FOSSIL DISTRIBUTION AND THE
"ECOLOGICAL ZONING" HYPOTHESIS
A problem which young-earth creationists have always had to face is that there are many very common kinds of fossils which are found in the deeper layers of the sedimentary cover of the earth, but not in the upper or younger layers. If practically all of the earth's sedimentary layers were formed by the surging waters of the Biblical Flood, as they maintain, then how could a specific kind of animal which was very abundant on the earth escape being mixed into practically all levels of strata?
Dr. Gary Parker, formerly of the Institute for Creation Research, is quoted by Myers as admitting that this problem exists. Parker's statement, as quoted by Myers, is:
Even though he admits that fossil distribution is a serious problem for young-earth creationists, Parker later attempts to assure his readers that the "ecological zoning" hypothesis which was set forth by some of his colleagues is adequate to solve it (Morris & Parker, 1982, pp. 129-31).
Morris uses the ecological zoning hypothesis extensively, too, but in his Scientific Creationism concentrates mainly on trying to minimize the problem of fossil distribution. He says:
1. Examples of Great Differences Between Ancient and Modem Forms of Animals
It is true that most of the 20-odd phyla*of modem animals have some representatives in the early strata systems. But withinindividual phyla there are great differences. For example, it has long been recognized that nearly one-half of all species of Phylum Mollusca are found only as extinct fossils, and that only about 260 of the known 30,000 species of Phylum Brachiopoda are living today. Within these phyla—and also in Phylum Bryozoa, Phylum Cnidaria (Coelenterata) and Phylum Echinodermata—it is not just speciesthat are extinct, but there are many families, orders, and even subclasses, which are known only as ancient fossils. (The five phyla named above make up practically all of the volumeof macrofossils* we find in the rock strata.) The trilobites (members of Phylum Arthropoda), which became extinct before the end of the Paleozoic* Era, make up a very small percentage of the fossil assemblages which we find in the rocks. But all eight orders of the trilobites, with all their suborders, families, genera,' and species, are extinct and confined to the Paleozoic rock systems.
Morris, not knowing that the trilobites had a relatively light (non-dense) chitinous skeleton, similar to that of crabs, has long said that they were so dense that they all sank to the lower layers during the Flood. Actually they were much less dense than the clam- type mollusks which are found in great abundance in the rock systems of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic* eras; and both animals types lived in the same marine ecological zone (subtidal* sea floor).
Let us consider some of the large extinct groups within the five phyla we have just named. All of these phyla—Mollusca, Brachiopoda, Bryozoa, Cnidaria, and Echinodermata—have contributed very extensively to the immense volume of macrofossils which are found in the Paleozoic rock systems (especially in limestone deposits). And all five of these phyla have major groups (families, orders, and sometimes even whole classes) which are extinct, as documented in any good paleontology textbook.
In the case of Phylum Echinodermata (which contains the starfishes and sand dollars), the members of Class Crinoidea (the "sea lilies" and "feather stars") contributed greatly to the masses of fossils we find in Paleozoic strata. There are now only 650 known, living species of these "crinoids," but 5,000 extinct species have been classified. Many of the extinct species are very abundant in the Paleozoic rock systems of the Appalachians and in other parts of the world. These animals have a long, segmented, calcified stalk by which they are loosely attached to the sea floor. When the animal dies the segments easily become disjointed and buried in the sediments as separate "crinoid rings" (columnals) or as sections of stalks, each with several columnals still attached to each other.
In the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology,Class Crinoidea ("crinoids" or "sea lilies") is divided into five large subclasses, four of which are found only in the Paleozoic systems of the earth (Cambrian through Permian, except for a few Triassic ones). There were slightly over 160 taxonomic families among these four extinct subclasses, representing a wide variety of crinoid physical forms not living today. Most of the families, all of which are listed in the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, included several genera—and of course many more species (Ubaghs, Moore, et al., 1978, pp. 372-93). A few of these ancient crinoids were truly giants, possessing a stalk up to 20 meters long and 10 cm in diameter; many of them possessed structural features which contrast greatly with the species which are living today (Ubaghs, Moore, et al., 1978, pp. 63-64, 113-30).
Another taxonomic* class of Phylum Echinodermata, similar to the crinoids, is Class Blastoidea. This class is entirely extinct, found only in Paleozoic strata (Silurian through Permian). They are not nearly so abundant as the crinoids, but have been found on all the continents except Antarctica. In some places, such as southern Indiana, they are rather abundant. The blastoids are thus considered important enough that the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology series includes one entire volume of 650 pages describing them (Beaver, Fay, et al., 1967). Seventy-eight genera, grouped as 12 families of blastoids, are described in this volume. No living animals like them have ever been found.
Within the Phylum Cnidaria (Coelenterata) are three orders*of corals which have been major producers of limestone formations. (Many miles of our nation's roads are paved with the fossilized skeletons of these creatures, because the ancient coral reefs frequently became very thick and massive, and thus are good sites for locating rock quarries.) Two of the most common and productive of these orders, Rugosa and Tabulata, are entirely extinct and are found only in Paleozoic rock systems (except for a few species in the Lower Triassic). The order Rugosa included many species of solitary corals, which grew individually rather than as part of a colony. These solitary species are very commonly found in limestone formations even where there are no reefs. Yet they are notfound in the limestone deposits of the many geographic areas which are covered by Jurassic through Quaternary rock systems.1
2. A Great Fossil Group Which Did Not Sink During the Flood
No specimens of the otherof the three major orders of corals—Order Scleractinia—are found in any of the vast areas and thicknesses of Paleozoic rock systems on the earth. These corals, often called "scleractinians" or "hexacorals," have built (together with the help of algae) all of the many great reefs which are found in the oceans today, and also many that are found in limestone deposits of the Triassic System up through the Quaternary. This order of corals includes many solitary, as well as colonial, species. Of great significance for our consideration of fossil distribution is the fact that the scleractinian corals all have very fundamental and obvious morphologic differences which distinguish them from both of the great extinct orders we have just discussed. So there is no possibility of confusing them with Order Rugosa (the "tetracorals") or with Order Tabulata (the "tabulate corals") when they are found in the field—or as one examines museum specimens. Large numbers of specimens of all three orders are available in any of the larger museums, and all of them are well described in most paleontology textbooks. The distinct difference between these three orders can be observed and understood even by people who have no training in paleontology. Thus, Morris's claim that the ancient animal groups "were much the same as in the present world," without important contrasts (1974, p. 116), is easily refuted by examining the fossil specimens of these, as well as of several other animal phyla.
Since the scleractinian corals are found in abundance almost worldwide, and since more actual volumeof their fossils is present on the earth than of any other group of Cenozoic, animal megafossils, it is inconceivable that they would not have become mixed into the lower strata—in fact, all strata-of the earth's sedimentary cover, if the "Flood geology" hypothesis were correct. By reading any of Henry Morris's descriptions of the convulsive activities which he visualizes as having occurred during the Flood (such as that quoted just below from Morris, 1974, pp. 117-18), one can see how completely illogical it is to assert that the Paleozoic strata were formed by the Flood, with these dense, calcified animals somehow being held up and not allowed to sink into the lower layers of sediment. They are as denseas the corals of the two great ancient orders, because composed of CaCO3, the same as those orders were.
Morris's description of the Biblical Flood, in which these corals were excluded from the lower two-thirds of the local sedimentary columns supposedly being formed, reads as follows:
Students of creation doctrine may here ask concerning the actual time when the scleractinian corals and the diatoms appeared on earth. Were they not at allin existence until the Mesozoic Era? This we cannot answer; but it is obvious that they did not become common or dominant forms of sea life until Mesozoic times. In nature we often observe that it is possible for a particular form of life to be very rare as to its development of a population, and yet survive. So it could be that many life forms and species which do not appear in the fossil record until after the Paleozoic Era were actually in existence long before they became sufficiently numerous to be discovered by paleontologic research.
However, this is not a problem in dealing with the nature of fossil distribution as invalidating the "Flood geology" hypothesis of the formation of the sedimentary cover of the earth. If a certain form of hard-shelled, marine animal were abundant at the time of the Flood, then it would obviously show up in some of the strata that were formed during that event. Those species which were rare would obviously not be common in the record, and so might be overlooked. So, when we say that certain forms of life were "not present" during parts of the geologic record, we are not asserting that they did not exist at all during those times.
3. More Concerning the Fossils Which Supposedly "Stayed Down"
Let us come back a moment to the great, worldwide groups of brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, and mollusks that are found only in the Paleozoic and Lower Mesozoic strata systems. The description of the Flood which we have just quoted from Morris defies all possibility of these forms of life having been restricted to these strata systems—and yet they are in factrestricted to these systems, worldwide. If these fossil forms were rare in the fossil record we might suppose that their absence from the Upper Mesozoic and the Cenozoic systems is only a problem of their not having been found.
But this is not at all the case. In Paleozoic times, brachiopods, crinoids, and bryozoans were exceedingly abundant, and some of the forms of mollusks such as the extinct cephalopods were at least very common. In many places on the earth, as frequently in the Appalachians, there are broad areas in which at least one out of ten rocks which you may pick up when taking a walk will contain several brachiopods and/or crinoids. And a high percentage of our paved highways contain hundreds of thousands of these extinct Paleozoic fossils per mile—from the rock quarries. If they were that abundant, and if the earth's sedimentary strata were practically all formed by the Flood, why are these fossil kinds—and individuals—restricted to only approximately half (the Paleozoic half) of the rock formations? The forces of upheaval and mixing of the components of the earth's crust in Morris's Flood scenario could not possibly have permitted such a restriction without a special miracle. This is even more obvious when one considers that the crinoids grew on long, fragile stalks which were veryeasily swept along by strong water currents (like tangled weeds), and also that the shells of the brachiopods were no more dense than those of the more recent types of clams which are found only in the Cenozoic strata systems. (The brachiopods lived in the same type of sea-floor environment as did the clams.)
4. Microfossils*—NoPossible Way to Have Hidden
Morris attempted, in his Scientific Creationism (1974), to lay down the principle that "it is the fossils which speak most clearly of rapid formation [of the geologic strata]" (1974, p. 95). If he had had any idea of what impossible problems he would have to face in trying to defend such an assertion, he surely would not have made it. We have already seen that some types of fossils, such as corals and diatoms, give strong evidence of having been formed and deposited slowly; and others give evidence of having been deposited rapidly but intermittently by debris flows, storms on the seacoasts, and other natural processes. Thus "Flood geology" does not provide a plausible way of explaining the formation of these fossil deposits. Now we will consider another aspect of fossil distribution for which "Flood geology" cannot account, unless it resorts to saying that God restricted selected types of fossils to certain stratigraphic levels by special miracles.
It is well known that the world's oceans are teeming with microorganisms which produce shells (or "skeletons") of various types in which to live. The fact that the shells are composed of minerals which are more dense than water is really no problem for the floating existence which most of these organisms have. Gas bubbles are usually maintained in the protoplasm of the single cell of the shell's occupant in order to provide buoyancy.
Some of these microorganisms, such as the coccolithophores and the foraminiferans, produce a calcium carbonate shell, while others_mainly the radiolarians and diatoms—have a silicon dioxide shell. Either of these two great groups could be used to illustrate the fact that the shells of some subgroups of marine microorganisms are restricted to the Mesozoic and Cenozoic strata systems, while other subgroups are found abundantly not only in these systems, but throughout the Paleozoic strata as well—or at least down into the Middle Cambrian. This is of special significance because most of these organisms live in the same marine* ecological zone, namely the pelagic.* And, of the ones which do live down on the bottom (benthic environment), many are totally absent from the deepermarine-type rock formations. For example, here in the Appalachians none of the thousands of oil wells drilled into Paleozoic rock systems have produced any diatoms—either pelagic or benthic ones—from those systems.2 Yet diatoms are very abundant in the rock systems from the Cretaceous (Upper Mesozoic) on up. (Chapter 6 of this book includes a rather extensive amount of data on how fabulously abundant the diatoms of the ocean are and have been, and how they have produced extremely thick accumulations on the ocean floors for many millions of years.)
Perhaps someone will say, "There may have been some influence or force which kept this great accumulation of diatom shells from being mixed into the lower rock layers during the Flood." One might be tempted to accept such a hypothesis were it not for the fact that the oceans are also teeming with microfossils of the Order Radiolaria ("radiolarians") which have an average size very similar to that of diatoms and have shells composed of the samemineral as that of the diatoms (SiO2). Up to this point I have been emphasizing the accumulations of diatoms on the ocean floor, but the drillings of the Deep Sea Drilling Project have also located very widespread and thick deposits of radiolarian ooze in the ocean floor, practically worldwide. Just one example (not unusual) of the radiolarian deposits found was a continuous thickness of 190 meters of almost pure radiolarian ooze at Site 166 in the ocean floor southwest of the Hawaiian Islands (Winterer, Ewing, et al., 1973, pp. 103, 118-24).
In summary, we here have two great categories of one-celled, marine microfossils, both about the same size and abundance, and both have shells of the same composition (silicon dioxide). They both live in the same ecological zone (pelagic), except thata very considerable proportion of the diatoms live on the sea bottomin areas where the water is not too deep to badly restrict the sunlight which they require for photosynthesis. The fact that some diatoms are bottom dwellers, whereas radiolarians are all pelagic, would lead us to expect, according to the "Flood geology" hypothesis, that the diatoms would be found in all systems of sedimentary rock but that the radiolarians would be restricted to the upper systems. Exactly the opposite is true. Radiolarian shells are abundant in the rock systems all the way down into the Cambrian, but the diatom shells have neverbeen found below the Jurassic.
Why then areradiolarians found all the way down into the Cambrian, but diatoms not? There is no logical conclusion but to recognize that at least practically all species of diatoms just did not existat the time that the pre-Jurassic rock systems were being formed. If all the rock systems (Cambrian through Tertiary) had been formed by the Biblical Flood, as Morris and other young-earth creationists believe, then all of the rock systems would contain bothradiolarians and diatoms. This is true because both were exceedingly abundant at the time of the Flood, and neither group had any characteristic, such as a distinctly different density, shape, or size, which would restrict it to the upper layers of rock being formed.
If any young-earth creationists want to contest the fact that both groups were very abundant at the time of the Flood, let them examine and recognize the abundance of both, in terrestrial sedimentary strata which they take to have been formed during the Flood. After all, they at least recognize the vast deposit of diatom shells in the Lompoc, California area which we discussed in the previous chapter, as having been in existence at the time of the Flood. Or, if anyone might still try to suppose that these diatoms and the great, thick beds of them in the oceans grew sincethe Flood, they will have to face the fact that such prolific growth is wholly unnatural, and that no provision for it was included in the natural laws of biological growth which God ordained. It is true that many kinds of algae occasionally, when environmental conditions are right, multiply with unusual rapidity, forming what biologists call "algal bloom." But always, with no known exception, this prolific growth comes to a hurried end—usually within a few days. The algae, whether they be diatoms or another group, "upset the balance of nature" by their rapid increase. That is, they succumb to such imbalances as the accumulation of excess waste products of their own metabolism, the lack of raw materials in the water, and diseases or other abnormalities which arise in the cellular population.
Furthermore, even if there were some way that diatoms could multiply and produce discarded shells as fast as would be required for forming one to two thousand feet thickness of them on the ocean floor within a thousand years, the physical laws of settling of such small objects through the long column of ocean water are not such as to allow anything like thatrapid a settling rate. (The very slow settling rates of small particles in even tranquil ocean water are well known, and are discussed in oceanography and physical science textbooks under the heading "Stokes' law of settling.") So, the distinctive distribution of these and other microfossils in the geologic column demands that we recognize the sedimentary strata systems as having been formed naturally and in an orderly manner.
5. The "Ecological Zoning" Hypothesis
During the early 1970's young-earth creationists began to popularize their hypothesis of "ecological zoning" in order to try to explain the worldwide absence of certain kinds of fossils in various strata systems. This hypothesis was obviously of no value in dealing with marine microfossils, but the adherents of "Flood geology" felt that they could use it for explaining the distribution of macrofossils of most of the invertebrate* phyla, as well as of vertebrates. It is now a well-known idea among young-earth creationists, and many followers of young-earth creationism suppose that it has been tested and scientifically verified. Of course such is not the case. The fact that this hypothesis ignores the real extent of the sedimentary cover of the earth—both vertical and horizontal—and also ignores the pelagic,* marine microfossils—invalidates any attempts that its adherents might make to test it. Nevertheless, many creationist leaders continue to use the ecological zoning idea as an attempt to dispose of the problems they face concerning fossil distribution.
Thus, Morris and Parker (1982, p. 130) present a neatly arranged diagram of this hypothesis as an explanation of why the fossils appear as they do. This diagram shows a seashore with swampy land nearby, and higher land farther away from the shore. Different kinds of animals are shown in each of three basic kinds of environment: sea shell animals and trilobites on the sea bottom; amphibians, reptiles, and insects in the swamps; and larger reptiles and mammals on the higher ground. The accompanying explanation tells the reader that the reason we find certain kinds of sea-shell animals and trilobites fossilized only in the deeper, older strata of the earth is that they lived down on the bottom and got buried thereby the Flood; and the reason we find amphibians, reptiles, and insects farther up in the strata is that they were living a few feet or meters above the water level, and got buried there; and the reason we find the mammals only in the upper, younger strata of the earth is that they were living higher up away from the swamps. This explanation may sound reasonable at first glance, but it is absolutely contrary to what we see when we examine the rock strata of the earth.
The assemblage of organisms which we have just described, together with the soft sediments and soil in and on which they live, if buried in a great flood, might produce 10 or 15 feet of thickness of sediments. But, what about the vast areas back away from the seacoasts which have 20,000 or more feet of sediments, with thousands of feet of this thickness being highly fossiliferous? Where could all these sediments and fossils—often spread out in broad, uniform layers—have come from? This question becomes especially difficult for anyone who tries to use the ecological zoning hypothesis, because in itthe animals are supposed to have been buried at or very near to where they were living. In the 20,000 or more feet of sedimentary layers which cover thousands of square miles in parts of the North American continent, approximately the lower two-thirds of the strata have only the old types of marine animals and plants. (Nearly always, at least a few thousand of this 13,000 feet consists of limestone which contains a high percentage of biogenic components from shallow-water, marine sea floors.) Then the upper 7,000 feet (approximately) of sedimentary rocks include nonmarine, brackish, and marine deposits with different Mesozoic* and Cenozoic* forms of terrestrial, swamp, and marine fossil types.
Here then is a "mind-boggling" problem for "Flood geology" to face. How could 13,000 feet of sea-shell-animal sediments be "stacked up" all over a contiguous area as large as the state of West Virginia by using just a thin layer of ocean-bottom off-shore from the land? The Flood would have had to collect sediments and sea-shell animals from at least 1,000 square miles just to build up the 13,000-foot deposit on onesquare mile of the inland area.
In thinking about this, remember that almost none of the sea-shell animals are from the deepsea. These are the clam, snail, brachiopod, crinoid, coral, and bryozoan types; so they are the inhabitants of shallow seas and continental shelves. Thus, the area around the continents which could furnish such animals for the 13,000-foot-thick sediment deposits is very limited. This means that there would be no place to find 1,000 square miles of clams, brachiopods, etc. for the Flood to use in building each square mile of a 13,000-foot-thick expanse the size of the state of Ohio or larger (a contiguous area as large as West Virginia, plus other areas in the eastern part of the United States).
Of course, to visualize the production of this thick expanse of strata in this manner is illogical for several other reasons. One of these reasons is the impossible problem of how the surging waters of a mighty flood could transport the many square miles of sediments inland in an orderly manner and spread them in neat, uniform layers over the one square mile to form the thick series of strata we see now. A further problem is that aspect of the ecological zoning hypothesis which requires that the animals be buried very near to where they were when the Flood came upon them. So, young-earth creationists have no place in their hypothesis for the necessary, long-distance transport.
But suppose we were to go ahead and assume that the Flood collected sediments and organisms from an unrealistically large area of continental shelf to form the more than 25,000 square miles of 13,000-foot-thick marine deposit we find in the Central Appalachians? While the flood waters were collecting the sediments and organisms, and sweeping them inland to form these 13,000 feet of strata, how were all the later typesof clams, snails, ostracods, and other shell-type animals held in reserve,ready to be added to the deposit after the older types had been laid down? We must not forget that, as we find the fossils today in vertical sequences of strata, the lower strata contain many hundreds of species of shell-type animals, each in great abundance, which became extinct before the upper strata were laid down, with their more recent types of aquatic animals.
Another of the problems which completely eliminate the possibility of such a rapid buildup of 20,000-foot, neatly-layered sediment masses, is that of the required time for cementation, to which we have already referred in earlier sections. One year affords no time for the cementing of the sediments into stable rock. Four miles of soft sediments in a single mass would produce sufficient pressure to crush all delicate fossils in the lower layers, and to amalgamate the layers into a hopelessly confused mix ture—especially since the great earthquakes and crustal upheavals which are said to have accompanied the Flood would have had a profound mixing effect.
So, from a whole series of aspects, the ecological zoning idea is an absolutely impossible explanation of the laying down of the earth's deposits of fossiliferous sediments. Perhaps the greatest reason that the young-earth leaders fell into this "trap" was the fact that they have habitually failed to take into account the real extent of the fossiliferous sedimentary cover of North America and other continents.
During the past 20 years the presence or absence of certain genera and species of marine, shell-producing, calcareous microorganisms in the sediment layers of the sea floors has been used extensively for the purpose of dating the layers. I would not propose to defend all of the dates and time periods which are assigned to the layers by this means; there is some disagreement among paleontologists on the details of these. But the basic fact that these organisms form a distinctive microfauna and microflora in upper layers as contrasted with deeper layers at each drilling siteis a truth which cannot be denied. Cores and other samples of at least several hundred feet of highly fossiliferous sediments have been collected from hundreds of drilling sites in all of the world's oceans, by the Deep Sea Drilling Project and by offshore petroleum drilling operations. The genera and species of planktonic* algae known as coccolithophores, and of protozoans of the Order Foramiifera (some planktonic, but mostly benthic in habitat) are identified and compared in the samples and cores from various levels in each drill hole. The variation in fossil genera and species forms distinct zones of taxonomic isolation in practically all local sediment columns drilled in the world's oceans. The fossil species are also cataloged and compared with genera and species found at other drilling sites. Because the coccolithophores, and also some very abundant species of foraminiferans, are planktonic, the ocean currents have distributed them widely. Thus, fairly accurate time correlations can be made for many sediment levels over a very broad areal extent, based on which species are present and which are absent.
At many of the drilling sites there are hundreds of feet thickness of almost continuous calcareous ooze, made up largely of the skeletons or shells of these organisms. (The coccolithophores produce skeletal, calcareous plates, of distinct designs, rather than an actual shell. These plates are called "coccoliths," and the general name for the preserved remains of the coccolithophores is "nannofossils." The name coccolith ophore means "coccolith-bearing.")
There is an amazing diversity of form in the shells of the foraminiferans, and in the coccoliths produced by the algal microfossils, making identification of them into genera and species relatively easy. There are also hundreds of living species of foramini ferans and at least 150 living species of coccolithophores with which the fossil species can be compared. In each drill hole there are usually at least a dozen species of these organisms in the deeper layers which are absent in the upper layers, and a similar number in the upper layers which are not present in the deeper strata. This condition of taxonomic isolation is present in very deep strata of Mesozoic ocean-floor sediments as well as in the upper few hundreds of feet in the local columns. Even though the microfossils have distinct, minute characteristics which make it relatively easy to distinguish one species (or at least genus*) from another, there are no characteristics which would make it possible for one set of kinds to be restricted to deeper or shallower sediment layers produced by a catastrophic flood or other strong currents.
The natural, vertical zoning of the various species of foraminiferans and of nannofossils* has, since the beginning of the Deep Sea Drilling Project, made possible many time correlations of the strata sequences in the ocean floors, and also in chalk deposits now lying high above sea level, in widely separated parts of the world. The Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Projectvolumes, as well as nearly all journals of sedimentology, oceanography, and paleontology, now have many articles dealing with these correlations by means of nannofossil biostratigraphy (for example, Roth, 1973; Bukry, 1973; Hsü, et al., 1984; and Aubry, 1985). Also the book Nannofossil Biostra tigraphyby B. U. Haq (1983), presents a very good treatment of the different types of photosynthetic nannofossils which are present in the successive layers of marine sedi ments, both in the ocean floors and in oil-bearing, marine strata on the continents.
So, we cannot ignore the ever-present fact that the immeasurably vast numbers of these planktonic organisms which lived at various times in the past are separated in the strata according to whenthey lived, died and settled to the ocean floor below. They are notmixed up into a homogeneous mass of older species with later species, as they would be if they had been deposited from a suspension of flood waters. The only logical conclusion possible concerning their burial is that their deposition was natural, and not by the convulsions of a great flood that was tearing the sea floor apart and scattering the sediments in many directions, as Morris visualizes.
Just as in the case of the radiolarians and diatoms described above, in the subsection "Microfossils—No Possible Way to Have Hidden," these fossils are extremely abundant, existing in astronomical numbers per square kilometer over wide areas, deep in the ocean floors. Thus, no one can logically make the accusation that the various species are now being assigned to time zones merely because individuals of the earlier (or later) species have been overlooked in the sediment cores.
In the light of all the discoveries concerning fossil distribution, during the past three decades especially, we must conclude that all forms of the ecological zoning hypothesis are illogical and contrary to the observed scientific evidence. Since we as Christians recognize the importance of adhering to truth, we should face our responsibility not to propagate ideas which are in opposition to thousands of definite and careful observations of what the earth's fossiliferous strata are really like. How can an ignoring of physical and biological realities be a proper testimony of the quality of Christianity? During the past four or five years, since creationism became prominent in the courts and in the news, we have seen a flood of examples in scientific and educational publications of how our refusals to recognize scientific data have given the world the impression that the Bible is a hopelessly outdated, unscientific book. This disgrace will continue until we openly confess our wrong methods and put our teaching of creation on a sound basis which is both Biblical and scientific.
Christians must stop fearing the results of systematic, scientific examination of the earth's strata. God is absolutelyconsistent, and thus would never produce a natural world which contradicts his special revelation. We can thus feel free to recognize the obvious conditions we find in the rock formations. For example, when we find clear-cut evidence for scores of preservedsea-shore or shallow-water environments lying one above the other in the strata systems, without their showing evidence of catastrophic disruption, we can safely conclude that they were naturally formed and preserved in the locations in which we now find them. At least most of the strata in the areas we have been describing, such as in the Appalachians, give every evidence of being a natural record of the life and sediment deposition through a long period of time.
1The stratigraphic ranges (age ranges) of these and of all other animal fossil groups which we are discussing in this book can easily be found in textbooks of paleontology such as the following: Principles of Invertebrate Paleontology, by R. R. Shock and W. H. Twenhofel: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1953, 816 pp.; Invertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, by E. N. K. Clarkson: George Allen and Unwin, 1979, 323 pp.; Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology _ Published by the Geological Society of America; many editors; forty volumes now available and some still in process of preparation. The volumes which describe the taxonomic groups referred to in this section are: Coelenterata, Supplement 1, Rugosa and Tabulata, Part F, 2 vols., 1981; Byozoa (Revised) vol. 1, Part G, 1983; Brachiopoda, Part H, 2 vols., 1965; Mollusca 3, Part K, 1964; Mollusca 6, Part N, 2 vols., 1969; Echinodermata 2, Part S, vol. 2, 1967; and Echinodermata 2, Crinoidea, Part T, 3 vols., 1978.
2Someone who is unfamiliar with
the way that drilling sample investigations are carried out might
that geologists have actually found diatom sheils in the Paleozoic
but that they have concealed the information in order to protect
theory. Even if they could conceal the information, it would be no
for evolutionary theory, since these are only one-celled organisms.
much more complex than these were abundant early in the Cambrian