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Ice Cores & Tree Rings
age of the Earth was front and center throughout much of the debate.
Much could be said about this, but the most significant thing in my mind
is that this particular issue is one of the easiest things to use to
poke fun of the biblical creation account. Not because there isn’t a
vast amount of evidence for a relatively young Earth, but because when
dealing the general public, the vast majority of them have grown up
being taught that the Earth and universe are billions of years old and
that it has been “proven” by the best science we have. That is, it’s not
something that’s up for discussion. Anyone who rejects this “fact” is
obviously not living in the “real” world. To reject an old Earth and
universe requires, in most minds, a blind commitment to religion and an
abject rejection of science altogether. With that backdrop, it is very
difficult to convince people otherwise, in just a few minutes. I am
personally convinced that given enough time, the vast majority of people
would agree that young Earth creationists have a very strong case for
their view, even if they wouldn’t immediately change their own mind.
It’s a topic that takes much more time to address properly, therefore,
making it very easy to throw out challenges that cannot properly be
addressed in the confines of the current debate. I have included three
entire chapters in my book Let There be Light regarding this issue. The
first of which deals with the relevance of this issue (i.e. why are we
even talking about it), the second covers what Scripture actually says
and the third deals with what we know from science.
One of the evidences highlighted by Nye was ice core dating. It seems
pretty straight-forward… you drill through the ice, count how many
layers you see and instantly know how many years passed from bottom to
top. The obvious assumption here being that one layer formed per year.
Here’s the rub… there are examples where multiple layers have formed in a
single season. These are instances in which there are other factors
that allow us to know the age in advance. If we know from instances
where we can check the layers per year against known dates and see that
there are multiple layers per year, why would we assume, when the age is
not known to begin with, that only one layer would appear per year?
The most famous example is that of a World War II P–38 Lightning
fighter plane. It crash-landed in Greenland in 1942 and was buried by
the subsequent snowfalls. A recovery effort was made, but instead of
finding the plane under a small amount of ice, it was found under 250
feet of ice, much to everyone’s amazement! In just 50 years (1942-1992)
250 feet of ice had accumulated… much more than had been expected.
It is a similar situation with tree-ring dating. In many
circumstances, we see one ring per year, but there are others where we
see multiple rings per year. The Bristlecone Pines are typically
referenced in defense of the trees being almost 9,000 years old.
However, the environment in which these trees grow (White Mountains of
eastern California) have been known to produce multiple rings per year.
While there is still much research to be done, it is clear that assuming
one ring per year is one that can easily lead to misleading age
Swimming Between Layers
stating that there was no evidence for the flood, Nye said that if
there really was a flood, we should expect to see fossils of creatures
“swimming between the layers”. This is a very uneducated statement,
because it shows a lack of understanding as to what exactly would have
happened during the flood and was just another attempt to mock and
ridicule the biblical text. The fact is that there are many examples of
things that stretch through many layers. One example is that of
polystrate fossils. These are usually fossils of trees that cut through
many layers, providing compelling evidence for rapid catastrophic
deposition of sediment, as opposed to slow, gradual accumulation. If the
typical “millions of years” view that Nye holds to is true, it would
require these trees to begin growing in one layer and then stand there
(without rotting away) for hundreds of thousands or millions of years
while waiting to be buried by subsequent layers. This is quite
preposterous and goes against known science and common sense.
Another key point here is that just because a certain creature was
around during the time of the flood, doesn’t mean it would get
fossilized in each layer. This is another one of Nye’s
misunderstandings. For example, we have fossils of the coelacanth fish
that are believed by secular geologists to have become extinct 70
million years ago. However, these creatures have been found still alive
today, and not only are they still alive… they haven’t changed in 70
million years! The point is that even though these creatures have been
alive the whole time (from their first appearance in the fossil record
supposedly about 360 million years ago until today), they apparently
didn’t leave any fossil evidence for the past 70 million years! It makes
much more sense that those layers were not laid down over millions and
millions of years, but rather rapidly in a worldwide flood as described
in Genesis 6-8.
Commenting on the building of the ark, Nye stated that Noah and his
family were “unskilled” and could never have built such a large vessel.
How does he know they were unskilled? He doesn’t. In fact, people of
that era (specifically just after the flood) built huge pyramids which
we cannot reproduce today with the best equipment known to man!
Unskilled? I don’t think so. As far as only 8 people building the ark,
God gave them the design and there’s no reason that Noah could not have
contracted other’s to help in its construction. We have no indication
one way or the other, but I think it is very likely that there were
those among the scoffers who said, “I think you are crazy and
delusional, but if you are willing to pay me, I’ll help you build this