An obvious difference in the arguments for evolution and creation has to do with the age of

the earth. Evolutionists believe that it must be many billions of years old, while biblical creationists contend that it is only around 6,000 years old. What does the evidence reveal?

Chemical Processes

There are a few scientific ways to roughly calculate the age of the earth. Continuous, measurable chemical processes provide one way. If the rate of the process and current amount of the product can be determined, then it is possible to put a time on when the process started. The most obvious flaw in this method of reckoning is that the resultant product might not all be due to the single process being measured. What it does show us, though, is that the beginning date of the process can be no earlier than the date deduced. Here’s an example:

Most of us are familiar with the element helium. It is the very light gas used to inflate party balloons and make them float. Blimps are also filled with helium. Helium results from radioactive decay and it forms a very small percentage of our atmosphere-only about 0.0005% (compared to nitrogen’s 78% and oxygen’s 20%). However, that 0.0005% adds up to a considerable amount-about 3.7 billion metric tons. Helium is escaping into the atmosphere from the earth’s surface, due to the process of radioactive decay, at the rate of 67 grams per second. Even if there had been no helium in the atmosphere at the beginning, which is an unlikely situation, at the rate of 67 grams per second it would take only a few million years to reach the amount of 3.7 billion metric tons, not the 20-40 billion years that evolutionists claim to be the age of the earth.

The amount of helium in the atmosphere shows the earth could not be old enough for evolution to occur.

The question arises, though, could the helium being generated escape the earth’s atmosphere into space? The short answer is that a small fraction of the number of helium atoms, perhaps up to about 2% of the total, could be traveling fast enough to escape into space, but that is not enough to significantly alter the time calculations.

If God created the atmosphere with a significant amount of helium, then it is within the realm of believability that the earth is only in the range of thousands of years old.

Just as helium is escaping into the atmosphere, so are salts being washed off the land and into the oceans by rain and other processes. Common salt is the chemical compound sodium chloride. The amount of sodium (in this form and others) being washed into the world’s oceans is estimated at around 450 million metric tons annually. About 120 million metric tons leave the sea every year by various means. This leaves a net intake or buildup of sodium in the oceans of about 330 million metric tons yearly. The amount of sodium in the oceans is estimated at about 14,700,000,000,000,000 metric tons. At the current rate of intake, if there were no sodium in the oceans at the time of their origins, the earth could not be any older than about 45 million years old. It is understood that rates could fluctuate, but given the most generous rates of intake and outflow, it could not be older than 62 million years. These are absolute maximum dates, not the actual dates. [Footnote: For more information, see S.A. Austin and D.R. Humphreys, “The sea’s missing salt: a dilemma for evolutionists,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, Vol. II, pp. 17-33, 1990.]

It is inconceivable therefore that the oceans of the earth, the “primordial soup” of evolution, could be 20 billion years old.

The amount of common salt in the ocean points to the earth being young.

Now 62 million years is a long time, but this is going by the supposition that not one gram of salt was in the ocean at the beginning. When God created the earth, it is most likely that He created the ocean water with salt included. There is also the matter of the Flood-a cataclysmic event that is documented in not only the Bible’s account of Noah and the Ark, but in the written and oral traditions of a number of civilizations-that would have resulted in massive erosion and therefore a massive increase in the sodium content of the ocean. Although the sodium content of the ocean cannot prove that the earth was created only 6,000 years ago, it can prove that is not billions of years old, as required in the theory of evolution.

Earth’s Magnetic Field

Another phenomenon that points to a young earth is its magnetic field. In the ’70s, Dr. Thomas Barnes, a physics professor, analyzed data from 1835 through to 1965 and concluded that the field is decaying, that it is getting weaker, at 5% per century. [Footnote: K.L. McDonald and R.H. Gunst, “An analysis of the earth’s magnetic field from 1835 to 1965,” ESSA Technical Report, IER 46-IES 1, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1967.] Later investigation showed that the field was 40% stronger in 1000 A.D. than it is today. Professor Barnes postulated the “free-decay theory,” which proposes that a decaying electric current in the earth’s metallic core is the cause. Assuming a constant decay of intensity, the current could not have been decaying for more than 10,000 years, or else its original strength would have been large enough to melt the earth. The conclusion from this is that the earth could not be older than 10,000 years.

Evolutionists postulate that some sort of a self-generating dynamo causes the liquid in the core to circulate, generating the magnetic field, rather than an electrical current circulating in a motionless liquid core as postulated by Barnes. Evolutionist scientists have been trying to construct a dynamo model or theory for the past 40 years that would take into account the data available, but so far have failed to come up with one that satisfies the criteria.

The weakening magnetic field of the earth is evidence of a young earth.

However, creationist physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys,(† Russell Humphreys, Ph.D. Physics (ICR) has a B.S. in Physics from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Physics from Louisiana State University. Dr. Humphreys then worked six years for the High Voltage Laboratory of General Electric. While there, he received a U.S. patent and one of Industrial Research Magazine’s IR-100 awards. He has worked for Sandia National Laboratories since 1979 in nuclear physics, geophysics, pulsed power research, theoretical atomic and nuclear physics, and the Particle Beam Fusion Project. He was co-inventor of special laser-triggered “Rimfire” high-voltage switches. Dr. Humphreys has received another U.S. patent and two awards from Sandia, including an award for excellence for contributions to light ion-fusion target theory.) looking at data derived from archeomagnetism and paleomagnetism, proposed that the free-decay theory needed to be revised because it was shown that the decay of the magnetic field hadn’t been constant over time. Wild fluctuations, and in fact complete reversals, in the earth’s magnetic field occurred during the period approximating the time of Noah’s Flood. He proposed the dynamic-decay theory to accommodate this new data. When all this is taken into account, it shortens the age of the earth to within the range of 6,000 years. The rate of decay in the earth’s magnetic field is now constant, so it is believed that the dynamic, or fluctuating rate of decay, occurred earlier in the earth’s history. Even if some of the decay happening today is still dynamic, which is unlikely, the age of the earth at a maximum would be around 100,000 years. That is still far too short a time for the processes attributed to evolutionary theory to have taken place. The dynamic-decay modification to the free-decay theory remains the best model for accommodating the data currently available. [Footnote: “The Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Young” by Russell Humphreys, Ph.D. in Impact, No. 242, issued by the Institute for Creation Research.]

Rates of Erosion

Rivers dump tons of sediment into the world’s oceans every day. Sedimentologists have researched many of the world’s rivers and calculated how fast the land is disappearing. The average height reduction for all the continents of the world is about 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) per 1,000 years. This equals some 24 million metric tons of sediment per year going into the oceans. If the earth were even only one billion years old, a height of 60 kilometers of continent would have eroded. The earth’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, is only 8.85 kilometers high. Obviously the continents of the world have never been on average over seven times as high as Mount Everest, because that sediment would have had to have gone somewhere. That somewhere is the oceans, which means that the oceans would have had to have initially been correspondingly deeper, and we would today see the ocean floor miles thick in sediment-which is not the case. Also, at this rate of erosion, North America should have been leveled in 10 million years. The Yellow River in China could flatten a plateau as high as Everest in 10 million years. [Footnote: Walker, T., “Eroding ages,” Creation Ex Nilho 22(2):18-21, 2000.] Therefore, the earth could not possibly be billions of years old as required by the theory of evolution, or not just the mountains, but every landmass, would have been eroded away and be now covered by the ocean.

If the earth were as old as evolution demands, all land would have eroded into the ocean by now.

Other Processes

Fossil formation, the transformation of wood to coal, and petrifaction (the transformation of matter into stone), are processes that were believed to have taken millions and perhaps billions of years. However, they have since been shown to occur quite quickly. A petrified bowler hat sits in a mining museum in New Zealand. [Footnote: A bowler hat was buried in the volcanic eruption of Te Wairoa village (North Island, New Zealand) on June 10, 1886. It was discovered 20 years later, and was found to have turned to stone. A leg of ham had also been petrified after being buried in the same catastrophe. Creation Ex Nihilo, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 10, 1986] The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is claimed by evolutionists to be older than 225 million years. It is obvious that bowler hats were not around then. In fact, we know the bowler hat was petrified only a little over a hundred years ago. So if this and other items in the same catastrophe can be petrified only recently, why does the Petrified Forest have to be dated as over 225 million years old?