Age of the Earth

Copyright 1998 G.R. Morton. This text may be freely distributed so long as no change is made to the text and no charge is made. (

Below are a few of the arguments used by young earth creationists to support the concept that the earth was young. Hopefully the pictures will show that this is not the case.


Are Radioactive Dates Wrong?

John Woodmorappe (1979) went through the scientific literature looking for radioactive dates which are 20% too old or too young. He specifically excluded from his search any date which matched the expected age. This type of selective editing is exactly what Young earth Creationists charge the Evolutionists with. Woodmorappe says

“An objective comparison between the number of fitting vs. the number of anomalous dates in the Phanerozoic is hindered (if not prevented) by the fact that anomalous dates frequently (or usually) are not reported in scientific journals.” (Woodmorappe 1979, p. 113)

Thus while he criticizes the old-earther for selectively publishing radioactive dates, he does the very same thing by only publishing bad dates. This seriously hurts his credibility. In his article he listed these bad dates but did not plot them. If he had, he would have seen something remarkable. Above the 350 dates are plotted . A perfect dating result should appear on the line. Note that there are more dates under the line than above the line. If radioactivity is producing dates which are too old, you would expect that there would be more dates above the line than below the line. What this proves is that if a radioactive date is wrong it is far more likely to be too young than too old! Young earth creationists need the dates to be too old if their viewpoint is correct.

Figure 1. Radioactive dates ploted from Woodmorappe's 1979 article. Notice that even though Woodmorappe edited his data to only accept bad values, there is still a general lineup of expected vs radioactive age. Also notice that if anything a bad radioactive date is more likely to be too young than too old.


Figure 2. This is Figure 4 in Lambert and Hsu's article. Lake Walensee Storm Varves (Left) vs. Lake Zurich Yearly Varves (Right). Notice the regular laminations on the part of the yearly varves.

Steve Austin wrote: “Thin, rhythmic silt and clay layers found in lakes are frequently called ‘varves,’ with each layer being considered to represent annual repetitions of a slow sedimentary process. Lambert and Hsu present evidence from a Swiss lake that these varve-like layers form rapidly by catastrophic, turbid water underflows. At one location five ‘varves’ formed during a single years.” (Austin 1984, p. 272)

Obviously, Austin did not read the article carefully enough. The above is a drawing of Figure 4 in Lambert and Hsu's article. Lambert and Hsu stated “We do not intend to make an unwarranted generalization that no varves are deposits of annual cycles. Figure 4 shows varves from the mesotrophic Lake Zurich where the light laminae represent chemical sedimentation prevailing during summers and the darker laminae detrital sedimentation during winters. A comparison of those varves with the non-annual varves of the oligotrophic Walensee shows that the annual rhythms of Lake Zurich varves are more regular, while the irregularity of the Walensee ‘varves’ reflects the unpredictability of the weather.”(Lambert and Hsu, 1979, p. 453-461) Austin's representation of Lake Walensee's varves as indicative that nonyearly varves are identical to yearly varves is entirely erroneous.

Pollen in the varves

Regular varves like those shown above on the right were described by Richard Foster Flint, an expert on Quaternary geology. He said (1971, p. 400),

“A rhythmite deposited in a lake near Interlaken in Switzerland consists of thin couplets each containing a light-colored layer rich in calcium carbonate and a dark layer rich in organic matter. Proof that the couplets are annual, and therefore varves, is established on organic evidence, first recognized by Heer(1865). The sediment contains pollen grains, whose number per unit volume of sediment varies cyclically being greatest in the upper parts of the dark layers. The pollen grains of various genera are stratified systematically according to the season of blooming. Finally, diatoms are twice as abundant in the light-colored layers as in the dark. From this evidence it is concluded that the light layers represent summer seasons and the dark ones fall, winter and spring. Counts of the layers indicate a record that is valid through at least the last 7,000 years B. P.”

A cursory look at the layers in the figure above shows that they are not the same thing.

Carbon 14 and Varves

Lake varves contain much organic material which can be dated by carbon 14. If the varves are yearly and the radiocarbon dating method works, then the radiocarbon dates should be just about equal to the varve count. Below are the results of a study done by Alan Craig. He counted 10,200 varves and then radioactively dated the organic material in the core. Notice that the C-14 ages agree very well with the varve count. (Turekian, 1971, p. 61)

Figure 3. Comparison of carbon 14 dates with varve counts in Lake of the Clouds Minnesota

Buried River Channel

Three dimensional seismic data has been utilized in the past few years in the search for oil. When displayed along a reflector, interesting geologic features are found buried deeply in the earth. Below is a river channel which is buried at a depth of 1670 feet deep under the Texas prairie in Baylor Co. Texas. If all the geologic strata were deposited in a global flood , then this can not be a preflood river channel since there are about 5,000 feet of other flood sediments underneath this river. The white is a limestone in which the river eroded its channel (dark). Oil wells drilled outside of the channel find limestone at this level, but wells drilled into the channel fail to find any limestone here but instead find the sands and shales deposited by the river. The erosion of the limestone requires a lot more time than the young earthers will allow. (The original can be seen in AAPG Explorer, June 1993, p. 14)

Figure 4. Buried river channel. 1600 feet deep in the middle of the geologic column which young earth creationists believe was deposited during a single year. One cannot deposit a river channel.

Here is another channel, which I photographed at a Society of Exploration Geophysicists convention. It too shows a buried channel. These features are ubiquitous.


The claim is often made that the sun is shrinking. This was first suggested by Eddy and Boornazian in 1979. (see E & B line) They analyzed a 100 years of data. Creationists have quoted this work for several years. But in 1980 barely a year after the initial report, Shapiro, (Science, 208, 1980, p. 51-53) and Parkinson, Morrison and Stephenson (Nature, 288, 1980, p. 548-551) had disproved the assertion of Eddy and Boornazian. And yet, young earth creationists continue to cite this work long after the 1980 refutation. The above figure shows all the measurements of the solar radius and as can be seen the data does not support a shrinking solar radius. Akridge, “The Sun is Shrinking,” ICR Impact #82, April, 1980; Barnes, “The Dilemma of a Theistic Evolutionist”: Creation Research Society Quarterly, 24:1987, p. 167-171; Chaffin, “A Young Earth?” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 24:2, Sept. 1987, p. 109-117; and Morris, Scientific Creationism, (1985), p. 169 all cite this argument and yet, science rejects it and Eddy has never again referred to his 1979 work. Young earth creationists are not keeping up with scientific developments.

Figure 5. Comparison of the often quoted Eddy and Boornazian's rate of solar shrinkage with all the data on the historical solar radius. Obviously E & B (solid line) does not fit the entire data set.

Supernova 1987A proves the speed of light has been constant for 170,000 years.

If the speed of light has changed, then

1. the rates of radioactive decay will also have changed.

2. the energy of radiation emitted by an atom will change.

In 1987 a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud exploded. Or rather, the light from the explosion reached earth. Nine months later astronomers discovered a ring of gas with a diameter of 1.37 light years around the former star. They also discovered the characteristic gamma ray emission of Co-57 and Co-56. These gamma rays had the same energy that we observe in an earth laboratory. This means that the speed of light was the same as it is today when the star exploded. Theoretical models of a supernova said that the decay of radioactive Co-56 and Co-57 would power the light given off by the supernova gases. The light curve has decayed at precisely the half-life as we measure in our labs for Co-56 and Co-57. This further confirms that the speed of light was the same as today when the star exploded. The time it took the light to travel from the supernova to the ring allows us to measure the size of the gas ring shown above. Knowing this and the angular size of the ring as seen in a telescope gives us a distance of 170,000 light years to the star. Thus, since the distance to the supernova can be trigonometrically determined, the speed of light has been constant for the past 170,000 years.

Figure 6. One Light-year in diameter ring around Supernova 1987A which allows trigonometric distance determination of the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Unless God created a grand illusion, then the universe is at least 170,000 years old.

10 years of Root Growth from 7,000 feet down

Often the claim is made that the entire geologic column was deposited in a huge catastrophe which lasted only 1 year. There is much evidence that the geologic column took a long time to be deposited. A core taken from the Murfin Drilling Co. Colorado State No. 1-16 well at the end of 1983 showed about 250 successive layers of roots in a 3-foot length of core. Below is a small part of the core which shows the roots and the layers that they truncate into. Each layer represents one year of growth. This core represents about 10 years worth of growth. The data from this core is inconsistent with the concept that the geologic column was rapidly deposited.

Figure 7. The yearly truncation of roots from an oil well core taken from 7000 feet deep in SW Colorado.


  • Austin, Steve, 1984. Catastrophes in Earth History ICR Technical Monograph 13, (El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research, 1984), p. 272.
  • Flint, Richard Foster , 1971. Glacial and Quaternary Geology, (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1971).
  • Lambert, A.and K. J. Hsu, 1979. “Non-annual cycles of varve-like sedimentation in Walensee Switzerland,” Sedimentology, 26, 1979, p. 453-461.
  • Turekian, Karl K., editor, 1971. The Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971).
  • Woodmorappe, John, 1979. “Radiometric Geochronology Reappraised”, Creation Research Society Quarterly, September 1979, p. 102-129

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