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Fossils can help us with two types of questions: first, what kinds of plants and animals once populated the earth? Second, how fast were fossils, and the rock layers that contain them, formed?
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) produced a program involving the creation-evolution question. Tom Kelly, its producer, invited me along with other scientists to be filmed as part of the program. The result was one of the fairest, most enlightening, and well-produced programs ever done by the public media on the subject of origins.1
Most encouraging was the letter I received from Tom, especially this section:
For the record, I went into the program as an evolutionist, without knowing why or quite what that meant. By the time I had done the research, of one thing I was sure, that if evolution is true, the chance-and-time process just does not work!
Time, chance, and struggle are supposed to be the force behind evolution, but a large and increasing number of scientists, scholars, and ordinary thoughtful people are coming to Tom Kelly’s conclusion: “… the chance-and-time process just does not work!” The “evolutionary engine” has no power.
But many who agree that science has not shown how evolution could occur still believe that evolution is a fact! How can that be? The answer in a word: fossils.
Now I’ve ruined everything! If only I hadn’t mentioned fossils, maybe I could have convinced you that the evidence we’ve looked at (biochemistry, embryology, homology, ecology, genetics, adaptation, classification, variation) really supports plan, purpose, and special acts of creation, not time, chance, and evolutionary struggle. But if we’re going to honestly “think about it,” we’ve got to include fossils.
Fossils used to scare me. After my heart and mind were opened to consider the Biblical framework for origins in contrast to evolution, I gradually convinced myself (over a three-year period!) that the evidence in biology overwhelmingly favored the Biblical view. But friends knew how to stop me cold: “Look, Parker, if you only knew anything about fossils (paleontology), then you’d give up this creationist nonsense and come on back into the 20th century with the rest of us!” I even began to wonder whether some parts of the Bible and evolution could still be made to fit together—“progressive creation” maybe?
About that time, God did something wonderful for me. I got a grant from the National Science Foundation for 15 months of full-time work on my doctoral degree. To my major in biology, I added a cognate in geology, emphasizing the study of fossils and origins. I had done my master’s degree work as a practicing atheist and evolutionist. Now, I was sure I was a Christian, and I leaned toward creation, but if the fossils didn’t work out, I just wouldn’t talk about creation any more.
Well, I fell in love with fossils. My family and I (that’s two rock hounds and four pebble pups!) have collected oodles of fossils from numerous sites in America, Canada, and Australia, and a few spots in Europe and Asia, and I regularly lead university students in field-study courses to Grand Canyon and to well-known fossil sites.
Fossils are the remains or traces of once-living things preserved largely in sedimentary deposits. They represent the closest we can come to historical evidence in this matter of origins, so they are of prime importance in comparing Biblical and evolutionary pictures of history (perhaps even forcing some sort of blending of the two?).
Actually, fossils can help us with two types of questions: first, what kinds of plants and animals once populated the earth? Second, how fast were fossils, and the rock layers that contain them, formed?