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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Creationist view of the fossil rocks short and sweet. Tas edition.

No, not THAT one


This will not be a long post.   Darwinists set up strawmen to knock down when discussing Creationist beliefs and one of those is related to the Noahic Flood and the sedimentary rocks.   I can point out to the reader that Tas Walker has a blog that will cover various points in detail.   I will get back to his blog in a minute.  To make things quite simple, Darwinists like to claim that Creationists say that all the surface features of the Earth and all the sedimentary rock layers and all the fossils were caused by the Flood and were formed during the Flood.  This is quite false.   Sedimentary rock layers and fossils were formed by the Flood, yes, and also during the time following the Flood when a completely new planet's surface was covered by unstable mudrock, glaciation was formed by super storms that resulted from the new conditions.  I've blogged on the conditions previously that led to the formation of massive glaciers, sometimes buried animals as large as mammoths in sudden loess storms that preserved them frozen standing up as subsequent storms left them buried in permafrost.   Massive glaciers soon began to melt, formed huge lakes and then dike breaks formed massive formations such as Devil's Canyon, the Badlands and at least in part the Grand Canyon.  There are many other aspects of the Flood, like rapid tectonic plate subduction, intense volcanic activity, hydroplate theory...the Flood itself is just part of a few hundred years of processes that reshaped the Earth.

Darwinists like to make fun of the concept of the Flood-era events forming the rock layers, but in fact it fits the evidence.  If you were able to hear about all the discoveries made in recent years by Creationists, if there was not an entire system of censorship in place trying to keep the dead corpse of Darwinism from revealing its morbid state, you would already know that amber has been shown to have formed on floating mats riding on the surface of the Flood.  You would know of all the holes in the fossil stories told by Darwinists, holes big enough to drive trucks through.   You would also understand how irrelevant some of their questions are.  Why, for instance, aren't there any dolphin fossils found?   The likely answer is that there were no dolphins at that time, dolphins have speciated from other whale kinds since the time of the Flood.  In fact we know that organisms can speciate very rapidly, testing has proven this.   Thus, from a small population of animals released from the Ark came numerous varieties of the core kinds because speciation is a design feature of organisms.  Darwin thought finch beaks were evidence of evolution.  Actually, finch beaks vary back and forth depending upon conditions and there is even a switch within the organism that can fast-track changes in beaks.  Anyway, think about it.  Billions of tons of sedimentary rocks?  Not happening from long ages of gradual accumulations of dirt, folks, and fossils only happen with rapid burial under certain conditions. 

Having promised a short blog post, I will also present a short Tas Walker article.  It is neatly linked, so you can learn more as you so choose.  Why not find out what the NCSE doesn't want you to know?


Biblical Geology

Properly Understanding the Rocks

by Tas Walker
modelSee here how easy it is to develop a simple, powerful model for classifying rock formations within a biblical framework.

A biblical geological model? What is a model? Is a biblical geological model scientific? More.
 
The linking problem. A biblical geological model links two sources of information, namely, the written biblical history and the observed geological data. It is vital to get the link right. More.
 
Major Dimensions. When we start with the Bible we can work out a broad framework for Earth history. And we can be confident it is correct because we believe the biblical record is accurate. More.
 
Biblical chronology. Before you or I or anyone else can develop a geological model we need to know what happened on the earth in the past—we need an earth history. The Bible is accurate record from which we can obtain a detailed chronology. More.
 
Development of the model. Drawing on our understanding of geological processes we will think about the biblical text from a geological point of view. In particular we will ask the question "What would we expect to find?" More.
 
Overview of the model. The basic concept of the geological model is quite simple and transforms the way we look at geology. More.
 
Detail of the model. To be useful for scientific research, the broad framework must be expanded to provide detail of specific events and processes and their time relationships. More.
 
Classification criteria for conntecting to geology in the field. Past geologic processes varied in nature and intensity at different times. We can use this to identify geologic characteristics will help classify rocks in accordance with the biblical geological model. More.
 
Geological environments and processes. Different phases of Earth history experienced different geological environments and processes. What characteristics would we expect for rocks deposited during each phase? More.
 
Application to the Great Artesian Basin, Australia. Now that the biblical model is finished we can classify rocks in the field. Every rock formation on the earth can be placed somewhere within the biblical model because the model covers the entire geological history of our planet from its initial creation to the present time. Let's see how it works on the rocks of the Great Artesian Basin, Australia. More.

This one! 

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, does this biblical geological model provide an explanation for data yielded from radiometric dating methods?

I'm guessing that would be a no.

Anonymous said...

I see the model includes the claim that most of the fossil record was formed during the relatively short time of the flood. This then doesn't explain the sorting of fossils in the fossil record.

So basically, this model fails to line up with two major areas of observed evidence.

Why did you post this exactly?

Anonymous said...

No response.

Okay then.

Embriette said...

Actually, the flood model quite nicely explains the sorting of fossils in the fossil record. Imagine a duck pond-ducks swim on top of the water at the top, fish swim in the water in the middle, and worms and other like creatures crawl in the mud at the bottom. Now imagine a bulldozer covers the duck pond instantly with a pile of dirt. The fossils we be buried, in order. Now imagine, that instead of a bulldozer, a massive flow of dirt caused by the flood covered up the ecosystem in question.
Of course, I imagine this analogy is too logical and too simple for you to understand.
Interesting though, this simple story so clearly explains the order in the fossil record, i.e. marine sessile to pelagic to terrestrial life forms, a sequence that indicates progressive destruction of ecological zones. Hmmm....

Jon Woolf said...

Logical, simple, and very wrong.

Anonymous said...

It's logical, it's simple, and it doesn't have anything to do with the way fossils are sorted in the fossil record.

Unfortunately (for creationists) this is about as far as they get in trying to explain this. Because creationism can't address it.

Embriette said...

Ok-HOW is it wrong? I've read a lot of comments posted by both Christians and non-Christians on this blog, and too often I see something like what you just said (i.e. "Not true." "That's a lie.")without follow up or evidence as to WHY it is wrong. Please logically explain to me why it is wrong, give me some evidence, and I will contemplate it.

Embriette said...

@Anonymous, I guess I am not understanding what you mean about "sorting." I thought you were referring to the order in the fossil record but apparently you weren't. Either that, or you skipped over the last sentence of my post.
Here are a few things that support a flood (notice I am saying support, not prove):
1. Nearly 75% of the earth is covered in sedimentary deposits.
2. Chalk deposits in the world are universal. Chalk is formed from the skeletons of marine protozoans and algae and can only settle out of relatively shallow water. Chalk deposits can thus be seen as an indication of worldwide coverage of a relatively shallow sea (i.e. receding flood waters).
3. Footprints in Coconino Sandstone contains numerous tracks made both my vertebrates and invertebrates, and most of them trend toward uphill movement of the animals and also are in line with footprints made in wet sand (were the animals heading toward higher ground to escape rising floodwater?).
4. Petrified forests are presumed to have been covered by volcanic ash and replaced by new forests-this is presumed to have happened up to 40 times in Yellowstone National Park. Petrified trees, however, have no bark, no sidebranches, and no rootstocks. This is not consistent with trees being covered in ash in a position of growth. However, an answer could be provided by what happened following the Mt. St. Helens eruption. The eruption melted glacial ice, causing a flood of water and ash to rush down the mountain. Trees were stripped of their branches, bark, and roots and buried in volcanic ash in a predominant stream orientation similar to the orientation of the petrified forests of Yellowstone. A flood could easily explain these forests.

Things that support (note again I am not saying prove) creation:

1. All major phyla appear simultaneously in the fossil record.
2. Strata containing footprints does not always contain fossils of the animals that made them. The distribution of bird and mammal footprints correlate well with body fossils, but this is not the case with amphibian and reptile footprints. This does not make sense if strata accumulated over millions of years.
3. Footprints of bird tracks have been found in Nova Scotia, but because the deposits are carboniferous, the tracks are presumed to have been made by another creature, since birds should not have existed yet. If the same prints were found higher in the column, they would have been classified as bird prints.
4. A research team led by John Ruben of Oregon State University concluded that "the bellowlike lungs [of Sinosauropteryx, a so called feathered dinosaur] could not have evolved into the high-performance lungs of modern birds."

I do not believe that God nor evolution will ever be proven. The debate will go on until the end of time. Then, and only then, we will see who is right. But please don't say creationists have no evidence, because they do. And don't accuse creationists of doing the same thing evolutionists do (i.e. molding evidence to fit the view, etc.). Both parties are equally guilty.

Anonymous said...

"Ok-HOW is it wrong? I've read a lot of comments posted by both Christians and non-Christians on this blog, and too often I see something like what you just said (i.e. "Not true." "That's a lie.")without follow up or evidence as to WHY it is wrong."

I had already given you a brief response: "it doesn't have anything to do with the way fossils are sorted in the fossil record". I'll elaborate more below.

"Please logically explain to me why it is wrong, give me some evidence, and I will contemplate it."

I would certainly welcome it if you did contemplate these points, and if you disagree if you could present cogent counter-points.

"@Anonymous, I guess I am not understanding what you mean about "sorting." I thought you were referring to the order in the fossil record but apparently you weren't. Either that, or you skipped over the last sentence of my post."

I was indeed talking about the order in the fossil record. It isn't sorted just in the way you describe here: "marine sessile to pelagic to terrestrial life forms". Yes, there are aspects of that, but that is extremely broad and, more importantly, it only relates to first appearance. We do see plenty of pelagic animals after terrestrial life, and there is significantly more order in the fossil record within these categories. That is why the simplistic explanation you provide here doesn't address it. I know you were simplifying for the purpose of illustration, but do note that even if worked out in more detail, it doesn't address the level of detailed sorting found in the fossil record. As a simple example: it doesn't explain why dolphins and ichthyosaurs are never found together.

Anonymous said...

"Here are a few things that support a flood (notice I am saying support, not prove):"

Noted.

"1. Nearly 75% of the earth is covered in sedimentary deposits."

Seeing as our planet is mostly covered in water, and different parts of the landmass have been under water at different times, this isn't really indicative of a global flood at all - if global flood is what you meant. If you just meant that they are indicative of local floods, well yes, it's compatible with that, but that's unremarkable.

"2. Chalk deposits in the world are universal. Chalk is formed from the skeletons of marine protozoans and algae and can only settle out of relatively shallow water. Chalk deposits can thus be seen as an indication of worldwide coverage of a relatively shallow sea (i.e. receding flood waters)."

As before. Incidentally, "i.e. receding flood waters" is conjecture - "e.g. receding flood waters" would be more accurate, since such conditions are not necessarily synonymous with post-flood conditions - compatible with, but not synonymous with.

Anonymous said...

"3. Footprints in Coconino Sandstone contains numerous tracks made both my vertebrates and invertebrates, and most of them trend toward uphill movement of the animals and also are in line with footprints made in wet sand (were the animals heading toward higher ground to escape rising floodwater?). "

Again, this is one of those things that is compatible with the notion of a flood, but is explicable by a local flood just the same. If one wants to posit a global flood, we'd expect to see more of this kind of phenomenon, wouldn't we?

Seeing as it fits in with both a YEC and a mainstream explanation, I don't see much evidence for a global flood here.

"4. Petrified forests are presumed to have been covered by volcanic ash and replaced by new forests-this is presumed to have happened up to 40 times in Yellowstone National Park. Petrified trees, however, have no bark, no sidebranches, and no rootstocks. This is not consistent with trees being covered in ash in a position of growth. However, an answer could be provided by what happened following the Mt. St. Helens eruption. The eruption melted glacial ice, causing a flood of water and ash to rush down the mountain. Trees were stripped of their branches, bark, and roots and buried in volcanic ash in a predominant stream orientation similar to the orientation of the petrified forests of Yellowstone. A flood could easily explain these forests."

Local floods and other rapid burial events are common enough. The problem you have with a global flood is of course that it's global, and so you can't have any evidence of non-flood events that take a long time in the layers claimed to be laid down by the flood - and unfortunately for YECs, there is plenty such evidence.

Anonymous said...

"Things that support (note again I am not saying prove) creation:"

Noted.

"1. All major phyla appear simultaneously in the fossil record."

This would indeed support creation, but unfortunately it is completely false, unless you want "simultaneously" to mean over the course of 60 million years (the Cambrian), and even then it would still be false. There is evidence of Precambrian life, from which the Cambrian life forms descended, and a significant number of phyla - according to some classifications, more than during the Cambrian itself - appeared after the Cambrian.

The Cambrian explosion has been an interesting topic in the creation/evolution debate, but what you're presenting here appears to be a highly simplified misunderstanding of it. I can only urge caution if you're getting your information from creationist sources. It's always best to at least check mainstream science sources.

Anonymous said...

"2. Strata containing footprints does not always contain fossils of the animals that made them. The distribution of bird and mammal footprints correlate well with body fossils, but this is not the case with amphibian and reptile footprints. This does not make sense if strata accumulated over millions of years."

Seeing as both fossilized footprints and fossils are quite rare, I don't understand how "strata containing footprints don't always contain fossils of the animals that made them" is especially significant.

Having said that, I don't understand how this is meant to support creation. What exactly is your thought process here?

Anonymous said...

"3. Footprints of bird tracks have been found in Nova Scotia, but because the deposits are carboniferous, the tracks are presumed to have been made by another creature, since birds should not have existed yet. If the same prints were found higher in the column, they would have been classified as bird prints."

Could you provide a link? How is it known they were bird tracks?

Anonymous said...

"4. A research team led by John Ruben of Oregon State University concluded that "the bellowlike lungs [of Sinosauropteryx, a so called feathered dinosaur] could not have evolved into the high-performance lungs of modern birds."

As I understand it, John Ruben is questioning an aspect of the current understanding of evolution, namely whether birds descended from dinosaurs. He posits that birds descended from bird-like ancestors, and that dinosaurs were an offshoot from that. This is a discussion well within the theory of evolution and not indicative of creation.

How do you think it supports creation?

Anonymous said...

"I do not believe that God nor evolution will ever be proven. The debate will go on until the end of time. Then, and only then, we will see who is right."

God can't be proven, I think we can all agree on that. Evolution having taken place in our planet's past is about as confirmed as one can get. What I don't understand is why people who believe in God insist that evolution could not be God's work.

"But please don't say creationists have no evidence, because they do."

I'd like to see it someday. The major creationist websites do a poor job of presenting evidence for their stance, for a variety of reasons.

"And don't accuse creationists of doing the same thing evolutionists do (i.e. molding evidence to fit the view, etc.). Both parties are equally guilty."

Embriette, there is a current understanding of the theory of evolution and of an old-Earth geological model. It is based on evidence and testable, confirmed claims that have not been falsified. While creationists are fond of pointing at scientists having made mistakes (even though these were later corrected by other scientists) or of being outright frauds, you should note that neither the theory of evolution nor current geology relies on these as part of its supporting evidence.

YECs tend to start with the outcome in mind and discard scientific evidence that doesn't fit their desired outcome. I can't think of any exceptions. Could you name such YECs?

Also, could you name testable claims that support a YEC view that have not been falsified?

Evolutionists arrived at the theory of evolution over the course of decades and centuries by discarding other options that didn't fit the evidence. There is currently no evidence to falsify the theory of evolution. If you disagree, could you name such evidence? Be aware that creationist literature tends to promote logical fallacies (e.g. argument from incredulity, very prevalent on the blog you're currently reading). These are not scientific falsifications.

If you could provide answers to these three questions, I'd gladly consider your claim that "both parties are equally guilty".

Anonymous said...

Re. those phyla (plant and animal):

Period # total phyla which appear in period
Recent 13
Eocene 2
Cretaceous 2
Jurassic 1
Triassic 3
Carboniferous 5
Devonian 4
Silurian 1
Ordovician 1
Cambrian 9
Vendian 4

The Cambrian doesn't even cover the majority of the phyla.

http://home.entouch.net/dmd/cambevol.htm

Embriette said...

Wow Anonymous, thank you for the lengthy responses. I must say your response is probably the kindest response I've ever received from a proponent of evolution, which is surprising and also a breath of fresh air. Thank you!
You seemed to concede that some of the illustrations/examples I presented were compatible with a flood, but not necessarily proof. I know that, which is why I made a point to say "support" and not "prove." The thing is, this is how I feel about the evidence out there for evolution. There is plenty that supports it, and I am not going to deny that. But I have not seen a piece of evidence or pieces of evidence that together without a doubt PROVE evolution. What I mean by that is that there is nothing that proves all creatures evolved from one common ancestor. Of course I believe in evolution as a means of adaptation, we see that all of the time. I work with bacteria in my lab, and they divide and evolve quickly. However, I have never had an E. coli or a B. anthracis evolve into a P. intermedia, for example. They are always just E. coli or just B. anthracis. More fit for their environment yes, mutated genomes yes, but never a different, or new, species. It seems to me like we should have seen something like that with bacteria since they are one of the most rapidly evolving model organisms we have.
Here is another problem I have-the black box surrounding the genetic code. Only recently in the scientific time line have we begun to understand and appreciate things like micro RNAs, histone modifications, etc...epigenetics. Have you ever wondered why it is that two organisms who are more distantly related (based on their genetic code) look more alike phenotypically than two organisms that are more closely related? Maybe you haven't, but I have. How much more is there for us to discover? Our current definition of genetic code is too black and white. Science is never black and white. The code is not just a string of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts. It is also the proteins that interact with the DNA, modifications that change how and when it is expressed, and RNAs that do the same. We need to be describing relatedness based on epigenetics, just not a simple code. Take for example two books. Two books, when looking at their letter make up, may have similar amounts of the words "the," "California," "inside," "roof," and "dog" than any other two books. However, when we look at the meat of the books, the epigenetics, as it were, the story their words actually tell, they may be about completely different things (one may be a California travel guide and the other may be a murder thriller). We scientists are just scratching the surface. We are always learning new things. It wasn't so long ago that we thought proteins were the genetic code, and it took a long time to prove and get people to believe that it is actually DNA. Is it possible that there is some evidence to strongly support creationism that we just haven't found yet? We are taught in graduate school to keep an open mind, but all I see permeating the literature and peoples' work is a bias based on the belief that evolution is true. It has not been proven true yet! Anybody who finds something that might contradict the current belief system, even if it is sound evidence, is given an incredibly hard time. They can't speak at conferences, it's almost impossible to get their work published. Sad, but true. When I was doing my rotations before I joined a lab, I rotated with a woman who was studying evolution in bacteria and finding that it wasn't so random as people believed (among other things). She met up against a lot of resistance in the beginning and had to fight quite hard. Many labs published a swath of papers to prove her wrong, but she always came back with sound science. She is not a creationists, either. The world of science is just as political as any other sector.

Embriette said...

What I see is two belief systems-creationism and evolution. They are mutually exclusive. You asked why someone who believes in God can't believe that He created via evolution, and the book of Genesis answers that question. God created on each day each animal after its own kind. They did not evolve from a common ancestor. He created man from the dust of the earth. He created everything in six days. This is not compatible with evolution.

You had asked for a reference regarding the footprints. I got my information from a book, and the book references the following: Brand, L. and J. Florence 1982. Stratigraphic distribution of vertebrate fossil footprints compared with body fossils. Origins, 9(2):67-74. It is a creationist publication and I have not read this reference so I make no claims as to what is actually says. The book I was reading is called "The Genesis Conflict" by Walter J. Veith.
I have had many discussions with many proponents of evolution and I have learned that neither of us will change the others' mind, because there is no sound evidence for either side. Good supporting evidence, yes, but nothing that seals either side in stone. Until that day happens, the debate will continue.
I'd love to continue the conversation but I am currently in the middle of writing a grant proposal for my qualifying exam and I really must point all my attention toward that. Thank you again for being civil; this is not something I've come across too often.

Anonymous said...

"Wow Anonymous, thank you for the lengthy responses. I must say your response is probably the kindest response I've ever received from a proponent of evolution, which is surprising and also a breath of fresh air. Thank you!"

With the exception of some unwarranted snark in your first comment (which I chose to overlook), you were civil and showed signs of genuine curiosity and willingness to communicate, and that's an excellent prerequisite for a civil conversation.

Re. some of the larger points you make - yes, science has a lot to discover yet, and every answer we find opens up new areas of exploration. That's why I find it puzzling that people like Radar are so eager to freeze scientific understanding at a level of a few centuries back, as if more knowledge is somehow scary or undesirable, and why he is so eager to declare that research into abiogenesis by natural means will never bear fruit, though of course he can not be sure of any such thing.

"But I have not seen a piece of evidence or pieces of evidence that together without a doubt PROVE evolution."

As is often remarked on this blog and elsewhere, proof is for mathematics, and in science things are only confirmed. With that in mind, there is plenty that confirms evolution having occurred in our planet's past. The aforementioned sorting of fossils in the fossil record, for example. We consistently see organisms Y in layers below organisms X and above organisms Z. Geology allows us to date those layers both relatively (i.e. this is from an era before that era and after that era) and absolutely, using a variety of dating methods.

This provides us with an array of different organisms that shows certain patterns, allowing us to look at today's organisms and finding predecessors in the fossil record that are increasingly less like our modern organisms (and ourselves), allowing us to trace the history of each organism.

We don't find rabbits in the Jurassic, we don't find dolphins in the Cambrian - it just doesn't happen.

Modern biology and geology can explain this state of affairs very well; creationism can't. That's not even bringing radiometric data into the picture, which creationism can't explain at all. Again, there's a very obvious conclusion one can draw, and that is why the consensus of modern science is what it is, but it's anathema to creationists, and so they reject it.

There are quite a number of other confirmations of common descent - this one just seemed the most glaringly obvious to me.

Anonymous said...

"Anybody who finds something that might contradict the current belief system, even if it is sound evidence, is given an incredibly hard time. They can't speak at conferences, it's almost impossible to get their work published. Sad, but true."

I'm skeptical of such claims, since it's very easy for someone to make such a claim about papers that are actually bad science and to blame the referee.

"When I was doing my rotations before I joined a lab, I rotated with a woman who was studying evolution in bacteria and finding that it wasn't so random as people believed (among other things). She met up against a lot of resistance in the beginning and had to fight quite hard. Many labs published a swath of papers to prove her wrong, but she always came back with sound science."

Could you direct us to her papers?

Or perhaps some of the papers that were published to prove her wrong? I'd like to see what she was proposing.

Anonymous said...

"God created on each day each animal after its own kind. They did not evolve from a common ancestor. He created man from the dust of the earth. He created everything in six days. This is not compatible with evolution."

There are a number of ways to deal with that issue. A friend of mine once sat with a high-level clergyman and a TV producer of pro-Christian programming who both scoffed at the notion of a young Earth, even calling it detrimental to the faith. In their view, Genesis was a metaphorical/symbolic construct and not intended as a literal history textbook. Not an unreasonable stance IMO.

In any case, good luck with your grant proposal and I look forward to discussing this further with you.

Anonymous said...

"The world of science is just as political as any other sector."

That's all fair and well, but what are the testable, confirmed scientific claims supporting the creation model - i.e. something that, if the creation model is true, we would observe, and that if the creation model is false, we would not observe - that have not been falsified? Could somebody name one?

I can think of plenty of testable scientific claims that would support the creation model, but they're all falsified.

It seems to me that this complaining about the supposed "tyranny", "censorship" etc. is sour grapes on the part of creationists presenting poor science (e.g. using the Bible as scientific evidence) and then complaining when they don't receive special treatment.

Embriette said...

Everything you said is sound, except for radiometric dating. I cannot trust that dating system because it is based on assumption and is not consistent. One big assumption is that the rate of decay and half-lives has remained constant over time. What is the likelihood of that, especially over a time frame of millions of years? Extrapolation is something evolutionists have to do, but there is no way that we can tell for sure that this is correct. We cannot go back in time to confirm without a doubt that things were the same then as they are now.
Another assumption with radiometric dating is that the molecular clock was reset to zero when the material formed, in other words, only the parent isotope was present. If the clock was not set to zero, then there is nothing to reference from and the age calculation cannot be accurately made.
Another assumption, which may actually be a safe one to make, is that the material is in a closed system, that no daughter or parent material has escaped from the system since the material was formed.
As to the inconsistencies, here are a few examples:

1. Deposits formed from the eruption of Mt. Rangitoto in New Zealand were potassium-40 aged at 485,000 years but trees buried within volcanic material carbon dated at around 300 years. Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta 33:1485-1520

2. Mt. Ngauruhoe, also in New Zealand, produced flows between 1949 and 1954 that were dated at 3 million years. Creation ex nihilo, vol 22(1): 18-21

3. 10 year old rocks from Mt. St. Helens dated as between 340,000 and 2.8 million years old. Creation ex nihilo, vol 23(3) 23-25

4. Lava flow off the coast of Hawaii dates as 10,000-17,000 years old via carbon dating, 160,000-43 million years with potassium argon. Maybe when dealing with billions of years that equates to a small error rate, but that just seems a bit off to me.

5. A rock sample from Nigeria was dated at 95 million years by potassium-argon, 750 million years by uranium-helium, and less than 30 million years by the fission-track method. Nature 232, 1971:60, 61.

The woman I rotated with is Susan Rosenberg. If you do a Pubmed search you should find plenty of papers. Look for those dealing with RecA, double strand break repair, antibiotic resistance, etc. Please note that I did not use her example as proof of creation vs. evolution, but only as an example of how an idea that drifts from the commonly accepted idea meets opposition. There may be a lot of evidence out there for creation that we just don't know about because it is not able to be publicized.

Embriette said...

Also, to quell any fears you might have about sound science, Susan Rosenberg's science is very sound. She was a NAS electee this year and is one of the foremost investigators in her field. I didn't join her lab, as you might be wondering, because she is also a slave driver.
Additionally, I will not argue with the fact that most Christian scientists or proponents of Christian science that I speak to have less than sound science. Not only that, too many Christians resort to name calling in an effort to skirt the real subject matter at hand. It is embarrassing, and I often say that Christians make more atheists than atheists do. I strive to never be that way.

I am sorry if I gave off the impression of the "sour grapes" attitude as that is not what I intended. I'll reference a few papers for you so that you can see the kind of close minded attitude permeating the scientific field that I am talking about.

Berman and Plutzer, Science 2011
EMBO Reports, 2007 Vol 8 No 12
Petsko, Genome Biology 2008
Avise PNAS 2010

If you cannot access these articles, let me know and I will be glad to email them to you. Same for any of Susan Rosenberg's papers. I may not get back to you right away because I will be busy reading and writing for my proposal, but I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Jon Woolf said...

Some interesting material you have here, Embriette. And I'm not being snarky -- I mean that.

The Mount St Helens case is easily explained: the St Helens lava dome is known to be "dirty" rock, full of xenocrysts (literally 'alien crystals') and xenoliths (alien rocks), which were part of the 1980 eruptions, but actually solidified long ago. On top of that, I have always heard this cited as part of Steve Austin's work, and Austin made a grave mistake by sending his Mt St Helens samples to a lab that had older, less sensitive equipment and so could not deal with very young rock samples.

Regarding your other examples: a web search found this paper from Harvard which acknowledges that potassium-argon dating is not always reliable with very young volcanic rocks, and suggests some possible reasons for that. Regarding the Nigeria item: I would trust the uranium-helium date first. Look at the date: 1971. Fission-track dating was very new then, and not always done right. And an anomalously young age from potassium-argon dating is relatively common and easy to understand: argon, a noble gas, can easily be driven off by later heating. If a rock sample was formed 500 million years ago and then subjected to reheating 50 million years ago, trying to date it using potassium-argon won't work very well.

In general, radiometric dating has a lot of pitfalls and traps for the unwary, but if you can stick to the rules for doing it right, your results are usually pretty good.

Jon Woolf said...

Embriette: "One big assumption is that the rate of decay and half-lives has remained constant over time. What is the likelihood of that, especially over a time frame of millions of years?"

Pretty good, under current physics theory. Radioactive decay rates are determined by the interaction of the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force, which also controls the ways that nucleons interact to form atoms. In short, it appears that if physics were to change in such a way that it changed radioactive decay rates, it would also change numerous other aspects of physics and chemistry.

Embriette: "We cannot go back in time to confirm without a doubt that things were the same then as they are now."

Actually we can. Sort of. Because light travels at a finite speed, when we look into deep space we're also looking back in time. If we look at a star 10,000 light-years away, we're seeing it as it was 10,000 years ago. A star a million light-years away, we see as it was a million years ago. There are radioactive atoms in stars, and we can see the energy-signature of their decay in a star's light spectrum. So we can see that radioactive decay Out There, which is also Back Then, follows the same rules and goes at the same rates as radioactive decay Here and Now does.

AmericanVet said...

Did I just read that someone said that light travels at a finite speed and therefore we can determine the age of the stars that we observe? You are missing the other part of that equation, that time speeds up or slows down in relation to the speed of light depending upon variables. So even if the speed of light is eternally the same, the time it takes for the light to travel depends on outside factors.

The extreme red-shift of all observed stars from Earth first discovered by Hubble can be explained by an expanding Universe and, if the Universe expanded rapidly then the light could be seen here on Earth after perhaps 6 Earth hours even if the star is 60 million light years "away" from us now. Ask Einstein how that could be and then consider the possibilities. Yes, clocks do not move at the same speed and therefore for practical purposes the measure of light years does not necessarily date the Universe from the perspective of Earth.

Embriette said...

Thank you, John, for your great explanation on radiometric dating. It pointed out something very important: "if you can stick to the rules for doing it right, your results are usually pretty good." I hope that most scientists stick to the rules for doing it right. This is something that all scientists in every field have to be mindful of-and trust me, it's harder than it might seem. Most experiments are done by blinded experimentalists so that the main researcher doesn't add their own bias to the results. Bias in radiometric dating might be less of a problem than other realms of science, but I don't really know.

"It appears that if physics were to change in such a way that it changed radioactive decay rates, it would also change numerous other aspects of physics and chemistry."
You are assuming that numerous other aspects didn't change. Do we know for sure that others didn't? Aren't laws of physics and chemistry based on what we know and observe and can experimentally test right now? How do we know for sure that things were not different?

As for light years, scientists at Harvard stopped light for a split second. Yes, that was done under laboratory conditions that may not occur in space. But, the fact that it can be done should make us wonder if it has happened naturally at some point, somewhere in space. Can we be 100% sure that light has always traveled at the same speed, thus allowing us to make the extrapolations that you described? Not 100%, no. Maybe 99%. But not 100%, and that is not enough for me.

Jon Woolf said...

Radar, I genuinely have no idea what you're talking abut. Wherever you got your understanding of relativity and cosmology, it's nothing like the versions of either one that I've been reading about since I was in high school.

"You are missing the other part of that equation, that time speeds up or slows down in relation to the speed of light depending upon variables."

Relativistic time-dilation manifests only when the observer is moving at very high velocities.

"The extreme red-shift of all observed stars from Earth first discovered by Hubble"

Not all stars show 'extreme red-shift'. There are several kinds of redshift seen in starlight. Cosmological redshift, the kind that's associated with the expansion of the Universe, is not visible in stars within the Milky Way, or in any star in the Local Group of galaxies. Cosmological redshift only becomes detectable when we look farther away than the Virgo Supergroup -- which is to say, more than 100 million light-years. Closer than that, cosmological redshift is irrelevant.

So if we look at say, Supernova 1986J, which was 30,000,000 light-years away, there's no cosmological redshift involved. Thirty million light-years away equals thirty million years ago.

Jon Woolf said...

Embriette: "You are assuming that numerous other aspects didn't change. Do we know for sure that others didn't? "

Well, one can never be 100% certain because one can never be sure we have all the relevant facts. (That's one of the things that makes science science). But in this case we can be pretty close to certain, because mucking around with physics on this level would mean mucking around with the rules that make chemical reactions possible -- including all the chemical reactions that power life itself. Since there was life around when the creationists say this 'accelerated radioactive decay' took place, we can be pretty sure it didn't happen the way they say it did.

Oh, you can always invoke magic or a miracle to explain why the Ark didn't fall apart, or all its passengers didn't die, but when you start talking about miracles, you aren't doing science anymore.

Jon Woolf said...

One more thought that just occurred to me: Creationists are fond of arguing that the Universe and the Earth must have been designed because there are so many things that had to be exactly right to allow life and humanity to exist on Earth. Well, that may be so ... but many of the things that creationists say had to be fine-tuned for life to exist here, are the same things that would have to vary to make the rate of radioactive decay vary significantly.

No matter your theory, no matter the subject, no matter what you're trying to prove, it's really a bad sign when your explanations for different facts start contradicting each other. Modern science may be very exoteric and hard to understand, but at least it's not self-contradictory.