Author: Ian Taylor
1. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, the western mind considered the earth to be only a few thousand years old, and this belief was based upon the Biblical account and the ensuing genealogies given into historical times. Today, the general belief is that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. This radical change in world view was brought about by two independent sets of events: The first began in Elizabethan times and followed from the discovery of the Americas while the second took place later and concerned the natural assumption that rock strata had been formed sequentially. In both cases the root issue was denial of the Genesis Flood and Noah and his Ark.
2. The exploration of Africa and the Americas by the white, Christian Europeans led to the discovery of colored peoples and the question: Were the colored peoples the descendants of Adam? and if so, how did they survive the Genesis Flood if it was universal? These questions assumed that Adam and Noah were white; therefore, the colored people were not on the ark but survived on another part of the earth. Thus, the Genesis Flood was necessarily local. The Church authorities were opposed, and theologians and scientists began to work on the Biblical genealogies to establish the history of the earth. Irish Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), arrived at a date of 4004 BC as the year of creation, making the age of the earth about 6,000 years. This date, 4004 BC, together with dates to the birth of Christ, were inserted into KJV Bibles printed after about 1670 and remained there until they were quietly dropped about 1870. At this time, many of the Church hierarchy had accepted Darwinian evolution, and these dates, though not necessarily correct, had become an embarrassment.
3. Niels Stensen (1638-1686) was born in Denmark, became a pioneer anatomist, then moved to Florence, Italy, latinized his name to Nicholas Steno, began to study rocks and fossils and laid the foundation for stratigraphic geology. In 1667 he wrote that rock strata had formerly been sediment in the waters of the Genesis Flood and were deposited simultaneously. His theory began by accepting as true the Genesis account of Noah’s Flood. However, by 1669 Steno had changed his mind and indicated by his four laws of stratigraphy that the sediments had been deposited sequentially. This was the turning point for belief in an old earth. Steno quickly came under conviction, gave up science, joined the Roman Catholic Church and died at age 48. Since the 1800s, geological exploration has discovered that individual stratum can be traced as continuous deposits from England to Australia, and this poses the problem: The sea is the only source of water large enough to cover more than half the earth, but if this did indeed happen, then the sea would also have covered most of the other half at the same time and the result would be a global flood and perhaps a few mountaintops! The English lawyer, Charles Lyell (1797-1875), saved the day by proposing that it was the individual continental land surfaces that sank, received sediments from the sea, then rose again by the process of isostasy. Each deposited layer of sediment then hardened into rock, millions of years passed while evolution of life took place, then the land surface sank once again to repeat the process. Sequential deposition thereby permitted millions of years without the possibility of proof while there is as yet no satisfactory mechanism for sinking and raising of entire continents.
4. One of Charles Lyell’s evidences that cast great doubt on the Bible footnote dates concerned the recession of Niagara Falls in Canada. The falling waters erode the soft underlayers of limestone, leaving a gorge. During his visit to the Falls in 1841, Lyell was told that the Falls retreat about three feet per year; he concluded that one foot a year was a more probable figure and, with a seven mile gorge, the age of Niagara Falls became 35,000 years — reported by Sir Charles, the facts were beyond dispute! Theologians wavered, gave in and the ground was ripe for Charles Darwin’s theory. Since that day, accurate measurements have shown that the rate of recession is well over six feet per year making the age of the Falls less than 6,000 years, very nearly a confirmation of the Ussher date. Actually, human history only extends back about 5,000 years. We are told that there will be in the last days those who will scoff at the belief in the Genesis Flood (2 Peter 3:3-6). Lord Bertrand Russell, a confessed atheist, was one such scoffer. From the time of Lyell’s Principles (1830) and later Darwin’s Origin (1859), the assumed age of the earth has steadily increased.
5. The Big Bang Theory is an attempt to explain the origin of the universe without the need for a Creator. One obvious difficulty with the theory is the evident order in the universe, galactic walls, precise distances of earth, sun and moon etc. that cannot have arisen from an explosion! Then the great problem of there being insufficient mass in the universe and the need to appeal to “dark matter” to account for the supposed accretion of the sub-atomic particles. Comets provide tangible evidence for a universe of limited age. Comets consist of ice and dust: Haley’s comet is a long period comet and returns to our solar system every 76 years, at which time it loops around our sun, then returns to outer space. During the four to five months it remains within our solar system, it loses water by sublimation at 10 tons per second, leaving a trail of dust, and gets visibly smaller. The fact that we see comets at all indicates just a few thousand years; otherwise, they would have all been used up long ago. In 1950 Jan H. Oort (1900-1992), a Dutch astronomer, proposed that there is a great cloud of unseen comets – the Oort cloud -beyond our solar system to account for the continuing existence of comets. There is not a shred of evidence for it.
6. Herman von Helmholtz (1821-1894), a German physician, raised the question in 1841 that if our sun was being “used up” it must have been larger in the past and is now getting smaller. If the rate of decrease was too large, this would confine the beginning of life on earth to just a few thousand years ago. Measurements of the sun’s diameter began in 1841 and were published by Eddy and Boornazian in 1976. The rate of decrease was so great that the temperature on earth would have made life impossible only half a million years ago; evolution demands at least 3,000 million! There were arguments over statistics and cyclic variation and, although a lesser rate is now conceded, the early earth would certainly have been too hot for life to have existed even 10 million years ago.
7. The moon has always been an enigma. Where did it come from? To this day there is no agreed-upon answer except perhaps that God created it and placed it there on the fourth day of Creation. Both the earth and the moon attract dust from space as they orbit the sun. In the early 1960s the measured and accepted rate of dust infall upon the earth was 5 million tons per year; a similar rate was expected upon the moon and an accumulated depth of dust over 4.5 billion years was expected to be hundreds of feet — one estimate, over a mile! The unmanned landers of the Apollo project made it clear that in fact there was less than one inch. Then in 1969 the first question put to astronaut Neil Armstrong concerned the depth of dust, and he reported it to be “scuff deep.” Most of this dust was powdered rock containing the pin-head sized metallic iron/nickel particles. Because of this evidence, the early measurements of the dust infall upon earth have been rejected and new lower rates supplied by radar back-scattering techniques to account for the dust actually found on the moon. This enables the 4.5 billion year age to remain inviolate by mere facts.
8. The Industrial Revolution in England introduced the need for coal and, as mine shafts were sunk deeper, the rock became hotter; the temperature increased one centigrade degree for every 30 meters or 100 feet. This is a rule of thumb figure for any mine shaft throughout the world. Obviously, mine depth is limited to working conditions for men while ventilation and cooling becomes an expensive problem. Willian Thompson (Lord Kelvin, 1824-1907) opposed Darwinian evolution and pointed out that at the known rate at which heat was escaping from the center of the earth, it could not possibly be more than 25 million years since the cooling earth crusted over from its hot liquid state (according to the LaPlace Theory). At that time, Darwin wanted 400 million years for his biological evolution! The theory of evolution then suffered a setback until Kelvin died in 1907. At the measured rate of cooling, if the earth is indeed millions of years old, it should by this time be stone cold and the oceans frozen over. When this problem is faced at all, the hot earth is explained away by arguing that the earth’s heat is sustained by decaying radioactive elements deep within the core. If this is true, then helium gas, the by-product of radioactive decay, would have diffused through the solid rock to fill the earth’s atmoshere so that today our atmosphere should be mostly helium with traces of oxygen and nitrogen. Helium would not be lost to outer space.
9. Israel has a natural chronometer consisting of the fresh waters of the River Jordan containing about 300 ppm of salt running into the Dead Sea where water evaporates at precisely the rate at which it enters, leaving the salts to concentrate. The respective rates of water inflow and salt concentrations are accurately known. The Encyclopedia Britannica (14th ed.) under “Dead Sea” provides all this data where it is noted that this body of water is 1,200 feet below sea level (thus, evaporation is the only way it can leave), it contains 11.6 billion tons of salt and the River Jordan adds to this total 850,000 tons of salt per year. Geologists are confident that this drift valley is five million years old, but simple division of the figures allows only 13,500 years! Further, the Britannia article under “salt” points out that there are salt springs at the bottom of the Dead Sea and this will reduce the age perhaps by half, again confirming that this chronometer began about five or six thousand years ago, likely following the Flood.
10. The population of the earth at the time this article was written is about six billion. Using the formula employed by demographers, it can readily be shown that it would take just about 5,000 years to reach this figure beginning with Noah’s family and assuming only 2.4 children per family. Historically, the rate of increase has been far greater than 2.4 but war, famine, plague, etc. would effectively and reasonably reduce the rate to 2.4 children. On the other hand, the 3 or 4 millions of years for the existence of mankind demanded by the theory of evolution must appeal to impossibly low rates of increase to reach today’s world population. In recognition of this, textbooks explain away the problem by speaking of there having been great periods of “population stability.” An average of 2.1 children per family is required to maintain a stable population, and even China has not achieved this low rate. On the other hand, the unprecedented affluence in North America has caused the average number of children per family to slip down to 1.75, while Japan has an even lower rate; governments become very concerned about the evident insufficiency of future taxpayers.
11. The billions of years claimed today are based almost exclusively upon the radiometric dating techniques. Very briefly, these depend upon unstable isotopes of certain elements that break down spontaneously at known rates to become stable elements. By measuring the ratio of unstable (radioactive) element to stable element (daughter product) and knowing the rate of decay, the age can be determined. Except for Carbon 14 that gives ages of less than about 50,000 years, all the other radiometric methods give ages in millions of years. With all the assumptions and uncertainty of these methods and the inability to calibrate, it might well be suspected that the only reason these methods are employed at all is because they provide the long ages expected! Among the difficulties is the fact that the rates of decay have been measured since about 1927 and, while they seem to have been constant since that time, it is assumed that these rates have been constant for billions of years. This is extrapolation on the truly grand scale. Supernova explosions, for example, are known to affect the rates of decay. It is also assumed that the initial conditions included no daughter products; however, how can we know? Finally, no scientific measurement is possible without some means of calibration against samples of known age. This can be done in the case of the Carbon 14 method for the past three thousand years using, say, dated wooden casket lids. The method goes badly off beyond this range of calibration. However, for the other radiometric methods there is nothing of known age beyond a few thousand years so that there can be no calibration. Textbooks will often lead readers to believe that science has established the age of every rock stratum and fossil radiometrically. The fact is, the radiometric methods are actually calibrated against rocks whose ages were estimated in the 19th century from measured sedimentation rates then established by committee. Moreover, when samples are submitted for radiometric testing they must be accompanied by an estimate of the expected age; if the age found is not within a ballpark figure, it is not accepted. Radiometric dating is thus a secondary method. Those same textbooks fail to mention all the assumptions or the calibration problem.
12. The “living fossil” is often an embarrassment to the evolutionary faith and is usually wreathed in controversy when discovered. Some classic examples are: The paleotragus, a giraffid thought to have become extinct 25 million years ago; it was found as living herds in 1906 and is now renamed Okapi johnsoni. The Coelacanth, a lobe-finned fish thought to have become extinct 75 million years ago but discovered alive and well in a deep trench off the west coast of Madagascar in 1938. In 1997, more Coelacanths were discovered over 6,000 miles away in Sulawesi, Indonesia.