A great controversy among scientists. Constant revision of their estimates
People generally think that scientists have an accurate and unassailable method of knowing the Age of the Earth. They say that the subject is final and indisputable or at least a fair estimate based on correct theorizations. However, the truth is that only those who have not read the history of science on the development of various dating methods can entertain such wrong beliefs. Those who have not studied the scientists’ practices for determining the Earth’s Age could remain under a false impression. Generally, people who have read-only brief college text-book accounts, or sketchy articles in various periodicals, can continue to be under the wrong impression that what scientists say about the Age of the Earth or different fossils is based on the fool-proof method.
The history of these methods’ development shows that these methods are ‘very crude and wrong assumptions. One would be justified even to say that it is wrong to call these methods ‘scientific. Various ‘scientific’ disciplines give very different Age to the Earth. Methods employed by each domain are based not on any proven and uniform laws but on extremely doubtful assumptions or sweeping generalizations applied to all Ages. That is one reason why scientists have frequently revised the estimates of the Earth’s Age over the last one hundred years or more. We will give facts supporting this severe charge against what are known as ‘methods of dating’ in this and the next chapter. It will deal with the historical aspect of developing some of these methods and throw light on the lacunae in the mėthods employed by geologists.
Tracing the history of the dating ideas, we will see how the ‘Uniformitarianism’ of Geology Darwin built his theory is wrong, so Darwin cannot have millions of years for species evolution. Therefore, his theory falls.
Early religious beliefs of the Judaic family of religions, etc.
It would be of interest to know that the Jews, in olden times, believed that the world is created only a few thousand years before Moses. According to the Jewish calendar, which is in use in Israel, 5,781years had passed from creation until now. Somewhat Christian scholars also decided about A.D. 450 that the world was near-about that much old. According to their calculations, the world is about 6,000 ancient2. The ancient Persians, however, thought that the world had existed for almost 1,000 years3. According to Plato and the early Greeks, the world was eternal, but the destruction of Atlantis had taken place some 9,000 years before Plato’s time4.
The Hindus initially believed that the world cycle has four Ages, namely the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Copper Age, and the Iron Age, and these were 4000, 3000, 2000, and 1000 years, respectively. There were also periods of conjunction between every two Ages. Based on this computation, the world cycle was 12,000 years duration. Later, however, they thought that each day of these Ages was equal to 365 solar days.5 The ancient Hindus’ writings say that religion and virtue in the Copper Age, Silver Age, and Golden Age are twice, thrice, and four times, respectively, compared to what it is in the Iron Age. It seems that only later this ratio in moral values starts applied to the duration of the respective Ages, and each day of these was, without any genuine reason, considered equal to one year or 365 days. If that error had not crept in, one cycle’s total duration, comprising the four Ages and the conjunction period, would be around 5,000 years.
In the calculations of Bede, an English Churchman in the 8th century, the world is not older than 5,000 years.
Phillip Melanchthon, a contemporary of Martin Luther, the well-known Protestant reformer, even fixed the creation’s date at 3963 BC. After an in-depth study of the Bible. Martin Luther himself said, “We know on the authority of Moses, that no longer ago than 6,000 years, the world did not exist.7
But the most famous and oft-quoted estimate of the Age of the world is the one that was given by Archbishop Ussher of Ireland(1581 to 1656). It was based on the Biblical chronology in the 5th chapter of Genesis. In his book “Annals of the Ancient and the New Testament, He stated that God had created the heaven or paradise in 4004 B.C. Christians widely accepted their views. When the next edition of the King James Version of the Bible was published, the year 4004 B.C. was inserted in the margin of the page on which Noah’s flood and God’s covenant with Abraham 2349 B.C. and 1718 B.C., respectively. Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, highly applauded Ussher’s chronology and, on its basis, said that, according to this, the man was. created by the Trinity on Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. at nine o’clock in the morning.” 8
At that time, scientists also believed in this chronology. Perhaps. It is not known to many that Sir Isaac Newton, one of the world’s most outstanding scientists, agreed with Ussher and saw no contradiction based on astrónomy. 9
For many Christians, the chronology of the Old Testament was amazing and incredible. For example, the ages of Methuselah and his grandson Noah, as stated in the Bible, raised doubts in the minds of countless. According to the Old Testament, Methuselah lived for 969 years10 and his grandson, Noah, was 600 years old when God sent the waters of the Deluge to drown the wicked people of the earth11. And he lived another three hundred and fifty years after the flood12. Adam was 130 years when he gave birth to his third son, Seth13. However, many had begun to doubt these figures. No one dared in those days to oppose. To question these dates is considered pure heresy.
Moreover, though people did not believe these few individual dates, they thought that the world came into existence around 4000 B.C. As time passed, certain doubts grew and took firm roots in the minds of Christians. As people dug the Earth, from time to time, to build foundations for their homes, some bones of enormous size appeared below, sometimes, some bones of immense size and were of strange shape. These bones had no resemblance with human beings’ bones or with any other known or existing creation. However, orthodox Christians’ answer was: These are “models of God’s rejected works,” or these are ‘outlines of future creations.’
Some others said that these fossils had been placed in the Earth by the devil to tempt man to unworthy curiosity. They did not say that these were the fossils of some earlier or extinct species. On the other hand, some orthodox scholars said these were there because of nature imitating bones and shells’ shapes. Such-like answers by religious people, associating God’s name with these answers, gradually stoked the fire of resentment in the minds of rational people. In Bible, If the Age of Methuselah and others had not been so incredibly high, and religionists had not given an irrational explanation of bones found from under the Earth, most people would have, perhaps, continued to believe that the history of humankind is not older than about 5,000 years. But irrational and unbelievable explanations incurred the wrath or resentment of some people.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, scientists believed that these bones were of some creatures whose species seemed tó have become extinct. They began to ask why God allowed some of His animals to vanish? To this question, some Christians replied that these were the relics of the species that had failed to get aboard the Ark of Noah. But this too was no satisfactory answer, for the Bible says that God had asked Noah to bring aboard the Ark a pair of “every living thing of all flesh.” 15
Scientists began to speculate on the Age of the Earth.
.Old Christian belief now began to be earnestly doubted. French Naturalist George Louis Lecture, the Count of Buffon, was the first to express his contradiction. He published in 1749 his book, “Theory of the Earth.” In this book, he asserted: Ages ago, the Earth was a dislodged fragment of the sun, which gradually congealed in the chill of space. It was not until this fragment of the sun had cooled to a certain extent that life began upon it.” Buffon also remarked that the ‘six days,16 mentioned in the Old Testament connected with the work of creation of God’s world were six epochs 17 during which the Earth cooled and life on the continents emerged. To calculate how much time it was, Buffon heated two metal spheres and allowed them to cool. This way, he estimated that the Earth was.74,832 years old, and that it had cooled exactly enough 40,062 years ago to support life on it, and that, after 93,291 years after his time, the last of the remaining heat would ebb out, and the earthly life would perish.18
However, Buffon was severely criticized by theology professor at Sorbonne and was threatened that he would lose his post. Buffon yielded to the pressure of the Church and issued the following statement: “I declare that I had no intention to contradict the text of the scripture, that I believe most firmly all therein, related about the creation both as to the order of time and matter of fact. I abandon everything in my book, respecting the formation of the Earth, and generally all which may be contrary to the narrative of Moses.”19
But this kind of attitude of the Church was arbitrary and objectionable. Rationalists resented this sort of reaction of the Church very much. However, the Church alone was not to blame. Buffon’s theory was based on the improved assùmption that the Earth was initially a part of the sun. Even if it be considered a correct assumption, no one can say with even a bit of certainty what the atmospheric temperature then was and what other factors played in cooling. Buffon’s attempt to give the Earth’s exact Age was a mere guess without knowing these factors. It couldn’t be called ‘Science.’ However, Buffon was not the only scientist to believe that the Earth was initially a part of the sun. There have been many others; even today, many entertain this belief, though not based on proof. However, such guesses based on a little experimentation have been giving them the appearance of science. The credulous have accepted such statements over two centuries.
Hutton’s estimate of the Age of the earth-based on his theory of Uniformitarianism
Even though Buffon withdrew his opinion about the Earth’s Age, his book had set the trend against the Biblical views. .More and more people now began to find a rational explanation of the formation of rocks and other natural phenomena. They wanted to understand events based on some laws and principles. Among these was James Hutton, a Scottish geologist (1726-1797). He wrote his ideas in 1785. His book called the Theory of the Earth,20 or ‘An investigation of the Laws Observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe’ gave a strong blow to Archbishop Ussher’s views. Hutton was a naturalist. He had observed rivers carrying large quantities of silt to the ocean, mountain streams cutting deeper and deeper gorges through the rocks, and witnessed how rains and fire bring changes. Based on these observations, he speculated that water, fire, and air took millions of years to work shifts slowly on the Earth’s face. Hutton founded what is now called the ‘Law of Uniformitarianism,’ though. It is not an indispensable fact of nature, but it is only an assumption. This theory of Uniformitarianism states that the kinds of geological processes changing the Earth’s surface today are the same kinds of geological processes shaping it through all of the time. Hutton thought that by measuring the speed at which various factors bring about the changes, one arrives at some idea of the length of time over which the geological processes had operated to create the existing geological features. For example, one could measure the rate at which rivers o soil to the ocean and build up sediment layers. One could then examine the layers of rock and, by dividing its thickness by the annual deposit-rate of similar sediments, could say how much time it might have taken to form the coating. Since the rocks had distinct layers or strata, one upon the other, one could calculate how old a particular layer and a specific rock could be.
Regarding the formation of the present Earth, Hutton believed that it was first formed at the bottom of the ocean and was later uplifted by extreme heat out of the oceans’ surface to develop into an inhabitable world. The process, he says, took indefinite time. Here we quote him :
“Having ascertained a regular system, in which the present land of the globe is first formed at the bottom of the òcean, and then raised above the surface of the sea, a question naturally occurs concerning time; what had been the space of time necessary for accomplishing this great work?”
To form a judgment, our attention is directed to another progress in the globe’s system, namely, the destruction of the land which preceded. Now, for this purpose, we have the actual decay of the present ground.
Suppose we can measure the present land’s process, its dissolution by attrition, and submersion in the ocean. In that case, we might discover a former earth’s actual duration, a world that had supported all living creatures.
Hutton further says on this subject :
We shall be warranted in drawing the following conclusion: 1st, That it had rèquired an indefinite space of time to have produced the land which now appears; 2ndly, That an equal space, had been employed upon the construction .of the former land from where the materials of the present (world) came; lastly, that there is presently lying on the bottom of the ocean, the foundations of a future land which is to appear.”
Thus Hutton thought that this world was indefinitely old because natural processes took long periods to form it. In other words, he considered that one world was slowly eroded, and its ablutions went into the sea to build the future world, and thus it was an eternal process. Following are his own words: “But, as there is not, in human observation, proper means for measuring the waste of land upon the globe, it is hence inferred, that we cannot estimate the duration of what we see at present, nor calculate the period at which it had begun: so that, concerning human observation, this world has neither a beginning nor an end.” 21
From this, it is clear that Hutton’s views were different from Buffon. What Buffon şaid, based on physics, significantly differed from what Hutton said based on geology. Thus, there was all through history difference in various scientists’ views about the Earth’s Age.
Hutton’s principle of uniformity is not inviolable.
Though Hutton believed that our present Earth is formed from the materials gathered from the previous land’s erosion, the world is indefinitely old. His main principle is Uniformitarianism but had no objective proof. There is overwhelming ethnological, philological, archaeological, and geological evidence of a universal deluge. This means that the sedimentation rate has not been uniform due to downpour. Some rocks were uplifted from their place and rested upon other stones.
Flood legends are known to us from almost all ancient cultural groups. They are a convincing indication that the human race in all parts of the world remembered a time of tremendous flooding and destruction. According to Mahabharata and Satpath Brahmana, there was such a great deluge in the days of Manu or seven Rishis’ days. The Bible and the Torah also describe it. Sumerian Babylonian, Assyrian, and Greek traditions also say the Welsh legends, Lithuanian tradition, Irish tales, Chinese legends Inca tradition, Arctic Eskimo legends, the Mayan records, etc., all refer to the great worldwide flood.22
Geological evidence is against Uniformitarianism and in favor of catastrophism.
Moreover, there is geological evidence that leads to the conclusion that there have been catastrophes. Many examples are now known to geologists of strata occurring in the wrong order and perfect conformity. Over significant areas, ‘old’ fossils rest naturally upon rocks containing young’ fossils. Sometimes such inversions have been produced by normal faulting and folding, of which the stones give clear evidence. In this regard, there is the “theory of the horizontal thrust fault,” according to which great masses of rock were severed from their original formations and somehow lifted and placed atop adjacent areas. Such happenings must have naturally taken place by far greater intensity forces, different from the routine and usual process. This fact is most inconsistent with the theory of uniformity. Uniformitarianişm cannot explain why upside-down strata are found on every large mountain-range examined in the world.
For example, Uniformitarianism cannot explain why a stratum of pre-Cambrian limestone rests naturally on a cretaceous bed in the highest region of North America. A great “fault” of hundreds of miles in Tennessee, Georgia, and consisting of Cambrian deposits resting on carboniferous exist. The great Overthrust of Utah, and the Heart Mountain Thrust Wyoming, and many others are illustrations of vast areas of rocks, thousands of feet thick that must have been lifted over the adjacent regions by very great catastrophic forces. Similarly, the Scottish Highlands, the mountains of India, and the displacements in northern China run over 500 miles. The theory of Uniformitarianism cannot explain a similar area of about 85,000 square miles in Scandinavia and the upside-down condition ofthẻ Alpine region but catastrophism.?23
Even in Hutton’s own time, De Luc published four letters in response to Hutton’s 1788 paper. In this paper, De Luc mentioned having a great catastrophe that had inundated a large part of the globe.24Also, William Thompson, better known as Lord Kelvin, did not agree with Hutton’s uniformitarianism.25
Surface features of the Earth, such as mountains, rivers, stratigraphic deposits, are unexplainable. It can not be believed that sedimentation, erosion, contraction, radioactivity, and other processes worked uniformly for thousands of years.
Even Hutton himself has, unwaveringly, perhaps, referred to too violent forces of nature working. For example, he has talked of subterraneous fire.
“It is not meant to allege that it is only upon the summit of a continent, volcanoes should appear. The subterraneous fire has sometimes made its appearance in bursting form from the bottom of the sea.26
Doesn’t this mean that this bursting form of fire appears only sometimes and not always and, therefore, there is no uniform occurrence.
Again, Hutton mentions this bursting power of fire. “But when fire bursts forth from the bottom of the sea, when the land is heaved up and down, to demolish cities in an instant and split rocks and solid mountains asunder, there is nobody but power, which may be sufficient to accomplish every27 view of nature in erecting land. Again he says: “We are now to conclude that the land in which we dwell had been elevated from a lower situation by the same element which employed in consolidating the strata, in giving them stability, and preparing them for the living world. The agent is matter actuated by external heat and expanded with tremendous force.28
Lord Kelvin, the greatest physicist of his time and contemporary of Charles Darwin and T.H. Huxley, criticized the Uniformitarianism of Hutton, Lyell, and Playfair in these words :
Uniformitarianism in Geology proved invalid by Kelvin.
Many eminent British Geologists hold the “Doctrine of Uniformity” that the Earth’s surface and upper crust have been near as present in temperature and other physical qualities during millions of years. But the heat now conducted out of the Earth yearly is so great. If this action had been going on with uniformity for 20,000 million years, the amount of heat lost out of the world would have been about as much as would heat by 100 Cent., a quantity of ordinary surface rock of 100 times the Earth’s bulk. This would be more than enough to melt a mass of surface rock equal in dimension to the whole world. The hypothesis that chemical action, internal fluidity, effects of pressure at great depth, or possible character of the substances in the interior of the planet can not justify the supposition that the Earth’s upper crust has remained nearly the same even after the loss of the considerable quantity of heat.”29
Uniformitarianism is against the Second Law of Thermodynamics30
Kelvin also criticized Uniformitarianism, saying that it was against the Second Law of Thermodynamics.30The effect of Kelvin’s criticism on T.H. Huxley, the most ardent supporter of Darwin, is known by the following words: “I do not suppose that at the present day any geologist would be found to maintain absolute Uniformitarianism, to deny that the rapidity of the rotation of the Earth may be diminishing, that the sun may be waxing dim, or that Earth itself may be cooling.31 So, even T.H. Huxley. The most ardent supporter of Darwin agreed that Uniformitarianism was wrong.
Conceding the possibility of limiting the Earth’s Age, Huxley was willing to abandon the ‘Indefinite time’ which Lyell had advocated in his writings. Huxley, therefore, said :
Biology takes her time from geology. The only reason we have for believing in the slow rate of change in living forms is the fact that they perish through a series of deposits, which, geology informs us, has taken a long while to make. If the geological clock is wrong, all the naturalists will have to do is to modify their notions of the rapidity of change accordingly.”32
Darwin must have felt abandoned to know such views of Huxley, his most ardent supporter. But, it is an irony of fate that Darwin himself did not revise his theorizations even. However, his knowledge of geology was not of a high order. John Phillips (1800-1874), the professor of Geology at Oxford at that time, evaluating Darwin’s geological speculations, said bluntly: “Darwin’s computations are something absurd.”33
Whatever it was, even Huxley had admitted that physics does not allow hundreds of millions of years. And that this geological clock having gone wrong, biological ideas would have to be modified accordingly. So Darwin’s theory of natural evolution, which demands billions of years, falls to the ground.
From all this, it is clear that so far as the Age of the Earth is concerned, the theory of uniformity is erroneous for determining it. But almost all geologists, naturalists, etc., have been assuming Uniformitarianism as their mainstay for determining the Earth’s Age. From Charles Lyell to Libby, who is well-known for his carbon-14 dating method, all have taken Uniformitarianism for granted. Thus their plans also have become erroneous and vitiated.
But Charles Darwin, among all the scientists, took undue advantage of it34. Darwin was influenced by Lyell35, who, in turn, was influenced by James Hutton, the father of Geology.
Since Hutton said that the processes of nature have been at work gradually and over millions, nay, the indefinite number of years, Darwin thought that over millions or billions of years, the evolution of species and life’s origin could be possible. Thus Hutton’s views set a chain or a trend that has done incalculable wrong in the field of science.36
Many geologists, however, continued with their belief in the principle of Uniformitarianism, founded by Hutton. They thought that if the formation of rocks through the deposition of sediments in the sea were reasonably constant throughout time. And if the rate at which these processes occur could be determined, theń a table could be prepared, showing which stratum belongs to which period.
Accordingly, in 1860, some geologists concluded, based on their belief in uniformity, that it took 450 years for enough lime and sand to accumulate to make 12 inches of sand-stone, and it took 2,250 years for enough lime and shells to pile up on the floor of the sea to make one-foot limestone. Several geologists said that it would take about 100 million years to form the existing sedimentary rocks.36
How old is the Earth?
However, many other geologists disagreed with this view. Even though they agreed with much of Hutton’s thought, they were unconvinced by Hutton’s principle of Uniformitarianism. They argued that the rate at which sand, mud, and lime are deposited varies from place to place and from epoch to epoch since a swift river cannot carry as much sediment as a sluggish river.
While it would be correct to say that there are specific laws of nature at work, even catastrophes of floods occur according to these laws.
It would be entirely wrong to say that the rate of sedimentation of rocks, salination of oceans, and other physical and chemical phenomena have been the same throughout the ages.
1. Clocks for the Ages, Robert Silverberg, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York,
2. Ibid p. 16.
3. Ibid p. 16.
4 See Dooms Day, 1999 A.D, by Charles Berlitz, Double Day & Co., Inc., Garden City,
New York, pp. 125, and 173-176.
(i) See also Homer’s Atlantis.
(li) Clocks for the Ages, p. 16.
5. Gita Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak.
7. Clock for the Ages, p. 17.
8. Ibid, p. 18.
9. Evolution or Creation, Prof. H. Enoch, Jyoti Pocket Books, Bombay, p. 21-22.
10. Old Testament, Genesis, Ch. 5, verse 27.
11. Old Testament, Genesis, Ch. 7, v. 11.
12. Old Testamentearthesis, Ch. 9, v. 28.
13. Old Testament, Genesis, Ch. 5, v. 3.
14. Old Testament, Genesis, Ch. 1, v. 25.
15. Ibid, Genesis, Ch. 6. v. 19-20.
16. Old Testament, Genesis, Ch. 1, v. 31.
17. Some others also have said that the Hebrew word day may sometimes be used to
indicate a long, indefinite period, But the orthodox Christians say that the
world ‘day has have been used, in the Óld Testament, about 200 times, and it has nowhere
been used to mean anything other than the one used commonlý in the literal sense.
See “The Bible and Modern Science” by Henry M. Morris, Moody Press, Chicago,
(u) See also Rocks, Relics & Biblical Reality’ by Clifford A. Wilson, Zondervan
Publishing House, Michigan. Various attempts to explain these ‘six days’ have
been made to; this.
18. Clocks for the Ages, p. 21.
19. Тbid, p. 21-22.
20. James Hutton’s System of the Earth, 1785; Theory of the Earth’, etc. edited by
George W. White, Hafner Press, New York, 1973.
21. James Hutton’s System of the Earth, 1785, Abstract of a dissertation, edited by
George W. White, Vol. 5, Hafner Press, New York, 1973, p. 25 to 28.
22. Dooms Day 1999 A.D., by Charles Berlitz, Doubleday & Co., Inc., Garden City, INew
York, 1981, pp. 147-176.
23. The Bible and Modern Science by Henry M. Morris, Moody Press, Chicago, pp. 62-
24. Great Geological controversies by A. Hallam. Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 35.
(ii) See also de Luc, J.A., (1790-1), Monthly Rev. 2, 206; 582;
(iii) de Luc, JA. (1809), An elementary treatise in geology, Rivington, London.
(iv) A detailed account of the late eighteenth and nineteenth-century of
geological researches in Great Britain regarding the Deluge are also given in
Genesis and Geology’by Gillispie, C.C. (1951), Harvard University Press.
25. Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth, by Joe D. Burchfield. Science History
Publication, New York, 1975, p. 1.
26. James Hutton system of the Earth, etc., p. 275.
27. Гbid p. 271.
28. Ibid, 266.
29. Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth, p. 58.
30. Ibid, p. 31.
31. () Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth, P. 82.
(ii) Huxley T.H. (1869), p. 329.
32. Ibid, p. 331.
33. (1) Thompson, (1910), Kelviņ’1:539, Letter from Phillip to Kelvin, Jun. 12 1861.
(ü) Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth, p. 32.
34. Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth by Joe D. Burchfield, Science History
Publications p. 10.
36. Clocks for the Ages, p. 30.