What natural phenomenon do you believe best supports or denies an old Earth and/or universe? Why?
Thanks, @jammycakes and @burrawang for your thoughtful responses so far! This seems to be an appropriate time to say that you have both done a good job of exemplifying that it is indeed possible to graciously disagree with and debate differing ideas...Even on the internet. ☺
Thanks for your critique jammycakes, the RATE project concluded that accelerated radiometric decay must have occurred at some point in the earth’s history and possibly even at creation. I understand there are unsolved questions that will require more investment and research but that is true in all disciplines of science and Creationist research is not funded by research grants in the way that secular universities are, so it may take some time to solve that if we ever do, as understanding mechanisms and processes that occurred in the distant past are very difficult, as I am sure you would agree.
That said, the RATE project was conducted by seven eminent PhD scientists who concluded the methodology and derived ages from radiometric dating are unreliable and that the key assumptions that underpin radioisotope dating methods are untenable.
The chief reason is that the adoption of a uniformitarian philosophy is not a legitimate model of earth history. Regarding accelerated nuclear decay, there is considerable evidence from field samples that support this through the detection of fission tracks. As fission tracks do not result from radioactive decay (beta or alpha) that decay cannot be attributed to causing the tracks. It is only when an entire atom itself splits in half that fission tracks occur that result from visible damage to the crystal lattice structure in Zircon crystals. This is readily observed with radioactive Uranium that enables an age to be calculated for the Zircon crystal from the half-life for U fission which is considerably less than radioactive decay. There are problems with dating from fission tracks as there are for radioactive decay but the point is that fission tracks strongly support accelerated nuclear decay at some point in earth’s history. I don’t know the answer to those problems and perhaps we never will, but to write off all the brilliant work conducted by the RATE project just because the researchers encountered questions that need to be answered is unfair; there are tens of thousands of research projects being conducted around the world that have just as intractable problems as this one that aren’t summarily written off!
The 22,000° C temperature may well be reconciled if the accelerated decay occurred within 6,000 year span right at the point of creation or within the first three days, i.e. prior to early on the third day; who knows perhaps God used accelerated decay to warm up an otherwise absolute zero just created planet so that it would be suitable for life to inhabit in the following creation days, I just don’t know.
This applies to Pb in Zircon crystals as well, we don’t have all answers, maybe we never will but we do know that there is strong evidence for accelerated radiometric decay in earth’s history, we just don’t when or why.
It’s not just the erroneous “flaky” results from radioisotope dating of the magma dome, Mount St. Helens is significant for many reasons I am sure you would be aware of, not least of which are the hundreds of sedimentary (now) rock layer strata that prior to the 1980 eruption event would have been interpreted under a uniformitarian philosophy as being laid down over millions of years except that thousands witnessed those sedimentary layers being laid down by a catastrophic mud flow in just a single afternoon! This has demanded a rethink of catastrophic processes as being principle drivers in shaping our planets geomorphology!
I would have to disagree jammycakes, to argue that making a comparison about the derived ages in fossil and rock samples from radiometric dating techniques to the readily calibrated instruments like police speed radars and electricity meters that make direct measurements that can be checked and rechecked repeatedly with precision is if you are honest not comparing apples with apples.
There is absolutely no way of knowing what elemental isotopes have flowed into and out of fossil samples over the duration they were in the ground. There is absolutely no way of knowing exactly what the concentrations of the particular isotope being measured were in the environment that the organism lived in at the time that it died or when a rock unit was laid down as say fresh magma from a volcanic eruption.
In contrast to those unknowns that must be assumed in radiometric dating, speed radars use benchmark known measurements in their software algorithms to mathematically calculate not derive a targets speed, they do not have to be assumed to calibrate the speed radar they are demonstrably known quantities that have been accurately measured; the same applies to electricity meters.
Sorry, but to compare these two modern instruments with radiometric dating techniques to justify the derivation of an age by radiometric techniques is utter nonsense.
I would like to hear your explanation of how samples from the hardened liquid lava from the Mount St. Helens eruption that formed the new lava dome were dated using the K-Ar radiometric dating technique as being from 340,000 to 2.8 million years old when it is known fact that the rock samples were only 10 years old when tested as their formation was eye witnessed by thousands of people in 1980?
As for the isochron line method and regardless of whether you are referring to the isotopic analysis of Uranium-Lead, Samarium-Neodymium or Rubidium-Strontium for example; sure this method doesn’t require assumptions to be made about the concentration ratios of the parent and daughter isotopes at the time that the organism died or when a rock unit was laid down, but there are a set of assumptions that still have to be made to make this method possible.
These isochron line method assumptions are as follows; it is assumed that:-
· All the rock samples came from the same rock unit that all formed at the same time.
· The daughter isotope was uniformly distributed throughout all the samples being tested at the time that the rock was formed.
· A constant decay rate is assumed.
· A closed system is assumed
I can’t say it any better than these two eminent scientists, Dr. Russell Arndts, Professor of Chemistry at St Cloud State University in Minnesota, and Dr. William Overn, a former engineer and physicist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) who have both extensively studied the isochron dating method, they say: -
‘It is clear that mixing of pre-existent materials will yield a linear array of isotopic ratios. We need not assume that the isotopes, assumed to be daughter isotopes, were in fact produced in the rock by radioactive decay. Thus the assumption of immense ages has not been proven. The straight lines, which seem to make radiometric data meaningful, are easily assumed to be the result of simple mixing.’
In other words there are severe problems with isochron dating techniques and to say otherwise is not being truthful. Even secular evolutionary scientists have published their concerns about this method.
I noticed that you raised the matter of Zircon crystals, I would like to bring to your attention the method that involves checking whether alleged ages of samples are correct by measuring the amount of Helium left within crystal lattice structures using calculated Helium diffusion rates.
It is quite clear to me that the claimed radiometrically derived billion year ages for rock samples tested are demonstrably wrong simply when we find an amazing abundance of helium in the granitic rock crystals of those samples; if the rocks are as old as claimed then why hasn’t the Helium leaked out a very long time ago? After all Helium is the second lightest element! I would be interested to hear your explanation for this.
If you would like to read more on this subject an excellent article by Dr Russ Humphreys titled “Helium evidence for a young world continues to confound critics” published way back in 2008 can be found at: - https://creation.com/helium-evidence-for-a-young-world-continues-to-confound-critics As far as I know this still has not been addressed adequately by long age believers.
For anyone curious to know more, a brilliant overview of the whole radiometric dating controversy titled “Response to Geochronology: understanding the Uncertainties, a presentation by Dr Justin Payne” that was authored by Dr Jim Mason and published in 2015 can be found at: - https://creation.com/geochronology-uncertainties This article includes a breakdown of radiometric dating methodologies, some history about the long age paradigm, the assumptions made, evidence for shorter time frames, fission tracks and a whole lot more. It is written for the general reader so is only semi-technical and readily understood by most people interested in this subject.
Regarding your assertion that the geologic column exists as fact throughout the world I would like to draw your attention to the fact that at the sites you have listed most of the Phanerozoic systems claimed to be there are actually missing and at best they are inferred.
This is stacking the books in a most disingenuous manner. I suggest that you read an excellent article by John Woodmorappe titled “The Geologic Column: Does it exist? “ that can be found at: - https://creation.com/does-geologic-column-exist
Regarding soft tissues found in dinosaur bones allegedly 65 mya I suggest that you read the article titled “Triceratops soft tissue” by Joel Tay published in Nov 2016 that can be found at: - https://creation.com/triceratops-soft-tissue
If you want you could also read about the Salamander that is allegedly 80 mya in the article titled “Best ever find of soft tissue (muscle and blood) in a fossil” published in 2009 by Dr Carl Wieland that can be found at: - https://creation.com/muscle-and-blood-in-fossil
If you want more, you could also read about the Duck Billed dinosaur fossil that is allegedly 18 mya in the article titled “Dinosaur soft tissue and protein – even more confirmation!” published in 2009 by Dr Carl Wieland that can be found at: - https://creation.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue-and-protein-even-more-confirmation
I could list more but the above I hope will be enough for you to grasp the point that there is an ever increasing body of evidence around the world that put into serious doubt the alleged huge ages that we are expected to believe these soft tissue structures have survived over. I would go as far as to say that these discoveries refute the long ages paradigm outright and require a rigorous rethink of earth’s past history. The Biblical explanation of a young earth is a more reasonable and better explanation as to why we are finding more and more soft tissue in dinosaur bones.
@burrawang - May I please remind you that the RATE project -- the most comprehensive, extensive and expensive research project ever conducted by young-earth scientists -- themselves admitted that in order to account for the evidence within a 6,000 year timescale, they had to propose accelerated nuclear decay on a scale that, again by their own admission, would have raised the Earth's temperature to 22,000°C.
That is a far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far bigger problem for a young earth than a few tiny scraps of badly degraded, hard-to-extract soft tissue remnants are for an old earth. It doesn't take a "secular worldview" to see this, you don't have to have "been there," you don't need to argue about what assumptions are involved or whether or not they're valid, and you don't even need to be a scientist. 22,000°C is four times as hot as the surface of the sun and hot enough to vaporise the Earth's crust many times over. I'm sorry, but that admission was game over for a young earth. End of story.
Your claim that we can't know the original conditions of a sample is simply not true. I gave you a counter-example: lead in zircon crystals. It is simply physically impossible to get lead into a zircon by any route other than nuclear decay from uranium. To do so would require not only the laws of physics and chemistry to have been different in the past, but also the laws of Euclidean geometry. And we can test for leakage by comparing the ages given by the different isotopes of uranium/lead. As for the RATE project's claims of too much helium in zircons: that study was riddled with very serious flaws, methodological errors and even outright fudging. And your claim that no-one has responded to Humphreys' 2008 article is not true: Kevin Henke responded in 2010, and he and Gary Loechelt followed up with a couple of YouTube videos as recently as 18 months ago (here and here).
The claim about Mount St Helens proves nothing more than that radiometric techniques can give slightly flaky results when they are pushed beyond their limits. 2.8 million years is less than a quarter of one percent of the half-life of potassium-40, and in any case the samples were processed by a company (Geochron Laboratories of Cambridge, Massachusetts) which, at the time, did not have the high-end equipment needed to accurately process samples that young. Yet they're touting it as evidence that all dating methods are so out of whack that they consistently fail to distinguish between thousands and billions. It's like using a weighbridge -- a truck scale used to weigh ten ton lorries -- to measure out the ingredients for a child's birthday cake, and then when the results come out mushy and inedible, claiming that means that Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Ina Garten, Heston Blumenthal and Mary Berry are all so bad at cooking that for all we know they could be telling us to make rat poison on their TV shows.
I could go over your other claims in detail, but there's little point. It would just be window dressing. They are all similar variations on the theme of tiny and/or sloppily processed samples with enormous error bars. It will take far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far more than that to establish any kind of basis for 22,000°C worth of accelerated nuclear decay having occurred any time within the past six thousand years.
Hi jammycakes, just to be clear I understand perfectly what contamination is and the importance of protecting and analysing samples; I have worked in major university laboratories using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer to determine chemical composition of samples undergoing analysis.
Regarding the age of the earth, we have very good instruments that can give us very fine and repeatable results as measurements of amounts of isotope concentrations but that's it. The analysis of the sample doesn't pop out a nice neat date. The analysis merely provides a quantity of a particular elemental isotope, nothing more and nothing less. The date is derived!! It is derived by means of an interpretation and a set of assumptions. We can measure the amount of an isotope in a sample with absolute precision but the smoke and mirrors are in the interpretation of a date.
The usual circular reasoning that is used goes something like this, we find x and y fossils in the same strata as the fossil we are testing. We know from the imaginary "fossil record" that fossils x and y lived say 20 mya. We do the sample analysis to determine the quantity of the isotope in the sample to create the ratio we assume is correct under a uniformitarian philosophy. We find that the analysis returns a result that is massively over or under what we expect to find from the imaginary "fossil record" so we say the sample is unreliable. We test more samples from the same site and find one that comes back with a result of say 21 mya; we say this sample is accurate. We publish our results that concurs with the broadly accepted date range for the sample fossil. Happy days!
The problem is the preconceived story about the age of fossils is used to calibrate the radiometric dating. It is unfortunate that this erroneous notion of a geologic record of life forms exists that supposedly has primitive forms at the bottom ascending to more and more complex life forms as you rise through the column to the present day at the top. That is a fairy story!!! It simply does not exist consistently throughout the world, it is simply a record of strata in a small part of England. When you go to South America the order is greatly different, when you go to Africa it is different again, the order is all messed up, when you go to Antarctica it is different again and so it goes in Australia it is different again, in the US different again, I'm sincerely hoping I am making myself clear enough so that you get the picture.
If that isn't bad enough, it gets worse, assumptions are made as to how much of the radioactive isotope may have leached out of the sample and conversely how much may have leached into the sample. On top of that an assumption is made as to the actual ratio of the decay isotope to the daughter isotope at the time the fossil died and was buried. Please don't forget that all these must be assumptions!!! The fossils don't have tags on them saying x mya on them. They are just fossils and rocks are just rocks.
The point I hope I have made clearly enough is that by adjusting the assumed ratio and the assumed leach in and out amounts of the isotope just about any age scenario can be accommodated. Add to that the selective cherry-picking of the results until you finally get one that neatly fits within the "expected" age according to the imaginary "fossil record" in the geologic column which becomes the one you publish! Often the sample results that were rejected are not even mentioned. The date is proclaimed that fits in nice and neatly with the evolution story as if it were a fact set in stone.
I have no debate with the fact that good science is performed in the accurate and precise measurement of the amount of isotope of the element being tested for; it is the interpretation of the results where the erroneous methodology enters in.
Mary Schweitzer's finds are but a few of a rapidly growing body of data that begs the question if these bones are 65 mya, why do these soft tissue structures exist in such abundance?
The logical answer is to apply Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation is that the bones are not 65 mya old and must be many orders of magnitude younger than that.
It's quite simple really.
All the best,
Sorry @burrawang but your characterisation of radiometric dating is simply not accurate.
First of all, about the date being "derived." This may be the case, but that is no justification for rejecting it as unreliable. By the same argument, a police car just measures frequencies of radio waves that bounce off your car, and the speed at which it is travelling is "derived" from Doppler shift. The electricity meter in your house measures the number of revolutions of a metal disk in a magnetic field, and the amount of electricity you are consuming is "derived" from that. The equations and the underlying physics are roughly similar in terms of complexity. Being "derived" gives you no more justification for rejecting radiometric dating than it gives you justification for rejecting a speeding ticket from the police, or an electricity bill from your energy supplier.
Your claim that radiometric dating is "calibrated" against the fossil record is at best misleading, and at worst completely untrue. The old "fossils are used to date rocks and rocks are used to date fossils" shenanigan is a complete mischaracterisation of how stratigraphy and geochronology actually work, and what role index fossils actually play in determining the ages of rock strata. Besides, even if this claim did have any merit to it, it would still fall far, far, far, far short of demonstrating that all radiometric techniques are so out of whack that they consistently fail to distinguish between thousands and billions.
Your claim about no contamination or leakage being nothing more than an assumption is similarly untrue, as is your claim that the original quantities are just assumptions as well. Modern radiometric techniques such as isochron dating avoid both of these assumptions entirely (in fact, isochron dating includes a built-in test for contamination or leakage: if this had occurred, the points on the graph would not lie on a straight line).
Or take zircon crystals for example. These are the "tags on them saying x mya on them" that you claim fossils don't have. The fact that these contain uranium but not lead when they are first formed is not just an assumption but a direct consequence of their chemical and crystallographic properties. For them to have taken in lead either at the start or subsequently as contamination, their entire crystal lattice structure would have to have been different -- quite possibly in ways that would have either stopped them forming altogether. It is simply not physically possible to get lead into a zircon crystal through any route other than radioactive decay from uranium.
If that isn't bad enough, it gets worse. If the zircons had become disturbed (which would require temperatures in excess of 900°C), lead will leak out faster than uranium, partly resetting the radiometric "clocks." This means that the zircons would be older than that reported by the radiometric age. On top of that, the fact that there are two different isotopes of uranium with different half lives (704 million years for U-235 and 4.4 billion years for U-238) means that we have a cross-check that can identify whether there was any such disturbance. If there had been, the two isotopes would give different ages.
The upshot of this is that U-Pb dating of zircon crystals is one of the most accurate radiometric dating methods around. Its errors are typically in the ±0.1%-1% range.
As for your claim of different orders in different places, again that is not true. The geologic column can be observed in its entirety, in a consistent order, in the following places:
The Williston Basin in North Dakota
The Ghadames Basin in Libya
The Beni Mellal Basin in Morocco
The Tunisian Basin in Tunisia
The Oman Interior Basin in Oman
The Western Desert Basin in Egypt
The Adana Basin in Turkey
The Iskenderun Basin in Turkey
The Moesian Platform in Bulgaria
The Carpathian Basin in Poland
The Baltic Basin
The Yeniseiy-Khatanga Basin in Russia
The Farah Basin in Afghanistan
The Helmand Basin in Afghanistan
The Yazd-Kerman-Tabas Basin in Iran
The Manhai-Subei Basin in China
The Jiuxi Basin China
The Tung t’in - Yuan Shui Basin China
The Tarim Basin China
The Szechwan Basin China
The Yukon-Porcupine Province Alaska
The Tampico Embayment Mexico
The Bogata Basin Colombia
The Bonaparte Basin, Australia
The Beaufort Sea Basin/McKenzie River Delta
Furthermore, in the places where the different layers are out of order, there is clear independent evidence for events such as overthrusting which fully account for the discrepancies. (See the section on overthrusts in this article.)
The point that I'm making here is that you can't just get any age you like out of radiometric dating by adjusting your assumptions. The different assumptions can be cross-checked against each other (or even eliminated entirely) and the cross-checks do not constitute circular reasoning. In any case, the young-earth RATE project team themselves admitted that in order to squeeze the radiometric evidence into just six thousand years, nuclear decay rates would have to have been high enough in the past to raise the Earth's temperature to 22,000°C. Twenty. Two. Thousand. Degrees. Centigrade. That alone should be sufficient to make it clear that the Earth is far, far older than six thousand years, and that their claims of evidence for a much younger age, or claims about radiometric dating being "unreliable," are completely without merit.
Yes, measurements must be interpreted, but the interpretations of those measurements must be honest and accurate as well. Small error bars must take precedence over large error bars. The interpretations must obey the rules of mathematics. They must not claim that something constitutes circular reasoning when it does not. And they must not just cry "assumptions" when those assumptions are, in fact, testable.
As for soft tissue: as I said, please remember that we're talking about soft tissue remnants, not actual original soft tissue. And far from being "an abundance," the fact remains that such findings are rare, difficult to extract, and very, very badly degraded, and that there are no actual measurements showing that they should not exist at all, anywhere. This being the case, there is no conflict whatsoever with their 65 million year age.
Thanks Jonathan, there is so much rigorous sound scientific information available these days that I am truly amazed that the stalwarts of evolution still attempt to defend their pet theory. They must be either willingly or unknowingly ignorant of the literature available.
Take for example a single cell. Less than fifty years ago students were taught that cells were relatively simple things consisting mainly of protoplasm, a nucleus, mitochondria, chromosomes and DNA.
What we now know is vastly different and of course Charles Darwin had no concept of any of this; I’ll let Michael Denton explain: - Molecular biologist Michael Denton, writing as a non-creationist skeptic of Darwinian evolution, explains what is involved: -
Perhaps in no other area of modern biology is the challenge posed by the extreme complexity and ingenuity of biological adaptations more apparent than in the fascinating new molecular world of the cell … . To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.
Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which—a functional protein or gene—is complex beyond our own creative capacities, a reality which is the very antithesis of chance, which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man? Alongside the level of ingenuity and complexity exhibited by the molecular machinery of life, even our most advanced artifacts appear clumsy … .
It would be an illusion to think that what we are aware of at present is any more than a fraction of the full extent of biological design. In practically every field of fundamental biological research ever-increasing levels of design and complexity are being revealed at an ever-accelerating rate.
Reference: M. Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase, MD: Adler and Adler Publishers, Inc., 1986), p. 328, 342.
I must admit that I'm somewhat more sympathetic to ID arguments than to young-earth ones. The scientific community may not have accepted the concept of irreducible complexity, but I don't think it can be ruled out. In fact I personally think it sounds quite plausible.
However, even if irreducible complexity can be conclusively demonstrated, it won't reduce the age of the earth, nor will it change the fact that biological populations change and diverge over time, and that over geological timescales, those changes will mount up to large, significant differences.
Thanks Jonathan and jammycakes for your welcome and responses,
I don’t think that sequencing the relatively short fragments of DNA found in dinosaur bones would change much in the debate; old earth evolutionists would just explain it away or continue to claim contamination. Also, we do not have a benchmark reference for dinosaur genomes so comparison against a definitive benchmark genome for any partial or even full sequence of genetic information is not going to identify any particular dinosaur specie.
It is more useful to comprehend the ever increasing finds of actual dinosaur bone, not mineralised bone, containing readily identifiable original animal structures such as blood vessels, haemoglobin, elastin, collagen, actin, tubulin, histones and DNA discovered both in new finds and existing paleontological collections worldwide that clearly show the passing of an alleged 65 million years is not a reasonable or logical assumption to make; a far more cogent explanation is that these organic structures being found in actual unmineralised dinosaur bones are only thousands of years old at best.
If you want to read more on ancient DNA specifically, an excellent article by Brian Thomas and Jeffrey Tomkins titled “How reliable are genomes from ancient DNA?” can be found at the following link: - https://creation.com/how-reliable-are-ancient-dna-genomes
This article makes the point that DNA degrades rapidly with a half life of 521 years and that the contamination argument can be “effectively eliminated”. The article also exposes the circular reasoning employed by long age evolutionists when dating DNA by contrasting the dating methods employed; direct measurements versus “cherry-picked age assignments”.
Interesting, @burrawang! Do you have any other favorite arguments that you would like to share?
@burrawang : There are a few things we need to get straight here.
First of all, contamination. Contamination is not any kind of attempt to "explain it away." Contamination is a legitimate, measurable, testable, and very real source of error. You have to allow for the possibility of contamination in every area of science, no matter what it's about. In fact, if you dismissed contamination as an attempt to "explain it away" in any other area of science, you would kill people.
Second, please stop talking about "long age evolutionists." The age of the earth has been established completely independently of evolution; it is established by high-precision measurement; and to suggest that it is simply some kind of "evolutionist" dogma is simply not getting your facts straight about what geochronologists actually do.
Third, can I please reiterate my point that before we even start to discuss whether soft tissue finds are consistent with an age of 65 million years or not, it is essential to make sure that you have accurately understood what Mary Schweitzer and other researchers found. For example, she is often claimed by YECs to have found actual red blood cells. She didn't: she found round, red microstructures, which she interpreted as being the remnants, or breakdown products, of blood cells. She is often claimed to have found osteocytes. She didn't. She found structures that were similar in size and morphology to osteocytes, but not in chemical composition. That's a completely different thing. She is often claimed to have found haemoglobin. She didn't. She reported finding haemoglobin breakdown products, which are not actual haemoglobin.
Fourth, the creation.com article omits one very important piece of information. It doesn't give any indication of the error bars or variances on the decay rates of DNA. In reality, the variances are huge. Allentoft et al, for example, reported variances of a factor of 50,000, and that they are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. Yet I can guarantee you that if you pointed that out to creation.com they would dismiss it as a "rescuing device" or a "long age uniformitarian excuse" or some other shenanigan like that. It's nothing of the sort. It's simply a basic principle of measurement that applies to every area of science: you have to take all possible sources of error into account. Once again, if you dismissed error bars as a "rescuing device" or a "long age uniformitarian excuse" in any other area of science, you would kill people.
In fact, this is the biggest problem that I have with young-earth arguments. They consistently rely on measurements with huge error bars, and rates of change that are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions that nobody expects to have been constant in the past. By contrast, radioactive decay rates have been rigorously tested and found to be stable within a wide range of environmental conditions including extremes of temperature and pressure, electromagnetic fields and the like. Sure, a few of them have been found to vary, but only by a fraction of 1% or so -- a variance that falls far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far short of justifying claims that radiometric dating could be consistently be out by factors of up to a million.
Well in order to establish that you really have found original dinosaur DNA, and not just contamination, you need to sequence it. It's as simple as that. And this is a question that I'm still waiting for YECs to answer: if the earth really is just six thousand years old, and these dinosaur bones really are that recent, why has nobody managed to sequence the entire T-Rex genome yet?
Also, please make sure that you're getting your facts straight about exactly what Mary Schweitzer actually reported finding. As I understand it, for example, she didn't find actual haemoglobin; she found haemoglobin breakdown products, which are a completely different thing. Additionally, if you're going to claim that "real chemistry shows they can't survive for 65 million years," please point us to some actual measurements in the scientific literature to substantiate that claim.
Greetings, @burrawang ! Welcome to CE-DEBATE!
I am unsure (or, at least, unaware) that DNA has actually been discovered in dinosaur bones. Nonetheless, your article brings up interesting points. I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of @jammycakes and/or @T_aquaticus...
Hi you guys, I think you may find it quite informative to read an article written specifically about the presence of dinosaur DNA in dinosaur bone samples; the article is authored by Dr Jonathan D Sarfati and is titled "DNA and bone cells found in dinosaur bone” that was first published on 11 December 2012 (GMT+10) An excerpt from this article states the following: - Dino DNA “The problem for long-agers is even more acute with their discovery of DNA. Estimates of DNA stability put its upper limit of survival at 125,000 years at 0°C, 17,500 years at 10°C and 2,500 years at 20°C.2 One recent report said: There is a general belief that DNA is ‘rock solid’—extremely stable,” says Brandt Eichman, associate professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt, who directed the project. “Actually DNA is highly reactive.” “On a good day about one million bases in the DNA in a human cell are damaged. These lesions are caused by a combination of normal chemical activity within the cell and exposure to radiation and toxins coming from environmental sources including cigarette smoke, grilled foods and industrial wastes. A recent paper on DNA shows that it might be able to last as much as 400 times longer in bone.18 But even there, there is no way that DNA could last the evolutionary time since dino extinction. Their figures of the time till complete disintegration of DNA (“no intact bonds”) is 22,000 years at 25°C, 131,000 years at 15°C, 882,000 years at 5°C; and even if it could somehow be kept continually below freezing point at –5°C, it could survive only 6.83 Ma—only about a tenth of the assumed evolutionary age. The researchers state: However, even under the best preservation conditions at –5°C, our model predicts that no intact bonds (average length = 1 bp [base pair]) will remain in the DNA ‘strand’ after 6.8 Myr. This displays the extreme improbability of being able to amplify a 174 bp DNA fragment from an 80–85 Myr old Cretaceous bone. Yet Schweitzer’s team detected DNA in three independent ways. Indeed, one of these chemical tests and specific antibodies specifically detect DNA in its double–stranded form. This shows that it was quite well preserved, since short strands of DNA less than about 10 bp don’t form stable duplexes. The stain DAPI lodges in the minor groove of a stable double helix, which requires even more bp, and the stain PI is also an intercalation test. Again, the first possible response by long-agers is “contamination”. But the DNA was not found everywhere, but only in certain internal regions of the ‘cells’. This pattern was just like in ostrich cells, but nothing like biofilm taken from other sources and exposed to the same DNA-detecting pattern. This is enough to rule out bacteria, because in more complex cells (such as ours and dinos), the DNA is stored in a small part of the cell—the nucleus. Futhermore, Schweitzer’s team detected a special protein called histone H4. Not only is yet another protein a big problem for millions of years, but this is a specific protein for DNA. (DNA is Deoxy-riboNucleic Acid, so is negatively charged, while histones are alkaline so positively charged, so they attract DNA). In more complex organisms, the histones are tiny spools around which the DNA is wrapped. But histones are not found in bacteria. So, as Schweitzer et al. say, “These data support the presence of non-microbial DNA in these dinosaur cells.” Conclusion It’s hard to improve on one of Mary Schweitzer’s early quotes: It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But of course, I couldn’t believe it. I said to the lab technician: “The bones are, after all, 65 million years old. How could blood cells survive that long?”21 But this just shows the grip of the long-age paradigm. A more reasonable and indeed scientific question would be: This looks like modern bone; I have seen blood cells [and blood vessels] and detected haemoglobin [and now actin, tubulin, collagen, histones, and DNA], and real chemistry shows they can’t survive for 65 million years. What I don’t see is the claimed millions of years. So we should abandon this doctrine. The full article with references and graphics can be found at: - https://creation.com/dino-dna-bone-cells
Although most evolutionary theorists will not admit it, radioisotope dating techniques are based on three assumptions. 1) The rate of radioisotopic decay has always been constant throughout time. (But how do we know that?) 2) The isotopic abundances in the specimen have not been altered by processes other than radioactive decay. There has been no additional or removal of parent or daughter elements (But how do we know that?) And, when evidence suggests this has not been true for a given sample, the results are commonly discarded. 3) The amount of daughter isotopes when the rock was first formed are believed to be small, often negligible, or the original isotopic composition can be determined. (How do we know theat?) So-called “isochron” methods attempt to date rocks that contain significant initial levels of daughter isotopes.
It seems to me that the RATE project has convincingly shown that the first and most fundamental of these assumptions is invalid. The rate of radioisotopic decay has NOT always been constant. This conclusion was reached from several independent lines of evidence showing that nuclear decay has been accelerated during brief episodes of earth’s history. This increase in decay rate was not a small amount either, but was on the order of a billion or more times greater than the rates observed today. Such change in decay rate obviously calls into question all radioisotope dating methods. The calculation of the age of a rock based on the present-day rate of decay of a radioisotope from the amounts of daughter element is clearly invalid if the rate of decay has been different in the past. Almost certainly the agent that caused a change in decay rate of a single radioisotope affected them all. However, the RATE project found that the acceleration has not been uniform for all elements, but was greater for different categories of nuclear decay and also greater for elements with greater atomic weights. This variable change in decay rate appears to be the explanation for isochrons of different parent/daughter isotope pairs giving divergent ages for the same rock or mineral.
Well I'm sorry to tell you this, but the three assumptions that you've listed either have a very soild theoretical and experimental basis, or are easily tested, or can be bypassed altogether.
What YECs fail to realise is that accelerated nuclear decay on that scale is not a single phenomenon that you can isolate from everything else. It requires changes to the fundamental constants of physics that would have far-reaching consequences for the physical, chemical and biological properties of matter -- basically, it would render life on earth impossible. And that's before you even get to the problem that they admitted, which is that it would release enough heat to vaporise the earth's surface many times over.
For this reason, the RATE team's claim of accelerated nuclear decay would easily qualify for a Nobel Prize if it had any merit. And what evidence do they give in support of this audacious claim? A single study on helium diffusion in zircons which peer review has shown to be riddled with errors, shortcuts and invalid assumptions; levels of carbon-14 in ancient samples that are simply too low to rule out contamination; ambiguous conclusions from radiohalos; and some corner cases of isochron discordances, all of which have other, far more coherent explanations.
There is a technical term for presenting evidence this feeble in support of a conclusion this radical. The technical term "crackpottery." I'm sorry to be so blunt, but if we did consider it to be valid science we'd also be granting a free pass to stuff like homeopathy, and our hospital emergency departments would look like this:
As for the other two assumptions, I'd suggest you read up about isochron dating. It bypasses both of them. In any case, the third assumption is very well established in the case of uranium and lead in zircons. When zircons form, they do not contain more than a few parts per trillion of lead for the simple reason that lead does not fit into their crystal lattices. For zircons to form with any lead in them would require the physical properties of matter and possibly even the laws of Euclidean geometry to have been different in the past. And again, that would have had far-reaching consequences that would have rendered life on earth impossible.
Even if the rates we observe today are constant (and even if there is no good reason to conclude that they were/may have been different in the past [which I'm not conceding]), why should we extrapolate them back to say that the earth (and/or universe) must be billions of years old? Fossils and such aside (I sense the flood geology tangent is coming), I would like to get back to this idea:
The problem is that we're not just talking about "maturity" here. We're talking about an appearance of a very detailed history of very specific events, with very specific dates. that never happened. And we're talking about it being introduced by miracles that serve no purpose whatsoever other than to introduce this false history.
When God created trees during the creation week, they were mature trees. However, trying to reason the age of these trees with dendrochronology would not have produced accurate ages for them (even if the measurements were perfectly precise). I would submit that that would not be a pointless miracle that does nothing but introduce a false history, but that is an example of God's creation being mature. I would be very curious to hear in what ways you think radiometric dates differ from this scenario...
It seems to me that evolutionary theorists line up fossils and give them an evolutionary explanation, not even considering whether or not a different perspective might give a better fit to the evidence. My humble (and, unfortunately, sometimes not so humble, sorry) assessment is that the fossil evidence does not definitively support evolutionary theory--there are lots of good reasons to believe it does not. Many of these compelling reasons have been highlighted and discussed on this website.
I find it interesting that the burden of proof lies with the YEC instead of with the evolutionist. Why is that? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Just a passing observation.
@jammycakes, I (and others, I'm sure) would be very interested in checking out these other studies that you mention, if you would be so kind as to provide a link.
At any rate, Humphreys's latest response (I'll try to explain as best I can) makes a large point about Loechelt using "synthetic data points" extrapolated down from high temperatures (Humphreys says that measurements should be performed at low temperature intervals) instead of taking a "straightforward" understanding of the data. Later on in the paper, Humphreys has a table with the observed helium retentions vs. Loechelt's retentions (according to the table, Loechelt's are significantly smaller [biasing the data in favor of an old earth]).
I hope that I managed to present that coherently, and I will be interested in hearing your thoughts!
@J.E.S You can see the other studies by searching Google Scholar for "helium diffusion in zircons":
Most of them are paywalled, but it's possible to get a good idea of what's going on from reading the abstracts. One thing that becomes clear is that at the time of the RATE study, helium diffusion in zircons was poorly understood and poorly characterised. For example, anisotropy (different diffusion rates in different directions) is now known to be a much more significant factor than was thought at the time of the RATE project. (Reich et al (2007), Cherniak et al (2009)). Radiation damage has also been found to be a significant factor, initially increasing helium retentivity before subsequently decreasing it later on (Guenthner et al (2013)). All this makes it clear that we are dealing with a very complex subject with a lot of unknowns, and this makes the RATE project simply a new take on the same old young-earth cliche: trying to overturn rigorously established, high-precision results that they don't like by appealing to low-precision, poorly quantified ones.
Incidentally, one result in particular: Reiners et al (2004) note a good agreement between 40Ar/39Ar dating and helium retentivity. This contradicts the RATE project's claims.
To be honest, I'm not holding my breath for Humphreys' latest pot shot. He needs to provide a comprehensive, mathemeatically precise and evidence-based response to all the concerns raised by the critiques of the RATE research, not just a select few of them. He needs to quantify exactly what effect they would have on his results, which then need to be updated accordingly. Given the nature of some of the concerns raised by Drs Loechelt and Henke, and his previous responses to them, I have no confidence whatsoever that that is what I will find. He can wax lyrical about how he got the "right" results all he likes, but when you get the "right" results despite ignoring significant effects such as pressure, that isn't a sign that you're right anyway: it's mere coincidence at best, and at worst evidence of fudging.
Thanks for the links!
Anyway, I have some questions (which I hope are reasonable)...To what extent do the things you say Humphreys "ignored" change the age of the zircons? Does it make them billions of years old, or does it make them a few thousand years older? Even so, would you mind explaining how the results of the studies you linked to disprove the RATE research?
The number one question that I ask with any claim of evidence for the age of the earth is simple.
How large are the error bars?
The accuracy of radiometric dating depends on a number of different factors, such as the technique used and the type of rock sample it's being used on. In the best cases, it can give results accurate to one part in several thousand. To give one example, the iridium layer at the K/Pg boundary has been dated to 66,038,000 +/- 11,000 years -- that's an accuracy of just one part in six thousand. Scientists use multiple different methods to determine how accurate the measurement is and to test whether decay rates have been constant, whether there has been any contamination or leakage, and to even try and figure out the thermal history of the rocks.
For what it's worth, in order to get results that accurate and specific, you need accurate and specific starting points. This means that they can't have come from "evolutionary presuppositions" because "evolutionary presuppositions" is about as vague and non-specific as you can get.
Soft tissue in dinosaur fossils is a completely different kettle of fish -- and one which you should be careful with anyway, because it's all too easy to get carried away and make false claims about exactly how much soft tissue was found and exactly how well preserved it was. The fact is that the amounts of soft tissue remnants found were tiny; they consisted of the most durable parts of the bones such as collagen; and nobody has yet been able to sequence any DNA from them. It's fair to say that given the state of degradation of what Mary Schweitzer reported finding, the error bars on any limits that it sets on the age of the earth are enormous at best -- certainly far, far, far too large to present a credible challenge to the radiometric results.
@jammycakes, I definitely prefer to presuppose that evolutionists are not covering up large amounts of contrary evidence in some sort of vast conspiracy.
To put it bluntly: there should be far, far, far, far, far, far more in the flood scenario.
An interesting point! At any rate, are you proceeding from the assumption that soft tissue can last millions of years in fossils? Otherwise, are we proceeding from measured rates of soft-tissue decay that we can observe today (not that those rates wouldn't have been subject to fluctuation in the past)?
Also, what are your thoughts on the idea that C-14 dating proves that dinosaur fossils are not millions of years old? The article below indicates that Carbon 14 has been discovered in dinosaur fossils...And that it should not be there, if the fossils are actually millions of years old (see below):
John Michael Fischer http://newgeology.us/presentation48.html
Dr. Thomas Seiler, a physicist from Germany, gave the presentation in Singapore. He said that his team and the laboratories they employed took special care to avoid contamination. That included protecting the samples, avoiding cracked areas in the bones, and meticulous pre-cleaning of the samples with chemicals to remove possible contaminants. Knowing that small concentrations of collagen can attract contamination, they compared precision Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) tests of collagen and bioapatite (hard carbonate bone mineral) with conventional counting methods of large bone fragments from the same dinosaurs. "Comparing such different molecules as minerals and organics from the same bone region, we obtained concordant C-14 results which were well below the upper limits of C-14 dating. These, together with many other remarkable concordances between samples from different fossils, geographic regions and stratigraphic positions make random contamination as origin of the C-14 unlikely".
The theoretical limit for C-14 dating is 100,000 years using AMS, but for practical purposes it is 45,000 to 55,000 years. The half-life of C-14 is 5730 years. If dinosaur bones are 65 million years old, there should not be one atom of C-14 left in them.
-John Michael Fischer http://newgeology.us/presentation48.html
@J.E.S Well even with extraordinary care, there is a limit to how far you can prevent carbon-14 results from being affected by contamination, and it is contamination that is the reason why the limit for practical purposes is 45,000 to 55,000 years. To get beyond that limit they have to take extraordinary measures such as using laboratories with additional, expensive shielding to protect the environment within from cosmic rays.
Preparing a sample for carbon-14 dating will always introduce contamination. The different components of the sample have to be separated out chemically (for example, to extract collagen from bone or cellulose from wood). It is possible to measure how much contamination each step in the process introduces by carrying it out twice, and taking measurements of carbon-14 content before and after. It turns out that just one step in the process will introduce typically about 0.14-0.25% modern carbon, and that's where the 45,000-55,000 year limit comes from.
So no, the claim that "if dinosaur bones are 65 million years old, there should not be one atom of C-14 left in them" is simply factually incorrect.
The article you linked to looks interesting, but even if the researchers did find more radiocarbon in the samples than contamination could account for, there are still other questions that need to be answered. For example, what assurances do we have that they actually followed the procedures that they say they followed? This doesn't necessarily imply dishonesty on their part: accurately documenting what you did is hard and it's all too easy to make mistakes. That's why it's essential in these cases that the results be replicated by other teams, especially by those that are not trying to push any particular agenda.
You do need to bear in mind that building a convincing case for YEC requires you to demonstrate that hundreds of thousands of high-precision measurements from all over the world give results that are in error by factors of up to a million. This is an extraordinary claim and therefore the burden of proof is going to be high. A handful of carbon-14 samples whose provenance can not be rigorously and independently verified simply isn't going to cut it.
There's a good bit more I could say about this, but I have to get to work. I may comment more later if I can find the time.
An excerpt from this article states the following: -
“The problem for long-agers is even more acute with their discovery of DNA. Estimates of DNA stability put its upper limit of survival at 125,000 years at 0°C, 17,500 years at 10°C and 2,500 years at 20°C.2 One recent report said:
There is a general belief that DNA is ‘rock solid’—extremely stable,” says Brandt Eichman, associate professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt, who directed the project. “Actually DNA is highly reactive.”
“On a good day about one million bases in the DNA in a human cell are damaged. These lesions are caused by a combination of normal chemical activity within the cell and exposure to radiation and toxins coming from environmental sources including cigarette smoke, grilled foods and industrial wastes.
A recent paper on DNA shows that it might be able to last as much as 400 times longer in bone.18 But even there, there is no way that DNA could last the evolutionary time since dino extinction. Their figures of the time till complete disintegration of DNA (“no intact bonds”) is 22,000 years at 25°C, 131,000 years at 15°C, 882,000 years at 5°C; and even if it could somehow be kept continually below freezing point at –5°C, it could survive only 6.83 Ma—only about a tenth of the assumed evolutionary age. The researchers state:
However, even under the best preservation conditions at –5°C, our model predicts that no intact bonds (average length = 1 bp [base pair]) will remain in the DNA ‘strand’ after 6.8 Myr. This displays the extreme improbability of being able to amplify a 174 bp DNA fragment from an 80–85 Myr old Cretaceous bone.
Yet Schweitzer’s team detected DNA in three independent ways. Indeed, one of these chemical tests and specific antibodies specifically detect DNA in its double–stranded form. This shows that it was quite well preserved, since short strands of DNA less than about 10 bp don’t form stable duplexes. The stain DAPI lodges in the minor groove of a stable double helix, which requires even more bp, and the stain PI is also an intercalation test.
Again, the first possible response by long-agers is “contamination”. But the DNA was not found everywhere, but only in certain internal regions of the ‘cells’. This pattern was just like in ostrich cells, but nothing like biofilm taken from other sources and exposed to the same DNA-detecting pattern. This is enough to rule out bacteria, because in more complex cells (such as ours and dinos), the DNA is stored in a small part of the cell—the nucleus.
Futhermore, Schweitzer’s team detected a special protein called histone H4. Not only is yet another protein a big problem for millions of years, but this is a specific protein for DNA. (DNA is Deoxy-riboNucleic Acid, so is negatively charged, while histones are alkaline so positively charged, so they attract DNA). In more complex organisms, the histones are tiny spools around which the DNA is wrapped. But histones are not found in bacteria. So, as Schweitzer et al. say, “These data support the presence of non-microbial DNA in these dinosaur cells.”
It’s hard to improve on one of Mary Schweitzer’s early quotes:
It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But of course, I couldn’t believe it. I said to the lab technician: “The bones are, after all, 65 million years old. How could blood cells survive that long?”21
But this just shows the grip of the long-age paradigm. A more reasonable and indeed scientific question would be:
This looks like modern bone; I have seen blood cells [and blood vessels] and detected haemoglobin [and now actin, tubulin, collagen, histones, and DNA], and real chemistry shows they can’t survive for 65 million years. What I don’t see is the claimed millions of years. So we should abandon this doctrine.
The full article with references and graphics can be found at: - https://creation.com/dino-dna-bone-cells
I haven't studied the intricacies of radiometric dating for quite a while, but I definitely find the soft tissue discovered in dinosaur fossils to be quite fascinating! That would be an example of a discovery that (although it was ultimately explained away) was definitely unexpected (from an evolutionary standpoint). Of course, certain discoveries are (or will be) a surprise to Creationists as well, but I suppose that that's how it goes with science!
(I would be interested to hear @jammycakes's opinion in this discussion, considering his extensive research into the age of the earth.)
I would find agreement w men like Dr. Kurt Wise who agrees that when a scientist today uses a method like radiometric dating, he understands why that scientist would assume that the rate of decay stays constant thus concluding an older earth. He would still place his faith in God as described in Scripture which seems to detail a younger earth. For me, things dating volcanic rocks of a known young age to be much older and soft tissue found in dino fossils make me wonder how accurate man's science really is on dating the earth. Young earth creation groups could detail many more issues. When an ant crosses the path of a house, it has no comprehension how, why and in what timeframe that house was built...it is just a structure potentially suitable for shelter. In sort of the same way, the creation event and a flood event as such a monumental miraculous tasks caused by God is so unique and foreign to any human experience or rationale that perhaps we are going at it all wrongly to rely on the current levels of science for strict determinations on the earths age. The chasm of knowledge and understanding between God and men likely far surpasses that between an ant and human where the ant makes little sense of the essence of the existence of a house. I slightly expect that God will allow advancements in science to gain a bigger glimpse of just how unreliable our dating methods are in this respect. Even as I write this as a young earth guy who still has an admitted wonder if perhaps this earth is a lot older, i FULLY expect to be really surprised when i meet our Creator face to face how i will be utterly humilitated when blasted with information i was not privy to on earth that give definition to both God and physical aspects of the universe that will be of the sort that will ever confound the current views in science!