HOW WE KNOW THE WORLD IS YOUNG
The author of this manuscript
has a Masters degree in physics and is a former high school science teacher. This
is written to show that the young earth position is a reasonable
alternative to the standard evolutionary timetable. It is understandable
that these concepts will sound strange to individuals trained in science
for years, only from the evolutionary point of view. It is hoped that the
reader will evaluate the arguments presented here honestly, based on their
own merits and not on preconceived biases. Many people with graduate degrees
in the sciences, from around the world, have become convinced of the scientific
validity of the creation position. There is also technical level research that backs up the following points.
Click below to jump to these sections:
Changes to Earth's Magnetic Field
Spiral Galaxies and the Solar System
Rapid Formation of Rock Strata
Probably the hottest controversy related to creation and
evolution is the question of the age of the Earth and the universe. Evolutionists
believe the Earth and Solar System are about 4.5 billion years old and
the universe about 12 to 14 billion years old. Young Earth Creationists
usually say the Earth is probably in the range of 6-10,000 years old. Though
many scientifically trained people have turned from evolution to creation,
the idea of a 10,000 year old Earth and universe is the hardest part of
creation for many to accept. Some Christians will say, "what matters to
me is the Rock of Ages, not the ages of rocks," thinking the issue to be
unimportant. But the age of the Earth is an important issue because of the following. 1)
Evolution absolutely requires billions of years. Thus, if there is valid evidence of a young Earth that effectively rules out evolution as a possibility. 2) The Bible implies things are only thousands of years old. This is based on interpreting Genesis as straightforward narrative and taking the Biblical history at face value. 3) Arguments for an old Earth, solar system, or universe are often used to make people question the authority and reliability of the Bible. If the
Earth is billions of years old and evolution occurred this calls into question Biblical history. Indeed even many Biblical scholars do not take the Old Testament as historically accurate or treat the time scale from the Old Testament as realistic. This makes the age issue very important. The truth of the Bible hinges on real history and real people and events. The Bible claims to be the revealed word of the infinite-personal Creator-God. Thus, if it is that, it must speak with authority
even when it speaks about nature and history. From a Christian perspective, Science does not speak with as much authority (or certainty) as the word of God. But it is legitimate to ask if there is scientific evidence to confirm the Biblical time scale. The arguments below show that the Earth and universe could be only several thousand years old, as the Bible implies. 4) Being honest with the scientific evidence points to everything being young. Modern evolutionary science,
despite having the support of the scientific community, is wrong about the age of the Earth and universe. There are a wide variety of unrelated processes that point to a young age. There are only a few processes that could suggest things are old and today with new research from creationists, there are better alternatives to the usual old-age ideas. Although no one can really conclusively prove
the Earth to be young or old, thousands of years is more reasonable or
plausible than billions. Young-age creationists
do not have answers to all the technical questions that can be asked, but
I believe very significant progress has been made in coming to some answers.
Many issues related to age questions in science need more research also.
Before we look at the problems with radioactive dating techniques
and scientific evidences for things being young, let's consider what the Bible says
about the age of the World. In Genesis 5 and 11 and in Luke there are genealogies
tracing family lineages from Adam all the way to Jesus. These lists in Genesis 5 and 11 give more than just genealogical information, they give chronological information as well. Because these genealogies
list the time from birth until one of the sons was born an approximate
age of the earth can be calculated by adding up these ages. By comparing
the Genesis information with other passages and making a few reasonable
estimates it is clear that the earth must be at least 6,000 years old.
Comparing genealogies in the Bible show that there could be a few "gaps"
in the genealogies where some individuals have been left out. But this
could not possibly add a really significant amount of time. It is doubtful that this could add more than two thousand years to the 6,000, at the very most.1
So, the Bible implies the earth, the solar system,
and the universe are "young," probably in the range of six to eight thousand
This sharply disagrees with the teachings of evolution but
actually does agree with the scientific evidence, if one looks at all of
the facts. The word "fact," in common usage means something that is true.
The word has been used in this way in reference to evolution, which is
unprovable and unfalsifiable using scientific methods. In science, "fact"
properly means an observation, something learned using the five senses.
Creationists and Evolutionists both have their own particular biases or
beliefs which affect how they interpret the facts. No theory of origins
can possibly be proved by the scientific method, since origins deals with
events that happened once in the past. Anything that cannot be repeated
in experiments of some kind cannot be conclusively proven by the scientific
method. Scientists can only do tests or calculations in the present. So,
in the study of origins, we are limited scientifically to the question
of how plausible or reasonable a theory is. And where a scientist's bias
comes from is irrelevant to whether his view of origins is scientifically
plausible. The challenge in issues of origins is to get all of the
relevant information and to be willing to face the truth when one finds
it. Information pointing to the Earth and universe being young is too often
blindly dismissed, rather than intelligently evaluated.
The primary thing used by evolutionists to argue for an old
earth is radiometric dating. In these techniques the amounts of different
radioactive atoms in a rock or other objects are measured precisely. In
radioactivity an unstable atom gives off particles and radiation as it
changes from one element to another. From the amounts of the different
radioactive atoms (radioisotopes) present and from the rate one atom changes to another
the age of the sample can be calculated. This has been applied to organic
material such as wood in Carbon-14 dating. Carbon-14, however, can only
be used to measure thousands of years. Other radioactive elements are used
to attempt to measure longer times, such as Uranium/Lead, Potassium/Argon
and Rubidium/Strontium dating.2
Although scientists are very good at the calculations and
at doing accurate laboratory measurements of the amounts of the different atoms, these techniques
are based on very questionable assumptions and yield unreliable results.
Evolutionists assume first that the decay rate of one atom changing to
another is known and has never been different than it is today. There is new research that this assumption is not correct. See the Creation Answers newsletter articles from June 2004 to March 2005 on this research.
Secondly, evolutionists tend to assume that no radioactive atoms have been
taken away or added to by other means; that the sample has been a "closed
system" since it formed. This is a very bad assumption since various natural
processes can interfere with the process and make the calculated ages too
large. One example would be rain washing Uranium out of rocks, making the
rock appear older than it really is. Another example would be that basalt rocks, which are solidified lava, often contain trapped Argon and this can throw off Potassium/Argon radioisotope ages for these rocks.
The third assumption of radiometric dating is of scientists
assuming what amounts of the different radioactive atoms were present when
the rock formed. The conditions at the beginning must be put into the calculations
somehow. At this point it is very easy for evolutionists to use numbers
which conveniently fit old earth thinking, regardless of whether they fit
the facts. This assumption regarding the initial amounts is a bad one since
there simply were no scientists there in the beginning to measure the initial
conditions. So, there is no way to really know how much was there in the
beginning or when the rock formed.2 At this point many geologists would say that a common technique called the isochron method is able to determine the initial concentrations of the radioactive isotopes and so this assumption can be checked and allowed for in the calculation. Without going into details here, the isochron method does not work so well as often believed. There are false isochrons that make the technique appear to work sometimes when it really doesn't. Also, using more
than one radioisotope method on the same samples often gives inconsistent results. Creation scientists from the Institute for Creation Research have thoroughly documented problems with the isochron technique with their own field and laboratory studies. Technical level material is published on this research in technical books from the Institute for Creation Research and in the proceedings from the International Conferences on Creationism.
These are general problems in the assumptions of radiometric
dating techniques. There are sometimes other problems peculiar to each
method. The Rubidium/Strontium "isochron" method is a case deserving special
comments, given below. Sometimes, radioisotope dating methods yield absurd results
and different radioisotope methods may not agree with each other:
"Radiocarbon analysis of specimens obtained from
mummified seals in southern Victoria Land has yielded
ages ranging from 615 to 4,600 years. . . . A seal freshly
killed at McMurdo had an apparent age of 1,300 years."
Dort, Wakefield Jr., 'Mummified seals of southern Victoria
Land,' Antarctic Journal (Washington), vol. 6, Sept.-Oct.
1971, p211. [taken from The Revised Quote Book]
"It is obvious that radiometric techniques may not be the
absolute dating methods that they are claimed to be. Age
estimates on a given geological stratum by different
radiometric methods are often quite different (sometimes by
hundreds of millions of years)."
Stansfield, William D., The Science of Evolution,
1977, pp 82, 84. [taken from The Revised Quote Book]
"Such enthusiasts continue to claim, incredible though it
may seem, that 'no gross discrepancies are apparent.'
Surely 15,000 years of difference on a single block of soil
is indeed a gross discrepancy! . . . 'Absolute' dates
determined by a laboratory carry a lot of weight, and are
extremely helpful in bolstering weak arguments. . . . No matter
how 'useful' it is, though, the radiocarbon method is still not
capable of yielding accurate and reliable results. There
gross discrepancies, the chronology is uneven and
and the accepted dates are actually selected dates."
Lee, Robert E., Radiocarbon: Ages in Error, Anthropological
Journal of Canada, vol. 19, no. 3, 1981, pp 9-29. Also
in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 19, no.
1982, pp 123, 125. [taken from The Quote Book]
The "isochron" technique is a method used in radioisotope
dating to avoid some of the potential problems. The isochron method uses
multiple samples and uses straight line graphs to obtain the age of the
material in question. As such, the method involves certain assumptions about the molten
rock in the earth's mantle. The rubidium/strontium (Rb/Sr) method depends
on measurements of the ratio of the amount of Strontium-87 to the amount
of Strontium-86. In an article in Science, Sept. 17, 1976 (vol.193, p 1086)
C. Brooks, D. E. James, and S. R. Hart explain how concentrations of these
radioactive elements in the mantle can cause Rb/Sr dates to be much too
large. There the authors construct graphs called "pseudoisochrons," which
should have slopes of zero, according to the standard assumptions of the
method. But the slopes were not zero, indicating what the authors call
"excess" ages. The authors give examples of cases where the excess time
is from 70 million to 3 billion years.
Dr. Steven A. Austin at the Institute for Creation Research
has done original research dating samples of basalt rock from the Grand
Canyon. The Grand Canyon contains two formations of rock which formed from
lava flows-the Cardenas Basalt, among the lowest layers of the canyon,
and the basalts of the Uinkaret Plateau. The basalts at the Uinkaret Plateau
are known to be much more recent than the Cardenas basalts since they poured
over the rim of the canyon some time after the canyon formed. Dr. Austin
has sent several whole-rock samples to three different laboratories to
be dated. The results show certain assumptions of the Rubidium/Strontium
technique to be demonstrably in error since the younger lava flows of the
Uinkaret Plateau calculate to be older than the accepted age figure
for the lower Cardenas basalts.3 Other problems could be mentioned
and more quotes from the scientific literature cited to demonstrate the
problems with radiometric dating.
Creationists are working on developing techniques to correct
some of these age calculations using better assumptions. The RATE research project conducted by the Institute for Creation Research examined several key issues related to radioisotope dating methods. First, Helium is produced by the decay of Uranium in many granite rocks. The RATE study looked at the rate of diffusion of this Helium out of zircon crystals in granite. They found that the amount of Helium strongly supported a young Earth, giving an age of from 4,000 to 8,000 years. There
is other extraordinary evidence from the RATE research effort that Earth must be young because of the amount of Carbon-14 that still remains in various materials that should not still have radioactive Carbon in them. Radioisotope dating labs always find that no matter how careful they are with their techniques there is always a minimum amount of Carbon-14 present, even in samples that should be old enough that Carbon-14 should no longer be measurable. Carbon-14 still exists in many materials
where no measurable Carbon-14 should be left (such as in diamonds for example). This research gives very strong evidence of the Earth being young.
The point is, radiometric dating is not reliable. There
is a need for other methods and there is a need to correct radioisotope ages. Creationists have found literally dozens of
totally unrelated things in nature which show that the earth and universe
cannot be billions or millions of years old. The strength of the evidence
for a young earth and universe lies in the fact that there are so many
unrelated phenomena pointing to the same conclusion. There is more evidence closer to home, as it were, such as for the Earth because we have better data and there has been more research by creationists. There is less evidence in astronomy related issues because there has been less research on those issues by creationists. However, the new RATE research, and other studies by creationists, may be changing this. The oldest living
things are Bristlecone Pine trees; one of these in eastern Nevada is about
4,900 years old.11 There is no reason these trees could not
live longer than that. This must indicate the time since the Great
Noahic Flood. Following are brief descriptions of some of the best evidences
that the world is young, just as the Bible implies.
the Earth's Magnetic Field
This may be the strongest argument for the Earth being young.
It may also have implications for the planets. This is original work from
a practicing physicist, Dr. D. Russell Humphreys; he says the Earth must
be less than 9,000 years old based on how the Earth's magnetic field has
lost energy since creation.5 The Earth is an electromagnet;
electrical currents in the Earth's liquid iron core produce a field with
a North and South pole like the Earth has today. Evolutionists have believed
for years that the Earth's magnet has reversed polarity many times throughout
the supposed 4.6 billion years of Earth history. This means the North pole
would become the South pole and vice versa. Evolutionists think of the
Earth as a kind of generator, called a dynamo, continually generating magnetic
energy as it maintains itself for billions of years through cycles of reversals.
Dr. Humphreys has shown that there have been magnetic reversals,
but they happened very rapidly during the year of Noah's Flood, not over
billions of years. The evidence for reversals is from measuring magnetized
minerals in volcanic rock at many locations around the earth.6
When lava containing iron cools below a certain temperature called the
Curie Point, it will become permanently magnetic due to the Earth's field.
Scientists find that in places around the Earth the magnetism of rocks
will be in strips or zones pointing in different directions. Dr. Humphreys
theories seem to explain these facts very well; other researchers, not
creationists, found evidence of a magnetic reversal that only took two
weeks, just as Humphreys theories required.7
Dr. Humphreys has proposed a model for magnetic fields of
planets unlike the evolutionary dynamo model. Humphreys used his model
to correctly predict the strengths of the magnetic fields of Uranus and
Neptune before the Voyager spacecraft measured them.7 This is
a prime example of an area where a creationist approach explains the facts
better than an evolutionist approach. Humphreys suggests that the Earth's
field was much stronger at Creation and has lost energy since that time,
probably losing most of its energy during the violent upheavals of Noah's
Spiral Galaxies and the Solar System
Galaxies with spiral shapes have a "lifetime" because
the spiral arms slowly wrap up into a circle as the galaxy rotates. It
has been estimated that some spiral galaxies' arms would be destroyed in
200 million years or less.9 But there are many spiral galaxies
that still exist. So, the universe could be young. The author and other
creationists are currently studying other processes in space which point
to youth rather than billions of years.
There are processes in our solar system that suggest our solar system is young. One example is short-period comets. There are at least three categories of comets, distinguished by the periods of their orbits. Short-period comets have periods less than 200 years, which is how long it takes for them to make one full orbit. It is believed by many planetary scientists that comets come from something called the Oort cloud which is believed to exist at great distance from our Sun. It
is thought that occasionally passing stars will pull objects out of the Oort cloud and send them in toward the Sun. This would make comets with very long periods. If long-period comet orbits pass near to one of the outer planets, such as Neptune, its orbit can be altered and changed into a shorter period orbit. Thus, scientists believe comets orbits get converted from being very long, to shorter where they pass beyond the orbit of Neptune but they can come close to the Sun on occasion.
We see them when they come near the Sun. There has long been a problem that scientists can't explain how the short-period comets can be replenished fast enough. Short-period comets can only survive a few trips around the Sun before the volatile materials "burn off" and we can no longer see them. So, if the solar system is billions of years old, something must be replenishing the short-period comets. There has never been an adequate explanation of this.
There are other processes in the solar that suggest the solar system is young. Many of these are topics that deserve more research. In several planets and moons there are a variety of processes where there is a problem explaining how the object could have so much energy to drive various processes. For example, Neptune, which is far from the Sun and gets little energy from it, has very high speed winds. Where does the energy come from to drive these winds? If Neptune is old, it should
"run down" and it should have lost energy and the winds should not be so intense. But if it is only thousands of years old, it is easier to understand how it could still have the energy to drive the high speed winds. Io, one of the moons of Jupiter, has extremely active volcanism and gives off vast amounts of infrared radiation. Basically, it is very hot. It is known that tidal forces produce a lot of heat in Io but the tidal forces have not adequately explained the incredible
heat flux from Io.12 One model of the interior of Io suggested that there could be large magma chambers that build up lava for up to 10,000 years and then erupt generating massive volcanic eruptions like we see on Io (and similar to a few Earth volcanoes). The data on Io can be interpreted to mean it is actually less than approximately 10,000 years old, and not billions. There are often other possibilities for interpreting the observations in terms of a young age rather than an old age. Sometimes
a young age point of view actually makes it much easier to explain the facts. This seems to be the case with Io. Old age assumptions actually get in the way of good science.
Formation of Rock Strata
The May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens had great significance
for geology. It demonstrated how rapidly geological forces can work in
catastrophic conditions. Creationist geologists have studied the area surrounding
Mt. St. Helens for several years and have learned some very interesting
lessons. These lessons include 1) rapidly formed stratification, 2) rapid
erosion, 3) upright deposited logs, and 4)coal and coal-precursor formation.
During and after the eruption, layers of debri formed up
to 600 feet in thickness, much of this has now become rock. The initial
blast, ash falling out of the air, and mud flows were some of the means
of the strata being deposited. Pyroclastic flows of fine ash pumice formed
layers from one millimeter in thickness to up to more than one meter each.
Finely laminated layers such as this would normally be interpreted as representing
many years, with each thin layer corresponding to perhaps one year, for
instance. But at Mt. St. Helens these deposits formed in seconds
to several minutes! Certain deposits, 25 to 200 feet thick, contain
many fine laminae, and yet it is known that they formed in less than one
day. Material was naturally sorted into layers
quickly and straight
vertical cliffs hardened to rock in a surprisingly short time.
A variety of processes produced pits, gullies, and other
formations for some years after the eruption. The erosion accomplished
a great deal of "geological work" in surprisingly short times. In many
cases features were formed rapidly that resemble those of other locations
far removed from the Washington area. On March 19, 1982 a canyon system
was eroded that has been described as a one-fortieth scale model of the
Grand Canyon. This canyon at Mt. St. Helens is up to about 140 feet deep.
Other observations at Mt. St. Helens have shed light on the
formation of so-called "petrified forests," and on coal formation. Logs
from the forest surrounding Spirit Lake in the area formed a huge log mat
on the lake. In time the logs were found to float upright and then later
sink vertically into the soft ash, mud, and organic matter on the bottom
of the lake. If the lake water were gone and the sediment on the bottom
hardened to rock, the area could be easily called a "petrified forest."
These "forests" are normally understood to be from forest trees of several
generations being buried in place or fossilizing over long periods of time.
Bark and other organic material from these many trees has
formed layers of what is very similar to coal. Scientists from the Institute
for Creation Research have said that actual coal has been found at Mt.
St. Helens in small quantities. This shows that coal formation has nothing
to do with so-called peat swamps, but is actually related to floating vegetation
mats and volcanism. In fact, coal has been formed from plant material in
days or weeks in the laboratory using minerals commonly found in volcanic
ash. Another creationist geologist, John MacKay, has traveled around the
world studying coal seams. He has found that volcanic ash and coal are
found together and large volcanoes, or extinct ones, are often found near
large coal seams. MacKay has photographic evidence of this that is quite
shocking and perplexing to geologists.
This research from Mt. St. Helens demonstrates the effectiveness
of catastrophic flood-related processes in forming geologic features quickly.10
Creationists have made excellent progress in various topics in geology,
such as on the question of "ice ages," glacial varved sediment deposits, and even the rapid formation of metamorphic rocks in a global Flood.
It is not that earth's features cannot be explained in terms of them being
young. Rather, some of the facts are not being told in evolution-based
textbooks and scientists are not trained to interpret things from non-evolutionary
There are many other arguments for a young Earth, solar system,
and universe which imply that God created all things less than about 10,000
years ago and that God sent a world-wide Flood about 4,000-5,000 years
ago. Interpreting the data in terms of things being young sometimes greatly
simplifies the process of explaining how the various features of the Earth
formed. As time goes on creationists keep discovering more
and more processes which show that the world is young. In April of 1978
there was a conference of scientists addressing the age of the universe
and the earth. The following quote is by John A. Eddy who at that time
worked at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colorado. The quote
mentions a date by Bishop Ussher. Ussher was the archbishop of Armaugh
in Ireland in the 17th century. He published a date for God's creation
of 4004 B.C., a date many creationists would say is probably at least close to being correct.
"There is no evidence based solely on solar observations,
Eddy stated, that the Sun is 4.5-5 X 109 years
suspect,' he said 'that the Sun is 4.5 billion years
However, given some new and unexpected results to the
contrary, and some time for frantic recalculation and theo-
retical readjustment, I suspect that we could live with
Bishop Ussher's value for the age of the Earth and Sun. I
don't think we have much in the way of observational evidence
in astronomy to conflict with that.' "
Kazmann, Raphael G., "It's About Time: 4.5 Billion Years,"
Geotimes, September 1978, p 18.
HOW WE KNOW THE WORLD IS YOUNG
1. Morris, Henry, The Genesis Record, El Cajon, California:
Master Books, 1976, pp. 281-2 and 308-310.
2. Slusher, Harold S., Critique of Radiometric Dating,
(Technical Monograph #2), El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research
3. Austin, Steven A., see ICR Impact Articles numbers 178
and 224, April 1988 and February 1992, available for $.10 each from ICR,
P.O. Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021.
4. Vardiman, Larry, The Age of the Earth's Atmosphere,
El Cajon, CA: ICR, 1990.
5. Humphreys, D. R., "Physical Mechanism for Reversals of
Earth's Magnetic Field During the Flood," PROCEEDINGS OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON CREATIONISM, Vol. 2, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, 1991, pp. 129-142.
6. Humphreys, Dr. R., "Has the Earth's Magnetic Field Ever
Flipped?", CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY QUARTERLY (CRSQ), Vol. 25, NO. 3,
Dec. 1988, pp. 130-137.
7. Humphreys, D. R., "Good News from Neptune: the Voyager
II Magnetic Measurements," CRSQ, Vol. 27, No. 1, June 1990; Also, less
technical summary found in Impact Article #203, from ICR, May, 1990; also
see March 1990 CRSQ (Vol 26, No. 4) for evidence of a two week reversal,
8. Slusher, Harold S., Age of the Cosmos, El Cajon,
CA: ICR, 1980, p. 45. See also "The Lifetime and Renewal of Comets," in
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CREATIONISM, Vol.
2, by William E. Stillman, pp 267-278.
9. Ibid. pp. 15-16.
10. Austin, Steven A., See I.C.R. Impact Article No. 157
for a brief summary, or for a better study of the issue see the video by
Steve Austin on Mt. St. Helens, available from I.C.R. or available on loan
from the Mid-Kansas Bible-Science Assoc. lending library in Wichita, Kansas,
phone # (316) 683-3610, or write to BSA, 1429 N. Holyoke, Wichita, Kansas
67208. For John MacKay's coal research see the video "An Evening at Oxford,"
a film of Mr. MacKay speaking to the geology dept. at Oxford University;
or, write to CREATION RESEARCH, P.O. Box 281, Hartsville, TN 37074
11. Wysong, R. L., Creation-Evolution: the Controversy,
Midland, Michigan: Inquiry Press, 1976, pp. 164-165.
12. Spencer, Wayne R., "Tidal Dissipation and the Age of Io," Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, 2003, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp 585-595.