The Flood Explains All

Somewhat more specifically, today Mr Thomas is claiming that the Flood Explains ‘Worldwide Pattern’ in Ancient Rock. Precisely what this pattern is is not well explained by Mr Thomas, but you can rest assured that the Flood explains it – it’s in the title, after all. What more do you need?

One of the many fossils from the Burgess Shale

The paper that this is based on is another open access article from PNAS (has their login expired?), this time called Mechanism for Burgess Shale-type preservation. A press release is also linked to by Brian, though you’ll note that he has his first and second reference swapped relative to how he cites them in the article. A screenshot of the article as it is at time of writing can be found here.

Thomas’ article is a confusing mess, so I’ll go through it paragraph by paragraph:

Marine biologists have scoured sea floor sediments for decades, finding living creatures in the mud but never fossils in the process of forming. That’s because when a sea creature dies, its carcass is totally recycled within weeks. So, if a creature’s soft parts are going to fossilize, it has to happen extremely fast.

Brian rarely misses an opportunity to push the idea of catastrophic and fast events such as fossilisation. To begin with, it merely shows that something out of the ordinary must happen – quick burial, say, or other odd conditions. And I’m not so sure about his claim that “marine biologists have scoured sea floor sediments for decades” – we know so little about the deep.

Certain sedimentary rocks, like those of the Burgess Shale in Canada, contain large amounts of fossilized sea creatures that preserve some soft body parts, such as eyes and intestines. Their remains now consist of the same carbon atoms of which their bodies were comprised, but baked and compressed into thin films. Paleontologists have attempted to find an explanation for this remarkable preservation.

You may need to brush up on your soft tissue preservation – in this case we do have mineralisation, but the soft tissues have also been mineralised. Some of the carbon, in the form of inert Kerogen, may remain in the fossil all these millions of years. Burgess Shale type preservation is the kind of preservation we see in both the shale after which it is named and around 40 other known sites from the Cambrian and a few others from earlier. According to the previously linked press release:

The process for this extraordinary preservation remained a mystery since the initial discovery of the Burgess Shale in 1909 until now.

Continuing with Thomas:

In pursuit of answers to this question, Robert Gaines of California’s Pomona College and his team recently looked for similarities in what are called “Burgess Shale-type” fossils from places like the Chengjiang Shale in China’s Yunnan Province. The researchers analyzed ratios of carbon, oxygen, and sulfur isotopes within the millimeter-thin layers of very fine-grained mudstone from the region. Their results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Somewhat more correct would be to say “Robert Gaines, Emma Hammarlund, and their team”, as they apparently were equal partners in this research, but that’s a technicality. Nevertheless, this paragraph seems to be correct. Moving along:

Gaines said in a University of Southern Denmark press release via EurekAlert!, “My initial hypothesis was validated by a consistent and worldwide pattern.” According to the technical paper, that pattern first included “rapid entombment of soft-bodied organisms in sediments” and then hardening of the sediment very soon afterward under a layer of calcium carbonate “cement.” This was supposedly caused in part by “enhanced alkalinity of Cambrian oceans.” Also, the assumed “global ocean” of the time had low sulfate levels, leaving sulfur-eating bacteria too little nourishment to completely degrade the fossils.

In addition, the study authors wrote that preserving Burgess Shale-type fossils “was greatly enhanced by the absence of bioturbation,” which refers to the way in which creatures like worms and clams constantly churn sea floor and lake bed sediments.

I’m not actually sure what the hypothesis was. The reference for what bioturbation is is a John Morris Acts & Facts article from 2009 – I prefer the wikipedia page myself. As for the pattern, according to the press release:

[T]he team’s unique collection of samples led to the recognition that unique aspects of early Paleozoic seawater chemistry that were key to the unusual Burgess-type soft-bodied fossil preservation—the low sulfate concentration, low-oxygen bottom water conditions, and the mineral carpet that aided in choking the hungry microbes—was a striking global pattern.

So, now Brian’s going to tell us how the Flood ‘explains’ this?

But did all that really happen? Probably not, since most of those events invoke unexplained phenomena, such as strange ancient sea chemistry and a puzzling absence of bioturbation. Plus, if sealing buried creatures under limestone explains Burgess Shale-type fossils, then similarly preserved fossils should be found beneath the continent-covering limestones all over the globe, and not just in isolated pockets.

No he dismisses it, and on the basis that the conditions – which are known to have been the case – are not themselves explained. And as for his “similarly preserved fossils should be found beneath the continent-covering limestones all over the globe”, for one these Burgress shale-like things are from all over the world, and also the ‘continent-covering limestones’ are (I suspect) of the wrong kind of thing to what we are looking for and are not necessarily of the right age. The Cliffs of Dover, for example, are much too young for this period. There are many reasons why such events would be fairly rare.

But it does appear that the conditions, whatever they were, that formed these exquisite fossils existed at the same time. The study authors cited evidence of “rapid entombment” by “bottom-flowing density currents.” And whereas standard geology has no explanation for such widespread catastrophic undersea density flows, creation scientists can cite the Genesis Flood in describing the unprecedented scale of violent geologic activity implied by these and other fossils.

I see no reason why these “bottom-flowing density currents” must be “catastrophic” of indicative of “violent geologic activity”. And certainly not why they must be unexplained – strange things happen under the deep.

You’ll note also that these currents have nothing to do with the ‘pattern’, yet they are what is being ‘explained’ by the flood. The title of Brian’s article, therefore, is rather incorrect.

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16 thoughts on “The Flood Explains All

  1. “You’ve explained this discovery with some phenomena, but the cause of that phenomena is unknown. Therefore it did not happen and my explanation is superior”

  2. Predictably Thomas seeks to attribute these findings to the Genesis Flood. He also points out – with reference to the PNAS paper’s conclusion about the Cambrian ocean and its enhanced calcium carbonate concentrations – “if sealing buried creatures under limestone explains Burgess Shale-type fossils, then similarly preserved fossils should be found beneath the continent-covering limestones all over the globe, and not just in isolated pockets”. Not necessarily, because fossils buried in other locations would have been buried – underwater or by sudden localised catastrophes on land – much later (eg in places where dinosaurs or hominids are found). But this sentence SHOULD apply to the Genesis Flood – as it should have happened everywhere in one single year.

    Have YECs been telling us up to now that the waters of the Flood contained enhanced calcium carbonate concentrations? Despite the chalk cliffs around the English Channel, I DON’T think so. Nor have they suggested reduced sulphate levels (or at least not reduced sulphur levels regardless of oxygen concentrations). They like to speculate unbiblically about undersea volcanic eruptions heating the oceans and the atmosphere during the Flood; I believe such eruptions produce hydrogen sulphide among other gases.

  3. In a new article, entitled ‘Stone Age Art Holds Hints of Language’, the ICR are lying shamelessly about the ‘Ice Age’. AGAIN.

  4. Questioning Answers in Genesis (Jonathan Baker Christian geologist and critic of YECs) has blogged about the same Thomas article, on 12 April.

  5. Thomas is AGAIN trying to mislead readers by invoking ‘Noah’s Flood’ in his latest blog ‘Chewed Dinosaur Bones Fit Flood’.

    Apparently scientists have discovered that 95 million years’ ago in the warm Cretaceous, when “more than half of Texas was under water”, now extinct crocodyliforms predated upon turtles and dinosaurs in what is now Texas. Then the creatures were ‘rapidly’ fossilised.

    What more proof of a worldwide Flood is needed?

    • I did try that once, but I couldn’t calibrate the scale. I’d say ‘that’s a 1’, but then the next day find something even worse…

    • Maybe rather than a scale a unit of measurement is needed. “This article is 12 gigawrongs.” That way if you do find a worse one you can just assign it a higher level.

      It might be interesting to watch a kind of creationist “inflation” if things get worse and worse.

  6. A new blog by Tas Mr Walker at http://www.biblicalgeology.net today, 20 19 April (he’s a little bit late I think) is entitled ‘The Titanic illustrates Noah’s Flood’.

    I quote: “When the Titanic collided with the iceberg, it set in train a sequence of events that continued for more than two hours until the ship reached a new equilibrium on the ocean bottom. This process can be used as an illustration of the catastrophe of Noah’s Flood, which engulfed our globe.

    … The Flood involved a train of events that followed a logical sequence of cause and effect, until the earth reached a new equilibrium. Because the earth is so much larger than the Titanic, the catastrophe of the Flood took much longer to unfold. The Bible records it lasted for just over 12 months. Ongoing climatic effects continued for hundreds of years.

    During Noah’s Flood, vast quantities water moved over the surface of the earth, eroding the landscape and depositing sediment in enormous sedimentary basins. This redistribution of mass caused movement of the earth’s plates. This in turn generated huge volumes of molten magma, the movement of which further redistributed mass on the globe—laterally and radially. The cooling of the magma also affected the movement of plates and ocean levels. Through the process some parts of the earth’s crust gradually sank lower and others rose, until the earth eventually reached a new equilibrium, which we enjoy today…”.

    A NEW LOW for Young Earth Creationism?

  7. You said something about not being able to make out what that picture is. Just an idea, but the first thing I thought about when seeing that above image is the Leviathan, specifically described in one of the closing chapters of the Book of Job. That’s just my idea here. But then there’s another passage where God says that the Leviathan is dead.

    Hmm, what are your thoughts on this assumption?.

    • You mean my picture, or Brian’s?

      Mine is of a Pikaia, which averaged around 5cm long and does not sound like a great candidate for Leviathan status. I don’t know what Brian’s is, but there are a zillion weird and wonderful burgress shale fossils, so that’s hardly surprising.

      At any rate, the Leviathan wasn’t supposed to be a “kind” of animal but one individual (along with its mate which was in some accounts apparently killed by God and its flesh would be used “for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah” (WP: Leviathan), though as I don’t remember that story in the new testament that’s probably non-canon.) This rather diminishes the chances of finding a fossil, if you follow.

      Leviathan itself is said in Isaiah 27:1 to be going to be killed by God at the end of time. All in all, I rather doubt that you could conceivably interpret any fossil as Leviathan, especially not these.

      Unless you were talking about something else?

    • If the Leviathan is dead, and should be, as far as I understand, there would be a fossil. But in water…do you think it would have somehow dissolved over time? It’s interesting, because Leviathan is mentioned after the Flood. So if there were a fossil of it, it wouldn’t be rapidly buried like those of expected death. It would certainly be different. And yes, the Leviathan is mentioned only in Old Testament, not New. It is very interesting to speculate into something like this.

    • Looking at the body in that picture, and I’m talking about the above picture at the very top of your article, it makes me think about the size of the creature. And size can generally determine overall strength.

      Tell me, if a creature was rapidly buried in the Flood vs. one that was not rapidly buried in the Flood, how would the fossils produced through death change over time? Would one fade rapidly? Would the other be preserved? Answering this would complete part of my search into such a truth.

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