Part 3: The Fossil Record

Alan Feuerbacher


The Creation book devotes chapters 4-7 to examining the fossil record. It will be shown how these chapters, as well as other Watchtower publications, do not offer the reader a complete picture of what has been found in the fossil record. In support of this, extensive specific examples will be used to present a fair picture of what technical publications say. This is necessary because: (1) most people do not have the necessary background, (2) most would not take the time to look up the technical references, and (3) Watchtower publications never contain the necessary material.

The fossil record indicates a long history of extensive change in life forms. Typical statements by geologists about these changes are:

[There is an] enormous amount of evidence which supports the general notion of evolution: the fact that living things on the earth were different in the past, and that as time led to the present, the kinds of animals and plants on this planet changed (evolved) into those we see today.35

Our knowledge of the evolution of plants and animals is based on a factual set of observations. We have a large number of facts (fossils) on which to draw, and these fossils paint an enormous, elaborate, and consistent picture of change and orderly succession among living things up to the present time.36

... the fossil record not only documents evolution, but... it was the fossil record itself which forced natural scientists to abandon their idea of the fixity of species and look instead for a plausible mechanism of change, a mechanism of evolution. The fossil record not only demonstrates evolution in extravagant detail, but it dashes all claims of the scientific creationists concerning the origin of living organisms... Jawed fishes did not appear until 400 million years before the present, land plants did not appear until 375 million years ago, land animals 350 million years ago, insects 350 million years, mammals 150 million years, flowering plants 135 million years, primate mammals 25 million years; and our own species, Homo sapiens, did not appear until 2 to 4 million years ago (depending upon which of many fossil intermediates one first begins to classify as human).37

Contrary to what evolutionists claim, the above items do not prove that evolution occurred, i.e., evolution in the sense that one form of life gradually changed into another. But the evidence incontrovertibly shows a tremendous change through the geological ages in the types of animals that existed at any given time. This author thinks the change is better accounted for by creation, although the evidence is37a consistent with either position. The debate is really about the mechanism of the changes, not whether the changes actually occurred.

One of the more difficult problems for evolutionists is to find a reasonable explanation for the phenomenon they term "convergent evolution." Convergent evolution supposedly occurs when two distinct lines of creatures evolve structures that are outwardly similar or identical in function. For example, the shape of porpoises is very much like the shape of the extinct marine reptile Ichthyosaur. The Tasmanian wolf of Australia is nearly identical to the true wolf of Eurasia and the Americas, even though the one is a marsupial and the other is a placental mammal, and the two have been separated for more than 60 million years.38 It is difficult to see how evolution, driven by random mutation and unpredictable environmental factors, could possibly result in creatures so nearly the same.

The most extensive changes in life forms occurred during major episodes of extinction where, in relatively brief intervals of time, entire communities of animals and plants vanished, only to be replaced by a new set. As the book Extinction says:39

Mass extinctions -- global crises that have repeatedly swept away most species of animal life on earth -- are now basic facts of geology. Each great crisis has "reset" the global biological system, in the sense that important groups of organisms have disappeared, making way for the expansion of others.

The Permian extinction wiped out at least 75% of all animal species, both on land and in the oceans.40, 41 The Late Cretaceous extinction eliminated at least 60% of all animal species, including all the dinosaurs.42

Smaller episodes of extinction occurred in between the largest. For example the Mesozoic Era, the so-called Age of Dinosaurs, had two. They defined the end of the Triassic and Jurassic Periods. These Periods themselves contained even smaller episodes of extinction. During the Cretaceous Period, a minor extinction coincided with the beginning of the rise of flowering plants.43

National Geographic Magazine contains a very clear chart showing the general outline of extinctions from the Cambrian Period to the present.44

The mass extinctions have a number of features in common. Animal life both on the land and in the sea was hit. Plant life was not affected nearly as much as animal life, and tropical animals tended to be particularly hard hit. Certain groups of animals tended to be hit in every episode.45 After an extinction a new set of animals would replace the old set in a geologically short time span. Just prior to an extinction the number of varieties of animals often decreased.46

There is much debate within the scientific community as to exactly what caused the extinctions, but the fact that extinctions occurred is merely an observation from the fossil record, and it is a fact that patterns can be observed in the extinctions. The fossil record shows that life forms came into being suddenly, lived a long time with virtually no change, and then died out. Often they were replaced by similar animals of different species. This evidence, that species remain fixed for long periods of time and are suddenly replaced, has within the last twenty years given rise to a theory called "punctuated equilibrium." The comments of paleontologist Robert Bakker about his own discoveries with regard to this general sequence, in the strata of the Morrison Formation of the Como Bluff and Sheep Creek areas in Wyoming, are notable:47

The Sheep Creek Brontosaurus stands in the museum at the University of Wyoming. It is a splendid skeleton from the lake limestones close to the very bottom of the Morrison Beds. I surveyed every square inch of it for my notes so as to compare it with Yale's Brontosaurus from a quarry high up on Como Bluff, and with the New York Museum of Natural History's Brontosaurus from Nine-Mile-Crossing, a quarry in an in-between layer. My final notes contained a record of Brontosaurus through hundreds of thousands of breeding generations, spanning many major environmental shifts and climatic changes. Therein was contained absolutely no evidence for continuous evolutionary change. Brontosaurus had remained fixed in its adaptation through a million years.

Not only did Brontosaurus remain static in form for a very long time, but when it did change, it seemed to jump forward with a quick evolutionary spurt... But in Colorado, in beds laid down a bit later than those at the top of Como Bluff, much larger brontosaurs are found... Long epochs had passed without change, followed by the sudden appearance of a new, larger species.

Brontosaurs were not the only dinosaurs from Como to support the concept of punctuated equilibrium. Allosaurus, the contemporary predator, remained fixed at one adult size... through the entire span of strata from the lower Morrison Beds right up to near the top of the formation on the Bluff. But in Colorado, in those same beds that yield giant brontosaurs, are also found giant allosaurs... Another brontosaur, Camarasaurus, seems to have followed the same pattern.

Bakker took note of the speed with which new animals appeared in the fossil record after extinction events. Concerning the appearance of duckbill dinosaurs, he said:48

The first of them appeared fifteen million years before the end of the Cretaceous. Within the next ten million years they had expanded so quickly that seven distinct genera can be found in one small outcrop of the Judith River Formation [of Montana and Alberta]. Horned dinosaurs [such as the Triceratops family] also exhibited such aggressive expansion during the same period and produced five or six genera in the Formation. These are rates of expansion every bit as fast as those clocked by the big mammalian families during the Age of Mammals.

Concerning the theory of punctuated equilibrium paleontologist Roger Lewin wrote:49

When he wrote the Origin of Species, Darwin argued that the reason that 'intermediate forms' were rare in the fossil record was the extreme incompleteness of the record: brief snapshots at long-separated intervals through time. The theory of punctuated equilibrium, while not denying that the record is incomplete, gives another interpretation: namely, that evolutionary shifts are concentrated in geologically brief periods of time and in small, peripheral populations. There is therefore little opportunity for such populations to be incorporated in the record. In other words, the pattern seen in the record -- species persisting in one form, then abruptly changing to another -- is a reflection of reality, not an artifact of the record itself.

Early Life, Creation and Evolution

Creation's chapter 4 is entitled "Could Life Originate By Chance?" I won't spend much time on it, because most of the arguments rapidly become too technical.

On page 38, paragraphs 1 and 2 discuss the spontaneous generation of life. A paraphrasing of what a reader might think after reading paragraph 2 might be: "Respected scientists in the 17th century believed in spontaneous generation of life. Louis Pasteur proved them wrong in the 19th century. Ignoring this proof, scientists continue to assume spontaneous generation occurred because it is necessary for the validity of evolutionary theory."

What is wrong with the paragraph? For one thing, the experiments which Pasteur performed did not prove that life could not generate spontaneously. He only showed that spoilage of food products and infections in living organisms were caused by the invasion of microscopic organisms. A second problem is that paragraph 2 assumes that spontaneous generation is required for evolution to be valid. This is true for some versions of the theory, but others, such as Darwin's original version, postulate the creation of an original life form by means outside the bounds of the theory and go on from there. A third problem is that paragraph 2 speaks of the spontaneous generation of life as believed in the 17th through the 19th centuries as if it were the same spontaneous generation which is spoken of today with regard to evolution. It is not. The first concept of spontaneous generation referred to the growth of organisms such as mold or maggots in a short period of time from no apparent source. Spontaneous generation as applied to evolution refers to a process which occurred billions of years ago under special circumstances over an extremely long period of time. The term "spontaneous generation" applies to both situations, but with entirely different meanings.

Paragraphs 3 through 5 discuss the speculations of evolutionist Richard Dawkins on the origin of life. After saying that the "organic soup" model is extremely improbable, and that Dawkins admits this, paragraph 5 on page 39 says:

At this point a reader may begin to understand Dawkins' comment in the preface to his book: "This book should be read almost as though it were science fiction."

Creation is clearly attempting to imply to the reader that Dawkins 'knows' he is being unrealistic and has no good arguments to make in favor of his position. But Dawkins certainly doesn't think he is unrealistic, because the preface to his book said:50

This book should be read almost as though it were science fiction. It is designed to appeal to the imagination. But it is not science fiction: it is science. Cliche or not, "stranger than fiction" expresses exactly how I feel about the truth.

The rest of chapter 4 is suspect because it relies heavily on the writings of paranormalist Francis Hitching, who has already been shown to have borrowed heavily from six-literal-day creationists. Here is a case in point. On page 44, paragraph 18 states:

The proteins needed for life have very complex molecules. What is the chance of even a simple protein molecule forming at random in an organic soup? Evolutionists acknowledge it to be only one in 10113 (1 followed by 113 zeros). But any event that has one chance in just 1050 is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening. An idea of the odds, or probability, involved is seen in the fact that the number 10113 is larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe!

This is misleading for several reasons. For one thing, no direct reference is given showing how this number was obtained, who derived it, what the conditions were, how long the time period was, etc. It turns out that it was taken from pages 67, 70-71 (pp. 50, 52-53 paperback) of Francis Hitching's book The Neck of the Giraffe, in a panel entitled "Can Life Form by Chance?" That is why Creation says that "evolutionists acknowledge" the probability to be only one in 10113 -- Creation calls Hitching an evolutionist because the author couldn't find his credentials. The argument, of course, is not attributed to anyone in particular, even though it is lifted from Hitching.

It gets worse. Hitching was merely quoting someone else's argument, which he reproduced in some detail with full attribution. The panel quotes Dr. Jean Sloat Morton, apparently a six-literal-day creationist, writing in Impact, December 1980, number 90. Impact is a publication of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, and is quoted elsewhere in Creation. Hitching's quotation said:

... let us consider a simple protein containing only 100 amino acids. There are 20 different kinds of L-amino acids in proteins, and each can be used repeatedly in chains of 100. Therefore, they could be arranged in 20100 or 10130 different ways. Even if a hundred million billion (1017) of these combinations could function for a given purpose, there is only one chance in 10113 of getting one of these required amino acid sequences in a small protein consisting of 100 amino acids.

Creation is really plagiarizing the work of a young-earth creationist in the ICR pamphlet Impact, via Hitching. Note also that in the aforementioned paragraph, Creation claims that "Evolutionists acknowledge the chances to be 1 in 10113." That is an outright lie. It is not an evolutionist who is making the claim, it is a creationist.

In any case, this is a commonly used creationist argument, and is based on incorrect assumptions such as life must have originated completely in a form that we recognize today with DNA, RNA, enzymes, etc. No one today knows enough about biology to make even an estimate of the probability of proteins arising by chance, much less that for life itself.

Even in minor ways, Creation manages to distort what the original author of the Impact article said. The statement that "mathematicians usually consider 1 chance in 1050 as negligible" is turned into "any event that has one chance in just 1050 is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening." The statement that "Sir Arthur Eddington has estimated there are no more than 1080 (or 3,145 x 1079) particles in the universe" is turned into "an idea of the odds, or probability, involved is seen in the fact that the number 10113 is larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe." There is an obvious migration from tentative statements to authoritative, and a "dumbing down." The author of Creation has no idea what he is talking about and is clearly dishonest.

The Watchtower Society has long taken the position that the earliest forms of life appeared suddenly, at the beginning of the so-called "Cambrian explosion" of life.

However, life has existed far longer than the six hundred million years since the Cambrian Period began. We will examine the Society's position on this.

The Creation book, in Chapter 5, on pages 59-63, under the sub-heading "Life Appears Suddenly," gives its readers the false impression that no fossils of multi-celled creatures from earlier than the Cambrian Period have ever been found, and that the beginning of this era corresponds with the beginning of the Genesis account of the creation of life. It also glosses over the fact that many fossils from the three billion years prior to the Cambrian have been found. On page 60 Creation states:

From this [one-celled] beginning, can any evidence at all be found to verify that one-celled organisms evolved into many-celled ones? "The fossil record contains no trace of these preliminary stages in the development of many-celled organisms," says [Robert] Jastrow. Instead, he states: "The record of the rocks contains very little, other than bacteria and one-celled plants until, about a billion years ago, after some three billion years of invisible progress, a major breakthrough occurred. The first many-celled creatures appeared on earth."

Note that Jastrow says clearly that the first many-celled creatures appeared on earth "after some three billion years of invisible progress," during which bacteria and one-celled plants lived. One celled life is still life. Jastrow also does not state that many-celled life appeared at the beginning of the Cambrian Period, but instead mentions a time "about a billion years ago." The Cambrian began about 600 million years ago, so there is a difference of some 400 million years between the time Jastrow is speaking about and the start of the Cambrian Period. But Creation's author thinks that the two time periods are the same, since immediately after the above paragraph he says:

Thus, at the start of what is called the Cambrian period, the fossil record takes an unexplained dramatic turn. A great variety of fully developed, complex sea creatures, many with hard outer shells, appear so suddenly that this time is often called an "explosion" of living things.

It is difficult to see how the author of Creation arrived at this conclusion. About what happened at the beginning of the "explosion" of hard shelled creatures he is thoroughly confused. There is so much information available about the time table of the history of life that it is clear the author of Creation does not understand his subject. If he had read the entire paragraph from which he took his first quotation from Jastrow he would have found that fossils consist not only of animal remains, but of the tracks they made. After describing the assumed early development of many-celled life from single-celled life, Jastrow says:51

The fossil record contains no trace of these preliminary stages in the development of many-celled organisms. The first clues to the existence of relatively advanced forms of life consist of a few barely discernible tracks, presumably made in the primeval slime by soft, wriggling, wormlike animals. These are found in rocks about one billion years old. Somewhat later, well-defined worm burrows appear in the record. These meager remains are the earliest traces of many-celled animal life on the planet.

Furthermore, if Creation's author had read the paragraphs immediately after the one from which he took his second quotation from Jastrow he would have found the following:52

The fossil record contains the remains of these many-celled creatures. These were primitive, soft-bodied animals; nonetheless, they were a great advance over single cells like the bacterium... During the next half billion years or so, very little happened; at least, little that is preserved in the fossil record. Then 600 million years ago, another great advance occurred. The fossil record shows that at that time the first hard-bodied creatures -- animals with external skeletons -- appeared on the earth. These were the ancestors of the clam, the starfish, the lobster, and the insect.

So the "Cambrian explosion" records the first appearance in the fossil record of multicellular animals with hard parts. This is one of the concentrated episodes of diversification of life seen so many times afterward. Precambrian life was exclusively soft-bodied and so was not likely to be preserved.

Thus it is clear that the Creation book tries to make it appear that the start of the Cambrian Period saw the beginning of complex life. The author continues to be confused about these points on page 61:

Are there fossil links between this outburst of life and what went before it? In Darwin's time such links did not exist. He admitted: "To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer." Today, has the situation changed? Paleontologist Alfred S. Romer noted Darwin's statement about "the abrupt manner in which whole groups of species suddenly appear" and wrote: "Below this [Cambrian period], there are vast thicknesses of sediments in which the progenitors of the Cambrian forms would be expected. But we do not find them; these older beds are almost barren of evidence of life, and the general picture could reasonably be said to be consistent with the idea of special creation at the beginning of Cambrian times. 'To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system,' said Darwin, 'I can give no satisfactory answer.' Nor can we today," said Romer.

Romer's paper from which Creation quotes was published in 1959. In 1989 Stephen Jay Gould, concerning the earliest life, said there is53

a rich Precambrian record, all discovered in the past thirty years... Our Precambrian record now stretches back to the earliest rocks that could contain life... morphological remains are... as old as they could possibly be. Both stromatolites (mats of sediment trapped and bound by bacteria and blue-green algae) and actual cells have been found in the earth's oldest unmetamorphosed sediments, dating to 3.5-3.6 billion years in Africa and Australia... The Precambrian record does contain one fauna of multicellular animals preceding the Cambrian explosion, the Ediacara fauna, named for a locality in Australia but now known from rocks throughout the world. But this fauna... is barely Precambrian in age. These animals are found exclusively in rocks just predating the explosion, probably no more than 700 million years old and perhaps younger... the Ediacara creatures are soft-bodied, and they are not confined to some odd enclave stuck away in a peculiar Australian environment; they represent a world-wide fauna.

This information was available in many scientific publications at the time Creation was published. Paleontologists continue to publish new findings about Precambrian life every year.

Romer's paper was correct at the time it was written, but has become outdated because of more recent discoveries. Legend has it that in the mid-nineteenth century the physicist Lord Kelvin calculated that powered flight was impossible. The Creation book would do as well to quote Kelvin to prove the impossibility of air travel as to quote Romer or Darwin on Precambrian discoveries in the fossil record. Good scholarship requires one to use the latest information on any subject.

Scientific American reported some very recent findings on the Ediacaran animals:54

We now know that the Ediacaran radiation was indeed abrupt and that the geologic floor to the animal fossil record is both real and sharp.

The article points out evidence that one-celled life has existed on earth for at least 3.5 billion years, that the "explosion" of animal life is relatively recent (about 700 million years ago), and the Cambrian "explosion" of hard-shelled animals is later still.

The section of Creation starting on page 59, under the subheading "Life Appears Suddenly," manages to disprove its own point. Paragraph 16 describes how life appeared sometime within the first billion years of the earth's history. Paragraph 17 makes the point that that first life was not so simple, as even "simple" cells are already extremely complicated compared to non-living matter. Paragraph 18 points out that it was another three billion years before multicellular life appeared. Paragraph 19 then describes the Cambrian explosion of complex sea life. Paragraph 20 says there are no links between the Cambrian life and that which came before. The remaining paragraphs then try to make the point that there was no Precambrian life at all! It should be quite obvious that if it took three billion years for life to get from one-celled to many-celled forms, it can by no stretch of the imagination be said that life appeared suddenly, which is the premise and title of the section. Quite apart from whether the evidence marshaled by Creation in this subheading is true, the evidence presented is contrary to the point being made.

The final paragraphs of Chapter 5 of the Creation book conclude that the theory of evolution is not supported by54a the fossil record, and to a great extent, it surely isn't. Instead the record can be regarded as supporting either creation or evolution, depending on one's starting assumptions. What these last paragraphs fail to note, however, is that the fossil record does not support the Genesis account either, according to the evidence presented in the previous section of this essay. As shown, Chapter 3 of Creation provides no support for Genesis. Creation errs in assuming that showing the fossil record inconsistent with evolution as it is currently envisaged automatically proves Genesis. A quotation from page 62 proves this is the author's intent:

"The creation account in Genesis and the theory of evolution could not be reconciled. One must be right and the other wrong."

There are a number of other possibilities that come to mind, not the least of which is that no one, including those who believe in Genesis, has any idea what really happened. The mere fact that major parts of the theory of evolution are in serious need of revision, and might be scrapped, does not support the creationist position. Francis Hitching, taking this view, asks:55

Why is the creationist argument, evidently plausible, open to suspicion? First, because it is quite wrong to present creation v. evolution as if they were the only two ways of looking at the problem -- as if they were two sides of the same coin. The current explanations of evolution may be scientifically puzzling or unsatisfactory, but this is not to say that evolution has not occurred. The evidence from every scientific discipline that has touched on the subject shows consistently that the earth is old, is part of an even older universe, and that evolution explains why we have so many kinds of organisms and why they look so different. Radiometric dating methods confirm Earth's antiquity. Geology shows how there were different epochs with different life forms that ran their span and became extinct. Genetics shows how living things are related to one another, and have the potential for change.

These patient researchers do not 'prove' evolution (strictly speaking, proof can be obtained only in logic and mathematics). But taken together, coming as they do from so many different viewpoints, they make an overwhelming case. Also, the way that Darwinism was found to be mistaken in various ways and replaced by neo-Darwinism, which in turn is due for demolition, says something positive about scientific method. Scientists may get stubborn about their theories, hold on to them long after their writ is run, and even conspire to present their theories as if there was nothing to be said on the other side. But history shows that in the end, as facts accumulate, a change of thinking is inevitable.

Another author comments:56

The fundamentalists who still argue for "scientific" creationism are not arguing for anything scientific at all. Their approach is to attack the foundations of evolutionary theory, and their claim is that when evolutionary theory crumbles, creation will somehow stand confirmed in its place -- not creation in general but the particular account of creation that appears in the Bible.

A third author said regarding the question of "creation-science" versus creation:57

Chandra Wickramasinghe and Fred Hoyle57a of University College in Cardiff, Wales, have

... concluded that the 10 or 15 billion-year age suggested for the universe does not allow enough time for evolution of the genetic codes found in living cells. Wickramasinghe has colorfully compared the probability of life arising from inanimate matter to the probability that "a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747." These authors have therefore argued that such improbabilities point toward an intentional and intelligent creation of living organisms.

Jacques Monod and Francis Crick, both Nobel laureates, have also argued that the enormous complexity of living cells makes prospects for their development from nonliving matter simply too slim to be worth considering. In each case, the distinguished scientist finds himself at one with the idea that life was either created by a supreme being or transported to this world from another...

... we do not have anything resembling the fossil record which would show us that the steps of chemical evolution have in fact occurred, and the suggestion that the first living cell may have been created is entirely proper. However, I do not agree with the suggestion that such a process is so improbable that it could not have happened. I am reminded of Lord Kelvin's calculations demonstrating the impossibility of powered flight and would suggest that perhaps we would do well to learn a little more about the genetic apparatus and chemical evolution before we go on to apply a final label of impossibility on the evolution of the first living cell. However, speculation such as this is entirely reasonable (however much one may disagree with the specifics), and science must make clear to the general public that the first cause of life on this planet is neither factually established, nor is it wedded to the process of biological evolution in any way.

A similar statement can be made about the origin of the universe. Our understanding of astrophysics is too primitive to permit us to put a meaningful answer to the question of why there is a universe to begin with. Some scientists even suggest that the fortunate "choice" of physical constants for atomic and subatomic particles makes life itself possible and therefore implies conscious choice of these constants by a clever and powerful creator. Fair enough. What we know about the origin of life and the origin of the universe, therefore, is certainly consistent with the existence of a creator. We would be very foolish to maintain that our advancing understanding of the cosmos and the biological world in any way argues against the existence of God. I, like many other scientists, therefore see no conflict between my religious beliefs and the work of science. This is a point worth making to all who teach and write about science...

I am somewhat saddened by the proofs advanced by the likes of Wickramasinghe and Hoyle for the existence of a creator, because their argument is based on something so tenuous in an empirical sense. Because we cannot explain how life might have originated (it looks too improbable), there must be a creator, or so they argue. One could have made the same argument 50 years ago and argued that because we cannot find (or even imagine) a chemical basis for heredity, this proves that there is a vital principle in living things traceable only to a creator and beyond our understanding in chemistry and physics. Today, thanks in large measure to the likes of Monod and Crick, we know that there is no such vital principle, and we understand a great deal about the chemical nature of heredity. If 30 more years of scientific work show that chemical evolution from nonliving matter is in fact possible, must we now conclude that God does not exist? I think not. We must therefore be very careful if we claim that our inability to understand or imagine a natural process proves creation (God's existence). Why? Because in the not too distant future we may understand that natural process all too completely and wind up as hopelessly confused as, say, Lord Kelvin being offered a ride in a Boeing 747.

So there are other valid viewpoints that the Creation book does not take into account. As expressed above, the fossil record is consistent in a broad sense with evolution or creation. However, the evidence presented in this essay forces the conclusion that the Genesis creation account is highly improbable.


Footnotes

35 Ashley Montagu, Science and Creationism, p. 55, Oxford University Press, New York, 1984.

36 ibid, p. 57.

37 ibid, p. 49.

37a A balanced view of what the fossil record contains and its relation to evolution and creation is presented in The Status of Evolution as a Scientific Theory, Robert C. Newman, et al, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, Hatfield, Pennsylvania, Research Report No. 37, 1990.

38 Roger Lewin, Human Evolution: An Illustrated Introduction, Second Edition, p. 25, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Boston, 1989.

39 Stephen M. Stanley, Extinction, p. ix, Scientific American Books, Inc., New York, 1987.

40 ibid, p. 96.

41 Rick Gore, "Extinctions," National Geographic Magazine, p. 684, Washington, D.C., June, 1989.

42 ibid, p. 664.

43 ibid, p. 689.

44 ibid, pp. 669-671.

45 Stanley, op cit, p. 17.

46 Robert T. Bakker, The Dinosaur Heresies, pp. 406-424, 436-438, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1986.

47 ibid, pp. 399-401.

48 ibid, p. 404.

49 Roger Lewin, op cit, p. 16, 1989.

50 Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, p. ix, 1976.

51 Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs, p. 249, Warner Books, Inc., New York, 1979.

52 Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe, p. 23, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1981.

53 Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, pp. 56-58, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1989.

54 Andrew H. Knoll, "End of the Proterozoic Eon," Scientific American, pp. 64-73, New York, October, 1991.

54a Paragraph 38 quotes "zoologist [Harold G.] Coffin" to say that the fossil record supports creation, not evolution. Coffin is a six-literal-day creationist. His words are quoted from the magazine Liberty, published by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. A warning flag that a reader should beware of Coffin's credentials as a zoologist is his statement beginning with "To secular scientists..." This is most curious, to see Jehovah's Witnesses quoting Seventh-Day Adventists on creation. The Society would never think of quoting them on strictly religious issues, and their insistence that the six creative days of Genesis were literal twenty four hour days would seem to disqualify them as a source reference on creation. The Society says the contention is unscriptural, in the July 22, 1987 Awake!, on page 13. As to the Society's devotion to truth, it is inexcusable that the Creation book quotes a six-literal-day creationist without telling its readers. Coffin is quoted elsewhere in the Creation book as a zoologist, with no mention that he is also a six-literal-day creationist.

Concerning Harold Coffin, Science and Creationism, (Montagu, op cit, pp. 292-293) said that he is a member of the Creation Research Society (CRS) of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was called as a defense witness for the 1982 Arkansas law requiring "equal time" for the teaching of evolution and creation in schools: "Five of the State's witnesses defending Arkansas's Act 590 are members of CRS. The impossibility of such scientists conducting research objectively, rather than searching out data that support their biblically oriented hypothesis, was brought out when counsel Ennis cross-examined CRS scientist Harold Coffin, of the Geo-science Research Institute, Loma Linda University, California. The lack of scientific credibility of such scientists quickly became apparent:

Ennis: You have had only two articles in standard scientific journals since getting your Ph.D. in 1955, haven't you?

Coffin: That's correct.

Ennis: The Burgess Shale is said to be 500 million years old, but you think it is only 5,000 years old, don't you?

Coffin: Yes.

Ennis: You say that because of information from the Scriptures, don't you?

Coffin: Correct.

Ennis: If you didn't have the Bible you could believe the age of Earth to be many millions of years, couldn't you?

Coffin: Yes, without the Bible.

Ennis: Creation science is not falsifiable, is it?

Coffin: No, it is in the same category as evolution science.

Ennis: No further questions."

55 Francis Hitching, The Neck of the Giraffe, pp. 117-120, Ticknor & Fields, New Haven, Connecticut, 1982.

Francis Hitching was discussed earlier in this essay. The Neck of the Giraffe has many interesting things to say, but it makes a number of grievous errors. Hitching seems to be ignorant of much of the latest information on the fossil record, even what was readily available prior to the 1982 publishing date. For example, he claims on page 22 that no fossils exist to indicate how the four bones in the reptile jaw were transformed into the single bone of mammals. But by 1982, many fossils intermediate in time and structure were known and thoroughly described in the technical literature. This point is addressed in some detail later in this essay.

56 Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable, p. 172, 1981.

57 Ashley Montagu, ed., op cit, pp. 58-59.

57a See also Life -- How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, p. 47.


Index