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Is Fossil Order a Problem for Creationists?

Why is there an apparent order in the fossil record from simple life to more complex? In the Flood Model marine creatures would be buried before land animals. But is the standard Geologic Column valid? There are places on the earth where ALL the geologic periods overlay the Pre-Cambrian (Pre-Flood). In fact, 23.2% of the Ordovician is directly on top of the Pre-Cambrian and 18.6% of the Devonian is directly on top of the Pre-Cambrian. [1]

How do we explain the order where it does exist (e.g. Grand Canyon and correlated deposits)? Harold Clark proposed his ecological zonation theory back in 1946 in his book The New Diluvialism – animals in habitats at higher elevations would be buried later during the Deluge. [2] There a number of factors that explain the observed order of fossils.

· Pre-Flood Biogeography (Ecological Zonation)
· Early Burial of Marine Creatures (95% of all fossils are shallow marine organisms)
· Hydrodynamic Sorting (diameter, sphericity and density)
· Behavior & Higher Mobility of Vertebrates (instinct and intelligence)

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How do creationists predict the fossil sequence? Birds are found later in the record since they can escape a Flood more easily. Creation Geology Theory predicts the initial strata would show great diversity – that’s what the Cambrian Explosion is all about. Another important factor is that there are Pre-Flood, Deluge and Post-Flood deposits.  Andrew Snelling places the start of the Post-Flood era around the KT boundary. [3]

The Cambrian Explosion, where a wide diversity of life appears suddenly, is consistent with Global Flood Theory, but is a great headache for anti-creationists – Darwin’s Dilemma. As Stephen Jay Gould (d. 2002) stated, “… if the true ancestors of Cambrian creatures lacked hard parts, why have we not found them in the abundant deposits that contain the soft-bodied Ediacara fauna?” [4]

Vertebrates have been found in the Lower Cambrian. [5] In 1969, it was thought that the first vertebrate appeared in the Middle Ordovician. [6] According to The Complete Encyclopedia of Fossils, jawless fish (Pteraspis) appear in the Cambrian. [7] Wikipedia still places them in the Devonian! In 1988, The Washington Post reported on jawless fish found in Bolivia and dated at 470M (Early Ordovician), 20 million years older than previously dated. The BBC reported on a jawless fish found in the Lower Cambrian in China! Apparent bird tracks have been found in Carboniferous strata, over 150M before Archaeopteryx! [8]

Are there mammals in lower layers? Yes! In 1969 it was thought that the first mammals began about 170 million years ago. [9] Now it is accepted that the first mammal existed 260 million years ago – that’s a difference of 90M! Mammal footprints have been found in rocks at least 275M and, in similar fashion, horse hoofprints have been found in strata at least 350M (this would put horses at 300 million years older than previously thought). [10] Likewise, cuttlefish were found in the Lower Cambrian in 1974 thus extending their range back 400M! [11] In 1958 echinoids were thought to go back as far as the Middle Ordovician, but since then have been found in the Lower Cambrian – a change of tens of millions of years! Before 1963, it was generally accepted that Belemnoids first appeared in the Triassic. Actually, they were discovered in the Devonian in 1843. [12]

Empire Mountain exhibits a reversal in the accepted order where the Permian rests on the Cretaceous (out-of-order) with no evidence of a thrust plane, but actually having an unconformity which indicates erosion.  If we consider this as an overthrust, then only catastrophism associated with the Flood can explain such massive rock movements.  John Morris tells how 50 large carbonate blocks moved over 30 miles at an incline of less than two degrees.  Catastrophic Plate Tectonics may help power this mass movement. [13]

1) “The Essential Nonexistence of the Evolutionary-Uniformitarian Geological Column: A Quantitative Assessment” by John Woodmorappe, Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1, June 1981, pp. 46-71, p. 67.
2) “ecological zonation” “global flood” gets 727 hits on Google, 12-14-10.
3) Earth’s Catastrophic Past by Andrew Snelling (Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, TX, 2009, Vol. 2), pp. 751-761.
4) Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1989), p. 59.
5) Snelling, p. 352.
6) Historical Geology 3e by Carl Dunbar and Karl Waage, (John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1969), p. 208.
7) The Complete Encyclopedia of Fossils by Martin Ivanov, Stanislava Hrdlickova, and Ruzena Gregorova (Rebo Intl., Netherlands, 2001, 2002 ed.), p. 244.
8) Snelling, p. 356.
9) Dunbar and Waage, p. 364.
10) “An Anthology of Matters Significant to Creationism and Diluviology: Report 1” by John Woodmorappe, Creation Research Society Quaterly, Vol. 16, No. 4, Mar. 1980, p. 211.
11) “Significant Fossil Discoveries Since 1958: Creationism Confirmed” by Marvin Lubenow, Creation Research Society Quaterly, Vol. 17, No. 3, Dec. 1980, pp. 155-157.
12) “The Cephalopods in the Creation and the Universal Deluge” by John Woodmorappe, Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 2, Sep. 1978, pp. 94-112, p. 101.
13) “Catastrophic Superfaults and the Biblical Flood” by John Morris, Acts & Facts, April 2009, p. 23.

Read Jay Hall’s book:

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YES – Young Earth Science and the Dawn of a New World View

What is Young Earth Science (YES)? How old is the world? Are radiometric dating methods reliable? Is Darwinism substantiated by scientific evidence and valid arguments? How does the Renaissance of Catastrophism relate to the age of the Earth? Has plate tectonics occurred more rapidly in the past? These and other queries are answered in this exciting new fully documented work. This widely illustrated book features support from history, philosophy, geology, biology and physics. Discover this creative and multidisciplinary approach which provides affirmation that this planet is thousands of years old and not billions . . . (continue reading)

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Written by Jay Hall

Jay Hall has been an origins activist since the 1970’s. Hall is fmr. Assistant Mathematics Professor at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. He has an M.S. in Mathematics and has 53 credit hours of Science courses in various disciplines. He has written Calculus is Easy and his new book YES – Young Earth Science defends a young earth from History, Geology, Biology and Philosophy. Search yes jay hall on Google or Amazon to find the book.

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