Christians believe that God’s creation of the universe ended just 6,000 years ago. Thus, human history goes back only 6,000 years, to a real man named Adam and a real woman named Eve, and macroevolution has not occurred. How can this be true? Does this view not contradict good science?
First, remember that Einsteins demonstration that time and space are a part of the same fabric. In light of this, it is logical that when God stretched out the space in the universe, he was stretching out time with it. Thus, in a very literal sense, there could be 14 billion years of the dimension that we call time between us and that event, just as there appears also to be a great deal of the spacial dimensions between us and that event as well.
This view would allow for astrophysicists and cosmologists to see evidence for a universe that was, technically speaking, billions of years old. The material in our earth would also be very old in a technical sense. But there would be no evidence for life existing on earth more than about 6,000 years ago. So, is this view even possible, or is it absolute nonsense?
It is time for a basic review of scientific dating methods. There are two types of dating methods: relative, and absolute.
Relative dating means we take objects that we already know the age of, and use them to evaluate the ages of other objects that we know came before or after them, or were contemporaneous of them. So basically, if we find a fossil in a rock that we believe to be 2 billion years old, the fossil is assumed to be 2 billion years old. Or, if we find a fossil that we believe to be 2 billion years old in a rock, we will assume the rock to be that age as well.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this kind of dating will spread inaccurate dates like wildfire through the scientific community if incorrect assumptions are made about the ages of objects that we do know. This illustrates the great importance of the second kind of dating method, the absolute, which according to the UK’s Natural History Museum, gives us an item’s “exact age.”
There are a handful of categories that absolute dating methods can further be divided into, but the most widely used and trusted are radiometric dating methods. Most objects in nature contain radioactive isotopes. In very basic terms, these are elements that decay into different elements, or different isotopes of the same elements. Since they decay at a steady rate (or at least they have since we started paying attention,) if we know the amount of an isotope in something when is was formed (or in the case of a living thing, when it died,) we can determined its age based on the amount of the products of its decay in our sample.
But the problem, as many have pointed out, is that in the case of non-living objects such as rocks, there is so much room for contamination during the time between the objects creation and our sampling of it. To make matters worse, we can only speculate about the amount of isotopes in the original. Perhaps this is why samples of fresh lava from Mt. St. Helens were dated to between 340,000 and 2.8 Million years old only a few years after its creation.
But with living things the method is much more reliable, right? Not in all cases. Not unless living mollusks died 2,300 years ago (“Radiocarbon Dating: Fictitious Results With Mollusk Shells,” Science , Vol. 141, p. 634). We are making too many assumptions about initial quantities of isotopes, constant rates of decay, lack of contamination, and precision of measurement.
I’m skeptical of the dates that the scientific community is putting on fossils. If rocks are being dated to be extravagantly older than they really are, and we are then using relative dating to determine the age of the fossils in those rocks, then our entire timescale for living things on earth is reduced to rubble.
Even scientists admit that carbon-14 dating is “not generally reliable for finds that are more than 40,000 years old,” and the rampant use of relative dating leaves the door open for widespread error. Evolution does indeed need millions and billions of years between the appearance of the first living organisms and the appearance of man, and we simply have no reliable way of validating those kinds of numbers.