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Rats! Why not Kill Them All?

OK, not everybody hates rats but most of us would prefer to get through a day without a rodent encounter. Some people might even gloat over reports of mass extinctions of these creatures. How can historical mass annihilations of rodents possibly provide evidence for biblical creation? A new study indicates that a Creator may have used an astronomical process to carry out His purposes—in this case small—mammal extinctions followed by rapid replacements.

As Hugh Ross explains on a recent edition of Creation Update, scientists have correlated changes in Earth’s orbit with small-mammal extinctions. Here’s what happened. Researchers know that rodents have undergone turnover cycles in their history. Rats, mice, and other small mammals appear in the fossil record for a while, then die out quickly and rapidly reappear. These turnovers occur in marked intervals of 1 million years and 2.5 million years. The demise and sudden reemergence of these advanced creatures has not been well understood, but scientists have tied the mass extinctions to Earth’s climatic changes. Rats don’t like the cold.

By studying Earth’s orbital patterns, geoscientists can now account for the climatic disturbances at 1- and 2.5-million-year intervals. Slight changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit have brought on ice ages in the past. Researchers have been able to determine with accuracy that small mammals died at the same time Earth’s orbit experienced the million-year and 2.5-million-year cycles. That’s fine, but what about the rapid rat reappearances? Evolutionary models can’t explain this phenomenon well (at least not with detailed predictions). From a naturalistic perspective, highly complex mammals stand little chance of efficient evolution when driven to extinction. Rats can survive exterminators’ poisons and urban crowding pretty well, but deep-freezing gets them every time.

On the other hand, Reasons To Believe’s biblical creation model accommodates this data very well. It seems reasonable to posit that a Creator set up Earth’s orbital patterns with periodic variations to bring about rapid extinctions of small mammals, and then created them anew for His own glory and purposes. It’s left to us to try to figure out (with great humility) what His purposes might be. I’ll admit that rodent lab research has led to great scientific advances, but beyond that all I see are some happy snakes and pest-control guys.


  • Creation as Science (, by Hugh Ross