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Indicators of a young Earth, with rebuttals

Indicators 6 to 11, based on Earth observations

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This is a continuation of an earlier list of indicators

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Six more indicators of a young earth included in this essay are:

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Indicator 6: Mt. St. Helen's: Evolutionists say that it takes millions of years to form a thick layer of sedimentary rock. But when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, a few hundred feet of sediment was laid down in a few days. These layers are seen stratified into many layers, just as sedimentary rock appears. This does not prove that the earth is young. However, it does show that layers of rock can form in days rather than millions of years.

Rebuttal: It is true that the ash from St. Helen's did form a deposit within a few days that was a few hundred feet thick in places. But it was a deposit of fine ash, of pumice. Any geologist can differentiate between layers of pumice and actual sedimentary rock -- i.e. sandstone or limestone. Their textures and colors are entirely different.

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Indicator 7: Earth's magnetic field: The earth's magnetic field is decaying at an exponential rate. It has decreased about 10% over the past 150 years. If one extrapolates backwards in time for only 10,000 years, it would have been impossibly high. The field would have:

"... been so powerful that enzymes necessary for life processes and enzymes inside the functioning cell could not have held together...If you go back as far as fifteen to twenty-thousand years ago the energy of the earth's geo-magnetic field would have approximated that of a magnetic star. As a result many of the atoms of the earth could not have held together." 1

Thus, we can safely conclude that the earth must be less than 10,000 years old.

Rebuttal: "In 1835 Carl Gouse of Germany for the first time in history measured the earth's geo-magnetic field." 2 In 1967, Keith McDonald and Robert Gunst collected a series of about two dozen measurements that scientists had made of the earth's magnetic field since 1835. In 1971, Dr. Thomas Barnes of the University of Texas fitted these data to an exponentially decaying function, producing the above results. Barnes concluded that the earth's magnetic field has been reduced by half every 1,400 years. There are a number of errors in Barnes' conclusions. Perhaps the most serious two are:

The field does not decay at an exponential rate; it fluctuates widely. Precise measurements of the magnetic field have only been taken since 1845. The measurements that he used were taken over too short a period of time to extrapolate backwards by 1,400 years. "...archaeomagnetic data show that the dipole field was about 20% weaker than the present field 6,500 years ago and about 45% stronger than the present field about 3000 years ago." 3

The earth's magnetic field is not in a constant direction; it periodically reduces to zero and then reverses itself. That is, mechanical compasses on earth would gradually become less sensitive. Eventually, the North end of a compass needle would start to point South. This has been detected in the form of zebra-like magnetic stripes in the rocks of the floor of the Pacific Ocean which alternately change polarity on each side of a spreading fault. Hundreds of reversals have occurred over the past 180 million years. Jeremy Bloxham of Harvard University predicts that it could reach zero about 1,500 to 2,000 years from now. 4

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Indicator 8: Earth's rotational speed: The speed with which the earth rotates on its axis is slowing. Each day, the time taken for the earth to rotate on it axis is slowing down by about 1.5 milliseconds. This may not seem like much. But it amounts to over six seconds per decade. Astronomers must insert leap seconds many times each decade to compensate for this slowing. If the earth's rate of deceleration has been constant throughout the life of the earth, then its rotational speed would have been very high 4.5 billion years ago. A day would be have been only a few seconds long. This high rotational speed would have long ago flattened into the shape of a pancake. 5 That clearly did not happen, so the age of the earth must be a very small fraction of 4.5 billion years.

Rebuttal: In spite of the many web sites that show the error in this reasoning, many creation science promoters still offer this argument. Their basic belief is wrong: the time taken for the earth to rotate on its axis is slowing down by only about 1.5 milliseconds per century -- not per day.

The Moon raises tides in the ocean. This generates friction between the sea and the earth, diminishing the earth's speed of rotation. "This effect causes a slowing of the Earth's rotational speed resulting in a lengthening of the day by about 0.0015 to 0.0020 seconds per day per century." 6 The insertion of a leap second in most years is not directly related to this deceleration. In fact, if the earth stopped decelerating and achieved a constant speed, there would still be a need to insert leap seconds in most years. The need for leap seconds is caused by our basic definition of time, which is currently derived from atomic clocks. The second has been defined to match the day as it was in the year 1900. Over a century has passed since that time. During that century, each day has lengthened by about 1.8 milliseconds. So, over a year, the difference between an atomic clock and the earth is about 365 x 0.18 = 657 milliseconds, or 0.66 seconds. Thus the need for the leap second in most years. A century from now, the accumulated error will be over a second each year, requiring two leap seconds in some years.

We attempted to dialog with 15 creation science web sites which are in error on this matter. Even though we were able to prove that they were in error, only one webmaster acknowledged that they were wrong. And they decided to retain the error because their essay was part of their archive, so accuracy did not matter.

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Indicator 9: Population growth rates: If you start with a single couple who have three children, then after 52 generations (or 1,820 years if we assume 35 years per human generation) the resultant population would be 4.3 billion people. A visitor to this site quoted a creation scientists as saying:

"Reasonable figures show man's antiquity to be in terms of thousands of  years; the same figures spread over a conservative estimate of evolutionary history (one million years) would infer a contemporary population on earth 104,900 times greater than could fit in the entire universe."

Rebuttal: If this argument were true, then it would eliminate the possibility of Genesis being correct. If we started with Noah and his wife in 2313 BCE, 35 years before the flood, then by the late 3rd century BCE, the worlds population would have been 4.3 billion. By the time of the birth of Jesus, it would have reached 42 billion. These figures are obviously wrong, even if the Bible were true. The fatal flaw in this argument is that the population levels work on an entirely different system. Populations tend to increase rapidly out of control rapidly until limited by food supply, wars, natural disasters, disease, etc. That cuts them down a much smaller number, from which they start to increase once more. The concept of the human race starting from a single couple and steadily increasing in numbers according to an exponential equation -- like compound interest -- is without merit.

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Indicator 10: Topsoil depth: Scientists have calculated that it takes up from 300 to 1,000 years to accumulate one inch of topsoil. The average depth of topsoil on the earth is about eight inches. Thus, the earth is quite young.

Rebuttal:  If this argument were true, then those areas of the earth where the topsoil level increases quickly -- at the rate of one inch per 300 years -- must be only 2,400 years old. Those parts of the earth would have had to be created circa 400 BCE, following the Babylonian captivity. Meanwhile, parts of the Ukraine have over 50 feet of topsoil. This indicates that the Ukraine is at least 15,000 years old -- much older than most new Earth creation scientists are willing to accept for the age of the Earth.

In reality, topsoil generation is not a process of gradual accumulation at a constant rate. It is a dynamic process. Top soil is built up at a given location by degrading plant material and by minerals leached from the underlying rock. It is washed away through erosion. It is also built up through the collection of sediment that may come from great distances. Even if it were left to gradually accumulate undisturbed -- without any active erosion or deposition processes -- there are still mechanisms that cause the soil depth to reach an equilibrium value and stop growing. 7

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Indicator 11: Erosion of the continents: The processes of erosion are tearing down the continents and sweeping them into the oceans in the form of sediment. The total weight of all of the continents above sea level is about 383 million billion tons. But erosion occurs at the rate of about 27.5 billion tons each year. Erosion would thus completely flatten the continents in less than 14 million years. No matter how high mountains were on the early earth, they would be long gone by now through the process of erosion. Thus, the earth cannot be billions of years old.

Rebuttal: The fallacy here is that there are additional processes that act to counteract the effects of erosion. There are immense forces from the earth's colliding tectonic plates which are pushing up mountains. There are increases 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 there are many processes involved in mountains: wind and water erosion tear down mountains; other processes 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..." 8 Here, erosion has been the main process in the past many millions of years. The Rocky Mountains are newer and were caused by subducting tectonic plates. This process continues to build up the Rockies today, overwhelming the forces of erosion. 9

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Related essays on this web site:

Indicators that evolution never happened (with rebuttals)

Indicators of an old earth (with rebuttals)

Attempts to dialog with creation science webmasters

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Earth: Geodetic and Geophysical Data" at: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/
  2. "Evangelism: The time is now," at: http://www.layevangelism.com/
  3. "Evidence for a young earth," at: http://genesis.amen.net/
  4. "Report: Earth's magnetic field fading. Slight chance of flipping magnetic poles," CNN News, 2003-DEC-12, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  5. "Evidence for a young earth," at: http://genesis.amen.net/
  6. "Earth Rotation," at: http://www.colorado.edu/
  7. Dave Matson, "Specific Creationist Arguments," at: http://www.infidels.org/
  8. "The Geographical Provinces of Wisconsin," at: http://www.wisconline.com/wisconsin/geoprovinces/
  9. "The Rocky Mountain System," at: http://www.aqd.nps.gov/grd/usgsnps/province/rockymtn.html
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Copyright © 1996 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 2012-SEP-23
Author: B.A. Robinson
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