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Feedback archiveFeedback 2007

Inaria, Kimberella and ‘primitive’ myths

This week's feedback is from Bill P of South Australia. Andrew Lamb replies.

Ediacara stamps

8 September 2007
Dear Sirs,
I came across these postage stamps recently. The pictures depict “The first creatures”. Are they really examples of primitive beings?
How would you describe them?
Wondering,
Bill P
Ediacara fossil

Countless millions of fossilized jellyfish and other soft creatures are contained in an extensive layer of sandstone at Ediacara in South Australia.

Dear Bill

Thank you for your letter of 26 July, with two ‘First Creatures’ stamps.

I came across these postage stamps recently.

Indeed evolutionary propaganda is depressingly ubiquitous these days.

The creatures depicted on those stamps, Inaria and Kimberella, both belong to a set of creatures called the Ediacaran fauna, named after a range of hills in Australia where their fossils are common. Articles we have published that mention or discuss Ediacaran fossils include Fossil jellyfish greeted with derision!, Fossil surprise, and ‘Holy Grail’ or another evolutionary tale?

The pictures depict “The first creatures”.

From the supremely reliable eyewitness history of the world recorded by God in the Bible, we know that the first creatures were fish (i.e. sea creatures) and birds (i.e. flying creatures), created on Day 5 (Genesis 1:21–23). Since Inaria and Kimberella are sea creatures, they would indeed have been among the ‘first creatures.’ However, they are emphatically not ‘first creatures’ in the evolutionary sense of the term, i.e. they are not organisms that preceded by mythical millions of years other different kinds of organisms that supposedly evolved later on. Their fossils are found in some of the lowest1 strata of the world’s sedimentary rocks, but this indicates not that they are millions of years older than creatures whose fossils are found in higher strata, but rather that they were among the first to be buried when the fountains of the great deep burst open, ushering in the Flood (Genesis 7:11).

Are they really examples of primitive beings?

The idea that some creatures are ‘primitive’ is an ignorant myth, promulgated by those who for philosophical (not scientific) reasons believe in evolution.

No, the creatures depicted on those stamps, Inaria and Kimberella, are not primitive. Even the smallest single-celled organisms are phenomenally complex—how much more so multi-cellular creatures like Inaria and Kimberella. The idea that some creatures are ‘primitive’ is an ignorant myth, promulgated by those who for philosophical (not scientific) reasons believe in evolution. Many school science textbooks still push this myth, using misleading terms like ‘simple cell’. For more examples of common errors still found in textbooks see Kid con, Encyclopedic ‘truth’…or worldly wisdom? and our review of Icons of Evolution.

Photo: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC)

Scientists have studied thousands of different living organisms, and not a single one has ever been found that is not mind-boggling in its complexity. The most complex machines ever built by mankind, e.g. the space shuttle, cannot match living creatures in sophistication. Living creatures can repair and reproduce themselves, something no man-made machine can yet do. Mankind’s machines are so comparatively simple that men can design and build them, but no human has ever designed or built a living organism. Claims that scientists are on the cusp of creating synthetic life are quite misleading, in that any such ‘man-made’ organisms would be largely, if not completely, comprised of designs and parts pirated from nature.

And since no living organism has ever been found to be primitive, on what basis could anyone say that fossil organisms—many of which have living counterparts today—were ‘primitive’? It is because they want evolution to be true that some scientists argue that extinct organisms like Inaria were primitive. (As one evolutionist professor of philosophy put it, ‘I want atheism to be true … I don’t want there to be a God’.2) This idea that some fossil organisms are primitive is itself a faith position, i.e. a belief, and one that has come to grief in the past when organisms thought to have been extinct turn up alive and well—often completely overturning preconceived ideas about their supposed evolution in the process. See for example Correcting the headline: ‘Coelacanth’ yes; ‘ancient’ no.

How would you describe them?

As one evolutionist professor of philosophy put it, ‘I want atheism to be true … I don’t want there to be a God’.2

Perhaps as carbon-based, chemically-fuelled, water-cooled, self-replicating, self-diagnostic, self-repairing sub-marine machines (adapted from anatomist David Kaufmann’s description of the human body as the ‘Ultimate Machine’).3 But let’s look at some descriptions of even ‘simpler’ creatures—one-celled organisms. Chemist Dr Stephen Grocott in A handy argument against evolution says ‘The mind boggles at the complexity of the simplest single-celled organism—and the more we learn, the more complex it looks.’ Geological engineer Dr John Morris says ‘even the smallest single-celled organism … is complex beyond our own ability to understand, let alone recreate … Even the simplest cell is more complex than a super-computer … ’4

Some single-celled organisms have rotary motors for propulsion—see The amazing motorized germ.5 Others are able to thrive under conditions once thought lethal to all life—see Life at the extremes. Even the meanest cell contains a dazzling and mind-boggling array of intricately integrated machinery:

The cell has been compared, not just to a super-computer, but to a thriving metropolis full of industries, buildings, and factories, each containing super-computers, all functioning together to make this metropolis function. The ability of a cell to carry out its variety of functions, to repair itself when damaged, and to reproduce offspring of like complexity is beyond the ability of any item created by human ingenuity. Obviously, living systems bear the stamp of God’s creative activity and could not be the result of chance processes.6

And as even one evolutionist textbook acknowledged ‘Even the most primitive cells are enormously complex structures … In single-celled organisms all the functions of life are performed within the confines of one microscopic package.’7

But the consequences of attributing everything to blind impersonal forces can be horrific…

The extreme level of complexity in a single living cell can be easier to grasp from images, especially moving images. Harvard University have produced a stunning movie of complex cellular machinery in action, called The Inner Life of the Cell. (See also this explanatory User’s Guide). I think even the most committed evolutionist would find it difficult to watch the scenes of lanky-legged kinesin proteins ‘walking’ their cargo vesicles along filamentous microtubules, like a tightrope walker carrying a giant sack, and at the same time still deny design. This would be a good link to share with others.8,9 For a DVD with some superb computer graphics of cellular genetic machinery in operation, I recommend Unlocking the Mystery of Life.

Photo by UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

The inside of a paua/abalone shell. Materials scientists are interested in its great strength, and hope to learn how to make body armour using its techniques. Technology copying the designs of life is called biomimetics.

In developing new technologies and materials, the practice of copying designs found in living organisms is now so common that it has its own name, biomimetics. (An exciting new book on this topic by CMI’s Jonathan Sarfati is nearing completion. [Now published and available: By Design: Evidence for nature’s Intelligent Designer—the God of the Bible—Ed.]) For some examples of biomimetics, see ‘Primitive’ cell inspires advanced robot mini-sub, Crayfish tail inspires Mars robot design, Amazing abalone armour and Car-maker copies boxfish design, and many other examples under What is biomimetics? How have designs in nature inspired human designers?

Wondering,

People tend to do a lot of that when contemplating the awesome majesty of the world, whether on the macro scale of a starry night sky, or the micro scale of exquisite cellular machinery. Militant atheist Sam Harris derided geneticist Francis Collins for coming to faith in Jesus Christ after beholding a beautiful frozen waterfall: ‘What does the “mode of thought” displayed by Collins have in common with science?’, Harris seethed. But this reaction would seem hypocritical, because leading evolutionists frequently appeal to the grandeur of nature as some kind of self-evidence for superiority of evolution. In fact atheist Richard Dawkins, for the title of one of his books, even coined a term for this—‘Science as Epiphany’—a term which well encapsulates the religious nature of this idea. Consider also Darwin’s closing comment in On the Origin of Species:

‘There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’10

But the consequences of attributing everything to blind impersonal forces can be horrific—for a chilling review of where the philosophy of Darwin, Dawkins and Harris has led in the past, see the video clip Fools Heart .

Far better to give honour to our Creator, than to churlishly deny the obvious (Romans 1:20), recalcitrantly attributing the wonders of Creation to some deified force of nature like ‘Evolution’, and to the faux trinity of Mother Nature, Father Time, and Child Chance.

Bill P

Yours sincerely

Andrew Lamb

Information Officer

References

  1. ‘Lowest’ and ‘highest’ here are referring to position in the geological column. In many places around the world, the sediments (now rock) laid down early in the Flood, and allocated by scientists to the bottom of the geological column, now form high mountain ranges, due to tectonic upheavals in the late stages of the Flood. See the articles listed under the heading ‘Is there any type of order in the fossil record?’ within the topic ‘Fossils’ in our Frequently Asked Questions index. Re ‘fossil record’, when an evolutionist uses this term it carries the connotation that the mythical millions of years are true, and that the deep layers of sedimentary rocks around the world are a record of those millions of years. But the rocks record primarily just one single year, the Flood year, out of the whole 6,000 years of earth’s history. Creationist need to exercise caution in using this ‘loaded’ term. Return to Text.
  2. Thomas Nagel, The Last Word, Oxford University Press, 1997, page 30; cited in: Evolutionist antipathy, Journal of Creation 15(2):80, 2001:
    In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions… in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself.…I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally, hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. Return to Text.
  3. The Ultimate Machine: Carl Wieland interviews human anatomist Dr David Kaufmann, Creation 29(2):16–18, March 2007. Return to Text.
  4. John Morris, geological engineering, in In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation, New Holland Publishers (Australia), 1999; page 288. Return to Text.
  5. For more on the bacterial flagellum, see Rotary motors in the bacterial flagellum, The Amazing Cell, Design in living organisms (motors), and Chapter 3 ‘Row, row, row your boat’ of Darwin’s Black Box (see especially diagrams pages 60 and 71). Return to Text.
  6. Ref. 4; page 289. Return to Text.
  7. Hickman, et al., Integrated Principles of Zoology, 1997; page 43, cited by biologist Jerry Bergman in In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation, New Holland Publishers (Australia), 1999, page 16. Return to Text.
  8. For readers who may be interested, CMI has the following video clips online: Other online video clips not produced or owned by CMI but featuring CMI’s Dr Sarfati can be found by entering ‘Jonathan Sarfati’ in the YouTube search field. Return to Text.
  9. See also the ATP Synthase cellular motor animation by Professor Donald Nicholson of the University of Leeds (click the image to activate the animation), and North Dakota State University’s Virtual Cell Animation Archive and the animations listed under ‘Cellular Structure and Function’ at North Harris College’s ‘Anatomy & Physiology I Animations Movies & Interactive Tutorial Links’ webpage <http://science.nhmccd.edu/biol/ap1int.htm#cell>. And many diagrams and still images of mind-bogglingly complex cellular machinery can be found using Google Images <http://images.Google.com> by entering the names of cellular components such as ‘ATPase’, ‘flagellum’, ‘ribosome’, etc. Return to Text.
  10. Darwin, On the Origin of Species, last page, <http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species/chapter-14.html>. Return to Text.

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