Re: [Fwd: Age of universe]

David B. Fenske (
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 00:46:55 -0800

At 10:42 AM 11/19/97 -0800, you wrote:
>Here are some interesting arguments from a young-earth creationist
>(Well, alright - some are old and much less interesting than others). I
>would appreciate if those who are more knowledgeable in these areas to
>comment on them. Thanks!
>3. Not enough mud on the sea floor.
>4. Not enough sodium in the sea.
These methods really give estimates of residence times (of mud and sodium)
rather than the age of the oceans. The salty sea problem is dealt with in
some length in Science Held Hostage: Whats Wrong with Creation Science and
Evolutionism, by Van Till, Young, and Menninga. Of course one needs to
know the rate of deposition (and its variations in the past) and *all*
mechanisms of removal for these estimates to be even ballpark.

>5. Earth's magnetic field is decaying too fast.
> The total energy stored in the Earth's magnetic field has steadily
>decreased by a factor of 2.7 over the past 1,000 years.(11) Evolutionary
>theories explaining this rapid decrease, as well as how the Earth could
>maintained its magnetic field for billions of years, are very complex

This is absurd. Does complexity somehow make a theory invalid? This has
been dealt with in Davis Young's Christianity and the Age of the Earth (out
of print now, I think, which is a shame) and numerous other books (perhaps
in Scientists Confront Creationists?). The idea that the current decay can
only be extrapolated back 10,000 years is somewhat misleading, even if we
didn't know that the polarity reverses itself periodically. The
creationists use an exponential function to extrapolate back in time,
whereas they could just as well use a linear function (we don't have enough
data points to differentiate the two) which would give an "age of the
earth" of several hundred million years, I think.

Nevertheless, it is well known that the magnetic field reverses polarity
sinusoidally, and thus has decayed many times in the past. The geologists
on the list can explain how this is recorded in the magnetism of certain
rocks. I recall a creationist criticism of a few years back being that
there was no theoretical model for this, whereas they had one for their
view. Thus it was with some interest that a paper in Nature appeared a few
years back describing a model for the generation of the earths magnetic
field that accounted for reversals (sorry, I don't have the reference).

I think its fair to say from this that you *can't* use the magnetic field
to date the age of the earth.

>8. Fossil radioactivity shortens geologic 'ages' to a few years.
I was under the impression that Gentry's data was problematic for some
time, but has now been explained. Does anyone know if this is so?

Many years back, when I first came across the YEC arguments, I found many
of them interesting, if not totally convincing. The magnetic field, the
14-C in the atmosphere, etc. But a fair deal of reading (Davis Young and
Howard Van Tills books were very helpful and informative - as was some of
the anti-creationist literature such as Scientist Confront Creationists -
and several other volumes along those lines) convinced me of two things -
(1) The creationist arguments for a young earth can be made to sound
reasonable and plausible - but if someone can destroy an entire branch of
science in one or two paragraphs with 2 or 3 arguments, it's probably too
good to be true, and (2) The evidence for an old earth is extremely good.

In thinking about these things, I found it helpful to separate the age of
the earth from evolutionary questions. Since then I've been thinking about
the latter, and have found the insight of many on this list extremely
helpful in this regard.

Dave F.