November 6, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Deep Time Leads to Absurd Conclusion

The circularity of assuming Darwinism and
deep time slams headlong against logic


Prediction: Big Science Media will repeat the following claim uncritically: “Scientists find that life has recycled the equivalent of almost 100 times the Earth’s entire carbon reservoir through the biosphere.” Will any of them question this assertion? It stems entirely from the following assumption: a naturalistic origin of life followed by billions of years of increasing biological innovation by natural selection.

Is it plausible, though, to believe that every atom of carbon on the planet, from deep sources to the top of the atmosphere, has been ingested, excreted, and reused by organisms a hundred times over? It would be startling if this conclusion came from empirical science. It doesn’t. It comes straight out of Darwinism and belief in billions of years of unguided physical processes. Extrapolation based on unquestioned faith in deep time drives the claim.

The geologic history of primary productivity (Crockford et al., Current Biology, 6 Nov 2023). This is the paper making the claim. A key concept in the paper is Global Primary Productivity (GPP), which Britannica defines as follows:

Primary productivity, in ecology, the rate at which energy is converted to organic substances by photosynthetic producers (photoautotrophs), which obtain energy and nutrients by harnessing sunlight, and chemosynthetic producers (chemoautotrophs), which obtain chemical energy through oxidation.

Autotrophs (“self nutrient” like plants and algae) make their own food from the sun, where as heterotrophs (“other nutrient”) use the food made by autotrophs. Britannica adds, “Nearly all of Earth’s primary productivity is generated by photoautotrophs” or photosynthesizing organisms, which range from diatoms and blue-green algae to towering redwoods.

Based on their assumption of evolving life over billions of years, Crockford et al. estimate the history of GPP from the assumed naturalistic origin of life through the assumed evolution of microbes to man. Here are highlights of their assumption-driven conclusions:

  • The biosphere has fixed ∼1011–1012 Gt C [gigatons of carbon] via primary production over Earth’s history
  • ∼1039–1040 cells have existed on Earth since the origin of life
  • Cyanobacteria are likely the most abundant group of organisms to have ever existed
  • Changes in productivity should be considered in the use of molecular clocks

We’ll discuss the implications for molecular clocks later, but it must be noted that these estimates depend on the prior assumption of billions of years of Darwinian evolution. The paper uses the e-word evolution 17 times, origin of life 7 times (always assuming unguided chemical evolution), innovation 6 times, and deep time’s millions and billions of Darwin Years 14 times. They also assume the questionable Great Oxidation Event (GOE) when photosynthetic organisms began pumping oxygen into the atmosphere at levels that “drove” biological evolution faster. Example:

Interestingly, we find that accounting for periods following mass extinctions or snowball Earth episodes, which have a summed duration of ∼108 [100 million] years, has only had a minor influence on the summed productivity of Earth’s biosphere. Moreover, if major evolutionary innovations were driven by environmental calamity, and if this allowed for new environmental niches to be colonized by life, it seems reasonable that a legacy of these “death” events has been an overall increase in the size and productivity of Earth’s biosphere.

Regarding alleged “snowball Earth episodes,” see 2 Sept 2013 and 7 May 2018.

“Thinking about Deep Time” – this Smithsonian display shows all of recorded human history as a tiny sliver at the right end of the timeline. But how can they know everything left of that sliver without making assumptions about deep time? Without deep time, Darwinism is dead.

When you put Darwin in, you get Darwin out (DIDO). It’s like GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). When you give DIDO billions of years to play with, miracles can happen in the imagination: “evolutionary innovations” appear. It “seems reasonable” to anyone drunk on Darwine. Watch how their faith in the power of Darwinism drives the conclusions:

The above calculations highlight the critical role of selective pressure in effective exploration of sequence space. If the rate at which life can explore sequence space is correlated to changes in biospheric productivity, then it may be necessary to consider changes to overall rates of adaptation and relative timing of major biological innovations. Decades of models and experiments quantifying the scaling between population size and evolutionary rate show substantial variation from a 1:1 relationship but support an overall positive trend.

Mythical “selective pressure” (a notion without units or equations) drives evolution to explore possibilities, which they know in their hearts by circular reasoning must show an overall positive trend despite mass extinctions. This is Darwin’s Victorian myth of progress still driving biologists today. The myth must endure, even if it means believing that all the carbon on earth has been recycled 100 times over. They can hide the absurdity in the dark, unobservable mists of Deep Time.

Molecular Clock Ramifications

Sometimes when a theory tries to make ends meet, it breaks in the middle. Crockford et al. rely on the molecular clock while twisting it. They try to put a positive spin on the twist, saying it doesn’t adversely affect their conclusions (with some tweaking of assumptions), but readers can decide the extent to which the molecular clock, the mythical GOE, and “evolutionary innovation” fit in this Darwin puzzle-solving exercise (see extended quote at bottom).

Carbon cycling: How much life has ever existed on Earth? (Current Biology, 6 Nov 2023). Michael Kipp from Duke University shares his thoughts on the Crockford team’s paper. Will he find anything to quibble about, or will he behave like a Darwin Party yes-man for whatever evolutionary notions they present? We get a hint from his opening statement that assumes blind, unguided material processes of nature:

What is life? This question evades a simple answer, but most biologists would at least agree that the metabolic core of life on Earth is reduction of inorganic carbon to organic matter, balanced by oxidation of another substrate. While organic carbon is found throughout the cosmos — including in meteorites, the building blocks of planets — biological carbon fixation is by far the dominant source of organic matter on Earth today. Furthermore, biological carbon fixation may have arisen very early in Earth’s ∼4.5-billion-year (Gyr) history. In this issue of Current Biology, Crockford and colleagues present a synthesis of biological carbon fixation through Earth history, thus quantifying the planetary impact of life.

What about that 100-fold recycling of Earth’s carbon claimed by Crockford? Can he use the “most biologists” bandwagon argument there?

To quantify the amount of biomass ever created, one must integrate GPP over ∼4.5 Gyr. Crockford and colleagues undertook this gargantuan task, compiling theoretical constraints and proxy estimates of NPP and GPP from the literature. Before considering their results, it is worth examining the productivity constraints.

Kipp doesn’t concur with the 100-fold estimate directly, but implies agreement by saying that Earth’s carbon recycling may rise to 200-fold in the far distant future. Within his article, the various common miracle words used by Darwinists emerge, appear and give rise to his beliefs about the pregnant possibilities within Darwinian evolution, as seen in these quotes:

  • … biological carbon fixation may have arisen very early in Earth’s ∼4.5-billion-year (Gyr) history.
  • Following the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis, cyanobacteria, eventually algae, and ultimately plants came to dominate productivity.
  • The timing of the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis is debated….
  • …after an early appearance of oxygenic photosynthesis… as long as oxygenic photosynthesis appears, Earth becomes oxygenated.
  • [After the GOE] Productivity is then thought to have increased with the Cryogenian rise of eukaryotic algae, and again with the origin of vascular land plants, as well as with the Mesozoic phytoplankton revolution.
  • This record also quantifies the number of times life has rolled the dice during gene replication.
  • Indeed, under a constant mutation rate, evolutionary innovations would arise at a rate proportional to productivity. However, natural selection is the interplay between genetic drift and environmental opportunity.
  • If ∼8× that much carbon moves through the biosphere in the next 1–2 Gyr, there will surely be new evolutionary sagas similarly astounding to those we study in the fossil record.
  • If life arose on Venus or Mars, how productive might it have been?

Hardly noticeable in his analysis is another blow to theorists who rely on carbon isotope ratios to draw conclusions about Earth’s geological history:

This compilation also informs our understanding of a long-studied archive of biological O2 production: the carbon isotopic composition of carbonate sediments. Crockford et al. note that according to their compilation, a face-value reading of the carbon isotope record would imply unphysical rates of organic matter burial (>100% of NPP). This is in line with other recent work, which has inferred that organic burial efficiency was higher in the Precambrian, but also the carbon isotope record does not reflect organic burial in the canonical fashion. Together with concerns about the preservation and representativeness of the carbon isotope record, this deals another blow to a long-time favorite archive of Earth’s evolution, but corroborates the notion of efficient organic matter burial on early Earth.

Of special note is Kipp’s treatment of the Cambrian Explosion, the abrupt appearance of most animal phyla at the base of the Cambrian, without visible fossil ancestors in the Precambrian. This is known as a snow job.

Also, ∼80% of all organic carbon has been fixed since the dawn of the Cambrian, despite comprising ∼10% of Earth history. These numbers capture the plight of Precambrian paleobiologists, who face a needle-in-haystack search for microfossils due to not only the sparse geologic record, but also the low rate at which cells were produced. With this view we also see that global calamities — such as glaciations or bolide impacts — hardly impact integrated productivity due to their transience. If anything, as Crockford et al. note, such events have ultimately increased productivity by creating evolutionary opportunities.

The geological record and fossil record of the Cambrian explosion is not sparse. It was well known in Darwin’s day, and has only increased in the 160+ years since, as Meyer wrote in Darwin’s Doubt (see also this Science Uprising video and Illustra Media trailer). We also reported on 29 June that if transitional forms existed, they would have been visible in three Burgess-Shale-Type Precambrian outcrops around the world, but were not found.

Hardly any phrase captures Darwinian faith better than “evolutionary opportunities.” Evolutionists never observe natural selection taking opportunities in the present to innovate new tissues, organs and body plans by mutation and natural selection. Some variations within genera are observed due to horizontal gene transfer or other exchanges of pre-existing genetic information or standing variation, but not by the Neo-Darwinian processes of random mutation and natural selection. One can give those processes all the opportunity desired, but there will be nothing new under the sun.

This story is reminiscent of the deep-time problems with moons in the solar system. Jupiter’s Io would have erupted its entire mass 40 times over if it were 4.3 billion years old. Saturn’s Enceladus would have erupted its entire ocean multiple times over, too. Pluto erupted a supervolcano “relatively recently.” Without the assumption of deep time, those absurdities would evaporate. Same here: Earth has not been recycling its entire carbon stock over and over. Evolutionists try to cover their myths with reckless drafts on the bank of time, but those credibility loans are coming due.

Once again, CEH has given you critical analysis of an evolutionary paper from a leading journal (Current Biology, from Cell Press), on the day of publication. We hope you appreciate the timeliness and depth offered here, and will spread the word in X and other social media outlets. To Darwinists reading this, we have shown how these authors believe in miracles. It’s your turn to justify their circular reasoning as empirical science worthy of any respect. Jargonwocky does not impress us here.

The grand claims in these papers provide one more proof that Darwinism is a secular religion. The claims would be laughed off the stage if the Darwin Party’s co-conspirators in the Big Science Cartel lost the power of censorship they  systematically use against their critics.

Exercise: in this extended quote from the Crockford et al. paper, count the miracle words. Look for hard empirical evidence vs Science Fudge. Which claims commit circular reasoning based on prior faith in the creative power of Darwinian evolution?

The effect described here differs from the spikes in innovation associated with environmental changes such as the introduction of O2 into biochemistry around the GOE, which is thought to have increased the diversity of metabolites and reactions among them. Moreover, time-varying rates of evolution have implications for the calculation of molecular clocks, especially in the case of cyanobacteria and other lineages for which a large phylogenetic distance is made up of stem lineages unbroken by extant representatives. In such cases, within-lineage variations of evolutionary rate are typically not accounted for in relaxed molecular clock models.

As an example, it is informative to consider the effects of a simple rescaling of phylogenetic branch lengths of stem group cyanobacteria (i.e., the branches preceding the radiation of the extant crown group but postdating divergence of cyanobacteria from their closest surviving non-photosynthetic relatives) associated with the productivity increase over the GOE. Even when conservatively adopting a low-productivity GOE and a very weak scaling of adaptation rates with population size (1:100), our productivity trajectory and the associated increase in adaptation rate (i.e., decrease in branch length) should result in over 98% of molecular evolution in cyanobacteria occurring in the few hundred million years after the initiation of the GOE. This conservative scenario holds even if the first cyanobacteria originated well in advance of the GOE. This example emphasizes that using molecular clocks to estimate the timing of origin of taxa without deep, extensive calibrations or accounting for spikes of innovation associated with environmental change is even more imprecise than commonly recognized, due to the productivity-dependent mapping of evolution onto actual geologic time. Although the lack of direct geologic evidence and associated uncertainty about the timing of the earliest events in the evolution of life makes it difficult to constrain the deepest branches of molecular clocks, an appropriate rescaling of these earliest branches to changes in productivity may render them negligible to the overall accumulation of evolutionary change. The absolute timing of the origin of cyanobacteria is clearly important for understanding the emergence of oxygenic photosynthesis. However, if over 99% of the evolution of this stem group occurred after the initiation of the GOE ≈ 2.4 Ga ago, then the amount of evolutionary innovation (e.g., number of mutations accumulated) may not differ meaningfully between a cyanobacterial origin at 3.0 versus 2.5 Ga ago.


Sing along:
The Darwin in the tale
The Darwin in the tale
Hi-ho, scenario,
The Darwin in the tale.



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