Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hunting for Creationism - Round 12 - Fossils Show Rapid and Catastrophic Burial


I'm on the hunt for evidence for Creationism/Intelligent Design (hereby C/ID). Here, I set the ground rules and mission. Here, I have an index of my search.

Continuing on icr.org (they have a bunch of arguments). Today's argument, "Fossils Show Rapid and Catastrophic Burial".

As a quick aside, I noticed that in the parent page before I got to this argument, they have a small blurb at the top of the page (emphasis mine):

The fossil record demonstrates abrupt appearance, complexity at all stratigraphic levels, and maintenance of defining characteristics (stasis). These primary features of the fossil record are predictions of the creation model.
YES! They get it!

It's like they read what I was saying before about trying to demonstrate key features of the model they're trying to support. Now, if only they'd please go back to all the arguments I've addressed already, and change them to reflect that idea.

Anyway, continuing to today's argument....

The Argument

Beveled surfaces below, within, and above thick strata sequences provide evidence of rapid flood and post-flood erosion. Fossils provide universal evidence of rapid burial, and even agonizing death.
The first sentence... read my response to Round 11. They haven't established why they think it's "rapid". How do we tell the difference between rapid erosion and slow erosion?

The second sentence... wha? Well, sure.

Okay, one of the issues that keeps throwing me for a loop is their usage of the word "rapid". Rapid as compared to what? Are we talking about microseconds? Or a million years? What, by the nose hairs of Odin, does this author mean by "rapid"?

Generally, I'll agree, that the organisms essentially need to be preserved before their bones/body (depending on the fossil type) are scattered/moved.

Then again, this suffers a bit from Availability Bias... of course those organisms that weren't "rapidly" preserved weren't fossilized... so of course all the fossils we see will have been rapid fossilized. That's just to be expected under normal circumstances.

This is an example of "You're looking at it backwards."

Rapid burial is necessary to entomb organisms as the first step in fossilization. The abundant marine invertebrate fossils throughout the entire fossil strata demonstrate extraordinary burial conditions.
 I don't know what they mean by "extraordinary burial conditions."

Has this author ever been to an ocean, lake or pond?

As you may or may not know, I'm a programmer. Many years ago, I was tasked with creating a simulation for a re-certification tool for volunteers who measure the crap-level (I'm sure that's the technical term) of the waters across the lakes and ponds in the State.

In order to understand the process, they actually took me through the motions. We took a boat out on a lake, and was given a "Secci disk" (basically a reflective metal disk that's attached to the end of a measuring tape). The task was to lower the Secci disk into the water, looking down through a tube into the water, and see how far we could drop it before it was obscured by the particulate matter floating in the water. We measure that depth, and the larger the depth, the "healthier" the body of water was. If the water was so thick with particulate matter, the disk wouldn't go far down before disappearing. (Read about Secci disks here at Wiki).

The fact is, oceans, lakes and ponds tend to have a lot of gunk/sediment floating around them (sand is basically a sediment material that just needs to be compressed).

The reason why we get a lot of marine fossils is because, under normal conditions, oceans and lakes could be described as "fossil factories". Marine life is constantly dying (sometimes by unpleasant things that cause the "agonizing" appearances), drifting to the floor of the body of water, and having that particulate matter accumulate on top of them. This happens continuously. It wasn't a one-time event.

Does the author really think that we've been under a continuous global flood for the past few hundred million years? That's the only conclusion that could be derived from this argument, once it's factored into the preponderance of evidence. We have marine fossils from a large span of time.

This argument makes no sense. This isn't "extraordinary". This is about as mundane as it gets.

Polystrate fossil logs (tree trunks in vertical position running through several sedimentary layers) are common in the fossil layers and are clear evidence of rapid burial.
Here's another example of not checking other possibilities, and being a failure of the Exclusion principle of evidence (indicating one possibility more strongly than others)... but it's true. Such things to exist. They just, as usual, fail to consider other possibilities.

Read about polystrate fossils until your eyes explode (Wiki).

In short, there are other ways for "rapid sedimentation" to occur, such as volcanic eruptions suddenly depositing the material. The core problem of the argument, is that they aren't even alerting the reader to any other possibilities. If it's "rapid sediment", that indicates a flood, and that's apparently all the reader needs to know.

Investigating the world is hard. The world and reality are complicated... and sometimes, if you aren't in possession of all the facts, the small sample size of data you have can be misleading. This is where vetting the evidence you've gathered against the preponderance if evidence is so utterly crucial.

If you have a piece of evidence that indicates Phenomenon A, but 99 other peices of evidence contradict it, or indicate other possibilities. The problem is probably with your 1 bit of evidence, not the other 99.

Common vertebrate fossils show rigor mortis and postures indicative of asphyxiation—sudden smothering of the animal (e.g., Archaeopteryx and dinosaur fossils in the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument).
Yes, and clearly there's no other way for this to happen then a sudden flood... no volcanoes, no "dead zones" in bodies of water... nothing. This is the same issue as before.

Meta Analysis

Once again, just like Round 11... what does this have to do with creationism?  I don't think I'll repeat my explanation from Round 11, as to why this is a problem.

Key Feature?

Interesting, in that blurb from the parent page, they assert this is a "primary feature" of the "Creation model". How? It can only be so in the sense that it's talked about in the same book as the creation myth. It has nothing even to do with creating things. It'd be like asserting that Bob cleaning his bathroom, at the age of 37, is part of the biological conception model of when his parents' egg and sperm had a party. This idea that the flood story has anything to do with creationism is deranged.

Keep in mind that the features of the model actually have to be coherent and be relevant. It'd be like saying that my model for Creationism is that Richard Dawkins eye-lasered the universe into existence, and a key feature of that model is that I used the bathroom. Since I have evidence that I went to the bathroom, that demonstrates that my Richard Dawkins model for creating the universe is true.

Positive Evidence, Science and Concordance

I don't mark these as "positive evidence", because the lack of a logical connection... but in terms of being positive evidence for a flood. Sure. The case they're making just fails the Exclusion principle and concordance with the preponderance of evidence to Biblical proportions.

I'm finding that, as usual, the creationists here just don't know how to science. Science is hard. You have to cross all your "t"s, and dot all your "i"s. Most frequently, they're missing the "concordance with the preponderance of evidence" bit.

If you were trying to make a case for an claim you're making, and the evidence/model you're providing violates the Law of Gravitation, or it presumes the existence of 7 moons around the Earth, then there's clearly something wrong with your case, because Earth has one moon, not seven... and the Law of Gravitation is not known to have exemptions.

That's one big way we can tell whether your case is legit or not - is it contradicting many other things we know?

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