For more information, go to http://www.evolutionvsgod.com/
For more information, go to http://www.evolutionvsgod.com/
In 1938, men fishing off the east coast of South Africa caught a peculiar fish that was identified as a coelacanth (“SEE-le-canth”). This find shocked the paleontological world, because the coelacanth was a fish thought to have died out with the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. Additional specimens of the coelacanth have since been found in the waters of the Comoros, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar. It is one of many “Lazarus taxa” – creatures once thought to be extinct, only to be “resurrected” by appearing as real living, breathing organisms long after having disappeared from the fossil record.
Yet, while the coelacanth is believed to have reached its present form 400 million years ago, researchers studying the fish have observed it changing to adapt to its environment. That is, while the coelacanth supposedly hasn’t changed much in the past 400 million years, there is still flexibility in its gene pool after all.
“We have thus been able to show that despite their slow evolutionary rate, coelacanths continue to develop and are potentially also able to adapt to new environmental conditions,” Kathrin Lampert, researcher at the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, said.
It isn’t as though the world hasn’t changed a bit since the ancestors of today’s coelacanths were petrified in mud. If the fish has had the genetic variability to change, it certainly has taken its time getting around to it.
Big Black Gaps:
Darwinian evolution depends on the idea that life on earth has changed over the years due to natural selection and the survival of the fittest species. When the environment changes, those species that are best able to adapt to the new climate or habitat do so, and the rest die out. Darwin presented evolutionary change as a gradual series of steps in which one set of creatures slowly changed into another set of creatures, leaving millions of extinct things streaming behind.
There turned out to be a problem with Darwin’s phyletic gradualism, though; it wasn’t supported by the fossil record. Darwin expected that as paleontologists dug up more fossils, they would find a lineup of gradually changing forms to support his theory. The thousands of gradual intermediate forms were not found, though. Even the horse series and whale series, pointed to as evidence for the evolution of these creatures, have serious weaknesses (see links below).
To deal with the massive gaps in the evolutionary fossil record, Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge proposed the punctuated equilibria theory in 1972. They argued that evolution didn’t occur gradually the way Darwin thought it did. Rather, they proposed that evolution took place in spurts. Gould and Eldredge made the case that species remained unchanged for long periods of time, then evolved rapidly when some stress in the environment forced adaptation. Rather than presenting a smooth, continuous, gradual change over millions of years, which the fossil record did not support, they argued evolution had occurred in punctuated spurts of change, with species splitting up to form new species once in a great long while. Since these changes were rare and since fossilization was a relatively rare phenomenon, evolutionists should expect gaps in the fossil record, they said.
Regardless of whether Gould and Eldredge’s argument withstands scrutiny, their view of the way that evolution works has something in common with Darwinian gradualism; it still doesn’t present actual evidence that one kind of animal turned into another kind of animal.
Gould does have a point; the fossils haven’t given us a complete record of life on earth in a tidy series of layers, each containing neatly tagged representations of each type of animal that lived in a location at any time. There are gaps. The coelacanth shows up in the fossil record with the dinosaurs and then doesn’t appear in more recent fossil layers. Yet it’s still alive and swishing. It’s been here all along, but its bones are only preserved in older layers. (How much older… is a question.)
At the same time, the coelacanth DOES show itself in the fossil record. Gould and Darwin both have a problem because they’ve proposed imaginary missing links that we just plain do not see at all. They also propose change over time, and when creatures show up unchanged after an alleged 400 million years of existence, basically the same as they were in the fossil record, that raises questions.
The coelacanth is an oddity. These bizarre, oily, foul-tasting fish look much as they did when they were buried in rock layers eons ago. They are not alone, either. Other living fossils include the Monoplacophora, a class of mollusks that were found off of Costa Rica in 1952 after having been thought extinct for the past 380 million years. The Laotian Rock Rat was found in 1996 after having been thought “dead” for 11 million years. The ant genus Gracilidris was found in Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina even though it had been allegedly extinct for more than 15 million years. And if you want to purchase your very own living fossil, Beds & Borders Nursery in Parrish, Florida has Wollemi pines for sale. A hiker named David Noble found a stand of these of trees in Wollemi National Park near Sydney, Australia in 1994. In the wild they are still one of the rarest plants in the world.
Fossils like these, as well as the Metasequoia, the Nightcap Oak, the Chacoan Peccary (a pig) or Mountain Pygmy Possum were all once thought to have died out millions of years ago, only to be “surprise!” found alive and well after all, relatively unchanged from the way their family members looked before they were locked in stone.
Right now, a well-known living fossil, the nautilus, is in danger because its pretty spiraling shell looks nice as a mantelpiece decoration. While the nautilus has survived several major mass extinctions in earth’s geological history, it is currently being wiped out because humans have been harvesting the living creatures for their lovely, valuable, unchipped shells. Except for its recently depleted numbers, the nautilus is otherwise basically the same creature it’s ever been. It has survived for a supposed 500 million years, changing enough to evolve into several unique species, some with more complex and others with more simple shell designs, but always still a nautilus.
Paleontologists are hurting for missing links, and even the few they have are lined up on tenuous evidence. The coelacanth demonstrates the danger of paleontologists’ making assumptions about the internal organs or DNA of creatures based on their skeletons.
Prior to its being found alive, the coelacanth had been considered a link between fish and land animals. Paleontologists had suggested that the swim bladder of the coelacanth had turned into a lung which allowed it to breathe when it crawled out onto land. When a living coelacanth swim bladder was examined, though, it ruined that idea. The swim bladder was thin and filled with fat and in no position to act like a lung, no matter how much the scientists wanted the coelacanth’s lobed fins to act like crawling arms.
Don’t be confused. When scientists say life has “evolved,” they are right. Families and genera of creatures do change over time. There were once marmot-like gophers with horns and giant sloths as large as VW busses. Yet, the gophers were still gophers and the sloths were still sloths, and on the whole were not so different from the same creatures we see today. Rather than showing a convenient series of evolutionary steps, the fossil record continually shows specific groups of creatures that display wide variety within their groupings, but do not demonstrate much direct evidence of having evolved into something else.
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” – Genesis 7:11-12
In Genesis 6-8, the Bible describes a flood of global proportions. The fountains of the great deep exploded out of the ground. Something happened to that great firmament that God created to divide the waters above from the waters below, and water came crashing down on the earth after hundreds of years of dew watering the earth without the help of rain. During the Flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and the waters rose high enough to cover the tops of the mountains (however tall they were at that time). It was a devastating, catastrophic event that destroyed all the land-dwelling creatures on the planet, except for those protected on the ark that Noah built.
The Bible is not alone. Around the world, legends can be found of a global flood. Many of the details are different, but the essential elements tend to be there; a massive flood wiped out everybody but a particular righteous man. Often boats and animals are involved. The use of animals and birds to check the receding of the waters, and the violence of the flood are common themes.
The most famous flood story outside of the Bible is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, discovered in the ruins of Asurbanipal’s library in Nineveh. Gilgamesh may have actually been a real person; he is listed in the Sumerian King List in the first dynasty of Uruk (and apparently reigned for 126 years).
In Tablet 11, after a variety of adventures, Gilgamesh meets a man named Utnapishtim who survived the Great Flood. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh his story, which parallels the Biblical account in many ways. There are differences, of course. In Gilgamesh, multiple gods are involved, the flood lasted just a week, and the boat landed on Mount Nisir rather than in the mountains of Ararat. However, there are a significant number of details that are the same between the two accounts. In the Gilgamesh epic, Utnapishtim describes how he was ordered to build a large boat, which he coated with pitch and into which he brought “the seed of life of everything.” The flood wiped out everybody but righteous Utnapishtim and his family, and while they waited for the waters to drain away, he sent out a dove, a swallow, and then a raven to check for land. Later, Utnapishtim made a sacrifice.
Missionaries made their way to the Biami people of Papua New Guinea in the late 20th century and discovered that this cannibalistic people had Creation and Flood myths already in their culture. While their Creation myth was fairly vague, their Flood myth had many similarities to the Biblical account:
The Biami tell about a great flood that came and killed everybody on the earth except for their ancestors. There is no boat in the story, but the Biami ancestors climbed into a Gobia Tree, and they took with them all their animals and the things they needed for planting crops. Once the waters receded, they came down and repopulated the land. Until the missionaries came, the Biami did not know that other people existed on the earth aside from themselves and the tribes around them.
After the British arrived on the Andaman Islands, a place isolated throughout much of known history, they found people who spoke strains of very old Asian languages. In the local mythology, a flood came upon the earth as a result of the wickedness of humanity. According to the myth, the Creator Puluga found that humankind grew disobedient, and he sent a flood that covered the whole land. Only two men and two women in a canoe were saved from the flood. When the waters sank, they landed. Then Puluga recreated the birds and animals, and created a fire in the damp world.
The Chippewa have a story in which a hero, Nanabozho, followed the Great Serpent to the deep lake where it had dragged and killed Nanabozho’s cousin. There the Great Serpent lived with all his evil spirits. In order to kill the Serpent, Nanabozho told the sun to shine on the lake and make it boil so that the Serpent would come out. After the Serpent emerged, Nanabozho shot him and fatally wounded him. Before he died, however, the Serpent caused the waters of the lake to boil out and flood the land.
“Madly the flood rolled over the land, over the tracks of Nanabozho, carrying with it rocks and trees.”
Nanabozho and other men, women and animals climbed to the tallest mountain, where Nanabozho built a raft from timber. The people and animals on the raft watched even the tallest mountains disappear. Then they floated there until slowly the mountains and hills began to appear again as the waters receded.
The Ottawa tell of the prophet Kwi-wi-sens Nenaw-bo-zhoo, whose name means, “the greatest clown-boy in the world.” The prophet sought revenge on the sea-god for killing his beautiful wolf-dog. He waited until the god came on land, and then shot him through the heart. In revenge, water monsters sent mountains of water after him “which swept down the forests like grass before the whirlwind.” According to the account:
He continued to flee before the raging flood, but could find no dry land. In sore despair he then called upon the God of Heaven to save him, when there appeared before him a great canoe, in which were pairs of all kinds of land-beasts and birds, being rowed by a most beautiful maiden, who let down a rope and drew him up into the boat. The flood raged on; but, though mountains of water were continually being hurled after the prophet, he was safe.
After a time, the prophet sent a beaver to swim down and check and see how deep the waters were. The beaver nearly drowned. Then he sent a muskrat, and it nearly drowned, but it brought back a handful of dirt. The prophet tied that ball of earth to the raven and sent it to fly over the waters to make them recede. When the world dried, the prophet and the beautiful woman repopulated the earth.
One Choctaw version of the Flood story tells about Oklatabashih (People’s mourner), who lived in the distant past. The Great Spirit grieved because the people of earth had become so wicked. He told Oklatabashih to build a large boat and take on it his family and one male and one female animal of all the animals on earth. Oklatabashih collected all the animals, except for some particularly quick birds, and then went on the boat. It rained for a long time and thousands of animals and people died, but there were still groups found here and there. Then a raging wall of waters crashed down on those that were left and killed everybody except for Oklatabashih and those in the boat. The boat floated safely for many moons. Oklatabashih sent out a dove, which returned with grass in its beak. Finally, the waters receded and those on the boat went out to repopulate the earth.
The Indians of Brazil had various versions of a Flood legend when they were discovered by Europeans. In the story, only two brothers and their wives survived a global flood that destroyed everybody else on earth. In some accounts the brothers survive by climbing the tallest tree on the top of the tallest mountain. In others, they rode on a canoe.
The Frenchman André Thevet related a story by the Indians about Cape Frio in the 16th Century. The Indians told about a great medicine-man named Sommay who had two sons called Tamendonare and Ariconte. Tamendonare was the righteous brother who took care of his wife and children and worked the ground. Ariconte just wanted to subdue the people around him, including his brother. One day, during an argument over Ariconte’s violence and pride, the village they lived in was transported to the sky. The brothers remained on the earth. Then Tamendonare stamped the earth and a great fountain of water sprang out and shot higher than the hills. The water continued to spout until it covered the whole earth. The two brothers climbed the trees on the tallest mountains and pulled their wives up with them, and were therefore the only ones to survive the great flood.
The Flood Memory:
After the Tower of Babel incident, humanity spread across the face of the earth and took the memory of their ancestor Noah’s great escape with them. There are certainly stories about local floods among tribes – floods that took place long after The Deluge. However, the theme of a massive flood that destroyed all living things can be found among tribes and peoples all over the world.
The Bible’s version of the story, however, goes into the greatest detail. It describes the dimensions of the ark, names the survivors’ descendants for many generations, and gives a constant notation of the events’ dates. These are facts that cannot be easily dismissed.
“And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.” – Genesis 8:3-5
According to most respected geologists, the Earth is 4.7 billion years old, give or take a few days. Suggesting that the Earth is much younger can raise the ire of even the most chipper, likeable geology professor. Yet, there is evidence that geological processes can take place in a much shorter time span than historical geologists tend to assume, and odd things have been found out of place – in the wrong time and the wrong geological layer.
The true age of the planet remains somewhat of a mystery, and geologists certainly have reason to regard the world as fairly old. After all, Hadrian’s Wall cuts along northern England, relatively solid after two-thousand years of weathering. The Great Pyramid of Giza remains more than 4500 years after its completion. When geologists consider that mountain ranges have washed away and the once jagged peaks of the great Canadian Shield have been worn down to rolling hills, they reason that such massive erosion could not have taken place in a mere few millennia.
At the same time, sometimes geological events do much greater creation and destruction in a short time than we’d ever have expected.
On the 14th of November in 1963, a steaming, smoking volcanic eruption that had started 426 feet below sea level produced enough cooled rock to peek out of the water. Over the course of that week, the island grew to a height of 145 feet. When the island finally stopped rising in June of 1967, it had matured to a height of almost 500 feet and covered an area of two square miles. The island was named Surtsey after the Norse god of fire, Surtur.
Because of its newness, Surtsey has been closely studied by scientists who want to watch how the flora and fauna of the island develop and by others who have monitored its growth and its subsequent decay. The amazing thing about Surtsey, though, is not just its rapid birth, but its rapid aging as well. In 1964, when Surtsey was just a year old, Iceland’s top geophysicist Sigurdur Thorarinsson described the island in his book, Surtsey: The New Island in the North Atlantic:
“On Surtsey, only a few months sufficed for a landscape to be created which was so varied and mature that it was almost beyond belief… You might come to a beach covered with flowing lava on its way to the sea with white balls of smoke rising high up in the air. Three weeks later you might come back to the same place and be literally confounded by what met your eye. Now, there were precipitous lava cliffs of considerable height, and below them you would see boulders worn by the surf, some of which were almost round… and further out there was a sandy beach where you could walk at low tide without getting wet.”
The geologist continued his amazement later in National Geographic ( 127(5):712–726) in 1965, saying: ” … in one week’s time we witness changes that elsewhere might take decades or even centuries … Despite the extreme youth of the growing island, we now encounter a landscape so varied that it is almost beyond belief.”
Perhaps “elsewhere” the changes did not take decades or centuries after all. Perhaps geologists just assume they did. Without the ability to watch features form firsthand, geologists can infer the history of a site based more on reasoning than on experimental evidence. Unless they can watch the same geologic processes take place elsewhere, producing the same results, they can err in the story they put together from the rocks.
Mt. St. Helens:
When Mount St. Helens erupted in late May of 1980, it created geological results in minutes and days that were previously believed to take vast lengths of time. On June 12, 1980, a mud flow left a deposit 25 feet thick with thin laminae and beds. These kinds of sedimentary laminae and beds had been assumed to represent thousands or millions of years as they were laid down one season at a time. Instead, this mud flow produced 25 feet worth of thin layers in a single day.
Mount St. Helens taught geologists that erosion can take place rapidly as well. Badlands topography in the form of rills and gullies appeared at the margins of seam explosion pits within five days after the Mount St. Helen’s pumice had been deposited in May of 1980. Nearly two years after the explosion, on March 19, 1982, a mud flow eroded a canyon much like a miniature form of the Grand Canyon in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Toutle River Valley. It did not take millions of years for this canyon system to erode; it took a day.
Mount St. Helen’s rapid formation of geologic features should give geologists pause. The results of the mountain’s eruption and mud flows do not prove that Earth is extremely young, but they do demonstrate that canyons and thick layers of sediment are not necessarily old.
There’s more than growing islands and volcanic eruptions to disrupt the textbook story about the age of the earth. From their early school days, children are taught that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous. Yet, in art and in mud, there are signs that dinosaurs and humans weren’t always apart.
Legends of dragons can be found in cultures across the world, from China to Norway. Dinosaur-like creatures are also found in a wide variety of ancient art that can be readily seen today – at ancient sites around the world, at various creation museums and in pictures conveniently placed online (see links below). Sauropod-shaped handles on pottery jugs from the Mississippi Caddo Indians of the 13th century AD; a stegosaurus carving on a column of the Ta Prohm monastery in Cambodia, dedicated in 1186; burial stones from Ica, Peru showing pictures of dinosaurs and humans together; the faint, desert varnished pictograph of a sauropod on the wall next to other Anasazi wall art on the inside of the Kachina Bridge at the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, and many other forms of dinosaur art demonstrate that human beings did see dinosaurs in times far more recent than 65 million years ago.
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” – Genesis 1:24-26
“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee;” -Job 40:15
This world is a mystery. The pages of its history given to us have left many stories untold. We do not necessarily have tales for every flood or hurricane or tsunami. We don’t know what earthquakes or volcanic eruptions or glaciers rocked and carved the earth. The more data we collect, carefully and honestly, the greater the clues we have of the tales that are still written to us in the very rocks. Which, if we don’t beat them to it, may still cry out in praise to our God.