Related: Evolution; Archeology and Anthropology
The Fossil Record and Dating. The fossil record provides a scattered and incomplete history of the living species on earth. Impressions of creatures, their bones, or even preserved remains in layers of sediment give us hints as to what species lived on earth in past generations. The fossil record has been a source of great controversy between geologists and scientists of various persuasions. Some argue that the fossil record lends credence to evolutionary theory, and that it contradicts the Genesis account. Fossils of creatures similar to species that we see in the world today appear to be much older than the Adamic earth (6000 years). However, the gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 contains an undisclosed period of time, in which many if not most of these fossils may have originated. There is no reason why God could not have brought back certain animals that had existed in prior ages and placed them in the Adamic creation, and it is easy to see why God should choose to leave some species extinct. The record indicates life being first created on the planet in its simplest forms, followed by a period of death, followed by another wave of higher-complexity life. This would indicate the hand of God all the way through. As to the dates that geologists assign to fossils, there is much doubt about the accuracy. There are many dating methods, but the leading approach is called carbon dating, in which the age of an object containing organic material can be estimated using the properties of a radioactive isotope of carbon (Carbon-14). When the plant or animal dies, the carbon begins to decay at a predictable rate. By measuring the amount of remaining radiocarbon, and knowing the half-life of the isotope, scientists can estimate the age of the organic matter. However, there are limitations to this method, including the fact that the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere has not been steady throughout history. The bottom line with carbon dating, or with any other method, is that there is a lot of uncertainty. Man can only speculate about what God has not told him. Furthermore, what God has omitted from the Divine record is not necessary for us to know. The Word of God is sufficient to those of faith.