Science: The unreliable historian
She made the discovery of the century … and did not want to tell anyone!
Published: 10 July 2014 (GMT+10)
In 2005, Dr Mary Schweitzer published in Science1 what could be described as the scientific discovery of the century. When interviewed by 60 Minutes she described her internal reaction to her amazing discovery, “I didn’t want to tell anyone.” The interviewer fed her a possible motivation for this unusual reaction, “… you would be ridiculed, right?” She responded, “Yes.”2
A scientific breakthrough that one does not want to report … What is that all about?
Dr Schweitzer was associated with a project to unearth T.rex fossil bones from the oldest-known rock layer bearing these giants. This was a 68 million-year-old formation. The femur bone was too large for the helicopter to lift and had to be sliced in half for removal from its remote location. Dr Schweitzer was sent fragments from the split femur bone. She instructed her technician to use a mild chemical solution to dissolve the fossilized bone from a small slice of the specimen. What was left behind was actual dinosaur soft tissue. She had actual T.rex tissue! This was impossible since all soft tissue encased in fossilized bone should have been decayed within 10,000 years of burial. Certainly, by 100,000 years, not even a trace of soft tissue should be left.3
As the discovery went forward she identified dinosaur proteins and what appeared to be blood vessels with nucleated red blood cells in them. On MSNBC she is quoted as saying this about her discovery, “It’s utterly shocking, actually, because it flies in the face of everything we understand about how tissues and cells degrade.” She went on to say, “A lot of our science doesn’t allow for this… it just doesn’t seem possible… I can’t explain it, to be honest.” She has since found soft tissue in other fossilized bones… even ‘older’ than the T.rex.4
The problem with her discovery is that it is absolutely impossible for soft tissue to remain intact inside fossil bone for much over 10,000 years, let alone a million years. This sample is supposedly 68 million years old. The obvious implication is that this bone is much younger than estimated. Oh, and by the way, when she published her findings she was severely attacked, confirming her fears.5
Why the predicted and confirmed attack on such a great discovery?
The implications of her discovery are that all the great evolutionary displays in museums across the world, such as Fig. 1 from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, are in terrible error.
Next to this display are fossils from the site with their geological date displayed (Fig. 2).
Clearly, Dr Schweitzer’s discovery flies in the face of the confident ages of the fossils in countless museums across the world. Her discovery calls into question the ‘deep time’ that the theory of evolution requires.6
Every day I find science articles that are in direct contradiction to the way the Bible describes the origins of life. They contain the full force of the consensus of the world’s great scientists. What are we to make of this? The following personal anecdote is instructive.
In my undergraduate education I was taught a concept that convinced me of the validity of evolution and led me astray for a time. I was so convinced by this idea that I was sure that the God of the Bible would have to fit into evolution. But, there was a day of reckoning coming.
So what is this convincing concept? It has to do with humans before they are born. The growing human embryo, according to this theory, passes through various evolutionary stages. In each of these various stages of development, our growing human embryo ‘revisits’ our evolutionary past. Thus, when a microscope slide is made of an early human embryo, we discover a sort of visual history of our evolutionary past. Look at this drawing:
According to this concept, the growing human embryo, which each one of us was at one time, has evidence of evolution in it. In certain stages of development we allegedly have gill slits which are evidence of our evolutionary fish past. Similarly, we are supposed to have a yolk sac which is evidence of our evolution from birds. Finally, we learn that the growing child has a tail, which is pictorial evidence of our monkey evolutionary past. This idea was given the name ‘Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny’. This evidence is virtually conclusive of the validity of evolution, or so I was taught and thus believed. So who but a few ignorant fools would question the truth of our evolutionary origins?
In my first year of veterinary education I was required to take a course on veterinary embryology that I dreaded. You see, I had come to believe in Jesus and was beginning to really enjoy the new Christian life I was experiencing; this class, though, had the potential to derail Christianity from my life. Here is how: I knew that those gill slits ‘proved evolution’, and I understood that the Bible taught something quite different. If the Bible was wrong on one major point, then the God of the Universe could not have overseen its writing. If the Bible was proven wrong on one point, then this religion was a hoax. And in veterinary embryology at Iowa State, a showdown was awaiting me!
Embryology class was progressing and I was fearfully awaiting those evolutionary gill slits to show themselves. But the class ended and the gill slits never appeared in any of the books or microscope slides! I was confused. Where were those gill slits?
As it happened (I would now say it was the providence of God), a creation-evolution debate was scheduled on Iowa State campus that spring. I took time out of my hectic schedule to witness it. To my astonishment the creationist, Dr Duane Gish, put a drawing of a human embryo on the screen pointing out the alleged gill slits and yolk sac. I was renewed in my wondering where those were in my embryology class the previous month.
He then put this slide up on the screen (right):
“The gill slits never existed,” he explained to the crowd. My mind raced! What was he saying? Dr Gish continued to explain that the yolk sac (which was a misnomer) had nothing to do with yolk. It is simply a sac where the early bone marrow cells develop. “Okay,” I thought, “Exactly as I was taught in embryology class.” The speaker continued, expanding the discussion to now address the alleged gill slits. Gills are used by fish to transfer carbon dioxide into the water and remove oxygen from the water. Gills are filled with blood vessels. On the growing human embryo we do see what appear to be little slits. He then labelled these as pharyngeal pouches. “Of course, that is exactly what we called those little things in embryology class,” I reminded myself. OK, this was connecting. My mind flashed back to embryology class and the slides with those exact pouches on the diagrams in our books. We spent hours examining slides of the developing dog. They had the same pouches as humans. I had learned that the pharyngeal pouches are simply layers of outer skin tissue that fold inward to form glands in the neck and the middle ear canals. That means that since no opening ever forms, they are not even ‘slits’, let alone ‘gill slits’.
The speaker continued to explain that the tail of the human embryo was not a tail at all. The vertebrae (spinal bones) grow ahead of the legs to facilitate proper muscle attachment. As the embryo develops, the legs will eventually assume their proper position, removing any semblance of a tail.
The whole concept had been proven to be false for over 75 years! The whole concept of the gill slits was, outrageously, never a fact! It was a false idea set forth to prove evolution. It never had any true science behind it. I felt duped. Over the months to follow, I began to wonder, “What else have I been taught as absolute proof of evolution that will turn out to be, at worst, a hoax or, at best, a serious mistake?”
I have come to realize since that much of today’s apparent contradiction between science and the Bible will be intentionally forgotten tomorrow as it turns out to be in error. It will be replaced quietly with the newest and latest ‘proof’. That, in turn, will soon be replaced with something else that is new and astonishing, flashing boldly across the headlines. All the while the Bible remains quietly, persistently presenting its message. No changes will be necessary.
Grasp this point: Science is unreliable for accuracy when dealing with the history of this world, because not one of us was there to observe it. The Bible is reliable when dealing with this history because it was inspired by Someone Who was there. We have eyewitness reports.
The gill slits idea has been proven false. In 2005, Dr Schweitzer reported her discovery of soft tissue from dinosaur bones. Common sense tells us that fossilized bones millions of years old cannot have blood vessels and soft tissue intact. The only reasonable response demands that those bones are only thousands of years old, consistent with being from the great flood of Noah. Both issues stand as evidence that despite the great confidence placed in it, the consensus of science can be terribly wrong—and has been, repeatedly, in the past.
In short, science has shown itself to be an unreliable witness to the history of the universe. We would be unwise to use the scientific views of today as evidence against the Bible. Scientific views change continually, but the Bible never does.
References and notes
- Schweitzer, M, et al, Soft-Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex, Science 307, 1952 (2005); | DOI 10.1126/science.1108397. Return to text.
- 60 Minutes—B. Rex, youtube.com/watch?v=2mDo8k-mtUM, 29 July 2011. Return to text.
- Yeoman, B., Schweitzer’s Dangerous Discovery, discovermagazine.com, 27 April 2006. Return to text.
- Dr. Mary Schweitzer on T-Rex Soft Tissue Discovery.flv, youtube.com/watch?v=CxkeWPCoaec, 1 March 2014. Return to text.
- Ref. 3. Return to text.
- To read about the attempt to use ‘iron’ to salvage the day for evolution, see creation.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue. Return to text.
The article about the dinosaur bone is certainly compelling and I totally agree we need to put out information that challenges the establised imperatives, the zeit geist for a lot though even if there was undeniable evidence they would still reject it and accept Evolution doctrine even though there is not one infallable undeniable fact, one missing link fossil, that can be put up to support it.
As with Jesus who performed many signs and wonders yet he was not only rejected but that infuriated his enemies even more and they "conspired to kill him".
The Title "Is Science a Good Historian?" is a bit of a misnomer - since SCIENCE by definition is the Knowledge of things, which can include many different areas of study (e.g. - Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematic, Geology, Archaeology, Astronomy, Ecology, Hydrology, Engineering, etc.) Therefore, you appear to be asking, “Is Knowledge a Good Historian?”. Whereas your article focuses on the question “Is Evolution a Good Historian?”
There have been some attempts to understand whether History can studied in the same way as other scientific disciplines. However, because of the many imponderables and anomalies, there remain many schools of thought on this subject.
Having said that, The Scriptures and Theory of Evolution present two opposing views on the meaning of History.
Theologically speaking, The Scriptures present the Wisdom of God in the Knowledge of the Creation of the Universe that has established history or HIS STORY (Gn 2: 1-4).
Dn 4: 17 For the Living must know that it is the Most High who rule in the Kingdom of men and sets over it whomever He wills, even the lowest of men”
Dn 10: 21 Daniel was told that God Law is The Scripture of Truth
Is 46: 8-11 Isaiah declares that Yahweh alone is God, and He has declared the End from the Beginning. From Ancient Times things not yet done, in order to fulfil all His Counsel
P33: 10 -12 The Psalmist announces that “The counsel of the nations shall come to nothing, but the Counsel of Yahweh God stands forever”
Rv 4: 11 For by His Will all things were created and now exist. And He has determined the pre-appointed times, in whom we Live, and Move and have our Being (Acts 17:26-28)
Dn 7: 23-25 Nevertheless there will be futile attempts to change the Times, Laws and Ordinances established by God (Is 24: 5, Jr 33:19-26)
Richard, thanks for your comments. Re the first bit, though, I doubt whether it is appropriate to indicate that science simply means 'knowledge'. While that is the etymology of the word (Latin scientia = knowledge), the origin of a word is not a reliable indicator of what it means in everyday or specialist usage or in a given context.
Having said that, universally agreed upon definitions of 'science' or the 'scientific method' continue to be elusive, even to philosophers of science.
I feel that science has become a bad word in the religious community, one that suggests a lack of compassion, and a base of certainty of common thought that is determined to "ridicule" any deviation from the norm (eg the minority religions) when the whole meaning of science is to slowly understand the world around us. The new findings that are controversial are a blessing in order to rethink and explore that area, to confront our previous hypotheses and to learn. I would say it was a good thing she had such backlash from the greater community, and some testing of her findings, it meant a later, greater contribution of information of how iron in surrounding environments can cause protein stabilisation. Isn't knowledge something precious to be sought after? Or is it still in the form of an evil apple?
Knowledge is indeed precious, but the subtleties of how knowledge is truly gained are important. CMI loves science, particularly the sort of observational, experimental science which was derived from a biblical worldview, and from which knowledge has been truly gained. I'm not sure you could have understood this article as suggesting an anti-knowledge stance, and you don't seem to have read CMI's other articles on the find. The idea of the 'evil apple' in the way you use it also seems to misrepresent Genesis. The fruit was not stated to be an apple (incidental) and was never 'evil' in itself. Nor was it evil to obtain knowledge. The issue was at every stage one of moral obedience to God. Prior to the Fall, the first couple were instructed to have dominion over all of creation, something that was never withdrawn and has in the history of the West been a major part of the impetus for science and technology.
It can indeed be a good thing when evidence challenges a paradigm, but the whole point with this soft tissue finding is that as far as the secular science community is concerned, the interpretation of this evidence is not permitted to do the obvious, namely challenge the millions-of-years belief. That would be far too unsettling to the secular religion of a self-created world in which a pro-active Creator God of Judgement has no place. Rather, the search is on to find ways to fit it into the existing paradigm ('We must have been wrong in calculating from the laws of physics and chemistry what the maximum survival time of these substances can be').
I trust you yourself will be open to a greater understanding of the issues, including how weak those statements on 'iron' sound given the facts discussed in Dinosaur soft tissue.
Thanks! That article is great
To me our scientists act like teenagers. No matter what, they know better than their parents. Once eventually it is proven they were wrong by (direct proof only) they will dismiss the subject as if see it was never discussed and drag out a new subject with just as ignorant so called facts they cling to.It is sad to intellectuals act so stupid.
As a Christian, I'm really intrigued by this, it's compelling, but I just read this (below) in which Schweitzer comes up with an explanation. I'm keen to hear your reply. [Ed: url removed as per feedback rules, but see response below]
The proposal Schweitzer put forward has to do with the iron in hemoglobin acting as a preservative and is addressed in the article Dinosaur Soft Tissue.
I hate to be the devil's advocate, and I say this as an avid believer as a 6000 year old earth creationist, but it seems they have found a plausible explanation for the preserved dinosaur tissue and DNA. I would like creation ministries to investigate the findings of iron being used to preserve genetic materials for millions of years. Their findings found that ostrich tissue could be preserved for over 2 years, with the aid of enriched iron solutions, remaining 'identifiably' intact. However, these findings although interesting are still a long way from proving whether or not tissue could survive for a million - let alone- 65 million years. It would be good if creation ministries published a paper which undeniably debunks, or perhaps confirms, these findings. [link removed as per feedback rules]
Thanks, Ashley, we already addressed this issue some six months ago in this article, Dinosaur soft tissue. By the way, when I tried using the search engine on this site (which I would gently remind you is part of the rules prior to submitting a question) with various combinations of relevant keywords, that article turned up each time, at the top of the list. The search engine can be your friend if you let it.
I absolutely loved this article as I too was presented with the ontology recapitulates phylogeny hoax in university and in high school before that. I would make one change to the wording of one sentence towards the end of the article where it now reads "Common sense tells us that fossilized bones millions of years old cannot have blood vessels and soft tissue intact." I think it is a more powerful way to state this that observable and tested decay rates prove that blood vessels and soft tissue cannot remain intact for more than "x" years. Of course it becomes "common sense" once one has done the study of said decay rates. The reason for the change I propose is to put the emphasis squarely on the difference between experimental science and the fact that evolution flies in the face of the facts.
Don, thanks for your input. The article is part of the web archive for our publications, so changing it is not an option, though it is good that future readers of the web version will be able to see your comments.
If I remember correctly, Dr. Schweitzer recanted her statements, and said her discoveries do not support creationism. What was that back-and-forth all about?
She never made any statements that explicitly supported biblical creation, so 'recant' would be the wrong word to describe her attempts to 'clarify' that she was not a creationist and that her findings were not intended to support recent creation (she is a theistic evolutionist). However, if you let the search engine be your friend, you can find many articles on our site about Schweitzer and her discoveries, many linking to each other, so you can read all about many aspects of the controversy (including the claim that these were merely 'biofilms' from latterday bacteria, refuted by Schweitzer, and recently her own claim that the iron in hemoglobin could have been the preserving agent - see Dinosaur soft tissue.
Great article. It doesn't mislead or contradict itself. We know that if there was anything here before that which has been documented in the Bible it was God alone- so knowing with absolute certainty that soft tissue and blood cells cannot exist beyond 10,000 would be intellectually dishonest. However, the article never has the audacity to make such claim, but only says what "common sense" tells us. There is a big difference. While I would like to think that common sense is a relative and universal attribute, not all sense is common.
Kevin's claim was pretty specific:
'It is absolutely impossible for soft tissue to remain intact inside fossil bone for much over 10,000 years.'
Clearly he has evidence that it can last, in some situations, up to 10,000 years. I'm just asking what that evidence is.
Jack, I don't see how your 'clearly' conclusion follows. Papers have been published (e.g. ref. 8 in this article) which using thermodynamic considerations, calculate the maximum age under extremely favourable conditions that a particular biomolecule can last. Let's say that the maximum theoretical age that e.g. the protein tubulin could last is 100,000 years. That does not require that anyone has to have shown that tubulin has actually ever lasted that long. A maximum theoretical age is not the same as an actual age. What it does is to say, in effect, 'given all the benefit of the doubt and such and such favourable conditions (e.g. kept at 0 degrees the whole time) then it could not last longer than...XYZ years'. Do you see the point? Even in a universe 6,000 years old, it is perfectly legitimate to say that something has a maximum possible age of 100,000 years, without having to produce evidence that it has lasted that long. Hope that helps...
This article was very easy to read and understand. Thank you for this information. I am trying to educate myself so that I have answers ready.
For years I ignored the evolution-creation debate because I didn't fully comprehend the evolution-atheism connection. Working in the world of nuclear engineering, it had no place or purpose. Unfortunately neither was the debate in the churches I attended, which is still true in most churches.
Over time, I've come to realise the impact evolution philosophy has had in turning people's hearts away from their Maker. (Having been deeply engaged in applied science I refuse to put the teaching of evolution in that column.) Thus, having turned my attention to it I have found gobsmacking incredible the things so called brilliant scientific minds accept and teach as fact. I'm am so grateful to CMI for tackling this false philosophy in the scientific realm.
What I love about the article by Kevin Horton is the slant on history, a subject I studied so much as electives in university that I eventually obtained a second major in it. Even when I was in high school I took all the courses available and was taught that primary sources are key to good history. Without them, or secondary sources that would have had access to the primary source, any history is suspect.
CMI quite correctly over and again points out the flaws in evolution as a science, i.e., that it is not science. In response, many evolutionists have taken to calling evolution "historical science". I'm not sure who started this term but it is a slap in the face of any historian worth reading. Credible history has never been accepted as such with the vacuum of information available to evolutionists; at least not without some sort of disclaimer admitting it is educated speculation.
Although science is obviously not the answer due to these two findings that have not yet been explained by it, I wonder how it is Christianity and not Islam or Judaism, Hinduism or Buddism that correctly describes history.
Christianity and Judaism share the same history in Genesis 1-11.
Islam began in 610 A.D. after Mohammed claimed to have an angelic visitation and as such the only history that Islam has was borrowed from the Judeo/Christian tradition. As Mohammed was illiterate, the Koran deviates at various points from the original. See The Koran vs Genesis.
Hinduism does not claim to have a history of the universe. Since Buddhism was a later derivation from Hinduism, it does not have a history of the universe either. See: Buddha, science and Jesus. Such a notion of a time-line of history with a beginning and an end is quite foreign to eastern mysticism, which involves endless cycles of re-incarnation.
In short, there are not too many options.
Excellent article. But i would love to even more areas that science has mislead us. An article with a list of so called 'scientific proof' which has later been proven wrong, would be awesome. Thanks guys... your work is amazing!
Thanks Alan. I think it is a good suggestion for an article; I have been working on just such an article, still gathering information for it. In the meantime, try searching creation.com for 'fraud' and 'failure'. Also look at: How evolution has harmed science and society and Dr John Sanford's talk, on DVD or video download, titled How evolution harms science.
Of course Dr Sarfati's Greatest Hoax on Earth explains the many failed evolutionary arguments propounded by Richard Dawkins no less.
Everybody has convictions he or she would not change if other people ridiculed at him. One example? If someone told you to take off your clothes in public, you would not do that. Even if that person and other ones scoffered at you, you would resist.
So one should not change convictions if they are true, even if other people ridiculed at him as in this case.
'Science is unreliable for accuracy when dealing with the history of this world, because not one of us was there to observe it.'
'It is absolutely impossible for soft tissue to remain intact inside fossil bone for much over 10,000 years, let alone a million years.'
How do you reconcile these statements? Have you observed soft tissue over a period of 10,00 years?
The degradation of proteins, DNA, etc. have been observed over much shorter times, including at different temperatures, hydration levels, etc., which all shows that they cannot last the huge times claimed.
The discovery of the soft tissue has been the greatest demonstration of how philosophical commitment weighs in over the actual known scientific evidence. For all the bluster I have heard about how evolutionary science 'just follows the evidence and is self correcting' and is 'a rational world view' this discovery (and the evolutionists reaction to it) single handily destroys that argument. In a mountain of rhetoric this is the life boat that can keep me focused on how bent out of shape the whole evolutionary department really is.
What saddens me is children's programs like 'dinosaur train'. Odd though that may seem I realize that they are indoctrinating and brain washing our children at a younger and younger age.
Your article says 'They contain the full force of the consensus of the world’s great scientists' and when debating this is a very real force. With so many evolutionary 'scientists' on the pay roll the 'appeal to authority' and 'trading on the name of science' it is a real test of ones ability to think for ones self and hold to what is known.
Unpacking the 'trading on the name of science issue' I mean that spiritually and in the worldly manner.
In the bible (Ezekiel 28:16) God says too Lucifer 'by the abundance of your trading' Lucifer's trade is causing disquiet against God so spiritually speaking this is what the evolutionists do (and incidentally they lead the world to violence)
They also trade on the name of science (the phenomenally successful observational science) to give weight to their assumptions in the worldly sense of the word 'trade'. Like a knock off watch sales man standing on a street corner selling 'Rolex' watches that look the same on the outside but are not of the same quality or standard and are of little or no value.