Researching Creation

August 21, 2008

Geology / The Late Appearance of Humans in the Fossil Record

JB

Currently in Creationism there are two puzzling issues with regards to the fossil record:

  • Where are the mammals in the flood sediments?
  • Where are the humans in the post-flood sediments?

The fossil record of the flood strata is fairly easy to understand if we look at it as consecutive habitats which get washed away.  The one big problem with this theory is that there is an entire biome (the mammals) that appears to be missing.  There have been many possibilities considered for this one, including:

  • The population of mammals pre-flood was small enough to not be well-represented in flood sediments
  • The mammalian biome was subducted into the earth during the flood
  • Probably others I can't think of right now

Sadly, this is not actually the topic of this post, I just thought I'd throw it in for free :)

After the flood (if you view the end of the flood as the K/T boundary), the fossil record is fairly consistent with the idea of a post-flood repopulation of the earth.  The marsupials seem to be the fastest to get anywhere, with the placentals being slower but more dominating.

So why are the apes consistently before humans in the fossil record?  Kurt Wise's take on this - it's because of Babel.   After the flood the animals were obedient - they spread out and repopulated the earth.  The humans, however, were not obedient.  They stayed in the same spot at Babel.  This caused the animals to have a very large head-start in repopulating the earth, which is one of the reasons why apes always precede humans in the fossil record, and why the humans appear to be the only baramin whose fossil record does not extend back to the flood.

August 09, 2008

Geology / Determining the Limits of Baramins through Paleontology

JB

In addition to the ICC conference, the BSG conference was held this week, so I'll be covering some of the talks given there throughout the week.

Kurt Wise gave an excellent presentation on one possible criteria for determining the extent to which mammalian (especially ark-based) baramins (a "Baramin" is a Genesis created kind - NOT equivalent to species) have diversified - the Post-Flood Continuity Criteria (PFCC), primarily based on data from the monograph Classification of Mammals, which had abundant data of the geological layers in which different mammalian organisms were found.

Kurt argued that the fossil record at the genus level for mammals is essentially complete, with some specific exceptions.  Therefore, a given baramin should have a fossil record that goes all the way back to the flood, which, for this study, Kurt used the K/T boundary as the flood/post-flood boundary.  Kurt argued from the data of the fossil record that, although we normally equate the baramin with the family as a first-pass approximation, many of these families do not go all the way back to the flood.  However, if we extend this to the superfamily level, we often find extinct families which do go back to the flood.  Kurt argued that these extinct organisms were the ancestors of the modern families of organisms.

Another interesting thing Kurt noted was that in order to go all the way back to the flood, you had to essentially connect all of Ruminantia to be part of the same baramin.  What's even more interesting is that a friend had previously speculated just this very same thing to me on biological grounds (specifically, the uniqueness of the Ruminant stomach, and the fact that most of the other traits can be had by stretching/deforming basic morphologies).  This would mean that cattle, deer, sheep, goats, and giraffes are all in the same baramin.

In any case, it is important (as Kurt emphasized) to keep in mind that baraminology is holistic, not reductionistic, and therefore no one criteria should be adopted for establishing baraminic continuity and discontinuity.  Some of the issues with the post-flood continuity criteria are:

  • Assumes completeness of the mammalian fossil record at the genus level
  • Assumes a definite flood/post-flood boundary (a friend of mine pointed out that this might not necessarily be a single dividing line)
  • Assumes that the flood/post-flood boundary is the same at all locations in the world
I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones I can think of.