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The Bible and Science:
How Old is the Earth?
Whether you are a young-earth creationist or an old-earth creationist, most will agree that the earth appears to be very old. Let us look at the arguments and evidence for young-earth creation.
The Appearance of Age
In 1857 Phillip Gosse wrote Omphalos which means "belly button" in Greek. This was at the time when geologists were saying the earth is very old. He believed that God created the earth to look old. It would have the appearance of age. Adam would have been created as an adult with a belly button. Adult trees would have tree rings.
Some believe that God created all these fossil bones of animals that never really lived in order to test our faith in God. Some believe that scientists are putting these fossil bones together wrong and create monster dinosaurs that never really existed. Others say that Satan created these fossils in order to deceive us.
Are the fossils we find in the ground from real animals or are they fake created by God to test us? Most in the young-earth movement would say that fossils are of real animals which Noahs flood destroyed. Most dinosaurs were buried and turned into fossils as a result of Noahs flood.
Is the "Appearance of Age Theory" valid? Only if you make God a deceiver. Why would God go to all this trouble to deceive us? It would be better to blame it on Satan, but he is not given the power to create the world unless one believes in gnosticism.
First of all, in Genesis 1:11 the Hebrew word avD means young budding plants, not full grown plants or trees (Westermann, 124). Generally avD describes budding young plants of which there are two kinds, plants that are small, and trees which are large. So Genesis 1:11 clearly indicates that there was no appearance of full grown plants and trees.
Now let us look at the supposed evidence of a young earth.
Modern Spores In Grand Canyon Layers!
Clifford Burdick claimed to find Precambrian pollen in ancient layers from the Grand Canyon. Other testing was done that showed there was no pollen. The samples had been contaminated by modern pollen (Chadwick 1981, 7).
If most of the Grand Canyon was formed all at once during Noahs flood, there should be abundant pollen spores in all of the layers, but this is not the case. More information on the Grand Canyon see A Criticism of the ICR's Grand Canyon Dating Project.
Trilobite in Human Sandal Print?
In 1968 William Meister found a trilobite near Antelope Springs, Utah. When he opened the slab he saw an oblong shape that he thought was a human sandal print. Glen Kuban states, "Upon closer inspection the overall shape is seen to consist of a spall pattern in a concretion-like slab, similar to others in the area. There is no evidence that it was ever part of a striding sequence, nor evidence that it was ever on an exposed bedding plane." See The "Meister Print": An Alleged Human Sandal Print from Utah.
Certain data showed that the sun was shrinking. Extrapolations were made back in time to show that the sun would be touching the earth 20 million years ago (Fischer 1996, 77). However, in 1984 Frohlich and Eddy reported the sun was increasing at a linear rate of eight feet per hour. New data demonstrates that the sun contracts and enlarges in a 80 year cycle (Van Till, Young, & Menninga 1988, 53). Before the discovery of nuclear fusion it was thought the sun burned because of gravitational contraction. Even today some young-earth creationists still hold to these false theories and old data (Taylor 1995, 16). For more information see The Legend of the Shrinking Sun.
Did Dinosaurs and Man Live Together?
Roland T. Bird in a 1939 article in Natural History (43:5.254-61) mentioned giant carved human footprints from Glen Rose, Texas. Clifford Burdick refusing to believe the prints were carved, searched and located the prints in 1945. In 1961 pictures of these tracks appeared in The Genesis Flood. In 1970 Stanley Taylor with a film crew dammed up the Paluxy River to produce the film Footprints in Stone which claimed dinosaur and human footprints are found together.
When these tracks were reexamined very closely by Glen Kuban and experts, they were found to be dinosaur tracks not human footprints. Erosion and back fill made some of them look human. When the Taylor trail was followed the prints turned into clear dinosaur tracks. On other prints claw marks were seen. For more information see his WebsiteThe Paluxy Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy. Because of this evidence the film Footprints in Stone was removed from circulation. Dr. John Morris wrote Impact article 151 (1986) stating "none of the four tails at the Taylor site can be today regarded as unquestionably human."
Other prehistoric animals like mastodons were clearly around at the same time as man because arrows, spears and knife marks have been found on the bones, but none of this has been found with dinosaur bones.
There has been much false information given out by Carl Baugh. The human print he bought is clearly a carving. The supposed wood is iron oxide. The supposed human finger is a burrow filling. The large skeleton is just 200-300 years old and not part of the Cretaceous layer. The hammer in the rock is a 19th century miners hammer. His dinosaur claws are actually crocodile teeth. There are no clear human footprints in the Paluxy River except the ones that were carved which are anatomically wrong. Even Answers In Genesis questioned Carl Baugh's views: see the web page What About Carl Baugh? . For more information see Creation/Evolution Issues 15 &17 published by the National Center for Science Education. For Dr. Murray's pictures and views of Paluxy River click here.
Lock Ness Monster?
The most famous picture taken of the Lock Ness monster was in 1934. It has later been revealed that this picture is a fake, staged by a filmmaker named Marmaduke Arundel Wetherell (Ellis, 22). See Nessie Photo Hoax.
There have been other sightings and carcasses that have been mistaken for sea monsters or dinosaurs. In ancient times even up to the eighteenth century people believed in mermaids, but what they were really seeing were Manatees whose face looks human. See our web page Are Dinosaurs Mentioned in the Bible.
Some think that a plesiosaur was caught in the net of a Japanese fishing boat in 1977. While the pictures look impressive, the scientific data points to a decaying basking shark. The carcass was 32 feet long and weighed about 4,000 pounds. Ellis states, "Before the carcass was discarded, one of the crewmen lopped off a piece of a fin, which contained horny fibers (ceratorichia) that characterized the elasmobranchs, and these were later identified as those of Cetorhinus maximus" which is the scientific name for the basking shark (Ellis, 69).
Alwyne Wheeler of the British Museum of Natural History agrees that this was a basking shark. He states, "Sharks are cartilaginous fish. When they start to decompose after death, the heads and gills are the first to drop from the body; fishermen have been foiled by the similarity of shark remains to a plesiosaur" (Ellis, 68-9).
Dr. Petit showed how the soft tissues of a basking shark decompose into the shape of a plesiosaur and seem to be hairy. "In the selachians the fibers of the surface muscles break up into whiskers when the skin rots" and seems to be hairy like stiff fur (Heuvelmans 1968, 135).
Glen J. Kuban has written an excellent article entitled Sea-monster or Shark? An Analysis of a Supposed Plesiosaur Carcass Netted in 1977 (Reports May/June 1997). He reveals that the results of the gross amino acid analysis of the fin showed it to be a close match to the basking shark.
Living Mussel Dates 2,000 Years Old by Carbon 14
Carbon 14 dating is very accurate when used properly. The mussel gets its carbon from the limestone in the water and sediments which are low in carbon 14 while a tree gets fresh carbon from the atmosphere. Therefore the mussel will show an artificially older date (Berra 1990, 131).
Calibrated 14C methods have confirmed Egyptian records, and most Aegean dates which were cross dated with Egyptian dates (American Scientist May/June 1982). Contamination in the 14C samples will only give younger dates (Dave Matson's webpage). See also Chris Weber's reply.
Meteoric Dust From Space!
Hans Patterson in 1960 estimated that 14 million tons of dust fall to the earth each year. This would put 54 feet of dust on the moon. However, when satellites were sent up for exact measurements of meteoric dust, they found a much smaller amount of about 16,000 tons of dust per year. The findings from Surveyor 3 which collected meteoric dust for 31 months agree. "The accumulation of meteoric dust on the moon would contribute a layer less than one centimeter thick in four billion years (Van Till, Young, & Menninga 1988, 71). For more information see Accumulation of Meteoritic Dust on the Moon.
Dr. Thomas Barnes wrongly extrapolated back the decay of the earths magnetic field to show the earth is only 20,000 years old (Fischer 1996, 78). The major problem is that the overwhelming evidence shows that there have been many reversals of the earths magnetic field. Morris admits this (p.77), but tries to resurrect Barnes theory through "Surge Tectonics" during the flood (Hayward 1985, 137). For more information see On Creation Science and the Alleged Decay of the Earth's Magnetic Field. Also for more information about magnetic stripes see Magnetic stripes and isotopic clocks.
Wheres All the Salt?
According to Morris the ocean could not be any older than 62 million years because of the salt intake (p.87), yet aluminum shows the earth to be only 100 years old. First of all, the residence time of elements in the ocean does not equal the age of the earth (Van Till, 86). Secondly, he ignores other ways in which salt is removed from the ocean, and up to date information on ocean science (Ibid., 88). For more information see Accumulation of metals into the oceans.
Barry Setterfield wrongly extrapolated that the speed of light is slowing down from incorrect values given to Roemer and Bradley (Hayward 1985, 141). If the right data was used he could have said the speed of light is increasing. Early data was based on primitive methods of measurement.
The idea that God created star light enroute seems to imply a deceptive God. An exploding star is not really exploding, it is just the light God created to fool you. I dont think so! The other idea that the stars are very close is also absurd. Simple geometric measuring by parallax shows the stars are very far away, some 150,000 light years. For more detailed information see The Decay of c-decay
Mt. Saint Helens
The rapid burial and pile up of sediments by the volcanic explosion of Mt. St. Helens is seen as a show case for young-earth creation. If we dug down through this layer, would we find lots of animal tracks, nests with eggs and young in the middle? Yet this is supposedly happened during the flood. There is also not the different colors and kinds of rocks in the Mt. St. Helens sediments as there are at the Grand Canyon which indicate different depositional environments (see also Ross 1994, 110; and Hugh Ross' website at Reasons to Believe.) Also For more detailed information see Coal Beds, Creationism, and Mount St. Helens.
Where Did All the Coal Layers Come From?
The Pennsylvania Period is over 4,000 feet thick in Pennsylvania which contains many layers of sandstone, shale, and beds of coal, which, although they make up a relatively small part of the Pennsylvanian, are one of the most important economic resources of that state.
A world-wide flood would not produce the layering we see in the rocks. A flood mixes things, it does not separate them into discrete layers. Had a global flood occurred, what we would see is a mixture of sand, mud and plant fragments all mixed together.
It is interesting to note that in an abandoned mine near Price, Utah in late Cretaceous rocks, there are dinosaur footprints at the top of the coal seam. Having dinosaur footprints, eggs, and nests in the middle of Noah's flood is very difficult to explain. For more information see Dinosaur Footprints in Coal.
What About Tree Ring Dating?
Most young-earth creationists do not accept tree ring dating. Since they claim the world is only 6,000 years old, you cannot have a tree dating back 8,000 years. However, Gerald Aardsma, formerly of the ICR, published a paper in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 29, March 1993, p. 184-189, entitled "Tree-ring dating and multiple ring growth per year," in which he shows that there is no evidence for multiple rings per year, and that current data show a correlation back to 11,000 ybp.
An important paper was published in "Science" v. 279, Feb. 20, 1998, p. 1187-90, "Atmospheric radiocarbon calibration to 45,000 yr B.P.: Late glacial fluctuations and cosmogenic isotope production" by H. Kitagawa and J. van der Plicht. They cored a lake in Japan that had varved sediment on the bottom. The varves were counted back to 45,000 ybp and the plant fragments in the sediment were analyzed for date by 14C. Young-earth creationists have argued that neither 14C nor varves are valid ways of determining dates. However, when we look at Figure 1 from their paper, which has the number of varves along the x-axis and the 14C dates along the y-axiz, we see a near-perfect correlation between the two methods back to the limit of the 14C method. They match perfectly with the tree-ring data, which are the green data points at the lower end.
Based on a two per cent population growth rate, Morris extrapolates back that it only takes 1,100 years to reach the present population. This would mean the earth is only 1,100 years old, but this is false. The growth rate before 1650 was only .07 per cent (Hayward 1985, 136). For more information see Human population growth.
Interview with Dr. Ronald Numbers who wrote "The Creationists." This is a great book on the history of Creationism in America. Ron tells how he was a young earth creationist until he heard a lecture about the Petrified Forests of Yellowstone National Park.
In spite of Morris’ heroic effort to reinterpret the Petrified Forest of Yellowstone Park, the evidence is clear that a nearby volcano buried 27 forests on top of each other. Some of the trees have up to 400 rings. It took about 20,000 years for this to form (Weber 1980, 28).
In Nova Scotia there is a similar buried forest of tree stumps. In the decayed stumps were nests of animals. This shows there was a long time of decay and then the stumps were used for nests. Noah’s flood could not have done this. For more information see "Polystrate" Tree Fossils.
Ginko Petrified Forest
The Ginko Petrified Forest State Park is in Ellensburg, Washington. There are over 300 different lava flows in this park that buried the differen forests and petrified the trees. This could not have happened during one year of Noah's flood.
Oldest Known Tree "Methuselah"
The oldest known tree still alive is "Methuselah." It is 4,842 years old (in 2011) which makes it the world's oldest known non-clonal organism. It would have germinated in 2832 BC. If Noah's Flood happen in 2,348 BC, then Methuselah was living almost 500 years before the flood. The oldest known tree, Prometheus was cut down in 1964 and germinated in 2880 BC, over 500 years before the flood. Both of these trees are bristlecone pine trees.
Mammoth Site, South Dakota
More than 26,000 years ago, large Columbian and woolly mammoths were trapped and died in a spring-fed pond near what is now the southwest edge of Hot Springs, South Dakota. For centuries the bones lay buried, until discovered by chance in 1974 while excavating for a housing development, earth moving equipment exposed South Dakota's greatest fossil treasure. Fortunately, through the work of local citizens, the Mammoth Site was preserved. Today it is the world's largest Columbian mammoth exhibit, and a world-renown research center for Pleistocene studies. See http://www.mammothsite.com/default.htm
Misused Laws of Thermodynamics
The Second Law of Thermodynamics has been misused by many creationists. They assume that the earth is a closed system, but it is not. The sun is supplying lots of energy. For detailed arguments about this see Frank Steiger’s web site at The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and Probability.
Interview with Dr. Kirk Bertsche about the RATE project, and the Cabon 14 testing of diamonds and coal. See his article at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/carbon-kb.htm
Contrary to what Morris says, radiometric isotopes are the strongest indicators that the earth is very old, unless you assume God is trying to fool us. All the fast decaying isotopes are gone (Ross 1994, 95). If the earth was young, they would still be here. Decay rates are constant even at extreme temperatures of 2000 C or -186 C (Dalrymple 1982, 12).
Certain rocks like xenoliths can not be dated by K-Ar because of excess argon which yields older dates (Ibid., 26). This is seen in the dating of the 1801 flow from Hualalei volcano in Hawaii. For more information see K-Ar dating of Hawaiian lava is wildly inaccurate. Lunar rocks measured by conventional K-Ar can only measure the last heating and impact event, but Ar40/Ar39 and Rb-Sr isochron dating both show the moon to be about 4 billion years old. Most igneous moon rocks are basalt like on earth. There are more similarities than differences. Because the lead compositions of the earth, moon, and meteorites lie along the same isochron gives "convincing evidence that planetary bodies, including the earth, all formed about 4.55 billion years ago" (Ibid., 50). For more information see the Affiliation of Christian Geologists' wWebsite. There are a number of good articles at A Radiometric Dating Resource List.
Flood Geology believes that most of the layers of rocks we see are a result of Noah's flood.
Chris Weber's response: The Fatal Flaws of Flood Geology. Flood Geology is impossible because of:
- Desert Deposits
- Fossil Forests
- Earth's Crust
- Coral Reefs
- Evaporites & Shales
- Fossil Species (not mixed)
The Bible Declares the Earth is Old!
Whatever the evidence may be, the Bible clearly states that the earth is old! Habakkuk 3:6 states:
He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.
Should not have Habakkuk said that the mountains and hills were formed during Noah’s flood? (Fischer 1996, 82).
Berra, Tim. 1990. Evolution and the Myth of Creationism. Standford: University Press.
Chadwick, A.D. 1981. "Precambrian Pollen in the Grand Canyona Reexamination" Origins 8:7-12.
Dalrymple, G. Brent. 1982. "Radiometric Dating, Geological Time, and the Age of the Earth: A Reply to 'Scientific Creationism'" Open-File Report 86-110, U.S. Geological Survey.
Fischer. Dick. 1996. The Origins Solution. Lima: Fairway Press.
Frohlich, C. & J.A. Eddy. 1984. "Observed Relations Between Solar Luminosity and Radius" (a paper presented at conference of the Committee of Space Research in Graz, Austria).
Godfrey, Laurie. 1983. Scientists Confront Creationism. NewYork: W.W.Norton & Company
Hayward, Alan. 1985. Creation and Evolution. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers.
Kuban, Glen. 1997. "Sea-monster or Shark? An Analysis of a Supposed Plesiosaur Carcass Netted in 1977." National Center for Science Education Reports May/June, 16-28.
Morris, John D. 1994. The Young Earth. Glen Forest: Master Books.
Ross, Hugh. 1994. Creation and Time. Colorado Springs: Navpress.
Stoner, Don. 1997. A New Look at an Old Earth. Eugene: Harvest House.
Strahler, Authur. 1999.Science and Earth History. Amherst: Prometheus Books.
Taylor, Paul. 1995. The Illustrated Origins Answer Book. Gilbert:Eden Communications.
Van Till, Young, & Menninga. 1988. Science Held Hostage. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Weber, Christopher. 1980. "The Flaws of Flood Geology." Creation/Evolution I:24-37.
Wonderly, Daniel E. 1987. Neglect of geological Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings. Hatfield: Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute.
Aurthur N. Strahler's book Science and Earth history is an excellent book covering all the major young-earth creationists arguments. Hayward's book Creation and Evolution, and Hugh Ross' book Creation and Time are very good. For more information about other books and links see the Age of the earth? Website.