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17 Apr 2010 18:06
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Age of the Earth: A Feasibility Study
Age of the Earth - Is it possible to determine such a thing with any certainty? The formation of the Earth is what is known as a "singularity." The event cannot be repeated in a lab and is not occurring in nature now. In determining the Age of the Earth, scientists must make assumptions that seem reasonable based on observable data. Certainty and assumption are contrary to each other. Therefore, the study of the Age of the Earth is a "feasibility study."

Age of the Earth: Young Earth vs. Old Earth
The scientific community presents the Age of the Earth from two distinct camps: The "Young Earth" advocates and the "Old Earth" advocates. There are various natural chronometers that seem to indicate either a Young Earth or an Old Earth. Both camps use such chronometers to back their position. They both claim their model is most feasible. How then will the dispute be settled?

Age of the Earth: Limiting Factors
The answer to the Age of the Earth question is found in "Limiting Factors." While it may be impossible to be certain when the Earth formed, we may determine when the Earth did not form. Limiting Factors are best explained with this illustration: A boat sinks. On board is a chest full of gold coins. As time passes, the wreck is forgotten. Centuries later, the boat is discovered, and the chest full of coins is recovered. How can we determine when the boat sank? We may not be able to pinpoint the date, but we are able to determine when it did not sink by looking at the dates on the coins. If a coin is marked with 1756, we know the boat did not sink in 1755 or 1730 or 1610, etc. It must have sunk after the coin was minted. The coin is a "Limiting Factor."

Age of the Earth: Factors Pointing to a Young Earth
There are many Limiting Factors limiting the possible Age of the Earth. Here are a few:

Magnetic Field. The Earth's magnetic field is essential to life on Earth for many reasons. One reason is that it deflects much of the cosmic radiation that destroys life. Precise measurements of the Earth's magnetic field have been made since 1829, all over the world. During that time, it has deteriorated exponentially -- that is, it has followed a predictable curve. By graphing this curve, we extrapolate that life would have been impossible before 20,000 BC (the field would be as strong as the Sun's at that point) and will cease to exist after 10,000 AD (there will be, for all practical purposes, no field left, and the Earth will be fried by cosmic radiation).

Earth Rotation. The Earth's spin is slowing down. We experience a "leap second" every year and a half. If it is slowing down, at one time it was going much faster. A faster spin would create a stronger Coriolis Effect, and life would be impossible as we know it.

Moon Drift. The moon is drifting slowly away from the Earth. If it is getting further away, then at one time it was much closer. The Inverse Square Law in physics states that if the moon was half the distance away, its gravitational effect on our tides would be quadrupled. One third the distance and it would be 9 times stronger. We would all drown twice a day. 1.2 billion (1,200 million) years ago, the moon would have been touching the Earth.

Age of the Earth: Young is Not Unreasonable
There are a number of additional Limiting Factors regarding the Age of the Earth that scientists are discovering on a more and more frequent basis. Interestingly, they all seem to indicate a Young Earth, or certainly, not one that is millions or billions of years old. Contrary to the general thinking of the last century, many scientists now accept that it is reasonable to view the Earth as fairly young.

Age of the Earth: Young Earth Model vs. Old Earth Model
What is the Age of the Earth? The scientific community is divided by this simple question. Both camps are firmly entrenched. The commonly accepted theory among the majority (slightly more than half) of the scientific community is that the Age of the Earth exceeds billions of years. The Young Earth advocates contend that the Earth is less than a million, closer to several thousand years old. The Old Earth advocates point primarily to radiometric dating, and the "majority opinion" to support their conclusion. The Young Earth advocates primarily point to the controversial assumptions fundamental to radiometric dating, and the fact that the history of mankind's scientific development has been the struggle against perennial falsity. Furthermore, Young Earth proponents point to the fact that there are roughly five times as many natural chronometers pointing to a Young Earth than an Old Earth. We shall examine both arguments.

Age of the Earth: An Historical Review of "Majority Opinion"
When examining the Age of the Earth, it is certainly true that "majority opinion" should hold no weight given the track record of mankind's scientific development. The world is not flat. The sun does not circle the earth. Big rocks do not fall faster than small rocks. Spontaneous generation is not possible. There are no transitional fossils. There is no such thing as a "simple cell." The list goes on and on. It seems reasonable that majority opinion does not out-weigh physical evidence, but that has not been the case throughout our scientific history.

Age of the Earth: An Examination of Radiometric Dating
Both sides in the Age of the Earth debate agree that there are fundamental assumptions that are foundational to radiometric dating. Here are the basic assumptions, and comments on each:

The rate of decay does not change. This is a fair assumption. Scientists have not been able to vary the decay rates, despite their attempts to do so.

There has been no loss or gain of parent or daughter elements, or any of the intermediate concentrations. This has been found to be a poor assumption. Many of the intermediate products are highly mobile gases. The majority of dates obtained through radiometric dating are in conflict, labeled contaminated and thrown out. It is assumed that the "uncontaminated dates" are legitimate.

We know the amounts of daughter elements present at the beginning. This is the least reasonable assumption. If there are daughter elements present at formation, the rock would have a superficial appearance of age. The "isochron" technique indicates there are always daughters at the formation of rocks.

Age of the Earth: Natural Chronometers Point to a Young Earth
When investigating the Age of the Earth, we see that there are more natural chronometers pointing to a Young Earth than an Old Earth. In fact, approximately five times as many. (Note: Each radiometric dating technique is considered a separate chronometer.) There are quite a few radiometric dating methods, as well as other Old Earth chronometers, each indicating an Old Earth, yet they are vastly outnumbered by the Young Earth chronometers. Young Earth advocates point to the fact that many Young Earth chronometers are "Limiting Factors," which put constraints on the possible age of the Earth. If we disprove any one particular "Limiting Factor," Old Earth proponents still have a problem -- all the rest of them. Each "Limiting Factor" is separate and distinct, individually limiting the possible Age of the Earth.

Copyright © 2002 Age-of-the-Earth.net, All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2002 Age-of-the-Earth.com, All Rights Reserved.