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The Slow-and-Gradual Catastrophe

on March 7, 2009

ScienceNOW: “The Catastrophe That Wasn’t” An ancient extinction wasn’t as sudden and catastrophic as once believed. Now, how does that reinforce the Flood model?

The Permian extinction is considered by old-Earthers to have been the largest mass extinction in Earth history, with 90 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species dying out. It has also long been thought of as a sudden, catastrophic event—until now.

“Because the boundary event bed doesn’t occur at the same position in the rock record there can be no one, unique event.”

A team led by Colby College paleontologist Robert Gastaldo takes a different view. Gastaldo led students on six trips to South African locations purported to be home to evidence of the Permian extinction—specifically, a thin sedimentary layer separating the Permian period from the Triassic that followed it. But according to Gastaldo, that layer “couldn’t be traced more than about 100 meters laterally,” showing that it wasn’t a global event. “We spent days walking kilometers throughout the [sites] trying to trace it from every angle and couldn’t,” Gastaldo said.

Yet in other places, the team found the sedimentary layer eight meters below the Permian–Triassic boundary! Gastaldo’s conclusion? “Because the boundary event bed doesn’t occur at the same position in the rock record there can be no one, unique event.”

The creation model considers many of the sedimentary layers we observe—including most of the layers that have fossils—to have been laid down by geological events associated with the global Flood (including volcanic activity) along with the Flood itself. It’s therefore very easy to incorporate ideas such as the Permian extinction, or the better-known K–T (Cretaceous–Tertiary) extinction event, with the Flood model. Even if evolutionists decide a certain event took place millions of years earlier or later than what was once thought, that translates in the Flood model to likely mere months (or less) of difference.

We also have to smile whenever longstanding evolutionary ideas are overturned. In this case, a sudden Permian extinction event is now “last year’s fact,” as the CreationWise cartoon says. While a benefit of the scientific method is that hypotheses incorporate new evidence, that’s also the drawback of using science as the be-all and end-all of knowledge.

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