Mt. St. Helen's erupted in 1980. As far as volcanoes go, it was a rather tame eruption but it was one of the larger ones to happen in this generation. Because of its size and occurrence in our lifetimes, it's been the subject of much scientific inquiry. Dr. Steven Austin, a creationist and PhD geologist, collected rock samples formed in the eruption and had them tested using the potassium/argon dating method. The results on different samples gave ages between .35 (+/- .05) and 2.8 (+/- .6) million years. The known age of the rocks was 10 years old.
The fact that accepted, “scientific” dating methods failed to assign the correct age to the rocks should cast doubt on the ages assigned to rocks of unknown age. However, evolutionists cried foul. Mark Isaak, on the website, Talk Origins, said:
Briefly, Steve Austin collected a sample from the Mount St. Helens lava dome, known to be ten years old then, and sent it to a geochronology lab which tells people very clearly that the methods they use cannot give accurate dates on samples expected to be less than two million years old. In other words, Austin deliberately arranged for the dating to be invalid and then pretended it was someone else's fault.
I thought Mr. Isaak's response was a little vague. He did not spell out exactly why the lab cannot give accurate dates on recent examples. He did provide a link to a site that explained young samples should not have enough 40Ar present to be detected. The fact of the matter was, though, that Austin's samples did have detectable amounts of argon and thus yielded ages much older than the actual ages of the samples. I wrote to TO and expressed my disagreement. Here's a quote from my letter:
Mark Isaak's response to Harold in September's feedback was grossly misleading. Mr. Isaak stated that evolutionists' dating methods "cannot give accurate dates on samples expected to be less than two million years old." He does not explain that the reason is that there SHOULD NOT BE enough of the daughter element present to be detected. In the link provided in the response, Dr. Henke states, "A few thousand years are not enough time for 40Ar to accumulate in a sample at high enough concentrations to be detected and quantified. Furthermore, many geochronology laboratories do not have the expensive state-of-the-art equipment to accurately measure argon in samples that are only a few million years old." This is a real problem for evolutionists. 1) If a rock of unknown date tests to be 3 million years old, how can we be sure it's not only 50,000 years old? By your own admission, accurate dates cannot be given for samples under 2 million years old. 2) If the world truly was created only 6,000 years ago, you must acknowledge your dating methods would be WORTHLESS in trying to establish that.
In reply, Chris Stassen of TO quickly moved the goal post, saying, “'Not able to give accurate dates' generally means that the range of uncertainty swamps the measured age. It does not mean that any arbitrarily old age will result. For example, an age of 0.5 ± 1 million years is not considered either accurate or terribly useful, even though it is correct.” I was tempted to point out that the range of uncertainty swamping the measured age didn't happen in the case in question but I let it go.
My exchange with Talk Origins happened in October, 2006. So why am I bringing this all up now? I guess there are a couple of reasons. First, it's still relevant to the debate because secular scientists still resort to these same arguments whenever their tests fail to accurately date rocks of known ages. But more than that, I recently came across a funny video that uses a perfect analogy to drive home these very points.
Ian Juby hosts a periodic show on YouTube called, “Genesis Week.” His humor is a little campy but, overall, I find his videos interesting. The full video (self titled, Rant #100), can be viewed here but I've edited it down to the relevant section below.
Isn't that a hoot? He echos the very points I've made before but his glass of water analogy really nails it. Secular dating methods don't give “no date” for rocks of known origin – they give erroneous dates which are much older than the actual date. How then can we have any confidence in the dates assigned to rocks of unknown age?
There are at least a dozen assumptions that must be made when radiometric dating is being used to determine a rock's age – none of which are testable. One assumption, for example, is that none of the daughter element is present in the sample at its origin (or at least that the exact parent/daughter ratio can be known). In science, nothing is really ever proven “true” but some things can be proven false. I believe this particular assumption has been proven false. What then of the other assumptions? Why should I believe any are valid?
The fact of the matter is that I don't. I don't see why any reasonable person would. But then again, we are talking about evolutionists.