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The earth is 6000-10000 years old (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (The earth is 6000-10000 years old (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH210:

The earth is relatively young, about 10,000 years old or less.

Source: Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 158.


CreationWiki response:

First off there is evidence that not only points to a young Earth, but that clearly points to the Biblical time scale. Talk Origins claims to have refuted them, but those refutations do not stand up to scrutiny.

So here we have three independent dating methods that suggest an age for the Earth of about 6000 years.

It addition, some factors limit the age of the earth to less than 4.5 billion years.

  • The effect of tidal forces on the Earth / Moon system shows a maximum age of the system of 1.2 billion years. Talk Origins' "refutation" is a total failure because the paleontological data they point to require the Earth to be slowing at a faster rate than is observed, and do not show the change in rate predicted by the laws of physics. Furthermore, there is no evidence in the paleontological data for the theory used to try to salvage the Earth model from this problem.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Radiometric dating shows the earth to be 4.5 billion years old. (See CD010 regarding the reliability of radiometric dating.)

The basis for the 4.5 billion year "age" is a lead isochron of meteorites and Earth rocks. The reason for thinking that this isochron has anything to do with the age of the Earth is the Nebula Hypothesis. Since two totally false isochrons from unrelated sets of samples could be used to form a single isochron, there needs to be a theory relating the earth rocks to the meteorites. For uniformitarian geologists the theory would be the Nebula Hypothesis. It also requires chemical differentiation to occur at the formation of the Earth and the meteors, otherwise the isochrons would only represent the isotopic makeup of the source material.

A young-Earth model offers five possible origins for such isochrons.

  • Coincidence. It is possible that the Earth rocks used just happen to match the meteorite isochron. The probability would be enhanced by any physical process that limits the range of variability of isotopic makeup of the types of rocks used.
  • The Earth and meteors—or at least the meteors' parent body—were created with a similar isotopic makeup. There is some logic to the idea that God would use similar materials in making different planets, much like an artist using the same type of paint in different paintings.
  • The Earth and meteors were formed by God out of the same source material, without chemical differentiation occurring.
  • Meteors originated from the Earth as described by Hydroplate theory. In this case chemical differentiation would not occur.
  • The Earth has been sufficiently contaminated with meteoric material that the samples used inherited their isotopic ratios from meteorites.

References:

2. If the earth is old, then radioactive isotopes with short half-lives should have all decayed already. That is what we find. Isotopes with half-lives longer than 80 million years are found on earth; isotopes with shorter half-lives are not, the only exceptions being those that are generated by current natural processes.

There is no requirement within a young-Earth model that such short-lived isotopes be present. They could have been excluded for purposes of long-term stability. Many of these isotopes are heavy elements that simply may not have had any uses.

Secondly, Accelerated decay would have eliminated them within hours or days if they were originally present.

3. Loess deposits (deposits of wind-blown silt) in China are 300 m thick. They give a continuous climate record for 7.2 million years. The record is consistent with magnetostratigraphy and habitat type inferred from fossils. [Sun et al. 1997; Ding et al. n.d.; Russeau and Wu 1997]

There is so little available information on these deposits that a proper analysis is not possible, but based on the available information the following analysis can be made.

These deposits consist of different types of material, and there is red clay underlying the upper layers of loess. While the upper layers (162.5 m) show evidence of being deposited by wind, the underlying red clay does not show such a pattern. This suggests the possibility that red clay may be Flood deposits while the loess is post-Flood, with most of it deposited during the early post-Flood period.

Neither source makes reference to a continuous climate record or fossils, nor is there any detail on the magnetostratigraphy. Without independent information this claim is baseless. Furthermore, none of these qualify as independent dating methods as there is mutual calibration among them and other methods. Also, paleomagnetic data tend to be somewhat chaotic, so there is likely to be plenty of room for subjectivity in the analysis of the raw paleomagnetic data—so the correlation may not be as natural as Talk Origins implies.


References:

4. Varves are annual sediment layers that occur in large lakes. They are straightforward to measure, cover millions of years, and correlate well with other dating mechanisms.

Actually the degree of correlation is not that impressive beyond about 1000 B.C.


  • In seasonal areas, sedimentation rates vary across the year, so sediments often show annual layers (varves) distinguished by texture and/or composition. We can be confident that the layers are seasonal because we see the same sorts of layers occurring today.
This is typical uniformitarian thinking—not proof of an old Earth. It is simply a case of your theory does not work under my theory, so your theory must be wrong. This is a form of circular reasoning, because it assumes uniformitarianism which assumes an old Earth.

Even if they were not seasonal, the fineness of the sediments is often such that each layer would require several days, at least, to form.

What is the basis of this claim? Talk Origins fails to give any reason why this should be the case. On the contrary, experiments show that the thickness of layers in a continuous heterogranular deposition is independent of the rate of deposition, but it is related to the difference in grain size. So available experimental evidence goes against this Talk.Origins claim.

Some formations have millions of layers, such as the varve record from Lake Baikal with 5 million annual layers [Williams et al. 1997], and the 20,000,000 layers in the Green River formation. They must have taken hundreds of thousands of years to form at the very least.

This assumes the previous baseless claim. Not only do experiments show that the thickness of the layers can be independent of the rate of deposition, but in flowing water, or at least flowing liquefied sediment, many layers can be formed simultaneously, so these millions of layers could easily have formed in less than 1000 years.

  • Dates obtained by counting annual layers of varves match dates obtained from radiometric dating. One varve formation, covering 45,000 years, was used to calibrate C-14 dating using terrestrially produced leaves, twigs, and insect parts that also appeared in the sediments. The varves were easy to count because they included an annual diatom bloom. Kitagawa and van der Plicht 1998.

Since this lake is being used "to calibrate C-14 dating", neither can be considered independent evidence for an old Earth. The so-called "annual diatom bloom" is a doubling of the diatom count in the light-colored layers as opposed to the dark layers, and experiments with diatomite show that the same patterns are produced regardless of sedimentation rates.

Talk Origins' source shows significant discrepencies between varves counted and the C-14 "age" adding up to a 2000-year difference at the 13,000 varves mark. This pattern peaks at the 29,000 varves mark with a difference of 6000 years with the C-14 "age". In fact, when combined with data from other sources and normalized for changes in original C-14, then the results are all over the place.

This would also be consistent with rapid post-Flood deposition and a rapid increase in C-14.


  • Varves record climate changes, too, since climate affects the amount of sediments. Climate is affected by orbital cycles known to occur at about 400,000, 600,000, and million year periods (the so-called Milankovitch cycles). Climate cycles of these durations occur in the varves records.
    • Lake Baikal contains annual layers from 12 million years ago to the present. These sediments contain periodic changes matching the orbital cycles. [Kashiwaya et al. 2001]

Talk Origins' source article states in its abstract that they "may correspond to Milankovitch periods," suggesting that the authors themselves may at least have doubts that the sediment cycles at Lake Baikal match the Milankovitch cycles. The Milankovitch cycles are 20,000, 41,000, and 100,000 years, the cycles they referred to are 400,000, 600,000 and 1,000,000 layers, interpreted as years. Yes these are multiples of 100,000, but it hardly qualifies as a match. If the cycles were about 100,000, then they might have a case, but they are several times too long, so hardly proof.

Furthermore, while D180.gif (a main indicator of climate change) seems to reach a peak negative near the 100,000 year peak in the eccentricity of the Earth orbit, closer scrutiny shows problems with this theory. The D180.gif peak negative does not correspond to the variation in the size of the eccentricity peaks. That is, smaller eccentricity peaks should produce smaller D180.gif peak negatives, and larger eccentricity peaks should produce larger D180.gif peak negatives, but they don't. Furthermore, the change in eccentricity produces a change in solar radiation of only 1–2%, which is about that of the difference over a single 11-year solar cycle, and the difference is too small to account for the indicated degree of climate change. The result is that the apparent match-up between Milankovitch cycles and climate change is at best a coincidence.

Reference: The role of the sun in climate forcing

5. The abundance and distribution of helium change predictably as the sun ages, converting hydrogen to helium in its core. These parameters also affect how sound waves move through the sun. Thus one may estimate the sun's age from seismic solar data. Such an analysis puts the age of the sun at 4.66 billion years, plus or minus about 4% [Dziembowski et al. 1999].

What the cited paper shows is that it is possible to derive an age of the sun of 4.66 billion years if you annualize the data in the right way, based on the right model and the right assumptions. It also shows that other papers have produced ages over 5 billion years.

However, it also shows that actual seismic solar data do not fit any variation of the standard model as is shown by their figure 1 and figure 3.

More recent seismic solar data suggest an age of 6,000-12,857 years.

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