Ida, Media Hype, and Science

Charles Darwin once made this remark about his theory: “The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, [must] be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Now, 150 years on, this problem still seems to be with us. Many neo-Darwinists have noted this. For example, evolutionary paleontologist Mark Czarnecki put it this way: “A major problem in proving the theory [of evolution] has been the fossil record, the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth’s geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin’s hypothetical intermediate variants – instead, species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God.”

Stephen Jay Gould once stated, “The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change, and the principle of natural selection does not require it – selection can operate rapidly.” Or as Niles Eldredge put it:

“No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.”

Therefore Darwin’s concern seems to remain. Thus it is not surprising that when some new discovery comes along purporting to document transitional forms or missing links, parts of the scientific community along with an over-eager media go ballistic. We had this not so long ago with the so-called “Hobbit man”. Debate still is raging about that find and its significance.

Now we have “Ida,” a fossil actually discovered back in 1983, but just this past week it has made the headlines. Talk of a ‘missing link’ was trumpeted around the world, and another blow for Darwinism was thought to have been made. But a closer look shows that Darwinian celebrations may be premature.

After the initial hoopla, more sober voices are now coming forward, although they often are not being heard in the mainstream media. For example, Robert Roy Britt writing in LiveScience, says this: “Despite press-conference claims, no textbooks will be rewritten any time soon.”

He cites Chris Beard, a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh: “It’s not a missing link, it’s not even a terribly close relative to monkeys, apes and humans, which is the point they’re trying to make”.

As mentioned, some scientists and many in the media were very happy to hype this finding, not just because it seemed to offer more proof for Darwinism, but also because it seemed to put more nails in the coffin of theism. That is often the real motivation here. As Benjamin Wiker writes:

“Darwin crafted his account of natural selection specifically to eliminate any need for God as an explanation for the variety of species, and their extraordinary design. Natural selection is indeed a powerful and important concept, and other scientists had already set out aspects of natural selection decades before Darwin published his Origin of Species. But Darwin insisted on making it an all-encompassing explanation of everything in biology, an explanation that entirely eliminated God. In this, he was quite like his contemporary Karl Marx who wanted to explain everything about man through a very materialist account of economics precisely so that he could eliminate God. Darwinism is, in this, much like Marxism.”

Marxism was an anti-theistic religion, and in many respects so is Darwinism. It simply becomes a good excuse for rejecting God. Thus in many ways it is really a form of scientism, instead of genuine science. So expect to see many more such examples of Darwinian discoveries in the future, complete with uncritical media hype. The need to believe is very strong, even amongst Darwinists.

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56 Replies to “Ida, Media Hype, and Science”

  1. Hi Bill,

    The regular media hype about ape-men reminds me of record tractor production statistics or turnip yields the old Soviet leaders used to run in Pravda. Claims which are completely removed from reality, but need to be made to keep people from noticing the elephant in the room.

    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
    Romans 1:20

    More information on apemen hoaxes and misrepresentation can be found at:

    Also a good recent article on protein found in supposedly millions-of-years-old dinosaur bones can be found here:

    Mansel Rogerson

  2. Thanks Bill,

    What I can’t figure out is the number of Christians who are sympathetic to Darwinian evolution. It seems that some Christians have blindly accepted the push for evolution.

    Brad Rauber

  3. Bill,

    You obviously reject evolution as being incompatible with theism, although many Christians think otherwise.

    But what’s the alternative? Creationism is just too ridiculous for words, and intelligent design just doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. So what can the thinking Christian put forward as an explanation of human and earth history that fits with observable reality?

    Thomas Chow, Sydney

  4. Thanks Thomas

    But of course there are many thinking Christians who have very real problems with Darwinism. Christian reactions to it are varied of course. You might look at the Intelligent Design movement more closely for example in which leading scholars, scientists and PhDs propose alternative options that can be examined. Instead of dismissing it out of hand, actually try investigating carefully the arguments they are putting forward. Try this site for starters:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Hi Brad,

    I may be able to shed some light as to why so many Christians blindly accept evolution, because for a long time I was one of them. In my case, I was educated (both by universities and the media) to know nothing other than evolution as an explanation for origins. For years even as a Christian (in reasonably conservative evangelical Anglican churches) I had no idea that anyone accepted Genesis at face value – and this was despite my having an interest in the topic!

    The first step to resolving the hermeneutical mental gymnastics I was forced to endure as a theistic evolutionist was finding out about the ministry of Creation Ministries International (

    The second step was overcoming the deep long-age-of-the-earth and evolutionary prejudices I held, whilst not even being aware of holding them. At this stage, for example I also would have thought it perfectly acceptable to dismiss Creationism as “too ridiculous for words” just as Thomas does above.

    A long process over one or two years of grappling with the issues through reading Creationist and Theistic Evolutionist literature finally saw me through.

    So Thomas, if you are really interested in finding an alternative to evolution for the thinking Christian, please give straight-forward Bible reading (a.k.a. Creationism) another look. If you promise to read them, I will happily buy you an annual subscription to Creation magazine. Just contact Creation Ministries International above to order, and have them contact me to arrange payment. They have my details.

    Mansel Rogerson

  6. The Catholic Church and the early Church Fathers and later the Greek Fathers never accepted the creation of the world in a literal seven days. Each ‘day’ represented those aspects of the creation having been done by God.
    There is no need for fundamentalism via biblical private interpretation on the one hand nor of the liberal modernist rejection of God as having any part in the Creation.
    If we refer to the Church, we will not be resorting to secularism nor fundamentalism which are both recent pedigrees compared to the rich treasury of the Church’s Fathers and Councils in these matters.
    Michael Webb

  7. The poor ol’ ‘church’ of King Henry ( Cranmer really) was bad enough but today is much worse with all its silly apologies based upon a false self consciousness.
    It is tied in with the general English and modern day disease of political correctness to apologise to those who wish to see the end of your culture and of Christian Faith and heritage generally.
    Michael Webb

  8. Thomas, you assert (without evidence):
    “Creationism is just too ridiculous for words”

    Would you please care to explain why you believe that God is incapable of creating out of nothing?

    John Angelico

  9. I have seen many proposed “missing links” over the years. They were all trumpeted with much hype and hoop-la when first “discovered” by the media, but they have all come to nothing – and no hype and hoopla, not even a short note on p.20 when that happens.
    One thing about a missing link can be said for certain: it is still missing!
    Murray Adamthwaite

  10. Is it just too unsophisticated to take Job chapters 38- 41 as literal truth or is this just poetic fancy?

    David Skinner, UK

  11. Hi Bill,

    Not being a biologist, I am not qualified to make my own claims for or against Darwin’s theory, but it would be safe to say a significant majority of biologists support the theory to some extent or another.

    Is it your position that they all part of an elaborate world-wide conspiracy to turn people away from God? How do they co-ordinate? Why hasn’t anyone blown the whistle? Do you think they are consciously deceiving people or that the devil is whispering in their ear? Are all the fossils listed here fakes?

    If Darwinism was completely debunked tommorow with absolutely compelling evidence and evolution was left behind, I am not convinced that biologists everywhere would down their microscopes and declare that “God did it”.

    On the flip side, if it were proven to you personally tommorow that evolution was absolutely true beyond a shadow of a doubt, I don’t think that your faith in God would be diminished in any way.

    I don’t think I even have a point to make here except it seems that many devout religous people spend way too much time obessing over evolution.

    If evolution is absolutely not true, science will eventually come to that conclusion and relegate it to the “laughable stuff we used to believe in” book.

    On the other hand if continued advances in biology and technology make it a certaintly, then religion will have to re-examine itself and perhaps conclude that Genesis was metophoric rather than literal. The Bible contains metaphor in other places, so why not the creation story?

    I think equating a scientific theory about how species evolve with a failed political ideology is a big stretch.


    James Beattie

  12. John,

    You’ve twisted my words. I certainly don’t “believe that God is incapable of creating out of nothing”.

    I think you’re well aware I was referring to the creationism movement and its claims that the earth is only 6000 years old or thereabouts. Yes, I’ve read the books and magazines and websites. It’s all nonsense as far as I’m concerned.

    I can’t see why some Christians can’t accept that God might have created the world in some other way, e.g. with a Big Bang. Such an event says more to me about the power and majesty of God than postulating He created the earth intact. And the former fits far better with our observations of the planets and the cosmos.

    Thomas Chow

  13. Thomas wrote,

    So what can the thinking Christian put forward as an explanation of human and earth history that fits with observable reality?

    Hi Thomas,

    I reckon the story of Noah is a good start. If our planet was completely covered by water thus killing all air breathing animals (+ humans) I would expect to find evidence. Our world is covered with fossils, which fits the observations very well!
    Take a look at Creation Ministries International website, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions you may be surprised at the outcome. Once I discovered the fossil record was the result of a global flood and not millions of evolutionary years my world turned upside down. Thank God, it makes the Bible real history.

    Dallas James, Melbourne

  14. Thanks James

    I am not a biologist either, so we both must defer to some extent to the expertise of others. And as you would be aware, there are many capable and qualified scientists and thinkers who have major problems with Darwinism. In a similar way, there are many scientists who are sceptical about the global warming scenario. In both cases such dissenters may be in the minority. But so what?

    Anyone even slightly familiar with the history of science knows that in the past scientists have often got things wrong, and they have often been in the majority while being wrong. So mere numbers alone do not determine the truth or falsity of these theories.

    And have I ever said anywhere on this site that there exists some vast monolithic pro-evolution conspiracy? However, having said that, it is not I but Darwinists themselves who have made the link between Darwinism and atheism. Many have sought to make this connection. Again you would (or should) be familiar with the line from Dawkins when he said that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. Or as Will Provine put it, Darwinism “is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.”

    As to the “facts” you present, that is not the issue. All sides of the debate deal with the existing data. The key is how one interprets the data. That is where differences can emerge. And as Popper and Polanyi and others have demonstrated, no one comes to the data with completely blank slates. Everyone has a priori notions, preconceived ideas, and pre-existing worldviews that can and will cloud their interpretation of the data.

    So spare us the ‘science is only interested in the facts, while religion is only interested in faith’ myth. Everyone brings their worldview and their faith to bear on the data.

    And contrary to your remarks, many have sought to “blow the whistle” on the various frauds, mistakes, bad science, cover-ups, or hidden agendas found in evolutionary theory. Have you read them James? Are you willing to? I am quite happy to suggest titles. And many of these volumes are not even penned by religious folk.

    And you are quite right that many scientists would not believe in God even if evolution were totally disproved overnight. How do we know that? Because they have already told us this James. They have been honest about it, so maybe you should be as well. Many atheistic Darwinists could be cited here. Let me quote just one, Thomas Nagel:

    “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind. Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning and design as fundamental features of the world.”

    They don’t want God to exist, and they have already made up their minds on the matter. So the evidence is immaterial to them. Unlike Antony Flew, they will not follow the evidence to wherever it may lead.

    And of course you should know that evolution can never be proven to be “absolutely true beyond a shadow of a doubt”. That is a red herring. We are talking about origin science, about one-off, non-repeatable events, such as the beginning of the universe, the beginning of life, and so on. These are not matters that can be proven in science labs. They are largely matters of conjecture and faith-based speculation. The question is which theory or origins account best seems to explain the facts that we possess.

    And it is not Christians so much as the Darwinists themselves who keep insisting that their Darwinism is not at all compatible with notions of the supernatural, God, a creator, purpose, design, and so on. They are the ones who keep insisting that to believe one must mean to renounce the other.

    And one can equally state that atheists “spend way too much time obessing [sic] over evolution”.

    Also, evolution does not need to be “absolutely not true”. If some of its major planks can be shown to be faulty, then the whole edifice may well crumble. But there are some truths of evolution. No one denies micro-evolution, for example. The real debate lies with macro-evolution.

    As to the Bible, the context and the genre usually help us determine when metaphorical language is being used, or when historical narrative is in place. The discussions admittedly can be involved and complex. But I am not sure if you are at a place yet to discuss the finer points of biblical hermeneutics, criticism and exegesis.

    Finally, as to Darwinism and Marxism, it was Wiker who made the connection, and I merely concurred. Both act as meta-narratives and major worldviews. And both have been used to seek to push God out of the picture. One has been found to be a grand failure, both as a philosophy and a political ideology. The other may well also be found to be so much hot air. Many thinkers far superior to me already think that it is.

    (BTW, sorry about breaking my own rules about long comments, but you did raise a lot of points.)

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. Thanks Thomas

    Of course some Christians do adhere to Big Bang cosmology, either as scientists or apologists, or both. Many in the ID movement for example do. But that is where Christians can and do disagree. But most of these individuals, whether adhering to an old earth or a young earth, have major problems with Darwinism as a theory, and the naturalism that is so often bundled up with it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  16. Thomas Chow states, “You obviously reject evolution as being incompatible with theism….”, and then implies that there is no alternative to theistic evolution for “the thinking Christian”. But it’s not that evolution is incompatible with any form of theism, it just happens to be incompatible with Biblical Christianity. The god who used evolution is a very inferior god indeed to the God of the Bible.

    Ewan McDonald.

  17. Hi James,

    You said, “if it were proven to you personally tommorow that evolution was absolutely true beyond a shadow of a doubt, …”

    The term needs to be defined properly. If by evolution you mean natural selection, survival of the fittest, and/or adaptation of organisms to different environments, then that is wholly uncontroversial. Creationists accept that concept, and it is consistent with a young-earth biblical framework.

    But the term is used to mean that all living things (people, pandas, poppies, pine trees, pippies) descended from a single–celled ancestor over billions of years. That idea contradicts biblical history, is not observable, contradicts known principles of biology, heredity, chemistry and information science.


    Tas Walker

  18. re: James Beattie & others.

    I am not a biologist either. However, I am a 4th year Veterinary Student, so I can give you an informed judgment on darwinism (non-directed evolution of biological systems/constructs/animals)…

    It doesn’t work.

    Seriously. While I am aware of many problems with materialistic assumptions of evolution, the clincher for me is active, directed, opposing feedback systems. Within your body (!) are opposing, directed feedback systems, involved in regulating everything from your hormones to your blood pressure & tissue perfusion, to the Ca concentration within every cell of your body.

    The problem? One facet of a system (e.g. for increasing blood pressure) relies on the opposing facet being present (e.g. decreasing blood pressure), or your whole body goes haywire. Imagine if you were missing one, only ever able to increase your blood pressure… no, you would not live (hint: merely standing up is enough to necessitate these systems acting). And realize that me saying “facet for increasing blood pressure” actually involves receptors in our vasculature, effectors, the actual tissue of our vasculature, info pathways to heart, to brain stem, to… you get the idea. And this is just for one part of one side of a system.

    …it just doesn’t work in small sequential steps, because there is a threshold required to be reached before function occurs. And this threshold is usually ‘fully developed’.

    Of course, this is only the briefest of introductions to the problem, but perhaps an ascii image will finish off:

    / \

    Two sticks set at 45 degrees against each other. That is a basic image of the problem You can’t evolve one without the other, or the whole thing falls over (read: dies). And the odds of evolving entire systems simultaneously is numbered against the particles in the universe*. Yikes.

    Tristan Ingle, Sydney.

    {sorry for long post – and I have not even skimmed the surface of this monumental problem for materialism).

    *also keep in mind that darwinistic evolution has failed to produce anything of substance, ever. The Lenski experiment (recently concluded) grew E. coli for 20years (~40,000 generations). Nothing resulted, only a broken membrane function (and you can’t build new systems by breaking existing ones, for two obvious reasons).

  19. Thomas, you said:

    “I can’t see why some Christians can’t accept that God might have created the world in some other way, e.g. with a Big Bang. Such an event says more to me about the power and majesty of God than postulating He created the earth intact. And the former fits far better with our observations of the planets and the cosmos.”

    The only reason that I as a Christian “can’t accept that God might have created…” is that God Himself declared in Genesis exactly how He did it, and how long He took.

    I don’t need to postulate another “might have…” scenario, nor am I in a position to question Him and declare Him a liar.

    You then assert that the Big Bang is a better fit for the observed data. I suggest in contrast that the a-theistic Big Bang gives no support to the current state of the Solar System, whereas the Biblical account offers a framework in which to fit the anomalous rotations of the outer planets, the axis of Neptune (going by memory here) the rings of Saturn and the varying material compositions of the planets.

    Sorry, I am replying in early-morning haste, and will have to supply links later.

    John Angelico

  20. I see the hyping-up of this fossil find not so much about putting ‘nails in the coffin of theism’ – it’s more do to with media outlets selling more of their wares. Which headline is going to sell more newspapers – Well preserved fossil may provide useful details of adapid evolution or 47 million year old ancestor of humans discovered! ?. The scientific community has been highly critical of the media for this style of reporting and also critical of the research team for rushing the associated paper, suggesting a more thorough cladistic analysis is needed.

    There are indeed many examples of transitional fossils, but it’s also important to remember that all fossils are ‘transitional’ in a sense. Of course, it is not only paleontology that provides evidence of common descent, there are many other lines of evidence which bring us to the same conclusions.

    Just a quick note on your Gould and Eldredge quotes: They were of course advocating punctuated equilibria as opposed to phyletic gradualism. I’m not sure how these quotes support some sort of case against evolutionary biology, since all they’re saying is speciation occurs in occasional ‘short’ bursts, rather than at a slower and constant rate.

    In any case Bill, don’t you find a 47 million year old primate fossil in such a great condition to be an amazing discovery?

    Heather Bates

  21. Hi Thomas,

    Has it ever occurred to you that God has no interest whether or not you (or anybody else) consider one method of creation more in line with your subjective view of the “majesty of God” than any other.

    Let God be God. No-one was there at creation. All ‘science’ about this unique event is a matter of faith. David Skinner is right, read Job 38-41. I think most readers here will understand a fundamental difference between Job’s response and the attitude you portray.

    Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know you can do all things: no plan of yours can be thwarted.”
    Job 42:1-2

    Clearly the one thing Man does not want to hear these days is that his powers are limited and God is not. Don’t let yourself be duped – there is only one eyewitness account. It always just ends up being about who you believe has the authority to make sweeping statements. As for me, I’ll trust the one who has power over nature, not the ones who merely observe it.

    Mark Rabich

  22. This is one of those problems that always gets pushed aside as it’s seen as ‘not important’ in the ‘whole picture of Christianity’. However, as some of you have commented, is it important as to whether the world was created in 7 days, created in an indefinite period, or created/appeared due to some other natural occurence?

    I think that this issue is important, because it all comes down to whether we read Genesis as a literal account of the orgins of the world or not. And if you say we can’t, then I ask, how can we decide what to take literally and what not to? Because logically, if we can pick and choose what parts of the Bible to read literally, then it surely can be argued that other sections may just be ‘poetic’. No one has ever asked whether Jesus being dead for 3 days was actually 3 days! But if the Bible’s measure of time is not accurate, was he dead for 3 years? 300 years? Is he still dead?! For that matter, if we are not taking the Bible at face value, did he really die at all?

    Surely, for our faith to have meaning we have to accept the whole text as the Word of God. If we begin picking and choosing which parts we like and don’t like, then it’s not God’s story anymore, but our own.

    Christie Ewens

  23. Thanks Heather

    Yes I know they were referring to the concept of punctuated equilibrium. I cited them to demonstrate a major problem (gradualism) with Darwin’s formulation of the theory of evolution (Gould called this absence of transitional forms “the trade secret of paleontology”). While PE better adheres to the data, it is a not a theory free of its own problems. Evolutionary biologists of course engage in lively debates over the hypothesis, and it has developed considerably since the original 1972 paper by Eldredge and Gould. As molecular biologist Michael Denton has stated,

    “While Eldredge and Gould’s model is a perfectly explanation of the gaps between species (and, in my view, correct) itis doubtful if it can be extended to explain the larger systematic gaps. The gaps which separate species: dog/fox, rat/mouse etc are utterly trivial compared with, say, that between a primitive terrestrial mammal and a whale or a primitive terrestrial reptile and an Ichthyosaur; and even these relatively major discontinuities are trivial alongside those which divide major phyla such as molluscs and arthropods. Such major discontinuities simply could not, unless we are to believe in miracles, have been crossed in geologically short periods of time through one or two transitional species occupying restricted geographical areas. Surely, such transitions must have involved long lineages including many collateral lines of hundreds or probably thousands of transitional species. To suggest that the hundreds, thousands or possibly even millions of transitional species which must have existed in the interval between vastly dissimilar types were all unsuccessful species occupying isolated areas and having very small population numbers is verging on the incredible!”

    And no, I am not particularly amazed that yet another “find” has come on the scene, one which will be debated as to its significance and dating for years to come. I am amazed that naturalists can look at the world around us and posit a random, chance origin to it all, including life in all of its complexity. I am also amazed that so many people can dogmatically cling to their materialism, which cannot account for the world that we actually live in. I am amazed at people like Flew who are honest enough to follow the evidence where it may lead.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  24. Bill,

    When discussing fossils, I’d probably refer to the work of paleontologists rather than molecular biologists. But in any case, Michael Denton in Nature’s Destiny shifted to an acceptance of evolution and he has since disassociated himself (wisely in my opinion) from The Discovery Institute.

    As for Ida, can I ask why you place the word find in quotation marks? What are you implying? You also suggest the dating will be debated for years to come – it’s currenty dated at 47 million years – do you believe a mistake has been made?

    Heather Bates

  25. Thanks Heather

    But did you actually read the book, or did you just run to your nearest atheist or Darwinist website to find a few cheap shot objections? I happen to have the book. He nowhere retracts what he wrote in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. He of course has never claimed to be either a Christian or a special creationist. Nor did I seek to equate him with the DI. Yet in his 1998 volume he still insists that the standard naturalistic account does not hold up. Moreover, he insists that the anthropocentric, teleological character of the universe means that “neither creationism nor Darwinism can possibly be valid models of nature”. But as he concludes, “the cosmos is a specifically designed whole with life and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose”. Such language of course fits in far better with ID than with most Darwinists.

    Moreover, the moves to demolish the anthropocentric cosmos during the past few centuries, “although based on the findings of science, were not strictly scientific in essence, but rather philosophical extrapolations”. But I am not here to defend Denton. He was simply one of many authorities who could be cited.

    Highlighting the word ‘find’ had no sinister motivations Heather, so ease up on the conspiracy theories. I simply wanted to highlight the fact that we have had numerous such discoveries in the past, with plenty of controversy, debate and disagreement following, and of course some have turned out to be frauds and hoaxes.

    As to dating, I have said nothing about a mistake. I am simply saying that we must take the purported dating of Ida with a grain of salt, and keep an open mind on how the discussion may progress – a fully scientific way to proceed I would have thought.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  26. I haven’t read Nature’s Destiny myself, but I have read several reviews by concerned creationists who were big fans of his first book yet find this one to be very problematic…….

    Heather Bates

  27. Heather Bates: “it’s currenty dated at 47 million years – do you believe a mistake has been made?”

    Certainly a mistake has been made. How do I know? Because the Bible is quite clear that land animals were only formed c. 6,000 years ago.

    Clearly you reject God’s eyewitness account, but the physical evidence on-the-whole tells against you. For instance, there is now strong evidence that fossilised dinosaur bones, conventionally dated as tens of millions of years old, have flexible and fragile organic material, including collagen preserved within them. Presumably you will object to me simply assuming the Bible is true to reach my conclusion, but to maintain your long-ages paradigm in the light of this evidence, you must also do a very similar thing; but replace faith in The Bible with faith in long-ages:

    1). We know that this dinosaur fossil is 80 million years old.
    2). Calculations based on operational (observational) science indicate that no collagen should survive anywhere near that long.
    3). Collagen has been identified in these dinosaur fossils. Therefore:
    4). There must be a mistaken assumption in the calculations mentioned in Point 2)—though we don’t know for sure how, collagen must be able to survive for 80 million years. How do we know that? Because
    5). We know that this dinosaur fossil is 80 million years old.

    Notice how points 1) and 5) are identical, revealing the circularity.

    Mansel Rogerson

  28. Thanks Heather

    Oh dear, here we go again. How many times do we see this scenario played out on this website – and others like it? The other side comes in with the usual bluff and bluster. When challenged, and asked to come up with the goods, true confessions emerge.

    Imagine if I were pontificating like some sort of authority on, say, The God Delusion. My critics ask me, “But have you actually read it?” To which I sheepishly reply, “No, but I read a few reviews of it.” I wouldn’t expect my critics to be wildly impressed by that sort of response. I don’t think they would run for cover from such an admission. Yet that is the best your side can come up with, time and time again. So very typical, and so very tedious.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  29. Heather asks, “don’t you find a 47 million year old primate fossil in such a great condition to be an amazing discovery?” Yes I do. In fact I find it too amazing to be true. A more reasonable explanation would be that it is nowhere near that old.

    Ewan McDonald.

  30. The academic and scientific community should objectively examine creationism, IDism, and evolution to uncover errors in fact and logic and dispassionately publish the results. But history tells us that science establishments have a tendency to enforce conformity to current paradigms – despite compelling contrary evidence and logic – e.g.: Semmelweis; Phlogiston; etc.

    History now repeats in the current creation/ID/evolution case. The creationists and allies usually argue facts, logic and science – but evolutionists often resort to ridicule and ruthless enforcement of their stranglehold on academia and the media, rather than refuting the creationist scientific argument and logic. Many documented examples of the science establishment’s bullying ways re creation and ID are in the documentary “Expelled”, and in the book “Slaughter of the Dissidents – Volume I – The Shocking Truth About Killing The Careers Of Darwin Doubters”.

    The big problem remains, in Denton’s words: “Evolution (is) A Theory in Crisis”. Evolution should have been scrapped long ago as inadequate, but evolution is the major justification for denying god. You see, the issue is not science-v-religion, but it is creation(religion)-v-evolution(religion) – as the more perceptive evolutionists admit.

    Christians need to realise that it is good logical science to believe that the Bible means what it says in Genesis rather than twist it to agree with a theory which allows ‘intellectually fulfilled atheists’ to ‘keep the divine foot out of the door’.

    Peter Newland

  31. Following up this morning’s post re solar system anomalies, here are a few links quickly drawn from Wikipedia (used as a witness usually hostile to the creationist perspective).

    Pluto orbital plane

    Uranus orbit & axial tilt

    Solar system general

    Every planetary body has some uniqueness about it which cannot be explained in a uniformitarian model. Some sets have common characteristics not shared by others (gas giants, ice giants, mineral bodies). Note how various catastrophes are required (eg. an intruder) to explain the current observed status of various bodies.

    Sorry, Thomas, but a uniformitarian assumption fails to account for the observed data.

    John Angelico

  32. See Darwin fossil hyper-hype by Don Batten (Ph.D. biologist), which documents that even some evolutionists are skeptical of the hype.

    Even a non-christian like Andrew Bolt is on to the hype:

    “This is a wonderful find,” said the chief executive officer of the Australian Science Media Centre, Susannah Eliott. “But the excessive spin appears to be more about selling a book and a TV program than communicating good science.”…

    Jorn Hurum, the Norwegian palaeontologist who led the fossil research, has expressed satisfaction with the PR campaign. ”Any pop band is doing the same,” he told The New York Times. “We have to start thinking the same way in science.”

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  33. Dear Bill.

    Thank you for your comments particularly in the last paragraphs regarding natural selection doing away with the need for God. I am certainly no expert but I have found my faith have grown enormously when I accepted the bible literally.
    As I understand, evolution would propose that new variations can happen when new information “happens” within an organism to redirect its function. After the fall we do not see the creation of new information but the loss of information, decay, death and disease. This certainly does not lead to new species developing.
    Natural selection, on the other hand would have certain genetic variations within a species being either favoured or at a disadvantage when conditons change. We may see variation but not new species developing. I think we see evidence of natural selection but certainly no evidence for the quantum leap to evolution. I agree that iv evolution could be proven then it would do away with our need for a Creator to whom we must all answer. Hence the desparate effort to locate the missing link.
    The amount of information God has placed in a single cell organism is immense. A very helpful book I read was
    “Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome” Dr J.C Sanford. Available form Creation Ministries International. This helped me understand the fallacy of evolution.

    Yours Faithfully
    Richard Jardine, Box Hill, Melbourne Vic.
    P.S. This is the first time I have written. I attended the talk you gave at the Mens Convention at Belgrave Heights earlier this month. Keep up the good work.

  34. One of my favourite Christian songs is “My God is an Awesome God”.

    Whether God created the universe in 7 days or 7 billion years or any other time frame, He is still an “Awesome” God.

    Whether God created the universe from nothing and put everything in its place or whether He started a process that evolved to what we have today, He is still an “Awesome” God.

    My God is so “Awesome” that He could have made the universe in any way He wanted to.

    I like the sense of order that flows from the concept of an evolutionary universe.

    I like the sense of grandeur that flows from a Creationist universe.

    I personally favour an evolutionary method of creation.

    I can see the hand of God in every aspect of our universe and the real shame about the debate over the creation of the universe and of life itself is that so many of the theories have been developed by people trying to belittle Gods role.

    Whenever discussing evolution or Big Bang or any of the many ‘scientific’ theories for the creation of the universe and of life (these are often party topics) I am always quite content to concede that a particular theory could be right simply because God is so “Awesome” that He could have used any method to create the universe.

    Most proponents of these thories can’t reconcile that God is behind the creation of everything and when I am prepared to accept their theory, but with the addition of God as the ultimate Creator, this often so unsettles them that the debate dies off.

    My God is an Awesome God!

    John Ryan

  35. John Ryan,
    My God is an awesome God.
    My God is an all-knowing God.
    My God is a truthful God.
    When my God says he made the heavens and the earth and everything in them in six days what else can I do but believe that this is how my God created.
    Is your God truthful and all-knowing too, or is he a God who misleads us by making statements that are not correct?
    Peter Newland

  36. The god who used evolution requiring millions of years worth of death and suffering is not an “Awesome God.” Such would be a cruel and capricious god. And as Peter Newland says, such a god would also be a deceptive god given that the true God has clearly told us how He created and it didn’t involve evolution or millions of years.

    Ewan McDonald.

  37. I challenge those here who have obviously failed to actually read and absorb God’s Word, to go back and actually study it and see what He wrote. The biggest clue that you’ve obviously disregarded God’s Word and fallen for the “just so” evolutionary fairy tales is this;

    My God is so awesome that He created the world and everything in it, in six, literal, 24 hour, days. As He states in a straightforward manner, (so that there can be no confusion) – in His Word the Bible. For those who still doubt this, after reading it in English, perhaps you should do some study of Hebrew and read it in the original language format instead of “conforming to this world” and accepting the evolutionary dogma at face value.

    Glen Grady

  38. Several correspondents here assert that we must accept the whole Bible as the literal word of God. But why should this be so?

    The books of the Bible were written by human beings, and the various writings were put together into one book (well two actually) by early Christian leaders after much argument and debate. It wasn’t handed down by God as a completed work. So why should we necessarily believe that every single word comes from God, or that He guided the writers to create a definitive history of creation?

    The alternative interpretation is that the creation story portrayed in the Bible was nothing more than human ideas about how the world came to be, based on the knowledge available at the time.

    Creationists believe that the Noah story of a global flood is real. But a global flood is impossible unless you are prepared to put aside everything we know today and imagine a world of catastrophic plate tectonics that defies the laws of physics and energy. The creationist explanations for where the water came from and where it went afterwards read like some science fiction fantasy.

    Surely we have an obligation to use our human intelligence to critically examine those parts of the Bible that make no sense as literal truth in the light of today’s knowledge of the world, even though they may have been perfectly satisfactory explanations to the natural philosophers of the past.

    I know such thoughts will be regarded as heresy by “biblical Christians” who adhere to the “all or nothing” school of thought. I’m sure such beliefs are sincerely held, but so are mine.

    Thomas Chow, Sydney

  39. Thanks Thomas

    Leaving aside the issue of creation for the moment, the issue of Scripture needs to be carefully examined. If you are claiming to be a Christian, then you should have a high view of Scripture. You need to take seriously what Scripture says about Scripture. Christians should have a very high view of Scripture because Jesus and the disciples did.

    The biblical teaching of course is that the Bible has dual authorship – divine and human. Yes humans wrote the various books of the Bible (some 40 authors responsible for 66 books), but they did so as they were borne along by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21). And 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God”. The term is theopneustos, meaning God-breathed. Scripture is breathed out from God. It originates from him. Scripture is the product of God’s creative breath.

    And of course we get on very slippery ground when we ask, “So why should we necessarily believe that every single word comes from God?” If you think only some words are from God, then which ones? And who decides? Do we just pick and choose those portions of Scripture which make us happy or comfortable, and ignore those that don’t?

    So the real issue here is one of biblical authority, and whether we take the claims of Scripture regarding itself at face value. Or do we decide that we know better than the biblical authors?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  40. Thomas, if you want a great example of “science fiction fantasy” just examine the claims of big-bang cosmology. Why don’t you use your “human intelligence to critically examine” some of the more outlandish claims of naturalistic science rather than using it to undermine Scripture?

    Ewan McDonald.

  41. It may be a case of fear and of private interpretation of Scripture to box God in for a 6,000 year old creation or whatever the figure is. I likewise do not believe in evolution as I see it as a philosophy rather than scientific. However, seeking a very young Earth, allegedly based upon Scripture, as some of the contributors are saying, is a most certainly a way for all of us to lose the battle in the secular world even amongst late primary school students!

    Here is a link to Michael Baker’s Thomistic view on evolution as perhaps a better way for us to view things:

    And here is a second one which is more comprehensive:

    Michael Webb

  42. Hi Thomas,

    Respectfully, allow me to use your logic with a different biblical subject and see if you want to still argue the same way:

    Christians believe that the Gospel story of a virgin birth is real. But a virgin birth is impossible unless you are prepared to put aside everything we know today and imagine a world of reproduction that defies the laws of biology. The Christian explanations for where the pregnancy came from and the events surrounding it read like some science fiction fantasy.

    If God is truly to be God, then we should not limit Him, especially when He is the One making the declarations. We weren’t there at creation. There are trillions of stars for every single person on the earth (and some for married people as well… 😉 ) I want to be a little circumspect when talking about the one who rules the universe, how about you?

    …and Michael, I fear it is theistic evolutionists who are more likely to place God in a box – the one marked ‘naturalism’.

    Mark Rabich

  43. Of course, despite Michael Webb’s claims, no one is trying “to box God in”. Rather, we are trying to box ourselves in to believe God’s propositional revelation in Scripture, as per the correct grammatical-historical interpretation. That is, the way it was understood by Josephus and later Jewish scholars, most church fathers including Basil the Great, and all the Reformers including Luther and Calvin — and Thomas Aquinas himself!
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  44. Dear Jonathan, yes we are bound to look first to the literal sense of Scripture as you say, however if there be a seeming conflict between the literal sense and of scientific fact (not theory eg evolution which I do NOT believe in at all) we must look to the other senses in which Scripture is understood.
    The problem with liberalism is that it ignores the literal sense and moves to ideological and psychological projections straight up.
    As for Luther and Calvin I wouldn’t put them in the same league as Aquinas. I would put St Francis de Sales as the great clarifier and corrector for many people who were taken in by Calvin’s ideas at that time.
    Michael Webb

  45. Mark,

    That’s a very poor analogy. No one tries to analyse the mechanics of Christ’s conception to see how a virgin birth might be explained by natural events. It’s accepted as a mystery of faith and a supernatural intervention by God.

    The Flood story is quite different. Millions of words have been written trying to explain how a global flood could happen by natural forces. If it was simply explained away as a miraculous suspension of the laws of nature by God there would be nothing to debate. My point was that the flood is portrayed by creationists to be responsible for the earth’s terrain, topology and geology based on natural events occurring in a very short space of time. But such an explanation is quite simply irrational and contradicts everything we know about the earth.


    Stating that Scripture must be true because Scripture proclaims itself to be true is surely begging the question.

    You have misrepresented me is asking “Do we just pick and choose those portions of Scripture which make us happy or comfortable, and ignore those that don’t?” Christianity at its most basic could be defined by acceptance of the Nicene Creed, which nowhere refers to any belief in Old Testament cosmology.

    So my challenge remains – why should we believe that every word in the Bible is to be taken literally, particularly the Book of Genesis, when common sense and today’s advanced knowledge convince us that such stories can’t be true? Why should we think that Genesis was God-inspired and meant to be a literal description of creation, rather than merely a story meant for simpler times and cultures?

    Let me ask you Bill. Do you believe in a global flood and recent creation? If not, why not, when it’s written in Scripture?

    Thomas Chow, Sydney

  46. But Michael, are you absolutely sure that it is a “scientific fact” that the earth and universe are of a greater age than that indicated by Scripture? This is the issue you need to resolve before you abandon what is the “correct grammatical-historical interpretation” (to borrow Jonathan’s words) of the Genesis creation account.

    The fact is that not only is it not a fact, but it’s not even scientifically possible to prove an age for events that happened in the past anyway. Age is not a substance that can be directly measured. Estimates of past age always involve assumptions and assumptions can be wrong so why the need to reinterpret Scripture to accommodate something that can’t even be proven right or wrong?

    As one evolutionist conceded:

    “The Genesis account of Creation may even be the correct one but there is no way science can prove or disprove that, and the creationists know it.”

    MacInnis, P. [a ‘prominent Australian science educator’ who has taught evolution at the Australian Museum],
    ‘The seven types of science’, 22 August 2002.

    Ewan McDonald.

  47. Thanks Thomas

    But of course now you are trying to pull a fast one on us – the old sleight of hand trick: “So my challenge remains – why should we believe that every word in the Bible is to be taken literally”. That of course is not at all what you asked in your earlier comment. This is what you asked: “So why should we necessarily believe that every single word comes from God”? There is a big difference between these two questions, as you would – or should – well know.

    Of course no one is saying every word of the Bible is to be understood in a literal sense. This is just basic stuff 12-year-olds would know. When Jesus said he was the bread of life, he was not claiming to be a loaf of pumpernickel bread. He of course was making use of metaphorical language there. Such types of language have to be taken into account when we read Scripture.

    But your first question is the real question, so I again ask you: Is the Bible God’s word or is it not? Or are only parts of it His word? If so, which ones, and how do you determine this?

    I raise these rather basic matters, because it was you who claimed to be a Christian. I of course expect atheists to deny that Scripture is the Word of God. But when a Christian makes similar claims, then I need to ask some hard questions.

    And as I said, it is because Jesus and the NT writers took such a very high view of Scripture that we should as well.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  48. What does Thomas Chow care about the Nicene Creed anyway? In any case, the creeds were really designed as negative belief statements to refute heresies of the day. The Nicene Creed specifically dealt with the Arian heresy, hence its declaration of Jesus as “true God from true God”. There was no need to deal with creation because most of the church of the day had no doubt about what the Bible meant.

    But later on, when some sections of the church were trying to turn six days into one day, the Westminster Confession declared:

    It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  49. Thomas,

    Of course, I’m biased, but I think it’s a very good analogy. I could have picked any one from a number of miracles from Scripture, but I deliberately chose one central to the Christian faith – in particular one that many anti-Christians doubt. (I’m not saying that of you, it’s just I’ve heard it often enough that people reject Christ on the basis of the believability of the Incarnation via virgin birth.) And, as you say, “millions of words have been written”, but why do you not see the similarity in trying to figure out “the mechanics of Christ’s conception” (which you say is “accepted as a mystery of faith and a supernatural intervention by God”) and how the flood took place? It’s clear both require suspension of natural laws in some respect. The criteria you place on one vs the other (in terms of being acceptable) are not based on actual knowledge, just assumptions and worldviews.

    My point is that both need to be accepted by faith, but for some arbitrary reason you think it is right to reject one but not the other. Just why do you think God is limited?

    Your statement “everything we know about the earth” is just an example of you giving the speculative ideas of men more credence than the words of God. A million million words could be written but who is authoritative? No-one can go back in time, no matter what they say. And you conveniently neglect to notice things about Mary’s pregnancy that ran very much according to “natural events” (eg. nine months of pregnancy) and yet the event still contradicts “everything we know about” reproduction. What things look like afterwards isn’t really always going to be relevant to ‘proving’ the miracle one way or the other. Either God can intervene in any situation and ‘leave’ it a certain way or He can’t.

    And since you appear to accept the virgin birth of Jesus, you should remember that he most definitely believed in a flood: Matthew 24:36-40

    Oh, and one last thing – your reply to Bill betrays a common misunderstanding of Scripture – the Bible is not one book, but 66 that paint a consistent picture of God. Using Scripture to confirm Scripture is perfectly valid and confirms its authority.

    Mark Rabich

  50. Michael Webb, Francis de Sales was hardly coherent. Be that as it may, the church has made the same mistake before of denying the objective meaning of Scriptural text, as well as centuries of church tradition, to fit in with the prevailing science fad. I refer to the battle with Galileo, where the church started off right, but then was hoodwinked by the Aristotelian scientists at the university into thinking that he was contradicting Scripture. See also Galileo Quadricentennial: Myth vs fact.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  51. Dear Ewan

    A factor to bring in here is that human beings can often be impatient and due to our search for certainty sometimes let fears about our own positions to cause us to try and get an airtight and precise answer for everything.
    Conceptualising in our limited human minds about an older Earth compared to a young earth of 6 or 7 thousand years or so is often harder for those who have a certain position on Scripture but let’s remember that larger time frames are not a problem for an infinitely patient, unhurried omniscient and omnipotent God. We human being can often get stuck in wishful thinking for security, yet to me it seems babyish to get hung up on a very young Earth.
    You and many other here have probably gone into this issue a lot more than I. My understanding of Christian Faith if not focussed on chronology from a scientific view but rather from a salvation history view which is about Faith, Hope and Love. I am dogmatic about that and about finding, cherishing and growing Christ within me not only by fearing offending Him but more importantly by attempting to live the Faith out each day.
    I cannot picture God having a Teutonic tantrum on Judgment Day about if I ticked the box to say the Earth is 7 thousand years old.
    The Beatitudes show the qualities that God is looking for in us and all the Scriptures lead to the high point of John’s Gospel of the love relationship that God has for us and we need to have for God and neighbour.
    Modern man will often tune out when provided with the Beatitudes in preference for speculative ideas about the Earth’s age. The 2000 years of Christian tradition is about what people, even Christians, often run away from.
    Michael Webb

  52. Dear Michael Webb,
    God can and will forgive incorrect answers re the age of the earth – Jesus said whoever comes to him he will not throw out. But, as you say, “You and many other here have probably gone into this issue a lot more than I”. Hence I suggest that you do some homework – is a good start.
    We all need to be careful not to lead others astray. We need to grow to maturity from our babyish ways and recognize that God is a god of Truth and Justice just as much as He is a god of Faith, Hope and Love.
    Faith Hope and Love are good majors, but please do some homework and ask more detailed questions re science, truth and justice. Look at things from the viewpoint of the non-Christian who has been taught that science disproves the Bible. For example: our society is basically secular humanist atheist. So how do you explain the Gospel?
    What is the logical consequence of believing that:
    * Adam and Eve never existed?
    * Noah’s flood never happened?
    * The Earth is billions of years old?
    * Genesis 2 contradicts Genesis 1?
    Any of these beliefs directly contradict the plain meaning of the Bible as originally written and cause huge problems to any Christian who tries to give coherent logical answers to:
    • The origin of evil, death and suffering. If God created via millions of years of death suffering disease and extinction – then He’s a cruel monster?
    • Why blame Adam for sin and death? If death is part of the original creation, then death is natural rather than ‘the last enemy to be destroyed’. And if sin only causes ‘spiritual’ death then why did Jesus have to die a real death? Or was his death and resurrection just spiritual?
    Atheists explicitly argue, correctly and logically, that if Genesis is historically wrong then Jesus is out of a job.
    Yet the whole edifice of billions of years of evolution are built on a flimsy foundation of assumptions – basically a faith assumption that no god exists – so why tack ‘God’ onto anti-god assumptions? It is more logically consistent to have faith in the assumption that an omnipotent god created everything as the Bible claims. So please do some homework – it is not a side issue.
    Peter Newland

  53. Getting back to “Ida” briefly … before one accepts the media hype about some alleged new piece of scientific evidence, I usually recommend having a Bex and a good lie down … and I’m pleased that people are now starting to see through all that hype and exaggeration … for example:

    “Ida’s unveiling was highly scripted (with some “Barnum and Bailey aspects,” said paleontologist Richard Kay of Duke University). More important, it can now be said the findings may well have been significantly overstated. We won’t know for sure until further research is done. But if this event causes the public to distrust science and media, that distrust is well placed.”
    — ref:

    “”This fossil has been hailed as the eighth wonder of the world. Frankly I’ve got 10 more in my basement,” said Chris Beard, a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.”
    — ref:

    “Though the term “missing link” has currency with the public and pundits (not to mention creationists), to professionals and paleontologists, it is a myth.”
    — ref:

    These kind of “missing link” stories come with great hoopla and self-congratulatory mainstream media back-slapping … and go ever so quietly some months or years later, consigned to the dustbin of science history as just one more piece of “evidence” that seemed to point one way one day, but didn’t fit tomorrow’s theories (or tomorrow’s new contradictory evidence) another day and so are unceremoniously discarded.

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  54. I find it surprising that when a supposed “Missing link” is found the media treats it with great exposure and treats it as a matter of fact. In fact the theory of evolution is just that, a theory. It is full of “missing links” and assumptions. For instance the theory of evolution states that all life evolved from single celled organisms.
    With recent advances in microscopy it is evident that even on the single cell level the complexity is so great that it is hard to imagine that such a complex yet small single celled structure could have evolved by chance given the right conditions. the principle of irreducible complexity shows that evolution cannot account for the complex structure that the single cell is known to be.
    Looking further into the problem on a molecular level it becomes more problematic to assume that evolution could be conceivable, given the complexity of the DNA and RNA chemical structures.
    Chemistry throws too many obstacles for such complex molecules to be formed by chance from a primordial soup.
    There are many speculations about the probability of such complex molecules by chance. In my opinion even given an eternity, the complexity of life not only on a molecular and microscopic scale, but also what we see with the naked eye is such that the probability of life coming about by chance is zero.
    Mr Medhat Youakim

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