Intelligent Design The Design of Life

History lesson: Eozoon – the dawn – and dusk – of the bogus dawn animal

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A golden fossil turned to dross?

According to Natural Resources Canada:

To many mid-Victorian geologists and paleontologists these laminated green and grey rock specimens from altered limestones of the Canadian Shield of Ontario and Quebec were the most important fossils ever found because they constituted evidence of the existence of complex life forms deep in the Precambrian. J. William Dawson, the Principal of McGill University and one of the foremost geologists in Canada, named the fossil Eozoon canadense — the Canadian dawn animal. In his presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1864, Sir Charles Lyell singled out this fossil as “one of the greatest geological discoveries of his time”. Charles Darwin, in the fourth edition of Origin of Species in 1866, was relieved to be able to cite the first fossil evidence that the succession of life on earth proceeded from simple unicellular organisms to complex multicellular animals and plants.

But what happened thereafter is a cautionary tale.

British physicist David Tyler, whose work I have been profiling recently, tells the story here, of how the fossil was greeted with tidings of great joy.

Charles Darwin welcomed the find and brought it into the 4th edition of the Origin in 1866. He wrote: “After reading Dr Carpenter’s description of this remarkable fossil, it is impossible to feel any doubt regarding its organic nature”. The problem for Darwin was that the earliest known fossils were complex, and his theory required something much simpler to precede the forms of the Cambrian Explosion. It was a relief when Eozoon appeared to provide evidence supporting gradualism.

In the 6th edition, Darwin modified the text to read: “The existence of the Eozoon in the Laurentian formation of Canada is generally admitted”.

But there was dissent. In this case, from geologist Professor William King and chemist Thomas Rowney at Queen’s College, Galway.

They did not think that Eozoon was in fact a fossil. And they had good reasons for thinking it wasn’t. They knew how it could have been formed without any input from a life form at all.

So what happened between 1866, when those Galway men were basically a problem to be seen off, and 1879 when the truth was eventually revealed?

As Tyler explains,

The characteristics of the ensuing controversy are the subject of an interesting paper by Adelman.* She points out that the Canadian geologists adopted a “diffusion” model of communication: “scientific facts were confirmed within the scientific community and then presented to the public.” London was the focus of their attention, because the opinion-formers were located there. “The ‘Eozoonists’ felt that the fossil’s credibility was established once the leaders of the scientific community in London had accepted it.” The dissenters, however, chose not to play this game.

And the Galway dissenters were treated with contempt, their credibility under severe question, for years. Their crime? Raising entirely reasonable objections against Darwinism.

The Canadian government explains it all quite decorously as follows:

Dawson concluded that Eozoon was the shell of a foraminiferan, a single-celled protistan complete with chambers and canal systems, but one hundreds of times larger than any of the living forms which are all microscopic. This view was almost immediately challenged by a pair of Irish geologists who claimed that Eozoon was not organic, but a metamorphic feature formed from the segregation of minerals in marble through the influence of great heat and pressure. For the next ten years, increasingly acrimonious debates on the nature of Eozoon appeared in British and American journals. An exhaustive analysis by a German professor of zoology, Karl Möbius in 1879 demonstrated that Eozoon displayed not a single characteristic trait of foraminiferans. This settled the matter for virtually all geologists and paleontologists, but not Dawson.

Tyler comments

In case it needs saying, Eozoon was not a fossil and the dissenters were correct to challenge the consensus. Clearly there are parallels with today: the role of scientific elites, the status of peer publication, the protocols required to be accepted as members of the scientific community, the way debated issues can be presented as fact to the public, the disdain shown to dissenters, the lobbying of editors to restrict access by critics of the Establishment, and the exploration of alternative ways of communicating minority views to peers and the public. This is the very human face of science. We are seeing these characteristics today in numerous areas where scientists have reached different conclusions.

Yes, we are indeed seeing that.

The takeaway point is that, in the 19th century, the new caste of elite materialists that had begun to form around Charles Darwin NEEDED Eozoon to be a fossil, whether it was or not. Those two nerds from Galway had – in their view – NO business challenging the elite consensus. What difference did it make if the cabbage-heads who pay to keep the system going were told that Eozoon (or “Schmeozoon”) proved that a materialist account of origins was true? The exact fossil would be found eventually (because materialism is true, right?), and the main thing in the meantime is always to keep the stupid hordes docile while their world is reworked along materialist lines.

And how different is it today?

Perhaps some will choose to write in here to insist that “science is self-correcting”. Maybe, but – if we are talking about materialist science, specifically – it won’t self-correct very often, very quickly, or very willingly. Not when, as a consequence, an icon of materialism must cease to be venerated.

Remember, as Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and I stressed in The Spiritual Brain, because materialism is a monistic system, it cannot tolerate ANY deviations at all. Its icons are defended all the more strenuously on that account.

*Eozoon: debunking the dawn animal Juliana Adelman Endeavour, 31(3), September 2007, 94-98 | doi:10.1016/j.endeavour.2007.07.002

12 Replies to “History lesson: Eozoon – the dawn – and dusk – of the bogus dawn animal

  1. 1
    poachy says:

    You know, it seems like we are never going to breach the wall that the Darwinists have built around themselves. Maybe it is time we started our own scientific journals in order to get the ground breaking ID research out into the world where the people can decide. We could even start with a blockbuster issue with all the ID papers that have been rejected by Big Science.

  2. 2
    Nochange says:


    Yes! This is what I’ve been talking about! Let’s get our science out there. Give our guys a place to talk. Publish our stuff.

    Let’s cure cancer! You can’t argue with progress.

  3. 3
    Collin says:

    I agree, but I wonder if that makes it easier for the mainstream community to just label it “pseudo-science” like they do to parapsychology, cryptozoology etc who have their own journals, but have never been seen as mainstream. But I think it would still be worth it because ID has superior science to parapsychology (debatable: they do have some interesting stuff).

  4. 4

    […] Congregate [re 77], the technical name for the concept to which you refer is “allopatric… Collin: I agree, but I wonder if that makes it easier for the mainstream community to just label it… […]

  5. 5
    vjtorley says:

    I’m surprised it has taken the ID community this long to seriously consider setting up their own scientific journals. All I can say is: it’s about time!

    I’d like to make four suggestions. First, a genuine ID journal should publish only positive research. An article debunking NDE is NOT an ID research article. Proving Darwin wrong isn’t the same as proving ID right.

    Second, a genuine ID journal should focus on quantitative research. You believe that certain features of life were intelligently designed? OK. Which ones are you surest about? Can we rank the degree of difficulty of the following transitions occurring by chance: non-life to life, simple animals to Cambrian phyla, Australopithecus to early Homo? Which one is the biggest “miracle” and by how wide a margin? For example, how much more difficult is the transition from non-life to life, as opposed to the Cambrian expolsion? 10 times? 100? 1,000,000? I have no idea, but someone out there should, by now. We should have at least ballpark estimates (nearest order of magnitude) of the probability of these events occurring by currently postulated natural mechanisms. If you can’t even give me that, then please don’t say you’re doing ID research.

    Here’s another one. If a feature of living things was intelligently designed, it should be optimal, at least relative to some set of built-in constraints. Which features of living things tend to be optimal, and which tend not to be? Can we rigorously prove that some features of DNA are indeed optimal? Can we draw a clear distinction between optimal and sub-optimal features?

    Having answered these questions, we might want to tackle questions like: How many acts of intervention are required for ID to work? When? At what level? But that’s further down the track.

    Third, a genuine ID journal should use mathematics that is recognized as legitimate by all branches of the scientific community. Scientists will entertain any number of wild and wacky ideas (time travel, baby universes, and 11 dimensions, to name a few), so long as the math is impeccable, and open to review. Any branch of scientific research that makes extensive use of a new kind of mathematics is bound to arouse suspicion among mainstream scientists, who will label it as quackery. Mathematics is the lingua franca of science. Ignore it at your peril.

    Fourth, find yourselves a billionaire. I’m serious. There are hundreds of them in the USA, and it simply beggars belief that not ONE of them is sympathetic to ID. Even the creationists have journals of their own. Why can’t the ID community do the same? (Whatever happened to ISCID, by the way?) However, if you’re going to publish a proper journal, you need money – as in millions of dollars. The only people who can spare millions are those who have billions. Good luck!

  6. 6
    Collin says:


    yAt the discovery institute there are articles on the giraffe that might fit in with what you are thinking about. By a german author I think.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks Ms. O’Leary, Not much has changed in a 130 odd years has it?

    At least the evidence we have for what happened before the Cambrian Explosion is starting to come into clear focus, And what is coming into focus is beautiful for ID eyes and blinding for dogmatic materialists:

    It is commonly presumed in many grade school textbooks that life slowly arose in a primordial ocean of pre-biotic soup. Yet, there is absolutely no hard evidence, such as chemical signatures in the geologic record, indicating that a ocean of this pre-biotic soup ever existed. The hard physical evidence scientists have discovered in the geologic record is stunning in its support of the anthropic hypothesis. The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs) 3.86 billion years ago. Those sediments, which are exposed at Isua in southwestern Greenland, also contain the earliest chemical evidence (fingerprint) of “photosynthetic” life [Nov. 7, 1996, Nature]. This evidence has been fought by naturalists, since it is totally contrary to their evolutionary theory. Yet, Danish scientists were able to bring forth another line of geological evidence to substantiate the primary line of geological evidence for photo-synthetic life in the earth’s earliest known sedimentary rocks (Indications of Oxygenic Photosynthesis,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 6907 (2003). Thus we have two lines of hard conclusive evidence for photo-synthetic life in the oldest known sedimentary rocks ever found by scientists on earth! The simplest photosynthetic bacterial life on earth is exceedingly complex, too complex to happen by even if the primeval oceans had been full of pre-biotic soup.

    The first actual fossilized cells scientists have been able to recover in the fossil record are 3.5 billion year old photosynthetic cyano(blue-green)bacteria, from western Australia, which look amazingly similar to a particular type of cyano-bacteria that are still alive today.

    From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria, and to a lesser degree sulfate-reducing bacteria, ted the geologic and fossil record (that’s over 80% of the entire time life has existed on earth). The geologic and fossil record also reveals that during this time a large portion of these very first bacterial life-forms lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) colonies called Stromatolites. Stromatolites are rock like structures that the photo-synthetic bacteria built up over many years (much like coral reefs are slowly built up over many years by the tiny creatures called corals). Although Stromatolites are not nearly as widespread as they once were, they are still around today in a few sparse places like Shark’s Bay Australia. Contrary to what naturalistic thought would expect, these very first photosynthetic bacteria scientists find in the geologic and fossil record are shown to have been preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear from the very start of their existence by reducing the greenhouse gases of earth’s early atmosphere and producing the necessary oxygen for higher life-forms to exist. Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon. Interestingly, the gradual removal of greenhouse gases corresponds exactly to the gradual 15% increase of light and heat coming from the sun during that time (Ross; PhD. Astrophysics; Creation as Science 2006). This “lucky” correspondence of the slow increase of heat from the sun with the same perfectly timed slow removal of greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere was absolutely necessary for the bacteria to continue to live to do their work of preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear. Bacteria obviously depended on the temperature of the earth to remain relatively stable during the billions of years they prepared the earth for higher life forms to appear. More interesting still, the byproducts of greenhouse gas removal by these early bacteria are limestone, marble, gypsum, phosphates, sand, and to a lesser extent, coal, oil and natural gas (note; though some coal, oil and natural gas are from this early era of bacterial life, most coal, oil and natural gas deposits originated on earth after the Cambrian explosion of higher life forms some 540 million years ago). These natural resources produced by these early photosynthetic bacteria are very useful to modern civilizations. Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing natural resources that would be of benefit to modern man, the sulfate-reducing bacteria were also producing their own natural resources that would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by “detoxifying” the primeval earth and oceans of “poisonous” levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ore deposits (iron, zinc, magnesium, lead etc.. etc..). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms. Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization. Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis. Many different types of bacteria in earths early history lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships in what are called cryptogamic colonies on the earths primeval continents. These colonies “dramatically” transformed the “primeval land” into “nutrient filled soils” that were receptive for future advanced vegetation to appear. Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear. -// Since oxygen readily reacts and bonds with almost all of the solid elements making up the earth itself, it took photosynthetic bacteria over 3 billion years before the earth’s crust and mantle was saturated with enough oxygen to allow an excess of oxygen to be built up in the atmosphere. Once this was accomplished, higher life forms could finally be introduced on earth. Moreover, scientists find the rise in oxygen percentages in the geologic record to correspond exactly to the sudden appearance of large animals in the fossil record that depended on those particular percentages of oxygen. The geologic record shows a 10% oxygen level at the time of the Cambrian explosion of higher life-forms in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. The geologic record also shows a strange and very quick rise from the 17% oxygen level, of 50 million years ago, to a 23% oxygen level 40 million years ago (Falkowski 2005)). This strange rise in oxygen levels corresponds exactly to the appearance of large mammals in the fossil record who depend on high oxygen levels. Interestingly, for the last 10 million years the oxygen percentage has been holding steady around 21%. 21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist. If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy; if only three to four percentage higher, there would be uncontrollable outbreaks of fire across the land. Because of this basic chemical requirement of photosynthetic bacterial life establishing and helping maintain the proper oxygen levels for higher life forms on any earth-like planet, this gives us further reason to believe the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support intelligent life in this universe. All these preliminary studies of early life on earth fall right in line with the anthropic hypothesis and have no explanation from any naturalistic theory based on blind chance as to why the very first bacterial life found in the fossil record would suddenly, from the very start of their appearance on earth, start working in precise harmony with each other to prepare the earth for future life to appear. Nor can naturalism explain why, once the bacteria had helped prepare the earth for higher life forms, they continue to work in precise harmony with each other to help maintain the proper balanced conditions that are of primary benefit for the complex life that is above them.

  8. 8
    Jason Rennie says:

    “Yes! This is what I’ve been talking about! Let’s get our science out there. Give our guys a place to talk. Publish our stuff.”

    So start it. Given the interweb and publishing places like Lulu i’m sure it is doable.

    Actally if anybody is seriously interested in trying something like this let me know. I’d be interested in helping out. I’m nearing the point of publishing the first issue of a new science fiction and philosophy journal (in an all electronic and audio format) so it would be an interesting new project to go along with it.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    First, there are journals or near-journals [books, monographs etc] and conferences [with proceedings] that have discussed and published peer-reviewed and peer-edited ID issues at serious professional level. [Cf here.]

    But, since that does not fit the dominant narrative, the very bare existence of such is still improperly disputed and denied — and even appears in court decisions in the teeth of having actual papers in hand.

    Second, let’s get back to the point Denyse raised: we have seen all of this before, right from the very beginning of the triumph of the Darwinian paradigm.

    Specifically, we had a case where a mechanical natural regularity was confused with a product of RV + NS, but because the chance interpretation fitted the institutionally dominant narrative and its popularisations, compelling evidence to the contrary was suppressed, derided, and dismissed for over a decade. The small minority who stood up were subjected to all sorts of attacks using by now very familiar tactics.

    Never mind that they were right. (Indeed, they were vindicated then consigned to the memory hole, right next to the discredited icon, which doubtless had by then been replaced by another much-headlined story on the triumph of Darwinism. Cf. here on dubious icons of evolution and associated “education” and debate tactics.)

    Never mind that we see here the vital importance of something that looks uncommonly like Dembski’s explanatory filter: how can we reliably distinguish the causal patterns chance, necessity, agency?

    In short, a major take-home lesson remains:

    Perhaps some will choose to write in here to insist that “science is self-correcting”. Maybe, but – if we are talking about materialist science, specifically – it won’t self-correct very often, very quickly, or very willingly. Not when, as a consequence, an icon of materialism must cease to be venerated.

    That is a sobering and shocking lesson, and we must be realistic about its implications.

    Including, that corrections of errors of Darwinism and broader evolutionary materialist science etc will be attacked then if possible finally buried and forgotten, almost like the old Memory Hole in 1984.

    Indeed, that is plainly happening with underlying thermodynamics issues (as can be seen from the resurrection of a distorted form of Prigogine’s findings despite his remarks on what he did NOT show, in the current thread on the Paul Davies interview — and cf also the discussion and citation in Thaxton et al’s The Mystery of Life’s Origin in the early 1980’s, ch 7):

    The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small. The idea of spontaneous genesis of life in its present form is therefore highly improbable, even on the scale of billions of years during which prebiotic evolution occurred.8

    Of course, that is routinely conveniently forgotten or overlooked when the claim that open systems can create order spontaneously is trotted out as a handy rebuttal point.

    Why is that so? Because of the second lesson:

    because materialism is a monistic system, it cannot tolerate ANY deviations at all. Its icons are defended all the more strenuously on that account.

    That means that the underlying philosophy and agenda of evolutionary materialism have to be repeatedly exposed and challenged on the key cracks in its foundations.

    It means that there will have to be alternative independent, adequately funded institutions that have enough resources and grim determination to sustain the challenge in the teeth of the most unprincipled and frankly vicious attacks by evo mat ideologues using even organs of state power, across the decades that will be necessary. In turn, that means that the core vision has to be clear and has to be clearly sound and promising, to sustain the level of commitment that will be required. It also means that there has to be a major decision on the ethical control on tactics used, and self-policing, as slander and scandal are major techniques used by the relevant power-blocs.

    My suspicion is, on the analogy of the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War [as well as what is best viewed as the Fourth World War in a century, currently ongoing], that the pretence that all is well and that all is wrong with those who dare question evo mat views will be sustained right through tot he end, when the resources to sustain it run out, then there will be a collapse.

    This means that we are in a civilisational, cultural and institutional battle of attrition, that will for a long, long, long time look like a fruitless stalemate/quagmire, with horrendous financial and personal cost. And, some of the evo mat advocates will strive with every tactic and organ of dubious persuasion to persuade us that the battle is pointless, futile and fruitless, so should be abandoned.

    But, grim determination that the truth will prevail and the corruption of science and culture by materialist ideology will be reversed, will in the end win the day.

    GEM of TKI

  10. 10
    Bettawrekonize says:

    Original post

    Perhaps some will choose to write in here to insist that “science is self-correcting”. Maybe, but – if we are talking about materialist science, specifically – it won’t self-correct very often, very quickly, or very willingly. Not when, as a consequence, an icon of materialism must cease to be venerated.

    Another example comes to mind.

    Piltdown Man was obviously a deliberate hoax. Upon critical investigation, the hoax was exposed very quickly. However, the “find” was not investigated properly until forty-years after the initial “discovery”.

    Why did it take them so long to discover that piltdown man was a hoax? I think the original post explains it quote well. The reason it took them so long is because the piltdown man was , “an icon of materialism” and to discover that it was a hoax would mean that, “an icon of materialism must cease to be venerated.” and committed naturalists can’t have that. The fact of the matter is that naturalistic philosophies (notice how I do not call them scientific since they’re not scientific) like UCD are anti – scientific. Science welcomes scrutiny/criticism and opposing views while UCD (and other naturalistic philosophies) censors scrutiny and opposing views while brainwashing students with such naturalistic philosophies with stolen tax dollars. If UCD (and other naturalistic philosophies) had even the slightest bit of scientific merit it wouldn’t have to resort to such dishonesty. Until UCD (and other naturalistic philosophies) can stand up to criticsm and opposing views (like ID and creationism) without having to resort to tax funded brainwashing, such naturalistic nonsense should not be considered scientific (because it’s not).

  11. 11
    Bettawrekonize says:

    sp/quote well/quite well

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:


    First, on data, kindly cf the peer-reviewed materials listed link above at no 9, and my always linked. I believe it is fair comment that there is significant relevant data in the linked or referenced documents, relating to: [1] OOL, [2] body-plan level biodiversification, and onward [3] the organised, fine tuned complexity of the life-facilitating cosmos we inhabit.

    Second, once we deal with research programmes, as Lakatos pointed out, we are in part dealing with worldview issues, at the core, not just the belt of theories and related concepts and constructs.

    For instance one of the major issues in the controversy is over whether ID is science. The definition and demarcation of science is a philosophical issue – and the imposition of so-called merthodological naturalism as a criterion of science is a case of worldview level question-begging that cuts across the historical foundations of modern science.

    Third, one of the issues in science is coherence of a body of accepted scientific knowledge.

    In that context, statistical thermodynamics and information theory [as well as associated mathematics and statistics] have something to say to the ideas especially on the origin of cellular level information-storage units and associated machinery by chance + necessity only, and also on the origin of bodyplan level biodiversity. Those ideas challenge, for good reason — cf. my always linked — the claims made by the evolutionary marterialist research programme and wider worldview.

    Behe, further, has just summarised abundant empirical evidence that RV + NS have serious limitations on the innovation of bio-information across a wider span of opportunity in the past 50 years or so, than in all mammalia since the first mammals.

    OOL, notoriously, is in deep trouble, on very similar grounds relating to accounting for functionally specified complex information by chance + necessity only.

    But also, we know that FSCI beyond the Dembski type UPB is routinely produced by agents, and that the CSI filter reliably identifies cases of design, when compared with known causal stories.

    On inference to best and empirically anchored explanation, evo mat OOL and body plan level biodiversification, are easily surpassed by inference to design.

    Now, therefore, it is time for the Evo Mat advocates to show why these issues are not relevant. It is your side, EZ, that needs to come up with clear and convincing cases of FSCI that have demonstrably come about by chance + necessity only, relative to empirical observation of the actual causal process.

    And, pardon if I sound annoyed to be having to repeat the same basic unanswered issues and equally unanswered evidence again and again. I am, but I understand this is a whole new world of thought for the many of us who were indoctrinated into evolutionary materialism as the “only ‘scientific’ choice” over the past few generations.

    GEM of TKI

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