Grand Canyon Age Getting Pushed Back through Time of Dinosaurs

on April 19, 2008

ScienceNOW: “Did Dinosaurs Gawk at the Grand Canyon?” Any article on old-age dating methods that begins, “How could everyone have gotten it so wrong?” is obviously going to be of interest to creationists.

Following that opening sentence, ScienceNOW’s Phil Berardelli writes:

New research indicates that the Grand Canyon is perhaps 65 million years old, far older than previously thought—and old enough that the last surviving dinosaurs may have stomped along its rim.

Now, regular News to Note readers may remember that it was only six weeks ago that old-earth-believing scientists reported the Grand Canyon’s age at not 6 million years old (the previous view), but rather 17 millions years old. And now, in the short span of six weeks, the canyon has gained another 48 million years!

So what’s behind this new re-dating? It seems researchers at the California Institute of Technology (a.k.a. Caltech) have developed a radiometric dating technique that is based on a phosphate-containing material called apatite.

Reporting in an upcoming issue of the Geological Society of America’s Bulletin, the team reports that samples of apatite taken from the deepest parts of the Grand Canyon were exposed by erosion 55–65 million years ago, though not all of the canyon formed at the same time.

Radiometric dating has resulted in wild inaccuracies and often contradicts itself.

Surprisingly, the University of New Mexico–Albuquerque’s Victor Polyak, who was behind the recent dating of the canyon to 17 million years ago, didn’t dispute the new age. “There were more processes shaping what is now the Grand Canyon than previously thought,” he said.

What is tragic, really—we don’t think we’re exaggerating—is that we so often hear radiometric dating cited as one of the top reasons people reject the Bible’s account of history as “unscientific,” “mythical,” and downright false. Yet radiometric dating has resulted in wild inaccuracies and often contradicts itself, and this changing canyon date is a prime example. Just weeks ago, it was radiometric dating (uranium–lead testing, to be precise) that dated the western end of the canyon to 17 million years old. Of course, in this case old-agers can invent a “rescuing device” to salvage their faith in radiometric dating: different parts of the canyon formed at different times, which is ultimately unfalsifiable. If scientists find a hundred different dates from a hundred different parts of the canyon, will they start to question radiometric dating? Not likely. Rather, they will either blame “contamination” or invent more “just-so” stories for how the canyon could have come together, bit by bit, with dates ranging all over the last hundred million years of alleged earth history.

In every scientific debate over the age of the earth and dating methods, Christians must remember that there are facts—such as the amount of different isotopes in rocks—that creationists and evolutionists agree about. The disagreement is over the interpretation of these facts: the assumptions that are used to filter the facts and determine what they really mean. In this case, a table may help explain:

Creationists Evolutionists
Observed fact amount of an isotope in a rock amount of an isotope in a rock
Unchanging assumption age of the earth rate of decay, starting isotope levels, etc.
Variable conclusion rate of decay, starting isotope levels, etc. age of the earth (and Canyon)

As for us, our view on the Grand Canyon hasn’t changed one bit. As we wrote in March,

What’s incredible is that even amid ample evidence that canyons can be carved within an extremely short period of time, those who believe in an ancient earth (a requirement of Darwinian evolution, by the way) stick to the idea that water might only erode an inch or two of rock in a thousand years! Yet in three days in July 2002, a flood caused by the overflow of Canyon Lake in Texas carved a mile-and-a-half-long canyon up to 80 ft (24m) deep in places (see News to Note, October 13, 2007, item #2). Imagine what a global Flood could cause—one caused by forty days of rain and subterranean eruptions of water that transcended the then-highest mountains and covered the earth for a year!

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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