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Apologetics Press :: Reason & Revelation
November 2003 - 2[11]:44-R

In the News: No More Blind Dates?
by Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

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The argument is almost as old as the creation/evolution controversy itself. Creationists have long charged that evolutionists date the fossils using circular reasoning in their dating methods. That is to say, on one hand, they date the layers of geological strata by the so-called “index fossils” found within them. (Of course index fossils are not always reliable standards, as is evident from such creatures as coelacanths, trilobites, and even frogs—a point made by Blair Hedges in an article in the October 16, 2003 issue of Nature titled “The Coelacanth of Frogs.”) Then, on the other hand, evolutionists date fossils according to the strata in which they are found.

Evolutionists routinely deny the charge that they use circular reasoning. As one article titled “Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale” on the evolutionary site, www.TalkOrigins.com, commented:

The unfortunate part of the natural process of refinement of time scales is the appearance of circularity if people do not look at the source of the data carefully enough. Most commonly, this is characterised by oversimplified statements like: “The fossils date the rock, and the rock dates the fossils” (MacRae, 1998, emp. in orig.).

In what must be a somewhat embarrassing article for evolutionists, Tom Clarke authored an article in Nature, titled “Geologists Seek to Put an End to Blind Dates” (2003, 425:550). In the article Clarke commented, “Earth scientists have decided it is time to talk time.” He further lamented: “At a meeting in Washington D.C. last week, experts in mass extinctions, ancient climate and the art of dating rocks got together to work out plans for a more accurate and complete geological timescale” (p. 550, emp. added).

In addressing the incompleteness and inaccuracies in the fossil record Clarke admits: “That is partly because the most accurate techniques for dating are work-intensive and require more skill and money than most labs can spare” (425:550). So what do researchers often do? He continued: “So researchers often simply estimate rock ages by comparing the fossils found in one stripe of rock to another of known age” (425:550, emp. added).

Sounds an awful lot like “guesstimation” using circular reasoning, doesn’t it?

REFERENCES

Clarke, Tom (2003), “Geologists Seek to Put an End to Blind Dates,” Nature, 425:550-551, October 9.

Hedges, Blair (2003), “The Coelacanth of Frogs,” Nature, 425:669-670, October 16.

MacRae, Andrew, (1998), “Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale,” [On-line], URL: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating. html.



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