Dating Rock Layers

The weakness of evolutionary theory can be demonstrated by the tautologies and circular reasoning that is employed to provide “evidence” for large scale evolution. Even many evolutionists ruefully admit that this charge is undeniable with regard to the circularity invoked in dating rock layers. (Some of the following quotes are as cited in Morris, 1997 and Snelling, 1990). The series of quotes begins with a vivid illustration of this circular reasoning in action. (Welles, Samuel Paul, “Paleontology,” World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 15, 1978.)

    • p. 85 “Paleontology (the study of fossils) is important in the study of geology. The age of rocks may be determined by the fossils found in them.”
    • p. 364 “Scientists determine when fossils were formed by finding out the age of the rocks in which they lie.”

In some cases darwinists have recognized circularity as a typical problem in evolutionary models and worked to avoid it. “To test this idea, we matched earliest Cambrian records of carbon isotope variability from Siberia, Mongolia, and China with a Moroccan record constrained by five radiometric ages from interbedded volcanic ashes. This time interval was from 542-520 million years ago. This approach avoids the circularity associated with using fossils to correlate rocks, and then using those correlations to infer biological patterns…” (“Cambrian Explosion: New Timeline for Appearances of Skeletal Animals in Fossil Record,” ScienceDaily, Nov. 10, 2010.)

“In about 1830, Charles Lyell, Paul Deshayes, and Heinrich George Bronn independently developed a biostratigraphic technique [geologic column] for dating Cenozoic deposits based on relative proportions of living and extinct species of fossil mollusks…. Strangely, little effort has been made to test this assumption. This failure leaves the method vulnerable to circularity.” (Stanley, Steven M., Warron O. Addicott, and Kiyotaka Chinzei, “Lyellian Curves in Paleontology: Possibilities and Limitations,” Geology, vol. 8, 1980, p. 422.)

“Often, the layers of rock can be dated by the types of fossils they contain…. Scientists have determined the relative times of appearance and disappearance of many kinds of organisms from the location of their fossils within the sedimentary rock layers.” (Glenco, Biology Textbook, 1994, pp. 306-307.)

“No paleontologist worthy of the name would ever date his fossils by the strata in which they are found. It is almost the first thing I teach my first-year students. Ever since William Smith at the beginning of the 19th century, fossils have been and still are the best and most accurate method of dating and correlating the rocks in which they occur. Apart from very ‘modern’ examples, which are really archaeology, I can think of no cases of radioactive decay being used to date fossils.” (Ager, Derek V., “Fossil Frustrations,” New Scientist, vol. 100, 1983, p. 425.)

“The larger part of the Phanerozoic time scale…relies on a construction where stages are first scaled ‘geologically’ with biostratigraphic compositing techniques, and then stretched in linear time using key radiometric dates. (Gradstein F.M. et. al., :Biostratigraphy: Time Scales from Graphic and Quantitative Methods,” A Geologic Time Scale, 2004, p. 49.)

“Are the authorities maintaining, on the one hand, that evolution is documented by geology and, on the other that geology is documented by evolution? Isn’t this a circular argument?” (Azar, Larry, “Biologists, Help!,” Bioscience, vol. 28, 1978, pp. 714.)

“The procession of life was never witnessed, it is inferred. The vertical sequence of fossils is thought to represent a process because the enclosing rocks are interpreted as a process. The rocks do date the fossils, but the fossils date the rocks more accurately. Stratigraphy cannot avoid this kind of reasoning, if it insists on using only temporal concepts, because circularity is inherent in the derivation of time scales.” (O’Rourke, J.E., “Pragmatism Versus Materialism in Stratigraphy,” American Journal of Science, vol. 276, 1976, p. 53)

“A great deal has changed, however, and contemporary geologists and paleontologists now generally accept catastrophe as a ‘way of life’ although they may avoid the word catastrophe. In fact, many geologists now see rare, short-lived events as being the principal contributors to geologic sequences….The periods of relative quiet contribute only a small part of the record. …The charge that the construction of the geologic scale involves circularity has a certain amount of validity…. Thus, the procedure is far from ideal and the geologic ranges of fossils are constantly being revised (usually extended) as new occurrences are found. In spite of this problem, the system does work!” (Raup, David M., “Geology and Creationism,” Bulletin, Field Museum of Natural History, vol. 54, March 1983, p. 21.)

“The sedimentary rocks, by themselves, however, do not yield any specific time marks, setting aside the old law of superposition, which can provide relative age indication only in a restricted manner, and which is unfit for age correlations. Moreover, it may be misleading in some cases: the beds in a section may be overturned or, owing to a hidden thrust plane, older beds may overlie younger ones. The only chronometric scale applicable in geologic history for the stratigraphic classification of rocks and for dating geologic events exactly is furnished by the fossils. Owing to the irreversibility of evolution, they offer an unambiguous timescale for relative age determinations and for world-wide correlations of rocks.” (Schindewolf, O. H., “Comments on Some Stratigraphic Terms,” American Journal of Science, vol. 255, 1957, pp. 394-395.)

“Paleontologists cannot operate this way. There is no way simply to look at a fossil and say how old it is unless you know the age of the rocks it comes from. …And this poses something of a problem: If we date the rocks by the fossils, how can we then turn around and talk about the pattern of evolutionary change through time in the fossil record?” (Eldridge, Niles, Time Frames, 1985, p. 52)

“…the record of evolution, like any other historical record, must be construed within a complex of particular and general preconceptions, not the least of which is the hypothesis that evolution has occurred.” (Kitts, David B., Paleobiology, 1979, pp. 353-354.)

“A circular argument arises: Interpret the fossil record in the terms of a particular theory of evolution, inspect the interpretation, and note that it confirms the theory. Well, it would, wouldn’t it?” (Kemp, Tom, “A Fresh Look at the Fossil Record,” New Scientist, vol. 108, Dec. 5, 1985, p. 67.)

“Evolution, at least in the sense that Darwin speaks of it, cannot be detected within the lifetime of a single observer. Darwinian theory, however, is supposed to have, in addition to evolution, other less sweeping consequences which are more amenable to observational test. …But the danger of circularity is still present. For most biologists the strongest reason for accepting the evolutionary hypothesis is their acceptance of some theory that entails it. There is another difficulty. The temporal ordering of biological events beyond the local section may critically involve paleontological correlation, which necessarily presupposes the non-repeatability of organic events in geologic history. There are various justifications for this assumption but for almost all contemporary paleontologists it rests upon the acceptance of the evolutionary hypothesis.” (Kitts, David B., “Paleontology and Evolutionary Theory,” Evolution, vol. 28, 1974, p. 466.)

“The intelligent layman has long suspected circular reasoning in the use of rocks to date fossils and fossils to date rocks. The geologist has never bothered to think of a good reply, feeling that explanations are not worth the trouble as long as the work brings results. This is supposed to be hard-headed pragmatism.” (O’Rourke, J.E., “Pragmatism Versus Materialism in Stratigraphy,” American Journal of Science, vol. 276, 1976, p. 47.)

“One might imagine that direct methods [radiometric dating] of measuring time would make obsolete all of the previous means of estimating age, but these new ‘absolute’ measurements are used more as a supplement to traditional methods [index fossils] than as a substitute. Geologists put more faith in the principles of superposition and faunal succession than they do in numbers that come out of a machine. If the laboratory results contradict the field evidence, the geologist assumes that there is something wrong with the machine date. To put it another way, ‘good’ dates are those that agree with the field data.” (McKee, B., Cascadia: The Geologic Evolution of the Pacific Northwest, 1972, p. 25.)

“We define stratigraphic disorder as the departure from perfect chronological order of fossils in a stratigraphic sequence. Any sequence in which an older fossil occurs above a younger one is stratigraphically disordered. Scales of stratigraphic disorder may be from millimeters to many meters. Stratigraphic disorder is produced by the physical or biogenic mixing of fossiliferous sediments, and the reworking of older, previously deposited hard parts into younger sediments. Since these processes occur to an extent in virtually all sedimentary systems, stratigraphic disorder at some scale is probably a common feature of the fossil record.” (Cutler, Alan H., and Karl W. Plessa, “Fossils out of Sequence: Computer Simulations and Strategies for Dealing with Stratigraphic Disorder,” Palaios, vol. 5, 1990, p. 227.)

“Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution because it is this theory (there are several) which we use to interpret the fossil record. By doing so, we are guilty of circular reasoning if we then say the fossil record supports this theory.” (West, Ronald R., “Paleontology and Uniformitarianism,” Compass, vol. 45, 1968, p. 216.)

“It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains embedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the remains of organisms that they contain.” (Rastall, R. H., “Geology,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1949, p. 168.)