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]

Valles-Caldera

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 http://www.icr.org/pdf/technical/Young-Helium-Diffusion-Age-of-Zircons.pdf

[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 http://www.icr.org/i/pdf/research/rate-all.pdf

[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

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