What happens when a Young Earth Creationist discovers a 60,000,000-year-old fossil?

Five nearly perfect fish fossil specimens were found in a block of sandstone excavated in the northwest Calgary community of Evanston. Photo courtesy Darla Zelenitsky, University of Calgary

Nearly perfect fish fossil specimens found in a block of sandstone excavated in the northwest Calgary community of Evanston. Photo courtesy Darla Zelenitsky, University of Calgary

Fortunately, Edgar Nernberg of Calgary is a keen Young Earth Creationist, and indeed sits on the board of Alberta’s very own Creation Museum, at nearby Big Valley. Fortunately, because this has given him a keen interest in fossils, and a sharp eye for spotting them.

So when he came across something out of the ordinary while backhoeing out a basement in Calgary, he immediately recognised it as important. What he had found was a group of five small fossil fish, a few inches long, embedded in the 60 million year old sandstone of Alberta’s Paskapoo Formation. Fossils from this time are rare, and give insight into what was happening directly after the dinosaurs and their marine relatives were so dramatically removed from their ecological niches. For this reason, the specimens are regarded as among the most important local find in decades, and will be displayed in Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum.

File:Fossil Platanus leaf.jpg

Fossil Platanus leaf from the Paskapoo Formation near Red Deer, Alberta, Canada; Creative Commons Licence; Source: Georgialh via Wikipedia

How, you may wonder, does Nernberg explain the existence of fossils 10,000 times older than what he regards as the age of the Earth? No problem. They are, he tells us, exactly what you would have expected as one of the results of Noah’s Flood. And how else would you explain away fossilised fish, one thousand miles inland, embedded in sandstone? (Actually, fluvial sandstone, not marine, and rich in terrestrial plant fossils, but let that pass.) As for their geologically and radiometrically determined ages, we can be sure that he will be able to give you many reasons for rejecting these, all bad. Like numerous others, including Ken Ham and Scotland’s own Nagy Iskander, he maintains that creation scientists and conventional (i.e. real) scientists have different starting assumptions. So while they accept the same fundamental data, they disagree as to how these data are to be interpreted.

As Winston Churchill is said to have remarked, men occasionally stumble over truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. Why should a creationist be any different?

All my links to creationist sites use donotlink. Story details from Washington Post, Calgary Sun,  and University of Calgary UToday.

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on May 30, 2015, in Creationism, Fossil record, Geology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Great piece! I live in Calgary and this has been all over CBC radio and in the papers. The fellow is the real deal. Nernberg his hoping the Royal Tyrrell Museum will make a cast of his discovery and give him the cast to display at his creationist museum. To his credit, he called a paleontologist at the university as soon as the sandstone block with the fossils was discovered.


  2. Reblogged this on Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin and commented:
    He makes the usual , same facts , different interpretation argument to reject all geological science and almost all of science too. I suppose he holds more than 99% of scientists have been wrong for 350 years


  3. Obviously, this is not someone who is YEC because of a lack of intelligence or information or …!


    • Indeed not. And we do our cause no good by sneering at our opponents; we would do better to reach out and undermine the motivation of their absurdities.


      • When I first began paying attention to creationism, I was prepared to hear them denying that fossils were the remains of living things. What they do say is an inconsistent choice of acceptance and rejection of scientific findings – and, come to think of it, of literal readings of the Bible and fanciful extrapolations.


      • They twist themselves in knots, and you end up with, at times, intelligent and perceptive people believing absurdities. They must be protecting some valuable aspect of their identity, which is why I prefer to point them to evangelical Christians who embrace evolution rather than arguing that Christianity itself is absurd.


  1. Pingback: What happens when a Young Earth Creationist discovers a 60,000,000-year-old fossil? | The Mountain Mystery

  2. Pingback: Scotland’s Verbose Expounditor of Geological Logorrhea | Eat Your Brains Out; Exploring Science, Exposing Creationism

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