Why are the ages given by radioactive decay clocks suspect?
Radioactive clocks depend on certain crucial assumptions:
1. It’s usually assumed that all daughter elements were produced by decay from parent elements.
2. The half-life is assumed to be constant throughout the entire multi-billion year process. The half-life is used to determine how long ago the process must have started in order to produce the present amount of daughter element.
3. Scientists assume the system was isolated from external influence throughout this time, so that neither parent nor daughter elements entered or exited the system.
The reliability of radiometric dates hinges on the validity of these three assumptions. Are these assumptions reasonable? No, their validity is highly questionable.
How can you be sure no daughter element was present originally? How could you determine initial concentrations of parent and daughter elements?
How can you be sure test samples have not been contaminated? How could the system remain isolated from contamination for “billions of years”? Isolation is highly unlikely, for geologists assert that significant tectonic activity occurred throughout the “geological ages”—volcanoes, breaking up and colliding continents, magma extrusions, crust upheavals and downheavals, sea floor subductions, mountain building, plus innumerable local catastrophes.
How can you be sure that the experimentally determined value of the half-life is accurate? Has it remained constant throughout “billion of years”? How do you know that the half-life itself has not increased, so that radioactive materials now take longer to decay than formerly? Did God’s curse on earth after Adam’s sin affect the laws of physics? (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:20-22)
No one can answer these questions with any degree of certainty, and this lack of certainty makes the accuracy of the results doubtful.
Even some evolutionists recognize and admit the weaknesses of the foundational assumptions of radiometric dating. Geologist David E. Seidemann writes:
“In an attempt to establish criteria for obtaining reliable K-Ar dates, conventional K-Ar studies of several Deep Sea Drilling Project sites were undertaken. K-Ar dates of these rocks may be subject to inaccuracies as the result of seawater alteration. Inaccuracies also result from the presence of excess radiogenic Ar-40 trapped in rapidly cooled rocks at the time of their formation…Strong indication of the reliability of a conventional K-Ar date, such as its concordance with the dates of co-existing minerals, must exist before geologic significance can be attributed to it.”
(Seidemann, “Effect of Submarine Alteration on K-Ar Dating of Deep-Sea Igneous Rocks,” Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. 88 (Nov 1977), pp. 1660,1666.)
Contamination is a significant problem for radioactive decay systems. Radioactive parent elements uranium, potassium, and rubidium are all easily leached by groundwater. The daughter element argon gas easily enters or leaves a potassium mineral system. Radon gas, an intermediate element in the uranium-lead decay chain, easily moves in or out of the uranium system.
Another source of error in radiometric dating is the correct value for radioactive half-lives. Evolutionist scientist Frederick Jueneman said,
“The age of our globe is presently thought to be some 4.5 billion years, based on radio decay rates of uranium and thorium. Such ‘confirmation’ may be short-lived.”
Evolutionist Jueneman admitted,
“There has been in recent years the horrible realization that radio decay rates are not as constant as previously thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences. And this could mean that the atomic clocks are reset during some global disaster, and events which brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 65 million years ago, but rather, within the age and memory of man.”
(Frederick B. Jueneman, “Secular Catastrophism,” Industrial Research and Development, Vol. 24 (June 1982), p. 21.)
Why do radiometric ages have such gigantically mind-boggling errors? It is because the assumptions underlying the calculations are fundamentally in error.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the 34th 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
32. Age of the Earth—Scientific Clocks
33. Age of the Earth—Radioactive Decay Clocks
Read the sequel:
35. Age of the Earth—Invalid Radiometric Dates
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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 10, 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)