by Barry Newton
We missed previous airings. So when we stumbled upon the 1997 television event “The Greatest Secrets of Magic Revealed,” recently filling the airwaves, we were hooked.
A spectacular illusion would be performed. Predictably, we would attempt to propose possible solutions, if we could even think of one.
Then anxiously, we would watch to see if the unveiling revealed we were close. Clearly, the truth can be different than appearances.
Watching the masked magician at work, reminded me of a charge I have heard made against God as I grew up. It went something like this, “if the earth is not billions of years-old, then God is trying to trick us because that is how old the earth appears.”
Both science and assumptions lie behind such an indictment. We can calculate how long it takes under present conditions for radioactive elements to decay into stable atoms if no contamination or leaching occurs. It would take a vast amount of time that exceeds a biblical chronology for uranium-238 to turn into current amounts of lead-206, or for potassium-40 to degrade into the daughter atom argon-40.
Accordingly, the presence on earth of lead-206 or other similar daughter elements would suggest that the earth has been around for a very long time. But such a conclusion requires assuming that when the earth began it did not contain any lead-206 or any other daughter elements.
But what if God created lead? If God made lead or other daughter elements, then utilizing radiometric dating techniques would reveal an earth older than it really is. Hence, the basis for some making the accusation that if the earth is not billions of years-old, God is trying to trick us.
I was just a kid, but I remember quietly asking myself, “Who said we were supposed to use radioisotopes to determine the earth’s age?”
I now quietly wonder if this technique does not, in fact, presuppose a naturalistic ideology, since using it assumes no daughter elements were present at earth’s beginning.
If God created daughter isotope elements such as lead, nitrogen or argon, then this whole method for dating rocks becomes useless, except for dating very recent uncontaminated specimens.
In a strange twist of fate, perhaps many have been deceived, but not by a Creator trying to trick us. Rather, it might just be that our own smoke and mirror system has created the illusion of a distant past that never existed.
In theory, radiometric dating methods might have some validity if someone assumes that there is no Creator or if they can know exactly what God did and did not make. But for me, such claims have always seemed like making some rather large assumptions.