Rock Strata and Fossils

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Rock Strata and Fossils | scientific basis of this and key information. | #podcast #creationscienceRock Strata and the Fossils in Geology Episode 21

Does rock strata and the fossils in geology show anything important? Absolutely in this presentation with Patrick Nurre, he’ll share the scientific basis of this and key information.

The study of rock layers in secular geology and what they mean is called stratigraphy. The study of the fossils as they appear in the rock layers is called biostratigraphy. The literal rendering of the Greek word stratigraphy is layer writing.

A good book on this subject is The Key to Earth History – An Introduction to Stratigraphy, (by Peter Doyle, Matthew R. Bennett, and Alistair N. Baxter, 1994). The whole premise of secular stratigraphy is that the physical history of the Earth is written in the rock layers. Secular geologists believe that they can discern and write the history of the Earth by studying the rock layers. Remember, however, that there are no words or dates written in the rocks. There is no history book or history revealed or recorded. The rock layers must be interpreted. And that involves human reasoning and ideas. Science is that which can be observed, tested and repeated. Science should ask the question, “Has anyone ever observed these rock layers in the process of forming? Has anyone ever seen the rock layers accumulate with petrified remains?”

Rock layers are just that, rock layers. We can tell what kind of sedimentary rock is contained in the layers, and we can often identify the fossils in the rocks. But the rock layers do not tell us how old they are or how they got that way. That deals with the realm of history. History deals with one-time unique events recorded by eyewitnesses or written documents. Secularists interpret the history of rock layers using a particular philosophical framework that they claim gives us or writes a history of the Earth.

From a secular perspective, stratigraphy is the key to Earth history. History should ask the question, “Has anyone seen this process or know of a record or eyewitness account of this process?” The Biblical account gives a fairly detailed and historical record of an event that can explain the rock layers and the fossils in them. Modern geology does not have this kind of record. The secularist constructs the story as he/she believes it happened based on a purely naturalistic paradigm. The Biblicist, on the other hand, looks at the written record of the Bible and uses it to interpret the history of the rocks and fossils. Therefore, we don’t make up the explanation as we go but frame it according to these very old written records.

These rock layers with fossils in them have never actually been observed in their formative process. Coming at the problem from a whole different perspective – Biblical history, the rock strata containing the fossils can easily be explained by a creation and global flood. It is a historical question. How the rock layers got that way cannot be solved by science because there was no observation involved.


Secular scientists believe that the rock layers containing fossils can not only be dated by these fossils but also that evolutionary history is contained in the rock layers and can be ascertained by studying the fossils. Bio means life. And it is the life that is preserved as fossils in the rock layers that secular geologists believe tell the story of evolution over millions of years.

By the late 1800s, the study of fossils and the rock layers were so thoroughly intertwined, that it is now impossible in modern geology to study one without the other. A belief in evolution tells us how old the fossils are and therefore how old the rocks are.

How did rock layers come to be interpreted as millions of years of Earth history? The Father of Modern Geology, James Hutton, is credited with developing an idea called uniformitarianism in the 1700s. Uniformitarianism has to do with uniformity of geological processes and rates operating over long periods of time.

James Hutton was a man of his time – the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a time of questioning and skepticism regarding the Bible and the church. Hutton was one of the Fathers of the Scottish Enlightenment. As he contemplated the sedimentary rock layers at Siccar Point, Scotland, he reasoned that these layers of rock must have been deposited and eroded over an immense amount of time, and had to be older than the Biblical timeline. The Enlightenment was a reactionary movement. If the Bible declared one thing, the Enlightenment declared just the opposite.

This is what gave birth to the word agnosticism, coined by Thomas Huxley a century later. Huxley insisted that one could not know the truth of what was declared in the Bible, because it had not been observed by qualified scientists. Of course, this is the same complaint that creationists lodge against the secularists. You could reasonably come to the conclusion that the word agnosticism was born because what had been declared in the Bible and by Jesus had been rejected. The Christian witness teaches that we can know certain things because God made them known through His Scriptures. If you take away the revelation of God, obviously it is impossible to naturally know the things declared in the Bible. But He has left us an account in the Scriptures and Jesus verified this over and over again.

If the Scripture declared that the Earth was created in six days, the Enlightenment declared that the Earth must be ancient. And it must have been formed by processes we can now observe, not as a result of the involvement of any supernatural being or god. If the Scripture declared that a Flood, lasting a year, destroyed the Earth that existed before Noah, then the Enlightenment insisted that the Earth must have been a product of slow processes of sediment deposition and erosion. This meant that stacks of rock layers represented time – lots of time. Rocks on the bottom of any given set of layers were not only older but were the oldest. This also meant that fossils buried in these bottom-most layers of rocks were the oldest biological creatures. Time took on a completely new dimension – deep time as opposed to a young Earth that the Bible taught.

The process of redefining time, the layers of rock and the origin of fossils took about a hundred years to complete. By the end of the 19th century, no scientist spoke of Scripture in terms of actual geological history. The account of the creation and the flood were relegated to myth. All of these changes were accomplished by philosophical reasoning, not by actual science. The new paradigm was set first and then used to interpret the stacks of rock layers. This is one of the reasons why secular geology is such a bewildering subject. It is philosophy dressed in scientific language.

Stratigraphy is actually a belief that the rock layers tell a history which must be interpreted by the men and women of science. In reality layers on the bottom of any stack of rocks gives us a relative positioning in relation to the rocks on top. There is nothing in the rocks themselves that tells us how old they are. If we simply lay a different template over the rock layers, the template of the historical Flood, then if the rock layers have been undisturbed since their inception, then the layers on the bottom were laid down first in relation to the ones above them. In other words, they may actually be quite young!

It falls to biostratigraphy to guide a secular geologist to interpret the rock layers as to how old they are. Biostratigraphy is also a belief. Secular geology believes that since fossils must tell a story of gradually evolving life, and life must have taken millions of years to evolve, then the fossil life in the bottom-most layers must be millions of years old and consequently the rocks are also. But again, if we simply shift our belief to a Genesis global flood which took place about 4,500 years ago, then the arrangement of the fossils are the result of burial and sorting by the catastrophic flood over a very short period of time. The rock strata are there and so are the fossils. But the age of these things must be determined not by science, but by history and philosophy.

When science speaks of millions of years (deep time), it is almost impossible to fathom. History over the last few thousand years makes sense because of commonly shared human experiences and the records that have been preserved. But a million years or even millions of years is incomprehensible. We have nothing to relate it to.

The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in north-central Oregon lately is a fascinating “other world” of badland topography, layers and interesting formations. And it is a great place to study stratigraphy. Stratigraphers have worked out the evolutionary order and timeframe for the rock layers of the John Day fossil beds. The stratigraphic column of time and the evolution for this area spans about 55 million years according to secular reasoning. It comprises three distinct geological units, which if stacked one on another, would total about three miles in thickness, each having some similar and some different fossils in them. This hypothetical column, published by the National Park System, is portrayed as a vertical column emphasizing the passage of time from the bottom-most layers to the present.

The National Parks has a road guide that helps you orient where you are. This guide shows that the same portions that comprise the Monument are the same three units that comprise the stratigraphic column. But the units are spread out and separated by miles from one another and are horizontal to each other, not vertical. In other words, the units have been humanly arranged into a vertical column on paper so that we can visualize what secular geologists believe took place.

So, how do geologists know that these units should be on top of one another? How do we know that they didn’t in fact exist together at the same time? We don’t. We must accept the premise that both the uniformitarian and Biblical perspectives are paradigms; that both are beliefs about what happened here. Secular geologists ridicule this approach as religious and devoid of understanding. That is because they have accepted their paradigm as scientific fact. The history of modern geology is filled with examples of the confusion of paradigms with scientific facts.

Secular geologists have arranged the three units of the John Day fossil beds into a time column based on the belief that the fossils found in these units have evolved over millions of years. In fact, these various sedimentary rock layers and the fossils in them could have been arranged by a catastrophic flood washing bones and mixtures of sand, silt, and volcanic ash into the area.

Stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are two foundational paradigms in modern geology. Secular stratigraphy and biostratigraphy are fundamental to education in secular geology. If you want to pursue the study of geology as a career, you will need to thoroughly understand these two important areas of study and thought.

Conclusion: The rock layers and the fossils in them were either deposited, eroded, and evolved over millions of years, or they were deposited and buried during a catastrophic global flood which has been recorded as a historical event in the Bible. Both of these are ideas. Both are paradigms or perspectives. Neither can be proven scientifically. Only one, however, is based on a historical document. One of these paradigms will destroy faith in the Scriptures and in the God of the Scriptures, the other will promote faith in the Scriptures. For the Biblicist, the whole of the Christian faith rests on the accuracy of Biblical history.

There is secular stratigraphy based on naturalistic reasoning and a rejection of the Scriptures, and there is Biblical stratigraphy based on the historical framework of the Bible. Both cannot be true.

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