Geoscience Research Institute

IN A FEW WORDS

Origins 13(2):59-61 (1986).

Brief summaries of the main conclusions of the leading presentations are given below for those who may find the complete articles too long or technical.


SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT GEOCHRONOLOGY

    The presently accepted geochronological time scale for the earth proposes an age of about 4600 Ma (4600 million years). Sedimentary layers found on the continents of the earth contain evidences of past life (fossils) dated from very recent to several thousand million years. Evolution of life is assumed to have taken place during that time. This scenario contrasts dramatically with the biblical creation account which proposes that life on earth has existed for only a few thousand years.
    The geochronological time scale of thousands of millions of years is based mainly on radiometric dating — a dating system which has both strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, some other time-dependent processes change at rates which challenge generally accepted geochronology. Examples include:

  1. The present rate of erosion of the land surface of the earth would level the continents several hundred times over in 4600 million years.
  2. Rivers carry sediment to the ocean at a rate that would fill the oceans at least 19 times over in 3500 million years, yet oceans are still very empty. Attempts to explain this by recycling sediments into the crust of the earth by various mechanisms are not very satisfactory.
  3. Present rates of sediment formation indicate that there should be 14 to 23 times as much as is found. Intermittent action is used as an explanation.
  4. Mountains are rising at rates of 100 km in 100 million years. Intermittent action is again used to explain the discrepancy.
  5. In 3500 million years, the present production rate of volcanic ejecta would produce 20 to 80 times more than is now found.
  6. The human population grows so rapidly that its present size could have been reached in less than 1% (3200 years) of the minimum time assumed ( million years) for man on the basis of radiometric dating. Also supporting a recent existence for man are the historical and archaeological data which are abundant but very recent. It does not seem that man (Homo sapiens) has been on this planet for million years.
  7. On the other hand, the 4600 million years assumed for the age of the earth is many orders of magnitude too short to account for the highly improbable events postulated for the evolutionary development of life.

    It appears that quite a number of independent factors disagree with the presently accepted view of 4600 million years for the development of the present earth system and the life contained therein. While the factors noted (except Factor 6) do not point to a few thousand years as indicated by the Bible, it is significant that the worldwide flood described in Genesis has the potential to cause Factors 1-5 to change more rapidly than at present and thus fit into the context of a few thousand years since creation. Creation itself has the potential to resolve any difficulty over the time required for evolutionary development (Factor 7).
    All extrapolations of present phenomena into the past must be approached with caution. A number of explanations have been proposed in the scientific literature for reconciliation of the discrepancies noted above with standard geochronology. These explanations propose that present geologic processes do not represent long-term averages. While this may be true in some instances, it is difficult to accept that all these various rates would be wrong. It appears that standard geochronological interpretations face some significant unresolved problems.

PROBABILITY AND ITS APPLICATION TO THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

    Probability theory has been developed and verified using physical devices such as coins or cards that meet the assumptions of fairness and independence inherent in probability theory. Because these assumptions may not apply to steps postulated in a scenario for the origin of life and because some of the steps may be nearly unique, probabilistic arguments regarding the origin of life do not seem to be applicable except as gross generalizations.
    In this article the author quotes non-creationist scientists who suggest that time, space, and raw materials in the universe may be too limited to permit the origin of life by chance alone.
    Probability is a mathematical construct that can be demonstrated to model well-behaved non-deterministic phenomena such as coin tosses, and is accepted as being useful in modeling and analyzing masses of data from well-designed scientific studies of less well-behaved random processes. The application of probability analysis to events which may be nearly unique and happen so seldom as to be rarely observed seems questionable from a practical viewpoint.
    Probability is essential in comparing or predicting the outcome of events based on a particular model. In the case of the origin of life suitable models amenable to scientific investigations have not yet been proposed or evaluated.


1986

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