I Want A More Definitive Understanding Of Scientific Beliefs

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by God_be_with_you, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. While I don't believe in a 4.5 billion year old earth, I notice that this belief is fervently held and guarded by most of the scientific community. I want to know what methods they use to come to this conclusion, and how logically sound their theories are. I would like to have an in depth conversation about their dating methods, the problems with these methods, and how probable they actually are from an unbiased perspective.

    My reason for wanting to discuss this is that I consider myself to be an amateur apologist (someone who can provide a compelling defense for their religious beliefs). To many of the unbelievers that I am friends and colleagues with, they consider the Bible to be mumbo jumbo, and I cannot effectively use the Bible to witness to them. I need sound logical evidence that their current belief systems are lies (although I am all-too-aware that some people refuse to consider Christianity no matter what)

    So let's start with these two questions: Why do scientists believe that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old? What dating methods are they using to deduce these theories?

    Thank you for your participation, solving problems is so much easier when we all work together. =D
  2. Usual method is by radioactive decay, many independant tests result in about the same age.

    Some of the oldest rocks found on earth and measured by these methods give results between 3.65 to 3.79 billion years. Rock samples from the moon are of a similar age - 4.23 to 4.60 billion years.

    The science behind these experiments is no doubt complex and I won't pretend to know much about it so you'll need some good papers or web pages of you wish to know more.
  3. Thanks TubbyTubby! That is an excellent place for me to start. To your knowledge, are there any other dating techniques that are used to determine the Earth's age?
  4. Some meteorites (found on earth) are dated to the same period and accepted theory is that the proto planetary disc that formed the solar system is hence approximately that age.

    I think the moon/earth theory of being formed at about the same time is the most conclusive though.

    There are estimates of the suns age I believe as well which put outer limits on the age of the solar system but I don't know much about that I'm afraid.
  5. I would love to discuss this!
    I may not get to it today because I am quite busy, but science is one of my big passions. In my whole college career I have been recognized as being extremely objective. So I promise to give a very objective understanding of these scientific facts and theories.
  6. Ok, thanks! I'll start checking that out!
  7. Hi Ricky! Sounds great! I'm looking forward to this =D
  8. I don't tend to post links too often as it dilutes the discussion somewhat I find but I'll make an exception here purely because this wiki page provides a fairly concise description of scientific based estimates for the age of the earth.

    Read the section on Radiometric dating for a good explanation.

  9. I just remembered a documentary I watched I think a few years ago and I decided to see if I could find it online. And what do you know, someone uploaded it to YouTube. This is really a fantastic documentary. It's 48min long and I really recommend watching it.

    Between breaks at work (if I do get a break) I'll put together some rough drafts of information and I'll aim to get it posted asap. I'm basically working a 48 hour shift right now, so I'll do my best.

  10. Yes, I've watched that before, very interesting. I had the good fortune to visit Barberton in SA and it's a stunning part of the world.
  11. Thanks guys! I'll check those sources out. I'm excited about this.....
  12. For the age of the Earth people look at many different sources, some of which are debatable. To bump the age range into the hundreds of thousands of year one claim is that the answer can be found in the layers of ice in the Antarctic - which have been drilled through. The thought process is that within each individual layer is a precise summer-through-winter passing... from what I have heard is that the amount of layers found in said ice is somewhere around 160,000 thousand (suggesting that the earth is at least that old). I haven't actually researched the claim out or tried to disprove it, but it's a place to start.

    Where you hear about the millions and billions of years age range is based on radiometric dating (which has been performed on asteroids as well as Earth) and the claim of billions of stars that are millions of lightyears away. The speed of light, however, isn't constant... and it's something you can also try to research. In my mind, it is quite unfathomable to imagine a single star that is just ONE lightyear away. Multiplying the proposed speed of light (which is said to be 186,000 miles per second) by 31,563,000 (the amount of seconds in a year) equals a ginormous 6 trillion miles!

    Carbon-14 dating which is something I've done a little research on is particularly interesting on how it relates to fossils.

    Keep in mind this this explanation is very lengthy and incredibly technical... so if you can... bear with me. Carbon-14 happens when the sun's radiation mixes with our atmosphere, exciting the nitrogen and carbon molecules, and radiates a small portion of them, turning them into... Carbon-14. Now when I say small amount I mean VERY tiny. One out of every trillion carbon cells is Carbon-14. It is estimated that 21 pounds of Carbon-14 is produced by the sun every year, in our atmosphere, being spread across the globe. These Carbon-14 cells gets absorbed into our plant life, then the animals eat the plants, the Carbon-14 gets absorbed into the bones and once the animal dies. POOF! The fossils will no longer absorb anymore Carbon-14... it's finished... all that's left now is for the Carbon-14 to very slowly decay. This is what Carbon-14 dating means... it's a measurement of decay within the fossils. How fast does Carbon-14 decay? Well it's half-life is 5,730 years... but hold on, what's a half-life?

    A half-life is the amount of time by which HALF the atoms will decay. I will give you an example. Say that when the animal died he had within him 16 atoms of Carbon-14. This means that after 5,730 years the animal will only have 8 atoms of Carbon-14 in it's bones. After 11,460 years it will have 4 atoms, after 17,190 years it will have 2 atoms, and so on and so forth. So what does this mean? It means, for the scientists, they only Carbon-14 date something that's assumed to be in the range of 20,000 - 40,000 years old - anything older and it's impractical that any Carbon-14 would still exist in the bones. This is some heavy science, but some assumptions are prominent through out it. The first is the assumption that the said animal partook Carbon-14 that's roughly proportionate to the amount of Carbon-14 that it's in the air - to give an analogy it would be similar to walking inside a room, seeing a candle, and then measuring with great accuracy how FAST the wax was melting, but having no prior knowledge of how TALL the candle was before it began burning. The second assumption is that our atmosphere was the same today as it was back then. And so... we take a journey to Genesis...

    My theory lies in the "waters above the waters" mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. The idea is that a mist (or barrier of water) existed prior to the flood. Supposing that this water did in fact, exist, then it could very well be connected with Carbon-14 dating. The "waters above the waters" severely diluting the radiation from the sun, thus, producing much less Carbon-14.

    Looking at it from this perspective gives it a whole new light. For example, if the average amount of Carbon-14 intake for any living creature TODAY is 16 atoms, and the average Carbon-14 intake for any living creature PRIOR TO THE FLOOD is 4 atoms, you would get immensely different results. Your base model for the average animal is 16 atoms, you measure the decay of Carbon-14, and you get the results of fossils that are much OLDER than they really are.

    So to conclude, because this dating system is only practical with things assumed to be within the 20,000 - 40,000 year old range, it's interesting that dinosaur bones are NEVER Carbon-14 dated because of the assumption that they are 60 million+ years old. However, this hasn't stopped some archaeologists from doing it anyway. In Georgia, on one expedition of dinosaur bone hunting, a group of archaeologists had about ten sets of dinosaur fossil specimens. They went in to the Carbon-14 dating science lab - being sure to encase the bones in foil so as not to contaminate them - and then proceeded to Carbon-14 date them, not telling them that they were dinosaur bones. Once the results came in they were none other than, fascinating. They ALL ranged within the 20,000 - 40,000 year old range. They told them, rather off-handedly, "Oh and by the way, these were dinosaur bones." And do you know what happened next? They said, flabbergasted, "Oh then these results can't be right! Here, let me Carbon-14 date these again!"... did you see what happened there? Using their own scientific methods they severely damaged their own hypothesis.

    So is Carbon-14 dating a hokey science? Well not exactly, but to be sure it is based on some very fundamental assumptions.

    One last thought, before I conclude, is to look at Dendrochronology: tree-ring dating. Some assert that the oldest living tree is around 4,000 years and others have claimed it's a little over 8,000... we're talking much, much tinier age-ranges when compared to 4.5 billion years, but it's nonetheless worth looking into.

    Best of luck on your quest! :)
  13. Carbon-14 dating only works with things that are of a certain age. In that case you would have to use a different dating technique. Please post the source of that information because the assumption made in this story seems to be made with the intent of putting forth a biased point. Or you just read/interpreted it wrong.
  14. I don't think this particular research is in doubt at all and its purpose was never to put an estimate for the age of the earth, rather a study of climate change over the near past.

    It IS quite unfathomable, the scale of the visible Universe is such that it doesn't lend itself very easily to a human thought process but that's no argument to dismiss it. Sometimes rescaling can help the mind - imagine our Milky Way (100,000 light years in diameter) and the nearest large galaxy, Andromeda (250,000 light years diameter). Andromeda is approximately 2.5 million light years away from us so scaling down the Milky Way to 10cm, Andromeda to 25cm puts the distance between them at 2.5km.

    For physics purposes the speed of light can be considered constant (especially in a vacuum), you are probably referring to recent scientific debate about this which puts forward a proposal of light interacting with some particles with an error of 0.05 millionths of a billionths of a second over a square meter. The effect is small, and this theory has not been fully developed and will be subject to intense scientific scrutiny no doubt. It would have to be some remarkable discovery that the speed of light was wrong by a large error (it has been verified in so many experiments it would be foolish to do so). It's measured every single day with lasers bouncing from the moon surface for instance.

    Current estimates for the number of stars in our (average size) galaxy is 10^11 to 10^12. Estimates for the number of galaxies in the observable universe are 10^11 to 10^12. You can multiply those to get an idea.

    I would be interested to see your research papers please.

    I'm not sure of the vaidity of this so I won't comment, but the original post is about the age of the earth and Carbon 14 dating is not a technique used for that particular field of science.

    I'm not in a position to question your theory on Genesis but I would say that your conception of a theory (based on an 'idea') is not something I adhere to. Scientific theories form from observed data usually.

    I've not heard this story before but I'm curious to have a read of the source material if you can point me to it please. Agai, nothing to do with the OP question about the age of the earth though.

    Again, nothing to do with radiometric dating methods for the age of the earth as requested in the OP.

    I would say that you should treat these theories with a little more respect in my opinion, they are the result of hundreds of thousands of hours of observation, study, evaluation and conclusion. Then subject to further criticism from the scientific community, re-tested, re-evaluated and so forth. The people that publish this kind of work are often their own worst critic and are not interested in pursuing a theory if it starts to contradict the observed data. This particular field (radiometric dating) has been developed over a good number of years now and most of the irregularities have been explained.

    And as I said in another post, these earth dating theories are NOT developed to cause young earth creationists grief. They are developed with no regard to creation theory so to treat them as such is pointless. Science is completely objective, it has no other agenda.

    (Observe - question - theory)
  15. If the arctic is like other parts of the world where it snows there are more than one snowfall in a given season.

    If they're counting layers, isn't it possible they're counting snowfalls rather than years?
  16. Maybe, I don't know but I would guess the ice cores are more representative of global seasonal changes based on many more factors than just snowfall patterns.

    It's a subject for another thread maybe? This one is asking about age of earth dating methods.
  17. Ricky, TubbyTubby, HisManySongs, I'm sorry to have caused any strife, or came off as sounding naive. That wasn't my intention at all. Admittedly I was going a bit off topic in regards to the Original Question: dating the earth. I never did say that Carbon-14 dating was used in that way, what I said was, ". . .for the scientists, they only Carbon-14 date something that's assumed to be in the range of 20,000 - 40,000 years old - anything older and it's impractical that any Carbon-14 would still exist in the bones."... It's not valid, per say, on judging the AGE of the earth, but if you know definitively what the age of some of the fossils are (i.e. animals that LIVED on the earth) it would, at the very least, give you a minimum for the Age of the Earth. That is, unless, you give a hypothesis that the animals and humans came from another planet... but that's another question for another day (lol...).

    When I read the article it was quite a long time ago, and I may have butchered some of the details, based on my memory. The links and pages I was referring too were the following...



    Granted these are all old videos, and thus old findings. Science is an on-going process and their methods are constantly being changed/adapted/improved. All these problems I have mentioned, may be non-existent in the present day... and Carbon-14 dating isn't the ONLY way to date these things... there are hundreds of methods. I know that Kent Hovind has been known to be somewhat sketchy in the past, according to some of the details of Carbon-14 dating. Like when he gave reference to living sea creatures that were Carbon-14 dated at outrageous numbers... but most scientists (to my knowledge, anyhow) knew that fossils, when water is concerned, monkeys up the results big time. But some of his points were valid...

    In regards to the Ice question it was a reference given by Bill Nye in the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate that happened quite recently. The layers (he said) were suggestive of clear summer-winter cycles. It's arguable whether or not other factors were involved... but assuming that the summer-winter cycles hasn't changed that much over the years one could wonder if each layer = one year. You have a very good point about possibly counting snowfalls instead, HisManySongs. I think that what Bill Nye was trying to get at was that the layers were only created when it's heated and then cooled... now that you mention it, though, your point makes more logical sense. But like I said I before I haven't yet looked at Bill Nye's claim.

    "I'm not in a position to question your theory on Genesis but I would say that your conception of a theory (based on an 'idea') is not something I adhere to. Scientific theories form from observed data usually."

    You are quite correct, my friend! I should have said 'idea' instead of 'theory'... sometimes the word 'theory' gets misused in our modern day. When science is concerned a 'theory' is a much bigger word than you're average Joe saying "it's just a theory". A 'thought process' or 'idea' would have been a much more accurate thing to say.

    I apologize if my ideas got mingled into a conversation that was purely science based. God-be-with-you, your question was "where could I seek out dating methods in regards to the Age of the Earth". And I got a bit carried away saying, instead, what I knew (or presumed to know) about Carbon-14 dating. I hope you guys won't hold it against me...

    Peace all...
  18. Not at all. I'm purely objective in my posts, I take nothing you say as something that would make me look at you in a derogitive manner.

    Do you have any comment on my points about the speed of light and scale of the Universe?

    I apologise for my hypocrisy in critiscising others for going off topic slightly and then doing the same but there are few posters in this thread so I suppose we should open up a bit. As long as the original poster is happy of course.
  19. The various radiometric dating methods are flawed and produce considerable variation in the results.

    When you are relying on products of decay which are a gas, it is not reasonable to expect them to hang around. And an accurate dating measurement requires an accurate accounting of ALL the products involved.

    I recommend 'The Genesis Flood' by Whitcomb & Morris. There a a section dealing with the various dating methods.
  20. The study of quantum mechanics/string theory has come up with some interesting things regarding light. Even allowing for light to have moved faster in the past.

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