How We Know the Earth is Old
Twenty old-Earth indicators
- The sun is one of countless numbers of stars in our galaxy. The galaxy is over 100,000 light years across. This means that light from some stars in our galaxy has taken many tens of thousands of years to reach earth. This would indicate that our galaxy is much older than 10 thousand years.
- Some bristlecone pine trees in the White-Inyo mountain range of California date back beyond 2000 BCE. One, labeled "Methuselah" germinated in 2726 BCE. This is several centuries before the date that conservative Christians assign to Noah’s flood. These tree rings have been matched with those of dead trees; this shows that the latter germinated about 6000 BCE, which predates the year 4004 BCE by 2000 years.
- The Green River formation contains over 20 million varves (annual layers of deep lake sediment). Each varve represents one year.
- During each springtime, tiny, one-celled algae bloom in Lake Suigetsu, Japan. They die and sink to the bottom of the lake. Here, they create a thin, white layer. During the rest of the year, dark clay sediments settle to the bottom. The result are alternating dark and light annual layers — much like the annual growth rings on a tree. Scientists have counted about 45,000 layers; they have been accumulating since about 43,000 BCE. This is far beyond the estimates of 6 to 10 thousand years made by many creationists.
- Ice core samples from Greenland and Antarctica show annual layers of ice deposits for at least 160,000 years. These layers contain information about the earth’s atmospheric conditions for the year each layer was deposited. Some of these layers contain dust from known volcanic eruptions which can then be correlated with other ice core samples and with radiometric dates.
- The Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a method of measuring the length of time that surface rocks have been exposed to cosmic rays. Cosmic rays stream into the atmosphere from all directions in outer space and break neutrons free when they collide with air molecules. When these neutrons hit rocks on the ground, they sometimes react with a tiny number of mineral atoms which create radioactive isotopes. At sea level, a few hundred modified atoms are created each year in a gram of quartz which is near the surface of the ground. New measuring techniques can detect very small numbers of these atoms and thus estimate the number of years that the rocks have been exposed. Scientists have found ages of about 8,500 years for "recent" glacial moraines in Newfoundland and 830,000 years for extinct volcanoes in Nevada.
- Nuclides are forms of matter that are radioactive. Each nuclide decays into another form of matter at a specified rate and each nuclide has a different rate of decay, thus acting as a separate clock. They can also be cross checked with each other. Decay rates (half-lives) of different nuclides vary from seconds to millions of years. Scientists have found that:
The only logical explanation for these observations is that the world formed billions of years ago. There are enough long-lived nuclides still around to be still detectable. The short-lived nuclides have long since decayed and disappeared. The only exceptions to the latter are short lived nuclides which are being continuously generated by the decay of long-lived nuclides.
- Every nuclide with a half-life over 80 million years can be found naturally occurring on earth.
- All nuclides with a half-life under 80 million years do not exist naturally at detectable levels.
- Because of tides, the rotation of the earth is gradually slowing, by about 1 second every 50,000 years. About 380 million years ago, each day would have been very close to 22 hours long! There would have been about 398 days in the year. Studies of rings on rugose coral fossils that were independently estimated to be 370 million years old revealed that when they were alive, there were about 400 days in the year. This relationship has been confirmed with other coral fossils. This is compelling evidence that the world was in existence a third of a billion years ago.
- The thickness of the coral reef at Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific Ocean has been measured at up to 1380 meters. Even the most optimistic coral growth rates would require that the atoll be over 130,000 years of age.
- It takes thousands of years of below-freezing temperatures to build a 100 foot layer of permafrost. But large areas in the north are permanently frozen to depths of almost one mile. This took many tens of thousands of years to accomplish.
- Radiocarbon dating of wood, using accelerator mass spectrometry, is accurate as far back as 50,000 years. The method has identified many wooden and textile objects to be many tens of thousands of years old. This method has been calibrated with tree rings and also crossed checked with artifacts of known age.
- Reversals of the earth's magnetic pole are recorded in the Atlantic Ocean sea bottom for the past 80 million years.
- The rate at which the continents are spreading apart can now be measured with high accuracy using satellites. Their current rate of movement indicates that the Atlantic Ocean is about 200 million years old.
- Studies in geology indicate that about 100 million years ago, the ancient super continent of Pangea was beginning to split apart so that the land that would become South America and Africa, drifted apart. At first, the drift caused some shallow seas and a few land bridges. Later, the Atlantic Ocean opened up and became gradually wider until it became the ocean that we see today. This theory would have a logical consequence in the evolution of dinosaurs. Before this split of the land mass took place, dinosaurs would have evolved into a variety of species which were found throughout Pangea. Since 100 million years ago, when the land bridges disappeared and the seas became too deep to cross, the dinosaurs evolved differently in Africa and South America, due to their isolation from each other. This is precisely what has been observed in the fossil record.
- Accelerator mass spectrometry measures particles of high atomic mass. Surface rocks have had their ages measured up to 10 million years old by detecting their level of Beryllium-10 and aluminum-26 isotopes. Other methods are used for older rocks. Radioactive dating of some earth rocks gives an age of almost 4 billion years. Some moon rocks and meteorites from outer space give dates in excess of 4 billion years.
- Measurements by sensors attached to satellites show that space dust accumulates on the moon at the rate of about 2 nanograms per square centimeter per year. (A nanogram is one thousandth of a millionth of a gram.) This rate would require 4.5 billion years to reach a depth of 1.5 inches, which is approximately the depth experienced by the astronauts who walked on the moon. This agrees rather well with radioactive dating of moon rocks.
- Estimates for the length of time for the galaxies to have spread apart to their present spacing are in excess of 10 billion years.
- Meteor, asteroid and comet impact craters. Unlike the surface of the moon, most of earth's impact craters have been erased by the processes of erosion and crustal plate movements. Still, geologists have identified about 200 impact craters on the earth. Each impact releases energy greater than many nuclear warheads. If the earth were only 6 to 10 thousand years old, this would average 1 impact every 30 to 50 years. Why have no historians through the years recorded such events?
- Multiple Ice Ages. As early as 1787, Bernard Kuhn, a Swiss minister, interpreted the local geology as showing evidence of a previous ice age. Subsequent work by climatologists and geologists have demonstrated multiple ice ages, each lasting thousands of years with intervening warmer interglacial periods. The cause of these cycles continues to be debated among scientists, but probably is related to small cyclical variations in the earth's axis and orbital rotation called Milankovitch cycles.
- The human genome project has mapped all of our genes. Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics wrote: "The genome reveals, indisputably and beyond any serious doubt, that Darwin was right — mankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive animal ancestors... The core recipe of humanity carries clumps of genes that show we are descended from bacteria. There is no other way to explain the jury-rigged nature of the genes that control key aspects of our development... The theory of evolution is the only way to explain the arrangement of the 30,000 genes and three billion letters that constitute our genetic code... The message our genes send is that Charles Darwin was right." Eric Lander of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., said that if you look at our genome it is clear that "evolution... must make new genes from old parts." Since evolution of the species must have taken billions of years to evolve from bacteria to humans, the earth must be very old.
Did your Sunday school teach you that the earth is only 6-10,000 years old? Shame on them! It makes you wonder what else they taught you that was wrong.
“Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thess. 5:21
The claim that the earth is 10,000 years old fails every test, yet 45% of Americans believe in a young earth.
For more information, see the Age of the Earth FAQ at the Talk.Origins archive.
Much of this document was excerpted from: http://www.religioustolerance.org/oldearth.htm.