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Indicators of a "young earth:"

The quality of proofs of a young earth


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Our policy:

We refrain from criticizing the theological beliefs of all religions; we merely explain them. This includes such topics as the nature of supernatural beings, salvation, sin, heaven, hell, etc. However, when members of a faith group leave the field of religion and offer alternative explanations for matters related to archaeology, cosmology, geology, biology, medicine, mental health, and other social and physical sciences, we feel that it is acceptable to compare and contrast their beliefs with the findings of scientists. In this section of our website we have listed dozens of proofs that the earth is young, with rebuttals based on scientific observations.

To be fair, we also have a listing of proofs that the earth is old, with rebuttals based on the beliefs of young-earth creationists.


Alternatives:

There is a near consensus on the age of the earth, but not an absolute agreement:

  • Over 99% of earth and biological scientists have concluded that the earth's crust formed billions of years ago.
  • About 0.15% of all earth and life scientists argue for the creation of a young earth between 4000 and 8000 BCE. The latter are almost entirely Evangelical Christians who believe in the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible and a literal translation of the book of Genesis.

This is an enormous difference. The ratio of the age of a 10,000 year old earth, and a four billion year old earth is almost a half million to one. At least one belief must be false. More details.


Quality of the proofs of a young earth:

Many dozens of "proofs" of a young earth have been put forth by creation scientists. None that we have checked so far appears to be valid. Some are based on misquoted or misunderstood evidence. Most ignore well understood processes on earth or in the rest of the universe. A few overlook alternative hypotheses which are compatible with an old earth.

These indicators of a young earth have been well circulated among scientists -- most for decades. All have been rejected. Creation scientists Dr. Hugh Ross & Kathy Ross of the conservative Protestant Reasons to Believe group believe in an old-earth. They have written:

"...young-earth creationists have gone on to assemble approximately eighty 'scientific' evidences for a creation date of roughly 10,000 years. If you have tried these on your science-trained colleagues, you have no doubt discovered (perhaps with painful embarrassment) that all these 'evidences' are based on misunderstanding and error. " 1

We have assembled dozens of proofs of a young earth that have been forwarded via Email by visitors to this website. All are from this list of about 80 proofs that are well known to the scientific community. We have attempted to provide a rebuttal to each of the proofs that is understandable to a person with a high-school education. No advanced education is needed.


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Common errors among young-earth proofs:

Sometimes, young-earth proofs are based upon a simple misunderstanding. The proof based on the rate of deceleration of the earth's rotation, is of this type. An author simply interchanged two numbers: the earth's deceleration over a one day period, and the deceleration over a century interval. He thus obtained a figure that was about 36,526 times too large, and reached some invalid conclusions.

A very common young-earth error involves a different process:

  • The author concentrates on a particular phenomenon. One example is the erosion of mountains that results in sediment flowing into the oceans.
  • S/he assumes that only one process is involved in the phenomenon; e.g. erosion tearing down the mountains.
  • S/he does a simple calculation that shows that over 14 million years -- a short period of time, geologically speaking, -- the process would go to completion. If the world coalesced over four billion years ago, the continents of the world would now be as flat as a pancake,
  • Since the mountains still exist, one can conclude that the earth is young.

The fallacy here is that there are generally additional processes that act to counteract the process studied by the author. S/he overlooked the immense forces from the earth's colliding tectonic plates, the increase in land mass due to lava from volcanoes, and the addition of rising masses of molten rock from the earth's mantle. The result is that many processes act in both directions: some tear down mountains; others build them up. In the U.S. for example, Wisconsin contains a large area of once-tall mountains that "are now worn down so low as to constitute a rather simple plain..." 2 Here, erosion has been the main process. The Rocky Mountains are newer and were caused by subducting tectonic plates. This process continues to build up the Rockies today, even as erosion is also taking place. 3

Similar errors are found in other classical young-earth proofs, based on: the second law of thermodynamics, the shape of the earth, population growth rates, topsoil depth, comets, the volcano on one of Jupiter's moons: Io.


A proof of the lack of credibility of a young earth -- based on greed:

Imagine for a moment that a skilled physicist had realized that one of these "proofs" was valid, and that the earth must be less than, say, 10,000 years of age. This would be the discovery of the century! It would be on a par with Einstein's finding that Newton's Laws did not apply at high velocities. It would upset the entire structure of biological evolution which has been laboriously pieced together for centuries. There simply would not have been enough time for species to evolve if the earth was that young. That scientist would be a shoo-in for the next Nobel Prize, and for world-wide fame. It seems obvious that very few scientists could resist such instant fame and economic rewards. He or she would certainly publish an article immediately and wait for the Nobel Prize committee to call. But, although tens or hundreds of thousands of scientists are familiar with these "proofs," to our knowledge, no scientist has ever come forward and published any of these proofs in a peer-reviewed journal.


The impossibility of dialog:

Our group has an office motto: "Whenever there is a deviation from reality, people get hurt." It is our opinion that young-earth creationists are damaging their own cause when they teach proofs of a young earth that are clearly unsupportable by the facts. The Internet has given the public instant access to websites that systematically refute most or all of these proofs. Over time, the credibility of the young-earth hypothesis will fail, unless its supporters withdraw some of their proofs.

We decided to attempt to dialog with the webmasters of over a dozen young-earth websites. We selected proof of a young earth that was based on the deceleration of the earth's rotation, because it was clearly based on a misunderstanding of the observed data. It was clearly an open-and-shut case; a simple error. We naively felt that by pointing out the original mistake, the webmasters would realize that the proof was worthless, and would remove it from their website. This would improving the credibility of their remaining proofs. We attempted to dialog with these webmasters via Email. Although some admitted that their proof was invalid, none removed it from their website.

We speculate that these webmasters will assume that their readers are almost all conservative Christians who already believe in a young earth, and who only surf young-earth creation sites for their information on origins. We feel that this is a dangerous assumption. The Internet provides everyone with free and simple access to all viewpoints on origins. Over time, the credibility of young earth promoters who base their arguments on these unsupported proofs will be heavily damaged.

We had hoped for success in this dialog, and had originally planned to re-engage these webmasters over other, less obvious proofs. But our 100% failure rate with this first attempt discouraged us from pursuing this matter further.


Request:

We receive many E-mails which contain "proofs" that the earth is really young. If you have one not listed in this section, please Email us. 


References used:

  1. Dr. Hugh Ross & Kathy Ross, "The real issue: The creation date controversy," Reasons to Believe, at: http://www.origins.org/real/ri9403/date.html  (May no longer be online)
  2. "The Geographical Provinces of Wisconsin," at: http://www.wisconline.com/wisconsin/geoprovinces/
  3. "The Rocky Mountain System," at: http://www.aqd.nps.gov/grd/usgsnps/province/rockymtn.html

Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 2011-FEB-12
Author: B.A. Robinson
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