The 10 Best Evidences for a Young Earth

I also want to direct readers to @jammycakes review of Answers in Genesis’s (AIG) 10 best evidences for a young earth. He goes through all ten, doing a careful and well researched fact check. @jammycakes does not make use of methodological naturalism, but just looks at the honesty and accuracy of the claims made by AIG scientists. See his introduction here: An examination of Answers in Genesis’s ten best evidences for a young earth – How old is the earth?

We see this in the Bible’s demands for honesty in how we handle weights and measures. Deuteronomy 25:13-16 says this:

13Do not have two differing weights in your bag — one heavy, one light. 14Do not have two differing measures in your house — one large, one small. 15You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 16For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.

Other Bible verses demanding honest use of weights and measures include Leviticus 19:35-36; Ezekiel 45:10; Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 20:23; Hosea 12:6-7; Amos 8:4-8; Micah 6:10-13. Repeatedly in the Bible, we are told that dishonest weights and measures are an abomination to the Lord.

For @Jammycakes, his starting premise is that scales must be fair. We have to be honest. The lack of honesty in how data is reported is what he hones in on. For example, notice how AIG places people in a photo to hide evidence against their position (in a conversation with @Joel_Duff and @J.E.S ) : Misrepresentation of Grand Canyon rock formations - Scientific Evidence - The BioLogos Forum.

I hasten to add that some YEC scientists are honest. Not all are dishonest. Some are very honest. See for example Todd Woods, who acknowledges that evolution is a successful theory. The truth about evolution.

My findings were as follows:

  1. Very little sediment on the sea floor. YEC Best Evidence 1: not enough sediment on the seafloor – How old is the earth? The calculations are invalid: riverine sediment ends up on the continental shelf, while the existing deposits being measured were those on the deep ocean floor.
  2. Bent rock layers that are not fractured. YEC Best Evidence 2: bent rock layers are not fractured — or are they? – How old is the earth? This claim is blatantly untrue, as can be seen by comparing the example given to higher-quality photographs of the same rock formation both by USGS and by Answers in Genesis themselves. Bent rock layers are fractured.
  3. Soft tissue in dinosaur fossils. YEC Best Evidence 3: the facts about soft tissue in dinosaur fossils – How old is the earth? While these findings are surprising, they do not contradict anything that we know about how long soft tissue can last, and in any case they are too rare and too badly degraded to be consistent with a young earth. Furthermore, many YEC accounts exaggerate the state of preservation of what was found.
  4. The faint young sun paradox. YEC Best Evidence 4: the faint young sun paradox – How old is the earth? Although it does suggest fine tuning, this says nothing about the age of the earth.
  5. Earth’s magnetic field is rapidly decaying. YEC Best Evidence 5: has the Earth’s magnetic field always been decaying? – How old is the earth? This is based on an invalid extrapolation that is contradicted not only by the data, but also by both young-earth and old-earth models of how the Earth’s magnetic field works.
  6. Too much helium in radioactive rocks. https://howoldistheearth.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/yec-best-evidence-6-helium-in-radioactive-rocks-and-the-importance-of-critical-peer-review/This is a very complex (and therefore error-prone) claim that is compromised by numerous serious errors including sloppy experimental technique, invalid assumptions, fudged data, misidentified rock samples, and a refusal to submit to meaningful peer review.
  7. Carbon-14 in fossils, coals and diamonds. YEC Best Evidence 7: ancient carbon-14 — intrinsic or contamination? – How old is the earth? The measured carbon-14 levels are consistent with known, measured, and well-studied contamination mechanisms.
  8. Short-lived comets. https://howoldistheearth.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/yec-best-evidence-8-short-lived-comets/ This denies that the Oort Cloud exists, based on an unrealistic assumption that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. It also disregards calculations of the historic orbits of known comets showing them to have been slingshotted closer to the sun by planets such as Jupiter.
  9. Very little salt in the sea. https://howoldistheearth.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/yec-best-evidence-9-not-enough-salt-in-the-sea-or-not-enough-precision-in-the-measurements/This is based on outdated and cherry-picked data, poorly known quantities with huge error bars, and a naive extrapolation of rates that can not realistically be expected to have been the same in the past as they are today. The most up to date research indicates that the amount of salt in the sea is approximately in a state of equilibrium, and that it therefore tells us nothing about the age of the earth.
  10. DNA in ancient bacteria. https://howoldistheearth.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/yec-best-evidence-10-dna-in-ancient-bacteria/ This is based on a single disputed study. It has not been satisfactorily demonstrated that the salt deposits and the bacteria themselves were the same age, nor that the salt crystals were undisturbed since their original formation.

https://howoldistheearth.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/answers-in-genesiss-ten-best-evidences-for-a-young-earth-summary-and-conclusion/

Going back to the parable of the 100 year old tree. Maybe God did create earth recently, this however does not mean it will appear young to science. God could have created an ancient universe just a few thousand years ago. There is no good reason to make bad arguments for a young earth.

I highly encourage reading each of his posts. @jammycakes is not a scientist, but he does a good job making sense of the AIG arguments. Each of articles are really good reads.

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From his introduction (https://howoldistheearth.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/an-examination-of-answers-in-genesiss-ten-best-evidences-for-a-young-earth/), @jammycakes explains how he will be assessing arguments…

So, when evaluating the evidences for a young earth, here are the questions that I will be asking.

  1. Does it get its facts straight? In other words, is it actually true? As we shall see, at least one of these arguments (number 2, bent rock layers) is not.

  2. Does it actually place a specific numerical limit on the age of the earth at all? Many of these arguments do not, but only attempt to provide counterexamples to conventional dating methods. Some of them (in particular, numbers 2 and 4) do not place any numeric constraints on anything at all. Others appeal to “common sense” that certain processes can not take “millions of years” while disregarding actual measurements and observations that indicate that they can.

  3. Is it measuring the right things? We shall also see an example (number 1, too little sediment on the sea floor) which attempts to calculate a limit for the age of the earth by dividing two completely unrelated measurements, leading to a result which is totally meaningless.

  4. How well defined are the limits it places on the age of the earth? Radiometric dating gives results that are accurate to within ±5%, frequently better than ±1%, and in the best cases, better than one part in a thousand. On the other hand, most of these arguments rely on quantities that are extremely difficult to measure, and in some cases completely unknown. For example, we have only a rough idea of how long it takes bones and soft tissue to decay and fossilise under average conditions, and the upper limit on how long it takes the last remnants to fully mineralise under optimal conditions is completely unknown.

  5. Are its assumptions realistic? No scientist blindly assumes that rates are constant; one must either attempt to determine precise limits to how much they could have varied, or else establish solid theoretical and observational reasons as to why they could not. There are good reasons, both theoretical and experimental, to believe that nuclear decay rates have always been constant, while on the other hand, the rate of influx of salt or sediment into the oceans is highly sensitive to environmental and climatic conditions.

  6. How rigorously have the “rescuing devices” been falsified? It is completely unscientific (and in fact, intellectually dishonest) to hand-wave alternative explanations and sources of error such as contamination as “meh, rescuing devices.” Alternative explanations have to be carefully and systematically ruled out, and in particular, sources of error such as contamination must be accounted for before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

  7. What are the sources of its data? Are they up to date and representative of the latest research? Does it represent them fairly and accurately, or does it cherry-pick and quote mine them?

  8. What is the extent of its data? Have the findings come from a single study, or has it been confirmed by other findings from elsewhere? One study — especially if it is disputed, controversial, or extraordinary — is not enough to establish a scientific finding. Similarly, studies based on small sample sizes are very unlikely to be reliable. If we could accept one-off studies based on small samples, we would also be giving a free pass to anti-vaxxers, astrology, homeopathy, water divining, and reading tea leaves.

  9. Have they received a level of scrutiny appropriate to their complexity? Some claims, such as number 6 (helium in radioactive rocks) are technically very complex both theoretically and experimentally, and very complex claims are easy to get wrong, difficult to get right, and easy to “fudge” in ways that can be difficult to spot. In particular, scrutiny from experts in the subject matter concerned needs to be particularly heeded, as only they will be familiar with the existing research, the relevant best practices, and the various pitfalls and gotchas.

  10. How have they responded to critique? In particular, how have they responded to criticisms of a purely technical nature? I am not concerned about them introducing religious presuppositions into science, so much as with arithmetic errors, mis-cited sources, cherry-picked data, hand-waved estimates, invalid analogies and the like. In these cases, the only correct responses are to either (a) fix the problem, or (b) provide evidence that they would not significantly affect the result. All claims that critiques are “petty and nitpicking” must be backed up by calculations or other evidence to prove that they really are as petty and nitpicking as they claim them to be.

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I want to reiterate again here that there is nothing intrinsic to YEC that requires one to make bad scientific arguments. Not all YECs do this. This, however, seems to be a common pattern among scientific YECs.

Thanks @swamidass for your kind words about my blog series. I personally feel that it’s important, especially when discussing matters such as this with young-earth advocates, to avoid getting bogged down in discussions about methodological naturalism. Regardless of what one actually means by “methodological naturalism” in reality, to many people it sounds like an a priori assumption that miracles don’t happen, which in some cases can sound almost like a declaration of atheism. But also I felt it important to emphasise the fact that you don’t get different results out of measurement and mathematics by looking at it through different worldviews. The YEC claim that the age of the earth is just a matter of one interpretation against another is simply not true.

Thanks for emphasising this point too. I’m impressed by the honesty of Todd Wood’s approach to YEC. If I’m not mistaken, he believes that there’s an alternative explanation of the evidence that we haven’t yet discovered. I really enjoy reading his blog as well – he has a passion and an enthusiasm for both science and his Creator that is kind of infectious.

Just to clarify, I may not have worked professionally as a scientist, but I do have a degree in science (physics to be precise). I’ve ended up working as a software developer – a career path that seems to be very, very common for physics graduates such as myself :slight_smile:

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Exactly right. YEC is not the problem per se. There are many YECs that are honest, and do not rely on false arguments. The problem is something else.

Apologies. Your true qualifications are noted.

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The problems arise from a “plain English reading” of the translation of an ancient Hebrew text. Scholarship has advanced our understanding in both arenas.

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And sometimes it is impossible to tell whether a YEC is sincere and impaired, or not-impaired and quite disingenuous.

For example, currently on BioLogos, we have a deteremined YEC who insists that [Godless] Evolution is an invalid and worthless concept… but when it is shown that BioLogos has a mission statement that ALSO rejects Godless Evolution, and advances the idea of Evolution by/through God, he counters by saying:

“there is no such thing as Evolution-with-God, so any attempt to apply that definition is a form of the BioLogos fantasy world.”

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Like I said. Unnecessary confusion. The regular operations of nature are just as much a matter of God’s involvement and active maintenance as miracles are a sign of His being unconfined to “regular” means.
God didn’t create, in making nature, a “rock so big that not even He can lift it.”
Cheers!

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There’s one point worth highlighting in particular about my review of YEC claims, and that is that there’s a common thread running through pretty much all of them: specifically, that they completely disregard the basic rules and principles of how to measure things. As I wrote in the summary and conclusion:

Every single one of them — and in fact, every other claim of evidence for a young earth that I’ve ever seen — plays fast and loose with the basic rules and principles of how measurement works, some of them even to the extent of completely disregarding the role of measurement in determining the ages of rock strata altogether. Tiny samples with huge error bars are presented as “overwhelming” evidence for absurd new laws of fantasy physics that would have vaporised the earth if they had any basis in reality. The extent and significance of discrepancies in conventional dating methods is repeatedly blown up out of all proportion, with errors of just 20-30%, and results from techniques pushed to breaking point, being touted as evidence that all dating methods are consistently out by factors of up to a million. Isolated claims that were retracted a century ago are cited as evidence of pervasive systematic fraud in hundreds of thousands of peer reviewed studies right up to the present day. Despite their repeated denunciations of “uniformitarianism,” many of them are based on assumptions of constant rates that are totally out of touch with reality.

This is something worth bearing in mind when you’re confronted with a “Gish gallop” of seemingly disconnected claims – just about every single one of them that I’ve seen falls foul of the simple question, “how big are the error bars?” YECs love to claim that “radiometric dating is unreliable,” but what they never tell you is that unreliability can be quantified and that doing so is one of the main goals of modern science.

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it was suggested to come here.
This is surely not YEC best ten. there are thousands.
I’ll address the first.
if earth was old it should have great depths of sediment in the seas. now a problem is YEC has the seas created, in depth, during the flood year. Before they were shallow relatively.
So one could have great depths of sediment. either way works for YEC.
Yet its said there is not. Well saying it would go to surrounding shelves is unreasonable. it would spread out in all that time. yes even to the deepest. Its not just the water pushing it but moving continents as they invoke.
I don’t see a good rejection of this in the short sentence provided.

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You say there are better evidence of a young earth. Great.

Setting those aside, do you agree that these 10 evidence are not evidence for a young earth? If not, why not? Specifically, why do you disagree with @jammycakes ? If you can’t let acknowledge errors and dishonest in these cases, I’m not sure its trustworthy. I’m not even insisting that you agree the earth is old. Just to agree to reject a bad argument.

So, this was answered in @Jammycake’s first article:

What specifically do you disagree with the article? He explains correctly how this is not evidence against an old earth

Likewise, for #2:

The claim about bent rock layers in particular was one such example. YEC organisations insist that it’s ungracious and divisive to accuse them of lying, but when a PhD geologist presents his case with an out-of-focus and badly exposed photograph of a rock formation with students strategically placed in front of the very parts of the formation that contradict him, if that is not lying, then I don’t know what is. If you don’t want to be accused of lying, don’t tell lies.

I acknowledge up front that many YECs are honest. Not all are lying. However, can you denounce this lie with us? If not, why should anyone trust you?


If you think I am being unfair @Robert_Byers, this is a standard I think applies to everyone. I’ve argued against my own camp ,many times. Truth does not benefit from false arguments. I’m only asking you to join me in a honest engagement with the facts. Other YECs can do it. Why not you too?

If the earth was ever the recipient of a major cosmic impact event, like the one in evidence regarding the formation of the moon, which deeply cracked and nearly completely upended certain regions of the crustal layer across the earth, then uniformitarian assumptions of “how things should be by now” have to be adjusted for these types of actual events. Turns out YEC suffers from TOO MUCH emphasis on uniformitariansim, despite its protests to the contrary.

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The great data is the claim of billions of years. Then the seas are found rather empty just as it would be if there had been very little time to fill it up.
He stresses one doesn’t know past rates. Well actually his side does always say they know. Nevertheless the rates could be faster as much as slower.
In fact YEC would see fast rates of episodes.
The continents are moving, spreading sediment loads from off the continents , around.
In such glorious amount of time it wouldn’t just be a little on shelves close to shore.
Anyways since its an issue of rates its hard to dismiss everyones ideas.
Not enough/slow down rates, too much/speed rates up!

Remember they do have the seas gETTING their sediment from the land. so with so much time it should be greater then it is by leaps and bounds.
I think its a winning YEC point the public could understand.
I’ll visit this guys blog and read his material.

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I think his site is important. You do not have to agree with him on everything. However, if you can’t acknowledge error on at least several of these AIG arguments, it will be hard to understand how any conversation on science could be fruitful with you.

Hi Robert,

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. It was much appreciated. Trust God is blessing you.

You need to understand that I don’t view creation and evolution as a matter of “my side” versus “your side.” Nor am I interested in saying “evolution is a fact, science trumps scripture, get over it.” That is the message that seems to come across from BioLogos at times – intentionally or not – and I really don’t feel comfortable with it. Rather, my view of the whole matter is that you can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God, regardless of how old the earth is, regardless of who or what did or did not evolve from what, and regardless of when, where, and how extensive the Flood was.

What I do insist on, however, is that if you are going to attempt to critique evolution or geological time, that you make sure you correctly understand what you are talking about, that your facts are straight, and that your explanations are coherent. You don’t gain anything by rushing into the debate with all guns blazing firing off claims that simply aren’t true or that don’t make sense. At best, you’ll end up demonstrating to everyone that you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. At worst, you’ll end up appearing fundamentally dishonest. Such claims do not uphold the Bible; on the contrary, they undermine it.

Make sure in particular that you understand the role of measurement in analysing and interpreting evidence. It simply doesn’t answer anyone’s questions to say that “the seas are found rather empty just as it would be if there had been very little time to fill up.” On the contrary, scientists conduct surveys and take measurements of just how empty or otherwise the seas are, of how fast sediment gets deposited, and of where in the oceans it ends up. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis cites actual measurements (specifically: Millman & Syvitski (1992) and Hay et al (1998)) in an attempt to substantiate his ocean sediment argument. Unfortunately, he ends up dividing the amount of sediment on the deep ocean floor by the rate at which it gets deposited on the continental shelf, leading to a result that is simply meaningless. It simply isn’t honest for a PhD scientist to do something like that.

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