Stopwatches and Age

We aren’t talking about the past, are we? We’re talking about the future.

We are talking about measuring the age of the Earth and life.

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You cannot measure the age of anything.

You should read the literature on measuring the age of rocks.


The rest of us can. Quite possibly you cannot.


Says who?

Geochronology is a branch of science, complete with dedicated journals and voluminous papers published throughout the more general literature. Geology associations have sections specialized to the discipline, which is indeed the measurement of age. A large number of scientists are engaged in lifelong careers which are completely engaged in measuring age - that is their entire focus - advancing new techniques from sample selection and preparation through the instrumentation, developing new applications, sharpening the precision, cross correlating results into a consilient whole, and extending the range.


I was born on 12/22/1948. I measure my age every morning when I get up.
My cats can measure the time if I am 5 minutes late with their breakfast.

Is PDR aware of the term “ages like milk”?


Stopwatches suggest otherwise.

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Stopwatches denote the amount of time elapsed since you pressed the button. They don’t measure the age of anything.

Other counters exist. Tree rings, lake varves, ice cores, oh and rock sediments, radiometric dating. And there is consilience across methods. Why die on the hill of the obvious nonsense of a young Earth and global flood? This has nothing to do with Jesus’ teachings.

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My take: Christianity (like most other religions) requires denial of science (broadly defined) as the only reliable way of gaining knowledge.

YEC is just one of the most extreme versions of this.

Less extreme versions include “evolutionary creationism” and GAE.

(I sense a post split coming up. :smiley: )


If you press the button when something is born/made/created - such as when a puppy is born or a cake comes out the oven or a sporting event starts - then the stopwatch can tell you the age of that something.

Are you really going to pretend that it’s not possible to use a stopwatch or similar timepiece to determine that a football game is 12 minutes old, or a newspaper is three hours old, or a baby is one day and 6 hours old?

Only if 1) the stopwatch is functioning properly at all times and 2) the user never presses the button again to stop the watch.

One must rightly assume these things for the “age” given by the watch to have any validity, which is not a guarantee. The watch is not directly measuring the age of anything. You will find it impossible to use a stopwatch to measure the age of anything which began to exist prior to your pressing its button, for example.

Paul, you are essentially arguing that time cannot be measured, and that no estimate or approximation of age is valid if some cosmic timekeeper might stop the clock. This seems to go against the notion of reality as we understand it, and I do not think it is defensible.


I said the age of things, not time. The age of things can only be inferred, and this imperfectly, unless we have a eyewitness testimony (or a record thereof) of when they began.

I never said anything about a cosmic timekeeper stopping the clock. However, if anything happens to interfere with the clock’s normal operation, then obviously it will give a wrong result.

This is a typical creationist rejection of inference and thus of the very basics of science. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. How much more reliable is claimed testimony of an unspecified and unverifiable author?

Of course all science relies on inference. This is hardly limited to historical science. The existence of electrons is just as much an inference from data as the age of a rock, and yet creationists never seem to question whether electrons are real things.

What evidence do you have that anything has interfered with all the various clocks used to infer the ages of rocks, and miraculously in just such a coordinated way as to have them all agree and all fit a stratigraphic ordering?

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I have changed the title to Stopwatches and Age.

Eyewitnesses and records are subject to the same sorts of errors as anything else.

That was my extension of the Timekeeper analogy to geologic time. At the heart of this claim about measuring age is a criticism of physics itself. There is no means of suspending the laws of physics at the click of a button.

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In my eyes, this is a tacit admission that the evidence supports an old Earth. If, at face value, the evidence was not consistent with an old Earth and old universe then you wouldn’t have to propose ad hoc changes to the most basic and fundamental laws and constants in the universe.


We live in a watch. The earliest temples on the planet were build to face the sun in its annual solstice. The flow of energy reflects the arrow of time. The frequency of the the electron orbitals which make up our bodies are synchronized with all clocks in our frame. The swing of the pendulum which led Galileo to investigate the rate of free fall is in ratio with the orbit of the planet and atomic oscillations. Time is everywhere there is space and material. It is part of us. The radioactive decay of potassium-40 in our bones is part of this tapestry.

Geochronology is just a reflection of the pervasive nature of time. The rates of nuclear decay are set by the fundamental constants which comprise this universe. YEC has never produced a theory of how decay rates might be altered. Where is the math on altered values of the weak, strong, and electromagnetic forces? What happens to stellar processes? How is the explosive energy from the release of mass to energy dealt with?

YEC has no clue how to deal with these physical constants; remember their fiasco with the missing neutrinos and doubts about solar fussion? Just saying “Speeded up decay” is a whimsy not a theory. A comprehensive mathematical treatment consistent with the data might pass for a theory, but YEC does not have one and will never produce one.


Perfectly stated. Such whimsies may sound compelling to the choir, but they fail immediately in the world of real physics. If you start changing the fundamental forces and constants there are massive consequences to how the universe would operate. Moreover, absent a dogmatic belief in YEC there is absolutely no reason to even suspect that these forces and constants were significantly different in the past. No evidence leads to the YEC whimsy, and massive mountains of evidence lead away from it.