Published as an AiG Daily Feature on 2 February 2011. This review published on 5 Feb 2011.
Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
What do you do when you want to make a young earth claim, but don't have anything new to report? You report on something that is old, in the hopes that new followers will be made aware of the old claim. That is what Answers in Genesis did on February 2, 2011, in the web article titled "Helium Diffusion Rates Support Accelerated Nuclear Decay."1
This claim is merely a retelling of the RATE study on helium diffusion in zircon crystals. Fortunately, Old Earth Ministries already has a rebuttal, written by Dr. Timothy Christman. In short, here is a synopsis from the review:
The argument...goes like this: The rock formation is radiometrically dated at about 1.5 billion years of age. The zircons contain uranium and thorium which have decayed to their daughter products including helium. Most of the radiogenic helium is still present in the zircon crystals. If the crystals were really 1.5 billion years old the helium should have all diffused out into the surrounding mineral formations. Thus, the crystals cannot really be 1.5 billion years old rather they are only a few thousand years old. Otherwise the helium would be gone.
The RATE research includes some limited analyses of helium contents of some zircon crystals, some diffusion rate measurements and calculations to support their claims about the short time of the diffusion process. A general critique of this work by Dr. Kevin R. Henke appears elsewhere, and I will not repeat most of those issues here, beyond mentioning that there are some serious questions as to how RATE calculated the ratios of theoretical to actual residual helium contents in the zircons (their Q/Q0 values). Rather, I will discuss the ability of the RATE conclusions to predict what is observed in other studies of helium in zircon crystals.
To continue reading Dr. Christman's review, please see Critique of the RATE Group’s Zircon-Helium Diffusion Project. Dr. Christman also points out the review by Dr. Kevin Henke, which can be found here (off-site).
In these two articles, Dr. Christman and Dr. Henke show that the RATE study in no way supports a young earth, contrary to the claims of Answers in Genesis. It does show, however, that young earth theorists can take scientific looking studies, with lots of scientific jargon and calculations, and impress non-scientist believers within the church that they are right. However, when their work is reviewed by scientists, their shoddy scientific research is revealed.
To comment, visit our Facebook page.
1 Answers in Genesis website - http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v6/n1/accelerated-nuclear-decay
If you are not a Christian, and you have been holding out on making a decision for Christ because the Church always preached a message that was contrary to what you saw in the scientific world, then rest assured that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and you can believe in Christ and receive salvation, while still believing in an old earth. Click here for more.
Are you a Christian who believes in young earth creationism? Now that we have shown the many difficulties of the young earth creation science model in this and many other articles, how does this impact your Christian life? If you are a young earth creationism believer, click here.
To comment, visit our Facebook page.
To learn more
about old earth creationism, see
Old Earth Belief,
or check out the article
Can You Be A
Christian and Believe in an Old Earth?
Feel free to check out more of this website. Our goal is to provide rebuttals to the bad science behind young earth creationism, and honor God by properly presenting His creation.