A Thorny Issue

Cactus Plant

Spiny plant fossils pose a thorny problem

by David Catchpoole

“Cursed is the ground because of you … It will produce thorns and thistles” Genesis 3:17–18

Spiny plant fossils pose a thorny problem for Christians who accept the secular view that the earth is much older than 6,000 years.

Cactus fossils in the Eocene (‘dated’ at 35–55 million years), rose fossils from the Miocene (5–23 million years) and Oligocene (23–35 million years), plus many others, are all ‘dated’ according to the secular evolutionary long-age view that puts these fossils way before man ever existed—i.e. thorns before man. But the Bible teaches us that thorns are the result of the Curse—i.e. thorns after man. God said to Adam:

“Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17–19)


That means that death, toil, the need to till the soil to grow field crops, along with the appearance of thorns and thistles, all resulted from Adam’s sin—indeed the whole Creation was (and continues to be) afflicted (Romans 8:19–23). Thus the Bible indicates that not one fossil thorn, spine, prickle or thistle could have existed before Adam sinned and therefore fossils of these cannot be millions of years old. But if the evolutionary millions-of-years ages are true, then the Bible is wrong—leaving Christians who might have seen no problem in accepting long-age timeframes having to face up to ‘a thorny issue’.

Thorns and dinosaurs

By evolutionary reckoning, spiny plant fossils from Devonian strata (360–410 million years) were laid down way before the ‘age of dinosaurs’ (65–230 million years ago), and, in turn, way before the first humans appeared.

According to the Bible, however, these Devonian spiny plants cannot have been buried and fossilized until after Adam sinned. And fossil dinosaurs, being found in Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock layers deposited above Devonian strata, cannot have been buried before the fossil spines were buried. Therefore (for Christians who accept God’s infallible Word) the dinosaurs, too, can only have been buried and fossilized after Adam sinned.

The Bible provides us with exactly the sort of event that explains this—one that occurred some 1,656 years after Adam sinned…

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image credit: George Pagan III