Doesn't science disprove the Bible?

      No, nor does the Bible disprove scientific fact. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the case for the evolutionary process of biological life over millions of years and apparent evidence for a planet that is possibly billions of years old. However, evolution is not a fact -- it is an unproven theory. Nor do radiometric dating techniques necessarily disprove that the world could be less than 10,000 years old as many young-earth creationists believe. In his book Thousands... Not Billions,* author Dr. Don DeYoung outlines the findings of an 8-year project by RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth), in which several scientists studied the evidence for dating the age of Earth and concluded that proof exists for a planet that is no more than 6,000 years old from the same evidence used by the majority of scientists to prove that it is at least 4.6 billion years old. Of course, these findings are under intense scrutiny and criticism by the scientific community because these "pseudo-scientists" (who all hold doctoral degrees in their areas of expertise) were funded by such organizations as the Institute for Creation Research, the Creation Research Society, and Answers in Genesis. To add to their seeming discredit, they also believe in the literal six days of creation as put forth by the Bible. However, the theories they formulated cannot be simply dismissed.

      In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day. And God said, "Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:1-10)

      Conventional scientific wisdom maintains that the universe spontaneously came into existence over 10 billion years ago, our solar system formed about 5 billion years ago, this planet is about 4.6 billion years old, life first appeared less than 4 billion years ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth between 70 million and 490 million years ago, and man evolved from a more primitive mammal less than 300,000 years ago. Much of the dating for this timeline comes from determining the decay rate of radioactive isotopes found in geologic layers of rock and fossils, which can be in the billions of years for some of the heavier elements. Why billions? Because of assumptions put forth in the last two centuries by popular scientific theories that rocks have to be really old -- much older than 6,000 years -- so the calculations of the decay rates of radioactive atoms had to start in the thousands of years (Carbon-14 with a half-life of 5,730 years), pushing the heavier atoms to millions of years (Beryllium-10 with a half-life of 1.52 million years), and the heaviest to billions of years (Uranium-238 with a half-life of 4.47 billion years and Rhenium-187 with half-life of 42 billion years). As radioactive isotopes decay, the process causes them not to disappear but to transform into a different element known as its daughter element. A half-life is the amount of time believed to take a radioactive isotope to decay half way to its daughter element when sealed within a newly-crystallized igneous rock.

      The problems with this method are that these are unobservable assumptions which are inconsistent and yield a discrepancy in esitmated dates between the different elements. Yet the scientists involved in the RATE program agreed with the given timelines of radiometric dating and came to some of the following conclusions:

  • Radiometric dating relies on a constant, steady, unchanging rate of decay. However, certain factors can considerably accelerate the decay rates, including intense heat, melting, extreme pressure, the flowing of hydrothermal fluids, tectonic activity, neighboring atomic influence, and various chemical changes. Two primary cataclysmic events that could have exponentially accelerated radiometric decay in rocks include the third day of creation when God formed the earth (Genesis 1:9-13) and the 150-day worldwide flood of Noah (Genesis 7:17-8:3). By their accounts, this would support a young earth while indicating an old earth.

  • The initial creation of the Earth caused a burst of radioactive decay corresponding to several billion years of decay at today's rate -- about 90%. The great flood approximately 1,500 years later caused an accelerated decay rate of about 500 million years at present rates -- about 10%.

  • Helium is released when Uranium-228 decays to Lead-206. However, this resulting Helium should dissipate within thousands of years. Granite samples that tested at billions of years old still contained substantial amounts of Helium.

  • The presence of Polonium-210 radiohalos in granite are an indication of accelerated nuclear decay due to rapid cooling by water flowing between the layers of the mineral Biotite. Various samples tested indicate a great flood that may have occurred roughly 4,500 years ago.

  • The presence of fission tracks caused by the decay of Uranium-238 in Zircon crystals dated 535 ±48 million years may also have been affected by the great flood.

  • Daughter isotopes may appear in greater amounts at higher strata due to being carried from below and deposited above by magma flows. Many samples of recently formed rocks contained amounts of daughter elements that indicated extremely old age. On average, surface rocks contain 5% to 10% of magma that came up through the crust.

  • Samples of rock obtained worldwide indicated a wide variety in concordance and discordance of dates between various radiometric isotopes that included parent-daughter combinations of Potassium-Argon, Rubidium-Strontium, Samariam-Neodymium, and Lead-Lead. This showed that a variety of radiometric testing techniques on a single sample can yield vastly different results.

  • Heavier isotopes and those which decay by alpha particle emission tend to give older dates than lighter isotopes and those which undergo beta decay. Neither of these should exist together in the same samples if they underwent constant decay, but often times they did, indicating accelerated decay.

  • Isochron plots which are intended to address issues in calculating decay rates -- such as the initial presence of daughter elements, whether or not the system remained closed during its entire history, and statistical averaging of all present isotopes -- may not be generally reliable, particularly in determining a constant rate of decay.

  • Basalt is rock formed from lava which surfaced from the mantle. Samples obtained directly from the Earth's mantle below the crust are extremely rare because of the mantle's depth and are usually obtained from basalt located in places like the ocean depths or the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Dozens of basalt samples from around the world which were tested by various laboratories resulted in discordant isochron plots with variations in the millions of years, indicating accelerated decay at some singular point - possibly during human history.

  • A considerable number of diamond, coal, and fossil samples contained a detectable presence of Carbon-14, which they shouldn't have if they were supposedly hundreds of thousands to millions of years old. As the hardest known natural substance, diamonds should be the most closed system of all, taking millions of years under intense pressure to form. Therefore, they should not contain any Carbon-14, which would have been completely gone after 50,000 years, but they did.

  •      In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month - on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights... For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:11-12, 17-24)

    Regardless of the complexity and intricacies of scientific dating methods, those of us who are comparatively uneducated can still point out a few obvious issues that arise with the old-age dating of life on Earth:

    1. If Carbon-14 used for dating of biological matter is only relatively reliable going back no more than 15 thousand years, then maybe life on Earth has only been around that long or even less.
    2. Determining the initial state and atomic composition of a rock sample presumed to be millions of years old relies on precise calculations, yet must still reside on assumptions that the age of radioactive isotopes present are measured in millions of years.
    3. Independent biases may contribute to data being withheld, ignored, or not published.
    4. If Homo sapiens have been around for hundreds of thousands of years rather than just 6,000 years, then the population would be thousands of times greater than it currently is.

         Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:1-7)

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    *Thousands... Not Billions: Challenging an Icon of Evolution - Questioning the Age of the Earth ©2005 by Dr. Don DeYoung.