Re: [asa] RATE's Radioactive Thorium Plot (was Ancient Universe)

From: Steven M Smith <>
Date: Mon May 21 2007 - 14:41:33 EDT

I apologize that I do not have the time to respond individually to
everyone's comments on this thread. In the interest of time, I am once
again forced to combine responses and to limit myself to just a few

Bob Schneider wrote:
> But which set of physical laws are the RATE team using? Did God
> use one law of radioactive decay during the creation week and then
> switch laws on the radioisotopes to give them another decay rate.
> ... [J. Woodmorrape] claims that billion-fold acceleration of certain
> isotopes was demonstrated in a lab. How would one reconcile this
> experiment, I wonder, when it was conducted under a different set
> of physics from the set God used in the creation week?

Good question! I have always found it ironic that YEC science uses
"uniformitarian" geology, physics, chemistry, and astronomy in their
attempt to refute "uniformitarian" science. If there was a sudden change
in the physical laws in the past then this should be visible as an obvious
break in the geologic record. Under different physical laws we would
expect different rocks. We don't see that. Although locally there are
breaks in rock types or deposition, in general we see a continuous record
of past events - at least continuous enough to see any changes in physical

In another post, Bob also wrote:
> I fully agree that YECs generally make distorted interpretations of
> the Bible to fit their theories. In my forthcoming essay on YEC, I make
> that point in detail. Far more than exposing the distortions in their
> scientific assertions, we need to expose the way they manipulate
> and distort Scripture. They show no respect for the literal sense of
> biblical texts, and thus they do a great disservice to the Bible that
> they claim to be defending.

I look forward to that essay. In reality, we can argue YEC science all
day and not make a large difference. The Age-of-the-Earth issue is no
longer a scientific issue; it only remains as a theological issue. To put
it bluntly, no one looking only at the scientific evidence would suggest
a 6,000 year old Earth. The ONLY source for that conclusion is a
particular theological interpretation of Genesis. Since the issue is
really a theological issue, theological arguments are probably more
effective than scientific ones. Certainly the scientific arguments are
useless unless there are good theological ones too.

George Murphy wrote:
> I was going to make a brief comment on what Steve said below,
> though my area of physics expertise isn't nuclear. It's true that most
> of the damage would be done by the radiation (alpha, beta, gamma)
> emitted in the supposedly accelerated decays. But that radiation
> would also create some unstable nuclei in surrounding material &
> thus some lingering induced radioactivity. ... But then I realized that
> the whole exercise is pointless. If you're going to change the basic
> physical interactions to produce such accelerated decay then
> everything is up for grabs.

Thanks for your comments and clarification. I also liked your "pointless"
comment about continuing to follow and argue the YEC science here when
they are changing the basic rules of the game (my paraphrase). In ways,
I feel like my arguments are being sucked into a black hole.

For me, the science argument stopped when, on p. 152 of "Thousands ... not
Billions", Don DeYoung tells us ...

"The heat energy given off during nuclear decay raises an important
question. What prevented the earth from melting completely during the
rapid decay which amounted to millions of year's worth at present rates?
Calculations show that this much decay of uranium and thorium atoms within
a typical rock mass would raise the rock temperature as high as 22,000C.
This temperature is nearly four times hotter than the surface of the sun
and would likely vaporize entire rock masses in explosive events, ..."

Well, that should be the end of the story. Accelerated nuclear decay
would completely melt the Earth, vaporizing the atmosphere, the oceans,
and even the rocks themselves. But DeYoung continues ...

"... but the crust of the earth did not melt during the Flood period. In
fact, the presence of radiohalos and fission tracks in many rocks shows
that rock temperatures remained below about 150C during the formation of
the halos and tracks. Otherwise, these crystal defects would be thermally
erased. Also, zircons in many rocks still contain helium atoms resulting
from accelerated decay, yet the zircon crystals themselves were not melted
during the nuclear decay process."

So, accelerated nuclear decay creates unimaginable heat but there is no
evidence of tremendous heat -? therefore we can conclude that there was no
accelerated nuclear decay. It is really that simple! But not for the
RATE team. Because of their theological commitment to a 6,000 year-old
Earth, and the fact that Accelerated Nuclear Decay is their only card left
in the deck, they call upon some bad Star Trek episode version of physics
to suddenly expand the universe and magically remove the excess heat. Now
its a fairy tale.

To mix metaphors: I need to stop chasing white rabbits down black holes.

[Blame me and not my employer for these thoughts, comments, and opinions.]
 Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
 Box 25046, M.S. 973, DFC, Denver, CO 80225
 Office: (303)236-1192, Fax: (303)236-3200
 -USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-

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Received on Mon May 21 14:42:01 2007

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