Please explain the evidence for ancient earth in light of some creationist claims


Some articles on dating methods Tree rings, varves, ice cores, plate tectonics.
Also please give some evidence that is as bad as you say.

Evolution as Inconsistent with the Bible
(Christy Hemphill) #2

I moved this to a new topic for you. If something you want to bring up is going to open up a whole new line of discussion, you can use the blue link on the right that says “reply as related topic” to make it a new thread.


Please forgive me for my concise and blunt response to your challenge—but I think that you just gave four links which do exactly that!

After the article about the lion with dietary issues, I really don’t think I can say much to top that.


It’s okay to respond bluntly as long as you elaborate more to support the blunt reaction.


I’ve said this a lot already, but the point of that article is to show that not all lions instinctively eat meat, not that lions ate spaghetti before the fall.

(Christy Hemphill) #6

From the linked article on tectonic plates:
“First, I am convinced the Biblical text requires the beginning of the metazoan fossil record to coincide with the beginning of the Genesis Flood, and most of the subsequent fossil record to be a product of that year-long event. The observational data of the previous section then implies a staggering amount of tectonic change must have accompanied the Flood cataclysm.”

This is the main problem. What kind of scientist starts with an a priori conclusion that is not derived from any scientific observation (The metazoan fossil record has to coincide with the biblical text) and then proceeds to interpret all observations as necessarily consistent with the foregone conclusion? That’s not how the scientific method or scientific models work. To call it “science” is to redefine what science is.

The tectonic plate model started with observations (matching rock layers on different continents, evidence of glacial activity in tropical zones, matching coal beds on different continents, matching fossilized species on different continents) and proposed the idea of continental drift. It was not accepted because although it accounted for the observations nicely, it did not provide a mechanism for why the continents split apart. It wasn’t until more observations were made (magnetic patterns that proved sea floor spreading, better understanding of the structure of the earth’s mantle based on advances in seismology, mapping of the ocean floor in WW2, greater understanding of the development of volcanic island chains,) that a viable model of plate tectonics could be proposed. Once the model was in place, scientists used it to make predictions. Based on the model, where can we expect to find coal and natural gas deposits? Based on the model, what rate of continental drift would we expect to observe today? Based on the model, where would we be likely to find undersea volcanic activity? These kinds of predictions could be verified with further observations and measurements, so the model stands as accepted science. As more knowledge becomes available, it can be refined and things that are less clear can become clarified, but it is hard to imagine what we would have to find to “falsify” the model of plate tectonics.

On the other hand, the cataclysmic flood models try to propose a scenario in which the observable data can be made to fit the biblical account. Inconvenient data is just not taken into consideration. As far as I know, they only attempt to reconcile, not predict.

There was a conversation not to long ago where someone gave some more details. I’ll try to dig it up for you.

(James McKay) #8

The other problem with the catastrophic plate tectonics article is that it doesn’t sem to present any evidence whatsoever to support its central claim. The analogy with Venus is hand-waving and doesn’t even attempt to justify the basis for making such an analogy; and the section entitled “Numerical modelling of the runaway mechanism” is very, very difficult to understand – so much so that I wasn’t sure whether I was reading a genuine scientific argument or the output of SCIgen or git-man-page-generator or something.

(Christy Hemphill) #9

This is some of the trouble you run into when you start with the idea that the Flood has to account for everything and try to propose a model that takes the Genesis account literally:

[quote]Where did the Flood water come from, and where did it go? Several people have proposed answers to these questions, but none which consider all the implications of their models. A few of the commonly cited models are addressed below.

Vapor canopy. This model, proposed by Whitcomb & Morris and others, proposes that much of the Flood water was suspended overhead until the 40 days of rain which caused the Flood. The following objections are covered in more detail by Brown.

How was the water suspended, and what caused it to fall all at once when it did?
If a canopy holding the equivalent to more than 40 feet of water were part of the atmosphere, it would raise the atmospheric pressure accordingly, raising oxygen and nitrogen levels to toxic levels.

If the canopy began as vapor, any water from it would be superheated. This scenario essentially starts with most of the Flood waters boiled off. Noah and company would be poached. If the water began as ice in orbit, the gravitational potential energy would likewise raise the temperature past boiling.

A canopy of any significant thickness would have blocked a great deal of light, lowering the temperature of the earth greatly before the Flood.

Any water above the ozone layer would not be shielded from ultraviolet light, and the light would break apart the water molecules.

Hydroplate. Walt Brown’s model proposes that the Flood waters came from a layer of water about ten miles underground, which was released by a catastrophic rupture of the earth’s crust, shot above the atmosphere, and fell as rain.

How was the water contained? Rock, at least the rock which makes up the earth’s crust, doesn’t float. The water would have been forced to the surface long before Noah’s time, or Adam’s time for that matter.
Even a mile deep, the earth is boiling hot, and thus the reservoir of water would be superheated. Further heat would be added by the energy of the water falling from above the atmosphere. As with the vapor canopy model, Noah would have been poached.

Where is the evidence? The escaping waters would have eroded the sides of the fissures, producing poorly sorted basaltic erosional deposits. These would be concentrated mainly near the fissures, but some would be shot thousands of miles along with the water. (Noah would have had to worry about falling rocks along with the rain.) Such deposits would be quite noticeable but have never been seen.

Comet. Kent Hovind proposed that the Flood water came from a comet which broke up and fell on the earth. Again, this has the problem of the heat from the gravitational potential energy. The water would be steam by the time it reached the surface of the earth.

Runaway subduction. John Baumgardner created the runaway subduction model, which proposes that the pre-Flood lithosphere (ocean floor), being denser than the underlying mantle, began sinking. The heat released in the process decreased the viscosity of the mantle, so the process accelerated catastrophically. All the original lithosphere became subducted; the rising magma which replaced it raised the ocean floor, causing sea levels to rise and boiling off enough of the ocean to cause 150 days of rain. When it cooled, the ocean floor lowered again, and the Flood waters receded. Sedimentary mountains such as the Sierras and Andes rose after the Flood by isostatic rebound. [Baumgardner, 1990a; Austin et al., 1994]

The main difficulty of this theory is that it admittedly doesn’t work without miracles. [Baumgardner, 1990a, 1990b] The thermal diffusivity of the earth, for example, would have to increase 10,000 fold to get the subduction rates proposed [Matsumura, 1997], and miracles are also necessary to cool the new ocean floor and to raise sedimentary mountains in months rather than in the millions of years it would ordinarily take.

Baumgardner estimates a release of 1028 joules from the subduction process. This is more than enough to boil off all the oceans. In addition, Baumgardner postulates that the mantle was much hotter before the Flood (giving it greater viscosity); that heat would have to go somewhere, too.

Cenozoic sediments are post-Flood according to this model. Yet fossils from Cenozoic sediments alone show a 65-million-year record of evolution, including a great deal of the diversification of mammals and angiosperms. [Carroll, 1997, chpts. 5, 6, & 13]

Subduction on the scale Baumgardner proposes would have produced very much more vulcanism around plate boundaries than we see. [Matsumura, 1997]

New ocean basins. Most flood models (including those above, possibly excepting Hovind’s) deal with the water after the flood by proposing that it became our present oceans. The earth’s terrain, according to this model, was much, much flatter during the Flood, and through cataclysms, the mountains were pushed up and the ocean basins lowered. (Brown proposes that the cataclysms were caused by the crust sliding around on a cushion of water; Whitcomb & Morris don’t give a cause.)

How could such a change be effected? To change the density and/or temperature of at least a quarter of the earth’s crust fast enough to raise and lower the ocean floor in a matter of months would require mechanisms beyond any proposed in any of the flood models.

Why are most sediments on high ground? Most sediments are carried until the water slows down or stops. If the water stopped in the oceans, we should expect more sediments there. Baumgardner’s own modeling shows that, during the Flood, currents would be faster over continents than over ocean basins [Baumgardner, 1994], so sediments should, on the whole, be removed from continents and deposited in ocean basins. Yet sediments on the ocean basin average 0.6 km thick, while on continents (including continental shelves), they average 2.6 km thick. [Poldervaart, 1955]

Where’s the evidence? The water draining from the continents would have produced tremendous torrents. There is evidence of similar flooding in the Scablands of Washington state (from the draining of a lake after the breaking of an ice dam) and on the far western floor of the Mediterranean Sea (from the ocean breaking through the Straits of Gibralter). Why is such evidence not found worldwide?

How did the ark survive the process? Such a wholesale restructuring of the earth’s topography, compressed into just a few months, would have produced tsunamis large enough to circle the earth. The aftershocks alone would have been devastating for years afterwards.[/quote]

This illustrates the problem with trying to design a model around a pre-determined conclusion instead of trying to propose a model that explains and unifies scientific observations.


Reminds me of the R.A.T.E. Project: They had to propose either unknown miracles or “not yet discovered” scientific explanations. The R.A.T.E. Project demonstrated not only that “creation science” isn’t science but that the lack of research funding can no longer be used as an excuse why it produces nothing in the way of real science nor real discovery. They burned through a lot of money proving nothing other than the fact that the principle investigators lacked even the basic methodological skills of qualified masters degree students.

Ken Ham/AIG, CMI, and ICR are very wise not to allocate their millions in annual income to actual scientific research. Every such project has undermined their missions and created public relations disasters. (In the case of the RATE Project, a board member even bragged to the press that their “conclusion” was determined prior to the project’s research—much to the chagrin of the “investigators.” He saw no problem with that because he was certain that all scientists do the same thing!)

(Christy Hemphill) #11

From the tree ring article:

The author admits that tree rings data, which is pretty straight-forward and uncontroversial, doesn’t jibe with the Flood date. So, the author attempts to reframe the fact that living trees exist with almost 4,800 rings, as merely an interpretation. “However, when the interpretation of scientific data contradicts the true history of the world as revealed in the Bible, then it’s the interpretation of the data that is at fault.” Notice that the author didn’t give you any link to check out this claim that “recent research” supports the idea that trees can develop more than one ring a year, and the footnote cites a single paper from all the way back in 1986. If it was really proven back in 1986 that tree ring data is as unreliable as this article seems to think it is, don’t you think the whole field of dendrochronology would have responded by now?

The author admits that another dating technique seems reasonable. But, “conventional carbon-14 dating assumes that the system has been in equilibrium for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, and that 14C is thoroughly mixed in the atmosphere. However, the Flood buried large quantities of organic matter containing the common carbon isotope, 12C, so the 14C/12C ratio would rise after the Flood, because 14C is produced from nitrogen, not carbon. These factors mean that early post-Flood wood would look older than it really is and the ‘carbon clock’ is not linear in this period .”

So in other words, his interpretation of straight-forward facts, necessarily must start with an unproven premise, that the Flood happened in a certain way and affected the world in a hypothetical way. Creationists are always complaining the evolution supporters make definitive statements about the past when they weren’t there to observe it and then use those premises to interpret data. But this is doing exactly the same thing, only worse. When evolution supporters make definitive statements about how the world was in the past, it is supported by observations and models that have been well-established based on observable and measurable phenomena. Deciding that carbon-dating is unreliable because of a hypothetical equilibrium anomaly for which there is no good physical evidence and no one has ever observed, and making that a premise for interpreting data isn’t science.

When you have an indisputable fact that contradicts your model, you have to adjust your model, not demote the fact to non-fact.

(Benjamin Kirk) #12

Isn’t this just a bit asymmetric?

Shouldn’t you be giving some evidence that their claims are correct long before you expect others to provide evidence to the contrary?

(James McKay) #14

You may want to look at the discussion in this topic’s parent thread. This topic was forked from there as this particular question was deviating a bit from the question at hand. It does unfortunately mean that @Nareus’s post has become somewhat detached from the context in which it was posted.

The linked articles are all attempts to debunk conventional dating methods. The problem I have with young-earth attempts to debunk conventional dating methods is that they never describe them accurately. It’s quite common to see them claiming that these methods make certain “untestable” assumptions, then when you read up about how these methods are actually conducted in reality, you find out that these “untestable” assumptions have, in actual fact, been tested rigorously.


Well stated.

(Christy Hemphill) #16

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