Do Fossils Last For Millions of Years ? Below is a transcript of a podcast by I.C.R. Research Scientist
and Paleobiochemist Dr. Brian Thomas.
Hello everyone welcome to The Creation Podcast a show where we discuss science that confirms
scripture I'm your host Ivana and my guest today is Dr Brian Thomas ICR research scientist and
paleobiochemist thank you for being here today Dr Thomas my pleasure of course, great well today we
wanted to talk about maybe one of your favorite subjects I hope and I imagine you know quite a
bit about fossils but to start us off can you just tell me what is a fossil a fossil is uh
just the remains of a once living thing and so we when we talk about fossil it could take a whole
bunch of different forms uh it could be like a carbonized like impression where you where the
organism got squished in mud and then baked and so everything that was organic turned into a thin
film of carbon so you like have the outline of the creature so that's one type of fossil you have
footprints that's another type of fossil and then what I was taught what a fossil is you have a bone
and then the bone gets replaced by minerals so now you have a rock basically in the shape of the
bone but all the original you know bone material is supposed to be gone and what I've discovered
in investigating fossils firsthand is that's not usually the case and so if you have a bone that's
got um it's got some minerals in it the minerals came from the outside we call it permineralization
where it fills the little pore spaces in the bone of p-o-r-e these little gaps, it's partially
mineralized per mineralized so that's another form of fossil but there's a rare form it's I
don't know how rare it is it's becoming less and less rare but the most interesting fossil to me is
just leftover animal it's like a naturally mummified carcass.
So it hasn't been carbonized it hasn't been mineralized it's just a old bone it in the dirt in the
ground and so what we're finding is more and more examples of these
and that's really interesting because it's made of the original animal and how can
it be there still you know that's the question I'm trying to answer. Wow thank you that is very
interesting and if I were or if you were to ask the average scientist what kind of ages would you
assign to these fossils ?. All scientists are trained to think in terms of the secular age and time
scale which would be millions and tens of millions and hundreds of millions of years depending on
which layer of course the lowest layers that have fossils in them would have the hundreds of
millions of years age assignments attached to those layers and the fossils that are in them
and and layers above that would be younger so tens of millions and then the uppermost layers
uh younger as you ascend the the rock column in any given location and generally that's
that's that holds true the relative timing it's older in the bottom younger at the top but the
absolute age assignments I've grown sceptical of those I really have I used to believe
of course it's 100 million years old because scientists have proven it and they use science
to prove it and then and then later on I thought wait what science do they use and
I started to investigate that and I found holes in that and then after after I began to doubt
the age assignments um based on how holy the process was then I then I thought well
wait a minute now there's positive evidence for recently deposited fossils in the form of these
original biochemicals that are still in there because they look young they look fresh yeah
that's what really piques my interest with these these fossils is the tissues in them not
generally it's not whole tissues you know like a I don't know like a chunk of liver or something
it's still floppy that's not what we find in the fossils it's really generally dried down
real really crispy but it's original biochemistry
you know you've got proteins and lipids and DNAs
I guess sugars no one's done a lot of looking specifically for sugars yet but
they'll find it it's there so you mentioned that they're giving these age assignments and
that you know it should start oldest obviously to youngest but um how do they get to those numbers
can you explain that process so part of it has to do with history so there's a historical precedent
that we have to that we have to conform our our answers to and it started in the 1700s when um
the majority of scientists decided yeah we're going to go with this old earth view
and then there were some dissenters back then who said we don't think you guys have good
science to back up this this you know eons right concept and it was philosophically driven it did
not come from the data so at that even back then you know in the 1700s you had some scientists
who really held sway and in other words these were the guys who had control of
the the top journals so they were the top editors.
and so they they would say well we're going to
choose to highlight this article because it's got old earth in it and we're going to choose to not
even publish that article because it mentions Noah's flood, and we want to get away from the
flood why would a scientist be biased against the flood and so that bias is really what I've
found in my little history searches that I've done that drove the sort of the the rise to prominence
in the scientific world of old earth you know and long age thinking that's a fun question to try to
answer because scientists are people yeah and so what do people do well we we uh we fill our minds
with what we want to hear you know and we we build we construct little worlds in our minds that fit
the kind of world that we want to be in and if we don't want god in our world because we have sins
right and if I have a sin and god is like hey you have a sin.
You need to you need to repent of that sin and let me save you from that sin you know Jesus said
it this way men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil and so maybe that's
what's driving these scientists but anyway what we have now is if I grew up as a scientist and I have
to age date a certain fossil if I don't make it conform to what everyone else out there is saying
then I'll be labeled not a real scientist you know I'll be I 'll be labelled a moron or an idiot
and I'll be ostracized from my colleagues and I won't get any papers published and I won't get any
funding so this is it's this whole is a practical side of it where you've got to have papers to get
publications to get funding to put bread on your table right as a scientist but there's
also a spiritual side that and both of these sides are pushing my secular colleagues anyway
toward making sure that I conform to the view of the old earth view.
What they've done since then is they've used all kinds of um different age dating techniques
none of which work, because there is no process that happens today that could give us an age
of an event in the past there's no process that can even do that you can measure decay rates
But you don't know the original conditions of what was decaying into what how much of the original
stuff was there in the beginning how much of the decay product was there in the beginning you
don't know and has the decay rate stayed constant you don't know it has some more of that original
material been injected into this into the sample or the decay product been injected into or taken
out of the sample so there's too many variables to use any scientific process to determine an age uh
it's not it's not a tool that science really has but everyone thinks it is everyone, and I used to
also think that science determine that this is so many plus or minus 25
million years old you know they give age ranges but to make it look scientific.
Anyway there's assumptions built in and no one can fill in those assumptions and so what I've
found is that the best way to to determine the age of a thing is to look at historical evidence so is
give a name and a likeness on a coin in an archaeological context yeah well that gives you a
really tight age because you can take that name. Caesar so and so and the likeness and you can
compare it with actual historical records to build a chronology for that and so what we find in the
bible itself is a chronology for the whole world and that's a historical record that is reliable
much more reliable than guesses you can measure isotope ratios in a rock but how do you turn
isotope ratios into an age, well you have to plug in the isotope ratios into a formula,
and what does the formula have ? variables, remember variables are represented by letters and so
you solve the equation for the variable or whatever well these equations have variables
and the variables are unknowns and it turns out that in order to solve the equation to get
to obtain a age estimate you have to fill in the unknowns with guesses that's what's going on under
the hood that a lot of people don't talk about you mentioned earlier that scientists can find
fossils with original tissues still within them so having that original soft tissue doesn't that seem
to deny the long ages you barely touched on that earlier but could you shed more light on that what
the implications of finding those soft tissues are right so I just finished saying that you can't use
any scientific decay process that we could measure today could see it decaying whether it's isotopes
decaying or tissues decaying you can't use that to determine a specific age but you can get a clue
as to the general life span or or shelf life okay for that so there are age indicators they
just don't give you a solid age date okay well one of those indicators is what I'm
what I wrote my thesis on right and that's that's the proteins that are in there and so
on the one hand we've done experiment after experiment to verify and determine the
decay rate of certain proteins and we know they're falling apart because
You can't keep chemistry from happening. So what chemistry happens to proteins ?.
So proteins fall apart because they're reacting with water molecules they're reacting with oxygen
molecules and and others and so this is a relentless process and it turns a brand new
freshly formed, let's say a collagen protein so the collagen is a protein that we find in our bones
and in skin and connective tissue.
Let's say you've got a collagen molecule just freshly made and then
the animal dies and what happens to that collagen molecule?. well oxygen reacts with it, water reacts
with it and then you end up with something less than the original collagen molecule. And after
a certain amount of time you end up with no collagen left. This stuff can last a long time
it's what makes up a parchment and so the dead sea scrolls couple thousand years old.
Those are made of parchment fragments.
why are these fragments ? because the chemistry that's
been going on since the 2000 years since they were chemistry happens. Chemistry happens
yeah it can last a long time but it doesn't. It doesn't last a million years,
based on the measured decay rates so why do we find these proteins in fossils that have age
assignments of tens of millions and even hundreds of millions of years ?. The age assignments again
in my experience come from the secular constructs. They cherry pick numbers that fit the belief so
it's a belief-driven process this age-dating thing. And so yeah, my field of paleo biochemistry paleo
bio paleo means old, bio means life chemistry means chemicals, so these are the old remnants of the
chemicals of life like collagen, like proteins.
So that's what I'm interested in really is
how long can this stuff last, and the answer that we're getting over and over is it can't last even
a million years at reasonable temperatures. So this is a decay process that is temperature dependent
unlike radioisotope decay okay, it just decays at the same rate at any temperature, but that's
why we have refrigerators right. So you you put your food in the fridge so that you will
slow the rate of chemical reactions. It can last thousands of years, but not a million, and so
it looks to me based on the fact that we have biochemicals from the original animals, that
made them in fossils from the very bottom of the rock, record also fossils at the very top
and fossils in between the whole rock record.
It looks like the whole rock you know, stack the
pancake stack of rocks that we're all standing on were all deposited relatively recently, and
you know that fits, it fits the model that we have from the bible about Noah's flood happening
recently and we're interpreting these rock layers as all having been most of them having been
deposited in one year. So within a short time span, recently, it's totally crazy to the secular mind
but it fits the data,
So Dr Thomas can you tell us what about the objection that these original
biochemical fossils could just be contaminants ? Oh right that was a popular theory for a while.
The people who raised that objection seem to think that there's only one sample you
know, and someone dropped their lunch in the test tube there or something. But we don't have just
one sample we have literature in scientific technical literature going back to the 1960s.
And we've actually compiled the literature on this, so we have example after example, it's from
all the different continents except one. And it's from all the different rock layers except two
and there's 117 papers compiled on our big list so far. And that's a fall 2021. and
by the way it's dozens of different taxa so if not just dinosaur, I mean it's in a turtle shell.
You've got actual skin in bird you've got bird feathers you've got swimming creatures,
remnants of internal organs in sea creatures. It's in clam shells.
you know there's protein inside the clam shell, so how are you going to contaminate
a world worth. You can contaminate the whole world, so that's that's kind of what I answer
the objection of contamination by just listing the over 100 technical literature examples.
Can you just go a little bit further into explaining how the existence of soft tissues can be expected,
especially for Christians ? When we're trying to combat what we've heard all our lives
but we claim to be believers and we believe in scripture, so can you just help us make sure we
differentiate why we would believe one or the other so the bible is very clear.
Starting with creation week these are days they're normal every every day days they're ordinary days
and they're defined that way. Day one is defined as morning, and evenings, that's this transition
of cycling from light to darkness, this is a day then you have six of those days
the first three had no sun to mark them. We don't know what marked them but that's okay. Then the
third, three had a sun to mark those three days, and we've had the sun not as the definer of a
day, but the administrator ever since. Then okay, so now we have days, that's how we mark time six days
creation that's what the bible teaches not just in genesis 1 but in the 10 commandments written
in God's hand a couple thousand years after creation on a stone tablet given to Moses.
You know for in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea and everything that's in them.
And the seventh day he rested.
What context is that ? Well this is why I want you to take a
Sabbath day. This is the commandment. Take a Sabbath day of rest, to remember your Creator and we do.
This work week, we still do it today. It came from that. There's no you know astronomical
precedent that defines our work week. The seven day work week just comes from
God's ten commandments and he built it into the way our societies function.
So how do soft tissue or or biochemicals original biochemicals is how I would phrase it
in fossils. How do they fit that view ? The flood 4,400 or so years ago.
You can have tissues last 4,400 years maybe in scratches and remnants and scraps of them
why do we know that ? because the dead sea scrolls, they're still around after 2000 years and that's
just skin what about locked inside bone, protected, even better maybe and we know the decay
rates so you measure the decay rates so you can have remnants last for, in theory tens of thousands
of years actually. So we would expect to see some scraps and remnants if bacteria don't get to them.
If bacteria get there as all bets are off and they eat it up, it's gobbled and gone.
So by having a recent creation by having a recent flood thousands not millions of
years ago that's what the Bible presents. That fits the data that we're seeing in all these
original biochemicals that are throughout the fossil record on every continent except Australia
but I mean it's worldwide it's like there was a giant worldwide deposition event.
Where have I heard that, worldwide yeah so like Dr Clary here says it
takes a worldwide cause to produce a worldwide effect so we have a worldwide effect and that is
young looking biochemicals in fossils. Some of these are still smelly you know you pull
them out of the ground. What's that smell ? well it's still rotting your ground because it was
deposited recently that's a good way to explain it and that happens to fit what the bible says
about the history of the world, and so as Christians what do we do, we say okay the bible
got it right, yeah the bible does explain where we came from. The bible does explain why we have these
rock layers known as flood and why these rock layers look recently deposited, stinky flood layers.
You can put it that way and so if the bible got that right then and I
as a Christian have more confidence than ever that anything else the bible says I can trust.
Now this is the word of God and that what that means is if we're going to come to the bible as
Christians and say well this part of the bible is right but that part of the bible is wrong
then what I'm saying is the part that's wrong supposedly God's responsible for the bible and
since God is since God wrote the wrong part then God must have made a mistake so we need
to get our act together as Christians and kind of go through, are you sure that part's wrong.
Are you sure you want to cast blame on God who is perfect you know. So there's a theological yeah
and then then this is where I was actually, so I'm speaking from experience and saying.
When I looked at these parts of the bible that I didn't that didn't agree with my secular thinking
like recent creation for example, I'd go well that part can't be right but that means
God can't be trusted and it comes down to who am I going to trust. Whose word am I going to trust.
And so and I can trust a little bit of God it's like I'm tiptoeing toward God but what we're
saying here at the institute is there's scientific evidence to support all of it, the whole Bible. God
made zero mistakes, he doesn't make mistakes. And so the science does support that scripture
the science of original biochemistry supports the scripture that talks about recent creation.
To me that's very encouraging and I'm just hoping that our audience would be able to
process all that information in light of what you shared, as far as you know really looking at
what is driving the interpretation of the data. And then of course just not forgetting to trust
scripture because we weren't there when the dinosaurs were buried or made but there was
someone who was, and he left us his information in the Bible.
So just being able to align all of that
together so thank you so much for sharing and just so that our viewers and listeners would know that
we have your thesis that you mentioned we actually sell it as a resource and so this would give you
more of that information it's ancient and fossil bone collagen remnants and so you'll be able to
find that on our website https://www.icr.org/ or if you're over here in person at our discovery center but thank you
so much for sharing that with us Dr Thomas and I guess we can say the proof is in the fossils maybe
you should make that also a t-shirt but to all of our viewers and listeners thank you for joining us
you can find this podcast on YouTube or anywhere else you might find your podcast
don't forget to subscribe for future episodes and leave us a rating and review so that others can
know about us and if you had any additional questions like Dr Thomas mentioned we can't
elaborate on everything in this one episode but send us a message on social media if you'd like to
know more about something but I'm Ivana and we'll, see you guys next time on the Creation Podcast.
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