Friday, 12 February 2016

How fossilised clam shrimps falsify a global flood

When you critically examine anti-evolution arguments made in our community, not only are they all false, but these arguments show all the signs of being made by those who have never worked in the relevant scientific disciplines and are therefore not speaking from experience or expertise. Conversely, when you listen to arguments made by those who have worked in those disciplines, the expertise is readily apparent. It's not hard to tell which source has credibility, and it isn't the YEC one.

Joel Duff's latest post reflects on his experience sitting in on a PhD student's defence in which he quizzed the doctoral student about the technical details of clam shrimp fossilisation, and whether a global flood could account for it. There are no surprises for guessing that there are no credible ways in which this could occur according to the young scientist who worked on this problem. Now, who are you going to believe? A YEC with zero training in the discipline whose arguments come from an uninspired fundamentalist reading of the Bible, or someone who has actually studied the problem? That we even need to pose this question shows how deeply fundamentalism has taken root in our community.

Duff notes that during the oral defence, he asked the student whether the fossils had been preserved where they had lived, or had been transported from their place of origin to their fossilisation site. The student answered that the evidence favoured the former hypothesis. After the defence, Duff asked the student whether a global flood could account for what he had seen in his doctoral research. Duff notes:

It probably won’t surprise you that he could not imagine any way to explain the fossils and the context they are found within a recent global flood scenario.

There are several reasons why a global flood isn’t a viable alternative in light of these fossils.

1)  Patchy distribution:  While the fossils are abundant and found in a large portion of the geological column, in general they are found in dense patches.  
How would a global flood pick up billions of clam shrimp and then deposit them in dense clumps? How could they come to rest looking like they has just fallen gently to the bottom of a pool? The fossils look much like the scattered carapaces found in a placid pool today.

2)  Fossil species are ordered:  There are 300 named fossil species and those species are not found randomly in the fossil record.  There are size and shape differences between clam shrimp species but size and shape do not follow a pattern vertically in the geological record.  Creationist’ Flood Geology theory predicts that billions of shells would all be mixed up in the first stages of a flood and then get sorted out into layers.
But how do they get sorted into species where some time layers of rock have both small and large species together? Further more why are there slightly different species (morphologies) as one moves up the geological column?

3) Unique to freshwater ecosystems:  Most of the worlds sedimentary rock is formed in shallow oceans but clam shrimp are not found here even though they would be easily preserved in all layers of rock in a global flood.  Creationist flood geology already has huge problems with the evidence of rock formed in freshwater lake systems and here we see a specific example.   Clam shrimp are preserved  with other organisms that are indicative of freshwater systems.  
How does a freshwater lake system get preserved in the middle of a 20,000 foot column of rock layers supposedly all laid down in a few months in the middle of a global flood?

Until creationists can come up with an even remotely plausible scenario for the details  in the fossil record observed by people like this student they should not be expected to be taken seriously.   They claim that a global flood is a better explanation for the observed data.  However, their claims about the fossil record don’t mean much to anyone that has experience with it.  A viable hypothesis has to be able to accommodate new data that are being generated each and every day. An ancient Earth with a dynamically evolving land surface can easily accommodate all the characteristics observed in these clam shrimp fossils.
(Emphasis mine)
Duff's comment that special creationists should not be taken seriously until they can provide a remotely plausible scenario to explain the details in the fossil record gets to the heart of the special creationist problem. Their model of special creation simply cannot explain the evidence in the natural world. It has no predictive or explanatory power - the hallmark of a robust scientific theory. Rather, it is simply an assertion whose problems need to be explained away by endless caveats or ad hoc assertions (ie: the Fall corrupted the genome, God created the universe to look old) which can never be verified or falsified. That's the take-home message. As today's spectacular announcement of the direct observation of gravitational waves (predicted by general relativity) shows, a good theory predicts and explains. Evolution long ago passed that test.