GPS, Radiodating, and Plate Tectonics

GPS, Radiodating, and Plate Tectonics

The second article by @Joel_Duff to read shows how GPS (which gives us position on the earth), radiodating of ancient rocks (to get their age) work together to show us that the earth looks old. The key forumula is the same we used to date DNA (Heliocentric Certainty Against a Bottleneck of Two?):


Distance equals the product of time and rate. Remember now that the continents were all once joined into a single super continent, Pangea, and then slowly drifted appart. YEC’s agree with this, but think it happened much quicker, in the lifetime of Peleg (Did the Continents Split Apart in the Days of Peleg? | Answers in Genesis)

We can measure the distance between continents (D), and the time that separated using radiodating (T). Those two numbers give us a way to measure how quickly they are moving (R). Now, with GPS, we have an independent way to measure the rate (R). The rate measured by these two approaches matches really well, even though they use different assumptions.

This is just another example of why we say that the earth look old. There is no reason for these estimates to line up unless the continents really did split apart a long time by a process that we still see unfolding right now. Otherwise, this is just an amazing coincidence. The earth really does appear old.


On a technical note, the United States Geological Survey is going to a system that uses GPS to measure positions on earth. The old system is based on survey markers and has inaccuracies. The new system will be able to account for things like continental drift.


Obtaining results from ‘orthogonal’ methods typically adds a lot of support to a hypothesis. One can’t over-emphasize the usefulness of such approaches in science.


I would like to key in on the word estimates and what it means. It means an estimate. It’s like an extrapolation. Estimates are estimates. Also, what kind of radiometric dating. What chemical isotope. There are too many variables here to look at this as anything more than incredibly interesting.

No. As estimate is a approximated value which was determined based on the best available (but still incomplete) data and which usually includes a plus or minus error range, also called the confidence interval. It’s not an extrapolation, it’s not a guess.

In science we almost always have to work with incomplete data sets. Estimates with error ranges are how we can still come up with good approximate solutions to problems.

@jammycakes, this is a great question for you.

@LarryI, before I respond any further, please familiarise yourself with the basic principles of how measurement works. You can start here:


It’s really hard to know who to respond to in regard to who is posting, so I will respond to James McKay. The article you wrote so thoughtfully, has very little to do with my original post. My original post had to do with the age of the earth and fossils being rounded off to make it seem more believable, as in 200 million, 300 million in regard to the age of fossils. If the age of the earth is 4.5 billion years old, it simply makes it harder to disprove or question. One must learn all about meteors and that the testing of a meteor may not be reliable if one does not know when it was formed. The post is just as applicable now as it was then. Another reason why this 4.5 billion year age is problematic is because it says nothing about how the earth or the universe was formed. I would think that for any Christian, this figure would be questionable for the simple reason that God said he created the earth in six days. Why would he not have said it started 4.5 billion years ago? Also, I don’t know if you are condescending and arrogant, but the description of your article certainly is. Christians and non-Christians can learn all about how Carbon dating works as well as how magnetic fields around planets can be detected and reported. That recent testing pointed to the probability that our solar system is quite young, not billions of years old.

Heh. You come in here ranting and raving and demanding explanations for science you don’t understand. Then when people take the time to explain the basics to you all you can do is smirk and ignore the material.

Tell us again why anyone should waste another second on your attitude?


On the contrary, it has everything to do with isotopes and extrapolation. The quantities of isotopes are measured. And extrapolations are extrapolations of measurements. And measurement is a rigorous, precise discipline which is the complete opposite of the hand-waving that you are trying to portray it as being.

@LarryI, I’d just like to echo this. In the past I’ve seen people coming onto these forums with all guns blazing spouting a young earth only to demonstrate that they haven’t a clue what they are talking about. When I try to explain to them why they’re talking nonsense, they respond by quote mining me to my face, repeating back what they said without adding any justification whatsoever, and tossing out word salads of technical terms which in real life have precise meanings that they have completely failed to understand, even though the concepts concerned are often very simple and are taught in secondary school. In some cases, they also throw in the occasional Pharisaical accusation of “compromise” or “speaking with the voice of the serpent” or somesuch for good measure. It’s very, very frustrating, it is a very bad witness, and it paints all of us as Christians in a bad light. They think they are preaching the Gospel, but they are not: they are making a mockery of it.

Accordingly, if you expect me to contribute anything more to this discussion whatsoever, I expect you to demonstrate that you are not one of those people. I expect you to demonstrate a willingness to learn, to engage with the arguments in a constructive and respectful fashion, and, if you wish to dispute what anyone is saying to you, to present meaningful evidence with accurately cited sources to back up your case. Because I have no desire whatsoever to waste time on the kind of foolish controversies that Titus 3:9 and 2 Timothy 2:23 warn us to avoid.


Larry, you’ve responded to me here by completely replacing the previous text of your post after I – and others – had replied to you, including quoting your original. Please don’t do this: it means that the flow of the discussion no longer makes sense, and it also meant that I didn’t notice your response until today – two days after you’d done so, and even then only because I happened to return to this post to try and find something I’d said earlier. If you want to bring something new to the table, put it in a new post.

You claim that my article has nothing to do with your original post. This is simply factually untrue. The age of the earth, the ages of rock strata, and the ages of specific events in between, are all determined first and foremost by measuring things. You seem to believe that measurement is either irrelevant or else that it is far less rigorous than it really is. That is simply not getting your facts straight.

Well I’m sorry if you consider the description of my article to be condescending, but it is a fact. You cannot learn about carbon dating, or any other form of radiometric dating, let alone attempt to give a meaningful critique of it, without understanding the baics of how it actually works. Otherwise you will just end up attempting to debunk an untrue cartoon caricature of it that bears no resemblance whatsoever to what real scientists actually do in reality.

People who believe that they can debunk radiometric dating without understanding the basic mathematics behind it tend to come out with clueless, nonsensical and easily falsified claims such as that extrapolation means guessing, or that evolution is about crocoducks and cats turning into dogs, or that fossils-are-used-to-date-rocks-and-rocks-are-used-to-date-fossils, or that Sir Arthur Keith said something about evolution being unproven and unprovable four years after he died. Portraying that level of ignorance as representative of Biblical Christianity does not uphold the Bible; on the contrary, it makes a mockery of it.


That’s like saying you can’t use a tape measure to figure out the length of a board unless you already know how long it is.

Measuring the length of a board says nothing about how the Earth or the universe formed, so do you also reject the use of a tape measure?

2 posts were split to a new topic: GPS, Radiodating and Plate Tectonics (Part II)