In these two posts, Denying the Dinosaur Eras and Presumptions or Conclusions, Rabbi Slifkin claims that paleontology and geology clearly demonstrate the antiquity of the world. This series of posts aims to debunk his uncorroborated claims in the name of science. But before doing so it is imperative that we make note of the following.
Rabbi Slifkin believes in evolution. This is a fact. Can he be criticized for maintaining a heretical opinion? This blog does not purport to answer such questions. But one thing is clear. As a layman his opinion can easily be understood in light of the fact that the scientific community adheres to same. This author is aware of the scientific consensus and acknowledges Rabbi Slifkin’s reliance on such. Nonetheless most professional paleontologists will freely admit that transitional fossils are not merely rare, they are entirely absent. Accordingly, we must distinguish between the evolutionary claims of the scientists and the evidence they possess for these claims. This distinction shall guide, indeed define, the very nature of this series of posts.
Another thing. In his books Rabbi Slifkin appeals to several different lines of evidence for evolution such as homology, embryology and vestigial organs. However, in the aforementioned two posts he sticks to geology and paleontology and makes a passionate argument for the evolution of the species over huge periods of time specifically from the evidence found in the rocks. The reason he does this is simple. Fossil evidence is the only form of direct evidence for evolution. It is the only way evolutionists have of asserting anything about the past history of life. Any of the other lines of evidence already assume the fact and can just as easily be understood in light of Special and Rapid Creation. As well-known French paleontologist Pierre-Paul Grassé writes:
Or as Geologist C.O. Dunbar writes:
Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms... only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms. (Pierre Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, Academic Press, New York, 1977, p. 82.)
Fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more complex forms (C.O. Dunbar, Historical Geology, page 52)
This idea is crucial. If upon studying the strata it is determined that the fossil evidence does not support evolution, it then turns out that the loggerhead between Torah and Evolution is not scientific at all. Rather, it is philosophic in nature. Evolutionists support a materialistic paradigm for the unfolding of the universe whereas the Jewish nation insists that it was entirely supernatural. This should come as an epiphany to anyone looking for chizuk in support of our Torah. It did to me.
On a personal note, I grew up with the concept of evolution and although I didn’t think much about it, had I been asked I would have responded that surely scientists possessed empirical evidence that humans evolved from monkeys. I even had a beautifully colored picture book describing the exact process. And then the atom bomb exploded. I heard Rav Avigdor Miller’s seminal lecture on this topic (tape #87) when I was about sixteen years old and it bowled me over! It turned out that evolution was not a fact! It turned out that evolution did not possess the evidence so confidently asserted by popular media and low-level textbooks. (I’ve listened to that lecture at least twenty times! I am personally willing to send a copy to anyone requesting it and pay for it out of my own pocket. Please email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org Furthermore, I purchased every single book on evolution referenced in that lecture and personally verified the quotations he made and the context in which they were made. I am willing to scan in any quote mentioned in that lecture and email the entire page directly from the original source to anyone requesting it)
Unfortunately, not everyone reacts the same way to such revelations. Many people find it impossible to resist the overwhelming influence exerted by the academic community. People tend to be impressed with degrees and doctorates. They are greatly impressed with the tangible accomplishments of science and therefore swallow the materialistic propaganda of the academicians lock stock and barrel. Rabbi Slifkin is one of those people. In his books he admits that the individual lines of evidence are tenuous at best and yet he can’t shake the feeling that the scientific community is correct and thus, in direct contradiction to what his mind knows, asserts that the lines of evidence taken together constitute overwhelming proof for an ancient universe which evolved over billions of years.
One final note on the geological column before we proceed.
In order to determine how old a fossil is, geologists have broken up the earth into imaginary layers and supplied them with fancy geological names. According to the theory of evolution, complex life first appeared on earth approximately 570 million years ago. In geochronology, this period is referred to as an Eon. Every Eon is broken up into sub-categories referred to as Eras which are further broken down into Periods and which are finally broken down into Epochs. Our current Eon is broken down into three distinct Eras; Paleozoic (approx. 290 million years), Mesozoic (approx. 190 million years), and Cenozoic (approx. 65 million years). These Eras are further broken down into approximately 10 periods represented by ten strata deposited one on top of the other in a geologic column tens of thousands of feet deep. Beginning from the bottom up, they are as follows: Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary and Quaternary.
The preceding ten or so categories supposedly mark the evolution of life as it branched out in the Cambrian period from unicellular life to multi-cellular life to vertebrates and invertebrates, to fish, to reptiles, to birds, to mammals, to hominids to man. Accordingly, visitors of the Science Centre in Toronto (where I live) must first pass through a long hallway which regales them with a detailed geologic history of the world as they walk along the "timeline" of evolutionary history (at least that’s the way it was when I was a kid).
Here’s the kicker. The only place this geologic column exists is in the imagination of evolutionary geologists! (And in the Toronto Science Centre…) In fact, many strata are often found in reverse of the order stated above! This point is obviously crucial. It belies the claim that certain species must have lived before others because of the (supposedly) consistent layering of the strata. This point will be further developed in the upcoming posts along with the appropriate source material in the scientific literature.
I meant to begin treating Rabbi Slifkin’s posts directly but this post is already too long so we shall adjourn for the time being…
To be continued shortly bi’ezras Hashem…