Six reasons to be skeptical of the geologic time scale
The concept of geologic (or deep) time is now part of our culture. It’s a product of a secular worldview that rejects biblical history and is the foundation of atheism. And it’s so popular that I expect few people will read this post or question the status quo.
The methods used to determine the geologic time scale are summarized in Appendix A. And the main differences between the geologic time scale and the biblical time scale are summarized in Appendix B. Despite its seemingly scientific basis, there are many reasons to be skeptical of the geologic time scale. Some of these are summarized below.
According to the biblical time scale (Appendix B), after the ice age the oceans would have reached their current level about 3,800 years ago, which is 3,200 years less that according to the geologic time scale. This implies that Australian Aboriginal stories describing times when sea levels were lower than today were probably 3,700 years old, which is more credible than the 10,000 years quoted by researchers. It also represents about 148 generations, which is more realistic than the supposed transmission of these stories over 400 generations. So the biblical time scale provides a more credible explanation of these orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories than the geologic time scale.
Observations show that rock coastlines are eroding faster than is assumed under the uniformitarian (geologic) time scale. Calculations of coastal cliff retreat rates in New South Wales, Australia, show that the biblical time scale gives results closer to measured cliff retreat rates than the uniformitarian (geologic) time scale. This indicates that the biblical time scale is more realistic than the uniformitarian (geologic) one. So with respect to coastal erosion, the biblical time scale is more realistic than the uniformitarian (geologic) one.
The first mosasaurus (the lizard from the river Meuse) fossil remains were discovered in a limestone quarry at Maastricht on the Meuse. The larger mosasaurs reached sizes of 10–15 m (33–49 ft) long. But if a mosasaurus (or dinosaur) was left at the bottom of the ocean to decay, under current rates of deposition, it would take thousands of years to cover the body with sediment. In the meantime, nothing would be left because the body would have decayed. So limestone contains marine fossils which can’t be explained by the assumption of uniformity of the rate of geological processes. Clearly the rate of sedimentation when the fossils were buried was significantly greater than the current rate of sedimentation. In this case, the present is not the key to the past and the assumption of uniformity is erroneous. The bible provides a better explanation – large animals were buried during the global flood about 4.5k years ago. So the biblical time scale provides a more credible explanation of the fossilization of large animals than the geologic time scale.
The discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones by Mary Schweitzer was unexpected and scientists have struggled to find a robust explanation. Under the biblical explanation of geologic history (see Appendix B), the dinosaurs were buried during the global flood about 4.5k years ago. This means that the soft tissue is about 4.5k years old. On the other hand, under the geologic time scale, the dinosaurs are about 100 million years old. This is about 20,000 times older than the biblical explanation, which is a huge difference (more than 4 orders of magnitude). As the soft tissue in dinosaur bones can be explained readily under the biblical time scale, this supplies a more realistic explanation of the presence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones than the uniformitarian (geologic) time scale.
The Wollemi pine is called a ‘living fossil’ because before it was discovered it was thought to be extinct. Although it originally grew in a moist climate in ancient times, the pine has survived in a drier climate to be still alive today. According to the geologic time scale, the pine survived and left no trace over millions of years when fossilization was occurring. Whereas according to the biblical time scale, the pine survived and left no trace over thousands of years when fossilization wasn’t occurring. Obviously, the latter is more likely. This means that the biblical timescale gives a more realistic explanation of the survival of ‘living fossils’ like the Wollemi pine and its absence from intervening rock layers than the uniformitarian (geologic) time scale.
The biblical time scale is based on written history, whereas the geologic time scale is based on naturalism and historical science. Historical science deals with what happened in the past, but you cannot do experiments on events in the past. An example of this would be paleontology (the study of fossils). Scientists might unearth a dinosaur find and then tell a story of how long ago the dinosaur lived and died. But the scientist’s ideas about how old it is cannot be directly tested because it happened in the past without direct witnesses.
Because the geological time scale depends on historical science and not just operational science, it’s not as reliable as operational science. This means that it’s findings are tentative, particularly when a more realistic explanation is available. The supposed dates in the geologic time scale are speculative and are not consistent with written history in the Bible.
As a reliable eyewitness is superior to forensic science in the investigation of crime, so reliable history is better than ancient historical (or forensic) science in investigating ancient times. So history trumps historical science when dealing with the past. This lack of respect for written history is a major deficiency of the geologic time scale.
Actual and apparent dates
How can we explain the difference between the secular and biblical creation accounts and between the secular and biblical dates of ancient events? It’s evident in the first chapter of the Bible (Appendix C). The most obvious difference is that in the Bible functionally mature ecosystems were created at the beginning, whereas according to secular reasoning everything must begin in a simple (primitive) form and become more complex over eons of time. It was created in six days by God’s command, decree, fiat (Ps. 33:6, 9). “God said let …” occurs eight times in Genesis 1 (Appendix C). So the first generation of creatures and people were created as adults, not infants. They had a complete genome (all the genetic material for life on earth) from the beginning so they could reproduce themselves. This results in two ages for things that were created; an actual age and an apparent age. For example, on day seven Adam and Eve had two ages: 1 day actual age and at least 20 years apparent age (if they grew from infancy).
Similarly, on day seven the earth had two ages: a few days actual age and about 4.5 billion years apparent age (if it developed according to the uniformitarian hypothesis). And on day seven the universe had two ages: a few days actual age and about 14 billion years apparent age (if it developed according to the big-bang model). One date is actual and the other is apparent (hypothetical) because God created a mature earth and a mature universe in a short period of time. He did it suddenly, not gradually and piece by piece.
Likewise, today the earth has two ages: about 6k years actual age and about 4.5 billion years apparent age (if it developed according to the uniformitarian hypothesis). And today the universe has two ages: 6k years actual age and about 14 billion years apparent age (if it developed according to the big-bang model). One date is actual and the other is apparent (hypothetical) because God created a mature universe in a short period of time. He did it suddenly, not gradually and piece by piece. Because God created a functionally mature universe, the universe was huge from the beginning.
This is not deceptive because God has given us the actual age of the universe in the Bible. The Bible says that Adam was created on the sixth day of creation and it gives a detailed chrono-genealogy of his descendants to Abram (Gen. 5:1-32; 11:10-26). The way the Bible is written enables the determination of the dates of some important ancient events.
The extra time in the evolutionary models occurs at the beginning because it replaces God’s work of creation. Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27, “at the beginning of creation [not four billion years after the solar system evolved] God ‘made them [Adam and Eve] male and female’” (Mk. 10:6). This means that the eons of geologic time or deep time required for evolutionary processes only exist in people’s minds. They are the product of the imagination. It’s like the emperor who had no clothes on! Lots of people have been hoodwinked. They think it’s true, but it isn’t.
The Bible says that it’s foolish and arrogant to believe there is no God (Ps. 10:4; 14:1; 53:1). Fools mock God and they mock God’s people (Ps. 39:8; 74:22). Likewise, secular models of geologic (or deep) time are foolish because they create millions and billions of years that never happened!
The Bible says that creation was an act of God, not an act of human imagination like the big bang model or the nebular hypothesis, or the assumptions about radioactive decay in ancient times, or the theory of biological evolution (idea that things always develop from the simple to the complex). Instead, creation was complex from the beginning!
When extrapolating backwards in time, we need to recognize that naturalistic assumptions don’t apply to the flood and to the creation of the universe. These were unique historical events that we have no examples of today. They had a supernatural cause. For them, the past explains the present, rather than the present explaining the past. For example, the assumptions used in radioactive dating would be invalidated by the flood. And as the geologic time scale extends past the boundary condition of the creation of the universe, it’s inconsistent with the Bible. That’s why it’s hypothetical and not real. A realistic model in historical science must respect the initial boundary condition. For example, the assumptions used in the big bang theory are invalidated by God’s creation. But there are other assumptions about the universe which are more consistent with the Bible (Appendix D).
Why does this matter? Geologic (deep) time and evolution are the atheist’s creation story. And evolution is implausible without geologic (deep) time. If the Bible’s record of creation is questionable, then so is the rest of the Bible.
The Bible’s message of salvation depends on its account of creation. Because the first people, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God sin, suffering and death entered into the world. That’s why a Messiah (Jesus) was promised to deliver mankind from their addiction to sin. Jesus is contrasted with Adam because He offered salvation and eternal life (1 Cor. 15:22, 45). All who are human (in Adam) die and all who are believers (in Christ) will be resurrected to experience eternal life.
If you are a believer, don’t let the geologic time scale undermine your trust in the Bible or your Christian faith.
If you are not a believer, don’t let the geologic time scale dominate your worldview or stop you reading the Bible or investigating the Christian faith. The world seems different to what it actually is if we leave God out. Don’t leave God out of your world.
We have seen that the biblical time scale gives a more realistic explanation of the following phenomena than the uniformitarian (geologic) time scale:
– Orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories,
– Coastal geomorphology,
– Fossilization of large animals,
– Soft tissue in dinosaur bones, and
– Living fossils.
The biblical time scale is also preferable to the geologic time scale because it’s based on the facts of written history rather than the assumptions of historical science.
These six reasons to be sceptical of the geological time scale come from studies in the disciplines of anthropology, geomorphology, history and paleontology.
The reason for this is that the bible gives the actual (historical) age, whereas the geologic time scale gives an apparent (imaginative) age that only exists in people’s minds.
Appendix A: How was the geologic time scale determined?
Uniformitarian dates come from naturalistic mathematical models of the earth, solar system and the universe. The universe was dated at about 13.8 billion years based on the big bang model, which is turn was based on the size of the universe and the expansion rate of the universe. The big bang is an unprovable idea that was invented to explain how the universe created itself without the need for a creator God. The model assumes that the universe began as a singularity and then expanded to its current size. As with any model, its accuracy depends on the accuracy of the assumptions it uses. And these are huge assumptions as the only measurements available are those made in recent times.
The solar system was dated at about 4.6 billion years based on the nebular hypothesis (that the solar system formed from a collapsing dust/gas cloud) and measurements of meteorites. However, although the expansion of such clouds has been observed, to date no such contraction has been observed in the universe. The age is calculated by radioactive dating methods (using potassium and uranium) assuming that no daughter products were initially present; that the radioactive decay rate was constant; and the elements were in a closed system. As with all radioactive dating methods, these are huge assumptions as the only measurements available are those made in recent times.
The geologic time scale is a theoretical scale based on the hypothetical geologic column. These are both based on the assumptions of naturalism and uniformitarianism. Index fossils played an important role in the development of the geologic column. And they still play an important role when dating geological strata. The theory of biological evolution is used to establish the geologic time scale, and the geologic time scale is used to support the theory of biological evolution. The time scale is said to be based on radiometric dating methods. However, as these can give a wide range of dates, in practice the oldest dates are usually used and the others are discarded. Since most sedimentary rocks and their fossils cannot be dated by radiometric dating, volcanic ash layers are used. As with all radioactive dating methods, these are huge assumptions as the only measurements available are those made in recent times. All previous concentrations of the parent and daughter quantities are assumed as is the rate of radioactive decay. So the result is largely driven by these assumptions and not be what actually occurred (which is unknown). In practice, dates calculated by radioactive dating methods are discarded if they are not consistent with the geologic time scale or index fossils.
This use of index fossils is based on the assumption that the absence of fossils in a certain layer of rock means that the creature did not exist at the time in which that layer was deposited. But the absence of fossils in a particular rock layer does not mean that those creatures did not exist at the time of deposition of that layer. It only means that the creature was not buried in that layer or that it hadn’t been found yet. Absence of fossil remains does not demand its nonexistence.
Appendix B: Different explanations of geological history
The earth’s geological and climatological history has determined the current geomorphological and geological structure of the earth. At present there are two main explanations of the earth’s geological and climatological history. One (Biblical) is based on recorded history in the Bible and the other (Uniformitarian) is based on assuming that the present (processes today) is the key to the past (ancient processes) and on the hypothetical geologic time scale. The biblical explanation allows for catastrophic events (such as the flood of Noah), whereas the Uniformitarian explanation minimizes the role of catastrophic events (because it has a preference for gradual events). The biblical explanation mainly involves rapid processes over short periods of time, whereas the Uniformitarian explanation mainly involves slow processes over long periods of time.
Biblical explanation – God created a harmonious mature universe about 6k years ago. Then the universe was cursed after humanity rebelled against God. This is the cause of suffering and death. The global flood about 4.5k years ago and associated tectonic activity and volcanism produced enormously thick sequences of sedimentary rocks over a short period of time. Fossils represent the order of burial during the flood. The flood was followed by an ice age during which there were volcanic and glacial impacts.
Uniformitarian explanation – Sea levels changed gradually over millions of years to produce the enormously thick sequences of sedimentary rocks that record the long history of geological time. Fossils represent the biological evolution of species. There were multiple ice ages over millions of years. The most recent ice age ended about 10k years ago.
Appendix C: Genesis 1:1-2:2 (NLT)
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” 7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. 8 God called the space “sky.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.
14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.
20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings in His own image.
In the image of God He created them;
male and female He created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
31 Then God looked over all He had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.
1 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed.
Appendix D: Can we see into the past?
Astronomers usually assume that they can see stars and galaxies as they were in the past. And they calculate the time difference by using the distance and the speed of light. For distant galaxies this means they are looking back in time for billions of years. The two-way speed of light (c) is 299,792.458 km/s. But the one-way speed of light can’t be measured. The one-way speed of light is undefined. In practice, scientists assume that c is isotropic (the same in all directions), but this is just an assumption (Harnett, 2019).
Harnett notes that if the incoming speed of light is infinite, the return speed must be c/2. In this case, we see everything in the universe as it is now, not in the past. We see what’s happening now, and not what happened in the past. And the 13.8 billion years of apparent history (based on the size of the universe) disappears! This is called the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC). If the ASC is true, we are seeing the present state, not the past state, of the universe. This is consistent with scripture which implies that when God created the stars and galaxies, they were able to be seen on earth (Gen. 1:14-15). There was no time delay.
Oard M J, 2019, “The deep time deception”, Creation Book Publishers.
Harnett J, 2019, “The conventionality thesis and biblical creation”, J Creation, 33, 3, 115-121.
Written, November 2019
Also see: Lots of limestone
Heads I win, tails you lose
London bridge has fallen down
Wollemi pine: A living fossil
Soft tissue in dinosaur bones
The telephone game
Converting ancient secular dates to biblical dates