© 2003 by Creation Research Society. All rights reserved.
Old Age for the Earth Is the Heart of Evolution
F. Henry, Ph.D.
40 No 3 pp 164-172 December 2003
An accommodationist claim about chronology runs something like this:
"Even if it could be shown that the earth is young (which it is not),
that would be irrelevant to the chronology of the universe, because there
are independent evidences that the universe is as old as evolution says
it is. Furthermore, the age issue is not really important." Such
statements are not true. The centrality of long ages to evolutionary thought
has long been emphasized. Further, the supposed evidences of the vast
antiquity of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe ultimately rest
on the belief in the evolutionary age of the earth. The long chronologies
for the universe and its parts are therefore not independent of the alleged
old age of the earth. If the earth is shown to be young, the evidence
for an old universe crumbles.
Time Is the Central Requirement
Old-universe apologist Hugh Ross writes that "age need not even
be an issue" in discussing origins (Ross, 1994, p. 10), and maintains
that "the age of the universe and of the earth" is a "peripheral
point" (Ross, 1994, p. 8). On the other hand, decades ago astrophysicist
Arthur S. Eddington acknowledged the absolute primacy of time, without
which evolution would be impossible and inconceivable: "Looking back
through the long past we picture the beginning of the worlda primeval
chaos which time has fashioned into the universe that we know" (Eddington,
1930, p. 11). Such a statement could be taken to imply that time has supplanted
the Creator. Since this remains the conventional perspective of the function
of time in cosmic evolution, it follows that the age issue implicitly
enters into virtually all evolutionary theorizing.
Eddington was not only an eminent scientist but a well known popularizer
of science, especially astronomy. He repeatedly stated his belief in the
centrality of time for naturalistic development. In the evolutionor
the "becoming"of the universe, he wrote, "Time occupies
the key position" (Eddington, 1933, p. 91). As with Eddington, Carl
Sagan acted not as an originator of chronological thought, but as an advocate
of the primacy of time in evolution. Sagan also described the evolution
of the universe with "time" replacing God as the First Cause:
For unknown ages
there were no galaxies, no planets, no life.
A first generation of stars was born.
In the dark lush clouds
between the stars, smaller raindrops grew, bodies far too little to ignite
the nuclear fire
Among them was a small world of stone and iron,
the early Earth.
One day a molecule arose that
was able to
make crude copies of itself
life had begun. Single-celled plants
plants and animals discovered that the land could support
[Some animals] became upright
emerging into consciousness.
At an ever-accelerating pace, [consciousness] invented writing, cities,
art and science, and sent spaceships to the planets and the stars. These
are some things that hydrogen atoms do, given 15 billion years of cosmic
evolution (Sagan, 1980, pp. 337_338).
If to Sagan time was the "creator" which brought the universe
into existence, planetary astronomer William K. Hartmann has expressed
the same idea, namely, that time is really the only necessity for evolutiona
From all we have just said, we conclude that if planetary surfaces with
the necessary conditionsliquid water and the `CHON' chemicals (carbon,
hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen)exist long enough anywhere, life
is likely to evolve (Hartmann, 1991, p. 621).
With time as the evolutionary agent, it is no wonder that the evolutionary
expectation of finding extraterrestrial life has over the decades gone
from disrepute to popular acceptance (Henry, 2002, p. 170). On the other
hand, without sufficient time, evolution, nature's "self-realization,"
would not happen at all (Easterbrook, 1996, p. 48).
Evolutionary Chronology Is Tied
to the Age of the Earth
All evolutionary cosmic ages are in the final analysis based on an old
age for the earth, so if this chronology is destroyed for the earth, it
is demolished for the cosmos as well. The sun is thought to be old because
the earth is old, other stars are thought to follow a mode of operation
and chronology based on that of the sun (Bahcall, 1990, p. 56; Fix, 1999,
p. 385), and the Hubble constant and the age of the universe are adjusted
in an attempt to make the cosmos older than the stars (Goldsmith, 1985,
Coming back to the solar system, the moon is assumed to be slightly older
than the oldest rocks on earth, and the solar system is dated from meteorites
on the assumption that it is older than both the earth and the moon (Goldsmith,
1985, p. 366). Cratered planets such as Mercury are dated by comparison
with the moon (Hubbard, 1984, p. 197). Indeed, it is generally true that
"the relationship between crater density and age determined for the
Moon has been used to estimate the ages of other planets and satellites"
(Fix, 1999, p. 188). This chain of chronological reasoning would be logical
were it true that first some meteorites formed out of the putative solar
nebula, then moons and planets (Whipple and Green, 1986, p. 222; Hubbard,
1984, p. 9; Norton, 1998, pp. 349-350). Further, it is not true that meteoritic
dating points unambiguously to a 4.5 billion year age for the solar system
(Gariepy and Dupre, 1991, pp. 216_217; Williams, 1992, p. 2).
The chain of chronological reasoning traced above is not based on actual
observation, but on inference, a fact pointed out occasionally:
Many things loosely described as scientific `facts' are not really facts
at all. For example, you might have the impression that this book stated
the `fact' that the universe is between 10 and 20 billion years old. But
such a usage of the word `fact' is really just a habit of speech that
is seen to be imprecise on close examination. In reality, the age astronomers
assign to the universe is an inference from the large amount of
observational data that we have [emphasis in original] (Robbins, 1988,
In other words, there are no data compelling the acceptance of evolutionary
ages, but researchers have reached the conclusions they wanted to believe.
Over the last century and a half, physicists and astronomers eventually
accommodated themselves to geological dates for the age of the earth,
readjusting their cosmic and stellar dates so as not to conflict with
terrestrial claims. Physicists as well as astronomers were tying their
chronologies into the evolutionary time frame for the earth:
The conflict between physics and astronomy over the Age of the Earth
was resolved in the 1950s.
[T]he conflict between physics and geology
had ended 50 years earlier with a complete reversal by the physicists
[in favor of geological dates for the earth]; this time it was the astronomers
who revised their estimates and suddenly switched to a much longer time
scale [to avoid conflict with the geologists]. They had decided that Hubble
had underestimated the intrinsic luminosities of distant stars and the
Cepheid variable scale of distances had to be recalibrated; together the
two corrections [read: adjustments] expanded the time scale by a factor
of 4, with further increases to come in subsequent decades. By the mid-1980s,
estimates of the age of the universe generally ranged from 10,000 to 20,000
m.y., safely beyond the estimates of the Age of the Earth, which had stabilized
at 4500 to 4600 m.y.
According to David Raup, one result of this
episode is that `geology has a curious moral authority over astrophysics'
[emphasis added] (Brush, 1989, p. 173).
The first widely-accepted rationale for radiometric dating of the earth
was put forward by T.C. Chamberlain. He based his estimates on the putative
time for biological evolution, saying that his view "takes due account
of biological requirements" (Brush, 1989, p. 172), meaning that the
presumed age of the earth for biological evolution had to be consulted
before radiometric dates could be selected to "confirm" this
old age. Richard Milton, who is not a young earth advocate, nevertheless
points out that the readiness to reject radiometric dates except those
giving "expected values" is why various radiometric methods
can be claimed to converge in the "ages" they "measure"
(Milton, 1997, p. 49):
Thus the published dating figures always conform to preconceived
dates and never contradict those dates. If all the rejected dates were
retrieved from the waste basket and added to the published dates, the
combined results would show that the dates produced are the scatter that
one would expect by chance alone [emphasis in original] (Milton, 1997,
Woodmorappe (1999, pp. 1, 6) makes the same observation.
Evolution Dates the Sun by the Evolutionary Age of
Evolution asserts that the earth is billions of years old. Astronomers
for several generations have stated that this is the only real reason
the sun is believed to have an age of billions of years. In the 1920s
Formerly the contraction theory of Helmholtz and Kelvin held sway. This
supposes that the supply [of the sun's energy] is maintained by the conversion
of gravitational energy into heat owing to the gradual contraction of
the star. The energy obtainable from contraction is quite inadequate in
view of the great age now attributed to the sun (Eddington, 1926, p. 289).
And why did Eddington view solar contraction as insufficient to supply
the sun's energy output over the sun's lifetime? Because, "It is
not much use extending the age of the earth without extending the age
of the sun" (Eddington, 1926, p. 295). In other words, as the evolutionary
age of the earth expanded in the early twentieth century, the supposed
age of the sun expanded to keep pace.
Whatever actually occurs in the sunwhether fusion only, or fusion
with a degree of contractionthe sun's presumed age is based ultimately
on the alleged age of the earth. Eddington made this point repeatedly:
"Geological, physical, and biological evidence seems to make it certain
that the sun has warmed the earth for more than a thousand million years
[now taken to be some 5 billion years]" (Eddington, 1959, p. 162).
In context, the "physical" evidence to which Eddington referred
was nothing more than the supposed geological and biological "evidence"
that the earth is old. Eddington was explicit about this:
On such an important question we should not like to put implicit trust
in [astronomical arguments] alone, and we turn to the sister sciences
for other and perhaps more conclusive evidence.
The age of the older
rocks [of the earth] is found to be about 1,200 million years.
sun, of course, must be very much older than the earth and its rocks (Eddington,
1929, p. 96).
The evolutionary ages of the oldest terrestrial rocks have expanded since
Eddington's time from 1.2 billion years to some 3.8 billion years (Milton,
1997, p. 17).
Two generations ago, physicist and science popularizer George Gamow described
the same dependence of solar dating on the evolutionary age of the earth:
"Our sun is now only about 3 or 4 billion years old
the reason for this age?"
since the estimated age of our
earth is of that order of magnitude" (Gamow, 1953, p. 301). The same
logic for dating the sun at billions of years continues to this day:
By the end of the nineteenth century, geological evidence had increased
the estimated age of the Earth to several hundred millions of years,
and the discovery of radioactivity at the close of the century made it
possible to measure the Earth's age with even greater certainty at around
4.5 billion years.
[It] is hard to imagine how the Earth
could be much older than the Sun [emphases in original] (Robbins, 1988,
Indeed, this rationale for dating the sun has been commonly acknowledged:
"The Sun's age was measured at 4.6 billion years by dating planetary
matter" (Hartmann, 1991, p. 381). Hartmann has worded this statement
in such a way as to imply that evidence from outside the earth confirms
the sun's old age, but this statement is misleading, for in context the
"planetary" material to which he refers is nothing more than
the rocks of the earth. In a more forthright assessment, astronomer John
Geologists have found rocks 3.5 billion years old that contain fossils
of marine organisms. These discoveries clearly demonstrate that the Sun
has warmed the Earth for at least 3.5 billion years and probably for as
long as the Earth has existed (Fix, 1999, p. 386).
Researchers are sometimes objective about the faulty reasoning illustrated
in the preceding paragraphs. Solar expert John Eddy stated that,
I suspect that the Sun is 4.5-billion years old. However, given
some new and unexpected results to the contrary, and some time for frantic
recalculation and theoretical readjustment, I suspect that we could live
with Bishop Ussher's value for the age of the Earth and the Sun. I don't
think we have much in the way of observational evidence in astronomy to
contradict that. Solar physics now looks to paleontology for data on solar
chronology [emphasis in original] (Kazmann, 1978, p. 18).
This is a staggering statement, for Eddy admitted that there is really
no hard evidence that the sun is very old. Indeed, Eddy went so far as
to propose the possibility of returning to Ussher's chronology which puts
creation at 4004 BC. Since Eddy's last sentence quoted above claims that
evolutionary solar chronology depends on "paleontology," Eddy
has again affirmed that the conventional age of the sun is based ultimately
on nothing more than the presumed evolutionary age of the earth.
Evolution Dates the
Solar System and Universe
by the Evolutionary Age of the Earth
Hartmann claims that, "The age of the solar system is 4.6 Gy [billion
years]. This figure has been derived from studies of rocks from three
planetary sources: the meteorites
the moon, and Earth" (Hartmann,
1983, p. 119). There appear to be three independent dating sources (the
meteorites, the moon, and the earth) referenced here, but in fact the
age of the moon is worked out to agree with the earth's alleged age (Hammond,
1974, p. 911; Fix, 1999, p. 186), and that of meteorites is worked out
to be slightly older than the earth (Fix, 1999, p. 335). This may appear
surprising, since these chronologies are based on radiometric dating results,
but the fact is that,
In general, dates in the `correct ball park' are assumed to be correct
and are published, but those in disagreement with other data are seldom
(Mauger, 1977, p. 37).
There is thus a concentration of accepted radiometric dates around the
values preconceived as being correct, for such "figures are obtained
by omitting, with no objective reason, the much broader deviations"
(Waterhouse, 1979, p. 499). The apparent convergence of radiometric dating
results is more a chimera than reality because "many age determinations
which do not agree with currently accepted time scales are simply rejected
" (Paul, 1980, p. 184). Even for the currently popular
neodymium/samarium dating method, "In the majority of cases the ages
are off and the [discrepant] data disappear in a lab-datafile" (Jagoutz,
1994, p. 156). When all is said and done, the age of the earth remains
the chronological baseline for evolution. More will be said about meteoritic
dating of the solar system and the earth below.
Chronologies for other planets such as Mars may be worked out by comparison
with the assumed lunar chronology (Short, 1975, pp. 246, 248), but since
the lunar chronology is based on the presumed age of the earth, such chronologies
are not truly independent. Nonetheless, such chronologies have been entrenched
for many decades, and it has become common to speak of them as if they
are independent verifications of evolutionary ages (Podosek, 1999, pp.
1863_1864). A recurrent phenomenon in the history of science is that a
paradigm becomes so widely accepted that the basic assumptions behind
it are no longer questioned, and the paradigm is taken as virtually self-evident
truth (Kuhn, 1970, pp. 10_11). This appears to have come to pass in general
with evolutionary chronologies. In such a situation, there may be the
appearance of vigorous debate, but the debate is actually constrained
within "safe" boundaries so as to leave the paradigm untouched
(e.g., asking whether primordial meteoritic material is 4.55 or 4.65 billion
years old, but not questioning whether the range of ages under
discussion has any validity). To expose fundamental fallacies of the paradigm
is nearly always unacceptable (Kuhn, 1970, pp. 15_21, 37, 77-78, 177).
In dating the conventional age of the cosmos, the presumed size of the
universe is the only "evidence" of its age: "
size is inextricably bound up with its age. The Universe is fifteen billion
light years in size because it is fifteen billion years old" (Barrow
and Tipler, 1986, p. 3). But the estimated size of the universe is tied
to the presumed expansion rate allegedly due to the putative Big Bang.
The quantity employed to describe the rate of expansion is the Hubble
constant (Fix, 1999, pp. 600_601; Pasachoff, 1985, p. 261). It might seem
as if we have in the Hubble constant at last a truly independent dating
method, but in fact the size of the Hubble constant is evaluated to give
an expansion time (or age) which is proportional to the evolutionary age
of the earth: "By using the Hubble relation, and working backward
in time, the time of the big bang can be estimated" (Kornberg, 1978,
p. 10). If this last point seems questionable, consider the following.
When the Hubble constant was initially evaluated, the "upper limit"
age it gave was too small to satisfy evolutionary geologists:
Unfortunately, the reciprocal of Hubble's constant gave an age for the
universe of only 1.8 billion years. Rocks on earth were then already known
to be as old as 3.0 billion years. Obviously, the universe could not be
younger than the earth (Kornberg, 1978, p. 10).
Once again, a supposedly independent evolutionary chronometer works out
in reality not to be independent, but is tied back to an old age for the
earth. Indeed, the Hubble constant has been changed by a factor or four
or more since the 1920s (Brush, 1989, p. 173; DeYoung, 1995, p. 9), a
revision which has corresponded to evolutionary inflation of the age of
the earth (De Vaucouleurs, 1970, p. 1204). On the other hand, though at
one time the earth's evolutionary age was predicted by some to be almost
indefinitely inflatable (De Vaucouleurs, 1970, p. 1204), it settled at
around 4.5 billion years. This completed the chronological paradigm shift
initiated primarily by Charles Lyell a century and a half earlier in the
1830s (Milton, 1997, p. 77; Easterbrook, 1996, p. 77).
Evolution Has Dated
the Earth by Arbitrary Uniformitarian Assumptions
If the evolutionary age of the earth were valid, then the evolutionary
chronologies depending on the earth's age might be valid as well. However,
the earth's evolutionary age has been established by invoking arbitrary
assumptions. Physicist George Gamow described how the earth's age was
Thorium and the common isotope of uranium (U238) are not markedly
less abundant than the other heavy elements.
Since the half-life
periods of thorium and of common uranium are 14 billion and 4.5 billion
years, respectively, we must conclude that these atoms were formed not
more than a few billion years ago. On the other hand
isotope of uranium (U235) is very rare, constituting only 0.7
percent of the main isotope.
The half-life of U235 is
considerably shorter than that of U238, being only about 0.9
billion years. Since the amount of fissionable uranium has been cut in
half every 0.9 billion years, it must have taken about seven such periods,
or about 6 billion years [now taken to be 4.5 billion years], to bring
it down to its present rarity, if both isotopes were originally present
in comparable amounts (Gamow, 1952, pp. 15_16).
Evolutionist (but anti-Darwinian) Richard Milton has summarized essentially
the same argument: "[If] a deposit was composed of half uranium 238
and half its daughter product lead 206, then one would draw the conclusion
that the deposit was 4,500 million [4.5 billion] years old. [This] is
the average figure that is found for the Earth's crust" (Milton,
1997, p. 41). There are two arbitrary assumptions in this reasoning. It
can never be known that the pairs of isotopes in question were ever present
on earth in comparable amounts, as both Gamow and Milton assume. Further,
the mere occurrence of radioactive decay implies nothing about how long
it has been happening. This is the fallacy of confusing the time to complete
a process with the interval over which the process has been occurring.
The truth is that evolution needs the earth to be old, so assumptions
have been selectively and arbitrarily chosen to make the earth appear
old. Indeed, Gariepy and Dupre (1991, p. 216) have emphasized that "in
all ancient rocks" it is impossible to know the initial abundance
of uranium isotopes "since uranium is easily remobilized"; i.e.,
uranium minerals are transported by natural processes the effect of which
is impossible to evaluate over the history of the earth.
One of the earliest attempts to derive the age of the solar system from
meteoritic data, and by extension, the age of the earth, was described
by Patterson (1956, p. 230), updated by Huey and Kohman (1973, pp. 3228_3229)
using revised radioactive decay constants, and more recently described
by Allegre et al. (1995, p. 1445). Patterson's result of 4.55 ± 0.07
billion years was based on a whole-rock isochron (Patterson, 1956, p.
231; Faure, 1986, p. 312) for five meteorites. In fact, Patterson's result
was tied to lead isotope levels in Pacific Ocean sediments, so that ultimately
assumptions sediment characteristics entered into Patterson's analysis.
The characteristics of the sediments were predicated in turn on the supposed
evolutionary history of the earth.
It has more recently been shown that meteorites do not always give evolutionary
dates agreeing with those of Patterson (Gale et al., 1972, p. 57; Minster
et al., 1982, p. 414). This has led to the assertion that, contrary to
the assumptions discussed above and advocated by Patterson (1956, p. 235),
lead isotopes were not mixed uniformly in the material from which the
meteorites came (Tatsumoto et al., 1973, p. 1282; Abranches et al., 1980,
p. 311; Gariepy and Dupre, 1991, p. 217). More recent assessments of ocean
sediment data have shown that even these do not produce dates in agreement
with the whole-rock isochron results (Zindler and Hart, 1986, pp. 507_508),
leading to the assumption that there must be an as-yet undiscovered reservoir
of lead isotopes within the earth's interior. Despite the evident uncertainty
in the assumptions of Patterson and his successors, Austin (2000, p. 103)
has pointed out that in whole rock isochron dating these assumptions continue
to be followed. One outcome of the unwarranted adherence to these assumptions
is the emergence of new problems, such as the missing lead reservoir just
mentioned (Gariepy and Dupre, 1991, pp. 216, 224). One suspects that this
lead is missing in the same sense that the "missing links" are
missingthey never existed but are seen as real in the evolutionary
paradigm because of false conclusions generated by fallacious assumptions.
Because of the problems with dating by whole-rock isochrons, increased
attention has been given to dating by generating mineral isochrons of
individual mineral grains in rocks. Whereas a whole rock might not meet
the assumptions previously discussed, it is felt that individual mineral
grains might satisfy them. For example, the Allende chondrite has a number
of inclusions high in Ca-Al content (CAIs). Certain CAIs from Allende
produced a Pb-207/Pb-206 model age of 4.559 ± 0.004 billion years,
relative to the Diablo Canyon troilite, and also formed a linear Pb-207/Pb-206
whole-rock isochron (Tilton, 1989, p. 259). Based on eight selected CAIs,
Tera and Carlson (1999, p. 1877) have claimed that these CAIs produce
a Pb207/Pb-206 isochron age of 4.558 billion years, thus validating the
mineral isochron results and upholding the dates derived by earlier investigators.
However, the Allende matrix and chondrules indicate a younger age, which
Tilton (1989, p. 262) minimizes. In addition, Huey and Kohman (1973, p.
3227), by analyzing sixteen chrondrites to assess the age of the solar
system, concluded that the age is 4.505 ± 0.008 billion years, less
than Tilton's figure. Of course, the view can be taken that results of
dating via various isotopes are converging on the true age of the earth.
Minster et al. (1982, p. 414) claim that the Rb-Sr whole-rock isochron
age is 4.498 ± 0.015 billion years, a date including in its range
of uncertainty that of Huey and Kohman (1973, p. 3227). A Sm-Nd whole-rock
age of 4.21 ± 0.76 billion years has been obtained (Jacobson and
Wasserburg, 1984, p. 141), but this discrepancy is explained by claiming
that lack of significant variation of Sm-Nd within chondrites is responsible.
Ar-Ar model ages for chondrites yield 4.48 ± 0.03 billion years (Gopel
et al., 1994, p. 167), again a discrepancy. The discrepancies appear to
be real. This would be expected since these results are based on the questionable
assumptions discussed above.
The reliance on unprovable assumptions extends back to the earliest history
of radiometric dating. Physicist Ernest Rutherford stated in 1904:
for the first time suggested that an exact value [of the age of
the earth] might be obtained from a knowledge of the helium content of
[a]ssuming that no helium had escaped from the
mineral from the time of its formation
and relying upon the correctness
of values for the rate of helium production per gram of radium and the
ratio of radium to uranium for minerals wherein equilibrium has been reached
1968, p. 162).
In fact none of these assumptions has been proved for any radiometric
In 1905 B.B. Boltwood of Harvard achieved what has been described as
"the first results of an accurate radioactive dating technique"
using the uranium-lead method, an approach possibly "suggested privately
to Boltwood by Rutherford" in correspondence now missing, or when
the two scientists met at Yale University in that year (Badash, 1968,
p. 163). Interestingly, "Boltwood published
one paper on dating
in 1907 and none more," and even for Rutherford the subject of radiometric
dating "was never more than something mildly interesting
contributed original research papers on the earth-age problem at the rate
of only one each decade, hardly evidence of a consuming interest"
(Badash, 1968, p. 165).
Eventually English geologist Arthur Holmes took the mantle of Rutherford
and Boltwood, "becoming the leading figure in obtaining wide-spread
acceptance of radioactive dating techniques" (Badash, 1968, p. 166),
along with T.C. Chamberlain bringing radiometric dating to the status
of total acceptance in the non-creationist scientific community. Holmes
presented his chronological methods and results in 1913 in his The
Age of the Earth, and continued to refine his system through the 1930s
and 1940s (Badash, 1968, p. 167). Most significantly, however, Holmes'
dates were essentially unchanged from the dates in vogue before the discovery
of radioactivity in 1896, let alone before the development of radiometric
dating methods. In 1893, based on extrapolation of sedimentation rates,
Reade proposed a date of 600 million years ago for the onset of the Cambrian.
In 1931, after Holmes had begun publishing his dates based on radiometric
procedures, the observation was made, "Reade's figures therefore
show a rather remarkable agreement with what radioactivity teaches us
now" (Schuchert, 1931, p. 21). Indeed, Schuchert believed that "stratigraphy
would provide an important check upon radioactive results"
(Burchfield, 1990, p. 205). In other words, despite the development of
radiometric techniques, the dates have been changed only slightly. The
rhetorical question has been posed,
What are we to make of all this? Is this some sort of amazing coincidence,
or have isotopic dates always been `checked' for `correctness,' first
directly against this sedimentation-rate based column, and then against
earlier dates that had been checked against this column? [emphasis
in original] (Woodmorappe, 1999, p. 13).
Because of this similarity of modern and pre-radiometric time scales,
it has been observed, "The basic time scale has remained unchanged
since 1879, when the Ordovician period was inserted between the Cambrian
and Silurian" (Rowland, 1983, p. 80).
The radiometric age for the earth is ultimately based on geological assessments
of the age of the earth's rocks, and the age of the earth's rocks is ultimately
based on extrapolations of a uniformitarian deposition rate for the (conceptual)
geologic column. This rate in turn was derived from Charles Lyell's arbitrary
assessment of the age of the Cenozoic (Milton, 1997, pp. 19_23, 76_77).
In Lyell's time the earth's age was thought to be of the order of 100
million years at most. Lyell put the end of the Cretaceous and the beginning
of the Cenozoic at 80 million years ago, not so drastically different
from the 65 million years assumed today.
Indeed, Speiker (1956, p. 1803) asked the rhetorical question, "I
wonder how many of us realize that the time scale was frozen in essentially
its present form by 1840," that is, soon after Lyell had achieved
prominence. The Cenozoic starts with the Tertiary, and the Cretaceous-Tertiary
boundary is a significant demarcation in the fossil record, evidently
connected with transition from Flood activity to the beginning of a post-Flood
regime (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p. 283; Fritzsche, 1998, p. 247). However,
the basis for Lyell's chronology was not science, but rather a long-standing
animus of the Word of God in general, and the chronology of Moses in particular.
Lyell in fact altered data in an attempt to make his dating scheme appear
reasonable (Taylor, 1987, pp. 82_83).
Lyell was by training a lawyer, or in the terminology of the time, a
barrister, a fact formally acknowledged in the title of the memorial volumes
published after his death (Lyell, 1881, vol. 1, p. iii; vol. 2, p iii).
Lyell's real "hidden agenda" was revealed in private correspondence
with colleagues and friends. He wrote that he had "driven" the
biblical Flood "out of the Mosaic record" (Lyell, 1881, vol.
1, p. 253). He also revealed his plan for undermining the Bible. He would
not make a frontal attack against the Scripture, but "conceived the
that if ever the Mosaic chronology could be set down [discredited]
without giving offense, it would be in an historical sketch
(Lyell, 1881, vol. 1, p. 271). Lyell's reference to "an historical
sketch" meant a work about "historical geology" written
from an evolutionary viewpoint. His well known Principles of Geology
was the fulfillment of this plan.
In sum, Lyell using his legal skills would manufacture an opus presenting
the alleged evolutionary version of the earth's geological past. He would
lead his readers to doubt the chronology of Moses and the Bible as a whole
without directly attacking it and without even naming it. With his Principles
of Geology, published when he was only in his early thirties, he succeeded
no doubt beyond his wildest dreams.
We are not left to wonder if Lyell was conscious of his indirect, deceitful
maneuver against the Bible. He employed the same tactic generally, rarely
asserting dogmatically what he wanted readers to believe, but cleverly
allowing them to reach his conclusions on their own. Indeed, he wrote
of his use of this tactic to encourage belief in biological evolution:
"I left this rather to be inferred, not thinking it worthwhile to
offend a certain class of persons by embodying in words what could only
be a speculation" (Lyell, 1881, vol. 1, p. 467). Darwin observed
Lyell using this tactic:
Lyell is most firmly convinced that he has shaken the faith in the Deluge
far more efficiently by never having said a word against the Bible than
if he had acted otherwise.
I have read lately Morley's Life
of Voltaire and he insists strongly that direct attacks on Christianity
(even when written with the powerful force and vigour of Voltaire) produce
little permanent effect; real good seems to follow only the slow and silent
side attacks (Himmelfarb, 1968, p. 387).
"Time" in general, and the age of the earth in particular,
is the heart of evolutionary theorizing. Even more, the conventional age
of the earth is the ultimate foundation for other long chronologies, both
inside and outside the solar system. The evolutionary age of the earth
is ultimately based on nothing more than Lyellian uniformitarianism, radiometric
claims notwithstanding, and Lyell's own agenda was to displace the biblical
chronology with a secular one. Aside from the evidences that the cosmos
does not have a long age, it is also true that discrediting an old age
for the earth discredits old ages for the universe as well. Since the
earth is not truly old, the billions-of-years chronology for the sun,
the solar system, and the universe has no foundation. It is therefore
no wonder that the humanist community has steadfastly rejected the concept
of a recent creation for the earth. It is also clear that recent creationists
must continue to defend the biblical doctrine of a young earth.
Along these lines, a group of creation scientists is currently looking
at the theory and results of radioisotope dating. The preliminary conclusion
is that substantial radioactive decay has indeed occurred in rocks. However,
this decay has not taken place slowly over geologic ages. Instead, one
or more episodes of accelerated decay with greatly shortened half-lives
took place in the past, thus accounting for the array of radioisotopes
allegedly requiring billions of years to form. According to Vardiman (2000,
It has been suggested that these increased decay rates may have been
part of the rock-forming process on the early earth and/or one of the
results of God's judgment upon man following the Creation, that is, the
Curse or during the Flood.
The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable assistance of Mr. Roger
Miller of the Easter Library at Clearwater Christian College in procuring
original sources for this research.
Also see CMI's informative article How Old is the Earth.
Jonathan F. Henry, Ph.D., Science
Division, Clearwater Christian College, 3400 Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, Clearwater,
Received 17 August, 2002; Revised 20 March,
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