Explore why Christian geologists and paleontologists accept an ancient earth and common descent.
The Fossil Record and Faith
Can the earth really be billions of years old?
Scientists say the fossil record reveals billions of years of earth history and offers solid evidence of the common ancestry of life forms. But many Christians think the fossil record can be explained by a global flood just a few thousand years ago. Why do Christian geologists and paleontologists accept the ideas of an ancient earth and common descent? And how do they reconcile these conclusions with Genesis?
- Does the fossil record support the theory of evolution?
- How old is the earth?
- What does the fossil record show?
- Do transitional fossils exist?
- What is the evidence behind the claim that whales evolved from land mammals?
- What are some challenges experienced by Christian pioneers in paleontology?
- How can we find strength and refreshment in our relationship with God as we endure difficulties and persecution?
- Can fossils tell us about the character of God?
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What will students know or be able to do after this unit?
- Compare different views about the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1.
- Identify appropriate scientific dating methods to measure the age of specific items.
- Define two principles of geological stratigraphy: superposition and faunal succession.
- Depict the life of a creature prior to fossilization.
- Postulate how the presence or absence of transitional fossils in the geologic record might influence a Christian’s acceptance of evolution.
- Evaluate the claim that whales evolved from land mammals based on evidence from fossil and extant skeletons.
- Explain how perseverance can help both scientists and people of faith be successful as they pursue truth.
- Articulate how a relationship with Jesus can empower perseverance in ways that go beyond human will power.
Modules Included in this Unit
10.1 Meet: Paleontologist Ryan Bebej
Dr. Bebej shares about his faith and his work studying whale fossils.
10.2 Engage: Age of the Earth
Students are introduced to scientific dating methods and consider whether science provides reliable information about the world and whether that information is compatible with the Bible.
10.3 Experience: Window to Creation Past
Students learn how fossils form, where they may be found, and how they are distributed. Then they go on a field trip (live or virtual) and research their own favorite fossil.
10.4 Engage: Transitional Fossils
Students read and watch a video about transitional fossils, focusing especially on Tiktaalik as an example.
10.5 Experience: Whale Hunt
Students uncover what scientists have learned about whale evolution by comparing images of fossil and extant skeletons. They experience how scientists learn about the distant past, adjusting and refining their understanding as new evidence becomes available.
10.6 Engage: Fossil Hunters of Faith
Students learn about four Christian women pioneers in paleontology.
10.7 Grow: Perseverance
In this brief devotional, students reflect on how perseverance through trials strengthens our faith and helps us develop character.
10.8 Integrate: God and Extinction
Students reflect on how they understand God and creation in light of an ancient earth in which we find fossilized remains of extinct creatures.
The straw man fallacy that Christian faith and science do not fit together has been demolished. You could not find a better program brought to you by Christian scientists. Come along for the ride, and enjoy the thrill of discovery.
- Unit lesson plans (PDF download, 47 pages)
- User Introduction and Overview (Google Doc)
- 12 student handouts (Google Docs)
- 1 answer key (Google Doc)
- 10 images for printing or projecting (JPEG)
- Integrate Glossary (Google Doc, 64 pages)
- NGSS Alignment (Google Doc)