Fossil Feces: A Case Study in Applying a Biblical Worldview

“Fossil feces infested with parasites from over 200 million years ago,” says the headline from a popular science news outlet. I’m sure that’s a topic you want to talk about, but it’s fascinating! According to the article, 200 million years ago, an aquatic predator was infested with parasites, and the evidence remains today in fossilized feces (coprolites) found in a Triassic formation in Thailand. Now I wanted to take this study and use it as a “case study” for showing you how to apply a biblical worldview to science news.

So first, read through the article and determine what is observational science (the facts in the present) and which parts are historical science (interpretations of the past). Observational science includes the following:

A cylindrical-shaped, nearly 3-inch (7 cm) long coprolite.A microscopic, oval-shaped, thick-shelled structure found within the coprolite (among other such structures that the study didn’t identify).This coprolite was recovered from the Huai Hin Lat Formation of Thailand.

Now for the interpretation:

The feces were originally produced by some species of phytosaur (a crocodile-like predator).The egg was from a parasitic nematode worm.The fossils are 200 million years old.

So why did I list the identification of the fossil feces and the parasite egg as historical science/interpretation? Well, because we weren’t there! Consider that the article says that “the researchers suggest it was likely” (emphasis added) a phytosaur that produced the feces. They can’t know for sure because the fossil feces weren’t found inside the creature. So they are interpreting the observational evidence from the past in the present.

Now, the article explained that the identification was made based on the shape and contents of the feces, along with the nearby location of fossil phytosaurs so that seems like it could be a correct identification—but it’s still an interpretation. And the same rule applies for the parasitic nematode worm egg. It’s a likely identification, but we need to keep in mind we’re dealing with the past, so we’re dealing with interpretation.

Then, of course, we have the age of the fossil. This is where the interpretation of the past becomes loaded with worldview assumptions. The fossil didn’t have a label on it telling us its age. Since these researchers are viewing the geologic record through the lens of evolution and millions of years, they are interpreting Triassic layers as having been laid down millions of years ago, giving this fossil an age of 200 million years. That age doesn’t come from the fossil itself, but from assumptions based on the evolutionary worldview that led to a particular conclusion.

When we start with God’s Word as the lens through which we interpret the evidence, we will possibly come to the same or similar conclusions about the identity of the creature that eliminated these feces and the identification of the microscopic oval structure. But we’re going to come to very different conclusions about the age of this fossil!

The creation/evolution debate is not over the evidence—it’s over two different interpretations of the exact same evidence. And your starting point—God’s Word or man’s word—builds your worldview and therefore determines your interpretation.

We know that God’s original creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), so we can’t have a fossil record (a record of death) filled with ugliness like parasites before mankind’s sin broke creation and ushered in death as the punishment for sin. The parasitic nature of some nematodes and other creatures is a result of the fall, not a part of God’s original perfect creation. So we reject the 200 million year date for the Triassic layers and this coprolite. Instead, we understand there was a catastrophic global flood that very quickly laid down the rock layers in a matter of weeks or months, not millions of years. Organisms and trace fossils, such as coprolites, were buried as those rock layers were being formed just a few thousand years ago.

As we’ve always said, the creation/evolution debate is not over the evidence—it’s over two different interpretations of the exact same evidence. And your starting point—God’s Word or man’s word—builds your worldview and therefore determines your interpretation.

Science Programs from a Biblical Worldview

Understanding the difference between observational and historical science is vital to properly understanding science. That’s why I first explained this when I debated Bill Nye in 2014. And young people need to understand that distinction! That’s why we teach this (among many other principles!) during our Explore programs at the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. These programs have been incredibly popular, and our Explore and Explore Jr. Days have recently been revamped to make it even easier for families to enjoy hands-on science learning through the lens of a biblical worldview.

Our Explore Days programs are now three hours of engaging, hands-on sessions (with a reduced price!). Each Explore Day focuses on one science discipline and is uniquely presented from a biblical worldview. And what’s great for families is the opportunity to spend the day in education with Explore Jr. and Explore Day programs, with the same theme being offered on the same day. For example, your child, ages 5–10, can learn about zoology from 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. And your youth, ages 11–18, will learn zoology from 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. What a great way to engage your entire family with God’s creation and God’s Word!

I’m so thankful for the dedication of our education staff to ensure that young people learn a biblical worldview!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.






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