Corrected earth dating and a Young Earth Model help explain:
world-wide flood evidence, the ice age, earth tilt change, polar coal,
ancient civilization collapse, human aging and global warming
"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible"
[ Albert Einstein ]
A person who believes in creation but also in an Old Earth (OE) - billions of years - would be described as a theistic evolutionist. They believe OE theory and in the claimed processes of evolution, but maintain that the initial matter and scientific laws were brought into existence by God (Gen 8.22, Ps 74.16,17, Job 38.4-7,33 Jer 33.25). They would also take a figurative (non-literal) interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.
NASA's BlueMarble NASA's Earth Observatory
Creationism believes that the universe and all living organisms originate from the Creator God of the Bible. On this definition a theistic evolutionist could also be described as a creationist simply because they believe God created all things. But the usual assumption of Creationism is also that no macro-evolution is involved, and so all living organisms were created substantially as they now exist, although it is accepted that small changes (micro-evolution) within created 'kinds' (Gen 1.25) do occur. On this definition it is not necessary to assume an old earth and Young Earth (YE) Creationism is the belief that the universe and the Earth are just 6,000 to 10,000 years old as inferred from a literal interpretation of the Old Testament.
"Creationism appears to be virtually absent from the mainstream denomination churches such as Anglican, Catholic, Baptist Union, Methodist, United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland" [British Centre for Science Education]
Despite the scepticism of mainstream churches, Creation Science aims to provide scientific support for YE Creationism. There are several key organisations working in Creation Science e.g. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), The Center for Scientific Creation, The Creation Science Movement, and Genesis Science Research. The following also provide scientific support for the YE theory: Creation Revolution, Northwest Creation Network, Answers in Genesis (AiG), Creation Ministries International, and Creationwiki.
The western media, particularly in Europe, strongly promotes Darwinian evolution and an old earth. The secular scientific community does likewise e.g. the Royal Society, which counts 21 Nobel Prize winners among its Fellows, claims that Creationism is unscientific and wrong and that evolution is right.
On the other hand, there is also a growing number of professional, peer reviewed well published scientists who favour YE Creationism. And only some 37% of people in the UK believe that evolution is 'beyond all doubt' and nearly 50% of the US population hold anti-Darwinian beliefs [Spencer & Alexander, 'Rescuing Darwin', 2009]. So despite heavy lobbying, the layman (like many in the scientific community) remains unconvinced. But has the layman studied the subject sufficiently to defend his or her doubt?
If the subject of Creation has not been studied, then biblical fundamentals are easily undermined by secular arguments. If fundamental concepts in Genesis are undermined, such as the concept of man as a special and unique creation, the concept of man's sin and The Fall, the concept of a righteous God who judged the world through a Flood, and the concept of the need for redemption, then the rest of the biblical cards tumble. Who then needs Christ as Saviour? Theistic evolutionists attempt to marry these essential biblical concepts with evolutionary science, but how much have they studied the science of Creationism?
Before we question conventional earth dating techniques, and develop a scientific YE model, you may like to consider some basic questions raised by the following video.
Before we examine a YE model it is essential to summarize standard dating methods. A discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of conventional radiometric dating (which yields billions of years for the age of the earth) is given at Dating the Earth. A few of the non-conventional dating 'clocks' (which invariably point to a young earth) are also discussed. The discussion below suggests that this huge discrepancy in dating arises in the refusal of OE science to recognise the biblical Flood as a single, catastrophic worldwide event in recent history, and in the OE assumption of 'uniformitarianism'.
ACCELERATED NUCLEAR DECAY: Classical OE dating or radiometric dating is based upon the spontaneous breakdown or decay of atomic nuclei, where a radioactive parent atom decays to a stable daughter atom. The exponential decay rate equation is N(t) = N(0).exp [- K t] where K is the positive decay constant. The 'half-life' of the decaying quantity is simply ln(2)/K. The clash between OE dating (millions or billions of years) and YE dating (thousands of years) centres on the decay constant K. OE dating rests on the evolutionary concept of uniformitarianism and a constant decay rate for all time. But this is not necessarily so.
There is strong scientific support for an exponential (rapid) reduction in the speed of light, 'c', shortly after creation, see Atomic Constants, Light & Time and Is the Velocity of Light Constant in Time?. Even in recent times, hundreds of measurements of 'c' since 1675 show a small but statistically significant decrease i.e. a real decrease. Since the radioactive decay constant is strongly related to 'c', it follows that radioactive decay rates were much higher in the past. In other words, when 'c' was higher, atomic clocks ticked more rapidly and 'atomic time' ran fast. So standard radiometric dating must be corrected for this early accelerated decay rate, reducing millions of years to thousands!
For example, the RATE project looked at nuclear-decay-generated helium (He) in microscopic zircons (ZrSiO4 crystals) and concluded:
"Combining rates and retentions gives a He diffusion age of 6000 ± 2000 years. This contradicts the uniformitarian age of 1.5 billion years based on nuclear decay products in the same zircons. These data strongly support our hypothesis of episodes of highly accelerated nuclear decay occurring within thousands of years ago."
See also Accelerated Decay: Theoretical Considerations which concludes:
"The models considered here merely point out some unnecessary assumptions involved in interpreting radioactive decay: half-lives may not have been constant."
RADIOCARBON DATING: Many would point out that C-14 cannot be used to directly date the earth for the simple reason that the unstable radioactive carbon isotope C-14 has a half-life of just 5,730 years. So it is interesting to note that measurable amounts of C-14 have been found in fossil material, such as coal (traditionally Carboniferous period). In fact, organic samples from every portion of the Phanerozoic record (spanning the last 500 million years on OE dating) show detectable amounts of C-14. This either refutes OE dating methods, or it could be contamination by small amounts of bacteria.
The very small ratio (about 1 in a trillion) of radioactive carbon (C-14) to the stable carbon isotope C-12 in the atmosphere and living organisms is used to date plants and animals. The fundamental assumption is that the value of the ratio today has been this value for all time in the past and it can be used as an initial value for radioactive decay computation. When a plant or animal dies the ratio slowly decreases due to radioactive decay, and so the age of the dead organism can be estimated by measuring the lower ratio and using the exponential radioactive decay equation. The problem is that carbon dating ignores the Flood, and YE models suggest that the C-14/C-12 ratio was much smaller in the past, particularly before and just after the Flood. So if today's ratio is used to date organisms that died around 2300 BC for example, they would be incorrectly dated as being much older.
ICE CORES: A potentially strong argument against YE theory is the dating of ice sheets, since these are often dated without reference to radiometric dating and still generate dates well in excess of 100,000 years! Ice sheet dating is done from analysis of deep ice cores and these are often directly dated by counting the assumed annual layers, determined for example from wind-blown dust bands. However, it has been shown that the counting of annual layers can be difficult and misleading, especially at depth. In particular, since OE scientists ignore the Flood and the subsequent Ice Age, then attempts to measure assumed relatively thin 'annual layers' at depth, say 1500m, can be very misleading. In reality, the annual layers at such depth will be much thicker due to heavy Ice Age precipitation, so absorbing many sub-layers that are incorrectly counted as annual layers, and so greatly reducing ice core dates.
Like the theory of evolution and an OE, any YE theory or model will be incomplete and uncertain, and so models will vary. Nevertheless, there seems growing scientific support for a generic YE model, and increasing doubt over OE theory. Moreover, there appear to be definite events and features that should be incorporated into any YE model. In no particular order we have:
The following is a generic model combining features and concepts from a number of similar YE models, and in particular from the YE models proposed by Setterfield and Brown. The objective is to present plausible concepts rather than one particular model.
Some maintain that before the Flood the earth's axis tilted only some 5°, resulting in virtually no seasonal changes and one large stable Hadley Cell of circulating air currents [Creation Science Movement pamphlet 236]. The earth was probably universally warm, with no deserts, ice caps or major mountains. There was probably less sea and more land. Lush vegetation grew worldwide, so providing for future coal and oil deposits even near the poles. Some maintain that before the Flood the earth probably did not experience rain (Gen 2.5). Rather, rapid radioactive decay heated the earth's mantle below the crust, driving out the water locked in the minerals. This water seeped through the earth's thin granite crust and appeared as a mist, watering the ground (Gen 2.6).
In the hydroplate theory this water also resided in vast interconnected subterranean water chambers (as implied in Ps 33.7 and Ps 104.3) some 10 miles below the earth's surface, between the upper granite crust and the earth's mantle. It is claimed that over time the subterranean water in these chambers built up and increased in temperature and pressure (about half the present volume of water of the oceans eventually resided in the chambers). Eventually it became supercritical water (SCW) - very high energy explosive water. The increased pressure stretched and weakened the crust, eventually rupturing it and breaking the crust into plates (tectonic plates in standard geology, or hydroplates in some YE models).
According to the hydroplate theory, at the start of the Flood the crust ruptured essentially along what is today referred to as the global Mid-Ocean Ridge (a range of subterranean mountains). As the pressure in the subterranean chamber dropped, the SCW exploded and cooled, creating a powerful jet of water like fountains reaching far above the earth's surface. The fountains returned to earth as torrential rain: the Bible refers to this as 'the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened' (Gen 7.11). The high kinetic energy of this fountain propelled subterranean rocks and mud into earth's atmosphere, at the same time widening the rupture in the ocean crust.
After 40 days the flood waters suppressed the jets of water, stopping the rain (Gen 7.12), but the ocean floor continued venting SCW and so flood waters continued to rise until the 150th day (Gen 7.19-24). Warm muddy flood waters gathered vegetation, moved it geographically and then buried it in layers. Subsequent continental drift then compressed and heated it, providing the right conditions for further coal and oil formation.
Receding waters: As the mid-ocean ruptures widened, immense subterranean forces suddenly forced compressed rock upwards, creating the Mid-Ocean Ridge. In turn this forced the newly formed plates to slide rapidly away, 'choking off' the subterranean water vents (SCW) as they settled onto the subterranean chamber floor. The Flood waters therefore stopped rising, corresponding to the 150th day. The sliding plates eventually compressed, raising mountains like the Himalayas, raising the Atlantic floor, lowering the Pacific floor and creating deep ocean trenches. These new 'basins' between continents acted as drains for the receding flood water (Gen 8.2,3). The settling of the plates therefore lowered the sea level, uncovering land bridges between continents and permitting man and animals to cross between continents for several centuries.
During the Flood the moving crust generated huge voltages (piezoelectric electricity) and the resulting electrical discharges within the crust generated C-14 plus new radioisotopes. These entered the atmosphere and were absorbed by subsequent generations. The isotopes produced defective protein molecules in body cells. These genetic faults built up over time and man's age progressivley reduced. Also, the C-14/C-12 ratio started slowly rising to today's value.
A popular alternative Flood mechanism that fits with standard geology is Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT). The process starts with material from the upper mantle suddenly sinking to the lower mantle (possibly through asteroid impact). The net effect is to push up the oceanic crust at about the location of the Mid-Oceanic Ridge. The oceanic crust splits along the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, and heat from lava entering this gap heats the water above it causing a supersonic burst of steam (as in Gen 7.11). This steam shoots in to the upper atmosphere where it cools and falls back as torrential rain. The runaway subduction of the oceanic crust drags down the continental crust causing the water to start flooding the land.
Note that both models claim that the earth's oceanic crust was fractured and subterranean heat generated powerful worldwide 'fountains' of water and subsequent torrential rain.
A third mechanism assumes multiple asteroid impacts into the oceans during the year of the Flood. These generated flooding tsunami's and massive amounts of water into the atmosphere, resulting in torrential rains.
The date of Noah's Flood is much debated. AiG quote 2304 BC. But using Ussher's date of 4004 BC for creation, and adding the ages of patriarchs in the Bible (summing to 1656), the Flood began in the year Methuselah died, around 2348 BC i.e. 4004 - 1656. Others claim a date sometime in the third millennium before the birth of Jesus Christ - probably between 2500 BC and 2300 BC. At the other extreme, some use archaeology to date the Flood before 8500 BC.
It is interesting that radiometric dating of the geological column, corrected for accelerated decay rate, gives a Flood date within the range 2304 - 8500 BC. This sedimentary rock is worldwide and corresponds to a catastophic flood. It is dated around 600 million years (Cambrian era) and corrected for accelerated decay this converts to 3536 BC.
Muddy sediments in the subterranean water quickly settled, rapidly burying plants and animals, which then became fossils. This water also had dissolved minerals such as calcium, which was deposited as thick limestone layers on the earth's surface. As the waters rose, the most immobile life (bottom dwelling sea life and fishes) became the first victims, whilst the most mobile and intelligent life (primates and mammals) were last to fall victim to the Flood. The fossils were deposited in what is commonly called the Geological Column, with low levels of life e.g. fishes at the bottom (Cambrian period) and primates and mammals at the top (Tertiary period).
Some claim that near the poles the rain fell as muddy hail storms (an 'ice dump'), rapidly freezing and burying large animals like mammoths and rhinoceroses. It is claimed mammoths were frozen within minutes in temperatures below -150° F [Jody Dillow, "The Catastrophic Deep-Freeze of the Beresovka Mammoth," Creation Research Society Quarterly 14 (June 1977): 5-12]. But another theory is that most mammoths died in the Ice Age following the Flood.
Immediately after the Flood, lower sea levels permitted man and animals to cross land bridges. But then, according to hydroplate theory sea levels started to rise, flooding land bridges. The post Flood period corresponds to the Paleozoic and then Mesozoic eras on radiometric dating. Initially the oceans were unusually warm, creating a humid atmosphere. As radioactive heating continued, parts of the mantle became molten and generated a period of severe volcanism. This created a generally dry and windy climate which favoured reptiles (dinosaurs). At the end of the Mesozoic era, around 65 million years ago (corrected for accelerated decay to 3005 BC) a major asteroid impact ended the dinosaur era. This hit Yucatan off the coast of Mexico and created a global firestorm. But some mammals, birds and reptiles survived by sheltering in water or underground.
Like a push to a spinning top, the earth's axial tilt suddenly changed around 2345 BC. This date has strong support from historical records, and the approximate date of 3005 BC for the Yucatan asteroid impact is sufficiently close to associate both events. Some propose that this impact increased axial tilt to 28° or more. From 2345 BC the earth's axis then began the slow precession (the axis of rotation describing a cone) back towards the 23.45° tilt observed today, and simultaneously moderating the climate.
An alternative explanation for a sudden tilt change is provided by sudden large mass movement. Following the Flood, the sliding hydroplates were suddenly crushed and thickened, creating major mountain ranges like the Himalayas. This sudden mass movement 'jolted' the spinning earth, causing it to suddenly tilt.
Increased tilt had a dramatic change on the climate, creating more climatic extremes e.g. Europe would point further way from the sun in winter and more directly at the sun in summer. This altered animal life (favouring mammals) and also vegetation, permitting forests to grow near the poles and eventually leading to more coal and oil formation at these latitudes.
After the Flood, oceans were warmer than today due to hot water and volcanic magma spilled onto the floor of the Pacific Ocean from the Mid-Ocean Ridges. Warm oceans produced extensive evaporation and precipitation (being greatest at high latitudes), which on the cold continents resulted in extreme snowfall rates that built up glaciers. Increased glaciation reflected solar radiation back into space, which led to cooling. Large scale volcanic activity, which resulted in atmospheric dust, also reflected solar radiation and enhanced the cooling effect. At this time strong dust bands were laid down in the ice.
A constant accumulation of ice is assumed throughout the glacial period. It is estimated that it took about 500 years for snow to accumulate to a depth of 2,300 feet in the northern hemisphere at its deepest. Ice generation results in a significant lowering of sea level - possibly by some 300-400 feet. So, to some extent, this may have offset the gradual sea level rise after the Flood. The Ice Age is generally dated between approximately 2300 BC and 1800 BC.
Once the oceans had released their excess heat, glaciation rapidly terminated and sea levels rose, flooding land bridges (in biblical terms, rising sea levels 'divided the land' - Gen 10.25). Heat balance considerations indicate that a glacial maximum could have occurred within 250 - 1300 years, which is consistent with the view that the ice age duration was about 500 years. From then, ice would have started melting, reducing glacier length. It is possible that Job observed the initial melting (Job 24.19). This is continuing today and ice melt is the reason for today's observed sea level rise. (Note that since there are still ice caps the earth is still technically in an ice age).
A central Christian doctrine concerns The Fall of man, and Christians view this in essentially two ways depending upon their concept of the age of the earth. But first, let us examine a central theme of The Fall, mortality.
MAN'S MORTALITY: Predicting man's 'Fall', God says:
"but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Gen 2.17)
Here, the Hebrew word for 'die' is 'muwth' (pronounced 'mooth'), meaning to kill or destroy with reference to a dead body. It refers to mortality and does not primarily imply spiritual death (separation from God), although theologically it must include it. The introduction of physical death is strongly suggested in Gen 3.19 - 'to dust you shall return'. Paul also takes this viewpoint:
"... through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin ..." (Rom 5.12)
Here, the Greek word for 'death' is 'Thanatos', the ancient Greek personification of physical death. So, given freedom of choice, man chose incorrectly and actual physical death - the return to dust - entered God's good creation.
THE THEISTIC EVOLUTIONIST VIEW: So when, and through whom did this 'Fall' to mortality occur? If the biblical Adam is understood to be solely allegorical, the theistic evolutionist might try and associate The Fall of man and subsequent physical death with the early evolution of man millions of years ago. Certainly, the term 'Adam' often means the species 'mankind'; when the noun occurs with the definite article ('ha adam') it has to be translated mankind. So we might envisage an early form of mankind sinning in God's sight, falling from grace and suffering death as the consequence. Tennyson's 'nature red in tooth and claw' then graphically illustrates the birth-death processes required in subsequent Darwinian evolution.
But this view is inconsistent with the strong biblical theme that Adam was indeed a real man with very special abilities, a very special theological role, and a very clear genealogy. The first permissible use of the proper name (a person, Adam) occurs in Gen 2.20. Here Adam must have used extreme intelligence to name all the creatures God had made - a good illustration of God's 'very good' creation! Theologically, Adam had no biological Father - he was the son of God (Lk 3.38) - and so he was also a type of Christ who also had no biological Father. Adam's theological role is explained clearly in Rom 5.14,15 and 1 Cor 15.45. And according to scripture Adam was created 'as is' on the 6th day without the need for long-term evolution. Finally there are the detailed genealogies of Gen 5 and Lk 3 which trace Adam's descendants; if Adam was not a real man, why such detail? Certainly Paul took Adam to be an individual, a human being, in Rom 5.12.
Bearing this in mind, the theistic evolutionist could conjecture that, at some point in time, a real man, Adam, existed as a special form of biologically evolved man. He was special in that, for the first time in evolutionary history, man became a living spiritual being (Gen 2.7) capable of knowing and worshipping God. But then Adam sinned and death entered the world. The problem here is that Darwinian evolution prior to Adam demands a carnivorous world and the existence of physical death! To accommodate this, the theistic evolutionist is forced to re-interpret Gen 2.17 and Rom 5.12 as implying spiritual death only - but as we have seen, this is not the root meaning of these verses.
THE CREATIONIST VIEW: A literal interpretation of Genesis suggests that all living land creatures, including man, were created as herbivores rather than carnivores (Gen 1.29,30). The concept of killing for food is absent from the early Adamic world of the Bible. It is interesting that, today, vegetarianism is on the rise and common nutritionist opinion states that consuming less meat in your diet is beneficial to your health! Many colleges for nursing are focusing on similar diet options for children to combat the obesity problem in the U.S.
It is also interesting to note that a 'herbivore existence' and the emphasis on 'no harm' re-appears during the Millennium, when the lion eats straw rather than kills for food (Isa 65.25). So Tennyson's phrase 'nature red in tooth and claw' does not appear to be God's ideal and certainly did not exist in God's 'very good' creation (Gen 1.31) - which included man. This early, idealistic Adamic world conflicts with the evolutionary model. Theologically, physical death (and by implication a carnivorous world) only entered through Adam's sin and so could not have existed prior to this. So it is difficult to conceive of millions of years of man's evolution prior to the real man Adam since this implies such creatures never died! The world would be heavily populated by both animals and man by the time Adam came along! This point alone suggests a young earth.
Turning to the NT, we find statements of Jesus and the apostle Paul that strongly imply a young earth. Put simply, according the scripture, it seems Jesus Himself believed in a young earth.
THE SCHOLARLY VIEW: If we accept that Adam was indeed the first man, dispense with 'millions' of years, accept six literal days of creation, accept a global Flood and a single Ice Age, then we seem to obtain a more consistent worldview - all backed up by Creation Science and YE models. Ussher dated Adam's creation at 4004 BC, making a young earth about 6,000 years old! And simply counting the ages of the patriarchs from 4004 BC suggests 2348 BC for the Flood. After all, this is the generally accepted understanding of the Hebrew in Genesis. In a letter dated 23 April 1984 to David C. C. Watson, Hebrew Professor James Barr at the University of Oxford wrote:
... probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah's flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguished all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the "days" of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know. The only thing I would say to qualify this is that most such professors may avoid much involvement in that sort of argument and so may not say much explicitly about it one way or the other.
Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible