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The Age of the Earth Paperback – February 1, 1994
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"...Dalrymple authoritatively unfolds the evidence for an Earth that is billions of years old." (Science & Theology News)
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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!"
The history of chronological methods used to date the earth are documented well from: the use of the Bible Genealogies by Lightfoot and Ussher (which were excellent scholars that even Dalrymple complements because for their time and limited data, they were very rigorous), De Maillet's rate of sea declination after the Noahic Flood, Lord Kelvin's estimate of the age of the sun and the earth by it's cooling rate using Newton's Law of Cooling (Heat Transfer anyone?) and assuming conduction of heat from the Sun, George Darwin's Orbital Estimate of the Age of the Moon, Salt (NaCl and other _Cl's) Accumulation of Oceans, Sediment Accumulation with sample calculations, and finally Radiometric Dating Methods.
The principles and basics of Radiometric Dating Methods are discussed, along with half-lives. Decay rate fluctuations are dealt with and addressed by both "Isochron Method" and "U-Pb Concordia-Discordia Method", and multiple sample calculations, and graphs are given as well. Along with this Dalrymple mentions the Problems, Limits, Difficulties, and Plausible Contradictions via sample impurities (by virtue of tectonic plate shifts, cross contamination, erosion, and stuff that diminishes originality of the original earth core) of relevant dating methods like Rb-Sr Method, Lu-Hf Method, K-Ar Method, Ar-Ar Method, U-Th-Pb Method and others used to date really old substances.
Carbon Dating and other shorter decay rated methods are not discussed in this book at all because of their low half-lives and the absence of any of these isotopes in old sediments renders them irrelevant for the scope of the book.
Finally, Dalrymple discusses and has assembled excellent data tables and Isochron graphs showing results from some sources and samples of rock and mineral samples from Earth rocks(the oldest age from earth rocks ever obtained via current dating methods is 3.8-3.9 Billion, after this there is a bit of conjecture that make up for the 600 million to get the 4.5 Billion). Thus, there is no direct empirical evidence from Earth that Earth is 4.5 Billion years old per se, only 3.8-3.9 Billion.
He assembled excellent data tables and graphs showing results from a good chunk of sources and samples of rock and mineral samples from Moon rocks (the oldest age estimates obtained from moon rocks via current dating methods are 4.5 Billion) and Meteorites (the oldest age estimates obtained from meteorites via current dating methods is 4.6 Billion).
He then discusses the two assumptions of claiming the Earth to be 4.5 Billion years old (making up for the 600 million noted above, for which there is no empirical support from Earthen rocks or strata):
1) the earth probably had a beginning similar to meteorites (earth's crust contains lead)
2) Single-Stage Model of lead isotope evolution has occurred and is assumed to be relevant to earth's designing.
Finally, he discusses evidences from the universe implying Earth's age and also discusses the age of the universe and the wide discrepancies (7-20 Billion Years is a HUGE discrepancy! Dalrymple discusses why 13.5-16.5 Billion is presumed to best represent the current estimate of the age of the Universe), difficulties, and uncertainties of dating both the actual Universe and the Earth are discussed.
Here are the ALL Chapter Titles and a FEW subsection titles:
2. "Early Attempts: A Variety of Approaches" (I named them at the top of this review. Beginning with Biblical chronologies.)
3. "Modern Radiometric Methods: How They Work" - Is Decay Constant?, Simple Accumulation Clocks, Age-Diagnostic Diagrams, The Accuracy of Radiometric Dating
4. "Earth's Oldest Rocks"- Archean Rocks, North Atlantic Craton, Superior Province, Pilbara Block, The Record and Missing Record
5. "Moon Rocks: Samples From a Sister Planet" - Hypotheses For the Origin of the Moon, The Nature of Moon Rocks, The Geologic History of the Moon, The Ages of the Moon Rocks
6. "Meteorites: Visitors From Space" - Types of Meteorites, Where Do Meteorites Come From?, The Ages of Meteorites, Formation Intervals
7. "Isotopes of Lead: The Hourglass of the Solar System" - The Growth of Lead Isotopes, The Age of the Crust, Patterson and the Meteoritic Lead Isochron, Pb-Pb Ages of Meteorites, The Terrestrial Connection
8. "The Universe and the Elements: The Indirect Evidence"
9. "What We Know and Do Not Know"
Overall, It's very technical and pretty dense. It maybe difficult for people with little chemistry, physics, and algebra, but people should still buy it for the data he assembles. It's pretty objective and he rarely ridicules Young Earthers (which is good since pointless ridicule distracts the reader and may even push them away from really evaluating anything the author claims). He simply stays focused on his goal of providing a complete history of the attempts to age the earth and to document the current evidences, conjectures, and reasons leading some to believe the current estimate of 4.5 Billion years to be the age of the Earth.
Even if some don't believe the earth to be this old, at least the reasons some have used for the 4.5 billion will be brought to light. Ridiculously few scientists can justify this number, by the way. Most scientists believe it without investigating it at all and are essentially just band-wagoning the number. These numbers are essentially taken for granted since most do not study geology nor are the vast majority of scientists trained as geologists. I say this and know this because I have asked many fellow students, scientists, and professors on this at multiple Universities.
I am just reporting my experiences here. People should be informed about this research and decide on the reliability of these values for themselves.
(Well... I just lost 33% of positive votes for this review just by being honest and saying the last paragraph)
Bravo for Dalrymple's book! It fills people in on issues, evidences, conjectures, and inferences on the age of the earth.
If anyone wants to read in depth books on radiometric dating methods: how they work, are they trustworthy, and so on, then please read Quaternary Dating Methods and Isotopes: Principles and Applications. A softer/updated version of this book (without calculations and formulas) is Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies: The Age of Earth and its Cosmic Surroundings.Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Creationist Research provides some interesting material also.
If you really want the details on why we can be so confident in the age of the earth, or just a good primer on dating techniques in general, this is definitely the book to buy.
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Here are the problems I have with that:
1. Who was around 4.Read more