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Fossils are dated from strata; strata are dated from fossils (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Fossils are dated from strata; strata are dated from fossils (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC310:

Fossils are used to determine the order and dates of the strata in which they are found. But the fossil order itself is based on the order of strata and the assumption of evolution. Therefore, using fossil progression as evidence for evolution is circular reasoning.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Many strata are not dated from fossils. Relative dates of strata (whether layers are older or younger than others) are determined mainly by which strata are above others. Some strata are dated absolutely via radiometric dating. These methods are sufficient to determine a great deal of stratigraphy.

What Talk.Origins neglects to say is that all of these dating methods are subordinate to dating by fossils. That is, whenever stratigraphic superposition, radiometric dating or any other dating method disagrees with the fossils, the date based on fossils always wins.

This is by no means an isolated event. It happens all the time in geochronology.

Biologic evolutionary history, especially for Phanerozoic time, has given us not only the principal means of time-correlation but the basis of the unique progressive traditional stratigraphic scale.

Harland, W.B.; R.L. Armstrong; A.V. Cox; L.E. Craig; A.G. Smith; and D.G. Smith, 1990, "A Geologic Time Scale 1989," Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Some fossils are seen to occur only in certain strata. Such fossils can be used as index fossils. When these fossils exist, they can be used to determine the age of the strata, because the fossils show that the strata correspond to strata that have already been dated by other means.

This notion is accepted unquestioningly by evolutionists but absolutely no objective evidence is ever presented to prove it. In fact, this is exactly the same sort of circular reasoning that at the heart of the creationist criticism. When you use any fossil to determine rock strata, it becomes impossible to test the assumption that the fossils in question are restricted to certain strata.

2. The geological column, including the relative ages of the strata and dominant fossils within various strata, was determined before the theory of evolution.

While the geological column does predate Darwin's theory of evolution, the notion that all life evolved from a common ancestor predates Darwin, going back at least as far as ancient Greece. Darwin's contribution was to connect the idea to natural selection, providing a scientific-sounding theory. Ultimately, the geologic column is based on this idea of the time-equivalence of fossils, and when the geologic column was developed, pre-Darwin evolutionary ideas formed the basis for their time-equivalence of fossils. Today it is Darwin's theory of evolution that provides the basis for the time-equivalence of fossils. So since the time-equivalence of fossils is the basis of the geologic column it can be accurately said that evolution is the basis of the geologic column.