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The Talk.Origins Archive:Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

The Age of the Earth

"Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi."
[The age of antiquity is the youth of the world.]

- Francis Bacon,
The Advancement of Learning [1605]

The Age of the Earth
The Earth is accepted by scientists to be around 4.5 billion years old. But how do they know the Earth is this old? Some of the lines of evidence for an ancient Earth are presented.

The Geological Time Scale
Few discussions in geology or evolution can occur without reference to geologic time. In this article, the standard time scale used by geologists is depicted and described. See also Niel Brandt's Evolutionary and Geological Timelines.

Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale
Radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are combined to establish the conventional geological time scale. Scientists apply these principles to date rocks, which can then be used to assign ages to fossils.

Changing Views of the History of the Earth
How did we go from thinking Earth was a young planet to the realization that it is ancient, with a four and a half billion year history?

Isochron Dating Methods
The isochron radiometric dating technique (and related ones) is widely used in isotope geology, and does not fall prey to many common creationist criticisms of radiometric dating. This essay introduces the technique and shows why it is so reliable.

An Evaluation of the ICR Grand Canyon Research Project
This essay discusses the ICR's Grand Canyon Dating Project, as proposed and executed by the ICR's Steve Austin. Austin has obtained some bad Rb-Sr isochron dates, although there are several serious questions regarding his methodology.

Geochronology according to creationist John Woodmorappe
John Woodmorappe has examined numerous studies of radiometric dating in the scientific literature and concludes that radiometric dating techniques are invalid. This essay, however, raises serious questions about Woodmorappe's methods.

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments? A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
A detailed debunking of the young-earth arguments used by Kent Hovind and other young-earth creationists.

Age of the Earth: Debate between Chris Stassen and Bob Bales
This document is the result of an attempted "formal" Usenet debate, with orderly turns between speakers, length limits, and a predetermined topic (the age of the earth). The participants were Bob Bales and Chris Stassen, both high-profile participants at the time of the debate.

The Decay of c-decay
Light arriving from galaxies billions of light years away attests to the ancient age of the universe. Some young-earth creationists have tried to explain this evidence away by claiming that the speed of light has changed substantially.

Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field
Creationists have long argued that the earth's magnetic field proves that the earth cannot be more than 10000 years old. This article looks in great detail at the argument and thoroughly debunks it.

Meteorite Dust and the Age of the Earth
It is argued that both the Earth and Moon should be covered with a great layer of space dust if the Earth were as old as the standard models imply. As usual, creationists base their argument on faulty data and unwarranted extrapolations.

The Recession of the Moon and the Age of the Earth-Moon System
One of the common arguments made in support of a young Earth is that the Earth-moon system could not be billions of years old. This article examines the physics of the system and shows why the creationists are wrong.

Polonium Halo FAQs
Scientists examine the claim that creationist Robert Gentry's polonium haloes are evidence for a young earth. The evidence suggests that Gentry's argument is mistaken.

The Solar FAQ: Solar Neutrinos and Other Solar Oddities
Nuclear fusion is the only process reasonably capable of powering the sun, and one product of this fusion is invisible particles called 'neutrinos'. But why don't we observe as many solar neutrinos as theory would predict?

Debunking Gentry's "New Redshift Interpretation" Cosmology
Young-earth creationist Robert Gentry has offered a theory to replace the standard Big Bang cosmological model of the universe, but his model is flawed by a number of deficiencies, errors and inconsistencies.

Dating with Icecores
A discussion of the methods for determining the ages of ancient ice cores. Ice cores found in Antarctica date back about 160,000 years, presenting somewhat of a problem for young-earth creationists and catastrophists.

Various Interpretations of Genesis
Genesis can be interpreted in such a way that it does not conflict with scientific fact. This short article describes a few of the more common such interpretations.

Supernovae, Supernova Remnants and Young Earth Creationism
Young-earth creationists are occasionally heard to claim that, if the universe is as old as mainstream science holds it is, we should see far more supernova remnants - the cinders of exploded stars - than we actually do. This article discusses supernova physics at length and explains why these claims are faulty.

Carbon-14 in Coal Deposits
Some creationists have claimed that anomalous amounts of radioactive carbon-14 in ancient coal deposits indicates that standard dating techniques, and by extension possibly the geologic timescale, are flawed. This essay explains the real reason C-14 is found in coal.

Dino-blood and the Young Earth
Answers in Genesis claims that paleontologist Mary Schweitzer found "obvious, fresh-looking blood cells" and traces of blood protein hemoglobin in a Tyrannosaurus rex bone. It further claims that this demonstrates that the dinosaur could not have lived millions of years ago. This essay documents that all these claims are absolutely false. They are the result of selective quoting and misrepresentation of popular science articles. Also see Dino Blood Redux on dinosaur blood vessels and cells and Ancient Molecules and Modern Myths on osteocalcin claims.

Young-Earth Creationist Helium Diffusion "Dates": Fallacies Based on Bad Assumptions and Questionable Data
Young-Earth creationists consider the helium diffusion studies of D. Russell Humphreys and others to be one of their greatest achievements in arguing for a 6,000 year old Earth. A geologist shows that these studies are extensively flawed and include: serious miscalculations in their data, sampling the wrong rock type, failing to eliminate possible contamination, using equations that are based on invalid assumptions and relying on questionable data.

How Old is the Earth: A Response to "Scientific" Creationism
A classic and often-referenced 1984 paper by G. Brent Dalrymple. The paper contains short but accurate expositions of radiometric dating methods and discussions of creationist criticisms and attempts to date the Earth as young. It includes material difficult to find elsewhere, such as the discussion of mixing isochrons and the effect of neutron-capture reactions.

Evidence for the Big Bang
This article covers the evidence which leads cosmologists to believe the Big Bang happened, deals with common objections to the theory, and discusses alternative models and questions that still remain to be answered.

Determining Distances to Astronomical Objects
Astronomers can measure distances to objects in the universe whose light took thousands, millions, or even billions of years for their light to reach us. This has obvious implications for those who believe the universe is under ten thousand years old. This article explains how scientists measure distances to various types of astronomical objects and how young-earth creationists deal with large astronomical distances.

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