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Creation Corner

The age of the earth



Earth according to Apollo 17

The age of the earth is an important point in the creation-evolution debate. The answer might surprise you.

Why is the age of the earth so important?

Because if the earth is young, then evolution could never take place as Darwin, Haeckel, and others have described it. But if the earth is old (make that old enough), then God is Unnecessary.

Evolutionist know it. That’s why they go all-out in defending the old-earth position—and sometimes they aren’t very polite about it.

How can one measure the age of the earth?

To measure the age of anything, one looks at the thing as it now stands and asks himself:

  1. What changes might have brought it to that state?
  2. How long did they take?

This page lists a few of the conventional ways that men try to answer these questions—at least for the whole universe.

The problem lies mainly with No. 2 above. “How long did they take” is hard to answer for anyone wasn’t standing nearby and watching the whole time. How do you know that the same changes taking place today, have always taken place since the world began, and never sped up or slowed down in the meantime? That is what the uniformitarians assume: that certain changes that they observe today never changed and will never change. They include radioactive decay, soil erosion, the salt in the ocean, and the movement of the plates that the continents rest on. (In fact, NASA just launched a robot ship, named Aquarius, to measure the salt in the oceans.) They use those assumptions to get a huge number for the age of the earth.

We know how fast these changes take place today. We do not know that they have always taken place exactly as fast, or as slowly, as they do today.

Where does it all add up today?

The uniformitarians insist that all their methods add up to one age of the earth: 4.5 billion years. But they have a problem already: the ocean is not salty enough for that. If, as they assume, the oceans have always taken in salt as fast as they do today, the oceans ought to be as dead, and as salty, as Israel’s Dead Sea by now. (And that’s very salty indeed; one swallow can kill you.) In fact, the amount of salt in the oceans today suggests that the earth can be no older than 10,000 years.

How do the evolutionists respond? By saying that “ocean salinity is a failed clock.” In short, they cop out. They will tell you that the other three methods agree with them, and so by the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, those three methods override the ocean-salt method. And so, by a vote of three to one, the age of the earth is great. But: the very objections they raise to the ocean-salt clock, apply to their clocks as well.

Does radioactive decay actually change?

Actually, it does. In fact, it changes with the seasons. Scientists at Purdue University have known this for decades. At first they didn’t want to admit it. Now they must—and must also admit that they don’t know why. Obviously the sun sends out particles that make radioactive elements decay faster. So all radioactive elements decay faster in the wintertime than in the summertime. (If you’re in Argentina, reverse that.) The reason: the wintertime (in the Northern Hemisphere) is when the earth is closest to the sun.

Now that alone wouldn’t speed up radioactive decay enough to say that the uniformitarians have guessed the age of the earth wrong. But until now, they said that radioactive decay never changed at all, for any reason.

Then came the game-changer. In 1996, Steven A. Austin and colleagues sent five samples of cooled lava, laid down ten years earlier at Mount Saint Helens, to a laboratory for “dating.” The laboratory told them that the five samples were of different ages, and the differences were larger than the margins of error. Worse than that, they reported ages from half a million to 2.8 million years—for rocks that were only ten years old.

Now your editor once helped run the laboratories in a 250-bed community hospital. A mistake like that in our laboratory would be an epic fail. How epic? The College of American Pathologists would have shut us down if we had been that far off, and for a good reason: if the lab is off by that much, a patient could get the wrong treatment, and die.

Well, you can imagine how the evolutionists took that result. FOUL!” they cried. How did Austin play foul? By asking for the age of a rock that he knew to be young, using a method that one usually used on very old rocks. So why did the laboratory not say, “Your rocks are all too young to date?” In fact, they did not say that they had any problem dating the sample, until Austin published his paper.

Geochron Laboratories does not use that dating method anymore. Are they now too embarrassed to offer that method?

A year later, this paper appeared in Creation. Miners in the Crinum Coal Mine discovered a tree buried in basalt, another type of igneous (“fire-born”) rock. Andrew A. Snelling and his colleagues took samples of the wood, and samples of the surrounding rock. They sent those samples to different laboratories to see what ages they would get back. The answers: about 35,000 years for the wood, but over forty million years for the rock.

What does this mean?

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The scientists who made these discoveries knew what they meant. Every guess about the age of the earth needs a second look. So they decided to take that second look. They formed a project called Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth, or RATE for short. They wanted to find out whether radioactive decay might have run faster in the past, and fast enough to explain an apparent age of the earth of 4.5 billion years.

They discovered several other things that suggest strongly that radioactive elements did decay much faster in the past. Some rocks holding radioactive elements also hold “haloes” around them, halos that suggest a non-uniform rate of decay. Certain minerals called zircons hold far too much helium (a common decay product) that had not had time to leak out in the supposed billions of years.

Though they concluded that radioactive elements did once decay faster than they do today, they could not figure out when. But an engineer named Walt Brown (who, in case anyone’s interested, once taught at the United States Air Force Academy) found the answer. About 4400 years ago, a truly cataclysmic event occurred, with magnitude-10-to-12 earthquakes shaking the earth’s crust everywhere. The quartz buried in the crust produced electricity from these earthquakes, with voltages that one normally sees in a lightning bolt. Voltages like that are high enough to smash atoms together to make new elements. Which is exactly what happened. All the radioactive elements on the earth today, formed in that event. And when they formed, many of the atoms decayed rapidly. That explains the halos, the helium in the zircons, and the deceptive guesses for the age of the earth today.

Mankind has had evidence for this event since it happened. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and all the mountain chains of the world, testify to it. How fast radioactive elements decay in a high-voltage setting, like a lightning strike, is well known. That the radioactive decay slowed down to today’s rate after the event was all over, is probably safe enough to guess. So even without any firm dates, one can make a rough guess for the age of the earth: not much older than a few thousand years.

Last thoughts

A commenter recently asked your editor what methods one would use to guess the age of the earth if he didn’t have the line from Adam to Noah (Genesis 5) to work with. This should answer that question. But in case anyone doubts that, here’s a question for them: How would you find out when Mount Vesuvius erupted, and destroyed Pompeii, if you did not have Pliny the Younger’s history to work with? The answer is: you couldn’t. The youngest rock ever found, according to conventional methods and assumptions, is 70,000 years old. Mount Vesuvius erupted 1,942 years ago.

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But we have dates. When one “clock” agreed with those dates, the scientists threw it out. That’s a cowardly “dry-lab” practice that would get any science student thrown out of college. The other clocks all fail for the same reason: people assumed, incorrectly, that certain processes never change.

Furthermore: the only reason that anyone said that the solar system was 4.6 billion years old, was that someone put the age of the earth 4.5 billion years. We now see that the age of the earth is not that great. Neither is the age of the solar system.

Jonathan Sarfati has a few more thoughts here, along these same lines.

Featured image: the earth, as Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene Cernan and his buddies saw it from space. Photo: NASA.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Paul Burnett

Recycling old discredited arguments about the age of the earth from such classic Young Earth Creationists as Henry Morris, Kent Hovind and Walter Brown is hardly “news.”

Austin’s lava samples from Mount Saint Helens were non-homogenous and contained older rock, and the laboratory he chose cannot accurately measure samples less than two million years old. See for a short discussion of this bogus claim.

Walter Brown is a long-retired mechanical engineer, not a geologist. His eccentric pseudoscientific claims are not only outside the realm of actual science, but are even disputed by other mainstream creationist organizations such as Answers In Genesis.


Terry wrote:
In fact, Austin took every reasonable precaution not to send “heterogeneous rock” and also warned GeoChron to expect low argon.

Geno points out:
While far from perfect, radioisotope dating methods can produce statistically reliable results when properly performed on appropriate samples. This is pretty much a standard example of the misuse of radioisotope dating methods by creationists.

For example, with regard to C-14, it is well known that limitations of the method include the primary source of carbon in the sample must be atmospheric. It is not unusual to see creationists cite examples of polar bears or seals dating to hundreds of years, even though they died just last year. The reason for the erroneous dates is fully understood and well documented. Specifically, most of the carbon in their bodies is oceaninc, not atmospheric.

In this case, Terry claims the lab was warned “to expect low argon.” I must wonder if the lab was specifically advised the sample was of a recent erruption. A well known and understood limitation of K-Ar dating is it doesn’t work well on recent samples unless specific corrective action is taken. I cite:

“Determination of 40Arrad in young volcanic rocks (and minerals) is complicated due to low quantities of radiogenic argon in comparison to overwhelming amount of the atmospheric argon.”

I could produce a dozen or more other papers discussing this limitation.

Thus if the lab “reported ages from half a million to 2.8 million years—for rocks that were only ten years old.” It is far more likely the lab did not follow proper procedures of sample preparation than a fundamental flaw in the method.


Terry comments:
Now about Walt Brown: I’ve followed that dispute. ….. I don’t appeal to authority (or The Crowd) among creation advocates, any more than I accept the pretended authority of the evos.

Geno answers:
Really Terry? Have you just once put on your engineering hat and done those “back of the envelope” calculations I’ve asked of you regarding Brown’s model? Do your OWN calculations and tell me what you find out.

The fact is the Brown’s model doesn’t gain traction because it would destroy all life on Earth in multiple ways. A flood would have been the least of Noah’s problems.


Thanks, that theory about electricity causing the forming of new elements all over the earth at once is fascinating. I bet the animals in the Ark had all their fur go frizzy from i!

Paul Burnett

So does the Oklo “natural” reactor site in Gabon receive many lightning bolts today? Or did it receive more lightning bolts two BILLION years ago (in the actual world) when the “reactor” was reacting for a few hundred thousand years? Or was the Oklo “natural” reactor site only getting more lightning bolts while underwater 4,000 years ago during the mythological Flood? And in either case, how do you know what the planet-wide lightning distribution was at either time?

Michael Malmrose

Did piezoelectrical activity make all of the radioactive material in the solar system as well? What are we to make of radiometric dating of lunar rocks returned by the Apollo missions?


I know you have another article that discusses the water on the moon and objects hitting it theory, but can you come up with any scientific sources from non-creationist sources which correlate that?

I doubt it, and for the same reason you stopped responding to my question on this thread without answering it.

Correct me if I’m misstating your position, but what you’ve essentially been saying is that science can’t put together meaningful, valid models for past events without a human-written history to correlate them with. The fact that objective science actually does do this leads to your attacking the science as founded on a bias against your religion.

However, your position is that scientific modeling of the past is invalid unless you start with a written history to validate that science against. Your position is that science can’t arrive at conclusions on its own.

Imagine telling doctors they can’t diagnose from signs and symptoms unless there’s a written diagnosis to validate their results against. Imagine telling detectives that they can’t do anything with forensic evidence unless they’ve had eyewitness accounts to correlate their findings with.

This is effectively what you’re stating, Terry, and the The only justification for this is your brittle dependence on the Bible needing to be treated as literal instead of allegorical.


“But everyone, and I mean everyone, comes into this particular investigation with a preconceived narrative.”

Really, Terry? Everyone? There hasn’t been a single person who has ever simply looked at the evidence before them and then constructed a hypothesis based on these facts?

So to extrapolate further, this would mean that every single person who does claim to look into the evidence of origins of life and diversity of species and concluded that the evolutionary model is a sound one is knowingly lying, and is only doing so to suppress evidence of God? Is that a fair assessment of your claim or am I misunderstood? If I am, please clarify.


I have to completely disagree with your comment about “civility between the warring camps” being an unchangeable reality. Regardless of the difference between our positions, there’s no reason for the discussion not to be civil for for the participants not to show respect for each other as people. We could both pull out examples of intolerant, uncivil behavior on both sides, but that is the behavior of others and I’m in control of my own actions.

I agree that origins science should be like a forensic investigation. You apply your knowledge & training to the evidence at hand, apply measurements science, develop theories, and then validate or disprove them.

I’ll also agree that one’s training has a huge influence on one’s outlook and methodology. If you’re taught as a child that religion/God can’t be the answer then you’re right that a bias is introduced which colors your entire outlook. You’ve acknowledged that this works in reverse too – if you’re raised to believe in God and have a fear of spending eternity in Hell if you don’t accept concepts like a literal, inerrent Bible, then you’ll do everything in your power to rationalize the evidence in front of you to keep that worldview intact.

That’s where our views on the forensic analogy start to diverge. Objective science allows any finding to be challenged, and it’s encouraged for bad evidence or fraud to be surfaced and discredited. For every “crooked cop” with a bias or a personal agenda there are many more who just want to find the truth, no matter where that leads them. Your view is that it’s impossible for for people to want to find the truth for it’s own sake, no matter what deeply-held preconceptions have to be abandoned as a result.

As someone with medical training, Terry, you know that good practictioners have to abandon principles & practices when better ones are available, no matter how much they had invested their training & reputation in the old ones. In the case of origins science, that ethical imperative is rationalized away.

You need to maintain that view, because that’s the core principle behind creation science – all findings must conform to a very specific pre-stated conclusion. This is the extreme case where no matter the evidence, the butler (God) always did it. You can’t produce science showing YEC results without the YEC narrative to frame them, so you insist that this is the way everyone doing origins research has to operate so there’s no double standard with your view.

Except that researchers don’t have to act that way, and your view really is based on a double standard.

Each of the examples of bad evidence you cited has been discredited & rejected by mainstream science, and the presence of misinformation in some textbooks doesn’t change that. To act as if these are still accepted as valid exidence is as disingenuous as saying that all detectives are corrupt.

In your case though, the butler always has to have done it. New evidence comes to light? Discredit the techniques that uncovered it. Other techniques corroborate the new evidence? Claim that the standards accepted today (speed of light, presence of radioactive elements) were not the same in the past, and use a key event with no witnesses (the flood) to explain when, where and how things changed (fingerprints were identical until the tower of Babel, when God made them different like the languages)? Who’s to challenge this, especially when your narrative matches your conclusion and the butler still did it.

Finally, of course all medical diagnosis is guesswork, and I’d be skeptical if a trained practicioner said otherwise. However, these are educated guesses, with the quality of the education, experience and diagnostic evidence all contributing to the quality of the diagnosis and outcome. An objective scientist will be open to revising his methods and preconceptions just as a good doctor should – show me an anasthesiologist who doesn’t and I’ll show you a malpractice suit in the making. Creationists can’t be open to new ideas like this because their options are locked down – the diagnosis will never change, and any challenging symptoms must be rationalized to maintain the diagnosis.


So I come back to a question I asked you before, one that you never answered. Do you have any evidence to support this claim other that your assertion that it is so?

The claim that every single scientist working in the field of evolution is knowingly perpetratingly a lie to ‘get away with sin’ is a fairly bold one, and requires a lot more evidence to believe than you just saying that it is true.


According to Terry:

“Any time that anybody has “looked objectively at the evidence” as you suggest, that person has converted firmly to creation advocacy.”

I’m a living example of the opposite. I was raised a devout Roman Catholic who believed in what the Bible said in the face of any challenging evidence. My journey away from that rigid outlook took place in college, and not because of the influence of any anti-religious indoctrination. Simply put, I was taught to question anyone and anything to determine the truth for myself, regardless of the source. I’m not talking about people directly telling me to question my faith – I’m talking about texts like “How to lie with statistics”, courses in management & accounting where you learn to ferret out the truth from people with an agenda to conceal it, and so on.

I wasn’t trying to shake my faith, but when you learn to think for yourself instead of accepting indoctrination, sooner or later the internal conflict is inevitable. I weighed the evidence, and found the premise of a literal acceptance of the Bible as historic fact to be wanting. That didn’t mean rejecting it, but rather accepting it as metaphorical and allegorical instead.

So here’s another question for you, Terry. I believe that you’re sincere in your faith and your convictions, so how can we put your premise to the test? Is there a way to put the objective evidence and theories for creation science and naturalistic science side by side as two different explanations for everything around us, and let people determine which is correct on their own?

Maybe there could be a collaborative effort on a book, where both parties agree on the topics to be addressed by chapter (origin/age of the universe, origin of life, astronomy, the workings of evolution, etc.). Then each side puts their best case out there without seeing what the other side does, and the results are published in a book where each position starts from the other side of the volume, giving none a perceived preference over the other. A follow-up edition could be published allowing each side to respond to the other.

In the end, let the readers digest both cases and reach their own conclusions. I have complete confidence that the results would be very different than your assumption, Terry – would you be willing to put that assumption to the test?


Well, let’s start by saying I’m game for a written debate, and after a bit of googling found the following reference which I’m assuming are the ground rules you have in mind:

Interesting pre-requisites you have there.

I’m not a PhD, but that doesn’t diminish my interest in participating. I also have some concerns about the whole “$10MM net worth publishing house” constraint as well. My gut impression after a quick read is that this is coming from the Kent Hovind school of “No one will take me up on my debate challenge”, where he leaves out the part about setting terms that no one with good faith would agree to.

I meant what I said though, and since you’re not willing to have a written debate directly between us, I’ll consider the terms of having with with Dr. Brown as your proxy instead. Lay out the premise and terms in your pending article, and let’s take it from there.


Well, my questions to date have been directed at you in response to articles written by you. If you’d prefer to have Dr. Brown defend your points instead of you I’m open to that, because we’re just discussing ideas after all.

Let’s see what the proposal is and take it from there.

Michael Malmrose

We also have measured radioactive decay in meteorite samples. Also while not directly related to the solar system, spectral features of radioactive elements have been observed in super nova remnants, which if you allow long enough time scales, enriches the interstellar medium out of which new solar systems form.

I’m having trouble seeing how your idea that all the uranium in the Solar System was created inside of the earth, and then released into space by some cataclysmic event can work. One objection I have is that you need to explain how that when this mixture of mud, rock, water, and incinerated fish parts is ejected from the earth, it was still dense enough when it got to asteroid belt to thoroughly mix itself with the rocks that were already there since that is where most meteorites come from.

The asteroid belt is about 3 AU from the sun so whatever the density of Uranium in the ejected mass was would be between a factor of 4 and 16 lower by the time it got there. The mass of the asteroid belt is a few % of the moon’s mass, so this gives a starting point to determine how much terrestrial Uranium would need to be present. You also want to use this idea to explain why the moon is tidally locked to the earth, and presumably the impact craters on the surface.

I’m very confused by the statement: “That’s why a month is shorter than thirty days, even though a day is shorter than it was before. (From 360.00 days to 365.24 days.)” Are you talking about a month being the time it takes for the moon to cycle through it’s phases? Or were you talking about how long it takes to complete one orbit around the earth? Whichever period you are referring to, are you saying that it used to be exactly 30 days in the recent past?

Are you saying that the earth’s rotational velocity has increased in the past 4000 years so that it rotates more in one orbit, or are you saying that the earth is farther from the sun than it used to be, and hence the longer year? Whatever it is could you please explain, preferably by using physics? Presumably you have that laying around somewhere because you stated with great certainty that not 1, not 2, or 3, but 7 pieces of rock pelted the moon in just the right way to tidally lock it with the earth.

You describe a scenario that would revolutionize the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. If you can provide a physical model that makes the predictions you’ve described, many people would love to see it.


The length of this thread is making my eyes cross every time I try to pick up where we left off :-) .

I just saw your post from last night and haven’t had time to read through all the links, so please regard this as my initial feedback and not any kind of final response.

First off, I completely agree with keeping the discussion grounded in science, with no falling back on religion. That would be refreshing, because when I saw debates like the one with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron versus some atheists on Nightline a few years back, Comfort promised to rely on objective evidence instead of scripture but quickly fell “off the wagon” in his early statements.

Second, I’m a man of my word, and have every intent on following through with my commitment to a written debate.

Here are some of the concerns I have with the format of the debate you’re proposing:

– My proposal was to debate you, and you quickly used that as an opening to line me up against Dr. Brown’s longstanding challenge instead of taking me up directly yourself. That doesn’t mean I’m backing out, but it’s like offering to play chess with someone, and the person says in response, “Oh, good! My associate Boris Spasky has a longstanding challenge to play chess with anyone willing to take them on, but first they have to be a globally-ranked master, find a sponsor willing to televise the event, etc. Go find a grandmaster and get your team together, or consider yourself a coward for backing out!” It’s regrettable that this is your choice of response to a friendly, direct challenge.

– Dr. Brown’s condition that the challengers include PhD’s puts an immediate burden on my ability to participate any time soon. Simply stated, it’s one thing to find qualidied PhD’s in any number of scientific disciplines, it’s another to find a subset who are able to restate complex ideas for broad readership, and it’s yet another thing to find a subset of THAT group that share my outlook and style, i.e. people I’d have a good team dynamic with. Finding and vetting one or more people to be on a team with, especially when the team has to produce written debates arguments with a common voice, is going to take time. My quick impression is that this is a significant barrier to participation raised by Dr. Brown designed to look innocuous on the surface.

(You chose your three suggested partners for me with a great deal of irony, as anyone can find after a bit of googling. No thanks, but it did give me a smile.)

– The “find a netutral editor/publisher” is probably the show-stopper pre-requisite for most people in my opinion. I haven’t gotten to read too deep into it, but to paraphrase your other comments Terry, I can see the difficulty in finding an editor who’s going to be regarded as completely neutral by both parties.

So here’s my suggested alternative, which I’ll mention here briefly and will expand on in a new thread to move past this article:

1) Conduct the written debate online, instead of adding the burden of lining up a neutral editor.

2) Both parties agree to the subjects to be debated, and each retains control over the material they publish on their pages.

3) The debate pages are published on a 3rd party website where the presentation format does not appear to favor one position or another based on order, etc. (you’d be surprised at my initial thought, which does not have the initials “RW”)

4) Instead of my having to build a specific team, I can solicit input from anyone I want, but since I’m the gatekeeper of those contributions it ultimately reflects what I’d want to say and how. The same would apply for Dr. Brown, of course, to keep the playting field level. This is a debate of ideas, not individuals.

5) Publishing the debate content in web form presents it to the broadest possible audience compared to publishing it in book form.

6) We can discuss ways to publish the resulting content in book form at some point, and if we can agree on a way to do that I’d pledge any after-tax revenue due to me to Saint Peters Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.

Out of time for now. Let me know what you think, and I’ll call Dr. Brown personally when I can get time in the next few days. As a courtesy, what time zone does he live in so I don’t call too early or late?


Last quick comments for now – it’s too nice a day by me to be inside at a computer instead of outside with the kids.

I’m not all full of myself, but I do enjoy engaging in spirited discussions on topics like these myself. What I was doings several posts back was say, “Hey Terry, let’s play chess”. In response, you challenged me to play someone you consider a grandmaster, who only will play people he considers recognized grandmasters as well (i.e. fellow PhDs).

To paraphrase your statement above – “Who cares what we have to say?”. Well, I care, and I’m not so condescending as to declare that your contributions aren’t worthy either. If Dr. Brown’s ground rules call for people like you or me to have to team up with PhD’s before they’re worthy of his challenge, that’s his choice, but I don’t have to agree with that implied dismissal of my ability to contribute.

Finally, I’m not doing this to make money, I’m doing it to have fun and learn new things at the same time, in effect, to exercise my critical analysis and thinking skills. I’m sure there’s a way to move the format online, where the need to make a profit is not a constraint.


Oh, and sorry for the atrocious grammar in that last post – I hit send before proofing it.


This is just one of the fatal flaws in Brown’s model. It’s obvious that if all this material is launched to space, some fraction of it will fail to achieve escape velocity and return to Earth. The heat due to the re-entry of only 5% of the material Brown says was launched to space is sufficient to boil every drop of water on the planet.

Of course Noah’s intrepid zoo would be cooked a long time before that. In short, a flood would be the least of Noah’s problems.


@ Dinsdale:

Some months ago, I attempted to work out terms of a debate with Dr. Brown. In doing so, I presented a proposal much like yours. His response was to offer a verbal debate. I felt a verbal debate wasn’t suitable as my issues involve a lot of calculations that don’t lend themselves well to a verbal format. Brown adjusted his verbal debate offer to include written exchanges between “sessions.” It was, and is my position that if we can do the exchanges between sessions, we can do them without the sessions.

In fact, my discussion with Brown was featured by Terry in this article:

It is worth note there were a number of errors of fact in Terry’s article. To date, he has offered no correction.


One quick pair of comments for now, more to follow when I have time.

First, the whole Walt Brown proposal is something to be followed to its own conclusion, but that shouldn’t serve as Terry’s exit strategy for not dealing with all the open questions posed in the past few days. Multiple readers have responded to Terry’s assertions with clearly-stated, civil and reasonable refutations & questions that still remain unaddressed. We’re still waiting for your own responses, Terry.

Second, I’m formulating an alternate proposal to Dr. Brown’s. He’s under no obligation to accept, and I would not label him as afraid to defend his ideas if he doesn’t. In return I would expect the same respect if I choose not to accept his “Teams of PhDs” approach as impractical for me as an individual.

Have a happy Fathers Day, everyone!

David Stanley

Darwinists keep on eating Satin’s apple and thinking that they can recreate the earth and “be as Gods” Honest science will continue to prove that God’s book is correct not the foolish theories of Man. Of course we all evolve but EVOLUTION IS NOT CREATION and never will be. THE AGE OF THE EARTH is a very good analysis. It has always be clear to me that the Grand Canyon was created primarily by a flood, not by millions of years of erosion! Thank you for lighting a lamp in the darkness of “Evolution Theory”.


First of all, I’d like to thank Terry for taking the time to write this article in response to my question last week. Many people writing about issues like creationism tend to simply broadcast their views and then ignore or dismiss questions that challenge those views, and the good-faith effort in actually doing some research and responding in detail is appreciated.

As for the article itself, here are my comments in response:

– It’s interesting that the first source cited from presents several different scientific methods of estimating the age of the universe, and every single one of them put the estimated age of the universe at a minimum of 11.5 billion years. This uncomfortable evidence for YEC proponents was sidestepped to focus on the age of the Earth, and not acknowledged or challenged anywhere later in the article.

– The article then turns to ocean salinity as a dating mechanism. People in the 1800’s used that method to estimate the age of the Earth in the tens of millions of years, and Terry states that other estimates of salinity rates put the age of the Earth at no more than 10,000 years, although no citation for that is provided. These are very different takes on a the outcome of a single method, and the salinity method itself has a major flaw; any number of events (ice ages, “snowball Earth”, supervolcano eruptions, etc.) can impact the rate of mineral saturation in the oceans, so you need a complete history to use the method properly. It also precludes the most important factor – any theory that the planet formed from accreted stellar matter would involve billions of years where the planet itself formed, and where subsequent temperatures were too hot for liquid water to occur – runoff rates and salinity are only valid measures if you have proof that the Earth was fundamentally the way it is now across all of time. It is simply an inappropriate clock for estinating the age of the planet.

-Most of the article is then spent on questioning the validity of radiometric dating, and on advancing a theory that all radioactive elements on Earth were formed during the Biblical flood.

The challenges to the validity of radiometric dating focus on the Mt. Saint Helens example, and that’s been well-refuted. When you send a contaminated sample from a recent geologic event to be tested against a method not intended for samples less than 2 million years old, is it surprising that you get anomalous results? Examples where clean samples were tested against methods suitable for the date range would have been more convincing, but none were provided.

The article mentions the RATE project and the work of Walt Brown, but I don’t need to get into critiquing those references for a simple reason – they are the work of Young Earth Creationists seeking to find models that explain how the Earth can be less than 7,000 years old. They started with a conclusion, and then make sure their findings fit it.

This brings me back to the original emailed question that Terry was responding to. I’ll recap it here:

“As a thought experiment, it should be possible to take a baby out of an orphanage and raise him with no knowledge of religion or biology (to rule out evolution and other similar influences), but with skills in math and reading. You can even omit lessons in history so there’s no bias due to recorded history trailing off at a certain point. Once the child is old enough you add training in inorganic chemistry and physics, and develop those skills to where the young adult can do research on their own. Now ask him how old he thinks the earth/sun/universe is, and how he’d go about determining the answer.

What methods do you think he’d use, and what conclusions do you think he’d reach? That’s the essence of my question.”

My point was that YEC proponents don’t start with objective science and let the answers flow freely from the findings – they start with a conclusion and then work to rationalize it regardless of what the observations of the universe tell us.

Terry’s article fails to address the question. It attacks methods pointing to older timescales, and promotes ideas of people committed to starting with the YEC timeframe and justifying it. There is no attempt to take on the question directly, namely, picking several methods grounded in good science WITHOUT advance consideration to the result, and see what results you get that correlate across the methods.

To recap, this article did not answer the question that was presented, and I look forward to one that does.


According to Terry:

“The only reason why any method “points to” older timescales is that they assume those older timescales a priori.”

So is your point that there is no way for objective science to come up with methods for estimating age ranges in the thousands, millions or billions of years that has some reliability to it?

That’s not the problem for the YEC viewpoint, the problem is that the generally accepted methods correlate with each other fairly well, but they don’t correlate to the Biblical timeframe. My question remains unanswered because you’re not able to answer it – if you don’t rely on the Bible to give you the answer to shoot for, you’re not going to find multiple methods that can be independently used to tied out to the YEC timeframe.

Your viewpoint suggests some sort of global scientific conspiracy to challenge the Bible by aligning the accepted findings of all of the different disciplines that could be used to establish dating frameworks. If that seems like hyperbole, consider this simple question: why doesn’t science suggest the universe is 50 billion years old, or a trillion? Why isn’t the accepted estimate for the age of the Earth 30 billion years, or ath the other extreme, only 3,000 years old?

The current concensus across various scientific fields don’t swing wildly like that, and they fall into a fairly consistent band of results. To do that, you either have to have a group of masters who dictate what the results should be for all scientists to conform with, or more likely, that’s just how old things are.

The argument that the scientific establishment “locks out” those with conflicting ideas doesn’t hold up. There’s certainly resistance to radical ideas, but the beauty of science is that the truth comes out over time through independent research and peer review. Cold fusion in a jar gets debunked, but the idea of an asteroid causing an extinction event 65 million years ago becomes accepted when findings across many fields confirm the theory.

I don’t expect your personal view to change, but when people with that view try to influence the content of textbooks and open the door to religion being taught in the guise of science, people need to take a stand and speak out in rebuttal.

My original question stands unanswered by you, Terry. Show how the correlation of different scientific methods can establish the age of the Earth WITHOUT using the Biblical timeframe as a constraint, and tell me what the answer is.


The very first words of the introduction page on the RATE website are as follows:

“Scientists associated with the Institute for Creation Research”

That doesn’t come across as a collection of people who are focused on performing objective science and letting the results fall where they may.

Call me stubborn, but I won’t accept the findings of a group claiming to practice science when the minimum pass/fail test for their findings is conformance to a religious text.

The “white coats” comment raised a smile, though. I have yet to see people in white coats storming churches and hauling fundamentalists away, but history is full of unfortunate examples of what happened to people who fell into disfavor with the religious authorities.

That said, in all of these exchanges you still haven’t been able to show objective science done by non-YEC researchers correlating independently to the YEC timeframe. You examples all start with the conclusion and then solve for it.



You introduce non-sequiters about Dawkins and Strobel, the NCSE and more, but the original question remains unanswered. Please stop putting words into my mouth and respond to the ones I had actually put out there. Thanks.


Any response to Dinsdale’s repeated question, Terry? If everything you’re saying is accurate, this should be VERY easy to answer.


Terry has never actually answered the question presented to him, and his engagement in this thread stopped after multiple attempts to change the topic didn’t go anywhere.

His statements in the article and comments section seem to come down to the same position – in his view, you cannot use objective science to estimate the age of the Earth, which makes people dependent on written histories to guide them. Conveniently, he happens to have a written history that covers the entire existence of the planet, so all is fine in his view.

That’s about the only recourse left when established science doesn’t give you the answer you want to hear but the Bible does. The other option is to accept that the Bible can be regarded allegorically instead of literally and still be a valid touchstone for faith.

That’s not something he’s likely to accept, but the real irony is that even Biblical literalism falls short for Terry and his associates at Conservapedia, who took it upon themselves to rewrite the parts of the Bible that didn’t line up with their worldview.


In response to Terry’s closing question, there are multiple methods of estimating the date of the Vesuvius eruption within a reasonable degree of error, without relying on a written history. You could start with the depth of the ash layer and local erosion rates to get a rough range, and then select from the methods below that are suitable to that range to see which ones produce correlating results:

-Radiocarbon dating
-Thermoluminescence dating
-Optically stimulated luminescence or optical dating
-Potassium-argon dating
-Numismatics (study of coins found in the ruins)
-Archaeomagnetic dating
-Rehydroxylation dating


Sorry, I keep answering one post behnd Terry’s answers, so bear with me.

Being handed a rock to date is like being handed a medical patient to diagnose. If the person came into an ER unconscious without a history you’d do your best with your knowledge, skills and technology, but there’s still the chance of making mistakes with the best of intentions. Having some background does not mean you’re cheating, and it gives you a chance to apply the right techniques to the assessment.

If these dating methods were so unreliable, then skeptics should be able to develop controlled tests in conjunction with mainstream scientists to pick a set of blind samples, submit them to labs around the world, and see how well the estimates correlated across all of them when the origins were revealed. Everyone would benefit from the opportunity to validate, dismiss or improve different dating methods, including mainstream science. Rather than proposing and conducting these tests, YEC proponents cling to a few controversial cases like this instead of working on ways to prove their point without controversy.

As for my Vesuvius response, I suggested using erosion rates to estimate date ranges to start with, since different methods work better in different timeframes. That was motivated by efficiency, so take that thought out and run samples through ALL possible methods. The ones that correlate the best give you the best estimated age – you just spent more time & resources to get to the conclusion.

You mentioned Pompeii specifically, which is why I had included numismatics, since there were coins in the city. Of course that’s irrelevant for dating things in nature.

I won’t get into debating your theory that all radioactive elements on Earth were created during the flood. The whole theory starts with a written description of an event that any conclusions have to conform to, and that’s exactly the type of a priori issue you’re criticizing mainstream science of succumbing to.


Oh, and “Mr. Dinsdale” is my dad. You can just call me Dinsdale :-)

Aaron Petrick

lol… still at it eh Terry? First it’s fire-breathing dragons in Europe, and Asia, and now you’re prattling on about things you clearly understand, but ignore due to the lack of agreement with your cult-book.

I find it so amusing that creationists like you blab your mouth about some nonsense, misuse priciples of science, quote, and use, scientific theories that were debunked years ago………..ALL out of context… as if it adds any sort of leverage to your argument.

Of course, once it’s thrown back in your face, you do what they all do…. quietly go away.

Come on Terry. Answer his questions. Make me a believer. While you’re working on his, work on some of mine about Noah, and the ark. Or about how, and why God said it was a-ok to own slaves, so long as you paid a good/fair price for them. Or about how its just fine in the eyes of the lord to stone your newlywed wife to death if she is not a virgin…

On second thought…forget all that nonsense and just answer Dinsdale’s, reasonable, perfectly honest, question…. if you can… which I’m guessing you can’t…which is why you dismiss it, and probably why you stopped replying.


It takes a million years for a photon produced by fusion at the center of the sun to reach its surface, and another 8 minutes to reach earth.

Paul Burnett

Terry wrote: “If you find any radioactive materials elsewhere in the solar system than on earth, you will have found terrestrial ejecta.”

Are you really saying that the largest fusion reactor in the neighborhood – the sun – is radioactive only because of “lightning-radiated” ejecta from the earth? Given that the sun is a hundred times the diameter of the earth, I doubt that the sun would even notice if an object the size of the earth impacted it – radioactive or not.

Or do you deny that the sun is radioactive?

Paul Burnett

Okay – let’s back up then. Are you saying that if in some future time, when humans get to other star systems’ planets, if they find any radioactive materials on those planets many lightyears away, that the radioactivity originated from earth ejecta?

Or do you accept that other stars have planets?

Michael Malmrose

My dissertation isn’t written yet so I’m afraid that I’m out of the Walt Brown debate for at least two years. However even if I were to somehow collect, analyze, publish, and defend in the next couple days, I’m afraid that a debate would not do anybody any good.

I mentioned radioactivity in SN remnants. I had in mind the direct detection of radioactive Cobalt in the remnant of 1987a. You responded with ““Spectral features” do not establish that radioactive, trans-lead, or even transferric elements are in fact present.” I’ll grant you that cobalt isn’t trans-lead, but it definitely is beyond Iron on the periodic table. Furthermore, if you’re going to take spectroscopy away from me as a tool to know about the universe, then there is not much of a reason for us to have a conversation. Especially since spectroscopy is firmly rooted in Quantum Mechanics.

You’re also skeptical of the radial velocity method for planet detection. That’s ok, one of the concerns with that particular method is that transient events could create a false positive, which is why follow up observations are required for any planetary candidate. However, that’s not the only way people planet hunt anymore. The Kepler mission so far has detected over 1200 candidates by identifying planetary transits across the host star. If you don’t like that, then maybe you’ll believe the HST image that shows Fomalhaut b orbiting it’s host star.



The most common theory is that the universe came to life by itself, and after that, evolved life on Earth started to appear little by little. This material-based view entails the idea that time and materials are the only prerequisites needed in making something possible – the possibility of a Creator is not even considered.
However, the essential point is that the universe must have had a beginning and that it cannot be eternal and infinitely old. Even the theories of different scientists indicate this. When they speak about the “big bang,” the birth of galaxies, stars, the solar system and the Earth, they presume that they must have had their beginnings. They are aware of the fact that they have not always been around, even though they do not believe in a special process of Creation. They do not take God into account, but base their theories however on the fact that everything began at once.
Furthermore, we can also see in practice that there has been a very first special moment. The so-called second main rule of thermodynamics indicates that the universe is going towards a heat death – towards a condition in which all differences in temperatures have disappeared and in which the amount of useful energy will decrease and finally expire. In principle, this decrease in energy can be compared with wood burning in a campfire. When the wood has been burned, it cannot be used again – it becomes useless. It indicates that the amount of useful energy decreases all the time.

The source:

[…] the age of the earth. Uniformitarian geologists (who insist that all processes operating today, operate always and at […]


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