Proof Of Age of Earth

How Old is the Earth?
An Answer to Dr. Maurice Dametz’s Question

Compiled by Steve McRoberts

Recently Dr. Dametz’s article was cut out of a church bulletin and sent to me. You can read Dr. Dametz’s original article online. The article is a good representation of the most popular arguments of Creationists favoring a “young earth”. The Doctor’s main points may be broken-down as follows. Each one will be considered in turn:Population

Geologic Strata

Meteoric Dust / Nickel Deposits

Magnetic Decay

Carbon-14 Quantity

Dating methods

Concluding Comments


I cannot lay claim to much originality in what follows. I have largely relied on the writings of experts in their respective fields. I have often quoted extensively from the Encyclopedia Britannica and from the brain trust at In particular I would like to thank Dave Matson for much of the material here.


The Claim

“To achieve the present world population within 4,500 years, the approximate time since the flood, only 2.4 children per family would be required, and 43 years to a generation.”

According to the Bible, the flood left 8 human survivors on the earth 4,500 years ago. If we accept the numbers of Dr. Morris, there have been 104 generations since then (4500 years from the flood divided by 43 years per generation). If each couple had 2 children, we would have zero population growth. If each couple averaged 2.4 children (to use the Doctor’s numbers) then the population would increase by 20 percent every 43 years. The math then becomes: (8 times 1.2) times 104. This would give us a total population today of 1,144,875,680.

Reality Check

Unfortunately, the current population of the earth is more than five times greater than the number Morris’ figures yield. So, Morris’ numbers do not prove what he set out to prove.

This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to reach a population of 6 billion within 4,500 years starting with only 8 people. It just means that the Doctor isn’t much of a mathematician. If, for instance we adjust his numbers ever so slightly: taking 2.5 children per family instead of 2.4, we end up with a population of over 76 billion (12 times too many)!

But let’s help him out. Leaving his other figures alone, a ratio of 2.432 children per family would bring his calculations into the ballpark of our current actual population.

Applying the Calculation

Let’s now look at some of the results to history if this were true. Taking the calculation to its logical conclusion, we should be able to use Morris’ population model to roughly determine the world’s population for any given year. For instance, in his starting year after the flood, 2500 BCE, there were 8 people (Noah’s family). 43 years later there were 20 percent more people (10), and so on.

If we build an historical chart based on Morris’ calculation, we find that by the year 1038 BCE there were 6,178 people on earth. This was within the generation in which David took a census and found 1,100,000 adult males in Israel and 470,000 adult males in Judah (1 Chron. 21:5). If we assume that there were an equal number of women and children, then there were 3 million Israelites at a time when the total population of the world was only 6,178! Some other new “miracles” which the Doctor’s calculations reveal for the first time are listed in the chart below.

Outline of population history based on Dr. Morris’ calculations

(*adjusted to approximate current known population)

Total World

  Notable Events
BCE Noah’s family builds the pyramids! (Not recorded in the Bible.)
BCE Tower of Babel. Ten people have their language confounded by God (Gen. 11:4-9)
BCE Abram has 318 servants: 10 times more than the entire world population! (Gen. 14:14)
BCE Esau goes to meet Jacob with 400 men (nearly 5 times more than the total population of the world!) (Gen. 32:6)
BCE Jacob arrives in Egypt with 70 people (tripling the population of Egypt!) (Gen. 46:27)
BCE Exodus from Egypt of 600,000 men plus a “mixed multitude” Far more people than are on earth! (Ex. 12:37)
BCE Joshua kills 12,000 inhabitants of Ai (nearly 12 times more than all the people in the world)! (Joshua 8:25)
BCE David’s census of Israel & Judah: 1.5 million men out of a world population of 6,178! (1 Chron. 21:5)
820,674 37 CE  
997,940 80 CE  
1,213,495 123 CE  
1,475,610 166 CE  
1,794,342 209 CE  
2,181,920 252 CE  
2,653,214 295 CE  
3,226,309 338 CE  
3,923,192 381 CE  
4,770,601 424 CE  
5,801,051 467 CE  
7,054,078 510 CE  
8,577,758 553 CE  
10,430,554 596 CE  
12,683,554 639 CE  
15,423,201 682 CE  
18,754,613 725 CE  
22,805,609 768 CE  
27,731,621 811 CE  
33,721,651 854 CE  
41,005,528 897 CE  
49,862,722 940 CE  
60,633,070 983 CE  
73,729,813 1026 CE  
89,655,452 1069 CE  
109,021,030 1112 CE  
132,569,573 1155 CE  
161,204,600 1198 CE  
196,024,794 1241 CE  
238,366,150 1284 CE  
289,853,238 1327 CE  
352,461,537 1370 CE  
428,593,230 1413 CE  
521,169,367 1456 CE  
633,741,950 1499 CE  
770,630,212 1542 CE  
937,086,337 1585 CE  
1,139,496,986 1628 CE  
1,385,628,335 1671 CE  
1,684,924,056 1714 CE  
2,048,867,652 1757 CE  
2,491,423,065 1800 CE  
3,029,570,447 1843 CE  
3,683,957,663 1886 CE  
4,479,692,518 1929 CE  
5,447,306,102 1972 CE  
6,623,924,220 2015 CE  

*Adjusted to use 2.432 children per family instead of 2.4. Without this adjustment the population numbers would be smaller, and slightly more ridiculous.

As we can clearly see, the Doctor’s own calculation refutes the Bible.

But now, let’s get back to reality

According to the latest (2000) world population statistics, the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime is 2.9. If we were to leave the Doctor’s other figures alone, and use the more accurate 2.9 figure for the number of children per family, we would end up with a current population of 334,190,590,114,412,000! To give you an idea of how many people that is: over 6 billion people (slightly more than the entire current population of the earth) would have to be crammed into every square mile of landmass on earth!

So something is wrong here. Doctor Morris attempted to show that a simple calculation would allow for the present world population starting with 8 individuals 4,500 years ago. He then used that same simple calculation to show that humans could not possibly have been around for millions of years (else the world would be impossibly overpopulated). However, when we adjusted his figures for accuracy, we found that they caused the same problem of massive overpopulation using his starting point of 4,500 years ago. How can this be? Could it be that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way he is calculating this?

The past was different than the present

Could it be that the past was different than the present? Obviously, the Doctor’s own calculation requires this to be so. He cannot allow our present-day rate of increase to be applied to the past.

But if the past were different than the present in this respect, what else might have been different? The reality is this: infant mortality rates, as well as mortality rates in general, were much higher in the past. Few children survived the early nomadic existence of our prehistoric ancestors. And just like every other species on this planet, population can never exceed food supply for long. The human population did not increase dramatically until the development of agriculture, which dramatically increased the food supply and allowed people to settle in one area. Even then, the mortality rate remained high due to plagues, unrestrained diseases, famine, and wars. Our present rate of increase did not come about until relatively recent improvements in sanitation, medicine, and technology.

The Bunny Blunder

The calculation of Dr. Morris has fittingly been dubbed “the bunny blunder.” This is because it does not take the above considerations into account. If we could simply apply the rate of increase continuously backwards as he suggests, then we should be able to do the same with other species. Rabbits double their population every two years. Given the current rabbit population of the world, and a constant rate of increase, they must’ve all descended from two bunnies created about 100 years ago. Since the Bible tells us that the animals were created before man, we would have to conclude that man has been on this earth no longer than 100 years, and all of our history is make-believe put there by Satan and secular humanists to destroy our faith.


It is not “ridiculous” to “postulate earth’s population beginning one million years ago.” What is ridiculous is to postulate an earth-wide flood 4,500 years ago when we have a continuous stream of Egyptian artifacts stretching further back than the supposed flood: they show no interruption for an earth-wide flood or for the rebuilding of the Egyptian culture in the aftermath.

Having suffered through the ridiculous chart above, here is a more realistic estimation of the world’s population at various times throughout history:


1,000,000 BCE










1 CE












(Based on E.S. Deevey Jr. as reprinted in A. N. Strahler, page 367)

Geologic Strata

The Claim

“The geologic strata and time scale are totally unreliable in determining dates. There are ever so many places where the so-called oldest strata are on top. There are also many gaps where strata are missing.”

Unreliable in Determining Dates

The above claim is essentially true, but irrelevant. Geologic strata are not used in directly determining dates; they are used in determining geologic periods. This provides the context for then determining dates via several of the radiometric dating methods.

Oldest Strata Sometimes on Top

As a rule, the older strata was deposited first, and then covered over by younger deposits. The fact that there are exceptions to this rule is well known and accepted. In a cave, for instance, older strata would be both below and above the cave floor (both the floor and the ceiling of the cave would be older than new layers deposited atop the cave floor). When the cave collapsed, an older layer would lie atop the newer layer formed on the cave floor.

Folding of the strata is also common. The movement of the tectonic plates is one cause of this.

But even when some of the layers are out of sequence there is almost always a discernable pattern which holds the key to its history. In the Grand Morgon in the French Alps, for instance, folding has produced a strata sequence like D-C-B-A-B-C-D. Common sense suggests that the strata have been folded, and careful mapping bears that out. Footprints, mudcracks, ripple marks, cross laminations, and various other clues found on the surfaces of bedding planes often confirm beyond any shadow of a doubt that a given sequence of strata have been overturned.

A strata sequence of B-C-A-B-C, to give another example, suggests that the strata A-B-C had been shoved upon itself after breaking along a front, and that stratum A had eroded away. A geologist studying the site would look for evidence of an overthrust at the boundary of C-A. A careful mapping of an area is usually enough to unravel the mystery or at least point to a likely solution.

When geologists look at areas which haven’t been seriously disturbed, such as the Grand Canyon, they always find the strata in the right order. Some strata may be missing, but the order will be correct. Such studies soon made it abundantly clear to the early geologists that the earth’s strata has a very specific order. Thus arose the concept of the geologic column.

Radiometric dating supports only one order for the geologic column, the same order found in undisturbed areas. Radiometric dating, where applicable, also clearly identifies reversed strata and other anomalies.

There is really no question whatsoever as to the proper order of the world’s major strata.

Missing Strata

Missing layers are no problem at all once one understands that the concept of the geologic column is an abstract conceptual tool which gives order to the overall geologic record. It’s like a yearbook with the pictures of all the 9th graders in it. No one expects that every one of those 9th graders will belong to a particular club or show up for a particular dance! Neither do geologists expect any particular locality to exhibit all the known strata. The point is that the earth’s strata has a very definite chronological order to it, and that overall, ideal order, physically represented by all the known strata, is usually what is meant by the “geologic column”. Different localities will, to varying degrees of completeness and perfection, illustrate that ideal order.

One cause for “missing” strata is that it might not have been laid down in the first place! For instance, the thick strata now being formed in the oceans off our coasts are not forming on the mainland. Another example is the late Jurassic layer: it was not laid down everywhere; where land existed no sediment was being added, except in lakes, dune accumulations, and in certain other situations.

Another reason for “missing” layers is erosion. Given enough time, erosion will strip away exposed strata. Large parts of Canada have been stripped all the way down to the Precambrian rock due to the scraping effects of glaciers.

Again, “missing” strata present no problem for geologists. The geologic column has no missing strata because it is a catalog of all known strata; it is not a physical locality but a chronological compilation of all localities.


The above explanations can readily be found in the most elementary textbooks on geology (or within minutes of searching on the Internet). There is no excuse for anyone writing on this subject to be ignorant of these basic facts. If Dr. Dametz is not ignorant of them, then I can only conclude that he is purposely trying to deceive his readers by dismissing the geologic column in so off-hand a fashion. The usefulness of the geologic column in establishing geologic periods of time is a firmly established fact.

Meteoric Dust / Nickel Deposits

The Claim

“Over 14 million tons of meteoric dust settles to the surface of the earth each year. If the earth were 5 billion years old – as evolutionists claim – the entire globe would be covered with a layer of meteoric dust 54 feet deep.”

What Happens to Bad Science

Scientists sometimes do bad science. Even good scientists occasionally slip up. The beauty of the scientific process is that it is experimental. If someone postulates a theory, or draws a conclusion based on a faulty experiment, that is not the last word on the subject; it is not written in stone. In order to verify the results, other scientists are expected to run the same experiment and/or devise new and better experiments to test the hypothesis or conclusion. If subsequent experiments prove the initial conclusion to have been in error, the initial conclusion is revised in light of the facts.

Science is not like religion. Scientists do not issue proclamations about the world and then seek to bend the facts to fit their idea. The truth can never pose a challenge to science, because science is simply a tool for understanding the truth.

In the February 1960 issue of Scientific American, a scientist by the name of Hans Pettersson published his conclusion that about 5 million tons of meteoric dust falls to the earth each year (with an upper limit of less than 15 million tons). Subsequent tests proved that his estimate was much too high, and a more accurate estimate was determined to be between 18,000 to 25,000 tons per year.

Pettersson’s upper estimate for the influx of cosmic dust, a figure he considered risky, was based on particles he collected from two filtration units in the Hawaiian Islands. One was located near the summit of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and the other near the observatory on Haleakala, Maui. He measured the amount of nickel he collected, assumed that nickel was only present in meteoric dust, and assumed that some percentage of meteoric dust was nickel, to get his final figures. Unfortunately his first assumption was wrong and caused his published figures to be vastly inflated.

More accurate measurements were later made from satellite penetration data (which has no possibility of earthly contamination). This data has now been available for decades. It is consistent with the amount of meteoric dust the earth actually contains after 4.5 billion years of existence.

So, science moves on. It is self-correcting. But religionists seem to think that science wallows in the same rut they themselves are confined to. They seem to assume that a scientific conclusion is similar to a passage from the Bible: it must stand for all time as originally stated, and the inconvenient facts of reality must somehow be denied or twisted and forced into alignment with it. Fortunately, as I’ve pointed out, science isn’t like that. It doesn’t detract from the scientific method in the least when scientists change their mind in light of new facts: that, in fact, is the scientific method!

So, what happens to bad science? Where do the errors and mistakes end up after the scientists have wisely discarded them? Evidently the religionists snatch them up and run with them proclaiming that a “new scientific truth” corresponds with their own world view. Who is being honest, and who is being dishonest here?

Mistake Admitted

Of course not all religionists are like that. There is at least one Creationist technical paper on this topic which has admitted the truth. (It refers to the amount of meteoric dust on the moon, but is the same argument. The moon is often the preferred subject of this topic because the effects of erosion, so prevalent on earth are less of a factor). It concludes with these words:

“It thus appears that the amount of meteoritic dust and meteorite debris in the lunar regolith and surface dust layer, even taking into account the postulated early intense bombardment, does not contradict the evolutionists’ multi-billion year timescale (while not proving it). Unfortunately, attempted counter-responses by Creationists have so far failed because of spurious arguments or faulty calculations. Thus, until new evidence is forthcoming, Creationists should not continue to use the dust on the moon as evidence against an old age for the moon and the solar system.” (Snelling and Rush 1993)

But even though the Creationists themselves have refuted their own argument, it continues to be published and hawked as “truth” by religionists on the Internet and in church bulletins.

Moon Dust

The claim is made that the space program feared a soft landing on the moon because they thought it would be covered in many feet of meteoric dust. Of course no one knew for sure what we’d find on the moon until the first landing, but the general consensus prior to any landing was that the amount of dust would be insignificant.

In a conference held in late 1963, on the Lunar Surface Layer, McCracken and Dublin stated that:

“The lunar surface layer thus formed would, therefore, consist of a mixture of lunar material and interplanetary material (primarily of cometary origin) from 10 cm to 1 m thick. The low value for the accretion rate for the small particles is not adequate to produce large scale dust erosion or to form deep layers of dust on the moon, for the flux has probably remained fairly constant during the past several billion years.” (Shore, 1984, p. 204)
In 1965, a conference was held on the nature of the lunar surface. The basic conclusion of this conference was that both from the optical properties of the scattering of sunlight observed from the Earth, and from the early Ranger photographs, there was no evidence for an extensive dust layer. (Shore, 1984, p. 34)

Thus, several years before man landed on the moon there was a general feeling that our astronauts would not be greeted by vast layers of cosmic dust. In May 1966 Surveyor I landed on the moon, thus putting an end to any lingering doubts about a manned landing sinking into the dust.

Nickel Deposits

This argument states that “the oceans would be expected to yield vast amounts of nickel, since nickel forms a major component of meteorites.”

This argument rests on the above argument: it is based on the erroneous idea of 14 million tons of meteoric dust falling to the earth each year. Since the above argument is based on error, this argument is also based on error.


If the earth were really inundated with 14 million tons of meteoric dust a year, that would mean 26 tons a minute –nearly half a ton a second — would constantly be falling from the sky! If this were true we would see a spectacular year-round meteor shower!

The true amount of meteoric dust hitting the earth has been known for decades. Anyone who espouses truth would be well advised to actually tell it once in a while.

Magnetic Decay

The Claim

“Dr. Thomas G. Barnes… points out that the earth’s magnetic field has a half-life… of 1,400 years… The rate of decay is so rapid that the earth cannot be more than fifteen thousand years old. This is the latest scientific observation.”

In 1971 Barnes took about 25 measurements of the earth’s magnetic field strength (originally assembled by Keith McDonald and Robert Gunst (1967)) and fitted them to an exponential decay curve. He drew upon Sir Horace Lamb’s 1883 paper as theoretical justification for this. Following the curve backwards in time, Barnes showed that 20,000 years ago the earth’s magnetic field would have been impossibly high. Thus, he concluded that the earth is much younger than 20,000 years.

A “Crackpot Theory”

Not only is Barnes theory (first concocted 30 years ago) not the “latest scientific observation,” it has from the very beginning been regarded by the scientific community as a “crackpot theory”.

We cannot even dignify Barnes’ theory by calling it “bad science”; Barnes’ work lacked the scientific integrity, competence, and judgment one expects from a scientific work.

As we shall see, there are several fatal errors in Barnes’ work:

Obsolete Model Used

Barnes employed an obsolete model of the earth’s interior. Today, no one doing serious work on the earth’s magnetic field envisions its source as a free electrical current in a spherical conductor (the earth’s core) undergoing simple decay. Elsasser’s dynamo theory is the only theory today which has survived.

According to Barnes:

“In 1883 Sir Horace Lamb proved theoretically that the earth’s magnetic field could be due to an original event (creation) from which it has been decaying ever since” (Barnes 1973, p.viii).

The above is not a correct description of Lamb’s 1883 paper, which dealt only with electric currents and did not mention geomagnetism at all. Lamb’s ideas on electric currents had simply been pressed into service to support Barnes’s obsolete ideas about the origin of the earth’s magnetic field.

The dynamo theory has gained near universal acceptance because it is the only proposed mechanism that can explain all the observed features of the Earth’s magnetic field. In contrast, Barnes’ hypothesis of a freely decaying field cannot explain the existence, configuration, movement, or changes in the nondipole field, the fluctuations in the dipole moment, the reversals in field polarity, or the documentation in the geologic record of the continued existence of the field for more than three billion years.

This removes any serious reason for believing that the earth’s magnetic field has been continuously decaying.

Wrong Measurement Used

Barnes selected only the “dipole component” of the total magnetic field for analysis. The dipole field is not an accurate measurement of the overall strength of the earth’s magnetic field. The dipole field can decay even as the overall strength of the magnetic field remains the same!

Thus, we are not dealing with a simple decay. Energy is being shifted to other modes rather than being lost. Might not a reverse shift in energy increase the dipole field at times?

There is some reason to believe that the dipole field reached a maximum around 1800 and that it was smaller in 1600 than in 1800 (Yukutake 1971, p.23). Other recent work also suggests that the dipole field has fluctuated on a fairly short time scale (Braginsky 1970; papers by J. C. Cain and others in Fisher et al. 1975).

It seems that the dipole field has gone uphill at times! Studies of the magnetic field as recorded in dated rocks and pottery have shown that the dipole moment actually fluctuates over periods of a few thousand years and that decreases in field intensity are eventually followed by increases. For example, the archaeomagnetic data show that the dipole field was about 20% weaker than the present field 6,500 years ago and about 45% stronger than the present field about 3000 years ago (McElhinny and Senanayake, 1982).

This is fatal to Barnes’s idea of a constantly decaying magnetic field; evidence shows that the dipole field has increased in strength at times.

Preconceived Idea Used

Based on his preconceptions of the earth’s magnetic field, Barnes fit an exponential decay curve to the data. Barnes was guilty of circular reasoning. The use of an exponential decay curve is tantamount to assuming that the earth is young; one must show that the decay curve arises from the data not assume it! Otherwise, one is guilty of assuming that which must be proven, or arguing in circles.

If you actually plot the data, as Brush has done (1983, p.74), it becomes quite clear that the data does not justify an exponential decay curve. To be sure, the data doesn’t actually rule out an exponential decay curve, but that’s not particularly helpful since the data can be made to fit any number of radically different equations. A scientific handling of the data requires that we don’t play guessing games. We must use the simplest curve (usually favored by nature) that the data justifies. In this case, the data fits a linear curve (straight line) just as well. Thus, Barnes should have used a straight line.

Thus, instead of limiting the earth to less than 20,000 years of age, a more objective use of the data, a linear extrapolation, leads to 100 million years. However, both conclusions involve errors of procedure since there are no justifiable grounds for extending the curve great distances beyond the actual data. That amounts to pure speculation, which proves nothing.

Barnes’ arbitrary use of an exponential decay curve robs his argument of all force and reveals it to be nothing but wild speculation.

Important Fact Ignored

Barnes simply ignored the fact that the earth’s magnetic polarity has reversed itself on numerous occasions. That fact, alone, is absolutely fatal to every fibre of Barnes’s argument in that it destroys the theoretical foundation for believing that the earth’s magnetic field is continually decaying. In supporting the dynamo theory it also destroys any justification to read into the data a continual decline in field strength.


Anyone can dream up a theory and call it scientific: even people with impressive sounding credentials. But that doesn’t make it science. Science is verifiable: it must fit the facts. It must withstand the review and testing of other scientists and their experiments. If it fails to pass these tests, and other theories fit the facts better, then the original theory can not lay claim to being scientific. Those who insist on calling it “the latest scientific observation” are either ignorant or dishonest.

Carbon-14 Quantity

The Claim

“The Carbon-14 content of the atmosphere has not, as evolutionists assume, been constant over the centuries but rather is building up. The rate of buildup is about twenty percent over its decay rate. It is calculated that the time during which Carbon-14 has been accumulating in the atmosphere in order to reach its present level has been less than sixteen thousand years. Professor Whitelaw, after calculating all factors involved, has arrived at the actual date of creation, which is about seven thousand years ago.”


Evolutionists do not assume that the carbon-14 content has “been constant over the centuries” as Dr. Dametz claims. Variations in carbon-14 are well known, and their causes well understood.

A 2 to 3 percent reduction in the level of atmospheric carbon-14 was detected in the early part of the twentieth century. This was almost certainly due to the industrial revolution dumping huge volumes of carbon dioxide into the air through smokestacks (since carbon dioxide contains no carbon-14).

Of more recent date was the overcompensating effect of man-made carbon-14 injected into the atmosphere during nuclear-bomb testing. The result was a rise in the atmospheric carbon-14 level by more then 50 percent. So, it is true that the level has gone up recently. But to extrapolate this recent effect into the past and claim that the rate has been steadily rising all this time is to misrepresent the facts.

The truth is, these recent fluctuations have no significance in the case of older samples submitted for carbon-14 dating.

The ultimate cause of carbon-14 variations with time is generally attributed to temporal fluctuations in the cosmic rays that bombard the upper atmosphere and create terrestrial carbon-14. Whenever the number of cosmic rays in the atmosphere is low, the rate of carbon-14 production is correspondingly low, resulting in a decrease of the radioisotope in the carbon-exchange reservoir. Studies have revealed that the atmospheric radiocarbon level prior to 1000 BC deviated measurably from the contemporary level. In the year 6200 BC it was about 8 percent above what it is today. In the context of carbon-14 dating, this departure from the present-day level means that samples with a true age of 8,200 years would be dated by radiocarbon as only 7,500 years old.

But such fluctuations are overcome to a large degree by the use of calibration curves in which the carbon-14 content of the sample being dated is plotted against that of objects of known age. In this way, the deviations are compensated for and the carbon-14 age of the sample converted to a much more precise date. Calibration curves have been constructed using dendrochronological data (tree-ring measurements of bristlecone pines as old as 8,200 years).


Scientists who conduct carbon-14 dating use calibration curves to take into account the varying quantities of carbon-14 over time. Therefore it is just plain ignorance to claim that they “assume carbon-14 quantities have been constant.”

There were actually higher levels of carbon-14 in the past. In light of this, to state that the level has been steadily increasing for 16,000 years is to lie.

Dating Methods

The Claim

“The rock-dating methods which are most commonly used are the Uranium decay and the Potassium-Argon methods, but both of these have been proven faulty and unreliable in cases where the actual age of rock formations is known from history. In one case, lava rocks which were known to have been formed in 1800 and 1801 in Hukalai, Hawaii, show an age of 160 million years by the Potassium-Argon method. Science magazine, issue of October 11, 1968, reported dates of twelve to twenty-one million years for volcanic rocks known to be less than two hundred years old. There are numerous other reports showing the unreliability of the dating methods.”

Only Half the Story

This claim neglects to mention that geologists already thought that rocks formed under these particular conditions would give unreliable potassium-argon readings because they would trap argon before it could escape. The studies in question were performed to confirm this under controlled conditions, and thus to confirm to the scientific community that this particular type of rock is unsuitable for radiometric dating. Anyone who read the original findings would’ve known this, and that makes the misuse of this work by Creationists particularly underhanded.

The Full Story

Radiometric testing is never done in isolation. Geologists don’t pay much attention to analyses of rock samples unless their geological context is well understood. This is where the role of the geologic column comes into play. Without this context the wrong radiometric dating tools could be used: which could be like weighing a truck with a postal scale, or a fly with a truck scale.

When the procedure is done properly (i.e. using both the geologic column and the appropriate radiometric tests) the correlation is astounding. The odds of arranging the Precambrian era, the seven geologic periods of the Paleozoic, the three periods of the Mesozoic, and the two periods of the Cenozoic in their proper order by pure chance are 6.2 billion to one. And, when you consider that each period can also be divided into “upper, middle, and lower,” the odds of arranging them in the correct order by pure chance become astronomical. Radiometric dating has passed that severe test! It has correctly placed the Cambrian between the Precambrian and the Ordovician, the Ordovician between the Cambrian and the Silurian, the Silurian between the Ordovician and the Devonian, and so forth.

Confidence in radiometric dating techniques comes from years of careful comparisons to other radiometric techniques and to relative age determinations from biostratigraphy (fossils in layered rocks). In some cases, there are multiple isotope systems that may be analyzed in the same sample. Since these different systems react differently to the processes that disturb age recording, if the systems disagree with one another the age significance of the data is suspect.

Geoscientists try to use all available tools in combination to make sure that they’re not fooled by a single spurious analysis.


Working together, the geologic column and the radiometric tests have proven a reliable method for dating.

Concluding Comments

The Claim

“The scientific “proofs” formerly used to establish an immense age for the earth, including Uranium-Lead, Potassium-Argon and Rubidium-Strontium, are showing many flaws and weaknesses, while proofs for a young age are increasing.”

The Truth

The only flaws and weaknesses we have seen in this discussion are those in the Creationists’ integrity.

On the part of the scientific community, there is no real question as to the reliability of the dating methods. If we want to count as “proofs” the twisting of facts and the crackpot theories which Creationists are constantly dreaming up, then I guess we could grant that such “proofs” are increasing. But scientific proofs of a young earth are nonexistent.

It is one thing to claim that faith is to be preferred over science. But it is quite another matter to claim that science itself supports the fabulous claims of religion. Evidently some religionists are no longer content with faith, and are seeking to appropriate some of the veracity of the scientific method. But in the process they have revealed (through articles such as the one we’ve been considering) that either they don’t know what science is, or they are more than willing to lie in order to persuade people that their beliefs are scientific. Either way it looks bad, and in my opinion they would do better to leave off playing with science lest they burn their fingers any more than they already have.

Questions for Creationists

Now that we have answered Dr. Dametz’ question (the answer by the way is: the earth is about 4.5 billion years old based on the latest scientific findings.) I think it’s only fair that we pose some questions of our own for the Creationists to answer.

How did the geologic column come to be formed in such a way that the deeper layers have rocks which are consistently dated so much older than the top layers?

The Creationists’ standard reply is to say that these layers came about as the flood waters subsided at the time of Noah’s flood.

This yields another perplexing question: How can sediment and rock laid down in a mere year yield such fantastic, orderly differences in radiometric ages? This poses a fatal problem whether one believes in the accuracy of radiometric dating or not! One would think that the flood sediments (gathered from the four corners of the old antediluvian world) and their associated igneous rock (formed during the flood) would all register very little radiometric age. At the very least we would expect random fluctuations if the radiometric methods were totally inaccurate. Why should the percentage of lead to uranium in zircon crystals (the key to ordinary uranium-lead, radiometric dating) depend on which geologic period they are found in? If most of the geologic column were created during Noah’s flood, would it really matter whether a zircon crystal was found in Cambrian strata or Cretaceous strata, in Jurassic strata or Tertiary strata? Noah’s flood might just as easily deposit the same crystal in one place as another.

For the young-earth Creationist, this is an unsolvable mystery, a mystery with parallels in each of the radiometric clocks used by geologists. The potassium-argon, rubidium-strontium, samarium-neodymium, luteium-hafnium, rhenium-osmium, thorium-lead, and the two uranium-lead dating methods all point to the same amazing fact. The ratio between tiny amounts of radioactive elements and their decay products have this uncanny ability to determine which strata a rock will appear in! What is this magic ingredient that each of the geologic periods have which affects rocks and zircon crystals so? For those who believe that each of the geologic periods were laid down in days or weeks by Noah’s flood, the mystery has no intelligent answer. For the rest of us, the answer is as plain as daylight. The answer to our riddle is time. The Cambrian has simply been around a lot longer than the Cretaceous, and the radioactive uranium in its zircon crystals has had more time to decay into lead. The same radioactive elements in different geologic periods will have decayed by different amounts.

Even Creationists realize that time is the only answer, but they give that answer a strange twist. They imagine that the radioactive elements decayed much faster in the past! Such claims are mere flights of fantasy with no basis in fact or theory. Among other things, a Creationist must believe that zircon crystals, placed by Noah’s flood in this or that layer of the geologic column, had not yet developed their differences in lead content! Had zircon crystals been formed at different times before Noah’s flood, consequently being “aged” differently by this “faster” decay rate, then one must explain how the flood sorted them into the correct strata. The flood had no means for putting the older crystals (with the correct percentage of lead) in the Cambrian and the younger ones (with the correct percentage of lead) in the Cretaceous.

We are led to the absurd conclusion that each zircon crystal began to be “aged” differently by this “faster” decay rate only after being deposited by the flood! Before being laid to rest in the geologic column, each of our zircon crystals had been aged equally by the decay process, meaning hardly at all as we must account for those crystals in the most recent “flood strata.” In other words, this approach postulates a decay rate which, before Noah’s flood, hardly “ages” any of our zircon crystals. But, as soon as a zircon crystal is buried by Noah’s flood it begins to “age” in earnest while its brothers and sisters, still floating around in the flood, remain virtually untouched by the decay rate! Finally, the last of them are deposited by Noah’s flood and only “age” a tiny bit before the decay rates are reduced to the present level! This approach leaves us in the backwaters of fantasyland.

If our zircon crystals were not washed into place by Noah’s flood, then perhaps they were formed as each stratum was deposited. Chunks of magna somehow got buried or intruded here and there as the sediment fell out of the flood. Our zircon crystals then formed in this magma as it quickly cooled, thus beginning their “aging” at about the time they were buried. After the last flood layer was laid down, the decay rates became normal. Unfortunately, this cute answer is not without its own fatal flaws. Aside from the usual problems associated with monkeying around with the radioactive decay rates, a Creationist must believe that a mere year “aged” those zircon crystals in the Cambrian to a considerable degree. Thus, the decay rate must have been phenomenally high when Noah’s flood began. But, if that were true then those zircon crystals which had formed in the Precambrian basement rocks, being up to 1656 years older than Noah’s flood, being subjected to that phenomenally high decay rate, would have no uranium left at all! Their radiometric ages would be measured in trillions of years by today’s scientists, which is definitely not the case!

A few calculations will put the above point in a better perspective. Based on the present decay rate of U-238, the Cambrian period began about 570 million years ago. Since then the amount of uranium-238 has been reduced to 91.544% of itself by radioactive decay. From the Creationist viewpoint almost all of this decay had to occur during the year of Noah’s flood (had the decay rates remained high after the flood, the zircon crystals in the more recent strata (the last strata laid down by Noah’s flood) would have “aged” considerably, which is not the case.) Therefore, at the time of Noah’s flood the decay rate had to be such as to reduce the amount of uranium-238 to 91.544% of itself in one year. If we generously take that decay rate, with no thought of increasing it further as we look even further back into the past, we can calculate how much uranium-238 had to be present 1656 years before Noah’s flood, when the earth was created according to the Bible. It turns out that the amount of uranium-238 needed is 3.47 x 10^63 times the amount of uranium-238 around at the start of Noah’s flood! That is to say, that, if our entire solar system were made of uranium-238 the quantity would not even begin to suffice.

There is nothing like a few calculations to bring out the absurdity in Creationist thinking! They must now do more than simply assume that the decay rate was higher in the past, an assumption that may have seemed reasonable to the intelligent (but scientifically ignorant) person. They must now assume that the decay rates were low before Noah’s flood, that they became phenomenally high during the year of Noah’s flood, and that they then dropped to normal after Noah’s flood. Such tailor-made assumptions will convince only true believers.

Why is it that there are no elements occurring in nature with a half-life less than 80 million years?

Every single nuclide with a half-life greater than 80 million years is found in nature; every single nuclide with a half-life less than 80 million years is not found in nature unless it is currently being produced by nature. Does that tell you something?

You’re looking at prime evidence in favor of an old Earth! Those radioactive nuclides with half-lives below a certain value have, in the turning of the ages, decayed away to nothing. The only survivors are those which can be created by nature.

Could this be a chance arrangement? Not likely. The odds against being able to draw a line anywhere in time which divides the nuclides so that all the nuclides above that line are found in nature while all those below are not, is 536 million to one! (To be fair, we don’t count those which nature can create.) Actually, in testing for a 10,000 year-old Earth, we should extend the line downwards to include nuclides with a half-life of 1000 years or more. They should be present if the earth is only 10,000 years old. If you do that, you will get the same pattern as before. The odds (based on an eligible list of 56 nuclides) now jump to 72 quadrillion to one! Any takers?

Those who argue that the missing nuclides were never created must hope and pray that there is some natural process which works against the creation of short-lived nuclides. However, that argument comes up empty also. There is good evidence that nucleosynthesis occurs in stars today and did so in the past.

In the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is a small companion galaxy to our own Milky Way, a spectacular supernova (SN1987A) occurred in 1987. After the main explosion died away, much of the light from this supernova was actually powered by radioactive elements! For a time cobalt-56 (with a half-life of 77.1 days) dominated. It is a decay product of nickel-56 (with a half-life of only 6.1 days) which was produced in quantity by the explosion. After the cobalt-56 decayed away over a period of about 4 years, cobalt-57 (with a longer half-life of 270 days) became the main source of the supernova’s light. The decay of cobalt-56 and cobalt-57 liberates gamma rays of very specific energies, and these diagnostic gamma rays can be detected by high altitude balloons or satellites. Moreover, astronomers could actually watch the light fade according to the exact decay rates of these two cobalt nuclides! (Gehrels et al, 1993, p.75).

Beginning around November [of 1987], spectra from the Kuiper [NASA’s airborne infrared telescope] and from Australia together revealed an entire zoo of elements in the supernova core not just iron, nickel and cobalt but also argon, carbon, oxygen, neon, sodium, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, chlorine, potassium, calcium and possibly aluminum. Their intense infrared lines signaled larger quantities than could have been present in the star at its birth. The elements — the components, perhaps, of some future solar system — were made in the core of the star or in the explosion itself. (Woosley and Weaver, 1989, p.38)

Such direct evidence, as well as laboratory findings and theoretical study, make it clear that when Mother Nature gets around to cooking up elements she makes plenty of those “missing” nuclides.

They are missing from our old neck of the woods because they decayed away a long time ago.

Finally, to add insult to injury, we find compelling evidence that some of the short-lived nuclides really did exist in our solar system once upon a time! Take aluminum-26, for example, which has a half-life of 720,000 years.

The fact that our solar system lacks aluminum-26 suggests that it is at least 15 million years old. That’s about how long it would take for all the aluminum-26 to decay away. Mother Nature certainly knows how to make it; there’s no problem in that department. With the help of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which was placed into orbit in 1991 by the space shuttle Atlantis, we now know that our galaxy is full of aluminum-26 (Gehrels et al, 1993). Most of it lies along the galactic plane as would be expected if it were produced by supernovae from time to time.

Supernovae not only produce new elements but are implicated in the birth of stars. The gas shells of ancient supernovae have been identified, and some of these coincide with swarms of young stars. This is not too surprising since the shock wave of a supernova would compress any gas clouds which happened to be in the vicinity, thus setting the stage for the formation of new stars.

Indeed, our own solar system appears to have formed in that very manner! John Wood (1982) gives an excellent account of that discovery from which the following has been abstracted. It all began with the Allende meteorite which broke up over Mexico on February 8, 1969, showering the area near the village of Pueblito de Allende with thousands of stones. Scientifically speaking, it was one of the most important meteors ever to fall. Radiometric dating showed that the material was about 4.5 billion years old which is the accepted age of our solar system. More importantly, Allende samples contain some inclusions which once floated freely in space before being packed together with the surrounding space dust. These are rich in calcium, aluminum, and titanium, and are called CAI minerals. CAI minerals appear to be survivors of a primeval heating of the material from which our solar system was formed.

In 1976 G. J. Wasserburg and coworkers of the California Institute of Technology found unequivocal evidence of the former presence of Al-26 in Allende CAI’s. This isotope has a very short half-life, only 720,000 years, toward its decay into Mg-26. For any detectable amount of it to have been “alive” in Allende inclusions requires that it was created immediately before or during the formation of the solar system, and promptly mingled with the solar system’s raw materials. It seems inescapable that a supernova (which is capable of creating Al-26, among other things) occurred near enough to the nascent solar system in space and time to contribute important amounts of freshly synthesized nuclides to it. (Wood, 1982, pp.191-192)

That ancient supernova probably triggered the collapse of a nearby nebula which, in turn, produced our sun and, most likely, a slew of other stars which have long since left the general vicinity. Such a supernova, like SN1987A, would have contributed a whole zoo-full of short-lived radioactive nuclides in addition to aluminum-26. Vast quantities of oxygen, carbon, sulfur, iron, silicon and other basic elements would likely have been produced as well.

Consequently, we not only have Wasserburg’s discovery that aluminum-26 was present in the early solar system but also the supernova process responsible for it which guarantees that short-lived nuclides were a natural part of the landscape. Had the earth literally been created in seven days, Adam and Eve would have fried amongst the radioactive aluminum, cobalt, and what-have-you!

Another of the missing nuclides (very nearly so) is that of radioactive iodine-129 which has also left solid evidence of its former extensive existence in our solar system. In the Richardson Meteorite, which fell in 1918, and the black stone Indarch, which fell in 1891, one finds regular iodine-127. That’s the iodine you hopefully find in iodized salt. Since iodine-129 would have been produced along with ordinary iodine-127 during nuclear fusion, and since their chemical similarity would have tended to keep them together, we have a mystery. Where did all the iodine-129 go?

Studies showed that the above two meteorites have unusually large amounts of xenon-129 trapped in them, and, you guessed it, xenon-129 is a stable decay product of iodine-129! There was far more xenon present than could be created by cosmic rays. But there is more:

In the Earth’s atmosphere, Xe-129 constitutes about one-fourth of total xenon. … Yet in many meteorites Xe-129 is as much as 30 times more abundant, relative to the other xenon isotopes, than expected (Reynolds, 1967: 294, 1977: 217). As it is very probable that isotopes of the same element were thoroughly mixed when the Solar System formed, where did the excess Xe-129 come from? (Dalrymple, 1991, p.384)

Thus, we have something missing and something extra, and the two are only sensibly linked by radioactive decay! Iodine-129, which would have been created side by side with its chemical twin, iodine-127, had long ago decayed away, and xenon-129 is a daughter product of that decay.

With a half-life of 16.4 million years, 99.97% of that iodine-129 would still exist if our earth were only 7000 years old! Since it’s all gone, save that produced by atomic bombs and in tellurium ores, Earth is at least 300 million years old.

When we consider the table of nuclides as a whole, we find that the earth is more than a few but less than about 10 billion years of age (Dalrymple, 1991, p.387). For a variety of reasons this approach can only give us a rough estimate, but it’s enough to easily put away the young-earth claims.

Out of sheer desperation, Creationists often challenge the constancy of the decay rates. Maybe radioactive elements decayed much faster in the past! However, neither theory nor laboratory experience offers any hope for them. That fact, of course, hasn’t prevented Creationists from taking flights of fantasy via their homespun theories about the universe. They simply toss Einstein’s relativity, quantum mechanics, and any other inconvenient bit of science into the trash bin!

But, hey! Special relativity (and to a lesser extend, general relativity) and quantum mechanics have earned their stripes. They are the great success stories of modern science! We’re not talking about rank speculation here! Atom smashers are built according to the specifications of special relativity; quantum mechanics is the proven core of theoretical chemistry. Both have been tested by diverse and clever experiments, and have run true in thousands of applications.

Who are these Creationists who can walk in and, without even putting their case before the scientific community, make up their own theories about the universe? They are generally individuals who are driven by religious doctrines of biblical literalism rather than by an honest search for truth. On the pretense that we have no reliable theoretical knowledge, they ask who was there, in those long lost ages, to check those decay rates. That is their ultimate refuge against the reliability of the radiometric clocks.

The astounding fact is that we do have a direct observation pertaining to ancient decay rates! The light of supernova SN1987A, in its trailing phases, was produced almost entirely by the radioactive decay of cobalt-56, at first, then cobalt-57 a few years later. Those two nuclides of cobalt were positively identified by their gamma rays as they decayed. In both cases the rate at which the light faded precisely matched the decay rates for cobalt-56 and cobalt-57!

All we need now is the distance to SN1987A — which turns out to be around 170,000 light-years. Putting it all together, we reach the firm conclusion that we are seeing SN1987A as it was about 170,000 years ago. Thus, as it were, we have a window on the past which confirms that there have been no changes in the decay rates for cobalt56 and cobalt57. Hence, there is no reason for believing that any of the decay rates have changed as quantum mechanics describes them all and has been vindicated in the case of the two cobalt isotopes.

How is it that tree-ring dating extends back 8,000 years with no sign of being disturbed by an earth-wide flood?

Dr. Charles Ferguson of the University of Arizona has, by matching up overlapping tree rings of living and dead bristlecone pines, carefully built a tree ring sequence going back to 6273 BC (Popular Science, November 1979, p.76). It turns out that such things as rainfall, floods, glacial activity, atmospheric pressure, volcanic activity, and even variations in nearby stream flows show up in the rings. We could add disease and excessive activity by pests to that list.

Different locations on the mountain also affect tree growth in that factors such as temperature, moisture, soil thickness, soil type, susceptibility to fire, susceptibility to wind, and the amount of sunlight received vary, sometimes dramatically. For example, a tree growing near a stream would be less susceptible to the effects of drought. Even the genetic inheritance of a tree plays a role in that it will magnify or retard the above factors. Thus, even trees on the same mountain, of the same species, don’t always crossdate as nicely as one might think.

Creationists sometimes seize upon such isolated facts in their desperate bid to discredit tree-ring dating. They either don’t understand–or don’t want to understand–that careful statistical studies have settled the issue beyond a reasonable doubt.

Creationists will even quote statistics for species of trees which no dendrochronologist would ever think of using! Some species of trees are not sensitive enough to the year-to-year climatic changes while others sport such an irregular growth rate as to be worthless for precise tree-ring dating. We get horror stories from Creationists about how easy it is for a tree to produce two or more rings in one year. They have neglected to inform their readers that such problems are minimal for some species of trees. Dr. Andrew E. Douglass, who pioneered the field of dendrochronology, found that ponderosa pine and douglass fir are especially excellent for dating purposes. In such species spotting a double ring was “…easy to do by eye after a very little training…” (American Scientist, May-June 1982).

In the case of the bristlecone pine, the problem of double rings is hardly any problem at all!

The dendrochronological check on radiocarbon dating is not without its own problems, the main one being that some species of trees may, under certain climatic conditions such as late frost, produce more than one ring per year [Glock and Agerter, 1963]. Fortunately, however, this has been “extremely rare” in the carefully checked history of bristlecone pines [Ferguson, 1968, p.840]. (Bailey, 1989, p.101)

Dr. Charles Ferguson goes on to say that the growth-ring analysis of about 1000 bristlecone pine trees in the White Mountains, where these tree-ring studies are done, turned up no more than three or four cases where there was even a trace of extra rings. In fact, the case for partially or totally missing rings is much more impressive. A typical bristlecone pine has up to 5 percent of its rings missing (Weber, 1982, p.25). Thus, if anything, one is likely to get a date that is too young! A careful statistical study, of course, minimizes even that problem. That’s why statistics were invented!

Other species of trees corroborate the work that Ferguson did with bristlecone pines. Before his work, the tree-ring sequence of the sequoias had been worked out back to 1250 BC. The archaeological ring sequence had been worked out back to 59 BC. The lumber pine sequence had been worked out back to 25 BC. The radiocarbon dates and tree-ring dates of these other trees agree with those Ferguson got from the bristlecone pine. (Weber, 1982, p.26)

The great Sierra redwoods have a different tree-ring pattern than does the bristlecone pine, and the other two cases mentioned by Weber probably have yet another pattern. Thus, because of the completely different environments in which these trees live, their tree-ring patterns do not directly correlate with each other. However, as Weber notes, the carbon-14 dating method bridges these differences. In other words, a specific date, say 200 AD, can be located in a redwood, a bristlecone pine, and a douglass fir by counting their tree-rings. A carbon-14 test can then be made on the wood of each of those three tree-rings to see if they really do point to one date, namely 200 AD. (Actually, carbon-14 dating is not that precise, so a carbon-14 date really corresponds to a small range of tree-ring dates.) Thus, since this test has been passed, we not only have a partial check on the carbon-14 method, itself, but we have additional proof of the accuracy of tree-ring dating. We now have several species of trees whose ring counts agree with each other.

Our confidence in tree-ring dating is, therefore, established beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tree-rings prove that no earth-wide flood ever occurred. By means of overlapping tree-rings we know that there was no interruption in tree growth around 2500 BCE (the Biblical date of Noah’s flood). If an earth-wide flood occurred about that time, why don’t the tree-rings record having been submerged under water for a year? More to the point: how could these trees possibly have even survived the initial torrent without being uprooted, and had they somehow survived that, how did they continue to thrive under the murky depths and incredible pressure of tons of water for a year?

A related question concerning these tree-rings is: why is there no dramatic difference between the antediluvian tree-ring pattern, supposedly grown under lush, tropical conditions (due to the water canopy hanging over the earth prior to its raining down), and the present day tree-ring pattern which reflects a harsher environment? One would expect to see a dramatic change between big, fat tree-rings and thin, hard ones upon crossing that boundary in the tree-ring sequence! Nothing of the sort is found in the 8000-year-old, tree-ring history of the bristlecone pine.

Nor are the bristlecone pines the only plants with a history refuting Noah’s flood. The King Clone creosote bush, today a patch of shrubbery 70 by 25 feet in the Mojave Desert about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, goes back 11,700 years! Frank C. Vasek, a botany professor at the Riverside campus of the University of California, who found the bush, has determined that the patch of shrubbery originally began as a single plant sprouting from one seed. As the plant grew outward the interior portions died out, thus leaving a huge ring with each clump becoming a clone of the first growth. I guess Noah’s flood didn’t bother this desert shrub any! Though how a desert shrub could’ve survived in the tropical antediluvian world is another mystery Creationists must solve.

A literal interpretation of the Bible is the only source for believing the earth to be less than 10,000 years old. If the flood, which is such an integral part of that chronology could not possibly have occurred within this time-frame, it throws the entire chronology of the Bible out the window, and we are left with no reason for believing in a “young earth”. In contrast, wherever we look in nature we find scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old.


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One comment on “Proof Of Age of Earth

  1. Victor Polk says:

    Actually, evolutionists DO assume what do they think about the accuracy for the Earth’s age.

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