Re: [asa] How fast do fossils form

From: Steven M Smith <>
Date: Thu Sep 21 2006 - 14:01:38 EDT

Burgy quoted an argument from Tom Willis' Creation Science for Mid-America
website ...

< From the (Creation Science for Mid-America)
< website, this gem today:
< How Fast Do Fossils Form?
< There are a number of incidents in recent history that demonstrate
< that fossilization does not and cannot require a long time, but that
< speed of fossil formation is dependent on conditions, especially
< mineral content of the fluids around the specimen. Most of us have
< seen or read of at least one or more very rapid fossilization events:
< miner's hats, bat in a cave, coke bottle, etc.

[Remainder of quote snipped]

This quote illustrates some flawed logic that is used in a number of
Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) arguments. The argument goes something like

1. Authorities say the "Process X" takes a long time to happen. (Process
X may include fossilization rates, cave formation, stalactite growth,
coalification, oil generation, sediment deposition, canyon erosion, salt
concentrations in oceans, cooling of granite plutons (as mentioned in the
AiG news brief last week), and helium concentrations in atmosphere - just
to name a few).
2. Under special conditions it can be documented that "Process X"
sometimes takes only a short time to happen.
3. Therefore "Process X" does not take a long time to happen. ("does not
and cannot require a long time" in the quote above.)
4. Implied conclusion: Long periods of time are not necessary and so the
Earth is young.
5. Another implied conclusion: The authorities are lying to us.

The logic flaw can easily be exposed by inserting a more common process
for "X". How about this one?

1. Authorities say that the human gestation period is about nine months.
2. A lady in a remote part of China reportedly had a full-grown healthy
baby after only six months of pregnancy.
3. Therefore human gestation periods are only six months long.
4. Implied conclusion: My wife's three pregnancies of approximately 9
months each were unnecessarily long and she was faking it for at least 3
5. Another implied conclusion: The Doctor was involved in this deception.

Needless to say, my wife doesn't appreciate this argument and her Dr.
refuses to speak to me now.

To get back to the original point, the rates of fossilization are
irrelevant with respect to the age of the Earth issue. At best they would
only give us a minimum age - if it only takes 60 years to calcify a fetus
then the Earth must be older than 60 years. Not much argument there
unless you infer this means that the Earth is only about 60 years old. An
analogy that I've used before when addressing the fossilization rate
question is to ask, "How long does it take to get from my house in Denver
to yours in Durango?" The answer, of course, is that it depends totally
upon the means used and the route taken (and also whether Wolf Creek Pass
is closed by snow). The same is true for fossilization. I developed this
analogy further some years ago in another post to the ASA list. See
<> for a previous response
to the same fossilization rates argument. Also read the thread responses
by Glenn Morton & Keith Miller.

[Disclaimer: Blame me and not my employer for these opinions.]
 Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
 Box 25046, M.S. 973, DFC, Denver, CO 80225
 Office: (303)236-1192, Fax: (303)236-3200
 -USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-

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Received on Thu Sep 21 14:02:23 2006

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