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The fossil record and Precambrian rabbits

Why unexpected fossil finds won’t falsify evolution

Published: 27 January 2018 (GMT+10)
rabbitsiStockphoto

Often questions submitted through the web include links from an anti-creation site requesting us to answer them. Sometimes the correspondence continues for several rounds. Recently J.H. from Zimbabwe wrote with a host of questions, which were replied to. He continued to send questions. The following is an extract from his correspondence about the fossil record. Geologist Dr Tas Walker responds.

Creationists interpret the fossil record through the lens of the Flood, do they not? How do you explain the ordering of fossils? How did they get so neatly stacked up? 

I have yet to find a resource that addresses this. Why can people predict where fossils will be found if they are operating under false assumptions? Why is the fossil record so neatly organized? Why don't we find Precambrian rabbits? I believe CMI is misrepresenting the data when it comes to this regard. I believe creationist models are oversimplified and cannot explain the geologic data.

Don't just link articles. Tell me. BTW, I'm an Agnostic evolutionist.

Dear J.H.,

First of all, we will link articles because it shows that we have already told you! Why should we even bother to maintain a website with >12k articles, and growing, if people won’t even bother to read them? The feedback rules are very clear that you should search the site before asking.

There is even a specific article addressing the Precambrian rabbit canard, which by an amazing coincidence, is the first article that comes up when you search for Precambrian rabbit (with or without quotes): Precambrian rabbits—death knell for evolution?

So it’s hard to understand how you “have yet to find a resource that addresses this”—you certainly won’t find if you don’t even look! What you are really asking is that we should just give you a fish instead of teaching you how to fish, which is better for everyone. Now if you had said, “I found the article Precambrian rabbits—death knell for evolution? And I don’t understand statement X in it”, there might have been something to work on.

Fossil order?

Contrary to the impression you have, people are not able to predict precisely where the fossils will be found, although there is a general order to the fossil record. Evolutionists interpret that order as due to evolution over millions of years. Creationists interpret the order as a consequence of burial mostly during Noah’s Flood (some, like the frozen mammoths, are the result of smaller catastrophes during the Ice Age that resulted from the Flood) . I encourage you to do some reading on this, e.g. the article The geological column is a general Flood order with many exceptions and the feedback article Order in the fossil record: How can Noah’s Flood explain it?

Here are some articles about how the so-called order in the fossil record keeps changing.

It is important to realise that the arrangement of fossils is not as precisely understood and orderly as we are given to believe. Further, it is not generally realised how much the fossil order is changing with new discoveries. There are many more examples. If you don’t want to read creationist articles (although why write to a creationist organization) just Google “fossils earlier” and you will find heaps of articles reporting such finds.

As to Precambrian rabbits, that is often used as an argument against creation, such as by Richard Dawkins, parroting J.B.S. Haldane. However, it is not correct. The absence of such a rabbit does not falsify biblical creation. If such a rabbit was found it would not falsify evolution. Remember that creationists and evolutionists have the same data but they have different ways of interpreting it. You can call it their worldview. Evolutionists do not encounter a problem and exclaim, “Oh, evolution must be wrong because of xxx.” No. They say, “How do we explain xxx?” In other words, the thought that the theory of evolution over millions of years may be falsified is never entertained. Their story simply changes to absorb the new facts. I would encourage you to be a bit more independent in your thinking and not just accept everything they are telling you.

Here is one example of how evolutionists respond to new, contradictory discoveries. This one about a fish fossil in China reports the discovery of vertebrates much earlier than expected. Notice how the story simply changes. Here is another example of the discovery of tetrapod footprints in Poland, also much earlier than expected. On the surface the discovery upsets the nice fish-to-tetrapod transition, which was recognized by other palaeontologists who expressed their concern at the report. In our article on the find we set out a number of different lines that evolutionist could follow in order to preserve their nice evolutionary transitional story. The subsequent response in the literature has been quite insightful.

You have to realise that the fossil evidence is not cut-and-dried but subject to highly personal interpretations that can be biased and rubbery. Judging by the way evolutionists have reacted to new, problematic fossil finds in the past, we have suggested some lines of argument for how they would respond to a rabbit being reported in the Precambrian. It would not be the death knell for evolution. There are lots of possible responses that would incorporate such a new discovery into the evolutionary scheme. However, it is worth pointing out that the absence of a rabbit fossil in the Precambrian is entirely consistent with the fossil succession expected from Noah’s Flood. In any case, do you realize that pollen has been found in the Precambrian, which is just the same problem in principle, given that angiosperms were not supposed to have evolved until the Cretaceous (see the technical paper The evolutionary paradox of the Roraima pollen of South America is still not solved, or if you want something simpler, try Pollen Paradox: Evolutionists have ‘allergic’ reaction to Precambrian pollen–South American fossils more than a billion years ‘out of date’).

As you are aware, this issue is not an academic issue like the mass of the electron or the temperature of the sun. It has to do with the reliability of the Bible, which impacts our relationship with the Creator God revealed therein. He created the whole world, including all people, and He has a plan and a purpose for each of us, including you. Because it is so personal it is no wonder that people can become so passionate and defensive about this issue. But really, there is nothing for anyone to be frightened of (unless they continue to oppose their Maker, and exclude themselves from His plans for good). Here is a big question that would be good for you to think about, and to answer: “If you could know God personally would you be interested?”

All the best,
Tas Walker
Geologist, Speaker, Writer
Creation Ministries International—Australia

Helpful Resources

Living Fossils book
by Dr Carl Werner
From
US $26.00
Evolution's Achilles' Heels
by Nine Ph.D. scientists
From
US $14.00
Geology by the Book
From
US $10.00
DVD
Flood Fossils
by Vance Nelson
US $32.00
Hard cover

Reader’s comments

Mike F.
Precambrian Rabbit: Dawkins Refuted
Please allow me to add a few examples of the "out of order fossils". I found these on creation.com site and their YouTube channel.
>>Please link this article to the excellent article by Don Batten: Modern birds found with dinosaurs, Are museums misleading the public? He has a wonderful response comment on a short article by Mike Oard which features a Precambrian mammal.
>>Dinosaur Found in Mammal's Belly by Hillary Mayell for National Geographic News (January 12, 2005). ([link deleted per feedback rules]) NPR has images with captions very good ([link deleted per feedback rules]). There is also a YouTube video about this [link deleted per feedback rules].
===Peer Reviewed Articles:
>>Ji, W., Luo, Z.-X., Yuan, C.-X. and Tabrum, A.R., A swimming mamaliaform from Middle Jurassic and ecomorphological diversification
of early mammals, Science 311:1123–1127, 2006.
>>Meng, J.Y., Hu, Y., Wang, Y., Wang, S., and Li, C.A., Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeast China, Nature 444:889–893, 2006.
JIM T.
At the end of the day, when backed into a corner, the Accidentalists just have to whip out the tried and true "Prove it DIDNT happen! followed by an expulsion of the tongue and a pair of manual digits firmly entrenched in each Auricular Canal!

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
BY JAMES THINNSEN

"Evolution" "Predicts" EVERYTHING

So they have ALL THE BASES COVERED!!!!

1 Instant "Evolution" (One Generation) Hopeful Monsters / SALTATION

2 Fast "Evolution" PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM

3 Slow ..Plodding Methodological "Evolution" DARWINIAN MODEL

4 Non Existent "Evolution" 300 MYO LIVING FOSSILS

So evolution happens....

INSTANTLY

QUICKLY

SLOWLY

NEVER

The predictive power of "Evolution" is sure amazing isnt it? LOL

"Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Atheist"

Richard Dawkins

evolution fairy tale
Jordan C.
Haldane wants a rabbit, but with all the living fossils found, why only rabbits? Maybe Haldane wasn't aware of the sheer genetic complexity of the sea anemone found in lower Cambrian which is a living fossil. Given a global flood, wouldn't we expect to see marine fossils in lower rock forms such as the Cambrian and not land animals? Perhaps land creatures were able to reach higher ground before the violent waters reached them? Besides, wouldn't the abrupt genetic complexity found in Cambrian strata be the true crux of the problem for evolution to explain? The genome of astarlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis) is every bit as complex as a rabbit, yet it doesn't count, Why? Because Haldane didn't say so? Yet one article in Nature states, "It is commonly believed that complex organisms arose from simple ones. Yet analyses of genomes and of their transcribed genes in various organisms reveal that, as far as protein-coding genes are concerned, the repertoire of a sea anemone — a rather simple, evolutionarily basal animal — is almost as complex as that of a human." quote cited from the following article on Nature website: Ulrich Technau, Evolutionary biology: Small regulatory RNAs pitch in, Nature 455, 1184–1185, 30 October 2008; doi:10.1038/4551184a

Jeff F.
And their story changes yet again... Just this week we have the big news announcement: 3.5 Billion-Year-Old Fossils Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start

"Fiery inferno, no wait, tepid water pool, no...WAIT...asteroids carrying life!" ... People seem to want to accept anything but an intelligent, loving creator.
Philip R.
Just to reinforce Chuck R's experience, I've often discussed such issues on-line with atheists and others, and yes, they are typically as close-minded as he has experienced. Frequently, the only value in the conversation is for others who may be following it, who hopefully may be more open, and/or may see how inconsistent and illogical the ardent evolutionist is.
A typical conversation may go something like this:
Him: Evolution's a fact.
Me: Here's some evidence that shows it's not (with a link to, say, a Journal of Creation paper).
Him: Ha ha ha! You're going to link to a creationist blog? That shows you have no evidence.
Me: It's not a blog. Are you going to ignore the evidence I've linked to?
Him: How about quoting some actual scientists?
Me: My link was to an article by an actual scientist. So why won't you read it?
Him: I mean actual scientists in a peer-reviewed journal.
Me: The Journal of Creation IS a peer-reviewed journal.
Him: I mean a real peer-reviewed journal; not one reviewed by other creationists.
Me: How do you know it's only reviewed by creationists? The reviewers are normally anonymous, so you can't know. Besides, aren't mainstream science journals only reviewed by other evolutionists? Isn't this a case of double standards?
Him: If it was a real peer-reviewed journal, the reviewers wouldn't be anonymous.
Me: Simply not true. Reviewers in mainstream journals are frequently anonymous to provide independence (link to some evidence of that).

By this time the original question has long been forgotten or the evolutionist has lost interest (or prefers to debate someone else who they can fool more readily).
Brandon E.
It's easier to lie to someone than it is to convince them that they're believing a lie.
Chuck R.
My response to Tas Walker -
I've tried secular references too, and most times the conversation goes dead or their response is "I believe given enough time anything can happen", so their devotion to evolution is very strong, but we need to keep putting the truth out there realizing that someone else maybe hearing the discussion and it brings them a step closer to faith. So keep up the good work.
Robert W.
It’s contradictory to argue that biblical creationism is not scientific on the grounds that it cannot be falsified, and then proceed to write lengthy books claiming to have shown it to be false! If I’m also not convinced that Evolution would be a scientific theory if falsification was the test.

The fact is that rock strata are generally determined by reference to the fossils they contain. So if rocks contained rabbit fossils, it would be assumed that they did not date to the pre-Cambrian. And any unexpectedly ‘old’ fossils in those strata could easily be explained away on the basis that those organisms had simply survived longer than originally thought.

The coelacanth is a good example of this. For many years evolutionists taught that it had perished with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. So when fishermen discovered one in 1938, one astonished naturalist said, ‘I would not have been more surprised if I had seen a dinosaur walking down the street.’

However, Evolutionary Theory was simply adjusted to say that the coelacanth had survived for 65 million years longer than was originally believed. So, if evolutionists did find the fossil of a modern man next to that of a dinosaur, they could easily argue that, like the coelacanth, the dinosaur in question had simply survived for a lot longer than was previously assumed, at least in that particular area or region. .

Evolutionists might accept that the theory had been falsified if a fossil of a modern man was found in very old rock strata that had been ‘reliably dated’ by radiometry. However, scientists accept that erroneously old radiometric dates can be caused by a variety of phenomena, such as ubiquitous mixing processes. So it wouldn't be hard for them to escape once more, with Evolution still very much intact!
Henri D.
Your correspondent gives us yet again a clear example of how successful a lie can be when it is the kind of lie people want to believe. Surely, surely, the so-called scientists who work closely with these fossils and who do the dating and the research MUST know that their tales are not quite representative of the truth. Surely they MUST know that their so-called 'science' is all conjecture. The main product of the evolution industry is not science or knowledge, but untruths. And there is a huge demand for it, as it helps people lie to themselves that there is no God.
ziyu Z.
The signor-lipps effect has literally wiped out the credibility of the interpretation of fossils by evolutionists.
Moreover according to the story woven by the evolutionists' neo-catastrophism model, there are roughly 5 or 6 major catastrophic events in the earth's histroy. Given the fossilization is not a common happening under normal conditions, then it follows that the fossil record is a far cry from being almost complete. This means the fossil record is not a reliable record of life's progress under a deep-time timeframe embraced by the evolutionist. It is just like the way a detective cannot draw a reasonable conclusion if he has only inspected only a very small fraction of the whole crime scene, unless he is poised to give a biased story to relive the past events.
So Darwinsts' fossil record interpretation is even self-defeating under thier own paradigm.
graham P.
Hi Tas, what a great article. It is very moving to read your patient, carefully-worded response to to what is, in all likelihood, a fake, time-wasting professional atheist. I think your last question, about being interested in a personal relationship with God is profound. Good job.
Chuck R.
Not too long ago I got into a creation/evolution discussion with a guy on another website. I don't recall what we were debating about, but I referenced a creation article to support my position and the guy just flat-out rejected the article because it was from a creationist site. I told him that if he rejected all creationist research a priori, then I no longer have an argument, that he has eliminated all my evidence. He emphatically stated that he just KNOWS evolution is true and so the conversation ended, and I remembered Jesus statement "even if someone was to return from the dead, they will not believe."
Tas Walker
Indeed, this indicates he has a closed mind, and the conversation does not look like it is worth continuing.
You may be able to get around this by looking at the secular references cited in the creationist article in question and quoting these instead.
Errol B.
Here’s an example of why Out of Sequence Fossils can never exist in an evolutionist’s mind. (From Bones of Contention) Regarding KNM-KP 271; aka the Kanapoi Elbow Fossil dated at 4.5 Mya, I used this as an out of sequence fossil with an evolutionist. Why the Kanapoi Elbow Fossil? Henry M. McHenry from the University of California Davis wrote; "The results show that the Kanapoi specimen, which is 4 to 4.5 million years old, is indistinguishable from modern Homo sapiens."
David Pilbeam of Harvard stated; "Multivariate statistical analysis of the humeral fragment aligns it unequivocally with man rather than with the chimpanzee, the hominid most similar to man in this anatomical region.
In 1981, Howells explained why KNM-KP 271 was assigned to A. africanus rather than Homo sapien;
"The humeral fragment from Kanapoi, with a date of about 4.4 million years, could not be distinguished from Homo sapiens morphologically or by multivariate analysis by Patterson or myself in 1967 (or by much more searching analysis by others since then). We suggested that it might represent Australopithecus because at that time allocation to Homo seemed preposterous, although it would be the correct one without the time element."
When I attended the 2013 CMI Super Camp, Dr Peter Line delivered a talk on this topic & claimed that in evolutionary thinking, ‘age determines morphology’. Dr Line is right.
My evolutionist ‘friend’ responded; “Just because a paeloanthropologist says that a fossil is LIKE a modern structure in humans does NOT mean it is 'out of order'. It only means that it is interesting to note that all the way back then they were starting to look like us now. That's ALL IT MEANS! NOBODY has EVER found a fossil out of sequence.”
Why isn't J.H. asking for parrot fossils in dino layers?

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