Often, critics of biblical creation will comment on my Facebook posts. Some of them have intelligent questions which I am happy to answer. But many critics simply post unsubstantiated, false assertions or emotionally charged rhetoric that is devoid of any rational content. It is a waste of time to interact with such trolls (see Proverbs 9:7-8, 23:9). But it can be encouraging to the Christian to examine these arguments to see how bad they are. The degree of bad reasoning that critics must invoke in order to avoid the obvious truth of God’s Word is staggering. Ironically, such rantings only serve to illustrate the truth of Romans 1:18.
Our critic this week responded to my recent article on radiometric dating. He made a number of assertions. The critic’s comments are in purple, with my response in black. Where the critic quotes the original article is in green text. Does this critic make any good, rational points? Or does he exhibit the typical ignorance of science and creation technical literature along with fallacious reasoning?
Critic: OK, let’s pick out the lies one at a time:
The critic begins with a question-begging epithet fallacy. Simply asserting that your opponent is lying is the way children argue. Rational adults are supposed to do better. Of course, any moral objection whatsoever presupposes the truth of the Bible, beginning in Genesis. The critic thereby reveals his own intellectual schizophrenia in relying on the biblical creation worldview (in which God created us and has the right to set rules for us, such as “do not bear false witness”), while simultaneously denying biblical creation. This confirms the truth of Romans 1:18-20; everyone knows that God has created, even those who verbally deny it.
1. “This apparently contradicts the biblical record in which we read that God created in six days, with Adam being made on the sixth day. From the listed genealogies, the creation of the universe happened about 6000 years ago.”
Critic: This relies on several poorly-founded presuppositions: namely, that the creation account is meant to give a scientific account of the cosmos, …
No. The Genesis account of creation is an historical account. It is not a science textbook. However, since Genesis is divinely inspired, inerrant, recorded history, when it touches on matters of science, it is necessarily right.
So, is the notion that Genesis is an historical account a “poorly-founded presupposition?” No. Rather, it is what Genesis itself claims to be. Genesis 2:4a states, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” The Hebrew word translated “account” in the NAS is “toledoth” which has the basic meaning of “origins” or “history.” Far from a presupposition, Genesis itself claims to be recorded history. Ironically, to take it any other way would be a poorly-found presupposition – one that is contrary to what the text itself states.
Critic: …that the “days” in question are meant to be sequential, …
The Hebrew text requires them to be sequential because Genesis 1:31 refers to the sixth day as the sixth day; the definite article “the” is included in the Hebrew text. So, it is not simply “a” sixth day, but “the” sixth, which is sequential. Likewise, with the seventh day in Genesis 2:2.
Critic: …24-hour days, …
Are the days 24-hours? Genesis teaches that indeed these are ordinary earth-rotation days – a period of light followed by a period of darkness and bounded by evening and morning (Genesis 1:5). Furthermore, Exodus 20:8-11 uses the same word for day (in the plural form which never means anything other than ordinary days) to explain that our seven-day work week exists because this is how long God took to create and rest. Jesus affirmed that the light portion (half) of a day is indeed 12 hours on average (John 11:9), which makes the entire day-night period 24 hours.
Critic: …that the genealogies are without gaps…
This common misconception stems from the fact that the Hebrew word translated “beget” in the KJV (or “became the father of” in more modern translations) basically means “to cause to be born.” So we might suspect that it could be used of a more distant ancestor – that a grandfather could “beget” (cause to be born) a grandson. However, Hebrew scholar Dr. Steven Boyd researched this issue and found that the word is never used that way in Scripture. The Hebrew word translated “beget” always denotes an immediate parent-child relationship everywhere in the Old Testament.
So, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Old Testament genealogies had gaps. But even if they did, it would not affect the age of the earth one little bit – and it amazes me that critics don’t seem to realize this. Think about it. Genesis 5:3 says that Adam was 130 years old when he became the father of Seth. So the time between Adam’s creation and Seth’s birth was 130 years. If there was a gap, and Seth was actually a grandchild, or great-grandchild, how much time would there be between Adam and Seth? 130 years. You can add as many hypothetical gaps as you like, but it doesn’t add a single year to the timespan between Adam and Christ’s earthly ministry.
Critic: …and include numerical (not numerological) ages, …
The Bible give the actual ages. Genesis 5:6-8: “And Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.” Could the text be any clearer? Note that the years of Seth’s life before he became the father of Enosh (105) plus the years he lived after Enosh (807) add up to the total years of Seth’s life (912). God does know how to count and how to add.
Critic: …that Adam was the first human…
1 Corinthians 15:45a: “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’”
Critic: …, that Adam existed at the beginning of creation and more.
In Mark 10:6 Jesus states, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.”
Critic: None of these presuppositions are well-supported Biblically.
So we have seen that in fact all of these things are biblical; most are directly stated in Scripture. This critic clearly does not know the Bible.
2. “The only way that this can be known scientifically is if a person observed the time of creation.”
Critic: This is, of course, one of the biggest, most constant lies of young-earth creationism (YECism). Lots of things can be known without observing them.
Notice how the critic dishonestly distorts the original claim and then proceeds to refute a straw-man of his own making. The original claim was that age of something can only be known scientifically if its origin was observed. The critic omits that word “scientifically” and then argues that many things can be known that are not observed. No creationist disputes that. But that’s not the claim at issue. If there is no observation, then the knowledge is not scientific. The reason should be obvious: observation is an essential component of science. The critic has dishonestly misrepresented my claim while ironically accusing me of lying.
Critic: If I go out in the morning and see that the ground is wet all around, then I know it rained.
No. All you would know (scientifically from your observation) is that the ground is wet. As for the past event that caused it, there are many possibilities. Maybe the sprinklers just turned off. Dew often collects on the ground at night, resulting in a morning dampness even with no rain. Far from demonstrating his point, the critic’s own example proves mine: that observations in the present cannot scientifically prove what happened in the past, and that speculations on past events are highly dependent on starting assumptions. Just think how many assumptions this critic made in his hasty conclusion that rain is the only possible explanation for wet grass. He is clearly not epistemologically self-conscious.
Critic: If I see an adult human, I know that human must have been a baby at one point.
Adam and Eve would disagree. No. All you would know (scientifically from your observation) is that you see an adult human. To know how that person came about requires knowledge beyond your own direct observations.
Critic: If I cut down several trees and count their rings, accounting for possible discrepancies by looking at more than just one, I know how old the trees were.
No. All you know scientifically is how many rings the trees have. You might assume that trees always form one ring per year and then estimate the age. But that is an assumption (one that we now know to be false). Perhaps you assumed that the trees came about by natural processes. According to Scripture, that is true of today’s trees, but not the original trees. If you could travel back in time and measure the rings in the trees God placed in the Garden of Eden one day after their creation, you would get a drastically inflated age estimate if you assumed that one ring formed per year.
Critic: Personally witnessing something is no requisite to knowing it, …
I agree! We can know for certain that the earth is around 6,000 years old even though we weren’t there to observe it. We know this because the earth’s origin is part of recorded history. But my original claim was that scientific knowledge requires observation – by definition. The critic is attempting to refute a straw-man position that I do not hold.
Critic: …and in fact, is not necessarily that reliable, as memory is notoriously unreliable.
If your memory is notoriously unreliable, then how can you possibly know anything at all? How do you know that the word “memory” means what you think it means? You might say, “Well I learned that in school.” But how do you know you learned that in school? You might respond, “Well I remember learning it in school.” But then you just claimed that your memory is notoriously unreliable! See, once you decide you are smarter than God, reject His Word, and substitute your own philosophy, it inevitably reduces to absurdity (Romans 1:18-22, Ephesians 4:17-18, 1 Corinthians 3:18-20).
3. “Sometimes deep time advocates ignore this important distinction.”
Critic: No. This is one more slanderous, false claim that YEC cultists make to try to make their nonsense seem more valid by comparison.
In his previous claim, the critic rebuked creationists for distinguishing between scientific observations of the present, and estimates about the past. Indeed, he claimed it was one of the biggest, most constant lies. Now he claims the opposite; he implies that he and all deep-time advocates are in fact aware of this important distinction, and therefore it is “slander” for creationists to say otherwise.
My question: which is it? Are deep-time advocates aware of the important distinction between observations in the present, and estimates about the past? If so, then then critic’s point #2 is refuted, and he should repent for calling a lie what he knows to be true. On the other hand, if deep-time advocates do ignore the important distinction between observations in the present and estimates about the past, then the critic is wrong in claim #3 and should repent for accusing creationist of slander when what they are saying is true.
Some critics are so eager to argue with Bible-believers that they will say anything, no matter how internally inconsistent, or arbitrary.
4. “We know this because we have tested the potassium-argon method on recent rocks whose age is historically known. That is, brand new rocks that formed from recent volcanic eruptions such as Mt. St. Helens have been age-dated using the potassium-argon method. Their estimated ages were reported as hundreds of thousands of years based on the argon-40 content, even though the true age was less than 10 years.”
Critic: Ah, yes, the old Mount Saint Helens lie.
No, this really happened and is well documented. Notice that at no point in his comments below does the critic point out any factual error at all in what I originally wrote. He just claims it is a lie, but provides no supporting evidence. This is simply a question-begging epithet fallacy. And it is dishonest.
Critic: The rocks in question were collected without regard for contamination, …
False, and note that the critic provided no evidence whatsoever to back up his claim.
Critic: …collected from wide-ranging locations (isochron dating requires that they be collected from the same rock unit), ….
False, and again note that the critic provided no evidence whatsoever to back up his claim. Multiple samples of rocks within a unit are used to date the unit.
Critic: …collected without checking for inclusions of older rock that was part of the ejected magma…
False, and again the critic provides no evidence to back up his claims. All we have are a series of false assertions.
Critic: …and sent to a lab that only had equipment to test for at least 2 million years worth of radioactive decay.
I must admit that I laughed out loud when I read the above claim because of its absurdity. Think about it: even if the critic’s claim were true (which it isn’t), it would still prove that radiometric dating is unreliable – the opposite of what he wants. Why? Because according to biblical creation, all rocks on earth are less than 2 million years old. Now, the critic has admitted that the lab equipment used to do this radiometric dating doesn’t work on rocks younger than 2 million years. Therefore, it will not consistently give the correct answer for any rock, since all rocks are younger than 2 million years. To arbitrarily assume that it gives the correct answer on rocks that are arbitrarily assumed to be older than 2 million years is to beg the question.
In fact, any radiometric dating technique should be able to estimate an age all the way down to zero, even if the precision of the method is low. That is, for a recently-formed rock, an estimated age of zero should be within the error bars. It often isn’t. That’s the point. Radiometric dating has been demonstrated to fail on rocks of known age. Secularists continue to assume that it works on rocks of unknown age.
Critic: Then, despite knowing all these things, Steve Austin claimed that using bad methods somehow made radiometric dating unreliable.
In addition to the ad hominin fallacy, the critic failed to provide any evidence or rational argument for his claim. We know radiometric dating is unreliable because it fails to consistently give correct ages on rocks whose age is historically known. That’s the point! This has been known for some time and has been repeatedly verified.
5. “Since the method has been shown to fail on rocks whose age is known”
Critic: It hasn’t. It’s been shown to fail in cases where it’s known to fail, such as when correct protocols aren’t followed.
Notice that the critic immediately contradicts himself. He claims that the method has not been shown to fail, and then tries to give an explanation for why it has failed. But if it had not failed, then there would be no reason to invent an excuse as to why it failed.
Notice that again the critic gives no evidence for his bald assertion that “correct protocols aren’t followed.” Actually, if he had bothered to read up on this at all, he would have learned that the analysis was performed at secular laboratories. They really do know what they’re doing.
Critic: This is like saying that a chainsaw fails as a screwdriver.
This is the fallacy of false analogy. The whole point of using radiometric dating on rocks of recent age is to test whether the method is actually giving correct answers. We have found that it does not. And the best response the critics can invent is essentially: “Well you’re not supposed to use it that way. You’re not supposed to actually test it on rocks whose age we know.” Apparently, we are just supposed to trust the method when it gives age estimates that evolutionists like, and reject those estimates that give ages evolutionists don’t like while still trusting the method. This is not science.
6. “The RATE research initiative found compelling evidence that other radioactive elements also had much shorter half-lives in the past.”
Critic: No. They did not.
What a powerful, well-articulated refutation! Sarcasm aside, the critic presented no evidence and no counterargument. Just “nuh-uh!”. Children argue this way: “Yes they did.” “No they didn’t.” “Yes they did!” “No they didn’t!” But adults are supposed to be rational, which means we provide reasons for our beliefs. Notice that in the original article, I provided actual scientific evidence for accelerated decay. The critic provided absolutely no reasons against it. None.
Why? I suggest that the thinking of Bible critics is not based on reasons. It’s arbitrary and emotional. They believe what they want to believe, completely unencumbered by inconvenient evidence.
Critic: What they actually found was that their hypothesis was falsified by observation. From page 761:
“If God caused a period of accelerated decay during the Genesis Flood, it would have generated a massive pulse of heat in the earth. The RATE group estimates that the heating would have been equal to that produced by about a half billion years of decay at today’s rates. But, it would have been generated over the period of only one year of the Genesis Flood. The heat would have melted the crustal rocks many times over unless there was some mechanism for simultaneously removing it quickly.”
For some reason, the critic claims that the RATE hypothesis has been falsified by observation, and that his quote from the RATE book somehow establishes this. He doesn’t explain how or why. In any case it is clear that he is either very confused or is simply bluffing. First, let’s provide some background information.
Radioactive decay produces thermal energy: heat. That heat trickles upward through the crust and is eventually radiated into space. During the period of accelerated decay, presumably a lot of heat would have been produced very quickly. If the period of accelerated decay happened entirely during the Flood year, then the RATE team has estimated it would be sufficient to melt crustal rocks many times, unless there was a mechanism to remove such energy. But crustal rocks were not repeatedly melted. Three obvious solutions exist: (1) the accelerated decay did not happen entirely during the Flood year, (2) the accelerated decay did not produce nearly as much heat as predicted, (3) there was a mechanism to efficiently remove the heat. Any one of those is possible, and so is a combination of them.
For whatever reason, the critic mindlessly rejects these options and hastily concludes that accelerated decay didn’t happen at all. But not only is that conclusion logically unwarranted, it is inconsistent with the aforementioned scientific evidence for accelerated decay (such as helium diffusion rates, fission tracks, inflated age estimates on specimens of known age, etc.) In science, a good hypothesis must fit all the data, not merely some.
Critic: They go on to propose exactly zero mechanisms for accelerated decay or heat removal.
Again we see the critic’s dishonesty. He claims that the RATE team proposed no mechanism for heat removal. But on page 763 (yes, just two pages after the section the critic quotes) the text proposes a mechanism for heat removal. It states, “For example, Humphreys  has offered a volumetric cooling mechanism based on relativistic principles. It appears to be consistent with the magnitude of cooling needed…” I’m not claiming the volumetric cooling is the answer; I merely point out that the critic’s claim that RATE proposed no mechanism is patently false.
The critic claims that the RATE team proposed “exactly zero mechanisms for accelerated decay.” But in fact, chapter 7 in the same text the critic quoted, is entirely about proposed mechanisms for accelerated decay. The whole chapter is dedicated to that topic. A critic would be welcome to try to refute the proposed mechanisms. But to claim that the RATE team didn’t propose any is simply false, as you can verify for yourself by reading chapter 7 in RATE volume 2.
7. “Carbon dating is not used on rocks, because rocks do not have much carbon in them.”
Critic: No, carbon dating isn’t use on rocks because rocks aren’t dead organisms.
No, carbon dating isn’t used on rocks because rocks do not have much carbon in them. Rocks are mainly oxygen and silicon; you cannot measure the c14 to c12 ratio on something if it has no c14 or c12. But the critic gives no evidence for his unsupported assertion.
We know the critic’s statement is false because diamonds are not dead organisms, but they can be and have been carbon-dated. This research was reported in Chapter 8 of the RATE book volume II – the same book the critic quoted from earlier.
Critic: Carbon dating works because organisms are in contact with the atmosphere and have the same concentration of C-14 as the atmosphere at their time of death.
Carbon dating tends to give correct age estimates when tested on samples of known age, at least within an order of magnitude. So it is not surprising to creationists that when we carbon date coal, diamonds, or dinosaur remains, we very consistently get age estimates of thousands of years, and never anywhere near millions of years. The fact that we find c-14 in virtually everything that has carbon in it really ought to challenge the faith of deep-time advocates. But since their faith is independent of facts or reality, it usually does not.
Critic: As usual, YEC claims are supported (not really supported, since they’re just trying to cast doubt on real science) with nothing but lies.
We have seen that this critic has made many assertions that are demonstrably false, that he is not very knowledgeable of science, and is quite dishonest in his statements. It really shows the depths that people will sink to in order to avoid submitting to the Lord. But it should encourage Christians by confirming that there are no good arguments against the biblical worldview. As the Apostle Paul put it, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20)