Is there any evidence for the Bible's view of a young earth?
Question: "Is there any evidence for the Bible's view of a young earth?"
There is a profusion of evidence for the Bible’s view of a young earth. However, the old-earth perspective has held a monopoly in the public schools, in the major academic centers, and in the popular media for generations. It is no wonder then that most scientists share the old-earth perspective. It’s all they were taught growing up in school. It’s all they learned at the universities where they got their degrees. It’s what most of their colleagues profess. But there are dissenters among the scientific community, and their numbers are growing. Why? Because more and more scientists are confronting a growing body of evidence which challenges the old-earth paradigm.
This is not to say that everyone who examines these evidences will reject the old-earth perspective. Some who have pondered these evidences regard them as anomalous, yet-to-be-explained phenomena. Some believe they don’t stand up under close scrutiny. Some view them as deliberate misrepresentations of the facts by religious zealots.
There is no doubt that religious zealots have a tendency to distort facts when it suits their purposes. old-earth zealots have the same tendency when their careers and reputations are on the line. It’s human nature. It is also true that some of the young-earth evidences which have been proposed over the years have not withstood close scrutiny. But many others have, and the fact remains that a growing number of professionally trained scientists—experts in their fields—are accepting a young-earth perspective as being at least scientifically plausible, if not compelling. Here are a few of the relevant evidences for consideration:
Young Earth Evidence: Continental Erosion and Fossil Remains. The continents are eroding at such a rate that, if not for tectonic uplift, meteoric dusting and volcanic influx, they would erode flat (Mt. Everest and all) in less than 25 million years. At this rate, high-altitude, million-year-old fossils should have long since eroded away. And yet they remain. The implication is that these fossils are not millions of years old. If this were true, the entire geologic column would need serious revision (see our article on the Geologic Column).
Young Earth Evidence: Subterranean Fluid Pressure. When a drill rig strikes oil, the oil sometimes gushes out in huge fountains. This is because the oil is often under huge amounts of pressure from the sheer weight of the rock sitting on top of it. Other subterranean fluids kept under pressure include natural gas and water. The problem is, the rock above many pressurized subterranean fluid deposits is relatively permeable. The pressure should escape in less than 100,000 years. Yet these deposits remain highly pressurized. Once again, because of the supposed antiquity of these deposits and their location throughout the geologic column, this observation calls into question some of the interpretations which have led to the formulation of the column.
Young Earth Evidence: Global Cooling. In the 19th century, the renowned physicist and inventor Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) was the first to point out that if the earth began in a white-hot molten state, it would have cooled to its current temperature billions of years sooner than the 4.6 billion years accepted today. Since then, old-earth advocates have pointed out that radioactive decay within the earth would greatly slow down the cooling process. Young-earth advocates respond that, even given liberal assumptions concerning the amount of heat produced by radioactive decay, the earth would still cool to its current temperature much sooner than old-earth advocates allow.
Young Earth Evidence: Lunar Recession. The moon is slowly moving farther away from the earth. This has to do with the fact that the earth’s spin is slowing down due to tidal friction and other factors. Lunar recession was first observed by Edmund Halley in the late 1600s (the same Edmund Halley who is credited with being the first to predict the 76-year orbit of the famous comet which bears his name). Given the rate of lunar recession today, the fact that it has gradually accelerated over time, and several other factors, physicists have determined that the earth-moon system could not have existed beyond 1.2 billion years (you can review the mathematical equations involved at http://www.creationscience.com/). This is 3.4 billion years less time than old-earth advocates are willing to accept. Furthermore, the closer the moon gets to the earth, the greater its influence on our tides. We can’t go too far back in time before we would all drown twice a day.
Young Earth Evidence: Helium diffusion from Precambrian Zircons. Helium is produced within the earth by the radioactive decay of certain unstable elements (uranium and thorium being two such elements). Some of this decay takes place inside of crystals known as “zircons.” Helium diffuses from these zircons at known rates depending upon depth and temperature. Scientists have discovered that, in zircons where a billion years of uranium decay has allegedly taken place, too much helium remains—way too much helium. It appears as if the helium hasn’t had enough time to diffuse out of the crystals. This observation has a couple of implications.
First, this observation may overturn a key assumption underlying radiometric dating (the most common old-earth dating technique). Scientists believe that a billion years of uranium decay has taken place within these zircons because they make certain assumptions about the unobservable past (see our article on Radiometric Dating). One of these assumptions is that radioactive decay has remained constant throughout the unobservable past. Scientists have been able to vary decay rates in the lab, but most don’t believe that it actually happens in nature. However, if billions years of uranium decay has taken place so quickly that the helium produced hasn’t had enough time to escape the zircons, this may be strong evidence that radioactive decay rates were greatly accelerated in the unobservable past.
Second, because the zircons came from Precambrian rocks below the geologic column, currently accepted old-earth interpretations of the geologic column may need serious revision (once again, see our article on the Geologic Column). These and numerous other scientific evidences for a young-earth theory give credence to the Bible’s account of the creation of the earth and universe as found in Genesis.