Summaries of the contents of this section
In order to reconcile the appearance of great age to a presumed reality of a few thousand years, 19th-century naturalist Philip Gosse suggested that the world was created so as to look as if it had a prior history. Modern creationists have taken a similar view. By contrast, Charles Darwin’s problem was the appearance of design in the living world. He sought to reconcile appearance to the presumed reality that life was not created, arguing that the continual improvements of natural selection had produced a world that merely looked as if it had been designed. But a theory that is false to appearance is itself likely to be false. This article argues that, by definition, creation brings into existence only that which cannot come into existence of itself and therefore the created world would not have had an appearance of age. Moreover, since the universe no longer exists in its original form, its appearance now is not that of the original creation.
The Earth appears to be, on the one hand, much less than 4.55 billion years old, on the other, much more than 6,000 years old. But can we be more precise? Recent stratigraphic studies suggest we can. Sedimentological evidence shows that the rhythmic alternation of chalk and marl in some Cretaceous sequences are not ‘Milankovitch’ cycles, but annual. While this evidence is not sufficient to enable dating of the whole Cretaceous period, the duration of the chalk sequences appears to have been inflated by as much as 20,000 times.
Science needs to consider other possibilities than evolution by accident in one corner and creation of immutable species in the other. As a vehicle for transmitting design instructions, DNA itself shouts design, and particular examples of it indicate an astonishing ability to re-order genes in a purposeful way. This article looks at evidence that the biggest changes in the history of life have been the result of genetic sub-programs being switched on or off by regulatory systems.
This recently described Devonian fish has been hailed as one of the most important fossils ever found, plugging a major gap in the story of how aquatic life invaded the land. Is the fanfare justified? To some extent. It’s an important fossil, and it does provide some evidence for a link between fish and tetrapods. But the first tetrapods were aquatic, and there is no evidence that aquatic tetrapods ever became fully terrestrial. Trackways of presumably aquatic tetrapods precede the appearance of Tiktaalik. So far as they are known from body fossils, they were evolutionary dead-ends.
The idea that the order in which terrestrial animals were fossilised reflects the order in which they succumbed to rising Flood waters was proposed by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris in The Genesis Flood, a book that made a huge impact amongst American evangelicals and is regarded by creationists as their founding document. Whitcomb and Morris backed up their hypothesis with a number of predictions, which this article tests.