Feedback archiveFeedback 2009

Ancient proteins and bugs, and vegan cats

This week, we publish four relatively short feedbacks to three recent articles: Dino proteins and blood vessels: are they a big deal?, The cat who refuses to eat meat, and Bacteria trapped for millions of years under Antarctic ice

Dino proteins

Louis v.R. from South Africa writes:

Image: Dr Mary Schweitzer Cells and connective tissue can be clearly seen.
Cells and connective tissue can be clearly seen.

Concerning a question about the “big deal” of alleged “dino blood” you wrote:

“This blogger must be about the only one, creationist or evolutionist, who does NOT see this as a problem for the millions of years. Why else would Dr Schweitzer say she redid one experiment 17 times before she would believe the evidence of her eyes? Why would so many others express disbelief that these structures could have survived so long, and why would theories of desperation like biofilms be invented?”

If a discovery is likely to be controversial, it would be perfectly natural to test and retest one’s findings, even seventeen times or more.

Except that the statement that she made does not support your view, i.e. that it was only something done because others might see it as controversial. This quote from Science magazine (25 March 2005 p. 1852) is most revealing:

“As the fossil dissolved, transparent vessels were left behind. ‘It was totally shocking,’ Schweitzer says. ‘I didn’t believe it until we’d done it 17 times.’”

This is hardly the sort of “perfectly natural” situation you propose. Her repetition was not for others’ benefit, as you suggest, but because she needed to convince herself, as our brief comment indicated.

Why should people not be surprised that organic tissue apparently, contrary to expectation, has remained more or less intact after millions of year? (Anyway, would you have predicted that such tissue should stay intact after the mythical 6000 years of YECreationism?)

First of all, the 6,000 years of biblical creation refers to creation of the world, not to the time of formation of this fossil. We would never maintain that any fossil formed during Creation Week. Rather, as a descendant of one of the original created kinds, this particular creature was entombed a long time after creation, presumably in the global Flood catastrophe described in Genesis or in one of the many secondary catastrophes associated with such a complex event, including the post-Flood Ice Age.

Let’s just assume that it was the Deluge; that was c. 4,500 years ago. We covered this point in our previous articles on the earlier discoveries. Namely that it was surprising to have them lasting even a few thousand years, but given that this is well under the range that chemistry predicts such substances could last, it was at most a mild surprise. More as in, “Why didn’t we think to look?”, but not that it was in any way scientifically “shocking”.

Whereas the same is not true for the long-age believer. Note that these things are alleged to be at least 65 million years old, far far longer than even the most optimistic estimate for collagen protein, for instance, to be able to last even under perfect conditions. So Schweitzer’s calling it “totally shocking” is appropriate. It simply should not be there, period, and thus your word “mythical” is more appropriately applied to the 65-million-year time spans rather than a Flood documented by nearly all cultures around the globe.

Referring to “biofilm” as “theories of desperation” seems blatant rhetorical sleight-of-hand to impress the uninformed. If scientists discover something that appears to be quite new, quite naturally they will try and devise theories to explain it.

But there is a difference between explaining something, rather than seeking to explain it away. The chain of reasoning was far more of this nature:

  1. These look like blood vessels, soft tissue, etc.
  2. Those sorts of things should not last 65 million years.
  3. We “know” that the dino fossils are 65 million years old.
  4. Hence there must be another explanation.

In short, it is paradigm-driven rather than data-driven. Our brief throwaway line did not go into these sorts of subtleties, but readers were welcome to check out what we wrote on biofilms via the link that was provided in the article you read. Note that this article included powerful criticism of the biofilm claim by Dr Schweitzer herself.

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify a few points.


Carl Wieland

And Richard M. from the USA writes:

After reading this and other recent articles regarding the (lack of) antiquity of dinosaur fossils, it occurs to me that creationists should be clamoring for radiocarbon dating of such finds. The creationist worldview would require that virtually all dinosaurian skeletal remains that are not permineralized, since they are considered to be less than 6,000 years old, should have very significant levels of radiocarbon. This 6,000 year age, well within the useful range of the radiocarbon technique, is significantly less than the age of 70,000 years that creationists claim to be represented by the supposed radiocarbon content of diamonds, for example.

We agree that 14C work should be performed. But surely the onus is on the long-agers to perform these tests. After all, they are the ones needing to explain away how proteins, blood vessels and blood cells could survive that long. If there were no traces of 14C left, it would count as evidence that maybe these features really could survive for millions of years, and have more credibility than biofilms.

Indeed we would expect them to have radioactive carbon. We would not expect them to give 14C ”dates” equivalent to their real age, as explained in detail in the Creation Answers Book Chapter 4: What about carbon dating? probably due to the carbon imbalance caused by the great Flood. So in short, ”ages” of about 35,000 to 55,000 radiocarbon ‘years’ would be right in the ballpark, whereas of course no age at all should register if they were millions of years old.

If the RATE folks are willing to put such trust in measurements made at the threshold of detection,

BTW, the RATE measurements are well within the detection threshold of AMS, as explained before in Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend: Radiocarbon in diamonds: enemy of billions of years Objections.

they surely should expect to find plentiful activity in allegedly-young dinosaur bones. I have not been able to find any such reports in the scientific literature.

We would love to have access to these specimens, and radiocarbon dating of such soft tissue is the first thing we would want to arrange. I am not surprised that no such reports exist in the scientific literature. A long-ager would be regarded as weird to even suggest doing such a thing. Because if an “age” comes back, it has to be regarded as contamination somehow. What would be the point, when they “know” that these are millions of years old?

Why not suggest it to Dr Schweitzer yourself?

Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati

Vegan cat

Anne S. from Australia writes:

Photo stock.xchng Cat
For a cat to refuse all meat and fish in favour of only vegetables is unheard of. To see a picture of Dante eating his vegetables, click here

Not discounting your vegan cat but God also created humans and animals to be meat eaters because remember it was God who said …

Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.(Genesis 9:3)

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. (1 Timothy 4:4–6)

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. (Romans 14:1–3)

I have no problem with those who prefer to eat only vegetables as I would hope they have no problem with me eating meat, I am very thankful for both and rejoice that I have the freedom to eat and enjoy them without worrying if it offends others or God. Yes others may be offended but that is their choice not mine or Gods.

Christian Love Anne S.

Dear Anne

Many thanks for your gracious letter.

Your opening line indicates that we may not have made the main point of our article sufficiently clear (although the links contained therein should have explained matters).

Genesis 9:3 refers to humans being permitted to eat meat after the Flood, and the verse itself harks back to Genesis 1:30 (“as I gave you the green plants, I now give you”). This clearly shows that all living creatures were originally (prior to the Fall) created to not dine on each other. The point is that death and suffering in the animal world is real, and is hard to envisage as part of the “very good” world God created preFall. The first record of death is after the Fall and its associated Curse. The groaning of creation talking about in Romans 8 is from the effects of the Curse brought about by the first Adam, and creation is to be liberated from that bondage to decay (see this exegesis of Romans 8).

Even more importantly, Revelation clearly teaches

  1. that there is a time coming when there will be no more death and suffering
  2. that this is associated with the lifting of the Curse. (Rev 22:3)

Even a partial restoration envisaged in Isaiah 11:6–9 and 65:25 refers to the lion and the calf, and the wolf and the lamb lying together. Clearly a frightened antelope having its throat ripped open does not match the notion of either the restored world, or the originally ‘very good’ world. Otherwise why would these passages close with ‘They shall not hurt or destroy … ’ ‘They shall do no evil or harm … ’? And commentators agree that these Isaiah passages were alluding to Edenic conditions (see The carnivorous nature and suffering of animals).

Of course, God knowing of the Curse, designed features into His created world to enable the system to cope with the effects of the Fall, etc. We explain this in detail and over a number of examples in the articles under If the original creation was very good, why do many living things have features for attacking others? And after the Flood had wiped out many plant species (perhaps many of which enabled much easier nutrition then than now from plant sources alone, as per the Pollen-eating spiders) He graciously permitted even mankind to eat meat in the verse you cited. Our article was not in any way criticizing meat-eating by Christians today.

Kind regards in Christ,

Carl Wieland

Bacteria trapped for “millions of years” under Antarctic ice

Photo stock.xchng Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Ben J. (USA) writes:

As a fellow Christian and believer of “ancient earth” science, I have to take exception with your article dismissing the idea that bacteria could survive for millions of years under layers of ice. (“Bacteria trapped for millions of years under Antarctic ice”)

Did you thoroughly check the facts and explanations behind this incredible find?


Please take a few minutes of your time to read the following article, which delves into much of the science behind this finding: http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=7076

OK, and … ?

Christianity (with a correct interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis!) and good science are fully compatible.

Indeed it is, which is the whole point of our ministry!

I realize the mission of your organization is to try and disprove an ancient earth,

No it’s not, as you would have found out if you’d actually read our Statement of Faith. Our mission is to uphold the authority of God’s Word; disproving billions of years is a corollary. E.g. in my Critique of the introductory chapter of your fellow long-ager Hugh Ross book A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy:

As Ross should know full well, our emphasis is not on the issue of the length of day or the date of creation. Rather, our emphasis is on biblical authority. A recent creation date is merely a corollary—it follows not only from a grammatical-historical understanding of the days of Genesis and the chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, but also from the Bible’s teaching that death is the result of Adam’s sin.

but please pay attention to what science has uncovered.

I do. That’s why I earned a doctorate in physical chemistry.

Many “ancient earth” scientists Such as Michael Behe are believers.

And very confused, as our recent review showed—Clarity and confusion. But this is a natural result of trying to mix two diametrically opposed belief systems. For another example, see Church of England apologises to Darwin: Anglican Church’s neo-Chamberlainite appeasement of secularism.

There is so much overwhelming, indisputable physical evidence for an ancient earth.

Elephant hurling. Yet selective circumstantial evidence can’t over-rule the reliable eye-witness account from the Creator in Genesis, which was accepted by the other biblical writers as real history. And even under your own uniformitarian assumptions, many more methods indicate a far younger age than billions (albeit still “ancient”; 6000 years is extremely ancient; it’s only evolutionary conditioning that makes people think this vast age is “young”).

God did not create the universe in six literal days.

So why did He say He did, in Exodus 20:8–11? See also Creation Answers Book, chapter 2: Six days? really?

There was a huge gap between the moment the cosmos was created, when God created the earth, when he created early life, and eventually his greatest work, man.

Where is this huge gap in Scripture? See also Creation Answers Book Chapter 3: What about gap theories?

Clinging to an outdated belief

The truth of any document is not determined by the calendar but by the correspondence to facts. Chronological snobbery (aka ancient people were stupid) does you no credit, as I’ve explained before in Does it matter which is right? Did God really mean to teach real history in Genesis?

does more to hinder our spreading of the Gospel than you can imagine!

Would you care to see our answer to this exact same claim, Biblical creation impedes evangelism?

Consider that once upon a time, the Church taught that the earth was flat,

No they didn’t. See The Myth of the Flat Earth (Summary by historian Prof. Jeffrey Burton Russell, author of the book Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus & Modern Historians (ISBN 027595904X, 1991)). Maybe you should likewise reconsider what else you think you know.

hell was literally below our feet, and that the sun and planet’s orbited the sun. The church cited biblical passages (misinterpreted) as alleged proof of these ideas, which today you and I find silly.

Why not read what really happened with Galileo instead of relying on popular revisionist “science v religion” historiographies.

Eventually Christians will look back on an era when many still believed that our planet, and the physical universe, were less than 10,000 years old. The question is, how much longer will you work to drag on with this old, destructive thinking?

The real question is: How long will you continue to ask leading questions?

Yours in Christ,
Ben Jefferson

Which Christ? The one who said that God made a man and a woman from the beginning of creation not billions of years later, and affirmed the parts of Scripture most scoffed at today?

Jonathan Sarfati (Ph.D. Chemistry)

Recommended Resources

Published: 16 May 2009

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