Or, “How Sea Turtles Stab Creationism and Flood Geology in the Heart”
By Adi Chowdhury
Ah, the glorious sea turtle. Those intricately patterned flippers, vigorously yet graceful. That elegantly sloped head, ending at a beautifully crooked, serrated beak, and eyes narrowed in ostensible anger.
I’ve never really cared about them.
So why the newfound passion, then? It was only recently that I learnt of the threat they pose to the lumbering, profoundly anti-intellectual monolith at the forefront of pseudo-scientific thought: young-earth creationism. The mere existence of the fossils of heavy, clumsy sea turtles debunks creationism’s flood geology and their fallacious explanations for evolutionary sequences in the fossil records.
One of the most dazzlingly clear and satisfying items of evidence–and the strongest, in my personal opinion–for the theory of evolution is the sequence found in fossil records.
Here’s a concise yet illuminating explanation from BBC:
“Fossil remains have been found in rocks of all ages. Fossils of the simplest organisms are found in the oldest rocks, and fossils of more complex organisms in the newest rocks. This supports the theory of evolution, which states that simple life forms gradually evolved into more complex ones.”
Here’s a simplified depiction:
This blatantly flies in the face of Creationism, which dictates that all organisms were created by a deity within a brief period of time. If so, why do we see an order in the fossil record that clearly depicts an ascension in complexity over time?
To resolve this, creationists have fabricated an entirely new niche of pseudoscience, flood geology. This essentially attempts to forcefully shove paleontological and geological findings into a framework compatible with the (in)doctrine of creationism. This applies a vibrant array of dazzling logical fallacies, errors, and blatant denial of science, which is a topic for another article.
Now, let’s look at creationism’s “explanations” for this evolutionary sequence, and why our beloved sea turtle refutes each of them.
1.) Ecological Zoning
From the infamous Answers in Genesis:
“Because the Flood began in the ocean basins with the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, strong and destructive ocean currents were generated by the upheavals and moved swiftly landward, scouring the sediments on the ocean floor and carrying them and the organisms living in, on, and near them. These currents and sediments reached the shallower continental shelves, where the shallow-water marine invertebrates lived in all their prolific diversity. Unable to escape, these organisms would have been swept away and buried in the sediment layers as they were dumped where the waters crashed onto the land surfaces being progressively inundated farther inland. As well as burying these shallow-water marine invertebrates, the sediments washed shoreward from the ocean basins would have progressively buried fish, then amphibians and reptiles living in lowland, swampy habitats, before eventually sweeping away the dinosaurs and burying them next, and finally at the highest elevations destroying and burying birds, mammals, and angiosperms.”
Simply put, creatures living in lower elevations were buried and fossilized by the Flood first, and organisms living higher up were buried later. Thus, we’d see marine animals lower in fossil records, and land animals higher up. This is what we see, in fact. Sounds logical, right?
The sea turtle says no.
Yet…sea turtles are are found relatively high, around the 200-150 million years mark.
Here’s some perspective on that:
Pretty high up, right? Not what you’d expect if the floodwaters buried the lower organisms first.
2.) Hydraulic Sorting
This hypothesis puts forth the idea that heavier, denser, more streamlined organisms, such as trilobites, were buried lower down since they sank deeper due to their weight and density. Let’s look at what our sea turtle says.
The leatherback sea turtle can weigh up to 2000 pounds (1 ton).
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles can weigh up to 45 kg.
The green sea turtle?318 kg.
All in all, sea turtles are heavy. Not exactly the organisms you’d expect to find (if you were a Creationist) high up in the fossil record.
3.) Mobility of Organism
This one’s simple: animals that can move away from floodwaters were buried later, since they reached higher ground and escaped the rising water levels.
The sea turtle shakes his head no. It has been shown to be “slow and vulnerable” on land, not exhibiting the speeds required for it to show up so high in fossil records.
But in water? Admittedly, sea turtles are pretty darn fast in their natural habitat. But consider this. According to creationists, the Flood laid down sediments “very quickly and rapidly”. So, the sea turtle would have been buried quickly in this case anyway.
All in all, the disappointed sea turtle gives the Flood hypothesis a lowly “2” out of 10.
UPDATE: The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Students shared this article on Facebook! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/the.ahs/posts/10153844425809121