The Evolution Controversy — A Response
by Robert E. Gentet
In 2007, Thomas B. Fowler (senior principal engineer at the Center for Information Technology and Telecommunications at Noblis) and Dr. Daniel Kuebler (a biology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville), published their book THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY – A Survey of Competing Theories. Chapter Six covers "The Creationist School." It contains information and remarks regarding the Creation/Curse/Catastrophe (CCC) geologic model. Here, in a simple question and answer format, is an evaluation of the book's comments on the CCC model.
The purpose of this short response is to examine aspects of chapter six. The CCC model certainly fits into the Creationist school and the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) view specifically.
First, do you have any overall comments regarding the recent book by Fowler and Kuebler?
I applaud their effort to bring before the public a summary of the many competing theories about origins. Surely, this question of competing theories must be a confusing mess (for lack of a better term) in the minds of many. But, I want to take this opportunity to clarify what the CCC model does and doesn't say, because the book gives some wrong impressions.
What do you mean by "wrong impressions"?
The YEC movement, in a modern sense, came into public view in my lifetime in the early 1960s. I was in college at the time. The creationist belief stems from the early Christian acceptance of the Bible, specifically Genesis, as being a true history of Creation. Naturally, therefore, God was given His rightful place as the originator of all things. Biblical history clearly shows a rather short chronology of all things, beginning with Creation Week.
The advent of geologic studies a couple of hundred years ago began the slow but steady acceptance by many that certain geologic findings demanded much more time than the Bible allowed. The YEC movement reacted against this trend.
The discovery of fossils was explained by many YEC as evidences of Noah's Flood. Numerous articles and presentations by YEC today still see the Flood as providing the main mechanism for fossil preservation. The book by Fowler and Kuebler rightly point this out in chapter six.
However, the book fails to clearly explain how the CCC model differs from this fundamental "the Flood did it" viewpoint.
Please give an example.
THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY cites the CCC model four times in chapter six. The first mention is on page 210 in footnote 55. The context clearly confuses the CCC model with the commonly held idea that Noah's Flood is responsible for the bulk of the fossil record.
Specifically, the authors on page 210 write:
"The Creationists use these problems to criticize the conventional [evolutionary] model and propose a new interpretation of the columns, namely that the strata were deposited rapidly under the violent conditions of the Genesis flood, a high-energy process giving rise to the geologic column. Furthermore, the biostratigraphic column stems from the burial of various different ecosystems, all contemporaneous with the flood period." (It's here that footnote 55 appears, giving the CCC model's original publication date of June 2000 in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, pages 10-21.)
How does this quote give a misrepresentation of the CCC model?
Very plainly the first sentence quoted above lumps the CCC model's explanation of strata and fossil formation with the Flood model. While the CCC model clearly accepts a worldwide Flood with great geological consequences, it likewise clearly gives both biblical and geological evidences that much strata and many fossils were already in existence when the Flood happened.
Furthermore, while the CCC model lays great emphasis on the importance of different ecosystems, it is not primarily during the Flood when these ecosystems determine the fossil record. The ecosystem/fossil record connection is most important throughout the long time period from Creation to the Flood and afterwards. The Controversy book makes no such distinction.
Give another example of where the book misrepresents the CCC model.
The next mention of the CCC model comes on page 222. Here a rather lengthy quote from the June 2000 article appears. After the quote, the authors write: "In this scheme, the flora and fauna inhabiting the different ecosystems generally do not mix, and all were buried separately in the Genesis flood, giving rise to observed fossil deposits."
This seems like a strange conclusion when the quote they cited from the CCC model article itself clearly states (in part):
"...Geologic events throughout pre-Flood times locally stratified changing ecosystems (later interpreted as 'Periods' by early geologists). Man's life-sustaining ecosystem ('Cenozoic') is seen...as starting geographically very small and expanding during pre-Flood times allowing the growing human population to eventually fill the earth. Not all ecosystems ('Periods') are seen as surviving until the Flood, and few except those of the 'Cenozoic' appears to be post-Flood."
I think I'm beginning to see what you mean. The CCC model has developing ecosystems fossilized by local or regional catastrophes between Creation Week and the Flood. This would account for the fossil order in the local geologic columns.
Exactly. As the original CCC article explained, and this website has expounded in more depth, the Genesis account implies many local "creation centers" on the Earth. Man's specific ecosystem supplying him with food and other needs of life was centered in Eden. The whole earth was radically different from now. The best clue as to what lived in each area is the fossil record itself. The geologic record becomes a vast avenue of information just as an archeological site tells us a much more recent history. While many geologic layers were deposited catastrophically, this doesn't mean it had to be the Flood catastrophe. The Curse placed on the Earth after man's first sin saw the beginning of catastrophic events that God has recorded in the rocks for our understanding.
The authors of THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY note a common mistake of Creationists:
"In this connection, the reader needs to be on the lookout for the following reasoning: 'If the Genesis flood occurred, then we would see sheet flow erosion. We see it, therefore there was the Genesis flood.' This does not follow because sheet flow erosion is the product of large-scale, rapid flooding, which occurs when natural dams break. Thus it can occur in the absence of the Genesis flood" (p. 212).
The nature of the world before the Flood was radically different from today's world. In today's world we still have catastrophic events involving earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, etc., but they are a far-cry of even greater events borne witness to in the strata. Yet, these same strata also contain abundant evidence of what I like to call "time indicators." That is, while many catastrophic events are recorded on Earth, there is also much clear evidence of at least some time passing beyond the Flood year. The question is how much time. It is here that study needs to be focused. It is here that the YEC and the ancient Earth beliefs most differ.
What's another statement of the book about the CCC model which you would like to comment on?
On page 223:
"Many Creationists posit three such contemporaneous ecosystems – the Paleozoic, the Mesozoic, and the Cenozoic – all of which show slight variations in the fossil record but all of which existed simultaneously. In this framework, humans, part of the Cenozoic ecosystem, and the dinosaurs, part of the Mesozoic ecosystem, were contemporaries" (footnote 98 "Gentet, 'CCC Model,' 12).
Being contemporaries and living together are too entirely different matters. The geologic record, as has been pointed out long ago, is much like a developing ecologic system. This again brings us the question of where God placed the original kinds or types of plants and animals "in the beginning." The geologic record shows a chronological sequence of events in each area of the Earth. This gives us important clues to the original location of these "creation centers."
It's important to remember that even today large sections of each continent do not contain any Paleozoic, Mesozoic, or Cenozoic layers. These are vast Precambrian shield areas which appear to have been left relatively unaffected in the pre-Flood world. Eden must have been on such an area. Mankind would have had ample room to live apart from the major catastrophic regions mainly located on the continental margins and the continental shelves. It is primarily here on the margins and shelves that the geologic record was built. This activity produced much new land adjacent to the stable shield areas. However, the geologic and fossil record shows that even on these new, adjacent lands the oceans sometimes transgressed and formed temporary inland seas. These seas often left abundant fossil records.
Is there anything else from THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY needing explanation?
Yes, I'm glad you asked that question. On pages 223 and 224 there is a fairly extensive coverage of the CCC model with "The Geological Time Scale in Relationship to the CCC Model" reproduced.
"The table is based on a popular Creationist model, the creation/curse/catastrophe (CCC) model. In this model, it is postulated that the ecosystems indicated were all present at the end of the Creation Week, as given in Genesis 1...Since the Creationist theory requires that three basic ecosystems were present simultaneously on earth (Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic), we might expect to find abundant Cenozoic fossils in lower rock formations. The reason we do not, according to Creationists, is that the Paleozoic ecosystem dominated early on and therefore occupies most of the lower layers. But if the ecosystems were contemporary there should have been some mixing, and indeed the fossil record does exhibit a small degree of mixing in places. The question is whether it can be attributed to contamination from normal geologic processes or if it does indeed reveal that the disparate ecosystems were contemporary."
More specifically, what Genesis 1 reveals is that basic "kinds" of plants and animals were present at the end of Creation Week. The next question is where and how many? The sea creatures and birds (and later mankind) were specifically told to "multiply" and fill the earth (Gen. 1:22 and 28). This command to multiply and fill indicates a limited original number of life forms that were intended to spread worldwide.
It was a developing world. Mankind and man's needs for food were at first very localized in Eden. The fossil record's history of life in each locality shows a similar pattern. Each ecosystem changed as conditions changed environmentally in the cursed Earth. Life forms had built within them by their Creator great (but nevertheless limited) genetic potential to survive changing conditions.
Mixing of the various life forms occurred over the long pre-Flood world, just as it has happened in the world since the Flood. This did not occur overnight. It was gradual as the local food web expanded and allowed new creatures to migrate from adjacent regions and flourish. Much of the fossil record shows the growth and decline of each local food web. Life's interactions are complex and so the fossil record reflects this fact.
Do you have any concluding thoughts?
I'm thankful to have the CCC model included in THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERY. It's unfortunate that it wasn't made clear how the CCC model differs significantly from Flood models discussed in chapter six, even though it also agrees on a relatively young Earth, limited genetic change, and a worldwide Flood. But, I trust this article will clarify the misunderstandings one may have after reading the book.