Fossils – Evidence for Evolution?

Science Curriculum and the Bible #2

Time to read: 3 mins

This post is part of a series written by a secondary school Head of Science, exploring some key areas of the science curriculum where teaching contradicts the Bible. Whilst based on what is taught in UK schools, it will be relevant if you’re studying science at any level, or have a general interest in Christian apologetics.

See also:

School science often teaches that fossils show how complex organisms have evolved from simple ones over millions of years. A current school textbook states,

“Fossils provide the evidence that organisms lived ages ago. They can tell us a lot about how organisms have changed (evolved) over time. By comparing fossils with species that are alive today, we can see that many of today’s species have developed from much simpler organisms over millions of years.”

Let’s examine the two main claims in this statement:

1- Fossils provide the evidence that organisms lived ages ago.

This statement is making a big assumption – because fossils are found in rocks which are assumed to have been formed ages ago, then the fossilised organisms must also have lived ages ago. Of course, it’s correct that the fossils must have formed when the rocks did, but what evidence is there to prove that the rocks actually formed ages (millions of years) ago? The argument is usually given in two parts:

  • Firstly – we don’t see layers of rock being formed quickly today so it must have taken millions of years for enough rock layers to form.
  • Secondly – radiometric dating shows that fossils, and therefore the rocks they are in, are millions of years old.

Rock layers – It is true that we don’t often observe layers of rock forming quickly, but there are occasions when this is observed, usually during catastrophic events such as volcanoes and mudslides.  The global flood of Noah’s day would have given the ideal conditions for rapid burial of organisms and rock formation perfect for preserving fossils. There is also a lot of geological evidence that the distinct layers we observe in rocks are consistent with rapid, not long age rock formation.  Here are some articles and videos that go into this in more detail:

Radiometric dating – The age of fossils, and therefore the rocks they are found in are often determined using radiometric dating.  The details of how radiometric dating works are quite technical and the results even for a single piece of rock can be very variable. The method makes a lot of assumptions about past conditions on the earth which we cannot test or prove. Although it might seem to be something we are measuring now, these assumptions mean that radiometric dating is really an example of historical science.

2 – Fossils can tell us about how organisms evolved and show that today’s species developed from much simpler organisms.

Many excellent articles have been written giving evidence against this statement. One of the key arguments is that although we have many examples of fossilised creatures which are the same as species which are alive today, and many examples of species which are no longer alive today but which are completely different to organisms we do observe today, there are no known examples of fossils which are intermediate between the extinct and modern organisms.  If evolution is true, and organisms gradually change over time to become what they are today, then we would expect evidence of these intermediate organisms in the fossil record. This evidence is completely absent.

You may be taught that fossils give evidence for evolution of species, or of the long time scales required for this. However, you can be confident that in reality the evidence is actually more consistent with the biblical accounts of creation and the catastrophic, global flood recorded in Genesis 1-9.

If you have found this article helpful and there are other things you have been taught in science lessons which you have questions about, please leave a comment or Ask Footsteps! and I will try to answer your questions.

[A00075 – 23/05/2018]

See also:

  • Two Types of Science – Can I believe everything I’m taught in science? Can science prove everything?
  • Natural Selection vs Evolution – Are they the same thing?

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