Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Ubiquity of Fossils

Ubiquity speaks of the commonness of a thing—it’s everywhere. Fossils have that quality, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the valleys of the Appalachians. In fact, fossils are so prevalent in sedimentary rock that the fossils found in it are the metric used to date and type it. According to classical, uniformitarian evolutionary scenarios, fossils formed by regular processes of death, deposition, compaction and mineralization. Water, winds, even volcanoes, laid down sediments upon the bodies of animals and plants. Millimeter by millimeter for thousands upon thousands of years the sediments built until the pressure was great enough to solidify them and the dead life forms within them into rock. The problem is that if this was the process that produced fossils, we wouldn’t have any!

When things die, especially animal life, there is not much opportunity to preserve it in the fossil record. If a dead thing is not buried completely and quickly, thousands of creatures, microscopic and large, begin a feeding frenzy. What they don’t destroy the elements do. The corpse doesn’t have thousands of days let alone thousands of years to mark it’s existence for all posterity. Fossils could form only if the sedimentation process was rapid, like in floods, landslides, volcanism, or sandstorms. But these mechanisms produce not only fossils, but also sharply delineated, localized fields of sedimentary rock. However, sedimentary rocks stretch square mile after square mile in vast fields of horizontal and uniform strata. In fact, about 75% of the land surface of the earth is covered by them up to an average depth of over 5400 feet.

Most the time, sediments are laid out flat, kind a like a college student during break. If you examine an outcropping in the Appalachians it may not appear that way, but the curvy strata there were caused by folding after sedimentation. In other places where sedimentary rock is present but not horizontal other geotectonic mechanisms can be forwarded to explain it. Sediments are laid horizontally. It’s just the physics of particles precipitating out of solution or suspension. Even if the floor they are settling on is serpentine, sediments settle in the low spots to a greater degree than the high spots until things are more or less evened out. When sediment fields stretch square mile after square mile in relatively uniform strata, a single body of murky water over the entire sediment field must have been responsible. How that occurred simultaneously with all manner of flora and fauna being rapidly covered by those precipitates presents some serious problems to the evolutionist in my mind.

Is there a biblical answer for such features? You bet:
For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
Genesis 7:17-24 (NIV)

It seems to me, the biblical account of a global flood offers a better mechanism for explaining the ubiquity of fossils than anything I heard from the nonbelievers.