Authors: Various Title: Old Age of the Earth and Creationist Lack of Response In article +

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

====================================================================== Authors: Various Title: Old Age of the Earth and Creationist Lack of Response ====================================================================== In article <5650@tekfdi.FDI.TEK.COM>, bobb@tekfdi.FDI.TEK.COM (Robert Bales) writes: > > 2) The citing of rocks which date to 3.9 billion years as evidence that the > earth is actually at least that old. The problem here is that no ^^ > verification of the accuracy of the dating method was given, while I had ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > shown cases in which the same types of measurment methods (determination of > isotope ratios) had given wrong results. With regard to dating, bob, you never answered this post. I have not been wise enough to keep track of the dates when you have been asked to address these points, but after each previous posting you left for some months. [original post begins] Bob, while you're at it, you can try to explain the similar dataset from the Antarctic ice sheet (they've drilled a little deeper there, 160,000 + years). Curiously, isotope ratios in these cores vary with periodicities which exactly match (within fairly narrow error bars) the periodicities of certain astronomical parameters (such as the obliquity of the earth's orbit, with a periodicity of 41,000 years, and the precessional periods of about 19,000 and 23,000 years. Now, there are good theoretical reasons to expect such a match, (these orbital wobbles affect received sunlight) and indeed it is observed both in ice and sea-bottom cores. [insert july 91] These sea bottom cores now go back several million years and the astronomical periodicities are still there, and K-Ar dates are still in reasonable agreement (better than 10%) with astronomical dates. The question for you, Bob, is this: Since the astronomical periods do *not* depend in any way on radiometric dating, and since these same periods show up in cores dated *by* radiometric dating (the dreaded K-Ar and uranium series dating) is this not an *independent* test of radiometric dating? If not, why? The predictions as to time made by calculation of planetary orbits and by K-Ar dating agree very well - for a long time you've complained that K-Ar is not calibrated - well here it is. [july 91 insert] In recent months a 25 million year long record from the triassic (about 200 million years ago, for those of us who believe such things) has been obtained. The rock is banded, and the bands form quite regular groupings. The smallest bands contain about 20,000 varves (annual layers) - and the precession cycle at that time was about 20,000 years long. Coincidence? Well, the precession cycle is modulated by the 100,000 year eccentricity cycle so the bands should occur in groups of five, with slightly different characteristics within the group. They do. Not enough? There is also a 400,000 year eccentricity cycle, so the large bands should be bunched in groups of four. And they are. Well before this result was obtained (it hasn't even been published yet) a simple climate model was used to estimate the power spectrum of maximum annual temperature at a similar site [see ref]. The low frequency end of this model's output agrees entirely with the observations. The cores have not yet been measured accurately enough to compare the high frequencies. This is quite clear evidence that these bands are astronomical in origin, and thus *astronomy*, not radiometric dating, tells us that this sample of rock was laid down over 25,000,000 years. So the earth is at least that old. Furthermore, since K-Ar dating gives the same length to this record we have no reason for not trusting within a few percent the K-Ar absolute age for this stratum, which is about 200 million years. Well, Bob? Bill Hyde References The geological evidence was presented by Paul Olsen of Lamont-Doherty at a recent workshop at Johns Hopkins. Preprints should exist in a few months. The theoretical paper is Short, D. A., J. G. Mengel, T. J. Crowley, W. T. Hyde and G. R. North 1991: Filtering of Milankovitch Cycles by Earth's Geography. Quaternary Research. 35, 157--173. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: (James W. Meritt) Subject: The age-of-the-Earth debate. (three centuries of debate) Date: Mon, 22 Jul 91 19:59:37 EDT From: Scientific American v261 p90(6) August, 1989 As the sun's first rays of thermonuclear light blazed across the galaxy 4.5 billion years ago, the primal earth emerged from a pinning, turbulent cloud of gas, dust and planetoids that surrounded the new star. During the next 700 million years the cloud settled into a more tranquil solar system, and the sun's third planet began to solidify. On these figures for the age of the earth rest all of geology and evolution. Indeed, they seem to be part of humankind's permanent store of facts. Yet this chronological structure is quite new. In fact, two earlier estimates have toppled during the past 150 years as the descriptive sciences of biology and geology deferred to the more exact science of physics. The first estimate fell during the 19th century. To the great displeasure of Charles Darwin and the geologists of the period, the physicist William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) performed a seemingly flawless calculation to show that the earth had not existed throughout eternity, as many thought then, but had formed 100 million years ago. That chronology collapsed at the turn of the century, when the advent of radioactive dating techniques showed the earth's age to be a few billion years. After a fierce debate between geologists and physicists, radioactive dating prevailed. Above all, the age-of-the-earth controversy illustrates that emotion, intuition and vested interests can direct the course of science almost as much as logic and experimentation. Intuitively, one might think questions about the earth's age were as timeless as speculation about the structure of the universe and our role in it. Actually, many of the earliest civilizations treated the earth's creation as part of the question of the origin of the universe. The resulting cosmologies tended to be cyclical. The Greeks, for example, believed natural history repeated itself perpetually. The Maya recorded 3114 before the common era (B.C.E.) as the year during which the universe had been most recently re-created. In the first century of the common era, many Han Chinese held a similar view. They believed the universe was destroyed and re-created every 23,639,040 years. The Judeo-Christian tradition also combines the earth's and the universe's birth in a single event. The story of Genesis led scholars to calculate the number of human generations since Adam and Eve. In 1654 John Lightfoot refined Archbishop Ussher's famous calculation of the moment of creation to an ultimate degree of precision: October 26, 4004 B.C.E., at nine o'clock in the morning in Mesopotamia, according to the Julian calendar. Mikhail V. Lomonosov was one of the first scientists to suggest (in the mid-18th century) that the earth formed independently of the rest of the universe; he set the interval at hundreds of thousands of years. In 1779 the Comte de Buffon tried to determine the age of the earth experimentally. He believed the earth was slowly cooling from an initial hot state, and he estimated that the earth was 75,000 years old by creating a small globe that resembled the earth's composition and then measuring the rate at which it cooled. Lomonosov and Buffon were virtually alone in their rigorous pursuit of the absolute age of the earth. When other 18th-century naturalists pondered the question at all, they either placed everything in the hands of the Creator or else supposed that the earth and its living things had simply taken a long time to reach their present condition. James Hutton characterized the long view in his classic Theory of the Earth in 1795. "We find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end." The chronology of geological periods did, however, intrigue Hutton's contemporaries. They inferred that the successive strata of rock and soil at a particular site represent the order in which the layers formed. In the 1790's William Smith built on this perception: two layers from different sites could be regarded as equivalent in age if they contained the same fossils. Extrapolating from these ideas, the naturalists began to chronicle the strata and to estimate the duration of geological periods. Their estimates varied widely, since they could only make crude guesses about the time required to build up the layers. In 1830 Charles Lyell gave such work a theoretical boost. Lyell insisted that rock formations and other geological features took shape, eroded and re-formed at a constant rate throughout time. Virtually none of the naturalists applied Lyell's notion to calculate the age of the earth's features; the data on geological processes were just too meager. Lyell did, however, persuade many naturalists to become uniformitarians--that is, they rejected the idea that there had been catastrophic geological change or a rapidly forming, young earth. After all, evidence from stones and bones suggested that each geological period lasted for many years, perhaps even hundreds of millions of years, and the age of the earth had to be several times that. Therefore, the naturalists were startled when Lord Kelvin (then the physicist William Thomson from Glasgow) determined in 1862 that the earth had formed somewhere between 20 and 400 million years ago. Thomson rejected uniformitarianism as unprovable. He and many other physicists of the day believed the earth was originally molten; its surface had cooled and solidified, but the core remained hot. The deeper one descends into the earth, they noted, the higher the temperature. To derive the earth's age, Thomson calculated how long the earth required to cool from its primordial to its present state. He conjectured that the gravitational contraction that formed the earth had generated all of the earth's heat (except for a small contribution from the sun). Then he investigated how well the earth conducts heat and how much heat is necessary for it to melt or to raise its temperature by a certain amount. He knew that the earth had cooled steadily as energy radiated into the cold vacuum of space, according to the second law of thermodynamics. Using Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier's theory of heat conduction, he predicted how the earth's temperature distribution might have evolved [see "The Fourier Transform," by Ronalf N. Bracewell; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, June]. He corroborated his calculations by accounting for heat from the sun and the effects of tidal friction. In time he refined his estimate of geological history to from 20 to 40 million years. Thomson's work distressed geologists, who were comfortable with the idea of unlimited time. They resented this audacious physicist who meddled in their field, but they could not fashion a counterargument, and they produced few papers on geochronology. Thomson's calculation seemed unassailable on the grounds of logic and physics. His conclusion eventually proved to be inaccurate by a wide margin. Still, Thrason had instigated a conceptual coup d'etal: qualitative geochronology was overthrown in favor of quantitative methods. Until the end of the century, Thomson's estimates were the standards against which all others were compared. Thomson's result shocked biologists just as much as it surprised geologists. Darwin regarded Thomson as an "odious spectre" whose chronology was one of the shy naturalist's "sorest troubles." Darwin and other biologists had postulated that complex organisms would require much more than 40 million years to evolve. But neither living nor fossilized organisms offered a basis for an independent calculation of evolutionary time. The biological calendar ultimately relied on geology. Thomas H. Huxley, a strong supporter of Darwin, attacked Thomson's most vulnerable position. Huxley's view epitomized the disdain that geologists of the late victorian period felt for the physical sciences and the reluctant respect the workers held for quantifiable data. In his presidential address to the Geological Society of London in 1869, Huxley argued that no modern geologist would insist on absolute uniformitarianism but that its principles could be applied. Then Huxley directed his rhetoric at Thomson. The admitted "accuracy of mathematical processes [must not be permitted to] throw a wholly inadmissible appearance of authority over the results, [for] pages of formulate will not get a definite result out of loose data." Perhaps, Huxley suggested, heat radiated from the earth more slowly than Thomson supposed. Thomson thought he had estimated conservatively, but he could not be certain of his values. Thomson no longer battled alone, however. Both the American astronomer Simon Newcomb and the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz calculated the time needed for a nebular cloud to condense gravitationally to the present size of the sun. Their independent results of 100 million years established an upper limit for the age of the earth (presuming that the earth did not exist before the sun). George H. Darwin, son of the famous Charles and professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, joined the discussion. He posited that the moon broke loose from a rapidly rotating molten earth and found that Thomson's original estimates corresponded well to the time that terrestrial tidal friction would require to brake the earth to its present 24-hour period of rotation. A few geologists concurred with Thomson's estimate of the earth's lifetime. Even before Thomson, John Phillips, Smith's nephew and pupil, had claimed that the earth must have endured for 96 million years--a result calculated from the admittedly imprecise rate of strata formation from river-derived sediment. In 1868 Archibald Geikie, director of the Geological Survey of Scotland, looked at evidence of erosion and concluded that the earth was no older than 100 million years. In 1899 John Joly of the University of Dublin devised the only truly new geological technique for measuring the earth's age. He maintained that all the salt in the oceans came from mineral deposits that had eroded and dissolved. He also proposed that the salt concentration in the oceans could not decline. Joly could therefore relate salinity to age. He obtained the best available figures for the quantity of water that flowed into the oceans each year and the amount of salt per volume of runoff. He then calculated the annual increment of salt. He multiplied the salinity of the ocean by its total volume and divided the product by the annual increase. Joly thus determined that the brackish sea developed over 80 to 90 million years. At about the same time an increasing number of geologists swelled the consensus that the earth had formed less than 100 million years ago. Yet all attempts to measure the age of the earth rested on an assumption, an analogy or a best guess about the rate of change of geological processes. Such assumptions created room for doubt. Some critics protested against the premise that only gravitational contraction explained the earth's or the sun's heat; another energy source might be possible. Some maintained that the earth had never been molten, whereas others suggested that its interior was still molten. (A liquid interior would conduct heat by convection--something that Thomson had not taken into account.) Still others questioned the data on erosion, sedimentation and salinity. As the century drew to a close, geologists generally agreed that nearly 100 million years had passed since the earth was born. They did not, however, reconcile their differences with Thomson, who had recently been elevated to the peerage as Lord Kelvin for his scientific accomplishments. Employing his heat calculations, Kelvin was urging ever-shorter geological time scales, all the while high-handedly dismissing geological evidence. By this time, however, geologists were wary of Kelvin's physical techniques. They had greater confidence (perhaps unwarranted) in their own methods than in the eminent physicist's collection of assumptions. After all, they had discovered several approaches to the chronology that gave concordant results. Geologists felt they had grandly completed their apprenticeship in the quantitative sciences after several decades of vigorous exploring, mapping, measuring and classifying. Yet it was not long before physical scientists were once again treading on geologists' turf and calculating its age. This time the study of radioactivity gave momentum to the attack. In 1896 A. Henri Becquerel discovered the phenomemon; in 1898 Marie S. and Pierre Curie first detected the radioactive elements polonium and radium. Then in 1902 and 1903 Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy explained the process of radioactivity in several papers. Radioactivity, they correctly stated, was the spontaneous transmutation of atoms of one chemical element into another. At first, the radiation of alpha, beta and gamma rays was more important to geochronology than were the radio-elements themselves. (It was later discovered that alpha particles are composed of two protons and two neutrons, just like the nucleus of a helium atom; beta particles are emitted electrons, and gamma rays are photons of electromagnetic radiation.) Earlier, in 1900, Rutherford and R.K. McClung of McGill University in Montreal showed that the various rays carry enormous amounts of energy. Their paper made little impression beyond the small community of physicists and chemists working on radioactivity. The reception was entirely different in 1903 when Pierre Curie and Albert Laborde announced that radium generates enough heat to melt more than its own weight in ice in an hour. Public interest was aroused over this apparently inexhaustible cornucopia of energy. Where did the energy come from? Rutherford and Howard T. Barnes discovered the source. They showed that the heat was proportional to the number of alpha particles radiated. These relatively massive particles were emitted at great velocity. If the particles collided with neighboring atoms, the particle's kinetic energy was transformed into heat. Geologists immediately recognized that the relation between heat and radioactivity could significantly influence determinations of the age of the earth. Kelvin had assumed that the earth's heat came from either the sun or the original molten state of the earth. In both cases, gravitational contraction was the only source of energy. If the earth and sun contained quantities of radioactive materials sufficient to provide large amounts of heat, however, then this discovery could invalidate all chronologies that Kelvin had based on the earth's colling. In 1903 George Darwin and Joly were the first to make this very claim: radioactivity was at least partially responsible for the earth's and the sun's heat. But was there enough radioactive matter within the earth to make a measurable difference? Part of the answer was at hand. Julius Elster and Hans F. Geitel, two schoolteachers in Wolfenbuttel, Germany, detected radioactivity in the air in 1901 and, soon after that, in the soil. Before long, many enthusiastic amateurs as well as professional scientists were finding radioactive rain, and snow and groundwater--even radioactive mist at the base of Niagara Falls. Soon geologists had no doubt that radioactivity was widely distributed . As for its concentration, Robert J. Strutt of the Imperial College in London found traces of radium in many rocks. Indeed, Strutt found too much radium for it to be distributed uniformly throughout the globe (without even considering the contribution from all the other radioelements). Its radioactivity alone could account for the earth's internal heat. His work suggested that geochronology could be extended by an indefinite time. He found no vestige of a cooling, no prospect of an age. The scientific community responded with ambivalence. Joly and William J. Sollas of the University of Oxford worried that Strutt's work might overturn their own calculations demonstrating an age of about 100 million years. Kelvin's own feelings were divided: he privately acknowledged that his estimates had been superseded, but in public he remained contentious. Others were delighted to be liberated from Kelvin's earth age. It turned out that radioactivity not only loosened Kelvin's theoretical shackles but also held the key to determining the age of the earth. During the first years of the century, scientific enthusiasm for radioelements replaced enthusiasm for radiation when Rutherford and Soddy proposed that radioactivity was actually spontaneous alchemy. A sample of a radioelement, they said, decays at a regular rate into a different chemical element. The rate of decay is expressed as a half-life: the time needed for half of the atoms of a given radioelement in a sample to change into a decay product. Half-lives range from billions of years to millionths of a second. Uranium, thorium and radium have long half-lives and therefore exists in tangible quantities on earth, whereas those elements that have short half-lives have a transitory existence. Hence, the presence or absence of particular radioelements in rocks can imply an age; analysis of the quantities of the radioelements can reveal an absolute age. The radioelements form distinct decay series: one radioelement decays into the next element in the series until a stable element is produced. The uranium-radium, uranium-actinium and thorium series were known or suspected in the early years of this century. The technique of radioactive dating of rocks developed from the study of radioelements and their decay series. Rutherford and the radiochemist Bertram B. Boltwood pioneered the work. As a consulting chemist after his graduation from Yale University, Boltwood examined numerous ore smaples, among them monazite, a mineral containing uranium and thorium. When the charismatic Rutherford lectured at Yale in 1904, Boltwood's curiosity about radioelements became a passion, and he began to document the relations among the elements in the decay series. Later that year, Rutherford suggested a way to determine the age of the earth from measurements of helium in minerals. Rutherford then believed (and in 1908 proved) helium is not a product of any particular decay series but is formed in all the series when two electrons bond to an alpha particle. Sir William Ramsay and Soddy at University College in London had just discovered the rate at which radium produced helium. If the Ramsay-Soddy rate was accurate and no helium escaped from the mineral from the time of its formation--both great leaps of faith--the amount of helium would determine the age of the sample. Rutherford could boast an age of 40 million years for a fergusonite rock he owned. Boltwood, on the other hand, thought to look for the end products of the decay series. The amount of an end product would increase over the years as the radioelements decayed. It was already known that radium was a product of the uranium series; in 1905 Boltwood pointed to lead as the final product. The uranium-to-lead hypothesis received additional support from Rutherford. He argued that if uranium decayed to radium and if radium (then thought to have an atomic weight of 225) and its daughter products then emitted five alpha particles (which each have an atomic weight of four), the decay would yield an element of an atomic weight of 205--not far from lead's accepted value of 206.9. Boltwood credited Rutherford for suggesting the lead method of dating ancient rocks, but it was the chemist who demonstrated its feasibility. By the end of 1905 he had calculated ages ranging from 92 to 570 million years for 26 different mineral samples. Fortunately for the reputation of the new technique, these results remained unpublished. Boltwood's radium-to-uranium ratio was inaccurate both because Rutherford's scale for measuring quantities of radium was badly calibrated and because the half-life of radium was revised several times during 1905 and 1906. A rock's age rested critically on both these values. When Boltwood published his work in 1907, he reported a striking constancy in the lead-to-uranium ratios for minerals from the same rock layer, which were presumably of the same geological age. He also observed that the amount of lead in a mineral increased as the relative age of the mineral increased. Minerals from which lead had apparently been leached gave lower ratios than did other minerals from the same layer. All this fit together well. Boltwood could find, however, no constancy in lead-to-thorium ratios from several minerals; the end product of thorium remained a mystery. He was inclined, therefore, to ignore lead-to-thorium ratios; an error that affected his measurements of minerals that contained both uranium and thorium. To determine the absolute age of minerals, Boltwood examined the uranium-radium decay series. The latest value for the half-life of radium was 2,600 years, which Rutherford had deduced from the number of alpha particles emitted from radium each second. (The figure accepted today is 1,620 years.) Given that the decay of radioactive materials is exponential, the fraction of radium decaying in one year would be 270,000 parts per billion, based on Rutherford's half-life. Rutherford and Boltwood found that almost all rocks contained 380 parts of radium per billion parts of uranium. Thus, the fraction of radium decaying each year multiplied by the fraction of radium in uranium yields one part of radium decaying each year for every 10 billion parts of uranium. Boltwood correctly assumed that the decay series of the rocks he collected were in an equilibrium state. The uranium-to-lead series, for instance, is in equilibrium when the number of uranium atoms decaying per unit of time is equal to the number of radium atoms decaying, or lead atoms forming, in that time. To maintain this equilibrium, radioelements that have long half-lives must exist in greater quantities than those that have short half-lives. (Although the supply of uranium will slowly decrease over time, Boltwood realized that the amount lost is negligible.) Boltwood deduced that if one part of radium decays each year for every 10 billion parts of uranium, then one part of lead forms each year for every 10 billion parts of uranium. Boltwood expressed this relation in a formula: the age of the rock equals 10 billion years multiplied by the ratio of lead to uranium. He then calculated that a sample of uraninite, which had a ratio of .041, was 410 million years old and a sample of thorianite, which had a ratio of .22, had formed 2.2 billion years ago. Actually, when the accurate value for the half-life of radium was applied, the age of Boltwood's samples was found to range from about 250 million to 1.3 billion years. Even with this correction, his thorianite measurement was invalid because the decay of thorium contributed some lead in addition to the lead that derived from uranium. Nonetheless, these results were spectacular: they demonstrated that the earth was about a billion years old. Oddly, this enormous accomplishment was met with indifference. Although Boltwood's paper appeared in America's foremost geological journal, no one was inspired to duplicate or extend his work on the lead method. Nor did Boltwood's result sway geologists' opinion that the significance of radioactive was overrated. They not only discounted the heating effect of radioactive decay on the earth but also "refined" their geological and physical data to show that Kelvin's range of time was correct after all! Boltwood wrote no more on the lead dating method. He returned to the study of decay series and discovered ionium, the immediate parent of radium. Rutherford retained a light hold on the age-of-the-earth topic, publishing about one paper a decade--hardly the mark of a consuming interest. Meanwhile, Strutt refined the helium method until 1910, when he too departed for greener research pastures. Strutt left a legacy, however. He had sparked an interest in geochronology in a young English geology student, Arthur Holmes, who kept the subject alive almost single-handedly. Indeed, Holmes ultimately forced geologists to accept radioactive dating in the course of his long career in industry and at the Universities of Durham and Edinburgh. Until 1930, however, Holmes and Joly were the only geologists who were skilled in the dating technique, and Joly, moreover, doubted its accuracy. Holmes did not. He also considered the lead method to be more reliable than the helium technique. In 1911 he examined many rock samples and calculated that the most ancient was 1.6 billion years old. He maintained (with more faith than justification) that his samples had contained no lead when they were formed, that all the lead came from the decay of uranium and that external mechanisms had not removed or added any lead or uranium. Two years later, however, his critics could crow in the light of two new advances. The first was the discovery of isotopes: atoms that have the same chemical propertties but different atomic weights because the number of neutrons varies. Lead, for example, has a nucleus that contains 82 protons and can have an atomic weight from 195 to 214. The second advance was the discovery of the physical laws that specify the decay products of each radioelement. These laws indicated that the thorium series did after all end in a particular isotope of lead. Although for many earth scientists these new discoveries made radioactive dating seem more difficult and unreliable, Holmes forged ahead, publishing in the years before and after World War I a steady stream of papers on geochronology. He incorporated information about isotopes into his work and sharpened his results. Although his success wore down overt resistance to radioactive dating, the method gained little support. An exception was Joseph Barrell, a professor of geology at Yale, who in 1917 reinterpreted geological history to conform with the results of radioactive dating. Barrell emphasized that geological processes vary in intensity in a cyclical rather tahn a uniform fasion. Thus, current rates of geological change could not, as uniformitarians claim, be a guide to the past. Finally, resistance began to falter. By 1921, at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the speakers, representing geologists, botanists, zoologists, mathematicians and physicists, seemed to agree that the earth was a few billion years old and that radioactive and geological dating techniques could be reconciled. But no plan was drafted for reconciliation. Not surprisingly, the old guard remained skeptical. Sollas would accept no age for the earth greater than 100 million years. "Geologists," he said, "are not greatly concerned over the period which physicists may concede to them; they do not much care whether it is long or--in moderation--short, but they do desire to make reasonably certain that it is one which they can safely trust before committing themselves to the reconstruction of their science, should that prove to be necessary." The battle was won finally in 1926 when in the U.S. the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences appointed a committee to examine the status of the age-of-the-earth problem. Holmes, as one of the few experts on the subject, was a committee member and wrote almost 70 percent of the report. The committee agreed unanimously that radioactivity provided the only reliable geological time scale. The report presented an overwhelming amount of clear and detailed evidence. The constants of radioactivity were firmly established, lead isotopes were easily incorporated into the calculations, and the mineral samples were carefully chosen to ensure that decay products had not been lost over time. The radioactive dating methods pioneered by Rutherford and Boltwood and enhanced by Holmes had at last received the blessing of geologists. Not only had they found a vestige of a beginning, but they also had a prospect for dating all of geological history. During the past six decades, application of the lead dating method has become more and more sophisticated, and current techniques reveal that the oldest rocks on the earth were formed as much as 3.8 billion years ago. This would date the minimum age of the earth's solid crust but not necessarily the period when the spiral cloud of gas and dust condensed to form the solar system. In 1955 Clair Patterson of the California Institute of Technology and his colleagues first determined the age of the solar system by dating meteorites. The most recent measurements of meteorites place the age of the primal earth at 4.5 billion years. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: (Bill Hyde) Subject: A question Bob has never answered. Date: 7 Aug 91 16:59:44 GMT In article <5650@tekfdi.FDI.TEK.COM>, bobb@tekfdi.FDI.TEK.COM (Robert Bales) writes: > > 2) The citing of rocks which date to 3.9 billion years as evidence that the > earth is actually at least that old. The problem here is that no ^^ > verification of the accuracy of the dating method was given, while I had ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > shown cases in which the same types of measurment methods (determination of > isotope ratios) had given wrong results. With regard to dating, bob, you never answered this post. I have not been wise enough to keep track of the dates when you have been asked to address these points, but after each previous posting you left for some months. [original post begins] Bob, while you're at it, you can try to explain the similar dataset from the Antarctic ice sheet (they've drilled a little deeper there, 160,000 + years). Curiously, isotope ratios in these cores vary with periodicities which exactly match (within fairly narrow error bars) the periodicities of certain astronomical parameters (such as the obliquity of the earth's orbit, with a periodicity of 41,000 years, and the precessional periods of about 19,000 and 23,000 years. Now, there are good theoretical reasons to expect such a match, (these orbital wobbles affect received sunlight) and indeed it is observed both in ice and sea-bottom cores. [insert july 91] These sea bottom cores now go back several million years and the astronomical periodicities are still there, and K-Ar dates are still in reasonable agreement (better than 10%) with astronomical dates. [original post resumed] The question for you, Bob, is this: Since the astronomical periods do *not* depend in any way on radiometric dating, and since these same periods show up in cores dated *by* radiometric dating (the dreaded K-Ar and uranium series dating) is this not an *independent* test of radiometric dating? If not, why? The predictions as to time made by calculation of planetary orbits and by K-Ar dating agree very well - for a long time you've complained that K-Ar is not calibrated - well here it is. [july 91 insert] In recent months a 25 million year long record from the triassic (about 200 million years ago, for those of us who believe such things) has been obtained. The rock is banded, and the bands form quite regular groupings. The smallest bands contain about 20,000 varves (annual layers) - and the precession cycle at that time was about 20,000 years long. Coincidence? Well, the precession cycle is modulated by the 100,000 year eccentricity cycle so the bands should occur in groups of five, with slightly different characteristics within the group. They do. Not enough? There is also a 400,000 year eccentricity cycle, so the large bands should be bunched in groups of four. And they are. Well before this result was obtained (it hasn't even been published yet) a simple climate model was used to estimate the power spectrum of maximum annual temperature at a similar site [see ref]. The low frequency end of this model's output agrees entirely with the observations. The cores have not yet been measured accurately enough to compare the high frequencies. This is quite clear evidence that these bands are astronomical in origin, and thus *astronomy*, not radiometric dating, tells us that this sample of rock was laid down over 25,000,000 years. So the earth is at least that old. Furthermore, since K-Ar dating gives the same length to this record we have no reason for not trusting within a few percent the K-Ar absolute age for this stratum, which is about 200 million years. Well, Bob? Bill Hyde References The geological evidence was presented by Paul Olsen of Lamont-Doherty at a recent workshop at Johns Hopkins. Preprints should exist in a few months. The theoretical paper is Short, D. A., J. G. Mengel, T. J. Crowley, W. T. Hyde and G. R. North 1991: Filtering of Milankovitch Cycles by Earth's Geography. Quaternary Research. 35, 157--173. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: alanf@tekig6.PEN.TEK.COM (Alan M Feuerbacher) Subject: Dinosaur footprints in a vertical cliff face Date: 11 Jan 93 03:47:31 GMT Young earth creationists who believe that "Flood Geology" accounts for most of the earth's sedimentary rock, and that Noah's Flood killed off the dinosaurs, should take a look at the January, 1993 _National Geographic_. Pages 16-17 show a photo of an almost vertical rock face, in which is embedded layer upon layer of wave-rippled sediments -- the shore of an ancient sea. The layers are flaking off the cliff. Most striking are the several sets of dinosaur footprints in one of the layers. Flood geologists claim that this kind of formation was laid down in a few weeks, but this particular formation shows that the theory is completely out to lunch. Alan Feuerbacher ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ====================================================================== Draft Author: Chris Stassen ====================================================================== History: In early April of 1991, Tricia Borawski ( posted in article a list of "points" which claimed that the earth was young, under the subject "Dating Methods Are Stupid". While Tricia didn't give a source for her arguments, they were copied almost verbatim from Walter Brown's _In The Beginning_. In response, I made a posting which pointed out the errors in several of the arguments, but for brevity I summarized each of Brown's arguments as a single line. This message contains the contents of both postings (Tricia's original and my response) interleaved so that Tricia's complete statement of each of Brown's arguments appears immediately above my own response. All of my references are collected at the bottom. ============================================================================ I have covered several of the objections. I have left out those that I am not familiar with, those that have nothing to do with biological evolution (e.g., languages), or those which were not specific enough for me to investigate (e.g., vague unreferenced claims about out of place footprints and artifacts). # 1. Direct measurements of the earth's magnetic field over the past # 140 years show a steady and rapid decline in its strength. This # decay pattern is consistent with the theoretical view that there # is an electrical current inside the earth which produces the # magnetic field. # # If this view is correct, then 25,000 years ago the electrical # current would have been so vast that the earth's structure could # not have survived the heat produced. This would imply that the # earth could not be older than 25,000 years. It is always dangerous to extrapolate beyond your data, and doubly so when other data indicates that the extrapolation is incorrect. The calculation to which you refer (Thomas Barnes [1] is the main proponent of it at the moment), assumes an exponential extrapolation backwards. It further uses a measured rate for decay which is far too high. There are two components to the Earth's magnetic field (called "dipole" and "nondipole"). While the dipole component has indeed been decreasing, it has been roughly compensated by an increase in the nondipole component, meaning that the overall strength of the field has not changed much at all since it has been measured. [2] Finally, there is plenty of evidence recorded in lava flows and in the Atlantic spreading zone that indicate that the magnetic field of the earth has completely reversed itself a number of times. Since the magnetic field can reverse itself, it would be silly to extrapolate from a measured change today and assume that the rate of change must have been constant or even always in the same direction throughout time. [3] # 2. The atmosphere has less than 40,000 years worth of helium, based # on just the production of helium from the decay of uranium and # thorium. There is no known means by which large amounts of # helium can escape from the atmosphere. The atmosphere appears to # be young. Helium is indeed produced by beta decay, but there are two known processes by which it can escape from the atmosphere. In the exosphere, the increased temperature gives He atoms enough kinetic energy that some can escape. Another mechanism by which He can escape is photoionization by the polar wind and movement along open lines of the Earth's magnetic field. Good estimates show that these processes roughly balance the rate of production. An upper limit for the age of the Earth cannot be derived from a process which is at equilibrium. It is certainly not possible to derive a valid upper limit by ignoring processes known to operate in the opposite direction of the one which you wish to use for dating. [4] # 3. The rate at which elements such as copper, gold, tin, lead, # silicon, mercury, uranium and nickel are entering the oceans is # very rapid when compared with the small quantities of these # elements already in the oceans. Therefore, the oceans must be # very much younger than a million years. Even a creationist should know that this is not a reliable dating method. When the calculations are applied to Aluminum, the resulting "upper limit" for the Earth's age is 100 years [5]. There are several 'sinks' by which metals are extracted from the oceans. An upper limit for the age of the Earth cannot be derived from a process which is at equilibrium. It is certainly not possible to derive a valid upper limit by ignoring processes known to operate in the opposite direction of the one which you wish to use for dating [6]. A further problem is that this "method" relies on the assumption that today's rates of erosion are typical. Compared to other times in geological history, a relatively large amount of land is exposed, and therefore erosion is proceeding at a higher than average rate. # 4. Evolutionists believe that the continents have existed for at # least 1 billion years. However, the continents are being eroded # at a rate that would have leveled them in a relatively short 14 # million years. The problem with this is that eroded matter doesn't simply disappear from the system. Whatever is eroded from one place is deposited somewhere else. Further, it fails to recognize the role of tectonic uplift and volcanic activity in replenishing the landscape. An upper limit for the age of the Earth cannot be derived from a process which is at equilibrium. It is certainly not possible to derive a valid upper limit by ignoring processes known to operate in the opposite direction of the one which you wish to use for dating. [7] A further problem is that this "method" relies on the assumption that today's rates of erosion are typical. Compared to other times in geological history, a relatively large amount of land is exposed, and therefore erosion is proceeding at a higher than average rate. # 7. Since 1836, over one hundred different observers at the Royal # Greenwich Observatory and U.S. Naval Observatory have made # direct visual measurements which show that the diameter of the # sun is shrinking at a rate of about .1% each century or about 5 # feet per hour! Furthermore, records of solar eclipses indicate # that this rapid shrinkage has been going on for at least the past # 400 years. # # Several indirect techniques also confirm this gravitational # collapse, although these inferred collapse rates are only about # 1/7th as much. Using the most conservative data, one must # conclude that had the sun existed one million years ago, it would # have been so large that it would have heated the earth so much # that life could not have survived. # # Yet, evolutionists say that a million years ago all the present # forms of life were essentially as they are now, having completed # their "evolution" that began 200 million years ago. More evidence that "no error favorable to creationism ever dies." And this one is an error. The Greenwich Observatory scientsts calculated a decrease in solar diameter of 0.008 percent over the last 300 years, with a standard error of 0.007 percent. This amount is negligible, and the data further indicates that the diameter oscillates with a period of about 80 years and an amplitude of 0.025 percent. [8] Since the direction of change apparently reverses itself, it would be silly to extrapolate from a measured change today and assume that the rate of change must have been constant or even always in the same direction throughout time. # 8. Short period comets "boil off" some of their mass each time they # pass the sun. Nothing should remain of these comets after about # 10,000 years. There are no known sources for replenishing # comets. If comets came into existence at the same time as the # solar system, the solar system must be less than 10,000 years # old. The claim that there is no source for short-period comets is a lie. If that were true, the solar system could be at most a few hundred years old. For, even though s-p comets have a lifetime in the thousands of years, they "age" as the most volatile material is thrown off first. Short-period comets have been seen that have not been around the Sun for more than a handful of orbits. However, it is known that the planets can change the orbit of a long- period comet into a short-period one. The rate of such capture is emough to replenish the supply of short-period comets currently in the solar system. [9] An upper limit for the age of the Earth cannot be derived from a process which is at equilibrium. It is certainly not possible to derive a valid upper limit by ignoring processes known to operate in the opposite direction of the one which you wish to use for dating. # 9. Jupiter and Saturn are each radiating more than twice the energy # they receive from the sun. Calculations show that it is very # unlikely that this energy comes from radioactive decay or # gravitational contraction. The only other conceivable # explanation is that these planets have not existed long enough to # cool off. Heat flow out of Jupiter exceeds heat flow in by about 4 x 10^17 watts. Such heat could be produced by growth of the central metallic core by gravitational collapse. The amount of growth needed to produce that amount of heat is 0.1 millimeters per year. It is indeed known that such a process could not occur for a very long time. On the other hand, Jupiter's construction would permit it to retain such energy from its formation, releasing it slowly, literally for billions of years. [10] # 10. The sun's gravitational field acts as a giant vacuum cleaner # which sweeps up about 100,000 tons of micrometeorites per day. # If the solar system were just 10,000 years old, no # micrometeoroids should remain since there is no significant # source of replenishment. A large disk shaped cloud of these # particles is orbiting the sun. Conclusion: the solar system is # less than 10,000 years old. The solar wind balances the Poynting-Robertson effect for particles of just the right size, which therefore will not fall into the Sun at all. Small particles are continually being added to the Solar System by decay of short-period comets and collisions between 'minor planets.' While it isn't known for certain that the process is at equilibrium, such a state is well within the range of measurement uncertainty. Therefore, it is not possible to derive a meaningful upper limit for the age of the solar system from such a calculation -- in particular since Brown is ignoring processes known to operate in the reverse direction. [11] # 13. Any estimated date prior to the beginning of written records must # necessarily assume that the dating clock has operated at a known # rate, that the initial setting of the clock is known, and that # the clock has not been disturbed. These assumptions are not # verifiable, and are not necessarily reliable. When several independent measures agree on the same age, there is little room to question their reliability. A creationist is reduced to arguing that it is merely a coincidence that all of the clocks agree. I don't buy it. For example, isochron methods are the most reliable radiometric dating methods. This is because they have a built-in indication that lets you know when the dating assumptions have been violated, which would make the date meaningless. The following methods were applied to a single sample of the Greenland Amsitoq Gneiss: [12] Rb-Sr isochron 3.70 +- 0.14 billion years Pb-Pb isochron 3.80 +- 0.12 billion years U-Pb discordia 3.65 +- 0.05 billion years Th-Pb discordia 3.65 +- 0.08 billion years Lu-Hf isochron 3.55 +- 0.22 billion years Just a coincidence? I think not. Further, look at the agreement between the ages of the oldest meteorites, by several different methods: ======================= ====== ====== =============== Number Type Dated Method Age (x10^9 yr) ======================= ====== ====== =============== Chondrites 13 Sm-Nd 4.21 +/- 0.76 Carbonaceous chondrites 4 Rb-Sr 4.37 +/- 0.34 Chondrites (undist. H) 38 Rb-Sr 4.50 +/- 0.02 Chondrites (all) 50 Rb-Sr 4.43 +/- 0.04 H Chondrites (undist.) 17 Rb-Sr 4.52 +/- 0.04 H Chondrites 15 Rb-Sr 4.59 +/- 0.06 L Chondrites (rel. und.) 6 Rb-Sr 4.44 +/- 0.12 L Chondrites 5 Rb-Sr 4.38 +/- 0.12 LL Chondrites (undist.) 13 Rb-Sr 4.49 +/- 0.02 LL Chondrites 10 Rb-Sr 4.46 +/- 0.06 E Chondrites (undist.) 8 Rb-Sr 4.51 +/- 0.04 E Chondrites 8 Rb-Sr 4.44 +/- 0.13 Eucrites (polymict) 23 Rb-Sr 4.53 +/- 0.19 Eucrites 11 Rb-Sr 4.44 +/- 0.30 Eucrites 13 Lu-Hf 4.57 +/- 0.19 Diogenites 5 Rb-Sr 4.45 +/- 0.18 Iron (+ St. Severin) 8 Re-Os 4.57 +/- 0.21 ======================= ====== ====== =============== ([18], duplicate studies on identical meteorite types omitted.) As shown in the table, there is excellent agreement on about 4.5 billion years, between hundreds of different meteorites and by several different dating methods. Further, studies on individual meteorites generally give concordant ages by multiple radiometric means. For example: ======================= ====== ====== =============== Meteorite Dated Method Age (x10^9 yr) ======================= ====== ====== =============== Guarena w-rock Ar-Ar 4.44 +/- 0.06 13 sam Rb-Sr 4.46 +/- 0.08 ----------------------- ------ ------ --------------- Olivenza 18 sam Rb-Sr 4.53 +/- 0.16 w-rock Ar-Ar 4.49 +/- 0.06 ----------------------- ------ ------ --------------- Saint Severin 4 sam Sm-Nd 4.55 +/- 0.33 10 sam Rb-Sr 4.51 +/- 0.15 w-rock Ar-Ar 4.43 +/- 0.04 ----------------------- ------ ------ --------------- Juvinas 5 sam Sm-Nd 4.56 +/- 0.08 5 sam Rb-Sr 4.50 +/- 0.07 ----------------------- ------ ------ --------------- Y-75011 9 sam Rb-Sr 4.50 +/- 0.05 7 sam Sm-Nd 4.52 +/- 0.16 ======================= ====== ====== =============== ([19]; duplicated methods omitted.) # 14. A major assumption that underlies all radioactive dating # techniques is that the rates of decay, which have been # essentially constant over the past 70 years, have also been # constant over the past 200,000,000 years. This bold, critical, # and untestable assumption is made even though no one knows what # causes radioactive decay. Radioactive decay is an effect of rather fundamental properties of matter (such as the chance over time that a particle can tunnel out of the nucleus, which it itself determined by quantum mechanics and the balance between electromagnetic force and the two nuclear forces). There is no evidence that radioactive decay rates have ever been any different; in fact, there is evidence that this has not been the case. Certainly, it is not possible to tinker with such fundamental properties of matter to the tune of a factor of a million (needed to get multi- billion-year ages into Brown's multi-thousand-year old universe) while still leaving the universe in a recognizable state. Radioactive decay rates do not vary under any known conditions including extremes of charge, temperature, and pressure. Since radiometric dates are generally used to CONFIRM other estimates, their agreement with independent methods confirms the accuracy of both. # 15. The public has been greatly misled concerning the reliability and # trustworthiness of radiometric dating techniques (the # Potassium-Argon method, the Rubidium-Strontium method, and the # Uranium-Thorium method). Many of the published dates can be # checked by comparisons with the assumed ages for the fossils that # sometimes bracket radiometrically dated rock. # In over 300 (or almost half) of these PUBLISHED checks, the # radiometrically determined ages were at least one geologic age in # error -- indicating major errors in methodology. An unanswered # question is, "How many other dating checks were not published # because they too were in error?" This is false. From personal correspodence, G. Brent Dalrymple (a relatively famous isotope geologist) indicated that radiometric dating methods give results in line with "evolutionary expectations" (Tricia's probable terminology, not mine or Dalrymple's) about 95% of the time. One must question whether Brown's "survey" of the literature is a representative sample. The methods do not always work, because not all samples meet the conditions required for yielding a valid date. Still, they work a large fraction of the time. Anyone who wishes to claim that they do not work must produce a reasonable explanation for the fact that they consistently produce values so convenient to an ancient earth. # 16. Pleochroic halos, tiny spheres of discoloration produced by the # radioactive decay of particles that are encased in various # crystals, show that the earth's crust was NEVER in a molten # state. Furthermore, these halos suggest that the rate of # radioactive decay was NOT constant, and in fact, varied by MANY # orders of magnitude from that observed today. Gentry's Po halos [13] are NOT in 'basement rock' (what the creationists would call the originally created part of the Earth). Gentry's rocks are from intrusive calcite and pegmatite veins [14]. They are therefore invalid as evidence that the crust of the Earth has never been molten. The halos are found along fracture lines in crystals of mica and biotite in areas where there are large concentrations of uranium ores. In the U->Pb decay series, gaseous radium can become separated from the rest and cause the formation of polonium halos without also showing evidence of uranium decays. Creationists made much of these before 1985 or so, when a reasonable explanation for their formation was known. However, today most creationists have backed down on this topic. # 17. Geological formations are almost always dated by their fossil # content, especially by certain INDEX FOSSILS of extinct animals. # The age of the fossil is derived from the ASSUMED evolutionary # sequence, but the evolutionary sequence is based on the fossil # record. This reasoning is CIRCULAR! Furthermore, this procedure # has produced many contradictory results. This is a lie, since index fossils were also used by the creationist geologists who first put together the geological column (it was in roughly final form by 1850, long before Darwin published). They are merely distinctive fossils that are known to appear in only a very narrow portion of the column. [20] Since most index fossils are creatures such as distinctive molluscs, which are among the oldest of creatures and still around, there is no way one could 'derive an evolutionary age' from them. Further, there are plenty of locations where one can see formations representing all or most of the geological eras overlain in order. The use of index fossils is only to correlate between different areas, and the results are (contrary to Brown's claim) quite concordant. # 18. Human footprints are found alongside dinosaur footprints in the # rock formations of the Paluxy riverbed in Texas. This obviously # shows that man and dinosaurs lived at the same time and the same # place. But evolutionists claim that dinosaurs became extinct # about 30 million years before "man" supposedly began to "evolve." This reference is out of date, as even many of the less reliable creationists have retracted this claim. It has been demonstrated that the alleged 'human' prints are partially-filled-in tridactyl dinosaur tracks. The coloration of the 'fill' sediment differs from that of the surrounding footprint. [15] "Films for Christ" has retracted "Footprints in Stone" from distribution, and the ICR has admitted that it would "be improper to use [Paluxy river] as evidence against evolution." # 21. The fact that there is no worldwide unconformity in the earth's # sedimentary strata implies that this entire geologic record must # have been deposited rapidly. (An "unconformity" is an erosional # surface between two adjacent rock formations representing a time # break of unknown duration. "Conformities" imply a continuous and # rapid deposition. Since one can always trace a continuous path # from the bottom to the top of the geologic record that avoids # these unconformities, the sediments along that path must have # been deposited continuously.) Good grief. First, there are plenty of local unconformities. However, demanding a worldwide unconformity is expecting there to be a period where there was erosion everywhere on earth and deposition nowhere. That's a ridiculous expectation. (However, it is nice of Brown to admit that the entire geologic record can be traced without depending on "evolutionary assumptions" or "circular reasoning" or any of the other standard creationist lies.) If you wish to deposit the entire column during the deluge, you will need explanations for: 1) how the maximum rate of sediment settling out of water, which is a function of particle size, was suspended; and 2) why there are plenty of surface features smack in the middle of 'flood deposits.' What were your Paluxy man and dinosaur doing running around under miles of water making footprints? # 22. Radiocarbon dating, which has been accurately calibrated by # counting the rings of living trees that are up to 3,500 years # old, is unable to extend this accuracy and date organic remains # that are more ancient. # # A few people have claimed that ancient wood exists which will # permit this calibration to be extended even further back in time, # but these people have not let outside scientists examine their # data. # # On the other hand, measurements made at hundreds of sites # worldwide indicate that the concentration of radiocarbon in the # atmosphere rose quite rapidly at some time prior to 3,500 years # ago. If this happened, a radiocarbon age of 40,000 years could # easily correspond to a true age of 5,000 years. This is a lie. By matching the ring patterns of recently dead trees to living trees, and less-recently dead trees to those, a scale of tree rings of known age has been built backwards about 8,000 years. This data is available in several references. [16] We therefore have calibration of the [14]C scale, just from this one method, back to before Brown's alleged creation event. The [14]C level of the atmosphere is not constant, but it does not vary by more than about 15% of its present value. (The [14]C method is also calibrated by air samples trapped in ice cores, items trapped in varves, and several other independent methods -- which all produce the same values for the [14]C level of the atmosphere over time.) The claim that there is evidence that it rose rapidly 3,500 years ago is a lie. Even a creationist has pointed out (in the SDA publication _Origins_) that the scenario of *assuming* old [14]C dates are shortly post-flood (with a large increase in the [14]C level then) requires that certain trees in the dendrochronological scale make over twenty rings in a single year. The trees used in that scale are not known to make more than a single ring in a year. Tricia closes with: > "Not one change of species into another is on record. We cannot > prove that a single species has ever changed." > - Charles Darwin This is an example of Brown attempting to get mileage out of an outdated quotation that is no longer correct. The claim may have been true in 1860, but it is not true today. Several speciation events are known from direct evidence, and at least one has been even recorded under direct observation in the lab. [17] Despite the best attempts of Brown and his ilk, we keep learning. ============================================================================ References: [1] T. Barnes, _Origin and Destiny of the Earth's Magnetic Field_ [2] G. B. Dalrymple, _Can the Earth be Dated from Decay of Its Magnetic Field_ (J. Geological Education, 1983, v. 31, pp. 124-133) [3] W. Glen, _The Road to Jaramillo_, pp. 93-139 [4] G. B. Dalrymple, _How old is the Earth?_, p. 112 (Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the AAAS Pacific Division) [5] Morris & Parker, _What is Creation Science_, p. 290 [6] G. B. Dalrymple, _How old is the Earth?_, pp. 115-116 [7] A. N. Strahler, _Science and Earth History_, pp. 274-275 [8] A. N. Strahler, _Science and Earth History_, p. 141 [9] Bailey et. al., _The Origin of Comets_, pp. 348-356 [10] Zelik & Smith, _Elementary Astronomy and Astrophysics_, p. 101 [11] A. N. Strahler, _Science and Earth History_, p. 145 [12] G. B. Dalrymple, _Radiometric Dating, Geologic Time, and the Age of the Earth_, p. 44 (* I have permission to copy and distribute this work. If you are willing to pay $2.40 postage, Email me and I will send you a copy.) [13] R. Gentry, _Creation's Tiny Mystery_ [14] J. R. Wakefield, _Gentry's Tiny Mystery_, (_C/E Journal_ XXII, p. 30) [15] _Creation/Evolution Journal_ XV is a special issue on Paluxy [16] A. N. Strahler, _Science and Earth History_, p. 155 [17] Dobzhansky, Th., and O. Pavlovsky, 1971. "An experimentally created incipient species of Drosophilia", _Nature_ 23:289-292 [18] Dalrymple, G. Brent, _The Age of the Earth_, p. 291 [19] Dalrymple, G. Brent, _The Age of the Earth_, p. 286 [20] See Gohau, _A History of Geology_ for details ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: 21-Jul-1992 1421 If you're collecting creationist material, you'll find this interesting. This was posted on t.o. several years ago. I don't know who ernie.Berkely. edu is, but I doubt he'd mind if this was reposted (my netWare still won't let me post out). Ed Eck -> is material from original poster [MY OWN COMMENTS ARE INDENTED IN BRACKETS AND CAPS. ERE] Newsgroups: Path: decwrl!ucbvax!ernie.Berkeley.EDU!jwl Subject: creationist cosmogony: a rebuttal Posted: 26 Dec 87 11:14:09 GMT Organization: University of California, Berkeley >From: >Newsgroups: >Subject: Creation vs Evolution >Message-ID: <3349@decwrl.DEC.COM> >Date: 1 Jun 86 06:32:01 GMT > > >I was given this list of Creationist theories and attempts to prove that the >universe is only 6000 + years old. > > >[...] > > THE UNIVERSE > IT'S YOUNGER THAN YOU THINK! > > Scientific Evidence to Show A Young Universe > > By Kurt Wise > Harvard University [NOTE: KURT WISE WAS AT THE TIME A STUDENT AT HARVARD MAJORING IN OCEANOGRAPHY AND IS NOT OTHERWISE AFFILIATED WITH THE UNIVERSITY IN ANY OTHER WAY. THIS STRIKES ME AS A SLEAZY WAY TO LINK HARVARD'S NAME WITH CREATIONIST MATERIAL; THE SAME TECHNIQUE WAS USED WITH SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL (SRI) BY SETTERFIELD AND NORMAN. ERE.] > > Published by Citizens for Scientific Creationism > 212 Drake, Rochelle, IL 61068 > January 6, 1986 > > Modern Cosmogony (the Study of the origin of the universe and its >components) maintain that the universe is as old as 20 billion years, with >components having ages spanning the range from this date to the present. >Creationism maintains that the universe and all its components are about 6,000 >years old. > > The Age of Galaxies > >(creationism 6,000 years; modern cosmogony: 10-20 billion years.) > > 1. Conventional cosmogony hold that each cluster of galaxies evolved >from a single cloud of material. When studying the relative movement of >individual galaxies the clusters are often found to be dispersing. Sometimes >this rate of dispersion is such take no more than a few million years to go >from a single cloud to the present distribution of galaxies. The maximum age >of these clusters would thus be only a few million years. Their true age is >probably much less (1) This assumes that the rate of dispersion is constant. There is absolutely no basis for that the same reasoning, I could "calculate" the time it would take for a thrown baseball to reach the moon, given that I could throw it at X m/sec... Even if one accepts the linear model of cluster dispersion, the timespan given ("a few million years") is off by several orders of magnitude. The Andromeda galaxy is another member of the Local Group; it is 2.2 million light-years away. If the Local Group were dispersing at the speed of light (!!!), we would still obtain "a few million years" as an upper bound for the age of the cluster. [THIS ALSO IGNORES THE EFFECT OF "DARK MATTER" IN THE GALAXIES, WHICH WHOULD CAUSE NONLINEAR EXPANSION. THIS NON- LINEAR EXPANSION HAS BEEN OBSERVED. SEE SCI. AMERICAN, LAST YEAR. ERE] > 2. Some neighboring galaxies, though moving away from each other, are >connected by bridges of luminous dust and gas. Several of these would have >been part of the same cloud no more than 7,000 to 10,00 years ago. (1) The time frame of 7-10,000 years is highly suspect, considering that the same source is cited for this argument and #1 above. Even if it were true, this implies nothing about the age of the is widely accepted that galaxies can collide. ("Collide" is perhaps the wrong word; galaxies are mostly empty space, and they go right through each other. The process involves some funky tidal effects, which distort the galaxies in interesting ways...) NOT TO MENTION THAT THIS WOULD IMPLY A TREMENDOUS VELOCITY FOR THE GALAXIES, WHICH IS NOT SUPPORTED BY RED SHIFT MEASUREMENTS. > 3. Our own Milky Way Galaxy is a typical spiral galaxy - one with a >rich accumulation of star in the center, and arms or spokes of stars extending >from it. This entire mass of stars spins, making a complete rotation in about >200 million years. However, stars nearer the center of such a galaxy revolve >about the center faster than those farther out. One to 5 rotations of the >spiral galaxy should be enough to stretch the arms into an uniform disk of >stars. Thus spiral galaxies such as our are much less than 1 billion year old. >(1) The dynamics of spiral arm formation are not fully understood, but they appear to be a shock wave phenomenon of some sort, which triggers bursts of star formation; individual stars move in and out of the arms as they move through their galactic orbits. Spiral arms are NOT permanent local concentrations of material. (_Astronomy_, vol. 7, no. 7 (July '79) p. 18) AND AGAIN, THIS IGNORES THE EFFECT OF DARK MATTER, WHICH WOULD INCREASE THE DENSITY OF THE GALAXY AND MAKE IT LESS LIKELY TO SPREAD OUT. > 4. Graviton are particles which are hypothesized to transmit gravity >throughout the universe. Gravitons have been detected coming from the center >of our galaxy. When measured, Gravitons, are draining the galaxy of a >significant proportion of its total energy. In 100 million years all of the >galaxy's energy would be consumed and dispersed into space by gravitons. Our >Galaxy thus appears to be significantly less than 100 million years old, not >15 to 20 billion years as most modern cosmogonists believe. (2) Gravity wave astronomy is still in its infancy. As of 1978 (publication of Tipler's _Modern Physics_), gravitons had not yet even been detected... and the existence of particles which mediate the gravitational force does not imply that energy is lost in the process, any more than the exchange of photons (mediating the electrostatic force) implies that a stationary charged particle is drained of energy by the electrostatic force. Systems such as binary pulsars (extremely rare beasts) are theorized to lose energy via gravity waves, but this effect is insignificant for most objects. > The Age Of Stars And Star Clusters > >(creationism: 6,000 years,; current cosmogony: 10 to 15 billion years.) > > 5. Within each galaxy are stars clusters. Such clusters are thought, >like the containing galaxy , to have evolved from a single cloud. Many of the >observable clusters are dispersing from a single cloud. Many of the >observable clusters are dispersing at such a rate that they could have been a >single cloud less than 10,000 years ago. (1) Here is yet another example of a linear model being applied in an inappropriate situation. At any rate, open clusters *do* form in single clouds, then disperse...this shows nothing about the age of the universe, only the age of the cluster. [SPEAKING OF WHICH, THE MAGELIAN CLOUDS (REFERENCED IN ANOTHER CREATIONIST ARGUMENT AS A TEST OF THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE) ARE *NOT* PART OF THE MILKY WAY GALAXY. THIS INVALIDATES ANOTHER CREATIONIST ARGUMENT. ERE] > 6. O and B stars are often surrounded by gas and dust which is thought >to be the same age as the stars themselves. The Poynting-Robertson Effect (the >slowing down of the orbiting particles when it is hit by the light a star) >forces the particle into a progressively closer orbit about the star. It >spirals towards the star at a speed determined by its size. The dust and gas >about O and B stars should have been pulled into the stars in only a few >thousand years after their formation. Yet O and B stars are thought to be >among the Oldest Kinds of stars! (1) O and B supergiants are thought to be among the *youngest* types; the gas and dust surrounding them comes from the cloud they were formed in. They also have intense stellar winds and radiation pressure, which tend to sweep much of the gas and dust *out* of the vicinity of the star. For our sun, particles less than 1 micron in diameter will eventually be blown out of the solar system due to radiation pressure. A particle 1mm in diameter between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter would take 60,000,000 years to be drawn into the sun....not "thousands of years" as claimed above. MOREOVER THE P/R EFFECT IS DEPENDENT ON THE SIZE OF THE PARTICLES AND CAN'T BE EXTRAPOLATED TO COVER _ALL_ PARTICLES IN ORBIT AROUND A STAR > The Ages OF Sun, Comets, Moons, and Planets > >(creationism; 6,000 years.; current cosmogony; 4.5 billion years) > > 7. Our sun has been found to be shrinking. if one Projected this back >in time on a linear curve, 1 million years ago the sun would have made life on >earth impossible because of its great size and radiation. So the sun appears >to be much less than 1 million years old. (3) [THE ORIGINAL OBSERVATIONS OF THE SUN'S DIAMETER (BY REMEASURING THE SIZE OF THE SHADOW CAST DURING AN ECLIPSE) HAS BEEN REVERIFIED IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS (SEE ASIMOV'S NEWSPAPER COLUMN, WEEK OF 7/3/88.) NO CHANGE HAS OCCURED. THERE IS OTHER DATA THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE TO THE AUTHOR INDICATING EXPEREMENTAL ERRORS IN THE OB- SERVATIONS--RECONFIGURATIONS OF THE MIRROR OF THE TELESCOPE USED FOR OBSERVATIONS, ERRORS IN TIMING TRANSITS, ERRORS IN TIMING DURATIONS OF ECLIPSES, ETC. THE CREATIONIST ARGUMENT MENTIONS NONE OF THESE AND IS (INTENTIONALLY?) MISLEADING. SEE SCI. AM. 2-3 YEARS AGO FOR A DISCUSSION ON THE "SHRINKING" SUN. ERE] [IT'S MORE LIKE 4-5 YEARS AGO BY NOW, IN THE SCIENCE AND THE CITIZEN COLUMN] The dreaded linear extrapolation....the data here spans a time on the order of tens of years. Extrapolating this back over 1,000,000 years is, well, "iffy". A more probable explanation is a long-period cyclic variation. Note the shift in emphasis being made: "1,000,000 years ago, life on earth would have been impossible, therefore the SUN is less than 1,000,000 years old." How's that again? > 8. As does the Earth, the sun rotates about its axis. However, the >solar wind Emitted from the sun exerts a drag force on this rotation. This >drag should have stopped the sun's rotation within 1 million years of it's >formation. The sun thus appears to significantly less than 1 million years >old. (4) Here is an excerpt from Howard's article: "Moreover, the 'wind' of solar particles that is constantly streaming away into space along the lines of force in the sun's magnetic field exerts a dragging effect that is strong enough to stop the rotation of the convective zone in only one million years." [The convective zone extends only 20% of the sun's radius from the surface...the density increases as you go deeper, and the core and radiative zone account for most of the sun's angular momentum.] "Since the dragging force of the solar wind is not strongly slowing the rotation of the convective layer, much of the force must be expended in slowing the denser matter below the convective layer, although not necessarily the matter in the core." Howard goes on to explain how the magnetic field lines are "rooted" in the deeper, more rapidly rotating layers below the photosphere. Indeed, there are other forces at work: the sun's rotation rate has been observed to be *increasing* recently! From the same article: "Spectroscopic determinations of the rate of the sun's rotation have shown that it changes frequently. Over weeks or months the equatorial rotation rate may vary from the average by as much as 5 percent. [...] Over the past few years the spectroscopic data from Mount Wilson have shown a general tendency for the rotation rate to increase as solar activity has declined from the most recent [as of 1975 -jwl] maximum of the 11-year solar cycle in 1969." This is consistent with small periodic variations in the sun's radius, although Howard is cautious about claiming any definite correlations between the rotation rate and the phase of the solar cycle. [THE CREATIONIST AUTHOR HAS INTENTIONALLY DISTORTED THE ARGUMENT BY SELECTIVELY QUOTING. HE HAS ALSO MISSTATED THE CONCLUSIONS DRAWN. THIS IS DISHONEST AND WEAKENS THE CREDIBILITY OF ALL HIS ARGUMENTS. ERE] > 9. Short period comets (Halley's Comet, for example) should break up >and fall into the sun in less than 10,000 years. Since we still see short >period comets, their age must be less than 10,000 years. Yet comets are >thought to be the same age as the solar system. Therefore the solar system >must be less than 10,000 years old. (1) They would break up, yes, but "fall into the sun"? (The volatile substances boil off and the object ceases to be a "comet" because the coma and tail no longer appear, but the solid material remains in orbit.) Comets are thought to come from the "Oort cloud", which consists of material left over from the formation of the solar system that never accreted into planets. It's far enough away from the sun (possibly as far as 2 light-years) that the volatiles are preserved. Gravitational perturbations from nearby stars can cause an object in the Oort cloud to fall in towards the sun, resulting in a long-period comet; if the comet makes a close approach to a planet (usually Jupiter) it may be "captured", and turn into a short-period comet. [THE CREATIONIST ARGUMENT SHOWS A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF ELEMENTARY SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES, OBSERVATIONS AND CURRENT SCIENTIFIC THEORIES. ERE] > 10. The Poynting-Robertson Effect gradually separates large and small >particles in solar system dust clouds. Meteor showers are caused by the earth >passing though such clouds. Yet the amount of separation exhibited by the >Gemini meteor shower indicated ages of not more than 10,000 years. Other >meteor showers have no separation of large and small particles, indicating a >more recent origin of 5,000 to 6,000 years. (1) Meteor showers occur when the earth's orbit crosses that of a short-period comet (which are indeed transient objects). [AND ARE *NOT* DUST CLOUDS. ERE] For example, Halley's comet is associated with two meteor showers, which occur at the two points in Earth's orbit which intersect the orbit of comet Halley: the Eta Aquarid shower, peaking on May 4, and the Orionid shower, peaking on October 21. [ADDITIONALLY, THE COMETS GENERATE THE DUST AS THEY APPROACH THE SUN. COMETS AND THEIR ASSOCIATED METEORS AND DUST ARE *NOT* AS OLD AS THE SOLAR SYSTEM (SEE THE OORT CLOUD COMMENT ABOVE). AGAIN, IGNORANCE OF ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES. ERE] [NOTE THAT _THIS TIME_ HE GOT THE P/R THEORY RIGHT...NOW THAT IT SUPPORTS HIS ARGUMENT] > 11. The dust of the solar system is thought to have been formed with >the solar system. Most of our solar system's dust should have been gone in >less than 15 million years due to the combined effect of the Poynting- >Robertson Effect and the sweeping up of the sweeping up of particles by the >planets. The average size and the position of the dust still in the solar >system indicates that most of the dust must be less than 10,000 years old. (1) This is the same dust which is responsible for meteor showers. It is continually replenished from the Oort cloud via comets. ADDITIONALLY, THE POYNTING-ROBERTSON EFFECT (DISPERSION OF DUST BY GRAVITY OF THE SUN) IS DEPENDENT ON THE SIZE AND MASS OF THE PARTICLES AND CANNOT BE APPLIED TO PARTICLES OUTSIDE OF A NARROW RANGE. [THE SMALLER DUST ALSO COMES FROM COLLISIONS BETWEEN ASTEROIDS AND FROOM CLOOISIONS BETWEEN LARGER [METEROIC] DUST PARTICLES] > 12. Titan, a moon of Saturn, has an atmosphere of methane gas which is >being lost due to the moon's small size. In 20 million years it should have >lost all of it's methane. since it still has much methane, Titan appears to be >significantly less than 20 million years old. (5) No date is given for this citation, but it appears to be based on pre-Voyager data. Titan's atmospheric pressure is about 1.6 atm at the surface, where the conditions are near the triple point of methane. There is probably a large reservoir of liquid or frozen methane at the surface, which could replenish the atmosphere through evaporation or sublimation. (_Astronomy_, vol 11, #12 (Dec 1983), p. 10) > 13. Jupiter's ring is tenuous and should have lasted for only a few >million years. The existence of the ring about the planet indicates that >Jupiter and its ring, which are thought to have simultaneous origins, must be >less than a few million years in age. (6) Jupiter's rings could be a transient phenomenon; this has nothing to do with the age of the universe. (The wording should be more like "..are hoped by creationists to have simultaneous origins...", because the reference ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ cited makes no such claim!) Here is an excerpt from the article this ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ information was taken from: "It also means that the ring is made of fine particles, posing severe difficulties for planetary scientists. A ring made of fine material is removed very quickly by a number of natural processes; no ring where Jupiter's ring is could last more than a few million years. And yet -- there it was. Is the ring always there, or is it the result of some one-time event that mankind is lucky enough to have seen? Might the ring be renewed continuously, perhaps, by a supply of material from (where else) Io?" (6) THIS WAS WRITTEN BEFORE THE EFFECTS OF JUPITER'S MOONS ON STABIL- IZING THE RINGS WERE KNOWN. SEE (AGAIN) SCI AM, LAST FEW YEARS > 14. The rings of Saturn have been observed to be widening. It would >take 1 million years for them to spread out into a thin veil, one particle >thick. Calculations show that Saturn's rings (and Saturn as well, because the >planet and its ring are thought to be of the same age) are less than 500 >million years old. (1) Another unfounded linear extrapolation...and again, a few decades (years? months?) of observations are being used to extrapolate 1,000,000 years into the future. Also, the claim seems to be that Saturn's rings will dissipate in 1,000,000 years...this says nothing about how long the rings have *already existed*! And, as is the case with Jupiter, the rings could be a transient phenomenon anyway, so this says nothing about the age of the universe. > 15. Radioactive elements with short half-lives (that is they break down >quickly) have been found on the moon. If the moon was 4.6 billion years old, >as most Cosmogonists believe, then these elements should have been completely >gone. The list of elements included Neptunian 237 which has an half-life of >2.2 million years. The moon thus appears to be less than 22 million years old. >(7) Elements with short half-lives can be continually replenished by decay of other radioactive elements, with much longer half-lives. The amount of any radioactive element present in a sample is proportional to the amount that was there when the sample was formed; even if they were never replenished, the rapidly-decaying elements would not be "completely gone". They certainly will not be found in abundance, but traces will remain even after many half-lives have elapsed. [ALSO, CONSIDER THE POSSIBLE TRANSMUTATION EFFECTS OF COSMIC RAYS ON THE LUNAR SOIL. ERE] > 16. Dust continuously falls on our moon. At the rate it is now >accumulating, A 2-mile depth of dust should have accumulated in a 4.6 billion >year history. The 1/8" to 3" depth of dust observed by Apollo astronauts >indicates an accumulation for only 8,000 to 10,000 years. (1) [PAPER IS DATED 1980] [THIS IS BASED ON DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATION OF ANOTHER SCIENTIFIC PAPER. MORE DETAILS IN ANOTHER EXTRACT. ERE] What about geological activity during the moon's history? Lava flows (from meteorite impacts or volcanoes) would get rid of the dust. There are also cementing effects which would turn the dust into rock. There is question as to the accuracy of the figure for dust accretion rate; other researchers have obtained figures consistent with the Apollo observations. > 17. The moon has been observed to be moving away from the earth at >about 4 centimeters per year. At this rate the earth-moon pair would have to >be less than 1 billion years in age. (8) Another spurious linear extrapolation...this is due to angular momentum transfer between the earth's rotation and the moon's revolution due to tides. (The tidal bulge rotates with the earth, because of frictional drag, and pulls the moon along with it, so the moon is being accelerated into a higher orbit.) This effect is definitely non-linear over the timespan claimed. > 18. The earth's magnetic field has been observed to be decreasing in >intensity. Projecting this rate back into the past, the field would have been >strong enough to prevent life as recently as 10,000 years age. (9) Spurious linear extrapolation. You can get some mighty strange results fitting a straight line to a small part of a sinusoidal curve! (The earth's magnetic field has reversed polarity many times in the past.) [I THINK THERE ARE MORE DETAILS IN ANOTHER EXTRACT, SHOWING THE ACTUAL PATTERNS (NONLINEAR) OBSERVED. ERE] > 19. Helium gas is produced by radioactive decay and upper atmosphere >cosmic ray bombardment. If the earth were billions of years old, the isotope >ratio of helium produce in this manner would swamp out the ratio existing the >the atmosphere. The ratio we currently observe would indicate an age of no >more than 10,000 years for the beginning of earth's radioactive decay and >solar bombardment, both considered coincident in time with the earth's >origin. (10) Isotope ratios? Well, my copy of Tipler (_Modern Physics_) gives: Element Mass Number %abundance half-life (* means radioactive) He 3 .00013 - 4 ~ 100 - 6* - 0.81 sec He 4 is produced by alpha decay (I don't know what mechanism is responsible for the existence of He-3), and He-6 is unstable, so the isotope ratios are exactly what one would expect. Helium nuclei are also found in the solar wind...which had not yet been discovered in 1957, the publication date of the reference cited! This would tend to negate any arguments made at that time about helium isotope ratios and the age of the earth. [DESPITE THE AGE OF THE REFERENCE, THE CREATIONIST HAS MADE NO MENTION OF MORE MODERN DATA THAT MIGHT SUPPORT (OR REFUTE) HIS CASE. THIS INDICATES A POOR UNDERSTANDING OF RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AS WELL AS EITHER A LACK OF BASIC KNOWLEDGE IN ASTRONOMY OR OUTRIGHT DISHONESTY. ERE] > 20.Plutonium 244 is a radioactive element with a very short half-live. >Its existence in the earth crust indicates that the earth should be less than >760 million years old. (7) The half-life of Pu 244 is 76,000,000 years...hardly "very short"! Apparently the reasoning here is to take the half-life, multiply it by 10, and use that as an upper bound for the age of the sample. I wonder what they'd make of the 10.8 minute half-life of neutrons? > 21. Carbon 14 yield nitrogen 14 when it decays. If the earth were more >than 30,000 years old, carbon 14 would be in equilibrium with nitrogen 14, and >yet it is far out of equilibrium. No citation or explanation given. What is meant here by "equilibrium"? If this is supposed to mean that the C-14 would all have decayed to N-14 by now, remember that C-14 is continuously being produced in the upper atmosphere by cosmic ray bombardment. > 22. Oil and gas are trapped beneath the earth's surface at very high >pressure. This pressure is gradually being release through the covering >rocks. If the earth were more than 10,000 years old, the pressure would have >been already completely release. (11) If you accept the rate of pressure release as constant (unlikely), at best this only means the pressure will be completely released 10,000 years in the future! Nothing is said about the conditions 10,000 years ago, from which they're trying to extrapolate....and this only is relevant to the age of the oil and gas deposits, not the earth itself. (I'm still trying to understand how the pressure could ever be "completely released" as long as the gas and oil were still trapped under layers of rock...) > 23. The velocity of light appears to be decreasing. Fitting a curve to >the available data and extrapolating into the past yields a maximum date for >the origin of light at 6,000 years ago. If this data is correct, the light >from any known object in the universe could reach us in less than 6,000. And, >if the speed of light has been changing, then so have the radiometric decay >constants - in direct proportion. All Radiometric dates would then be >correctable down to less than 6,000 years! (12) "Maximum date for the origin of light" what criterion? They appear to be extrapolating from a trend in experimental error...astonishing! [SEE ALSO THE EXTRACT ON NORMAN/SHETTLESFIELD (?) LATER.ERE] -- Jim Lewis U.C. Berkeley >(1) Slusher, H. S., 1980, Ages of the Cosmos (ICR Technical Monograph No. 9) >Institute for creation Research, San Diego, CA. 76 p. > >(2) Astronomy, Sept., 1979 Vol. 7, No. 6, p. 13. > >(3) Lubkin, G. B., 1979, Physics Today, 32(17):17-19; Science, 208:51-3; >Science, 210:1243-5; Akridge, R., 1980, "The Sun is Shrinking", ICR Impact >Series, NO. 82, 4 p. > >(4) Howard, R., April, 1975, Scientific American, Vol. 232, p. 106. > >(5) Morris, H. M., "The Young Earth", ICR Impact Series, no 17, 4 p. > >(6) "Jupiter", Astronomy, Vol. 7 (1979), No. 9, p. 23 > >(7) Slusher, H. S., 1973, Critique of Radiometric dating (ICR Technical >Monograph No. 2), Institute for creation Research, San Diego, CA. 76 p. > >(8) Hammond, A. l., 6 Dec. 1974 science, Vol. 186, p. 911 > >(9) Barnes, T. B. 1973 Origin and Destiny of the Earth's Magnetic Field (ICR >Technical Monograph No. 4), Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, CA > >(10) Cook, M. A., 26 Jan. 1957 nature, Vol. 179, p. 213 > >(11) Cook, M. A. 1966, Prehistory and Earth Models, Max Parrish, London > >(12) Setterfield, B., 1981, "The velocity of light and the age of the >universe", Ex Nihilo, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 38-48 and no. 3, pp. 56-81 [AT LEAST HE DOESN'T CREDIT THE SETTERSFIELD PAPER TO SRI. THIS WILL BE SIGNIFICANT LATER. SEE THE CRITIQUE ON N_S, LATER. ERE] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: James J. Lippard ( > 17 EVIDENCES AGAINST EVOLUTION > ------------------------------ > By Kevin Martin > > 1. MOON DUST > Meteoritic dust falls on the earth continuously, adding up to >thousands, if not millions, of tons of dust per year. Thousands of tons (11,000-18,000) per year, not millions. A figure in the millions of tons was used by creationist Harold Slusher based on a 1960 estimate calculated from mountain-top level. More recent and more accurate measurements are space-based. (See Strahler 1987, p. 144 for details and references.) > Meteoritic material contributes nickel to the oceans. Taking >the amount of nickel in the oceans and the supply from meteoritic >dust yields an age figure for the earth of just several thousand >years, not the millions (or billions) expressed by evolutionists. Taking the amount of nickel in the oceans and the supply from meteoritic dust gives no age at all, since there are processes removing nickel from the oceans as well as adding them. (See Strahler 1987, pp. 144, 149-150.) > 2. MAGNETIC FIELD > The earth's magnetic field is decaying rapidly, at a constant >(if not decreasing) rate. At this rate, 8000 years ago the >earth's magnetism would have equaled that of a magnetic star, a >highly unlikely occurrence. Also, if electric currents in the >earth's core are responsible for the earth's magnetism, the heat >generated by these currents 20,000 years ago would have dissolved >the earth. This argument is promoted by creationist Thomas Barnes. He ignores two things which destroy his argument: 1. The decrease in the dipole component of the earth's magnetic field is accompanied by an increase in the nondipole component. 2. Numerous magnetic reversals are known to have occurred in earth's history. > 3. FOSSIL RECORD >contributing to the fact of special creation. Let's take a look >at Archeopteryx, a fossil that some evolutionists claim to be >transitional between reptile and bird. Creationists have made two responses to Archaeopteryx: 1. It is 100% bird (the most common response). 2. It is a dinosaur which had feather impressions added to it (the Hoyle/Wickramasinghe hoax charge). The fact that creationists find both views plausible goes to show the transitional nature of the fossils. > Archeopteryx is discussed in evolutionist Francis Hitching's >book, The Neck of the Giraffe - Where Darwin Went Wrong. Hitch- >ing speaks on six aspects of Archeopteryx, following here. > (The following six points are quoted from Luther Sunder- >land's book, Darwin's Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems, pp. >74-75, the facts of which points he gathered from Hitching's >book.) > > 1. It had a long bony tail, like a reptile's. > > In the embryonic stage, some living birds have > more tail vertebrae than Archeopteryx. They later fuse > to become an upstanding bone called the pygostyle. The > tail bone and feather arrangement on swans are very > similar to those of Archeopteryx. One authority claims > that there is no basic difference between the ancient > and modern forms: the difference lies only in the fact > that the caudal vertebrae are greatly prolonged. But > this does not make a reptile. > > 2. It had claws on its feet and on its feathered fore- > limbs. > > However, many living birds such as the hoatzin in > South America, the touraco in Africa and the ostrich > also have claws. In 1983, the British Museum of Natural > History displayed numerous species within nine families > of birds with claws on the wings. > > 3. It had teeth. > > Modern birds do not have teeth but many ancient > birds did, particularly those in the Mesozoic. There is > no suggestion that these birds were transitional. The > teeth do not show the connection of Archeopteryx with > any other animal since every subclass of vertebrates > has some with teeth and some without. > > 4. It had a shallow breastbone. > > Various modern flying birds such as the hoatzin have > similarly shallow breastbones, and this does not dis- > qualify them from being classified as birds. And there > are, of course, many species of nonflying birds, both > living and extinct. > Recent examination of Archeopteryx's feathers has > shown that they are the same as the feathers of modern > birds that are excellent fliers. Dr. Ostrom says that > there is no question that they are the same as the > feathers of modern birds. They are asymmetrical with a > center shaft and parallel barbs like those of today's > flying birds. > > 5. Its bones were solid, not hollow, like a bird's. > > This idea has been refuted because the long bones of > Archeopteryx are now known to be hollow. There are many more reptilian features of _Archaeopteryx_ than these (see McGowan, 1984, pp. 116-117 for a list). The fact that creationists can find some birds which have one or two of these features does not make their case. > 6. It predates the general arrival of birds by millions > of years. > > This also has been refuted by recent paleontological > discoveries. In 1977 a geologist from Brigham Young > University, James A. Jensen, discovered in the Dry Mesa > quarry of the Morrison formation in western Colorado a > fossil of an unequivocal bird in Lower Jurassic rock. > This deposit is dated as 60-million years older than > the Upper Jurassic rock in which Archeopteryx was > found. He first found the rear-leg femur and, later, > the remainder of the skeleton. This was reported in > Science News 24 September 1977. Professor John Ostrom > commented, "It is obvious we must now look for the > ancestors of flying birds in a period of time much > older than that in which Archeopteryx lived." I don't know much about this. Creationists usually use Protoavis as the earlier bird example now, even though there is much dispute about whether the fossil is really a bird. > And so it goes with the fossil that many textbooks set forth >as the best example of a transitional form. No true intermediate >fossils have been found. Totally false. For a list of many transitional forms, see Cuffey, 1984. > In a letter to Luther Sunderland, dated April 10, 1979, Dr. >Colin Patterson, of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote: > > "...I fully agree with your comments on the lack of di- > rect illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. > If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly > have included them. You suggest that an artist should be > used to visualise such transformations, but where would > he get the information from? I could not, honestly, pro- > vide it, and if I were to leave it to artistic licence, > would that not mislead the reader?" > > Just think of it! Here is a man sitting amidst one of the >greatest fossil collections ever and he knows of absolutely NO >transitional fossils. So convincing I believe this quote to be >that it will sum up this discussion on fossil evidence. Patterson has complained about Sunderland misrepresenting his views. He has some minority views about how taxonomy is to be done which underly the above remarks, but he is a firm believer in evolution. > 6. SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS > The second law of thermodynamics states that although the >total amount of energy remains constant, the amount of usable >energy is constantly decreasing. This law can be seen in most >everything. Where work is done, energy is expelled. That energy >can never again be used. As usable energy decreases, decay in- >creases. Herein lies the problem for evolution. If the natural >trend is toward degeneration, then evolution is impossible, for >it demands the betterment of organisms through mutation. > Some try to sidestep this law by saying that it applies only >to closed environments. They say the earth is an open environ- >ment, collecting energy from the sun. However, Dr. Duane Gish has >put forth four conditions that must be met in order for complex- >ity to be generated in an environment. > > 1. The system must be an open system. > 2. An adequate external energy force must be avail- > able. > 3. The system must possess energy conversion mecha- > nisms. > 4. A control mechanism must exist within the system > for directing, maintaining and replicating these > energy conversion mechanisms. > > The second law clearly presents another insurmountable barrier >to evolutionary idealism. Dr. Duane Gish was challenged in a debate on June 27, 1989 by Edward Max to precisely specify how evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Gish verbally accepted the challenge; he accepted it in writing on August 28, 1989. He has yet to come up with his answer to the challenge. (See "Announcing a Possible New Debate," _Creation/Evolution_ XXVII(Summer 1990):53-55.) > 9. PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIA > Seeing the problem of gradual evolution with the fossil re- >cord, and the obvious abrupt appearances of species, Drs. Stephen >Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge have formed the theory of punctuated >equilibria. Punctuated equilibria, is, by example, a bird giving >birth to a mammal, thus leaving no transitional fossils in the >geological record. This is, of course, gross misrepresentation of punctuated equilibria. > 10. HOMOLOGY/MOLECULAR BIOLOGY > Homology is the similarity of structures between different >types of organisms. Some have argued that these similarities are >evidence of one common ancestor. However, as Sunderland points >out, when the concentration of red blood cells is used, utiliz- >ing the ideas of homology, man is more closely related to frogs, >fish, and birds than to sheep. Concentration of red blood cells? What kind of measurement of genetic similarity is that? That makes about as much sense as comparing on the basis of weight, and claiming that humans are more similar to large fish than to small primates. > But now, with the development of molecular biology we are >able to make a comparison of the same cells in different species, >which adds a whole new dimension to homology. Unfortunately, for >the evolutionists, molecular biology does as all other evidences >do: presents greater argument against evolution theory. > In molecular biology, proteins of the same type in different >organisms can be tested for difference in amino acid makeup. The >figure resulting is converted into a percentage. The lower the >percentage, the less difference there is between the proteins. >Dr. Michael Denton, in experiments with Cytochrome C, a protein >that converts food into energy, and hemoglobin, found the follow- >ing. > > Cytochrome C Differences Cytochrome C Differences > > Bacterium to Six Organisms Silkmoth to Vertebrates > to yeast . . . . . . . 69% to lamprey . . . . .27% > to wheat . . . . . . . 66% to carp. . . . . . .25% > to silkmoth. . . . . . 65% to pigeon. . . . . .26% > to tuna. . . . . . . . 65% to turtle. . . . . .25% > to pigeon. . . . . . . 64% to horse . . . . . .30% > to horse . . . . . . . 64% > > Cytochrome C Differences Hemoglobin Differences > > Carp to Terrestrial Vertebrates Lamprey to Other Vertebrates > to bullfrog. . . . . . 13% to human . . . . . .73% > to turtle. . . . . . . 13% to kangaroo. . . . .76% > to chicken . . . . . . 14% to chicken . . . . .78% > to rabbit. . . . . . . 13% to frog. . . . . . .76% > to horse . . . . . . . 13% to carp. . . . . . .75% > > Dr. Denton states, "There is not a trace at a molecular level >of the traditional evolutionary series: fish to amphibian to >reptile to mammal. Incredibly man is closer to lamprey than are >fish." The evidence is clear; evolution is struck another hard >blow! Denton doesn't understand his own data. Percentage difference of these proteins alone doesn't give you enough information to construct a tree. You need to look at the actual structures of the proteins. (See Landau, 1989 and Max, 1986 and 1990.) > 11. DATING METHODS > Many of the radiometric dating methods used for determining >the age of fossils are quite unreliable. Carbon-14 dating is >usually sound within a few hundred years span of time. But there >are exceptions to this. For example, a living mollusk was dated >using the carbon-14 method. The readings said it had been dead >for 3000 years. Even the Institute for Creation Research has argued that C14 dating is accurate for thousands of years, and debunked the mollusk myth. (It's true that a living mollusk was dated to be older than 1600 years, but this is because it was in water known to be contaminated by carbon atoms from dissolved limestone. See Aardsma, 1989.) > Lava rocks from a volcano in Hawaii which erupted in 1801 >were tested, using the potassium-argon method. The readings >showed them to be nearly 3 billion years old. Moon rocks were >tested by various radiometric methods, yielding dates ranging >from 700 million to 28 billion years. Again, there are known sources of contamination in these instances. See Brush, 1983. > Dating methods such as potassium-argon, uranium-lead, and >rubidium-strontium, are based on assumptions. These methods are >based on chemical change (uranium to lead, etc.) where the parent >material (ie., uranium) is converted to the daughter material >(ie., lead) at a known rate, called a half-life. These methods >cannot be trusted on the basis that too little is known. In order >to come up with a correct date, you must know: > > 1. how much of the parent material was in it at the start, > 2. how much of the daughter material was in it at the start, & > 3. if there has been some type of contamination since. > > In obtaining dates now, scientists assume the answers to or >ignore these questions. The fact is that we cannot know how old a >specimen is unless we were there when it was formed. This is false. Isochron dating methods provide a check on these assumptions. See the isochron dating FAQ from > 12. DINOSAURS > Evolutionists insist that dinosaurs died out millions of >years before man appeared. However, there are many reasons to >disbelieve this. There are the stories of animals much like dino- >saurs in the legends of many lands. These creatures were called >dragons. Many times in the recent past, explorers have recorded >sightings of flying reptiles much like the pterodactyl. Human >footprints were found along with those of a dinosaur in limestone >near the Paluxy River in Texas. This is false, and creationists such as John Morris of the ICR and Paul Taylor of Films for Christ who have promoted these claims no longer support them. (See the _Creation/Evolution_ special issue on the Paluxy tracks, XV (1985).) > Also not to be tossed aside is the possibility of dinosaurs >living today. Consider the stories such as the Loch Ness monster >(of which many convincing photographs have been taken). Some have >claimed to see dinosaur-like creatures in isolated areas of the >world. Recently, a Japanese fishing boat pulled up a carcass of a >huge animal that intensely resembled a dinosaur. A group of 1977. It proved to be a basking shark. >scientists on an expedition into a jungle looking for dinosaur >evidence claims that they witnessed one, but their camera was >damaged. However, they tape recorded the roar of the beast. This >recording was checked. The voice patterns on it did not resemble >those of any other roaring. You decide. At any rate, the evidence >that man and dinosaur did live together at one time poses another >problem for the evolutionists. > "But if the dinosaurs lived at the same time as man, they >would have had to have been on the Ark, and that's impossible!" >Is it? The ark was about one and one-half football fields long, >75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall. It had a cubic footage of >1,518,750. There would have been plenty of room on the Ark for >the dinosaurs (especially considering that only a few were of the >enormous size of Tyrannosaurus or "Brontosaurus.") Also, the >Bible states that Noah was to take two of every kind onto the >Ark. Many dinosaurs and reptiles were of the same kind, but much >smaller. Dinosaurs pose no problem for creation science. > > 13. SUN'S DIAMETER > The sun's diameter is shrinking at the rate of five feet per >hour. At this rate, life could not have existed on the earth >100,000 years ago. This figure comes from an inaccurate analysis of data from the Royal Greenwich Observatory by John Eddy and Aram Boornazian in 1979. There have been numerous measurements since then which do *not* confirm this rate, and the creationists themselves have admitted this in their literature (see DeYoung and Rush, 1989). The diameter of the sun is *not* an age indicator. > 15. EARTH'S ROTATION > The spin rate of the earth is slowing one second per year. If >the earth were the billions of years old that the evolutionists >say it is, the centrifugal force would have notably deformed the >earth. This rate of slowing is inaccurate. Its source is Phoenix creationist Walter Brown, who assumed that because a leap second is added to atomic clocks every year or so, that this must be because of slowing in the earth's rotation. (This was recently discussed in, and is also discussed in Strahler, 1987, pp. 146-148.) Brown has admitted that he was wrong, and removed this point from his book of alleged evidence against evolution. I did not address all of the above points, but not because they are unanswerable. The last two points are too weak to deserve response. The river sediment argument is addressed by Strahler. The probability argument has been addressed by numerous people, including Russell Doolittle's contribution to _Scientists Confront Creationism_, edited by Laurie Godfrey. The person who assembled this list has obviously not bothered to research in primary sources or even the creationist literature (which itself refutes some of them, as I've noted above). References Aardsma, Gerald E. (1989) "Myths Regarding Radiocarbon Dating," _Impact_ No. 189 (March). Brush, Stephen G. (1983) "Finding the Age of the Earth: By Physics or By Faith?" In J. Peter Zetterberg, editor, _Evolution versus Creationism: The Public Education Controversy_. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press. (Brush's article was originally published in the _Journal of Geological Education_, January 1982.) Cuffey, Roger (1984) "Paleontologic Evidence and Organic Evolution" In Ashley Montagu, editor, _Science and Creationism_. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DeYoung, Don B. and Rush, David E. (1989) "Is the Sun an Age Indicator?" _Creation Research Society Quarterly_ 26(September):49-53. Landau, Matthew (1989) "Protein Sequences and Denton's Error," _Creation/ Evolution_ XXVI(Winter 1989-1990):1-7. Max, Edward E. (1986) "Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics: Another Argument in the Evolution-Creation Controversy," _Creation/ Evolution_ XIX:34-46. --- (1990) Letter to the editor. _Creation/Evolution_ XXVII(Summer 1990):45-49. McGowan, Chris (1984) _In the Beginning... A Scientist Shows Why the Creationists Are Wrong_. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. Strahler, Arthur N. (1979) _Science and Earth History_. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. >Kevin Martin >4090 Ranchero Dr. >Dorr, MI 49323 >February, 1990 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Stanley Friesen ( >1. Does someone have information on the dating of coral, > lake-bed sediment, ice cores, tree rings etc? My > colleague thinks these methods are extremely unreliable, > or even completely at odds with other dating techniques, > and insists that climatic change in the past would > give spurious indications of an old Earth. All creationists think all dating techniques are unreliable - they have to in order to make their position even remotely plausible. As for the dating methods mentioned, they are generally held to be the *most* accurate of all of them (they are the only ones that come even close to one year resolution). They are not at odds with any other dating method, they complement them rather nicely. In fact tree ring dating has been used to calibrate the carbon-14 time scale. The result is that now the C-14 time scale is extremely accurate back to about 50,000 years. Beyond that none of the detail methods are much good for *dating* anyway, though some may still be used for establishing *local*, *relative* chronologies. (Actually, ice-cores are almost as good as C-14, and can be used further back than any of the others you mentioned) The whole *point* of methods like ice-core and tree ring dating is to adjust for climatic changes! That is why tree ring dating was used to calibrate the C-14 scale (the C-14 scale *is* climatically sensitive, but only at about the 5% level). For times more than about 100,000 years ago only long-term radio-isotope dating, or its derivative forms, is much good (for example Rubidium-Strontium dating, or the less accurate Uranium dating). Related techniques such as fision track dating are really quite useful, especially for particularly large time scales. These longer scale methods cannot be mislead by climatic changes, since they involve non-biotic systems (C-14 is climate sensitive because it is biotically concentrated). And the use of 'isochron' methodology in measuring dates in the other radio-isotope methods reveals any biases or alterations in the rock sample, so there is little sensitivity even to assumptions in modern isotope dating. >2. What is the evidence that radioactive isotopes have > constant decay rates over geological time? A. the fact that the decay rate is constant under *all* conditions in the laboratory today. B. the fact that there is no known mechanism by which it could change. C. the fact that all of the different methods (4 or 5 different isotope systems, with different properties, fission-track dating, realtive dating using the geologic column, ...) agree in all essentials. (if decay rates changed each of the isotope systems would be affected *differently*, and thus give progressively more discordant dates the more different the decay rates). D. the fact that the age of the Earth so determined fits with astronomical estimates of the age of the Sun (based on observations of other stars). Do you want more? >4. I need a debunking of the hydrodynamic sorting theory > of stratification. Hmm, should be easy. The geologic column is not sorted, it is haphazard, and varies widely from place to place. It is not that hard to find what geologists call 'coarsening upwards' sequences (where the heavier sediments ore on top), immediately adjacent to 'fining upwards' sequences (heavier sediments on the botttom). The most extensive coal beds are deep below other sediments, including much sandstone and conglomerate, yet there are also coal beds higher in the geologic column. (The Carboniferous, dated at 300 MY or more, is the main source of coal in North America and Europe, but coal is also known, for instance, in the 55 MY old Fort Union and Tullock formations of Montana and adjacent Canada). The cyclothems, and sea-level cycles found throughout the American mid-west are really striking examples of the non-sorted nature of the geologic column - *repeated* vertical sequences cycling through a not-quite-regular series of rock types many *hundreds* of times (by the time you add all of the cycles up); limestone - shale - sandstone - coal - sandstone - shale - limestone, over and over again. I grew up near hill that was made of two such cycles, Oread Hill in Lawrence, Kansas. If you want more, just pick up any issue of one of the sedimentology journals at the local university library, such as 'Sedimentology', or 'Sedimentary Geology', or 'Journal of Sedimentology'. They are just chock full of detail analyses of how various local bits of the geologic column were formed, combined with articles studying matching systems being formed today. (Sometimes a single article will even compare an ancient and a modern system directly). After a few such article you will see that the structure of the rocks *cannot* be explained by any one single mechanism, and that they correspond far too closely with modern analogues to have been formed in a radically different way. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Alan Feuerbacher Young-earth creationists believe that the earth is less than a few hundred thousand years old. The following infor- mation about ancient varves gives strong evidence that the earth is _at least_ hundreds of millions of years old. _Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery_ [1] describes the fasci- nating discovery in the 1970s of the correlation between ice age climate cycles and variations in the earth's orbit. In the first half of the 20th century Milutin Milankovitch worked out an astronomical theory of how the orbital cycles affected climate. Later, others expanded on his work and correlated climate related data found in ocean bottom sedi- ment cores with the astronomical cycles. The cycles pre- dicted by Milankovitch's theory and discovered in the ocean sediments turned out to have the longest variation at 100,000 years, with shorter variations superimposed at about 41,000, 23,000 and 19,000 years. The book described the confirmation of the correlation: .... According to the expanded version of the astro- nomical theory developed by Mesolella and Kukla, cli- matic oscillations should occur as four distinct cycles: a 100,000-year cycle corresponding to varia- tions in eccentricity; a 41,000-year cycle correspond- ing to variations in axial tilt; and 23,000- and 19,000-year cycles corresponding to variations in pre- cession. In the summer of 1974, Imbrie performed the long-awaited test. Spectral analysis indicated that, as expected, the dominant climatic pulse was a 100,000-year cycle, which appeared on both the iso- topic and the radiolarian spectra as a large peak. But three other peaks--smaller but nevertheless dis- tinct--also appeared on the spectra (Figure 42). On the isotopic spectrum these cycles were 43,000 years, 24,000 years, and 19,000 years long. On the tempera- ture-radiolarian spectrum, they were 42,000 years, 23,000 years, and 20,000 years long. These results were everything for which Imbrie and his colleagues had hoped. Each of the cycles found in the Indian Ocean cores matched the predicted cycles within five percent. That such a coincidence might occur by chance alone seemed highly unlikely. Before long, Nicklas G. Pisias provided additional evidence in sup- port of the astronomical theory. Using a more power- ful spectral method, he found a statistically signifi- cant 23,000-year cycle in core V28-238. CLIMAP inves- tigators--realizing that their isotope records from the Pacific and Indian oceans matched the correspond- ing parts of isotope records already known from other __________________________ 1 John Imbrie and Katherine Palmer Imbrie, _Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery_, pp. 167-173, Enslow Publishers, Short Hills, New Jersey, 1979. __________________________ oceans--felt justified in concluding that the succes- sion of late Pleistocene ice ages had indeed been triggered by changes in the earth's eccentricity, pre- cession, and tilt.... Convinced now that major climatic changes were caused by astronomical variations, and that the 41,000-year and 23,000-year climatic cycles followed systemati- cally behind variations in tilt and precession, Hays, Imbrie, and Shackleton announced their findings in an article in _Science,_ which appeared on December 10, 1976: "Variations in the Earth's Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages." A century after Croll published his theory and 50 years after Milankovitch mailed his radiation curves to Koppen and Wegener, two cores from the Indian Ocean confirmed the astronomical theory of the ice ages. At last, geologists had clear evidence that the motions of the earth in its orbit around the sun triggered the succession of late Pleistocene ice ages. Exactly how this triggering mechanism operated, and why the 100,000-year cycle of orbital eccentricity appeared to be so strongly impressed on the climatic record of the last half-million years were still unknown. But, for the moment, it was enough to know that Milutin Milankovitch, traveler through distant worlds and times, had led the way to solving a major part of the ice-age mystery.... It is amazing that Milankovitch's mathematical theory, first published about 1920, could be so accurately confirmed 50 years later by two independent geological phenomena. This theory was further confirmed in a most unusual way. _The Innocent Assassins_ describes how lake varves of two types form today, and then describes what was found in simi- lar ancient lakes: [2] During the Eocene epoch, a lake basin formed in North America, covering large parts of what are now the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The area had previously been traversed by rivers flowing east, but in connection with the rise of the Rocky Mountains a barrier was formed to the east. Thus arose Fossil Lake, and waxed greater and greater, finally to cover an area of about 13,000 square kilometers, with a depth of up to 100 meters. It was thus about half the size of Lake Erie, and twice that of Great Salt Lake. Judging from the sediments that lie beneath and above those of Fossil lake, it existed for about one-third __________________________ 2 Bjorn Kurten, _The Innocent Assassins_, pp. 88-94, Columbia University Press, New York, 1991. __________________________ of the Eocene epoch. The lake-bottom sediments show a fine lamination with alternating light, lime-rich bands and dark ones containing a great deal of organic matter. There is also rich fossil flora and fauna (especially fish and insects). The flora indicate a climate of a subtropical type with two annual rainy seasons, and if the varves are interpreted on that basis (two dark bands to a year), it can be seen that the entire pile of sediments was formed during a time period of 6.5 million years. According to radiometric dating, the Eocene epoch started about 55 million years ago, and ended about 35 million years ago. Its total duration would then be about 20 million years. One-third of that is 6.7 mil- lion years, or very close to the number of years that can be counted in the lake-bottom silts of Fossil Lake. The agreement is almost too good to be true, but there you are. Radiometric dating is supported by the chronology based on annual varves. The longest consecutive sequence of annual varves that I have happened upon, in a far from systematic search, comes from eastern North America and constitutes about 40 million years. It dates from the later part of the Triassic period and the early part of the Jurassic period, and so has an age of about 220-180 million years before the present. My authority is Paul E. Olsen. The geography of the earth at the beginning of the Triassic period was very unlike that of the present day. All continents were then collected into a single supercontinent, called Pangaea ("all land"). Then began the birth of the Atlantic: a great rift valley running in a northeast-southwest direction started to form. It has its counterpart in the present-day Rift Valley of East Africa, which also marks the place of a future ocean. The Triassic valley, a string of at least thirteen elongated basins, extended from Nova Scotia to North Carolina. In the basins, very fine- grained lake sediments were deposited (forming the so- called Newark Supergroup) with annual laminae, total- ing some 40 million. Parts of the rift valley are now covered by the sea, but the southern part is dry, as are patches further north. The sediments preserve a record of climatic changes, especially an alternation between dry periods, when the water was low, and times of high precipitation and high waterlines. During the former, annual varves tend to be very thin, drying cracks are formed, and there are numerous footprints of reptiles, in some cases so perfectly preserved that you can count the - 4 - scales on the soles. At high water, the drying cracks are absent, and the sediments contain a great amount of organic matter, especially fish remains. As it happens now, these climatic changes are cycli- cal: they tend to return at regular intervals. Their periodicity is complicated, however, because it is a combination of several cycles differing in length. (Each cycle represents a sequence from low through high to low water.) The most important periods are about 25,000, 44,000, 100,000, and 400,000 years in length, respectively. These are figures that cause the geochronologist to smile in recognition. They have to do with changes in the rotation of the earth around the sun, (Note how closely the numbers match those of the Milankovitch cycles previously found for the recent Ice Ages) known from astronomical calculations, and have turned out to drive the climatic changes during the Ice Age as well--that is, during the last two million years or so of earth history. Now the analysis of the Newark Supergroup sediments proves that the same factors affected climates as long as 200 million years ago. And so the geological time scale, originally dated by radiometry, is corroborated by two additional and com- pletely independent methods of study: from analysis of annual varves, and from astronomical observations. The preceding descriptions of the confirmation of the Milankovitch theory and its correlation to ancient lake sed- iment layers is unequivocal evidence that the ice ages really occurred, and that the earth has existed for many hundreds of millions of years. It provides a striking con- firmation of the validity of radiometric dating techniques.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank