Last week we discussed radiometric dating of sedimentary rock in which are found millions of fossils of plant and animal life that was one alive but died and their remains are in evidence in the sedimentary rock found in abundance throughout the world.  As previously discussed, for a dead organism to become a fossil it has to be preserved very quickly. Plant and animal organisms will deteriorate rather quickly once dead.  Yet much plant and animal fossils are preserved very much in tack with no evidence of deterioration.  This indicates that such life forms were quickly deposited in rapidly formed sedimentary rock and the evidence shows such rock to be formed by the action of fast moving water like that produced by a flood. 

       As previously discussed, young earth creationists, who believe the earth is no more than six to ten thousand years old believe much of the fossil containing sedimentary rock found throughout the world is the result of the Noachian flood.  Old earth creationists and evolutionists believe the evidence shows the fossil containing sedimentary rock strata has gradually formed over millions of years due to not only catastrophic events such as floods but due to volcanoes, earthquakes and simply the gradual disposition of sedimentary strata over millions of years of evolutionary development of life forms and geologic activity on planet earth. 

       They believe the scientific dating methods currently in use have proven beyond doubt that the earth and life forms are millions of years old.  Old earth creationists and evolutionists point to what is called the geologic column as evidence for an old earth and therefore life forms developing over millions of years.  Today I will discuss the geologic column.      

      The geologic column represents layers of different types of sedimentary rock that have been identified in various parts of the world. These layers have been divided into three major eras which have been further divided into twelve different periods.

       A geologic column was identified by geologists long before evolutionary theory was introduced.  Geologists noticed different layers of sedimentary rock stacked one upon another in various parts of the world. As fossils came to be identified in these layers of rock, ages were assigned to them based on their perceived complexity of development.  Dates were then assigned to the layers of rock based on the assigned radio carbon dates of the fossils found in such rocks.  As various radiometric dating methods developed, these methods were used to test/confirm the dates previously arrived at through radio carbon dating.

       There are two main theories as to how these rock layers were formed. One is that they were formed in a slow and gradual uniform manner over millions of years and the other is they were formed in a short period of time due to a catastrophic event or several catastrophic events usually seen as a flood.  As covered last week, sedimentary rock layers are dated by radiometrically dating the igneous rock surrounding it and fossils found in such layers are dated by the dates assigned to the sedimentary layers and by a method called indexing. 

       The geologic column is divided into three major eras of evolutionary development.  From bottom to top, the oldest era of fossil life is called Paleozoic meaning "ancient life". This is followed upward by the Mesozoic era meaning "middle life" and upward from this time frame is the Cenozoic era meaning "recent life".  The Paleozoic period is further segmented into seven periods representing successively increased complexity of life forms. 

       The Mesozoic and Cenozoic are likewise segmented into three and two periods respectively. A typical textbook rendering of the geologic column will be arranged in this manner and is generally explained to be from 100 up to 200 miles thick from bottom to top. In actual on site measurement however, the average thicknesses of identified geologic columns around the world are about one to 16 or so miles thick with the worldwide average being about one mile in thickness.       

       Since the original dating of stratum was based on estimated ages of fossils found in the stratum, it would appear the validity of such ages rests on the dependability of radio carbon and radiometric dating methods.  Evolutionists believe such methods have validly confirmed the multimillion year dates of fossils and the strata in which they are found.  If dating methods can demonstrate that sedimentary rocks and the fossils found in them become progressively younger as you move up the geologic column, it would appear to be a reasonable conclusion there has been a gradual development of life forms over millions of years.

       However, something called the Cambrian explosion presents a series challenge to the conclusion that the geologic column and its fossilized forms have taken millions of years to develop and that such development is the result of millions of years of gradual uniformitarian processes. 

       The Cambrian explosion is a term that refers to the great quantity and diversity of invertebrate (lacking backbones) organisms found in what is called the Cambrian layer of the geologic column. The Cambrian layer is at the base of this column and is considered part of the Paleozoic Era which relates to ‘ancient” life. The Cambrian layer is dated by scientists to be around 530 million years old and it is believed it took five to ten million years for it to develop.

       The Cambrian layer has virtually every invertebrate phylum known to man.  Phylum is a major taxonomic group into which living organisms are divided.  All major invertebrate body designs, along with a tremendous variety of each design, exist in this layer. These invertebrates were largely organisms having hard shells and other parts that were able to be fossilized.  There is no solid evidence in the Cambrian layer of any of these organisms gradually evolving.

       No indisputable transitional forms, which would link the different groups to a common ancestor, have been identified in the Cambrian. Lobopods found in the Cambrian (worms with leg like structures) are believed by some to represent a evolutionary transition from worms to arthropods.  Such conclusions are problematical because the great majority of organisms found in the Cambrian are extinct.  Therefore, it is extremely difficult to determine what is an evolutionary form versus a variety of an established body type that may have been created.   

       Layers of rock found below the Cambrian (Pre-Cambrian layer) have been found to contain evidence of multi-cellular life but very little in the way of fossil remains.  What has been found does not provide any concrete answers as to why there is this sudden appearance of fully developed organisms in the Cambrian layer. 

       Evolutionist Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Blind Watchmaker, on page 229 wrote, We find many of them [Cambrian fossils] already in an advanced state of evolution, the very first time they appear. It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history. Needless to say, this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists.

       The Cambrian explosion creates a serious dilemma for the evolutionary position that organisms have developed gradually over millions of years.  Darwin taught that natural selection acting on random variations was a gradual process that occurred over millions of years thus rendering any sudden appearance of organisms an unexplainable anomaly. 

       Yet the Cambrian layer shows millions of fully developed organisms suddenly appearing and becoming fossilized.  There is little evidence of simple to complex in the Cambrian rock.  Yet evolutionists believe the Cambrian layers took 5 to 10 million years to develop, a time period that should have shown a good measure of evolutionary development with evidence of clearly identifiable transitional forms.  Many of the Cambrian invertebrates are now extinct.  Yet their complex body types are apparent in modern organisms. 

       This all indicates the Cambrian invertebrates are not simple primitive ancestors of today’s complex invertebrates but are complex organisms in their own right, with no trace of evolutionary ancestors. The same has been found to be true of winged insects, flowering plants, birds and mammals that have been found to suddenly appear in the fossil record with no indication of transitional forms. 

      As previously discussed, fossilization can only occur as a result of rapid disposition of sedimentary material that entraps organisms before they have a chance to deteriorate. Fossilization does not occur slowly.  The sudden fossilization of organisms in the Cambrian layer places into question the millions of years assigned to the development of the Cambrian layer.  The evidence suggests rapid fossilization, not fossilization over millions of years. Fossilization is seen as the result of rapid disposition of sedimentary rock due to the action of water. 

       Again we need to ask if the Genesis flood is responsible for this rapid disposition of both plant and animal life forms in what is seen as the Cambrian layer.  On the surface it would not appear to be so because the fossils found in the Cambrian layer are mainly invertebrates, organisms lacking back bones and having exoskeletons which are hard coverings outside the body.

       Vertebrates (organisms having back bones) are, at the moment, largely missing from the Cambrian. Vertebrates, however, are clearly identified as being created in the Genesis creation account (livestock, wild animals, etc.).  So not only the Genesis flood but the six day creation could be predated by a former creation that met with a catastrophic flood or some other geologic event or events that resulted in the sudden disposition of millions of organisms that we see today as the Cambrian explosion.

       It should be noted, however, that recent evidence has identified vertebrates to be present in the Cambrian rock along with the invertebrates.  The remains of a fossilized fish were recently found in a Cambrian layer in China.  Research by Chinese, British, French and Japanese scientists showed this was indeed a vertebrate. All the details of the animal’s head and backbone could be seen in the remains. Another fossilized fish was unearthed in Cambrian rock in another area of China and has been identified by the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as definitely a vertebrate.

       If such discoveries of vertebrates in the Cambrian continue to be made, it could greatly expand the number of phylum identified in the Cambrian explosion to where most if not all of currently living organisms could trace their ancestry to this period of history.  What is of great interest, and an apparent challenge to evolutionary claims of millions of years of gradual evolutionary development, is that there are not found in the rock layers above the Cambrian any entirely new body plans of invertebrates that are not already seen in the Cambrian layer. If indeed the Cambrian is 530 million years old, evolution has not produced any significant change in the basic design of invertebrates in a half billion years.  This flies in the face of what is expected of evolution.  

       The fact that the Cambrian layer does not show a simple to complex continuum of organism development, and the fact that layers above the Cambrian do not show development of new invertebrate body types, raises serious questions as to evolution being the sole mechanism whereby living organisms came to be.

       What do we find in the other eleven periods of geologic time as to evidence for evolutionary development?  Do we find simple to complex in these layers? 

       The next layer up from the Cambrian is the Ordovician period. This layer of sedimentary rock contains some fossils similar to what is found in the Cambrian but here we see many more vertebrate organisms.  As with the Cambrian, many of the organisms identified in the Ordovician are extinct.  There is no distinct arrangement of simple to complex but there is a definite increase in complexity of structure seen in the Ordovician fossils as compared to the Cambrian. There is observable movement from less structurally complex to more structurally complex fossils as you move from the Cambrian to the Ordovician. Does such increase in structural complexity represent gradual evolutionary transition from simple to complex?

       As we progress up the geologic column, we do see an increase in overall complexity in the structure of organisms.  While organisms as simple as bacteria have complex structures, the overall increase in complexity of organisms is apparent as you move from the bottom to the top of the geologic column. Organisms in the higher geologic periods increase in number of complex parts and as a whole are more complex than organisms in the lower geologic periods. 

       Is such structural difference the result of fortuitous change through gradual evolutionary processes occurring over millions of years or are we looking at an original design of basic body plans from which great varieties of organisms have developed within such plans?  The absence of distinct intermediate forms in the fossil record would lead one to believe organisms have developed within the parameters of an original creation of designed body plans. If this is true, however, the apparent movement from simple to complex in the geologic column suggests gradual development of body plans over millions of years which is what progressive creationists believe has taken place. 

       On the other hand, if a great flood occurred as recorded in Genesis, the action of the water could very easily have created virtual mountains of deposits of suddenly killed organisms with the invertebrate marine organisms settling to the bottom and other organisms, including vertebrates of all types, being deposited in accumulating layers of stratum from lower to higher.

       Such disposition would reflect the ability of organisms to seek higher ground in their attempt to flee from the advancing waters. The ability of stratum to develop quickly has been clearly shown in research I discussed last week.  If a great flood created the geologic column of fossilized organisms, this column does not represent millions of years of evolutionary development but reflects a catastrophe of mammoth proportions that buried millions of organisms in a short time frame.

       As previously discussed in this series, the fossil record shows a mixed variety of buried organisms at all levels of sedimentary strata in addition to the predominance of “simple” to “complex” as you move upward from the Cambrian period of the Paleozoic era to the Pleistocene period of the Cenozoic era.

       Again, I must reiterate that the key consideration regarding the fossil record is how fossils are formed. Fossils are not formed gradually!  Fossils can only be formed suddenly as the result of sudden death and subsequent sudden burial.  

       The fossil record is a record of sudden burial in rapidly developing sediment which entrapped millions of organisms and permanently encased them as the sediment hardened into rock. Anything less than quick burial would allow for predators to eat the remains and scatter the bones and bacteria to reduce the bones and other hard body parts to their foundational elements.

       Evolutionists claim radiometric dating has established the Cambrian to be millions of years old and therefore the fossils found throughout the Cambrian to be that old. Such dating is said to establish that fossils found in the Cambrian are much older than fossils found in the next layer up and fossils found in that layer are much older than the next layer up and so forth.  The Cambrian layer shows the sudden fossilization of millions of organisms. If this was a gradual fossilization occurring over millions of years, there would have been the necessity of rapid disposition of sediment occurring on a virtually continuous basis over that period of time.  The physical evidence shows a sudden disposition occurring during a short period of time.

       Not only do evolutionists claim the Cambrian was formed over millions of years, but all successive layers of strata were formed over millions of years based on the dating of rocks wherein fossils are found.  Here too, however, we have the same problem of fossilization taking place slowly over millions of years which is contrary to our knowledge as to how fossils form.  So how is this dilemma resolved?  Our knowledge of how fossils are formed is definitive.  We know that fossils, by and large, are formed due to sudden death, sudden burial and sudden disposition of sediment.

      This definitive knowledge as to how fossils are formed does not harmonize with the evolutionist view of gradual fossil formation involving millions of years of geologic activity. Fossils are formed as a result of catastrophic geologic activity involving rapid disposition of sediment largely due to the action of water.  To postulate that the geologic column of deposited sediment containing millions of fossils took millions of years to develop is to say there was a continuous progression of flood events over millions of years.  While the earth has always experienced floods, there is no reason to believe there has been the kind of continuous catastrophic flood activity that would be required to facilitate formation of the massive amount of sedimentary rock and fossil evidence found around the world. 

       The evidence as to how fossils are formed does not harmonize with the idea of slow, gradual disposition of sedimentary material over millions of years.  Fossils would not have been formed under such conditions as dead organisms would have decayed or been consumed by predators long before fossilization could take place.  Therefore, ages assigned by paleontologists and geologists to the sedimentary strata and the fossils they contain are very problematical.  Such dating simply cannot be harmonized with our knowledge of how fossils are formed. 

       Since our knowledge of how fossils are formed is definitive while the accuracy of the various dating methods has been found to be problematical, it is prudent to conclude that the presence of millions of fossils in the various layers of sedimentary rock found throughout the geologic column got there, not by uniformitarian activity occurring over millions of years, but by catastrophic events involving water.

       As seen in experiments done with sedimentary material, horizontal layers of sediment can be built up vertically in a very short period of time due to the action of water pushing against sedimentary material. Organisms entrapped in such material would be buried and become fossilized as the pressure exerted by developing vertical columns of horizontal layers of sediment became hardened into rock. Horizontal strata that form into vertical columns in a short period of time would all be of the same relative age.                          

       Therefore, fossils found in such strata would also be of the same age. Smaller organisms would naturally be found at the lower levels of strata formed in this manner with larger more complex organisms being found in progressive order as you move toward the top layers of such strata. 

       This explanation of strata development and fossil placement reflects what we know about how strata can be formed and how most fossils are formed.   Since we find an abundance of fossils throughout the geologic column, we can logically conclude this vertical column of horizontal layers of sedimentary material formed rapidly over a short period of time and not over millions of years as proposed by evolutionary geologists.

       Therefore, claims by the scientific community that radiometric dating has demonstrated the geologic column of sedimentary rock has developed over millions of years is very problematic.  Radiometric dating can only measure the age of the igneous rock surrounding sedimentary rock and in some cases the bits of igneous rock that is found within sedimentary rock from which it is made.   Radiometric dating cannot establish when these bits of igneous rock came together to form sedimentary rock and, therefore, cannot establish the age of sedimentary rock or fossils found in such rock.  

       Geologists date igneous rock found above, below and around a particular stratum of sedimentary rock and extrapolate from their findings the approximate age of the sedimentary rock found in between. Since we know sedimentary rock can develop quickly around igneous rock, such dating of sedimentary rock to its surrounding igneous rock is very problematic.  Additionally, igneous rock found above, below and around sedimentary strata has been found to be of various ages indicating random accumulation of such rock in response to various geologic activity.  

       It must be pointed out, however, that while you can’t date sedimentary rock based on the dates of the pieces igneous rock found above, below and around sedimentary strata, such pieces of igneous rock have been shown by radiometric dating to be millions of years old. To the extent radiometric dating methods are accurate, we could still be looking at a very old earth. Young earth creationists have tried to show that various changes in the earth’s atmosphere have altered the conditions upon which scientists rely for accurate and consistent dating.  However, scientists using the same dating methods on moon rocks have shown moon rocks to be millions of or years old.  The moon doesn’t have an atmosphere that could influence the accuracy of radiometric methods. 

       So while the geologic column made up of sedimentary rock with its millions of fossils doesn’t appear to be the result of multiple millions of years of gradual development, the igneous rock that is found scattered throughout fossilized sedimentary rock may be millions of years old.       

       Since the fossil containing geologic stratum are found throughout the earth, to postulate that the development of the geologic column took multiple millions of years would demand evidence of successive catastrophic floods occurring over millions of years and covering the earth. We don’t have such evidence. The only historical accounts we have of worldwide flood activity is the Genesis creation account which shows the earth covered with water prior to the six day creation event and the Noachian flood account along with the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh and other ancient literature which appears to parallel the Genesis Flood account. 

       Since we have ample historical record of the devastating effects of water on the topography of the earth, it is not at all unreasonable to view the geologic column with its millions of fossils as evidence of worldwide catastrophic flood activity that led to rapid burial of millions of living organisms in rapidly developed vertical columns of horizontal stratum of sedimentary material at some point in the historical past

       Evolutionists believe the fossil record supports the theory that living organisms have developed slowly over millions of years.  The fossil record provides such support only if you begin by assuming the thing to be proved.  You must begin by assuming that the presence of simple to more complex organisms in a lower to higher stratification of placement in sedimentary rock got that way through uniformitarian processes occurring over millions of years. This approach is virtually saying that long periods of evolutionary development is documented by the geologic column and the geologic column is documented by evolution. This is a circular argument.  

       The “Cambrian explosion” reveals the sudden appearance of organisms and their sudden death and burial. The sudden appearance of millions of developed organisms in the Cambrian and their sudden burial is much more consistent with a point in time special creation and subsequent point in time sudden death due to some catastrophic event as opposed to a gradual development of such organisms over millions of years and their gradual death due to uniformitarian geologic activity.

       The Cambrian, as well as the entire geologic column shows fully designed and developed fossilized organisms. Even though most fossils are not the actual organism but an imprint of the organism, there is enough detail to establish such organisms to be fully developed. Fossils do not show incremental transitional stages of development.  Therefore, the geological column does not support the gradual incremental development (evolution) of organisms. 

       What the geologic column shows is a wide variety of fully developed body designs and body structures of varying degrees of complexity.  While there is a general lower to higher sequence of complexity evident in the geologic column, the fact remains that these are fossils and fossils have to be created by rapid disposition of sedimentary material occurring in a relatively short period of time. Therefore, the evidence is strong for a catastrophic event or events involving water creating the geologic column in a comparatively short period of time where stratification of sediment occurred while rapidly entrapping living organisms according to their areas of habitat, size and weight. Therefore, the geologic column better supports a point in time appearance of a variety of organisms and their subsequent point in time sudden destruction.

      Since the geologic column is more reflective of a sudden appearance and subsequent destruction of organisms, what are the dynamics associated with the presence of these organisms throughout the geologic column and their sudden destruction?  Is the Noachian flood responsible for this? Was there created life on earth before the Genesis creation account?   How do we account for the massive variety of life forms extant in the geologic column, the great majority of which are extinct?  How do we account for the massive variety of organisms in the world today?  We will continue to explore this issue as we move forward with this series.