Thursday, October 22, 2009

More on the Burgess Shale.

After my post on the work that is being done on the Burgess Shale, a reader wrote to accuse me of dishonesty in providing the story. I was going to reply within the comments section but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it probably needs to be a post. This is what the reader wrote:
You didn't tell the whole truth. The Cambrian has starfish, jellyfish, sponges and clams to name a few have not change a bit in 530 million years.

The fact that some of the other species are now extinct is beside the point.

The argument by Creationists is that life sprang into existence! There is nothing that has been found in the pre-Cambrian that can explain the explosion of life in the Cambrian.

Why are Darwinians so dishonest?

Thanks for the article even though it is very misleading.
Dear reader, my point was not to say that there are some forms of life that have remained unchanged. My point was to show that the life in the Cambrian appears over the course of some 30-50 million years. This is not exactly springing into existence. As I mentioned in another post, to put this into perspective, 30-50 million years ago there were no whales, no bears, no modern cats, no modern dogs and no humans. In fact, humans aren't even recognizable 10 million years ago. 30-50 million years in geological terms is a short period. For biological organisms, it is a pile of years. As far as your argument that life "sprang into existence," lets see what Duane Gish has to say:
In the Cambrian geological strata there occurs a sudden, great outburst of fossils of animals on a highly developed level of complexity. In the Cambrian rocks are found billions of fossils of animals so complex that the evolutionists estimate they would have required one and a half billion years to evolve. Trilobites, brachiopods, sponges, corals, jellyfish, in fact every one of the major invertebrate forms of life are found in the Cambrian. What is found in rocks supposedly older than the Cambrian, that is in the so-called pre-Cambrian rocks? Not a single indisputable fossil! Certainly it can be said without fear of contradiction, the evolutionary predecessors of the Cambrian fauna have never been found.
Gish is absolutely incorrect about what is found in the pre-Cambrian rocks. There are extremely well-described fossils, many of which (but not all) can be shown to be ancestral to Cambrian forms. While it is true that Trilobites appear in the early Cambrian, they do not diversify into the nearly 17 000 species they eventually become until late in the Cambrian.

Regarding your comment about nothing being found in pre-Cambrian sediments that can explain the explosion of life in the Cambrian, I found over 1700 articles arguing to the contrary in one pass. Here is what just one, Peterson et al. (2008) has to say about it:
Despite the presence of many different stem-group taxa, the Ediacaran is still a transitional ecology, with these organisms confined to a two-dimensional mat world. This stands in dramatic contrast to the Early Cambrian where the multi-tiered food webs that so typify the Phanerozoic were established with the eumetazoan invasion of both the pelagos and the infaunal benthos (Butterfield 1997, 2001; Vannier & Chen 2000, 2005; Dzik 2005; Peterson et al. 2005; Vannier et al. 2007). Hence, although the Ediacaran is an apparent quantum leap in ecological complexity as compared with the ‘boring billions’ that characterize Earth before the Ediacaran, it is still relatively simple when compared with the Cambrian, yet another quantum leap in organismal and ecological evolution. Thus, the Ediacaran stands as the transition interval between the ‘Precambrian’ and the Phanerozoic.1
So the question I have to ask is, after reading the article about someone who is out in the field, actually examining the data, how can you accuse him of dishonesty? Furthermore, why would I believe someone who has never actually looked at the data over someone who is intimately involved with it and publishing about it? Now who is being dishonest?

1Peterson, K.J., Cotton J.A., Gehling, J.G. and Pisani, D. (2008) The Ediacaran emergence of bilaterians: congruence between the genetic and the geological fossil records. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2008 363, 1435-1443

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  1. Duane Gish:
    "In the Cambrian rocks are found billions of fossils of animals so complex that the evolutionists estimate they would have required one and a half billion years to evolve".
    There aren't billions of recognizable fossils in Cambrian rock as far as I know.
    Gish might mean: 2 billion years from eukaryote cells to now, but that is a fossil / geological time estimate, and has no bearing on 'complexity is difficult'

  2. You provide two rejoiners in this article.

    First, you state that 30-50 million years is a long time. The method used was not Carbon Dating as you well know. They date things this old by the rocks.

    If a guy was buried in the dirt 50 years ago and I went to find out how old the guy is now, I suspect that 50-100 year body if tested by the rocks would now be 4.5 million years old (give or take a million).

    Second, you stated that a scientists has to be right since he works in the field. I honestly don't know of a scientist who believes this. All findings in science are contingent and no scientist would make a claim to absolute truth.

    Bottom Line:

    The Cambrian will always remain irrefutable proof that Darwinian theory does not explain the reality that we see in our world. It is one of the amazing wonders of the world!

    When you combine this with the fact that the universe began to exist either by expansion or by explosion, you start getting the sense that there is a supernatural power at work in our world.

    In addition, add to this the fact that life had to come from non-life something that goes beyond the imagination.

    Abiogenesis clearly is a work on life support that provides no evidence for this phenomena.

    In addition, you have the fact that there are jumps in the Genome and the fossil record demonstrating a common Designer and a Common Process with many things in the design that appear irreducibly complex.

    All the evidence is pointing to a Creator and that is what is truly amazing!

    How can you miss it?

  3. I didn't mean to imply that there were billions of Cambrian fossils, just that they do exist and they are very well described, as are the Ediacaran fossils that come before.

  4. ZDenny, you miss my point. The point I was trying to make was that over the course of a year, NOTHING gets turned into rock, like the flood geologists would have us believe.

    While the sharp Carbon 13 boundary is, indeed, used to date the Cambrian, there are also numerous volcanic tuffs that can be dated using uranium/lead.

    You mischaracterize my argument about scientists working in the field. There are plenty of scientists that work in the field that concoct peculiar theories. The disposition of those theories is what usually makes for half the fun in science—"a beautiful theory murdered by a gang of ugly facts." Right now, one of the most fun to watch is the "snowball earth" theory. There is enough geological evidence to support the existence of the cryogenian, but some are skeptical. The point I was getting at is that the profiled scientist was actually working in the field, looking at the data. All other things being equal, there is no reason that I would take the word of someone who doesn't know the evidence over someone who does. As strange as his ideas might be, they are nowhere near as strange as young earth creationism. Those theories live out there where the bus doesn't run.

    You state the the Cambrian will "always remain irrefutable proof that Darwinian theory does not explain the reality that we see in our world," but have given me no evidence for why I should think that. Ditto the genome and the fossil record. Creationists continue to say that there are no transitional fossils. When palaeontogists show them the transitional fossils, creationists ignore them. There's only so much you can do before you throw up your hands and realize "they're not going to listen."

    I firmly believe that God created the heavens and the earth. He just didn't do it ten thousand years ago.

  5. "there are jumps in the Genome ... demonstrating a common Designer"

    Could we have a single example of this please?

    In formulating a response, maybe you could also respond to this video - .