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Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the theory of evolution is the apparent consistency of its corollary, the long-age geological system. Evolutionists and other long-agers challenge critics with such statements as: “You may disbelieve the results of one dating method, but how can you disbelieve when several independent dating methods all arrive at approximately the same date?” “The radiometric dates and the age of the fossils generally agree.” “Evolution shows such consistent change of organisms with time, how can you doubt such a precise pattern?” “All dinosaurs died at the end of the Cretaceous Period.” It appears initially that they have a very strong case. But, a deeper look gives a different picture when we ask, how is this uniformity achieved?
Crudely put, consistent dates are obtained by fudging data that have a high degree of variability or error. I believe most of this adjustment is internal and worked out before publication, but enough has been published to indicate that this practice is pervasive.
I was reminded of this tendency in reading a recent Science News article on trace fossils.1 In discussing boreholes left in fossil mollusc shells by unknown drilling organisms, Sid Perkins relates:
“Although some marine fossils more than 500 million years old sport holes, many paleontologists have been hesitant to say these are signs of predators, says Audrey Aronowsky, a paleoecologist at University of California, Berkeley. That’s because the modern-day snails that drill similar holes didn’t evolve until about 110 million years ago.”2
The supposed age difference between the mollusc and the most likely candidate for hole drilling is 400 million years within the geological time scale. This is not acceptable to evolutionists. So they just assume that some as-yet-unidentified borer drilled the holes. For a creationist, such data does not present a problem since molluscs and shell drillers all lived before the Flood and were buried in the Flood (the holes could have been drilled either before or during the Flood).
This example is not an isolated case. Dating methods are not all that dependable and can be manipulated to agree with index fossils. The best documented example of this is found in the appendix to Marvin Lubenow’s book: Bones of Contention .3 The appendix, appropriately named “the dating game,” documents from evolutionary literature how manipulation of four radiometric dating methods and two fossil index systems (elephants and pigs) all agreed that Richard Leakey’s supposed fossil man, skull KNM-ER 1470, was about 2.6 million years old. However, paleoanthropologists could not believe such a modern looking skull could be that ancient. Again, the assumption of evolution motivated this concern. To keep the evolutionary story consistent, the volcanic tuff associated with the skull was redated. Lo and behold, “redating” by various methods again came up with another “consistent” date of about 1.6 million years. Finally, they arrived at a date they could all agree with. During this ten-year controversy, it was revealed that some dates came out as old as 230 million years. What does this say about the independence of these dating methods?
In regard to radiometric dating, John Woodmorappe has documented in his book, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods,4 the countless manipulations invoked to produce “consistent” radiometric dates. Once in a while, I come across statements of how radiometric dates are simply geared to the fossil dates. In my study of the geology of the northwest states, I happened upon the following admission in Cascadia: The Geological Evolution of the Pacific Northwest:
“One might imagine that direct methods [radiometric dating] of measuring time would make obsolete all of the previous means of estimating age, but these new ‘absolute’ measurements are used more as a supplement to traditional methods [index fossils] than as a substitute. Geologists put more faith in the principles of superposition [strata are younger upwards] and faunal succession [evolution] than they do in numbers that come out of a machine. If the laboratory results contradict the field evidence, the geologist assumes that there is something wrong with the machine date. To put it another way, ‘good’ dates are those that agree with the field data [fossils in the strata]”5[brackets mine and quotes his].
I have documented in other writings how dinosaur remains first found in the early Tertiary were either considered “reworked” from the Cretaceous or the sediment suddenly “redated” and found to be “Cretaceous” after all.6 Such procedures automatically reinforce the belief that dinosaurs died out by the end of the Cretaceous Period in the mind of the public as well as other scientists. This is just one of many examples of the reinforcement syndrome, a type of circular reasoning in which a hypothesis is repeatedly reinforced with further selected data, especially if that hypothesis originates from a prominent scientist.7
Bias, consciously or unconsciously, has compelled scientists to ignore important evidence of inconsistency in data, creating an apparent uniformity of dates and reinforcing previously held theories. To the unsuspecting, this consistency seems like truth, but it is simply an outgrowth of the evolutionary/uniformitarian long-age paradigm.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.