When the modern version of the creation-evolution dialogue got started in the middle of the 1800s, creationists and evolutionists had radically diﬀerent ideas of the kinds of life they expected to find as fossils.
The evolutionist, of course, expected to find fossils that showed stages through which one kind of animal or plant changed into a diﬀerent kind. According to evolution, the boundaries between kinds should blur as we look further and further back into their fossil history. It should get more and more diﬃcult, for example, to tell cats from dogs and then mammals from reptiles, land animals from water animals, and finally life from non-life. They expected also that the criteria we use to classify plants and animals today would be less and less useful as older and older fossils showed the in-between characteristics of presumed common ancestors for diﬀerent groups.
If the diﬀerent kinds of life we see today are the descendants of created kinds, as the creationist says, then all we ought to find as fossils are just variations of these kinds, with decline and even extinction evident as a result of corruption and the catastrophe of Noah’s flood. The same kind of criteria we use to classify plants and animals today ought to work just as well with fossils, and each kind should represent a mosaic of complete traits.
Certainly, the evolutionist and the creationist had radically diﬀerent concepts of what would be found, as the systematic study of fossils began in earnest in the middle of the 1800s. Let’s take a look now at the evidence. Which concept does it support—evolution, or the biblical concepts of creation, corruption, catastrophe, and Christ?