Rick Balogh, professor of geology and science at Antelope Valley College, gave us an excellent presentation. Video tapes of his presentation is available. He gave permission to publish any of the material appearing in his handout, A Christian Apologetic for Creation and the Flood, for which we are very thankful.
Does Fossilization Require Millions of Years?
By Rick Balogh, MS
Have you ever observed the process of petrifaction (replacement of the normal cells of organic matter with other minerals)? According to evolutionary doctrine, petrifaction requires much time, usually millions of years, but how much time is really needed in this process? Have you or anyone else ever observed the formation of petrified wood? Evolutionists say that the petrifaction of wood takes a very long time, but like the rapid formation of stalactites and stalagmites under the Lincoln Memorial, chemical and physical conditions determine how long it will take to fossilize something. Time plays only a small part in the equation. Consider this excerpt from Scientific American of March 23, 1889, page 181:
“There is a well known petrifying stream of water at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England, three miles from Harrowgate, the well known sanitarium. It is a cascade from the River Nidd, about 15 feet high and twice as broad, and forms an aqueous curtain to a cave know as Mother Shipton’s Cave. The dripping waters are used for the purposes of petrifying anything sent to be hung up in the drip of the water ledge, which flows over, as it were, the eaves of the cave. This ledge of limestone rock is augmented unceasingly by the action of the waters which flow over it. This cascade has an endless variety of objects hung up by short lengths of wire to be petrified by the water trickling over them, as sponges, books, gloves, kerchiefs and veils, hunter’s cap, fox, cat, dog, bird, boots, etc., just as fancy prompts people to seek petrifying results. A sponge is petrified in a few months, a book or cap in a year or two, cat or bird a little longer….One cat shown in the museum had the head broken off at the neck showing the whole was limestone throughout, with not a trace of organic structure of the original cat.”
Recorded in scientific american of March 17, 1855, page 211:
“On the 20th of August, 1847, Mrs. Phelps, wife of our informant, Abner P. Phelps, died, and was buried at Oak Grove, in Dodge Co. On the 11th of April inst., she was taken up to be removed to Strong’s Landing. The coffin was found to be very heavy, and the body to retain its features and proportions. After its removal to Strong’s Landing, a distance of some 45 miles, the body was examined, and found to be wholly petrified, converted to a substance resembling a light colored stone. Upon trial, edge tools made no more impression upon it than upon marble. In striking upon the body with metal, a hollow singing sound was produced….The ground in which she had been buried was a yellowish loam, and the body lay about three feet above the lime rock….A few years ago a lady died in the neighborhood of Felicity, in this County, and was buried in the orchard on the farm. About four years, after she was disinterred, for the purpose of removal to a public graveyard, she was found to be completely petrified, being as solid as stone and fully as heavy. Every feature was distinct and perfect.”
Not only are there examples of rapid petrifaction, but there are also examples of fossils that were preserved remarkably well and not petrified. Consider this statement from Jame E. Francis’ article “Arctic Eden,” Natural History, January 1991, p.57 and 60:
“The remains of lush forests near the North Pole give a glimpse of the Arctic’s subtropical past….Despite the passage of 45 million years, the wood retains its original color and is still flexible and burns easily. I quickly discovered that my geologic hammer was useless for collecting samples of the fossil wood; the next season I came better prepared with wood saws.”
How do you think a magnolia leaf would change as the result of having been buried for 17-20 million years? Consider this remark from Nature, V.344, April 12, 1990, p. 587:
“When rocks containing these fossils are cleaved open, the freshly exposed leaf tissues are often bright green or ‘deep autumnal’ in colour, though they rapidly curl away from the substrate as they oxidize and dry out.”
The author say that it was even possible to isolate the DNA of the leaves:
“But even the most optimistic estimate of the longevity of this molecule would not have predicted that fragments of substantial length would survive after tens of millions of years at the bottom of an ancient lake.” (p. 587)
THINK! Does petrifaction require lots of time or just the right conditions? The same could be asked of many processes to which evolutionists have assigned long ages: mountain building, the bending and buckling of geologic layers, the deposition of sediments many kilometers thick, and deep canyon formation.
Does the Geologic Column Represent Hundreds of Millions of Years?
Long before the discovery of radioactivity and radiometric dating of rocks, the hundreds of millions of years of time needed for the deposition of the geologic column was reasoned as shown below, which is taken from James Dana’s book Manual of Geology, 1880, page 591:
“The rate at which coral reefs increase in height affords another mode of measuring the past. From calculations elsewhere stated by the author, it appears that the rate of increase of a coral reef probably is not over a sixteenth of an inch a year. Now, some reefs are at least 2,000 feet thick, which, at one sixteenth of an inch a year, corresponds to 384,000, or very nearly a thousand years for five feet of upward increase….The use of these numbers is simply to prove the proposition that Time is long, – very long, – even when the earth was hastening on toward its last age.”
This reasoning is based on the principle of uniformitarianism which can be summarized as “the present is the key to the past.” That is, the rate of sediment accumulation measured today can be used to determine how much time was needed for the geologic column to be deposited assuming the same rate was acting then as today. This is a big assumption which cannot be tested. Was anyone there to verify the sedimentation rate then? God was, but He asks Job:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me if you have understanding.” (Job 28:4)
This question of “Were you there?” may seem trite but it serves to remind us that unless someone was there to accurately record just what happened, we simply have conjecture. Is a guess always correct, sometimes correct, or never correct? Only God was there to observe the deposition of all rock layers, everyone else is simply guessing.
Let’s imagine that you are standing at the base of a cliff where rock layers are clearly visible. Can any conclusion regarding time be deduced from what you see?
THINK! There is obviously an order to the deposition of layers. The one on the bottom must have been deposited before the one immediately above and, so on, to the top layer. This is obvious, common sense reasoning that does not require verification by someone who saw the layers form. Of course, there is the possibility that God created them instantly that way, but if we confine our possibilities to the natural, excluding the supernatural, we can accept this as fact.
Evolutionists go through similar reasoning based on the fossils. They see similarities in anatomical structures and the seeming order in which fossils are found in the geologic column and conclude that evolution occurred. How does their reasoning differ from that which we have used for deciding that the oldest layer is at the bottom of our imaginary pile and the youngest is at the top? The deposition of sedimentary layers has been observed many times (the geologic activities at Mount St. Helens provided us with a remarkable natural field model of significant volcanic and aqueous depositions, as well as deep canyon formation), we can repeat the process at will, and we can even predict certain characteristics that will form during the deposition. The French creationary geologist, Guy Berthault has conducted such experiments and next month we will look at his work in this area. The evolutionary process, however, has never been observed, it cannot be repeated at will, and we cannot predict which characteristics would evolve. Furthermore, it is important to realize that the order of rock layers says nothing about the length of time for deposition.
THINK! When a fish dies is it immediately buried and subsequently become fossilized as silt slowly covers it? Of course not! It is more likely to float than sink and to be eaten by scavengers. There is a great abundance of fossil fish, whole schools that were obviously buried rapidly in the midst of their daily activities, some caught in the act of swallowing other fish, indicating clearly that huge submarine mud flows or turbidity currents overtook them and instantly buried them. A beautiful fossil specimen of one fish swallowing another is seen on the cover of Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ), vol. 26, June 1989.
THINK! Fossil trees have been discovered in several localities around the world whose trunks vertically span rock layers for dozens of feet, such as this photo shows (from CRSQ, vol. 14, p. 153, December 1977). Similar photos and drawings are seen in Why Not Creation, edited by Walter Lammerts (CRS), 1970, pp. 153-155 and in Neglected Geologic Anomalies by William Corliss, 1990, pp. 254-260.
What do you think—slow or rapid burial? Could the flood of Noah’s day have been responsible for depositing the geologic column? If so, the time period of its formation would be months, not hundreds of millions of years.