"I am not calling Dr. Enns a heretic. But he has a very low view of the Word of God and some of his beliefs are certainly not a part of orthodox Christianity and thus are heresy." Ken Ham link
"So, is he or isn't he?" -Dee
The Sombrero Galaxy-Hubble
This concludes our series on the science that proves the earth and solar system are ancient. However, if Christian leaders continue to make statements that "science proves a 6,000 year old earth," we will continue to answer otherwise. Believe me, there is a lot more that we can say.
This last post is a combination of two essays written by Jim so it is a bit longer than usual. TWW thanks Jim for taking the time to write these essays. He has always been a help to us when we get out of our comfort zone.
Does Science support a six day creation: Part IV
Tim Challies has made the claim that a reason to believe the earth and universe are young, in accordance with what he believes is a correct interpretation of the Creation narrative in Genesis 1, is that “Science Confirms It”. In the previous essay, we looked at what the evidence from the stars and the distant heavens have to say from a scientific standpoint. And the message there is loud and clear: The heavens are very, very old. Indeed, nearly every available observation screams is it so much older than a young earth interpretation would allow for it is simply absurd to make the claim Tim Challies has made.
In fact, the heavens scream ‘old’ so loudly that even the mainstream advocates of a scientific defense of a young earth, literal six days, creation account accept and advocate a theory that acknowledges millions and billions of years of time have passed for that far distant universe. And that ‘theory’ is Russell Humphries ‘White hole cosmology’ where he speculates that God used a reverse entropy black hole to create the universe in a way that allows the Earth and Solar system to be in fact quite young, but the distant universe we observe to be in fact quite old and to have effectively evolved to its current state basically over the same course of time implied by our observations of it.
So what of our solar system? Sure, science has a lot to say that is overwhelming when it comes to the far, far away universe, but what about our sun and our planetary system? Is the evidence as equally overwhelming there? Or does “Science Confirm” a relatively recent creation for these elements of the universe as Tim Challies claims?
Meteor Craters on the Moon and Planets
If one goes out on a pleasant evening when the moon is out and grabs a pair of decent binoculars, or a small telescope, and points it at that same moon, one will see a surface marred with a virtually uncountable numbers of round pockmarks and holes. These are called meteor craters. They are what is left when a large piece of rocky material slams into a planetary surface at several miles per second. The energy unleashed from a collision of this sort is simply unimaginable. In fact, In the case of the larger impacts, the explosive power and force would measure millions of times the power of a Hiroshima Atom Bomb. Many of these lunar structures are hundreds of miles across.
And there are literally thousands of them. The implication: thousands if not millions of space rocks have at one time slammed into the moon. Now here is the problem. The moon orbits not all that far away from the Earth. If that many space rocks slammed into the moon within a period of at most a few hundred years (if YEC is correct), how did this big old swarm of space rocks manage to hit just the moon and not the Earth too? And if they did hit the Earth too, where are the massive craters on the Earth like we see on them moon? A few thousand years is nowhere near long enough to wipe the Earth surface clean from THAT kind of bombardment. And further – how did anyone or anything survive such a concentrated smash up? (more on the Earth in the next essay)
But it gets worse. In the last half of the 20th century, we have managed to send probes to all the inner planets and explored many of the outer planets and their moons. And guess what? Almost all of them have the same kind of pockmarked, meteor crater infested surfaces as the Moon. Even the asteroids we’ve visited have this same remnant from being bombarded by swarms of space rocks, millions of them.
Why Aren't There More Meteor Craters on Earth?
So this swarming bombardment by space rocks is essentially universal across the entire solar system excepting one kind of planet or moon: those with active surfaces have much fewer craters on them. Planets like the Earth, Venus, and very active moons like Io of Jupiter, or some of the ice surface moons like Enceladis or Europa. Places where sufficient amounts of time could have allowed their active surfaces to erase the consequences of the solar system wide event.
But how much time? Even with very active surfaces, erasing holes hundreds of miles across takes a lot of time. Way more than a few thousand years. No lesser cratered surface in this solar system has such an active surface that what we find on the moon could be significantly erased or even reduced in <10,000 years.
So the implication then is two fold:
- The first is that this massive solar system wide bombardment needed to have happened very long ago, long enough for it to have been for the most part erase by our planets geological and atmospheric activity.
- And second, it simply could not have happened in the incredibly compressed time frame implied by YEC without rendering our planet uninhabitable.
We are talking about hundreds or thousands of events that would have vaporized each one tens or hundreds of cubic miles of rock or ocean. To have so many happen in so short a time would have left nothing for us. And remember, we can look at the Moon and see it happened. We can look at Mars and Mercury and the Asteroids and giant planet moons and see it was solar system wide. The Earth would not have escaped the same fate (indeed, it did not, but more on that when we talk about the Earth itself).
So what is the most natural and logical scientific conclusion? For this bombardment to have been any sort of recent event would have left lots for us to see on this planet, and further would have eliminated us and every living thing on the planet. It HAD to have happened a very long time ago. And that means this solar system has been around a very long time – much longer than 10,000 years.
How Does the Sun Figure Into This?
But how long? That is a bit of an interesting story as well. Our Sun happens to be at the point in its consumption of its hydrogen fuel that to all best estimates imply it ought to be around halfway through what is theoretically a 10 billion year life span, or about 5 billion years old. “Coincidentally’, nearly all meteors that can be radioisotope dated ALSO show that same age: around 4.5 to 5 billion years. Further, rocks from the moon tend to also run in that 3.5 to 4 billion year range. The fact of the matter is, nothing around us in this solar system registers older than 5 billion years, but a lot of things ring in near around about that point.
So what is the most logical conclusion based on all these factors, and what is most strongly implied by the physics of how stars burn, how solar systems form, and the direct measured ages of the oldest things in the solar system? It is that it the Sun is about 5 billion years old with the system of planets around it having formed at approximately the same time or a short time thereafter.
So in summary:
- Nearly every object in the solar system capable of retaining over a period of millions and billions of years the pock marks from some massive meteor storm have the same kind of battered surface of our moon. This includes Mercury, Mars, the Moon, all observed asteroids, and all rocky moons of the outer planets (excepting Io with its tidally driven massively active geology).
- Such a storm in recent history would have rendered the surface of the Earth uninhabitable and required much longer than the YEC view could allow to have recovered, if it could ever have recovered.
- Further, enough time has passed on the Earth to have allowed most (but not by any means all) of the results of this bombardment to have been erased.
- And further, the Sun and the ancient specimens of rock found on the Moon and in meteors all tend to clock in at 3-5 billion years of time. Meteors almost always date in around 4.5 billion years. And the sun sits having burned about half of a 10 billion year hydrogen supply.
So once again: how Is it that Tim Challies finds there to be ‘compelling’ scientific evidence the solar system is ‘young’? Keeping in mind a scientific conclusion proceed from the data and must account for the known set of data and observations, the solar system doesn’t look young at all! In fact, not only is it not compelling, but it is strongly contradicted. For to be young, Tim Challies needs to find a way for literally thousands of massive space rocks to have slammed into the Earth without obliterating its atmosphere and biosphere, and to have recovered sufficiently in time to allow for mankind to be unable to notice the event as having affected this planet! And further, he needs to explain why the Sun is where it is in its process of burning fuel, and why so much of the non-earth related material we have access to tends to be 3.8 to 4.5 billion years indicated age! And these, once again, merely scratch the surface of what it is about our solar system that is only consistent with an age of around 4.5 to 5 billion years.
Does Science support a six day creation Part V: The Earth
So far in this series on whether or not science confirms a young Earth – a claim made by Tim Challies in a recent blog entry – we have looked at what science is and is not, and what the proper application of science says about the age of the universe and the age of the solar system. In this essay, I will take a short look at what that same science has to say about the age of the Earth itself. And once again, I need to make clear that I will be outlining only a very small portion of the data and its implications. The goal is simply to show that when one discusses what science implies about the age of the cosmos, including the Earth itself, one is not talking about some massive debate between equally powerful parties. The evidence itself is overwhelmingly one sided. And the only consistent parsing of that evidence leads to only one conclusion. Those who advocate otherwise are simply ignorant of the data itself, or chose for various reasons simply to ignore or remain un-persuaded for non-scientific reasons.
As mentioned in the previous essay, every rocky body in our solar system with a non-active geology is covered with meteor impacts. These represent a massive swarm of rocky debris that moved though the solar system over some short period of time, or also perhaps simply the result of distantly spaced impacts over a very long period of time. Either way, for the Earth to have been in the solar system at the same time as these events means that it too would have experienced a similar bombardment.
And that presents two rather significant problems for the young earth conclusion.
- The first is that, we can all see that our Earth’s surface looks nothing like that of the moon or mars or mercury. Something has erased most of the results of this bombardment. But how, and over what period of time?
- And second, if all these impacts were part of a history <10,000 years in age, not only would there not be time for this damage to be erased, there would be no plausible way for life to have survived it’s terror (or likely even the surface of the Earth itself).
Is there any evidence that Earth was bombarded like other planets and moons?
First, is there any evidence the Earth itself was around to experience the kind of bombardment the Moon and mars and Mercury have experienced? Perhaps God made the Earth later, just 10,000 years ago, but let everything else form more or less naturally? Well, unfortunately for the view ‘Science Confirms’ a young earth, there are in fact a rather large number of impact features on this planet. However, they are not easy to find like on the moon or Mars or Mercury, because sufficient time has passed (especially for the larger craters) to allow them to be buried and eroded to the point we no longer recognize them from simple surface photographs. But they are there, and some of them are massive.
Could the Flood have hidden the craters?
Considering their size and number and the lack of any historical reference to all but perhaps a few, we know they must have occurred before mankind, or within a very short period of time after we came to be on this planet (assuming a young earth). That is a very real problem – for several of the known impact sites are so large they quite simply would have created a disaster that would have wiped mankind off the face of the Earth and rendered the Earth effectively uninhabitable by mankind for a rather long period of time, decades if not centuries.
Further, they are so eroded and buried that, the only plausible young earth explanation would be they came before Noah’s flood and the massive sediment loads and erosion found in them came by that same flood. Which means all or most of the large impacts either occurred before or during the flood. A scenario almost impossible to render with a straight face. Why? Because to survive such an event would have require far more than an ark, and would have required far more than a year of protection in whatever hideaway might survive such events.
What do radioactive elements have to do with it?
But there is a good bit more that points us to a grand age for the Earth. One rather simple metric can be found in the radioactive rocks of our planet. Radioactive elements are elements that gradually over time due to their instability break apart into smaller components. They do this at a very, very regular rate. Could that rate somehow be variable? There has been little if any experimental evidence that shows any natural processes that are capable of altering the natural rate at which these elements decay (and a large number of experiments have been done to try to find just such a capability). And further, accelerated decay means more heat, and the current rate of decay keeps the Earth’s core molten. Thus, big changes would not be good for the solidity of our planet’s crust.
So a radioisotope will decay away by half over a certain period of time. And then another half again over that same period of time. Until after about 10 to 13 ‘half-lives’, the element disappears altogether – or exists in such a small fraction it simply can no longer be detected.
Radioisotopes come in two flavors:
- those that can only be created in massive events like Supernova
- those that are created by natural processes.
When one limits oneself to only those elements that require a big supernova to create, one finds an interesting result. The only ones that can be found on the Earth are the ones whose half-lives would allow them to exist for at least 4.5 billion years, which, as previously mentioned, is also the almost universal radioisotope measured age of the meteors in our solar system. So, unless there is a process to create a radioisotope on the Earth (e.g.. c14), it doesn’t exist unless it can survive 4.5 billion years or more.
Layers and layers
But there is a good deal more. One doesn’t have to limit oneself to things that point to 4.5 billion years to find evidence the Earth has been around far longer than 10,000 years. One can just start counting layers in things which make layers in regular cycles. For example, many water born sediments are laid down on the bottoms of lakes in seasonal cycles to form what are called varves. One such lake is Lake Suigetsu in Japan. We can count somewhere around a hundred thousand layers in this lake’s sediments. In the green river formation we can find millions of varves. There are, in fact, a rather large number of these kinds of formations on the Earth, and many of them contain vastly more than 10,000 layers. But what if something made the layers faster? Well, take for example the well studied varves of lake Suigetsu.
C14 and Trees
One of the more common high resolution dating methods for more recent biological remains is C14. C14 is produced in our atmosphere daily and becomes part of living things through normal respiration. It stays at the ambient concentration until that living thing dies. Once it dies, the C14 decays at the normal rate in its remains. But there is a bit of a trick with C14. C14 doesn’t always form at the same rate. Its formation depends on how much radiation the Sun is creating and even on how much cosmic radiation we are receiving from the heavens. So what we need is a calibration curve that lets us know how much C14 formed in a given year. Where would we find such a calibration?
It turns out, the answer is trees. Trees have this nice property In that most of them form regular, annual rings. Some of them almost exclusively form rings only once per year. Some of those trees live very long periods of time, 2, 3, even 4,000 years. But it gets even better. In some areas on the earth, there are not only the living trees, but the remains of dead trees that go back even further.
If we can ‘line up’ the rings in common between the living trees and the dead trees, we can use the C14 in the dead trees rings to take us back even further. As it turns out, the current tree ring calibration goes back about 12,000 years. Now, given most Young Earth advocates want the world to be about 6,000 years old, that presents quite a dilemma. But one will hedge a bit and allow for 10,000 or so, which is not all that far from 12,000.
C14, Trees and Layers Help to Work It Out
This is where Lake Suigetsu comes in. Remember, I mentioned it has around 100,000 layers. Suigetsu’s layers are also a bit unique in that one of the seasonal processes that contributes to the varves in an annual algae bloom. So in these varves are annual samples of the c14 in the air. Only they go back 100,000 years or more. So what happens if we take C14 samples from these varves and see how they correlate with the varve count itself?
Well, using our tree ring calibration curve, it turns out that for the first 12,000 varves in Suigetsu the match is absolutely perfect. That is, the amount of C14 our tree ring calibration says should be found in layer 8,000 of Lake Suigetsu is EXACTLY the amount found there. So that gives us rather incredible confidence these layers are formed annually over a rather long history.
But what happens when we look at layer 20,000 or 30,000? Does it match what we might expect in terms of C14 content. And the answer there is also yes. So what does that say about the age of the earth? Well, since there are around 100,000 layers there, it pretty much says we have a direct indication the Earth is AT LEAST that old. 100,000 is 10x 10,000, and about 17 x 6000.
We can find other layerings – like ice cores in the glaciers of Antarctica or Greenland. As you might guess, these layers count in the hundreds of thousands as well. In fact there are a lot of layers of things formed once per year that count way beyond 10,000 and from many different and varied annual processes. Also, I have left unexplored what geology has to say. I have not spoken of peleorivers or fossils or plate tectonics or a whole host of other topic that all have the same inescapable conclusion: our planet is much, much older than 10,000 years.
So – what does this have to say about what science says about how old the Earth is. Does it look like the evidence ‘Confirms’ a young (<10,000 year old) Earth? Does it look like that is what a scientist doing research on these various phenomena is going to think is the most logical and most direct implication of the data they are studying? I think the answer is clearly and resoundingly no. So what is it that Tim Challies is looking at? He doesn’t really say in his blog, but it certainly isn’t the actual data and science that I have outlined in these essays. It is ‘something else’. Something that is NOT science.
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 6:16-8:7 Colossians 2:8-23 Psalm 78:1-31 Proverbs 24:26