The Science behind the Beauty of it all

Autumn, and its colorful cascade of leaves, are no accident!

Out here in West Texas most of the leaves just turn yellow and drop when we get our first cold snap. However, there are some plants that do put forth some beauty and here is what we have in our back yard. Called a Virginia creeper (how it made it all the way to West Texas is a lot of creeping along.)

It has also grown up into the big tree on our neighbor’s side of the fence that has been there for 50+ years. So it provides a bright color among its leaves also. I remember the big mulberry trees we had in our yard in west Phoenix and the tons of leaves that turned yellow and then fell. Fun when we were young because we could play in them, pain in the arse when we grew up and had to rake them and keep them out of the pool during the winter.

But did you know in Autumn trees don’t lose their leaves—they loose them.

From the following article: They describe the process far better than I can. It’s basic biology for a high school student (unless their school follows the CCC (Common Core Curriculum.)

The place where the leaf separates (abscises) from the tree is typically located at the base of the leaf stalk (petiole). It is called the abscission zone (AZ). The AZ is no random fracture point but is actually built-in, “pre-positioned”[1] during leaf formation.

With the post-summer hint of coolness in the air, before the onset of wintry weather, trees initiate a “senescence sequence” to systematically retrieve the re-usable resources from the leaves. As this process begins, and the green chlorophyll pigment and other parts of the light-harvesting (photosynthetic) complex[2] are dismantled, the leaf changes color.

First, the formerly hidden carotenoid pigments (e.g. yellow xanthophylls and orange beta-carotene) are now revealed, turning the leaves an orange-yellow hue, as the normally-dominant green chlorophyll fades.

Then, when about half the chlorophyll has been degraded, and as the level of phosphate in the leaf drops, the production of anthocyanin pigments increases. Anthocyanins tint autumn leaves red-purple, and blend with the carotenoids to create the breathtakingly beautiful deeper orange and fiery red coloration

The valuable materials that the tree extracts from the leaves before leaf drop are stored during winter in the tree’s roots, trunk, and branches until next spring when they are ‘recycled’ to re-leaf the tree. This has to be done during the milder weather of autumn, because there can be no retrieval from leaves after the first hard freeze arrives.

With the pulling back of resources from the leaf now completed, the abscission zone becomes a hotbed of activity, in three locations:
1) a cell wall degradation area;
2) a shear force generation area; and
3) a tree protection zone.

All of these must be in place for successful leaf shedding and effective tree survival.

With the abscission process triggered by a raft of chemical signals (including, it is believed, ethylene produced by the internally-gutted leaf), AZ cells start to secrete enzymes.[3] These dissolve the ‘glue’[4] that holds cells together and degrade the primary wall between cells. The surrounding AZ cells actively produce the necessary abscission materials throughout; i.e., they remain alive and active until abscission is completed.

While the AZ can be 5–40 cells wide, within that zone only a band 1–3 cells wide will disconnect from each other to form the fracture line. The weakening of the walls of those cells, coupled with increasing internal water pressure inside the cells, causes the cells to swell. This expansion generates tremendous shear forces, i.e., pushing and pulling on surrounding weakened cell walls, mechanically opening up fracture lines between cell walls. Wind tugging on the leaves helps these fracture lines to grow, as do gravity, precipitation and animal interference.

As cell walls pull apart, opening up the fracture line, the AZ cells on the tree side close off the opening wound by depositing protective materials such as tyloses, suberin and lignin. This strong protective boundary zone seals off the leaf scar, defending the tree from the cold, as well as from diseases and pests.

With the sealing-off process completed, the leaf can now be safely shed.

While there is still much to learn about abscission, we can see that leaf fall doesn’t just happen, but rather is a carefully coordinated series of complex chemical processes—which would be controlled by the plant’s genes. Researchers have now mapped out a genetic pathway, or ‘signaling cascade’, behind abscission in the common laboratory plant Arabidopsis (water cress).[5] They have identified that there is a key network of genes that code for proteins in a sequential manner. Each step of the cumulative processes that make up the cascade is dependent on the one before it.

This presents a challenge to the evolutionary paradigm—because if just one of these steps in the signalling cascade is absent, the abscission process doesn’t work. (In addition, how did evolution produce genes that code for enzymes that can digest themselves?)

All-or-nothing genetic cascades[6] don’t fit the claimed step-by-step evolution story, but rather fit with the Bible’s account that plants were designed by a super-intelligent creator—God. He designed them to fit the seasons He made too (Genesis 1:14, 8:22; Deuteronomy 11:14). Autumn, and its colorful cascade of leaves, are no accident!


[1] Coder, K., Falling tree leaves: leaf abscission, University of Georgia Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry Resources Extension publication FOR99–025, December 1999

[2] For more on the wonders of photosynthesis see Sarfati, J., Green power (photosynthesis) God’s solar power plants amaze chemists, Journal of Creation 19(1):14–15,

[3] E.g. pectinase and cellulase.

[4] I.e. the middle lamella. Calcium bridges across cell wall materials are also removed.

[5] Cho, S., Larue, C., Chevalier, D., Wang, H., Jinn, T.-L., Zhang, S., and Walker, J., Regulation of floral organ abscission in Arabidopsis thaliana, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105(40):15629–15634, 7 October 2008.

[6] An example from animals and humans is the blood
clotting cascade, with over a hundred factors or steps now known to make up the sequence. See: “Irreducibly complex: The clotting cascade”, Creation 33(3):15, 2011.

The Science of it All

The infallibility of Potassium-Argon dating

Standing roughly in the center of New Zealand’s North Island, Mt Ngauruhoe is New Zealand’s newest volcano and one of the most active. It is not as well publicized as its larger close neighbour MT Ruapehu, which has erupted briefly several times in the last five years.


However, Mt Ngauruhoe is an imposing, almost perfect cone that rises more than 3,300 feet above the surrounding landscape to an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level.[1] Eruptions from a central 1,300 foot wide crater have constructed the cone’s steep (33°) outer slopes.

Radioactive dating in general depends on three major assumptions:

  1. When the rock forms (hardens) there should only be parent radioactive
    atoms in the rock and no daughter radiogenic (derived by radioactive decay of another element) atoms;[2]
  2. After hardening, the rock must remain a closed system, that is, no
    parent or daughter atoms should be added to or removed from the rock by
    external influences such as percolating groundwaters; and
  3. The radioactive decay rate must remain constant.

If any of these assumptions are violated, then the technique fails and any ‘dates’ are false.

Eleven samples were collected from five recent lava flows during field work in January 1996—two each from the 11 February 1949, 4 June 1954, and 14 July 1954 flows and from the 19 February 1975 avalanche deposits, and three from the 30 June 1954 flow[3]). The darker recent lavas were clearly visible and each one easily identified (with the aid of maps) on the northwestern slopes against the lighter-colored older portions of the cone. All flows were typically made up of jumbled blocks of congealed lava, resulting in rough, jagged, clinkery surfaces.

The potassium-argon (K–Ar) dating method is often used to date volcanic rocks (and by extension, nearby fossils). In using this method, it is assumed that there was no daughter radiogenic argon (40Ar*) in rocks when they formed.[4] For volcanic rocks which cool from molten lavas, this would seem to be a reasonable assumption. Because argon is a gas, it should escape to the atmosphere due to the intense heat of the lavas. Of course, no geologist was present to test this assumption by observing ancient lavas when they cooled,
but we can study modern lava flows.

The samples were sent progressively in batches to Geochron Laboratories in Cambridge, Boston (USA), for whole-rock potassium-argon (K–Ar) dating. Geochron is a respected commercial laboratory, the K–Ar lab manager having a Ph.D. in K–Ar dating. No specific location or expected age information was supplied to the laboratory. However, the samples were described as probably young with very little argon in them so as to ensure extra care was taken during the analytical work.

The ‘ages’ returned from the Geochron Labs range from <0.27 to 3.5 (± 0.2) million years for rocks which were observed to have cooled from lavas 25–50 years ago. One sample from each flow yielded ‘ages’ of <0.27 or <0.29 million years while all the other samples gave ‘ages’ of millions of years.

Because these rocks are known to be less than 50 years old, it is apparent from the analytical data that these K–Ar ‘ages’ are due to ‘excess’ argon inherited from the magma source area deep in the earth.3 Thus, when the lavas cooled, they contained appreciable (non-zero) concentrations of ‘normal’ 40Ar, which is
indistinguishable from daughter radiogenic 40Ar* derived by radioactive decay of parent 40K. This violates assumption (1) of radioactive dating, and so the K–Ar method fails the test.

The radioactive potassium-argon dating method has been demonstrated to fail on 1949, 1954, and 1975 lava flows at Mt Ngauruhoe, New Zealand, in spite of the quality of the laboratory’s K–Ar analytical work. Argon gas, brought up from deep inside the earth within the molten rock, was already present in the lavas when they cooled. We know the true ages of the rocks because they were observed to form less than 50 years ago. Yet they yield ‘ages’ up to 3.5 million years which are thus false. How can we trust the use of this same ‘dating’ method on rocks whose ages we don’t know? If the method fails on rocks when we have an independent eye-witness account, then why should we trust it on other rocks where there are no independent historical cross-checks?

However, we do know Someone who was present when all the earth’s rocks formed—the Creator Himself. He has told us when that was, in His eyewitness account in the Bible’s first book, Genesis, so we know how old all the rocks are. How much better to place our confidence in the Creator who made and knows everything, and who never fails or tells lies, than in a radioactive dating method that has been repeatedly demonstrated to fail and to yield false ages for the earth’s rocks.

Condensed from For more details of the testing, results and images of the rocks tested and details of how the blind study was conducted please read the entire article.

[1] Williams, K., Volcanoes of the South Wind: A Field Guide to the Volcanoes and Landscape of the Tongariro National Park, Tongariro Natural History Society, Turangi, New Zealand, 1994.

[2] This is true for K–Ar dating, one of the most common
methods, and the one discussed here. The so-called ‘isochron’ technique for dealing with the chemical analyses of the rocks being ‘dated’ attempts to bypass this assumption. A discussion of isochron ‘dating’, along with the associated problems of false (pseudo) isochrons, is outside the scope of this paper, but see Austin,
(ed.), Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, Institute for Creation Research, Santee, California, pp. 111–131, 1994.

[3] Snelling, A.A., The cause of anomalous potassium-argon ‘ages’ for recent andesite flows at Mt Ngauruhoe, New Zealand, and the implications for potassium-argon ‘dating’, In: Walsh, R.E. (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pp. 503–525, 1998

[4] Dalrymple, G.B., The Age of the Earth, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, p. 91, 1991.

The Science of it All

Evillutionists redefine the rules again!

The secular world likes to slam the creation scientists and Intelligent Design scientists for not following “proper scientific procedures.” I will show a case where just the opposite is true and it is one of thousands that I could point out.

A theory to qualify as scientific is expected to be:

  • Consistent
  • Parsimonious (sparing in its proposed entities or explanations)
  • Useful (describes and explains observed phenomena, and can be used in a predictive manner)
  • Empirically testable and falsifiable (potentially confirmable or disprovable by experiment or observation)
  • Based on multiple observations (often in the form of controlled, repeated experiments)
  • Correctable and dynamic (modified in the light of observations that do not support it)
  • Progressive (refines previous theories)
  • Provisional or tentative (is open to experimental checking, and does not assert certainty)

For any theory, hypothesis or conjecture to be considered scientific, it must meet most, and ideally all, of these criteria. The fewer criteria are met, the less scientific it is; and if it meets only a few or none at all, then it cannot be treated as scientific in any meaningful sense of the word.

So let’s examine one example where the ID version matches more of the criteria listed above than the “evolutionary geological” version does.

Recently a critic[i] of the Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE)[ii] creation research project inadvertently helped find a new line of evidence supporting the biblical 6,000-year age of the world.[iii]


Valle Grande, New Mexico, USA, is inside Valles Caldera, a 16-km-wide volcanic crater. The borehole from which RATE’s zircons came, and the feldspar for this study, is just outside the caldera’s western rim. Valles Caldera photographed from space shuttle. GT-2 is RATE borehole.

Tiny radioactive crystals of zircon extracted from the borehole samples contain uranium-238 and, of course, its nuclear decay product of lead-206. Assuming today’s standardized slow decay rates, uniformitarian[1] geoscientists estimate the rock formation is 1.5 billion years old. And the vast majority of geologists accept that as a valid date ± half a million years.

However, creation scientists re-examined the zircons and found that they retained surprisingly high amounts of the helium that the uranium-to-lead decay would have produced. On the assumption that the rock temperature in the past was about the same as it is now, the leak rates that were measured of the helium from those zircons would give an age for the rock of only (6,000 ± 2,000) years.[2]

That is consistent with RATE’s hypothesis of accelerated nuclear decay and accelerated removal of the heat generated thereby.[3] RATE found a number of other lines of evidence supporting the hypothesis.[4] To increase the helium-leak age to over a billion years they had to have the formation be very much cooler in the past than it is at present. That would slow the leakage. The uniformitarian’s depended heavily on a 1986 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research[5] by geoscientists from three US universities. They modelled past temperatures in
the formation using argon data in the borehole as a constraint.

This paper had completely ignored the heat that the nearby volcano would have applied to the formation during the alleged “one million years” since its eruption. Instead they assumed the temperature of the formation was incredibly low until relatively recently. Two other papers cited contradicted the low-temperature assumption, one with much more reasonable heat models, the  other with actual data. past temperatures in the formation would have been significantly higher than today, high enough for long enough to almost completely eradicate helium from the zircons. That means that RATE’s assumption of constant temperatures was actually quite generous to uniformitarians. But Harrison et al.8 wanted much lower  temperatures than today for most of the alleged million years since the volcano erupted. Why did they want to ignore its heat?

The answer relates to the fact that not only helium, but also argon, can leak from minerals. The hotter the minerals, the faster the leaks. [6] Feldspar, a common mineral in the granitic rock, contains a lot of potassium, about 0.01% of which is the radioactive isotope potassium-40. Today it decays very slowly into the stable isotope argon-40. Comparing the two isotopes and assuming today’s rate of decay is the basis for the familiar ‘potassium-argon’ dating method, Harrison et al. found that in the deepest, hottest part of the borehole, over 20% of the nuclear-decay-generated argon has leaked out of the feldspar crystals. They also measured how fast argon leaks from the feldspar at various depths in the borehole. Using those data, we can show that even assuming that the deepest
sample did not get hotter than its present temperature, it would have lost nearly all of its argon in a million years.[7] That is why Harrison et al. were forced to assume the temperature was very low until relatively recently. Then, they assumed that some unknown, unspecified source of heat rapidly raised the temperature in just twenty thousand years up to today’s high temperature.

Using Harrison’s own data and equations, you can calculate that the feldspar in the rock formation would have lost the observed amount of argon in only 5,100 years, give or take a few thousand according to any estimate that includes the experimental uncertainty in the data. This age is consistent with results in the Harrison et al. paper, although they wanted to regard the numbers as indicating only the duration of their assumed fast heating pulse after their alleged eons of incredible coolness.

This 5,100-year argon diffusion age is consistent with RATE’s helium diffusion age of (6,000 ± 2,000) years for the same rock formation. So now we have two different age measurements using two different gases from two different types of nuclear decay in two different minerals—and the two methods agree within their error bounds. In contrast, the uniformitarian scenario of long ages would leave the rocks with almost no helium and little argon, contrary to the observations of both RATE and Harrison et al.

So let’s go back to the start of this article. A theory to qualify as scientific is expected to be:

  • Consistent (Harrison et al. used data from 2 of three papers to support their premise, ignoring the data that didn’t)
  • Parsimonious (They assumed the temperature was very low until relatively recently. Then, they assumed that some unknown, unspecified source of heat rapidly raised the temperature)
  • Useful (The uniformitarian scenario of long ages would leave the rocks with almost no helium and little argon, contrary to the observations of both RATE and their own research.)
  • Empirically testable and falsifiable (Assumptions can not be tested)
  • Based on multiple observations (Other observations show a different and simpler explanation)
  • Correctable and dynamic (ignored the data that contradicted their premise)
  • Progressive (used data to verify unsupportable theory)
  • Provisional or tentative (They insist they are correct despite the evidence to the contrary)

On all accounts of being a scientific theory, this one fails.

Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 13:1 say that “ … every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Helium from the RATE borehole has already testified to an earth that is thousands, not billions, of years old. Now, argon from the same site has become a second noble-gas witness confirming the biblical youth of the world.

[1] Uniformitarianism is the assumption that “all continues just as it was from the beginning” 2 Peter 3:4, omitting the possibility of any large-scale physical interventions by God into the natural realm.

[2] Humphreys, D.R., Young helium diffusion age of zircons
supports accelerated nuclear decay, in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Volume II: Results of a Young-earth Creationist
Research Initiative
, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA,
and Creation Research Society, Chino Valley, AZ, L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin, editors, 2005, ch. 2, pp. 25–100. Chapter 2 archived at

[3] Humphreys, D.R., Accelerated nuclear decay: a viable
hypothesis? in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: a Young-earth Creationist Research Initiative, Institute
for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, and Creation Research Society, St. Joseph, MO, L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin, editors, 2000, ch. 7, pp. 334–379. Archived at

[4] See rest of RATE II book cited in Ref. 5.

[5] Harrison, T. M., Morgan, P., and Blackwell, D. D.,
Constraints on the age of heating at the Fenton Hill site, Valles Caldera, New Mexico, Journal of Geophysical Research 91(B2):1899–1908, 10 February, 1986