Mark Armitage is doing some of today’s most exciting research on fossils (see here, here, here, here, and here). He recently presented some of his research at the 2023 Microscopy and Microanalysis annual meeting, which published its proceedings.
To my mind, there are three important takeaways from the presentation. First, he finds blood clots in fossils that are much older that what has been commonly reported. Most of these reports are about fossils that are supposed to be 65-70 million years old. Some of the fossils he reports on here are supposed to be 270-300 million years old! That’s what the illustration at the top of this article shows. On the left is a standard microscope image of an early Permian amphibian fossil. The yellow material is bone, and the image is centered on a canal that runs through the bone. When the specimen was alive, the canal held blood vessels and nerves. The white area is empty, and the dark material between the empty space and the bone tissue is clotted blood. On the right, you see what happens when that same sample is hit with ultraviolet light. The dark splotches you see come from iron in the blood clot. When hit with ultraviolet light, iron emits light of a specific wavelength, and that’s the wavelength emitted here. Thus, we know this is iron, and since it is in the clot, it is iron from the animal’s blood. If you want to believe the old-earth timescale, then, you have to believe that a blood clot is able to exist for 270-300 million years without rotting away!
That brings me to the second important takeaway. In a desperate attempt to explain how soft tissue can be in fossils that are supposed to be millions of years old, Schweitzer and her colleagues published a paper suggesting that iron is the key to this remarkable preservation. In that paper, they show how iron from blood can reduce the degradation of blood vessels over a period of two years. However, the experiment required that the blood be treated with an anticoagulant. That way, iron could diffuse throughout the tissue that was being preserved. Armitage’s results show that’s not realistic. Instead, the blood clots trap the iron so that it is not available to the rest of the tissue. This adds to the other arguments which indicate that Schweitzer’s iron-preservation hypothesis is not valid.
The last very important takeaway is how these results affect research that has already been done. As Armitage’s paper says:
We also note that many histological dinosaur bone studies reveal unreported clots, thus we encourage workers to examine their sections for iron auto-fluorescence response under UVFL.
In other words, because of Armitage’s work, we can look at past images that have already been published and see that there are blood clots in previously-described fossils that were not recognized by the researchers who published the studies. Thus, paleontologists have the opportunity to learn more from the fossils that they have already examined. I truly hope that at least some of those scientists are curious enough to take Armitage’s suggestion!
There are many people (including many scientists) who really don’t want to think for themselves. As a result, when it comes to a given scientific issue, they simply rely on the “scientific consensus.” After all, with our modern knowledge and technology, how could the scientific consensus possibly be wrong? Sure, it has been wrong in the past, but science has greatly improved over the years. Thus, if the scientific consensus says something, it must be true.
On rare occasions, humans are born with tails — real functioning tails that can even be “wagged” via voluntary muscles contractions in response to emotional stimuli. Although the birth of a baby with a tail is frightening for parents and typically requires surgery, the remarkable human tail is an important part of the even more remarkable tale of our origins — namely evolution.
Basically, he tells the reader that we evolved from animals that had tails, and evolution simply switched it off in people and great apes. However, every now and again, that switch gets reversed, producing a tail. He then goes on to talk about “crazy creationists” and how they try to argue against the reality of this obvious fact. Not surprisingly, he mischaracterizes their explanations, but what is interesting to me is how he tells the reader to evaluate the creationnists’ arguments:
Note the reasoning process here, keeping in mind that 1) there is a consensus in the scientific community that humans are sometimes born with real tails that are evolutionary throwbacks; 2) the gene for tails has been located in the human genome is the same one that mice use to produce their tails; and 3) the issue is not the human tail, but the problem of bad design in nature.
Dr. Giberson is utterly convinced that when babies are born with a “tail,” it is a result of the “tail gene” that humans inherited from a common ancestor being “turned on,” even though evolution turned it off. Why? Because it’s the scientific consensus, and because there is a gene found in both mice and humans, and we “know” that gene produces the tail in mice. There’s just one problem: the latest research indicates that this argument is most likely false.
As Science Alert informs us, there are typically two types of “tails” that babies can be born with: “true tails” and “pseudotails.” While evolutionists originally thought that one or both of them were vestigial remnants of evolution, we now know better. Neither one of them are related to tails in any way. In fact:
As it turns out, both rare appendages probably represent an incomplete fusion of the spinal column, or what’s known as a spinal dysraphism. This suggests their formation is not a harmless ‘regression’ in the evolutionary process but a concerning disturbance in an embryo’s growth most likely resulting from a mix of genetic and environmental factors.
So, not only was the “scientific consensus” wrong about why these babies are born with “tails,” but it probably resulted in some of those babies not being treated properly. After all, if the extra appendage is really the result of abnormal development in the womb (instead of a vestige of evolution), it is probably a warning sign that the baby should be screened for various neurological disorders.
Yes, we do have many genes in common with many mammals, including mice. Many of those genes (not just one) are involved in tail development in some mammals, and they are also involved in the development of the caudaul eminence, a neurological structure that is unrelated to a tail in people. Unlike Dr. Giberson indicates, this isn’t the result of bad design. In fact, it is a result of excellent design, where the Engineer has used a single biological process as the basis by which many different structures are produced. That basic process is then just “tweaked” to produce the specific outcomes that are desired in different organisms.
Now don’t misunderstand my point. Science is continually changing based on new knowledge, so I don’t have a problem with the fact that the scientific consensus has been shown to be wrong in this case (as well as many others). The problem is that people like Dr. Giberson slavishly follow that consensus without ever considering the fact that it might be wrong. Furthermore, they mock other scientists who actually try to follow the evidence without reference to the scientific consensus. This is contrary to the scientific method, and it could inhibit young scientists from ever questioning the scientific consensus. After all, why should newcomers want to expose themselves to such mockery from more experienced scientists?
My advice to young scientists is to ignore the mocking from condescending people like Dr. Giberson. Challenge the scientific consensus whenever you think the evidence requires it, and don’t worry about the opinion of people who won’t think for themselves! My advice to Dr. Giberson is twofold. First, stop slavishly following the scientific consensus. Second, retract the article I am discussing, since we now know the scientific consensus you relied on is most likely wrong.
Not long ago, I wrote about Answers in Genesis severely mischaracterizing Dr. Todd Wood because he refuses to agree with them on certain points related to evolution. One big problem they have is that Dr. Wood exercises faith. Dr. Wood claims that there are “gobs and gobs” of evidence for evolution (in the flagellate-to-philosopher sense), but he knows it’s not true because of his faith. Strangely enough, Answers in Genesis says that Dr. Wood’s faith is not enough. He must believe based on evidence.
In my previous post, I wrote about the misleading concept of Young-Earth Evolution (YEE) promoted by Answers in Genesis (AiG). In essence, AiG is worried about young-earth creationists who do not wholeheartedly conform to its positions on various issues related to creation and evolution. It says:
YEE ideas are needlessly and dangerously accommodating evolutionary assumptions, ideas, and language. The advocation of subtle ideas out of step with clear Scripture undermines biblical authority, sows confusion, and is a breeding ground for compromise.
What are these “subtle ideas out of step with clear Scripture”? It turns out that they are ideas about which Scripture says absolutely nothing! For example, AiG takes issue with Dr. Matthew McClain, a young-earth vertebrate paleontologist who says that birds are more similar to dinosaurs than they are to any other creatures. This is, of course, a true statement (birds and dinosaurs share an enormous number of similarities), and Scripture says absolutely nothing about that. In fact, while Scripture describes individual animals that were probably dinosaurs (see Job 40:15-24, for example), it doesn’t mention any group of creatures that can be collectively referred to as dinosaurs. Thus, the Bible makes no comparison between birds and dinosaurs.
Why, then, does AiG say that Dr. McClain’s idea is “out of step with clear Scripture”? Well, AiG says:
Dinosaurs are land-dwelling animals. That means they were made on day six of creation (Genesis 1:24–25). Almost all birds are flying creatures to some degree, and they all have wings. Therefore, they most likely were all made on day five (Genesis 1:20–22). By saying or agreeing with the evolutionary claim that birds are dinosaurs or are most similar to dinosaurs, Dr. McLain is mixing groups made on different days of creation.
There are two really big problems with this statement. First and foremost, it ignores Scripture. Leviticus 11:13-19 lists the types of birds that are not to be eaten. What does that list end with? It ends with a BAT! So what Scripture calls a bird is not what modern people call a bird. Any unbiased look at Scripture indicates that when the Old Testament mentions birds, it is referring to all animals that fly, which includes certain mammals. Well, most mammals were made on day six, so Scripture itself mixes groups made on different days. Even AiG has to agree that bats are mammals. In addition, it must agree that whales are mammals. They are swimming creatures, which were also made on day five. Thus, Scripture says that some animals we call mammals were made on day five, while others were made on day six. If some animals we call mammals were created on day five and some on day six, why couldn’t some animals we call dinosaurs have been made on day five and others on day six?
The second problem here is that AiG even admits that all birds were “most likely” made on day five. If AiG has to hedge on its own statement about when all birds were made, how in the world can Dr. McLain’s idea be “out of step with clear Scripture”? AiG is actually admitting that the Scripture isn’t clear on this point. I think what AiG means is that Dr. McClain’s view is out of step with AiG’s interpretation of Scripture. In other words, AiG seems to be conflating its interpretation of Scripture with what clearly comes from Scripture. That’s a very dangerous path to go down!
AiG also has a problem with Dr. McClain’s view that at least some dinosaurs had feathers. This is extremely odd, since AiG has stated previously:
Nothing in the Bible precludes the erstwhile existence of feathered dinosaurs.
So which is it? Is the idea that some dinosaurs might have had feathers “out of step with clear Scripture,” or is there nothing in the Bible that “precludes the erstwhile existence of feathered dinosaurs”? Clearly, AiG’s second statement is the correct one. Why, then, is AiG complaining about Dr. McClain’s view?
In my previous post, I encouraged you to watch a 12-minute video from Dr. Todd Wood that clearly demonstrated AiG is not treating him fairly. In this article, I suggest you watch a 13-minute video to show you that AiG is not treating Dr. McClain fairly either.
Once again, I really appreciate Dr. McClain’s view on this. I have always been skeptical of the idea of feathered dinosaurs (see here, here, here, and here). However, as a young-earth creationist, I want to listen to those who have different viewpoints, especially those who are as well-versed in this issue as Dr. McClain. Based on my reading, Dr. McClain is the most qualified creation scientist to speak on the fossil record of dinosaurs. Whether or not I agree with him, I need to learn as much as I can from him. If AiG really wants to learn the truth about the details of how God created, it should try to learn from him as well!
I have been exposed to a lot of odd ideas over the years: the flat earth, the idea that we never landed on the moon, chemtrails, etc. etc. Well, I can now add another to the list. This one comes from Answers in Genesis (AiG), which is warning Christians about the dangers posed by Young Earth Evolutionists. If you looked at those three words and said “What?”, I don’t blame you. Obviously, there is no such thing as a young-earth evolutionist. Evolution (at least in the sense most people use the term) requires billions of years, so if you are an evolutionist, you cannot believe in a young earth.
What does AiG mean by “young-earth evolutionist”? Apparently, it’s a young-earth creationist who is unwilling to pledge fealty to AiG’s tests of orthodoxy. Consider, for example, Dr. Todd Wood, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and was once the director of bioinformatics at Clemson University’s Genomics Institute. He is a committed Christian, a knowledgeable creationist who has done original research in the field, and an expert in baraminology, the scientific study of what kinds of living organisms were originally created by God. He believes (and teaches) that the days listed in Genesis 1 were roughly 24 hours long, that there was a worldwide Flood that is responsible for most of the fossil-bearing rocks we see today, and that the land animals we see today (with the possible exception of many kinds of insects) are descended from the animals that walked off the Ark after the Floodwaters receded. In short, he is a young-earth creationist.
Why does AiG call him a young-earth evolutionist? Because he is being honest about the data related to origins. For example, AiG takes issue with his famous statement that there are “gobs and gobs” of evidence for evolution. AiG doesn’t like this, because it claims that all this supposed evidence has already been “dealt with,” so none of it qualifies as actual evidence. While the first part of this statement is true, the second part is clearly not, and that goes to the core of the difference between AiG and many serious creation scientists. Yes, creationists have “dealt with” data that seem to support evolution. However, as any serious scientist understands (and AiG gives lip service to), scientific data require interpretation. Yes, creationists can interpret data in a way that is consistent with their ideas, but evolutionists can interpret that same data in a way that is consistent with their ideas. AiG seems to think that once creationists have figured out a way to interpret the data in a manner consistent with their ideas, the data no longer qualify as evidence for evolution. That is simply not true!
Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time seriously studying science understands that there is often no way to decide which interpretation of the data is correct. Often, one side’s interpretation of the data seems desperate, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Let me give you two examples. First, consider the GULO pseudogene. Evolutionists think that it is a broken version of a gene that was originally functional in early mammals, but mutations rendered it nonfunctional during the course of evolution. Well, the same mutations that are thought to have rendered it nonfunctional in apes are also found in humans. This is thought to be excellent evidence that humans and apes have a common ancestor whose gene had already been rendered nonfunctional, and that nonfunctional gene was passed on to both apes and humans. It’s true that the most straightforward way to interpret the GULO pseudogene is through the lens of common ancestry. Now, of course, there are ways to interpret it in the context of young-earth creation, and I give one of them in the link above. However, if you read it, you can see that it is not the most straightforward interpretation of the data.
Next, consider the phenomenon of homology. Many very different organisms share very similar features. All vertebrates (animals with backbones), for example, have the same basic plan for their forelimbs. Evolutionists assure us that this is because all vertebrates evolved from a common ancestor that passed on its forelimb plan to each of its descendants. In other words, homology is the result of common ancestry. However, there are many, many examples of similar structures that cannot be the result of common ancestry, because evolutionists have decided that those organisms don’t share a common ancestor that could give them that structure. As a result, they say that in such cases, homology is not a result of common ancestry. In other words, sometimes homology is a result of common ancestry, and sometimes it is not. That’s not a very straightforward interpretation of the data. A better interpretation of the data is that organisms were originally made by the same Designer, who simply used the same basic design over and over again when it was appropriate.
So….is the GULO pseudogene evidence for a common ancestor between apes and humans? Absolutely yes! Can creationists accommodate the GULO pseudogene in their view? Yes, but it seems a bit desperate. Is homology evidence for a common Designer? Absolutely yes! Can evolutionists accommodate it in their view? Yes, but it seems a little desperate. To any serious scientist out there, this shouldn’t seem strange. In every field where there are competing theories, those who support one theory have a set of evidence that is very strong, and those who support a competing theory have another set of evidence that is very strong. Typically, both sides can accommodate the other side’s evidence in their theory, but often, that accommodation seems desperate. Indeed, we often make decisions between scientific theories by deciding which one seems the least desperate when dealing with all the data!
Not only does AiG hate admitting that there is evidence for any view that disagrees with its own, it really hates the way Dr. Wood explains how he personally deals with the “gobs and gobs” of evidence for evolution. He says that he has faith. It’s rather odd for a creationist organization to argue against faith, but that seems to be what AiG is doing! It claims that in emphasizing his faith, Dr. Wood comes very close to fideism, which says that faith is opposed to reason. Of course, this is a gross mischaracterization of Dr. Wood’s views, and anyone who has honestly read Dr. Wood’s work understands that.
In fact, you don’t even have to honestly evaluate his work to see that AiG is mischaracterizing Dr. Wood’s views. You just have to go to YouTube and see his 12-minute video about why he is a creationist:
I really encourage you to watch the entire video, because it shows how a serious creationist honestly deals with evidence that seems to contradict his view (he specifically mentions one piece of data and vaguely refers to another). In case you do not, however, let me summarize what he says. Like any real scientist, he says that he is comfortable not having an answer to every question related to origins. As a result, his faith can remain strong despite challenges to it, which allows him to work towards finding answers to those challenges.
Now please note that I do not agree with everything Dr. Wood says. In fact, I disagree with his idea that there are “gobs and gobs” of evidence for evolution. Based on my interpretation of the data, I find that there is some evidence for evolution (which is why serious scientists can believe in it), but the “gobs and gobs” of evidence support the creationist view. However, I am also humble enough (despite what my students might say) to admit that I could be wrong. Thus, I value Dr. Wood and his contributions to creation science. In fact, I thank God for what he is doing!
Please note that AiG calls other very serious creation scientists “young-earth evolutionists.” I plan to address that in at least one more article.
I know I haven’t posted anything since September, but that’s because this has been a very busy academic year for me. I hope to get back to regular posting by the end of May, but I wanted to let my readers know about a video series that is being produced by Logos Research Associates. It promises to convey cutting edge scientific evidence for the creation account. The director of the organization, Dr. John Sanford, is one of the most gifted scientists with whom I have ever worked, and he is also one of the most genuine Christian men I know. Since he and many of the associates are actively doing original scientific research related to creation, I am sure there will be a lot of awesome information shared throughout the series.
The first presentation is scheduled for February 22, 2023 at 9:00 PM Eastern (8:00 PM Central). It will present the big picture and the relevance of creation apologetics, setting the stage for the series of talks that will follow.
Over the years, I have documented a lot of ignorant statements made by someone who claims to be “The Science Guy” (see here, here, here, here, and here). However, the most ignorant statement I have ever heard Bill Nye utter is:
Denial of evolution is unique to the United States.
In several previous posts, I have reviewed how this statement is demonstrably false, but I was recently made aware of a peer-reviewed study that confirms this fact. Now, of course, I seriously doubt that any amount of data will change Bill Nye’s mind, since he doesn’t seem to use scientific data while forming his opinions. Nevertheless, I hope the data will be useful to others.
The study, published in the International Journal of Science Education, compared the views of Korean biology teachers to those of American biology teachers when it comes to evolution. It then did a literature review of studies done on science teachers in other countries. Before I discuss the specifics, let me give you their overall conclusion:
…it is clear that science teacher antipathy or ambivalence toward evolution is by no means a problem restricted to the USA
I am not sure they could make that any clearer. And note that since they call this a “problem,” they are clearly in Bill Nye’s camp when it comes to wanting everyone to genuflect at the altar of Darwinism.
The details of the paper are more interesting to me, however, because while they clearly show that many Korean biology teachers have doubts about evolution, those doubts are different from the ones held by American biology teachers. For example, when asked to evaluate the statement, “Much of the scientific community doubts if evolution occurs,” 52.4% of Korean biology teachers agreed, while only 6.3% of American biology teachers agreed. However, when given the statement, “The theory of evolution cannot be correct since it disagrees with the Biblical account of creation,” only 3.0% of Korean biology teachers agreed, while more than four times as many (12.1%) American biology teachers agreed. Similarly, almost three times as many Korean biology teachers as American biology teachers agreed that, “The theory of evolution is based on speculation and not valid scientific observation and testing” (36.3% versus 13.6%).
Now the group of Korean biology teachers studied was small – only 33 in total. However, data based group of 33 individuals is estimated to have a statistical error of about 17% (square root of 33 divided by 33), which means that when the percentages are close, you can’t tell if there really is a difference between the groups. For example, 75.0% of American biology teachers and 81.8% of Korean biology teachers agreed with the statement, “Evolution is a scientifically valid theory.” Those numbers are well within 17% of one another, so there is no way to know whether or not Korean biology teachers are more likely than American biology teachers to believe that evolution is a scientifically-valid theory. However, the differences noted in the previous examples are high enough to conclude that American and Korean biology teachers think differently when it comes to those questions.
If I look at the 20 questions the study asked Korean biology teachers and compare their answers to those of the American biology teachers, I am left to conclude that in Korea, biology teachers aren’t inclined to disagree with evolution based on religious ideas. They seem to disagree with evolution based on their understanding of the science that relates to it. I find that interesting, because that’s why I first doubted evolution as an origin story. I was an atheist who did not believe in evolution, because even as a young science student, I saw that evolution didn’t align with the data. To this day, if I were not a Christian, I would still not think that evolution is a valid explanation for origins, since the data speak so strongly against it.
Early on, he makes a statement that indicates he has not studied carbon-14 dating very seriously:
…bone mineral is usually useless for radiocarbon dating, even though the carbonate that bone mineral incorporates during life contains 14C. The uselessness of bone mineral for radiocarbon dating is due to the fact that bone mineral accumulates new 14C after death, yielding a falsely young radiocarbon “age.”
This statement is utterly false, and anyone who knows carbon-14 dating would know that. Hundreds of radiocarbon dates have been published in the scientific literature using bioapatite, a bone mineral. This study examined using bioapatite in carbon-14 dating extensively, comparing it to two other commonly-used substances in carbon-14 dating. It concluded:
Most Holocene samples exhibit reliable 14C ages on the bioapatite fraction. Late Pleistocene samples have shown reliable results even for extremely poorly preserved bone in the case of samples derived from a non-carbonate environment.
The Holocene supposedly dates back to about 11,700 years, while the Pleistocene supposedly goes back to 2.6 million years. “Late Pleistocene” samples, then, would be samples that go back to the limits of carbon-14 dating (about 50,000 years old). Indeed, in that study, one of the samples had a carbon-14 date of 37,000 years old, which is older than most of the dinosaur bones that have been dated with carbon-14. So the idea that minerals from bone are “useless” for carbon-14 dating is demonstrably false.
Dr. Senter tries to back up his statement with a reference, but the reference doesn’t invalidate the use of bioapatite in carbon-14 dating at all. It does indicate that when you compare the date derived from collagen (a non-mineral that is often used in carbon-14 dating) to the date derived from bioapatite, the bioapatite date is often younger. However, the results depend heavily on where the fossil was found. More importantly, we know this has nothing to do with the carbon-14 dates of dinosaur bones, since many dinosaur fossils have been dated using both mineral and non-mineral samples (including collagen), and the ages are similar. In a hadrosaur fossil, for example, bioapatite dated as 25,670 years old, while the collagen dated as 23,170 years old. Note that contrary to the study Senter cites, in this case, the bioapatite age is older than the collagen age.
Senter then tries to explain why dinosaur bones read so young with carbon-14 dating. Most of his argument boil down to the idea that modern carbon has gotten into the fossils, and since the modern carbon is very young, it makes the fossil read young. The problem with that, of course, is that if modern carbon is getting into the fossil from the environment, there must be more contamination near the surface of the fossil and less near the center of the fossil. Thus, the carbon-14 age of the bone should vary depending on where in the bone the sample was taken. However, that’s not what is seen. In this study, Figure 7 has circles around the dates for samples taken from different parts of the same bone. They show very good agreement, indicating that what is being detected is not from contamination.
There is one argument Dr. Senter makes which isn’t about contamination. He says that radioactive materials can be absorbed by a bone, and those radioactive materials can cause nuclear reactions which will add carbon-14 to the bone, making it look young. Once again, he cites studies to support his claim, such as this one, but once again, the studies don’t support his claim. For example, the study I just linked shows how uranium decay can lead to the production of carbon-14, but as anyone who understands nuclear reactions would tell you, the effect is ridiculously small. Indeed, the study shows that nuclear reactions can account for no more than one hundreth (1/100) of the lowest amount of carbon-14 detected in dinosaur bones! Thus, there is no way that nuclear reactions are a viable means of explaining around the carbon-14 found in dinosaur bones.
In the end, then, we see that Dr. Senter must use false information to assure his readers that carbon-14 in dinosaur bones doesn’t invalidate the dogma that they are millions of years old. Unfortunately, since many teachers read the magazine in which his article was published, I am sure that this false information will be spread around, fooling unsuspecting students. Nevertheless, the more this is investigated, the more we will see that it poses a huge problem for those who are committed to believing that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.
This blog has been more quiet than usual, because I am trying to put the finishing touches on my new book, Discovering Design with Earth Science. As soon as that job is complete, you will be able to see preview materials at my publisher’s website. I decided to pause for a moment, however, because I was recently asked the following question by a frustrated atheist:
Why would you even think of using the Bible for science? It isn’t a scientific book!
It turns out that Discovering Design with Earth Science has two answers to that question. I shared them with him, and I thought I would share them with you as well. In the book, I present both sides of the age-of-the-earth issue in as unbiased a way as possible. I start with the uniformitarian view, which requires a very old earth. I then present the young-earth creationist view. The first answer to the atheist’s question is found at the beginning of that discussion:
Suppose you are examining the ruins of an ancient city and want to learn as much as you can about when it was built, how it was built, and how it fell into ruin. You see some of the remains of buildings, streets, walls, etc., but nothing has been preserved intact. You can learn a lot by investigating the ruins, but your conclusions will be based on your interpretation of what you see. Now suppose you found out that there was a book written shortly after the city was built, and it discusses the politics of the city for several centuries. While the focus of the book is on the government, it does cover many aspects of how and when the city was built.
Would you completely ignore the book and just examine the ruins, relying on your own interpretation to determine the city’s history? Of course not! If you wanted to learn the truth about the city’s history, you would read the book and let it help you interpret the ruins that you are investigating. This is how young-earth-creationists (YECs) study the geological record. They believe they have a book (the Bible) that comes from the Creator Himself. While the book focuses on more important things like salvation, morality, and our duties to God, it does discuss the creation of the universe, the earth, the organisms that lived on earth, etc. Since YECs consider the Bible to be an accurate source of history, they use it as a guide to studying the “ruins” of the geological column and fossil record. There’s a lot more to the history of the earth than what is in the Bible, but at least the Bible gives YECs a starting point to help their interpretation of the geological record.
The second answer to the atheist’s question comes from my discussion of the surface currents found in the ocean. While others had mapped some of those currents (Ben Franklin, for example, mapped the Gulf Stream), the man most responsible for mapping the ocean’s surface currents was Matthew Fontaine Maury, who is pictured above. He was inspired to search for the “paths of the seas” that are mentioned in Psalm 8:8, and after an exhaustive research effort, he ended up producing a detailed map of those currents. This revolutionized ocean travel, so he became quite famous in his time. He ended up writing a very important text on oceanography (what they called “physical geography” back then): The Physical Geography of the Sea. In that book, he references the Bible several times. In my earth science book, I tell the students all of this and then I add:
Many scientists didn’t like that and tried to discourage him from connecting the Bible to science. In a speech given at the founding of The University of the South, he gave those scientists a stern rebuke:
I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches.
(Diana Fontaine Corbin, A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Samson, Lowe, et. al., 1888, p. 192)
Young-earth creationists like me really believe that. The Bible is an authority when it comes to all the important things of life: salvation, morality, our duties to God, etc. However, because it was written by the Creator Himself, we believe it is an authority in whatever it mentions, including science.
Over the years, I have read (and met) several creation scientists for whom I developed great respect. For example, I consider Dr. John Sanford’s work to be not only brilliant, but also very important when it comes to understanding genetics and evolution. I have been fortunate enough to get to know him personally, and his keen intellect is overshadowed only by his deep devotion to our Lord. I personally think of him as a scientist on par with John Ray or Robert Boyle.
I recently got an email from him promoting a documentary entitled Dismantled: A Scientific Deconstruction of the Theory of Evolution (excerpts here). I am not a fan of documentaries, because they often devolve into propaganda pieces. However, since Dr. Sanford is featured in it, along with other creationist luminaries like Dr. Robert Carter, Dr. Georgia Purdom, and Dr. Nathaniel T. Jeanson, I decided to watch it.
Overall, I was quite pleased. I didn’t like the beginning very much (more about that in a moment), but once the documentary got into the serious science, I thought it did a very good job of communicating important truths about nature in a way that non-scientists can understand.
Early on, for example, it makes the standard (and important) distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. It discusses how dogs descended from wolves and then makes the point that this microevolution is well understood: It involves using selection to discard genetic information instead of producing new genetic information. This, of course, is the opposite of what is needed for macroevolution, the naturalist’s creation myth. To illustrate this fact, the documentary makes the point that you can selectively breed wolves to make Chihuahuas, but because of the loss of information required by the process, you cannot selectively breed Chihuahuas to make wolves. I have never heard it put quite that way before.
The documentary spends a lot of time on human evolution, looking at both the genetic issues and the fossil evidence. Dr. Sanford brings up the “waiting time” problem that he has done original research on, which shows that the genetic changes required to go from some ape-like creature to man would take much, much longer than the evolutionary timescale allows. The Laetoli footprints are discussed, as are many of the other fossil-related problems with human evolution. One of the best parts of this section is where Dr. Carter discusses how evolutionists ignore the measured mutation rates in populations because they aren’t consistent with evolutionary theory. Thus, they replace the known mutation rates with ones that have been calculated to be consistent with evolutionary theory.
Speaking of Dr. Carter, he has the best line in the documentary. Towards the end, he sums up the recent genetic evidence for mitochondrial Eve, Y-chromosome Adam, a human population bottleneck, etc. He discusses how evolutionists didn’t expect any of these things, but they are necessary if the Biblical account is true. He then says:
So what we’re seeing over time is that the evolutionary model is getting more Biblical.
While I had never thought of it that way, I completely agree!
Now before I end, I do want to point out that I strongly disagree with the first part of the documentary, which tries to claim that evolution isn’t really science; it’s history. As such, it’s not the same as the science that cures disease and makes Mars rovers, because it studies something that is not repeatable: the past. This is a very common assertion among creationists, but it is utterly false.
In fact, epidemiology has cured disease by studying the past. More importantly, the study of the past is definitely repeatable. We cannot repeat the past itself, but we can study the evidence related to the past, develop a hypothesis, and then test that hypothesis with more observations of the evidence related to the past. We can repeat such observations in different parts of the world, and if the hypothesis is repeatedly verified, it is just as scientific as a hypothesis about a medical procedure. A theory is scientific if it makes predictions that can be observationally verified. This is true whether the theory is about the past, present, or future.
Despite this glaring flaw, I do think the documentary is worth watching, especially if you need an overview of how the latest scientific discoveries support the creationist position.
NOTE: You can watch the documentary on Answers TV as part of a free trial and then see if you like Answers TV enough to continue the subscription.