Friday, May 29, 2015

A fishy criticism of creationists

A fossil fish discovered by creationist Edgar Nernberg in Calgary, Alberta.
Credit: University of Calgary. Image source.
I came across an interesting article about the discovery of fossil fish in Calgary, Alberta. Five of these fish were found by Edgar Nernberg, a backhoe operator who was digging a basement in the suburbs of Calgary. Fortunately, Nernberg is also an amateur fossil collector, so he recognized the fish before they could be discarded.

Now, while these fish are certainly interesting to paleontologists, there is nothing particularly noteworthy or groundbreaking about them as far as the general public is concerned. Instead, they are making the news because Edgar Nernberg, the man who found them, is a young-earth creationist and has ties to the nearby Big Valley Creation Science Museum. A blogger from the Washington Post then wrote the article in question, treating the event like an ironic embarrassment for creationists. The writer appears to be surprised that a creationist would be unfazed by a fossil, as if fossils were direct proof that creationists are wrong. She even says as much in her article, stating that "this fossil and the rocks around it really do give new earth creationism the boot."

According to the article, the fish are about 60 million years old. Nernberg is quoted as saying, "We all have the same evidence, and it's just a matter of how you interpret it," adding that, "There's no date stamped on these things." The Washington Post writer, Rachel Feltman, sarcastically and rather condescendingly responded, "No sir, no dates. Just, you know, isotopic dating, basic geology, really shoddy stuff like that." First, I would say that "basic geology" does not give dates. It can give a relative sequence of events, but not dates. Second, "isotopic dating" is almost irrelevant here, because the fish were not radiometrically dated! No, the fish were assigned their age based on the claimed age of the rocks (the Paskapoo Formation), which was dated based on small mammal fossils found elsewhere within the formation. Together, these mammal fossils classify the formation as Tiffanian, a North American Land Mammal Age (NALMA). The name is unfortunate, as NALMAs are not so much periods of time as they are particular assortments of mammal fossils. However, in the mind of an old-earth paleontologist, there is little difference between the two. Yet, that still does not give us the "60 million year" age cited in the article. That date comes from a small ash layer called the Belt Ash, which is located in the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. Argon-argon dating of some Belt Ash samples produced radiometric ages of about 60 million years, and because the assemblage of mammal fossils around that layer is roughly comparable to that found in the Paskapoo Formation, they are assumed to be the same age. So, the age of the fish is based on the age of the rock, which is based on the age of the fossils, which is based on the age of other fossils in a different location, which is based on the age of the rocks that contain them, which is based on the age of the ash layer in the rocks, which is based on the ratio of argon measured in the ash, and I have covered the problems with that method previously.

It really shouldn't surprise me that people believe creationists to be so ignorant as to be thrown off by a fossil. Granted, there certainly are creationists out there who refuse to acknowledge anything they don't believe, but that can be said about humanity in general. Most creationists are not Ned Flanders-like isolationists who cover our eyes and plug our ears anytime we encounter anything scientific. As Mr. Nernberg said, we are all looking at the same evidence. The only difference is in our minds and perceptions.

2 comments:

  1. SAVED BY GRACE ALONE, ARE YOU SURE? BY STEVE FINNELL

    There are many believers in Christ who honestly think they were individually selected to be saved by grace alone. They insist that no obedience to God is necessary. If God saves by grace alone then nothing is required of the person being saved, they reason.

    First there is no Scripture that states men are saved by "grace alone."

    The proof text for saved by "grace alone" is Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, least anyone should boast.(NKJV)

    1. It does not say saved by grace alone. The word alone is not used nor is it implied in Eph. 2:8-9.

    2. It says saved by grace through faith. God's grace and man's faith are required.

    3. God does not give men the gift faith so they may be saved. The gift mentioned here is salvation, not faith.

    4. Men are not saved because of their good works or keeping the Law of Moses.


    Grace is offered to all men. Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.(NKJV)

    Faith comes by hearing the gospel. Faith is not a gift forced on unbelievers so they can be saved. Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.(NKJV)

    Obedience is required to be saved. Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord who has believed our report?"(NKJV) If men are saved by grace alone, then all men would believe the gospel and be saved.

    Obeying the gospel is essential to be saved, and men have a choice. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8....the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.(NKJV)

    Why would Jesus take vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel if God selects each individual to be saved by grace alone, and then forces them to believe the gospel? Is that the God you worship?

    Jesus told all men the gospel not just for a select few. Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.(NKJV)

    Obey the gospel by believing and being immersed in water, resulting in salvation, or reject the gospel and be condemned. All men have a choice.

    Saved because of Grace. Ephesians 2:8. That is not a good work nor is it keeping the Law of Moses.

    Saved because of believing in Jesus. John 3:15, Romans 10:9. That is not a good work nor is it keeping the Law of Moses.

    Saved because of repentance and baptism. Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 3:19. Those are not good works nor are they keeping the Law of Moses.

    Being obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a good work nor is it keeping the Law of Moses.

    MEN ARE NOT SAVED BY GRACE ALONE.
    MEN ARE NOT SAVED BY FAITH ALONE.
    MEN ARE NOT SAVED BY BAPTISM ALONE.
    MEN ARE NOT SAVED BY REPENTANCE ALONE.

    MEN ARE SAVED BY OBEYING THE TOTAL GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http
    Posted by Steve Finnell at 11:57 AM No comments:
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