The Scientific Case for a Young Cosmos
In this chapter, Dr. Ross lays out 12 well known arguments from biblical creationists that are used and that were used in the past to refute old earthism. He then gives a reply to all twelve in an attempt to preserve old earthism. In the first sixteen chapters (and the introduction), I have shown that he has failed to build a congruent case for old earthism from both scripture and science. Let’s see how he does responding to these dozen claims for a young cosmos
Exhibit A: The continents erode too quickly for Earth to be old
Essentially the case for a young earth is measuring the erosion rate of the continents, and this extrapolation gives a time limiting factor of only 16 million years.
Reply: This challenge focuses on one side of the equation only. It fails to acknowledge that lava flows, delta and continental shelf buildup (from eroded material), coral reef buildup, and uplift from colliding tectonic plates occur at rates roughly equivalent to, and in some cases far exceeding, the erosion rate.
I’m not a geologist…neither is he. But neither of us need to be a geologist to identify the GIGANTIC problem in his rescue device. The short answer is that fossils exist, so his reply is impotent.
The long answer, will take a little explaining and maybe a few pictures. While Dr. Ross is not a biological evolutionist he agrees with their interpretation of fossil layers since he rejects the worldwide flood account of Genesis 6-9. While he says he believes the Bible, he thinks instead that the account in Genesis is a local flood.
Let’s start with the picture below, which is a picture of what Ross is describing, but clearly not what is found. To begin with, I disagree with the ages that have been assigned to each layer for both biblical and scientific reasons, but for the sake of argument, we’ll use Dr. Ross’s understanding of the fossils to refute his rescue device. As wind and water erosion takes off the top level, Dr. Ross has claimed that uplift from tectonic plates replaces the levels that are lost to erosion. As stated earlier, and clearly an extrapolation with which Dr. Ross agrees, the continents could have been COMPLETELY ERODED AWAY were it not for continental uplift. The continental uplift replaces the eroded layers, but the erosion would have removed the fossils completely in at most 16 millions years. But there are fossils. The fossils that are dug from the earth are clear evidence for a worldwide flood about 4500 year ago, just as the Bible tells us.
In “Exhibit B: Lunar dust accumulates too quickly to allow for an old earth” Ross mentions a contention that biblical creationists abandoned more than two decades ago, so there’s no need to go into this one.
Exhibit C: Earth’s magnetic field decays too rapidly to allow for an old Earth
Reply: Earth’s magnetic field does not undergo steady weakening but rather a variable alteration
Dr. Jonathan Sarfati and Dr. Jason Lisle have built cases for the steady exponential decline of the earth’s magnetic field such that the earth must indeed be young instead of Dr. Ross’s claims.
Exhibit D: The Sun burns by gravitational contraction, so it cannot be billions of years old
Reply: This argument overlooks significant data.
This is another obsolete argument for biblical creationists…however, the resolution with which Dr. Ross replies turns out to have its own serious shortcoming. It is so bad in fact, that it’s been given the name: The Faint Young Sun Paradox. Essentially, since the sun provides energy by nuclear fusion, it is getting brighter. So, billions of years ago, the sun would have been so dim that there would not have been enough energy reaching the frozen earth to sustain any kind of life. The older that old earthers think the sun/earth combination is, the worse the problem gets for them
Exhibit E: Galaxy clusters would be more widely dispersed if the universe were old.
Reply: This argument rests, first, on an incorrect assumption. It assumes that all the mass within galaxy clusters is luminous.
First of all, it is rich that Dr. Ross would accuse someone else of incorrect assumptions when we’ve seen over and over how he assumes the creation, which has been corrupted by sin, is on equal authoritative grounds with God’s revealed and eternal Word. We’ve also seen him incorrectly assume that the modern academic paradigm is the same as science. But on to his reply
Dr. Ross’s reply depends upon the non-scientific concept of dark matter/energy. He also resorts to dark ordinary matter (brown dwarfs, planets, asteroids, rocks, dust, and cold gas) as being four and a half times more mass than luminous matter. However, this is the special pleading fallacy since our own solar system, which is the best place for measuring matter and mass shows that the sun has 99.9% of the mass. He’s got to assume all of the other solar systems (which are much harder to get accurate measurements) are not just different from the one we inhabit but so different as to make them completely unrecognizable
Exhibit F: The crystal halos that arise from radioactive polonium decay indicate that the earth is young.
Reply: If the granite crystal halo evidence proves reliable, it simply indicates rapid formation of certain rocks, not the entire planet.
This argument takes the form that since polonium-218 has a half life of 3 minutes and the halos that record their decay still exist in granite, that the granite did not take millions of years to cool. Ross’s reply is utterly deficient, even to the point of a concession:
Even if Gentry’s granite crystal halos do result from polonium-218 decay, Gentry has merely exposed a phenomenon that requires further study, a phenomenon that geologists’ current understanding does not explain.
So deep has old earthism got its hooks in Dr. Ross that he cannot see the clear evidence for biblical creation.
Exhibit G: Rapid sedimentation and peat deposition following the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption demonstrate that geological processes are rapid, not gradual. So earth could be young.
Reply: The problem lies in what rhetoricians call the “either-or” fallacy – the assumption that all geological processes occur either gradually or rapidly. The young-earth versus old-earth debate is pictures in this context as a battle between the principles of uniformitarianism and the principles of catastrophism, with one significant difference…Evidence of rapid geological processes, such as those resulting from the Mount St. Helens eruption, fail to support the notion that every structure in Earth’s crust formed quickly and simultaneously.
Yet, isn’t science supposed to make observations and see if it supports or falsifies a theory? The evidence resulting from the Mt St Helens eruption are directly comparable to what one would expect during the worldwide flood of Noah’s day if scaled up appropriately. So, rather than taking what has been observed to create hundreds of layers, Ross rejects observations and instead inserts an unobserved mechanism to preserve old earthism. His attempt to refute Exhibit G is a disastrous mess as shown in these videos below.
Exhibit H: Given that a spiral galaxy’s spiral structure winds up and disappears after just three of four rotations of the galaxy, spiral galaxies must be relatively young.
Reply: Young earth creationists would be correct about spiral arms windup if the arms were material structures, But they are not. As first explained in 1964…galaxy arms are density waves.
Astrophysicist Jason Lisle tells us the postulating density waves as a rescue device for old earthers creates more problems than it solves.
Exhibit I: Trails of human footprints beside or crossing over dinosaur prints prove that dinosaurs were contemporaneous with humans, not millions of years old.
Reply: The dinosaur prints at the discovery sites have been identified as belonging to tridactyls, three-toed carnivorous dinosaurs.
There are many such evidences that have been put forth as dinosaur and human footprints. And it’s likely that some or most have been refuted. But there are still some fossils that have merit.
See the virtual tour of the creation museum in Glen Rose, TX
Here is the personal testimony of the evolutionist-turned-creationist who excavated one of the Paluxy tracks
Even if those particular tracks turn out not to be human footprints, the evidence for humans and dinosaurs co-existing is overwhelming
Not specifically about dinosaurs and humans living together but that dinosaurs lived in the recent past, here is an updated list of fossils that old earthers contend should be old but are shown to be young
Thinking that dinosaurs was a stronghold of old earthism, Dr. Ross included this exhibit in his book, but as you can see, the evidence is clearly on the side of biblical creation since dinosaurs lived recently enough to be seen and documented alive by mankind
Exhibit J: Since a comet’s average life span is only a few thousand years and the supply of new comets is limited, the existence of comets today proces the solar system cannot be more than several thousand years old.
Reply: …estimates of average comet longevity made prior to 1980 leaned heavily on the low side.
Dr. Ross declares with certainty that there are at least three sources for comets because he knows that comets would have disintegrated if they were truly billions of years old
Today, the existence of Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud comets is no longer based solely on theoretical calculations. In addition to finding the two distant comet clouds, astronomers have found a third distant comet repository, “the scattered disc.”
But a quick internet search reveals that Ross’s assertions of evidence are vacuous
- “the Oort Cloud is believed to be…scientists suspect that the Oort Cloud is the source…no object has been observed in the distant Oort Cloud itself, leaving it a theoretical concept for the time being”
- Can we see this Oort comet cloud? Hardly
- “A giant shell of icy bodies known as the Oort Cloud is thought to encircle the solar system”
Exhibit K: The lack of greatly expanded supernova remnants (SNRs) proves that such remnants have been expanding for no more than (probably less than) a few tens of thousands of years.
Reply: The mere existence of SNRs says that our galaxy and other galaxies are old…Observational difficulties, rather than an actual deficiency of SNRs, lie at the core of this cosmic age challenge.
It seems enormously hypocritical that Ross would declare the Oort cloud, which is unobservable, is irrefutable evidence, but SNRs which are thousands of light years across and visible from hundreds of thousands of light years away have “observational difficulties” and are therefore moot
For astronomers who are biblical creationists, the expectation is that if the Milky Way is about 6K-7K years old, there should be about 125 visible Stage 2 supernova remnants. Conversely, for those who (like Ross and Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson) believe in billions of years, would expect there to be about 2300 stage 2 SNRs. When actually looking into the Milky Way, we observe about 200 SNRs. So, you can see from the chart below that the evidence strongly supports biblical creation and is discordant with old earth assumptions. The problem gets even worse for those choosing to compromise God’s Word in favor of naturalistic assumptions when considering stage 3 SNRs.
Exhibit L: Backward-rotating planets and backward-revolving moons in the solar system demonstrate that the solar system cannot be very old.
Reply: The standard model for our solar system’s formation does not predict, as this challenge assumes, that all solar system bodies will rotate and revolve in the same direction as the sun.
The standard nebular model for planetary formation is saturated with galaxy-sized problems:
“The formation of planetesimals is the biggest unsolved problem…The formation of giant planets is another unsolved problem…Another problem of giant planet formation is their migration…different rotation between the inner and outer parts of a ring could not allow condensation of material.”
But these are all of the questions that the nebular theory is supposed to EXPLAIN, so it can’t explain the formation of planets if THAT’s the biggest problem!
Regarding the backward-rotating planets, Astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle has this to say
“Secularists (and other old earthers including Dr. Ross) do not have a good explanation for the backward rotation of Venus. In the secular scenario, the solar system is supposed to have formed from the collapse of a rotating nebula. The natural expectation of this would be that all planets would rotate in the same direction at about the same rate, and they would all have very little axial tilt. Venus is the worst offender to this concept, since it rotates exactly the opposite of what the evolutionary models require. But we expect such diversity in the biblical view.”
Dr. Ross does not specifically include this next YEC point as an exhibit for a young cosmos, but he does include this as a sidebar on a full page.
Does Lunar Recession Refute an Old Earth?
Lunar recession refers to the Moon’s movement away from Earth due to the transfer of angular momentum from Earth to Moon as a consequence of the tidal interaction of the Earth-Moon system…the Moon could not have been receding from the Earth for more than 1.4-2.3 billions years.
Ross’s rescue device is:
The conflict is resolved if the Moon’s tidal torque was less forceful in the past than it is now. In 1982, Kirk Hansen showed that the number, sizes, shapes, and geographical placements of the continents and their accompanying continental shelves hugely impact the Moon’s tidal torque on Earth.
But we can clearly see that this is special pleading. There’s no evidence that the moon’s tidal torque was less forceful in the past. It relies both on a special (unobserved) amount of matter in a special (unobserved) arrangement of matter for a special (unobserved) amount of time.
Dr. Henry from Creation.com had this to say regarding the secular origins of the moon and moon recession
“Over the approximately 6,000 years since the creation of the universe, the lunar recession rate has been essentially constant at the present value. However, assuming a multi-billion year age, lunar recession rates would have been much higher in the distant past than now. The currently accepted parameters indicate that the moon would have required 1.3 Ga to move from its origin at the Roche limit to its present position. This is the moon’s upper-limit age and shows that the conventional chronology is incorrect. If the solar system were actually 4.6 Ga old, the moon would have receded to a distance from earth approximately 20% beyond its present position. There is a widespread belief that the impact theory of lunar origin has neutralized these dilemmas for conventional chronology”
Ross’s special rescue device is insufficient to preserve old earthism.
To finish the chapter, Dr. Ross writes:
John Morris, a geological engineer and current president of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), once acknowledged in a radio interview that he has never met (or heard of) a scientist who became convinced on the basis of science alone that the universe or Earth is only thousands of years old.
In the footnotes, it is noted that the question that was asked to John Morris was
Have you or any of your colleagues ever met or heard of a scientist who became persuaded that the universe or Earth is only thousands of years old based on scientific evidence without any reference to a particular interpretation of the Bible?
That is not the stance of most biblical creationists, but for sake of argument, let’s grant this and suggest this change to the question:
“Have you ever heard of a scientist who became convinced that a person could be dead for three days and then return to life based only on peer-reviewed evidence rather than reading it in the Bible?”
This is why proper biblical hermeneutics is so important. The question could be formed in such a way as to make those reading Dr. Ross’s work think that this is a case-closed argument. Here are a few examples of scientists who HAVE been convinced of the scientific evidence for biblical creation that led them to Christ and that contradict Ross’s implication:
- Dr. Jerry Bergman
- Spike Pharris
- Dr. Vernon Cupps
- Dr. Frank Sherwin
- Dr. Jeffrey P. Tomkins
- Dr. Jim Mason
- Dr. Brian Thomas
- Dr. Russell Humphreys
As you can see from the above responses to Dr. Ross’s 13 replies to young earth arguments, he has fallen far short of refuting them, but he did not even attempt to tackle the other 100 arguments presented by creation.com
As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.