Greetings friends! I have received some very good questions from readers, and I thought the answers may help others, so I am making a short series of feedback on reader questions. The first has to do with RadioDating methods and the age of the earth/dinosaurs/Twinkies/Willie Nelson (and determining which, if any, are older).
A friendly reader asks:
“To do with the dating methods, there are quite a lot of dating methods out there and multiple ways to date something. How is it that if none of these methods work that scientists continue to use them? I feel like if these methods didn’t actually work SOMEBODY would’ve pointed it out and scientists all over the world would’ve stopped using them years ago. Now chemistry is actually my weakest area of science so I don’t quite understand how Carbon dating works or anything that might be wrong with it, but it is a common tool for dating fossils and I feel like most scientists would’ve stopped using it by now if proven inaccurate.”
A great question and worth answering!
Dating methods are based on assumptions. Most scientists probably don’t think about these assumptions and almost no textbooks will ever address these. We are told what happens today (Some chemicals decay), we are told it has always happened (and at the same rate), and based on that, we can date things. When I argue that they don’t work, I do not mean that the science is so bogus that any thinking person should see through it. As presented, it’s actually fairly reasonable. What I mean is, the science is based on assumptions which are entirely untestable, almost always unspoken, rarely examined, and which must be taken on blind faith. More than that, I point out that those very assumptions have been proven false by observational evidence.
As a metaphor- imagine two detectives come upon a lit candle and trying to use science to discover how long it has been burning. There is a law in their town against having a candle burning for more than 24 hours at a time and they need to see if they ought to arrest the owner of the house.
They take some measurements and discover that the candle burns down a quarter of an inch every hour. The candle is exactly 15 inches tall now. How long has it been burning?
In order to answer that, they have to make some assumptions. First, they have to decide how tall it was when it was first lit, since they did not observe it before it was lit. Tom believes it was 18 inches tall, but Carl believes it was 18 feet tall.
Based on that one assumption, Tom concludes that the candle has been burning for 12 hours while Carl concludes that it has been burning for 33 DAYS.
This is the same way in which secular science and Creation science disagree while using the same science and data. We have the same fossils and chemistry but our starting assumptions are very different and so we come to very different conclusions. Both conclusions are based on some assumptions- i.e. faith in something we can’t test directly. So, how do I justify saying the Young Earth Creation position is correct and the Deep Time Evolutionary position is false?
Imagine that Tom finds the box the candle came in and a note from the man who lit the candle which verify his assumption that the candle was 18 inches tall to start. More over, the ceiling in the room is only ten feet high, meaning it is impossible for the candle to have been 18 feet tall- it would not have fit in the room! Additionally, Tom notes that when the heater kicks on, the candle burns twice as fast as it does when the heater is not on. Thus, the previous assumption that the candle always burns at the rate he and Carl measured it was false. It can burn faster that they observed, which changes the outcome. Tom has shown that Carl has made two false assumptions- first that the candle was 18 feet tall (it cannot have been) and second, that the candle ALWAYS burns at the rate they have measured (it has been seen to burn twice as fast). This doesn’t necessarily prove that Tom is right, but it does show that Carl cannot be right.
To explain the metaphor, there is a list of observable data which contradicts the deep time conclusions. For instance, evolutionary paleontologists tell us that dinosaur fossils are between 65 and 300 MILLION years old, but geologists tell us that the continents should have eroded down to sea level MANY TIMES in that much time. So, why do the fossils still exist? Also, we observe that, at the present rate of decay, carbon 14 should not be found in anything more than 100,000 years old, yet we find it in dinosaur fossils. How did they die out 65 million years ago when carbon 14 says they were still living less than 100,000 years ago? Again, this list is long, but suffice it to say, even if you accept the deep time, evolutionary assumptions, the model cannot work. It self destructs even when you grant the untestable assumptions.
The note Tom has found was written for the man’s daughter, and it says, “I lit the candle on the table at 6AM. You can leave it burning, as I shall return home tonight. If you do blow it out, please relight it before you leave, as I shall not return until after dark.”
According to the neighbors, the daughter has already come and gone. She was there all morning, which means it is possible that the candle was blown out and not burning for several hours. This makes Tom realize that the man’s use of the candle this morning may not have been his first use of that candle. The candle was 18 inches tall when FIRST lit, according to the man’s note and the box of candles found in the room, but it may have been FIRST lit days ago and not been burning consistently since being first lit! Realizing that the candle can be lit, blown out, and relit, Tom realizes that the note left by the man is the best clue to discovering how long the candle has been burning since it was last lit. If they can determine when the note was written, they can get an outside estimate for the most time the candle could have been burning that day. If the note is correct, and was written that day, then it could not have been burning for more than 12 hours.
Carl, on the other hand, refuses to accept the note as legitimate. He is skeptical of the author or his intent, and chooses to accept his own observations and measurements, and his own starting assumptions. Furthermore, Carl and Tom have been given instructions by their boss to arrest the man and if they do not, there is a good chance they will both be fired. If they want to keep their jobs, they will turn in Carl’s report. If they each turn in a separate report, Tom will probably be fired and Carl’s report will be published in all of the newspapers anyway. At the end of the day, what most people know about this incident will come from Carl. People who hear Tom’s story and believe it will be mocked as “unscientific.”
One of the reasons scientists still use the methods which I reject is because the establishments which pay them to work insist that they do. If you’ve not seen it, I recommend Ben Stein’s “EXPELLED- No Intelligence Allowed.” It shows what I have seen first hand, which is a blind bias against any evidence which does not support the Evolutionary paradigm. If you discover evidence that goes against the Darwinian dogma, you have two options- suppress it, or lose your job. Papers which do not preach to the Darwinian choir are not published, and scientific papers have been rejected by publications even because one of the editors of the paper was found to be a Creationist, even though the paper itself did not support Creation or argue against Evolution. The prejudice and bigotry in the scientific community and many publications is that ridiculous. I have said for years that it is safer to argue against the existence of God in church than it is to argue against Evolutionism in school. As you say, if the methods used are invalid, then SOMEBODY would have said so- and they have said so for decades. But some have lost their jobs for saying so and others have found that none are willing to listen. The only institutions or individuals who make these arguments are people who feel the argument is worth having, which means people either attacking Darwinian Dogma to defend scientific freedom or defending the Bible because they know people need Jesus. Scientists and science teachers don’t always have the motivation which would encourage them to risk their careers, even if they know the truth, which most probably do not. If you knew Global Warming was a lie and you could prove it with science, but you knew it would get you kicked out of school- would you write a paper on it and turn it in? Probably not.
Because publications are so biased, evidence against the deep time/ Evolutionism is not published, which means those people open minded to it have little chance to encounter the evidence at all. The only places where it is openly published is in Creationary sources like Answers in Genesis, which are themselves dismissed by many as “Unscientific” because they do not accept the Darwinian Dogma, which means their evidence and arguments are not encountered or addressed.
It’s a cultural circular argument: If deep time dating methods were invalid, someone would say so. Answers in Genesis DOES say so. AiG can’t be taken seriously because it is anti-science. How do we know they are anti-science? Because they reject deep time dating methods, and if those methods were really invalid SOMEBODY would say so.
Finally, consider the position this puts the atheist in. If he rejects the Bible but accepts all of the scientific data which shows these Darwinian arguments to be invalid, then what conclusion can he come to? First, he loses the ability to use this so called science to argue against the validity of the Bible. Evolutionism is often used as a tool against the Bible and so many are determined to defend it, no matter how weak or even how indefensible it really is. There are MANY examples of people admitting this in public, but here is one to get you started (See below for more). Published in the scientific journal NATURE in 1999 was this confession, “‘Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.’”
But, surely science is Naturalistic because science has proven that God doesn’t exist? Or that deep time is real, or evolution a fact? Again, our atheist friends provide a useful confession:
“It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
-Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.
If the methods by which we defend deep time are abandoned because they are not scientifically defensible, then the Bible might be true, and that is unacceptable. Also, once you admit the flaws in the methods, how do you determine the dates of anything? There is no better tool available which still provides the dates demanded by evolutionism, so they will use a flawed system until a better one can be found. Comments like this one show up regularly in publication from secular sources (cited here):
“It may come as a shock to some, but fewer than 50 percent of the radiocarbon dates from geological and archaeological samples in northeastern North America have been adopted as ‘acceptable’ by investigators.”
Many in the field admit that these methods are a ruler made of silly putty, but some don’t care or some are merely ignored. I will not say that all or even most scientists are that kind of dogmatically atheist, or even that most have heard about this discussion. Deep time, like evolution is taught, I believe, mainly by people who have NEVER heard the case against it. Most will not even know there is a case against it. They have been told that there is Evolution (science), Deep time (Science) and Big bang (Science) and on the other side there is hysterical, religious, blind-faith anti-science. This is why scientists still use the methods I reject. They simply do not know any better, and for the most part they have little reason to know there is another side to the story. This is what happens when politics gets its claws into science and makes scientific theory into legally protected dogmas. It is science which suffers.
I thank all of you for your questions and I welcome them. As for me, I have heard both sides, I have made it my job to know all of the data and arguments, and I have one very good motivation for teaching you what others want to suppress. The Bible is true, which means this is true:
“For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” –John 3:16
Enjoy some further reading.
- Radio dating methods: See here for details:
- For lots of other quotes, videos, and articles which relate to these topics, just search Creationsoapbox.wordpress.com for “Carbon” or click this link:
3. For more on the acceptance of bad science to reject good theology, see this: https://creationsoapbox.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/evolution-101-part-20a-natural-natural-natural/
4. And because I love a good quote mining, here’s some more real comments from real evolutionists:
“In conventional interpretation of KAr age data, it is common to discard ages which are substantially too high or too low compared with the rest of the group or with other available data such as the geological time scale. The discrepancies between the rejected and the accepted are arbitrarily attributed to excess or loss of argon.”
A. HAYATSU, Dept. of Geophysics, U. of Western Ontario, Canadian Journal Of Earth Science, 16:974.
“In general, dates in the ‘correct ball park’ are assumed to be correct and are published, but those in disagreement with other data are seldom published nor are the discrepancies fully explained.”
R. L. MAUGER, E. Carolina U., DISSENTERS EJECTED, Contributions To Geology, Vol.15 (1): 17
“Why do geologists and archeologists still spend their scarce money on costly radiocarbon determinations? They do so because occasional dates appear to be useful. While the method cannot be counted on to give good, unequivocal results, the number do impress people, and save them the trouble of thinking excessively. Expressed in what look like precise calendar years, figures seem somehow better … ‘Absolute’ dates determined by a laboratory carry a lot of weight, and are extremely helpful in bolstering weak arguments.
“No matter how ‘useful’ it is, though, the radiocarbon method is still not capable of yielding accurate and reliable results. There are gross discrepancies, the chronology is uneven and relative, and the accepted dates are actually selected dates. This whole bless thing is nothing but 13th-century alchemy, and it all depends upon which funny paper you read.”
Robert E. Lee, “Radiocarbon: ages in error”. Anthropological Journal of Canada, vol.19(3), 1981, pp.9-29. Reprinted in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 19(2), September 1982, pp. 117-127 (quotes from pp. 123 and 125)
“There has been in recent years the horrible realization that radiodecay rates are not as constant as previously thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences. And this could mean that the atomic clocks are reset during some global disaster, and events which brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 65 million years ago but, rather, within the age and memory of man.”
Frederic B. Jueneman, FAIC, Industrial Research & Development, p.21, Tune 1982
“It is now well known that KAr ages obtained from different minerals in a single rock may be strikingly discordant.”
Joan C. Engels, DIFFERENT AGES FROM ONE ROCK, Journal of Geology, ,Vol.79, p.609
Situations for which we have both the carbon-14 and potassium-argon ages for the same event usually indicate that the potassium-argon ˜clock did not get set back to zero. Trees buried in an eruption of Mount Rangotito in Auckland Bay area of New Zealand provide a prime example. The carbon-14 age of the buried trees is only 225 years, but some of the overlying volcanic material has a 465,000-year potassium-argon age.
Harold Coffin, Origin by Design, pp. 400.