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Dating Methods

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

Radiometric Dating

 


 

Introduction

Regardless where you visit in the study of macroevolution (evolution over long periods of time), you begin reading of matter millions of years old. It may be a fossil or a rock or a planet. How are these dates derived? What is their accuracy?

 

From my readings, I get the feeling that creationists believe our planet is around 10,000 to 20,000 years old. Radiometric dating puts the earth's age in the millions of years.

 

This page looks at the scientific dating methods and attempts to analyze their accuracy through a variety of websites. I will start with excerpts from Wikipedia, pretty neutral, and move on from there.

 

 

 

Radiometric Dating

This article is pretty long and difficult reading. As with other terms associated with macroevolution, providing a good explanation for dating methods taxes the intellect. Below are the initial definition, the various methods and finally some general constraints. Although tedious, this article provides good groundwork for the remaining ones presented on this page.

 

   Radiometric dating is a technique used to date materials based on a knowledge of the decay rates of naturally occurring isotopes, and the current abundances. Various methods exist differing in accuracy, cost and applicable time scale.

 

Fundamentals of radiometric dating

   All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing only in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable. That is, at some random point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will be transformed into a different nuclide by the process known as radioactive decay. This transformation is accomplished by the emission of particles such as electrons (known as beta decay) or alpha particles.

   While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is random, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life, usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques. After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the substance in question will have decayed. Many radioactive substances decay from one nuclide into a final, stable decay product (or "daughter") through a series of steps known as a decay chain. In this case, usually the half-life reported is the dominant (longest) for the entire chain, rather than just one step in the chain. Nuclides useful for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from a few thousand to a few billion years.

   In most cases, the half-life of a nuclide depends solely on its nuclear properties; it is not affected by temperature, chemical environment, magnetic and electric fields, or any other external factors. (Note: The decay rate is not always constant for electron capture, as occurs in nuclides such as 7Be, 85Sr, and 89Zr. For this type of decay, the decay rate may be affected by local electron density. These isotopes are not used, however, for radiometric dating.)

   The half-life of any nuclide is also believed to be constant through time. Although decay can be accelerated by radioactive bombardment, such bombardment tends to leave evidence of its occurrence. Therefore, in any material containing a radioactive nuclide, the proportion of the original nuclide to its decay product(s) changes in a predictable way as the original nuclide decays. This predictability allows the relative abundances of related nuclides to be used as a clock that measures the time from the incorporation of the original nuclide(s) into a material to the present.

   The processes that form specific materials are often conveniently selective as to what elements they incorporate during their formation. In the ideal case, the material will incorporate a parent nuclide and reject the daughter nuclide. In this case, the only daughter nuclides to be found through examination of a sample must have been created since the sample was formed. When a material incorporates both the parent and daughter nuclides at the time of formation, it may be necessary to assume that the initial proportions of a radioactive substance and its daughter are known. The daughter product should not be a small-molecule gas that can leak out of the material, and it must itself have a long enough half-life that it will be present in significant amounts. In addition, the initial element and the decay product should not be produced or depleted in significant amounts by other reactions. The procedures used to isolate and analyze the reaction products must be straightforward and reliable.

   If a material that selectively rejects the daughter nuclide is heated, any daughter nuclides that have been accumulated over time will be lost through diffusion, setting the isotopic "clock" to zero. The temperature at which this happens is known as the "blocking temperature" and is specific to a particular material.

   In contrast to the most simple radiometric dating techniques, isochron dating, which can be used for many isotopic decay sequences (e.g. rubidium-strontium decay sequence), does not require knowledge of the initial proportions.

 

Types of radiometric dating

   radiocarbon dating

   rubidium-strontium

   samarium-neodymium

   potassium-argon

   lutetium-hafnium

   argon-argon

   helium

   uranium-uranium

   uranium-thorium

   uranium-lead

   lead-lead

   rhenium-osmium

   optically stimulated luminescence dating

   iodine-xenon

   lanthanum-barium (La-Ba)

   fission track dating

 

Limitation of techniques

   Although radiometric dating is accurate in principle, the precision is very dependent on the care with which the procedure is performed. The possible confounding effects of initial contamination of parent and daughter isotopes have to be considered, as do the effects of any loss or gain of such isotopes since the sample was created. Additionally, measurement in a mass spectrometer is subject to isotopic interference of other nuclides with the same mass number. Corrections may have to be performed by measuring isotopic ratios of elements which interfere with the target isotope.

   Mass spectrometers are liable to interferences and inaccuracies. Primary amongst these is the quality of the vacuum. Poor vacuum permits gaseous atoms to intercept ionised atoms which are meant to be measured. The resolution of the receptor is also a factor, but modern equipment is greatly improved on previous editions.

   Precision is enhanced if measurements are taken on different samples taken from the same rock body but at different locations. Alternatively, if several different minerals are able to be dated from the same sample and are assumed to be formed by the same event and were in equilibrium with the reservoir when they formed, they should form an isochron. Finally, correlation between different isotopic dating methods may be required to confirm the age of a sample.

   The precision of a method of dating depends in part on the half-life of the radioactive isotope involved. For instance, carbon-14 has a half-life of less than 6000 years. After an organism has been dead for 60,000 years, so little carbon-14 is left in it that accurate dating becomes impossible. On the other hand, the concentration of carbon-14 falls off so steeply that the age of relatively young remains can be determined precisely to within a few decades. The isotope used in uranium-thorium dating has a longer half-life, but other factors make it more accurate than radiocarbon dating.

 

I have read of other constraints on these dating methods as well. So when we hear in science class that the Java man was X years old, the earth is Y years old and the Big Bang occurred Z years ago, how do we know that this information is accurate?

   By the way, the Wikipedia has links to most of the above testing methods.

 

How does radiometric dating fit with the view of a young earth?

 

   Radiometric dating is a method which scientists use to determine the age of various specimens, mainly inorganic matter (rocks, etc), though there is one radiometric dating technique, radiocarbon dating, which is used to date organic specimens.

   How do these dating techniques work? Basically, scientists take advantage of a natural process by which unstable radioactive “parent” isotopes decay into stable “daughter” isotopes spontaneously over time. Uranium-238 (U238) for example is an unstable radioactive isotope which decays into Lead-206 (Pb206) naturally over time (it goes through 13 unstable intermediate stages before it finally stabilizes into Pb206). In this case, U238 is the “parent” and Pb206 is the “daughter.”

   Scientists begin by measuring how long it takes for a parent isotope to decay into a daughter isotope. In this particular case, it takes 4,460,000,000 years for half of a sample of U238 to decay into Pb206. It takes another 4,460,000,000 years for half of the remaining sample to decay into Pb206 and then another 4,460,000,000 years for half of what’s then left to decay and so on. The time it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a “half-life.”

   By measuring radioactive half-lives, by measuring how much parent and daughter are present in any given specimen, and by making certain key assumptions, scientists believe they are able to accurately determine the age of a specimen. The measurements involved can be quite accurate. The question is what are the underlying key assumptions and how reliable are they?

   The three key underlying assumptions are:

      1) that the rate of decay of parent into daughter has remained constant throughout the unobservable past;

      2) that the specimen which we are examining hasn’t been contaminated in any way (that is, no parent or daughter has been added or taken away at any point during the unobservable past), and

      3) that we can determine how much parent and daughter were present at the beginning of the decay process – not all of the Pb206 present today necessarily came from decaying U238; Pb206 may have been part of the original constitution of the specimen.

   If any of these assumptions are wrong, the method can not accurately determine the age of a specimen.

 

   While the second and third assumptions have always been a bit troublesome, especially the third assumption which considers the original constitution of a particular specimen, the first assumption was thought to be a pretty safe bet since scientists were not able to vary the decay rates much in a lab. Recently however new research has revealed that the decay rates may have been drastically different in the unobservable past. This calls the whole method into question. AiG’s Dr. Carl Wieland explains, “When uranium decays to lead, a by-product of this process is the formation of helium, a very light, inert gas which readily escapes from rock. Certain crystals called zircons, obtained from drilling into very deep granites, contain uranium which has partly decayed into lead. By measuring the amount of uranium and ‘radiogenic lead’ in these crystals, one can calculate that, if the decay rate has been constant, about 1.5 billion years must have passed. (This is consistent with the geologic ‘age’ assigned to the granites in which these zircons are found.) There is a significant amount of helium from that ‘1.5 billion years of decay’ still inside the zircons. This is at first glance surprising for long-agers, because of the ease with which one would expect helium (with its tiny, light, unreactive atoms) to escape from the spaces within the crystal structure. There should surely be hardly any left, because with such a slow buildup, it should be seeping out continually and not accumulating. …Results show that because of all the helium still in the zircons, these crystals (and since this is Precambrian basement granite, by implication the whole earth) could not be older than between 4,000 and 14,000 years. In other words, in only a few thousand years, 1.5 billion years’ worth (at today’s rates) of radioactive decay has taken place.” (Carl Wieland, http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2003/0821rate.asp#_ftn1)

 

   For more on this, see AiG’s radiometric dating FAQ page at http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dating.asp

   The point is that radiometric dating is not the sure thing that it has been made out to be over the last century. There still remains a lot of research to do but as it currently stands, the accuracy of radiometric dating remains ambiguously suspect at best.

 

   Recommended Resource: Thousands not Billions, author Don DeYoung.

OK, who is Dr. Carl Wieland? A web search produces a very controversial sketch of the medical atheist doctor turned creationist. He appears to be well attacked by evolutionists. Where does the truth lie? See his August, 2003 article below, RATE group reveals exciting breakthroughs!.

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RATE group reveals exciting breakthroughs!

Cooperation (and quality control) brings results

 

   A few years ago an initiative was undertaken to research thoroughly the whole area of Radioactivity and the Age of The Earth. The RATE project began as a cooperative venture between the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), the Creation Research Society (CRS) and Answers in Genesis (AiG). (Our contribution was mostly providing the expertise of geologist Dr Andrew Snelling; however, when he commenced work with ICR, the project rightly reverted to a joint project of ICR/CRS.)

   With the release of several key peer-reviewed papers at the recent ICC (International Conference on Creationism), it is clear that RATE has made some fantastic progress, with real breakthroughs in this area.

   The main ones of these will be described and summarized in this paper, but first I want to give congratulations and credit to ICR. Even though a substantial proportion of the scientists working on this project have not been actual ICR staff, ICR’s initiative and perseverance, and in particular the patient skilful coordination of their Dr Larry Vardiman had the major role in getting things to this point this quickly.

 

Exciting news on ‘ancient’ granites

   When physicist Dr Russell Humphreys was still at Sandia National Laboratories (he now works full-time for ICR), he and Dr John Baumgardner (still with Los Alamos National Laboratory) were both convinced that they knew the direction in which to look for the definitive answer to the radiometric dating puzzle.

   Others had tried—and for some, the search went on for a while in the early RATE days—to find the answer in geological processes. But Drs Humphreys and Baumgardner realized that there were too many independent lines of evidence (the variety of elements used in ‘standard’ radioisotope dating, mature uranium radiohalos, fission track dating and more) that indicated that huge amounts of radioactive decay had actually taken place. It would be hard to imagine that geologic processes could explain all these. Rather, there was likely to be a single, unifying answer that concerned the nuclear decay processes themselves.

   Since, from the eyewitness testimony of God’s Word, the billions of years that such vast amounts of radioactive processes would normally suggest had not taken place, it was clear that the assumption of a constant slow decay process was wrong. There must have been speeded-up decay, perhaps in a huge burst associated with Creation Week and/or a separate burst at the time of the Flood.

   There is now powerful independent confirmatory evidence that at least one episode of drastically accelerated decay has indeed been the case, building on the work of Dr Robert Gentry on helium retention in zircons. The landmark RATE paper1, though technical, can be summarized as follows:

 

      -   When uranium decays to lead, a by-product of this process is the formation of helium, a very light, inert gas which readily escapes from rock.

         -   Certain crystals called zircons, obtained from drilling into very deep granites, contain uranium which has partly decayed into lead.

      -   By measuring the amount of uranium and ‘radiogenic lead’ in these crystals, one can calculate that, if the decay rate has been constant, about 1.5 billion years must have passed. (This is consistent with the geologic ‘age’ assigned to the granites in which these zircons are found.)

      -   There is a significant amount of helium from that ‘1.5 billion years of decay’ still inside the zircons. This is at first glance surprising for long-agers, because of the ease with which one would expect helium (with its tiny, light, unreactive atoms) to escape from the spaces within the crystal structure. There should surely be hardly any left, because with such a slow buildup, it should be seeping out continually and not accumulating.

      -   Drawing any conclusions from the above depends, of course, on actually measuring the rate at which helium leaks out of zircons. This is what one of the RATE papers reports on. The samples were sent (without any hint that it was a creationist project) to a world-class expert to measure these rates. The consistent answer: the helium does indeed seep out quickly over a wide range of temperatures. In fact, the results show that because of all the helium still in the zircons, these crystals (and since this is Precambrian basement granite, by implication the whole earth) could not be older than between 4,000 and 14,000 years. In other words, in only a few thousand years, 1.5 billion years’ worth (at today’s rates) of radioactive decay has taken place. Interestingly, the data have since been refined and updated to give a date of 5680 (+/- 2000) years.

 

   The paper looks at the various avenues a long-ager might take by which to wriggle out of these powerful implications, but there seems to be little hope for them unless they can show that the techniques used to obtain the results were seriously (and mysteriously, having been performed by a world-class non-creationist expert) flawed.

 

More great news on radiocarbon

   It’s long been known that radiocarbon (which should disappear in only a few tens of thousands of years at the most) keeps popping up reliably in samples (like coal, oil, gas, etc.) which are supposed to be ‘millions of years’ old. For instance, AiG has over the years commissioned and funded the radiocarbon testing of a number of wood samples from ‘old’ sites (e.g. with Jurassic fossils, inside Triassic sandstone, burnt by Tertiary basalt) and these were published (by then staff geologist Dr Andrew Snelling) in Creation magazine and TJ. In each case, with contamination eliminated, the result has been in the thousands of years, i.e. C-14 was present when it ‘shouldn’t have been’. These results encouraged the rest of the RATE team to investigate C-14 further, building on the literature reviews of creationist M.D. Dr Paul Giem.

   In another very important paper presented at this year’s ICC, scientists from the RATE group summarized the pertinent facts and presented further experimental data. The bottom line is that virtually all biological specimens, no matter how ‘old’ they are supposed to be, show measurable C-14 levels. This effectively limits the age of all buried biota to less than (at most) 250,000 years. (When one takes into account the likely much lower ratio of radioactive to ‘normal’ carbon pre-Flood, it brings it right down to within the biblical ‘ballpark’.)

   Interestingly, specimens which appear to definitely be pre-Flood seem to have C-14 present, too, and importantly, these cluster around a lower relative amount of C-14. This suggests that some C-14 was primordial, and not produced by cosmic rays—thus limiting the age of the entire earth to only a few thousand years.

   This latter suggestion about primordial C-14 appears to have been somewhat spectacularly supported when Dr Baumgardner sent a diamond for C-14 dating. It was the first time this had been attempted, and the answer came back positive—i.e. the diamond, formed deep inside the earth in a ‘Precambrian’ layer, nevertheless contained radioactive carbon, even though it ‘shouldn’t have’.

   This is exceptionally striking evidence, because a diamond has remarkably powerful lattice bonds, so there is no way that subsequent biological contamination can be expected to find its way into the interior.

   The diamond’s carbon-dated ‘age’ of <58,000 years is thus an upper limit for the age of the whole earth. And this age is brought down still further now that the helium diffusion results have so strongly affirmed dramatic past acceleration of radioactive decay.5

   C-14 labs have no real answer to this problem, namely that all the ‘vast-age’ specimens they measure still have C-14. Labelling this detectable C-14 with such words as ‘contamination’ and ‘background’ is completely unhelpful in explaining its source, as the RATE group’s careful analyses and discussions have shown. But it is no problem or mystery at all if the uniformitarian/long-age assumptions are laid to one side and the real history of the world, given in Scripture, is taken seriously. The C-14 is there, quite simply, because it hasn’t had time to decay yet. The world just isn’t that old!

   The C-14 results are an independent but powerful confirmation of the stunning helium-diffusion results. 2003 looks like going down as a bad year for megachronophiles (lovers of long ages), but a good year for lovers of the Word of God.

   Postscript: In addition to the book expected in 2005 reporting the final results of the RATE project, the project expects to publish a book for laymen summarizing the project shortly thereafter. Dr Don DeYoung will be the author. He has written several popular books on creation science and has been on the RATE since its inception. His grasp of the details of the project and his excellent writing skills should combine to produce a highly readable book for creationist laymen.

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A Radiometric Dating Resource List

Mr. Thompson has an extensive list of reading resources, almost all hyperlinks to pages on other websites. He obviously has little affection for the 'young-Earth theory' proposed by creationists (Darn, I thought I had something here!).

   The page is much too long to copy and paste but trust me, there is extensive reading here, perhaps enough to enable you to make your own informed decision. I have a Christian bias so I'll keep looking. Below are some of the more interesting resources he has identified.

 

Henke VS. Plaisted

 

Dr. Kevin Henke was at the time a post doctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky. He is now (August 2005) a researcher for The Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment at the same school.

Dr. David Plaisted earned his PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 1976, and is currently Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

 

A Creation Perspective is the title of Dr. Plaisted's creation page. It is an extensive collection of pro-creationist material that extends well beyond radiometric dating. So far as I know all of the material was written by Dr. Plaisted. One of those articles, "The Radiometric Dating Game", which also appears in the True Origins Archive, was the focus of Dr. Henke's Criticism. Part 1 is a critique posted by Dr. Henke on the talk.origins newsgroup in early December 1998. Part 2 and Part 3 constitute the text of a discussion between Henke & Plaisted, that followed the posting of Henke's original critique; they date from late December 1998. Part 2 was provided by Henke; it is Plaisted's response to the critique with Henke's posted comments. Part 3 was provided by Plaisted, and are his remarks in further response to Henke.

 

A Reply to Dr. Henke and Others is a new page by David Plaisted, in direct response to Henke's criticism's posted here, and in response to this Radiometric Dating Resource List as well. Look for this page to change, or for new responses to appear, as Dr. Plaisted continues his own research. There is also another copy of this page, though perhaps not as current as his own, on the true origins archive as well.

 

Schimmrich VS Woodmorappe

 

Schimmrich is working on his PhD in Structural Geology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is currently on the faculty in the Department of Math & Physical Sciences at Ulster Community College, Stone Ridge, New York. He is also a member of the Affiliation of Christian Geologists

 

John Woodmorappe is a pseudonymous pro young Earth creationist, and allegedly a scientist. He is the author of several books and papers; one of those papers, Radiometric Dating Reappraised is the target of Schimmrich's original critique. Woodmorappe responded to that critique, hence Schimmrich's additional response.

 

Since Woodmorappe is a popular source for pro young-Earth creationists, this detailed discussion of his work by a qualified Christian geologist is a good reference source.

 

The Circular Argument

Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale - Circular Reasoning or Reliable Tools by Andrew MacRae

 

MacRae received his PhD in Geology from the University of Calgary in 1996. This is a well illustrated article that brings together stratigraphy, relative time scales, and the absolute chronometry provided by radiometric dating. It is a common assertion from young-Earthers that dating techniques are circular; that fossils are dated according to their strata and that the strata are dated according to their fossils. The assertion is flatly false.

 

Ancient Fresh Lava

Fresh Lava Dated As 22 Million Years Old by Computer Scientist Don Lindsay.

   A common creationist argument is that radiometric dating must be unreliable, because fresh Hawaiian lava was dated to be millions of years old. But this is an urban legend, as Lindsay points out. Also see his The Creation/Evolution Controversy page for much more material on creationism, including other radiometric topics.

 

Radiometric Dating - A Christian Perspective by Dr. Roger C. Wiens

From 1990-1997 Wiens was a staff scientist in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Today he is a member of the Space Physics Team at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His article is hosted by the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA).

   The ASA describes itself as a "fellowship of men and women of science and disciplines that can relate to science who share a common fidelity to the Word of God and a commitment to integrity in the practice of science". Young-Earth creationists would have you believe that there is only one "Christian" position on the age of the Earth, and that the young-Earth position is it. But Wiens and the ASA exemplify the fact that, even amongst Christians, the young-Earth is a minority position. See also the ASA "Creation-Evolution Collection".

 

I do appreciated Mr. Thompson's effort in making these resources available. This stuff is pretty technical. There is much more on his website and these samples I have copied are fully endowed with hyperlinks to the full text of what he references.

   Although MacRae's article is both readable and convincing, I am not ready to accept Mr. Thompson's statement that the 'circular argument is flatly false'.

   His short sketch of the American Scientific Affiliation does not prove that the young-earth position is a 'minority' position among Christian scientists. Their website looks very interesting, however; with subjects such as Origin of Life and Creation - Evolution.

    It can be very difficult to keep an even keel when you are Christian biased. But I'll try :)!

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Evolution Encyclopedia Vol. 1; Chapter 7: Dating Methods Part 1

 

From the Introduction

Several methods for dating ancient materials have been developed. This is an important topic, for evolutionists want the history of earth to span long ages in the hopes that this will make the origin and evolution of life more likely.

 

Therefore we shall devote an entire chapter to a discussion of every significant method used by scientists today to date ancient substances.

 

Yes, an understanding of dating methods is important, but we should keep in mind that whether or not these dating methods are accurate, really has no direct relation to whether evolution has ever occurred or could occur. Long ages is not evolution!

 

Evolution can only occur by a sequence of, first, production of matter from nothing, or origin of matter. This was dealt with in the chapter by that name (chapter 1). Second, generation of living organisms from non-living matter, or origin of life. This will be covered in the chapters, Primitive Environment (chapter 9), and DNA (chapter 10). Third, evolution of living organisms into more advanced life forms by natural selection or mutations. This is species evolution, and will be discussed in the chapters on Fossils (chapter 17), Ancient Man (chapter 18), Natural Selection (chapter 13), Mutations (chapter 14), and Species Evolution (chapter 15).

 

1 - THE FACTOR OF TIME

 

MAGICAL TIME—Yet it is thought that time can somehow produce evolution,—if there is enough time in which to do it! The evolutionist tells us that, given enough time, all the insurmountable obstacles to spontaneous generation will somehow vanish and life can suddenly appear, grow, and flourish.

 

"The origin of life can be viewed properly only in the perspective of an almost inconceivable extent of time."—*Harold Blum, Time's Arrow and Evolution, p. 151.

 

In the next three chapters, we will learn that even split-second, continuous, multiple chemical activity going on for ages, and using all time and all space in the universe to carry on that activity, could not accomplish what is needed. It could not produce life out of nothing.

 

 

"It is no secret that evolutionists worship at the shrine of time. There is little difference between the evolutionist saying 'time did it' and the creationist saying 'God did it.' Time and chance is a two-headed deity. Much scientific effort has been expended in an attempt to show that eons of time are available for evolution."—Randy Wysong, The Creation-Evolution Controversy (1976), p. 137.

 

Just what is time? It is not some magical substance. It is merely a lot of past moments just like the present moment. Imagine yourself staring at a dirt pile or at some seawater, at a time when there was nothing alive in the world but yourself. Continue carefully watching the pile or puddle for a thousand years and more. Would life appear in that dirt or seawater? It would not happen. Millions of years beyond that would be the same. Nothing would be particularly different. Just piled sand or sloshing seawater, and that is all there would be to it.

 

You and I know it would not happen in a full year of watching; then why think it might happen in an million years? Since a living creature would have to come into existence all at once suddenly, in all its parts—in order to survive, it matters not how many ages we pile onto the watching; nothing is going to happen!

 

To say that life originated in that seawater in some yesteryear—"because the sand and seawater was there long enough" is just wishful thinking and nothing more. It surely is not scientific to imagine that perhaps it came true when no one was looking. There is no evidence that self-originating life or evolving life is happening now, has ever happened, or could ever happen.

 

For additional information see quotation supplement, "1 - The Magic Qualities of Time," at the end of this a chapter.

 

THE MORE TIME, THE LESS LIKELIHOOD—*G. Wald in "The Origin of Life," in the book, Physics and Chemistry of Life, says "Does time perform miracles?" He then explains something that you and I will want to remember: If the probability of a certain event occurring is only 1 /1000 (one chance in a thousand), and we have sufficient time to repeat the attempts many times, the probability that it could happen would continue to remain only one in a thousand. This is because probabilities have no memory!

 

But *Wald goes farther. He explains that if the event is attempted often enough,—the total probability of obtaining it would keep reducing! If it is tried a thousand times and does not even occur once, and then is tried thousands of more times and never occurs,—then the chances of it occurring keeps reducing. If it is tried a million times—and still has not occurred,—then the possibility of it occurring has reduced to less than one chance in a million! The point here is that time never works in favor of an event that cannot happen!

 

Can time change rocks into raccoons, seawater into turkeys, or sand into fish? Can time invent human hormones, the telescopic eye of an eagle, or cause the moon to orbit the earth? Can it increase complexity, and invent organisms? The truth is that the longer the time, the greater the decay, and the less possibility that evolution could occur.

 

*Bernal, of McGill University, explains the evolutionists' view of how the origin and evolution of life took place:

"Life can be thought of as water kept at the right temperature in the right atmosphere in the right light for a long period of time."—*J.D. Bernal, quoted in N.J. Berrill, You and the Universe (1958), p. 117.

 

In contrast, two of England's leading evolutionary scientists, *Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, working independently of each other, came to a different conclusion than Bernal's: The chance of life appearing spontaneously from non-life in the universe is effectively zero! (*Fred Hoyle and *C. Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space.) One of these researchers is an agnostic and the other a Buddhist, yet both decided from their analyses that the origin of life demands the existence of God to have created it. They wrote:

 

"Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics, on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate (i.e., produced by an intelligent mind) . . It is, therefore, almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect higher intelligences . . even to the limit of God."—*Fred Hoyle and *Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (1981), pp. 141, 144.

 

The London Dally Express (August 14, 1981), put the conclusion of these two scientists into headlines: "Two skeptical scientists put their heads together and reach an amazing conclusion: There must be a God."

 

*Hoyle and *Wickramasinghe concluded in their book that the probability of producing life anywhere in the universe from evolutionary processes, was as reasonable as getting a fully operational Boeing 747 jumbo jet from a tornado going through a junkyard.

 

REAL TIME VS. THEORY TIME—Evolutionary scientists tell us that the past stretches into over a billion years of life on the earth. Man, we are informed, has been here over a million years. That is the theory, yet the facts speak far differently. When we look at those facts, as available from ancient studies of all types, we find that recorded history goes back only several thousand years. Before that time, we have absolutely no verification for any supposed dating method of science. (More evidence on this will be found in chapters 6 and 18, Age of the Earth, and Ancient Man.)

 

The earliest paintings of people only date back a few thousand years, and show them to be just like ourselves: intelligent, capable people. If human beings have been on this planet for over a million years, as theorized by evolutionists, then we should have a large amount of structures and written records extending back at least 500,000 years.

 

FLAWED DATING METHODS—Evolutionists try to prove long ages of time by certain theoretical dating methods. Yet as we analyze those dating methods, we find each of them to be highly flawed and extremely unreliable.

 

"The dating of ancient events (millions of years ago) is an inexact science." —Roberta Conlan, Frontiers of Time (1991), p. 29.

 

Aside from the known inherent weaknesses in assumption and methodology (which we shall begin discussing shortly),—we cannot even verify those dates objectively. Not even uranium dating can be confirmed, for no one has sat around watching uranium decay for thousands or millions of years, and testing its decay loss rate from time to time.

 

Apart from recorded history, which goes back no farther than about 2200-3000 B.C., we have no way of verifying the supposed accuracy of theoretical dating methods. In fact, not even the dating methods confirm the dating methods! They ALL give different dates! With but very rare exception, they always disagree with one another!

 

There are a number of very definite problems in those dating methods. We are going to learn below that there are so many sources of possible error or misinterpretation in radiometric dating that most of the dates are discarded and never used at all. Only those are used which bear some similarity to one another.

 

Some people think that the various dating methods (uranium, carbon 14, etc.) can be verified by rock strata and fossils, or vice versa. But this is not true either. The geologic column and approximate ages of all the fossil-bearing strata were worked out long before anyone ever heard or thought about radioactive dating. There is no relation between the two theories, or between the dates they produce. More information on this will be given later in this same chapter under Rock Strata Dating.

 

LONG AGES NEEDED—For nearly two centuries, evolutionists have known that, since there was no proof that evolution had occurred in the past and there was no evidence of it occurring today, they would need to postulate long ages as the means by which it somehow happened! *Weisz, in his book, The Science of Biology (p. 636), tells us that by the beginning of the eighteenth century, evolutionists "recognized that any concept of evolution demanded an earth of sufficiently great age, and they set out to estimate this age." The long ages were the result of wishful thinking.

 

* Darwin himself recognized the problem. "The belief that species are immutable (unchangeable) productions was almost unavoidable as long as the history of the world was thought to be of short duration.''—Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species (conclusion to second edition).

 

That is a meaningful statement. *Darwin said it because there is no evidence of evolution occurring at any time in recorded history. Evolution could not occur in the past unless the earth had been here for long ages. But there is clear-cut evidence that our planet is not over 6-10,000 years old (see chapter 6, Age of the Earth). And when all the facts are studied, the age of the earth leans more toward the 6,000 mark than the 10,000 mark.

 

Scientific dating evidence is needed to prove long ages. But no such evidence exists. All the non-historical dating methods are unreliable. That is what we will learn in this present chapter, and chapter 17, Fossils and Strata.

 

Darwinists claim that our planet is 5 billion years old. Long ages of time are desperately needed by evolutionary theorists, for, whenever confronted with the facts disproving the possibility of evolutionary processes, they can reply, "Well, given enough time, maybe it could occur." Ironically, even if the earth were trillions upon trillions of years old, evolution still could not have taken place. The chapters, DNA and Probabilities, Mutations, and Laws of Nature will clearly show that life origins and species evolution could not occur in a billion trillion, trillion years!

 

First, long ages of time cannot PROVE evolution, and, second, long ages of time cannot PRODUCE evolution. Evolutionary processes across basic types of life forms is impossible both in the short run and in the long run.

 

If you think there has not been much discussion about geologic time, go to the website and hunker down for an evening. These folks go through every dating method in their efforts to expose the weaknesses of each. The Evolution Encyclopedia is a huge work from which the Handbook of Evolution is based. See Books on Evolution.

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