Yesterday I went fossil hunting. After spending Canada Day in Canada, my family and I came back via upstate New York, where two days ago my son and I happened across a crinoid (sea lilly) and a coral fossil on the beach. This led to us spending some time yesterday at Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center. An abandoned shale quarry, the place doesn’t look like much (a somewhat barren area with piles of rocks and a small booth), but once you start picking up rocks it becomes clear that this site is an incredible treasure trove of fossils. One doesn’t even have to actually dig in order to find things. My son found several trilobite fossils – I mostly found gastropods, and there were fragments of crinoids all over the place. To visit this former sea bed and examine fossils that are 380 million years old and try to explain them in terms of young-earth creationism is dishonest and deceptive, playing on public lack of understanding of science and our desire for emotional fulfillment to distract attention from evidence that is everywhere around us. Flood Geology doesn’t fit these shale beds from the Buffalo, New York area – or any others for that matter. Layers upon layers of living things were here over the course of long periods of time, living underwater and not just buried in a brief cataclysm. One can desperately try to make the evidence seem to point in a different direction, but mainstream science provides the explanations that are the best fit to the evidence.
The latest NCSE newsletter (which I haven’t read yet, having just returned home late last night) poses a wonderful challenge to proponents of flood geology. If fossil fuels can be produced in short periods of time as they claim, it ought to be possible not only to replicate this, but to take steps to solve the current fuel situation. Fundamentalist Islam has spread largely thanks to oil money. If Christian fundamentalists have something better, the knowledge that petroleum can be produced in shorter periods under extremely high pressure, then not only can they help break dependence on Middle Eastern oil and thus undermine the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, but they can fund their own works to propagate their own faith, and show how the Bible provides scientific and technological answers.
Don’t take my word for it. Visit a site like Penn Dixie. Find and handle the fossils for yourselves. Then decide whether you wish to believe in the combined testimony of the natural world and the Bible understood in scholarly and historically appropriate ways, or in the claims of deceivers who will tell you that their God also engages in deception and has either placed in the ground, or allowed to be placed there, evidence that is impressively clear but misleading. If you believe in science, or you believe in God who is not a liar, then you will want to give young-earth creationism a wide berth.