An Old Age for the Earth
An accommodationist claim about chronology runs something like this: “Even if it could be shown that the earth is young (which it is not), that would be irrelevant to the chronology of the universe, because there are independent evidences that the universe is as old as evolution says it is. Furthermore, the age issue is not really important.” Such statements are not true. The centrality of long ages to evolutionary thought has long been emphasized. Further, the supposed evidences of the vast antiquity of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe ultimately rest on the belief in the evolutionary age of the earth. The long chronologies for the universe and its parts are therefore not independent of the alleged old age of the earth. If the earth is shown to be young, the evidence for an old universe crumbles.
Time Is the Central Requirement for Evolution
ld-universe apologist Hugh Ross writes that “age need not even be an issue” in discussing origins (Ross, 1994, p. 10), and maintains that “the age of the universe and of the earth” is a “peripheral point” (Ross, 1994, p. 8). On the other hand, decades ago astrophysicist Arthur S. Eddington acknowledged the absolute primacy of time, without which evolution would be impossible and inconceivable: “Looking back through the long past we picture the beginning of the world—a primeval chaos which time has fashioned into the universe that we know” (Eddington, 1930, p. 11). Such a statement could be taken to imply that time has supplanted the Creator. Since this remains the conventional perspective of the function of time in cosmic evolution, it follows that the age issue implicitly enters into virtually all evolutionary theorizing.
Eddington was not only an eminent scientist but a well known popularizer of science, especially astronomy. He repeatedly stated his belief in the centrality of time for naturalistic development. In the evolution—or the “becoming”—of the universe, he wrote, “Time occupies the key position” (Eddington, 1933, p. 91). As with Eddington, Carl Sagan acted not as an originator of chronological thought, but as an advocate of the primacy of time in evolution. Sagan also described the evolution of the universe with “time” replacing God as the First Cause:
For unknown ages … there were no galaxies, no planets, no life. …A first generation of stars was born. …In the dark lush clouds between the stars, smaller raindrops grew, bodies far too little to ignite the nuclear fire… Among them was a small world of stone and iron, the early Earth. …One day a molecule arose that … was able to make crude copies of itself … life had begun. Single-celled plants evolved … plants and animals discovered that the land could support life. …[Some animals] became upright … emerging into consciousness. At an ever-accelerating pace, [consciousness] invented writing, cities, art and science, and sent spaceships to the planets and the stars. These are some things that hydrogen atoms do, given 15 billion years of cosmic evolution (Sagan, 1980, pp. 337–338).
If to Sagan time was the “creator” which brought the universe into existence, planetary astronomer William K. Hartmann has expressed the same idea, namely, that time is really the only necessity for evolution—a “long” time:
From all we have just said, we conclude that if planetary surfaces with the necessary conditions—liquid water and the ‘CHON’ chemicals (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen)—exist long enough anywhere, life is likely to evolve (Hartmann, 1991, p. 621).
With time as the evolutionary agent, it is no wonder that the evolutionary expectation of finding extraterrestrial life has over the decades gone from disrepute to popular acceptance (Henry, 2002, p. 170). On the other hand, without sufficient time, evolution, nature’s “self-realization,” would not happen at all (Easterbrook, 1996, p. 48).
Evolutionary Chronology Is Tied to the Age of the Earth
All evolutionary cosmic ages are in the final analysis based on an old age for the earth, so if this chronology is destroyed for the earth, it is demolished for the cosmos as well. The sun is thought to be old because the earth is old, other stars are thought to follow a mode of operation and chronology based on that of the sun (Bahcall, 1990, p. 56; Fix, 1999, p. 385), and the Hubble constant and the age of the universe are adjusted in an attempt to make the cosmos older than the stars (Goldsmith, 1985, p. 115).
Coming back to the solar system, the moon is assumed to be slightly older than the oldest rocks on earth, and the solar system is dated from meteorites on the assumption that it is older than both the earth and the moon (Goldsmith, 1985, p. 366). Cratered planets such as Mercury are dated by comparison with the moon (Hubbard, 1984, p. 197). Indeed, it is generally true that “the relationship between crater density and age determined for the Moon has been used to estimate the ages of other planets and satellites” (Fix, 1999, p. 188). This chain of chronological reasoning would be logical were it true that first some meteorites formed out of the putative solar nebula, then moons and planets (Whipple and Green, 1986, p. 222; Hubbard, 1984, p. 9; Norton, 1998, pp. 349-350). Further, it is not true that meteoritic dating points unambiguously to a 4.5 billion year age for the solar system (Gariepy and Dupre, 1991, pp. 216–217; Williams, 1992, p. 2).
The chain of chronological reasoning traced above is not based on actual observation, but on inference, a fact pointed out occasionally:
Many things loosely described as scientific ‘facts’ are not really facts at all. For example, you might have the impression that this book stated the ‘fact’ that the universe is between 10 and 20 billion years old. But such a usage of the word ‘fact’ is really just a habit of speech that is seen to be imprecise on close examination. In reality, the age astronomers assign to the universe is an inference from the large amount of observational data that we have [emphasis in original] (Robbins, 1988, p. 445).
In other words, there are no data compelling the acceptance of evolutionary ages, but researchers have reached the conclusions they wanted to believe.
Over the last century and a half, physicists and astronomers eventually accommodated themselves to geological dates for the age of the earth, readjusting their cosmic and stellar dates so as not to conflict with terrestrial claims. Physicists as well as astronomers were tying their chronologies into the evolutionary time frame for the earth:
The conflict between physics and astronomy over the Age of the Earth was resolved in the 1950s. …[T]he conflict between physics and geology … had ended 50 years earlier with a complete reversal by the physicists [in favor of geological dates for the earth]; this time it was the astronomers who revised their estimates and suddenly switched to a much longer time scale [to avoid conflict with the geologists]. They had decided that Hubble had underestimated the intrinsic luminosities of distant stars and the Cepheid variable scale of distances had to be recalibrated; together the two corrections [read: adjustments] expanded the time scale by a factor of 4, with further increases to come in subsequent decades. By the mid-1980s, estimates of the age of the universe generally ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 m.y., safely beyond the estimates of the Age of the Earth, which had stabilized at 4500 to 4600 m.y. …According to David Raup, one result of this episode is that ‘geology has a curious moral authority over astrophysics’… [emphasis added] (Brush, 1989, p. 173).
The first widely-accepted rationale for radiometric dating of the earth was put forward by T.C. Chamberlain. He based his estimates on the putative time for biological evolution, saying that his view “takes due account of biological requirements” (Brush, 1989, p. 172), meaning that the presumed age of the earth for biological evolution had to be consulted before radiometric dates could be selected to “confirm” this old age. Richard Milton, who is not a young earth advocate, nevertheless points out that the readiness to reject radiometric dates except those giving “expected values” is why various radiometric methods can be claimed to converge in the “ages” they “measure” (Milton, 1997, p. 49):
Thus the published dating figures always conform to preconceived dates and never contradict those dates. If all the rejected dates were retrieved from the waste basket and added to the published dates, the combined results would show that the dates produced are the scatter that one would expect by chance alone [emphasis in original] (Milton, 1997, p. 51). Woodmorappe (1999, pp. 1, 6) makes the same observation.
Evolution Dates the Sun by the Evolutionary Age of the Earth
Evolution asserts that the earth is billions of years old. Astronomers for several generations have stated that this is the only real reason the sun is believed to have an age ofbillions of years. In the 1920s Eddington wrote,
Formerly the contraction theory of Helmholtz and Kelvin held sway. This supposes that the supply [of the sun’s energy] is maintained by the conversion of gravitational energy into heat owing to the gradual contraction of the star. The energy obtainable from contraction is quite inadequate in view of the great age now attributed to the sun (Eddington, 1926, p. 289).
And why did Eddington view solar contraction as insufficient to supply the sun’s energy output over the sun’s lifetime? Because, “It is not much use extending the age of the earth without extending the age of the sun” (Eddington, 1926, p. 295). In other words, as the evolutionary age of the earth expanded in the early twentieth century, the supposed age of the sun expanded to keep pace.
Whatever actually occurs in the sun—whether fusion only, or fusion with a degree of contraction—the sun’s presumed age is based ultimately on the alleged age of the earth. Eddington made this point repeatedly: “Geological, physical, and biological evidence seems to make it certain that the sun has warmed the earth for more than a thousand million years [now taken to be some 5 billion years]” (Eddington, 1959, p. 162). In context, the “physical” evidence to which Eddington referred was nothing more than the supposed geological and biological “evidence” that the earth is old. Eddington was explicit about this:
On such an important question we should not like to put implicit trust in [astronomical arguments] alone, and we turn to the sister sciences for other and perhaps more conclusive evidence. …The age of the older rocks [of the earth] is found to be about 1,200 million years. …The sun, of course, must be very much older than the earth and its rocks (Eddington, 1929, p. 96).
The evolutionary ages of the oldest terrestrial rocks have expanded since Eddington’s time from 1.2 billion years to some 3.8 billion years (Milton, 1997, p. 17).
Two generations ago, physicist and science popularizer George Gamow described the same dependence of solar dating on the evolutionary age of the earth: “Our sun is now only about 3 or 4 billion years old…” And the reason for this age?—“…since the estimated age of our earth is of that order of magnitude” (Gamow, 1953, p. 301). The same logic for dating the sun at billions of years continues to this day:
By the end of the nineteenth century, geological evidence had increased the estimated age of the Earth to several hundred millions of years, and the discovery of radioactivity at the close of the century made it possible to measure the Earth’s age with even greater certainty at around 4.5 billion years. …[It] is hard to imagine how the Earth could be much older than the Sun [emphases in original] (Robbins, 1988, p. 295).
Indeed, this rationale for dating the sun has been commonly acknowledged: “The Sun’s age was measured at 4.6 billion years by dating planetary matter” (Hartmann, 1991, p. 381). Hartmann has worded this statement in such a way as to imply that evidence from outside the earth confirms the sun’s old age, but this statement is misleading, for in context the “planetary” material to which he refers is nothing more than the rocks of the earth. In a more forthright assessment, astronomer John Fix says,
Geologists have found rocks 3.5 billion years old that contain fossils of marine organisms. These discoveries clearly demonstrate that the Sun has warmed the Earth for at least 3.5 billion years and probably for as long as the Earth has existed (Fix, 1999, p. 386).
Researchers are sometimes objective about the faulty reasoning illustrated in the preceding paragraphs. Solar expert John Eddy stated that,
I suspect that the Sun is 4.5-billion years old. However, given some new and unexpected results to the contrary, and some time for frantic recalculation and theoretical readjustment, I suspect that we could live with Bishop Ussher’s value for the age of the Earth and the Sun. I don’t think we have much in the way of observational evidence in astronomy to contradict that. Solar physics now looks to paleontology for data on solar chronology [emphasis in original] (Kazmann, 1978, p. 18).
This is a staggering statement, for Eddy admitted that there is really no hard evidence that the sun is very old. Indeed, Eddy went so far as to propose the possibility of returning to Ussher’s chronology which puts creation at 4004 BC. Since Eddy’s last sentence quoted above claims that evolutionary solar chronology depends on “paleontology,” Eddy has again affirmed that the conventional age of the sun is based ultimately on nothing more than the presumed evolutionary age of the earth.
Evolution Dates the Solar System and Universe
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