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National Geographic News: “Oldest Living Tree Found in Sweden” It’s the world’s oldest living tree, say Swedish researchers—but don’t worry, they didn’t stay up late counting the rings.
National Geographic News reports on the 13-foot (4m) conifer found in Sweden back in 2004. The tree itself (a Norway spruce) isn’t that old, but researchers allege that the root system dates back 9,550 years.
The tree itself isn’t that old, but researchers allege that the root system dates back 9,550 years.
A team at Umeå University led by Leif Kullman says the tree’s old age is due to its ability to clone itself. Each time a trunk dies off—around every 600 years, according to Kullman—the roots sprout a new trunk to replace the dead one. The oldest continuously standing trees are thought to be bristlecone pines from the western United States, the oldest of which is thought to be 5,000 years old—just over half the age of Kullman’s tree.
The question on our minds, of course, is one every creationist—in fact, one every person (Christian or not) should ask regularly: how do you know? In this case, how does Kullman’s team know the tree is nearly ten millennia old? In this case, the answer the team gives is radiocarbon dating.
Interestingly, this tree’s date, Kullman notes, cancels out previous studies (“the general conception,” he says) that said the spruce migrated to the area only 2,000 years ago. Was that previous research in error, or has the perceived infallibility of radiocarbon dating overridden a more accurate account of these trees’ history?
National Geographic News also quotes Tom Harlan, of the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, who offers tepid support for Kullman’s research: “The date seems a little early but not out of line with other things we have seen.”
Remember our table from item #2? Let’s apply it again to this research:
|Observed fact||carbon isotope levels in the roots||carbon isotope levels in the roots|
|Unchanging assumption||age of the earth||14C production rate|
|Variable conclusion||14C production rate||age of the earth (and tree)|
Once again, creationists do not dispute the “hard facts” of radiometric dating; we rather disagree with the faith evolutionists have in uniformitarianism—the idea that, for example, the rate of 14C production must be identical to what it was in the past. We put our faith in Scripture, including its clear teaching of a recent creation approximately 6,000 years ago.
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