OUR EARTH: YOUNG OR OLD?
by Dr. Fredric Kinne
(C) copyright 1991 Missouri Association for Creation, Inc.
Origins: The Importance of Time
Evolution as an explanation of origins is supported by three pillars. The
first pillar is labeled "impersonal". Evolution is atheistic by definition.
The doctrine of Evolution is born out of a desire to explain origins without
Divine involvement. The scribes and scholars of Evolution believe that giving
the glory of origins to a personal God will defile the principles and
practice of scientific investigation.
Many have tried to reconcile Evolution and theism by defining Theistic
Evolution, a belief that God superintended a process of slow changes from
molecules to man. However, the architects of Evolutionary thought, not the
majority who regurgitate parts of the dogma, but those who clearly understand
and embrace this faith, recognize the impassable contradiction of honoring a
personal God for creative achievement while excluding any factual witness of
His handiwork in origins.
Since the first pillar of Evolution is that origins are entirely impersonal,
that there is no First Cause or Creator involved in origins, then the second
pillar must be "chance". Complex life forms must be the result of trillions
upon trillions of random events that eventually came together (and stayed
together!) to produce order and purpose. Order spontaneously out of chaos.
Purpose without a plan. For illustration, this is like taking all the jigsaw
puzzles in the world, putting them in an appropriately large container,
shaking the container, pouring the contents over sufficiently large fields,
and finding each puzzle part in its correct, connected location.
While probably taking umbrage to this simplified comparison, evolutionists
would agree that an incalculable number of ordered, protected events had to
take place by chance, over and over again in the origin and development of
life forms. Moreover, the heart of the proposed mechanism for Evolution,
random mutation and natural selection, are observed today as no more than
destructive forces. They do not improve the net order and viability of living
forms. Consequently, evolutionists themselves have variously labeled the whole
process as improbable, lucky, and even miraculous. Everything but impossible!
Since "chance" is so impotent against imponderable odds, and since Divine
intervention can't rescue it, Evolution ultimately stands on the third and
last pillar, "time". Evolutionists will declare that given enough time, say
five billion years of earth history, otherwise implausable random processes
eventually could succeed. One evolutionary sage said, "Time is the hero of the
plot. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is
meaningless (in evolutionary history). Given so much time, the impossible
becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.
One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles."
Another commentator, presumeably not an evolutionist, observed that the
frog-to- prince transition is labeled "fairy tale" if the mechanism is a kiss,
but it is "good science" if the mechanism is to merely sit around in the sun
for millions of years.
While it seems reasonable to many that a five-billion-year earth history could
provide sufficient time for anything to happen, probability theory and some
generous approximations can readily demonstrate that Evolution is virtually
impossible in five billion or even five hundred billion years. Nevertheless,
the subject of time and earth history should be addressed. Published dates for
historical events in the millions and billions of years are at best weak and
biased estimates because they contain questionable assumptions and ignore
nonconformable data. Many physical measurements testify to a much younger
earth history, to a rather recent and sudden origin. When evolutionary
presuppositions are set aside, reasonable mathematical models can be
constructed to correlate all dates within this period of recent and sudden
origin. Of course these efforts are not encouraged by evolutionists because
time, lots of time, is the only real support remaining under evolution.
Apart from supernatural revelation, all events relevant to the study of
origins must be dated by indirect methods. Important dates are the age of the
universe, our solar system, earth, rock formations and the fossils they
The age of the universe is most elusive because we have not sampled any
objects outside our own solar system. Objects from our solar system, moon and
meteor rocks, have been dated 4.5 billion years old by radiometric
(radioactive decay) dating methods. These same rocks have also been dated as
young as 600 million years, but the younger dates have been discarded by
assuming they are in error. The problems associated with radiometric dating
methods will be discussed later.
Starlight is often cited as proof that our universe is very old. While our
sun is only 8 light minutes from the earth and our nearest star is only 4.5
light years from us, some stars are thought to be millions, even billions of
light years away. The argument then is that the universe is at least as old as
the time it has taken this light to reach us. There are three good reasons why
this conclusion may be in error: 1) Stars may be closer than presumed. A
straight forward measuring approach known as triangulation can be used to
measure stars within 100 light years, but further stars must be estimated
using critical assumptions. A minority theory involving curved space would
also collapse the known universe to within a 16 light year radius. 2) The
speed of light may have been greater in the past. As with all physical
entities in our universe, perhaps the speed of light has decayed since the
beginning of time. 3) Both the light bearing bodies and the light we receive
could have been primordial. The Genesis account of Creation even states that
the creation of light preceded the creation of light bearing bodies. It is not
difficult to make the step of faith from a creator to a sudden, fully
Many evidences from the solar system suggest a relatively young origin. They
include lunar recession rate and lunar dust depth. If our solar system was
billions of years old, the moon would be much further from the earth (using a
measured and probably decaying recession rate) and covered with a great depth
of dust. Fortunately for our astronauts, pre-moon-visit predictions were
wrong! Additional arguments for a young origin come from comet decay rates and
short- lived lunar isotopes, both of which would be gone if evolutionary time
frames were accepted.
Before comparing various dates of the earth, the general method of
measurement and the required assumptions should be reviewed. The basis for a
geophysical "clock" is that physical features, formations or depletions, on or
in the earth change with time. The rate of change can be measured and
equations can be written to estimate the amount of time a certain formation or
depletion has been in progress:
t is elapsed time (historical date)
Q is the current quantity.
Q0 is the initial quantity.
R is the measured rate of change.
t1/2 is defined as radioactive half- life.
Important characteristics for a valid date are:
1) Must assume the correct initial conditions. (Q0)
2) Must measure the rate (R) accurately and either assume no changes or
include assumed changes in the equations.
3) Must assume the clock was never "reset" by external influences.
4) Must have proper precision (can't measure seconds with an hour hand).
5) Must be able to measure the sample (Q) without contamination.
Many earth dating methods have been reported:
1) The rate of mineral deposition into the ocean has been estimated for more
than fifty elements. Ocean ages from 80 years to 2.6 billion years have been
calculated. These discordant dates only prove that uniformity assumptions are
incorrect and that a young earth is quite reasonable.
2) The strength of the earth's magnetic field has been measured since 1853
and is decaying at a half-life rate of only 1400 years. If this decay rate is
extrapolated back only 20,000 years, the calculated magnetic field is
sufficient to negate life on the planet. This suggests that the earth is quite
young. Similar measurements of earth spin decay and earth cooling also do not
conform to evolutionary ages.
Still other infrequently referenced measurements and observations could be
cited, many of which support a young earth model and none that support a
billion year historical model. However, two very frequently referenced dating
methods remain to be discussed: radiometric dating and the fossil record.
There are three important radiometric clocks in use. They are uranium-238,
potassium-40, and carbon-14. The first two have long half-lives, 4.5 billion
years and 1.3 billion years respectively. The third has a relatively short
half-life, 5730 years. By analogy, the first two are like hour hands on the
evolutionary clock and the third is the second hand. Note that the minute
hand, the relative time frame proposed for human evolution, is missing.
Uranium and potassium decay methods are used to date igneous rocks, rocks
crystallized from magma oozing up into the earth's sedimentary crust. Fossils
are then dated by assuming they share the same date of origin as the
surounding igneous rock. The fossils themselves are not radioactively dated
and many fossil beds do not have dateable adjacent rocks. Often, adjacent rock
dates are discarded because they do not agree with preconceived fossil dates.
The uranium dating methods (c.1907) have largely given way to potassium dating
methods (c.1948) because the latter element is much more prevelant in the
earth's crust. Therefore, the following discussion on problems associated with
radiometric dating will focus on potassium-40.
Potassium - Argon Dating
The decay mechanism for the potassium - argon dating method is as follows:
19 K 40 produces --- "EC" ---> 18 Ar 40
and -------- "B" ----> 20 Ca 40
(11%, t1/2 = 1.2 to 1.3 billion years)
Investigators measure the "daughter" product(s), in this case argon (Ar) and
calcium (Ca), and assume either that the original amount of daughter product
was zero or that they can reasonably estimate some non-zero initial value. In
this method, non-radiogenic (that is, radioactivity is not the source) calcium
-40 is so abundant in rocks that no attempt is made to guess dates from that
particular isotope. Only argon-40 is measured and subsequently used to date
A brief critique of this method follows:
1) The range of this method is sometimes greatly exagerated by claiming
meaningful dates as young as 50,000 years. This is only .004% of the half-
life. Contrast this to a minimal 3% (39 million years) expected error in
2) The argon - calcium branching percentage is uncertain. The observed split
is between 11 and 12.6% argon, but a value of 8% has been assumed in dating
applications to correlate with uranium dates. This discrepency is often
attributed to argon gas leakage.
3) Argon diffuses from mineral to mineral with great ease, diffusing from
deep down into the earth's crust towards the surface and eventually into the
atmosphere. This has to confuse the dating process, such as surface rocks
accumulating argon and appearing older.
4) Many rocks inherit argon-40 from the parent magma. For instance, Kilauea
volcano, off the island of Hawaii, dates lava eruptions from less than 200
years ago to be 22 million years old. Note: This criticism is also applied to
ages associated with sea-floor spreading.
5) Potassium is found to be very mobile under leaching conditions. (Running
distilled water over an iron meteorite for 4 and 1/2 hours removed 80% of the
potassium.) This also increases the apparent age.
6) There is too much argon-40 on the earth for more than a small fraction
(1%) to be formed by radioactive decay (even for 4.5 billion years!). Thus,
there had to be an abundance of "original" argon-40. This abundance in the
atmosphere also forces us to question the possibility of background "noise" in
sampling and testing (the environment is 100 times contaminated by the
substance being measured). The standard approach to this problem is to relate
argon-40 to argon-36 which is not a decay product. The atmospheric ratio of
argon-40/argon-36 is 295.6/1. When a rock is tested, the atmospheric
contamination is "corrected" by this formula:
(radioargon-40) = (total argon-40) - 295.6 x (argon-36)
(A) Argon-36 is probably the result of cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere
building at an unknown rate.
(B) Therefore, there is no way to know what the ratio of argon-40/argon-36
was when the rock was crystallized, except to say that it was probably very
much higher (magnetic field, vapor canopy, etc.)
(C) The equation above subtracts two relatively large numbers on the left
side of the equation to get a result on the right side which is 1000 to 10,000
times smaller than the other terms. This is a disaster to scientific accuracy!
Carbon 14 Dating
Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon formed in our upper atmosphere.
Cosmic rays produce neutrons that in turn collide with nitrogen atoms to
produce the carbon-14. Carbon-14 then combines with oxygen to produce
radioactive carbon-dioxide (C14O2). This mixes with stable carbon dioxide
isotopes (C13O2, and C12O2) throughout the biosphere (lower atmosphere, on
land, and in the oceans). The relative abundance of C14O2, C13O2, and C12O2 is
approximately 1 to 8 billion to 800 billion atoms.
Plants and photo plankton take up C14O2 to produce their constituent organic
compounds. Animals and men then ingest these plants, incorporating both
carbon- 14 and stable carbon atoms in bones and tissues. When the animal dies,
no more carbon-14 is ingested. The carbon-14 in the dead bones (measured as a
ratio of radioactive to stable carbon) will decay and diminish. By measuring
the current level of radioactive of a formerly living specimen, one can
theoretically calculate when the specimen died. In approximately 5730 years,
the half-life of carbon-14, one-half of the original carbon-14 (the living
organism level) will be gone. IF all the assumptions are correct!
There are a number of assumptions underlying the carbon-14 dating method:
1) The equations and measured constants are correct. This is generally true,
but there is some evidence that radioactive decay may be influenced by
chemical, physical, or nuclear forces. Also, measured values of the constants
for carbon-14 decay have changed noticeably over the past 30 years, from 5570
to 5730 years.
2) The initial conditions are known. Local or spatial variations are known to
exist. Although there is generally good mixing of elements in the biosphere,
variations can be detected between hemispheres, between land and sea, and from
certain anomalies such as grass growing adjacent to a busy highway where it
takes in carbon-14 concentrations diluted by the fossil fuel (old carbon)
exhausts from passing vehicles.
Global variations or variations in time such as those created by nuclear
testing are also well known and quite significant. Carbon-14 concentrations in
the biosphere have changed considerably in the past. In truth, there is no
way of knowing what the initial concentration of carbon-14 was in the past
without comparing carbon-14 dates to another independent dating method.
3) The carcass has not been affected by extraneous influences. Biological
decay and ground waters bearing carbonates containing carbon of much older
origin than the biological specimen make carbon-14 measurements more difficult
and sometimes useless. Often samples are brought to carbon-14 laboratories to
confirm a date already assumed for the specimen. When the carbon-14 date does
not agree, it is assumed that the archaeological location of the sample has
Background radiation must also be considered. Constantly changing cosmic ray
fluxes getting through to our biosphere create a counting error that cannot be
entirely eliminated in conventional radiocarbon measurements. This counting
error may be on the order of several hundred years. The older the specimen,
the more critical this possible error becomes.
4) Measuring techniques are sufficiently sensitive. Claims for carbon-14
dating go as far back as 70,000 years before the present (B.P.), with the
newest of techniques (mass spectrometer counting of of individual carbon-14
ions) and assuming no naturally abundant nitrogen contamination. Seventy
thousand years is equal to approximately 12 half-lives, so that less than
0.025% of the original carbon-14 (whatever that was!) would remain for
Older techniques, those that most laboratories are still equiped to use and
from which nearly all carbon-14 dates have come, can only report dates up to
40,000 years B.P. Even this date is based on only 0.3% of the original
carbon-14 concentration. Because of the likelyhood of contamination, many
scientists are not willing to put much stock in any date beyond 20,000 years
An interesting corollary is the observation that it is not possible to use
any radioactive dating technique to date the proposed evolutionary development
of man. The radiocarbon clock cannot go back far enough in evolutionary time,
and neither potassium nor uranium clocks are sufficiently sensitive to measure
recent events, even when we call a million years ago "recent." Thus the most
publicized period of evolutionary history is not dateable by any independent,
objective method -- not even the much heralded radioactive decay methods.
Fossils were dated to be millions and billions of years old prior to the
discovery of radioactive decay. These dates were established by evolutionary
presumption. Long time estimates were required to explain the origin and
development of life forms through very slow, gradual changes.
Today when radiometric dates disagree with these predefined fossil dates, the
fossil dates rule. In discussing the problem of inconsistent radiometric
dates and blaming the problem on thermal disturbances, one geology text
"While some pessimists would disagree, it seems that the correction error
involved in dating rocks that have been reheated can be reduced to 2 percent
and generally is less than 10 percent. Such accuracy is approaching that
obtained by paleontologic studies of the fossiliferous rocks, and, of course,
offers the only possible means of interregional correlation (between fossil
Additional Thoughts Concerning Time and Origins
The evolutionary model for origins predicts that the world began in chaos and
has been gaining in total order and complexity ever since. The creation model
postulates that the opposite is true. The world began as a complete, fully
functional creation and, because of sin, has been decaying. Death, fossils,
mutation load, and extinction all testify to this principle. More importantly,
a fundemental law of physical chemistry, the Second Law of Thermodynamics,
validates the creation model. That law states that all real processes tend
toward a loss of order, or useful energy. This law is behind everything from
rusting automobiles, to depleted natural resources, to a decaying magnetic
field. Everything is wearing out or running out.
No dating method can give a conclusive age for the earth or the heavenly
bodies. Available methods predict everything from absurd youth (80 years) to
very questionable old age (4.5 billion years). Methods that estimate millions
and billions of years can be "corrected" by reasonable assumptions predicted
by the creation model. These corrections consistently migrate toward an age of
the earth between 6,000 and 20,000 years old.
Origins Talk RBBS * (314) 821-1078
Christian Fellowship Net 8:3006/28
Missouri Association for Creation, Inc.
405 North Sappington Road
Saint Louis, Missouri 63122-4729