Grand Canyon discordant dates?/College misinformation

14 February 2003

AiG received this first letter from Robert Dold. He was not negative, but had a question about something from a forum. Our reply is from Dr Sarfati.

Our second letter is from Jason of BC, Canada, with some telling quotes from his college-level anthropology course.

Grand Canyon discordant dates

Dear Sir/Madam.

Hi! My name is Robert Dold. I am 16 years old. I am a great supporter of Creation ministry, and I love to read Creationist books and check out the AiG website. I belong to an evolutionary forum where we debate evolution, and during one debate on radiometric dating, I brought up the incidence where Dr. Steve Austin dated the lava flows on the top of Grand Canyon as being older then the lava flows at the bottom. Here is a response that I got. Could you please shed some light on this matter.

"Austin deliberately set out to get discordant dates and left a paper trail showing that he did so. Chris Stassen wrote this up on Talk Origins."

(what Stassen wrote)
"The conditions which caused the "false isochron" in this case are fairly well-understood, and easy to avoid by proper sample selection. In fact, the resulting age in this case is meaningful and probably accurate. The problem is not the age itself but rather Austin's sleight-of-hand in trying to pass off the result as the age of the flows rather than a minimum age of their source.

The attempt to abuse the meaning of a single contrived date -- which was produced only by a sample selection geared to dating a different event, and only for samples whose results were known by Austin in advance -- says a lot more about the level of competence or honesty in this creation "science" research program, than it says about the validity of isochron dating methods. "

I don't believe that this is correct, but could you please clear this up for me.

Thank you so very much.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Dold.

Dear Robert

We know about the Talk Origins site, and its anti-creationist stance. Stassen's argument is just special pleading. But our point is that when radiometric dating methods are applied to rocks of KNOWN (historically verified) age, they often fail, so why should we trust them on rocks of UNKNOWN age? Sure, they can make excuses, by pointing out certain assumptions that fail, but then we can apply the same reasons to discount 'dates' that contradict the Bible.

Notice that Stassen simply makes assertions without any backing. For example he uses the term ‘false isochron’ without saying why it is false. He mentions the issue as being ‘fairly well understood’ and ‘easy to avoid’ without explaining what the understanding is and how specifically it could be avoided. He talks about ‘proper sample selection’ without explaining what was wrong with Austin’s sampling method and why. He says the ‘age in this case is probably meaningful’ and ‘probably accurate’ without saying what the meaning is and why. His entire claim is in this vein—without logic, without reason and without substance. Austin has published the results of a carefully documented, soundly based, methodical geological dating experiment. But Stassen cannot not set out any specifics of why Austin’s methods or results are wrong, because they are not wrong. Stassen is bluffing.

I think you'll find our popular-level Creation magazine article Radio-dating in rubble responds to a number of criticisms, and Dr Tas Walker (who has practical experience in radiometric dating) addresses criticisms of this article.

Please let me know if you have any further questions after reading these articles.

(Dr) Jonathan Sarfati

College misinformation


I just want to tell you once again how helpful your ministry has been in my life. I have recently begun my first year of college and i am talking an introduction course on physical anthropology. I am amazed at how outdated much of the material is. For example, we are still being taught that peppered moths are proof of evolution! It's in our textbooks too. We are also being taught that sickle cell anemia is proof of evolution and that our DNA is exactly 98.4% identical to chimpanzees. Next they will tell us that diabetes is evolution in action. From reading your literature I have long since learned to filter the truth from the lies I am being taught. And when your ears can filter what you hear you realize how flimsy the evidence for evolution really is. In my last class my teacher made some revealing comments, though i doubt they were very obvious to many others.

She said (these are loose quotes. they may not be her exact wording but it is what she said) "fifteen years ago I would have taught you that Ramapithecus was the first hominid. But now we know that it was just an ape."

"Scientists have difficulty remaining objective and science can become like a religion."

"the mtDNA says that at the known rate of mutation, humans and chimps branched off from one another 2mya. But we know that that is way too early."

"We know how often mtDNA mutations occur so we know how long ago our ancestors left africa."

"there is very little difference between us and Homo erectus"

She even told us that since we look like baby chimps we are basically fully grown, undeveloped apes. I am so glad that you guys are going what you are doing. If not it would be much more difficult to be a Christian in our society. Thanks.


Published: 3 February 2006