs? After all, they should have ‘re-adapted’ just the same way those mammals at La Brea did.

    Thirdly, why do we only see marsupials on the Australian continent today? If the ancestor(s) of the ‘marsupial’ kind had all the genes required to produce the variety of marsupials we see today (for example in the arid regions of Australia), then how come not a one of them is found in the vicinity of Mount Ararat and the Middle East, where we have a region of remarkably similar arid conditions?

  20. Mia says:

    Too late for me to write much, but I did enjoy reading this “you must think like a young-earther if you want to see how the data relate to the young-earth view.” Precisely.

  21. jlwile says:

    Earthquake-induced sediment liquefaction is an interesting idea, J.S. I was in Christchurch, NZ back during the earthquakes, and I saw that phenomenon firsthand.

    I don’t think OECs and evolutionists relying on constant fossilization, however. They are relying on episodic fossilization. Suppose a fossilization event happened long before the ice age, and then one happened in the middle of the ice age. The argument is that the two events should fossilize animals that are adapted to two very different climates. Thus, one wouldn’t see the gradual adaptation that supposedly took place, but one would see differently-adapted animals that resulted from the process.

  22. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I do think we are talking past one another. You are trying to paint the YEC view in the worst light possible, while I am trying to explain to you what YECs really believe. Unfortunately, you don’t seem very interested in learning the actual YEC view.

    You say, “Three leaking buckets (mobility, density and hydrodynamics; elevation) don’t make a better bucket brigade than one leaky bucket.” The fact is that the buckets are not leaky at all. They are all excellent mechanisms to explain some aspects of the fossil record, and when put together, they help explain a great deal of the fossil record’s characteristics. Your problem is that you are considering them only one at a time. As I have said repeatedly, for example, mobility is only one factor that affects the order of fossils in the fossil record. You first tried to mischaracterize YECs as using only that factor. Now that you finally seem to have admitted YECs use many different factors, you are only considering them one at a time. That’s not how it works, Kevin, and you really should know this. These factors (and others) work together to explain the fossil record as it exists today.

    Consider the sessile organisms you mentioned. Certainly, there are sessile organisms preserved in different geological strata. However, since mobility is not the only factor at work, that’s not a problem. Ecological zonation is important as well. It doesn’t matter if two creatures are immobile. If they live in different ecological zones, then you would not expect them to fossilize together. This is what you don’t seem to grasp – no geological model considers only one factor in explaining the fossil record we see today. Until you are willing to treat the YEC model correctly, you will never see how excellent a description it gives of the fossil record.

    The same situation exists in your evaluation of Snelling’s article. There is absolutely no reason to think that the animals which were fossilized in the Flood were “suspended or floating somewhere in the flood waters.” In fact, there is every reason to expect that any animals that were “suspended or floating somewhere in the flood waters” did not fossilize, because those animals would decay. They would not fossilize. Snelling’s article is an excellent description of how YECs view the factors that produced the fossil record, and it makes a strong case. It is unfortunate that you are more interested in mischaracterizing it than in actually addressing the issues it raises.

    The young-earth model is significantly better at explaining what we see in today’s geological record, and it should be taught to anyone who is interested in a serious scientific understanding of geology.

  23. jlwile says:

    Chris, I am sorry that you are still confused on this issue. Once again, let me try to clear things up for you. I agree that convergent evolution is used to explain around all manner of data. However, what we are talking about here is the continuity we see between pre-Flood and post-Flood animals. Thus, insect wings and bat wings do not relate to this discussion. We are talking here about animals that look nearly identical, so the examples of “particularly striking convergent evolution” are what relate to this discussion.

    You claim that there are “multiple will-established mechanisms which add information to the genome, including insertions, duplications, transposons, viral DNA etc.” However, that is simply not true. There are multiple established methods that tinker with the information that is already there (such as insertions, duplications, and transposons), and there are mechanism that take already-existing information in one genome and put it into another genome (such as viral DNA), but there are no proposed mechanisms that add truly novel information to the genome.

    Your question about why we see the distribution of animals that we see today probably best illustrates your confusion on this issue. There is no reason to expect that every kind of creature made it to every part of the world as the animals migrated from the Ark. The point is simply that when the same kind of animal reaches the same environment again, it is not surprising that it will adapt in the same way.

    Your question about dinosaurs is one that is typically asked by those who have not studied this issue much. Once again, since YECs follow the evidence, we know that there is no way to add information to a genome. If the baranome of a created kind simply doesn’t have the information necessary to adapt to the conditions to which the kind is exposed, that kind will go extinct. Dinosaurs aren’t around anymore because they couldn’t adapt to the conditions that they encountered when they left the ark. Their genomes just didn’t have the necessary information.

    Your question about marsupials is similar to your first question. There is no reason to think that animals will stay in a region simply because they are suited to its climate. Animals migrate for a variety of reasons, including food preferences, avoidance of predators, etc., etc. As a result, there is no reason to expect marsupials to exist in every climate to which they are suited. As is the case with geology, there are multiple factors that affect the biogeography that we see today. The factors considered in the young-earth view provide the best explanation for the biogeography we see today. Perhaps this article will help you learn more about that.

  24. Kevin N says:

    Jay — You are not dealing at all with my criticisms of YEC taphonomy (the science of fossilization). I have not misrepresented the YEC position (perhaps I lumped the mobility argument into the ecological zonation argument, but I did not misrepresent it). You are not presenting anything—either in your writing or in your links—that would tell us how the La Brea fossils got entrained in the flood waters without being scattered, how they stayed together for weeks or months as a cohesive unit without mixing with fossils from another environment (a bubble? a membrane? an eddy? YECs have no mechanism), how they all ended up in one place, nor how the same modern community happened to migrate to the same area that the fossils were deposited in. I don’t think I am mischaracterizing anything here, but you seem to be falling into the “YEC explains this all perfectly fine” syndrome without actually explaining how the La Brea fossils got deposited within a global flood framework.

    You are digging yourself deeper into a hole with Snellings article. Cambrian rocks cover a significant portion of the continents, especially the cratons, or core, of the continents. In North America, for example, the earliest Cambrian sedimentary rocks (the Tapeats-Flathead-Deadwood-Potsdam-Tintic-etc sandstones) extend from Canada to Mexico, and from the Rockies to the Appalachians. The only significant gap is the Canadian Shield, where there is little or no sedimentary cover. In the YEC flood geology scenario, all of this area was scoured before deposition. In fact, there is little land that could have escaped the initial phases of the deluge, so if the carcasses weren’t either within the flood or floating on the surface (mats, floating forests), where were they? Plus, your animals-in-the-flood-would-decay-and-not-be-preserved argument isn’t relevant for most fossils, as it is primarily hard parts that are preserved.

    The young-Earth model explains nothing, even if one tries wearing their YEC glasses.

  25. J.S. says:

    Dr. Wile, perhaps “frequent” would have been a better word choice than “constant,” because I realize that fossilization is an episodic event. The question would be better phrased, what evidence do we have from historical observation of present-day environments that fossilization in the past was both frequent and widespread enough to be an accurate indicator of speciation?

  26. Chris says:

    ‘…but there are no proposed mechanisms that add truly novel information to the genome.’

    Duplication followed by mutation or recombination of genetic material creates new information. Information that, if the recombination and or/mutation is unique -exists nowhere else in the genome or in any other genome. If you don’t consider that new information, then I’m afraid you’re just redefining terms as you go along to suit your assertions. This is not how scientists operate.

    Another way of putting it is this: I would like you to articulate for me what you *would* consider new information in a genome, for example. After all, if you can decidedly say that the examples I listed don’t count as generating new information, then you should be able to delineate by what criteria you distinguish them from processes that *would*, theoretically, generate nw information in a genome. For example, what would an entirely ‘new’ bit of information in a genome have to look like for you to consider it as ‘new information’?

    ‘There is no reason to expect that every kind of creature made it to every part of the world as the animals migrated from the Ark.’

    So it’s a ‘just so’ story after all. Never mind that tapirs managed to make it all the way from the Ark to South America – but somehow didn’t manage to re-establish in North America in almost identical biomes (even though they had all the genes they needed to do so). Never mind that marsupials are found nowhere (not even where the Ark supposedly landed) in the world but in Australia and its islands – even though they should have been able to adapt just fine to similar environments in North America.

    It ‘just so’ happens that marsupials – despite genetic material that would have perfectly suited them to do so – only established in Australia.

    ‘If the baranome of a created kind simply doesn’t have the information necessary to adapt to the conditions to which the kind is exposed, that kind will go extinct. Dinosaurs aren’t around anymore because they couldn’t adapt to the conditions that they encountered when they left the ark.’

    Then why did dinosaurs manage to survive almost ubiquitously all over the globe before the flood? It couldn’t have been to cold after the flood – after all, dinosaur fossils are found in Alaska, so they must have had the genes to survive cold weather. It couldn’t have been too warm – dinosaur fossils are plentiful in arid, warm regions of central North America. There were flying dinosaurs, aquatic dinosaurs – dinosaurs in virtually every environment imaginable. So how come all the dinosaurs – if their ‘kind’ had the genes to adapt to all these various environments – went extinct? Another convenient ‘just so’ scenario.

    ‘There is no reason to think that animals will stay in a region simply because they are suited to its climate.’

    Hang on – what happened here? Why are you suddenly talking about climates? We are not just talking about climate – we are talking about the environment. You clearly stated that – I quote – ‘similar environments tend to result in similar adaptations.’

    If the marsupials had all the necessary genes to adapt to the various enviornments we find them in today, there is no reason at all to think they wouldn’t be abundant right in the area where the ark landed – in the middle east – where we find similar environments.

    ‘Animals migrate for a variety of reasons, including food preferences, avoidance of predators, etc., etc.’

    Why would the marsupials have to migrate to follow the food? According to your model, the food (i.e. plants) would have all the necessary genes to adapt to the environment as well – so for example, the plants kangaroos feed on in Australia had all the necessary genes supposedly built-in to adapt to the arid environment in Australia – so why would they not flourish in the same climate and environment in the middle east?

    This makes not a shred of sense. It is the ultimate just-so story.

  27. jlwile says:

    Kevin, as you admitted, we seem to be talking past one another. Yes, I have dealt with your criticisms of YEC taphonomy, showing that they are mischaracterizations of the YEC position. And yes, I have presented links to detailed discussions showing how the Le Brea Tar Pit fossils are quite consistent with being laid down in the global Flood. What was your response to these detailed links? You ignored all but one of them, and the one you did comment on you severely mischaracterized, claiming that his entire argument was based on mobility. You have at least now admitted that this was not his entire argument. Unfortunately, you have done nothing to address his actual argument. Instead, you are falling into the “YEC explains nothing” syndrome without actually arguing against the YEC position.

    You are the one digging yourself into a hole by denying the clear reasoning that Snelling presents in his article. There would have been all sorts of land that would have escaped the initial deluge, since it started with the “fountains of the deep” and then moved up. You seem to think that because Cambrian Rock covers a region now, then that must have been the region that was inundated by the Flood. Of course, that’s not true. Water transports sediments, and the fossil record we see today is often a result of such transport. And yes, my “animals-in-the-flood-would-decay-and-not-be-preserved argument” is quite relevant. Even the hard parts of most floating animals escape fossilization. Fossilization requires special conditions that typically aren’t available to dead things floating in the water.

    The young-earth model explains an enormous amount. Only those wearing old-earth glasses have trouble seeing that!

  28. jlwile says:

    But I am not sure that the OEC or evolutionist reasoning would even require “frequent” fossilization, J.S. If only two episodes of fossilization occurred, but they occurred during radically different climates, they would expect the animals fossilized to be different, because of their adaptations to the different climates. This might not preserve the process of speciation, but it would at least preserve the effects.

  29. jlwile says:

    Chris, duplication followed by mutation does not produce new information. I think you need to read up a bit on this issue. This article might be a good place to start. Here is a more detailed discussion as well. I am not redefining terms. I am simply stating what all experiments regarding gene duplication and mutation have shown.

    In order for something in a genome to be new information, it would have to be something that is truly new; not something that is simply a reworking of information that already exists. For example, when Lenski’s lab produced E. coli that could digest citrate in an environment that contained oxygen, it was hailed as experimental evidence of something new being added to the genome. However, subsequent genetic analysis showed that it was nothing new at all. Instead, the “new” trait came about because the bacteria already had a gene that coded for the citrate transporter protein. However, it was regulated to work only in the absence of oxygen. That gene was duplicated, and the duplicated gene was under different regulatory control than the original gene. This allowed the citrate transporter to be produced and citrate to be used in the presence of oxygen. Now, had there been no citrate transport gene at all and then one developed, that would be new information.

    No, the YEC view of animal migration is not a “just so” story. I am simply telling you why your expectations are incorrect. We would not expect animals to migrate uniformly around the earth, so we would not expect all types of animals to be in all relevant ecosystems. And no, dinosaur extinction is not a “just so” story, either. The fact is that extinction is a very common process throughout the history of the earth, and one would expect it to be no different after the Ark landed.

    I am sorry I used the term “climate” instead of “environment.” You are right – we are talking about environments here. But once again, there is no reason to expect that animals will stay in an environment just because they are suited for it. You ask, “Why would the marsupials have to migrate to follow the food?” Competition is a very likely explanation. The fact is that there would be a lot of competition for resources where the Ark landed. Many animals would have migrated away regardless of how well-suited they were for the environment just so they could get to the resources without having to deal with competition.

    The YEC view of biogeography not only makes sense, it is significantly more consistent with the data at hand. Once again, you should do some reading on this subject in order to reduce your confusion. I gave you this link before and you ignored it. If you want to learn, you won’t continue to ignore it.

  30. Jacob says:

    One thing that’s always got me wondering is why we don’t see things such as fish becoming amphibians or amphibians becoming reptiles, ad infinitum, MULTIPLE times in the fossil record. With the millions to billions of years for natural selection to repeat history and genetically reform animals to become different kinds, why aren’t we seeing such things?

    It isn’t just the “convenient” convergent evolution, the paradox of stasis, and a lack of transitional fossils clearly revealing transitions from one life form to another, but a lack of the possibly millions of times life forms should become something different such as fish into amphibians.

    Since Kevin is here, I respectfully request that he could explain why this is, in case I am missing something.

  31. Kevin N says:

    Jacob — I’m not necessarily trying to be a defender of evolution, but I’ll take a stab at what I think an evolutionist would say.

    The fossil record is what it is, and needs an explanation. A good evolutionary scenario would tell us why history does not repeat itself, and even convergence advocates such as Conway Morris would say that evolutionary history never repeats itself exactly. Perhaps this would be for random reasons, such as the unlikelihood that the same sequence of mutations would occur twice. Or perhaps it would be for ecological reasons: once mammals came onto the scene the first time, a new batch of mammals could be at a competitive disadvantage, so they never arise. I’m sure a paleontologist or evolutionary biologist could come up with better hypotheses. Another thing to keep in mind is that it is populations that evolve, not individuals, (whether one is an evolutionist or anti-evolutionist), and so an entire population would need to move genetically in the same direction as the previous population did.

    A good YEC explanation would face the same issues within the “kinds” but not on the broader reptile-to-mammal sort of scale. Right now, I think YEC explanations face the same sorts of challenges as do those of the evolutionists, mostly involving time. There just isn’t enough time from 2300 BC until a few centuries after that to produce the distribution and variation of life we see on the planet today.

    That is my two cents worth. For the most part, I’ll stick to geology.

    I don’t think the Bible places limits on biological variation, and therefore view your question primarily as a scientific rather than a Biblical issue.

  32. J.S. says:

    I see your point, Dr. Wile, but to use your analogy of two fossilization events at times A and B during radically different climates, unless your fossilization event at time A is representative enough of the faunal population at that time, you don’t have a way of knowing whether the differences between fossil assemblages at time A and B are due to mutation or to some other factor. Perhaps B’s organisms existed at time A, but in another location.

    It would be like comparing photos of the same New York City block between the 1800’s and the present. You don’t know if the differences between the people’s features are due to movement or to descent.

    To me, this seems to present a quandary for old-age evolutionists, because if fossilization in the past was widespread and frequent enough to capture representative enough populations for comparison over long periods of time, then the conditions necessary for fossilization were far more common in the past than they are now. Which is, in fact, the YEC hypothesis.

  33. jlwile says:

    Excellent point, J.S.

  34. Kevin N says:

    Jay — I just went back and read the articles by Weston and Jackson more carefully (the articles you referenced to show that YECs teach that the La Brea fossils were deposited during the flood). I’m glad I did, because I didn’t realize that they completely ignored the geologic context of the tar pits, and didn’t give this context any consideration when they concluded that La Brea was a flood, rather than post-flood, deposit.

    The source of the petroleum is Cenozoic marine sediments that are deeper in the basin. The petroleum leaks upward into Pleistocene and Holocene sands and gravels, deposited as alluvial fans spreading outward from the Santa Monica Mountains. The tar is embedded in these sediments. These are the most recent sediments in the area, and deposition continues as the nearby mountains are raised. How this doesn’t fit what Snelling, Austin, Oard, Ross, et al. call “post flood” is quite mysterious. In fact, neither Weston nor Jackson really make a case for why these should be considered flood, rather than post-flood, especially when everything else fits the YEC post-flood criteria.

    http://archives.datapages.com/data/meta/pacific/data/071/071001/pdfs/87_firstpage.pdf

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1019/ (see la1_map.pdf and la1_pamphlet.pdf)

    So, I think we are back to my first comment, where I assumed (for what are now looking like very good reasons) that La Brea would be considered to be post-flood by YECs. Either way, you’ve got problems.

    I could quickly list a dozen other problems with Weston’s articles, but that would be too much of a sidetrack.

  35. jlwile says:

    Kevin, it may very well be that this is a post-Flood deposit. However, as I told you previously, whether it is pre-Flood or post-Flood, the fossils still represent a snapshot in time, because they were deposited catastrophically, as Weston demonstrates quite clearly. As a result, the YEC prediction is that the deposits would show stasis, which is precisely what they show. Rather than presenting a problem for the YEC view, then, they support the YEC view.

  36. Kevin N says:

    Grrrrr. I just lost what was probably my closing comment. I’m not going to type the whole thing again.

    By most YEC criteria (e.g. Oard), the alluvial fan sands and gravels of the La Brea area would be post-flood “residual catastrophism” deposits. The fossils at La Brea do not represent a single snapshot, but multiple snapshots spread out over time. The stratigraphy of the tar deposits can be unraveled using criteria that both OEs and YECs agree on—the principles of superposition and cross-cutting relationships—to show that there were multiple depositional events. The nature of the fossil record at La Brea, showing stasis over a period of time (even if only a few centuries instead of 40,000 years), speaks against the YEC baraminology model of post-flood diversification.

  37. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I am sorry you lost your previous comment. I obviously disagree with you. It is not clear to me that the Le Brea Tar Pits are post-Flood deposits. However, if they are, they most certainly represent a snapshot in time. Weston makes a strong case for a single depositional event that was catastrophic. Whether that was the worldwide Flood or a local flood, it represents a snapshot in time. Thus, the YEC prediction would be stasis, and that is exactly what the studies show. As is usually the case, then, the YEC model is supported by the data.

  38. Kevin N says:

    Jay — you say “it is not clear to me that the La Brea Tar Pits are post-Flood,” but if the sands and gravels that the tar was intruded into aren’t “post-flood”, then nothing is.

    Weston’s articles are bad even by CRSQ standards. For example, the third article (http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/40/40_1/LaBrea3.htm) contains the statement: “Eocene river formations of Wyoming and Utah include such low-mobility types as turtles, crocodiles, rodents, rhinoceroses, and the giant titanotheres. So birds and animals least able to flee the onslaught of a flood are in lower sedimentation levels.” First of all, he must mean “Eocene Green River Formation” rather than “Eocene river formations.” So much for peer review. Next, he calls rhinoceroses and titanotheres “low-mobility types.” Compared to what? Third, the Green River Formation is not at “lower sedimentation levels,” but at the top of the geologic record of the area. Fourth, what does most of his article have to do with the La Brea Tar Pits? This is really bad stuff.

  39. jlwile says:

    Kevin, I am sorry, but I am not going to put a lot of weight on your analysis of what is pre-Flood and post-Flood. You have a track record for mischaracterizing the YEC position, so when it comes to determining where the data fit in the YEC model, your opinion is questionable at best.

    I think you need to investigate this issue a bit more, because you seem unaware that there are more Eocene river formations than just the Green River. For example, there is the Wind River formation in Wyoming. Weston is clearly talking about Eocene river formations in general, and not a specific one. And yes, both rhinoceroses and titanotheres would be considered low-mobility types in the context of a flood. While rhinoceroses can reach speeds of about 30 mph for short amounts of time, they do not have the ability to travel long distances quickly.

    When Weston is talking about “lower sedimentation levels,” he is talking about it in the context of the overall Flood, not necessarily a specific area. This is clear from the title of the section in which the statement is found: “Diluvial Sorting and the Geologic Periods.”

    The only bad stuff I see here is your mischaracterizations of Weston’s work.

  40. Kevin N says:

    I am not mischaracterizing either Weston or YEC fossil sorting in general.

    I am stating why the mobility-zonation-density-floaters model does not work, and all you have shot back with is “mischaracterization.” For example, by your explanation of “low-mobility,” a cheetah would be low-mobility because it can run fast for a very short amount of time, and then it would be exhausted, just like your rhinoceros.

    In Weston’s paper, “lower sedimentation levels” refers to the “onslaught of the flood,” even though both the Green River Formation and Wind River Formation (same rough age, adjacent basins) are were deposited above many thousands of feet of Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks. By this later stage of the flood, mobility, pre-flood zones, and pre-flood elevations would be irrelevant. Plus, for Weston to refer to either of these as “river formations” is meaningless.

  41. jlwile says:

    Kevin, as I have already demonstrated, you have mischaracterized both Weston and YEC fossil sorting. And, no, I have not just shot back with “mischaracterization.” I have tried to explain to you how YECs actually view such fossil sorting, which does, indeed, work. No, a cheetah would not be a low-mobility animal, because even when it is not sprinting, it is moving quite quickly. A cheetah cannot run at 60 mph for a long time, but it CAN run at 30 mph for a long time. Thus, while a rhino is a low-mobility animal, a cheetah is a high-mobility animal.

    No, mobility, pre-Flood zones, and pre-Flood elevations would not be irrelevant at the later stages of the Flood. There would be high elevations that would not have been innundated when the low elevations had been. Thus, there would be ecosystems that had not been captured yet by the Flood, and there would be places for higher-mobility animals to still flee. You might consider the phrase “river formations” to be meaningless, but since both the Eocene River formation and the Wind River formation are referenced throughout the geological literature, I don’t find the phrase meaningless at all.

  42. Kevin N says:

    So, rhinos should perhaps be Mesozoic? Or at least Early Cenozoic?

    You say “there would be places for higher-mobility animals to still flee.” How did moles (Cenozoic) manage to flee along with faster mammals? Even if they were in the same ecological zone as other mammals, they should have been overwhelmed by the flood earlier, so they should be buried more deeply.

    Again, your accusations of false misrepresentation are false. At the beginning I called La Brea a post-flood deposit because that (and not Weston’s hypothesis) is consistent with current YEC flood/post-flood thinking. I have brought YEC mobility-zonation-elevation-floaters thinking to logical conclusions which you do not like, but that is not mischaracterization.

    I’m done. I think.

  43. jlwile says:

    Kevin, once again, you are still mischaracterizing the YEC view on fossil sorting. Mobility is not the only issue when it comes to where a fossil is in a given local geological formation. The ecosystem the creature inhabited, the elevation of the ecosystem, the speed of the Flood waters as they carried sediment, the mobility of the creature, and other factors come into play. Thus, you can’t consider the position of both moles and rhinos based solely on their mobility. There are other factors that have to be sorted out as well. That’s why I have pointed you to more detailed discussions of this issue.

    My statements about you mischarcaterizing the YEC view are quite true; I have demonstrated them to be such. They most certainly are not the “logical conclusions” of YEC thinking. If you want to evaluate the YEC view, you need to at least use the YEC view in your evaluations. So far, you have been unwilling to do that to any reasonable extent.

  44. Inazuma says:

    I feel a little out of place commenting when it’s clear to me that you all know far more about this subject than I do. However, I can’t help but feel that those of you opposing Dr. Wile seem to have tunnel vision, and aren’t viewing the whole perspective.

    I’m curious why you all think that the earth was the same as it is now before the flood? As far as dinosaurs go, why would you assume Alaska was as cold as it is today before the flood? This question might come from ignorance however, so take it with a grain of salt:-)

    I also have an evolution related question. If the earth is so old, and evolution has taken so long to occur, why do creatures still exist today, that would have been so far back in the evolution line, like amphibians for example, why are their still sea creatures? Why are their still apes?

    One final comment, awhile ago i recall Dr. Wile writing an article about continental drift. Why do we assume that the earth is the same geologically now, as it was after the flood?

  45. jlwile says:

    Inazuma, I’ll answer your evolution-related question. According to the evolutionary hypothesis, creatures will thrive when they are well-adapted to their surroundings. Thus, amphibians still exist today because they are well-adapted to their ecological niche. Also, there is no reason to think that an evolutionary descendent will directly compete with its ancestors. Thus, just because evolution continues, there is no reason to expect animals that evolved previously to go extinct. According to evolution, for example, apes are still around because they are well-adapted to their ecological niche, and humans are around because they are well-adapted to their ecological niche. Since apes and humans don’t really compete with one another, there is no reason to think that the existence of one would cause the extinction of the other.

  46. Inazuma says:

    Thanks Dr. Wile. I was under the impression that evolutionists always thought evolutional change was “progress,” or better than its ancestors.

  47. jlwile says:

    That’s a common misconception, Inazuma. Evolution is all about adaptation. Often, that can be viewed as progress, but not necessarily. Also, if the “progress” ends up allowing a creature to exploit an ecological niche that is different from its ancestors, the “progress” will not result in the extinction of the “less progressed.”

  48. J.S. says:

    Inazuma, in regard to your geology question, none of the YEC geologists that I know of believe that the earth’s topography looked the same before the Flood as it does now. Interestingly, even conventional geologists believe that most of the world’s mountain ranges formed quite recently in geologic time.

    In regard to the location of the continents, some YEC geologists believe that the continents were in roughly the same location as they are now; others don’t–the evidence is not clearcut in that regard.

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