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Creation 23(1):45, December 2000

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles below.

Fossil folly

A misleading museum display seems to want to exclude the truth of Genesis ‘by definition’


Increasingly, people are questioning long-age dogma, and becoming aware of creation evidences. The museum sign above, perhaps in reaction to this, seeks to redefine the meaning of words to exclude the biblical truth of history. Click for larger view.

Museum displays promoting evolution abound (see, for example, ‘Ape woman statue misleads public’, Creation 19(1):52, 1997). However, a fossil display at the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Valley, USA, brazenly takes anti-biblical indoctrination to a new extreme. In large print (see photo), they have defined a fossil as ‘Any evidence of life more than 7,000 years old.’

In just a few words, this amazing definition dismisses the Genesis account of creation by simply defining it out of existence. By adding up the chronologies in the Bible, it is clear that all life (and indeed the entire heavens and earth) was created in six days, only six or seven thousand years ago. But according to this museum’s definition, any time you see a fossil, it is, by definition, evidence of life existing before then. Visitors to the museum could logically conclude, therefore, that the Bible must be wrong.

One could almost think that the ‘7,000 year’ figure was deliberately chosen to undermine the authority of Scripture

But scientific dictionaries and textbooks show the museum to be in error. Chambers Science and Technology Dictionary defines a fossil as ‘The relic or trace of some plant or animal which has been preserved by natural processes in rocks of the past.’1 No mention of 7,000 years there. Nor in The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science: ‘fossil (Latin fossilis ‘dug up’), remains of an animal or plant preserved in rocks’. Fossils may be formed by refrigeration (for example, Arctic mammoths in ice); carbonization (leaves in coal); formation of a cast (dinosaur or human footprints in mud); or mineralization of bones, more generally teeth or shells.’2 My undergraduate biology and geology textbooks3,4 similarly defined fossils as preserved evidence of organisms that lived in the past—without any stipulation whatever as to their minimum age.

So where did this figure of ‘7,000 years’ come from? It certainly has no basis in science. And it ignores the many examples of relics or traces of life that have been preserved in recent history.5

One could almost think that the ‘7,000 year’ figure was deliberately chosen to undermine the authority of Scripture. Certainly its effect would be to cause many people to doubt the Bible. Given the prevalence of such misleading museum displays, it is not surprising that Christians are warned to ‘test everything’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and not be taken captive by the deceptive philosophy and counsel of ungodly men (Colossians 2:8; Psalm 1:1).

References and notes

  1. Walker, P.M.B. [ed], Chambers Science and Technology Dictionary, W. & R. Chambers Ltd, Edinburgh, UK, p. 361, 1991. Return to text.
  2. Lafferty, P. and Rowe, J. [eds], The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science, Helicon, Oxford, UK, p. 250, 1994. Return to text.
  3. Curtis, H., Biology 4th Ed., Worth Publishers Inc., New York, NY, USA, p. 1095, 1983. Return to text.
  4. Press, F. and Siever, R., Earth 4th Ed., W.H. Freeman and Co., New York, NY, USA, p. 633, 1986. Return to text.
  5. For example, ‘Fast fossils bug those long-agersCreation 16(3):7, 1994, ‘Tarawera’s night of terrorCreation 18(1):16–19, 1996, ‘The clock in the rockCreation 19(3):6, 1997, ‘Fascinating fossil fence-wireCreation 20(3):6, 1998. Note that a clock or fence wire is a ‘trace’ of an organism in a similar sense to a fossilised insect cocoon, for instance. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

James H.
The definition uses circular logic. It's like pointing to a box and saying "That's a frog." Well, what then is a frog? "It's a box."

It's a box because it's a frog.
It's a frog because it's a box.
A fossil is evidence of life older than 7,000 years.
Evidence older than 7,000 years is a fossil.
Aiden B.
Not only is this religion of evolutionism disguised in the name of "science" taught in public schools as "scientific fact" and in movies, parks, etc. but also in museums. Sad to know almost everywhere you turn there is this religion displayed as "scientific fact" dogmatically but in reality there is no observational evidence to conclude an evolutionary explanation. Thankfully CMI, as many others, present the creation view which is the correct view derived from the Bible.
Damien S.
When I first read the inscription I found it confusing. I missed how it was a definition. It looked like it was asking and trying answer if there are fossils over 7,000 years old. But it didn't have a question mark. And I couldn't read the text in the image as it is too unclear since the resolution is too low. It did seem strange to define or restrict it rather to being over 7,000 years old. That would mean the "fossilized" remains of a known creature younger than 7,000 years old, wouldn't be considered a fossil. Bizarre! :-P
Jamil A.
The reason they put this sign is because they want to hide the truth and because of conviction. If the bible is a myth and the earth is not 6000 years old and the billions of years can be proved scientifically, then there is no need to fight against it because lies self defeat themselves and fall apart without any effort. Why doesn't anyone fight against Islam, Buddhism. It's always Christianity which is under fire!
We are in a spiritual warfare and Jesus warned how people in the last days will deny the truth and be lovers of lies and themselves more than God.
I pray for the lost and ask that God reveal himself to them as he did to me 14 years ago. God bless you CMI team as always!
Wayne O.
So, in the mind of that Curator, when I periodically see in weathered concrete footpaths and driveways an exposed leaf or twig which had been buried in the concrete when first laid I am not seeing a fossil even though it has been buried in a manner similar to 'official' fossils which shuts out oxygen etc to preserve all the fine detail and substance of a fossil. It seems the rules change when the world view of that Curator is challenged.
G. P.
Wouldn't it be ironic if their choice of dates actually would make people wonder what the Bible says that they are trying so hard to cover up?
Jay M.
The last gasps of a desperate religion. My prayers go out to whoever made this *convenient* error, and that the museum corrects it. May Jesus be glorified through his creation, Amen.
B. W.
But as it happens all of those fossils *are* older than 7000 years. Geology, radioactive isotope physics, and archaeology all independently arrive at consistent dates much much older than 7000 years. And my Oxford English Dictionary reads "Fossil, noun: 1: the remains or impression of **prehistoric** plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form, 2: (derogatory or humorous) a person or thing that is outdated or resistant to change" [emphasis my own]. So maybe the museum was using fossil in the common and non-technical sense, in which case it's about spot on that human records don't go much further back than 7000 years.
David Catchpoole
Not so. Reliable records go back to the very beginning of time, about 6,000 years ago. (The Bible, of course.)
michael S.
Jesse M, people do not see what you have highlighted because it would not matter if the Lord Himself went before them, their eyes are veiled. They have hardened their heart so like Pharaoh, the Lord has honoured their decision, and led them in slippery places. They have talked themselves into evolution. As you have probably noticed, it's mostly political these days, it seems to be 95% rhetorical garbage that even pre-teens could find fallacious.

I am not against the genuinely intellectual evolutionist who at least knows his/her stuff inside out, but the tumult of bandwagon buffoons is becoming a deluge! It seems words, or indeed, "epithets" and "rhetoric" is now the name of the game.

It's 'MAKE the Creationist look bad with our words, BECAUSE we can't rebut them logically!!'
Nicholas P.
Ha ha! When I saw that definition I couldn't help but laugh! We must really be getting under their nerves! This shows their complete bias and hatred for anything that refutes their (little "g") god. They so desperately want to live the Romans chapter 1 life that they will change the meaning of words to preserve their completely illogical beliefs.
Timothy C.
Anti-creationists also seem to define logic, understanding and scientific literacy as evolution-exclusive as well. It comes as no surprise to me that they try to make the definition of a fossil evolution exclusive too. I'm going to do a Youtube video on this! What's the name of the museum?

PS: I like to keep the distinction between "evolutionist" and "anti-creationist." One defends evolution rationally and scientifically, while the other defends evolution irrationally and religiously (like that museum display, it's clear the work of anti-creationists).
David Catchpoole
As nearly 12 years have now elapsed since this article was published in Creation magazine (and probably 13 years or more since the photograph was taken), given the normal museum cycles of upgrading/replacing displays by curators, it would be likely that this display has long ago been changed. And indeed, an online search reveals that the Dinosaur Valley museum site has now closed, with the Museum of Western Colorado now channeling its resources into its 'Dinosaur Journey' museum site.
Chuck J.
The father of all lies, Satan, and his secularist allies are leaving no stone unturned in propapating the lie of evolution. Part of the process is to repeat it often enough to make it appear as fact. Your ministry is important to help educate as many as possible. Do not despair. God's truth has already won and will one day be apparent to all.
Adam S.
This museum obviously lacks credibility straight up as they can't even define 'fossil' properly.

But I can just imagine the furor had the sign read a more pessimistic: 'Evidence of Death about 4,500 years ago'.
Jesse M.
Do the people that run this museum really think that anyone will fall for that? Wow, this just shows that the anti-creationists really are getting desperate. The fact that they have to keep moving the goalposts in order to win their argument is just revealing. Let's see:
1) We point out that molecules-to-man evolution violates the definition of the word "science" and that creation and evolution are two frameworks through which the same evidence is interpreted, so they redefine the word "science" in such a way to make evolution "scientific" and to exclude creation.
2) We point out that many people with the same credentials as secular scientists reject evolution, so they redefine the word "scientist" in such a way to exclude any opposition to evolutionary dogma.
And now they are redefining what a fossil is? This is absurd! How do people not know better?
Grahame G.
Well, perhaps not deliberate on the part of the human who wrote it - that person (or persons) may have simply got confused (which in itself is scary in a place that's supposed to be about education), but one can be almost certain it was deliberate by 'the god of evolution'.

It's certainly not a valid definition of the word "fossil"!
Chandrasekaran M.
The museum has highlighted only their conclusion. But will they put in fine print at least like many commercial product labels the assumptions that long-age history scientists have made to arrive at the conclusion?

Will they ever in fine print say how they have calibrated their fossil dating methods?

Why are the long-age atheists and agnostics mad at the Bible only?
Will they ever challenge Hinduism or Islam or any other creation stories?

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