Age of The Earth: Old-Earth vs Young-EarthAshleigh ClarkDr. Timothy R. BrophyPHSC 210-D13December 3, 2018IntroductionThe age of the earth has been a topic of discussion between both the Old Earth and Young Earth scientific communities for many years. While the Old Earth view puts the age of the Earth at around 4.6 billion years the Young Earth view is far less, with scientists estimating it at only 6,000 years give or take a few thousand years. So which point of view is correct? This paper will discuss the two different views between Old Earth’s process of radioisotope dating and the Young Earth’s alternate methods of research for this field of study, which include the use of Helium and Carbon-14, and end with comparing and contrasting both sides.
Old Earth Secular ViewThe thoughts behind a billion year old earth began in the 18th century. Several men, including James Hutton, Georges Cuvier, and Charles Lyell, took their knowledge of geology to base their findings of Earth’s age instead of the account found in the Bible.
(Hodge, 2009). While they didn’t necessarily agree with exactly how to determine the Earth’s age, they essentially came to the consensus view that the geologic layers were laid down slowly over long periods of time based on the rates at which we see them accumulating today (Hodge, 2009). A fast forwarded look to the 20th century takes us to the discovery of what Old Earth scientists would being to use to date the age of the Earth, Radioisotope Dating. Also known as radiometric dating, this is a process in which researchers record the age of the Earth using the decaying of radioactive elements found in rocks. When an unstable element decays it changes into a different, stable element. The rate of decay is constant for a given isotope, and the time it takes for one-half of a particular isotope to decay is its radioactive half-life (pbs.org). In the text for this course, The Heavens and The Earth: Excursions in Earth and Space Science, we look at the unstable element of Uranium 238. As this element decays over time (the half-life process) it forms into the more stable element of Lead. (Ross, 2016, p.170). Scientists have figured that the half-live of Uranium 238 in the igneous and metamorphic rocks studied is about 4.6 billion years, which is where their basis for the age of Earth comes from. Young Earth ViewYoung Earth scientists believe that the account of the creation of the world as seen in Genesis 1:1 in the Bible were actual 24 hour days. Taking this into account and figuring the time from Creation, to the Fall, to Noah’s Flood and we have an estimated age for the Earth at 6,000 years give or take 2,000 years. Several years ago a team of scientists known as the RATE team (Radioisotope and the Age of The Earth), have long been trying to disprove the Old Earth Secular view that earth is billions of years old. In the article from Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Volume 1, it states that it is hypothesized by the RATE group that at some time in the past much higher rates of radioisotope decay may have occurred leading to the production of large quantities of daughter products in a short period of time (Vardiman, 2000, p.4). Looking again in Chapter 6 of the textbook The Heavens and The Earth: Excursions in Earth and Space Science you see that these researchers figured out alternative ways to test and date the age of rocks, completely changing the Old Earth findings of 4.6 billion years. (Ross, 2016). Brian Thomas states in his article Fluctuations Show Radioisotope Decay Is Unreliable that the RATE found a high accumulation of helium, a product of radioisotope decay, still trapped inside of crystals. If evolutionary ages are accurate, the helium should have leaked into the atmosphere millions of years ago (Thomas, 2011). Using this helium escape rate they would independently assess if the rate of decay had changed over time. These researchers also took the element Carbon-14 and found that it’s half-live is only about 5,730 years. This lead to the RATE teams other hypothesis: if most rocks were formed by the flood only a few thousand years ago, not millions, then there would still be Carbon-14 in fossils and other organic remains found in sedimentary deposits. (Ross, 2016, p.174). Their experiments did find Carbon-14 in coal and diamonds that should have been millions of year’s old, helping to disprove the Old Earth Secular View.Comparison of the ViewpointsIn comparing these two points of view on the age of the earth we see that they both are not scientifically sound. There are problems that can affect the outcomes of both sides research. With the Old Earth view we see that in the three assumptions needed for radioactive dating to happen it is the third of these assumptions that causes a problem. Having a rate of decay that stays constant over time is something that Young Earth scientist say is impossible. Their research has found that some decay rates were different years ago compared todays. Young Earth researches can come across problems in finding evidence for their claims when using Carbon-14. Ross states again in the textbook that Carbon-14 decays so quickly it cannot be used to date objects older than 80,000 years. (Ross, 2016, p. 173).Contrast of the ViewpointsLooking at the Old Earth claims we see that they believe that the Earth is billions of years old. These scientists have also taken God out of the process of creating the age of the Earth. Young Earth researchers claim that the earth is not billions of years old rather just thousands. Young Earth view maintains that Genesis is correct and that God actually created the world in 5, 24 hour days. This leads us to the Fall and the Flood to help them calculate the age of earth. Conclusion