Defender's Guide to Science and Creationism

Mark Vuletic

Assertion

Many types of radiometric dating have error factors of several million years.

Analysis

This is true, but irrelevant.

I. The error factors are small relative to the full timescale involved

As paleontologist Niles Eldredge responds:

A few million years sounds like a huge error, but a couple of million years one way or the other is a small error compared with the huge age calculated. Saying '380 million years plus or minus two million' is like thinking back to April from December and saying you can't remember whether something happened on the 19th, 20th, or 21st. (Eldredge 1982:103)

To help put things in perspective a different way, the error Eldredge describes is only slightly more than half a percent.

II. The error factors are not large enough to allow a young earth

 Even with an error factor of a few million years, radioisotope dating consistently shows that the earth is billions of years older than the 6,000-year-old earth desired by young-earth creationists.

III. Disagreements among creationists

Even creationists argue among themselves whether their holy texts allow for billions of years or only a few thousand. Apparently the creationists' preferred method of dating (pulling a date from their personal interpretation of Scripture) suffers from a significantly higher error factor than radioisotope dating.

References

Eldredge N. 1982. The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism. New York: Washington Square Press.

Last update: 9 Jan 2015

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