Is the earth really 4.6 billion years old? Where do scientists get this number? Could they be wrong?
Scientists estimate the age of the earth using process clocks.
A simple example of a process clock is a burning candle. Suppose you walked into a room to find a burning candle. How could you determine how long the candle had been burning? What assumptions and measurements would be required?
You would want to know the original height and weight of the candle when it had been lit (parent component) and the initial amount of melted wax (daughter component) in the candle holder at the start. Furthermore,
• Had wax been added or removed?
• What was the rate of burning?
• Was the burn rate constant or variable?
Upon finding a burning candle, these factors would be impossible to determine without eyewitness testimony. You could only guess, and your time determination would only be as good as your guesses.
A scientific clock works like this candle. It’s a natural process that proceeds steadily through time which from an initial state (parent components) produces cumulative and measurable effects (daughter components).
To estimate the length of time a process has been running scientists do these steps:
1. Measure present magnitudes of parent and daughter components.
2. Measure/estimate the rate of change of the components.
3. Guess or assume the original magnitudes of the components.
4. Calculate the time required for the process to change the parent components to the present magnitudes of the daughter components — based on assumed initial conditions and an assumed constant process rate.
If the process rate is constant, this calculation is
Time = (Net Change in Components) / (Rate of Change).
Hundreds of different processes have been used to estimate earth’s age. Only the radioactive decay processes give multi-billion-year ages. Subsequent posts will explain why the radioactive decay process clocks are faulty and give examples of more reliable process clocks.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the 32nd in a series of blog posts on the Age of the Earth. I began with the Biblical testimony that the earth is 6,000 years old, because the evidence from nature should be interpreted and understood in the light of clear Biblical truth. The prequels have considered the issue’s importance, what Jesus thought, the Genesis genealogies, and the historic teaching of the church. Current articles are discussing scientific evidence on the age of the earth, explaining fallacies of radiometric dating methods and giving examples of scientific methods which yield short ages.
Read the prequels:
1. How Old Is the Earth?
2. Why Is the Age of the Earth Important?
3. Earth: Young or Old?
4. Age of the Earth—Jesus’ View
5. Age of the Earth—Jesus Interpreted OT Literally
6. Age of the Earth—What Did Jesus Say?
7. Age of the Earth—What Did Jesus’ Contemporaries Think?
8. Age of the Earth—Genealogies
9. Age of the Earth—What Does Begat Mean?
10. Age of the Earth—Interlocking Genealogies
11. Age of the Earth—Any Gaps in Genealogies?
12. Age of the Earth—No Gaps in Genealogies
13. Age of the Earth—Any Missing Generations?
14. Age of the Earth—Scriptural Confirmation (Adam to Noah)
15. Age of the Earth—Scriptural Confirmation (Noah to Abraham)
16. Age of the Earth—Luke’s Testimony
17. Age of the Earth—Luke & Cainan Puzzle
18. Age of the Earth—Luke & Cainan Explanation
19. Age of the Earth—Add It Up
20. Age of the Earth—6,000 Years Old
21. Age of the Earth—History’s View
22. Age of the Earth—Church Fathers’ Opinion
23. Age of the Earth—Josephus, Luther, Calvin
24. Age of the Earth—Archbishop Ussher
25. Age of the Earth—Prof. James Strong
26. Age of the Earth—Kepler & Newton
27. Age of the Earth—Dr. William Hales
28. Age of the Earth—Prof. Leupold
29. Age of the Earth—Prof. Barr
30. Age of the Earth—History’s Opinion
31. Age of the Earth—Radiometric Dating
Read the sequel:
33. Age of the Earth—Radioactive Decay Clocks
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Friday October 3, 2008 A.D.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11 NASB)