Fossils Are Fun – Once You Blow the Smoke Away

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Think & Believe Newsletter | 0 comments

Whether it’s “Walking with Prehistoric Beasts” on the Discovery Channel or looking at National Geographic in the dentist’s office, it seems every time I turn around, I’m faced with some new fossil that “proves” evolution.  Normally, my reaction is to pass it off as evolutionary dogma and change the channel or read about something else like fly fishing.  However, I’m finding that by doing that, we, as Christians, can miss out on opportunities to discover more about God through His creation.

So put down that copy of Field & Stream and look at the “Evolution of Whales” article in the November 2001 issue of National Geographic.  It is this writer’s contention that once we blow some of the evolutionary smoke away, we can expand our view of God’s original creation and have some fun in the process.

As usual, the first items we encounter are beautiful photographs and attractive illustrations showing the evolutionary progression of modern whales from a doglike ancestor.  Whenever we see great artwork, we at AOI have been trained to say, “What’s the evidence?”  So my usual response is to analyze each fossil to see what the actual evidence is and see what other sources (creationist and non-creationist) have to say about it.  Once I’ve done the research, and am satisfied that the evidence is too scant, too out of place, or too whatever to be a transitional form, I breathe a sigh of relief until the next fossil comes along that “proves” evolution.  In reality, however, what we are dealing with is not empirical science, but someone’s ideas about a bone belonging to some extinct creature.  It’s not science.  It’s philosophy.

In defending creation, I have heard some say that if evolution were true, we would expect to find thousands of transitional creatures in the fossil record displaying features such as half-feathers and half-scales, etc.  Since we don’t find that, evolution can’t be true; so we’re safe…for the time being.  In saying this there is the subtle implication that, given the right fossils in the right sequence, we might have to admit there really are transitional forms.

In reality, however, it is only someone’s opinion about a fossil that makes it a transitional form.  No matter what anyone digs up.  Whether it’s a half dog/half chicken with scales turning into feathers etc., it lived in the past and it is just as valid to say it was designed that way by God as it is to say it is a transitional form.  Poof!  A little smoke disappears.  But what about the ear bone of Pakicetus on page 70?  Doesn’t the fact that it is more similar to early Eocene whales than to mammals mean that it was progressing toward whalehood?  No.  This is simply more opinion.

Of the pillars propping up evolutionary thought, this has to be the biggest.  No matter what the field, it is automatically assumed that similarity equals common descent.  However, this is not always observed.  Sharks and dolphins look very similar but one is a fish and the other a mammal.  A similar point can be made with bats, birds and butterflies.  Ultimately, similarities are more easily attributed to a common Designer than a common ancestor.  Poof!  A lot of smoke disappears.

But what about the remnants of legs in modern whales shown on page 73?  Don’t some modern whales show remains of what used to be legs?  More philosophy?  Yep.

In recent years, doctors’ opinions led to mass removal of tonsils and adenoids thinking they were evolutionary leftovers.  Further research has shown they are useful in fighting infection.  Yet, even if an organ’s function isn’t known, it is a person’s opinion about that organ that makes it an evolutionary leftover.

If whales never had legs, why are some found with atavisms or mutations resembling legs?  How could their genes be expressing information that should never have been there to begin with?  First of all, it is someone’s opinion as to what the mutation resembles.  One might say what they are observing is a leg and one might say flipper.  Secondly, if mutations are expressing genetic material from a previous evolutionary stage, does that mean that our ancestors had hair-lips, or six fingers?  The only way to determine if a mutation is expressing a gene from an early ancestor is to go back in time and observe evolution in progress.  Since that is impossible, we are left with – you guessed it …opinions.  Poof!  More smoke disappears.

Once we get past the evolutionary philosophy, we can start to see fossils in a different context.  Provided the facts are accurate, we can look at the various whales and say, “Wow!  Look at the variety of creatures God created.”  As more bones are found, maybe we can discover more about Pakecitus and Ambulocetus and get a more accurate picture of what they really looked like.  Of course it is important to remain skeptical, but too many times our skepticism can lead us to denial rather than discernment.

By Mark Sonmor

Originally published in the Spring 2002 issue of Think & Believe newsletter.

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