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RATE Project Disproves Ancient Earth

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

In 2000, a group of scientists met and delineated a five year plan to investigate the apparent disparity between biblical dates and those reported from radiometric dating. The collective effort was identified as the Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth (RATE) project. The RATE project is an ongoing collaborative venture composed of professional scientists—physicists, geophysicists, geologists—primarily from the Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society. Those five years have now passed and the RATE team recently held a meeting to disclose their experimental findings.

On November 5, 2005, the RATE research team presented groundbreaking research to more than 2,300 people who had gathered in San Diego for this special conference (see “RATE News Release,” 2005). The panel of scientists introduced experimental evidence that poses serious problems for the evolutionary theory, and that strongly supports a young age for the Earth. Evolutionists commonly argue that creationists have no scientific evidence to support their beliefs. That contention cannot be sustained in light of the research presented in San Diego. As such, many evolutionists will shift their attention towards the RATE scientists rather than the evidence. Known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin for “argument to the man”), some evolutionists would rather hide by attacking the researchers than deal with the evidence they presented.

The conference was attended by all eight RATE scientists, with four taking part in presenting the findings. The first RATE scientist to address the audience was Russell Humphreys, Professor of Physics. During his presentation, he shared highlights from his research on helium diffusion, strongly indicating that the age of the Earth is only about 6,000 years, explaining that the helium in radioactive crystals supports this conclusion. Humphrey’s and Dr. John Baumgardner built on the work of Dr. Robert Gentry, investigating helium retention in zircons. While the technical aspects of the research can be quite overwhelming, the conclusion is rather straightforward and simple: when uranium decays to lead, one of the by-products is helium. If creationists are correct, and the Earth is young, this helium (with its extremely small, lightweight, and unreactive atoms) would be expected to be trapped in rocks. An old-Earth scenario, however, would result in minimal helium being held in the rocks, since the tiny helium atoms would be expected to have escaped. Also, one would expect that the more deeply collected samples would be “older” and thus, contain less helium. Dr. Humphreys demonstrated that the helium accumulated in zircon crystals supports a young Earth and argues strongly against evolutionary theory.

Dr. Andrew Snelling, Professor of Geology, was the next scientist to present evidence for a young Earth. His research team investigated radiohalos. Over three decades ago, while puzzling over the age of the Earth, Robert V. Gentry directed his attention to an obscure and neglected class of minute discolorations found in certain minerals. Describing these curiosities, Gentry noted:

In some thin samples of certain minerals, notably mica, there can be observed tiny aureoles of discoloration which, on microscopic examination, prove to be concentric dark and light circles with diameters between about 10 and 40μm [a lone micrometer is one-millionth of a meter] and centered on a tiny inclusion. The origin of these halos (first reported between 1880 and 1890) was a mystery until the discovery of radioactivity and its powers of coloration; in 1907 Joly and Mugge independently suggested that the central inclusion was radioactive and that the alpha-emissions from it produced the concentric shells of coloration.... [H]alos command attention because they are an integral record of radioactive decay in minerals that constitute the most ancient rocks (1973, 23:347, parenthetical items in orig.).

At the RATE conference, Andrew Snelling presented research on halos resulting from radioactive polonium. The evidence demonstrated that polonium radiohalos formed rapidly under catastrophic conditions and is therefore strong evidence for accelerated decay in different periods during Earth’s history.

One of the most exciting discoveries was presented by Dr. John Baumgardner, Professor of Geophysics. Baumgardner provided evidence that diamonds and coal possess large amounts of radioactive carbon (carbon-14). Carbon-14 is believed to be a short-lived isotope and is commonly used for dating organic materials like fossils. This radioactive form of carbon is believed to have a half-life of only 5,730 years, so finding C-14 in diamonds (as much as one hundred times the detection threshold) is very compelling evidence for a young Earth. Baumgardner indicated that their findings also supported the biblical account of the Noahic Flood.

RATE Project Manager Dr. Larry Vardiman summarized the results of the entire team. After years of scientific research, the team discovered:

  1. Conventional radioisotope dating methods are inconsistent and therefore not reliable.In dating the same rock layer, radioisotope dating showed four different ages.
  2. Substantial amounts of helium found in crystals within granite.If the Earth evolved over billions of years, the helium should have already escaped.
  3. Radiohalos in rocks caused by the decay of uranium and polonium, which strongly suggests a rapid decay rate, not gradual decay over billions of years.
  4. Diamonds thought to be millions/billions of years old by evolutionists contain significant levels of carbon-14. Since carbon-14 decays quickly, none should have been found in the diamonds if the evolutionary age is correct (see “RATE News Release,” 2005).

The RATE team also released their newly-produced documentary film Thousands... Not Billions during the San Diego conference. The title of the new documentary is shared by a book written by Don DeYoung that examines the physical evidence for a young Earth. DeYoung’s non-technical book helps people understand what the RATE team discovered. (For those interested in reading about the scientific evidences of a young Earth in an easy-to-understand book, I recommend DeYoung’s work.) The dramatic findings reported by the RATE team support not only a young Earth, but they also confirm the reliability of Scriptures. The only question is what will an honest man do with the evidence?


Gentry, Robert V. (1973), “Radioactive Halos,” Annual Review of Nuclear Science, 23:347.

RATE News Release” (2005), Institute for Creation Research, [On-line], URL:

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