To Decay or not to Decay?
by Kyle Butt, M.A.
To the “man on the street,” one of the most impressive arguments for an ancient Earth is the testimony of sedimentary-rock layers. Scientists (and park rangers) show us examples like the Grand Canyon and present their theory so effectively that—as we observe layer after layer of sedimentary rocks piled one on top of another—the only explanation seems to be that vast amounts of geologic time must have been involved. Each division of the rocks, we are told, represents a time long ago, and an ancient world that long since has ceased to exist. Creationists, however, beg to differ, and suggest that a closer look at the “record of the rocks” suggests youth, not antiquity, for our home planet.
Embedded in sedimentary rocks all over the globe are what are known as “polystrate” fossils. Polystrate means “many layers,” and refers to fossils that cut through at least two sedimentary-rock layers. Probably the most widely recognized of the polystrate fossils are tree trunks that extend vertically through two, three, or more sections of rock that supposedly were laid down in epochs covering millions of years. However, organic material (such as wood) that is exposed to the elements will rot, not fossilize. Thus, the entire length of these tree trunks must have been preserved quickly, which suggests that the rock layers surrounding them must have been deposited rapidly—possibly (and likely) during a single catastrophe like Noah’s Flood.
Trees, reeds, catfish, whales, and the other organisms with which the fossil record abounds—and that exist as polystrate fossils—did not die and lie around for hundreds, thousands, or millions of years while slowly being preserved. Truth be told, polystrate fossils testify loudly to a young Earth whose layers formed rapidly—and not very long ago! It is a young Earth after all.