Author Archive

Apparently evidence doesn’t exist

Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:34 pm by itsdemtitans

The views of creationists on “evidence” are interesting. Quite often you’ll see organizations like AiG saying that we all have “the same evidence” and what it means to the viewer depends on their worldview. This is best shown by one of their own pictures.

So, according to AiG, all that matters is your worldview. Your worldview determines how you see the evidence. The logical result of this is that evidence, in itself, says nothing. This of course contradicts the very definition of evidence, which google defines as:

the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Thus, if we are to believe creationists, then there’s literally no evidence pointing to anything about our origins. None at all. All we have are bones and rocks and DNA which can be fit to match any preconceived conclusion, but these things do not, in themselves, point to any particular answer.

One must ask, then, why YECs so often push to challenge evolution. Why do they point to the rock record and proclaim “_____ is evidence of a global flood” or “_____ disproves gene duplication” or “_____ points to intelligent design.”? If creationist organizations are right, that evidence is a matter of worldview, then they cannot point to these things and say they are evidence against evolution. They are not evidence of anything, just more raw data that can be mashed into either conclusion.

I understand not all YECs subscribe to the view of places like AiG, and understand what evidence actually means. But when AiG turns around and does exactly this, claiming evidence for their position exists, then they’re contradicting themselves. Either they admit there is no evidence, and thus no genuine conclusions can be reached only assumed from the onset, or evidence does exist, in which case arguing about it being “a matter of worldview” makes no sense.

But of course they’re blind to this contradiction. I doubt that’s a surprise. I’m sure I’m not the first one to notice this contradiction either.

Until next time guys.

Kevin Henke tackles John Woodmorappe’s TAB flood sorting mechanism

Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:42 pm by itsdemtitans

Hey people,

Two blogs in one month, eh? I’ve got a treat for you today. Back in 1983 creationist John Woodmorappe came up with a hypothetical flood sorting mechanism known as Tectonically-Associated Bioprovidences. It was set to explain problems with original ecological zonation hypothesis. In 1998, Geologist Kevin Henke tackled the paper. It reveals better than anything else how incompetent creation “geologists” are. However, it was hidden away in the archive of the Talkorigins newsgroup. After cleaning it up to better fit the format of this forum, I gained permission from Kevin to repost it here. Thanks, Kevin!

It’s a little hard to read without Woodmorappe’s figures in front of you, but there’s still plenty of Gold in it. Enjoy the read!



Response to Woodmorappe’s Claims in his Paper: “A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils”

Kevin R. Henke, August 8, 1998

Note to reader: To fully understand my critique, you will have to obtain a copy of Woodmorappe’s paper and refer to the figures and tables in it.

John Woodmorappe (not his real name) first presented his TAB (Tectonically Associated Biological Provinces) concept in “A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils,” which appeared in the December, 1983 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ). The article was reprinted in his 1993 book, “Studies in Flood Geology.” Woodmorappe attempts to disprove the reliability of index fossils and explain away the geologic time table by evaluating the relationships between 34 groups of index fossils.

First of all, he can’t even get the time ranges of many of the index fossils correct. I randomly checked some of them in his Table 2 and found many errors and improper uses of index fossils: For example, he lists Monograptus with the Ordovician graptolites. However, Monograptus never lived during the Ordovician. It’s a Silurian index fossil! See Shimer and Shrock’s “Index Fossils of North America” (1987, 13th printing) p. 75, 77 or Moore, Lalicker and Fischer’s “Invertebrate Fossils,” McGraw-Hill, 1952, p. 731. As another example, Xenodiscus is a lower Triassic ammonoid(Shimer and Shrock, p. 569). Yet, Woodmorappe lists this fossil with the Permian ammonoids in Table 2. Also Dictyonema is not a suitable index fossil for the Ordovician, because it lived from the Upper Cambrian to the Lower Mississippian (Shimer and Shrock, p. 65).

I could go on.

Everyone makes mistakes, but Woodmorappe’s errors in Table 2 and elsewhere in this paper are too common for him to be a competent geologist. When I pointed this out to Woodmorappe in January 1998, all he could do was to say that he would recheck his references. It’s a little late. This rechecking should have been done in 1983, as part of “peer review” process of CRSQ. Woodmorappe also inappropriately uses rare vertebrate index fossils, such as Dimetrodon and dinosaurs, like Stegosaurus. These vertebrate fossils are very valuable and WHEN they’re found, they are useful. However, Woodmorappe must realize that two of the properties of a truly useful and relevant index fossil are widespread occurrence and frequent preservation.

It’s obvious that he did not consult tables, like the one in Mintz, Leigh W., 1977, “Historical Geology: The Science of a Dynamic Earth”, 2nd ed., Charles E. Merrill Publishing, Columbus, OH, p. 212, before he selected his 34 groups of index fossils. This table does not even recommend using vertebrates, since vertebrates are so rarely preserved. Forams, radiolarians, and other microfossils are much more useful than a large dinosaur that has little chance of being preserved and becoming a fossil. Also forams are found in more diverse aquatic environments than dinosaurs. Forams and other microfossils have a relatively good chance of being preserved, because of their diversity and small size. Dinosaurs are clearly inferior index fossils. Geologists learn all of this in second semester freshman Historical Geology 102 or related intro classes. It’s a wonder that Woodmorappe can draw any conclusions at all from his work because Table 2 indicates that he can’t read the contents of a simple paleontology book.

Woodmorappe responded to this paragraph through private email to Karl Crawford and me by simply stating:

“His [Henke’s] claim that I use ‘bad’ index fossils such as dinosaurs shows that he [Henke] does not know what he is talking about, or else he is deliberately trying to snow-job you. Everyone knows that dinosaurs can be used as index fossils if they are found.”

As shown above, I NEVER said that dinosaurs were “bad” index fossils. I called them inferior to invertebrates because they are not as well preserved. They are very good index fossils, WHEN they’re found. Also, Woodmorappe largely ignores ocean sediments and continental well cores in this study. Why does he do this? He emailed Karl and me and told us that ocean and well core (borehole) data were largely unavailable when he wrote this article in the early 1980’s. However, continental well core data for the Williston Basin and most other petroleum-producing areas have been available since at least the 1950’s or 1960’s. Useful information on ocean sediments has been available since at least the late 1960’s. Woodmorappe could have updated his article with ocean and continental well core data before it was reprinted in 1993. Ocean sediments are relatively complete back through the Cretaceous and better support evolution and the geologic time table than the largely eroded and nonpreserved continental rocks and sediments for the same time span. If Woodmorappe really wanted to study the validity of the geologic time scale, he should have looked at ocean sediments. Chapter 7 “Fossil Distribution and the ‘Ecological Zonation’ Hypothesis” in “Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings” by old-Earth creationist Daniel E. Wonderly (Interdisciplinary Biblical Institute, 1987) talks about the problems that forams and radiolaria in ocean sediments present for advocates of “Flood Geology.” Wonderly’s chapter not only demolishes creationist claims about “ecological zonations,” but it also would put to death Woodmorappe’s TAB concept.

Well cores and fence diagrams are essential to obtain a 3-D view of the geology of an area. By largely ignoring these data and only looking at surface outcrops, Woodmorappe is certainly not going to find very many cases of index fossils from different periods in one locality, especially since he is only working with 34 groups and many of them are rare vertebrates. Woodmorappe is correct when he says that it is rare to have outcrops in one location that contain more than two geologic periods. This is because most rocks from a given period are very thick, often thousands of feet thick. Except for the Grand Canyon and relatively few other places, you have to drill deep within a site to reach the rocks of another period beneath the one or two on the surface. This is not surprising since the rocks of each geologic period often represent millions of years of net accumulation. In the oil-producing Williston Basin of western North Dakota, for example, it is not uncommon to go to a site with dinosaur fossils, index mollusk fossils, or turtle fossils on the surface ARRANGED IN THEIR EXPECTED GEOLOGICAL ORDER and drill down through hundreds or thousands of feet of rock containing numerous index fossils of different mollusks, brachiopods, etc. from at least SEVEN different geologic periods.

As an example, there are outcrops near the border between Slope and Bowman counties in western North Dakota (Township 135N, Range 106W). In that area, Champsosaurus is located in the Huff Member. Both just above (in the Tullock Formation) and below (in the Pretty Butte Member) are specimens of the index fossil, Viviparus, a snail. (For details, see: Frye, Charles I., 1967, “The Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.) So how did the Champsosaurus get sandwiched between layers with these snails? The outcrops include well-layered bentonite beds, which are weathered volcanic ash deposits. Also, the Huff Member typically contains very water soluble gypsum crystals. How did the ash beds settle and form extensively lateral layers during a violent Flood? Why weren’t the gypsum crystals dissolved and washed away by the Flood waters? Oil wells throughout the two counties go down into the Paleozoic, where brachiopods, trilobites and other marine invertebrates, many of them as index fossils, are present. You can see the intact fossils in the miles of drill cores from the Basin that are stored in Grand Forks, ND. It’s easy for Woodmorappe to draw false conclusions when he’s only working in one or two dimensions by studying outcrops (i.e., the surface) rather than working in three dimensions by studying well cores or using fence diagrams. If he was thinking in 3-D and using a larger number of index fossils with the correct time ranges, he wouldn’t be drawing such bad conclusions, such as: “index fossils shun each other geographically” (p. 154).

There’s no shunning in at least the Upper Midwest. I browsed through Shimer and Shrock’s list of gastropod index fossils and I easily found EIGHT index fossil species that are useful in the Fort Union and Lance Formations of western North Dakota and Montana. AGAIN, I was ONLY looking at GASTROPOD (“snail”) index fossils from ONE book and I was able to find: Viviparus raynoldsianus, Lunatia subcrassa, Campelona multistriatum, Valvata subumbilicata, Drepanochilus americanum, Pleurolimnaea tenuicostata, Planorbis planoconvexus, and Cylichna scitula. Woodmorappe incorrectly suggests in his article that index fossils are too spread out from each other to be reliable. Well, that might be true IF you’re only looking at a few of them and many of them are poorly preserved (i.e., rare) vertebrates! But, if you use common sense, as many INVERTEBRATES as possible (including down to the species level), and ocean and continental well cores, Woodmorappe’s assault on the geologic column crumbles.

Figure 1 on p. 135 is a bar graph that shows the percentages of fossil families and genera that are found in only one geologic period, just two periods and so on all the way up to the percentage of families and genera found in all 11 Phanerozoic periods. The bar graph shows that about 80% of some 19,805 fossil genera evaluated by Woodmorappe and over 30% of some 2,617 fossil families evaluated by Woodmorappe are restricted to one geologic period. That’s a lot of potential index fossils! Less than 7% of the genera and about 30% have life spans that include three or more periods. The immediate question that I have is how such a violent world-wide Flood could manage to so segregate or keep the fossils segregated. Why aren’t the vast majority of fossil families and genus found in 8 or more geologic periods? Woodmorappe attempts to deal with this creationist problem in this paper, but fails in my opinion through special pleading and the use of straw people arguments.

Woodmorappe also warns his readers that the genera and family results in Figure 1 may be biased because of subjective and inconsistent genera and family classifications and “circular reasoning” (p. 135-136). Even if minor adjustments are needed in taxonomic classifications or if the often touted and rarely supported creationist claims of “circular reasoning” are real in a few cases, the data in Figure 1 are clearly consistent with the geologic column. The fossil groups are segregated because they lived and died at different times, and they EVOLVED!

Woodmorappe notes that further exploration sometimes leads to the expansion of the life span of an index fossil. An example may be found in Mintz, 1977, p. 211, which states that the bryozoan Archimedes was once thought to only have lived during the Mississippian period. However, it’s now known to occasionally occur in Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks. Therefore, Woodmorappe (p. 136) argues that the results in Figure 1 may not be final.

Paleontologists are very familiar with this problem. This is why they look for fossil assemblages in previously unexplored regions rather than just relying on single index fossils. Geologists argue that using just one index fossil for a previously unexplored outcrop is unwise because there is a chance that the fossil may have lived earlier or later in this area than in other areas of the world. This could result in the improper dating of newly discovered sedimentary rocks (see Mintz, 1977, p. 210-217). This is why geologists use fossil assemblages of 5, 10, 24 or even more fossils. The chances that ALL 10, 24 or whatever number of members of a fossil assemblage lived in an unexplored area before or after they lived everywhere else in the world are remote. It does not surprise me that Woodmorappe doesn’t talk extensively about REAL WORLD fossil assemblages in this paper, because in the hands of early 19th century geologists, fossil assemblages were important in killing Flood Geology.

On Map 36, Woodmorappe plots “localized occurrences” of Jurassic ammonoids, Lower Carboniferous corals, Silurian brachiopods and graptolites and Cambrian trilobites on maps of Nevada, Utah, and Great Britain. He states (p. 150) that there are very few localities in these areas where three out of the four fossil groups occur within a few 10’s of miles of each other. But, why would any geologist expect to find locations that have three or four of these groups, since they don’t even have consecutive ages?!

For map 36, Woodmorappe includes Cambrian trilobites, skips the Ordovician, includes Silurian brachiopods and graptolites, skips the Devonian, includes Lower Carboniferous corals, skips the Upper Carboniferous, Permian and Triassic and includes Jurassic ammonoids. Why all the skipping? Woodmorappe’s larger maps (p. 140-146) indicate that Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, and Triassic index fossils are at least present in parts of Great Britain. What would these maps have looked like if Woodmorappe had included a thorough representation of index fossils from four consecutive periods, such as Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian? For creationists, would the results have been too good in illustrating the reliability and usefulness of index fossils?

Woodmorappe constructs some hypothetical examples of his TAB concept in Figure 4. Immediately, I wonder why he is using a hypothetical example rather than a reconstruction of an actual field location, like the Michigan Basin or the Williston Basin. Geologists have derived reliable paleogeographic maps that are useful in oil exploration. Creationists could try reconstructions as well. By not using a real world example, Woodmorappe is not allowing scientists to really evaluate his TAB concept and his claims against orthodox geology. He is being like William Morris Davis, who sat at a desk rather in the field and derived a “cycle of erosion” for landscapes. The “cycle of erosion” proved to have no extensive field support.

Initially, Woodmorappe (p. 158) divides the Phanerozoic into four divisions, I, II, III, and IV, (where, I = Lower Paleozoic, II = Upper Paleozoic, III = Mesozoic, and IV= Cenozoic). The Precambrian is included in I (p. 160). For Woodmorappe’s TAB concept to work, biogeographic zones must be strongly associated with certain tectonic provinces, thus the name: Tectonically Associated Biological [TAB] Provinces. Specifically, he argues (p. 158) that Lower Paleozoic strata would be associated with the most tectonically active areas. The Cenozoic deposits would be least affected by tectonic forces (e.g., Figure 5). Of course, there is no geologic evidence to support such a link. He attempts to argue for a link from information in Table 3 (p. 152-153, 158), but this “link”, if it really exists, could be explained as nothing more than erosional effects.

To argue that Cenozoic-Mesozoic deposits experienced less tectonic activity than Paleozoic deposits, Woodmorappe (p.158) claims that 57.4% of the total volume of Phanerozoic platform sediments are Cenozoic-Mesozoic and only 41.3% of the more tectonically influenced geosynclinal sediments belong to these two Eras. However, these percentages may have no statistical significance for Woodmorappe, since the Paleozoic lasted for about 375 million years and the combined Cenozoic-Mesozoic Eras represent only 225 million years.

Woodmorappe (p. 158) talks about how submarine topography and volcanic activity could affect biogeography. However, according to Woodmorappe’s claims, the Lower Paleozoic strata of Indiana or Iowa should have experienced more tectonic activity than the Cenozoic deposits of California, Oregon and Washington State. No way. For Woodmorappe’s TAB concept to stand even a slight chance of working, areas with rocks containing Lower Paleozoic fossils MUST ALWAYS have sunk further into the Earth’s crust than adjacent areas with rocks with Upper Paleozoic or younger fossils (see Woodmorappe’s paper, p. 155 and following). But, there is no basis to believe that this occurred.

Woodmorappe finally states (p. 158): “It should be emphasized that TAB’s did not arise from trial-and-error migrations [of organisms from one biogeographic province to another] but were present since the Creation and were based on teleological design.” When there’s inadequate scientific evidence, Woodmorappe invokes miracles to prop up his TABs. By comparing Woodmorappe’s Figure 6 with Figure 4, numerous contradictions become apparent. Notice that in Figure 6, Woodmorappe claims that IV/III/II/I is the most abundant TAB with about 28% of the Earth’s land surface. IV/III/II/I in Figure 6 is represented by TAB 3 in Figure 4.

However, his maps in Figure 4 show that this TAB would be relatively rare when compared with TABs 7 (I only), 10 (II only), 14 (IV only), or 5 (III only), since TAB 3 only occurs at the junction where IV, III, II, and I (TABs 7, 10, 5 and 14) meet (Woodmorappe admits that TABs like 3 form at junctions, see p. 162). Geometry 101 dictates that the intersection point of I, II, III, and IV polygons in Figure 4 will be smaller (i.e., a point) than the areas of each of the polygons that are part of the intersection. Therefore, Figure 4 or any other TAB maps that Woodmorappe could cook up dictate that TABs 7, 10, 14, and 5 should cover larger areas than their intersection point 3 or IV/III/II/I. However, Figure 6 indicates that 3 actually has a higher percent of the Earth’s land surface area than 7, 10, 14, or 5. By trying to expand TAB 3 and shrink TABs 7, 10, 14 and 5 to try to make Figures 4 and 6 consistent, Woodmorappe risks producing abundant false TABs like IV/II/III/I, which he admits are nonexistent to rare.

Look carefully at the cross sections in Figure 5 and you will see how currents could easily produce a false TAB of III/IV II in the center of basin II by depositing IV from the left before III from the right. It is only by special pleading and doctoring of the diagram could Woodmorappe eliminate this problem. But, all things are possible when you use imaginary cross sections instead of real ones. In Figure 5, Woodmorappe claims that rocks II and III are separated by a few 10’s of kilometers. Such distances are too short to be effective barriers to many organisms. If erosion did not purge the barriers, the migration of sea birds and terrestrial animals between the two marine environments could easily carry invertebrate eggs, forams, seeds, and other organisms that would cause Permian forams to noticeably mix with Cretaceous clams, like Inoceramus, for example. Thus, the migration of organisms in Figure 5 could also create many false TABs. (See Raup and Stanley, 1978, “Principles of Paleontology,” p. 404f, for discussions on the creative ways in which organisms may cross geographic barriers.)

As a real world example, I have asked Woodmorappe and/or Karl Crawford to apply the TAB concept to the Williston Basin of North Dakota. The Williston Basin contains abundant Late Paleozoic evaporites, which indicate dry climates that are completely incompatible with a raging Flood. Some creationists, like Nutting in his ICR,”Graduate School Thesis,” have,attempted to argue that the evaporites had a hydrothermal origin that was related to volcanism. But, except may be for wind-blown volcanic ash beds, there is no evidence of igneous or metamorphic deposits in the Late Paleozoic rocks of the Williston Basin. Woodmorappe makes more errors with his fictional examples in Figures 7 and 8, which deal with biostratigraphic distributions. In Figure 8, Woodmorappe attempts to show that index fossils are “incompatible” or, in other words, index fossils don’t tend to overlap at field sites. Since he is not basing his arguments on any real world examples in Figures 7 and 8, his arguments are nothing more than invalid straw people. But what makes the situation even worse for him is that he can’t even read his own figures. For example, in Figure 8, Woodmorappe claims that E1, I20; E3, I18; and E20, J14 are “compatible” or overlap stratigraphically. But Figure 7 shows that they don’t!


The conclusions in Woodmorappe’s article are based on the improper use of index fossils, too few fossil groups, other fundamental errors and numerous contradictions between his imaginary figures. Because of these errors and a lack of real world examples in Figure 4, his TAB concept is geologically worthless. Woodmorappe needs to read some Geology 101 and 102 textbooks before he tries to apply his ideas to real geological features, such as the Williston Basin of western North Dakota. If he does, he will probably discover, as geologists did 150-200 years ago, that Flood Geology is crap.

Buried rivers kill Noah’s Flood

Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:43 am by itsdemtitans

How often do you hear creationists say that there’s no evidence for erosion in the geologic record? Well, unfortunately for them, there is, and it’s not just something they can hand-wave away as some product of the Flood. Here, I’m going to show several examples of paleorivers (all images from Glenn Morton’s archived essays, save the last two). These are found everywhere throughout the rock record, at so many levels that it rules out the Phanerozoic as having been produced by a single event, and therefore, falsifies Flood Geology.

Paleorivers are exactly what they sound like; river channels that have been buried and preserved in the rock record. They often show slow meanders and which negate them having formed rapidly on unconsolidated flood sediment.

Here are several images of paleorivers. The name of the strata they’re found in will be listed above each one.


Paleoriver in limestone

This is a paleoriver from the Breckenridge limestone in Texas. Oil wells drilled outside of the channel find limestone at this level, but wells drilled into the channel fail to find any limestone here but instead find the sands and shales deposited by the river. As you can see it meanders tightly and extends for several miles, just as modern rivers do.


Coal paleoriver
Above is a channel in the Harrisburg No. 5 coal in Illinois. The two maps show where the meandering sandstone channel is in two different counties. Here is what the authors have to say about it:

“Figure 4 (modified from a map by Trescott) shows that the No. 5 coal underlies all of the area except for the locality of a meandering channel averaging about three-quarters of a mile in width in the main alluvial valley. ~-Harold R. Wanless, James R. Baroffio, and Peter C. Trescott,”Conditions of Deposition of Pennsylvanian Coal Beds,” Geol. Soc. America Spec. Paper 114 pp 105-142 (1969), p. 115-116, in Charles A. Ross and June R. P. Ross, Geology of Coal, (New York: Hutchinson Ross Publishing Co., 1984, p. 95-96

This once again reflects a meandering channel covering a long distance, just as we see on the surface today. It also sinks the “Floating Forest” theory YECs have for explaining coal seams. If that were true then such channels would not exist, as catastrophic burial of a floating forest or veggimat will not form a gentle meandering channel over such a vast distance.


Above view

Forward view

These two images come from this paper here. They show not just paleorivers, but an entire ancient landscape, dating to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. This deeply incised landscape is cut into the 58.5–56-Myr-old Lamba formation, which consists of marine deltaic deposits whose flat topset units were deposited at sea level . This formation is largely unreflective and consists of mudstones and siltstones with occasional thin sandy layers. The eroded landscape has been infilled by the 2 56–54.5 Myr Flett and Balder formations. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Ancient river drainage basins, which look exactly like the ones on the surface today, will not form under catastrophic conditions enacted on still-unconsolidated flood sediment. But according to YECs the flood sediments were still soft after the Flood to allow the rapid carving of the Grand Canyon. So obviously this feature could not have formed, but here it is.


So, there’s several examples of paleorivers, and this is but a small sample of what’s out there. Paleorivers are found at a wide range of stratigraphic levels. I think the implications of these features are clear. These are surface features, buried under tons of sediment. Why are these such a problem for Flood Geology? Because creationists themselves list a claimed lack of erosion and surface features between layers as one of their top six evidences for a Global Flood. Obviously then, they know things like paleorivers cannot form in their Flood. But there they are. Thus, we’ve falsified Flood Geology yet again.

Comments and criticisms welcome! :)

Chemostratigraphy shows the geologic column is no flood deposit

Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:18 pm by itsdemtitans

The one thing that bugs me about creationism is they rarely put forth any real research (and what they do make is usually revealed to be crap based on shoddy data). They love to point out anomalies such as soft tissue remnants in fossils and claim that it’s flat out impossible for it to be there if the fossils are ancient. There’s no good reason to think this, as the processes which form the rock are far better established than long term tissue decay rates in dinosaur fossils.

But what I consistently notice is they’ll use things like soft tissue to try and advocate their position must be right by default. I mean, how else would you explain these discoveries???

I don’t know. Scientists are only just beginning to find out what mechanisms may play a role in preserving tissue remnants over long periods of time. But what needs to be made absolutely clear, and that creationists just can’t seem to get, is that even if we don’t know how these anomalies came to be, that does not prove their global flood at all. The simple fact is their global flood idea has been falsified over and over, and over, and over again. A falsified model, which I will show as conclusively falsified below, is not the answer.

Now then, how do we know, conclusively, that a global flood as advocated by YECs never happened? It’s all due to this lovely branch of geology known as Chemostratigraphy.

Chemostratigraphy is the study of the chemical variations within sedimentary sequences to determine stratigraphic relationships.(1.) This obscure subdiscipline in geology completely undermined every young-Earth interpretation of the geologic column. Before reading any further, I’d highly advise reading the crash course on chemostratigraphy at AgeofRocks.

To sum it up, Chemostratigraphers can use the ratios of certain stable isotopes, such as Carbon 12 or 13, to determine the chemical make ups of rocks and graph them stratigraphically. Often this is because the isotope ratios will record certain events from the time periods when the rocks were laid down, such as the carbon levels in the ocean.

Here’s the analogy from AgeofRocks:

Perhaps the best way to illustrate isotopes of carbon in the ocean is with a bowl of red and green M&M’s, where each color corresponds to a different stable isotope of carbon. For the sake of discussion, this bowl contains precisely 50% green M&M’s (light carbon) and 50% red M&M’s (heavy carbon), for a ratio of 1:1. Now, imagine you leave the room and return later to find that the ratio has shifted to 0.9:1.1, meaning the bowl has been enriched in red M&M’s. There are two possibilities that could explain the shift: either someone added a sample containing more than 50% red M&M’s, or someone removed a sample containing less than 50% red M&M’s. Perhaps you have a child, therefore, who prefers one color to the other, so every handful he takes is biased to that color. This process will leave the bowl preferentially enriched in the other color. If every handful contained precisely half green and half red M&M’s, then the ratio of green to red in the bowl would never change. Likewise, any process that removes carbon from the ocean will change the δ13C value of oceanic carbon, so long as the isotopic ratio of the sample differs from that in the bulk ocean.

Typically, we can use index fossils and radiometric dating alongside stratigraphy to determine that, for example, a rock layer in Nevada is the same age as a rock layer in southern China (perhaps they both contain a unique assemblage of Cambrian-aged trilobites). According to a flood geologist, these layers were deposited in a single year around 5000 years ago. However, they were not necessarily deposited simultaneously. So, if the fossils are in the same order, it has to be due to hydrological sorting or ecological zonation. Regardless of how the order arose, one thing is certain: if these marine organisms were all buried in a global flood, then all of them made their shells from the same ocean and the same reservoir of carbon with approximately the same isotopic ratio. So when fossilized shells of trilobites, brachiopods, mollusks, etc. are analyzed across the Phanerozoic (542 Ma – Present) for carbon isotopes, flood geology would predict that the levels of carbon found in all of these animals, regardless of where in the column, should have an equal amount of the same isotopes.

But this is not what we see. (3.) Instead, what we see are patterns of fluctuating isotopes. This is best illustrated by the graph from Veizer et al.,

The graph shows that the carbon-isotope ratio in carbonate fossils—and therefore the ocean itself—varied substantially over the past 500 million years. This is in direct conflict with what one would expect had these fossils all been laid down by a single flood. Because the carbon reservoir in the ocean is so large (today, about 39,000 billion tons of carbon), the color of this bowl of M&M’s does not change appreciably on a whim—certainly not in the space of a 370 days. It takes time. Thus, chemostratigraphy leaves the creationist idea of a global flood dead in the water.

To be through, I’ll use the possible immediate objections to chemostratigraphy here, with refutations:

The flood caused wild variation in carbon isotopes!

Variations in the carbon-isotope ratios of fossils are far too great to be explained by shifting ocean chemistry within a single year, meaning these organisms could not have lived in the same ocean at the same time. See the attached graphic above. There would also need to be a mechanism for the addition and removal of massive amounts of carbon isotopes (2.), making the idea even less likely.

What’s more, the pattern of carbon-isotope variations from Cambrian to Quaternary is the same across the entire globe. Whether you’re sampling rocks from Texas or Tanzania, layers of limestone determined to be the same age according to their fossil content also exhibit the same pattern of δ13C values over time. These values are invariably high for Permian-aged carbonates and invariably low for Ordovician-aged carbonates.Consider the fact that in order to increase the oceanic δ13C value by only 5‰ requires a sustained doubling in the rate of organic carbon burial for about 1 million years. There is no reason for any proposed fluctuations in the flood to have been spread out evenly across these deposits all over the globe, especially not if all the sediment (and any carbon by extension) was getting mixed up prior to deposition. The values should be highly variable, not identical across the globe.

The animals in these areas prior to the flood lived in unique basins with different carbon ratios. Therefore, seeing their values varied like this should be expected.

If variations between one part of the ocean and another could account for trends in carbon isotopes, then we shouldn’t find the same temporal trends in different parts of the world (e.g. China vs. North America vs. Australia). Also, we find carbon isotope values changing significantly within the lifetime of single species (e.g. of Cambrian trilobites (4.) ), so one couldn’t claim that all those trilobites just lived in a unique basin prior to the flood. In every environment, the relative change in carbon isotopes correlates well from one site to the next. Finally, we can examine both carbon and strontium isotope trends to ensure that carbon variations weren’t limited to a unique environment (strontium isotopes don’t vary from one basin to the next). (2.)

Chemostratigraphy provides the final falsification of a global flood depositing all of the geologic column. It instead provided a wonderful opportunity to examine the chemical environment of Earth’s past and is a testament to an ancient world.






Refuting the “Highly expressed” gene argument against Chromosome 2 fusion

Thu Oct 01, 2015 8:42 pm by itsdemtitans

A common objection by creationists when presented with the fusion of Chromosome 2 in humans is that the fusion point contains a “highly expressed” gene, known as the DDX11L2. Does this refute the fusion model of Chromosome 2?

No, and while other objections to the fusion event exist, this blog post will specifically cover the DDX11L2 claim.

So, what is the DDX11L2? Surprisingly, and contrary to creationist claims, it is not a gene at all. It belongs to a family of pseudogenes, known as the DDX11L. The interesting thing about the DDX11L family is that they are a telomere specific gene family. Every single one in the human, chimp, and gorilla genome is found parked right next to a telomere. (1.) There is a single exception, the DDX11L2, parked right in the middle, surrounded by other telomere specific sequences. This is a fact that should be a red flag to any creationist, but for some reason they don’t seem to be phased by it.

I contacted geneticist David E. Levin to figure out why this family of pseudogenes are thought of as pseuodogenes.

“All members of the DDX11L family found at telomeric sites are regarded as pseudogenes derived from a functional gene initially named CHLR1, which encodes a DNA/RNA helicase. They are called pseudogenes because they only possess a few of the 26 exons of the functional CHLR1 gene. Thus, most of the gene is missing except for a chunk near the 3’ end. The CHLR1 sequence that is retained in the propagated DDX11L pseudogenes (about 3.5kb out of 25kb) shares 97.5%–98.5% nucleotide identity with the functional CHLR1 gene, supporting the notion that they are all derived from the one functional gene. Thus, they do not appear to code for anything and there is no evidence that the remaining short open reading frames are expressed even as small proteins.”

An enlightening response to say the least.

Considering the fact, as Dr. Levin has pointed out, that these pseudogenes only contain small exons that make up only a fraction of the exons found in the gene they derive from and as such do not seem to code for anything, why is it creationists claim this gene is functional?

This claim comes from Creationist Jeffrey Tomkins. He lays great emphasis on the fact that transcription factor binding has been found throughout the region. But simple binding says nothing about the specificity of binding or how important it is biologically. (2.) Therefore, there is no real reason to consider this gene functional.

However, there are more problems with the claims about the DDX11L2 made by creationists. For one, the vast majority of the recorded transcripts of the pseudogene don’t even span the fusion site! Take a look here at the compact gene diagram:

(Hover your mouse over the introns to see the figures)

The fusion site lies within the first intron of detected transcripts B and E, which is the green part. The only thing that seems to differentiate B and E is the slightly different length of the second intron.

If you click on b it shows that it has been detected once in bone marrow.

There have only been two detections of transcript E that actually include the exon on the far side of the fusion site, and they were both found in prostate tissue. The other four detections don’t actually span the fusion site. I’ll discuss the variants that DO cross into the fusion site a little later.

So, even within the detected variants of E alone, the majority does not include the fusion point as one of its introns. The claim this pseudogene always spans the fusion point is becoming a lot less convincing. To get an actual figure on roughly how many variants actually cross the fusion point, we’ll need to do a little math.

Hovering your mouse over the green exon will give you the number of RNA-seq reads. For the green intron, it was sequenced a total of 687 times. The Main intron, however, was sequenced a total of 3200 times. Division gives us approximately 4.7, which can be rounded up to 5. So, roughly, it can be calculated only around 20% of the recorded transcripts actually cross into the fusion point. The vast majority do not.

Now, let’s take a look at the green exon for a moment:

(Once again, hover your mouse over the colored bits to get the data)

The exon lies within a piece of satellite DNA labelled “Repeat TAR1, family telo”.

If you run a BLAT search for this satellite sequence, you will find that it is a pretelomeric sequence (TAR stands for Telomere Associated Repeat) with nearly identical sequences found on the ends of chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 13, 19 (both ends), 21 and 22.

I’ll humor the creationists for a second. If this was in fact a functional transcript that has always required this exon, it would seem to be quite the coincidence that this exon is in fact part of a larger sequence that, save this one exception, has nearly identical sequences found on the ends of chromosomes.

Yet this still totally isn’t a telomeric remnant. Sure, uh huh, whatever it takes to deny the obvious.

Now let’s move back to transcript variants that do cross over the fusion site. How did they come to be?

First, one must establish whether or not these transcripts arose after the fusion event or during it. Again, we’ll turn to David Levin.(2.)

“If there was recognizable DDX-like sequence on either side of the repeats, this would give the appearance that the gene was there prior to the telomeric sequences. I did a BLAST search of this region some time ago and did not identify any other DDX-related sequences on the far side of the telomeric repeats, supporting the conclusion that the fusion predates the transcript. Moreover, the DDX-like genes all have a similar size, structure and sequences across their exons, as shown Costa et al., 2009, the paper that describes the DDX11L gene. This reveals that the entirety of the recognizable DDX-like sequence resides on one side of the fusion site. Finally, the Costa paper concludes that the family of DDX-like pseudogenes was propagated to many sub-telomeric locations, lending further support to the conclusion that this region was previously a telomere.”

(Emphasis added)

Also, when it was brought to his attention that the green exon lays within a telomere specific signature, he said,

“The most reasonable inference from all of this is that the transcript that reads through the fusion site either represents a new transcription start site, or an old one that was associated with a gene that was truncated by the fusion event, thus producing a chimeric transcript.”

I emailed him to get an explanation of what exactly a new transcription start site meant. Basically, there are areas of the DNA known as transcription factor recognition sequences, or start sites. These are typically six base pairs in length and appear randomly in 1 out of every 4000 base pairs. However, other segments that only differ by a single base pair exist every 200 base pairs. Thus, through mutation of one of these potential start sites, it is easily possible for a new transcription start site to emerge. This could, in essence, essentially be moved over. This easily accounts for why a fraction of the variants cross over the fusion point while most do not.

Back in the compact gene diagram, transcript B is a great example. It looks a lot like it’s been simply moved aside.

Now creationists might try and object to new start sites being able to move genes. But it’s a simple fact it can be done In fact; start sites brought forth by mutation are required in all the transcripts of DDX11L2. Why? Simply, the DDX11L pseudogene family is expressed as RNA, despite the fact that the entire front end of the normal gene (including the promoter and transcription start site) is missing. Therefore, even the shorter transcripts for DDX11L genes must have resulted from mutations to create new start sites.

So, there is a well-known mechanism to account for the few transcripts that cross the fusion point, and these factors also explain the general rule that most transcripts of the DDX11L2 do NOT include the fusion point.

Now overall, what does this the entirety of the presence of the DDX11L2 in chromosome 2 tell us? Well, for one, it tells us it’s likely a fusion because this is a telomere specific pseudogene. Also, the exon on the far side of the fusion point used by only a fraction of recorded transcripts is nestled within telomere specific satellite DNA. Well-understood and observed mechanisms easily account for the percentage of transcripts that cross into the fusion point, so any objection of “How did that fraction get in the site if it wasn’t designed that way?” is null and void.

Overall, the very work pushed forward by Tomkins and other creationists involving the DDX11L2 does a lot more to support the fusion model and does not harm it in any way. The idea of a chromosomal fusion event in our species past is still on very solid ground. I’ll let David Levin sum it up. (2.)

In any event, what we see are two different telomere-specific signatures on either side of the fusion site. This region veritably screams “telomere”.

I rest my case.





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