How fortunate I was to enjoy a warm, sunny day for my birthday earlier in the week. Smack in the middle of September and just a few days before the Autumn Equinox. Officially, it's still Summer. Yet so far, September has proven to be more summerlike than August here in the UK, the latter with its daily overcast sky and almost cool enough to turn on the central heating.
And so, a trip to London to visit a very unusual shop located right in the heart of the city, a privately-owned business, London Fossils Ltd, just behind the British Museum. Here, I bought two rather outstanding fossils to add to our four smaller specimens already at our home display.
|Our Home Fossil Display, taken Sept 2021.|
Perhaps, the best one of the six on display is the superb preservation of a petrified Trilobite. The specimen is exactly 7 cm long and 2.7 cm across the widest part of its head. I would say that its overall length is roughly half of a fully-grown fossil Trilobite I have seen on display at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. I try to imagine it when alive. Quite likely, it was fully submerged in the mud of the shallow ocean floor, and with a higher likelihood to escape the attention of predators and - had it survived to this day - also escape the attention of scuba divers.
According to the Palaeontologist, the Evolutionist, and the Historical Geologist, the Trilobite is classed as an Index Fossil, and it thrived throughout the entire Paleozoic Era, a duration of 300,000,000 years between 500,000,000 and 200,000,000 years ago. The Trilobite marks the beginning of the Cambrian Period, and it survived through the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, and the Pennsylvanian periods - only to die off during the Permian Period.* Bad luck for the Trilobite, as it did not survive long enough to appreciate the rise of the wonderful coral reefs which started to form during the Permian Period of the Geological Age! To be fair, 300,000,000 years is a long time for the species to thrive, and even over such a long span, if you place the youngest fossil next to the earliest specimen, both would look exactly the same. Indeed, the Trilobite seems to have shown hardly any signs of "evolution in action."
Along with the two Trilobite fossils, I also have one complete fully petrified remain of an Ammonite Dactylioceras, along with what looks to be a petrified mud bed with many broken Ammonite coils piled on it. It's a shame that all the shells are broken. Had they remained intact, the fossil would have looked beautiful - almost artificial.
When I was a teenager, I had an interest in fossils. I was also an atheist and a very keen evolutionist. Even then, I instinctively knew that I couldn't reconcile my love of Science with Religion. It was during my adolescence was when I hated anything to do with the church. As a Roman Catholic, I found God to be quite distant and unapproachable! How could I believe that God loves me if all he does is keep a record of my sins - unless I go to confess to a priest, take Holy Communion every Sunday and on every holy day, and do penance whenever I'm called to carry it out. Or else it would be an eternity of unbearable suffering in Hell if I were to die with even just one mortal sin in my spirit. I realised that I could be a devoted Catholic all my life - and still end up in Hell! When the priest once tried to reassure me that God loves me despite my sins, I was unable to believe it. I just couldn't see myself going to church every week for the rest of my life.
Therefore, in a way, I subconsciously perceived God as an uncaring father-figure and Science as an all-embracing mother - a comforting female deity from whom I can expand my knowledge and the pride that comes with it, to give me something to live for, and to build enthusiasm for, a reason for living. For me to look around at the natural world and marvel at how everything, including us, had gotten here by chance, the amoeba-to-man progress spanning billions of years, and wondering how our distant descendants may look like and behave. As such, fossils played a role here, and during school breaks, I used to examine each of the many pebbles placed around the perimeter of the playground to drain away rainwater. Very rarely, an imprint of a scallop shell appeared on a stone picked up at random, which I took home and added to my measly collection.
I had never kept the original collection for long. Maybe, with tiny, insignificant-looking fossils, I eventually scattered the stones across our back garden flowerbeds (discreetly!) Perhaps, it was just as well that, back in the sixties and early seventies, the Internet hadn't yet existed. Had it, chances were I would never have become a Christian towards the end of 1972. I can now click on a video made by a former Jehovah's Witness turned Atheist. Had he been around more than half a century earlier, I would have continued to laugh with scorn at religion by following his lead that the Bible teaches a flat, disk-like Earth, supported by enormous pillars and covered with a solid dome.
|Taught in the Bible?|
After just six days after publishing his video on YouTube, ex-JW Harrison Cother had collected 17,000 views on that video alone, out of the 1,748,000 total views on all his mere eleven videos he began posting on YouTube since the end of January 2021. In his latest video, he insists that the Bible teaches a flat Earth.
Using Scripture verses such as 1 Samuel 2:8; Job 9:6, Job 26:7-10; Job 37:18; Psalm 75:3; Psalm 93:1; Psalm 104:5; Psalm 148:3-6; Isaiah 40:22 - this YouTuber sets out to prove that the Bible teaches the Earth as a flat disk covered by a solid dome, or the firmament, on which the "waters above" still fully submerging the outside of the dome, according to Psalm 148:4. Although by checking out all the other verses and seeing that they're all poetic, with Psalm 148:4, he relates this to Genesis 1:6-8 - the initial Creation of the firmament dividing the waters above from the waters below, as factual history, and this water above the firmament is still there, according to the Psalmist, and therefore, never collapsed during the Flood, believed by many Christians and theologians as the source of "the windows of heaven opened" - of Genesis 7:11.
Also, that the Earth is firm and immovable, according to the YouTuber's interpretation of the Bible. By using Psalm 104:5 as a proof text, Harrison Cother then insists that 1 Samuel 2:8 (KJV) and Job 9:6 teaches that the flat Earth rests on pillars as its foundations. Also, he mocks at the Christian's attempt to read the flat, disk-like circle as a sphere in Isaiah 40:22. A thought crossed my mind. Indeed, if he's referring to looking directly at the disk at a 90-degree angle perpendicular to it, would he be actually looking at a hemisphere - if the flat Earth has a dome over it? Surely, to the uninformed observer, he'll be looking at a sphere and not at a flat disk. Yet, as a child, I thought that both the sun - seen through the thin cloud - and the moon were flat disks. How would I know they were spheres unless I was taught that they were?
Anyone watching this video would be thoroughly convinced that the Bible is so unscientific, that it's laughed at to the level of derision if used as a science guidebook. For example, how can the Earth be "firm on its foundations and immovable" when it actually whizzes around the sun at 107,208 km/hour, or 66,616 mph, and rotates at 1,670 km/hour, or 1,037 mph at the Equator? Little wonder that it takes just one atheist to mock the Bible, and the rest of the unbelieving world laughs with him.
As for the fossils, they could either testify for my faith or against it. For example, the rock strata at the Grand Canyon. They're all water-laid deposits that hardened into rock. Geologists say that each layer was gradually formed in a shallow sea, lake or river. Any thoughts about a widespread or a universal Flood is looked upon with contempt. It is as if the scientific world is hostile towards God and His Biblical testimony.
This hostility towards God by secular scientists, I think, has placed many Christian graduates in a very awkward position. I, for one, refuse to feel embarrassed and I will confess my allegiance to Biblical truth. The most likely outcome to this is to be ignored, to be brushed aside. However, throughout the seventies and eighties, I met and associated with many Christian graduates who solved the problem by embracing Theistic Evolution. It's their attempt to compromise and to look acceptable in a scientific world and not face ridicule.
But I have nothing to worry about. Nor do I need to fear the mocker. I don't have to defend the Bible either. Rather, the Bible defends itself. Anyone who reads the above verses - and many others found in Scripture - can see that much of it is poetry. It seems as if the writers had deliberately put it that way so the reader, who did not possess the scientific knowledge in the same way we do, yet can still understand that the natural world he lived in was created by God for Man to inhabit. And man was originally created for intimacy with God. God had inspired the writing of the Bible as a revelation on how a sinful man can be reconciled to a holy God and enjoy eternity with Him.
One example is the criticism made by Sam Harris in his book, Letter to a Christian Nation, concerning the measurement of a circular bath installed by King Solomon near the newly-built Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 7:23.) According to Harris, this ratio of Pi is the worst and the most inappropriate approximation even in ancient times. The Babylonians can do a far better job in calculating Pi than the Israelites did, and thus proves his point in the way the Bible deals with maths.
But such criticism isn't necessary. The Bible is not a science book. It was never meant to be a book on science. Rather, it's a revelation on who God is and why we are separate from Him through sin, and through faith, we can be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ, who was crucified, buried, and three days later rose physically from the dead. And He gives eternal life to everyone who believes.
And the origin of fossils? Even the Bible gives a scientific explanation for that.
*John C. Whitcombe Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, 1961, nineteenth printing, 1975. Baker Books. Page 133. The figures detailed here are American numerics.