Re: [asa] geological dating

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Wed Oct 21 2009 - 10:15:18 EDT

Once again, evolution implies common descent only if you define it that way. I understand that scientists usually define it that way, but the word itself does not imply common descent. There's evolution, and there are the reasons for evolution, two separate things. The fossil sequence embodies evolution no matter how it came about, even if special creation was the reason for it.

Of course, the word "evolution" connotes gradual development, where earlier stages are related to later stages, rather than large, discrete, disconnected jumps. The fossil record satisfies that connotation well enough. If God were doing it all by special creation, we might postulate that later organisms still depended on earlier organisms via a learning process: That is, God was learning by experiment.

Perhaps David's statement addresses those who believe the jumps in the fossil record are so large and discrete they would not fit the connotation of "evolution."

As believers in God, we don't know the details of evolution and must at least in principle allow for the possibility that the sequence of organisms we know through fossils could have come about through some combination of special creation and common descent. Such a combination of methods may be esthetically unpleasing, and it's certainly not science, but God is constrained neither by our esthetics nor our science.

DNA evidence supports common descent, but those dedicated to belief in the existence of discrete special creations will be able to argue their way around such evidence easily enough. The idea that God was learning could be relevant here also.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jon Tandy<>
  To: 'asa'<>
  Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 7:45 AM
  Subject: RE: [asa] geological dating

  Don, index fossils provide an index simply because they occur in various strata, in a distinctive order. One could posit, for instance, old-earth creationism such that various species were created at various points in the earth's history, but without a biological common descent from one to the other. The fossils exist, the geological strata exist, and the index fossils would still provide a reference to correlating them *with or without* biological evolution being the explanation for the progression. At least that's my understanding of the question and David's statement on the matter.


  Jon Tandy


  From: [] On Behalf Of Don Winterstein
  Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3:53 AM
  To: asa
  Subject: Re: [asa] geological dating


  I'm puzzled as to why you say, "regardless of biological evolution." How could there be index fossils if there was not a monotonic variation in organisms? And such monotonic variation is evolution by definition.




    ----- Original Message -----

    From: David Campbell<>

    To: asa<>

    Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 11:19 AM

    Subject: Re: [asa] geological dating


    The fact that certain types of fossils are observed in particular
    layers and not others and can be used as index fossils is an
    observation that stands regardless of biological evolution, despite
    various young-earth attempts to deny it.

    However, biological evolution gives the reason for the changes and for
    why things do not appear, disappear, and then reappear the way they
    might if different types of organism were being created from scratch
    and put on earth.

    Dr. David Campbell
    425 Scientific Collections
    University of Alabama
    "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"

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Received on Wed Oct 21 10:15:48 2009

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