did the earth come from?
3) how old is the earth?
stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.
He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters, at the boundary
of light and darkness.
Bible's book of Job, circa 1200 BC
"The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving
Islamic fatwa circa 1995
Yousef M. Ibrahim, "Muslim Edicts take on New Force"
The New York Times, February 12, 1995, p. A-14
How old is the earth?
DO WE BEGIN?
There are two major
schools of thought within geology for dating the earth. This competition
of theories, though not directly related to the Bible, has interesting parallels
to the two ways of interpreting the creation account. The geological debate
is between uniformitarianism and catastrophism.
to explain the world's present geography in terms of common processes and
events operating over great periods of time.
our present geographic condition as having been the result of major cataclysmic
events over a shorter period of time.
two ideas suffer the same shortcoming. They both deal with the past in an
historical manner. Though the study of the earth is classified as a science,
the strict determination of the ancient geological past can only be extrapolated
based upon how we interpret today's geological data.
-- THE GEOLOGIC COLUMN: PARTLY
BASED ON EVOLUTION
A significant part of
geological studies is that of the geologic column. Assembled during the
nineteenth-century, the geologic column is a theoretical timeline of
the earth's strata organized by the fossils typically found in them.
It should be also pointed out that this theoretical column (constructed
during the period when determinism
dominated scientific thinking) never actually occurs:
It is simply an idea,
an ideal series of geologic systems, and not an actual column of rocks
that can be observed at a particular locality. Real rock formations are
characterized by gaps and reversals of this ideal, imaginary sequence.
Even the Grand Canyon only includes less than half of the geologic systems.12
The geologic column
is based upon the assumption that Darwin's theory of evolution is true.
The strata having the simplest fossil, for example, is placed at the bottom
of the column. This placement designates it as being the oldest of the fossil
bearing layers. Strata containing more complex fossils are placed in correspondingly
higher levels of the column. Assuming evolution to be true, these are then
given the appropriate younger ages. Therein lies several problems.
-- EVOLUTION: PARTLY BASED ON
THE GEOLOGIC COLUMN
As can happen, evolutionists
often stake their beliefs on the so-called fact of the great age of the
strata in which any given fossil is found. Meanwhile, many uniformitarianist
geologists stake their belief of the great age of that same strata on the
so-called fact of evolution. They interpret the age of strata by the great
amount of time fossils within it are believed to have needed to evolve.
This is circular reasoning which neither the evolutionist nor uniformitarianist
can use alone to prove anything.
Additionally, the geologic
column locates the smaller organisms at the lowest levels (theoretically
from millions of years ago) with progressively larger organisms nearer the
top (theoretically more recent specimens). The problem with this so-called
timeline of evolution is that it is no different from conditions that
exist at this very moment.
If one were to look
at a cross-section of the earth right now, the deepest levels contain nothing
larger than microbial life. As the surface is approached, one progressively
encounters multicellular creatures, protozoa, small insects, larger insects,
small burrowing mammals, and then large mammals. A cross-section through
the sea bed reveals a similar progression.
Thus one cannot conclude
that the distance between levels where small and large life forms are found
actually equate to millions of years of transmutation. A sudden burial
of today's conditions under a sufficient amount of silt would display
identical characteristics to the supposed evolutionary timeline that is
said to span many millions of years. You and the ape in the zoo
are not separated by millions of years, nor is the ape and any monkey he's
staring at, nor is the monkey and its fleas, nor are the fleas and its germs.
They all coexist right now.
-- WHEN THE FACTS FAIL THE THEORY…
Another assumption about
the theoretical geologic column is that when real life geologic conditions
are found which violate the theoretical column, those findings are sometimes
explained as follows:
Fossils found too
low in the geologic column (i.e., before they were supposed to have evolved)
are termed stratigraphic leaks. Specimens found too high in the geologic
column are considered as reworked specimens." 13
These reworked specimens
seemingly have no size limit. A known region of Cambrian limestone (350
miles long, 35 miles wide, and 6 miles thick) overlays Cretaceous shale
which is supposedly some 900 million years its younger.
WHAT MODERN LABORATORY METHODS REVEAL
One alternative to studying
strata to determine the earth's age is the process of carbon dating,
or carbon-14 dating. This measures the known and constant decay of carbon
atoms within any object containing the element. When coal (a high carbon
material) from the Cretaceous period mentioned above is tested with this
method, it tests out at 45-50,000 years old.That is a far cry from evolution's
construction that Cretaceous coal be found in the range of hundreds of millions
is the problem here?
Plenty of materials
other than coal have been tested using carbon dating; materials believed
to be among the planet's oldest items such as marble, graphite, oil, and
diamonds. Absolutely nothing has tested older than around 55,000 years.
The carbon dating method is theoretically capable of discerning objects
as old as 100,000 years yet none have been discovered, or at least tested.
Carbon dating is considered so reliable that it is in wide use today around
the globe. However, when someone wants to establish a date in the millions
or billions of years, then they use a different method.
analysis is the other popular method of dating objects. This method
is conceptually similar to carbon dating but basically measures the radioactive
decay of certain elements. Different variations of this include the potassium-argon
method, the lead-lead method, the ribidium-strontium method, and so on.
The reason radiometric
dating is less often used is because it measures changes more minute than
carbon dating, hence it has a much larger margin for error. This prevents
it from being a best source of information. It assumes an initial condition,
a uniform and consistent radioactive decay of the material in question with
no parent or daughter atoms being added to or lost from it, and then multiplies
a small reading in the sample by a very large factor to arrive at a ballpark
age. Geologist John Morris comments from his experience,
When the scientist
wants to date a rock, he sends it to a lab. But... that lab won't even
take that rock unless he sends in a form with it telling them exactly
how old he thinks that rock is. That gives them a target to shoot for."
Ken Carlson, an international
fuels consultant I have met, confirmed from his own experience that samples
he, too, submitted to labs do indeed ask for a range they are to aim at,
and consequently find a date somewhere within the submitted parameters.
British engineer Sidney
P. Clementson has shown that 200 year-old volcanic rocks have tested anywhere
from 100 million to 10 billion years old (twice the oldest estimated age
of the earth).
Geologist John Calvert
recently pointed out that newly formed rocks created by the Mount St. Helens
eruption have tested out to measure 20 million years old when using radiometric
Scott Huse amusingly
points out that the publication Science has even shown that living
snails, by the use of a radiation measuring method, result in being measured
at 2,300 years old. 16
Perhaps now you can
start to see why this dating method is not used like carbon dating. It is
reserved for testing objects which pro-evolutionists need or believe to
be millions or billions of years old. John Whitcomb, in his book The
World That Perished, quotes Clementson's conclusions of radiometric
ages have no relationship to the age of the earth, because of course,
the various ages computed have varied so widely. Consequently ratios of
parent and daughter elements are merely ratios, and their use as a base
for projecting 'ages' of the rocks, or of the earth itself, is highly
questionable and fraught with many assumptions that cannot be checked."
As mentioned previously,
this dating method is not totally untrustworthy, but until there are vast
improvements in methods and technology it should not be accredited to have
the reliability that evolutionists imagine it to have.
What is the significance of the worldwide flood relative to the earth's
for uniformitarian geology to explain, such as entire regions of the earth
which overlay supposedly younger regions, are more easily explained by the
geology of catastrophism. One major event of catastrophist geology is
that of a worldwide flood. Such a hydraulic cataclysm is recorded in the
Bible and is also quite commonly mentioned among a majority of unrelated
ancient writings (as numerous books that I have seen in the British Museum
are dedicated towards). Perhaps the only contested aspect in that debate
is the source, extent, and effect of that flood.
-- THE WORLDWIDE FLOOD
There are at least two
major theories thought to explain the source of the hydraulic cataclysm.
The older idea is the collapse of an antediluvian vapor canopy, which
would have been the release of a great deal of water suspended in the upper
The more recent idea
to put forth to explain a phenomenally large and sudden flood which could
have encompassed most, if not all, of the world is the hydroplate theory.
This theory holds that vast amounts of water once lay trapped below the
surface of the earth; a possible result of degassing which is used to explain
the origin of the oceans. It would have been subject to tremendous and increasing
pressure with the passing of time.
Trapped water eventually
may have exploded out of the surface through a crack tracing along the mid-Atlantic
ridge; a crack resulting from pressure within, such as heat, or from pressure
without, such as a meteor impact. The energy involved in such an explosion
would have also thrown fantastic amounts of silt into the air and potentially
agitated tectonic plate movement to a severe and worldwide degree.
By either idea, such
a release of moisture into the earth's system would demand a corresponding
atmospheric pressure increase. Such a sudden pressure increase would explain
the mystery of over five million mammoths, found in Alaska and Siberia,
that appear to have been instantly encased in ice. Zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson
was not a catastrophist until he made this first hand observation,
First, the mammoth
was upright, but it had a broken hip. Second, its exterior was whole and
perfect, with none of its two-foot long shaggy fur rubbed or torn off.
Third, it was fresh; its parts, although they had started to rot when
the heat of fire got at them, were just as they had been in life; the
stomach contents had not begun to decompose. Finally, there were buttercups
on its tongue.17
The mammoth's stomach
contents, the number of mammoths found, and the mammoths' lack of oil-producing
glands and erector muscles (common to all known Arctic animals) suggest
the northern climate was once markedly different than it is today. Even
a 1978 U.S. Geological Survey Report testifies that a variety of tropical
plants apparently were once common to Alaska.
goes on to offer plausible explanations for present rock stratification,
the disappearance of dinosaurs, the ice age, and coal formation. This subject,
like so many others we have looked at, is the focus of entire books. May
it suffice to say the cataclysmic geology is quite amenable to the biblical
model of a short-term creation. But a short-term creation is not the only
interpretation of the Genesis account (more
on the age of the earth and the universe).
we can believe Moses' account of the planet's origin, something he could
not possibly have guessed or figured out, yet it parallels the most recent
discoveries, can we not also believe his explanation that it was God who
told him? Without committing to either one of the presented time scenarios,
I find the idea that the earth is a work of God's is plausible no matter
how long it took.
Where did man come from?
How long did creation
revelation: what it reveals about origins
What about the accounts
of a worldwide flood?
Natural revelation: good
science is good theology