Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species

Mark Stoeckle of Rockefeller University and David Thaler of Basel University recently published a very interesting study based on extensive analysis of over 100,000 species (“Why should mitochondria define species?”, Human Evolution, 2018).  What they found shocked them. Their data showed that almost all animal species on Earth today emerged about the same time as humans.

For the planet’s 7.6 billion people, 500 million house sparrows, or 100,000 sandpipers, genetic diversity “is about the same,” Stoeckle told AFP.

“This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,” Thaler told AFP.  (Link)

This study was based on the analysis of genetic differences within mitochondrial DNA of different species of animals.  Unlike the genes in nuclear DNA, which can differ greatly from species to species, all animals have the same set of mitochondrial DNA, providing a common basis for comparison.  The genetic sequences within the mitochondrial DNA can be neutral with respect to function.  So, counting up the number of neutral mutational differences can be used as a clock to calculate elapsed time (given that one can determine the average mutation rate).

Several convergent lines of evidence show that mitochondrial diversity in modern humans follows from sequence uniformity followed by the accumulation of largely neutral diversity during a population expansion that began approximately 100,000 years ago. A straightforward hypothesis is that the extant populations of almost all animal species have arrived at a similar result consequent to a similar process of expansion from mitochondrial uniformity… (Stoeckle and Thaler, 2018).

What is surprising here, from an evolutionary perspective anyway, is that almost all animal species have around the same number of these neutral mitochondrial mutations within their individual populations.  And, the mutation rate based on phylogenic evolutionary relationships suggests that all of these tens of thousands of different species, including humans, came into existence between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.  This, by itself, is rather shocking from the Darwinian perspective.  And, that’s not all.  Most of these species where extremely isolated from each other, genetically, in “sequence space” with very clear genetic boundaries and nothing in between.

“If individuals are stars, then species are galaxies,” said Thaler. “They are compact clusters in the vastness of empty sequence space.”

“The absence of in-between species is something that also perplexed Darwin,” he said. (Link)

Of course, the authors specifically remarked about the “small variance within species and often but not always sequence gaps among nearest neighbor species.”  In most sister species, this gap distance is in the 3-5% range, or greater, but there are many species pairs with gaps well under 1%, and variation within some species can exceed 3-5%. What this means, of course, is that the definition of a “species” is somewhat fuzzy and arbitrary.  For instance, many species can interbreed to produce viable and even fertile offspring – which brings into question what it really takes to define a “species” vs. a “breed” or some kind of “ethnic variation” for instance.  It is for this reason that the unique gene pools would be more accurately defined by a lack of ability to interbreed with other gene pools – which is most often the case at the genus level (with rare familial hybrids). However, as far as I’m aware, there are no known viable interordinal hybrids (though some embryonic interordinal hybrids are known).

Of course, there are a few documented interfamilial hybrids, such as between ducks (family Anatidae) and geese (family Anseridae), but maybe they shouldn’t be classified as belonging to different families. Reproductive compatibility (which is not synonymous with reproductive isolation) clearly demonstrates a close genetic relationship (such as the same number of chromosomes). It has been argued that the ability to hybridize should be limited to taxa of the same genus, which has been proposed for the classification of mammals (American Museum Novitates 2635:1-25, 1977) but not birds. So. if the ability to interbreed is ever applied to taxonomy as the definition of the upper limit of the genus, there would be no such thing as an intergeneric or interfamilial hybrid. Ducks and geese would be considered to be congeneric. (Link, LinkLink)

In any case, at some point what we have are distinct “kinds” of animals with very clear genetic boundaries all coming into existence at the same time? All this is starting to sound rather designed or even Biblical… but what about the hundreds of thousands of years?

Contrary to what some might think, the mitochondrial mutation rate used here was not determined by any sort of direct analysis, but by supposed phylogenic evolutionary relationships between humans and chimps. In other words, the mutation rate was calculated based on the assumption that the theory in question was already true. This is a rather circular assumption and, as such, all results that are based on this assumption will be consistent with this assumption – like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since the mutation rate was calculated based on previous assumptions of expected evolutionary time, then the results will automatically “confirm” those assumptions.

If one truly wishes independent confirmation of a theory, then one cannot calibrate the confirmation test by the theory, or any part of the theory, that is being tested. And yet, this is exactly what was done by scientists such as Sarich, one of the pioneers of the molecular-clock idea. Sarich began by calculating the mutation rates of various species “…whose divergence could be reliably dated from fossils.” He then applied that calibration to the chimpanzee-human split, dating that split at from five to seven million years ago. Using Sarich’s mutation calibrations, others, like Stoeckle and Thaler, apply them to their mtDNA studies, comparing “…the ratio of mitochondrial DNA divergence among humans to that between humans and chimpanzees.” By this method, scientists have calculated that the common ancestor of all modern humans, the “African Eve”, lived about 200,000 years ago. (Link)

Obviously then, these dates, calculated from the mtDNA analysis, must match the presupposed evolutionary time scale since the calculation is based on this presupposition. The circularity of this method is inconsistent with good scientific methodology and is worthless as far as independent predictive value is concerned. The “mitochondrial clock” theory was and still is, basically, a theory within a theory in that it has no independent predictive power outside of the overarching theory of evolution. It is surprising, then, that scientists did not catch this inherent flaw earlier. Interestingly enough though, this flaw in reasoning was not detected for many years and perhaps would have remained undetected for much longer if more direct mutation-rate analyses had not been done.

Eventually, however, scientists who study known historical families and their genetic histories (or pedigrees), started questioning the mutation rates that were based on evolutionary phylogenetic assumptions. These scientists were “stunned” to find that the mutation rate was in fact much higher than previously thought. In fact it was about 20 times higher at around one mutation every 25 to 40 generations (about 500 to 800 years for humans). It seems that in this section of the control region for mtDNA, which has about 610 base pairs, humans typically differ from one another by about 18 mutations. By simple mathematics, it follows that modern humans share a common ancestor some 300 generations back in time. If one assumes a typical generation time of about 20 years, this places the date of the common ancestor at around 6,000 years before present (Jeanson, 2015). But how could this be?! Thomas Parsons seemed just as mystified. Consider his following comments published April of 1997, in the journal Nature Genetics:

“The rate and pattern of sequence substitutions in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (CR) is of central importance to studies of human evolution and to forensic identity testing. Here, we report a direct measurement of the intergenerational substitution rate in the human CR. We compared DNA sequences of two CR hypervariable segments from close maternal relatives, from 134 independent mtDNA lineages spanning 327 generational events. Ten substitutions were observed, resulting in an empirical rate of 1/33 generations, or 2.5/site/Myr. This is roughly twenty-fold higher than estimates derived from phylogenetic analyses. This disparity cannot be accounted for simply by substitutions at mutational hot spots, suggesting additional factors that produce the discrepancy between very near-term and long-term apparent rates of sequence divergence. The data also indicate that extremely rapid segregation of CR sequence variants between generations is common in humans, with a very small mtDNA bottleneck. These results have implications for forensic applications and studies of human evolution.

The observed substitution rate reported here is very high compared to rates inferred from evolutionary studies. A wide range of CR substitution rates have been derived from phylogenetic studies, spanning roughly 0.025-0.26/site/Myr, including confidence intervals. A study yielding one of the faster estimates gave the substitution rate of the CR hypervariable regions as 0.118 +- 0.031/site/Myr. Assuming a generation time of 20 years, this corresponds to ~1/600 generations and an age for the mtDNA MRCA of 133,000 y.a. Thus, our observation of the substitution rate, 2.5/site/Myr, is roughly 20-fold higher than would be predicted from phylogenetic analyses. Using our empirical rate to calibrate the mtDNA molecular clock would result in an age of the mtDNA MRCA of only ~6,500 y.a., clearly incompatible with the known age of modern humans. Even acknowledging that the MRCA of mtDNA may be younger than the MRCA of modern humans, it remains implausible to explain the known geographic distribution of mtDNA sequence variation by human migration that occurred only in the last ~6,500 years.”

Parsons, Thomas J. A high observed substitution rate in the human mitochondrial DNA control region, Nature Genetics vol. 15, April 1997, pp. 363-367 (Link)

The calculation is done in the following way: Let us consider two randomly-chosen human beings. Assuming all human beings initially have identical mitochondrial DNA, after 33 generations, two such random human families will probably differ by two mutations, since there will be two separate lines of inheritance and probably one mutation along each line. After 66 generations, two randomly chosen humans will differ by about four mutations. After 100 generations, they will differ by about six mutations. After 300 generations, they will differ by about 18 mutations, which is about the observed value.

These experiments are quite concerning to evolutionists who previously calculated that the “mitochondrial eve” (who’s mitochondria is thought to be the ancestor mitochondria to all living humans) lived about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. The new calculations, based on the above experiments, would make her a relatively young ~6,500 years old. Now, the previous notion that modern humans are up to 10,000 generations old has to be reevaluated or at least the mtDNA basis for that assumption has to be reevaluated – and it has been.

More recent direct mtDNA mutation rate studies also seem to confirm the earlier findings by Parsons and others. In an 2001 article published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Evelyne Heyer et al., presented their findings of the mtDNA mutation rate in deep-rooted French-Canadian pedigrees.

Their findings “Confirm[ed] earlier findings of much greater mutation rates in families than those based on phylogenetic comparisons. . . For the HVI sequences, we obtained 220 generations or 6,600 years, and for the HVII sequences 275 generations or 8,250 years. Although each of these values is associated with a large variance, they both point to ~7,000-8,000 years and, therefore, to the early Neolithic as the time of expansion [mostly northern European in origin] . . . Our overall CR mutation-rate estimate of 11.6 per site per million generations . . . is higher, but not significantly different, than the value of 6.3 reported in recent the recent pedigree study of comparable size . . . In another study (Soodyall et al. 1997), no mutations were detected in 108 transmissions. On the other hand, two substitutions were observed in 81 transmissions by Howell et al. (1996), and nine substitutions were observed in 327 transmissions by Parsons et al. (1997). Combining all these data (1,729 transmissions) results in the mutation rate of 15.5 (Cl 10.3-22.1). Taking into account only those from deep-rooting pedigrees (1,321 transmissions) (Soodyall et al. 1997; Sigurdardottir et al. 2000; the present study) leads to the value of 7.9. The latter, by avoiding experimental problems with heteroplasmy, may provide a more realistic approximation of the overall mutation rate.”

Evelyn Heyer, Ewa Zietkiewicz, Andrezej Rochowski, Vania Yotova, Jack Puymirat, and Damian Labuda, Phylogenetic and Familial Estimates of Mitochondrial Substitution Rates: Study of Control Region Mutations in Deep-Rooting Pedigrees. Am. J. Hum. Genet., 69:1113-1126. 2001 (Link)

Also, consider a 2003 paper published in the Annals of Human Genetics by B. Bonne-Tamir et al. where the authors presented their results of a their study of “Maternal and Paternal Lineages” from a small isolated Samaritan community. In this paper they concluded:

“Compared with the results obtained by others on mtDNA mutation rates, our upper limit estimate of the mutation rate of 1/61 mutations per generation is in close agreement with those previously published.” [compared with the rate determined by Parsons of 1/33 generations, a rate of 1/61 is no more than double]

B. Bonne-Tamir, M. Korostishevsky, A. J. Redd, Y. Pel-Or, M. E. Kaplan and M. F. Hammer, Maternal and Paternal Lineages of the Samaritan Isolate: Mutation Rates and Time to Most Recent Common Male Ancestor, Annals of Human Genetics, Volume 67 Issue 2 Page 153 – March 2003 (Link)

One more interesting paper published in September, 2000 in the journal Science by Denver et al. is also quite interesting. These scientists reported their work with the mtDNA mutation rates of nematode worms and found that these worm’s molecular clocks actually run about “100 times faster than previously thought”.

“Extrapolating the results directly to humans is not possible, say the scientists. But their results do support recent controversial studies suggesting that the human molecular clock also runs 100 times faster than is usually thought. This may mean that estimates of divergence between chimpanzees and humans, and the emergence of modern man, happened much more recently than currently believed, says the team. ‘Our work appears to support human analyses, which have suggested a very high rate,’ says Kelley Thomas of the University of Missouri. ‘This work is relevant to humans,’ says Doug Turnbill of the institute for Human Genetics and Newcastle University, UK. ‘If the human mutation rate is faster than thought, it would have a lot of impact in looking at human disease and forensics, as well as the evolutionary rate of humans.’ . . .

Mutation rates of mtDNA in humans are usually estimated by comparing sequences of DNA from people and other animals. ‘This is kind of analysis that was used to determine that the African origin of modern humans was about 200,000 years ago,’ says Thomas. ‘The problem with this approach is that you are looking at both the mutation rate and the effects of natural selection,’ he says. The technique would also miss multiple mutations in the same stretch of mtDNA, says Paul Sharp of the Institute of Genetics at Nottingham University, UK.

More recent studies have looked at the mtDNA of people who are distantly related but share a female ancestor. This approach has revealed higher mtDNA mutation rates. But the results have not been accepted by many scientists.

Knowing the exact rate of mutation in humans is very important for forensic science and studies of genetic disease, stresses Turnbill. Forensic identification often rests on comparing samples of DNA with samples from suspected relatives. Faster human molecular clocks could complicate established exact relationships, he says.”

Denver DR, Morris K, Lynch M, Vassilieva LL, Thomas WK. High direct estimate of the mutation rate in the mitochondrial genome of Caenorhabditis elegans. Science. 2000 Sep 29;289(5488):2342-4. (Link)  Also reported by: Emma Young, Running Slow, New Scientist, September 28, 2000. (Link)

Obviously then, these rates, based on more direct observations, are nowhere near those based on indirect evolutionary assumptions. This certainly does “complicate” things just a bit now doesn’t it? Isn’t it strange though that many scientists are still loath to accept these results? The bias in favor of both evolution as well as millions of years for assumed divergence times between creatures like apes and humans is so strong that changing the minds of those who hold such positions may be pretty much impossible.

For another example from a different species, direct comparisons of modern penguins with historically sequenced penguins have shown that their mtDNA mutation rates are 2 to 7 times faster than had previously been assumed through indirect methods.

Lambert, D.M., P.A. Ritchie, C.D. Millar, B. Holland, A.J. Drummond, and C. Baroni (2002) “Rates of evolution in ancient DNA from penguins.” Science 295: 2270-2273. (Link)

Certain of these problems have in fact led some scientists to stop using mitochondrial control-region sequences to reconstruct human phylogenies.

Ingman, Max, Henrik Kaessmann, Svante Paabo, and Ulf Gyllensten (2000), “Mitochondrial genome variation and the origin of modern humans,” Nature 408: 708-713. (Link)

Those scientist who continue to try and revise the molecular clock hypothesis have tried to slow down the clock by showing that some mtDNA regions mutate much more slowly than do other regions. The problem here is that such regions are obviously affected by natural selection. In other words, they are not functionally neutral with regard to selection pressures.

For example, real time experiments have shown that average mitochondrial genome mutation rates are around 6 x 10-8 mut/site/mitochondrial generation – in line with various estimates of average bacterial mutation rates (Compare with nDNA rate of 4.4 x 10-8 mut/site/human generation). With an average generation time of 45 days, that’s about 5 x 10-6 mut/site/year and 5 mut/site/myr.

This is about twice as high as Parsons’ rate of 2.5/mut/site/myr, but still about 40 to 50 times higher than rates based on phylogenetic comparisons and evolutionary assumptions. Still, this is the average rate of the entire mitochondrial genome of 16,000bp – including regions still under the restraints of natural selection. Functionally neutral regions would obviously sustain more mutations over a given span of time as compared with functionally constrained regions.

So, the most reasonable conclusion here, it would seem, is that this data strongly favors of the claims of the Bible – claims regarding distinct non-overlapping “kinds” of animals that were recently created and which recently survived a severe bottle-neck event in the form of a catastrophic world-wide Noachian Flood that occurred just a few thousand years ago (Link).  The genetic evidence that is currently in hand strongly supports that claim vs. the Darwinian story of origins where animals have existed and evolved continuously on this planet, beginning with a single common ancestor of all living things, over the course of hundreds of millions of years.  That story simply doesn’t predict the genetic evidence that is in hand today.  After all, the “missing links” within the genetic data are even more clear and striking than the missing links in the fossil record that “perplexed” Darwin so…

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31 thoughts on “Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species

  1. While data suggesting the hand of the Creator God in the creation of all living things is always welcome, one should exercise great caution in assuming the constancy of mutation rates. After all, God shortened human lifespans from ca. 900 years to ca. 70 years in only a few generations. Do you suppose He might have done that by altering mutation rates? Do you suppose that a powerful God who breathed life into a lump of clay could easily tinker with mutation rates? Furthermore, mutation rates would have highly variable effects on life forms in different species based upon average lifespans. Let us hope and pray that more scientists will be troubled by uncovering data that will lead them to trust the Genesis creation account as the only scientifically logical explanation of how we got here.

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    • I’m not sure why God would need to tinker with genetic mutation rates? It seems to me as though they would naturally occur without the need for Him to modify them…

      The interesting thing about mtDNA mutation rates is that they’re similar over a given span of time for a great many different kinds or species of animals – with most types of animals showing very similar numbers of neutral mutations. That’s unexpected from the Darwinian perspective of origins, but not at all unexpected from the Biblical perspective.

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  2. We may have observed mutation rates in the recent past, but how do we know what mutation rates were 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, or 6,000 years ago? Prior to roughly 6,000 years ago, we can safely say mutation rates were ZERO, as God’s creation was perfect, and there was no sin, death, or deterioration in the genomic code!

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  3. Prior to the fall of Adam and Eve, I’m not so sure everything decayed. Perhaps sin was the cause of the beginning of decay?

    I tend to agree with Ken that we really have no idea what mutation rates were in the past.

    “Gods ways are not our ways.”

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    • Yes, but the only reason why there was no genetic decay prior to the Fall was because God was actively preventing it. As soon as Adam and Eve left that active care of God (to at least some degree), they started to decay according to natural laws that govern such decay processes (such as thermodynamic as well as informational entropic forces). Another way to look at this is that decay is perfectly natural while non-decay would require deliberate intelligent effort to avoid – as in God performing active maintenance very similar to me mowing the lawn or fixing my car when things break over time. The existence of an old Model-T Ford on the road is evidence of active intelligent maintenance over time which has effectively combated the otherwise natural tendencies for decay outside of such careful maintenance and constant repairs.

      So, as far as the genetic mutation rates themselves, there’s no reason to believe, as far as I can tell anyway, that these were significantly different in the past several thousand years since the Flood than they are today. At minimum then, it seems pretty reasonable to me to conclude that genetic mutations can be used as a type of clock to roughly estimate the time that a population has existed since it’s most recent common ancestor existed (which for humans and land animals would be since the time of Noah at maximum).

      As a rule, I don’t think that God alters natural laws, but works within them in His general dealings with created beings like us. This allows us to reasonably understand the universe and the world in which we live – according to the predictable laws of nature that God originally set in place to govern the universe. It is the very predictability of theses laws that allows for scientific investigation to exist in a meaningful way.

      So, is God bound by these laws that He created? Of course not. However, it makes little sense for Him to create such laws only to then decide to consistently work outside of them so as to make our universe and world appear to be irrational, arbitrary or magical – unpredictable. I just don’t think that’s what happens now or what happened in the past as a general rule. This doesn’t exclude miracles of Divine power, of course, but I believe that these miracles are exceptions, not the rule, for the general workings of our world. That being said, the very predictability of our universe is one of the most magical things about it since it didn’t have to be set up to be such a predictable place. This is one of the main things that most intrigued Einstein.

      Albert Einstein in a letter to a friend (1956, Lettres a Maurice Solovine) commenting on the mathematical comprehensibility of the world noted:

      “You may find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world to the degree that we may speak of such comprehensibility as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well, a priori one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be in any way grasped through thought… The kind of order created, for example, by Newton’s theory of gravity is of quite a different kind. Even if the axioms of the theory are posited by a human being, the success of such an enterprise presupposes an order in the objective world of a high degree, which one has no a priori right to expect. That is the miracle which grows increasingly persuasive with the increasing development of knowledge.”

      Similarly, physicist Eugene Wigner in a widely quoted paper entitled, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences” (1960) wonders aloud regarding the predictability of the universe:

      “The enormous usefulness of mathematics is something bordering on the mysterious…There is no rational explanation for it…The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve…”

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  4. Decay is perfectly natural in a sinful world. There was NO decay prior to the Fall. Non-decay does not require active maintenance on the part of God. His creation was perfect and did not require maintenance like human creations require. Model T’s require active maintenance as they are human creations. The human body God created would have lasted an eternity if sin (disobedience) had not interrupted such perfection. That is when decay started. That is when the genomic code started to deteriorate. It ultimately led to disease and death. God cannot be compared to a mechanic in heaven, as His perfect creation does not require repairs. While the price of sin (disobedience) has been fully paid for, the restoration to perfection has not happened yet. Once it occurs (which I believe will be soon), there will be a complete restoration that will not require a “mechanic” for active maintenance, as decay, degeneration, decay, death (all those ugly D’s) will no longer exist.

    As for assuming that genetic mutations have occurred at a constant rate since the fall of Adam and Eve, we should consider the fallacies of assuming constant degradation of Carbon-14 and the problems such assumptions have created. As Creationists, we should exercise caution in making assertions we cannot prove.

    As for God being bound by His own laws, let us consider Jesus bringing perfect peace and tranquility just by commanding the elements to be still during a raging storm. We cannot understand such divine power over EVERYTHING, including the power to breath life into a lump of clay which was instantly transformed into a perfectly fine human body with over 5 billion base pairs (the human genome) and able to perfectly replicate without decay or deterioration of the system. Satan also has supernatural power, but God’s power is infinitely greater. Whenever there is supernatural activity, it can come from only of two sources. We do know for a fact that postdiluvian human life spans rapidly contracted from ca. 900 years to circa 70 years in just a few generations. I’m sure most Creationists would agree that God had a hand in this, and that this was not “natural”. Whether He did this by altering the mutation rate, we have no way of knowing, as mutation rates were not measured at that time and there is no way for us to reconstruct those past mutation rates.

    As for Einstein, Newton, and others, I would exercise restraint in following any of their religious or theological assumptions.

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    • We must remember that all of creation, even the holy angels in heaven, are dependent moment upon moment upon God’s active and continual care for their very existence. Apart from God’s active care, decay and ultimately death is inevitable. It wasn’t that God had to tweak something within Adam and Eve that allowed their otherwise perfect bodies to decay, grow old, and die. That’s not it at all. Rather, they started to decay as a natural consequence of stepping outside of God’s continual rejuvenating care for them and their bodies. For they were made out of nothing but dust from the ground and to dust they would easily and very naturally return without God’s intervention (Genesis 3:19).

      The consequences of sin, of separation from God, are naturally realized outside of any need for any direct act of God. God didn’t actively cause Adam and Eve to start to decay and get old and eventually die when they rebelled. That just happened over time because they were no longer being rejuvenated by Him – by eating from the Tree of Life as a symbol of their very close connection to God and His rejuvenating power in their lives. Otherwise, there would be no need for God in order for eternal life to exist – since God, according to your argument, is not required to maintain that which is already “perfect” and inherently eternal. Your argument suggests that God has made a bunch of other inherently immortal Gods. On the contrary, it is only “in Him” that we can “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Outside of Him and His constant care for us, we are not inherently immortal or God-like. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5) – literally! Without God’s active and constant care, we could not exist. We are not like God in this respect and never will be.

      Just so there’s no confusion here, the Bible is quite clear that only God is inherently immortal (1 Timothy 6:16) – having life within Himself that is unborrowed and underived (John 5:26 and John 1:4). Everything else “borrows” life from God. And, without God, everything else would naturally decay over time and die. Even when we get to heaven, the leaves of the Tree of Life will be “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). This will be a constant reminder to us all, throughout eternity, that everything we are and have is dependent upon God – always.

      I like how Ellen White puts it here:

      It is not by an original power inherent in nature that year by year the earth produces its bounties and the world keeps up its continual march around the sun. The hand of infinite power is perpetually at work guiding this planet. It is God’s power momentarily exercised that keeps it in position in its rotations. The God of heaven is constantly at work. It is by His power that vegetation is caused to flourish, that every leaf appears and every flower blooms. It is not as the result of a mechanism, that, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. Every breath, every throb of the heart, is the continual evidence of the power of an ever-present God. It is God that maketh the sun to rise in the heavens. He openeth the windows of heaven and giveth rain. He maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains. “He giveth snow like wool: and scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.” “When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, … he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.” Although the Lord has ceased His work in creating, He is constantly employed in upholding and using as His servants the things which He has made. Said Christ, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (EGW, Manuscript 4, 1882).

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    • @Ken Christman: Ken, I am a creationist, and I believe in the constant degradation of carbon 14. In fact, recent advances in the carbon 14 dating of fossils tends to support creationism. Nuclear decay (fission) and also the second law of thermodynamics appear to be built in to God’s creation, and I doubt that they are a result of sin. Furthermore, the lives of Adam and Eve were only sustained as they ate the fruit from the tree of life which God had provided. I think I have to agree with Sean on this one.

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  5. Sean, thank you for an excellent article. I do have some clarification questions. First, this study indicates that “almost all animal species on Earth today emerged about the same time as humans.” However, we creationists commonly speak of baramins (created kinds) that were created at the same time, but we also state that speciation has subsequently occurred within these created kinds. So how does this fit with almost all current animal species emerging at the same time as humans? Also, how do extinct animals like trilobites and dinosaurs fit into this scenario? And what about plants? I ask because we believe that all animals (present and extinct), as well as plants, emerged during a literal creation week, which was essentially at the same time.

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    • Yes, the basic created “kinds” (like all dogs, for instance, arising from the original wolf “kind” or all the animals in the Equidae Family such as horses, donkeys, and zebras that can all produce viable hybrids with each other) gave rise to specialized variations of the original gene pool of options (largely through Mendelian variation). The mitochondrial differences within each animal “species” would, therefore, be no greater than that of the original gene pool. If significant divergence took place fairly rapidly after the Flood (as for the various kinds of cats for instance – from lions to house cats) most of the resulting “species” would have a similar mitochondrial age (with some being a bit younger – as per the following illustration):

      As far as extinct animals, like dinosaurs and trilobites, we don’t have their mitochondrial DNA to analyze. But, if we did, their mtDNA would probably be a bit older since they died during the Flood so they didn’t go through the population bottleneck of those land animals and birds that made it through the Flood on the Ark. I’d be curious about sea animals however – since they probably didn’t go through the same degree of population bottleneck since they survived outside of the Ark.

      The mtDNA of plants isn’t the same as that of animals. There’s a lot more variation of size and variation of genetic elements in plant mtDNA as compared to animals. So, it’s a lot harder to compare plant mtDNA as far as a molecular clock is concerned. However, there may be a way of doing this of which I’m not yet aware…

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  6. I’m very impressed with the graphic that Dr. Pitman provided with his article and comment. It shows the kind of evolution that has proceeded from a geologically recent world wide flood that Dr. Pitman believes in.. I assume that that flood event would be dated something on the order of 4000 to 5000 years ago. Dr. Pitman might correct this assumption. But if that assumption is correct, then the rates of biological evolution must have been orders of magnitude more rapid than anything that evolutionary biologists currently posit. I’m gratified that Dr. Pitman has accepted that evolution has occurred, but then also believes that natural evolutionary processes can change organisms very, very rapidly. Interesting.

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    • Phenotypic variation in the form of Mendelian variation and epigenetic changes can and do happen very very rapidly indeed. However, there are clear informational limitations to these mechanisms that won’t produce novel “kinds” of information or animals beyond the information content of the original gene pool for that kind of animal. In other words, you’re not going to get from a cat to a dog or a lizard to a bird or any other such Darwinian leap that requires the evolution of truly novel systems of function beyond very very low levels of functional complexity.

      In fact, fairly recently, it has been shown that most of the changes to Darwin’s famous finch species are the result of epigenetic modifications, not so much the result of actual genetic differences…

      https://www.biomedcentral.com/about/press-centre/science-press-releases/24-08-17

      Also, pretty much all the modern breeds of dog, from the chihuahua to the Great Dane, where produced in only the last 300 years or so – based largely on Mendelian variation of the original gene pool of options (i.e., the wolf gene pool).

      http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/radioactive-clocks-and-the-true-age-of-life-on-earth-2/#Rapid-Speciation

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      • Dr. Pitman is being very disingenuous. And I think he knows that he is. The statement that all of the breeds of dog were produced in only the last 300 years or so fails to mention that in every case the breeding was not “natural” but was directed by a human agency for a specific purpose. That has nothing to do with “natural selection” processes, unless, of course, Dr. Pitman wishes to argue that God did the same thing that animal breeders do to produce some desired outcome. Now that would inject a new idea into the mix.

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        • As with natural selection, a human breeder does not manipulate the underlying genetics directly. A human dog breeder, for instance, uses phenotypic-based selection – which is, as you know, exactly what is used by natural selection. The basic mechanism is the same. Mendelian variation and epigenetic variation allow for the very rapid generation of different phenotypes based on the same static underlying gene pool of options. This allows for very rapid preferential selection by nature or by a breeder. There simply is no need for “millions of years” to produce such rapid phenotypic changes because no truly novel information is being produced. It was all already present in the pre-existing parental gene pool of genetic options.

          What this means, of course, is that phenotypic variation can be very very rapid indeed, but still very limited to within the range of the pre-programmed information of the original parental gene pool of phenotypic options. In other words, a dog is always going to be a dog. It’s never going to evolve into something other than a dog no matter how much selection pressure is placed upon a population by a breeder or by nature. There are limits to phenotypic changes beyond what evolution via random mutations and natural selection (or human selection for that matter) can achieve this side of a practical eternity of time.

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  7. With regard to the 14C issue, Dr. Pitman stated that there were “from significant amounts of 14C being present in dinosaur soft tissues . . .” That’s news to me. If he would do me the favor of citing a published article to that effect, I would be most appreciative. What he perhaps is referring to is the reports of 14C “dates” being run on dinosaur bone. I have run what are reputed to be dinosaur bone (I have no reason to think it was not) and got a finite 14C age as I suspected that I would since there was absolutely no >30 kD gelatin residue left to date. The carbon that was “dated” was clearly trace amounts of contamination and had nothing to do with the age of the dinosaur. As for the argument that 14C is found in fossil carbon sources which should contain no 14C, an article in the journal Radiocarbon was recently published. The reference is Taylor RE, Southon JR, Santos GM. 2018. Misunderstandings concerning the significance of AMS background 14C measurements. Radiocarbon 60(3):727-749. It always helps to some data to back up ones assertions. I know this is not a high priority with someone who knows that his interpretation of the bible is absolutely true.

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    • Doesn’t sound like your dinosaur bone fragment was very well preserved. Why not run your AMS on actual dinosaur soft tissues that have been carefully extracted and isolated from dinosaur bones? – soft and elastic tissues and collagen with blood vessels and blood cells which have been shown, repeatedly, to have quite a bit of 14C still there which is very difficult to argue was from “contamination” as you always argue? – since it is so consistent and so uniform in its distribution? – far above the “background” 14C measurements of an AMS system as cited in your own papers?

      I also read your 2007 paper awhile back in which you argued the very same thing. However, as far as I can tell, you did not and you still do not address the reality of high levels of uniformly distributed 14C in the soft tissues of dinosaur bones and the like which are well within the range of AMS to detect (i.e., in the 15-40kyr range by reputable independent labs). For example, soft tissue from the triceratops horn found by Mark Armitage was dated by AMS. This sample (along with many others) was sent to the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia in 2012 to test for Carbon-14. The bone was dated by them to 33,570 years before present. Contamination? How then are we supposed to trust any 14C date that is consistently within this same range? You simply don’t address this apparent problem with your position – As Dr. John Baumgardner noted regarding your 2007 paper:

      As part of the background of their paper, Taylor and Southon list six potential sources of contamination for samples analyzed in AMS laboratories. At the very top of their list is “Pseudo 14C-free sample: 14C is present in carboniferous material that should not contain 14C because of its geological age.” By placing this item first, they acknowledge what has long been known by AMS radiocarbon specialists: namely, that the vast majority of samples that ought to be completely 14C-free because of their geological context display 14C levels far beyond what can be accounted for by sources attributable to laboratory procedures or equipment design.

      Indeed, they implicitly acknowledge this in the first paragraph of their introduction by mentioning 14C ages of 47.9 ka for a marble sample and 52.1 ka for a Pliocene wood sample, both far beyond the AMS 100,000-year detection limit they mention in their first sentence. It is astonishing that these authors never attribute this discrepancy to any one of the six possible explanations they list later in the article. In fact, they are completely silent as to just what the correct explanation might be. This silence is all the more noteworthy since the 14C level in the marble sample is 546 times the detection limit of their AMS system. (Link)

      These observations and questions were presented to you several times over the past ten years or so, but a substantive response has been lacking… at least as far as I can tell.

      Now, it is certainly true that there is a real risk of contamination when handling such specimens, but how does one explain the nearly universal nature of this in situ contamination? As Dr. Giem notes, “It is difficult to imagine a natural process contaminating wood, whale bone, petroleum and coal, all roughly to the same extent. It is especially difficult to imagine all parts of a coal seam being contaminated equally.”

      The same seems to be true for very well preserved dinosaur soft tissues. So, why not test it yourself?

      The same question was asked of Mary Schweitzer in 2010 and she answered, “Not now” (Link). But, why not now? What’s the problem with running a 14C test on an sample of pure dinosaur soft tissue? – aside from the problems it would cause for the Darwinian paradigm if/when it comes back positive? Why are AMS labs flatly refusing to run dinosaur samples? – despite very good original soft tissue preservation? What about your lab? – hmmmm?

      Even when offered $20k to test their very well preserved original dinosaur soft tissues, Jack Horner and Mary Schweitzer refused. Why? In a moment of honesty Horner says:

      “Your group is obviously a group of creationists and the spin they can get off of it is not gonna help us.” (Link)

      What about the “spin” if the AMS tests came back negative (greater than 100kyrs)? What about just getting the data and seeing what happens? Isn’t that was “science” is all about? Why should a true scientist be so nervous about doing all available tests?

      After all, this isn’t the only bit of evidence in favor of the recent origin of these dinosaur tissues. Kinetic chemistry experiments have also shown that such soft tissues and proteins should have been completely degraded within less than a few hundred thousand years at best at ambient temperatures. The current argument that iron helps to preserve soft tissues like formaldehyde doesn’t really solve the problem of protein or DNA kinetic chemistry decay (Link).

      For example, Allentoft, M.E. et al. (2012) argued that no intact DNA bonds can be expected at 22,000 years at 25°C, 131,000 years at 15°C, 882,000 years at 5°C; and even if it could somehow be kept continually below freezing point at –5°C, it could survive only 6.83 Ma. Basically, DNA has about a “521 year half-life” (Link).

      “Even under the best preservation conditions at –5°C, our model predicts that no intact bonds (average length = 1 bp [base pair]) will remain in the DNA ‘strand’ after 6.8 Myr. This displays the extreme improbability of being able to amplify a 174 bp DNA fragment from an 80–85 Myr old Cretaceous bone.”

      And, this statement was published well after Schweitzer made her discoveries of fragments of protein and DNA within dinosaur soft tissues. This statement is also interesting because dinosaur bones are generally believed to have experienced greater than 20°C temperatures for tens of millions of years (Buckley, et al., 2008).

      Other features, such as rapid desiccation and high salt concentrations, may also prolong DNA survival (Lindahl 1993). However, kinetic calculations still predict that small fragments of DNA (100–500 bp) will survive for no more than 10 kyr in temperate regions and for a maximum of 100 kyr at colder latitudes (Poinar et al. 1996; Smith et al. 2001).

      And, the half-life for the average protein is similar since the “peptide bond has a half-life of 400 years” (Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009; 611: xci–xcviii). However, some proteins, such as collagen in particular, appear to have somewhat longer half-lives of ~2,000 years at ambient temperatures (Buckley, et al., 2008).

      This data alone should be enough to call into serious question the notion that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago…

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  8. You mean that a YEC actually offered to put their money where their mouth is? Wonder of wonders. May I ask who specifically offered $20,000 to do a 14C measurement on dinosaur soft tissue? You probably do not realize that such an experiment would not be a trivial exercise. One would have to check how much contamination is introduced during the extraction of the dinosaur soft tissue and whether someone in the same lab uses tracer 14C, etc. etc. But first things first. Please tell me who actually offered money to do the experiment? If you do not want to post the name and contact information here, my email address is retaylor@ucr.edu.

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    • I already put a link to the video clip regarding this if you care to watch it…

      It’s in the interview between Jack Horner and Bob Enyart:

      Jack Horner, Jurassic Park’s original technical guy,has refused even to this very day to accept Bob Enyart’s offer to pay Jack $23,000 (including expenses) to carbon date his famous “dino soft-tissue” T-Rex discovery in Montana… simply letting the cards fall where they may. Jack Horner stated on a recorded audio — after Bob Enyart had increased the amount several times from $10,000 in order to get the basic C-14 testing done — Jack stated that it didn’t have anything to do with the amount of money, and that no amount of money would get the C-14 test done… as doing the test (his words), “that wouldn’t help us.”

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  9. I asked Dr. Pitman: “With regard to the 14C issue, Dr. Pitman stated that there were “from significant amounts of 14C being present in dinosaur soft tissues . . .” That’s news to me. If he would do me the favor of citing a published article to that effect, I would be most appreciative.” Is the significant amounts of 14C you referenced based only on the 14C date report? If so, how do you know that it was “significant amounts of 14C”? If not, could you please give me a reference? Thank you.

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    • As I’ve previously shown you in this discussion and others, many dinosaur specimens have been sent to very respectable AMS laboratories who carefully process specimens to avoid contamination – yet consistently return 14C dates for these specimens in the range of 15-40kyrs (Link).

      Now, have these dates been published in mainstream literature? Of course not. Why not? Because, as I’ve already pointed out, evolutionists (like Jack Horner, Mary Schweitzer, and even you) don’t want to do their own tests on dinosaur soft tissues and actually publish them in mainstream journals… even when offered $25k, on top of expenses, to get the job done (Link). And, they don’t want anyone else doing these tests and publishing the results in mainstream journals either. When someone does try to publish results like this, in a mainstream venue, they are blocked (Link). Why is this? Because, to quote Jack Horner, “That wouldn’t help us.” Jack went on to explain that it didn’t have anything to do with the amount of money – that no amount of money would get the C-14 test done and published by any mainstream science journal. Does that sound like a scientific position to you? – or a philosophical position that must be defended at all cost?

      Previous attempts to publish C-14 test results have been repeatedly blocked by mainstream scientists in general. Raw data, without interpretation, was blocked from presentation in conference proceedings by the 2009 North American Paleontological Convention, the American Geophysical Union in 2011 and 2012, the Geological Society of America in 2011 and 2012, and by the editors of various scientific journals. The Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, who conducted C-14 tests on dinosaur bones, without knowing what they were, refused to conduct further C-14 tests after finding they were testing dinosaur bones. There seems to be a bit of a bias going on here.

      Your mantra of “contamination” just isn’t convincing at this point given the abundance of very well preserved original dinosaur soft tissue (and other forms of original organic material) all dating within the same range as mammoths and mastodons. There are numerous instances of 14C being discovered in dinosaur soft tissues by those who have sent well-preserved specimens for AMS analysis (with many such labs no longer accepting such specimens because of the politics involved). This is on top of the multiple other lines of evidence backing up the recent existence of dinosaurs on this planet – particularly the very well preserved soft tissues, sequencable proteins and antigenic DNA fragments.

      Again, why not just do the AMS test on well-preserved soft tissues and publish the results? Why are evolutionists so scared to perform and publish such tests on dinosaur soft tissues? – tissues that they themselves thought impossible to exist just a few years ago due to the solid science of tissue, protein and DNA decay? Are you guys scientists or not?

      As an aside, do you now understand the relevance of animal breeding when it comes to the potential and limits of evolution via natural selection?

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  10. I have checked with the director of the lab which was supposed to have dated a “soft tissue” extract and he wrote back almost immediately that what they had been given was a whole bone, not a “soft tissue” extract and the bone was badly degraded from the point of view of any organic carbon. The date they obtained was obviously contamination and they reported that fact to the submitter. Apparently, another example, in a long string of examples of YEC/YLC creationists, who can’t keep his facts straight. Ordinarily, I would suggest that the submitter lied, or does not know the difference between a lie and the truth, or does not know the difference between a whole bone and a “soft tissue” extract but that’s not nice, so I won’t say it.

    As for understanding the relevance of animal breeding, yes I certainly understand that and it still has nothing to do with the situation with regard to natural selection in a natural environment. I wonder if you understand that. It was clear to Alfred Russell Wallace, who, with Darwin, first came up with the idea of natural selection, that you could not use animal breeding experiments to simulate natural evolution.

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    • I have checked with the director of the lab which was supposed to have dated a “soft tissue” extract and he wrote back almost immediately that what they had been given was a whole bone, not a “soft tissue” extract and the bone was badly degraded from the point of view of any organic carbon. The date they obtained was obviously contamination and they reported that fact to the submitter.

      That’s hard to believe given that many dates on many different specimens where reported by The Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, and others, without any mention of contamination – using the same procedures that they would for a portion of mammoth or mastodon bone (and no one claimed here to have submitted a “soft tissue extract”). After all, the youngest radiocarbon date for a mammoth fossil (3685 ± 60 yr BP) comes from the remains of one discovered on Wrangel Island off the north-eastern Siberian coast (Vartanyan et al. 2008). Yet, no one cites “contamination” when discussing such dates for mammoths. Also, great care was taken to prevent contamination when obtaining the dinosaur bone specimens that were dated. It’s hard to imagine, then, how these dinosaur bones could have been contaminated to the degree that you suggest – which would have had to be between from 1% (40kyr BP) to up to 10% (20kyr BP) of the total carbon within the bone (Plaisted, 2017).

      AMS labs know this. You see, it wasn’t until the AMS lab at the University of Georgia discovered that the bone specimens they were analyzing were actually dinosaur bones that they recanted their own results and refused to do any additional 14C testing. Up until this point, they never suspected such a degree of contamination… a mechanism for which is quite difficult to imagine.

      Note that both the whole bone and bioapatite in the dinosaur bone was dated. The bioapatite was C14 dated at 41,010 ± 220 years BP, having 0.61 ± 0.02 pMC (percent modern carbon). No mention of “contamination” is listed here. The very fact that they separated out the whole bone date from the bioapatite date is what makes me think they really thought they had original bioapatite from the bone sample.

      A couple years later this was followed by:

      Consider also that the triceratops horn was well preserved and had well preserved soft tissue within it, to include blood vessels and cellular structures (Link). The fossil’s bioapatite was dated (not the well-preserved soft tissue, which is interesting). According to a 2009 report in the journal Radiocarbon, bioapatite is actually preferable to soft tissue in many cases. Yet, it was also 14C dated by AMS at 33,570 ± 120 years. How is that explained?

      Then, there is this report from John Fischer (2014):

      Triceratops and Hadrosaur femur bones in excellent condition were discovered in Glendive Montana, and our group received permission to saw them in half and collect samples for Carbon-14 testing. Both bones were tested by a licensed lab for presence of collagen. Both bones did in fact contain some collagen. The best process (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) was used to date them. Total organic carbon and dinosaur bioapatite was extracted and pretreated to remove potential contaminants, and concordant radiocarbon dates were obtained. They were similar to radiocarbon dates for ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers of the Los Angeles LaBrea Tarpits, sloth dung, and giant bison. (Link)

      Notice here that both the bioapatite and the collagen within the bone was 14C dated by AMS with resulting “concordant radiocarbon dates” – which is usually used to support the argument that the dates obtained where not the result of contamination.

      Now, is this conclusive evidence that dinosaur remains are not millions of years old? I wouldn’t say that this data is conclusive in and of itself – taken one test at a time. After all, a particular lab might not have been able to completely isolate a particular fossil’s original bioapatite – so a particular result may have contamination in it as you suggest. However, I do think that after a certain point of consistent results from multiple tests by multiple labs the weight of evidence starts to add up – adding credibility to the idea that perhaps dinosaurs are not millions of years old after all. When you also consider the fact that pretty much all dinosaur bones with residual organic material in them (and other things that are supposed to be millions of years old – like coal and oil and other “ancient” organic remains) have been consistently dated as only being 15k-40k years old, you have to at least conclude that there is something wrong somewhere. Either the 14C dating system is not as robust as some want to believe, or the fossils are not as old as some want to believe. This is particularly relevant given the existence of very finely preserved original dinosaur soft tissues, proteins, and DNA fragments that simply shouldn’t be there according to all known data on the decay rates of such things.

      Here’s an interesting presentation 15-minute presentation (Link) that was given by Dr. Thomas Seiler, a German physicist. In it, he reports on the carbon dating of dinosaur bones, other megafauna (such as mammoths), and plants. In all cases, these materials are supposed to be millions of years old, but they all have detectable levels of carbon-14 in them. Of course, one possible explanation for these results is, yet again, contamination. It is possible that “modern” carbon has infiltrated into all these samples, and that’s what is being detected. However, Dr. Seiler presents several arguments that tend to cast doubt on the contamination explanation. First, all the standard treatment used to make a fossil ready for carbon dating was done, which is supposed to get rid of contamination. Second, in some cases, they were examining actual proteins, such as collagen. If “modern” carbon contaminated these fossils, how did it become incorporated into the original collagen? Third, there are some chemicals (like humic acid) that are common contaminants, and it was confirmed that the treatment done on the samples removed those contaminants. Fourth, the amount of carbon in the vicinity of the fossil decreased as you moved away from the fossil. This indicates carbon was “leaking out” of the fossil, not moving into it.

      Here’s another interesting article on this topic written by Dr. Jay Wile (2012): Link

      So anyway, again I ask you, why not run your own tests? Or why doesn’t Jack Horner or Mary Schweitzer do it with pure finely-preserved dinosaur soft tissues?

      _________________

      As far as breeding vs. natural selection, what’s the real difference if both select based on phenotype alone? You wrote:

      It was clear to Alfred Russell Wallace, who, with Darwin, first came up with the idea of natural selection, that you could not use animal breeding experiments to simulate natural evolution.

      Please do explain this to me. After all, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing special about the selective breeding of animals in this regard. Even a human breeder could never get one “kind” of animal to evolve into another “kind” of animal (where novel functional genetic options are produced within the gene pool) using breeding techniques with very high selection pressures alone. Why not? Because, selective animal breeding produces no novel information within the gene pool of the animal population in question. Breeding is based on a simple selection of pre-existing information as it is expressed in the various phenotypes of the offspring over time. Exactly the same thing is true of natural selection – which can also produce very rapid phenotypic changes, in the wild, in response to rapidly changing environments or the sudden realization of entirely new environments based on the very same underlying static gene pool of options (no genetic mutations required).

      By the way, it was Darwin himself who coined the term ‘selective breeding’; he was interested in the process as an illustration of his proposed wider process of natural selection. Charles Darwin discussed how selective breeding had been successful in producing change over time in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Its first chapter he actually discusses selective breeding and domestication of such animals as pigeons, cats, cattle, and dogs. (Link)

      Wallace, on the other hand, argued that the development of the human mind and some bodily attributes were guided by spiritual beings rather than natural selection… (Link)

      But please, do explain my mistake here regarding the fundamental differences between the selective breeding of animals vs. natural selection. I’d be most interested, because this concept is fundamental to my own understanding of the clear limits of Darwinian-style evolution via random mutations and natural selection.

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  11. It appears to me that you can not admit that well-understood scientific data simply disconfirms your views because, in my opinion, your views and those who agree with you are not based on scientific evidence, but on religiously-based convictions. This is one of the problems with which the founders of modern science in the 16th Century were confronted. They got around it very skillfully by arguing that anything having to do with religion should be consigned to the supernatural and they were not addressing the nature of the supernatural. They were addressing the nature of the natural world. Period. You, on the other hand, are mixing the two to the detriment of both.

    The reason that no competent scientist will date the “soft tissue” of dinosaur bones is probably because the techniques used to extract that material seriously contaminate the extract from a 14C perspective. I am checking on that with several biochemists, but I suspect that this is true.

    You will never believe that I would love to be able to say that dinosaurs are less than 10,000 years old and have scientific evidence that can stand being critically examined to that effect. Just think how famous I would become! However, that is not what the current scientific evidence says. All of the evidence presented by you and those who agree with you have been dealt with so many times by so many competent scientists that a reasonable individual would almost certainly say something like: Well, anyone who continues to dispute the scientific evidence on this point apparently just can’t bring themselves to admit the truth of the matter for some religious reason.

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    • You wrote:

      The reason that no competent scientist will date the “soft tissue” of dinosaur bones is probably because the techniques used to extract that material seriously contaminate the extract from a 14C perspective. I am checking on that with several biochemists, but I suspect that this is true.

      If that’s the case, then how can radiocarbon dating be relied upon to date the remains of mammoths or other late Pleistocene animals? How can you have your cake and eat it too?

      Beyond this, aren’t there supposed to be ways to detect and eliminate contamination and to harvest material without causing significant 14C contamination? – especially when it comes to very well preserved collagen and other original soft tissues (as well as bioapatite)? After all, we’re talking about a lot of contamination here – up to 10% of the total carbon within the dinosaur bone. What kind of source could explain such a high degree of contamination? Also, as an expert in radiocarbon dating, isn’t it basic procedure for those in your profession to be able to detect if not remove 14C contamination from specimens? – as part of the AMS testing process?

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but if collagen and bioapatite fractions show concordant radiocarbon dating, then isn’t this taken as a valid radiocarbon date? free of significant contamination?

      If so, this is what was done with the dating of some dinosaur bone specimens as well: “Collagen and bone bioapatite and/or total bone organics gave concordant C-14 dates after careful extraction and purification of those fractions.” (Link)

      Is this not the proper procedure? Is this not what is also done when dating ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers, sloth dung, and giant bison?

      All of the evidence presented by you and those who agree with you have been dealt with so many times by so many competent scientists that a reasonable individual would almost certainly say something like: Well, anyone who continues to dispute the scientific evidence on this point apparently just can’t bring themselves to admit the truth of the matter for some religious reason.

      An argument from authority already? That’s the best you have? As long as it’s popular among the experts in a given field of science, even if one doesn’t personally understand it and suspects that something isn’t quite right, you’d recommend just going with the flow without question? – trusting that someone else must know the answers?

      Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to admit that the popular opinion of experts in a particular field of study should be taken into careful consideration. However, such “expert opinion” isn’t the end-all of science and has often turned out to not only to be wrong, but painfully wrong. I guess it’s Ok if I’m too lazy or don’t care enough about a particular topic to investigate it for myself to simply trust in the expert opinion of the day. However, let’s not confuse that with conclusive “science” or a valid scientific explanation. Such blind appeals to the authority of “experts” or the status quo within the scientific community, by themselves, are not at all helpful when it comes to answering valid questions in that they have no explanatory power in a discussion like this one. After all, don’t you realize that this is the very same tactic often used by those promoting some religious agenda? – who don’t have anything else beyond an appeal to authority to fall back on? – no reasonably understandable argument besides, “My holy book says so”? – or “most theologians agree”? I believe it was Carl Sagan who once said:

      One of the great commandments of science is, “Mistrust arguments from authority.” … Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else. – Sagan (July 6, 2011)

      Consider also this humerus exchange between Socrates and Meno:

        Meno: Is this true about yourself, Socrates, that you don’t even know what virtue is? Is this the report that we are to take home about you?

        Socrates: Not only that, you may also say that, to the best of my belief, I have never met anyone else who did know.

        Meno: What! Didn’t you meet Gorgias when he was here?

        Socrates: Yes.

        Meno: And you still didn’t think he knew?

        Socrates: I’m a forgetful sort of person, and I can’t say just now what I thought at the time. Probably he did know, and I expect you know what he used to say about it. So remind me what it was, or tell me yourself if you will. No doubt you agree with him.

        Meno: Yes, I do.

        Socrates: Then let’s leave him out of it, since after all he isn’t here. What do you yourself say virtue is?

        – Plato, Meno, 71c, W. Guthrie, trans., Collected Dialogs (1961), p. 354

      So, I ask you again: In your own words, please do explain to me where, exactly, mainstream scientists have so clearly and reasonably dealt with some of the fundamental problems of Darwinian-style evolution that seem so difficult to me? You don’t even appear to understand the difference between Mendelian variation and the mechanism of Darwinian evolution (random mutations in the underlying gene pool combined with natural selection). You don’t seem to understand that animal breeding is based on phenotypic selection alone, as is natural selection, or that Darwin himself used animal breeding as an illustration of how natural selection is supposed to work. Where can any reasonable explanation be found as to how novel genetic information can enter a given gene pool, via the Darwinian mechanism, beyond the very lowest levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time? Also, where has any scientist produced a reasonable explanation as to how very well-preserved soft tissues, proteins, and antigenic fragments of DNA can be preserved for even 100k years? – at ambient temperatures? These are honest and sincere questions for which I have found no reasonable answers from anyone – scientists or otherwise. If you know the answers, if they are so obvious to you, why not share them with me here?

      I’m sorry, but it seems to me, at this point in my own search, that you, and scientists in general, are not immune from personal bias or from philosophical/religious motivations – or from peer pressure (the fear of being unpopular in your community). In short, you’re human just like the rest of us. 😉

      One more thing, your notion that religion and science do not and cannot mix is fundamentally at odds with the existence of a personal God who created the universe and died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. If such a God actually exists, He is the Creator of science and scientific thinking as well as everything else and His Signature can therefore be rationally detected in the things that He has made (Psalms 19:1-3). If this cannot be achieved, then your notion of “God” is essentially the same as atheism – for all practical purposes.

      I’m sorry, but William Provine, late professor of biological sciences at Cornell University, makes much more sense here (in a speech he gave for a 1998 Darwin Day keynote address):

      Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly.

        No gods worth having exist;
        No life after death exists;
        No ultimate foundation for ethics exists;
        No ultimate meaning in life exists; and
        Human free will is nonexistent.

      Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.

      Provine also wrote, “In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.” – Academe January 1987, pp.51-52

      It seems to me that Provine was right and was most consistent with the implications of accepting neo-Darwinian claims. Darwinian-style evolution is just one more argument for the philosophical position of “Philosophical Naturalism” – a position that suggests that everything within the physical world, everything that we can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell, is ultimately the result of non-deliberate mindless forces of nature. And, you yourself can’t tell the difference since, as you once said, you wouldn’t be able to give your own granddaughter any good evidence for the existence of God if she were to ask you for such evidence. Why then do you even pretend? – why even give lip service to Christianity?

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