Creation and Evolution: Time; Dating; Age of Things
The core issue in the entire battle has to do with time, dating, the age of things. Evolution follows the principle of time plus chance equals everything. The view of the evolutionist is that if you just give us enough time anything can happen; eventually order will come from chaos. We have seen that this is a fallacious argument. The mantra of the evolutionist is that there are billions and billions of years, and this phrase is repeated again and again by the propagandizers of Darwinism until we are completely desensitized to this and come to realize this must be true, because if this many people who have this many PhDs believe this then there must be some solid evidence behind it and the universe must be billions of years old. It is this issue of time which almost single-handedly challenged and brought down the reign of biblical orthodoxy over science at the end of the Enlightenment period. Up until the end of the Enlightenment, somewhere in the late 1700s, most of the scientists believed the Bible to be true. They believed there was a literal worldwide flood during Noah’s time, they believed that the earth was a young earth and that it was not any more than 8-10,000 years old. But once due to the Enlightenment the scientists cut themselves loose from biblical infallibility then they began to analyze the data of nature from a completely autonomous framework, and once they came up the with the ideas and alleged evidence that the earth was 35-40,000 years old it immediately challenged what the Bible said and they used that to try to prove that the Bible was wrong. It is the issue of time, the fact that they needed to come up with 35 or 40,000 years, at least in the early 1800s, which fueled the accommodationist position.
Dating of anything is based upon four different principles. First of all, you can observe the present condition of a rock or of fossils. That’s science. The second principle of dating is that we can measure the current rates of any processes that are operating in that rock or in that system. That is also science; you are measuring the present race, what is happening right now. It doesn’t tell you anything else, like what the breakdown rate was 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, or 5000 years ago. Third, we can make certain assumptions (this is where we have to be careful) about the past history of that rock or system based on current realities, and this is called building a model. But this is where you have to recognize they are assumptions and say well if these processes remained the same then this conclusion would follow. But you don’t know that that process has always been the same. Then the fourth point, which is where the system falls apart, is that we can calculate based on present processes the length of time a system was in operation. This is the very issue because the third principle will bring in for the evolutionist a uniformitarian principle, i.e. that this process has been the same for all time. Now uniformitarian geology is falling on hard times and there are more and more geologists who are beginning to accept the principles of catastrophism, and in the past have gone through various types of clocks, that is, you can measure certain rates such as the mouth of a river lays down silt at certain rates and you can extrapolate from that how long the river has been there. You can also look at the moon and it licks up a certain amount of cosmic dust per year, so you can extrapolate back. We have gone through numerous clocks and have shown that they don’t give consistent data. They vary the age of the earth from anything from 3000 years to 10 billion years. No two of these measuring devices seem to indicate the same thing. But that is one type of measurement and that is different from what is called radio-metric dating, which has to do with dating the radioactive elements within something.
So what we realize here is that when we date something it is based on certain assumptions. Those assumptions are three: first of all, that the rate has always been the same, never slowing down and never increasing. That is true for any kind of dating. Second, that nothing has been added or taken away from that specimen. Third is the assumption that there was none of a certain element there to begin with. So you have to ask certain questions. Has the rate always been the same? Has anything been taken away or added to the specimen? Was there any of this element there to begin with? If you don’t know if an element was there to begin with, how can you know today how much has been added to it? The point is all we know with certainty is what we observe in the present. That is the principle.
A practical example is Niagra Falls. Niagra Falls is a location where Lake Erie dumps into Lake Ontario. The Falls erode the rock underneath at a rate of four to five feet per year. That means that each year it moves closer and closer to Lake Erie at the rate of four to five feet per year. Niagra Falls is now seven miles or 37,000 feet from Lake Ontario. It is a simple matter of mathematics to figure this out. Four will go into about 37,000 about 9 times. So that is about 9000 years. So you can say that if the rate of erosion has been the same for the last 9000 years that 9000 years ago the falls was dumping directly into Lake Ontario. But is that correct? How do we know that? We can only measure the process today. Has anything occurred in the last 9000 years that might speed up that process? For example, was there a downward tilt of land at the very beginning where the two came together, which would indicate that the rate of erosion would have been much faster? Furthermore, what if there was more water running off at the beginning? Remember, if you are a believer in the Scriptures and you believe there was a universal world-wide flood, then you would have to assume that, yes, at the beginning there was much more water. Not only that but the sediment that had been laid down by the flood was much more recent, much looser, and therefore it would erode more easily and more quickly. Therefore the rate of erosion right after the flood would be much faster than it is now. And so all of these figures would enter in and affect your understanding of the timing.
What we will focus on is an analysis of radioisotope or radiometric dating. This is where all of the dating takes place, people are more familiar with carbon 14 dating, but you also have potassium-argon dating and various other kinds of dating used, measuring the rate of the breakdown of the half-life of radioactive elements inside of a rock.
First of all, we have to recognize that the only rocks that can be dated by this method are igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks. These are rocks that were once extremely hot or they were heated up to perhaps the melting point as in a volcano and have since cooled to solid rock. At this time there is no method that has any reliability on dating sedimentary rock, which is laid down on most of the planet, or limestone or sandstone; they do not contain the right elements. The assumption in radiometric dating is that when you heat up these elements to the level where the rock melts it resets the time clock, so that the age clock that they are measuring the breakdown of those elements is reset to zero, and the date reflects the time from the cooling of the rock to the present. That is the assumption. This appears to be a testable assumption. We have volcanoes that erupt all the time and there are areas on the planet’s surface where we have in human history the records of certain volcanic action where we know approximately when these volcanic eruptions took place. So we can go there, take the rocks, and perform tests on them to see how old those rocks are, and see if the system works. The principle is that if you know the date of the rocks and can test the dating system against that, if it doesn’t come up with an accurate date there, then you know you can’t trust it when they’re extrapolating to hundreds of millions of years or billions of years.
So let’s try to understand, if we can, the basic methodology that is used here. Rocks are analyzed by looking for certain elements or compounds in the rocks which break down over time into other elements or rocks. What they are looking for is a radioactive element such as U238 atom to a lead L206 atom. As the uranium atom breaks down over time it eventually decays into a stable isotope of lead. The U238 is called the mother element and the lead L206 element is the daughter element. The length of time that it breaks down is called the half-life, and it goes through various other elements in the process until it reaches a stable of L206. Dating this and determining the time entails certain assumptions. There is some uranium in that rock and some lead, and you can measure the amount of lead in the rock, and you think you know how fast or how slow the uranium decays in the lead, then you can determine from the amount of lead that is in the rock how old that rock is. That is the idea. You have some uranium and some lead. You can measure the amount of the lead. You know what the rate of decay is, so therefore you can extrapolate back and work out how long it took for the uranium to break down and produce that much lead in the rock.
But there are a number of hidden assumptions here that have to be addressed. The first assumption is that the rate of decay must have always been the same. Among creation scientists there is a debate, a difference of opinion. One view is that there really hasn’t been anything to date to demonstrate that outside forces can change this decay rate. The other view is that these decay rates can be altered through certain studies. When exposed to various types of radiation and X-rays this use suggests that this will change the breakdown rate. For example, if a massive amount of radiation were to bombard the primordial soup and the early earth, as postulated by evolution, causing the U238 to speed up, its half-life would be shortened due to radiation. So it would speed up the process of decay. But how would a scientist of today know that something happened, say, 800 million years ago to speed up that rate, how long was that rate quickened, and when did it stop? Then what if the radiation that caused that decay rate to speed up, but before that the decay rate was twice or three times as slow as it was after that radiation event? And then if you come to the theory that Stephen J. Gould proposed, that there is no real evidence of gradual evolution, what he proposed was punctuated evolution where some events sort of blasts the earth and all of a sudden there is a leap from one set of species to another and that this happens very quickly. Under his theory there would be continuous irregular massive bombardments of X-rays that would change the set-up all along. That would mean that evolution would have a problem; it can’t have its cake and eat it too. If massive radiation bombardment was needed to begin life then that would invalidate the dating system. Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that this assumption is valid with certain reservations, that the rate of decay will stay the same. There are still other assumptions that have to be addressed.
The second assumption is that the rock initially contained none of the daughter elements (but they don’t know that). For example, if it takes 10 million years to produce one milligram of lead from the decay of uranium and you find a rock that has 1mg of lead in it, you would conclude that rock to be 10 million years old. But the problem is, what if God created that rock yesterday with 1mg of lead in it? What if sometime in the past He created one with only half a milligram of lead in it? We don’t know how much lead was in the rock to begin with, so that means that by assuming that there was nothing there to begin with we are going to drastically affect our conclusion. Furthermore, what of some cataclysmic process or reaction that took place in history that caused some lead to leak into the rock or in the formation of the rock? Remember this is rock that has been heated up. If it comes out of a volcano then what if something happened to cause lead to get into it, or on the other hand to leach out? Furthermore, how can modern scientists today differentiate between the lead that God created in that rock to begin with and that which developed over time as a result of the breakdown of the uranium? So every dating technique assumes that there was no pre-existing daughter element, and that means that the whole dating scheme is nothing more than pure guess.
Assumption #3 gets a little more interesting. It is that the rock specimen has never ever been contaminated. That means that you have a pure specimen of the rock, that there were no processes at any time that caused the loss of any element in that rock or that any other element leached into the rock. To be fair to scientists a lot of effort is made to use as clean a specimen as possible. They know there are problems, are very much aware of the fact that there are problems. So they try to use as uncontaminated a specimen as possible. But that is not consistent with other known scientific realities and what they run across is vast numbers of inconsistencies. In fact, there was an article published by Douglas Woodmerapy back in 1980 in the Creation Research Society Quarterly where he listed over 300 examples of dating where the specimens produced widely divergent and contradictory ages. The problem is that if it doesn’t fit their view of what kind of rock it should be and how old it is then it’s assumed that it is contaminated. Why? Because it doesn’t fit their old earth model. They have an agenda: the earth is 17 to 18 billion years old so if we test this rock and it doesn’t fit our pattern we have a contaminated specimen! They assume, then, that nothing could have got into the rock to alter the decay rock and thus give them an erroneous date. If anything speeds up or slows down the process then their dating is completely off.
In critiquing this we have to realize that, first of all, there is no such thing in nature as a perfectly closed system. It is a nice concept in the laboratory but that doesn’t work out in nature. There are all kinds of things bombarding the rocks, especially if it is assumed that the earth is up to 18 billion years old. That would mean every molecule in the universe has been in at least four different substances since the big bang. That is the conclusion of evolution. That would pick up a lot of contamination over time, so you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have molecules in flux and shifting through four different substances over the period of billions of years and also have closed system; you have to pick one or the other. Rocks do get contaminated; things seep into them; they are exposed to radiation. Rocks change when they are exposed to wind and water. Some things are leached out and other things seep in. When analysis is done on some rock samples that are considered to be uncontaminated, and the dates either don’t agree with each other, or with estimated dates—you are assuming that on an evolutionary time scale that that rock is 1.2 billion years old because of the kinds of fossils or because of the strata that it is in—then the results are thrown out as contaminated. An example: Dr. Andrew Snelling, who is a professor of geology at the Institute for Creation Research, studied the published the published dates and isotope ratios from a uranium deposit in Australia. He writes in his conclusion:
“The above evidence conclusively demonstrates that the uranium-lead system, including its intermediate daughter products—especially radium and radon—has been so open with repeated large-scale migrations of the elements that it is impossible to be sure of the precise status or history of any piece of pitch blend selected for dating.”
In other words, there are inconsistencies throughout in every sample. So the question we should ask is: if leaching and contamination can occur which cannot be visibly detected, then how do we know that they haven’t occurred in other apparently clean-looking samples which come back with problems? We have to assume that there is no such thing as an uncontaminated sample, and if it is contaminated there are going to be problems. The point is, if there is any conflict or problem in the results the dating that doesn’t fit the geologic scheme is thrown out. Evolutionist S.S. Goldich, in an article in the Geological Society of American Abstracts, wrote (about 1981):
“Fifteen years ago radiometric age determinations on minerals and rocks were so startling that absolute age became a password. Intensive research with successive improvements in the potassium argon or rubidium strontium and uranium lead methods, however, revealed that geologic processes influence isotopic systems and that the age measurements are analytical values that commonly require geologic interpretation.”
In other words, what finally determines the age produced by radiometric dating is the geologic timetable. The geologic timetable and the geologic column were developed in the early 19th century before we knew anything about radioactivity. And so the rock has to fit that timetable, and if they date it and it doesn’t fit then the conclusion is it was a contaminated specimen, and they aren’t going to use it. This is what he admits when he says that dates require geological interpretation.
Examples which demonstrate that there are great fallacies in the dating system:
a) Sunset crater in northern Arizona. This is known to be a recent volcano. In the lava bed there are Indian artifacts and remains, which indicate that there were native Americans or Indians living in that area. It doesn’t seem that they were killed by the eruption but their villages and agricultural sites were buried during that eruption. From what is left there we can date the time of this activity at this crater to some 900 years ago. Furthermore, tree ring dating in the area accurately dates the eruption to about AD 1065. The two lava flows that are there (remember, we know when this volcano occurred) have been dated by the potassium-argon method. Remember: the eruption was in AD 1065. But according to the potassium argon method the lava flow gave ages of 210,000 and 230,000 years ago. How do they explain that? The explanation is that there was excess argon in the lava. It is true that there were higher levels of argon than were expected but that is really not much of an explanation. If you are going to have a consistent system it has to work.
b) Mount Rangitoto in New Zealand. That was dated by radiocarbon studies of the trees and that the eruption there occurred about 300 years ago—about AD 1700. But the potassium argon dating on those rocks yielded a date of 485,000 years ago. So it doesn’t seem to be that reliable.
c) The Grand Canyon in North America. Numerous volcanic eruptions have occurred on the Grand Canyon north rim since it was first eroded, so according to the evolutionary timetable that would be within the last 1 million years at most. But in every case of testing the lava seems to be much, much older than that. For example, at one formation called Vulcan’s Throne the potassium argon date there yields the youngest date in all of Arizona, a date of about 10,000 B.C. This seems to be fairly accurate since this particular eruption at Vulcan’s Throne is the most recent and post-dates all of the other rocks in the canyon. Indian legends also tell of the eruptions of various volcanoes in that vicinity but Indians have only been there a few thousand years, so if this was witnessed then that puts that date into question itself because there seems to be a living legend that this was much moiré recent. Furthermore, there is a mineral, olivine, that was found at Vulcan’s Throne and an additional age test on the olivine indicated that it had a low potassium concentration. Nevertheless, when the test was run it had a high argon concentration and came up with a date of 117 million years, plus or minus 3 million years. That is quite a difference between 10,000 years. There is a problem here. The explanation for why there is such a discrepancy is that there was some sort of mineral pod in that area which led to an excess of argon and therefore tainted the evidence. But the problem with that is that their assumption is, and remember that it takes molten rock to date this, they are assuming that the rock resets the date. Well if there is some kind of a pod there that introduces argon into the system then it didn’t get the date set back to zero. Once again, that would invalidate the whole theory.
d) Hawaii. The Capalehu flow at the Hualailai volcano, which erupted in 1801, about 200 years ago. That is a little too recent to have produced much argon of helium but one particular study came up with twelve dates for that eruption, ranging from 140 million years to 2.96 billion years. The average date from these twelve samples was 1.41 billion. This occurred 200 years ago! They’ve tried to jump through hoops to try to explain the discrepancies here.
e) Salt Lake Crater on Oahu is thought to be less than a million years old, according to the evolutionary scheme. One of the methods produced an age of 400,000 years, which they called the real age, but sixteen other tests came up with an age of between 2.6 million and 3.3 billion—quite a spread, the average being 845 million. It is thought from other geological evidence to be less than one million years old. So once again the system produces great inequities.
f) Another event that is thought to produce some consistent dating is the volcanic events in the oceans. The question there is, does water pressure really make a difference? In one study in Hawaii the lavas erupted probably less than 200 years ago. But repeated samples taken from a depth of about 4,600 meters gave a potassium-argon age of 21 million years, and samples taken a depth of 3400 meters brought the age to 12 million years. Those taken from 1400 meter depth produced an age of zero years. So obviously water pressure would have something to do with contaminating the evidence. If we believe in a worldwide flood that would certainly put enough pressure on rocks to taint all of the evidence.
Remember that the in the third assumption the theory is that if we have rocks of known age, and if radio isotope date doesn’t work on rocks on known age, then of we have rocks of an unknown age we can assume that radio isotope dating doesn’t work on those rocks either. When we look at these assumptions we realize that the assumption of uniformity is not reliable in normal geologic processes but seems to be affected by a number of different factors. The underlying assumption here is really assumption for, and assumption for is that the earth is at least old enough for the present amount of radiogenic lead in a specimen to be produced by the present rates of uranium decay. Breaking this down: The assumption is that the earth has to be old enough for the present amount of lead out there to have been produced by the present rates of uranium decay. The assumption is that the earth has to be old. They are assuming the conclusion and it is hidden in their other assumptions. They assume it has to be old and then on the basis of this precondition they have problems. So this assumption is the backdrop for the entire method. Basically what they are saying is that since the earth is old radioisotope dating can help us determine exactly how old it is. But we have to remember that the whole methodology is grounded in a fallacious assumption about the age of the earth, so it is useless to use any of these dating methods in testing between an old earth view and a young view.
As we look at the conflict with science at the middle of the seventeenth century and science started coming up with data that allegedly proved that the earth was first 45,000, then 100,000, then hundreds of thousands, and now billions of years old, as that number grew it put pressure on Christians who assumed that these conclusions of age were valid and correct. So then they said they had to find some way to fit the Bible in with these long ages. What is being demonstrated is that the theories of dating are all based on false assumptions. As we see in the fourth assumption it is based on an assumption that predetermines the conclusion. They are not neutral. The methodologies themselves are predicated on a false assumption that is inconsistent with the Scriptures. So if you are a believer and you believe the Bible, you can’t say, well what about all this evidence out there. Well the “evidence” is preconditioned by assumptions that the earth is already old. We have to stick with what the text says, what the Scripture says, and not on the basis of what atheistic science suggests.
An interesting study has to do also with the Grand Canyon, and it has to do with two different groups of basalt rock that is found there. At the base of the Grand Canyon they tested rock, doing five tests using the potassium-argon method, yielding dates between 791 million years and 853 million years. That is called a model age because of the way that they came up with that technique. Later studies using a rubidium strontium method came up with an age of 980 to 1100 million years. So it can be seen that there is quite a discrepancy between those two models. Then as they developed a system to handle discrepancies they came up with another method called the isacron method, which used multiple analyses and then chartered a mean in those various specimens. It seemed like the theory was valid but it has problems with its dating. The result of the potassium-argon isacron age was that it yielded a date of 715 million years, but the rubidium strontium age was a little over a billion years. So it can be seen that there is a vast discrepancy in those ages. This is the rock that is at the bottom of the Canyon so this would be the oldest rock. The rock at the top would be from a much more recent volcanic activity. Notice the oldest date at the bottom is 1.2 billion, yet the date on top they did a test of five different rubidium strontium samples to come up with a model age and that yielded an age of between 1.2 billion to 1.3 billion years. Remember this is recent rock on the top. When looking at the isacron test the rubidium strontium it yielded an age of 1.3 billion years and the lead-lead isacron age yielded a date of 2.6 billion years. The tremendous inconsistencies in that dating system can be seen.
Carbon 14, the most popular system that most people have heard about is the one that has the most problems. It has all the same assumptions as other forms of radiometric dating but its dating is not accepted, especially if it goes back very far. One quote from Robert E. Lee in an article entitled Radio Carbon: Ages and Error, published in the Anthropological Journal of Canada in 1981, states: “The troubles of the radio-carbon dating method are undeniably deep and serious. Despite 35 years of technological refinement and better understanding the underlying assumptions have been strongly challenged, and warnings are out that radiocarbon may soon find itself in a crisis situation. Continuing use of the method depends on a fix-it-as-we-go approach, allowing contamination here, fractionation there, and calibration whenever possible. It should be no surprise, then, that fully half of the dates are rejected. The wonder is, surely, that the remaining halves come to be accepted. No matter how useful it is though the radiocarbon method is still not capable of yielding accurate and reliable results. There are gross discrepancies, the chronologies uneven and relative, and the accepted dates are actually selected dates. In other words, lets pick the ones that validate the theory and ignore the others.”
That gives some idea of the problems that exist with all of these technical dating methods but they are not the only ways evolution is used to measure time. One way they use to measure time is to measure certain processes that go on today and then extrapolate it back in time. The gravitational fields of the sun and the stars pull in like a vacuum cleaner cosmic dust. This is called the Pointing-Robertson effect. The sun sucks in about 100,000 tons of cosmic dust every day. But if the sun is millions and millions of years old then the solar system should be sucked clean! There shouldn’t be any cosmic dust out there. In fact, based on the Pointing-Robertson effect, the sun and the solar system must be less than 10,000 years old.
Another issue in dating is that no one has ever seen the birth of a star. Evolutionists postulate that every year two or three new stars are born. That is just pure guesswork. We witness the death of stars every now and then in a nova but we never have witnessed the birth of a star. Why? God is no longer creating.
Another has to do with starlight and time. The problem is that light travels at a rate of 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum. That doesn’t tell us anything about how fast it travels under other conditions. The problem is this: if light travels that fast, wouldn’t it take millions of years for light to travel from the most distant stars and galaxies, which are supposed to be two or three hundred billion light years away, to the earth? And what about a star that is so far away that if we see the nova today, doesn’t that mean that star died 100 million years ago? If light travels at 186,000 miles per second it will travel about 6-trillion miles in one year. That is the distance of a light year. There are galaxies that are alleged to be billions of light years out from us in space, and that means that light, which left that galaxy 5 billion years ago, should just now be reaching us. That would indicate that the universe and creation would be at least 5 billion years of age. If, according to the Bible, stars are only 6-10,000 years old, then light from those galaxies are supposed to be 5 billion years away would not even be reaching us yet.
There are four possible solutions. The first is that God created the light beam with the appearance of age. In other words, he created the light all along the path so that it instantly appeared on the earth. The second solution is that the distance to these remote stars has not been calculated correctly. This is possible. Distances are based on measurements using basic assumptions of trigonometry, that if you have a triangle and you know the length of the base and the two angles off the base, then you can measure the height of the triangle. That is a method known as triangulation. And since the angles are so minute when you are dealing with a star that is a billion or 5 billion light years away, that what they do is they’ll make a measurement when the earth is at one side of the sun and when it reaches the other extreme of the orbit they’ll take another measurement, but even then they are dealing with angles that have an extremely low difference. So if there is just a minute error in the calculation it can throw it off by millions of light years. Another problem is the nature of outer space itself. The major question here is, is outer space straight or curved? If you think of outer space as straight then it works according to the principles of Euclidian geometry. All calculations are then straight-line calculations and the light that travels from a distant galaxy to earth travels in a straight line. However, Euclidian geometry is not the only type of geometry. There are many non-Euclidian types of geometry and these are based on the assumption that space is not straight; it is curved. One type of math that is used to measure distance in outer space is called Remonian math, and according to these principles the distance to the farthest star is much, much smaller than what we would get from a Euclidian formula. Dr. Wayne Zage, in an article entitled The Geometry of Binocular Visual Space, published in Mathematics Magazine in November of 1980 observed 27 binary star systems and concluded that it appeared that light traveled in curved paths in deep space. If Euclidian straight-line math is converted into Remonian curved math light could travel from the farthest stars to earth in 15.71 years—not in 5 billion years but in 15 or 16 years! So this is very much a part of the debate and there is no way to truly solve it sitting inside the system. But more and more evidence supports the Remonian method of measuring the speed of light.
Another view (and the evidence for this may be suspect): Scientists have been measuring the speed of light for over 300 years now and it appears to be slowing down. So based on extrapolations of the declining speed of light you can measure the decline over the years, then extrapolate back to 5000 years ago or 6000 years ago when God creates then heavens and the earth, and if that is true then the light from the stars 5 billion light years away would arrive on earth in just three days. That would make sense in a creationist model because the laws of physics that are operating during that week of restoration are not the laws of physics that are operating today.
One final comment on dating: A lot of geologists think that you just have to have millions and millions of years for petroleum to form. On August 18, 1986, US News and World Report stated that “last year (1985) in the Gulf of California MIT’s Edmond found that the action of hot vents in the ocean was turning dead plankton in the sediment into petroleum, a process that normally takes at least 10 million years squeezed into an instant.” That fits a creationist model that these events don’t take million so years. In various cataclysmic situations they can be produced in days or weeks, if not seconds. In conclusion there is no solid evidence to link the ages of the earth. It is all based on assumption and guesswork because at the very core is a rejection of a sovereign God who rules in human history, who is calling sinful and rebellious creatures to account for their sin. Romans 1:18ff.