Feedback archiveFeedback 2019

Is the fossil record ‘overwhelming evidence for evolution’?

No, it’s evidence for Creation!

Published: 20 April 2019 (GMT+10)

A commenter from Australia describes some of his exchanges with evolutionists and asks about some of the claims they made:

If evolution is only a philosophy, how do you explain all the fossils to support evolution? I was recently called an idiot, and very ignorant for believing in creation. I was told the evidence for evolution is overwhelming considering the thousands of fossils displayed in many museums around the world. These fossils include thousands of intermediate fossils to such an extent that evolution is no longer beyond reasonable doubt. I was told that people who don’t believe in evolution have never visited these museums, or considered the evidence, instead they deliberately ignore it. The majority of scientists say that evolution is one of the most robust and corroborated of modern scientific theories.
Fossils-by-evolutionary-prediction
Figure 1. Evolution predicts that diversity precedes disparity through time; i.e. new species give rise to new genera and families, and so on. Disparity grows as separate lineages diverge, and extinction only serves to accentuate disparity. (After The Cambrian explosion and Meyer.1)

CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:

Thanks for writing in. Life will be much easier if you don’t give credence to these skeptics. By your own account, all they’ve done is insult you, committed the bandwagon fallacy, and given you a bunch of unsubstantiated claims. Don’t let them put you off balance. The following questions will help you see what is going on, restore your confidence, and help you ride over such hostile attacks.

Listening to scoffers

First, why should we give credence to people we don’t know who call us idiots? Their confidence doesn’t prove they’re right; it only proves that they’re confident in and arrogant about what they believe.

Second, why give credence to someone who makes such obvious blunders as claiming that creationists have never visited natural history museums and seen the fossils on display? These blunders prove they don’t know what they’re talking about. Who on earth seriously believes that skeptics of evolution have never set foot into a natural history museum? You can show this is ridiculous by looking at some articles on creation.com about fossils and noting the level of scientific competence of the writers. Note also that there are creationists with PhDs in paleontology (e.g. Marcus Ross and Kurt Wise). These creation scientists are familiar with fossil claims and with natural history museum exhibits. There are also plenty of creation geologists who have done fieldwork either on fossils specifically, or involving fossils (e.g. Steve Austin). It is the other way around. It is the skeptics who are uninformed about creationist research and writings.

Third, did they say anything more specific than “the evidence for evolution is overwhelming considering the thousands of fossils displayed in many museums around the world?” Did they give concrete examples or just wave their arms and say, “these fossils include thousands of intermediate fossils to such an extent that evolution is no longer beyond reasonable doubt”? I have found that when someone makes such confident assertions that you disagree with, we are well within our rights to ask them to back up their claims with specific examples. Indeed, that is an essential strategy.

The case for evolution from the fossils

Evolutionists do present a case from the fossils, and it goes something like this: we find fossils that are different from each other, and every now and then we find fossils that have a form that has some features in common with one fossil, and some in common with another. They usually also have some unique traits, but in many respects, their form is somewhat of a mix of the traits of the first fossils we found. This gets repeated from time to time, making the gaps in form between different creatures somewhat smaller, making it easier to think that such differences can be bridged through mindless processes of biological change. When we assess the overall patterns of these forms according to certain assumptions (on which see Cladistics, evolution, and the fossils), they give the impression that they fit quite well into tree-diagram patterns, which reflect family trees.

However, the picture is not the way it appears. There are patterns in the fossil record that conflict with evolution. Let me explain some of them.

Fossils-in-reality
Figure 2. The fossil record evinces disparity before diversity. Almost all animal phyla appear fully formed in the Cambrian, and diversity grows within each phylum (with many more smaller-scale disparities appearing along the way) up the fossil record. (After Meyer.2)

Fossil problems for evolution

Disparity precedes diversity

First, evolution predicts that diversity precedes disparity; a population splits into different species, which then further splits into genera, and then eventually into families, orders, classes, and phyla (figure 1). In other words, disparity should grow with time (especially as many ‘branches’ of the evolutionary tree die off). However, with the fossils, the opposite is true for animals; disparity precedes diversity (figure 2).

Most of the phylum-level disparity appears very abruptly and almost entirely in the Cambrian (the lowest part of the ‘Phanerozoic’ (more or less the fossil bearing portion of the rock record), ‘dated’ to 541–485 million years ago by evolutionists). Above that, diversity grows within phyla (and lower forms of disparity arise e.g. at class and order levels), but we never see new phyla arising. In fact, evolutionists think most animal phyla arose in a 5–15 million-year period in the Cambrian.

Question: why hasn’t diversification within animals produced new phyla since the ‘explosion’ of phyla in the Cambrian? If evolution could do it then, why not now? And it’s not like there weren’t new niches to fill after it all happened in the Cambrian; there were plenty of places animals supposedly hadn’t colonized yet. Why has all the change in animals since then only happened within phyla? Both creationists (The Cambrian explosion) and evolutionists (The Cambrian explosion in colorful, zoological context) have noted this pattern. Even Darwin knew about it, and he considered it the best objection to his theory! Nothing has changed since Darwin’s day; the so-called ‘Cambrian explosion’ remains one of the biggest challenges to evolution.

Sudden appearance and stasis

There are a few other curious features of the of the fossil record that are harder to explain with evolution than creation. For instance, species appear suddenly in the fossil record, with few precursors. The first appearance of the animal phyla in the Cambrian is the starkest example of this, but there are many others. Moreover, fossil forms generally stay the same for their duration throughout the fossil record; a phenomenon known as stasis (see Stasis – Another problem for evolution from the fossil record and Punctuated equilibrium: come of age?). Furthermore, fossil types are rather clumped, as evolutionists Erwin and Valentine point out (The Cambrian explosion in colorful, zoological context):

“In fact, metazoan morphologies [animal fossil forms] are quite clumped—undispersed is the technical term—into clades [groups of organisms evolutionists think share a common ancestor] with unique body plans and with significant gaps in architectural style between them, and this pattern continues among classes within phyla and to some extent even among orders within classes”.

Tracks precede body fossils

Moreover, animal tracks almost always precede body fossils in the fossil record, as paleontologist Dr Marcus Ross explains (see Reading evolution into the Scriptures and Is Genesis History?):

“This is a pattern we see in several different groups, where their footprints are first, and their body parts are later. For the trilobites, for the amphibians, for the dinosaurs—the first time I find evidence of them in the fossil record, it’s from trackways, not from hard parts. From an old-earth perspective, that’s really weird, and hard to grapple with, because you have millions of years of trackway production, then ultimately the animal that made it. But that obviously doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Because if there’s trackways, there’s animals, and those animals have bones and teeth and shells to them, why aren’t they fossilized? Instead the pattern is telling us something different: there’s no time between when somebody leaves a track and when somebody’s buried.”

These are just a few of the many reasons to think that Creation and the Flood better explain the fossil record than evolution.

Conclusion

When your ‘evolutionary friends’ claim there is ‘tons of evidence’ they are referring to the tons of fossils people have found all over the world. We agree that there are lots of fossils. But fossils are just data, and everyone has the same data. When they say that the fossils are evidence for evolution, we can respond with something equally general: the fossils are evidence for creation. And when we examine the patterns of the fossils, we find they conflict with evolution, but they are consistent with creation. The important take-home point is that creationists and evolutionists interpret that same data according to different assumptions. So, don’t be intimidated by such aggressive assertions from evolutionists. When you consider these assertions calmly you will see that there are good scientific and biblical reasons to doubt evolution.

References and notes

  1. Meyer, S.C., Darwin’s Doubt, HarperOne, New York, p.42, 2013. Return to text.
  2. Meyer, ref. 1, p.43. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati
From
US $9.00
The Fossil Record
by John D Morris, Frank J Sherwin
US $20.00
Hard cover
Evolution: Good Science?
by Dominic Statham
US $13.00
Soft cover

Readers’ comments

Michael S.
A very good article, loving that disparity before divergence cart/horse, point.

Just one quick point I would like to make to help our commentator to "picture" the truth better. Let's put it this way, in terms of numbers even evolutionists have to admit there would have to be a MINIMUM amount of transitionals that existed in the past because they argue everything that exists, evolved. Now my numbers may be wrong but an evolutionist gave me those numbers, he says about a quarter million fossils have been found and about 250 transitionals are officially claimed. If his figures are true that would mean the fossil record comprised of about 1% transitionals even though the fossil record is supposed to be a history of evolution according to evolutionists.

Even if my figures are not accurate there is no escaping that there would have to be thousands of missing transitions. If we invented those missing ones, as plaster casts, we would need three museums just to fit them all in, but if we put the transitions they claim to have found in one museum we likely would only need one tenth of the museum's area. So the correct conclusion is "not evolution". To therefore conclude "evolution is true" based on SCRAPS of evidence which is a tiny percentage, is slothful induction fallacy. (where the person IGNORES where the majority of the evidence is pointing.)

As humans we tend to not "count" negative because we can't see it, but 99% of the transitionals are missing. The 1% they say are transitionals are disputable and can be explained without evolution. We can use occam's razor to cut away the 99% meaning the more parsimonious explanation is that evolution is false.
Chuck R.
I too have been insulted by the evolution faithful; "Creation? Are you stupid or what? Everyone knows evolution is a proven fact!"
The real problem is not that evolution is or isn't proven but rather that many want it to be a fact, because the alternative to evolution is that there might be a God and that we will one day have to answer up to Him.
WR B.
In 1874 Thomas Huxley and Othneil March got together and worked out a series for horse evolution in North America. It was based on fossils Marsh had dug-up and was one of the most detailed evolutionary trees ever constructed from fossils. In the 20th Century, S.M. Stanley, W.D. Matthews, G.G. Simpson, G.L. Meyers, and many others lauded it. But in the 1980’s the Smithsonian Institute shut down their exhibit for a couple years and revamped it to reflect many of the ancestor and daughter species lived simultaneously. Wikipedia still tries to make it look like evolution of the horses, but the fossil evidence shows that they are just story telling. Different “species” were galloping around together in herds, interbreeding. Always examine the details.
Jon C.
Thank you for your comments, Shaun. They are right on.

I too have been called an idiot, that I'm so ignorant I should take some classes in biology, sometimes even after I explain I earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and completed advanced training in clinical lab science.

I usually refer scoffers to remarks by secular paleontologists about the nature of the fossil record, or I'll quote them. That gives scoffers an opportunity to accuse me of quote mining. I ask them if they would have believed me if I simply stated the fossil record is essentially void of transitional fossils, or would they read the sources I cited as is done in peer-reviewed science journals. No, they would not believe my unsupported statements, and they would not read any cited sources. In that case, why would they cry foul (quote mining!) when I quote relevant remarks made by noted paleontologists. Quote mining is doing their homework for them.

Concerning the origin of life, I explain that amino acids and nucleotides will not spontaneously polymerize in water, not even in hydrothermal vents because hydrolysis breaks the peptide bonds between amino acids or phosphodiester bonds between nucleotides as quickly as they form. Then I ask them to look at a recent publication, The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems (p.60), by scientists at the National Academy of Sciences (USA), explaining they can get the free PDF of this book online. One person actually read that reference and complained, ignoring the point that proteins and segments of RNA/DNA cannot form spontaneously in water regardless of the amino acid or nucleotide concentrations.
Dan M.
The atheistic ill-tempered responce to Creationists is the modern day equivalent of the 12th century Catholic Inquisition. They are essentially saying, "Your point of view can't even be considered"! It is heresy!
It's not about the data, (we all have the same data) it's about power and control over people. If our (Creationist) point of view is so ridiculous and unscientific why all the anger and censoring of ideas? Just give people all the undeniable evolutionary evidence and make us go away! The problem for them and the real reason they, (evolutionists) are so angry is the data doesn't support their paradigm. There are many problems with the evolutionary hypothesis that requires vast amounts of story telling and unprovable just-so sub-hypothesis to make, (shoehorn) the data into the evolutionary paradigm and make it seem rational. The educated see this ploy and try to expose it for what it is, (story telling) and it angers evolutionists. They don't respond with facts or data but with character assassination instead because they know the problems just like we do.
The fact is that we don't know what happened in the past because, well, it's the past and cannot be investigated directly by science. We can only examine the scriptures and see how it fits what we see. I believe It fits rather well and that gives me great faith that God has told us the truth. Not to mention the witness of the Spirit of Truth that dwells in me.
God bless those who stand for truth and freedom of thought in the modern day inquisition.
Dale S.
Fossils point to creation and not to evolution. Evolutionists look at fossils through atheistic spectacles that leave out God as Creator and go with their millions of years of random chance. The evolutionists are dumbfounded by the Cambrian Explosion when organisms appeared suddenly and were very complex in nature and not just simple lifeforms. Evolutionists don't understand "stasis". They are confounded that the Coelacanth which is found in the fossil record has not changed. The living coelacanths today are basically the same fish as their fossil relatives. The coelacanth shows clearly that it has reproduced after its kind since it was created back in the Genesis creation account, when the fish were created by God on the fifth day of creation week. The fossil record says "yes" to creation and no man can change that with evolutionary thinking that is against God and His Holy Word the Bible. Thank you Lord for giving me the truth through your Word. Amen!
James K.
I can think of only a few fossils that can even be penned as ‘missing links’. The Dmanisi skulls and naledi (result of human pathology), zhenyuanlong (likely a bird considering the proportion/ length of its femur inferring birdlike locomotion), tiktaalik (lungfish like organism) and a handful of various ‘cetus’ (which range from either fully terrestrial to seal like mammals, or even full blown whales). There are no gradients of any sort, there’s a bunch of things that have nothing to do with each other and a scant handful of things that are difficult to classify. Furthermore the sequences are almost always out of whack. Naledi which should be found near habilis-type fossils (2-3 million years ago) are ‘dated’ to about 200 kya.
Steve B.
As I have commented before, I've been arguing on an atheist forum for over 10 years and of course I've encountered these same statements. It's the way they are. They think they can bluff their way over you because they believe you know no more than they do. So, like you have said, challenge them and see what they know and you will either get no answer or they will come back with something they have collected from Wiki. Wiki is their go-to knowledge and that knowledge can be challenged all day long when it comes to evolution. If one can't hold their own on an atheist forum or in a discussion with atheist friends it's better to not go there until you have armed yourself for the battle.
William S.
This article is a great introduction to the debate between millions of years and the Bible. The Bible is a book of miracles in history. What many Christians forget is that the God of the Bible is a God of miracles. The biblical God majors in the miraculous.

The One who is risen is also the Creator. Even the winds and seas obey Him.

Psalms 33:6–9 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Matthew 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

2 Peter 3:6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
Noah D.
Thanks for this article. I have a creation.com sticker on my car and I see other people laugh when they see it. It doesn't bother me though, for two reasons. One, I used to believe evolution as a self-proclaimed atheist before I had a near-death/out-of-body experience and became a theist. And two, later after becoming a Christian, I researched the creation vs evolution debate on every topic from big bang theory to flood geology to biological evolution and realized the data is not in their favor.
I have to say, that when Michael Behe researched the topic of evolution, he was mad that his evolution believing professors never even questioned the theory, is the gospel truth of the situation! You get people like that proclaiming something as absolute fact when they haven't even questioned it! Where has critical thinking gone? Out the window it seems.
That goes for people researching the claims of the death and resurrection of Jesus also. When people openly search out and research the resurrection many find they learn a lot about the validity of the claims of Christianity. The apostles wouldn't die to perpetuate a lie. Who would give their lives for a lie? But if the gospel is true, certainly many many people WOULD gives their lives for Jesus and many still do!
Chris M.
Man, anytime someone makes a claim like "there is overwhelming evidence for evolution...." You always, always, always have to ask for specific examples! Especially if they are coming off as ignorant and arrogant as these people sound. These type people are usually the ones who HATE what we believe and hang on to any sort of belief against Christianity and are extremely hostile towards anyone who questions their religion (evolution). I would almost guarantee you they couldn't give you one example.

I would also suggest looking up the quotable quotes page on here. There is absolutely nothing, NOTHING, better than using quotes from evolutionists who doubt evolution, against fellow evolutionists! It stops them dead in their tracks.

I have found that most people who believe in evolution aren't exactly well versed on it. Creation.com has helped me tremendously!
John P.
I would suggest many who believe the evolution myth are trying to run from God but as Adam and Eve found out after their rebellion you can run but you can't hide. When He catches up with you it is better to repent and believe but sadly there are those who reject Him at all costs and face getting what they wish for, a truly horrible alternative. May God continue to give us the passion for the lost as He has.
Nathan G.
One thing to remember is to demand scientifically testable, observable evidence from doubters. What can I test in a lab? No scientific mechanism = a just-so story that you should believe on blind faith. Personal insults = I have no solid evidence and therefore yield the fight. Thanks, dude!

Second, lots of evos blow smoke. A fellow "scientist" in my school (naturally a biologist) said that I shouldn't be allowed to teach science, since I don't believe in evolution. However, he couldn't even define the scientific method. When pressed for details, he caved and changed the subject. He also couldn't respond to questions about contradictions in his own subject. Yup, I'll give up my hard-earned teaching degree forthwith based on your disapproval. Not!

Evo gets you coming and going. Darwin's tree of life goes allegedly from one critter to millions of them (divergent evo). But if that doesn't fit, then they claim convergent evo to explain any anomalies away. But the platypus and echolocation still kill them, since God has a sense of humor. He also does not believe in atheists.

Molecular biology, HOX genes, epigenetics, etc. blow Darwin's dedicated dipsticks out of the water. Fossils are actually widely irrelevant. Most don't contain DNA or soft parts, which are crucial to identifying any type of alleged "relatedness" molecularly. Even DNA studies are confusing. Humans are limited in intelligence and the results show that genetic similarites are sometimes ludicrously bizarre. For example, DNA sequencing in 1996 placed rabbits with primates, sea urchins as chordates, and cows closer to whales than horses. Duh!
Evolution itself is religious. Look up the roots (and fruits) of evolution by Paul James-Griffiths from the Edinburgh Creation Group on YouTube. It's Hinduism pure!!!

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.