Category Archives: Cosmogony, Cosmology, Geology, Luna

From solid data to speculations about everything from the origin of the universe to the formation of our moon and the rock layers of the Earth.

Canadian microfossils – first life of evolution or deepest of creation?

A recent (March 2017) article claims that scientist have found the oldest fossils yet. Are they the traces of the first life forms to be preserved? Do they show the earliest known step in evolution? Do they show how long ago life began? Certainly, if our derived dating methods are correct, these are the oldest fossils. Even so, they raise a couple of questions about the story of the origin and evolution of life.

The Story

The article, based on research published in the journal NATURE,  claims the fossils not only set the origin of life farther back than ever before, but also support the theory that life arose around deep-sea hydrothermal (hot water) vents. It also suggests that Mars might have had similar forms of life early in its history.  The article claims that “It was primordial microbes like those described in the study that set in motion the evolutionary march toward complex life and, eventually, the appearance of humans 200,000 years ago.”

The Facts

What do we actually know about these fossils? They were taken “from the Hudson Bay shoreline in northern Quebec” and consist of “Tiny filaments and tubes made of a form of iron oxide, or rust, formed by the microbes…encased in layers of quartz” within iron-rich sedimentary deposits. These deposits are estimated by experts to be about 4 billion (thousand million) years old.

The Significance

Many evolutionists have said that the origin of life is not part of the theory of evolution, but clearly it is important to know about it. If the dates assigned to these deposits and the age of the  Earth, and the theory of the formation of the Earth, are correct, they “suggest ‘an almost instantaneous emergence of life’ after ocean formation,” according to lead researcher Matthew S. Dodd. Of course, that also sets the stage for the story of the long march of evolution that just happened to include humans at the end, at least so far.

Too soon?

Or does it? Nobody is claiming that these were the first living things. One of the researchers, Dominic Papineau, said the find “shows microbial life diversified to specialized microbes very early in Earth history.” The early date assigned plus the time it would have taken to evolve to that point from the first life explain Dodd’s “almost instantaneous” estimate. There would not have been much evolutionary time between the first conditions necessary for life on Earth and these fossils.  This should raise a question in the minds of properly-skeptical scientists: If life arose so soon from chance conditions, how hard should it be for highly-intelligent scientists to re-create the event? They have been trying to do so for decades, and have only produced a few relatively simple organic molecules that don’t do anything. The conditions that produce these chemicals also produce others that would interfere with the functions of biological molecules (poisons).

Too Modern?

The reason for the confidence in identifying such tiny traces as showing early life raises another question. The report notes that the fossils’ “structure closely resembled modern bacteria that dwell near iron-rich hydrothermal vents.” If the very earliest traces of life look so much like those left by living things now, clearly there was nothing forcing the further evolution of life. Fossils assigned dates from hundreds of millions of years ago also appear very similar to living things. Clearly there is no environmental or biological imperative for life to evolve. Granting for the sake of argument that life did evolve from some early microbes into all the other forms, it must have been a process in which random mutations somehow just happened to produce changes that added up to all the new features needed to live in new conditions in new ways even while the population they came from was doing fine in the old conditions.

Further Considerations

Some might say that this is where God stepped in, but that raises a couple of other questions. If we allow that God was actively involved, what else might he have done? Why not take the Bible’s creation account at face value, and question man’s ability to give dates to things supposedly long before humans existed? Why would God create by gradually nudging natural forces?

We should also consider the fossil record in this light. If we have traces left by tiny bacteria billions of years ago, where are all the traces showing the major steps of evolution? We find fossils dated around 500 million years old (3.5 billion years after these Canadian traces) showing all the major designs (phyla) of many-celled living things.  Some of those, too, are very similar to living things. There is a great dearth of fossils assigned to the billions of years between. It’s not that there aren’t any traces. There are mysterious burrows and footprints, small bits of shells, and some strange forms that don’t seem closely related to any living things. So how is it that the major work of evolution has no evidence over all that time?

Creationists can look at the same data and come to different conclusions. We can’t rely on our ability to derive dates from current evidence. We see many distinct forms of life and distinct sets of fossils at various layers, without having to imagine lines of many more forms connecting them. In general, the oldest fossils are forms that lived on the bottom of the ocean. The most recent include forms that are the fastest, most agile swimmers; animals capable of living in the highest, driest, and coldest regions; and birds which can fly more powerfully and higher than any other living things. The general pattern of increasing altitude and mobility holds throughout the fossil record, with an understandable degree of overlap. This could fit within a global-Flood model of geology.

Conclusion

Fundamentalist science simply presents the facts: There is evidence that experts interpret as showing the age of these deposits is about 4 billion years. The traces appear to be very similar to those produced by bacteria living today near hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the sea today. Beyond that, if you want to believe that separately-created life forms were buried during the global Flood described in the Bible,  that’s a matter of faith. If you want to believe that life evolved from microbes over billions of years,  that’s a matter of faith, too.

References:

Canadian bacteria-like fossils called oldest evidence of life, Reuters, By Will Dunham, March 1, 2017

Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates
Matthew S. Dodd, et al., NATURE, 543, 60–64 (02 March 2017), doi:10.1038/nature21377, Published online, 01 March 2017

Soft Tissues: Hard to stretch over millions of years

When scientists step beyond the proper limits of science, such as the limit of time in which things  have been scientifically observed and recorded, something other than the method of repeatedly observing and testing things will dictate how data is explained. Supernatural events and explanations are by their nature not limited by the limits of nature, so naturally natural philosophers (now called scientists) tend to avoid them. So, whatever we find in nature, most scientists today have to explain without considering what the Bible (or other religious source) says that God (or other supernatural entity) did in the past that might throw off such explanations. Obviously, creating the heavens and the Earth in one swell foop of six days is going to produce things that would take billions of years to form, assuming that natural processes alone could somehow do it.

So there are some things that “Young Earth” scientists have struggled to explain, such as how we can see stars that are billions of light years away. I believe there’s a simple supernatural explanation, but there are a number of (more or less) natural explanations that have been proposed. There are other things that mainstream scientists are struggling to show nature can produce, such as the origin of life.   Continue reading Soft Tissues: Hard to stretch over millions of years

(Image: A relatively close spiral galaxy)

Massive Monsters Mash Models (of universe evolution)

A net friend alerted me to the article “Galactic Monster Mystery Revealed in Ancient Universe” (Nov. 19, 2015, by Ian O’Neill). The “monsters” involved are massive galaxies. There are lots of massive galaxies in the universe. What makes these such monstrous mysteries is that they are very far away, and (given the time it would take light to travel so far) we’re seeing them as they were (or would have been) billions of years ago, so long ago that the earliest are said to be at the stage when the universe was just one billion years old: “This selection of massive galaxies all seem to have formed no earlier than around 1 billion years after the Big Bang;” Continue reading Massive Monsters Mash Models (of universe evolution)

The Cambrian explosion keeps popping…

Two news stories this week add to the bangs of the collection of fossils showing all sorts of living things that have few if any posited fossil-represented ancestors.  This “sudden appearance” haunted Darwin and arguably has gotten worse since. Like Darwin, evolutionists have continued to shrug and guess that for some reason most of evolution didn’t get recorded as fossils. Maybe the animals were too soft, maybe the water chemistry was wrong, maybe this, maybe that. After more than 150 years, how long does a supposedly scientific theory get a pass on bringing forth evidence for it’s greater part?  How can it be called an evidence-based theory, when belief in the theory has held in spite of this great lack of evidence for so long? It might be different if new fossils appeared to be making some dent in the problem (or it might be called too little, too late), but instead new fossils keep showing quite new (non-intermediate) forms, including features and whole organisms more like modern kinds than were known in these deposits before. Continue reading The Cambrian explosion keeps popping…

Life is funny — I mean, the way some evolutionists think about life is funny.

Normally when I comment on a new article, I simply have some doubts and questions and a different way of looking at things, but sometimes I see articles that seem so funny to me I’m afraid my response will offend some people… but please excuse me if I can’t help it in a case like this:

“Life Started On Earth 300 Million Years Earlier Than We Thought”

This is the title of an article from the Huffington Post ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/earth-age-carbon-study_562688dfe4b02f6a900e2320?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592 )

It’s based on a scientific report that isn’t so funny itself, but this presentation for public consumption has this side-splitting subtitle or lead-in quote: “Life on Earth may have started almost instantaneously. With the right ingredients, life seems to form very quickly.” Yup, just throw a bunch of cosmic dust around a baby star until it balls up into a planet, maybe has some of those basic amino acids, the “building blocks of life” mixed in, and POOF! there’s your life for you! Just like magic! Practically a miracle… whoops, I mean, perfectly natural, of course. Must be happening all the time… well, somewhere, out there with all those other planetary systems forming. Of course, in this context, “almost instantaneously” and “very quickly” refers to several hundred million years. Then again, the processes taking place in most of that time could be said to have little direct relevance to the formation of life.  If you’re going to believe that raw chemicals came together and became a living thing all on their own, you may as well believe it happened quickly. But what’s behind this bold pontification?  Continue reading Life is funny — I mean, the way some evolutionists think about life is funny.

Hair is hair, for as long as it’s been here.

Today I’ve been studying about the oldest-dated fossil mammal hair. (http://news.yahoo.com/cretaceous-fur-ball-ancient-mammal-spiky-hair-discovered-132251323.html
“Cretaceous Fur Ball: Ancient Mammal With Spiky Hair Discovered”
from LiveScience.com, By Elizabeth Palermo, 10/16/2015 (updated at 3:52 p.m. EDT)

Surprise, it’s not from China! Spain has a very excellent fossil site, the Las Hoyas quarry. Back in 2011, they dug up a fossil now called Spinolestes xenarthrosus. Now a report has been published in the October 14th Nature, and LiveScience had this article about it (repeated by Yahoo). Major take-away quote:

You may think that, over the course of 125 million years, the process by which mammalian hair grows would have changed somehow, but that’s not the case, Luo said. The bones of Spinolestes, which was about the size of a small rat, are proof that ancient mammals grew hair the same way as modern mammals do.

Continue reading Hair is hair, for as long as it’s been here.

NPR admits existence is a mystery

All too often, scientists and others give the impression that we know very nearly all the answers to the major questions, and there’s little left except filling in the details. This was a widespread attitude in the late 1800s, too, about the same time that Darwin’s theory became widely adopted. Soon after, physical science took some strange new turns, with Einstein’s General and Special theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. Our “knowledge” of the solar system and universe has increased and undergone some alterations, too. There are still a lot of major mysteries and unresolved discrepancies, so it is very strange that some people seem to think that “Science” has pretty much figured out everything and left no room for the supernatural and religion.

So I found it refreshing to see an article on the NPR website that points out that “There was a big bang and the universe appeared and that’s how we got here” isn’t really settled and the end of the story.  Continue reading NPR admits existence is a mystery

Living Fossils: Shrimp

Just a short post today. Going through some old files and found one about a fossil shrimp dated 360 million years old. Guess what it looks like. Did you say “a shrimp”? Bingo. Surprise, surprise. This little fossil was so well-preserved even the petrified muscles can be seen. Continue reading Living Fossils: Shrimp

Giant snake made into magic thermometer

Here’s a beautiful example of “Science” over-reaching. To be specific, a team of researchers jumped from the fossil remains of a really large snake to pronouncing the average temperature when the snake lived must have been a few degrees higher than it is today. Of course, this was based on the longest officially recorded snake, never mind reports suggesting there are or may have more recently been much larger ones. And of course, they also use the usual dating scheme and place it at about 59 million years in the past.
Continue reading Giant snake made into magic thermometer

Black Holes, Gravity Waves, and Unending Gaps

First, two news stories.

First up: “Black hole is 30 times bigger than expected” By Amanda Barnett, CNN, Updated 8:04 PM ET, Sat September 26, 2015

“This shouldn’t be possible. Researchers say they’ve detected a supermassive black hole at the center of a newly found galaxy that’s far bigger than current theories allow.” As the title indicates, specifically it’s about 30 times larger than a galaxy the size of the one it’s in should be able to form. Wow.  Not much else to say about it; if you want the details, click on the title to go to the article. As to how this surprise came about, the scientists can only guess: “…it could be that the black hole just grew much faster than the galaxy surrounding it, or maybe the galaxy’s growth was prematurely stopped.” Why or how the black hole would or could grow fast, or what would or could stop the galaxy’s growth, they don’t say.
Continue reading Black Holes, Gravity Waves, and Unending Gaps