Many Christians believe that the age of the earth was determined scientifically 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.
- 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.
- C Wieland, Jesus on the Age of the Earth, Creation 34(2):51-54, April 2012.
- J Morris, The Young Earth, Master Books, 1994, 2007, p 48-59.
- Ibid, p 50-54.
- 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.
- R Milton, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, Park Street Press, 1992, p 47.