Skeptics Analyze Original Tissues with Lousy Logic | The Institute for Creation Research
Skeptics Analyze Original Tissues with Lousy Logic

The scientific literature contains over 100 examples of original biomaterials in fossils.1 These include a few decades’ worth of reports, using at least a few dozen independent techniques to target specific vertebrate biochemicals—such as the hardy protein collagen.

One team of skeptics recently published a report trying to disprove the existence of collagen in supposedly ancient bone. They made the case that they found no collagen in their one dinosaur bone, and because they found microbes in it, therefore all the other claims of Cretaceous collagen are false. All that published work from hundreds of expert researchers around the world supposedly mistook modern microbes for ancient proteins.2 Three shortcomings in this report leave short-lived collagen perfectly intact inside dinosaur bones. It also leaves intact the enormous weight that fossil proteins force evolutionary time to shoulder.

The first shortcoming is lousy logic. Even non-specialists can see that just because one fossil bone has no collagen, it doesn’t mean others have none. Logicians call this the “hasty generalization fallacy.” It happens when we assume that just a few particulars in one instance describe the whole field in general. Even if their fossil bone had no collagen, so what? That could just mean that all the collagen in their bone decayed or degraded over the thousands of years it has been sitting underground since the Flood. Possibly most fossils have no collagen—but that doesn’t mean all do not, or cannot, have it.

Second, the study group used evolutionary logic in place of observational science. The eLife study authors wrote, “Reports of dinosaur protein and complex organic structure preservation are problematic for several reasons. Firstly, it remains unclear how such organics would be preserved for tens of millions of years.”2

Their circular logic looks like this:

1. Dinosaur fossils formed millions of years ago.
2. Collagen cannot last millions of years.
3. Therefore, dinosaur fossils cannot contain collagen.

Next,

1. Dinosaur fossils cannot contain collagen.
2. Reports show collagen in dinosaur fossils.
3. Therefore, reports must show contamination, not collagen.

The conclusions follow those premises, but what if the first premise is the very question at stake? The team merely assumed that dinosaur fossils cannot contain collagen by assuming that the bones are tens of millions of year old. They did not demonstrate those millions of years. Ultimately, they conclude contamination not because they found any evidence of contamination in the dozens of published reports, but merely on the basis of a time assumption.

Better logic follows this flow:

1. Collagen cannot last millions of years.
2. Numerous reports show collagen in dinosaur fossils.
3. Therefore, reports show that dinosaur fossils did not last millions of years.

Last, the eLife study concluded that tissues in fossils actually come from microbe-made biofilms (flimsy films that bacteria make) and not from the original animals. This conclusion addressed none of the experiments and arguments set forth in the definitive 2016 refutation of the biofilm idea, published in the free online journal PLOS ONE.3 Stunningly, the eLife study authors cited six PLOS ONE papers, but not the most relevant one from 2016! Possibly the only way they could get away with their biofilm claim is to simply ignore all the evidence against it—the report’s third shortcoming.4

The team found no collagen in one dinosaur bone by using none of the techniques that specifically target collagen. Does this mean that no other fossils can have collagen? Not at all. Total reliance on lousy logic like hasty generalization, begging the question, and cherry picking clearly disqualifies the conclusions in this eLife report. In fact, if one must resort to scholarship this poor to defend the biofilm claim, then the microbial contamination story looks more ridiculous now than before this eLife report got published.

References
1. List of Biomaterial Fossil Papers (maintained). Online document, accessed June 20, 2019.
2. Saitta, E. T. et al. 2019. Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities. eLife. 8: e46205.
3. Schweitzer, M., H., A. E. Moyer, and W. Zheng. 2016. Testing the Hypothesis of Biofilm as a Source for Soft Tissue and Cell-Like Structures Preserved in Dinosaur Bone. PLOS ONE. 11(2): e0150238.
4. This represents a shameful case of cherry-picking, or the incomplete evidence fallacy.

Image: T. rex (Cretaceous dinosaur) in Osaka, Japan.

*Brian Thomas is a Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research.
The Latest
COVID-19
Some Fake Coronavirus News Used to Spread Malware
As a systems administrator, I see thousands of emails come in where someone is trying to get a user to click on a link. A lot of these are just plain old...

NEWS
Traces of "Oldest Ancestor" Found
A new study released on March 23, 2020, claims that evolutionary scientists have identified the oldest human ancestor. The fossil evidence for this assertion...

COVID-19
Three Positives from COVID-19
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is no surprise to God. God knew about this pandemic before the dawn of His creation. Some people may question why God allows such...

COVID-19
The Gospel and COVID-19
It is obvious that life in America, and most parts of the world, has drastically changed in the last few months due to the novel coronavirus. Whether we...

COVID-19
A Time for Firsts Amid COVID-19
All of us have experience with firsts, and today is no exception as America sails through the uncharted waters of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)....

COVID-19
What’s the Difference Between Virus and Bacteria?
As we are embroiled in a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to know the basics of these tragic viral infections and why the medical community...

NEWS
ICR Beginning Search for a New President
As was noted in my article “Biblical Succession” in the April issue of Acts & Facts, the ICR Board of Trustees has authorized a national...

COVID-19
Potential Coronavirus Treatments Enter Large Clinical Trials
Some good news in potential treatment options for COVID-19 was reported in the American journal Science.1 Four new treatment options were being...

NEWS
Yellowstone Supervolcano Unlikely to Blow
For several years, secular scientists have been predicting a possible supervolcano eruption at Yellowstone National Park. Recently, the London Daily Mail...

NEWS
Deep Water Squid Communication Mystifies Scientists
In the deep, dark, cold waters of the Pacific Ocean—about 1,500 feet below the surface— hundreds of Humboldt squid the size of small humans...