The inherent inconsistency of secular results strengthens the argument for a young earth, as the Bible describes in a most straightforward way!
Selections from RATE Study: Questions Regarding Accelerated Nuclear Decay and Radiometric Dating, by Carl R. Frode Jr. and A. Jerry Akridge.
(These selections by Marko Malyj are of the article published in Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal, Volume 49 Number 1, Summer 2012)
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Radiometric dating remains a popular, but still faulty, argument against biblical history.
Radiometric dating utilizes the decay rates of certain radioactive atoms to date rocks or artifacts. Uniformitarian geologists consider this form of dating strong evidence that the Earth is billions of years old. Many atoms (or elements) exist as numerous varieties called isotopes, some of which are radioactive, meaning they decay over time by losing particles. Radiometric dating is based on the decay rate of these isotopes into stable nonradioactive isotopes. To date an object, scientists measure the quantity of parent and daughter isotope in a sample, and use the atomic decay rate to determine its possible age. (Creationwiki, 2012)But research by creationists has revealed a large number of problems with radiometric dating.
For instance, Naturalistic geologists often “cherry-pick” dates they deem appropriate to their particular studies, and if results do not agree with expected dates, the “error” is attributed to any number of possible problems (Froede, 2010).
Yet another challenge for the interpretation of nuclear decay findings is documentation of detectible Carbon-14 in coal and diamond samples purported to be billions of years old, even though the half-life of 14C is only 5730 years.
Radiometric Age-Dating in Creation Science— A Brief History
Beginning with the publication of The Genesis Flood (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961), radiometric age-dating was deemed incompatible with biblical history. Over the years, many young-earth creationists have documented the problems and unbiblical assumptions of various dating methods (Acrey, 1965; Armstrong, 1966; Clementson, 1970; Cook, 1968; Lammerts, 1964; Whitelaw 1968, 1969a, 1969b; Woodmorappe, 1979, 1999).
However, many young-earth creationists have suggested that radiometric dating can be accepted with one or more episodes of accelerated nuclear decay having occurred during Earth’s past.
In 1968, Gentry proposed a bold idea based on his work on radioactively damaged zircons. He stated, “While there might be other alternatives, one possible explanation of these ‘fractures’ or ‘blasting’ halos is that the rate of radioactive decay was at one time greater than that observed today” (Gentry, 1968, p. 85; italics added).
But no one could offer a mechanism for decay acceleration.
Chaffin (2000) proposed that a variation in the fifth dimension of our universe early in the Creation Week might have led to accelerated nuclear decay.
|The radioisotope age dating book |
and DVD set by the RATE
group can be purchased here.
Research seemed predicated on the belief that
at some time in the past much higher rates of radioisotope decay may have occurred, leading to the production of large quantities of daughter products in a short period of time. It has been suggested that these increased decay rates may have been part of the rock-forming process on the early earth and/or one of the results of God’s judgment upon man following the Creation, that is, the Curse or during the Flood (Vardiman, 2000, p. 4).The results of the eight-year study were published in 2005 (Vardiman et al, 2005), and the RATE scientists determined that "accelerated nuclear decay was the most promising explanation for the large amount of daughter products." (Vardiman, 2005, p. 7).
Problem of Massive Heat Generation
Any episode of rapid nuclear decay should result in the release of large amounts of heat (Humphreys, 2005; Snelling, 2005; Vardiman, 2005). This heat would profoundly affect the planet, whether it happened during the Creation Week, following the Curse, or during the Flood. Humphreys (2005, pp. 68-70) stated
rapid cooling occurred .... most of the cooling could not be by the normal processes of conduction, convection, or radiation. Instead, the process would have to cool the entire volume of material simultaneously (“volume” cooling) and abnormally fast.
In my feasibility study, I pointed out a little-known and less-understood phenomenon in standard General Relativity theory that seems quite relevant. The mechanism causes photons and moving material particles in an expanding cosmos to lose energy. The equations clearly show the loss of energy but where and how the energy goes is less clear…. This mechanism offers good potential for removing heat on a large scale.But if volume cooling cannot be empirically demonstrated, then it remains speculation.
Variability in the Rates of Nuclear Decay: K-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, and Pb-Pb Isochron Discordance
In his analysis of the parent/daughter radioisotopes for the Beartooth amphibolite (Wyoming) and the Bass Rapids diabase sill (Grand Canyon, Arizona), Austin determined that changing decay rates created discordances in the K-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, and Pb-Pb radioisotope age-dates. He noted,
Furthermore, our data are consistent with the possibilities that, at some time or times in the past, decay of the α-emitters (238U, 235U, and 147Sm) was accelerated more than decay of the β-emitters (87Rb and 40K). (Austin, 2005, p. 386)Snelling and others reached this same conclusion in their investigation of the Bass Rapids diabase sill (Snelling et al, 2003, p. 283).
Both projects concluded that there was decay-dependent variability in the rate of nuclear decay that should show consistent differences between different radiometric dating methods, yet some level of consistency in the same method.
What radiometric age- dates would indicate Creation Week rocks, post-Curse antediluvian rocks, or Flood rocks and sediments? (Figure 1) If the results (using accelerated decay) are to be useful, the ability to link rocks/sediments to biblical history is essential. This also raises the question of a quantifiable conversion factor for each radiometric method; such numerical factors would be invaluable for creationist analyses of radiometric age-dates (Figure 2).
Baumgardner (2005) presented an interesting study on detectable carbon 14 (14C) in various “old” coal deposits and diamonds.
... during the Flood might have affected a offer the tentative hypothesis that, This amount of decay represents short half-life isotope like 14C.... perhaps only a modest amount of accelerated 14C decay took place during the cataclysm itself.... whatever the physics was describing the decay acceleration, it did not operate in so simple a manner as to reduce temporarily the effective half-lives of all radioisotopes by the same factor. (Baumgardner, 2005, p. 620)At present, it is not clear how accelerated nuclear decay could have occurred at very high rates for the K-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, and Pb-Pb systems but at very low rates for short-lived isotopes such as 14C.
Certainty and the RATE Results
It is useful that some of the results of the RATE research appear to be critiques of radiometric dating from both theoretical and experimental perspectives (Snelling et al, 2003; Snelling, 2004).
Unfortunately, the same circularity that afflicts modern secular stratigraphers seems likely to also plague creationists that take this route. Quantifying accelerated decay for each dating method would go a long way to ward reducing those uncertainties.
Discussion and Conclusions
The RATE group considered the possibility that a substantial amount of decay might have occurred during the Judgment in the Garden of Eden, but then it was concluded that the implied levels of radiation and heating would have been so highly destructive to biology at that point in earth history as to render this possibility unlikely (Vardiman et al, 2005, p. 737).Unfortunately, there is an inherent problem of knowing the relative ages of rocks in the first place. Some creationists resolve this problem by accepting a compressed version of the standard geologic timescale, although one reason for doing so is the presumption of accelerated radiometric dating (Dickens and Snelling, 2008a, 2008b). However, Reed (2008a, 2008b, 2008c, 2008d) and others (Froede, 2008; Reed and Oard, 2008) have questioned this approach.
There is a demonstrated lack of accuracy and precision of radiometric results, and their inconsistency with other field evidence. Some of these studies showed results that were definitively wrong (Austin, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000; Snelling, 1995, 1999a, 1999b, 2000a, 2000b).
The statistical noise theory was a competing model proposed by Woodmorappe (1999). He asserted that radiometric dating is inherently unreliable and that secular scientists select desired results from a reservoir of inconsistent results, based on their needs at the time. It would require researchers to find a quantitative basis for eliciting consistency from apparently inconsistent results. This might provide the basis for conversion factors or equations that would ultimately allow the theory to become useful in field studies. If they cannot, then the skepticism of Woodmorappe (1999) and the earlier creationists who wrote against radiometric age-dating might be vindicated.
But even then, a good result will have been achieved. If creationists can demonstrate the inherent inconsistency of secular results, the argument for a young earth is greatly strengthened. This would force acknowledgment that chronology must ultimately rest on the divinely inspired historical documents provided in the Bible. Similarly, the demonstration of the unreliability of radiometric dating would reinforce the inherent weakness of the geological timescale (Reed, 2008c).
Acrey, D.O. 1965. Problems in absolute age determination. CRSQ 1:7–9.
Armstrong. H.L. 1966. An attempt to correct for the effects of the Flood in determining dates by radioactive carbon. CRSQ 2:28–30 and CRSQ 3:4.
Austin, S.A. 1988. Grand Canyon lava flows: a survey of isotope dating methods. Impact No. 178. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Austin, S.A. 1992. Excessively old “ages” for Grand Canyon lava flows. Impact No. 224. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Austin, S.A. 1994. Are Grand Canyon rocks one billion years old? In Austin, S.A. (editor), Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, pp. 111–131. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Austin, S.A. 1996. Excess argon within mineral concentrates from the new dacite lava dome at Mount St. Helens volcano. CenTJ 10(3):335–343.
Austin, S.A. 2000. Dubious radiogenic Pb behavior places U-Th-Pb mineral dating in doubt. Impact No. 319, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Austin, S.A. 2005. Do radioisotope clocks isochron need repair? Testing the assumptions of isochron dating using K-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm- Nd, and Pb-Pb isotopes. In Vardiman, L., A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin (editors), Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, pp. 325–392. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, Chino Valley, AZ.
Baumgardner, J.R. 2005. 14C evidence for a recent global Flood and a young Earth. In Vardiman, L., A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin (editors), Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young- Earth Creationist Research Initiative, pp. 587–630. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, Chino Valley, AZ
Chaffin, E.F. 2000. A mechanism for accelerated radioactive decay. CRSQ 37:3–9.
Clementson, S.L. 1970. A critical examination of radiocarbon dating of rocks. CRSQ 7:137–41.
Cook, M.A. 1968. Radiological dating and some pertinent applications: do radiological clocks need repair? CRSQ 5:69–77.
Creationwiki 2012. Radiometric dating. http://creationwiki.org/Radiometric_dating, accessed 11/8/2012.
Dickens, H., and A.A. Snelling. 2008a. Precambrian geology and the Bible: a harmony. JoC 22(1):65–72.
Froede, C.R., Jr. 2008. Harmony between the Bible and Precambrian geology—too fa vourable to naturalism. JoC 22(3):40–41.
Froede, C.R., Jr. 2010. Radiometric cherry-picking. Creation Matters 15(6):1–4.
Gentry, R.V. 1968. On the invariance of the decay constant over geologic time. CRSQ 5:83–5.
Humphreys, D.R. 2005. Young helium diffusion age of zircons supports accelerated nuclear decay. In Vardiman, L., A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin (editors), Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, pp. 25–100. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, Chino Valley, AZ.
Lammerts, W.E. 1964. Discoveries since 1859 which invalidate the evolution theory. CRSQ 1(1):47–55.
Reed, J.K. 2008a. Toppling the timescale part I: evaluating the terrain. CRSQ 44:174–178.
Reed, J.K. 2008b. Toppling the timescale part II: unearthing the cornerstone. CRSQ 44:256–263.
Reed, J.K. 2008c. Toppling the timescale part III: madness in the methods. CRSQ 45:6–17.
Reed, J.K. 2008d. Toppling the timescale part IV: assaying the golden (FeS2) spikes. CRSQ 45:81–89.
Reed, J.K., and M.J. Oard. 2008. Precambrian dissonance. JoC 22(3):42–44.
Snelling, A.A. 1995. The failure of U-Th-Pb “Dating” at Koongarra, Australia. CenTJ 9(1):71–92.
Snelling, A.A. 1999a. “Excess argon”: The “Achillies’ Heel” of potassium-argon and argon-argon “dating” of volcanic rocks. Impact No. 307. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Snelling, A.A. 1999b. Potassium-argon and argon-argon dating of crustal rocks and the problems of excess argon. Impact No. 309. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Snelling, A.A. 2000a. Dubious radiogenic Pb behavior places U-Th-Pb mineral dating in doubt. Impact No. 319. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Snelling, A.A. 2000b. Conflicting “ages” of Tertiary basalt and contained fossilized wood, Crinum, central Queensland, Australia. CenTJ 14(2):99–122.
Snelling, A.A., S.A. Austin, and W.A. Hoesch. 2003. Radioisotopes in the diabase sill (upper Precambrian) at Bass Rapids, Grand Canyon, Arizona: an application and test of the isochron dating method. In Ivey, R.L. (editor), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, pp. 269–284. Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA.
Snelling, A.A. 2004. Radioisotope dating of Grand Canyon rocks: Another devastat ing failure for long-age geology. Impact No. 376. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.
Snelling, A.A. 2005. Radiohalos in granites: evidence for accelerated nuclear decay. In Vardiman, L., A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin (editors), Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, pp. 101–207. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, Chino Valley, AZ.
Vardiman, L., A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin (editors). 2000. Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: A Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, St. Joseph, MO.
Vardiman, L., A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin (editors). 2005. Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, Chino Valley, AZ.
Whitcomb, J.C., and H.M. Morris. 1961. The Genesis Flood. Presbyterian and Re formed Publishing Co., Phillipsburg, NJ.
Whitelaw, R.L. 1968. Radiocarbon confirms biblical creation (and so does potassium-argon). CRSQ 5:78–83.
Whitelaw, R.L. 1969a. Radiocarbon and potassium-argon dating in the light of discoveries in cosmic rays. CRSQ 6:71–73.
Whitelaw, R.L. 1969b. A reply. CRSQ 6:114.
Woodmorappe, J. 1979. Radiometric geo chronology reappraised. CRSQ 16:102– 129, 147, i.
Woodmorappe, J. 1999. The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.