Accounting for Prehistoric Fossils
By Reed Benson
An issue that troubles many Christians and plants doubt in their biblical worldview is the information that is presented to them regarding the fossil record. Paleontology, the study of fossils, is a relatively young field that is continuing to undergo change regarding its basic principles. Over the course of the last century, paleontologists who hold to a Darwinian, evolutionary worldview have been able to dominate the center stage of academia, and have used this platform to inject their notions into the mainstream of our culture. They have been able to downplay many of their own outrageous mistakes while simultaneously squelching opposing views. As a consequence, most people believe that the fossil record provides strong evidence to support evolution, an exceedingly ancient earth, and the idea of a common ancestor for all the races of man. In reality, just the opposite is true.
So, what about all those old bones? Do they really prove that the earth is millions of years old? Do they prove that evolution is the mechanism by which all life came into being? Do they prove that all races of man came from a common ancestor? To answer these questions in detail is impossible in this brief article. But we can provide a springboard for further study by setting forth some basic truths about paleontology.
Evolutionary paleontology, which continues to dominate mainstream thinking, is based on an arbitrary interpretation of earth’s geologic history called the geologic column. The geologic column is a theoretical vertical arrangement of the earth’s rock layers, each layer made up of different types of rocks and the fossils that are imbedded therein. It is meant to show us the history of planet earth, the most recent layer being at the top of the column, the second most recent being second from the top, and so forth with the most ancient at the bottom. Each layer is supposed to represent a period in earth’s history; each period being a phase in earth’s development of millions of years. All of this sounds quite reasonable and looks very organized when one studies a diagram of the geologic column in a textbook. But there are some huge problems!
First, nowhere on planet earth can one find these rock layers appearing in the order they do in the textbook diagrams. If one studies the walls of the Grand Canyon, examines the rifts and fractures of jagged mountain peaks, or takes core samples hither and yon, one will never find the layers appearing in the order they ought. There are some strata of rock missing, other strata scrambled in no apparent order, and some even found in the exact opposite layering pattern that the textbooks say should exist! Second, certain fossils are supposed to be commonly found in certain rock strata and are considered "identifiers" of that layer. These index fossils are allegedly creatures that were very prolific in that epoch of earth’s history. Unfortunately for evolutionary paleontologists, not only are these index fossils often found in strata of rock where they should not be, but sometimes they are missing from the layer they are supposed to identify. Third, paleontologists are completely arbitrary in the dating of these various layers. A complicated system is used that basically boils down to this erroneous rule: They assume to know the date of when the fossils lived based on the rock layer in which they are found. Then the date of the rock layer is obtained by correctly identifying the index fossils. Finally, the index fossil’s age has been established by evolutionary dogma that one dares not question! These grave problems reveal the fallacious nature of the geologic column and why paleontology is in trouble as long as it depends on such system. (Note, physical geology is not the same discipline as historical geology and is not plagued by these basic faulty premises.)
Many people have been spellbound by certain dating methods used by evolutionary paleontologists that allegedly prove the earth is at least millions of years old. One of the most trumpeted schemes for dating fossils has been the carbon-14 dating method. It works this way: All living organisms absorb carbon. Most of this is carbon-12, but a very small part of it is the radioactive isotope carbon-14. When an organism dies, the carbon-14 in its tissues begins to deteriorate into nitrogen. Thus, by measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining in a fossil, one can estimate its age. However, all of this is based on two assumptions. First, it is presumed that the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 was the same in the past as it is now and that living organisms absorb it proportionately. There is now good reason to believe that the proportion of carbon-14 was different in the past. If true, then many fossils are not nearly as old as what the carbon-14 test originally suggested. Second, recent research has shown that many plants have an internal mechanism that allows them to avoid absorbing the radioactive carbon-14. Thus, all fossils dependent on such a food chain would give the false impression of being very ancient. Recently a fresh seal carcass was "dated" to be 1300 years old. A living clam was "dated" as being over 3,000 years old! So much for carbon-14 as a dating method!
Another highly touted dating approach is called the Potassium-Argon Method. Radioactive potassium is found in minute quantities in some rocks, which decomposes into calcium and argon over time. However, this can be used only for inorganic matter and rests on two dangerous assumptions. One, its assumes that the rate of decomposition is constant, which many physicists now believe it is not. Secondly, it assumes there were no "daughter elements", calcium and argon, originally in the rock. Consequently, the Potassium-Argon dating method is quite unreliable.
There are many dating indicators that are now coming to the light of day that demonstrate the age of the earth is far less than evolutionary paleontologists would prefer to believe. The amount of river sediments found in ocean basins, the quantity of metals dissolved in sea water, meteorites missing from deep sedimentary strata, decay of the earth’s magnetic field, recession of the moon from the earth, deterioration of planetary rings around Jupiter and Saturn, the depletion of solar fuel, and a number of other observations indicate the earth is younger than evolutionary paleontologists suggest. Thus, it is quite reasonable to conclude that planet earth is only about 6,000 years old, not millions or billions.
It is scientifically plausible to believe that the manifold fossils of dinosaurs are the remains of many species that became extinct after Noah’s flood. Several models of the pre-flood environment indicate it was uniformly mild and semi-tropical with abundant vegetative growth. This was quite suitable for the many large species of dinosaurs. The post-flood world was completely different in many parts of the globe. Extreme conditions made it impossible for the larger land-based dinosaurs to compete and they became extinct. Smaller species that happened to be in the right climate have survived to this day such as the Crocodilians and the Komodo Dragon.
What about fossils of various types of primitive man? Evolutionary paleontologists try to tell us these skulls and bone fragments reveal that some of these ape-man creatures are our distant ancestors, while others are relatives of ours from a common ancestor. Is any of this true?
Several of the great discoveries by paleontologists have been proven to be outright hoaxes. For example, the "Piltdown man" was portrayed for decades to be a "missing link" in mankind’s alleged descent from apes. But in 1953, the scientific community reluctantly acknowledged that an ape jawbone had been deliberately added to the skull, the teeth had been filed down, and both skull and jawbone had been stained to give the appearance of great age.
The "Java man" was discovered in 1890 and was first claimed to be 500,000 years old. Its discover, Eugene Dubois, later admitted his discovery to be a fraudulent mixture of modern human and gibbon (a small ape) bones.
Another find, known as "Lucy," or more formally, Australopithecines, was promoted as an intermediate between man and apes. These fossils were of a skull that had been shattered into some 400 pieces. Lucy was originally thought to be tremendously ancient. But the Potassium-Argon dating method that was used leaves the issue open to doubt because the alleged age of the rock in which the fossil remains were found varied as much as one million years depending on which rock fragment was being tested! It is now believed that Lucy was simply an extinct primate.
Evolutionary paleontologist Richard Leakey discovered a skull in Kenya that came to be known as Skull 1470. It was dated by the controversial Potassium-Argon method as 2.8 million years old. However, this date presents evolutionary paleontologists with a dilemma, for this skull is no different than that of Negroes living in that region today. So, either their dating method is completely askew and this skull is not very old, or their evolutionary theory is incorrect for they presume that modern man did not evolve until much later in earth’s history. In fact, Leakey himself stated: "Either we toss out this skull, or we toss out our theories of early man." For an open-minded thinking person, the solution is obvious. Skull 1470 is simply a fairly recent man, their dating methods are unreliable, and their theories of the descent of man from apes remain without evidence.
There have been discoveries of fossil or skeletal remains of man that have been ignored by evolutionary paleontologists. Why? Because they were found in the wrong rock layer! Yet, these appear to be remains of a type of true man. Some of the better known of these types are the Calaveras skull, the Castenedolo skeletons, and the Steinheim fossils. They are somewhat similar to what is called the Neanderthal man. All of these types of man, interestingly, are not dissimilar to the various races of man now found on earth. The Neanderthal man was first found in the Neander Valley of Germany in 1856. The first skeleton had a stooped posture, bowed legs, and a somewhat ape-like skull. Since that time, however, other remains of the Neanderthal man have been found that do not have these deformed appearances. Recent anatomical studies have shown it likely the original Neanderthal man had actually suffered a severe case of rickets since childhood. Furthermore, enough skeletons have been found of Neanderthal man to show they had a skull 230 cc larger than the average man today! And perhaps most important, it has been proved that Neanderthal man was contemporary with the races of modern man. They clearly walked upright and were not an ape-man creature. They used tools, were sophisticated enough to leave extensive cave drawings, and appear to have domesticated some animals. There is good evidence that suggests they lived as recent as 5,000 years ago. All in all, it is reasonable to assume that the famed Neanderthal man was simply a different race of man that is now extinct as a separate species, or kind. There are thousands of species of animals that have become extinct, some of them relatively recently. Certain racial groups have become extinct in recent centuries—the Hottentots, for example. It is certainly plausible to suggest that such was the fate of Neanderthal man. They were quite likely a separate race of man created by God in the beginning that did not survive the rigors of a fallen world.
Evolutionary paleontology has failed in its century long effort to undermine the Bible. A true and honest study of fossils has verified the Genesis account of creation and geologic history. Dinosaurs existed prior to the flood of Noah and are described in Job 40:15-24. Dating methods employed by evolutionists have proven faulty time and again. Scientists are gradually being forced to concede that the missing links required by evolution are indeed non-existent. The notion that all races descended from a common ancestor is finding no support from the fossil record. On the contrary, evidence continues to mount showing that the various races of man were separate and distinct since the time of creation some 6,000 years ago. The Bible is being gradually vindicated as we learn more of prehistoric fossils.