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The Age of the Earth Paperback – February 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews


"...Dalrymple authoritatively unfolds the evidence for an Earth that is billions of years old."—Science & Theology News

"The magnificent book fills a need to present the overwhelming and totally convincing evidence that the Earth, the Moon, meteorites, and the solar system are old. . . . Dalrymple is one of the major scientists in the field, writing from firsthand knowledge and experience. His book is both authoritative and delightfully written. . . . This is an enormously important book written by an expert for the general scientific public. It is must reading for all interested in the antiquity of nature."
The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Dalrymple expertly weaves the many disparate and delicate lines of argument into a robust whole. His achievement is remarkable, a marvel surpassed only by the mute testimony of the rocks themselves."
The Sciences

From the Back Cover

“...Dalrymple authoritatively unfolds the evidence for an Earth that is billions of years old.”—Science & Theology News

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 492 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1st edition (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804723311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804723312
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Bobby R. Treat on March 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chapters 1 to 3 were great. I'm a mathematician myself, but I do think Dalrymple presented the math simply enough that most readers can understand or just skip it without serious damage. The "isochron" methods depict the solution of complex problems in comparatively simple graphical terms, and the underlying radiochemistry is clear enough, although the details are beyond a non-specialist (as they should be).

Chapter 4, on the other hand, was far too laden down with terminology. There must be 50 words for different igneous rocks alone, and a neophyte will see no method (or reason) to distinguish between them. I kept wanting to hear verbs to go with the nouns and adjectives. The word "metamorphic" (and various synonyms) appeared a thousand times, with very few clues on what HAPPENED to cause metamorphism. Nevertheless, I was able to learn a great deal, despite these frustrations.

I was fascinated to hear in Chapter 5 that, by 1975, over 30 thousand pages of scientific research had already been published on moon rocks. That's a lot of serious study for 382 kg of rocks -- which is quite a bit more than I thought, at that.

The chief "problem" with the book is also its great virtue. Dozens of radiometric methods and the analysis (in some detail) of hundreds of rocks are discussed, when a few examples would suffice for most readers. This gets very soporific after a while.

But the many, many examples and the exhaustive chronology reveal how imaginative but sometimes wrong researchers have been, and how tirelessly other researchers have triple-checked their work until finding the errors and developing more trustworthy methods.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul Doland on August 13, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On one hand, yes I know radiometric dating is a fairly complex topic and perhaps can only be "dumbed-down" so far. I guess I am in the minority opionion compared to the other reviewers, but I didn't feel that that author met his stated goal in his preface - where he stated his intention was to be understandable by anyone with even a rusty knowledge of algerbra. I didn't feel he met this level of clarity, though I understand he tried valiently.
Some of the other reviewers felt that the author was too anti-religion. And I'd agree that the author does ridicule "young-earthers". But if the author was intending to convince young-earthers the error of their ways, I'm not sure he is successful. Frankly, I don't think many young-earthers would be able to follow his discussion of radiometric dating.
I'm not current with what claims young-earthers are currently making to attempt to discredit radiometric dating, but I thought that there were some criticisms that at least superfically seem plausible that perhaps the author could have specifically addressed. Perhaps I'm mistaken on this point - I guess I'd have to ask a young-earther what they think is wrong with radiometric dating.
I'm not saying it is a bad book, it has its good points. And certainly most people with a science background should be able to understand and appreciate it. I'm just not sure you can give it to a young-earther and they'll go, "of course, how silly of me to have thought otherwise!"
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dalrymple presents the overwhelming evidence for the age of the Earth, Moon, and Solar system in such well documented and critical manner, that it leaves NO room for doubt about the validity of radiometric dating. Contrary to young earth creationist's childish ravings, he builds a case that leaves no avenues for any other conclusion. When creationists say you must have read the "relevant" literature, they mean the writings of such people as Morris and Hovind. Unfortunately for them the relevant literature is all referenced in Dalrympl's book and he has done a OUTSTANDING job at simplifying it for both scientist and layperson. He gives sufficient references that anyone who wishes can pursue any topic on their own.
He chronicles the early attempts and a variety of approaches used to date. He goes on to clearly explain how modern radiometric methods work and some of the problems that have been overcome. He then shows the direct evidence for the ages of the Earth from a plethora of independent studies over the past and the consistent, and reliable dates they provide. He then goes on to the dating of the Moon rocks and their concordance with those of the Earth. Next he discusses meteorites, the use of the lead isotope method, the evidence from the distribution of elements in the universe, and finally wraps it up with a chapter on what we know and don't know.
The conclusion after reading this book is undeniable. There is no doubt that the Earth is at least about 4.5 billion years old. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to argue credibly about the age of the Earth.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dalrymple's "Age of the Earth" was a classic when it was published, and now that it is in paperback, it will be more accessible to the general reader or the student. It is simply the best compilation of information on the wide variety of methods that scientists use to determine the age of the Earth. Because the author is a specialist in radiometric dating, there appropriately is much emphasis on this topic. One of the impressive facts to emerge is that several different radiometric methods all converge on the same approximate number for the age of the Earth: surely a persuasive internal control for this conclusion!
Dalrymple writes that he became interested in the need for the public to understand these basic geological ideas when he was called upon in the early 1980's to testify in a trial concerning an Arkansas law requiring "equal time" for evolution and creation "science". Much of the latter consists of arguments that the Earth is young (corresponding to a biblical literalist view of Genesis), but as Dalrymple shows, the view is scientifically unsupportable.
It makes one reflect that the same principles of physics and chemistry -- the nature of matter itself -- that put men and women in space are the same ones that allow us to establish principles like radiometric dating, which is at the heart of the argument that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. If geologists like Dalrymple are wrong about the age of the Earth, don't tell those guys up there in the Shuttle!
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