Comment on Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species by Sean Pitman.
Aside, of course, from significant amounts of 14C being present in dinosaur soft tissues and the like…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
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.
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
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…”
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
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…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…