Creationist Drivel – What’s the date?

Posts in this series.

remnant’s source continues:

It is a remarkable fact that the basis of evolutionary theory was destroyed by seven scientific research findings,—before Charles Darwin first published the theory…

Guadeloupe Woman Found (1812). This is a well-authenticated discovery which has been in the British Museum for over a century. A fully modern human skeleton was found in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe inside an immense slab of limestone, dated by modern geologists at 28 million years old. (More examples could be cited.) Human beings, just like those living today (but sometimes larger), have been found in very deep levels of strata.

While it’s fair to say that details of human evolution are incomplete and subject to controversy, the scientific consensus at the moment suggests that the earliest hominids emerged around 15 million years ago, with the homo genus dating back to 2.5 million years and homo sapiens a mere 500,000 years. (See the wiki entry). A homo sapiens skeleton, or fragment of it, dating back 28 million years would certainly put a dent in this consensus, particularly when archaeological theories put the first human incursions into North America at a maximum 40,000 years and probably much less.

Young Earth creationism, being based on Biblical lineage and some far-fetched notions of historical human life expectancy, contends that the planet is at most 10,000 years old. Therefore, for a creationism document (insofar as the Evolution Handbook denies evolution) to support such a finding is more than a little incongruous. More to the point, it doesn’t, as it claims, destroy evolutionary theory, which at its simplest states that small random biological changes accumulate in a non-random manner to produce new species over time. Strictly-speaking evolution is a change in the frequency of alleles (particular forms of genes) within a gene pool over a generation. Suppose that all the evidence we have supporting the scientific consensus is rejected and the Guadeloupe Woman hypothesis accepted – this wouldn’t destroy evolutionary theory which is well-supported by DNA evidence so much that fossil evidence is regarded as icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.

The Evolution Handbook doesn’t indicate the method of dating to obtain a result of 28 million years. It does, however, refer to “modern geology”. It might be a small point – but does indicate sloppiness on the part of the writer – to state that evolutionary theory published in 1859 could not have been destroyed before publication by dating methods not available well until the following century, as “modern geology” generally uses radiometric dating to verify age of rocks. Radioactivity itself was not discovered until the end of the 19th century. For only certain variants of radiometric dating would be suitable for such a task – where the half-life of the isotope in question was sufficiently long. Any attempt at carbon dating for such old rocks would, we are well aware, give false results because of its relatively short half-life, and we see repeatedly, from creationist sources, straw man criticisms of carbon dating in attempting to establish the age of the Earth. I see this so often that it can only be an example of incestuous ignorance. Carbon dating is an archaeological, rather than a geological, tool.

Another reason to view such creationist claims with scepticism is that, not for the first nor the last time, they end up contradicting themselves. While the Evolution Handbook is claiming modern scientific support for a 28 million year old skeleton, other creationists, such as Henry Morris, are attempting to cast doubt on the ability of radiometric dating to establish anything at all. Issues with radiometric dating are dealt with by TalkOrigins here, (scroll down to CD:Geology), although sadly there is no reference to the Guadaloupe Woman.

The Evolution Handbook states that “more examples could be cited”. One wonders, therefore, why pick on the Guadeloupe Woman? Possibly the writer believes that it is his best example. There are plenty more – see here, for example. The Guadeloupe Woman makes another appearance, only this time she is 25 million years old. He seems to be even more confused than the Evolution Handbook author, as he states that “the experts still declare that all the races of man belong to only one species” (?!?) and that “evolutionists speculate that humans have lived here for one to three million years and then, suddenly, stopped evolving 100,000 years ago“. Priceless.

According to this link:

The Guadeloupe woman. In 1812, on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, a fully human skeleton was found, lacking only the head and feet. It was found inside extremely hard, very old limestone, which was part of a formation over a mile in length.

In accordance with their theory, evolutionists date that rock at 25 million years! You will not find the Guadeloupe woman mentioned in the textbooks, since this find would disprove evolutionary strata dating.—p. 29. (of the Evolution-Creation Encyclopedia)

I’d like to know what evolutionary theory is in the business of dating rocks or what “evolutionary strata dating” is. However, crude creationists do tend to lump together anyone who doesn’t accept their view under the label “evolutionists”. Such “evolutionists” are held to be supporters of big bang models, for instance. These errors on the part of creationists are commonplace, yet no less persistent.

As to the charge that the dastardly evolutionists have deliberately hidden the Guadeloupe Woman in order that their theories not be contradicted, this is a possibility, albeit remote almost to the point of non-existence. After all, the present location is well-documented. Creationists should be swarming all over it. Instead, we know little of it – it was new to me, certainly. The fact that it is so little-known could more likely be due to it not actually being controversial.

Evidence for this comes from the British Museum, although, as I said, there’s not a lot of it. Someone asked the following  question on a website called AllExperts – not the best resource, it has to be said.

Question
I’ve been reading a good deal about a skeleton that is purported to have been discovered in 28-million-year-old limestone in the year 1812. The skeleton, I read, has come to be known as “Guadeloupe woman.”

However, I have not been able to find any actual PRIMARY sources on this find. Are there any?

Basically, my questions are two:

1.) Is the Guadeloupe woman skeleton real?
and
2.) Where can I read more about it (her) from a primary source?

The “expert” rightly suggested Google Scholar and PubMed. But my own search came up with nothing. Eventually, however, the British Museum gave a response:

Thank you for your enquiry. Our specialist, Robert Kruszynski has replied as follows:

“We do hold this set of human remains from Grand Terre island, Guadeloupe, West Indies. It is a human skeleton lacking its skull and all its foot bones, with all the available postcranial bones still partially embedded in a block of oolitic limestone. It is stored and curated here in our Special Collection.
It was, as reported below, found in 1812 and presented to the British Museum in 1813 by Sir A. Cochrane R.N., who was at that time one of the Lords of the Admiralty. In 1881 it became part of the foundation collection of this Museum. It was originally registered as M  16820 and then in 2006 it was re-registered as PA HR 4128.

In 2006 I personally weighed the block of limestone containing this partial skeleton and its weight came to approximately 230 Kg. From the same findspot are a number of other human skeletons (possibly six) which were (at the time at least) also partially embedded in oolitic limestone and these are now stored in a museum in Paris. Palaeontological and mineralogical work has been carried out on the block we have which indicates nothing unusual about this find and there is now a plan to carry out absolute dating on the bones of this skeleton.”

So at least we can be confident that the Guadeloupe Woman exists, and that her skeleton is partially embedded in limestone. However, Kruszynski doesn’t seem to think it is anything particularly special. Interestingly, Kruszynski talks of  “a plan to carry out absolute dating on the bones of this skeleton”, suggesting that no such dating has been performed (the response comes from2009), at least on the skeleton, or that any dates we have are untested estimates.

We know from Kruszynski’s response that the actual rock in which the skeleton was found is known as oolithic – a term which was unfamiliar to me. Oolithic rocks have certain properties and appear all over the world  – I live near the Cotswolds area of England and the towns and villages there are extremely attractive but I never knew until now that they are so because of oolithic rocks – but it seems that North America going down to the Caribbean is the main location.

It is the method of deposition that chiefly characterises oolithic rocks and they do vary in age considerably. They can be over 200 million years old, but also much younger. For example, in the Caribbean Journal of Earth Science (pdf) some oolithic rocks in Jamaica have been dated to 32,000 years. Note that carbon dating is reliably regarded as accurate up to c.60,000 years. Granted, although relatively close this is not the actual rock sample from Guadeloupe and it is still older than most estimates of the age of the population of the area but it does make the 25-28 million year estimates to look somewhat arbitrary.

All-in-all this doesn’t produce any reasons to doubt evolutionary theory, while casting doubt on the scruples of some creationists.

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5 responses to “Creationist Drivel – What’s the date?

  • Jim

    It should also be noted that the remains of “Guadeloupe woman” are constantly referred to as “bones”, not fossils. It is highly unlikely that any organic material, including bones, would remain after 28 million years.

    Or was it 25 million years?

    Assuming then that the remains of the original “Miss Guadeloupe” were in fact bones, she is far younger than 25-28 million years ago.

  • Kasamira

    This was great! I actually came across your post while writing a critique of the same book. I was only on the second page and couldn’t believe what I was reading. It’s facinating that he seems to narrow in on Lamarack’s inherited traits theory, and claim that it’s still being taught.

  • truthteller

    The writer, Tom Stewart, avoids the issue posed by the Guadaloupe skeleton right away, choosing not to acknowledge that evolutionists do, indeed, posit a “Geologic Column,” and that ancient ages are indeed assigned to the fossils in this supposed column. The Guadaloupe skeleton
    would appear to be, according to the GC, from 25 to 28 million years old.
    Stewart later mocks the creationist view by asking why it’s suddenly 25 million, and not 28, when evolutionists themselves routinely change ages by many millions of years, depending on what they want to affirm or deny.
    Stewart’s instant response to the Guadaloupe skeleton is to say that evolution is “small random biological changes accumulate in a non-random manner to produce new species over time.” He goes on in this vein, carefully not referring directly to the GC until he has sneered at and disparaged (in true evolutionist ad hominem style) the creationists as superstitious and benighted people, and to himself, an evolutionist, as a guardian of truth. There are other issues, of course, but to engage in the bandying of words with evolutionists is like banging your head against a hardened fossil. Evolutionists are masters of evasion because they know their theory is built on a house of cards, protected by financial interests that own the publishing industry, mass media, and scientific establishment, and the the holders of these financial interests depend on demoralizing the public by misinforming them about the truth of their origins.

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