Cyclostratigraphy: Another Round of Circular Reasoning?
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
Secular scientists believe that fossils and rock layers correspond to multi-million-year time scales, but nowhere does the Bible refer to that supposed "deep time." Different areas of investigation—including rocks, animal fossils, plankton fossils, ice cores, oxygen isotope ratios in ancient sediments, and ocean crust minerals—all seem to confirm deep time. Do these old ages come from genuine observations, or are they somehow maintained or assumed as fact no matter what the data show? A newly published review of "cyclostratigraphy" illustrates a subtle method secular researchers use to maintain a sure-handed grip on their non-biblical ideas of time.
Publishing in Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Spanish researcher Francisco Rodríguez-Tovar summarized decades of research tying climate changes over both short and very long time scales, ranging from day-night cycles to supposed Milky Way rotation cycles, to clues in ancient marine and other fossils.
How are fossils and layers calibrated to "the deep-time record?"1 "Deep time" simply refers to the millions of years assigned to fossils and rock layers. And cyclostratigraphy supposedly pins those fossils and rock layers to astronomical cycles, whether measured or imagined.
The "stratigraphy" part of "cyclostratigraphy"— literally "layer-writing"—refers to organizing and interpreting sedimentary layers. Geology students may already have heard of "biostratigraphy," where a certain fossil gets a deep-time age assignment based on the assumption that it evolved long ago. Subsequently, the fossil's layer adopts the same age.
Clearly, biostratigraphy uses circular reasoning. Of course one will see a "record" of deep time in strata when one assumes that creatures evolved over millions of years. But is cyclostratigraphy more objective than that?
The "cyclo-" part of "cyclostratigraphy" refers to ordering sedimentary layers according to real or assumed astronomical motions. For example, a clam can add thicker or thinner daily growth lines seen under a microscope to its shell, depending on daily nutrient and climate cycles.
A broader application of cyclostratigraphy examines subtle shifts in the tilt of the Earth's axis and its position relative to the sun over assumed deep time. The subtle shifts supposedly caused slight changes in sunlight called orbital forcing. Secularists then assume that fossils reflect such cycles. Voila, the "fossils reveal cycles."1 Well, of course they do! How could the fossil patterns fail to reveal deep time when secularists assume deep-time cycles occurred and caused the clues!2
Cyclostratigraphy is just as circular in its reasoning as its older brother biostratigraphy. No wonder Rodríguez-Tovar wrote in his review article,
The debate persists, especially surrounding Bennett's second and third tiers [of evolution] and the incidence of orbital forcing determining diverse and complex evolutionary responses, including stasis, speciation, and extinction phenomena in Quaternary plant communities and origination, extinction, and turnover in mammalian species. At the root of the debate lie two key issues: the resolution of the fossil record and the absence of absolute timescales.1
The "absence of absolute timescales" ensures that the debate over when fossils and layers formed will be endless. And only because the core methods of cyclostratigraphy are subjective, unscientific, and ultimately circular can secular gatekeepers continually ensure that so many different areas of investigation maintain a dogma of deep time.3
Sediments and fossils are not the same as a written record that provides objective, scientifically verifiable, and ultimately trustworthy information about Earth's ancient past. Of course, such a record does exist, but secular scientists reject what its capable and faithful Author has written.
- Rodríguez-Tovar, F. J. Orbital Climate Cycles in the Fossil Record: From Semidiurnal to Million-Year Biotic Responses. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Published online before print, February 5, 2014.
- Also, even with all this circular reasoning, different dating methods still often contradict evolution's story. In one particularly embarrassing example, secular reasoning suggests that the second-to-last Pleistocene ice sheet meltback occurred about 10,000 years before the changes in sunlight that are supposed to have caused it. But cyclostratigraphy determined the timing of these sunlight changes! See: Winograd, I. J. et al. 1992. Continuous 500,000-Year Climate Record from Vein Calcite in Devil's Hole, Nevada. Science. 258 (5080): 255-260. and Shakun, J. D. et al. 2011. Milankovitch-paced Termination II in a Nevada speleothem? Geophysical Research Letters. 38 (18): L18701.
- Hebert, J. 2014. Ice Cores, Seafloor Sediments, and the Age of the Earth: Part 1. Acts & Facts. 43 (6): 12-14.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on June 20, 2014.