email - December 2011

The Consistency Argument

Results may be consistent—but that doesn’t prove they are right.

This month we received this email from Rod in Canada.

Subject: The Age of the Moon - SAE Feature Article - June 2008

Do-While;

Since the full table of moon rock date results http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/ages.htm reflects only the full list of all date results published in Science, 30 January, 1970, are you interested in updating the table with results published elsewhere, such as on http://www.gate.net/~rwms/AgeEarth.html[?]

For example, this page has 8 more results for sample 10072 that are not on your site's table. Apparently it's from a book Dalrymple published, Age of the Earth, in 1991. Of course the results he put in his book show awesome agreement! I find it interesting that Dalrymple doesn't include at least one result from your table,

10072  3.53 ± 0.05  40Ar/39Ar high temp 3

which agrees with the age range he has in his table. Of course, the age results are not for the supposed age of the moon but of some later event such as a meteor impact which reheated the rock.

That gate.net page has other results which are also not listed, for sample numbers that are not on your list so it seems those are probably for moon landings subsequent to 1970.

Rod

"Blessed are the censors, for they shall inhibit the Earth."
The preceding humor inserted by QuipSig
http://www.en-consult.ca/quipsig/

(Just an aside—QuipSig is a program that inserts random jokes at the end of an email message. Rod might not even be aware that his email ended with “Blessed are the censors …”. Random processes do occasionally produce some enlightening results. Since evolutionists do try to inhibit science by censoring all criticism of the theory of evolution from the public schools, the ending tag line was insightful.)

Rod asked if we are interested in updating our table. (Actually it isn’t really our table. It is our compilation of all the tables published in a special issue of the journal, Science.) Despite the facts that we are interested in what the AgeEarth page says, and are glad to link to it so that you can read what it says, we aren’t interested in updating our table with data from a questionable source.

Instead, this month’s newsletter contains an article about the latest study of moon rock ages reported in the respected journal, Nature.

Nevertheless, the AgeEarth page is worth discussing on its own. It is a typical evolutionary page which argues that radioactive dating is accurate. What is not so typical is that it honestly admits,

The concerns about these dating methods were exactly the same that creationists continue to raise - presence of the daughter element at the time the rock was formed and possible loss / gain of either the parent or daughter element at some point in the history of the rock. 1

Actually, those are only the first two of the three concerns creationists have about these dating methods.

First, nobody measured the ratio of parent and daughter elements at the time the rock was formed. They can only guess what the original ratio was using flawed methods. No matter how evolutionists try to wiggle out of it, the initial ratio was not measured. They don’t really know what the initial ratio was.

Second, nobody observed the rock the entire time from its formation to the present, so it is impossible to tell how much (if any) of the parent or daughter element was lost or gained during the life of the rock. Geologists might try to infer loss or gain based on weathering, or some other such method; but they didn’t actually measure it.

Geologists might be confident that they can correctly estimate the original ratio of elements and estimate the possible loss of gain of elements, but confidence is no substitute for actual measurement.

The third concern creationists have about the radiometric dating process is that it depends heavily upon speculation about how and when the rock was formed. That is to say, the estimates about how much of each element there was in the rock when it solidified depends upon their notion of how long it took to solidify, the conditions under which it solidified, how long ago it solidified, and what happened to it since it solidified. If any of these assumptions are wrong, then the conclusion about the age of the rock is wrong.

The site quotes G. Brent Dalrymple as saying,

One of the principal tasks of the geochronologist is to select the type of the material used for a dating analysis. A great deal of effort goes into the sample selection, and the choices are made before the analysis, not on the basis of the results. Mistakes are sometimes made but are usually caught by the various checks employed in the well-designed experiment. 2

That’s only partly true. They select the dating material and method carefully based on the EXPECTED results rather than the actual results. They know that certain methods will give results in certain age ranges, and select the method that will give a “reasonable” result (based on their prejudice of what is reasonable). If the method doesn’t give a reasonable result, it is considered to be a “mistake” and ignored.

Numbers Don’t Matter

We are amazed that the site doesn’t even believe its own numbers. Read, and be amazed, too.

The most compelling argument for an age of the earth of 4.5 billion years are [sic] the large number of independent tests that have been used to confirm this date. These tests have been performed on what are thought to be the earth's oldest surviving rocks, meteorites, and moon rocks. These tests have consistently given the same ages for each of these objects. Examples include:

The Earths Oldest Rock's [sic]
DescriptionTechniqueAge (in billions of years)
Amitsoq gneisses
(western Greenland)
Rb-Sr isochron3.70 +- 0.12
Amitsoq gneisses
(western Greenland)
207Pb-206Pb isochron3.80 +- 0.12
Amitsoq gneisses
(western Greenland) (zircons)
U-Pb discordia3.65 +- 0.05
Amitsoq gneisses
(western Greenland) (zircons)
Th-Pb discordia3.65 +- 0.08
Amitsoq gneisses
(western Greenland) (zircons)
Lu-Hf isochron3.55 +- 0.22
Sand River gneisses
(South Africa)
Rb-Sr isochron3.79 +- 0.06

These are the oldest of the rocks dated on the earth so far (as of 1997). These are metamorphic rocks and thus have had some of their "history" lost - metamorphosis fully or partially resets the radiometric ages of rocks pointing to younger ages than the true age of the original rock. Older rocks may have been lost due to erosion or have not yet been discovered. 3

They measured rocks using six different methods, all of which date to roughly 3.6 billion years (plus or minus a little). This proves (to them) that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old!

They believe the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, despite the fact that the oldest rocks they can find are only 3.6 billion years old. Their measurements are consistent, but disagree with their belief by about a billion years (about 20%). They claim that the method is accurate, but stick with their belief rather than accepting the measurements. It is mind-boggling!

The web site in question gives other examples of various rocks that have been dated consistently using various methods. Of course, one could list just as many examples of rocks that have been inconsistently dated using various methods; but that’s irrelevant.

Pseudoscience

If you ask some palm readers and astrologists how long you will live (based on your “life line” or the astrological sign on the day of your birth), their predictions might agree despite the fact that they use different methods to compute life expectancy. It doesn’t matter. Their predictions are bogus whether they are consistent or not. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how accurately (and consistently) several palm readers measure your life line. A crease in your palm has nothing to do with how long you will live, even if it agrees with “what the stars say.”

Pseudoscience might, in some cases, give consistent results. That doesn’t validate the pseudoscience.

Palm readers and astrologers can tell very convincing stories. They can refer you to clients who swear that the predictions are reliable. But astrology and palm reading aren’t really scientific because they aren’t based on repeatable, falsifiable laboratory experiments.

Experimental Calibration

Carbon 14 dating can, and has, been experimentally verified by comparing carbon 14 dates with known historical dates. Archeologists know when particular Egyptian pharaohs lived, so they can compare the carbon 14 date of a sample taken from a pharaoh’s tomb with the historical date of his death. Consequently, there are reliable conversion tables that convert radiocarbon years to calendar years by taking into account the fluctuation in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the past few thousand years.

It is not possible to verify or calibrate radioactive dating of rocks presumed to be prehistoric because there is, by definition, no history to compare them to. That is to say, one can’t calibrate volcanic ash containing a fossil “known” to be 4 million years old because there is no way to know if that fossil really is four million years old.

We’ve written about the flaws in radioactive dating many times before, so let’s just jump straight to the conclusion. It is true that a competent scientist can determine the amounts of various elements in a rock sample just as accurately as astrologers can compute the positions of stars at a particular time; but that doesn’t tell you how long it has been since the rock formed because the inference of age is based on pseudoscience about original composition and assumed changes to the sample since its formation. Sometimes various methods give the same results—sometimes they don’t.

Radiometric ages of rocks may agree or disagree, but it doesn’t matter because the method is as fundamentally bogus as astrology or palm reading.

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Footnotes:

1 http://www.gate.net/~rwms/AgeEarth.html
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.