If you were looking for reliable and accurate measurements over millions or billions of years would you seriously be looking at candle and water clocks? Candles, when used as clocks, were placed for protection inside wooden cases. Methods of measuring time like these were used in medieval churches and earlier, famously by King Alfred the Great of England, first by counting the number of candles of a specific size burnt, and later by use of a graduated candle. They were protected from outside influences, like a draught which could have slowed the rate of burning or extinguished the flame. Then there is the obvious constraint that these measurements of time had to be of comparatively of short duration. This is obviously diametrically opposite to the long ages given to radio-
Richard Dawkins with his characteristic desire to illustrate complex issues with easily accessible imagery has helped enormously to clarify the issues. There is no way he would have chosen the water and candle clocks as examples of how the radiometric dating process works if these were poor examples. And yet taking him at his word, and the candle and water clocks as analogies, graphically illustrates the potential fault lines inherent in this process. A process which is presented almost as a credo: a fixed, reliable, constant, certain and repeatable dating method that has come close to ruling serious error out of its equations. This can now be seen as clearly false.
This matter of how the geology of the earth was formed is entirely governed by conjecture, the timescale given rules out the possibility of human observations. The hundreds of millions of years are vital components of the evolutionary theory which needs vast periods of time. Empirical evidence is lacking because the conclusion was set in stone without either direct observation or experimentation.
Most people think that radiometric dating has proved the earth is billions of years old. Just because scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms at a certain rate in the present does not necessarily mean that the rate of decay has always remained the same. Scientists, like any one of us, can run into big problems when they make assumptions about what happened in the unobserved past, in this case pre-
These methods may be reliable, but who can say for sure? They depend on so many factors, some of which are unknowable. Most crucially, what were the initial states governing radiometric decay when the process began? Under what conditions did it begin, and have these remained constant? Has the clock ever stopped and been restarted, has contamination or leeching ever occurred and so on? And suppose, for the sake of argument, something astonishing happened. Something on the scale of a global tectonic, volcanic upheaval, accompanied by a collapse of the then existing environment, a worldwide flood and a following Ice Age; then what? These small matters could be overlooked if the radiometric dating method, which always seems to turn up dates that make the Bible look stupid, didn't conflict with another dating method: Carbon 14 which often turns up dates which make the Bible chronology seem reasonable.
To be fair, this issue is extremely complex. There is however reason to be sceptical about any process that claims near infallibility when looking back at ages which we cannot even properly comprehend. What does it mean when a date of 103.6 million years, give or take a few million either side, is published? It is meaningless in the sense that no-
The long age model has never been proved, it has just been assumed. Any evidence by way of fossils that are discordant will be explained away. As will unconformities (missing rock layers) and mountains being moved and shunted on top of another rock formation by forces that leave no trace on the ground. No evidence seriously questions the theory, it will be made to conform; and having been interpreted according to the current orthodoxy, serve to bolster the underlying assumptions of the theory. And that, at least in part, is the dating game.
But there is more! The following is from The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
‘Briefly, a radioactive isotope is a kind of atom which decays into a different kind of atom: for example. one called uranium-
“Radioactive clocks are rather like the water clocks and candle clocks that people used in the days before pendulum clocks were invented. A tank of water with a hole in the bottom will drain at a measurable rate. If the tank was filled at dawn, you can tell how much of the day has passed by measuring the present level of water. Same with a candle clock. The candle burns at a fixed rate, so you can tell how long it has been burning by measuring how much candle is left.”
Water Clock Example -
Radiometric Dating is a complex and specialised area and if you would like to find out more there are plenty of good articles to read on other websites such as:-
Alternatively this kind of “dating” is much more simple.
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