Questioning the Reliability of the RATE Group and Its Findings

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A feedback submitter suggests that the RATE team was dishonest because “[t]hey already know the truth [and] the facts that they find will reflect their presuppositions.”

I question the reliability of the RATE group and its findings: they are a fact finding group with a predisposed bias. They already know the truth the facts that they find will reflect their presuppositions. Specifically:

Choosing a recently solidified lava rock, testing it and receiving a 2.8 million year age. False readings from a rigged test do not invalidate the testing concept. You ask how one can trust a mechanism that gives false readings; I ask how one can trust people who set up such a rigged test.

Regardless of the range of ages Grand Canyon samples (-229/+309 not 537 million years), all ages are in millions of years. Whatever fluctuation in initial conditions caused the variations, it is still millions of years.

Atomic decay rates do not change. The speed of light does not change. Universal constants do not change. Please see Chapter 4 of this book.

Until God, Himself, tells me He created in 6 days, Genesis 1-11 are only thewords of men.

L. Wheeler

The claims made by Mr. Wheeler are, to say the least, astounding, and indicate that he apparently does not understand that all scientists, and indeed all people, have presuppositions that govern how they think and how they understand the world. No scientists were on the earth when many rocks were being formed, so assumptions have to be made about geological processes in the past. Many scientists claim that only present-day geological processes at present-day rates should be used to explain how rocks formed in the past. However, they do so by ignoring the mounting, compelling evidence that most rock layers can only have formed by geological processes acting at catastrophic rates, unlike anything we observe today. That’s why many conventional geologists today are embracing catastrophism. For example, an asteroid or meteorite impact is supposed to have destroyed the dinosaurs and many other creatures at the end of the Cretaceous.

With respect to the specific allegation against the RATE group for testing recently solidified lava flows, the RATE group was only following in the footsteps of many previous scientists, some well known, who have similarly tested lava flows of known age. Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple, formerly the Deputy Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and now at the University of California Berkeley Geochronology Center, back in 1969 studied 26 historic lava flows, five of which yielded excess argon gas and therefore false ages. Dalrymple’s study was published in the leading earth science journal, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and neither the editors, reviewers, nor any of Dalrymple’s fellow scientists accused him of rigging his tests in order to invalidate the testing concept. Indeed, other scientists have also similarly tested lava flows of known ages without facing the kind of accusations made by Mr. Wheeler. All of these details and references, and there are many, to these studies published in the conventional earth science literature have been compiled and fully referenced in my chapter on ‘Geochemical Processes in the Mantle and Crust’ (chapter 5, pp. 123–304) in the first book published by the RATE group in 2000, which is available as a PDF file at The RATE group did not rig tests to obtain false readings to bolster a pre-disposed bias any more than did Dr. Brent Dalrymple, or many other competent geochronologists!

Mr. Wheeler does not specify for which Grand Canyon samples there was a range of ages of -229 to 309 (not 537) million years. I simply can’t find any such details in any of the data tables published by the RATE group. What I do know is that we carefully collected samples of the Cardenas Basalt in the eastern Grand Canyon, and the results we obtained at recognized, world-class laboratories ranged from 516 (+/-30) million years on 14 samples using potassium-argon, 1111 (+/-81) million years on 19 samples using rubidium-strontium, and 1588 (+/-170) million years for eight samples using the samarium-neodymium method.1 These results are still in millions of years, but these radioactive “clocks,” according to the geochronology textbooks, should yield the same age for the same samples from the same rock unit. However, the samarium-neodymium “age” for the Cardenas Basalt is three times the potassium-argon “age,” a 300% difference!

These gross variations in “ages” simply cannot be explained by fluctuations in initial conditions, because these analyses were undertaken on the same rock samples for which geologic conditions would have been the same for all three parent-daughter dating systems. Thus the RATE group concluded that the only viable explanation was that each of these radioactive decay systems decayed at different faster rates than today. Other evidence, such as helium leakage from zircon crystals, co-existing uranium and polonium radiohalos that formed at the same time, and significant levels of radiocarbon in supposedly ancient deep-earth diamonds and coal beds,2 is also only consistent with radioactive decay having been accelerated in the past by several orders of magnitude. The RATE group has also presented details of mechanisms of how this decay could have been accelerated. Such mechanisms are known and reported in the conventional scientific literature. This grossly accelerated decay completely wipes out the millions of years based on the constancy of decay rates assumed by most conventional scientists (a predisposed bias?).

It is incorrect to say that radioactive decay rates are universal constants. Dr. Jason Lisle does not state that in chapter 4 of The New Answers Book where he discusses the laws of nature. To the contrary, radioactive decay rates have been changed in the laboratory. For example, it has been reported that the decay rate of 7Be has been measured and observed to differ by as much as 1.5% when the Be has been in different chemical forms.3 Furthermore, the same 7Be isotope has had its decay rate increased by about 1% by increased pressure.4 Thus radioactive decay rates are not recognized as universal constants.

God does not promise individuals a personal revelation of Himself when He has already spoken clearly through His written Word delivered to us by His spokesmen. In Exodus 20:11 God spoke to Moses (a verified historic person) and told him that He (God) had created the heavens, the earth and everything in them in six days, the same as the six literal 24 hour days with a seventh day of rest that was to compose man’s work week. Furthermore, in Exodus 31:18 we are told that God not only spoke this to Moses, but He Himself wrote these words “in six days” on stone tablets.

Finally, Jesus Christ demonstrated His credentials as the Creator (John 1:1-3) by instantly turning water into wine and instantly creating more bread and fish, both in front of witnesses. And in Hebrews 11:3 it is stated that it is by faith (not sight) we understand the world was created by God. Nevertheless, there are today so many well-qualified scientists who are convinced that all the evidence around us points to God having created the world and us.


  1. Andrew A. Snelling, “The Fallacies of Radioactive Dating of Rocks: Basalt Lava Flows in Grand Canyon,” Answers, July-September 2006, pp. 66-69.
  2. Larry Vardiman, Andrew A. Snelling, and Eugene F. Chaffin, eds., Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, vol. 2 (El Cajon, California: Institute for Creation Research; Chino Valley, Arizona: Creation Research Society, 2005).
  3. Chih-An Huh, “Dependence of the Decay Rate of 7Be on Chemical Forms,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 171(1999):325-328.
  4. Lin-gun Liu and Chih-An Huh, “Effect of Pressure on the Decay Rate of 7Be,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 180(2000):163-167.


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