known as “old Earth” creationists, accept that the Earth may be very old but reject other scientific findings regarding the evolution of living things.
No scientific evidence supports these viewpoints. On the contrary, as discussed earlier, several independent lines of evidence indicate that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that the universe is about 14 billion years old. Rejecting the evidence for these age estimates would mean rejecting not just biological evolution but also fundamental discoveries of modern physics, chemistry, astrophysics, and geology.
Some creationists believe that Earth’s present form and the distribution of fossils can be explained by a worldwide flood. But this claim also is at odds with observations and evidence understood scientifically. The belief that Earth’s sediments, with their fossils, were deposited in a short period does not accord either with the known processes of sedimentation or with the estimated volume of water needed to deposit sediments on the top of some of Earth’s highest mountains.
Creationists sometimes cite what they claim to be an incomplete fossil record as evidence that living things were created in their modern forms. But this argument ignores the rich and extremely detailed record of evolutionary history that paleontologists and other biologists have constructed over the past two centuries and are continuing to construct. Paleontological research has filled in many of the parts of the fossil record that were incomplete in Charles Darwin’s time. The claim that the fossil record is “full of gaps” that undermine evolution is simply false. Indeed, paleontologists now know enough about the ages of sediments to predict where they will be able to find particularly significant transitional fossils, as happened with Tiktaalik and the ancestors of modern humans. Researchers also are using new techniques, such as computed axial tomography (CT), to learn even more about the internal structures and composition of delicate bones of fossils. Exciting new discoveries of fossils continue to be reported in both the scientific literature and popular media.
[CT: A medical imaging technique that generates a three-dimensional view of some object by combining a series of two-dimensional X-ray images of “slices” of that object.]
Another compelling feature of the fossil record is its consistency. Nowhere on Earth are fossils from dinosaurs, which went extinct 65 million years ago, found together with fossils from humans, who evolved in just the last few million years. Nowhere are the fossils of mammals found in sediments that are more than about 220 million years old. Whenever creationists point to sediments where these relationships appear to be altered or even reversed, scientists have clearly demonstrated that this reversal has resulted from the folding of geological strata over or under others. Sediments containing the fossils of only unicellular organisms appear earlier in the fossil record than do sediments containing the remains of both unicellular and multicellular organisms. The sequence of fossils across Earth’s sediments points unambiguously toward the occurrence of evolution.