Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blind Dating

Let me start with this again: I absolutely believe in God’s Word. I believe that the Bible is 100% accurate on any subject that it touches on. When I look at the world, this book is my starting point. My views and beliefs are shaped by the words on its pages - as it should be with every believer. After all, believers should believe! Although it’s not commonly admitted, secular scientist have the same type of faith. Their belief that there is no supernatural (or at least no supernatural impact on the natural process) shapes the way they see the world. Everyone has a bias based on what they believe - no one is as open-minded as they claim to be. If you ever need proof of that statement, just walk onto a college campus and say that you believe in creation - you’ll find out how open-minded some of these “enlightened” people are!

This bias can be clearly seen in the field of radiometric dating. Radiometric dating is often used to demonstrate how scientific the General Theory of Evolution (GTE) is. “We can scientifically prove - in the laboratory - that the earth is 4.5 billion years old! Doesn’t that prove that you Christians are nuts to disagree with us?”

Trust me, I wish most debates would go deeper than that. I would love to have an honest discussion, bringing up all the strongest arguments on each side. But usually, I can’t get past the level of, “Science has proven evolution - you’re crazy.” End of argument.

In simple terms, radiometric dating measures how quickly a unstable radioisotope (like carbon-14, potassium-40 and uranium 238) decays into its daughter element (nitrogen-14, argon 40, and lead 206 respectively). The theory is this; since this radioactive decay occurs at a consistent pace, we can look at how much of the daughter element is left in a rock and calculate backwards to find out when it first formed.

Think of it this way: Someone walks into a room and finds a candle already burning. At the time he entered the room it was three inches tall. After studying it for an hour, the burning candle was two inches tall - thus he determines that this candle burns at a speed of one inch-per-hour. He then uses this data to determine how long ago the candle was lit.

The problem is, the scientist only knows two parts to a four-part equation:
1 - How much of the daughter element (lead-206 for example) is present in the rock? [Or how tall is the candle right now?) This is one of the factors that scientists know, as it can be easily observed in the laboratory.
2 - What is the present speed that the radioisotope (uranium-238) decays into the daughter element (lead-206)? [Or how fast does the candle burn down?] Again, this is easily observable and testable; it’s the second part of the equation that scientists know for sure.
3 - Has the speed of decay been constant in the past? [Or has this candle always burned at one inch-per-hour?] Scientist can’t know this for sure. Has there been an environmental shift that caused the decay speed to slow down or speed up? Could more of the radioisotope or the daughter element have been added to the rock at some point in the past? Both of these factors could give a completely wrong date!
4 - How much of the daughter element was present to begin with? [How tall was that candle before it was lit?] This is a very important factor in this equation. Two different assumptions about how much lead-206, for example, was originally in a rock could bring two dramatically different dates for formation!

Because of these unknown factors, no scientist just sends the rock into a laboratory to be dated. They also send additional information to help “aim” the dating process - information like what layer of rock it was found in and what fossils were around it. If a T-rex fossil was found in the same layer of rock, then the laboratory knows that the rock “must be” 67-65 million years old. Fossils that help with the dating process are called “index fossils.” Because their age is known, they can help to date the different rock layers. You see, radiometric dating (supposed “proof” of the GTE and an incredibly old earth) is based on their already-formed assumptions on the age of a particular fossil.

If the evolutionist’s “silver bullet” of radiometric dating doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, what’s left for the theory? They’re left with exactly what they started with: an interesting story, a fairy tale, an imaginative world where millions of years pass in the blink of an eye.

Why is this important? Because the Word of God gives the earth a maximum age of 6,000 years. According to the Bible, the first humans were made when the world was only six days old. So this teaching of “millions of years before man” cannot line up with a Biblical worldview. It’s important for us as believers to realize that God’s Word can be trusted from beginning to end.

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