Did Radiometric Dating determine the age of the earth?

Many Christians believe that the age of the earth was determined Mt St Helensscientifically with radiometric dating. Thus it is scientific fact and should not be disputed. They think Christians who deny that the earth is 4.5 billion years old are the laughing stock of intellectuals. Some even reason that Jesus lived in primitive times and was not aware of modern science that tells us the world is very old.1  

What does modern science have to say about the age of the earth?

Scientists like Henry Becquerel, Wilhelm Roentgen and Marie Curie investigated radioactivity and its decay process.  One of the well known examples is the unstable radioactive element uranium-238 (parent) that spontaneously decays eventually into lead-206 (daughter). Radiometric decay is a proven scientific fact that nobody can deny. 2

Radiometric decay and radiometric dating are not the same thing.

Problems come when the scientific fact of radiometric decay is confused with radiometric dating:

  • It is scientific to determine how much the parent element decayed into the daughter element over a  specific period of time (usually measured in half lives). But it has nothing to do with the age of the rock.
  • The age of rocks cannot be deducted solely from the decay of isotopes. One has to know how much of the parent and daughter elements were present in the rocks initially, and if any parent or daughter isotopes were added or removed by any other process?
  • That can never be done, since nobody knows what the initial conditions were. Thus ‘age science’ has to be augmented by assumptions. It is assumed there were only parent and no daughter isotopes in the beginning.  This assumption (plus some others), means that the age of the earth will always be in the millions. 3   But, and this is the big but, it is not science, but science plus unproven assumptions.

Here are two examples of the accuracy of radiometric dating.

  • About 35 years ago in 1980, Mount St. Helen’s erupted. The lava from the dome was tested by radiometric dating. It gave ages of 340,000 to 2,8 million years. 4  
  • Basalts from Hualalei which erupted in 1801 (about 214 years ago) were tested by radiometric dating. It gave ages of 160 million to 3 billion years. 5

Secular geologists dispute it and claim that their method of age determination is solid and foolproof. The two examples (out of many) prove it is not.

Summary

  • Radiometric decay is not radiometric dating.
  • There was a person present when the earth was formed. His name is Jesus. He does not endorse an old earth. We will be wise to believe Him. He knows the truth.

References

  1. C Wieland, Jesus on the Age of the Earth, Creation 34(2):51-54, April 2012.
  2. J Morris, The Young Earth, Master Books, 1994, 2007, p 48-59.
  3. Ibid, p 50-54.
  4. SA Austin, Excess Argon within mineral concentrates from the new dacite lava dome at Mount St. Helens volcano, Journal of Creation 10(3):335-343, 1996.
  5. R Milton, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, Park Street Press, 1992, p 47.

A Young Earth makes sense

In a previous blogYoung earth we said the Bible is like a treasure map that cannot be added to or taken away from. When people argue about the age of the universe and the earth, they cannot add what they believe ‘science’ teaches about the age of the earth. In this blog we discuss Biblical reasons why the earth is not that old. In a subsequent blog we will discuss why some believe the earth is very old.

The chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11:10-26.  James Barr, then regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, wrote in 1984: ‘ … probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: … the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story.’ 1 It is interesting that only the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are very specific: the person was so old when his first son was born, and so old when he died.,., et cetera.

From this, the late Dr Gerhard Hasel, who was professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology at Andrews University, calculated, from the Masoretic Text, that Abraham was born in about 2170 BC. Thus the Flood occurred at 2522 BC and creation at 4178 BC.2  Dr Hasel agrees with Dr Barr that the Bible supports a young age for the earth. 

Other evidence that supports a young earth: 

Deleterious mutations shortened lifespans. Matthew 19:4 says, ‘…at the beginning the Creator made them male and female…’  From the time of the patriarchs until now lifespans decreased significantly. We don’t want to get into the science of it, but the increase of deleterious genetic mutations explains the shortening lifespans. The human genome could not have survived if humanity is millions of years old.

God stretches a ‘day’ into thousands, not billions of years.  2 Peter 3:8 says, ‘With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.’  Some Bible believers use that verse to ‘prove’ that the creation days in Genesis 1 were millions or billions of years long. Yet it is clear that the Bible ‘thinks’ in terms of thousands of years.

These are only a few of the reasons why young earth believers reject the idea that the earth is billions of years old. In the next blog we will look if there is any Biblical evidence for an old earth, and whether there is a scientific method to determine the age of the earth.

References

  1. Barr, J., Letter to David C.C. Watson, 1984, cited by  J Sarfati, Biblical Chronogenealogies, Journal of Creation, 17(3):14-18, December 2003.
  2. Hasel, G.F., The meaning of the chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, Origins 7(2):53–70, 1980, cited by  J Sarfati, Biblical Chronogenealogies, Journal of Creation, 17(3):14-18, December 2003.

The Untouchable Bible

The age of the earth remains a contentious issue in the Church. Bible barrierBefore we can discuss it, there is a principle we need to look at: the Bible is untouchable. That means nobody, but nobody, has the right to add to or take away from it. Outside data like the old age of the earth, evolution, or even ‘lost’ gospels cannot be imposed on Scripture.

The reason is that the Bible is like a timeless map to a great treasure. All the information on the map is very important. No one is allowed to tamper with it and change the directions. At the universal Great White Throne Judgement, where the eternal destination of all people who ever lived on earth will be decided,1 the following principles will apply:

  • The same data (the unchangeable Bible) was available to all people, whether they lived in 500  or 2050 AD (for those without Scripture, nature and conscience was the guide).
  • If there is not one clear map that shows the Way to God’s glorious kingdom, people will have the right to complain to God. Think of it, anybody facing the very real possibility of an eternity in the lake of burning sulphur, will grasp at the smallest legal straw to escape punishment.

So we can deduct that fair judgement will only be possible in the presence of a clear, fixed, universal set of rules, or ‘constitution’ (the unchangeable Bible).

Jesus tells us, ‘I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.’ 3

Although this verse applies to the book of Revelation, we find the same principle in Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 (‘..do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it…’). Proverbs 30:6 says, ‘Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.’  We can accept that the principle applies to the whole Bible.

Conclusion

Nobody can add outside information to the Bible that people from other times did not have (no one may change the universal, timeless directions on the treasure map). All information about God’s Kingdom must come from Scripture. If people want to argue about the age of the earth, all references must come from the Bible, the ultimate authority. To repeat, ‘outside’ information cannot be forced in, or Biblical information removed.

References

  1. Revelation 20:11-15
  2. Revelation 22:18-19
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