“(I)t’s not just a commitment to biblical inerrancy that makes YEC’s [Young Earth Creationists] reticent to accept the mainstream scientific view for the age of the earth and the antiquity of life. Their resistance has to do with scientists’ inherent inability to directly measure the age of Earth’s geological features. Researchers don’t have an “age-o-meter” that they can use to directly determine a fossil’s age…But to determine a fossil’s age requires indirect methodologies that hopefully employ a reliable “clock” and some way of knowing when the clock got started.”—pg. 38, “Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth” by Fazale Rana
This is the sixth installment of our series, “Dinosaur Blood and the Real Age of the Earth,” (or, fifth installment, Part B, if you prefer) and is a response to the book, “Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth” by Fuz Rana of the Reasons to Believe organization headed by Hugh Ross.
In Part 1 we examined the beliefs of Fuz Rana’s mentor and colleague, Hugh Ross of the Reasons to Believe organization, as put forth in his book, “A Matter of Days,” with special note taken of how Ross subverts biblical authority as a foundation to proclaim an old-earth theology. In Part 2 we looked at Rana’s Introduction to “Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth,” and took special note of the nature of Rana’s argumentation as partisan polemics, and not objective scientific analysis. In Part 3 we examined Chapter 1, Rana’s citation of extant organic tissue from dinosaurs and other various organisms and the baseless claim that they are millions of years old, with special note taken of Rana’s rejection of the empirical data contradicting this claim. In Part 4, we examined Chapter 2 and noted the short history regarding extant dinosaur tissue and took special note of the fact that many evolutionists (some to this day) denied the existence of soft extant dinosaur tissue; and we noted that the science of chemical kinetics allows of a maximum possible age of Mary Schweitzer’s famous tyrannosaurus rex of no more than about 10,000 years old. In Part 5A we examined Chapter 3 and noted that Rana diverts his readers’ attention away from the weaknesses of his biochemical arguments by pointing to radiometric dating, which Rana, apparently, believes is a more solid basis for an ancient earth than any biochemical consideration. We also noted Rana’s five errors of fact regarding the soft tissue which Mark Armitage found in a triceratops horn, which subject Rana addresses, curiously enough, in his chapter on radiometric dating. Rana erroneously claims that the famous 8” x 4” sheet of soft tissue found by Armitage (and pieces of the interior of the horn) were subjected to radiometric testing (they were not), and then bases a whole line of argumentation around this factual error. I also quoted a lengthy extract of Armitage’s own response to Rana.
Rana’s book is organized as follows:
Introduction: “What’s the Issue?”
Ch. 1: “Dinosaur Blood in Fossils: Who Would Believe It?”
Ch. 2: “Dinosaur Blood and the Case for a Young Earth”
Ch. 3: “Radiometric Dating and the Age of the Earth”
Ch. 4: “How Did Soft Tissue Survive in Dinosaur Fossils?”
Conclusion: “Should You Believe It or Not?”
Appendix A: “A Biblical Case for an Old Earth”
Appendix B: “The Creation-Evolution Controversy in Jurrasic World”
Appendix C: “Dinosaur Genome Size Estimates; Laggerstatten of Design”
In this article, we will continue to examine Chapter 3, “Radiometric Dating and the Age of the Earth,”–pg. 37 – 51.
The radiometric dating process is commonly explained using the analogy of an hourglass. The grains of sand in the top of the hourglass represent the original radioactive material (say, uranium); and the grains of sand that have fallen to the bottom of the hourglass represent the end product, the daughter element (for uranium, the ultimate end product would be lead). Evolutionist scientists and old-earth creationists like Fuz Rana want us to believe that the radiometric dating process and its results are unassailably reliable and accurate measurements of the passage of time. This is hype. In reality, radiometric dating is more like a broken hourglass; the evolutionist scientists are essentially molding the sand which has poured out of their broken hourglass into depictions of ancient fairy-tale castles in support of their deep-time mythology.
When it comes to the subject of the age of the earth, evolutionists rest their case for deep time and an ancient earth upon the procedure of radiometric dating more than upon anything else. Regarding radiometric dating, evolutionists place their greatest emphasis upon the uranium-lead decay chain more than any other radioactive decay sequence. This is because the uranium-to-lead sequence of radioactive decay generally gives the greatest (and discordant) age results compared to any other radioactive decay sequence (and evolutionists love ancient ages).
It is to be pointedly observed that the results gotten on the same samples of rock or the same strata of rock using different radioactive source substances produce discordant age results, often by hundreds of millions of years (see “The Science of Evolution,” pg. 84, by William D. Stansfield, Ph.D.) or even well over a billion years. If radiometric dating were a reliable chronometer, the different radioactive substances would invariably produce the same results. So why do they produce discordant ages? This is conclusive enough proof for me, personally, that there is something very, very wrong with interpreting the ratios of parent radioactive elements to daughter elements in a given sample as a measurement of the passage of time. The entire procedure is rendered unassailably unreliable by this fact alone.
In any event, evolutionists love the uranium decay process because it produces the greatest age results—or does it? Science journalist, Richard Milton, has some very interesting things to say about uranium and its decay products. In a video discussing his book, “The Mysterious Origins of Man,” Milton observes:
“The chief radioactive dating method that is used to date the earth is the uranium-lead method. Uranium, the radioactive mineral turns into lead over a long, long period of time. You measure the amount of uranium in the earth’s crust, you measure the amount of lead. That tells you—at least conventional scientists say– that tells you how old the earth is. Now the figure that you arrive at when you use that technique is four thousand five hundred million years. However, what they haven’t mentioned is that uranium also turns into another substance. It turns into a distinctive form of helium, radioactive helium. In fact, practically all of the radioactive helium in the earth’s atmosphere has come from radioactive decay. Now, if this method was reliable, if you measured the age of the helium in the atmosphere, it would give you the same age—four thousand five hundred million years. In fact, it doesn’t give you an age anything like that. It give you an age of a couple of hundred thousand years. Now, it seems to me that any technique for dating which on the one hand gives you an age of 4 ½ billions years but on the other hand gives you an age of just a couple hundred thousand years, that technique has to be at least very unreliable. Well, that raises the question: why exactly would they choose the age of four thousand five hundred million years in preference to the age of a couple hundred thousand years? And the honest answer to that is—in order to make Darwinism work. Unless you have billions of years of time for natural selection to take place in, Darwinisn is inconceivable as a mechanism for evolution.”
Fuz Rana, who is not an evolutionist but who is an old-earth creationist, despite the immense discordances of dating results obtained from radiometric dating, expresses a great deal of glowing confidence in the reliability and accuracy of radiometric dating. He refers to the results as “measured ages.”
Fuz Rana’s discussion of radiometric dating in “Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth” is woefully inadequate and completely lacking any genuine discussion of the problems and inherent weaknesses of radiometric dating. Rana discreetly keeps these problems out of public view. In the quote from Rana which I used at the beginning of this article, Rana makes it seem as if the problem young earth creationists have with radiometric dating is the indirectness of the dating methodologies. I, for one, certainly would not repudiate any scientific test merely because it seeks to arrive at the truth indirectly, and I am not aware of any young earth creationist who has questioned the reliability of radiometric dating simply because of its indirectness; so this claim by Rana appears to me to be a completely phoney straw-man argument. Basically, this claim is misdirection on Rana’s part.
Rana’s case for the reliability of radiometric dating is characterized more by an avoidance of relevant information than it is by a consideration of relevant information. Rana’s case is not really even a case. It is more like “check out what so-and-so said,” (pg. 39). Rana passes over in silence very significant information and considerations regarding the weaknesses of radiometric dating as a chronometer. Ironically, radiometric dating seems to be the foundation of his “scientific” views regarding the age of the earth so one would have thought Rana would have spent a great deal more time and words on this subject, including attempting to refute objections to its reliability.
I would certainly like to hear what Rana would have to say about Stansfield’s acknowledgement about the immense discordances (to the tune of hundreds of millions of years) of date results using various radioactive source substances for radiometric dating.
LET’S HAVE A BEAUTY CONTEST
In the world of paleontology, there is a kind of Radiometric Dating Beauty Pageant that occurs: the ironic thing is that virtually each and every sample submitted for radiometric testing produces multiple contradictory candidates which compete for the Queen of the Radiometric Dating Beauty Pageant. And, like regular beauty pageants, there are always lots of contestants. The radiometric dating beauty contestants get to enter this pageant by distinguishing themselves from the other contestants by producing a discordant dating result from the other testing results.
I’m rather fond of “proof of the pudding” scenarios, and I assert that the discrepant results routinely obtained from radiometric “dating” are proof that the radiometric dating pudding is spoiled, that radiometric dating simply does not work, and cannot work, as a chronometer.
LET’S GO ON A DATE
(The Selection Process)
Old earth scientists are seeking dating partners and they have the privilege of selecting their dates from amongst the most attractive contestants from the Radiometric Dating Beauty Contests. Just like a beauty contest, there are always lots of contestants but only one ultimate winner is selected. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and to the eye of the atheist evolutionist (or an old-earth creationist like Fuz Rana) the more mature contestants in this Radiometric Dating Beauty Contest are usually the prettier ones.
One of the best teaching videos I have have found on the subject of the age of the earth which discusses radiometric dating is “Scientific Age of the Earth” by Don Patton.
Patton quotes Robert E. Lee, writing in the Anthropological Journal of Canada, regarding radiocarbon dating:
“The troubles of the radiocarbon dating method are undeniably deep and serious. Despite 35 years of technological refinement and better understanding, the underlying assumptions have been strongly challenged…It should be no surprise, then, that fully half the dates are rejected. The wonder is, surely, that the remaining half come out to be accepted.” (V.9, N.3, 1981, p.9)
Patton disputes this claimed 50/50 ratio, stating that the number of rejected dating results is actually a much higher percentage compared to the accepted dates. This point deserves center stage and the spotlight because the general public (including scientists and academicians) have no idea whatsoever that the process of rejection of radiometric dating results by paleontologists occurs far more frequently than acceptance of the dates determined. In fact, the general public have no idea whatsoever that dating results are rejected at all. The impression one gets from reading the published literature is that any given sample is dated by radiometric dating, a result is obtained, and that’s it. End of story. And that is the impression Fuz Rana promulgates by his litany of “measured ages” in his book, “Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth.” This is a distortion of the reality.
Patton illustrates this point with an example of a friend of his at Ball State University in Indiana, an old-earth Christian, who ran the carbon-14 dating lab there. Patton relates that during a visit to his friend at Ball State University, his friend was attempting to date a peat bog via radiometric dating and had discarded a total of nineteen radiometric dating results and was continuing to test and re-test the peat bog because he “knew” the peat bog had to be a certain age. Per Patton, his friend was determined to keep going until he obtained the “correct” result. This, of course, raises the question: why even do such dating tests if the date is already presumed to be known? Apparently, despite what they say publicly, believers in radiometric dating do not have much confidence in radiometric dating themselves! If I may paraphrase Shakespeare:
“This may be method but there is certainly madness to it!!!”
It is utterly mind-boggling that trained scientists would actually approach scientific tests this way, but this is, in fact, how it is done. The whole standard approach to radiometric dating (and not just radiocarbon dating) is based upon an assumption that the dates for geologic strata, and the tested samples coming from them, are already known within a certain range. Dates which fall outside of the “already known” range are assumed to be contaminated or otherwise faulty, so the only dating results which are assumed to have any credibility are the dates which fall within the “already known” range! If you harbor any misconceptions that this is not the case, check out Mark Armitage’s exposé in this video of what it takes to get a sample tested for radiometric dating in the first place, and then come back and tell me that the age of the samples is not already presumed to be known before they are tested.
Citing Henry Faul, regarding the assumptions which constitute the foundation of radiometric dating, Patton notes:
“Two important assumptions are implicit in this equation: First, that we are dealing with a closed system, And, second, that no atoms of the daughter were present in the system when it formed. These assumptions furnish the most serious limitations on the accumulation clock.” (“Ages of Rocks, Planets and Stars,” pg. 18)
One of the problems with the uranium/lead method of radiometric dating is that non-radiogenic lead is common throughout nature. It is impossible to know what original condition existed, that is, what original ratio of uranium to lead existed in the original rock when it was first formed. Additionally, we cannot know what interruptions to the radioactive decay products and process occurred AFTER the original laying down of the rock. Both uranium and lead are water soluble; uranium is HIGHLY water soluble. Water seepage and percolation can result in leaching away of the uranium disproportionately to the lead resulting in radiometric dating giving us immensely inflated age results by many, many orders of magnitude. In fact, it is difficult to see how it could be otherwise.
I would like to know what Fuz Rana would have to say about this fact.
The rocks of the earth, though they may seem seem solid and impenetrable to us “up here” at the macro level, are actually open porous systems through which gases, liquids, minerals and elements (mainly water) travel at the microscopic level. (This is also the mechanism of fossilization. Where there are fossils, we have proof of seepage and percolation.) The Earth is not static. Uranium and lead are no exceptions. This consideration all by itself negates any confidence we may have had in the results of radiometric dating. Even if we assume (and this is a big assumption) that radioactivity proceeds, and always has proceeded, at a uniform rate, the reality of rainfall (to say nothing of a global Flood) surely skews the results of such testing.
Patton goes on to cite R. L. Maugher, from East Carolina University:
“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 published nor are the discrepancies fully explained.” (Contributions to Geology, V.15 (1): 17)
I would like to know what Fuz Rana would have to say about all of the discrepant dates that were never published and what he thinks about the fact that the discrepancies are not explained.
In his book, “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism,” science journalist and agnostic, Richard Milton, comments upon the significance of all of the radiometric dating results:
“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.”—pg. 51
Patton provides another example of the heavily lopsided ratio of rejected dates vs accepted dates regarding one of the most famous discoveries of paleontology, Skull 1470, discovered by Richard Leakey. The quote is from “Bones of Contention” by Roger Lewin. I have Lewin’s book in my own collection and am citing Lewin directly:
“At a conference in Nairobi held in September 1973 they presented 41 SEPARATE AGE DETERMINATIONS on the KBS Tuff [where the Leakey skull 1470 was found], WHICH VARIED BETWEEN 223 MILLION AND 0.91 MILLION” years of age using radiometric dating !!! (emph. supp.)—pg. 194
Don’t just hurry by that. Note well: 41 separate and discordant age determinations on the same deposit using radiometric dating ranging from 900,000 years to 223 million years! Leakey picked the result that served his story line and discarded the other forty results, the general public being none the wiser. This kind of smorgasbord approach to dating of rocks and fossils is unfortunately routine. It is the rule rather than the exception. Why not pick the 223 million year result? Mark well the total number and ratio here: 1 result was selected for publication, with 40 results being rejected.
I would like to hear Fuz Rana’s opinion regarding the 40 rejected dating results.
Richard Milton draws a conclusion from data of this sort:
“The most widely used methods, such as uranium-lead and potassium-argon, have been found to be seriously flawed, not merely in practice but in principle. In addition [note well] THE METHODS YIELDED DATES SO DISCORDANT AS TO MAKE THEM UNRELIABLE.” – “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism,” –pg. 37-38, emph. supp.
One of the examples Milton cites includes: rock of KNOWN age formed from lava from an eruption of Mount Kilauea in 1801 yielded a radiometric date (excuse me, multiple dates, plural) of up to THREE BILLION YEARS on rock known to be 214 years old! So this raises an obvious question: why is so much reliability attributed to radiometric dating when it can be empirically demonstrated to yield results so amazingly and staggeringly erroneous? Is it possible that evolutionary scientists are selling us a bill of goods?
Also, Milton points out that the Australian National University found ages up to 465,000 years for lava in New Zealand known to be less than 1,000 years old.—pg. 38. Regarding the KBS Tuff of Leakey fame, where the famous skull 1470 was found, which we noted above, Milton notes separate radiometric dating tests by different research groups resulted in multiple discordant dates ranging from 1.5 – 6.9 million years in one series of radiometric datings, and 0.5 – 2.4 million years in another series of radiometric datings, and yet more discordant results of 8.43 to 17.5 million years on another sample.—pg. 54-55
Such is the “reliability” of radiometric dating!
I would like to hear what Fuz Rana would have to say about all of these various discrepant results of radiometric dating, which result he would select, and precisely why it is that we should place any confidence in it at all.
Richard Lubenow, in his book, “Bones of Contention,” (not to be confused with Roger Lewin’s book of the same title), states:
“An amazing situation develops when rocks that were seen to solidify by humans in historic times are then dated by radiometric means…
“This illustration comes from one of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes, Mount Ngauruhoe…
“A project was begun to compare the eyewitness dates of the lava flows with the dates obtained by radiometric dating of those very same rocks. Rock samples were taken from the hardened lava flows of the most recent eruptions, specifically the eruptions on 11 February 1949; 4 June 1954; 30 June 1954; 14 July 1954; and 19 February 1975. These most recent lava flows were clearly visible and easily identified. All of the volcanic rock samples were from twenty-five to fifty-one years old.
“A total of thirteen samples from these eruptions were sent for whole-rock potassium-argon dating to the Geochron Laboratories, Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the most respected commercial dating laboratories in the world…
“The laboratory was not given any specific information regarding the source of the rock samples, nor were they given any information as to the expected age of the samples (emph. supp.). The samples were described only as probably very young…
“Four were dated at ‘less than 270,000 years old,’ one was dated at ‘less than 290,000 years old,’ one was dated at ‘800,000 years old,’ three were dated at ‘one million years old,’ one was dated at ‘1.2 million years old,’ and the last one was dated at ‘3.5 million years old.’ All were said to have a margin of error of about 20 percent in either direction.”—pg. 278-279
Is any comment necessary here?
I would like to hear what Fuz Rana would have to say about these discrepant results of radiometric dating, which result he would select, and precisely why his selected date is better than the other dates obtained.
In his book, “Evolution: Fact, Fraud or Faith?” Don Boys states:
“Rock samples from twenty-two volcanic rocks in different parts of the Earth are known to have been formed during the last 200 years, yet radio-active dating methods provided ages that ranged from 100 million to 10,000 million years! …Some Russian volcanic rocks only a few THOUSAND years old were labeled as being from 50 million to 14.6 billion years old! In Haevair, volcanic rocks only 81 years old have been judged from 400,000 to more than 3 billion years old.” –pg. 281
When the ages of rock are actually known because of historical eyewitness observations, the “scientifically determined” dates Fuz Rana touts invariably turn out to be erroneous. I would like to know what Fuz Rana would have to say about the significance of all of these radiometric dating results which are empirically false?
Richard Milton says it best:
“What is alarming is that in the very few cases of truly independent evidence we have…the measured dates are spectacularly wrong. The response of radioactive dating advocates is to reject the few cases of independent verification as aberrations, and to prefer instead their theory purely because of its INTERNAL consistency, principally that it fits with a belief in an old earth. In doing so, they are rejecting the only real independent check available.”
In other words, the only real way to know for certain if radiometric dating actually works is to test it on rock of known age. When we do that, the dating results are invariably and “spectacularly wrong.” Since old earth scientists reject the validity of the results obtained from radiometric dating on rock of known age, why do they insist that (selected) results of radiometric dating on rock of unknown age must be correct?
Due to consideration of length, I will end this article on that note. Due to the importance and centrality of radiometric dating to the creation-evolution controversy, I will continue analysis of Rana’s Chapter 3 in the next article of this series. I will touch in some depth upon one of the chief assumptions of radiometric dating: namely, the assumption that the beginning constituent elements of the rock of the earth can be known and factored into the radiometric dating equation.
Featured image: Old Man with an Hourglass by Gonzales Coques (between 1614 and 1618 – 18 April 1684)