The Instigator
Pro (for)
21 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The earth is probably more than 10,000 years old.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,705 times Debate No: 45812
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (6)




In this debate, Pro will argue the evidence that the earth is older than 10,000 years, and Con will argue the evidence that the earth is not older than 10,000 years. The debate is to be determined by the preponderance of evidence.

Years are taken as units of time in the conventional sense as presently measured, not in an allegorical or poetic sense.

The claim that the earth is less than 10,000 years old is part of Young Earth Creationism (YEC). [1.] In this debate only the age of the earth is in contention, not other aspects of YEC.

The first round is for acceptance and definitions only; the Pro case will be given in R2. All arguments must be presented directly in the debate. Sources must be linked from the debate, and not given in Comments or elsewhere. All site DDO site rules apply. Con may not introduce new evidence or arguments in the last round, because Pro has no space in the debate to reply.

I welcome my opponent to the debate.


I accept!
Debate Round No. 1


There are many independent ways of determining the age of the earth. The methods use different laws of nature, so they serve to cross check the estimates.

1. Radiometric dating

The decay of radioactive materials provides accurate dating of rocks. For example, when potassium undergoes radioactive decay gaseous argon is produced. Melting a rock containing causes the argon to excape. Measuring the ratio of potassium to argon in a rock therefore indicates the rocks age. [2.] Actually, two isotopes of argon are produced. The ratio of argon39 to argon40 in the rock gives the age of the rock without having to separately measure the amount of potassium. [3.] Potassium-argon dating establishes the extinction of the dinosaurs as happening 66 million years ago.

About twenty independent isotopes pairs having different half-lives support a common time line. [4.] Uranium 235 has a half life of 704,000 years, which makes it useful for very old rock specimens. The oldest rocks found on earth are [5] about 4.1 billion years old. The best estimate of the age of the earth 4.54 billion years.

A natural nuclear reactor in Africa has been used to establish that radioactive decay rates for uranium and its products. have been constant for billions of years. [6] Some lighter materials have small variations in decay rates depending upon environment, but worst case is about 4%, and those light isotopes are never used for radiometric dating. To allow for a young earth, something did affect decay rates it would have to speed up some isotopes by a factor of a million, on down to others by a factor of ten, and each in such a way that the dates each produced still agreed with each other. There are some theories that decay rates might be changing with the expansion of the universe, by an amount too small to detect. If so, that wouldn’t provide the large factors needed, and it would be the same for all isotopes, not the widely differing factors needed.

Radiometric dating methods can occasionally produce large errors, for example if carbon specimens are not isolated from the environment or rock crystals have fractures. This is no different in principle from the occasional large errors that occur when rulers are used to measure length or a clock to measure time. Scientists send multiple samples to different labs to ensure accuracy.

2. Sandstone and the Grand Canyon

Grains of sand begin as quartz crystals that form when molten granite hardens. Granite weathers by at the rate of one inch every 100,000 years, so it takes about hundreds of million years to produce a substantial amount of sand. There is no way to transport the very large quantities of sand required for the sandstone forming the Grand Canyon in less than millions of years. Sand only moves when there is active rushing water, not deep under water. The grains must be fused into sandstone in millions of years under high pressure. The sandstone formation of the Canyon took over 700 million years. [7.]

If a few days of rushing water could carve the Grand Canyon, we should see new canyons forming all the time. Erosion is really a million times slower than that. The Grand Canyon required about 5.5 million years of erosion, during which time the land rose as the canyon was eroded. The sequence is volcanoes > granite > sand > sandstone > upheaval > erosion > Grand Canyon. That cannot all happen in 10,000 years.

Creationists sometime claim Noah's flood is responsible for eroding the Grand Canyon, but there is only enough water on earth to account for a flood 200 feet higher than current sea level. [8] Moreover, there is no process by which 40 days of water could do anything measurable to granite, or even sandstone. One could blast a fire hose on granite for 40 days and nothing would happen beyond it getting wet. Granite weathers mainly due chemical attack from the atmosphere on the non-quartz components, a very slow process.

3. Sediment layers (varves)

Sedimentation forms in layers in which less-dense and more dense materials alternate. If you shake up some material in water, the light stuff goes to the top. That’s not what we see in sediment layers. The layers include very light materials like pollen and, in estuaries, fish scales in layers with heavier materials. The types of pollen and fish scales in a particular layer indicate both the season and the climate when the layer was formed, providing a climate record back more than 30,000 years. A flood would not disperse spring pollen in separate layers from winter pollens, repeating over many thousands of layers.

In more than twenty places around the world, sediments have accumulated in lake beds in continuous layers for more that 20,000 years. Because the varves contain organic material, the high accuracy of the number of layers is used to check radiometric carbon dating. For example:

Lucke et al. (2003) describe a composite varve-dated 11.4-m-long sediment sequence from Lake Holzmaar in the Eifel region of western Germany, which extends back over 14 000 years, and from which a detailed carbon isotope record has been obtained (Figure 5.12). Variations in 613C values reflect changes in the lake ecosystem (dissolved CO2, nutrient availability, light, climate, water temperature, etc.) and constitute a proxy for environmental and climatic change. The mean time resolution for the isotope sequence is 14 years. [10. Mike Walker. Quaternary Dating Methods, p. 139]

Lake Suigetsu in Japan has 29,100 varve layers. The older layers are difficult to distinguish, so the total accumulated error is 2000 years for the entire sequence. [11. Walker, op cit, p. 140] For dates at least to 14,000 years the layers are counted by computer and are extremely accurate.

4. Dendrochronology

The oldest living trees are about 4700 years. The growth rings form a sort of bar code sequence. By matching the patterns in overlapping sequences from tree specimens preserved in bogs, the data shows trees were alive at least 14,300 years ago.

“In central Europe, subfossil remains of oak and pine (Pinus sylvestris) found in the deposits of large rivers in southern and eastern Germany have been used to build a continuous Holocene oak chronology back to 10430 years, while a pine chronology, linked to this oak chronology, extends the dendrochronological record back to 11919 years (Spurk etal., 1998; Friedrich et al., 1999).” [12. Walker. op. cit, p. 127

“Dendrochronological demand the assignment of a single calendar year to a single ring. Various techniques are used to CROSSDATE wood samples to assure accurate dating.” The technique involves “matching ring-growth characteristics across many samples from a homogeneous area (area of similar environmental conditions).” [13.] In other words, scientists are not satisfied with the pattern of rings from a single tree, but demand that the pattern be correlated among many trees.

Sometimes there are two growth rings in a single year due to a midsummer drought. Double rings are rare and are easily detected by their appearance. [14.] The real problem is that rings may be missing due to cracks in the wood specimen. Missing rings could make the dates appear erroneous young. The crossdate method ensures a precision to one year.

The pattern of tree rings correlates well with the pattern in nearby varves, since both are products of local climate variations. Both dendrochonology and varves are confirmed by radiocarbon data.

The data are conclusive: the earth is way more than 10,000 years old.



Radiometric Dating


Pro says radiometric is dating is accurate and uses Potassium-Argon (K–Ar) dating as an example. This is easily refuted.

During the 1950s, Mount Ngauruhoe erupted in New Zealand.(1) Samples of the lava flows from those eruptions were sent to Geochron Laboratories for Potassium-Argon dating.

Geochron Laboratories is trusted by Radiocarbon, “the main international journal of record for research articles and date lists relevant to14C and other radioisotopes ( … )”(2)(3)

All samples were dated as millions of years old.(4)(8) These K-Ar dates contradict observed ages of the rocks, which were less than a century old.

Now that K-Ar dating has been shown to be hugely inaccurate, there is no reason to trust Pro's 66 million year K-Ar dating of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Common Timeline

Pro says ~20 isotope pairs support a common timeline, but his source is not credible. According to it, “On[e] thing to note about [Potassium-Argon] dating is that it will never give an overestimate of the age ( … ).”(5) I just showed K-Ar overestimated dates by several orders of magnitude, so this source and claim is dismissed.

Pro says the oldest rocks on earth are 4.1 billion years old. His source got this conclusion like so:

If we know the number of radioactive parent atoms present when a rock formed and the number present now, we can calculate the age of the rock using the decay constant.”(6)

In other words, to get that age, they have to know how many radioactive parent atoms were present when the rock was formed. How do they know how many were there when the rock was formed, though?

The number of parent atoms originally present is simply the number present now plus the number of daughter atoms formed by the decay ( … ).”(6)

Sounds like a simple process, until they say “[s]amples for dating are selected carefully to avoid those that are altered, contaminated, or disturbed by later heating or chemical events.”(6)

So alteration, contamination, heating, and chemical events can all cause a false date! How does the paper determine which samples experienced any of these phenomena? It doesn't say, other than carefully.

Since the paper is so vague on such an important point, I will explain it myself: If a scientist doesn't like the date, he assumes one of these phenomena corrupted the sample.

For example, diamonds have been Potassium-Argon dated at 6 billion years old.(7) The scientists failed to hypothesize a plausible excuse:

One explanation for these data is that the potassium in these diamonds is isotopically anomalous ( … ) [However,] the hypothesis of isotopically anomalous K is not supported. An alternative explanation is that the 40Ar in these diamonds is a trapped or 'excess' component, but this would require [an] unusual circumstance ( … ).”(7)

Pro's claim of the oldest rock dating being 4.1 billion years is false. Therefore, his 4.54 billion year estimate for the age of the earth is not credible.

I'm dismissing the “natural nuclear reactor” argument because I don't have room, and the only source for it is Wikipedia.

As for Pro's argument that testing of samples by multiple laboratories ensures accuracy, this is also easily refuted.

Fossil wood from the Tertiary Age was C14 dated as being 35,620 years old by Geochron, but 44,700 by ANSTO.(9) The real conflict, though, is that the rock the wood was found in was dated at 30 million years!(10) A fossil cannot possibly be 1 year older than the rock it is fossilized in, much-less millions of years older.

Radiometric dating is not credible.

Sandstone and the Grand Canyon

Given my limited space, I think it's fair for me to dismiss all arguments that rely 100% on Wikipedia.

Noah's Flood

Pro says Noah's Flood can't account for the Grand Canyon because “there is only enough water on earth to account for a flood 200 feet higher than current sea level.” First, his source doesn't back him up. Second, there's no reason to think that the Grand Canyon would have required a flood higher than 200 feet.

Pro says “One could blast a fire hose on granite for 40 days and nothing would happen” but since I doubt he has actually performed this experiment, I'm dismissing this and the other assertions.

If Noah's Flood actually happened, it's plausible that the sediment layers of the canyon were laid down, but not yet hardened into rock, when the waters receded. If the waters receded fast enough, it would have cut through these fresh layers like a knife cuts through butter, forming the Grand Canyon very quickly.

One possible cause for a quick recession of the water would be the sinking of the valleys described in The Bible, which could have become the oceans.(11)

Sediment Layers (Varves)

Alternating Densities

Pro argues that, were Noah's Flood to have really happened, denser materials would be in the deeper layers, and lighter materials closer to the surface. That's a reasonable objection, but he cites no sources and only provides a vague example: the presence of fish scales and pollen in the same layer as “heavier materials.” Until I know what Pro deems “heavier materials,” attempting a rebuttal on this point is a waste of time.

I also request a citation for his claim that pollen fossils provide a climate record. Until he does so, all arguments on this point are just my word against his. I could easily say that that they do not provide a climate record, and it would be an equally legitimate claim.

Radiometric Layer Dating

I already refuted the radiometric dating argument. I will not do so here.


Pro says that evidence demonstrates that trees were alive 14,300 years ago, but his source only supports a maximum of 11,919 years.

I'd like to point out that this conclusion is derived by adding up rings from fragments of multiple dead trees. Nobody has ever found a fossilized tree with 11,919 rings, so some assumptions are involved in coming up with that number. I can't argue against these assumptions, however, until my opponent provides me with a clickable link to his source (I can't find it using Google).

There are no living trees with more than 4,800 rings.(12) If trees evolved millions of years ago, you would expect to find at least one tree way older than just 5,000 years.

Also, scars can cause a tree to produce multiple rings in a single year. Specifically, scars inflicted by floods. (Source #13, paragraph titled “Problems In Dating Flood Events From Scars”) This would be especially true of Noah's Flood, because what type of flood would cause more scaring than a catastrophic one?

Pro's own source admits, “Ring-counting does not ensure the accurate dating of each individual ring. Numerous studies illustrate how ring-counting leads to incorrect conclusions drawn from inaccurate dating.

Pro cites, saying “[d]ouble rings are rare and are easily detected by their appearance.” I have a more reliable source, the University of Texas, that begs to differ: “"False rings" can make life difficult for dendrochronologists.”(14)

I'll build my case for a young earth next round, since my rebuttals took up all my space.











(11) Psalm 104:8




Debate Round No. 2


1. Radiometric dating

Con cited precisely one case of error in potassium-argon dating and claimed in was typical, and he cited on case of error in radiocarbon dating and claimed that was typical. His two claimed examples were presented by Andrew Snelling in creationist religious websites, not in peer-reviewed scientific journals. A scientist in the field of radiometry commented “the sort of nonsense Dr Snelling publishes in [creationist literature] is unlikely to be accepted in any credible scientific journal.” [15.]

I don't allege that Snelling was making up his data. The problem of lack of peer review is it denies experts the opportunity of explaining the results obtained and putting them in perspective. Other scientists have observed anomalous results for potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating of recent lava flows, and “... studies detected, in a few of the flows, deviations from atmospheric isotopic composition, most often in the form of excess 40Ar. The majority of flows, however, had no detectable excess 40Ar and thus gave correct ages as expected. Of the handful of flows that did contain excess 40Ar, only a few did so in significant amounts.” [16.] In other words that instances of error are rare. Snelling cherry-picked a rare occurrence of a known error source and presented it as typical. The error is overcome by using Ar-Ar dating with a correction for measured amounts of an argon isotope prevalent in air. [16. op cit.] The Ar-Ar method dated flows from Mt. Vesuvius occurring 1918 years ago to within 19 years.

The radiocarbon dating error occurred in a unique case of wood trapped in flowing basalt, a type of sample not previously encountered. The sample should have been completely depleted of active carbon isotope, but instead was found to have a trace. The error would result with a 1% contamination of the carbon. [10, p 25] The sample was discovered by miners in the course of ordinary mining operations, not by geologists trained in the methods of preventing contamination. There might have been some other problem due to the unique nature of the sample. By not submitting the paper to peer review, Snelling protected the anomaly from logical consideration by experts.

If the error is due to contamination, we would not expect it to be identical in the results from two laboratories, because there is no reason to suppose the amount of contamination would be uniform among samples.

Using creationist methods we can prove that measurements of length by ruler or tape measure are useless. All we need do is discover two cases of error, and then we can dismiss all applications of the technique. Any professional carpenter will testify errors have occurred, and so we have our requisite two examples. In fact, carpenters will report that hundreds of cases of erroneous measurements have occurred. The reason that tape measures and rulers are nonetheless useful is that even though many errors have occurred they are still a very small percentage of the total number of measurements, and carpenters apply the maxim “measure twice and cut once” to check for errors. For creationists to make a legitimate case against radiometric dating, they need statistics not examples, and they do not have those statistics.

Con offers no evidence that scientists just throw away dates they don't like. As I pointed out in R1, radiometric dating is cross-checked using different isotope pairs. Examples of that are given in [15 op cit]. K-Ar dating can almost always be checked with Ar-Ar dating, which depends only on the ratio of the Ar isotopes without knowing the original quantities. Uranium dating always yields two lead isotope series for cross checking. The way that Snelling detected a carbon dating error was by the inconsistency with K-Ar dating.

In addition to cross-checking with alternate radiometric methods, there are independent non-radiometric dating methods used for cross-checking. We've noted varves and dendrochronology. There are also thermoluminescence dating and optically stimulated thermoluminescence dating [10. p 94], fission track dating [10. p. 115], stratigraphy (ice cores) of glaciers [10, p. 149 – 150], speleothem dating [10, p. 156], paleomagnetic dating [10, p. 214], and palaeosol dating [10, p. 228]. Any significant difference among diverse methods applied to the same sample is cause to question the data.

Wikipedia. Con simply dismissed anything I referenced in Wikipedia based solely on his own authority, but he has not established himself as an expert. The Wikipedia articles cite the original sources in the scientific literature. We know that Con is familiar with looking up references from footnoted numbers, because that's how he presents his citations. Most of the Wikipedia information is also presented in [10], a basic text.

If Con wanted sources restricted to free on-line clickable links, he would have had to insist upon before accepting the debate. Very few standard scientific texts are available for free online, so it makes no sense to try to impose that condition. [10] is fully described at

2. Sandstone and the Grand Canyon

The sandstone of the Grand Canyon could not have solidified after the Canyon was formed because the walls are too steep –in some cases completely vertical-- to have stood as a sand heap, and because there is no known physical mechanism for solidification in a short time. It's the responsibility of creationists questioning established science to propose alternate mechanisms. So if the claim is that the Canyon could be cut in a matter of days, it's their responsibility to show it is possible.

The reference I cited says that 90% of ice is in Antarctica, and if it melted the seas would rise by 200 feet.

Con gives a Biblical account of seabeds sinking in a short time, but no scientific reference of the possibility.

3. Varves

The stratification is varves cannot be produced by the turbulent mixing of floods. “During the spring and summer months, when the lake is ice-free, sediment is discharged into the lake and forms the coarser layer of the varve couplet. In winter, when the lake is frozen, deposition results solely from the settling out of fine silts and clays suspended in the water column which produces the finer component of the varve.” [10, p. 133] If the sediments were thoroughly stirred, all the coarse material would be on the bottom and all the fine material on the top. It would not be in layers.

4. Dendrochronology

Con quotes my source to the effect that precise dating by dendrochronology cannot be achieved by counting rings from a single tree. That's because of the problem of missing rings due to cracking. The problem is overcome by using multiple trees from the same area and correlating the banding patterns. Con quotes a source as saying that multiple rings are a problem. Sure, but awareness of the problem allows it to be overcome and there is no indication cannot. Keep in mind that dendrochronologists produce dates to an accuracy of one year, so that even a single double ring is a matter of concern to them. Multiple rings produced by scarring are also rare, and since they are only in one specimen, the problem is completely overcome by the standard practice of using multiple specimens.

The objection that no one tree is over 4800 years old is a non sequitur to the claim. It is akin to arguing that because all of the streets in the United States are not originally laid out on one map, the number and location of the streets are unknown. A composite map works fine, as does the composite of tree rings.

I gave the reference for the 14,300 year date, but since our debate is about 10,000 years the 11,919 year date suffices. Of course there are many older tree specimens, but a continuous record from the present currently is only established back 14,300 years.



Radiometric Dating


According to the University of North Carolina, “K-Ar dating is not very reliable, [yet] most of the geological time scale is based on K-Ar dating”(16)

Referring to my Mt. Ngauruhoe & wood examples, Pro says I cited only two instances of erroneous dating. Thus, he concedes he does not consider the 6-billion-year date of the diamonds a mistake. This example's reported in Nature, “the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal,”(15) so Pro's objections regarding peer-review don't apply.

This means Pro dropped his claim of a 4.54 billion year age for an earth at least 6 billion years old. That's a 30% difference from his initial claim! Pro's lost all credibility when arguing using radiometric dating.


Pro's ruler and tape measure analogies are deceptive. When's the last time you measured something with a ruler and got a measurement several billion feet off?

Common Timeline

The University of North Carolina put it best:

Now, there are some cases where radiometric dating does appear to be measuring a true age, where many methods agree( … ) If these dates are correct, then this material would have to originate from before the creation week. However, radiometric dating is based on the assumption that decay rates are constant. If decay rates have varied, then all methods can be in error, even when they agree.”(16)(emphasis mine)

Pro spewed a long list of independent dating methods, but he didn't base an argument on them! I've nothing to rebut. In fact, I agree with Pro on this point:

Any significant difference among diverse methods applied to the same sample is cause to question the data.

Were you to apply all these methods to the same sample, you would get wildly different results.

Wikipedia Arguments

Pro says I can't dismiss his arguments from his 10th source because I haven't established myself as an expert, but neither has the author of his source: “I am not an expert in the technical aspects of dating”(17)

Sandstone and the Grand Canyon

Pro posits 2 objections to the Receding Flood Scenario, 1 of which is that the walls are too steep to have stood as a sand-heap. This is not a valid objection for a couple reasons. First, Pro seems to be saying you can't build a sandcastle with vertical walls, which simply isn't true.

Second, the Grand Canyon may not have always been so steep, but rain (which falls vertically) wore it down since it was formed.

The second objection was “there is no known physical mechanism for solidification in a short time.” However, jellyfish have been fossilized in sandstone.(19) Fossilizing a gelatinous animal must happen very quickly, proving sandstone can solidify in a short amount of time.

Lastly, the Grand Canyon has many Nautilus fossils which generally point the same way.(27) This is indicative of rapid burial by fast-flowing sediment, and unexplainable by Pro's model.

Noah's Flood

Pro objects I didn't provide a scientific basis for my idea that ocean floors sank quickly. However, ocean floors wouldn't have had to sink quickly to enable receding waters to cut through wet sand!

Let me paraphrase a scientific, peer-reviewed article which explains the Receding Flood Scenario best:

Geophysically, we begin with a pre-Flood earth( … ) The Flood was initiated as slabs of oceanic floor broke loose and subducted along( … ) pre-Flood continental margins. Deformation of the mantle( … ) raised the temperature and lowered the viscosity of the mantle in the vicinity of the slabs. A resulting thermal runaway of the slabs through the mantle led to meters-per-second mantle convection.( … ) Large plumes originating near the core/mantle boundary expressed themselves at the surface( … ) Upwelling magma jettisoned steam into the atmosphere causing intense global rain. Rapid emplacement of isostatically lighter mantle material raised the level of the ocean floor, displacing ocean water onto the continents. When virtually all the pre-Flood oceanic floor had been replaced with new, less-dense, less-subductable, oceanic crust, catastrophic plate motion stopped. Subsequent cooling increased the density of the new ocean floor, producing deeper ocean basins and a reservoir for post-Flood oceans.”(21)

Universal Flood Stories

A global flood is well established by worldwide, intra-cultural flood myths: “A world cataclysm during which the earth was inundated or submerged by water [is] a concept found in almost every mythology in the world.”(22)

Sediment Layers (Varves)

Alternating Densities

Pro argues a flood wouldn't allow alternating densities of sediment to form, but it's actually been observed:

[W]hen we pour a granular mixture between two vertical plates: the mixture spontaneously stratifies into alternating layers of small and large grains”(23)

Rapid Burial

Polystrate Fossils

Fossils of trees, which span multiple strata, support a cataclysm:

The tops of these trees would've decayed before millions of years of sedimentation could have occurred. It's likely these trees were uprooted by volcanic blasts, flooded, then floated into an upright position where volcanic material fossilized them. That's what happened when Mt. Saint Helens erupted.(24)

Fossil Trends

The notion of a fossil 'record' is misleading: 1,026 families of fossils were found outside their assigned strata in the past 50 years.(25)

Fossils only generally appear in succession from simple to complex, which is accounted for best by Noah's Flood. As the fountains of the deep burst forth,(26) small marine life was rapidly buried by underwater avalanches, like those seen today. Intelligent mammals climbed as high as they could to avoid rising waters. Dinosaurs are under mammals possibly because they sunk after death, like modern reptiles.


Pro says “Dendrochonology [is] confirmed by radiocarbon data”, but his record of over 10,000 years was constructed using radiocarbon data, so that's circular logic.

So, Pro's dendrochronological argument relies on C14 dating, which isn't reliable: “[A] sample of wood found in rock classified as ( … ) 230 million years old, gave a [C14] date of 33,720 years”(29)

The Bible

Via the Bible, an age for earth of less than 10,000 years has been independently determined by many scholars, largely from analyzing lineage records.(28) This date is more reliable than Pro's because:

1. The biblical flood story is corroborated by cultures across the globe

2. It explains the fossil evidence without inconsistencies, making the Bible a reliable history record.

3. Pro's measurements are wildly inaccurate and self-conflicting.

4. Pro has effectively conceded to altering his stance on the age of the earth by 30%, forfeiting much of his credibility.



(17) Walker, Mike. Quaternary Dating Methods. Wiley, 2005. Print. Page xvi.




(21) Austin, S.A., Baumgardner, J.R., Humphreys, D.R., Snelling, A.A., Vardiman, L. and Wise, K.P., Catastrophic plate tectonics: a global Flood model of Earth history; in: Walsh, R.E. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Technical Symposium Sessions, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 609—621, 1994.

(22) Funk and Wagnall’s 1950 Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend




(26) Genesis 7:11



(29) A.A. Snelling, “Dating Dilemma,” Creation, 1999, 21(3):39-41.

Debate Round No. 3


1. Radiometric dating

Con cites the University of North Carolina as claiming that K-Ar dating is unreliable, and making other extraordinary claims. It's not UNC, the claims are made in web pages posted under the disclaimer:

“This material does not necessarily represent any organization, including the University of North Carolina and the State of North Carolina. .., Unless otherwise indicated, all articles are written by David Plaisted.” [17.]

Dr. Kevin R. Henke, a Ph.D. in geology [18.], writes, “Dr. David Plaisted is a computer scientist and creationist critic of orthodox geology … Dr. Plaisted seems to be a very nice and sincere guy. However, his essays on creationism contain numerous errors; unproven speculations and accusations; ... citations from anonymous emails, newspaper articles and other questionable sources; misinterpretations of the literature and serious misunderstandings of geology, chemistry, physics, biology, and other topics that are clearly beyond his area of expertise. [19.]

Plaisted is a computer scientist, and his papers are neither peer-reviewed nor do they cite peer-reviewed literature. They are bogus.

The original article finding the erroneous age in diamond dating speculates on two possible causes for the error. The Nature article eliminates the isochron error as the problem, leaving the material cause as a possibility. The date was for material in an inclusion in the diamond, not the diamond itself. The actual cause of the error is not known. That means that there is an unresolved case which scientists are actively trying to explain.

Con illogically supposes that if even one case of error is unexplained, the whole method is invalidated. So if we do not know why a wall clock stopped, then they have lost all credibility and are we then justified in invalidating everything ever done with a clock. No, again Con has no statistics to prove the generality.

An example of the consistent accuracy of radiometric dating is in the data on the age of the earth. The most direct means for calculating the Earth's age is a Pb/Pb isochron age, derived from samples of the Earth and meteorites. The age is 4.55 billion years. In addition, hundreds of radiometric measurements of the age of the earth have been made using Ar-Ar, Sm-Nd, Rb-Sr, Lu-Hf, and Re-Os. [20. Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1991. The Age of the Earth, California, Stanford University Press. 474 pp. ISBN 0-8047-1569-6] The data is summarized at [21.]

The consistency is remarkable, all dates are near 4.5 billion years.

Cons argues that there are no large errors in length measurement with rulers, implying that there should be no cases of large errors in radiometry. Carpenters have a rough check on length just by sight. They know a measurement more than, say, twice is wrong. There is no comparable sense of the age of a mineral specimen. That's why there is no much attention to cross-checking.

I gave a list of the alternative methods of cross-checking dates. The point is that there are many means used to ensure accuracy.

There are a half dozen or so ways to verify that radioactive decay rates have been nearly constant over the ages. [22. Sisterna, P., and H. Vucetich, 1990. "Time variation of fundamental constants: Bounds from geophysical and astronomical data" in Physical Review D (Particles and Fields) 41, no. 4, pp. 1034-1046.] They all show no significant variation.

2. Sandstone and the Grand Canyon

Con did not provide scientific references to any means that sand could be formed in less than tens of millions of years, nor any reference to literature on how stone could be quickly formed from the sand, or how it could be eroded so quickly. It is all empty speculation of believers who want it to be possible.

Con points to a vertical wall of wet sand a few feet high. The sand is held together by the surface tension of the water (something first explained by Einstein, presumably on his day off). Surface tension cannot support a thousand foot wall, and as soon as the sand dries even the short wall will collapse.

3. Varves

The paper con cited concerning stratification in layers specifies sand of diameters 0.07 mm and 0.11 mm between plates 5 mm apart. “In contrast, we obtain only segregation but not stratification for two experiments using spherical beads of size 0.55 mm and 0.77 mm (so that the larger grains have smaller repose angle).” [23.] There being no closely spaced plates nor carefully sorted grain sizes in varves, this unusual sorting due to selective angle of repose does not apply, It would not in any case explain seasonal pollen grains changing with climate in the varve layers.

4. Dendrochronology

It's not true that tree ring data showing an 11,919 year old history used radiocarbon dating. The source says it was done using tree rings alone. The method of using multiple trees in the same area, overlapping in time ensures that the accuracy is either one year. That's more accurate than carbon dating. I merely noted that the methods agree, but if the carbon dating is ignored, the dendrochronology is proof on it's own. Con never showed that multiple rings were anything other than rare, or that scientists could not cope with their occurrence. Multiples were merely flagged as something needing attention to get one year accuracy.

Polystrate fossils

According to scientists, polystrate fossils are fossils which were buried in a geologically short time span either by one large depositional event or by several smaller ones. Tree roots are found in the layer below the trunk showing the tree was growing in the ground. The upper part of the tree is then partially engulfed in flood sediment. It's not true that the tree spans layers claimed to cover millions of years. [24.]

Polystrate fossils were explained over a hundred years ago, by geologists who believed in creationism. [25.]

By comparison, here is a partial description of the layers of the Grand Canyon:

Kaibab Limestone: 300 feet thick, formed in a marine environment. Fossils include molluscs, ...

Toroweap formation: 200 feet thick, varying from predominantly sandstone to limestone.

Coconino Sandstone, 50-300 feet thick. Sandstone formed from desert sand dunes. Numerous reptile tracks preserved in the sandstone.

Hermit Shale: 300 feet thick. Siltstones formed from deposits in swamps and lagoons.

Supai group: 600-700 feet thick; plant fossils I....

Redwall Limestone: 400-650 feet thick. Abundant fossil evidence of ... a warm, shallow clear ocean.


How did a great flood quickly put reptile tracks on a sandstone layer below material from swamps and lagoons, in turn below plant fossils, and all below ocean fossils?

Con cites creationist literature saying fossils are not strictly time-ordered. The articles give no scientific references. It appears they are ciing species discovered to have overlapping historical periods.

Summary of the Debate

A fundamental error repeated in Con's arguments is that if a method ever shows errors then it "loses credibility." To prove unreliability, there must be statistics showing that errors occur in a high percentage of cases, and Con presented no such statistics. Scientists achieve confidence in geological dating by endless cross-checking with different dating methods and by checking multiple samples. The age of the earth is established using hundreds of measurements with different isotope pairs. There is no science behind flood geology of the Grand Canyon. Varves and tree rings are independent of radiometry and give precise measurement of times more than 10,000 years ago.

Con relied heavily on non-peer-reviewed religious pages. The authors were discredited. The Bible itself is not a scientific source.

Thanks to Con for an interesting debate.



Radiometric Dating

Dr. Plaisted

Pro's right: David Plaisted doesn't necessarily represent UNC. But Pro doesn't point out a single instance where Plaisted is wrong, and it's not enough to discredit my source by just pitting Henke's word against Plaisted's, when neither are experts in radiometric dating.

Plaisted already posted a lengthy rebuttal to Henke's accusations, which Pro (and Henke) conveniently didn't mention.(31)

Pro says Plaisted doesn't cite peer-reviewed literature, but if Pro had read his work before calling it “bogus”, he should have counted over 20 such references.(30)


Pro doesn't want to concede to a 6byr old earth as this would require him to alter his previous stance by 30%, forfeiting his credibility. So he calls the diamond date an “error.

The only justification implied is it disagrees with his 4.5byr claim. But his 4.5byr claim was also based on radiometric dating!

Pro has resorted to circular logic: He says the 6byr radiometric date is an error because it disagrees with the 4.5byr radiometric date.

Pro's claim the date was based on material inside the diamond, and not the diamond itself, is a red herring: The same age has also been determined by ( … ) analysis of four additional diamonds”(7)

Pro admits he doesn't have a convincing reason to disregard the 6byr date: “[It's] an unresolved case which scientists are actively trying to explain.” He says a “material cause” for the “error” is a “possibility.”

This isn't a valid argument until Pro establishes the date is actually an error, andthat the possibility of the material cause is more likely than unicorns existing.

Pro claims I supposed “if even one case of error is unexplained, the whole method is invalidated.” This argument, which seems to be his main rebuttal to everything, appears convincing until you see it for the huge strawman it really is.

I didn't argue one, unexplained case of error justifies tossing out the method. I argued radiometric dating is unreliable because it's calibrated against itself; it's accuracy is assumed via circular logic!


For example, Con argued radiometric dating is confirmed via tree-rings. When I pointed out his 11,191yr example relied on radiometric dating, Pro replied:

It's not true that ( … ) 11,919 year old history used radiocarbon dating. The source says it was done using tree rings alone.

Pro is trusting his source, Quaternary Dating Methods. But I pointed out earlier the author is no dating expert. Here's what the source of Pro's source reports:

The dendrochronological match of the two parts of the PPC( … ) is still tentative( … ) At present, the linkage relies on supporting C14 measurements. Based on this link, the PPC starts at 11,919.”(32)

The radiometric dating argument, and his tree-ring argument, rely on circular logic. Thus, they are both refuted.


Pro returns to his tape-measure analogy. Last time, he compared radiometric errors to carpentry errors to show both can make mistakes. This time, he's using it to argue carpentry errors actually aren't comparable to radiometric errors!

Carpenters have a rough check on length just by sight. They know a measurement more than [2x] is wrong. There is no comparable sense of the age of a mineral specimen.

Of course you can't compare them, which is what I've been arguing all along.

His clock analogy fails for the same reason:

When's the last time you checked your watch and got a time several billion hours off?

Even a clock displaying military time can only be off by 24 hours.

Common Timeline

Last round, I posited: “Were you to apply all ( … ) methods to the same sample, you would get wildly different results.” Instead of proving me wrong, perhaps with an example where all his “diverse” methods agree on a common date for a particular sample, Pro proclaims:

Con has no statistics to prove the generality.

This is not sufficient. Pro has the burden of proof. I don't have to cite statistics showing his methods are generally wrong; he has to cite statistics showing they're generally right!

Simply asserting “diverse” methods agree with each other is not enough to fulfill his burden, especially in the face of all the conflicting examples I've provided.

The closest Pro comes to attempting his burden is when he says, “An example of the consistent accuracy of radiometric dating is in the data on the age of the earth( … )using Ar-Ar, Sm-Nd, Rb-Sr, Lu-Hf, and Re-Os( … ) The consistency is remarkable, all dates are near 4.5 billion years.(emphasis mine)

I'm not sure why Pro keeps promoting this idea that “all dates are near 4.5 billion years” after I've proven him wrong. The 6byr dates are supported by both K-Ar and Ar-Ar dating methods,(7) and I doubt the voters consider 4.5 billion to be near 6 billion.

Sandstone and the Grand Canyon

Pro says I didn't cite a source for “any means that sand could be formed in less than tens of millions of years.” He's right! I didn't have to. My example of a fossilized jellyfish in sandstone was more than sufficient,(20) as there's no way a jellyfish can be fossilized other than very quickly.

Pro says “as soon as the sand dries even the short wall will collapse”, but that's not true if it turns to sandstone first!

Sediment Layers (Varves)

Alternating Densities

Pro's own source: The stratification is related to the occurrence of avalanches; during each avalanche the grains comprising the avalanche spontaneously stratify( … )

Avalanches cause stratification! That's an argument for stratification via a cataclysm like Noah's Flood, not against it.

At the start of this debate, I requested a citation for Pro's claim that “pollen fossils provide a climate record.” He ignored this request throughout the debate, yet brings it up again; I'm dismissing it as an unsubstantiated assertion.

Rapid Burial

Polystrate Fossils

Pro asks, “How did a great flood quickly put reptile tracks on [the Coconino] sandstone layer below material from swamps and lagoons, in turn below plant fossils, and all below ocean fossils?

Those tracks had to have been formed by animalsalready under water,according to Geology Today.(33)

It follows that swamp material would be present on top of tracks made beneath the swamp. The plant fossils on top were obviously plants growing in the swamp. The ocean fossils on top were clearly dumped there by Noah's Flood, as “the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered.”(34)

Fossil Trends

I pointed out how fossils aren't strictly time-ordered, and Pro dismissed the argument on the grounds that my source gave “no scientific references. This is the second time Pro falsely accuses my source of a lack of citations. If he had only bothered to click on it(25), he should have counted 15 scientific references, among them Nature, Paleobiology, and the Journal of Paleontology.


My opponent had the burden of proof to demonstrate the earth is probably over 10k years old. He failed his burden by failing to provide statistics that show his dating methods are even generally synchronous. I showed the measurements he uses aren't credible because they're wildly inaccurate and rely on circular logic. His analogies undermined his own case.

In contrast, I successfully defended the Bible as a credible historical record, and explained that age of the earth of less than 10k years has been independently determined by many scholars.

Both our cases relied on some assumptions, but mine survived Pro's attacks. His fell to close scrutiny.

Thanks to Pro for such an awesome debate, and thanks to everyone else who read this far!





(34) Genesis 7:19

Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Aleksandr 2 years ago
An urge to watch Planet Earth
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
Well we can both agree that I should have provided more evidence in support of my position. I'm redoing this debate, I just need a willing opponent.
Posted by RoyLatham 2 years ago
The God of the Gaps is a particular form of the argument from ignorance. For example, suppose we can not figure out how the Mayans did such precision stonework. That leads some to conclude that ancient aliens from space visited earth and used high technology. When the truth is unknown, there are endless fanciful theories that are consistent with the observation. If the explanation is that God did it by magic, that is the God of the Gaps.

Preponderance of evidence does not mean making the most claims. Preponderance of evidence means providing the most evidence in support of claims. In debating creationists, the problem is always keeping the debate narrowly on topic as much as possible. There are a couple of dozen independent ways of proving the earth is old. I selected four to give readers some variety. It would be easier to win a debate on, say, "Argon-argon dating is reliable." Creationist objections are superficial, so they need to try to change the topic rather than engage in a thorough discussion.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
Or Gish Galloping, I should say.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
Wow, I just looked up what preponderance means. I thought it meant "pondering". If I had know this debate was based on who had the most + best evidences, I would have spent less time rebutting and more time hurling elephants!
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
Finalfan thanks for your RFD.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
That's what I thought at first when PotBelliedGreek accused me of it the other day. But I got the impression that it's not the same as God of the Gaps because he said it's taught as part of a college biology course.

I doubt "God of the Gaps" is part of formal education, lol. It's not even the real name for the fallacy, which I think is Argument from Ignorance.
Posted by RoyLatham 2 years ago
I think the gaps fallacy is more commonly known as the "God the Gaps." Wikipedia explains: "God of the gaps is a type of theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God's existence. The term was invented by Christian theologians not to discredit theism but rather to point out the fallacy of relying on teleological arguments for God's existence.[1] Some use the phrase to refer to a form of the argument from ignorance fallacy."
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
Can you give me a link to a description of the Gap Fallacy?
Posted by MysticEgg 2 years ago
Indeed! One presented science, one prays to the gap fallacy.

Gap fallacy z.B. : 1% of exceptions [lava flows] falsifies the remaining 99% [everything under the Sun].
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Josh_b 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Wow there are a lot points made hastily in this debate. The grand canyon proves a 10,000+ earth. Plus they didn't even get into Historical civilizations.
Vote Placed by Mikal 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was entirely clear due to pros outline in R1. He specifically notes that this debate will be weighed by evidence. Both had valid evidence and I was pleased Pro put up such a strong case for layering/dating. Con also had a strong case for radio metric dating which was nice to see in a ye stance, but the issue was the amount of time he spent with refutation. I would liked to have seen con make more points instead of refuting them. He possibly could have one, but due to Roys outline in R1 , this shall be determined by whom submits the most viable cases. Due to Cons time spent on refuting points, he left Pro to go wild with building upon his contentions and citing evidence for the resolution. Due to R1 outline pro upheld what he claimed he would do. For that arguments to roy.
Vote Placed by Enji 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Since Con's burden of proof is to show that the earth is probably young based on the preponderance of evidence (R1), Con put himself at a disadvantage by waiting until R3 to present arguments for a young earth and instead focussing on refuting Pro's arguments, which allowed Pro to focus on evidence for an old earth and easily meet his burden of proof. Pro's most significant arguments were the consistency of radiometric dating and the consilience of independent dating methods. Con points out cases of inconsistency where the dates differ by a significant amount; Pro argues that these examples are atypical and that the anomalies can be corrected for by cross checking with separate methods and Con never defends the generalisability of these inconsistencies. In contrast, Pro's sources support the consistency and consilience of his dating methods. Con's arguments for a young earth were polystrate fossils and the biblical flood, which don't stand up to Pro's evidence. Arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by Wylted 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate was about who had more evidence for their theory. Con spent too much time refuting pro's arguments and not enough time giving evidence for his theories. Arguments go to pro.
Vote Placed by MysticEgg 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate, both Pro and Con presented their cases well. Conduct was fine. Spelling and grammar was fine in and of itself, but Con's case was presented using a variety of wondrous technicolour and I felt like I was on drugs. So, for a debate as formal as this one - and for not distracting me - Pro gets the S&G point. Arguments: Both Pro and Con argued for their cases with passion, that much was clear. It started off well and Con's original points were addressed by Pro. However, Con came back and destroyed Pro, forcing Pro to resort to source-accusations and numerous strawmen again Pro. The debate derailed, somewhat. Still, on the end, Pro argued for his case and rebutted Con; Con just gave counter-contentions and didn't demonstrate why the Earth is probably less than 10,000y. Sources also go to Pro, because Con sources were heavily influenced by religious websites, which is clearly inappropriate. debate on something so different, guys!
Vote Placed by Finalfan 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was actually a very good debate even though it digressed into a battle over sources. Both made convincing arguments but Con seemed more concerned with convincing pro he was wrong instead of convincing me that the earth was actually less than 10000 years old. Con did his research however and deserves credit for his tenacity. The position of Con in this topic of debate is not easy at all!