November 19, 2017

Mike the Geologist: Science and the Bible (Lesson 6)

Surreal Landscape, Photo by KoolCats Photography

Surreal Landscape, Photo by KoolCats Photography

Science and the Bible – Lesson 6
By Michael McCann

In our last lesson we looked at some examples from geology that showed detailed, complex, coherent, and discoverable evidence that the earth is far older than a few thousand years.  I could have multiplied similar examples all day long if necessary.  Should you want to examine the geologic record in more detail I suggest this book.  If the Grand Canyon piques your interest there is a new book out that details evidence for the age of the canyon and how it could not have been formed in one flood event.

One thing I did not do in the last lesson was specify how old the earth might be or how we could know that.  It’s such an important topic that I did not want to shoehorn it into the last lesson.  Of course I’m talking about radiometric dating.  The discussion today will be taken from Radiometric Dating – A Christian Perspective by Dr. Roger C. Wiens ().  It was written for Christian laymen by a Christian.

Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a technique used to date materials such as rocks, usually based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates.

image1

All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.  Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide.  Some nuclides are inherently unstable. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will spontaneously transform into a different nuclide. This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including radioactive decay, either by emission of particles (usually electrons (beta decay), positrons or alpha particles) or by spontaneous fission, and electron capture.

Atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life, usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques. After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a “daughter” nuclide or decay product.

image2

The mathematical expression that relates radioactive decay to geologic time, is:

D = D0 + N(t) (eλt − 1)

Where:

t is age of the sample,

D is number of atoms of the daughter isotope in the sample,

D0 is number of atoms of the daughter isotope in the original composition,

N is number of atoms of the parent isotope in the sample at time t (the present), given by N(t) = N0e-λt, and

λ is the decay constant of the parent isotope, equal to the inverse of the radioactive half-life of the parent isotope times the natural logarithm of 2.

Now don’t worry if you don’t follow the math above.  My reason for giving it is (1) to be precise and complete and (2) to show you that the math is in fact simple algebra.  As long as a lab can analyze the amount of parent isotope and daughter isotope, the amount of original daughter isotope can be calculated and the age of the rock from when it cooled from the last time it was molten can be calculated.  It really is just simple physics and math.

Let’s give an example from Wiens.  Let’s say we are going to date a rock using the Rubidium-Strontium method.  Rubidium-87 decays to strontium-87 with a half-life of 48.8 million years; so it is a good method to date older rocks.

image3

From Figure 4 of Weins. A rubidium-strontium three-isotope plot. When a rock cools, all its minerals have the same ratio of strontium-87 to strontium-86, though they have varying amounts of rubidium. As the rock ages, the rubidium decreases by changing to strontium-87, as shown by the dotted arrows. Minerals with more rubidium gain more strontium-87, while those with less rubidium do not change as much.

Note that in this example at least 5 different minerals that compose the one rock are checked.  The geologist doesn’t just “date” the rock.  Notice that at any given time, the minerals all line up–a check to ensure that the system has not been disturbed.  This is called an isochron.  If the minerals don’t line up then something is wrong and the particular rock is NOT used to assign a date.

image4

From Figure 5 of Weins. The original amount of the daughter strontium-87 can be precisely determined from the present-day composition by extending the line through the data points back to rubidium-87 = 0. This works because if there were no rubidium-87 in the sample, the strontium composition would not change. The slope of the line is used to determine the age of the sample.   As Weins puts it:

As the rock starts to age, rubidium gets converted to strontium. The amount of strontium added to each mineral is proportional to the amount of rubidium present. This change is shown by the dashed arrows, the lengths of which are proportional to the rubidium/strontium ratio. The dashed arrows are slanted because the rubidium/strontium ratio is decreasing in proportion to the increase in strontium-87/strontium-86. The solid line drawn through the samples will thus progressively rotate from the horizontal to steeper and steeper slopes.

All lines drawn through the data points at any later time will intersect the horizontal line (constant strontium-87/strontium-86 ratio) at the same point in the lower left-hand corner. This point, where rubidium-87/strontium-86 = 0 tells the original strontium-87/strontium-86 ratio. From that we can determine the original daughter strontium-87 in each mineral, which is just what we need to know to determine the correct age.

There are now well over forty different radiometric dating techniques, each based on a different radioactive isotope.  Most dating techniques involve multiple tests using different methods and on different minerals within a rock (isochrons).

For example some of the oldest rocks on earth are found in Western Greenland. Because of their great age, they have been especially well studied. The table below gives the ages, in billions of years, from twelve different studies using five different techniques on one particular rock formation in Western Greenland, the Amitsoq gneisses.

Science chart

Note that scientists give their results with a stated uncertainty. They take into account all the possible errors and give a range within which they are 95% sure that the actual value lies. The top number, 3.60±0.05, refers to the range 3.60+0.05 to 3.60-0.05. The size of this range is every bit as important as the actual number. A number with a small uncertainty range is more accurate than a number with a larger range. For the numbers given above, one can see that all of the ranges overlap and agree between 3.55 and 3.74 billion years as the age of the rock. Several studies also showed that, because of the great ages of these rocks, they have been through several mild metamorphic heating events that disturbed the ages given by potassium-bearing minerals (not listed here). As pointed out earlier, different radiometric dating methods agree with each other most of the time, over many thousands of measurements.

All of the different dating methods agree–they agree a great majority of the time over millions of years of time. Some Christians make it sound like there is a lot of disagreement, but this is not the case.  The disagreement in values needed to support the position of young-Earth proponents would require differences in age measured by orders of magnitude (e.g., factors of 10,000, 100,000, a million, or more). The differences actually found in the scientific literature are usually close to the margin of error, usually a few percent, not orders of magnitude!  3.55 to 3.74 billion is a 5% difference, but 3.5 to 0.000006 billion (6,000 years) is a 58,333,333% difference.

Vast amounts of data overwhelmingly favor an old Earth. Several hundred laboratories around the world are active in radiometric dating. Their results consistently agree with an old Earth. Over a thousand papers on radiometric dating were published in scientifically recognized journals in the last year, and hundreds of thousands of dates have been published in the last 50 years. Essentially all of these strongly favor an old Earth.

Radioactive decay rates have been measured for over sixty years now for many of the decay clocks without any observed changes. And it has been close to a hundred years since the uranium-238 decay rate was first determined.  Both long-range and short-range dating methods have been successfully verified by dating lavas of historically known ages over a range of several thousand years.

And finally radiometric dating of certain Biblical archaeological sites confirm that the biblical history is true and accurate.  For example:

Carbon-14 Dating of Copper Smelting in Edom (Jordan) Confirm Biblical Date of King Solomon’s Kingdom

The 14C dates associated with smelting debris layers from Khirbat en-Nahas demonstrate intensive 10th-9th century B.C. industrial metallurgical activities conducted by complex societies. High-precision radiocarbon dating at Khirbat en-Nahas establishes a date earlier than that suggested by previous studies utilizing pottery finds.  The accuracy of 14C dating calls into question previous studies based solely upon pottery evidence. The current dating of the site to the 10th-9th century B.C. agrees with biblical dates for Solomon’s rule of the area.

1.Levy, T. E., T. Higham, C. B. Ramsey, N. G. Smith, E. Ben-Yosef, M. Robinson, S. Münger, K. Knabb, J. P. Schulze, M. Najjar, and L. Tauxe. 2008. High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:16460�16465.

2.Copper ruins in Jordan bolster biblical record of King Solomon, Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2008.

You can’t have it both ways, dear evangelical reader.  The carbon-14 dating works when it confirms the Bible but doesn’t work when it says things are older than 6,000 years?

The earth appears to be old?  The earth is old…

• • •

Photo by KoolCats Photography at Flickr. Creative Commons License

Comments

  1. Doesn’t this assume that the rock contained only the original undecayed isotope when it was formed? (Obviously, this doesn’t change the age of the planet, but it would change the age of the rock).

    • IIRC, the isotopes that result from radioactive decay only show up after the decay process, and don’t occur in large amounts naturally otherwise. But Mike can correct me on this…

    • BenS: good question and thanks for trying to think through the methodology. Weins, in his appendix, answers common problems and mis-conceptions. For your question:

      10. To date a rock one must know the original amount of the parent element. But there is no way to measure how much parent element was originally there.

      It is very easy to calculate the original parent abundance, but that information is not needed to date the rock. All of the dating schemes work from knowing the present abundances of the parent and daughter isotopes. The original abundance N0, of the parent is simply N0 = N ekt, where N is the present abundance, t is time, and k is a constant related to the half life.

      • Mike, the way I read that, it’s circular reasoning: calculating N0 from t, in order to then calculate to from N0?

        • Gain or loss of a parent isotope will cause the isochron to not line up. Contamination is then indicated and that sample is not used to construct a date.

          • Remember, the isochron plot is not a plot of quantity of parent to quantity of daughter or P/D. It is a plot of parent to initial daughter vs. present daughter to inital daughter or P/Di vs D/Di. Because the Di can vary over different minerals the isochron plot will be colinear UNLESS there is a problem. Again, Ben, thank you for trying to understand; the eyes-glazing-over was a common phenomena in my classes. It can be complicated which is why exploitation of the common man by disingenuous YEC proponents angers me to a level I should probably try to manage.

        • What he said. 🙂

  2. Robert F says:

    Christian faith asserts that humanity uniquely bears the image of God. Yet I often find myself thinking that, because of its tremendous age and size, the non-human universe seems to reflect God’s image better in certain respects; then I remember that bigger and older are no closer to infinite and eternal than smaller and younger.

    • “… then I remember that bigger and older are no closer to infinite and eternal than smaller and younger.”

      I suspect that’s kind of what Peter was getting at with the “day is like thousand years, thousand years like a day” thing — basically that God’s perception and experience of time is very different from that of mortal humans. Spending billions of years on a creative project is just clean out of the ballpark in the realm of human thinking and planning. And as C.S. Lewis pointed out in Out of the Silent Planet, vast expanses of distance and time tend to create fear and a sense of hopelessness in the limited minds of mortal creatures.

      • Robert F says:

        What science reveals about the subatomic realm can also seem frightening and trigger a sense of hopelessness: there is tremendously little “solid matter” even in our own bodies; what we see and experience of our physical selves and the rest of the world is the interplay of various physical forces across vast empty chasms between incredibly tiny particles of matter. We and our world are composed of vast, empty spaces, with nothing but these forces at work between them. We are mostly made up of emptiness.

  3. As Senor Wences used to say, or maybe it was his hand puppet, “For you, easy; for me, difficult,”

    Or if you want a less-dated reference, as Gladys Hardy of Austin, Texas, once said to Ellen DeGeneres, “Well, I’m sure that means something.” Gladys, obviously not a fundamentalist, also said to Ellen, “I love Jesus, but I drink a little.”

    Your article makes me want to drink a little. For the record, though, you had me at radiometric.

  4. Ronald Avra says:

    Eyes quickly glazed over; obviously you constructed this later in the day than 6 am.

  5. Fabulous series Señor Mike Geologist.

  6. But if the speed of light has changed, could not the rate of decay have changed as well, making those rock only 6000 years old? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Radioactive decay produces heat. That is why the outer core of the earth is molten and the source of volcanism. For the decay to have increased to the level that would produce 6000 years, the entire earth should be molten. I guess Noah’s flood cooled it 🙂

      • StuartB says:

        I guess Noah’s flood cooled it ?

        hee hee

        • Danielle says:

          Experience our five-star accommodations aboard the Arc. Our free petting zoo will entertain the children, while you enjoy our luxurious mineral baths, and the ample quantities of steam which rise from them.

    • StuartB says:

      Has the speed of light changed? lol 🙂

      Deceiver God/Last Thursdayism just a skip away…

  7. StuartB says:

    Sadly, there are thousands of YEC answers to any part of radiocarbon dating. I think a lot of that is misinformation or misunderstanding of what it actually is…the best explanation I’ve found is in the new Cosmos, I had to watch it several times for it to sink in.

    It’s always been funny to me how neatly YEC’s make radiocarbon dating into an example of ‘circular reasoning’, and then smugly point it out. Ok. So….everyone else is idiots, I guess, and it’s not totally obvious if it would be circular reasoning, but the YECs are soooo enlightened…lol, it’s so silly.

    https://www.creationworldview.org/articles_view.asp?id=42

    http://www.icr.org/article/circular-reasoning-evolutionary-biology/

    You can make anything into circular reasoning if you try hard enough to define terms…

    • That is one reason I included the bit about radiocarbon confirming the biblical chronology for Solomon’s mines. Either it works or it doesn’t. You can’t have it both ways, unless you buy into Grand Unified Conspiracy; in which case you need more help than I can give you.

  8. StuartB says:

    Radiocarbon dating

    WERE YOU THERE???

  9. StuartB says:

    What are some good arguments or examples to use to defeat the “conspiracy” mindset of YEC? Meaning the idea that every scientist is just a liberal lying because they don’t want God or consequences for their sin. That seems to be a fundamental lynch pin in all of this argument, because from there they can spin any fantasy they want.

    • SottoVoce says:

      My suggestion would be pointing out that convincingly disproving a major scientific theory is a free PhD dissertation/Nobel prize/NIH grant/ticket to scientific immortality and no self-respecting (or self-interested) scientist could possibly bear to pass such a thing up. Scientists LOVE proving things wrong because it is much easier than proving that something is right. To put it in terms of the conspiracy theorists’ logic: if scientists are godless liberal heathens, then they must be completely obsessed with inflating their own wealth and prestige, therefore if something could have been disproven, it would have been because of the aforementioned rewards for doing so.

      To be fair, no self-respecting scientist would pass up credibly disproving a major scientific theory, and some of them would do so purely out of desire to be immortalized in textbooks, but most scientists are actually quite invested in making our understanding of the universe as accurate as possible purely because it’s fun and they like it and they are decent human beings who want to make the world a better place.

    • Stuart: I find that arguments are useless if there is no trust. In my former church, I had built relationships with my friends that they knew who I was, what I stood for, and what I believed. That took time and a willingness to build and maintain relationships. There is no shortcut. Part of the reason I’m writing this series is to speak to the evangelical struggling with the issue without attacking their faith. The other part of the reason is to encourage my fellow scientists to speak out in their congregations to those people they have built relationships with. We professional scientist have a responsibility to our fellow church members and we can’t shirk it.

      • Thanks for what you do, Mike. I think building bridges between people of faith and the scientific community is vital at this point in history. There’s been too much bad blood under the bridge between the too sides. And neither side really has anything to gain by antagonizing or marginalizing the other– except, of course, for those who view science and/or religion as mere means toward gaining political power. To them, all truth — be it objective truth or theological truth or truth of any other kind — is relative to self-interest.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          My experience is that there are plenty of bridges between people of faith and the scientific community, if only because many scientists are themselves people of faith. Check out the churches near a university campus. You won’t have to look too far to find science faculty present. The trick is that you look beyond the local Evangelical churches. The scientists, for reasons that should be obvious, tend not to favor those. Look among the Episcopalians and Methodists and Lutherans.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And Catholics.

            We have the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory.
            Evangelicals have the Kentucky Creation Museum.

    • The book that really convinced me of the (gasp!) truth of evolution was Francis Collin’s ‘The Language of God’. Collins is a believer, and a well-respected scientist (led the human genome project, head of National Institutes of Health) and makes a compelling argument for common ancestry based on DNA (junk DNA, missing pieces, etc.). Some no doubt call Collins a liberal, part of the ‘vast left-wing conspiracy’, but his Christian credentials are sound, and his book is a Christian book, written by a Christian (complete with evangelical conversion testimony), for Christians.

      The problem is there is just no convincing obscurantists who wish to remain so. There’s always some unprovable special pleading (like the speed of light changed, radiometric dating is flawed, etc.) to support ‘biblical’ ideas. No matter how much evidence, logic, or the credentials of the sources, the Bible (interpreted in a very simplistic way) will always have more authority (especially when wielded by some speaking loudly, with sweat on their brow). And of course, the fallback argument is that since we are ‘fallen’, all our powers of observation are distorted and can’t be trusted (which would seem to contradict Paul’s argument in Rom 1:18-23, but that’s beside the point).

    • Stuart, I think the problem is even more fundamental than the ‘conspiracy’ theories based on depravity. The simple truth is that the YEC people have set the bar so high that no amount of evidence will convince most of them. As Cornelius Hunter said in his book ‘Darwin’s God’, ‘Every level pasture is evidence of a flat earth, but it does not prove the earth is flat. While there is much evidence to support evolution, it does not prove evolution is true.’ While I love the first part of that quote (and have used it in other contexts) it illustrates the point. – all questions must be answered, all ambiguities removed, and any contradictory evidence explained (and the truth is even then we won’t believe it). When one has an infallible, inerrant standard of ‘truth’ (interpreted correctly – my way of course) no amount of evidence is likely convince someone who already knows the truth – the earth is 6000 years old and creation took 6 literal days. The Bible says it and that’s all there is to it.

    • David L says:

      I used to feel there was a possibility of discussion/debate (thoughtful not yelling). But now for most people on the YEC side they seem to be in a position that no matter what you say they are not going to give up their position. Most can’t understand the science or if they can don’t want to dig deep into it. They are a part of a tribe with a fierce loyalty system and so the debate isn’t about logic or science. It is about you attacking them and the rest of their tribe personally.

      And leaving the tribe is truly a scary thought to them.

  10. Burro[Mule] says:

    One of the problems with geological time, to say nothing of cosmic time, is that 4.5 billion years has the same imaginative impact on me as 45,000 years. There is nothing upon which to hang the passing of time before the development of consciousness and the concomitant development of human memory.

    A housefly may be have born in the Miocene but it remembers nothing of it.

    The idea of a cosmos 14 billion years old (whose years?) echoes in the chambers of my head like Kirk talking to Spock and telling him it wiil take seven hours to get the Tau Ceti system. Whose hours? The cells in Spock’s and Kirk’s frontal lobes are going to process those hours differently than those in the four-chambered brain of the Tau Cetian.

    The real objection for the Christian in contemplating Deep Space and Deep Time is not the Bible. The Bible is compatible with Deep Space and Deep Time in a way no other product of the ancient world is. The problem is not the Bible, but the apparent absurdity of the Incarnation. If the Incarnation was a stumbling block to the ancient world with its limited horizons, how much more so now that This Now and This Here have become so much more tiny. The imaginative heavy lifting to make sense of it has yet to be done. It reminds me very much of the rapid expansion of the limits of life and freedom between late childhood and middle adolescence.

    Mistakes are bound to be made.

    • StuartB says:

      I prefer Deep Space Nine.

    • I’ll take Far Skies, Deep Time by Big Big Train — though Underyard Fall is probably my favorite.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        English Electric part one is the best Genesis album since Wind and Wuthering

        • Or you might say BBT is becoming what Genesis might have become in an alternate universe — at least musically. Lyrically, I don’t know of any other band writing about obscure, mostly forgotten incidents and figures from the back alleys and hedgerows of history. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go in future recordings.

      • Thebige77 says:

        Wow! Fellow progheads on IMonk. I don’t feel so lonely now…

    • Michael Bell says:

      “The problem is not the Bible, but the apparent absurdity of the Incarnation. If the Incarnation was a stumbling block to the ancient world with its limited horizons, how much more so now that This Now and This Here have become so much more tiny.”

      For me it is not just the incarnation but the whole biblical narrative. If we are just a speck in time and space does it all make sense?

      And this coming from someone who does have a strong faith.

      • Michael Bell says:

        Does anybody else have thoughts about this?

        • To me it makes the majesty of God even more majestic. And his grace even more gracious; what is man that thou are mindful of him. If only the Psalmist knew… I get the tiny speck thing though sometimes it is so mind-boggling I despair of even the shadow of comprehension.

        • Burro [Mule] says:

          I have plenty of thoughts, but the dart around my head in such rapid succession that I cannot adequately get ahold of them.

          One thing that comes to surface constantly is that the Western Christian God is just too damn transcendent. Like God has a workshop somewhere where He makes universes like Geppetto makes toys, in pretty much the same way. First He thinks about it then He does it, that sort of thing. No wonder YECists get so bolloxed up.

          Yet at the same time, a radically immanent God, with no transcendence, makes more sense from a “scientistic” point of view, but would sound nothing like the Jesus of the Gospels if He took on flesh. He’d sound more like Michael Valentine Smith or the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas.

        • StuartB says:

          Well, I guess I can calmly say for myself…no, it doesn’t make any sense at all, and it’s probably all just a nice story and not true. The Incarnation may be a little different, but all we’d have is someone outside of reality coming into reality and telling us he’s from outside reality. How do we verify that short of someone else from outside reality verifying the original person? Or we have glimpses of that other extra/super-reality over and over, and finally it broke through. But we can’t conclusively prove it or test it or anything…it just has to be accepted. By ‘faith’ as it were.

          Idk. Removing God, removing YEC…all of a sudden, to me, I’m so much more important. I’m not just a cog or a pawn or whatever. My life may be a speck in eternity, but it MATTERS so much more now because it’s all there is, so do the best I can and live my life well!

          And that, to me, makes me want to shout AMEN more than any sermon or ‘good news’ ever did.

        • Christiane says:

          a ‘speck’ in time and space?

          I wouldn’t mind being this, but if it is all I am, then I wonder why I have the where-with-all to ponder it and the grace not have the feeling that I am forsaken . . .

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Does anybody else have thoughts about this?

          My first urge was to answer “HODOR!”

      • Robert F says:

        If greater magnitude correlates with greater significance, then we have to ask whether anything human has any importance at all, except to us while we’re still alive. For me, the immense size of the creation has nothing to say about the degree of significance or insignificance of anything human, including religion. I believe in the Incarnation because it has been given to me to believe in it; but it has not be given to me to believe that I’m infallible, so I recognize that of course I may be completely wrong: maybe no Incarnation, no God, no nada! In which case death and oblivion will swallow me up with all my errors, and none of it will have made one damn bit of difference; even having been “right” won’t make any difference. Then what Sartre said would be “right”: Man is a useless passion. But I’ll stay with Barth, and affirm that humanity would be a useless passion, if not for Jesus.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Stuart, there are NO good arguments or examples that can defeat the conspiracy mindset.

    A Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory (like that one) is literally IMPOSSIBLE to defeat.

    * Any and All evidence against The Conspiracy is Disinformation planted by The Conspiracy.

    * Lack of evidence for The Conspiracy is PROOF that The Conspiracy controls ALL media and Can Silence Anyone (except for those True Believers who KNOW What’s REALLY Going On).

    * And ANYONE who doubts the existence of The Conspriacy has PROVEN themselves to be part of The Conspiracy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AylFqdxRMwE

    • Lack of evidence for The Conspiracy is PROOF that The Conspiracy controls ALL media and Can Silence Anyone (except for those True Believers who KNOW What’s REALLY Going On).

      That may be the only gap in their armor – If the Conspiracy is really SO alluring and so powerful, HOW did you and your sources manage to escape it’s grip, and why haven’t you been silenced? What makes YOU so special?

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        Because I’m _________________ (Godly, smart, elect, choose your adjective), but MUCH more importantly, you are not.

        • At which point, call them out as the egotists they are, and call it a day. 😉

        • tophergraceless says:

          My uncle, who listens to Alex Jones religiously, takes the opposite line. He is safe because he is not important enough to be on the Illuminati/Zionist/CFR radar. He also has this infuriating trick that if you do back him into a corner, he just throws up his hands and claims that he is just asking questions, and maybe he doesn’t all the answers but something is strange about it all.

          As far as conspiracy theorists go you can’t reason them out of an argument they weren’t reasoned into. Same hold with Creationists.

          I think that is why Ken Ham’s argument is so insidious. If you get enough Christians believing that if they don’t stick with creationism then the whole bible is wrong, then a lot of people are going to believe in Creationism no matter the evidence because they feel it is that or throw out the whole bible.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The dynamics of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory are now in effect.

            “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

            “And because they Won’t Be Taken In, they can never be taken out.”
            — Aslan of Narnia

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

            I found an effective way to keep the fundamentalist inlaws at bay. Every holiday I wear an illuminati necklace. Juvenile? Sure. Effective? Yep.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That may be the only gap in their armor – If the Conspiracy is really SO alluring and so powerful, HOW did you and your sources manage to escape it’s grip, and why haven’t you been silenced? What makes YOU so special?

        “Because *I* Am Protected By The Holy Spirit!”‘

        (Actual response when a Christianese Satanic Panic activist was actually shown a D&D game demonstrating D&D spellcasting against her character and shown that the fictional spell in the game didn’t affect her IRL. The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.)

  12. Christiane says:

    when our scientific observance of the natural world crosses from reason over into ‘awe’, we are peeking in the window of Creation ex nihilo

  13. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Mike, as a side note, we (geologists) often like to see no just one date, but multiples ones, from different minerals, and different isotope systems, and by different methods. And it is amazing how they correlate.

    For the record, I worked in, and later managed an Ar-Ar geochronology laboratory in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s. It was one of my first positions.

    • Klasie, I think you’re in Canada these days, correct? If so, did you by any chance ever meet/hear of one Ted Litherland, a top-notch Canadian physicist at U Toronto who did a lot of early radioactive dating science? (I ask because I share his surname.)