There is very good evidence that the speed of light has always been the same. This is based on examining the spectral lines in ancient, i.e. distant, stars. Took a bit of digging but I found this.
Here are the main ways scientists do dating. They don’t all apply to fossils and sedimentary rocks, but when all the lines of evidence from all the ways of measuring are taken together, they can be used to cross-check and verify a scientific hypothesis about how old something is.
There are two types of dating, relative and absolute. Relative dating methods work by comparison. They are used to put a series of samples in chronological order of age. Absolute dating methods provide an approximate measurement of the age of the sample in years based on some kind of laboratory analysis. Many absolute dating techniques rely on some form of radiometric dating.
Stratigraphy is the science of the dating rock layers and objects embedded in them; Faunal succession is the the relative dating of a layer based on the species of fossils or other plant and animal remains that are found in it.
Palynology is the relative dating of layers by the species and abundance of fossilized pollen found in them
Relative dating can also be done by analysis of relative fluorine composition of buried bones.
Thermoluminescence dating can be used to determine when pottery artifacts were fired by analyzing light sensitive materials in sediment to determine the age of unheated sediments less than 500,000 years old.
Dendrochronology involves calculating the ages of trees and wooden artifacts based on patterns seen in the annual growth rings.
Potassium-argon dating is a radiometric technique for dating volcanic rocks. Radiocarbon (carbon-14) dating is used to date charcoal, wood, and other biological materials that are less than 40,000 years old.
Uranium series dating is used to date uranium-rich rocks, deep-sea sediments, ancient lake beds, shells, bones, and teeth.
Fission track dating is used to date some volcanic minerals, glasses, and meteorites that contain uranium-238.
Absolute dates can be obtained by counting annual rings obtained from ice cores, and counting annual layers of sediment (varves) in lake beds.
So you see, there are lots of ways of dating many different things on earth and coming up with timelines that are many orders of magnitude off from the YEC timeline. They need to explain away more than just radiocarbon dating.
Thanks for the thoughts… I have threads and threads I’ve discussed this at more length, so feel free to search my posts on MN for more detail. But quickly here, Just for the thought experiment, consider with me the hypothetical… If by chance God did create a certain biological feature directly, and if it were of such complexity that no blind process could have made it, any scientist committed to methodological naturalism could never be able to recognize this. If they studied such a phenomenon, MN would guarantee that if they reached a conclusion about the matter, it would be erroneous.
Secondly, if any direct intelligent agency is ruled out as a possible conclusion from the outset by a MN-committed scientist, and they study a phenomenon and “conclude” it had a natural (I.e., unintelligent/unguided) cause, this is supremely uninteresting. The question had been begged from the beginning.
Thirdly, please notice the unfortunate and unintentional equivocation in the word “natural” in this context. Do we mean by the word “not supernatural”, or “not artificial”. I agree that coming to a supernatural conclusion would be outside the realm of science… but as I have oft argued elsewhere, it seems self-evident that reaching the conclusion of “artificial, guided, not a result of blind, unguided ‘natural’ processes” is entirely Within the appropriate bounds of science, as is the case in forensics, archaeology, and especially SETI.
Hello Daniel. I’m not unsympathetic here, but I still don’t see it as a real problem. Considering your hypothetical, if it were created by God and there was no way that it could have evolved (for instance) then there would be no naturalistic explanation. Your concern that the conclusion would be in error does not exist. This is why it is no concern to me, as a Christian. As well, I don’t believe that your hypothetical exists. If it does, you’ve got something about which you can be excited. But, until then, its really a non-issue. The day has enough trouble of its own, without worrying about what doesn’t exist. Behe, for instance, operates within science, claiming irreducible complexity, without naming the cause. I no longer agree with his position in this regard, but I think it is a good example in response to your concern.
I think that it merely means “not supernatural” but it doesn’t mean “not artificial.” That’s how I perceive it anyhow. Breeding, for instance, is guided. It does not fall outside of MN. It’s just “poofing” that falls outside, in my mind.
Thank you for always being so informative with your answers. I have one more question, a friend of mine who believes in YEC told me that the timeline they used to get 6000-10000 years was from counting all the genealogies given in the Bible. I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to that as clearly it doesn’t line up with the different datings etc.
my concern would not exist if every scientist perfectly refrained from making a premature conclusion in such cases. but if a scientist chose to make a conclusion in such cases, it would be necessarily an erroneous conclusion…
But consider… given my hypothetical, how many atheist scientists would be honestly free and ready and willing to examine my hypothetical phenomenon and conclude, “there is no naturalistic explanation.”? Any? Would they not rather insist either “there must be a naturalistic explanation that we simply haven’t yet discovered,” or conclude some particular naturalistic explanation… in either case, given my hypothetical, their conclusion would indeed be erroneous.
As for the other topic, I think Michael Behe is a perfect example… in my opinion, I agree with you that he is operating within science, indeed, and i think you and I entirely agree there. However, unless I am very much mistaken, i think most people here at Biologos with whom I have interacted would nonetheless accuse Behe of violating “methodological naturalism” even though, as you rightly observe, his method refrains from naming any particular cause. Methodological naturalism, at least as it seems embraced by Biologos, excludes any kind of intelligent design methodology, even those practitioners (like Behe?) who fastidiously avoid claiming supernatural agency specifically and who limit their examinations and conclusions strictly to what nature and science alone can speak to.
You’re very welcome. Not everyone thinks the genealogies are complete (in other words, probably not every child/father relationship is included) and many Bible scholars think the ages that are given are not meant to be understood as literally how many years they lived, but rather they represent symbolic number systems that were used in the ancient Near East. In the end it comes down to whether or not you believe the Bible is a dating tool that is capable of overruling precise measurements we get from many different scientific fields. I don’t think that is the Bible’s purpose, but YECs view it as a matter of the Bible having authority over every other discipline. I don’t think you have to say “The Bible is just wrong.” You can say, “The Bible is trying to communicate something other than the age of the earth through those genealogies.”
Here is some more information about that: https://biologos.org/articles/long-life-spans-in-genesis-literal-or-symbolic/
They have no reason to think otherwise, because science has such powerful explanatory power, and mathematical equations do not have a “God” variable, or as they would disrespectfully put it, there is no place in science for goddidit. Their disrespect is not entirely unwarranted because of some of what comes out of YECism, and OEC has to implicitly involve poofing, not that God cannot.
It also harks back to the argument that God does not want scientific proof of his existence, not that there is not scads of evidence pointing to him and implicitly declaring his power and beauty! Scientific proof of ID would be just that, scientific proof of the existence of a Designer, and I think there are theological reasons why that will not happen, let alone scientific ones.
Proof would negate faith, and it also negates love.
But that’s science. If one scientist comes to an incorrect conclusion, there are dozens more to evaluate their work. All cars could have governors mandated to keep the speed below the national limit, but we allow self-regulation instead.
If that is a valid concern, consider how much more worried you’d be if a supernatural cause were in play! Would you potentially be suspicious of every conclusion? I, personally, fear the unintended consequences of changing the rules.
You could well be right. I have tended to “feel” that the DI was scrutinized more than Michael Behe, but I don’t really know. Maybe someone here could respond?
I’ve enjoyed chatting with you Daniel. You make a lot of good points.
I have tended to fall into this camp, as well. I think that God has been quite careful to leave indications, but not proof. Admittedly, this allows me to be much less concerned about the issue (or definition) of MN.
I don’t have any problem at all with the 6,000 - 10,000 years from counting genealogies in the Bible. But that just dates Adam and Eve, two people who God spoke to and imparted the founding inspiration of humanity. Too much earlier than that would drain the story of significance, so I think that is misguided.
The problem is confusing humanity with the biological species to think that the homo sapiens species began with only two people. That contradicts the findings of science. But there is no problem if you understand that our humanity is more than DNA and a biological species. The human mind and how we think is important too and that is not a product of evolution.
I’m an atheist, and I freely admit that there are currently many phenomena that have no naturalistic explanation. The problem is that I have yet to see a verifiable and evidenced based supernatural explanation for them. At least in my eyes, God of the Gaps arguments have a really bad track record while the scientific method has a very good track record. For this reason, I think the scientific method is the best way to try and and answer these questions.
YEC depends on uniformitarianism as much as anything else. Every flood model relies on tons of physical constants, such as the density of rock being higher than the density of water which allows sediments to form. How many times have we seen YEC arguments based on observation of modern floods?
The only reason YEC’s question radioactive decay rates is because it leads to answers they don’t like.
Would Adam have scars from a bear attack he never suffered? Would Adam’s tibia have a calcification consistent with a broken bone that healed? Would Adam’s complexion be marred from a smallpox infection he never suffered?
If you are trying to claim that rocks date old because they were created mature, then you have a very serious problem. Those alleged rocks created de novo with age are found above fossils. This would mean the fossils also had to be created in that instant. Would God create fossils of animals that never lived?
Also, if your argument requires God inventing a false history and changing all of the basics of physics in order to make YEC work then you are admitting that the evidence, at face value, supports an old Earth and an old Universe.
Hey Gracez, if you become convinced of the modern scientific paradigm like I do and yet hold to the inerrancy of the bible, or at least take it seriously, I highly recommend the following authors for questions about genesis 1 (days of creation) as well as evolution: C. John Collins, Gijsbert Van Den Brink, Andrew Ter Ern Loke (book forthcoming, slight modification of Joshua Swamidass see here: https://henrycenter.tiu.edu/2020/08/is-adam-gods-first-image-bearer), Henri Blocher, Vern Poythress, John Walton, Meredith Kline. Such names as JI Packer and John Stott stand out as well.
Some commentaries on my reading list include those of wenham, kidner, boice, sailhammer and waltke. I would buy Collins reading genesis well and van den brinks reformed theology and evolutionary theory, as well as loke’s booke when it comes out. It’s important to read several perspectives to get a feel for the dialogue before landing strong on some issues. Hans Madueme, a young earth creationist, seems to be providing some good criticism and actually helping to sharpen the other models.
Because once the question of the science is settled in your mind, then it comes down to how you integrate it with your faith. You can wave your hand at inerrancy by boiling the genesis narratives down to timeless theological truths like lamoureaux, operate somewhere in between like cs lewis, or try to do justice to the text and its claims on history.
This statement, if accepted, renders any empirical investigation of natural history completely impossible.
“God could have done anything He wanted, and made it look to be any way He wanted” doesn’t advance the inquiry very far.
This is true, but another fact needs to be considered. A tiny amount of background C14 is constantly ingressing into measuring instruments, samples, etc. Before the 50kya time limit is reached, the C14 in the organic tissues at the time of death dominate the measurements. Beyond 50kya, however, the background noise can still be detected, even in the absence of any original C14.
Since lab measurements can always detect the background noise, specimens that are millions of years old can still seem to have a C14 age of 50kya. This does not of course contradict an age of millions of years; it just means that C14 cannot be used to distinguish between an age of 50k, 50M, or 4B years ago.
This is a good idea. Let’s take a look at an important recent study.
Webb, et al. carefully examined multiple observations from very early galaxies–formed 13 billion with a B years ago. They concluded that the fine structure constant – a ratio of several physics constants, among them the speed of light – has no more variation than about 1 part in 500,000 from the value we observe today in our galaxy.
Full disclosure: they do suggest that perhaps there is an extremely small (1 part in 500,000) variation in universal constants across the vast universe.
The key point is that their observations put a 1 part in 500,000 upper bound on any variation in universal constants, and this upper bound holds as far back as 13 billion years ago.
Are you willing to follow this evidence, Daniel?
Maybe he is just honest and consistent.
Background radiation can also bombard 14N in the sample and create new 14C.
i don’t dispute that in the least. given a certain distance to the stars, and given the speed of light, obvious face value observation would lead to an old universe.
I simply remain open to hearing and entertaining alternatives, given the inescapable analogous reality… if God had created Adam in an instantaneous manner, as suggested in Genesis, then in that case, “the evidence, at face value”, would have similarly supported an Adam that was years, not minutes, old.
The same is true at other times that God or angelic beings appear in physical form at various cases… when God showed up and wrestled with Jacob; when Yahweh and the two angels visited Abraham and ate and drank with him, when the disciples saw Moses and Elijah on the mountain… in these and other cases, the “evidence at face value” would suggest that each of these people were years old. But presumably, each of those forms had been brought into the world instantaneously.
Or alternately, consider the miraculous feeding… if you had been there, and done an examination of one of the fish that the people were eating (that had plenty of meat on its bones to serve as food)… we would acknowledge that examining the fish, that “the evidence at face value” would have supported an age for that fish of some number of days or weeks old, at least. but presumably each of those fish (except the original two) were actually only minutes old when eaten.
Or again, if one had done a scientific examination of the wine at the wedding, one would probably conclude at face value it was some days, or at least hours old, certainly not minutes. Or we might consider the ripe almonds on Aaron’s staff… “evidence at face value” I understand would support the process from sprout to bud to blossom to ripe almond as having taken months, not overnight.
So that principle alone gives me pause… we are dealing with a God who is on record of bringing things into existence near instantaneously, and when he does so, there is unavoidably a certain appearance of age “at face value”.
So if the claim is that God brought the universe itself into existence instantaneously, then at lest some appearance of age would be unavoidable. this hardly proves anything, and there still remain numerous difficulties, but this is why i can’t simply take the evidence immediately and without question “at face value”, when I’m dealing with anything God is said to have created instantaneously.
Very insightful and apposite questions… this is what gives me pause in the other direction when i hear some of the YEC arguments… since we don’t simply see light from distant stars, we see a history in that light… light that tells us of supernovae that on the YEC supposition never really existed, etc.