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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Creationist Predictions

Post of the Month: June 2002

by rossum

Date:       June 23, 2002

One of the things I find frustrating about t.o. is the rarity of testable predictions from YE creationists. While browsing through True Origin ( I came across a piece called "Assessing Creationist Stratigraphy with Evidence from the Gulf of Mexico" by Carl R. Froede Jr. and John K. Reedby ( Their suggested creationist stratigraphy got me thinking. It appears to me to be a reasonable basis for some predictions.

1 Young Earth Creationist Geological Column

From a Biblical perspective the major events in the history of the earth are Creation, Fall, Flood and Incarnation. The Incarnation is not usually assigned any major geological effect so I will not consider it further here.

This gives a simple version of the YEC geological column as:

----------------  Present day, 0 a

Post-Flood period

---------------- ~ 4,300 a

Flood period

----------------  ~4,301 a

Post-Fall period

----------------  ~ 5,900 a

Pre-Fall period

----------------  6,000 a

Creation Week

----------------  6,000 a = 6,000 years ago.

I am sure creationists can correct me where I have got details wrong. Froede and Reedby include an ice age immediately post flood. I do not know how well supported this is in creationist circles. On a quick reading of Genesis I can see no direct Biblical reference to it so I omit it from my simple version. They omit the Pre-Fall period that I have included. The Fall is certainly mentioned in the Bible and in one interpretation has an impact on the fossil record so I thought it better to include it.

2 Expected Fossils

Looking at the Biblical account we can also predict what fossils are likely to be found in the different parts of the YEC geological column.

2.1 Creation Week

We should expect no fossils in rocks from creation week. The earth, which presumably includes its rocks, was created on the third day, as were the plants, but the plants were created after the earth so they will not be incorporated into rocks created before they themselves are created. Animals and man were created later so were also not present when the earth was created. Given that there are no major catastrophes recorded for this period it is highly improbable that there was enough time for any fossil formation during creation week.

2.2 Pre-Fall period

Many creationists say that there was no death before the Fall. If that is the case then we should only expect trace fossils like burrows, coprolites, shed trilobite or crab exoskeletons, animal tracks such as cattle, deer, human, dinosaurs etc. All baramins (= Biblical "kinds") should be present in this period. We should find no indications of death. We could also expect to find traces of human habitation. However this period is also very short, Genesis 5:3 gives an upper limit of 130 years. No major catastrophes are recorded in the Bible so fossils from this period are unlikely. No extinctions are possible without death, except perhaps in plant species. This would mean that no animal index fossils would be possible, although there may be plant index fossils.

If death was present before the Fall, then the expected fossils would also include dead bodies and be indistinguishable from the Post-Fall period. Extinctions would be possible for all species as would animal index fossils.

2.3 Post-Fall period

All agree that death is now possible. In addition to the trace fossils expected in the Pre-Fall period we would expect to find fossils of all living things present at the time: humans, sheep [Gen 4:2], cattle [Gen 2:20], birds [Gen 2:20], fish [Gen 1:28], fruit trees [Gen 1:29], seed bearing plants [Gen 1:29], Nephilim [Gen 6:4] etc. We should also find signs of more extensive human habitation such as cities [Gen 4:17].

Extinctions would be possible for all species and higher classifications, whether baramin or genus etc. We could also see speciation, but only within the baramins. This would allow the possibility of index fossils for this part of the YEC geological column. No new baramins should appear.

At the end of the period we might possibly find animal tracks outside their normal geographical ranges as the animals moved towards the Ark. Armadillo tracks in Mesopotamia for example.

2.4 Flood period

In the initial part of the Flood we would expect large numbers of fossils and a large number of species to go extinct. However no baramin of land animals or birds would go extinct [Gen 7:3]. Extinction is possible for fish or plant baramins. Each land animal baramin would be reduced to a single species. Bird baramins may have more than one species as there were evidently both ravens and doves on the ark; I am not sure if these two are in the same baramin or in different baramins.

The stratigraphic ordering of fossils would also be affected by the Flood. We would expect birds, pterosaurs and bats to be able to fly above the Flood and to survive for longer than land animals. The land animals would be hydrologically sorted with sauropods on the bottom, elephants above them, then medium sized dinosaurs and mammals mixed up followed by smaller and smaller mammals. Animals like seals, Ambulocetus and otters that could swim well would be expected to appear out of strict hydrological order as they would be likely to survive longer in the floodwaters due to their better swimming ability. For this reason we would expect whale fossils to be placed generally high within the Flood layers despite their size. By the end of the Flood period we would expect few fossils since anything left alive by then would either be going to survive the Flood, such as plants or fish, or be on the Ark.

Index fossils should be able to be used to tell the time within the Flood year on a hydrological basis. If a Flood-period rock layer has fossil elephants then it is probably earlier than a Flood period rock layer containing fossil Archaeopteryx.

2.5 Post-Flood period

In the immediate Post-Flood period we would expect a very small number of fossils. Where a species survived outside the Ark, such as plants or fish, we would expect a reduced population spread all over the world. Thus a sparse fossil record with a reasonably wide geographical distribution. For species on the Ark we would expect them to effectively disappear from the fossil record for some time, as there would be only two individuals of one species to represent each baramin. This would probably include a great reduction in trace fossils, such as tracks and coprolites. However if any such trace fossils were found they could well be in unusual locations, for instance Kangaroo tracks found on the Asian mainland between Ararat and Australia. For extinct baramins we could possibly find one or two dead individuals, T. rex for example. Once the animals are off the Ark it is possible for a whole baramin to go extinct again. No new baramins should appear.

Once the animals had travelled from Ararat to their normal geographical areas we would expect to see a single species within each baramin reappear after a gap in the fossil record. We should then see that single species speciating at a rate fast enough to generate all the known Post-Flood species within that baramin.

Index fossils should work normally in this period.

3 Necessary Work

A number of the predictions below require some preliminary work on assigning rocks to the YEC geological periods. Others require baramins to be defined in detail. I am aware that both of these are large undertakings and may take some time to complete. However creationism has been around for 2000 years now and I think it is not unreasonable to ask for these details.

3.1 Rocks

3.1.1 All rock strata should be consistently assigned to their correct relative period within the YEC geological column. Once this is done all rocks should be accounted for and there should be no inconsistencies. Index fossils should also be consistent.

3.2 Baramins

As many baramins as possible need to be listed and all known living things assigned to their correct baramin.

4 Predictions

There are obviously a lot of predictions that can be made from this model. I have picked out some of them below. I have concentrated on predictions which are different from the predictions of standard geology so it is possible to see whether YEC geology or standard geology makes better predictions.

4.1 Dates

4.1.1 Dating methods should show that the dates of the various rocks are consistent with the dates of the period to which they are assigned in the YEC geological column.

Note, any dates that do not fall into the correct range do not constitute evidence that the time periods above are correct. You cannot consistently use a date of, say, 1.5 Ma to argue for the YEC geological column above, to do that you would need a date less than 6000 a. At most you can claim a given dating method to be unreliable or the standard geological column to be incorrect.

4.2 No New Baramins

4.2.1 All baramins were created in creation week. No new baramins have appeared since then, so we can expect to find fossils representative of all modern baramins throughout the fossil record. We would therefore expect to find cattle [Gen 2:20] or cattle tracks etc. throughout the fossil record in Pre-Fall (possibly), Post-Fall, Flood and Post-Flood rocks.

4.3 Radiation, Extinction, Re-radiation

4.3.1 Within each land animal and bird baramin we expect a pattern of species radiation in Pre-Flood strata, massive extinction down to a single species in Flood strata, a gap followed by radiation into modern species in Post-Flood strata. For example the cattle baramin should show an increase in the number of species up to the Flood, extinction of all but one species at the Flood, a gap followed by a reappearance of that single species and a radiation into modern species after the Flood.

4.3.2 For slower breeding land animal and bird species the re-radiation after the post-Flood gap in the fossil record will be from a single geographic location, the home of the pair of animals from the Ark.

4.3.3 For faster breeding land animal and bird species the re-radiation after the post flood gap will tend to centre on Ararat as offspring will be produced before the parents have travelled far from Ararat. This effect will be less noticeable for fast travelling birds.

4.3.4 For fish and plant species we would expect a similar radiation, extinction and re-radiation pattern. However it is possible that more than one species within each baramin survived the Flood and with more than two individuals from each species potentially surviving the gap in the fossil record may be less pronounced. Radiation will not have to be from a single geographic location.

4.4 Speciation Rates

4.4.1 Nothing can be inferred about speciation rates before the Flood. Post-Flood speciation rates in all baramins have to be high enough to give rise to all known Post-Flood species in that baramin in the time available.

Note: If the Post-Flood speciation rate within a given baramin is higher than the limit set by Haldane's dilemma then a mechanism to avoid the problem and evidence to support the mechanism will be required.

4.5 Fossil order

4.5.1 In the Flood period the order of fossils should be determined by hydrological sorting, effectively by body size, modified by swimming ability and flying ability. Acanthostega should appear higher in Flood period rocks than T. rex.

4.5.2 Juveniles tend to be smaller than adults of the same species so we would expect juveniles to be higher within Flood period rocks than the adults of the same species where this size difference is present.

4.6 Homo sapiens

4.6.1 Fossil humans and the remains of human habitation should appear in all periods from the Post-Fall onwards. Human trace fossils are possible Pre-Fall but unlikely.

4.6.2 Human fossils should appear in the Flood period in larger numbers than in immediate Pre-Flood and immediate Post-Flood periods.

4.6.3 Immediately Post-Flood there should be a reduced number of human fossils, even a gap. Later in the Post-Flood period human fossils should increase again.

4.6.4 Assuming H. sapiens forms its own baramin there should be no intermediate fossils between H. sapiens and any other species.

4.7 Flood Period Rocks

4.7.1 All Flood period rocks should be compatible with the Flood. Pillow lavas are fine, but no aeolian (wind blown) layers for example.

5 Meeting Predictions

I am not a creationist, so it is not up to me to provide evidence that these predictions have been met. I leave that to the various YE creationists posting to t.o. Remember that these predictions are contrary to the standard geological model, so showing that they are true will go a long way towards showing the truth of Young Earth Creationism to sceptical scientists.

I do not think that much, if any, of this is inconsistent with the YEC model. Certainly most of the predictions seem to me to be reasonable extrapolations of what I have been able to glean of YEC theory and statements in Genesis. If any YE creationist thinks that any of what I have written is wrong then they are welcome to correct it, politely please.


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