How Old are the Fossils?

How Old are the Fossils?

Bible – short chronology of life on earth

According to the Bible, the creation week apparently took place about 6000 years ago. If you add up the time periods in the Bible, you get maybe 6000 years since the creation week. This means that life has only existed on earth for this long, not millions of years as claimed by the theory of evolution. Also, the Bible says nothing about billions of year periods. It would seem strange if the universe were billions of years old. When God speaks, things happen right away. They don’t take 13 billion years to become visible.

When God made the world it was perfect and beautiful, with no corruption of sin. One day it will be like that again. The troubles of this world were not God’s will, but result from man’s falling into sin. God never intended the world to be such as place as it is today. Yet his love can still be seen in nature and in the blessings that surround us each day.

Scientists – life existed for many millions of years

According to scientists, the universe has existed for about 13 billion years, and life has existed on earth for probably over a billion years.

Importance of the issue

Thus the teachings of science are opposed to the Bible. This is causing people, especially intellectuals educated in the universities, to lose their faith in the Bible and question the entire plan of salvation. So which view is correct? Has life existed on earth for only a few thousand years, as the Bible says, or for a billion or more years, as most scientists today say?

Why science claims long ages

Let’s first consider how scientists arrive at an age of hundreds of millions of years for the existence of life on earth and even older ages for the earth. These ages are based on radioactive decay. Scientists use radioactive decay as a clock to measure how old things are. For this, you have a parent element, like potassium, that decays to a daughter element, like argon. The nucleus of the potassium atom changes spontaneously so that atoms of potassium become atoms of argon. The speed at which this takes place has been measured, and we know that it would take slightly over a billion years for half of the atoms of potassium in a sample to decay to argon. This time period is called the half life of potassium. There are other elements that also decay in this way, each with its own half life. So if you have a sample with potassium and argon in it, and all the argon came by radioactive decay from the potassium, and there was only potassium at the beginning, then you know how old the sample is. Of course, this method has many assumptions, but this is basically how the age of the earth and the age of the fossils are measured. Scientists using this method frequently obtain ages in the hundreds of millions of years, or even billions of years.

Another way that scientists estimate the age of the universe is that it would take light about 13 billion years to cross the universe, if light travels at its current speed. Because we can see very far in the universe, the light we see had to start traveling about 13 billion years ago, so the universe must be this old, according to scientists.

Another issue is that the theory of evolution requires very long time periods for evolution to take place. If life has only existed on earth for thousands of years, then evolution cannot be true. The current scientific view is predisposed to reject any kind of divine intervention in history. This means that scientists have no other choice to explain life but by the theory of evolution, which requires long time periods. Thus they favor measurements that give very long ages for the existence of life on earth.

In fact, the academic world is dominated by the theory of evolution and those who question it are usually expelled from it. The result is that the falsehood of evolution can be taught in our schools, but not the truth of creation.

Implications of long ages view

So what kind of a world view do you have if you accept the scientific view of evolution and the origin of the universe? According to the current scientific view, the universe came about by some kind of an accident of physics, and life came about by an accident of chemistry. This means that there is no meaning or purpose to existence, and no life beyond the grave. This life is all that there is. Eventually the universe will die, and everything in it. All will be nothingness. Ultimately existence is meaningless. I don’t like this view very much. Do you?

Evidence for a recent creation

However, there are scientific evidences that suggest that the Bible view is correct, that is, life has only existed on earth for a few thousand years, and the long ages view of most scientists is wrong. Some of these evidences are only suggestive. For example, European researchers recently measured neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light, which was thought to be impossible. Neutrinos are very small particles that usually do not interact with matter. This result about neutrinos traveling faster than light needs to be confirmed, but if it is true, it means that the speed of light is not an absolute barrier, and that under some conditions particles or waves may travel faster. This means that the light from the distant universe may have gotten here faster than 13 billion years, so the universe could be younger than this.

Also, radioactive dating, such as that based on potassium and argon, is based on the assumption that the rate of radioactive decay is a constant. However, Ephraim Fischbach and Jere Jenkins of Purdue University in Indiana claim that the rates of radioactive decay are influenced by the sun. See http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/36108. According to their results, the rate of radioactive decay seems to be influenced by a 30 day cycle related to the rotation of the sun, to solar flares, and to the alternation between winter and summer. Decay seems to be a little faster in the winter. These changes are very small and are probably caused by neutrinos or some other particle coming out of the sun. However, right now there are no major catastrophes, like the sun acting up or a star exploding nearby, and things are very peaceful, yet there are still small changes in the rate of decay. In a time of great upheavals in nature, the change in decay rate could be much larger. Therefore, whatever is causing the change in the rate of radioactive decay, it is possible that the change was much larger in the past, so that the rate of radioactive decay was much faster then. This could mean that the ages computed for rocks and fossils are in error. If radioactive decay were a lot faster in the past, then in effect the clock was running much faster, so a measured time of hundreds of millions of years could correspond to an actual time of thousands of years.

We also have some good evidence that radioactive decay was in fact much faster in the past. This means that the clocks scientists use to measure ages are unreliable; a clock that sometimes runs faster and sometimes runs slower cannot be used to tell time. The clock scientists often use has to do with a mineral called zircon; when it forms, it traps the elements uranium and thorium in its crystal structure but not lead. The uranium and thorium gradually decay to lead. So if you find lead in a zircon, it is likely that the lead came by radioactive decay from the uranium and thorium. By measuring the quantities of lead, uranium, and thorium in a zircon, and knowing the rate of radioactive decay of thorium and uranium, one can compute an age for the zircon. These ages are frequently in the hundreds of millions of year range or even longer.

However, there is a problem. As uranium and thorium decay, they produce helium. This helium diffuses out of the zircons relatively fast. If the zircons were really very old, there would not be any helium left in them. But there is a lot of helium remaining in the zircons. The amount of helium remaining in them is consistent with an age of thousands of years for the zircons, but not millions of years. Now, a lot of radioactive decay had to take place to produce all this lead that is in the zircons, but it had to take place fast because all the helium in the zircons shows that the zircons are young. Thus the decay took place much faster in the past. Many elements that decay do so by the same processes, so if the rate of decay of uranium and thorium was much faster in the past, then the decay rates of other elements would also have been much faster, and many of the clocks used by scientists to measure ages would be unreliable. Thus the clock sometimes runs faster and sometimes runs slower. This means that these long ages measured by scientists are in error.

There are many other evidences as well that the fossils are young, in fact, only thousands of years old. For example, some methods of dating give much younger ages for the fossils; one of these is carbon 14 dating. Also, some dinosaur bones have what looks like blood still in them, and the proteins in the blood still seem to be fresh. This is impossible if these bones are really millions of years old; the protein would all have been destroyed in such a long time period.

Another evidence that the fossils are young is that dragons are frequently mentioned as real creatures by ancient historians. Dragons look much like dinosaurs, so it could be that dinosaurs lived very recently, only thousands of years ago, and were seen by people. In fact, the Chinese believed that dragons were real creatures. It is also interesting that ancient stones have been found in Peru with both humans and dinosaurs drawn on them. There is also a carving of a dinosaur on an ancient Cambodian Temple. It looks like a stegosaurus. See http://www.bible.ca/tracks/tracks-cambodia.htm. There are also other carvings and drawings by ancient people of creatures that look like dinosaurs.

Another evidence for the young age of the earth is that the measured rate of erosion of soil is too high. At the currently estimated rate of erosion, the continents would have eroded away at least 70 times in the assumed history of their existence.

There are many more evidences as well that I do not have time to discuss. Perhaps some other time. So we have many reasons to believe the Bible account of creation. However, we cannot prove that the Bible is true; our belief does not rest only on evidence, but also on faith. Currently our knowledge is only partial and fragmentary. Our scientific knowledge is also partial; scientific theories change, and it is not wise to put too much faith in them. But though scientific theories change, God’s word is eternal. It does not change with changing evidence and changing scientific theories. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

Implications of the Biblical view

So what are some of the implications of the knowledge that the Bible gives us a true picture of history? If God’s word is reliable, then we can also trust Christ to save us from sin. Also, the Bible says that God is the creator of this world, and this is why we worship Him. Only God can create from nothingness, by His word. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. … For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 34:6,9) The same creative power that fashioned the universe is in His Word and can recreate our hearts in His image and transform our lives to be in harmony with God. Thus we need to be spending time in God’s word and learning His promises. Even more, the one who created us is the one who became a man and was born as a baby in Bethlehem, then died on the cross for our sins. He loved us so much that He was willing to do this for us. How much do we love Him in return?

False theories: Attempt of the devil to lead men to destruction

Most scientists oppose the Biblical view of the creation; for example, they mock the idea that men and dinosaurs lived together. They say dinosaurs lived millions of years before man came on the scene. In general, they ridicule the entire idea of creation by God and the short ages of earth’s history as presented in the Bible. Scientists may be innocent and sincere, but behind them, a deceiver is trying to lead men to ruin by promoting science falsely so-called. Satan’s opposition to the truth began with his rebellion in heaven many years ago, which is now continued on earth and will continue until the end of time.

Deceptions of the last days

In the last days we know that such deceptions will get worse and worse. There will be false Christs and false prophets. Even Satan appears as an angel of light, according to the Bible. And deception often comes even in a supposedly Christian guise. For example, Satan quoted scripture to Jesus in the wilderness, but Satan put a false interpretation on Scripture. Just because something is supposedly Christian does not make it reliable; everything has to be tested according to the Bible.

The way for these last day deceptions is being prepared even now. Nearly the whole world will eventually be taken captive by them. The Bible says that God will send people strong delusion that they should believe a lie. Even many SDA’s who are not earnest in their faith will find in the last days that they are on the outside of God’s kingdom looking in. In fact, even now, some educated SDA’s are accepting the theory of evolution. Which way will our church go? Will we be a people of the word, or will we follow human theories and traditions?

We each need to know the truth for ourselves to escape the delusions of the last days. We need to be Bible students and know the truth from Scripture or we will be led astray and perish with the unsaved. Even Jesus depended on His knowledge of the Bible; Jesus quoted scriptures back to Satan when Jesus was tempted. You see, scripture is a safeguard against the deceptions of the last days. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” “Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

But it is not enough just to know the Bible; we must also have a connection with Christ and be converted. We need to be firmly attached to the rock, to Christ, so that we cannot be moved.

This is a matter between us and Christ. Are we earnest and sincere in our faith? Are we truly dedicated to Him, or does some idol have first place in our hearts and in our lives?

But even if we know the truth, and know the Bible, we need to be careful. “Therefore if they shall say to you, Behold, he is in the desert; do not go out: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” (Matthew 24:26) The deceptions of the last days will be so subtle that they would deceive if possible even the elect. We would be taken in by the deception if we went out to see the false christs. Jesus will not come again in the desert, but in the clouds and every eye will see Him. But God will shelter and protect His people. The Bible says, “He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust.”

In the last days believers will be ridiculed by the learned and educated of this world, but God’s people will be vindicated, and the mockers will call for the mountains to fall on them. Jesus will gain the victory in the end and all who are faithful to Him will triumph with Him.

Truth in the last days

The creation message is part of the first angel’s message. The Lord has raised up many creationists, most of them non-SDA. He also has brought many evidences to light to support the Bible, and more such evidences are coming out each year. At one time, the Lord said, “I tell you that, if these would hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” – and they have! The rocks themselves are bearing witness of the truth of the Bible creation account.

The Sabbath and creation

The creation message is related to the Sabbath truth, because God rested on the Sabbath day after the creation, and the Sabbath is a memorial of creation. According to the Bible, there will be a Sabbath revival in the last days. The book of Isaiah tells of a time when “those who shall be of you shall build the old waste places: you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” The Sabbath will even be kept in heaven; the Bible says, “And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the LORD.”

The Sabbath not only calls attention to Christ as the creator, but it is a day of rest and symbolizes the rest we have in Christ, rest from our own works done apart from God. The Sabbath also looks forward to our eternal rest in heaven. Yet heaven will be a place of labor – but labor there will be a pleasure and will not weary us. In fact, there will be no night there – we will be full of energy and will not need to sleep. We will have vibrant health, and will always be youthful. We will all be gardeners and carpenters in heaven. The Bible says that we will build houses and inhabit them, and plant vineyards and eat their fruit. I’m looking forward to that, aren’t you?

Conclusion

The Bible account of creation has been severely challenged by modern science, but the Lord has raised up men and evidences to give scientific support for the Bible account. The Bible is reliable, and we can trust the Lord of the Bible to also recreate us in His image and give us a home in His kingdom in the earth made new. Let’s make that our aim and not be turned aside from the truth by the deceptive teachings of evolution. Amen.