An Ancient Earth?...Well, Not Exactly
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive when I am speaking in a public setting is, “How do you get around the scientific evidence that proves this Earth is billions of years old?” When I probe to find out exactly what “evidence” the querist has in mind, and how it was interpreted, I normally receive nothing that even remotely resembles “scientific evidence.” The most common responses could be labeled simply as speculation—speculation that continues to be perpetuated by the media. Unfortunately, for many individuals, if the Discovery channel or National Geographic magazine makes the claim for an ancient Earth, then it becomes fact. As such, many people, including Christians, find themselves trying to accept ancient ages for the Earth. While this brief article is not meant to provide all the supporting evidence that demonstrates a young Earth, I do want to reveal yet another occasion in which evolutionary dating interpretations have been found in error.
According to a Website hosted by the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California at Berkeley:
If you were able to travel back to visit the Earth during the Archaean, you would likely not recognize it is the same planet we inhabit today. The atmosphere was very different from what we breathe today; at that time, it was likely a reducing atmosphere of methane, ammonia, and other gases which would be toxic to most life on our planet today. Also during this time, the Earth's crust cooled enough that rocks and continental plates began to form. It was early in the Archaean that life first appeared on Earth. Our oldest fossils date to roughly 3.5 billion years ago… (see “Introduction to the Archaean”).
This ancient Archaean age is alleged to be an index of an old Earth. It is discussed like one might discuss the Middle Ages—a “standard” in the evolutionary dating scheme. Or so scientists once thought. Stanford researcher Donald Lowe, and geologist Gary Byerly from Louisiana State University, studied some South African ironstone pods that “have been interpreted as deposits of Archean seafloor hydrothermal vents and have provided what are arguably key observations about surface environments on early Earth” (2003, 31:909). Lowe and Byerly noted that, until now, these deposits “yielded what are putatively the oldest-known complex organic compounds and have been used to estimate Archean surface temperature, ocean depth and volume, and seawater composition and to deduce relationships between hydrothermal activity and seafloor sedimentation.” This definitely would appear to support the Berkeley Web site and its argument for an ancient Earth.
But Lowe and Byerly’s observations caused them to question why the beds were so un-deformed if they were really more than three billion years old—especially considering that they were found in the vicinity of deformed rocks of much younger age. The researchers also wondered how the material in question, a thermally unstable hydrated form of iron oxide, could have survived intact for so long. In their report, they discussed the presence of cavities filled with dripstone that seem to have formed around the same time. Major inconsistencies began to surface as they collected data from this region. As such, Lowe and Byerly felt a need to help “explain away” these obvious discrepancies.
Thus, they now contend that these rocks are, in fact, Quaternary deposits “formed as spring and shallow subsurface deposits of young (Quaternary) groundwater and/or low-temperature hydrothermal systems” (The Quaternary Period is the most recent in the geologic column—BH). They went on to summarize by noting: “The presence of a well-preserved modern iron oxide spring terrace confirms that these are deposits of young subaerial springs and contain no record of Archean life or environments” 2003, 31:909). There, buried in the title of the article itself, is the truth of the matter: “Earth’s Oldest Seafloor Hydrothermal Vents Reinterpreted as Quaternary Subaerial Springs.” Evolutionists will not concede that their theory is in error, or that the scientific evidence points towards a young Earth. They simply will continue to “reinterpret” the data to make them conform to their ancient-Earth ideals. How tragic, but how true.
“Introduction to the Archaean” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/precambrian/archaean.html.
Lowe, Donald R. and Gary R. Byerly (2003), “Ironstone Pods in the Archean Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa: Earth’s Oldest Seafloor Hydrothermal Vents Reinterpreted as Quaternary Subaerial Springs,” Geology, 31:909-912.