|Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 10, Number 21, May 18 to May 24 2008|
Henry M. Morris attended the University of Minnesota (M.S.; Ph.D.), and Rice University (B.S.). He was Head of the Civil Engineering Department at Southwestern Louisiana University; Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at University of Minnesota; Instructor of Civil Engineering at Rice University; Junior Engineer to Assistant Hydraulic Engineer, International Boundary and Water Commission. He was also Professor of Hydraulic Engineering and Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Books authored by him are Applied Hydraulics in Engineering; The Bible and Modern Science; That You Might Believe; and The Genesis Flood, co-authored with John C. Whitcomb. This article is taken from his book The Twilight of Evolution, (Baker: Grand Rapids) 1963, pp. 47-64.As far as present-day biological change is concerned, therefore, we insist that there is no evidence whatever that any real evolutionary changes are now taking place. Genetic variations, certainly in at least the overwhelming majority of instances, are within rigidly fixed limits, so that the basic species remain essentially unchanged. When change occurs outside of these limits, as a result of mutations of some kind, then again in the overwhelming preponderance of cases, the change is either harmful or, at best, neutral to the creature experiencing it.
These facts are in perfect accord with the two universal laws of thermodynamics, which describe a universal condition of quantitative stability and qualitative deterioration. At the very best, therefore, either quantitative or qualitative evolution must be accomplished by means of some sort of mechanism which, locally and temporarily, may be able to supersede the effects of the laws of thermodynamics. Natural selection is supposed by evolutionists to be the needed mechanism. A modern leader in this field says:
The general picture of how evolution works is now clear. The basic raw material is the mutant gene. Among these mutants most will be deleterious, but a minority will be beneficial. These few will be retained by what Muller has called the sieve of natural selection. As the British statistician R. A. Fischer has said, natural selection is a `mechanism for generating an exceedingly high level of improbability.' It is Maxwell's famous demon superimposed on the random process of mutation. Despite the clarity and simplicity of the general idea, the details are difficult and obscure. 1The last statement above is strikingly descriptive of the entire theory of evolution. The idea is simple and powerfully persuasive to the natural mind, but the details of evidence supporting it become increasingly obscure the more closely they are examined. The "beneficial minority" of mutations which can supposedly be preserved by natural selection, for example, is vanishingly small, and the almost infinite accumulation of beneficial mutations that would be required for the true evolution of even a single major kind of animal surely requires natural selection to be a remarkable type of mechanism, one which can truly generate an "exceedingly high level of improbability." Maxwell's demon, indeed! It is much easier to suppose that the very idea of evolution was generated by this ubiquitous demon!
If, then, there is no evidence for true evolution occurring in the present, the only way in which the fact of evolution could be demonstrated would be to show that it had occurred in the past, throughout geologic time. It is everywhere admitted that there has been no more evolution in historic times than there is occurring in the present. In fact, the most ancient written records of plant and animal life reveal no significant changes of a truly evolutionary nature to have occurred at all. Walter E. Lammerts has recently reminded us of this:
As K. Patau has shown, even mutations having a one per cent survival advantage increase in frequency from 0.01 to 0.1 per cent of the population only after 900,230 generations. Another 100,511 generations are needed to increase the frequency to 100 per cent. Certainly the time needed for natural selection to effect a change in a large population is enormous even geologically speaking. That is why Sir Charles Lyell's concept of slow change by presently acting causes is so necessary for any concept of general evolution. 2
Since neither present nor past human observations record any evidence of true evolution, it is necessary to buttress the theory by claiming that evolution occurred in pre-historic times. In effect, the evolutionist says: "Although we can't prove that evolution has occurred within historic times, it must have occurred in the past in order for the present state of the biological world to have been attained. Therefore, it must be occurring in the present, and anyone who doubts the fact of evolution is hopelessly ignorant!"
The only evidence (apart from divine revelation, which the evolutionist refuses to accept) concerning pre-historic life on the earth is that which can be deduced from the fossil remains of creatures now buried in the rocks of the earth's crust. These fossiliferous deposits are interpreted to show a gradual evolution of the earth and its inhabitants over long ages, and this is considered the real core of the evidence supporting the theory of evolution. As the Yale geologist, Carl O. Dunbar, says:
Although the comparative study of living animals and plants may give very convincing circumstantial evidence, fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms. 3
But in what way do fossils of dead animals provide evidence for evolution? Since they were deposited in most cases prior to human historical observations and records, it is obviously impossible to know for certain just how and when they lived and were buried. In order to interpret their testimony, one must start from some premise concerning their significance and then attempt to deduce a theory which can explain the data on the basis of his premise. If he cannot do this, then he must try some other premise and the resulting theory. Even if he does hit upon a satisfactory theory, which seems to explain the data he still cannot be certain that it is right, since it may be possible to find several theories which can correlate all the data to at least some degree.
The almost universally promoted theory for interpreting the fossils is summarized by Dunbar as follows:
Since fossils record life from age to age, they show the course life has taken in its gradual development. The facts that the oldest rocks bear only extinct types of relatively small and simple kinds of life, and that more and more complex types appear in successive ages, show that there has been a gradual development or unfolding of life on the earth. 4
This superficially seems very convincing and, indeed, is so convincing that it is really, as we have seen, the very foundation of the theory of evolution, which, in turn, has been appropriated as the philosophical basis of nearly all modern disciplines of human knowledge.
But at least two important questions must be satisfactorily answered before it can legitimately be concluded that the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the fossil record. One question is: "Are the ages of the rocks determinable independently of the theory of evolution which is supposed to be deduced from their fossil contents?" The other is: "Is the theory of evolution the only theory which can satisfactorily explain the fossil data?" Both of these questions must be answered in the affirmative if we should be expected to accept the fossils as real proof of evolution. But as a matter of fact, both questions must really be answered in the negative.
The problem of determining the age of a given rock formation is very important to this whole issue. How is it decided which rocks are old and which are young and, in general, how do we determine the entire chronology of geologic time? Again, we shall let Professor Dunbar explain:
Inasmuch as life has evolved gradually, changing from age to age, the rocks of each geologic age bear distinctive types of fossils unlike those of any other age. Conversely, each kind of fossil is an index or guide fossil to some definite geologic time. . . . Fossils thus make it possible to recognize rocks of the same age in different parts of the Earth and in this way to correlate events and work out the history of the Earth as a whole. They furnish us with a chronology, "on which events are arranged like pearls on a string. 5
Examination of this statement makes it immediately obvious that there is a subtle example of circular reasoning here. Rocks are dated by the fossils they contain, rocks containing simple fossils being considered old and vice versa. This amounts simply to assuming as a prior fact that evolution is known to have occurred throughout geologic time. Then, the resulting geologic column, with its fossil series, is said to be the main, and indeed the only, proof that evolution has occurred.
This is such an important point that we shall call in other authorities as confirming witnesses. Cornell geologists, O. D. von Engeln and Kenneth E. Caster, state:
The geologist utilizes knowledge of organic evolution as preserved in the fossil record, to identify and correlate the lithic records of ancient times. 6
E. M. Spieker, of Ohio State, emphasizes that the geologic time-scale is based predominantly on the paleontological evidence (that is, on the fossil sequences postulated by evolution) rather than on any physical evidence (such as the physico-chemical nature of the rocks, or their relative position in terms of vertical succession, etc.):
And what essentially is this actual time-scale . . .on what criteria does it rest? When all is winnowed out, and the grain reclaimed from the chaff, it is certain that the grain in the product is mainly the paleontologic record and highly likely that the physical evidence is the chaff. 7
One of the most prominent European paleontologists has said:
The only chronometric scale applicable in geologic history for the stratigraphic classification of rocks and for dating geologic events exactly is furnished by the fossils. Owing to the irreversibility of evolution, they offer an unambiguous time scale for relative age determinations and for world-wide correlations of rocks. 8
In spite of this frank recognition of the pre-eminent importance of the fossils in dating rock formations, the obvious circle of reasoning involved in this process is rarely admitted, at least in print. 9 One exception was R. H. Rastall, of Cambridge University, who said:
It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains buried in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the remains of organisms that they contain. 10
Now of course these men, as well as other geologists and paleontologists, would hasten to insist that, even though the time scale is built upon the basis of an assumed evolution, the resulting system is so consistent and so universally verified that this assumption is fully validated. That is, the fossils are always found in the same order, no matter in what part of the world they are discovered, and always the order is from simple to complex. Rocks buried lowest have the simpler fossils and those nearer the surface have the more complex fossils. The "geologic column" is the same everywhere.
But this is simply not so, in spite of the evolutionists' wishful thinking which would like for it to be so. There are great numbers of exceptions and contradictions to this generalization. As a matter of fact, the geologic column really exists only in the minds of the historical geologists, since it has been built up by superposition of deposits from various parts of the world.
If a pile were to be made by using the greatest thickness of sedimentary beds of each geologic age, it would be at least 100 miles high. . . . It is, of course, impossible to have even a considerable fraction of this at one place. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado, for example, is only one mile deep. . . . By application of the principle of superposition, lithologic identification, recognition of unconformities, and reference to fossil successions, both the thick and thin masses are correlated with other beds at other sites. Thus, there is established, in detail, the stratigraphic succession for all the geologic ages. 11
Neither is much of the geologic column present at any one site necessarily continuous. Fossils are almost always found in sedimentary rocks, and below whatever sedimentaries are found in a given location there will always be found at the bottom crystalline rocks of the so-called "basement complex." The latter presumably is remnant from that period in the earth's history before the formation of sedimentary rocks began. It is significant that literally any rock system in the entire geologic column may be found lying directly on the basement complex and that any combination of rock systems may be found above it, at any given location.
Further, how many geologists have pondered the fact that lying on the crystalline basement are found from place to place not merely Cambrian, but rocks of all ages? 12
And, similarly, any series of rock systems may be found above the bottom, and there need be no difference in appearance, except for the fossils they contain.
An unconformity separating the oldest Pre-Cambrian from the latest Pleistocene may have the same physical appearance as one between the latest Pleistocene and the middle Pleistocene. The fossils of the strata bounding an unconformity are the only indicators of time-value, and these are not always decisive for determination within narrow limits. 13
An unconformity is supposedly a boundary between two rock formations of widely different ages, supposedly caused by erosion during those ages. These often are found with perfectly parallel bedding and every other appearance of immediate succession of deposition instead of long ages intervening. They are then called, variously, "disconformities," "paraconformities," or even "deceptive conformities."
Far more serious than this is the fact that it is common to find supposedly "ancient" rock formations resting in essential conformity on supposedly "young" formations. This is exactly contrary to the requirements of evolution, which would necessitate that the oldest rocks should be at the bottom. Nevertheless, this anomalous condition is quite common. Carl O. Dunbar admits these conditions in the following words:
In disturbed areas, of course, the normal succession may be locally inverted, as in the lower limb of an overturned fold, or it may be interrupted or duplicated, by faults, but such abnormalities will betray themselves in evidences of disturbance and in an unnatural sequence of fossils. 14
Although sometimes there may be evidences of physical disturbance (leading to faulting and folding) in these "upside-down" areas, it is quite often true that they can only be revealed by an "unnatural sequence of fossils," which means that the fossils are not found in the order presupposed by their evolutionary relationships. Walter E. Lammerts comments:
The actual percentage of areas showing this progressive order from the simple to the complex is surprisingly small. Indeed formations with very complex forms of life are often found resting directly on the basic granites. Furthermore, I have in my own files a list of over 500 cases that attest to a reverse order, that is, simple forms of life resting on top of more advanced types. 15
In order to account for these numerous exceptions to the supposed universal order of evolutionary development as revealed in the fossiliferous rocks, theory has to be piled on top of theory. Thus, the missing ages indicated by a disconformity are explained by a supposed regional uplift and period of erosion. An inverted order of fossils is explained by a regional uplift followed by a horizontal thrust fault followed by a period of erosion. And so forth. One is reminded of Occam's Razor, the principle that cautions against any unnecessary multiplication of hypotheses to explain a given set of phenomena.
In any case, it becomes obvious that the theory of evolution does not really provide a very simple and satisfactory framework for the correlation of the data of paleontology. It is emphatically clear that evolution is assumed in building up the geologic time scale and that, even so, there are so many problems involved that subsidiary theories continually have to be appended to it in order to explain the exceptions and contradictions. 16 The charge of circular reasoning which has been lodged against the critically important paleontological evidence of evolution is not simply to be laughed off or ignored as evolutionists too commonly attempt to do. It quite plainly involves the presupposition of evolution, with numerous involved deductions based on that premise. It is not, therefore, valid to offer this presupposition and these deductions as proof of evolution, and especially in view of the tremendously important fact that there is no real evidence of present evolution, and of the even more significant fact that the two universal laws of thermodynamics plainly imply universal stability or deterioration rather than evolution!
The first of the two questions asked concerning this main proof of evolution, namely its logical independence of presuppositions involving its own proof, must therefore be answered emphatically in the negative. But even if it did not involve circular reasoning and even if it did present a fully consistent explanation of the fossil record, the second question would still have to be faced. Is evolution the only, or even the best, possible explanation of the fossils? And the answer is, most certainly, that it is not! The Biblical revelation of early terrestrial history, together with the solid scientific foundation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, lead to a much more satisfying explanation of the fossil record than does the theory of evolution.
The Biblical framework involves three major facts of history, each of tremendous importance with respect to the scientific study of data bearing on these problems. These facts are of such obvious significance that to ignore them means that one is arbitrarily rejecting even the possibility that God could have given a genuine revelation of beginnings in His Book of Beginnings. The three facts are: (1) a real Creation; (2) the Fall of man and resultant Curse on the earth; and (3) the universal Deluge in the days of Noah.
The first two have already been discussed in part. According to the Bible, God created all things in heaven and earth, including all living kinds of animals, as well as man, in the six-day period of creation. Following this period of creation, He rested. Thus, no true creation is now taking place in the world, and this revelation is confirmed by the great principle of mass and energy conservation.
Now this can only mean that, since nothing in the world has been created since the end of the creation period, everything must then have been created by means of processes which are no longer in operation and which we therefore cannot study by any of the means or methods of science. We are limited exclusively to divine revelation as to the date of creation, the duration of creation, the method of creation, and every other question concerning the creation. And a very important fact to recognize is that true creation necessarily involves creation of an "appearance of age." It is impossible to imagine a genuine creation of anything without that entity having an appearance of age at the instant of its creation. It would always be possible to imagine some sort of evolutionary history for such an entity, no matter how simple it might be, even though it had just been created.
This is seen most clearly in the record of the creation of Adam and Eve. According to the record, Adam was created as a mature man, formed by God out of the elements of the physical earth. He was not created first as an embryo or a baby, and then allowed to develop. Similarly, Eve was created directly out of Adam. In like manner, everything was created as a fully developed, perfectly functioning whole. Soil was created for the plants to grow in; chemical molecules and compounds were created; light from the sun and stars and moon was seen on the earth at the instant of their creation; and so on. Thus, everything in the earth must have had an appearance of age, if there had been any true creation at all. The earth and universe constitute a great clock which was originally wound up by God, in a manner and at a time which can only be known, if at all, by means of divine revelation. The "apparent age" at which the "clock" was originally set may have been anything that pleased him. In any case, when the creation was finished, God judged it all to be "very good" — perfectly functioning and fully harmonious, with nothing incomplete or out of order, and then God "rested." And this primeval condition continued until "sin entered into the world."
The possibility of creation of apparent age is recognized by even such a doctrinaire evolutionist as George Simpson, Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at Harvard University, who says:
We cannot disprove the postulate that the universe was created one second ago, complete with all our apparent memories of our own earlier days, or that it was not created in 4004 B.C., with all the apparent record of earlier billions of years. But that would not make sense, and we must pretend, at least, that both we and the universe are sane. 17
Simpson is obviously caricaturing the problem and, since he is an avowed disbeliever in any divine purpose in the universe, the concept of "creation" of any kind to him would not "make sense." Others would say that the concept of apparent age involves the Creator in some kind of deception and, therefore, they reject it out of solicitude for the divine honor. But, as we have pointed out above, to say that God could not create anything with apparent age is tantamount to saying nothing could be created and, therefore, is essentially the same position as the atheism of Simpson. In fact, rather than honoring God's truthfulness by rejecting any supposed "deception" on his part in creating apparent age, such men in reality are charging him with falsehood, since they deny the truth of his revealed Word concerning the creation. We insist as emphatically as we know how that the doctrine of creation of apparent age does not in the remotest degree involve a divine deception, but is rather inherent in the very nature of creation. Further, God in grace has even revealed much concerning the true age of the creation, in His written Word, but men have simply refused to accept it.
The second great revealed fact of earth history is that of the fall of man, followed by God's divine curse on the whole creation. The effects of the curse, manifested particularly in the universal tendency toward decay and disorder and death in the world, have been discussed somewhat already. The second law of thermodynamics has been seen to approximate a scientific statement of the effects of the curse.
For our present purposes, the point to be noticed is that, in the fossil record, there is an abundance of testimony to the effect that decay, disorder, and death have existed in the world during all the geologic ages represented by the fossil-bearing rocks. The very fact of fossil animals demonstrates the fact of death, and there is also much geologic evidence of disease, of physical catastrophes, of suffering, of struggle — in short, of a pre-historic world which was "groaning and travailing together in pain." Even the very concept of evolution itself, especially as furthered by natural selection, involves a struggle for existence, with the strong exterminating the weak. It is certainly difficult to imagine that this was the state of things at the end of the creation period when God, who is Love, saw everything that he had made and pronounced it to be "very good."
The Biblical framework, therefore, requires that we categorically reject the fossil record as a record of the history of the development of life on the earth. It cannot possibly be ascribed to the period and events recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, during which God was creating the heavens and the earth and everything in them.
And the same is the testimony derived from the two laws of thermodynamics. There is certainly no indication that the sedimentary rocks of the earth's crust, with their fossil contents, were laid down under conditions and at a time when the two laws were not in existence. Such a notion would certainly be completely contrary to the doctrine of uniformitarianism which supposedly governs the interpretation of the geologic records. Now, since the bringing into existence of matter and energy and order — in a state of low entropy (that is, of high order and high energy availability) — essentially requires a process or processes of creation, and since such processes are precisely opposite to those of stability and deterioration postulated by the first and second laws of thermodynamics, it therefore follows that the period of true creation (even call it true evolution, if you will) could not possibly have been the same period as the period represented by the deposition of the fossil-bearing rocks. They simply cannot scientifically be regarded as a record of the evolution (or "creation," as preferred) of higher and higher forms of life on the earth.
But then what do they represent? They must have been laid down after the introduction of the present order of things into the universe and deposited under the action of the present physical laws which now control the behavior of nature. (Uniformitarians should not object to this statement!) This means that they must have been deposited after God finished creating all things, since the law of conservation of mass and energy was in operation when they were laid down. It also means that they must have been deposited after God pronounced the curse on the creation, since they were laid down while the second law of thermodynamics was in operation. More directly to the point, they could only have been deposited after death entered into the world, which means after man had sinned! Therefore, it is both scientific and Scriptural to insist that the fossil deposits of the earth's crust must have all been brought into place at some time or times after the creation and fall of man.
But these deposits are so extensive and so thick, spread all over the earth's crust, sometimes to a depth measured in miles, that it is quite impossible that they could have been formed by the ordinary processes of deposition that are taking place at present. They were undoubtedly formed under the operation of the same basic physical laws that now exist (and this is true uniformitarianism), but they could not have been formed by geologic processes acting at the same rates as at present. Rather these processes (sedimentation, erosion, volcanism, tectonism, radioactivity, glaciation, etc.) must have operated at greatly augmented rates and over greatly enlarged areas. In short, the old geologic doctrine of catastrophism, which has been stigmatized ever since the days of Lyell and Darwin, must be revived if there is to be any hope of a scientific accounting for the facts of the fossil record.
Once this is recognized, and the doctrinaire uniformitarianism of the past one hundred years rejected as completely unable to correlate all the facts of the record, then it will be seen that a much more satisfactory explanation of the fossil record can be developed than is possible on the basis of evolution. Two Canadian geologists contrast catastrophism and uniformitarianism as follows:
One of the aids to the interpretation of sedimentary rocks is the principle of uniformitarianism. This principle states that the processes we see at work on the crust of the earth today are sufficient to account for all the events of the past that have formed the crust. In other words, `the present is the key to the past.' When the science of geology was young and the great age of the earth unknown, geologists believed that the features of the crust were formed by a series of catastrophes. 18
This type of uniformitarianism has been extremely important in geologic interpretation for over a century.
This is the great underlying principle of modern geology and is known as the principle of uniformitarianism. . . . Without the principle of uniformitarianism there could hardly be a science of geology that was more than pure description. 19
With true uniformitarianism, based on the strict application of the two laws of thermodynamics and other basic physical laws, we have no quarrel whatever. For if these universal laws were given full consideration in the development of a geologic history, it would soon be recognized that evolution is practically impossible statistically and that, therefore, the geologic data must be explained in terms of creation and subsequent deterioration. But this perfectly legitimate and proper application of the principle of uniformity has been ignored in favor of the entirely unwarranted assumption that secondary processes such as radiogenic accumulations, erosion and deposition must have always been occurring, not in accordance with the same physical laws as at present, but rather at the same rates as at present! For this assumption, there is not the slightest warrant whatever, except that it yields the tremendous expanse of geologic time that is necessary to give even a semblance of plausibility to the evolutionary hypothesis.
As a matter of fact, this assumption does not at any point provide a satisfactory explanation for the geologic data. For example, the most recent geological epoch before the present one is called the Pleistocene. By all rights, if the standard geologic time table is at all valid, the record of this epoch ought to be the plainest and easiest to interpret in uniformitarian terms. But, on the other hand, the Pleistocene has been interpreted in terms of a geologic catastrophe of first magnitude, namely, as the great Ice Age, or perhaps series of ice ages! And so inadequate is the principle of uniformity, for explaining the onset, oscillations, and decline of the great complex of continental ice sheets supposedly characteristic of this period, that theories by the carload have been proposed, each in turn rejected for one reason or another! As Loren Eiseley has recently observed:
Even on a more dramatic scale no one to date has been quite able satisfactorily to account for that series of rhythmic and overwhelming catastrophes which we call the Ice Age. 20
Other types of geologic deposits fare little better in terms of a really consistent application of geologic uniformitarianism. Practically all fossils are found in sedimentary rocks, especially in shales and limestones, and most of these were presumably laid down in relatively shallow water, such as might be found along the continental shelves. But little success has been attained in relating these sedimentary rocks to actual sedimentary environments of deposition, such as are now actually observed in the present. A prominent marine geologist, Francis P. Shepard, has said:
Most sedimentary rocks are believed to have been deposited in the seas of the past. One of the primary purposes in geological investigations has been to interpret the conditions under which these ancient sediments were deposited. One of the obvious places to look for guidance in these interpretations is in the deposits of the present. It is, therefore, rather surprising to find how little attention geologists had paid to these recent marine sediments until very recent years. 21
Similarly, the great expanses of volcanic terrains in the Pacific Northwest, the Canadian Shield, the Indian plateaus, and many other places, have to be explained in terms of great systems of volcanic vents and fissures which are completely incommensurate with any type of volcanic activity ever observed by man in modern times. The tremendous earth movements implied by the great faults and folds in the earth's crust and even by the obviously recent uplifts of most of the world's great mountain regions certainly have no present-day parallel. In fact, wherever one looks in the deposits of the crust, he finds phenomena that cannot possibly be explained in terms of present-day rates of geologic processes. The inadequacies of geological uniformitarianism to account for the fossiliferous rocks have been rather thoroughly discussed and documented 22 and need not be discussed in more detail here.
One further aspect of this particular problem should be mentioned, however, and that is the matter of the fossils themselves. Remember that the fossils in the rocks provide the very means of dating the rocks and that, the paleontologic series thus constructed is the only real proof of evolution. Consider also that these rocks are supposed to have been laid down by means of the slow operation of geologic processes occurring at present.
And then meditate upon the remarkable fact that, for the most part, the fossils simply must have been laid down under sudden and probably catastrophic conditions or else they would never have been preserved as fossils at all! Even such a consistent evolutionary uniformitarian geologist as Dunbar recognizes that practically all fossils must have been formed by floods or other catastrophes.
A carcass left exposed after death is almost sure to be torn apart or devoured by carnivores or other scavengers, and if it escapes these larger enemies, bacteria insure the decay of all but the hard parts, and even they crumble to dust after a few years if exposed to the weather. If buried under moist sediment or standing water, however, weathering is prevented, decay is greatly reduced, and scavengers cannot disturb the remains. For these reasons burial soon after death is the most important condition favoring preservation. . . . Waterborne sediments are so much more widely distributed than all other kinds, that they include the great majority of all fossils. Flooded streams drown and bury their victims in the shifting channel sands or in the muds of the valley floor. 23
Other catastrophes such as falls of volcanic ash can account for some large concentrations of fossils. In fact, it could be said that with only insignificant exceptions, all of the fossils must have been deposited by some kind of catastrophe or else they would not have been preserved at all. Normal rates of sedimentation, etc., as postulated by the uniformity principle, are meaningless as far as the fossil record is concerned.
And even the occasional destructive flood or volcanic eruption that occurs in modern times cannot be taken as typical of the cause of the most important fossil deposits. Some of these have no modern parallel at all. The fantastic deposits of hundreds, possibly millions, of mammoths and other animals in the mucks of the Arctic provide an example. The great "fossil graveyards" found in many parts of the world, sometimes containing millions of fish, sometimes hordes of dinosaurs or other animals, sometimes a heterogeneous mixture of animals of all kinds, all testify that present-day rates and phenomena cannot possibly account for them.
Modern paleontologists are beginning to be more realistic than they once were with regard to the necessity of at least some degree of catastrophism in the interpretation of the fossil record. Norman D. Newell, of Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History, has recently commented:
Yet the fossil record of past life is not a simple chronology of uniformly evolving organisms. The record is prevailingly one of erratic, often abrupt changes in environment, varying rates of evolution, extermination and repopulation. Dissimilar biotas replace one another in a kind of relay. Mass extinction, rapid migration and consequent disruption of biological equilibrium on both a local and a worldwide scale have accompanied continual environmental changes. . . . The cause of these mass extinctions is still very much in doubt and constitutes a major problem of evolutionary history. 24
Eric Larrabee, discussing the recent revival of interest in catastrophism and, in particular, the type of catastrophism proposed a decade ago by Immanuel Velikovsky, appropriately observes:
The nineteenth century found it natural to think in terms of continuity and reassurance, of slow evolution and gradual processes undisturbed by sudden and unpredictable disruptions. We of the twentieth have known a different universe, have seen the overturning of stability in every sphere, have come to live from day to day with the constant threat of violence unimaginable. For us catastrophes are less difficult to visualize. . . . 25
Now since catastrophes of tremendous severity must certainly be invoked to explain most of the geological deposits and formations, the next question is how many such catastrophes are involved. Application of Occam's Razor would suggest that the smallest possible number of such catastrophes that can explain the data would provide the best hypothesis. If it should be at all conceivable that only one great catastrophe, with many more or less simultaneous concomitant effects, could suffice for the purpose, then this should very seriously be considered as the most reasonable of all possible explanations for the fossil record. And this, of course, brings us to the third great historical fact revealed by the Bible, namely the universal deluge of the days of Noah.
1. James F. Crow: "Ionizing Radiation and Evolution," Scientific American, Vol. 201, September, 1959, p. 142.
2. "Growing Doubts: Is Evolutionary Theory Valid?", Christianity Today, Vol. VI, September 14, 1962, p. 4.
3. Historical Geology (New York: Wiley, 2nd Ed., 1961), p. 47.
5. Ibid., pp. 47-48.
6. Geology (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952), p. 417.
7. "Mountain-Building Chronology and Nature of Geologic Time-Scale," Bulletin, American Assoc. of Petroleum Geologists, Vol. 40, August, 1956, p. 1803.
8. O. H. Schindewolf : "Comments on Some Stratigraphic Terms," American Journal of Science, Vol. 255, June, 1957, p. 394.
9. A number of geologists have acknowledged this verbally, off the record.
10. Article "Geology," in Encyclopedia Britannica, 1956, Vol. 10, p. 168 (University of Chicago Press).
11. O. D. von Engeln and Kenneth E. Caster: Geology, pp. 417-418.
12. E. M. Spieker: "Mountain-Building Chronology and Nature of Geologic Time-Scale," p. 1805.
13. "W. H. Twenhofel: Principles of Sedimentation (2nd Ed., New York, McGraw-Hill, 1950), p. 562.
14. Historical Geology (New York, McGraw-Hill, 1961), p. 9.,
15. "Growing Doubts: Is Evolutionary Theory Valid?", p. 4.
16. Space limitations necessarily restrict discussion of the problems involved in the evolutionary interpretation of the paleontological data. For a considerably fuller discussion, see The Genesis Food, by John C. Whitcomb, Jr., and Henry M. Morris (Nutley, N. J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1961), pp. 130-211.
17. "The History of Life," in The Evolution of Life (Sol Tax, Ed., University of Chicago Press, 1960), p. 175.
18. Thomas H. Clark and Colin W. Steam: The Geological Evolution of North America, (New York: Ronald Press, 1960), pp. 5, 6.
19. William D. Thornbury: Principles of Geomorphology (New York: Wiley, 1954), pp. 16, 17.
20. "Man, the Lethal Factor," American Scientist, Vol. 51, March, 1963, p. 74.
21. "Marine Sediments," Science, Vol. 130, July 17, 1959, p. 141.
22. Whitcomb and Morris, op. cit., pp. 130-169.
23. Op. cit., pp. 35-36, 39.
24. "Crises in the History of Life," Scientific American, Vol. 208, February, 1963, p. 77.
25. "Scientists in Collision: Was Velikovsky Right?", Harper's Magazine, August, 1963, p. 55.
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