A recent fossil find has been making headlines all over the world. Edgar Nernberg, who lives in Alberta, Canada, was reportedly digging a basement in Calgary when he found a block of sandstone that contained “a school of rare fossilized fish.” Apparently complete fossils are rare in the Paskapoo Formation of Alberta, where these fish were found, so this find is “a 10 out of 10 for significance.”
Now the fossil itself is not what has garnered so much press. This exciting find is making headlines largely because it was discovered by a biblical creationist! Edgar, who specializes in construction work, is a friend of Answers in Genesis and is on the board of directors for the Big Valley Creation Science Museum located near famous dinosaur discovery site Drumheller, Alberta. He’s quite well known in Canadian Christian circles, especially in Alberta, so it’s not surprising he made the news. When we were constructing the Creation Museum, Edgar and his wife drove their trailer down to Kentucky and stayed for several months lending their expertise to the initial museum construction. And it was Edgar who came upon this exciting fossil find that is making news!
Now, based on secular dating (a method full of assumptions) of the rock layer where this fossil was found, secular scientists are saying that these fish lived 60 million years ago. A University of Calgary paleontologist reportedly said, “Plants and animals were actually recovering from the [dinosaur] extinction at that time, so any fossils, particularly if they're complete, are going to help us reconstruct what was going on in the environment after a major mass extinction.” But Edgar and creation scientists like Dr. Andrew Snelling look at the exact same school of fossilized fish and interpret them to be just a few thousand years old and buried during the global Flood of Noah’s day. Now, why does the same fossil result in two completely different interpretations? Well, because both groups have different starting points.
You see, the fossilized fish don’t speak for themselves. They must be interpreted. That’s the nature of historical science. Because the burial of these fish happened in the past, it can’t be directly tested, repeated, or observed. So what you believe about what happened in the past will directly influence how you interpret these fossils. Now, because evolutionists start with the assumption that the Earth is billions of years old and that the fossil record contains the record of life’s slow evolution over millions of years, secular scientists are going to interpret this find through that lens.
Here is another important point in this regard. Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and evolutionists like him claim that if students are taught creation and not evolution, they can’t be real scientists. Bill Nye claims that the teaching of creation will undermine scientific achievements. But here is a creationist who did real observational science (probably better than what many evolutionists would do) by recognizing the fossil he discovered—and a world-class one at that. Both creationists and evolutionists can conduct the same observational science. Edgar and evolutionists do not disagree on the nature of the fossil itself, or what it is. The disagreement is not with what is observed, but the explanation of when this fossil was formed. It wasn’t dug up with labels attached that explain its history! It’s very telling in regard to how the media is so indoctrinated and brainwashed in the belief in evolution when they think it’s remarkable and newsworthy that a creationist found this world-class fossil!
Now, Edgar and biblical creationists like him have a completely different lens through which they view the world. Since we start with the account of history recorded in God’s Word, we reach an entirely different conclusion about these fossils. You see, according to God’s Word, God created everything in six, literal, 24-hour days approximately 6,000 years ago. But that original world was destroyed by a global Flood around 4,350 years ago. This catastrophic event would have ripped up miles of sediment and re-deposited it in layers, trapping and rapidly burying organisms. This explains these exquisitely preserved fish fossils in Canada. In order to be so well preserved, the fish had to have been buried rapidly. Now, during a global Flood as described in Genesis, billions of creatures, like these fish, would have been rapidly buried, which would quickly seal them off from oxygen and bacteria before they could decay. That explains why they are so well-preserved.
In the many news reports on this exciting find, many journalists are making it seem ironic that a creationist discovered this fossil, or that somehow it disproves biblical creation. But just like with any other fossil, your starting point determines your interpretation. Because we have completely different starting points, we have completely different interpretations about the past. It’s not a battle over the evidence—it’s a battle over the interpretation of the evidence!
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team