Imagine an earth covered with 15 creatures per square foot. And no, these creatures are not merely bacteria; rather, they are animals which can produce shells. The sheer amount of biomass would be so great that none of the creatures could survive. Their food would all be gone and their habitat insustainable. Over at Naturalis Historia, the Natural Historian has written a compelling article about how just the fossilized shells in one portion of the Midwest lead to extreme problems for the Young Earth position.
The author of that post did a brief survey of fossils over a 300×500 mile section of the Midwest from West Virginia to Eastern Missouri and from southern Kentucky to the middle of Indiana and Ohio. Utilizing samples and several calculations which were based off of these samples, he decided to try to calculate how thick a layer would be of fossils if just this area (totally covered in fossils) were spread out over the surface of the entire planet. He was able to conclude that “15 shells per square foot are estimated…” over the surface of the earth just from this sampling. Readers should note that in his article he utilized the lower end on his estimates in order to avoid tilting the scale in favor of an old earth position.
What is the point of this discussion? Who cares? Well this fact actually presents young earth creationism (YEC) with a few major difficulties:
…even 15 shells trying to live within the space of a square foot at the same time would have trouble. One also has to consider several other things:
1) Not all the surface of the earth was ocean before the flood, if we say that 50% of the surface was land then that would mean there were 30 shells per square foot in the ocean.
2) In addition, most organisms that produced these shells likely could only live in shallow water along coasts not in the deep ocean so unless the whole ocean were very shallow (and I think some claim that it was, although that presents some other very perplexing problems) then that would also dramatically reduce the space in which these shells could have grown and died.
3) The shells are not sorted at all by size, as very small (<1cm) to large (>4cm) shells are always found mixed with one another.
Each of these is presents a different difficulty with YEC. For, as the author noted, the shells he surveyed is only one small sample of untold amounts of these deposits across the surface of the earth (see below for my own samples and some analysis). Now if YEC is correct, then all of these creatures would have had to live over the course of around 10,000 years (or fewer). Think about that for a moment. I know from personal experience that the area covered with these shells is about twice as large as estimated in the numbers already referenced above, and so we are then talking about 30 creatures per square foot over the surface of the earth. But then consider that these types of formations can be found across America and across the earth. I have no way to estimate the numbers, but ultimately we’re talking about a simply astounding amount of life living on the surface of the earth in that short of a time span. It would be physically impossible for the sheer weight of living creatures to survive at the same time. If the Earth were only about 10,000 years old, then we would have been knee deep or even buried in shell-producing creatures over the course of our lives.
Not only that, but these creatures would have been competing for resources like food and air (think about how much oxygen these creatures would have sucked up all at once!). And again, it’s not like the entire surface of the earth would have been habitable–these creatures live only in shallow waters. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that if all these creatures lived over the course of 10,000 years then the oceans would have overflowed with them.
The image I have linked to the right shows a pair of stones discovered in limestone in Kansas. There were literally dozens of feet of fossils just like these as far as the eye could see in the Castle Rock formation in Kansas. One could just walk up and pick a rock up off the ground and it would be like the picture to the right. There are places one can’t walk without stepping on large numbers of fossils. The picture that is at the beginning of this post is a picture I took while in this formation. It is not just the author of the article above who has observed the seemingly unending supply of fossils throughout the Midwest. I myself have observed limestone formations with fossils like these across Kansas for hours and hours of interstate. Not only that, but I grew up in northwest Indiana and observed massive limestone formations there as well. Here in Minnesota, one can also observe limestone along cutouts of the highway and elsewhere. One can go to areas along the Mississippi here in Minnesota and pick up fossilized shells along the riverbed.
So imagine that the estimates listed above by the Natural Historian are correct on the low end. Now imagine that all of Kansas is covered with these shells–I can attest to it. Imagine further that more portions of the Midwest are covered with other types of limestone which also would have added to the biomass of earth. Again, the numbers are staggering.
How in the world did all of this biomass get here within a few (10?) thousand years? That is the question which young earth positions must deal with. Note that the argument and evidence in this post do not rely upon any dating system, any background knowledge, or other scientific dating systems YECs tend to denigrate. Note that the argument only shows what is observable and asks a question: how did it get here? YECs would have to come up with some way to plausibly explain how all these creatures could have had their lives condensed into about 10,000 years.
God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19). The natural world attests to Him (Psalm 19). These conjoined Biblical points tell us that when we go outside and observe that the life we can observe in the past could not have all lived within 10,000 years, then it did not. Those who claim otherwise seemingly must either introduce a third option (some plausible explanation for these creatures’ lives–and note that it must be more plausible than the argument that they lived and died at the same rate they do now and that the world is simply old enough to have had that much life and death over the course of time) or they fall victim to a dilemma involving the cited verses: either the natural world does not attest to the Truth or God is actively deceiving us. The bottom line is that this is just one more hole in the Young Earth position. YEC is, simply put, false.
Appendix 1: A response to one objection
There have already been a few responses to this post on places other than this site. One response argued that the samples which I and/or Natural Historian took were not representative of the fossil record. Here is my brief response:
Take a trip through the Midwest sometime and look at the cuts through the highways. Every single time you pass through one in Kansas it is absolutely filled with limestone and fossil-rich rock. The same happens through most of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, etc. I could literally walk up to a wall of shells and pull out a huge sampling of them.
Now suppose this isn’t representative. Suppose that it just so happened, at random, that the roads were set up in such a way that they only hit the most fossil-rich deposits out there. What does that mean?
Not very much. We can observe these same deposits all over the world. The sheer amount of these deposits means that we could very easily produce the number of fossils Natural Historian estimates over just the Midwest.
Again, to clarify, I’m saying let’s assume that Natural Historian overestimated several thousand(milliion?)-fold and so the number of fossils he estimates for the midwest can only be gathered if we collect them from all over the earth, and only from those highway cuts or other points of exposure where such deposits have observed (again, making the extreme assumption that only those places which have happened to get hit by highways or erosion are those with these deposits). But in that case, we can still gather enough fossils to say the entire surface of the earth could be covered by about 15 fossils per square foot.
But wait–these fossils don’t occur in deep oceans or on land. They only occur in shallow oceans. Suddenly we’re up to about 30 per square foot if we assume they occurred in water anywhere (including riverbeds, deep oceans, and the like). But eliminate the places these types of fossils do not occur and the number of fossils increases even more.
Suddenly we find that the exact problem I raised above remains a problem–even if we only take those fossils which are exposed now (and again note that this is a huge underestimate and requires extreme blind faith that there are no other fossils under the ground anywhere, not to mention the fact that there may be even more fossils that are exposed which could drive that number up exponentially). There has been simply too much life on earth to maintain a young earth position.
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.
The first assumption that 15 shells would have trouble coexisting in a single square foot is a bad assumption. In fact, it should come as no surprise that we find strata loaded with such fossils because it is the nature of these shells to clump together in order to survive. Google “zebra mussels” and look at the images. Also, Couldn’t the flood have provided the means for these creatures to expand and reproduce rapidly, especially as the flood waters slowly receded and left large areas of shallow water across much of the earth? Perhaps the boon in shells was actually drastic and unsustainable, which could explain why we now find their remains in rock strata throughout the earth. This argument does not seem particularly strong at the moment.
Thanks for the comment! Your response shows a level of critical thinking about the topic which isn’t often met in conversations like these on either side.
There are a few problems with this assessment, however. The first is that only for the sake of rhetorical imagery are the shells over the face of the entire earth. These creatures would have all had to be condensed into the areas where they did have environments to sustain them.
The second problem is that these hypothetical 15 creatures are the lowest possible estimate for the area surveyed.
The third problem is that these 15 creatures (spread over the earth) are also from only the area surveyed. If you add the area I traveled (Kansas and Minnesota) with the abundance of fossils there, not to mention most of the Midwest (including Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, etc.) and then you take into account the fact that the sites are found all over the world, you have to realize that the exponential increase in these figures would be astronomical. I can’t even fathom the sheer volume of creatures there would be per square foot if they all lived during the same, relatively short time period. We would have been knee-deep in these things. Literally crawling in them.
Fourth, the previous two points discount the reasoning from the flood. Just for one example, mussels generally take about 3 weeks to six months in their larval stage alone. Assuming the 40 days of the Flood, there would simply not have been time to generate even close to this amount of biomass in such a short time.
Sixth, these shells are found in different strata (sometimes over a dozen feet apart). Let’s assuming for the moment the YEC paradigm that these strata were all deposited by the Flood. If that’s the explanation for the deposition of these fossils, one would have to assume that somehow during the flood waters and the depositing of sediment, all these creatures bred, reproduced, died, and then somehow disappeared for a time ( a few days?) before they started to do the same thing, rapidly breeding, reproducing, and dying again. Then they would have to repeat the pattern again. How in the world did this happen? Did God somehow shift the sediment to allow the larva to survive as it was deposited and then speed up their growth rates so they would all live only to kill them off again and repeat the process? The ad hoc nature of this explanation increases the more one investigates it.
Seventh, again one needs to investigate the numbers more thoroughly and look at the deposits first hand to get a true feel for the volume of these deposits. The picture of Castle Rock I showed here is just one example of many across the globe. There are literally layers of about 3-10 feet which I observed of these fossils deposited in this area. Again, assuming the YEC paradigm–how did this many grow, die, and then manage to come back later only to repeat the process?
So when one reads this article, one must keep in mind a few of the points in the post itself–the specific numbers are from only a tiny fraction of the sampling across the globe, so the numbers discussed herein are actually unfathomably small compared to the sheer volume of fossils across the globe. Due to this, I don’t think I’d be remiss to say that if we spread these fossils out we could put a layer at least a few feet thick over the entire globe. Given the environment these creatures lived in, this number increases even more–the creatures would have been dozens of feet thick in their environments, piled on top of each other for a thousand years. Given that nowhere do we have any record of such observations, it is fair to say that this wasn’t what the earth looked like in recorded history. Finally, the standard YEC fallback–the Flood–only increases the ad hoc nature of YEC responses to this argument. How did these creatures live, die, reproduce, live, die, etc. over and over during a 40 day period of the Flood? How did they get mixed throughout the deposits of sediment?
It seems to me the argument only gets stronger the more one examines it.
I am still skeptical about this argument, particularly because it is impossible to know what the Earth looked like pre-flood. Perhaps the environment was much more conducive to sustaining large populations of these types of animals. Looking at the growth of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, which has exploded astronomically in a mere 20 years, I think it’s conceivable to imagine on much larger scale the pre-flood earth being able to grow and deposit during the flood the vast amounts of fossils we now see.
This “pre-flood” argument is very much an argument from silence. You’re correct–we can’t know what the world was like, as far as the Bible was concerned. But we can certainly utilize geology and other sciences in order to discern what it would have been like.
A quick note about the pre-flood world. From scripture we can surmise that it was not much different than the world today. Able was brought a grain offering which indicated many grasses and not a tropical environment (at least were Adams descendants lived). Adam and Eve were cast into the wilderness with the same descriptive words used by Moses to describe the Negev desert that the Israelites had to deal with. In support of the wilderness motif prior to the Flood all one has to do is look and see that there are many preserved plants and animals in the rocks that speak to extreme arid adaptions. Why would such adaptations exist if deserts were not part of the pre-flood, and I would argue world outside Eden, world? No imagery of a lush tropical environment exists in the Bible. Many times the land of Israel is described as it were the Garden of Eden. While not exactly the same the authors imagined it was like the Garden. No one in the ancient near east culture ever seems to have thought of a tropical forest as paradise but rather a well irrigated or rained upon land that brought forth the bounty of grain and fruits on trees was the pinnacle of God’s provision. So, I think we have plenty of clues to suggest that the pre-flood wold looked just like what the Israelites thought their world looked like and that there were man deserts.
Most of YEC Flood theories need the pre-flood world to be a tropical zone from pole to pole to even have a hope of explaining the amount of biomass preserved in the rocks but the Bible provides no such evidence to support this ad-hoc explanation.
You don’t think a great flood can move large amounts of marine life to different areas? I don’t understand the point you are trying to make.
A great flood could certainly move marine life to different areas. The question is whether there is any evidence of a great flood that did such a thing. The presence of marine fossils in a large portion of the geological column could said to be explained by both models but if a global flood is spreading marine stuff all over, how is is it that NO plant pollen or or other terrestrial animals didn’t get mixed in if such massive movements were taking place? Generalizations about a huge flood could do lots of stuff needs to meet actual observed fossil beds and explain the specifics of them. Plant pollen should be ubiquitous in every single geological formation laid down by a global flood. It is easily preserved and floats everywhere and from Scripture we know that there should have been flowering plants (especially grasses) before the Flood and so those pollen should be found all over the place but they are conspicuously absent.
…”but if a global flood is spreading marine stuff all over, how is is it that NO plant pollen or or other terrestrial animals didn’t get mixed in if such massive movements were taking place?”
That’s easy to answer. A global flood will be able to move whole ocean floors or marine life to one area, while other animals and plants already on land get swept up into another area. Fossils of marine life (clams and other shells) are even found in the most unusual places such as mountain tops. Often places where you don’t find a lot of many other forms of life thriving. This is not some kind of whirlpool where everything ultimately gets “mixed” and distributed evenly. Much of the deluge was caused by deep ocean geysers as well.
Earlier views of catastrophism did, in fact, hold that the flood was a whirlpool. But apart from that, the notion that no plant pollen whatsoever or no terrestrial animals whatsoever would be swept together with marine life stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point. Was there no movement in the water? Did the marine life not move at all? Did the geysers not stir the water at all?
You don’t need lots of time to create a “biomass.” You can have them because of a huge disaster. Even today, we have huge accumulations of dead sea life in one huge area and we don’t even know why. If something silent and undetected can do so much damage, imagine what something that is actually tangible can do. And no one can say it is not possible as none of us have been around during a great flood of such magnitude. Our oceans as we know them are covering ancient civilizations to this day. Civilizations that used to exist on what was on dry land–today’s ocean floor. The fact that fossils of sea life is discovered on land that is far away from the oceans at higher elevations just proves that something of great force ejected these creatures to very great distances around the word. It would be illogical, however, to conclude that this is evidence of oceans at these elevations millions of years ago.
Hold on, synaptic. Let’s focus on one topic at a time. You didn’t respond to my critique of your last set of points.
The only two questions I see are the one about the pollen and the other about stirring the water. I think I already addressed the stirring issue with the geysers breaking open and ejecting marine life, rather than a whirlpool that mixes everything on land and from the oceans evenly together. I believe the pollen issue is also resolves by this because as I mentioned if marine life is ejected onto higher, arid elevations that may not be hospitable to plant life–then you will see no evidence of such.
The issue is this: how in the world would we have water covering the entire face of the earth, grant your notion of no whirlpool, and hold that apparently nothing moved around or mixed? How would we not have any evidence whatsoever of pollen in these layers?
You wrote, “. I believe the pollen issue is also resolves by this because as I mentioned if marine life is ejected onto higher, arid elevations that may not be hospitable to plant life”
Right, but of course arid elevations are also not hospitable to marine life. If the flood is the explanation of how the marine life got there, why would not plants have gotten there as well? I’m not suggesting there was some big whirlpool mixing everything. I’m asking why there would be no mixing whatsoever. Was the flood an utterly immobile sheet of water? Was there no current? What about the supposed geysers shooting water from the deep? Did those not stir the water?
There is also the possibility that such a catastrophe lead to dramatic plate shifts, subduction, and mountains were formed. Land that used to be the bottom of the ocean are suddenly risen to mountain tops as mountain ranges are created.
“I’m not suggesting there was some big whirlpool mixing everything. I’m asking why there would be no mixing whatsoever. ”
this is from what I have learned is a total fallacy and it has me pulling back from an old earth position I was leading toward. There are situations under which fossils appear in orders inconsistent with the accepted geological column. They are classified as reworked fossils, wash downs etc. I’m not even talking about overthrusts. The standard line is that in such cases the reworked nature of the fossil can be determined but from one paper I searched down from a non creationist publication I found a rather straight forward admission that in fact many times it is impossible to detect a reworked fossil. That being the case we have absolutely no idea how often fossils are found that are just assumed to be reworked so the claim that we can say there was absolutely no mixing whatsoever is dubious anyway.
Right! Your rejection of the idea that there was no mixing is exactly my point. If there was mixing, then let’s go back and answer Natural Historian’s question:
“The presence of marine fossils in a large portion of the geological column could said to be explained by both models but if a global flood is spreading marine stuff all over, how is is it that NO plant pollen or or other terrestrial animals didn’t get mixed in if such massive movements were taking place?”
““The presence of marine fossils in a large portion of the geological column could said to be explained by both models but if a global flood is spreading marine stuff all over”
I realize your relatively young JW but that level of thinking will not do outside of circles that already agree with you. I don’t have to go from no mixing to “spreading marine stuff all over”. Thats a ridiculous forced false choice. My point was to your erroneous claim that there is no evidence of mixing at all. Fossils form by rapid burial all the earth not by massive mixing. Your point that there is no mixing at all in the geological column is flat out wrong just as your articles insinuation that all the animals shell fossils would have been alive at the same time was erroneous as Natural Historian himself conceded.
However since you concede that the columns does in fact show mixing in places then you can now stop making absolute claims that are simply not true.
It’s hardly fair to say that “My point was to your erroneous claim that there is no evidence of mixing at all.”
It is very disingenuous to argue that this was my point, because I was not claiming that there was no evidence of mixing. Rather, I was responding to synapticcohesion. Read the exchange over again. Synaptic says, “A global flood will be able to move whole ocean floors or marine life to one area, while other animals and plants already on land get swept up into another area. Fossils of marine life (clams and other shells) are even found in the most unusual places such as mountain tops. Often places where you don’t find a lot of many other forms of life thriving.”
I was pointing out that if this is how things got moved, there would have had to have been mixing.
In fact, I state it explicitly: ” how in the world would we have water covering the entire face of the earth, grant your notion of no whirlpool, and hold that apparently nothing moved around or mixed? How would we not have any evidence whatsoever of pollen in these layers?”
So now you are criticizing me for a view I granted for the sake of argument–a view which I then critiqued.
Let me reiterate, I absolutely did not claim that there is no mixing at all–in fact, my explicit point is that we should have evidence of this mixing, if indeed it was the Flood that caused all these layers of fossils.
I really hope that you’ll be more careful in analyzing my argument going forward.
Now, to your first point, which I quoted from Natural Historian: the point is that if the Flood moved things around as synaptic claims, then how is it that there would be no pollen in entire layers of marine fossils. They would have been in the same water. Not only that, but how come we have forests with no pollen?
So I’m not claiming that there was no mixing. In fact, my argument is that we should observe more mixing than we see if the Flood is taken to explain all these fossils.
When I did write, ” If the flood is the explanation of how the marine life got there, why would not plants have gotten there as well? I’m not suggesting there was some big whirlpool mixing everything. I’m asking why there would be no mixing whatsoever,” my point was that we should observe pollen in places we don’t see any. We literally don’t find any in some ancient forests!
So again, I’m asking for a more careful reading of my argument. You’re criticizing me for points I’m either granting for the sake of argument or utilizing to show the absurdity of the other position.
And, to reiterate, I was speaking of absence of pollen, which we in fact observe as an absence. We do in fact have forests without pollen.
Jw This is getting tedious. Go back and read the quote. Does Natural historian talk exclusively about pollen or does he not mention terrestrial animals also????. SYNAPTICCOHESION was always talking about muliple organisms. We in fact might be missing each other but when you quote passages referring to more than pollen I am hardly being disingenious to point out that such absolute statement of no mixing are misleading.
As for the specific example of pollen I will certainly look into it but silence in the fossil record for a given organism has shown a spotty record for drawing conclusions. We heard similar arguments with grass not being present with dinasuars and now there is some indication from their droppings that they might in fact have eaten some kind of grass. Practically every year we discover fossils going back millions even hundreds of millions of years of silence that for some inexplicable reason escaped being fossilized.
Forgive me a neophyte question as I am just getting into the old earth young earth debate and have not made up my mind yet. Both this site and the one referenced keep referring to shells and the pictures don’t really show much more than that from what I can see. SO if all you have there are shells – why do you assume that the shell fossils are all fossils from immediate death and not shells transported from where they had previously been deposited?
edited: Okay I see where the author of the other site actually addresses my question here so my assumptions were correct
“Even considering that many of these organisms might have lived and died before a global flood it is hard to imagine that this many organisms living and dying in only 2000 years”
Ummm… I happen to live in Florida and over on the west coast in the Sanibel region its the shell collecting capitol of the US. You can scoop up a bucket load of shells every week after a high tide. They get buried in the sands or they would rise out of the water and create a barrier. Even at 150 per square feet it wouldn’t amaze me. I would not be surprised to find even 6-10 feet high shell deposits and way more than 150 per square feet.
Your synopsis is somewhat misleading in that you make it sound like these shells must represent animals alive at the time of the flood.
Given a lower death rate and therefore a higher over all reproduction rate preflood I would expect an even higher amount of fossil shell creating marine life from the time of the creation until the flood. Perhaps I am missing something but this doesn’t seem quite as compelling after you think about hundreds and thousands of years worth of shell deposits that could result in some places even being hundreds of feet of shells being deposited at spots around the world. If I am missing something please explain. I am new to this.
Thanks for your very thoughtful response.
I think one thing to note is that the shells you find certainly were not all instantaneously produced–it takes time for these creature to live, die, and have their shells found.
Second, I think you’re vastly underestimating the sheer volume of creatures which would have had to be alive in a condensed period. I think 150 per square foot (over the whole globe) is very likely to be extremely low.
Furthermore, it is easy to get caught up in the abstract ideas and numbers without thinking about reality. These creatures do not cover the entire surface of the earth. Indeed, even in the shallow waters in which they live, they do not cover every possible surface. They must have the resources, the habitat, and the like to survive. And even in highly favorable conditions, they do not simply cover a 300×500 square mile area of the ocean with no spacing between them whatsoever. Realistically, the number would continue to increase exponentially as we consider the ways these creatures live and the fact that there are so many of them.
You see, something is lost in abstracting this concept into simple mathematics. The fact is these are living creatures. I find this picture typical of the way shells are washed up on shore. Granting that these all lived at about the same time (and I’m not sure we can grant that), this is nowhere near the same numbers we’re talking about in the abstractions in the post. The fact is, these creatures do not cover the entire surface of their habitat. They are in a competition for resources like any other creature. While this picture is typical of their living conditions, one must consider the fact that there are large expanses of the same habitat which is covered with sand or rocks or coral and the like. They simply don’t cover everything. So again, over and over we have to exponentially increase the numbers.
There simply have been too many living creatures to have fit into the amount of time YECs need.
JW where in anything did I write or imply that those creatures covered the entire earth. You are not reading what I said merely anticipating a lack you think beforehand exists. Please do not assume that anyone that doesn’t agree with your point is not considering reality. Natural Historian seems to more understand the point. If I thought shells were all over the earth I would not have taken the time to write that it would not surpise me if in spots there were shells hundreds of feet deep. Its this kind of dismissiveness I find frustrating as I go between old earth and YECs. Both sides seems to think the other has no grey matter and have nothing to offer. You come up with names to segregate yourself from other brothers and sisters in Christ – I am of Paul, I am of Cephas and YECs and old agers this and that. It leads to a fruitless dialogue and makes it very hard for someone trying to figure out where the truth is at when each side just harps on their interpetation while leaving other points out. Your post did read to me and still does like all those animals are alive at burial a point that Natural Historian concedes is not the fact. It DOES change the numbers significantly when you consider that that is not the case . That is and was my point
I don’t think I was being disingenuous. I perhaps misread you.
I’m not sure where the attack about classifying myself apart from others comes from. I have tended to avoid assigning any specific names to myself other than noting that I resonate with some views more than others. I only hope there is honesty in these areas among all Christians involve. And certainly, there is a danger in aligning oneself with a teaching that is false.
You wrote in your initial comment, “Given a lower death rate and therefore a higher over all reproduction rate preflood I would expect an even higher amount of fossil shell creating marine life from the time of the creation until the flood.”
This makes me wonder why this would be the case. Why would there be a lower death rate and higher reproduction rate? What reasons do we have for believing this?
You would be right that a tremendous number of shells can accumulate over relatively short periods of time in places like Florida. Also, I should point out that the shells I am talking about in the midwest rock formations are in collections very much like a beach in FL where there is a random mixture of open and broken shells indicating that the organisms were dead and had decayed before they were deposited in these places. Now that could be the result of shells formed during 2000 years between fall and flood but then these deposits look just like beach deposits. Before the flood if shells has accumulated in huge piles along shores one would expect them to be dispersed by a chaotic global event in which 20,000 feet of sediment had to be deposited below the shells before they themselves were deposited. These types of shells and byryozoa are completely absent from the first 15,000 feet of sedimentary rock.
You assume a lower death rate (that wouldn’t help to explain the quintilians of dead shells) and higher reproduction rate before the flood. I’m not sure how you know these things to be true. Look at the other comments I made in this thread about scriptural warrant for believing that deserts and croplands were common before the flood rather than rich tropical lands. How does one know there was a lower death rate among animal (and plants?) before the flood other than to extrapolate from the life spans of humans?
As I mention in the original post the enormous number of fossils in the geological record is rarely appreciated. There are biliions upon billions of sharks teeth, there are so many dinosaur coprolites (dino do do) preserved in Great Britain that an entire fertilizer industry employing thousands of people was created in the 1800s to dig them out of the hillsides and grind them up for their phosphorous content. In just one layers of rock there, tens of millions of coprolites have likely been recovered with 10 to 1000x that number still buried just in Great Brittain. Given these are in the upper layers of the geological column these cannot be preserved dino poops from before the flood but somehow preserved during the flood. Herds of millions of dinosaurs surviving until later in the flood or arising after the flood after emerging from the ark are very difficult to imagine. Morris and Whitcomb in attempting to show the magnitude of fossils trapped in global flood accepted an estimate that in the Karoo formation of South Africa there were up to 800 Billion fossils of small vertebrates. I can see the point they wanted to make but they didn’t stop to do the simple calculation that is they were right that all of these had to have been quickly covered in a global flood then every acre over the entire earth had a couple fox like critters on it at the onset of the flood. Of course these formation represents but a very small fraction of the animal fossils and doesn’t account for a single dinosaur. Now they claim that this was probably an overestimation but even so the point is that for nearly any creature you want to talk about there are enormous numbers of fossils and for some, like vertebrate skeletons I know of no YEC that would argue that these are remains of animals that died years before the flood and were preserved because they think that only the flood was a preservation event.
The close examination of the orientation of fossils, the type of rocks they are found, the disjunct distribution etc… all lead to very obvious and difficult questions for a person that wishes to explain all fossils as part of a global flood.
Natural Historian I certainly will look into some of those things as I decide what my position will be . I am well aware of the Karoo 800 billion claim but that happens to be one of the things that frustrates me with the debaters of this issue. From all I could find on it it seems to be nothing more than an extrapolation and estimation. Do you have an original source for it?. the only one I have seen back that up with any research as to where the number comes from indicates it was someones general and I mean VERY general estimate. I really don’t care about Morris and Whitcomb accepting a figure. I am more concerned how the number was derived to begin with. Please understand Its not a YEC versus Old age debate point to me. Thankfully I am not emotionally entrenched in that war yet 🙂 and hope never to be. I just want hard facts. Its a good argument if the numbers are not just estimations. IF they are just that then its not a particularly good argument until the numbers can be confirmed. I can take Morris on some thing or leave him. I can’t say I have been overall impressed but recently having decided to get to the bottom of this issue I have a bad taste in my mouth for both sides – as you might have gathered by a comment on your blog . lol
As for assuming a lower death rate of course I do and I have every right to within the context of Biblical Creationism, The argument about creationism or flood geology is not in a vacuum separate from biblical data and regardless of the interpretational difference we may or may not have there IS Biblical reason based on life span reported that Humans at least reproduced for longer periods and lived longer. I don’t see that much extrapolation if one biological system was protected to a greater degree that others would as well. Totally logical to me and yes it does affect the number of sea shells. Why in the world would I bring it up if it didn’t. Thats a bit dismissive without understanding my point . Its self evident that longer periods of reproduction increases population size and therefore eventually increases overall (As I specified) deaths of the organism. If you have higher reproduction rates you end up overall with more animals to die and hence overall more shells.
What makes the article on your site and repeated here of value along with the Karoo example is that you can then make a reasonable argument based on overall animals alive. However those numbers have to be adjusted if in fact we are not talking about just the source of those alive at the time but those that died thousands of years before. I’m not even limiting that to 2,000 years either. I have already decided 6,000 years is no hard and fast rule for either side. I’d rather stick to one or two issues at a time though I think it would and will be fascinating to discuss how Dino poop proves the age of the earth 🙂 and why it could not be fossilized previous , during or after a flood I will table it for now.
I will take your claims of how things would be dispersed in a global flood under advisement but if its one thing I have learned so far both sides make wide sweeping claims of what could and could not happen and they seldom accurately give the finer points of the others positions in anything but the dimmest light . As a matter of fact I pretty much bought into the idea that creationists sites were not to be trusted at all and had no good science whatsoever . When I read about paraconformities, anomolous fossils and washdowns I half suspected they were making all the things up. Thats when I realized that there were just some things for whatever reason that I was not hearing from the anti YEC crowd just as there were some things I was not hearing from the pro side. I still favored the explanation of anti YEC sites when many of them said you can always tell when fossils are out of place but then I happened across a peer reviewed paper in an established scientific non creationist journal that just in passing stated rather upfront and honest that there are times where such identifications are in fact impossible. As a layman my mouth kind of fell open at that admission and I am no longer trusting of just so stories from either side.
At any rate maybe I am just a stickler but whatever the argument is about the overall amount of animals the numbers in this article here are skewed if you do not take into account that the animals are not all alive at burial. Take it as a layman’s perspective – it reads misleading and I have seen YEC people blasted for far less. IF the argument is that you cannot move the wealth of dead sea shells that would be present on the earth up to that point through any flood mechanism then thats fine and can be delved into but if you represent that somehow all the animals would have been alive at one time that are fossilized then its not accurate and misleading at least to this layman.
You wrote, “As for assuming a lower death rate of course I do and I have every right to within the context of Biblical Creationism, The argument about creationism or flood geology is not in a vacuum separate from biblical data and regardless of the interpretational difference we may or may not have there IS Biblical reason based on life span reported that Humans at least reproduced for longer periods and lived longer. I don’t see that much extrapolation if one biological system was protected to a greater degree that others would as well.”
In my response to you I asked for evidence of the lower death rate/longer lives. I still don’t see how the purported Biblical data of longer human lifespans would mean that everything else lived longer as well. In fact, several studies (cf. C. John Collins “Genesis 1-4” for one) have argued that these “longer life spans” are simply skipping over generations to note those of greater import.
I don’t see any textual data to say that animals lived longer lives. Nor do we see that scientifically, animals lived longer in the past than now.
“I don’t see any textual data to say that animals lived longer lives. Nor do we see that scientifically, animals lived longer in the past than now.”
I’m sorry but this really is just dodging the answer I gave to natural historian (despite you claiming it was not offered) . I am getting the distinct impression that you dodge where you should listen. You anticipate a flaw in logic so you find it. Its something that I find most engaged in when talking about divisively about brothers and sisters in christ as YECs VS Old earth creationists. They open themselves up to sin quite a bit – not considering each other in Christ. The logic is simple – Human beings life span is not a spiritual matter. We are talking about biological systems. So if biological systems of one kind aged slower then by whatever means that was we would expect it to have a similar effect on at least some other biological systems.
As for textual data you are on one slippery slope in regard to your Rewriting scripture. The age of several people in Genesis is clearly stated and nothing but hermeneutical gymnasitcs (What I would call fudging the facts or lying for scripture) would get us away from the fact that biblically life spans were longer. There are no several studies that show that – a “study” of scripture involves the words in Hebrew and there is nothing – nada in the original languages to come up with that theory you floated.
So really the logic is sound as applies to biological systems ageing slower and the textual data is staring you in the face.
You’re starting to slip into this name-calling game and I’m not going to play it. Stop, now, and focus on issues.
You wrote, “So if biological systems of one kind aged slower then by whatever means that was we would expect it to have a similar effect on at least some other biological systems.”
I’m still trying to figure out this argument. In what possible way would a human having a longer life mean that animals or “other biological systems” have longer lives? We have a longer life expectancy now than we did 400 years ago. I don’t know of any evidence which suggests that animals also have longer life spans because of this.
Further, the reason I was asking for textual evidence was not to open myself to sin [I mean, really?]. Rather, the reason is because supposedly, according to the vast majority of YECs–and I think it would be fair to see all of them–the position is based soundly upon Scripture. As Ken Ham wrote in an article I critiqued recently, “believing in a young earth is a consequence of believing God at His Word in Genesis.” If that’s the case, then I would expect some kind of textual evidence to support the arguments. It’s fine to say that your argument is purely based upon the science, but if so, then I expect a scientific argument. What leads you to the deduction I discussed above? What empirical data do you have to show that as humans have longer lifespans, animals do too?
You wrote, “There are no several studies that show that – a ‘study’ of scripture involves the words in Hebrew and there is nothing – nada in the original languages to come up with that theory you floated.”
Really? Have you read extensively on this topic? I suspect you haven’t and this comment is mere bluster. Why? Because there are several studies. I cited one, in fact. But hey, let’s play your game. There aren’t any studies? How about the following:
Jeremy Northcote, “The Lifespans of the Patriarchs: Schematic Orderings in the Chrono-genealogy” in Vêtus Testamentum 57 (2007) 243-257; argues that the chronologies in the old testament were symbolic because they in fact add up to 12000 years and then 12600 depending upon the author, and therefore reflect the symbolic meaning of numbers found throughout the OT.
Yigal Levin, “FROM LISTS TO HISTORY: CHRONOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE CHRONICLERS GENEALOGIES” in the Journal of Biblical Literature, JBL123/4 (2004) 601-636; argues that genealogies were literary devices to lead readers through the book of Chronicles.
T.D. Alexander, “GENEALOGIES, SEED AND THE COMPOSITIONAL UNITY OF GENESIS” in the Tyndale Bulletin, 1993; argues that the Genesis genealogies are intended to focus on the “seed”–the dynasty of Israel and the future promised hope. This “seeding” was not necessarily a unified chain but rather a focus upon the lineage and promise.
ROBERT R. WILSON, “BETWEEN ‘AZEL’ AND ‘AZEL’ INTERPRETING THE BIBLICAL GENEALOGIES” Biblical Archaeology, 1979; argues that the genealogies in the Bible are more complex than scholars thought before because of their ANE context, in which “in many cases the question of genealogical accuracy may not be a fruitful one because the genealogies involved express a perceived reality which is not open to outside observation.”
That’s just four peer reviewed journal studies arguing for exegetical reasons that the genealogies are longer and/or open, plus the book I’ve already cited. I could keep going, if you’d like.
The bottom line is that you dismissed, without argument–and very obviously without even looking!–my position. And then, you have the audacity to turn around and lump me into a group of those who “open themselves to sin” by “not considering each other in Christ”?
Let’s end that now. I have shown several studies (of which you said there were none), and I have asked for the empirical evidence which must exist if your theory is, as you claim, based upon biological systems.
Division was the sin to which I referred to JW and I hold no superior position in pointing it out because I have done it myself – Division is listed in the Pauline gospels as a work of the flesh. Take it from an outsider that could end up coming down on either side of the age issue – this sniping of each other is not spiritual and you both do it (A perfect example is the KEN Honesty and Aig piece)
Frankly my brother in Christ – We should all stop that and keep in mind always that the person we are talking to and about is a believer in Christ, blood bought, headed for heaven and who we will live forever together with. right now in this debate there is very little of grace on either side.
As for your definition of “studies”. Unfortunately as usual you entirely missed my point. Everything you listed is nothing more than opinion pieces not studies in the sense of putting facts and facts alone under a microscope. I have studied the original languages and no matter what you claim no study of the hebrew indicates ages plainly stated in the Genesis account are not the actual ages of human beings. You could cite a hundred more articles they would not be “Studies” in the Hebrew text.
You description of each of your alleged proofs has one thing consistent – like you yourself state for each one they all “argue” for a position. No “study” of the Hebrew gives such an interpretation the authors are exactly that -arguing for it to be interpreted that way – with nothing from the text. If you believe otherwise then present the TRANSLATIONS that give us this interpretation. You don’t have any because the clear meaning of the scripture listing Methuselah’s age is to well – go figure – present his age.
“I’m still trying to figure out this argument. In what possible way would a human having a longer life mean that animals or “other biological systems” have longer lives?”
Really? I can’t believe you to be honest. Its too simple a point that can be even seen now in terms of living conditions without any major recent changes to the earth. If I eat healthy food and my dog eats healthy food and the air is cleaner it has no bearing on the longevity of my dog’s life? Theres no amount of good food or air that would allow people to live hundreds of years now so its rather obvious the conditions would have to be different and no matter what you claim the logical and textual data is right there telling you exactly what you rather stubbornly claim is not there. You have no rational to claim that hundred of years of slow aging of one biological system would have no effect on others. Its totally illogical.
“We have a longer life expectancy now than we did 400 years ago”
You are confused. Some Humans have been living a little over a hundred years old in almost every generation. You have average life expectancy confused with human life span. Plus trying to equat living a decade or two longer to say 900 years isn’t exactly an intellectually honest comparison. Obviously if the scriptures are to be trusted theres something far more substantial than having good medical care at work.
You wrote, “Everything you listed is nothing more than opinion pieces not studies in the sense of putting facts and facts alone under a microscope.’
I am now certain you didn’t even bother to try fact checking. Why? Because the studies do take deep looks into the Hebrew text. For example, T.D. Alexander, in the article I cited, writes [not sure if the Hebrew will show up correctly with copy/paste: “Yet the present text has been carefully shaped to highlight the importance of a family lineage which begins with Adam and is traced through to the sons of Jacob. This is highlighted by two distinctive literary features: (a) the ΓΓΠ^ΊΓί headings which introduce the different sections of the book, and (b) the repeated use of the Hebrew word ΙΠΪ (‘seed’)·”
The rest of the work is a study relating zerah, “seed,” to the genealogies and showing how they are textually related. This exactly meets the standard of study you presented as an exegetical look at the text.
Of course, you could always redefine your requirements, as you seem to do in this comment.
You wrote, “I have studied the original languages and no matter what you claim no study of the hebrew indicates ages plainly stated in the Genesis account are not the actual ages of human beings.”
Great! I studied the original languages too! I do not claim to be an expert, but I’ve had two years each of Greek and Hebrew and I’ve kept up with it well enough to read it with decent fluidity. But my point comes in your broad sweeping statement.
Have you interacted with the thousands of journal articles published every year on the OT? Have you read them all? Have you looked at every relevant book, article, or source on the topic to see that, as you claim, ” no study of the hebrew indicates ages plainly stated in the Genesis account are not the actual ages of human beings”? I sincerely doubt it. In fact, I’m just about certain, because your last sweeping claim has already been shown to be false. I presented 4 separate studies which look at the linguistics and the ANE culture and show that the genealogies have gaps or are incomplete. Then you changed your requirements, instead focusing on an argument I didn’t make, by saying “no matter what you claim no study of the hebrew indicates ages plainly stated in the Genesis account are not the actual ages of human beings.”
I actually never countered that claim. My claim was that the genealogies have gaps and/or overlap. And I’ve demonstrated that there are several studies of the language which point out this exact thing.
But I’m going to stop my response here, because I can see now that your comments have turned entirely away from data and towards bluster. You say “no study” this and “I can’t believe you to be honest” and “You are confused” and “clear meaning of Scripture” and “You could cite a hundred more articles they would not be “Studies” in the Hebrew text.”
In other words: if someone disagrees with you, it isn’t a study.
I can’t debate with that. And, frankly, I won’t. I will not respond until you present positive evidence for your position. Any comments you write after this will only be approved if they don’t degenerate into bluster. I want data rather than presuppositions.
Regarding the other argument, you wrote, “If I eat healthy food and my dog eats healthy food and the air is cleaner it has no bearing on the longevity of my dog’s life?”
Here we have the actual crux of your argument come about. Notice that the dog’s health is not a function of the simple longevity of the human life; rather, it is a function of the human’s care for and concern for the dog. Guess what: dogs haven’t always been pets! Furthermore, the animals we’re talking about in this article are brachiopods, cephalopods, and the like. Let’s see some evidence to show the function of human care making the lives of brachiopods and cephalopods longer. I want evidence.
Unless and until you present evidence for your side, and until you stop making arguments that are demonstrably false (i.e. “Everything you listed is nothing more than opinion pieces not studies in the sense of putting facts and facts alone under a microscope” when in fact I cited studies of the Hebrew text and/or ANE culture), I don’t want to see another comment.
“Have you interacted with the thousands of journal articles published every year on the OT? Have you read them all? Have you looked at every relevant book, article, or source on the topic to see that, as you claim, ” no study of the hebrew indicates ages plainly stated in the Genesis account are not the actual ages of human beings”? I sincerely doubt it. In fact, I’m just about certain, because your last sweeping claim has already been shown to be false”
Do you always become this unhinged when your assumptions are challenged. I now have to interact with thousands of journals published every year on the OT to know that translators did not goof when they translated Genesis 5:27
“So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.”
DO YOU SEE THE WORD SEED IN THERE ANYWHERE? Please I am all ears to your two years of Hebrew that indicate that this passage is not stating the age of methusaleh. There has been no change in position as you allege. Don’t continue to utilize the failed methodology of assuming your detractors are idiots. No one would ever state that any position in scripture does not have its written proponent. The gaps in the genealogies have absolutely nothing to do with what we are discussing the age of methusaleh is plainly stated.
You can choose to post or play God mod on a relatively unknown blog. You are acting like a kid having a tantrum and it makes your blog worthless to me anyway.
My argument was not about the age of individual humans. It was about the genealogies having gaps. Period. I believe I have demonstrated that, and I’m asking for counter-evidence.
I’m not sure where you’re generating the insults from, either. Let’s talk about this from the data. I’ve been asking for it, and have yet to see it.
Let’s rewind: I have claimed that there are gaps in the genealogies which allow for longer periods of time.
Do you deny this?
If so, why?
Some great points made. Humans are part of the ecosystem like everything else–their longer lifespans would indicate a longer lifespans for other lifeforms. It also made me think about the lifespan of dinosaurs. Clearly the large ones especially would have to have very long lifespans grow so large. Dinosaurs that large with only the lifespans of reptiles today would be inefficient in any ecosystem as you would literally have tons of rotting flesh everywhere. Even today’s whales can live for over 200 years.
The pre-Flood environment was very different from today’s environment. This has clearly affected the lifespans and growth patterns of all living things.
JW first kudos on publishing my last post which I was certain by your threatening tones was going to be my last. Please brother read my posts. I understand you are arguing a common issue between young earth and old earther in anticipation of a disagreement but that was NOT my point and you are making wrong assumptions about where I am coming from. You are preaching to the choir about gaps in the genealogies. Although I think they are pretty tight in chapter 5 there is a lot of evidence that genealogies are NOT meant to do calculations of the age of the earth. WE AGREE there. Whether I finally come down on young or old earth it will never be 6,000 years as I see no compelling evidence for using genealogies like that,
However gaps in genealogies has absolutely nothing to to do with the age of Methuselah that I was talking about and again I know of NO study that changes the meaning of “the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died” that relies on the Hebrew. None. My point if you go back and read my posts was about how long people lived not whether gaps existed in genealogies. I finally gather by your insistence on that point even now that you have been attempting to answer a point I never made and we are arguing entirely different points, I hope you can see that now – How long someone lives is a separate issue from how many years elapse between one person and their ancestors
I know at this point you think I am just being snarky but trust me when I say I am frustrated by the state of the dialogue between both sides it is honest and sincere. Don’t think for an instance I am accusing you alone of this. You go to the young earth people and they are blasting Old earth,. You go to many old earth and they are blasting Young earth. You then find out that you know what? They both have some points but they are so busy riding rough shod over each other they no longer think they have to listen. Not to offend but in all honesty I see that as a key component of why we are having this disagreement on totally different points with neither one of us talking about the same thing. Far too much anticipation of where the other is coming from.
Why is that so frustrating (and I don’t use that word lightly) to someone like me? I’m trying to figure out where the truth lies and you can barely find a single site anywhere where the other side is not so entrenched that they can walk though both sides and give the honest pros and cons. The real kicker is I have found out that each side unwittingly is in fact lying about the other in the sense that they end up because of this demeanor to each other creating caricatures of the others positions that are from from the truth and the end up being so dismissive of each other they end up rebutting strawmen. .
SO again my point is on the age people lived to and I maintain with no qualms whatsoever that changing the clear Hebrew of a passage like Genesis 5:27 would not be an exegetical study on Hebrew but a prime example of eisegesis and nothing but an opinion piece.
“The pre-Flood environment was very different from today’s environment.”
Yes and according to Genesis 1:21’s Command from God sea and bird life was particularly abundant so that the initial state of the marine populations were very high to begin with even before reproduction. Still if the Karoo claim were actually based on real data and not on guess work it would be compelling. However from everything I see they are not.
“My argument was not about the age of individual humans”
I missed the importance of the first line but I do not understand it. You were responding to my posts about biological systems living longer and procreating more often. The entire conversation I have been having is based on how long humans lived.
I just resently have found a bunch of these fossils. So being completely astonished at my find, set out to find more answers to what the heck did I discover. I live in Missouri about 30 mins west of STL. Found these while “rocking” (looking for arrowheads) down a hill from one of our farm fields. I’ve lived in Missouri my whole life and have never found anything like this before. Pretty amazing!! Thanks for sharing your story.