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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 8

Is The Earth Old?

The issue that has most affected the professing Christian church is the claim by science that the earth and universe are billions of years old. But upon what basis do they make these claims? Does the evidence compel such a belief? I make no claim to being a scientist although I find science fascinating but I would like to offer a number of examples which were consistently taught to me as I grew up as proof that the earth is old. Let’s see how the evidence holds up.

Dating Rocks

Perhaps the most common proof offered for an old earth is the dating of rocks. Simply put, there are radioactive substances in some kinds of rocks. These radioactive substances decay over time and turn into other substances. For example, most people who have been exposed to much science have learned that uranium changes over time into lead. There are other such examples that are more commonly used to date rocks but since so many have heard of the uranium-lead combination I’ll use it as an example.

Operational science has determined that uranium changes into lead at a certain rate. Radioactive elements like uranium have what is known as a half life. That simply means that over a certain period of time one half of it will become lead. The half life for uranium has been determined to be in the range of billions of years. Based on that knowledge scientists carefully measure the amount of uranium and lead in a given rock sample and calculate its age based on that known rate of decay. Sounds “rock” solid, doesn’t it! But is it?

Assumptions

When such a conclusion is drawn there are, in fact, at least six things that are assumed to be true. That is, they are believed to be true yet cannot be proven. What are they? Well, in the first place how do they know how much uranium and lead there was to begin with? No one was there to measure it! How can they read a “clock” and determine how much time has gone by if they don’t know what time it was to start with?! The type of measurement described above assumes that whatever lead there is in a rock was all uranium to begin with. Exactly how do they know that?

They are also assuming that no uranium somehow left the rock along the way. They are also assuming that no uranium entered the sample. They are assuming the same two things about the lead they find. On top of that they are assuming that the rate of decay has never changed. That makes six assumptions that their conclusion rests upon! And those assumptions don’t all have to be false for the conclusion to be meaningless. It only takes one!

I remember awhile back hearing the testimony of a college Biology professor who was converted from atheism and evolutionism to Christ and a strong belief in the Genesis account of creation. This transformation took something like three years as one by one, different issues were confronted. The last issue was faced in a graduate course in geology that among other things dealt with radiometric dating (what we described above). This scientist testified to his fear upon entering the course that he would find solid evidence refuting the Genesis account. However, as the course progressed, he discovered just how flawed these dating methods are and in the end his confidence in the Genesis account was actually strengthened by his exposure to the course!

Dirty Secrets

I should point out some of the “dirty secrets” of this dating method. Labs have been known to ask a scientist submitting a sample, “What sort of date are you expecting?” The same test run on different samples from the same source often gives widely varying results. Different types of tests run on samples from the same source also can give even more widely varying results. When scientists obtain unexpected results they will often simply throw those results out as unreliable. When they get the result they want and are expecting they declare the date “proven.”

Even so it is difficult for a layman hearing the claims of science to gainsay them. What do we know? Wouldn’t it be nice if some fully qualified scientists were to run tests on some rocks where the age is definitely known? That would be great, wouldn’t it! Well, guess what! Such tests have been done and the results are enlightening.

Examples

Here are some examples of such tests. I will first list the place, followed by the date the rock was formed from volcanic lava flows, followed by the age determined through radiometric dating by the same labs used by evolutionary scientists.

Mt. St. Helens, Washington — 1980-1986 —tests run on samples collected in the early 1990s produced ages ranging from 350,000 years to 2.8 million years!

Mt. Edna, Sicily — 122 BC — 170,000 - 350,000 years old.

Mt. Edna, Sicily — 1972 — 210,000 - 490,000 years old. (How come the more recent lava flow is older?!)

Hualalai, Hawaii — 1800-1801 — 1.44 -1.76 million years old.

Mt. Ngauruhoe, New Zealand — 1954 — 3.3 - 3.7 million years old.

Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii — 1959 — 1.7 - 15.3 million years old.

Sounds reliable, doesn’t it! Not only are the laboratory ages amazingly off but the results themselves vary widely. And there are a number of other issues with standard dating methods that have been turned up by scientists examining the reliability of those methods. Nevertheless examples like those above should be enough for the Christian layman to realize that he doesn’t have to tremble before the pronouncements of science regarding the ages of rocks. Quite obviously, some assumptions made by secular scientists are simply wrong and the results are therefore, meaningless.

Think with me for a moment just why it is that those scientists make such assumptions. Why, for example, when confronted with a rock sample containing uranium and lead do they assume it was all uranium to begin with? Such a conclusion is not an illogical one, but that logic begins with a prior belief in naturalism. That belief is the starting point for looking at the world and interpreting its past.

They observe a natural process happening at a known rate and assume, therefore, that this process can be projected back in time to a beginning point when there was no lead and the uranium in a newly-formed rock began the long process of changing into lead. But no matter how logical this seems it is still basically a belief and not a fact. And not only is this belief not proven, the examples listed above contradict it. If rocks of known age cannot be dated accurately then how can dates derived from rocks of unknown age be trusted?

A Sobering Thought

Here is a sobering thought: when Christians simply accept at face value the pronouncements of science about the age of the earth, etc., what they are actually doing is agreeing with the idea that atheism is the correct starting point for understanding earth’s history! Think about it. Instead of attempting to fit their millions of years into God’s Word what we should be doing is rigorously examining and questioning science. If we do not, are we not setting the beliefs of men above the Word of God? It’s a scary thought.

Fossils

What about fossils? If you were taught as I was, you learned that fossils take millions of years to form. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. One method of fossilization, or petrification, is readily observable and involves mineral-rich water. In Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England, there is a famous Petrifying Well where objects suspended in its flowing water are turned to stone in a matter of months. One common type of object petrified at this well is a Teddy Bear! Many other kinds of items have likewise been petrified.

A similar example can be found in the famous miner’s hat from Tasmania. A miner dropped his felt hat into mineral-rich water in the mine. Some 50 years later it was found and it had turned completely to stone and is currently displayed in a mining museum.

However, most fossils are not of that type but rather found encased in rock. What about them? The fact is that it takes very special conditions for fossils to form. Most animals die and their carcasses quickly fall prey to scavengers or decay. Nothing is left to fossilize. In order to fossilize something it is necessary for some sort of deep and very rapid burial to occur — the kind of burial that occurs during flood conditions. When animals of virtually any type are suddenly buried in just the right type of flood sediment they, or their body shape, will be preserved as stone over time.

But how much time? What about the Ediacara formation in Australia? It stretches some 300 miles and contains millions of fossils. There are, in this formation, large numbers of jellyfish, perfectly preserved. Have you ever noticed just how quickly jellyfish disintegrate when they die, and yet here are vast numbers perfectly preserved! The evolutionist who discovered these jellyfish said they must have been fossilized in less than 24 hours! When conditions are right it doesn’t take long.

There’s plenty of evidence that fossilized animals don’t just die normal deaths and then become fossils. Many examples of virtually instantaneous catastrophic burial can be found. Some of these include one fish swallowing another, a lobster-like creature in the process of shedding its skin, a reptile in the process of swallowing another, enormous numbers of sea creatures such as shellfish suddenly swept in layers hundreds of square miles in size across continents and perfectly preserved. Kind of fits with Noah’s flood, don’t you think!

Most people don’t know that neither fossils nor fossil-bearing rocks can be dated directly. The dates we so often hear claimed for some new fossil find don’t come from a test performed on the fossil but from a chart of earth’s supposed history. Certain rock layers and fossils have been assigned certain ages on paper, the “story” of the history of life on earth—as imagined according to evolutionary theory. All the scientist has to do is simply fit his find to this story, no test needed! And so the news headline confidently proclaims, “100-million-year-old Fossil Found.”

Coal

How about coal? Hundreds of millions of years, right? Well, not exactly. Coal samples that are claimed to be hundreds of millions of years old have been found to contain carbon-14. What is the significance of that? Carbon-14 is an unstable element that can only be detected in the range of thousands of years, not millions. Any carbon-14 in the coal should have long since decayed into nitrogen if the claimed ages are true. Besides that, coal has been produced in the laboratory!

Diamonds

What about diamonds? I remember before my wife and I were married I once got her a humorous gift, a do-it-yourself diamond kit. It was simply a bag of charcoal with instructions to place it under millions of pounds of pressure for millions of years and then cut to size! Fortunately she still married me! But that gag gift illustrates what we were all taught when I grew up, that diamonds required enormous pressure over staggering amounts of time. But is it so?

Today there are at least two commercial companies using two completely different processes each manufacturing gem-quality diamonds in days. It takes very sophisticated equipment to tell the difference between them and regular diamonds from mines. In fact, in one case, the way to tell the difference is that the manufactured diamonds are more perfect! I’m not talking about synthetic diamonds but genuine man-made diamonds.

Besides that, mined diamonds have also been tested and found to have significant amounts of carbon-14 in them, something an evolutionary scientist would never think to look for as it would be impossible in their view of things. I guess the real gag in that gift was on me! It just doesn’t take that kind of time, just the right conditions.

Opals

Another gemstone is the opal. How long does it take to form an opal? In Australia a “bush scientist” named Len Cram has a lab in his back yard and has learned to grow opals that are indistinguishable from the mined ones! It is evident that he has been allowed to discover one of the Lord’s secrets and that opals don’t take long ages of gradual processes to form. A good-sized opal actually takes about 3 months at room temperature with no pressure or special equipment!

Oil

Then there is oil. Surely that takes millions of years. Hardly! Oil can be created in a laboratory in a matter of hours from common organic materials like garbage and sewage sludge (about anything, really). If men can make oil in hours why should it require millions of years in nature? Oh yes, and carbon-14 has also been found in oil! Are you getting the picture?

Caves

How long does it take for caves to form? Jerry Trout, a cave specialist with the Forest Service, wrote in 1993, “From 1924 to 1988, there was a visitor’s sign above the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns that said Carlsbad was at least 260 million years old. In 1988, the sign was changed to read 7 to 10 million years old. Then, for a little while, the sign read that it was 2 million years old. Now the sign is gone.” It seems the more we learn, the more evident it is that things don’t take as long as we once thought!

Have you seen the stalactites and stalagmites in caves? They are the mineral rock formations that grow down from cave roofs and up from their floors. I remember being told of the immense amounts of time it takes for them to form but the same Jerry Trout mentioned above has, through photo-monitoring, observed them to grow inches in just days. Numerous other examples of rapid growth in these formations have been observed and reported over the years. Again, the speed of formation just depends upon conditions. Nothing mysterious, and nothing that requires millions of years.

Canyons

How about canyons? Eons of time for a river to patiently wear away solid rock, right? That’s what I always heard, but the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 changed many minds. The blast from that eruption drove a large quantity of mud outwards in one direction at an enormous speed and pressure. One result was a canyon one-fortieth the size of the Grand Canyon cut in part through solid rock and formed in hours!

Is it a little bit of water over a long period of time or a lot of water over a little bit of time?! Consider this scenario: Noah’s flood repeatedly washes up great layers of sediment containing billions of sea creatures over the southwestern United States. As the flood ends and the water begins draining off the continents into deepened sea beds a very large lake — the size of several states — is for a time formed. Then its containment is breached and all that water suddenly flows across and through those layers of sediment towards the Gulf of Mexico. A huge “drainage ditch” is formed by the rushing waters and then it finishes hardening as the river left behind flows through the bottom. This scenario for the formation of the Grand Canyon is consistent both with the Bible and with the physical evidence left behind.

Here’s some food for thought: I wonder why most rivers that have been around for awhile don’t carve canyons? Why just the Colorado and a few others—if the standard story is correct?

Rock Formation

What about rock? How long does solid rock take to form? While it is obvious that lava flows can harden into rock in a short time the prevailing view, particularly when I grew up, was that soft sedimentary layers take millions of years to gradually harden into rock. Actually it just takes the right conditions and ingredients—concrete, for example. Bring the right materials and a cementing agent together and rocks can form very quickly.

The mudflows at Mt. St. Helens have quickly turned to rock. Scientists have observed rocks forming in months in a swamp in England. Spark plugs—probably from boat engines—have been found embedded in rock. On display at the Creation Museum at Answers in Genesis is a clock—once again, probably from a ship—that is half embedded in hard rock along with sea shells. Is the clock millions of years old? More and more scientists are discovering that rocks can form very quickly, certainly not requiring the timescale I was taught.

Dinosaurs

Do you remember hearing about the discovery of blood cells in dinosaur bones a few years ago? Not only were blood cells found but also soft stretchy tissue with blood vessels! Dr. Mary Schweitzer, an evolutionist, is the main figure in these discoveries. Did her discovery cause her to question the idea that dinosaurs died out 65 millions years ago? Not at all. Her comment was, “It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But of course, I couldn’t believe it. I said to the lab technician: ‘The bones, after all, are 65 millions years old. How could blood cells survive that long?’” The main interest of the scientists involved since has seemed to be to come up with an explanation for all this that doesn’t contradict what they believe!

A finding like this shouldn’t surprise someone who starts with the Bible’s history. Although the name “dinosaur” is a modern one, not used before the 1800s, the Bible tells us exactly when dinosaurs were created. Are dinosaurs land animals? (Hint: the answer is “yes.”) When were land animals created? How about day six? Then when were dinosaurs created? If you answered, “On day six,” you get an “A.” Now, what did they eat when they were first created (prior to the fall and the entrance of death into the world)? According to Genesis 1:29-30, they ate plants just like all the other animals. See how easy that was!

If you accept the speculations about the “age of dinosaurs” and what they think life was like, and the depictions in movies like “Jurassic Park” then the Bible’s answer seems strange. But if you start with the Bible’s history and then look at all the evidence it fits just fine. Just the other day a story was in the news from China. It seems that villagers in a remote area had, for some time, been digging up “dragon bones” and using them medicinally. Some they boiled and others were ground up and made into a paste. Apparently these bones had been dug up by the ton and sold in area markets for some two decades! Of course, scientists came along and informed the villagers that they were really 100-million-year-old dinosaur bones!

On more than one occasion fresh—not fossilized—dinosaur bones have been discovered in Alaska and other areas of the far north. No surprise to a Bible believer. It simply is an indicator the dinosaurs are much more recent AND perhaps that the climate in the far north was once much different, say, prior to Noah’s flood.

This is a fascinating subject and I encourage anyone interested to pursue answers to the many questions that will arise at websites such as www.answersingenesis.org and www.icr.org. IF dinosaurs are truly extinct—and there are tantalizing hints from a number of remote areas that they may not be completely gone—then it really hasn’t been all that long. Tales of encounters with dragons don’t go back too many centuries.

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