Dating Camels

In response, I present 2 main rebuttals to the Israeli Archaeologists’ findings reported by NPR and Duke University

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[excerpted from Norman Geisler’s BECA]

Scientific Dating and the Age of the Universe. The GAD view does not pose a problem for all orthodox Christians—only for those who hold to a young universe (of thousands of years). Young-universe apologists, such as Henry Morris (see Morris, all) and followers, must object to GAD. This they do in two ways.

Negative Scientific Arguments Against an Old Universe. The minimal essential element of a young-universe apologetic is to find loopholes in the currently accepted scientific dating scheme. This is attempted in several ways.

Unprovable Presuppositions. Young-universe proponents point out that there are unprovable presuppositions of old-universe dating methods. For example, radiometric dating methods assume an original condition of the substance that was “pure.” They also assume that there has been a constant rate of change since that time. For example, to argue from the amount of salt in the sea to an old earth one must assume there was no salt there to begin with and that salt has been deposited in it by rivers and streams at a relatively constant rate since the beginning. But both of these premises are questionable, especially if there was a universal flood (see Noah, Flood of). Likewise, to argue to an old-universe of billions of years from the lead isotopes in uranium one must assume that there were none there at the beginning and that the rate of decay has been constant ever since. This too has been challenged.

Furthermore, there is always the problem of a contaminated sample or some other factor to throw off the rate of decay or deposit. That is, to maintain the old-universe argument one must show that the sample used has not been contaminated with material from a later time. This is particularly true of carbon dating. Otherwise, the date one gets is not the original date of the material.

Positive Arguments for a Young Universe. Another tactic open to young-universe apologists is to provide scientific evidence that the universe is young. Many such arguments have been offered. The problem with this method is that it too must accept some unproven (or unprovable) presuppositions like an original condition and a constant process since then. But these are the very things they challenge in the old-universe view. For example, some young-universe proponents have argued from the shallow depth of moon dust that the moon is only thousands of years old. But to do this they must assume that the moon had no dust to begin with and that the rate of buildup since has been relatively constant per year. These too are unproven, if not practically unprovable. Nonetheless, young-universe proponents have every right to offer positive scientific evidence for their view, whether it is by the nature of a universal flood, or the faster rate of decay or deposits. And if the weight of the evidence favors their view, then the weight of the evidence goes against macroevolution, which demands long time periods.

The Other Alternative: An Old Universe. Other orthodox Christians defend their stance by accepting the possibility of an old universe of billions of years and pointing to the fact that the Bible nowhere commits them to a young universe. They usually point to several factors. First, Genesis 1:1 only says there was a “beginning” but not exactly when that was. Second, the “days” of Genesis may represent long periods of time. Third, there may be a time gap before the days of Genesis begin (as in some form of Gap Theory). Fourth, there are known gaps in the genealogical record (see Genealogies, Open).

Scientific Dating and the Age of the Human Race. Another problem that  both young-earth Christians and even many old-earthers have is reconciling the GAD of the age of the human race with the biblical record. Since this is discussed in more detail elsewhere (see Missing Links), it will only be touched on here. There are several ways this problem may be resolved.

Rejecting the Dating Methods for the Human Race. The dating methods for the antiquity of the human race are subject to even more debate than those for the date of the universe—and for the same reasons, only to a higher degree in some cases. First, there is the problem of assuming the original state was pure. Second, there is also the problem of demonstrating a constant, uninterrupted rate of decay. Third, there is the question of contamination of the sample or influence of other forces. In addition, some dating methods (like Carbon 14) are only accurate for thousands, not hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Other dating methods like the interglacial periods are even less accurate.

Challenging the Human Status of the Fossils. Another problem is the assumption that human-like anthropoids or Hominids of great age were really human beings created in the image and likeness of God rather than just highly developed apelike creatures. After all, morphology (bone structure) and even skull size does not prove true humanness. Nor does simple tool-making prove humanness, since some animals today are known to use simple tools (like seals using stones to open shells). Most scholars admit, civilized man is not hundreds of thousands of years old. And human beings with evidence of religion and God-consciousness are not much earlier. These much later forms point to the time of origin of true human beings made in God’s image, that is, beings with rational, moral, and religious capacity.

Demonstrating Gaps in the Biblical Genealogies. It is true that if one assumes there are no gaps in the biblical genealogies, then the human race must be little more than six thousand years old. However, there are demonstrable gaps in the ancestral records in the Bible (cf. Matt. 1:8 and 1 Chron 3:11–14), even in the early tables in Genesis (cf. Luke 3:36 with Gen. 11:12). This is discussed in more detail elsewhere (see Genealogies, Open). Many noted evangelical scholars have held this view, from B. B. Warfield to Gleason Archer.

Conclusion. While there are conflicts between certain interpretations of the biblical record and prevailing theories of the age of the earth and humankind, there are no real contradictions. This is true for two basic reasons. First, no one has proven with absolute certainty that the universe is a given age, young or old. Second, there are different ways to interpret the biblical record so as to avoid conflict with the GAD of billions of years. Hence, while there is conflict with prevailing scientific theory and favored interpretations of the biblical record, there is no irresolvable contradiction.

Sources

G. Archer, Introductory Survey of the Old Testament

A. Custance, The Genealogies of the Bible

R. Gentry, Creation’s Tiny Mystery

W. H. Green, “Primeval Chronology” in Walter Kaiser ed, Essays in Old Testament Interpretation

H. Morris, et al., What is Creation Science?

J. D. Morris, The Young Earth

R. Newman et al., Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth

B. Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture

H. Ross, Creation and Time

B. B. Warfield, “On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race,” The Princeton Theological Review (1911)

J. Whitcomb, et al., The Genesis Flood

D. E. Wonderly, God’s Time-Records in Ancient Sediments

D. A. Young, Christianity and the Age of the Earth

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Answers in Genesis | Topic: Radiometric Dating

Anomalies in Radiometric Dating

Archaeology and the Old Testament

Are Radioactive Dating Methods Reliable?

Discordant Radiometric Dates Present Recurring Problem

Evolutionary Dating Not Infallible Science

KBS Tuff shows the flaws of radiometric dating (Talk.Origins)

The Faith of Radiometric Dating

Serious Problems with Radiometric Dating: How Old are Those Rocks?

Radioactive Age Estimation Methods–Do They Prove the Earth is Billions of Years Old?

Radiometric Discrepancy in Age of Java Man

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