Otangelo has questions about the age of the earth

Continuing the discussion from Irreducible complexity is a undeniable fact:

Hi @Otangelo_Grasso1 ,

I wanted to split the topic of the age of the earth into its own thread, since it does not necessarily impact the discussion about irreducible complexity.

Your questions about what the Bible says (or does not say) about scientific topics like the age of the earth is important. I see several indications in the Genesis creation accounts that point to a non-literalistic interpretation as the best:

  • Genesis 1 describes 6 creation days; Genesis 2 describes one.
  • Hebrews 4:4-8 speaks of the seventh day, the day of rest in the creation week, as extending into “today.” So the seventh day is not intended to be a literal 24-hour day. That being the case, the other six days of the creation week are not intended to be literal 24-hour days, either.
  • The creation of plants on day 3 suggests a time-frame of much longer than 24 hours: “The land produced vegetation” (Genesis 1:12) Plants emerging from the ground into full growth clearly requires much longer than 24 hours.

Thus the Bible does not constrain us to believe that there are only six 24-hour days prior to the mankind’s being created from the dust. This means that we are free to follow the scientific evidence wherever it leads us.

The only a priori assumptions that I am aware of are that the laws of physics are constant. In other words, U238 decays today at the same rate that it decayed yesterday, and the day before that, and so on. What unwarranted assumptions do you think are being made?

You might also find this paper by Roger Wiens to be very helpful.

Dr. Wiens has a PhD in Physics, with a minor in Geology. His PhD thesis was on isotope ratios in
meteorites, including surface exposure dating. He was employed at Caltech’s Division of
Geological & Planetary Sciences at the time of writing the first edition. He is presently employed in
the Space & Atmospheric Sciences Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory

Have you read Wiens’ paper?

Chris Falter

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No, i have not. And right now, i have to put the read on hold, since i am exploring another fascinating issue ( molybden cofactors in the origin of life ). But i have a topic running at my FB timeline, and asked the opinion of young earthers, if they have read the paper, and their opinion.

ahm. Genesis describes pretty clear six literal 24h days. It became night, and it became day… I don’t see the day age interpretation as compelling.

So you believe that Genesis 1 is a historical account.

Genesis 2 is false?
Hebrews 4 is false?

And what about the problems with the third day?
And what about the possibility that Genesis 1, even if it is portraying the days as 24 hours, might be doing so in order to present a well-understood metaphor? This would allow Genesis 1 to agree much more harmoniously with the other Biblical passages I have cited.

Think big picture, Otangelo. You have settled on a single argument, which means your view is by definition very incomplete.

Pastor @nobodyyouknow, do you have any additional insights?

@Otangelo_Grasso1 I will jump in if this is a topic that you’re interested in discussing.

So I can get some background on your belief… When do you believe Lucifer was created and when did he fall?

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some time back in the past… do you know ?

The key term in this attempted harmony is the word day as it is used in Genesis 1. The Hebrew word for day is yom, and, we are reminded, it is used in a variety of ways: (1) the daylight period in the diurnal cycle as in Genesis 1:5, 14, 16, 18; (2) a normal 24-hour period; and (3) an indefinite time period as in Psalm 90:10.

That is what Bryan posted at my FB timeline:

  1. It fails to tell readers that there are about a dozen assumptions underlying these 40 methods…several based on materialism. Noble prize winners have identified many of these assumptions.

  2. It claims that 40 old earth methods all agree which is just poppycock. They have produced wildly conflicting dates. The only way they can be reconciled is to keep finagling and recalibrating the methods until they arrive at predetermined conclusions.

  3. Uniformitarianism which underlies the 40 dates is now called snake oil deception even by some Darwinians. Catastrophism explains the data much better.

  4. The paper makes no mention of the fact that there are over 200 methods pointing to a young earth This paper summarizes some of them.
    Age of the earth

  5. Old earth deceptions undermine Bible claims and have caused many to go into full belief in Darwinism and sometimes atheism.

I have over 100 pages of data on this. But am quite busy at the moment.

Just read the Wiens paper for yourself, and you will find a very strong defense of radiometric dating. If after reading Wiens you still want to discuss radiometric dating, there are a few folks here who are conversant with the literature.

I don’t know who Brian is, and I would be surprised if you do either…but he would also benefit from reading Wiens, I might add.

While I confess I have not read through all of them, here is a compilation of why the 101 reasons for a young earth are in error:

In some cases it seems that there are honest differences in opinion, but often we see intentional misrepresentation of the data. That is disturbing.

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Okay, I peeked at your linked article, and it was the usual ho-hum re-hash until I got to this laugh-out-loud stunner explaining how Adam named all the animals on the sixth 24-hour day of creation:

“Second, Adam must have had an extremely high intelligence. Because Adam was capable of using 100 percent of his pre-Fall brain, he would probably have had an IQ of 1500 or better. Furthermore, Adam did not have to learn his vocabulary: God programmed it into his brain at the moment of his creation…”

Seriously, Otangelo, I have a hard time understanding how you can take some of these authors at face value. Here is an old article (1960) by conservative scholar (and anti-evolutionist) Meredith Kline that shows, simply by comparing Scripture to Scripture sans science, that Genesis 1 cannot be taken as a literal week.


I’m amazed at the contrast of #3 with #4 and that you were able to place them in casual adjacency.

(1) @Otangelo_Grasso1, did you happen to notice that in #3 you blasted “uniformitarianism” —but then in #4 you praised “200 methods pointing to a young earth”, almost all of which depend upon uniformitarian presuppositions and methodologies?

(2) You illustrate one of the major pitfalls in getting one’s “science” from Young Earth Creationist websites. The fact that you treat “uniformitarianism” as if it is an antonym for “catastrophism” tells me that you don’t understand what uniformitarianism means. As a result, you posed a false dichotomy based on discredited science from the early 1800s. (In other words, it is a straw man argument.)

My hunch is that you misunderstand uniformitarianism in the same way that it is often explained on Young Earth Creationist websites: an assumption that all natural processes always occur at the same rate. No. That is NOT the “uniformity” in uniformitarianism.

Historically, uniformitarianism has seen two important definitions, first in geology and secondly in modern times as a broader term for the physical sciences in general:

(1) In the early 1800’s when modern geology was still getting established, uniformitarianism was defined by William Whewell as an alternative view to the catastrophism view which was the prevailing consensus at the time. The Encyclopedia Britannica provides a good summary of the topic:

The expression uniformitarianism, however, has passed into history, because the argument between catastrophists and uniformitarians died. Geology as an applied science draws on the other sciences, but in the early 19th century, geologic discovery had outrun the physics and chemistry of the day. As geologic phenomena became understandable in terms of advancing physics, chemistry, and biology, the reality of the principle of uniformity as a major philosophical tenet of geology became established, and the controversy between catastrophists and uniformitarians largely ended.

(2) That archaic definition was replaced long ago by an assumption that undergirds the scientific method in general. Wikipedia has a handy summary that can be researched in the primary sources cited in its footnotes:

Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.[1][2] It refers to invariance in the metaphysical principles underpinning science, such as the constancy of causal structure throughout space-time,[3] but has also been used to describe spatiotemporal invariance of physical laws.[4] Though an unprovable postulate that cannot be verified using the scientific method, uniformitarianism has been a key first principle of virtually all fields of science.[5]

Of course, this contrast between the two definitions explains why so many Young Earth Creationist arguments are self-contradictory. Thus, we see them denigrate uniformitarian methodologies in science and then they follow up that denunciation with contradictory webpages with titles like “101 Evidences for a Young Earth” where virtually every argument is uniformitarian reasoning!

Indeed, Jason Lisle regularly cites his book The Ultimate Proof of God where he says that we know that God exists because the universe is logical and consistent—but when that universe of logic and consistency produces overwhelming evidence for an old earth, Lisle contradicts himself and claims that we can’t trust radiometrics or even the speed of light and the fundamental constants of physics because “they could have been totally different in the past” or “On the other side of the universe, everything could be different.” Of course, this is claiming that the universe is NOT consistent and logical and therefore can’t be used as Lisle’s “ultimate proof of God.” Selective, cherry-picked science is so useful! Sometimes.

Otangelo, I challenge you to go through your “200 methodologies” and “101 evidences” for a young earth and tell me how many are based up uniformitarian methodologies. Every time you see the words “rates” and “consistent with”, you are looking at a uniformitarian argument!

Here’s an example of a Uniformitarian argument worn out from overuse:

#41: The amount of sediment on the sea floors at current rates of land erosion would accumulate in just 12 million years;"

It is reasoning that rates of erosion can be depended upon to be consistent. Of course, this goes EVEN BEYOND the definition of uniformitarianism and even applies uniformity to the RATES—which no good geologist would ever claim!

Yet, I wonder if Otangelo notices that #41 is not only consistent with a very old earth, it is _powerful evidence against a young earth of a few thousand years! That leads me to wonder: Otangelo, have you actually read all of these 101 arguments for a young earth?

A similarly atrocious argument appears in #40:

Amount of salt in the sea. Even ignoring the effect of the biblical Flood and assuming zero starting salinity and all rates of input and removal so as to maximize the time taken to accumulate all the salt, the maximum age of the oceans, 62 million years, is less than 1/50 of the age evolutionists claim for the oceans. This suggests that the age of the earth is radically less also.

This claim was just as flawed when a half century ago when it appeared in THE GENESIS FLOOD (1962, Henry Morris & John Whitcomb Jr.) Yet, even if the rates were valid, it would be another example of hypocritical arguments. It assumes unformitarianism on steroids, where everything can be extrapolated based on unchanging rates, not just the same set of physical laws and natural processes. Of course, in this case no geologist agrees on the claimed rates. It is pseudoscience spun for uninformed audiences who don’t know any different.

Has anyone ever counted how many of the 101 “evidences” include the words “is consistent with”? Anybody who has ever taken a Logic 101 course should recognize those words as equivalent to what my professor used to describe as “a tip-off that a surefire bad argument will arrive just about now.”

An argument based on “is consistent with” doesn’t qualify as logical reasoning. The fact that my great great grandfather fought in the Civil War is entirely consistent with a young earth. The fact that erosion rates suggest that Niagara Falls has only existed for thousands of years is also entirely consistent with a young earth. But both facts are also consistent with a very old earth of billions of years! It is a ridiculously illogical basis for a young earth argument. It is a meaningless argument. It is, truly, exactly that bad.

Indeed, the entire 101 Evidences compilation is a collection of traditions endlessly copy-and-pasted on Young Earth Creationist websites, not a product of peer-reviewed science pointing to a young earth. Everyone of those claims was discredit long ago. Most of them can be debunked by an observant high school senior who finished a science major.

By the way, a few years ago I confronted Jason Lisle concerning this hypocrisy in the comments section of a Ultimate Proof of God book review on Amazon. The exchange ended as soon as I asked him to explain how I could play both side of the uniformitarian, logically consistent universe fence. I’ve had that same experience with Young Earth Creationist on countless occasions. Perhaps Otangelo can help me to experience a lifetime first. I’d love that.


Do you understand the difference between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism? The former is the very foundation of the scientific method. It is what science is! The latter is a philosophical position, as in many types of atheism.

When “science” ceases being based on naturalism (methodological naturalism), it goes back to being philosophy, as in the days of natural philosophy when Christian philosophers were still working on the empiricism which transformed natural philosophy into modern science. Indeed, the methodological naturalism of science is one of Christianity’s most important contributions to modern civilization. It saddens me when various Young Earth Creationist ministries try to attribute the naturalism of science to imaginary atheists!

This is yet another reason for the Ancient Sages’ Golden Nugget of Wisdom: “Don’t get your science education from Young Earth Creationist websites.”



You might have missed this incredibly short response from @Otangelo_Grasso1.

I think you are on to something, Mr. YouKnow, so I hope you will be able to walk us all through your questions!

Could he be talking about Bryan Osborne?

Incidentally, IMO Wiens’s paper is badly in need of an update. It was written in 2002—some three years before the publication of the RATE report, and Tas Walker of creation.com has written a response to it. If it is indeed Osborne who he’s talking about, I would think it highly likely that he’s read—and is perhaps even referring to—Walker’s response.

For what it’s worth, I don’t find Walker’s response at all satisfactory. His tone is thoroughly inflammatory, his arguments contain a lot of ad hominem attacks, and he spends a lot of ink on dogmatically insisting that Literal Six Day Young Earth Creation is the only valid approach to the Genesis narrative and that anyone who doesn’t accept it is a compromiser if not a closet atheist. This is distracting, and it makes it difficult to get to the technical parts of his arguments without getting annoyed one way or another.

However, setting tone aside there are several remarks we can make about the technical merits of his arguments. These are also general observations that can be made about any YEC attack on radiometric dating.

First, he repeatedly claims that we can not know anything about the past because nobody was there to see it happen. This is the standard YEC “were you there?” argument, and it is completely untrue. Historical assumptions can be tested by cross-checking different methods whose assumptions are independent of each other. They can also be tested by making predictions about what kind of evidence we would expect to see if they were true or false. (See also my points below.)

Second, he grossly exaggerates the extent and significance of discordances and disagreements. As far as I have been able to establish, the number of radiometric results which had no significant disagreement runs into the hundreds of thousands, while the number of discordant dates runs into the hundreds at most. This does not establish that radiometric dating never works; on the contrary, it establishes that radiometric dating mostly works with the exception of a few corner cases.

In any case, disagreements of a few percent, or even disagreements by a factor of two or three, fall far, far short of proving that radiometric dating is so unreliable that it can not tell the difference between thousands and billions. That would be like standing at the foot of Mount Everest and saying that it could plausibly be only four inches tall.

Third, he repeatedly hand-waves away explanations for disagreements between different dating methods as if they were no more than “just-so” stories or rescuing devices. He makes no attempt whatsoever to consider and refute the reasoning behind them, nor does he address the fact that in some cases, different dating methods are expected to give different ages because they represent different events in the complex thermal history of the rocks.

Fourth, he claims that different dating methods only give the same results because they are calibrated against each other. This claim is at best highly misleading, at worst completely untrue, and in any case not backed up by any evidence or citations. For starters, he gives little or no detail as to how this cross-calibration is supposedly done. On page 10 he says this:

One estimate was even obtained by measuring iron meteorites and accepting their age was 4.5 billion years based on radioactive dating by a different method. Likewise, the half-life of lutetium-176 was determined from measurements on meteorites of supposedly known age. These cases clearly involve circular reasoning.

He does not cite a source for either of these claims. Furthermore, even if they were true, this would only be circular reasoning if this were the only way in which the half-life of lutetium-176 is determined. It is not.

The forty or so different types of radiometric dating are not only cross-checked against each other, but also against multiple non-radiometric methods, including lake varves, ice cores, tree rings, coral growth, and just about everything else imaginable. One particularly spectacular example is the way in which GPS data confirms the rates of continental drift established through radiometric dating.

It may be possible to establish that one or two dating methods have been calibrated against others, or that cross-calibrations are used in some cases in conjunction with other methods to refine accuracy, but to claim that all methods rely entirely on cross-calibrations with each other simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Fifth, he repeatedly asserts that we need to know the original quantities of parent and daughter isotopes in the samples, and whether any contamination or leakage has occurred. This completely ignores the fact that isochron dating avoids both these assumptions. Even if isochron dating can be shown to be flawed for other reasons, repeating this statement without qualification is flat-out lying.

Sixth, he claims that isochron dating also makes assumptions that are not testable when in fact they are. He claims that it is impossible to tell the difference between an isochron line and a mixing line. Wiens does not address this point, but this article on Talk Origins does—and it makes it clear that there are ways of telling the difference between an isochron line and a mixing line. Furthermore, if mixing lines really were as much of a problem that they couldn’t tell the difference between thousands and billions of years, isochron plots with negative gradients would be as common as ones with positive gradients, while discordances would be the rule rather than the exception. But they aren’t.

Seventh, his claims of radiocarbon in ancient samples were almost certainly contamination. This refers to the RATE project’s studies. However, they did not follow the correct procedures for taking contamination into account: they merely subtracted a “standard background” whereas the professionals go to great lengths to characterise individual contamination vectors even on a laboratory-specific basis. Certainly, the amounts of radiocarbon found in the samples were too small to rule out contamination, and they showed clear patterns indicating that this was indeed the case. See this article by Kirk Bertsche for a discussion.

Eighth, accelerated nuclear decay is science fiction. In most of the twenty or so studies that they have come up with in which nuclear decay rates were shown to vary, the effect was small—a few percent at most, and certainly not enough to squeeze the evidence into six thousand years. The only significant increases in nuclear decay rates observed in the laboratory occurred either by stripping 187Re it of all its electrons, or by heating 176Lu to temperatures above 200 million K. Neither of these are realistic conditions that could have occurred during either Creation Week or the Flood, and even if they had, they would have reset the radiometric “clocks” which don’t start ticking until the rock crystallises and cools below its closure temperature.

The RATE team acknowledged that accelerated nuclear decay would have released enough heat to raise the temperature of the earth’s surface to 22,000˚C—that’s four times hotter than the surface of the sun. They themselves acknowledged that neither conduction, nor convection, nor radiation would have been sufficient to remove the heat fast enough, and that any cooling mechanism would also have had to cool some materials (e.g. rocks) faster than others (e.g. water). (Source: RATE technical report, chapter 10, pages 761-765.)

I think that they ended up claiming that God must have supernaturally intervened to remove all the heat in the end, but all they’ve managed to do there is propose a miracle whose only effect was to make the earth look older than it really is. Basically, it’s an overly complex and convoluted version of the Omphalos hypothesis that is so absurd that it looks more like a parody than anything else.


Wow. Great post. I just copied your post to my library.

you guys have valid points, worth to be given a closer consideration. Specially the issue of how 15 thousand species can turn into 8 million in 6 thousand years

the three ring evidence ( trees 12500 years old )

are interesting issues.

about the dating methods, i need time to study it further.


It is the “God intervened with a miracle” argument. An academic colleague of mine likes to call that “the theological equivalent of multiplying both sides of the equation by zero.”

I’ve had Young Earth Creationist friends deny that the RATE Project made any such appeal to miracles. Even they recognized that that would not be scientific reasoning. Why bother with the science when one is always ready to invoke a miracle to solve every problem?

And don’t forget ice cores!


Don’t forget the genome of every living thing on Earth today are related by decent from a common ancestor. Start with your genome mapped back to your parents, your grandparents and your great great grandparents … Now do the same for your dog. How many generations ago do you and your dog shared a common ancestor? Tens of millions of generations, at least. 6000 years is not nearly enough time to explain the diversity of genomes from living bacteria, fruit flies, plants, and animals including chimps and humans as well as intermediate forms like Neanderthals who’s genome we have mapped.

@Patrick… I think you are out of practice. Work on the multiple lines of tests that show the planet is older than 6000 years… or the math for how we get 2 million terrestriAl species (or more!) from the Noah’s surviving beasts.

Yec’s are just going to ignore any sentence that includes common descent! :smiley: