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May 26, 2009

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Whatever you think about this fossil, you have to admit that it’s cool. I think we can easily roll our eyes at the overblown and hyperbolic praise this piece has gotten in the press while keeping our appreciation for the find.

Why is it cool? It dates at 47 million years old, which is close to the mammalian radiation after the extinction of the dinosaurs. It is very well preserved. All of it bones are in place, and the gastrointestinal with its contents are well preserved, and there is a kind of fuzzy boundary around it that is probably the outline of its fur and flesh. Third, Ida is a young juvenile and has a mix of baby and adult teeth.

What is its relationship to mammals? There are two major groups of primate: strepsirrhines (lemurs and lorises) and haplorhines (monkeys and apes). According to the publication, Ida is a haplorhine, but an old one. She has structural features that are not found in modern mammals, like a free ring-like ectotympanic within the auditory bulla. This is only found in older fossil mammals and not younger ones. Now there are reasons to doubt the paper’s analysis. See http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2009/05/poor_poor_ida_or_overselling_a.php for a critique. Say what you will about this fossil. It is definitely cool.

Agreed, it is a freakin' awesome find! But seriously, those in the media who touted it as the missing link ought to be ashamed of themselves along with those who said the swine flu is going to kill us all.

The real Ida story:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/05/19/ida-missing-link

Ida would be a single link so far unconnected to any of the few other scattered individual links thought to be part of a chain.

Are you suggesting, Melinda, that since there were perhaps 2 million generations from Ida to modern humans, assuming Ida is a member of a species in our lineage, that somehow it is problematic on evolutionary theory that we only have a handful of transitional forms, rather than perhaps something like a million transitional forms? How many are you expecting? Do you demand a fossil from every single intermediary in the chain?

Are you aware that we don't even have fossils for the vast majority of now living species, let alone the millions, if not billions that have gone extinct. We have fossils for about 250,000 species. There may be as many as 4.5 million different species alive today. Yet it sounds like you are expecting thousands if not a million transitional forms for humans, more forms than are even documented in the entirety of the fossil record. It seems to me that the ratio of hominid fossils that we have is entirely consistent with the total number of species documented by fossils. We have a very low percentage of the total number of species that have ever lived, and we likewise would expect a very low number of members of our own lineage. The fossil record is pretty much what we would expect if Darwin was right.

Not that Ida isn't being overblown. Seems to me that it is.

I'm surprised nobody has asked this question: how is it possible for something to be fossilized before it has a chance to decay, when fossilization is said to take millions of years? Consider that ida's stomach contents are still intact and that in the real world, if you leave a carcass on it's own (depending on its location) it could be completely gone (bones and all) in a very short period of time due to the decay process, microbes, scavengers, etc. Yet uniformitarians and even some Christian have the audacity to claim the age of something as being millions of years old when obvious real-life observations completely contradict such ideas. The fallacies in modern dating methods have been documented time and again but I just don't understand how people continue to hold on to them against all common sense and reason, especially in the face of actual observable evidence. I understand evolutionists' with a priori commitment to naturalism, but Christians?

A world-wide catastrophic deluge in the days of Noah, as recorded in Genesis, best explains the evidence. After all, we find billions of fossils all over the earth and the best explanation is that they were rapidly entombed in mud laid down by water, and fossilized before they had a chance to decay. Do a google search and you will find actual observable examples of things being fossilized quickly today. If we can make rock-hard concrete by mixing a few minerals together, how difficult is it for a few minerals to mix naturally and do the same, especially under the right conditions such as during tje flood. Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering where all that water went to - well it's still here, in the oceans.


For some good information on dating methods read up on the findings of the R.A.T.E group which specializes in this area:
http://creation.com/rate-group-reveals-exciting-breakthroughs

(And don't just write it off because it comes from a Creationist website). The creationist explanation as interpreted from a straight-forward reading of the Bible makes sense of the real world, as opposed to all these "old" world interpratation which twist scripture beyond recognition and create way more problems theologically (and scientifically) than by simply interpreting them in a straight-forward way.

Oh by the way, I didn't write this to be bombarded with questions regarding all the different supposed issues with the creationist perspective - there are very good websites (such as creation.com) written by actual real-life scientists that adequately explain such issues - refer to the experts for answers to your questions. I'm just trying to make the point that the debate was never closed in favor of old age views. It seems that creationist views are stifled here on this website - and yes, i know why - because the secular folk will think Christians are a bunch of idiots who believe the earth is flat and so on and so forth. I wonder if maybe we started speaking the truth of what the Bible actually says, maybe more people would listen.

Thanks so much for your input Adam. :-)

Although I am undecided in regards to the old earth -- new earth debate, I do think it is a little silly that you claim old earth proponents "twist scripture beyond recognition and create way more problems theologically (and scientifically) than by simply interpreting them in a straight-forward way."

Correct me if I am wrong, but don't Greg Kokul & William Craig lean towards the Old Earth theory? Are you claiming they twist scripture beyond recognition? Or that they have created many theological problems?

I find this difficult to follow; I consider these two men extremely clear thinkers who represent Biblical Christianity.

Process design, an idea more abstract and magnificent than many can even begin to imagine, is what best begins to describe the greatness of what God has done.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/may/22.39.html

For me, the biggest turn-off to the young earth point of view is their "twisted scripture" characterization of those who hold the old earth view, and their incredibly negative view of scientists.

>> We have fossils for about 250,000
>> species. There may be as many as 4.5
>> million different species alive today.

Sounds like a lot of interpolation between distant points is being made to argue that the fossil record is evidence of evolution. In a laboratory experiment, this would be considered highly dubious...

But Jon makes a good point-- fossilization is rare, so it may be unfair to expect it to provide an abundance of evidence of transitional forms.

My brother is a professor of biological anthropoloy and sadly (for now) a confirmed atheist. But he emailed me about the Ida find and expressed his disgust with both scientists who try to make rock stars out of themselves by sensationalizing their claims and with the media who so eagerly pander to them. He of course believes in micro/macroevolution but his point was simply that Ida is a relatively minor find and not the great "Missing Link" by any stretch of the imagination!

Err, that's biological anthropoloGy :)

Jesse, the historical view of the Church regarding Genesis has always been that of normal 24 hour creation days, global flood, straight forward geneologies, etc. It was only since the rising popularity of uniformatism that the church started compromising these long held beliefs in favor of the newer ideas of "long ages", so that they could fit in with the secular crowd and avoid being called "unscientific". So to conform scripture to the "scientific" ideas of the day they started "twisting" the plain meaning of scriptual passages to fit their ideas, rather than letting the scripture speak for itself.
Oh, and by the way, I don't have any negative views of scientists and I don't know any other creationists who have a negative view of scientists. Most of the creationists that I know about are actual practicing scientists in the real world. Rather, I disagree with secular scientists' views regarding the distant past, which cannot be observed. The difference between a secular scientist and a creationist scientist is the presuppositions on which they base their conclusion about the real world. They all have the same evidence, but come to different conclusion based on their world views. If you think creationism is unscientific, then you have no clue what creationism is all about.

Adam, I did not recall stating that creationism is unscientific; I was just expressing the impression I get from young-earthers.

Have you read the Church fathers? I personally haven't, but I have heard that the church has not historically, uniformly held a 24 hour view:
http://www.catholic.com/library/Creation_and_Genesis.asp

I will agree though, that uniformitarianism is a rather large assumption. How can we, having observed uniformity in the natural world for a few thousand years at most, assert with confidence that such uniformity extends back for some 13 billion years?

But I don't see uniformitarianism coming into play until the 11th century, well after these opinions were expressed in the church.

David,

I'm not familiar with the specific views of Bill Craig and Greg Koukl regarding the ages of the earth. I do understand that they both hold the "old age" views though. I greatly respect both these men and know they have great knowledge of theology and other subjects, the majority of which I agree with, but when it comes to this subject I believe they are in error. For me the issue isn't the actual age of the earth but more about what it is that the Bible actually says. God inspired men to write the Bible in the language that they understood in that day and in common terms that they could understand. If God wanted to communicate something different, he could have chosen to use other words. If God can't be clear about earthly matters, how can we trust him to be clear about spiritual matters.

Here are some websites Adam where you might find some answers to your questions brother... Hope it helps!

http://www.answersingenesis.org/

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer

http://www.godandscience.org/

http://www.christiananswers.net/

http://www.reasons.org/

I mostly agree with you, I just do not think this is as black and white as you make it sound. And I think the fact that Kokul and Craig lean towards old earth gives credence to what I am saying.

They may very well be in error, I just thought it was a little much to say that old earth persons distort scripture beyond recognition.

David, I like the way you put it.

It's fine to assert the old-earthers are wrong ("I believe they are in error"). It's just the way I've seen many supporters of the young-earth position put it that doesn't seem tactful to me:

"...all these 'old' world interpretation which twist scripture beyond recognition..."

It all seems to have the undertone of "you're not really a Christian if you swallow that 'old earth' lie."

David,

I agree with you, my choice of words were too much and overly exaggerated now as I read them back to myself, so I take them back. My apologies for hurting anyones' sensibilities.

Interesting exchange here, gentlemen.

If I may pose a question(s)...

Are there other books in the Bible where old earth proponents believe a "day" is much longer than a single rotation of the earth....or is it ONLY in Genesis that they believe a day is actually "millions of years?"

It seems if a day is really just a day in the rest of the Bible, it stands to reason it is just a day in Genesis...doesn't it?

Jesse, I should have qualified my statement to say that "generally" the historical view of the Church has been to read Genesis in a straight forward manner. There have always been a few dissenters. All the old earthers I've ever talked to really started out as creationists until they realized that reading the Bible in such a way comes in conflict with the scientific ideas of the day. At that point, most of the ones I know, rather than question the scientific ideas, automatically assumed that maybe the biblical passages are being interpreted incorrectly, and then stop at that, presupposing that "science" has the final answer. It's about time we started questioning the popular ideas of the day, and I'm convinced that creationism, based on a straight forward reading of the Bible, best explains the evidence we see in the world.

As for Uniformitarianism, the word only came into play around 1830 but the ideas behind it have been around for much longer than that, basically being held by people who rejected a Creator.

David Hawkins and All

What I have found interesting about this debate is Hebrews 4.

There the author discusses the LORD's rest on the 7th day. He then mentions that those who believe the good news will enter that rest and that those who are disobedient will not enter that rest. If you and I believe the good news we are promised to enter the LORD's rest, even though we are X amount of years into redemptive history.

Another interesting point is that this book was written thousands of years ago and actually quotes part of the creation account in Genesis; including the words day and rest. The ambiguity here between the old earth and new earth point of view at least renders some weight to the idea that historical and biblical Christianity is not bound to the literal 24 hour day anymore than they (or we) are bound to the idea of a flat earth or geocentric solar system.

I cannot do justice to the argument. Please read Hebrews 4 and determine yourself the implications drawn from that text.

Sorry I don't have time to write a detailed response this morning. I'd like to ask one question though about:

>> All the old earthers I've ever talked
>> to really started out as creationists

Is it your opinion that Christians who hold to an old earth view don't actually believe God created the heavens, the earth, and all the life in it?

David B: without getting into the details of what Hebrews 4 is about, one thing is clear to me, Genesis 1 (based on the Hebrew grammar and the context) is meant to be a historical narrative, recording events that have occurred in the past. However, the book of Hebrews is not the same genre, as it is more of a theological discourse, focusing on spiritual matters.

Adam,

Point taken. However, it does not necessarily follow that the author of Hebrews was therefore intending to remain "silent" on the issue merely because of the genre in which Hebrews was written.

I do not believe the author was making an explicit statement about the creation account but he/she did quote the exact text of Genesis 3. The way the text was used allows us to infer that the author of Hebrews may have viewed the creation days as more than a 24 hour period.

FYI, I am undecided on the issue and I am not arguing that the Hebrews passage establishes an "old earth" view. My intention is only to show that a reasonable inference can be drawn from that text that the creation days were greater than 24 hours. Many may find the inference unlikely or insufficeint for a determination on the matter. I think it would be foolish to use Hebrews as the sole reason for ones viewpoint either way; the rest of the Bible, especially the creation account itself, must be consistently construed.

>>Is it your opinion that >>Christians who hold to an old >>earth view don't actually believe >>God created the heavens, the >>earth, and all the life in it?
No Jesse, I'm saying that people who hold the old earth view did not get that view simply by reading the Bible. They are taking a secular world view about science and applying it to their interpretation of scripture, instead of letting scripture speak for itself. I mean, God couldn't have said it any clearer in Genesis 1: "And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day". If we can't even interpret such a simple straight forward passage without doubt of its meaning, how can we possibly be sure that we're interpreting any other part of the Bible correctly? There are many problems with old earth views from a scientific standpoint and applying these ideas to our interpretation of Biblical passages has created many theological problems as well. A few of the problems are outlined in the following article: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter2.pdf

I don't agree with you Adam. Could't anyone reading the Bible be able to see that the sun and moon were created the 3rd day? Could this fact alone cause the reader to pause and think, "Gee, we measure our 24 hour day by the 'rising' and 'setting' of the sun. But if there was no sun to 'rise' or 'set' the first 2 days of creation then why assume those days were 24 hour periods?"

From reading the text alone one could at least reasonably conclude that the days were not 24 hour periods; at least the first 2. This point is to show that one need not take "a secular world view about science and apply it to their interpretation of scripture" in order to infer an old earth view.

This little fact has been a great hang up for an agnostic friend of mine and it has been difficult for me to reconcile this with a literal 24 hour understanding of the text. Perhaps you could assist me with a means of reconciling the two ideas; that would be most helpful.

David B: Very good question and I would like to answer it by pointing you to a resource that I believe has answered it in reasonable and rational way, and better than I can come up with at this moment: http://creation.com/fitting-everything-in-on-the-6th-day.

Here's the excerpt that relates to your question:

>>>>>>>
Genesis 1:4,5 states: ‘And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.’

Therefore, evening and morning did exist, initially, without the sun or moon, as the Lord performed a divine miracle by creating light and dividing it from the darkness. Men like John Calvin, Martin Luther, and John Wesley agreed.

Dr Jonathan Sarfati, in page 85 of Refuting Compromise, writes:

‘Modern geokinetic astronomy makes the solution even easier. All it takes to have a day-night cycle is a rotating earth and light coming from one direction.’ Therefore, we can reasonably deduce that planet earth was rotating in space in relation to the primordial light created on Day 1. In addition, the apostle John describes a vision of a new heavens and a new earth in which ‘ … there is no need of a candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light … ’ (Revelation 22:5).

So there is no problem concluding that the days were normal days before the sun was created on Day 4.
<<<<<<<<<<

David B: a good article about Hebrews 4: http://creation.com/gods-rest-in-hebrews-4111.

Thanks Adam. Once I get a moment this weekend I will take the time to read the articles you provided.

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