|Photos of the discovery were made widely available to newspapers, magazines, and websites by Science magazine, but refused to ICR for use in this article. (See Origins Issues - 0506.)
The fossil was entombed in a porous sandstone, with the surity of penetration by groundwater. Since biological material is quickly broken down in the presence of water, it seems inconceivable that organic material could have avoided decomposition for so long, raising the possibility that the formation is misdated. While not "proving" the young age for the fossil, the discovery is obviously much more compatible with recent rapid burial and fossilization than with an age of millions of years. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how soft tissue could have lasted even 5,000 years or so since the Flood of Noah's day when creationists propose the dinosaur was buried. Such a thing could hardly happen today, for soft tissue decays rather quickly under any condition. Clearly, non-uniform processes must have been involved.
Faced with the implications of this discovery, secular evolutionists are scrambling to suggest a way soft tissue can be completely preserved in pristine condition, for they dismiss the possibility of young age. But unfortunately, Christian leaders who likewise hold to long ages are joining them in the search. Why must Christians fight this evidence? Shouldn't they welcome the possibility that the Bible is correct as it appears on the surface? Yes they should, but so strong is the commitment to millions and billions of years among many Christians that contrary evidence must be explained away.
Consider another recent incident involving Christian leaders. On several occasions over the last two years ICR scientists have participated in conferences with Christian academics to discuss the various views on the age of the earth. In April, Drs. Russ Humphreys and Henry Morris III met for such a "closed" meeting in Dallas to "identify common ground". Present were several other young-earth creationists as well as numerous seminary theologians and scientists holding the old-earth view.
Recent creation advocates presented scientific evidence supporting the Biblical creation doctrine, including the new RATE research (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth), and rehearsed the clear Scriptural teaching of the young earth. Recent creation was shown to be crucial in understanding the nature of God, of man, of sin, and salvation. Clearly this is not an optional doctrine. Recent creation is derived by well established rules of hermeneutics and shown to be necessary for a Biblical view of the character of God. To them, science and Scripture agree -- the earth is young.
The other, old-earth view was held by most in the room. Some, including the scientists, held to Progressive Creation, in which God created over billions of years, others to Theistic Evolution, where God used long ages of evolution to create. The seminary theologians primarily held the Framework Hypothesis, in which Genesis is considered allegorical and contains no historical information. Most knew little scientific evidence in support of long ages, but insisted that mainstream "science" firmly hold to billions of years, and that Scripture "allowed" it, thus they have adopted it.
Two days of presenting viewpoints was followed by a summary session in which each participant was asked to state his or her perspective and identify what they would require to change that perspective. Each creationist felt the scientific evidence for the young earth was persuasive, but they would change if convinced that Scripture clearly taught long ages. To them, Scripture provides the framework in which scientific data is interpreted, not the other way around.
Conversely, old-earth proponents admitted mainstream scientific opinion was of paramount importance to them. None of them, including the scientists present, is involved in primary research, but all lean on the research of others. They would change their view of Scripture only if the majority of secular scientists shifted to young-earth thinking. Secular interpretations of scientific information hold more credence than Scripture. Scholarly Bible-supporting discoveries such as those reported by the RATE scientists, Bible-believing scientists all, do not compare to secular "consensus" opinion. Even the discovery of unfossilized dinosaur flesh, which so strongly denies long ages, would be unconvincing. While pronouncements of some scientists have led them to abandon a high view of Scripture, scientific discoveries which support Scripture are ignored.
Think of the implications for Christianity. Human reasoning is the authority for many church leaders, not Scripture. Opinions of unregenerate scientists are of more consequence than those of qualified creationist scientists. Evangelical seminaries are teaching future pastors how to "get around" clear teachings of Scripture the world considers unpopular. Theologians and Bible scholars rely on secular scientists to interpret Scripture for them. No wonder the church at large is in trouble. Its leaders are leading it in a false path. For the creationist remnant, there's a lot of work to do.