Old earth geologists are fond of claiming that the young earth model is unscientific because it doesn’t make any predictions about future discoveries. They often characterize young earthers as believing in “just so stories” like those written for children by Rudyard Kipling. The defining characteristic of Kipling’s stories was that there was no way to test them to see if they were true. Children were simply expected to accept them as they were. They were “just so” and nothing more. This is the view that many old earth geologists have of the young earth view, but it is far from the truth.
In reality, the young earth model makes many predictions about future discoveries. For example, the claim that the entire universe is less than 10,000 years old predicts that we will eventually discover a method by which light from distant galaxies could reach earth within that time frame. Now, you may be of the opinion that such a method could not possibly exist, but that is beside the point. The fact is that the discovery of such a method is a prediction of the young earth model. And there are other predictions as well such as the prediction that the universe will be proven to have had a beginning or that we will discover a method by which the layers of the earth could have formed rapidly or that evidence will be found of men living with dinosaurs. These are all predictions of the young earth creationist model, and one of the most controversial predictions of this model is the prediction that dinosaur fossils will be found to have things in them that could not have lasted for millions of years.
In 2005, Mary Schweitzer made a discovery that has sparked a frenzy of additional findings confirming the prediction that dinosaur fossils will be found to have things in them that could not have lasted for millions of years. Ms. Schweitzer’s discovery was featured on the program “60 Minutes,” and you can watch a short clip of that program in this video:
As you can see, the discovery which Ms. Schweitzer made was the discovery of soft tissue within the fossilized bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And this was not a single, isolated incident. The video clip shows her finding similar soft tissue in the bones of a supposedly 80 million year old hadrosaur as well. Soft tissue has also been found in a “70 million year old” mosasaur, a “150 million year old” archaeopteryx, a “190 million year old” sauropod embryo, a triceratops horn and more. Ever since Ms. Schweitzer’s discovery, scientists have been finding dinosaur soft tissue in just about every fossil that they examine for its presence.
Of course, the discovery of so much soft tissue poses a problem for the old earth model. According to a 2007 article by Ms. Schweitzer, “The presence of original molecular components is not predicted for fossils older than a million years,” and a 2008 article in the journal Science explained that collagen could not be expected to last more than 700,000 years even when preserved at near freezing temperatures. This implies that the existence of these soft tissues contradicts the old earth model, and the old earth community began searching for ways to explain how soft tissue could survive for millions of years.
The most recent attempt at an explanation is Ms. Schweitzer’s 2013 paper claiming that high concentrations of iron would allow these tissues to last much longer than previously thought possible. There are several problems with Ms. Schweitzer’s proposal such as the fact that some of the fossils found to have soft tissue were found in sediments that did not have high iron concentrations. But perhaps the most conclusive evidence that fossils containing soft tissue are less than one million years old is the presence of carbon 14 in those tissues. Ms. Schweitzer’s suggestion that the presence of iron explains the existence of soft tissue in ancient fossils does not account for the fact that these fossils also contain measurable amounts of carbon 14 which decays at a steady rate regardless of the presence of iron.
In 2006, Bob Enyart of Real Science Radio offered Ms. Schweitzer’s boss, paleontologist Jack Horner, a $23,000 dollar grant to his museum if he would submit the T. Rex fossil containing soft tissue to an independent lab for a blind test of the amount of carbon 14 in that fossil. Mr. Horner stated in a recorded conversation that he would not accept the offer because he was afraid that the test might embolden young earth creationists.
Then, in 2012, Thomas Seiler gave a presentation to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in which he documented his findings of measurable carbon 14 in 8 different dinosaur fossils. When the organizers of the AGU conference realized the implications of Mr. Seiler’s discoveries, they promptly deleted all reference to his presentation from their website. Those visiting their site today will find that presentation #5 is missing from the list of abstracts. Thankfully a screenshot of the original list of abstracts was captured by a group of young earth creationists before it was deleted, and it can be readily found online. A video of Mr. Seiler’s presentation is also available, and you can watch it in this clip:
With the combined evidence of the existence of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils and the presence of carbon 14 in dinosaur fossils, it is abundantly clear that these fossils were formed mere thousands of years ago and not 50 or more million years ago as old earth geologists claim.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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