Reasons to Believe

What Dinosaur Soft Tissue Says about the Earth’s Age

Adapted from Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth

Perhaps one of the more amazing discoveries made in recent years has been the recovery of original soft tissue remnants within the fossilized remains of dinosaurs that lived nearly 80 million years ago. Paleontologists have unearthed multiple dinosaur specimens containing soft tissue parts.

What an unbelievable boon to paleontologists! Common wisdom has long held that soft tissues should readily degrade in a few thousand years. Yet, in some cases, these biomaterials have persisted for as long as a few hundred million years. Such unexpected discoveries excite the research community because they open up the possibility for scientists to gain important insight into the biology of ancient organisms.

These discoveries also excite Christians who believe that the earth is young. They see these breakthroughs as compelling scientific support for their interpretation of Genesis 1—one that regards the creation days as calendar days that occurred roughly 6,000 years ago. Young-earth creationists have capitalized on these findings to argue that it is impossible for the fossils to be millions of years old. They reason that soft tissues could not survive that long. In their view, these finds challenge the reliability of radiometric dating methods and, along with it, all other evidences of Earth’s antiquity.

Are they correct?

The scientific community is unimpressed with this latest argument for a young earth. Even though the recovery of soft tissue from fossilized remains was unexpected, it troubles virtually none of the science on which Earth’s age determinations are made. Neither does it trouble Christians who accept the age evidences for the fossil record and the earth. These Christians (including me) do have great concerns, however, about the impact of such young-earth arguments on evangelism. They may hinder nonbelievers from examining the powerful scientific evidence for God’s existence and Scripture’s reliability.

The purpose of my new book, Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth, is to help Christians understand why it makes sense—from a biochemist’s standpoint—for soft tissue remains to have been preserved in fossils that date to several hundred million years in age. As a biochemist, I understand the structure, function, and stability of molecules. I hope that my insights can help prevent well-meaning believers from making a scientifically questionable argument and, at the same time, help Christians exercise discernment when evaluating and employing arguments for the credibility of our faith.

Dr. Fazale Rana

In 1999, I left my position in R&D at a Fortune 500 company to join Reasons to Believe because I felt the most important thing I could do as a scientist is to communicate to skeptics and believers alike the powerful scientific evidence—evidence that is being uncovered day after day—for God’s existence and the reliability of Scripture. Read more about Dr. Fazale Rana