All the world’s fossils are in the wrong place, apparently

Twitter creationist @PiltdownSupermn posted this article to his blog, but neglected to enable the comments section.

So I’ve pinged back to the original posting here and included my reply below:

This is by far and away the most common misconception about evolution theory. Indeed it is so common, the fact that it has been explained over and over again also stands as the best example of how disinterested those who make it are, in understanding why it is the exact opposite of a killer blow against evolution, which they nevertheless insist it is.

Firstly, it’s important to state, that if Darwin’s original theory had never existed and—indeed—nothing at all was known about fossils, the entirely separate field of genetics would still prove decent with modification. Let that fact detonate in your brain for a second and consider what it means. You can, literally, forget everything about fossils—ignore them completely—and still demonstrate natural selection, using the mutually corroborative, yet entirely independent evidence of DNA. No dinosaur fossils, no Burgess Shale, no sedimentary deposits—nothing.

You can take radiometric dating and throw it in the bin. You can also throw out every single fossil, dated using this double-redundant method. Every trilobite, every Homo ergaster skull is completely unnecessary. You can bomb every last Natural History Museum in the world, from 35 thousand feet, turning every last exhibit into dust—and the FACT would still remain, that every single strand of Deoxyribonucleic Acid, inside every cell of every living creature on the planet, would still contain enough evidence of natural selection, to prove the theory of evolution—INDEPENDENT of the (now demolished) fossil record.

Despite this, the so-called “problems with the fossil record” remain at the heart of the creationist conspiracy. So to address directly this false notion that there are “fossils in the wrong place”, let us consider why the explanation for why this is continually aired by creationists, who openly admit to having no understanding the vast time scales involved in producing fossils to begin with.

We live on a ball of molten lava, with a dry crust of rubble cooling on the surface. The movement of this surface on the slippery, violent core underneath, causes huge sections of this crust to grind against each other. We call this plate tectonics. When these plates crunch and grind, enormous pressures build up, which are eventually released causing earthquakes and volcanos. This results in giant sections of the earth’s crust being lifted up and split. Plates which once joined together are then separated and over millions of years, as they are forced apart.

The plant and animal debris, crushed under these enormous pressures, over millions of years, become liquefied. We are currently digging up this black soup and using it to cook food, drive cars, send men into space and justify the invasion of countries with names Republicans can’t pronounce or point to on a map.

The ‘younger’ plant and animal debris, still trapped in the upper layer of the crust and exposed on the surface, or on the ocean floor, represents less than 1% of the material we have any chance of studying. The rarity of material which would eventually become fossilised is enormous. The huge time scales and unique biochemical processes which must take place in the creation of a fossil, makes the finds we already have all the more valuable. The fact that we have so many fossils is an incredibly lucky thing. Most of the living creatures which would eventually become extinct, never stood a chance of becoming fossilised.

So it is not surprising we find fossils in unusual places, out of sequence and jumbled around. They have, after all, been lying around on the ocean floor for a few million years, before resurfacing again in areas which, because of plate tectonics, would later become continents and islands—dry bits of the earth’s crust, above sea level, which we call land. Only then are we given a chance to dig them up and study them.

This explanation, corroborated by a vast, almost overwhelming array of evidence, is dismissed by creationists as a convenient fairy story ‘evolutionists’ are afraid to examine or fully admit to. It is asserted, on exactly zero evidence, that this matter of scientific fact, is an elaborate scam which science has foisted upon the world, in order to ignore the biblical creation narrative contained in Genesis. In other cultures it is the creation story contained in their religious texts. Against this kind of non-reasoning, there is no arguing. You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not reasoned themselves into.

So I end with this simple question back to you. What kind of evidence would it take to convince you, that you are wrong? If you do not know the answer to that, nothing else you might say is a valid scientific statement—no matter how much you want it to be. You are asserting a belief, not stating a fact. Believing something and proving something are two completely different things. And whilst you are entitled to believe whatever you wish, you should not expect other people to believe it for the same reasons which have convinced you—especially in the face of evidence you have already demonstrated you do not understand, which proves you are completely wrong.