Old-Fashioned, Figs, Boo, and Rosh Hashanah: Secular Dates Aren’t Inviting Either[1]

08 Oct

Old-Fashioned, Figs, Boo, and Rosh Hashanah: Secular Dates Aren’t Inviting Either[1]

Lucius: Honey?

Honey: What?

Lucius: Where’s my super suit?

Honey: What?

Lucius: Where – is – my – super – suit?

Honey: I, uh, put it away.

[helicopter explodes outside]

Lucius: *Where*?

Honey: *Why* do you *need* to know?

Lucius: I need it!

[Lucius rummages through another room in his condo]

Honey: Uh-uh! Don’t you think about running off doing no daring-do. We’ve been planning this dinner for two months!

Lucius: The public is in danger!

Honey: My evening’s in danger!

Lucius: You tell me where my suit is, woman! We are talking about the greater good!

Honey: ‘Greater good?’ I am your wife! I’m the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get![2]

The Incredibles[3]

Every good relationship begins with a date.  On your first date, most people put on their best outfits and dress to impress.  But after getting into the relationship, we can let things slide and lose our priorities.  As it is with relationships and going on dates, so it is with our relationship with Christ and the authority of Scripture.  While there are many ways to talk about going on dates, there is a very important date that many Christians have grown too comfortable in their relationship with Christ that it has led to some uncomfortable conversations.  While the age of the Earth isn’t what is required for salvation, it is required to keep that spark in the relationship.  Really?  Trust me.

Flirting with an Old Earth

Truth be told, I struggled with the age of the Earth when considering whether the Darwinian perspective held any merit.  I distinctly remember sitting in my very first chemistry class at The Ohio State University as an undergraduate and was presented with how to calculate a half-life.  Everything was presented as fact and I was left with the strong impression that no one doubted how old the Earth was.  It seemed straightforward when taking the class, but that was also the time when I began digging deeper into Scripture for myself.  I did not grow up with any real instruction from home or in anything even remotely considered a church setting on this specific topic.  It was a real sensitive spot for me because it meant that I had to face what seemed on the surface to be a contradiction between Scripture and science.  I even read a commentary on the Bible to help me, but that further confused me because the position taken was: the age of the Earth doesn’t matter.  It’s a non-issue.  But everything must be old because science says so.[4]  I wasn’t lost in terms of salvation, but I was lost concerning biblical authority.  I saw three possible positions unfold before my eyes: all science; some Scripture with science; or some science with Scripture. The age of the Earth does not determine salvation.  Is not required for salvation.  But is required for biblical authority (as discussed in this article).  This is in no way meant to be an attack on my fellow believers that compromise on the Word of God.

Finding your date to an ‘old earth’[5]

Every single commentary I began reading after the first one I read all seemed to fall into the same camp.  They forced some kind of interpretation onto the opening chapters of Genesis to make them fit with what science says.  I was OK with those interpretations in the sense that they were being honestly promoted for lack of understanding.  However, what I found most disturbing was a common thread of thus saith Science.  There was a complete undermining of biblical authority from interpretations like these because their ultimate authority for determining the age of the Earth never was Scripture alone.  I had become convinced that if Scripture was sufficient to save my soul, then it was also sufficient for my science.  So when people tried to add science like my freshman chemistry to what Scripture taught, it was like mixing oil and water.  Virgins don’t conceive; water isn’t turned into wine; dead men don’t come back from the dead.  Once you begin using science as the hermeneutic to determine what Scripture says, then why stop with the age of the Earth?  It seemed more reasonable at that time to just completely accept Genesis as allegory entirely rather than take part of it at face value.  But that undermined the entire idea of a miracle.

Yeah, but my journey was in danger…[6]

My faith journey is not uncommon to so many people because the vast majority of Americans are raised in the public school system.  The dominant model of origins taught comes from an old Earth.  That’s probably why everyone is supposed to take Earth Science in 9th grade, Biology in 10th, and then maybe a chemistry or physics.  The point of the Earth Science class is to show you how old the Earth is.  Biology builds on that and leads your hormonal self to think you’re just chemicals and need to act on them regardless. Traditionally, there are just a handful of evidence cited to demonstrate the antiquity of the Earth. They are as follows:

radiocarbon-dating

Radiocarbon Dating

radiometric-dating

Radiometric Dating

What most people don’t recognize is that there is a longer list of evidence supporting a wide variety of ages for the age of the Earth.[7]  There are currently documented over 14 pieces of evidence that should be used for consideration.  Additionally, the age of the Earth has not been a number that has been without question by secular scientists.  Back in the late 1700s was when the age of the Earth began to increase from thousands to tens of thousands.  By the late 1800s, the age of the Earth had increased to hundreds of thousands of years and ended up closer to millions of years by the time Darwin published On the Origin of Species.periodic-elements  The current age of the Earth is 4.6 billion years old and is based on a meteorite, not even actual Earth material![8]  Since the age of the Earth is currently in the billions of years range, only the current methods to test the age of the Earth will be discussed here.  What I listed previously is brought up in discussions about the age of the Earth because they all point to the oldest age of the Earth in the loudest way (though they are not all entirely consistent with each other or amongst other measures providing old ages, but popular nonetheless).

Radiocarbon dating is based on an understanding that certain kinds of carbon are not stable and decay into other elements.  Carbon is available in the atmosphere in three known forms: carbon 12, carbon 13, and carbon 14.  While the number of protons remains the same, the number of neutrons in the nucleus is different and that’s what makes the heavier carbon unstable.  Carbon-14 (14C) is said to be radioactive and decays from 14C to nitrogen-14 (14N).  Living things consume radiocarbon at a rate where the amount consumed equals the amount decayed.  beakersThe amount of radiocarbon present within a living system can be thought of as a unique signature.  When an animal dies, it no longer consumes radiocarbon and its radiocarbon remaining will decay until no more remains.  In the laboratory, anyone can easily measure the rate of radiocarbon decay and learn that half of the radiocarbon is remaining after 5,730 years.

After one of these half-lives, there will be half the radiocarbon remaining and will continue going through these half-lives until it is all gone.

decay-of-carbon

While the math for radiocarbon decay seems relatively straightforward, there are three main assumptions with the dating method.  The first assumption is that (1) the system must be closed.  The second assumption with radiocarbon dating is that (2) there was no daughter isotope present at the time of death for the living thing.  The final assumption is that (3) the rate of decay has remained constant over time.

Each of these assumptions can only be verified in a laboratory, they cannot be verified out in the real world.  No one has ever lived for over 5,000 years and have, therefore, never observed the full decay of the radiocarbon.  While that’s a minor point, there are some compromising creationists that simply want you to trust them because they’re a Christian and a scientist.  Making a claim because you’re a Christian and a scientist is a straw man argument because I’m a Christian and a scientist.  So it’s my word against his.  Science is not a democratic process and truth isn’t determined by a majority vote.  Other compromising creationists say that they are unaware of Christians that believe in a young earth.  Just because that person didn’t know any Christians, presumes that he knew all the Christians alive at the time (which is malarkey).  I desperately wanted to listen to those evangelical influences in my life to hold to an old earth, but their logic is lacking and the data are embarrassing.

Put away in 3 strikes?  My evening is in danger.

Strike 1. The problem with the first assumption is that there is nothing known as a completely closed system.  A closed system is one in which there is no new radiocarbon deposited and no radiocarbon leaving.  We know from Scripture that the Flood deposited enormous amounts of carbon into the fossil record.  Furthermore, we know that microorganisms prefer consuming the lighter isotopes of carbon (i.e., 12C).  If there is more radiocarbon present in samples, then that would give the appearance of age when there is no actual added age.  So very clearly, the system is not closed and it is very open.

baseball

Strike 2. No daughter isotope present at the beginning of the decay process is a really funny point.  No one was around to take the chemical analysis of the sample at the beginning of the decay for these isolated samples, so there’s no positive control experiment to determine whether there was any contamination of the sample with daughter isotope.  Without having set up the proper control experiments, then you cannot follow the scientific method and determine that the experiments are completely invalidated.

Strike 3. The biggest assumption of all is that the rates of radiocarbon decay have remained constant over time. Scientists associated with the Radiometric decay And The age of the Earth (RATE) made a surprising finding for people like myself. The rate of decay for unstable isotopes has not remained constant over time. The current working hypothesis is that the rate of decay was sped up at the time of the Flood, which would give a false appearance of age rather than the younger ages they actually are.

What relationship doesn’t have problems?

To date, there are no known reports to discredit the findings of the RATE team.  I’ve looked.  I’ve scoured.  I even tried to pretend like the RATE data didn’t exist.  However, the truth is that the data from the RATE team is so solid that continued attacks against a young age make no sense. graph

The RATE team was a collection of creation scientists that investigated what the evidence for an old earth is, evaluated whether there was any merit to the methods or not, and then looked into a new way of interpreting very similar experimental data but from a new perspective.  The new perspective with which the RATE team looked at was that they measured the daughter isotope production rather than the ratio of parent isotopes for samples.  In particular, they looked inside polonium radiohalos for the presence of the daughter isotope Helium.  According to the secular time frame (that most compromising creationists accept), there should be absolutely no helium present in those samples.  Contrary to the old age idea, the RATE team found an abundance of helium that indicated a young age of the Earth.  I’m shocked at what I read on the internet because the scientific community is so anti-Bible that they’re willing to argue against the solid evidence of helium present in radiohalos.

No one should believe the Earth is old when there is solid evidence that the Earth is young (i.e., polonium radiohalos filled with helium).  What’s ironic is that most scientists (even some of those that claim Christ) simply ignore the data and dismiss it entirely.[9]  But dismissing data isn’t the most open and honest way to do science, so you can’t call that reasoning scientific. lightbulbs It especially doesn’t help the case to believe the Bible when some Christians undermine belief in the Bible by dismissing the data from the RATE project.  Some have tried to pretend that the RATE team fabricated their own data to make the age look younger.  But I’ve talked with members of the RATE team and they actually sent off their samples to secular labs to perform the testing (which also rules out the possibility that these scientists are incompetent unless you want to call the secular scientists incompetent). The final argument that is made against the RATE findings is that statistical p-value student’s t-test ANOVA correlation coefficient blah blah blah.[10]  Seriously, anyone can use statistics to say whatever they want it to say.  So the final argument against the findings of the RATE team based on statistics is a moot argument because they’re propping up a straw man just to knock it down.  Anytime I begin to see an argument entirely and solely based on statistics is my sign to run very far away and very quickly.  That kind of scientific thinking makes pseudoscience like chasing ghosts placed on the same level as rocket science.

Greater Carbon Dating?  I know the Author.

Finding out the age of something by radiocarbon dating is flawed on a number of levels already, but here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Many times, I ask people if they can get radiocarbon dates from a variety of fossils.  The fossils include a cast of a plant, dinosaur egg shells, and fossilized dung.

leaf-fossileggsdung

The problem with obtaining radiocarbon dates from the plant and the egg shells is that neither of these has any carbon in them in the first place.  Radiocarbon dating can only be used on material that was once considered living, which would only include the dung.  Don’t let anyone tell you that radiocarbon dating of rocks is accurate.  Further, a little secret amongst the radiocarbon dating community is that no one uses radiocarbon dating anymore because of its extreme unreliability.  When trying to obtain radiocarbon dates for known archeological events in history like the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, you get a wide range of calendar dates that go as far back as the time of the Neanderthals and as early as the ancient Roman empire.  That’s hardly accurate in the least.  What’s more is that radiocarbon dating is only reliable for up to just 10,000 years ago…  an admission from secular scientists (not those hack-job creationists like myself).  So if anything has radiocarbon in it, then it has to be less than 10,000 years old.  Therefore, if the oldest known rocks have any radiocarbon present in them, then they must be less than 10,000 years old.  The fact of the matter is that diamonds should not have any radiocarbon in them by secular dating methods, but every single diamond has radiocarbon present in it.  As a result, the hardest and oldest known rocks have radiocarbon present in them.  The age of the Earth must be less than 10,000 years old.  By the way, everything that has ever been tested by radiocarbon dating already has had radiocarbon present in it.  Scientists physically remove the radiocarbon present in everything so they can get older dates.  That means that everything (not just the diamonds) have radiocarbon and must, therefore, be less than 10,000 years old.

Jesus, the greatest Good you are ever gonna get

As you can see, there are so many reasons not to trust radiocarbon dating that it might’ve just made your head hurt.  In all seriousness, I couldn’t write this article in one sitting because the volume of information against radiocarbon dating is astounding.  With everything being less than 10,000 years old, that puts everything within the time frame of the biblical worldview without compromising the Scripture.  What that means is that those who are desperately holding onto the Bible with older dates for the earth are doing so out of ignorance or because they’re afraid they might look dumb in front of man.  As stated previously, I would rather look dumb in front of man and be correct about my science because science is not a democratic process.  True, biblical science always supports the plain reading of Scripture without having to compromise the meaning of the text.  While we’ve skirted around the issues surrounding dating, we’re not talking about that kind of dating…!  I’d like to introduce you to a personal relationship with the greatest Lover of your soul.  His name is Jesus.  Do you know Him?

FOOTNOTES


[1] Old-fashioned, figs, and boo are all synonyms of the word ‘date.’ Rosh Hashanah is the original date of the Creation.
[2] Great exchange between husband and wife about dating.  It is funny about how they are arguing on how long it’s been since they last went on a date.  We have the opportunity to know the Creator of the universe, but we argue about whether the Earth is old or not.
[3] What’s actually incredible is that so-called evangelical Christians will use science to interpret Scripture and compromise Scripture.  What really should happen is that we pick one consistent biblical hermeneutic to approach every verse of Scripture from beginning to end.
[4] The commentary I read is called “Explore the Book” (Zondervan) by J. Sidlow Baxter (1966) p.45-50.  Chances are fairly high that this commentary will no longer get printed.  I recommend the book for everything that doesn’t deal with the age of the Earth because it is really good.  But the opening chapters of Genesis in “Explore the Book” were so amazingly confusing.
[5] Semi-related to this article is a bit of dating advice I once heard: how you win them is how you keep them.  If you win a soul by the age of the Earth and it’s always changing, then someone’s salvation depends on keeping up with the latest science rather than the Creator of the universe.  That leads to an awful future date with the Judge of the universe.
[6] Frozone’s date with his wife was in danger if he didn’t prioritize things properly.  So, too,  goes the age of the Earth.  While you don’t need to have the age of the Earth settled for salvation, it always affects how you end up living out the Christian life.  It’s a matter of biblical authority versus man’s authority.
[7] Isn’t it ironic that the age of the Earth doesn’t even use Earth to provide the date?
[8] http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Polonium_halos or http://www.reasons.org/articles/helium-diffusion-in-zircon-a-response-to-questions-by-the-rate-team
[9] It honestly reminds me of the scene in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs where the very large mayor says, “Here’s what I heard: Blah, blah, blah, science, science, science… Bigger! And bigger is better. Everyone’s gonna love these new portion sizes.” The comparison with this movie is that the mayor is willing to jeopardize his credibility just because he gets what he wants.  People that ignore the findings of the RATE team remind me of the mayor in that movie ignoring that his town’s safety is in danger.
[10] I purposely quit talking about everything listed in this article at this point.  Even though radiometric dating is, technically, used to obtain old ages of the Earth, I decided to leave alone a sophisticated treatment of that because it is dealt with in greater detail elsewhere.  Further, the RATE findings more specifically dealt with the radiometric
Dr. Andrew Fabich

Dr. Andrew J. Fabich grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, OH before moving to Columbus, OH to finish high school and attend Ohio State. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he married his high school sweetheart and began graduate school. Dr. Fabich has now joined Truett-McConnell University as an Associate Professor of Biology. He and his wife have 4 children.