April 22, 2024

In this episode, Kurt speaks with geologist Ken Wolgemuth on the Grand Canyon and the process by which we can test and verify radiometric dating with data from the Hawaiian Islands and the Emperor Seamounts. Click here to purchase The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?

Listen to “Episode 130: The Ancient Grand Canyon” on Spreaker.

Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. This is going to be the best episode of the year, to date at least. This is the first episode of the year, 2019. If you’re like me, it will be about March or April by the time you being actually writing 2019. It just takes so long to get out of that habit of writing the previous year. I hope that you have had a fine new year and a good Christmas season as well, a lot of people think that Christmas is just this one-off holiday when, in fact, it’s not necessarily just this one-off holiday, but it’s a season. It’s a Christmas season. Wonderful time to relax, forget what day of the week it is, that happens to me. I know, Chris, I think that happened to you as well. You’ve had a nice little Christmas season here though with time off.

Chris: It was a popular trend I think to have everyone posting Christmas was the holiday but then the time between Christmas and New Year no one knew what their article was.

Kurt: Calendar purgatory.

Chris: Yeah. Calendar purgatory. 

Kurt: What they believed. 

Chris: Who am I?

Kurt: Right. Good. We have a great episode coming up today. We are talking about the Grand Canyon and how we can use the powers of observation to make certain conclusions about what we’re seeing, but before we get into that, I do want to mention just a couple things. One, churches in Chicagoland starting next week are beginning a series called Explore God and in order to cooperate and be part of that community experience, Veracity Hill will be following along with those seven questions about life, “Do we have purpose?” How do I know God exists?” “Why is there evil and suffering? “Is Jesus God?” Those sorts of questions. “Is the Bible reliable?” We’re going to be having different guests to talk about that so for those that are local here in Chicagoland, you can tune in to Veracity Hill to hear that series. Additionally, we are pleased, if you listened last week, we are pleased to announce that Veracity Hill will be on the radio next week, so Veracity Hill has joined the Wilkins Radio Network and I’m very pleased to announce again that we will be airing the program in the city of Augusta, Georgia, Saturdays at Noon Eastern time. We’ll be replaying some of our older episodes and it will be a good opportunity to reach out to that community with that program so we’re very blessed here at Veracity Hill to make that happen. It has been a vision of ours since the beginning to grow this podcast into a radio ministry and I want to say thank you to those that continue to chip in each month and help our program go and grow and if you’d like to learn more about how you can do that, you can go to our website Veracityhill.com and click on that patron tab to begin donating to our ministry today. 

Joining us on our program today is Ken Wolgemuth. He is a professor, one of the professors, at the University of Tulsa. He’s a visiting scholar at Reasons to Believe, RTB, and he’s a contributor to a marvelous book called The Grand Canyon: Monument To An Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain The Grand Canyon? Ken. Thank you so much for joining us on our program today. 

Ken: Thank you very much. I’m pleased to be here. We talked about this about four months ago.

Kurt: Yes. That’s right. We saw each other at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte and I thought we just had to bring you on and I’m glad that we finally made it happen. The book here, people talk about how it’s such a great coffee table book. It’s rare when you get something meaty about, say, the age of the Earth, as a coffee table book. What was sort of the vision behind the book and tell us about it?

Ken: The vision behind the book was that we recognized that within the church community, flood geology was making lots of traction, and in a few minutes, when I put some powerpoint slides up, I’ll give a bit of that, show some of those things but the motivation was that we wanted a book that was written for the public and, in fact, we wrote it expressly for the church, but we also kept it very generic in the sense that it’s a science book geared toward understanding the nature of Grand Canyon and we have been successful at being able to have it on sale in the Grand Canyon bookstore and so it’s a science book written for the public and then expressly for the church because of this flood geology, science components that have permeated segments of the evangelical church.

Kurt: For you, one of your life’s missions, if you will, has been to teach geology to non-geologists and that’s been part of your passion and so you started a non-profit called Solid Rock Lectures, is that right?

Ken: That’s correct, and my passion to teach to non-geologists got started primarily first in the oil industry because one of the classes that I teach in the oil industry, basically has that exact title and it’s for people that work for oil companies like BP and Exxon Mobile, but they have IT degrees, computer degrees, or finance, or accounting, or something else, but they work in this huge company that’s finding oil so the companies want those individuals to have some sense of what all those crazy geologists do in their offices with all their computer software, what’s going on? That’s what the passion to non-geologists really got started and then about 15 years ago, the Lord drew me into from that into also an interest communicating with non-scientists in the church environment and seminary students and the public and churches.

Kurt: Folks like me.

Ken: Folks like you, yes.

Kurt: I took the one science class at BIOLA, my undergrad, and that was who knows how many years ago, so I’m not much of a scientist myself, but it is interesting and I have that engineering mind, that operation mind, I like knowing how things work. If I moved from one field over to this, I think I could grasp the concepts and hopefully, if you’re watching the podcast today, and if you’re just listening, I want to encourage you to, if you’re listening at a later date this week, sometimes folks listen as their commuting which is great, I do want to encourage you to come back and watch the video that we have on Facebook, because Ken’s going to be sharing with us many slides, we’re going to playing a video, it’s going to be a great educational experience here on our program today. Ken. Before we get even into the powerpoint slides and such, I did want to ask you what got you interested in studying the Grand Canyon?

Ken: As a geologist, I’m interested in studying, of course, anything that’s related to geology, but the particular draw on the Grand Canyon is because the flood geology community has used this as sort of their iconic language to make the claim and the proposal, the hypothesis, that the Grand Canyon was formed, basically, by Noah’s flood in about one year or so. As a Christian, who’s a geologist, I knew that that didn’t fly with good, solid, scientific examination of the canyon, so we felt drawn and that’s what drew us to write this book then expressly for the church and for the non-science public and we knew because it was about the Grand Canyon it had to have lots of pictures and it had to be a hardback because we wanted it available as a coffee table book that people could get for that purpose in addition to the content.

Kurt: Right. Great. You use that term, and correct me if I’m wrong because I’m unfamiliar with it, flood geology?

Ken: Yes.

Kurt: Did I say that correctly, and if so what did I say?

Ken: Exactly correctly.

Kurt: What does that term refer to?

Ken: Okay. What if we go ahead and touch the powerpoint slides and that’ll help to give a description because of introducing some of these themes in the book.

Kurt: Good idea for the show.

Ken: Let me see if I get that shared correctly in Powerpoint in that I’ve got that up. I’m getting that up. 

Kurt: Make sure you do the share screen through Skype there.

Ken: Does that share with you now? Did I not share the screen?

Kurt: Not yet.

Ken: Have to share the screen first then to get there so there’s share screen. Now share screen. 

Kurt: Okay.

Ken: We’ll see if we get it.

Kurt; Now it’s working. I see myself twice now.

Ken: Okay. You see yourself twice.

Kurt: There we go. I see the Powerpoint.

Ken: Let me see and play a few Powerpoints here. Is that showing up now?

Kurt: It is. Yes. Looks wonderful. A custom cover slide just for our program today.

Ken: You can see the logo that a friend of mine made for Solid Rock Lectures, a good solid, rock, hammer and Earth as God’s creation so we enjoyed that. I’ve really been expired by Johannes Kepler who said that the chief aim of investigations of the world are to discover the rational order and harmony that God has imposed on His creation so that’s always very inspiring to me and we have been amazed that he gives us incredibly amazing ways to test and verify different types of understanding of Earth history so that’s what draws us toward the Grand Canyon. Our theme here for the first part of the session will be specifically the Grand Canyon. There’s a cover of the book and the book was particularly inspired by this woman that’s there on the left of the screen. Her name is Carol Hill and she is a researcher. She’s a Christian and a geologist and she’s a researcher that works on the Grand Canyon. She was a key inspiration because she had become aware that groups of people take trips to the Canyon and they hear about this flood geology and even at the rim of the Canyon, there’s a group called A Different Views Tours and they take Christians on the rim of the Canyon and describe their view of the Canyon. They’ve published a number of books and pamphlets along the way. These were concerning Carol Hill and she called some of us and got us inspired and we spent about six years writing this book so we have a description in chapter two of the meaning of flood geology and the theme is that the viewpoint that the Grand Canyon was formed in one year by Noah’s flood and I’ll share some slides that show the timeframe that’s suggested by the flood geologists and I’ll be giving the timeframe of modern geology. That’s the kind of text, that’s the dominant context that Noah’s flood basically deposited all the sediments, most of the sediments around the world, and then they focus in on the Grand Canyon as an iconic language where that’s happened.

Kurt: So would you say for flood geology, it’s a subfield of geology or that it’s an entirely different working model of geology?

Ken: Your second description is better because it’s a completely different working model looking at the geology of the Canyon and it is not within the science community at all and it is primarily a theological viewpoint with some trappings of geology put into it to try to make it sound a credible description.

Kurt: Gotcha. Okay. I think that’s helpful because when we have geology and flood theology I think it’s like a subcategory of geology, but no, more so when you’re using this term it helps to distinguish two different working models, what advocates have of these different working models on this.

Ken: Yes, and these ideas in flood geology are really only given traction inside the church community, not in the geoscience community.

Kurt: Okay.

Ken: Here I emphasize that, in fact, most of the authors of the book are Christians, several were not, but they agreed to participate with us because of their passion and concern that a good, solid, truthful description be prepared about the Grand Canyon. We have endorsements from a number of theologians including Professor Jack Collins from Covenant Seminary, Paul Copan at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Wayne Grudem at Phoenix Seminary and Kenneth Keathley who’s at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, all have good support. Part two of the book is how geology works. That’s going to focus a lot on sedimentary rocks, how they form, the clues that we see there if you will at the scene of the crime where things have happened, being able to tell what happened in the past by observing what’s left behind. I’ll go ahead and with this slide begin to talk about some components of geology time. Should we break out? Do you have questions you want to ask at this point?

Kurt: I think i will have questions in the future, but this appears to be some good slides to give us a very basic understanding before we get to other questions.

Ken: That’s just fine. I want to make sure that the questions come out. Geologists recognize the passage of time in two different ways. We can have relative time in the sense that oldest rocks are on the bottom and youngest rocks are on top and so, for instance, the sequence there from 1-6, that is from 1 on the bottom to 6 on the top meaning those were laid down in that order so the younger ones are on top and the older ones on the bottom. That’s just relative. That says nothing about the number of years ago when these settlements were deposited. Okay? There’s the Grand Canyon. In the Grand Canyon, the oldest rocks are down inside the inner gorge, in fact, and then the youngest rocks are sitting up on top, that are on the rim of the Canyon, both on the north rim and the south rim. Geologists identify different formations in a sequence of layered rocks and they give names to them so they can communicate easily with each other. I’ve identified there with the upper red arrow that the Coconino Sandstone is that white sandstone layer that’s just below the top rim of the Canyon and then another very significant one, I just shared two names, I’ll highlight those. The blue there, the blue line represents what’s called the Redwall Limestone, and it’s about a 300 ft. limestone that’s right in the middle of that, roughly 4,000 ft of sediments. Again, this is only relative time with the oldest on the bottom and the youngest on top. Now, the geologic time scale which was developed in Europe during the nineteenth century includes lots of ages because at the beginning of the 20th century, radioactive atoms were discovered and over about a 20-30 year period in the early 1900’s, geologists worked out mechanism to determine some absolute ages of different igneous rocks which identify when a lava rock cools down and crystalizes as a solid mineral. For our case in the Grand Canyon, all of the sedimentary layer in the Grand Canyon are that component there which is identified as paleozoic. Let me get my red laser cursor up here. There. Does that red show up on the screen?

Kurt: Yes it does.

Ken: Alright. That’s good. I knew about this and I affirmed it up the other day. All of the sediments layers that we see in the Grand Canyon from the river except in the inner gorge are this paleozoic so that’s the sequence of sediments that were laid down. I’ll be showing some of the layers that are Precambrian which are older than that that are down in the inner gorge as I talk some more about ages. The sediments in the Canyon were deposited between about 540 million years and about 250 million years ago. Those are the Grand Canyon sediments. The age of the dinosaurs is that what’s referred to as the Mesozoic-Triassic Cretaceous and of course, everybody remembers Jurassic Park, the movie that was produced some years ago. Turns out the dinosaur they used was not actually Jurassic. It was Cretaceous, but that’s called theatrical license. Here’s the sequence then of a figure that’s in the book and this helps to give a context of the timing of both conventional geology and flood geology so here where my cursor is, all these sedimentary layers in the Grand Canyon themselves are paleozoic so that’s from 540 million years ago to 250. The flood geology folks identify those and treat those as early flood. Basically, the first 150 days of the flood. North from the Grand Canyon up into Utah then, those sediments are referred to by flood geologists as basically late flood sediments. That’s a viewpoint there. What’s striking is that there are no dinosaur bones down in the Grand Canyon itself and the conventional geology understanding of that is that because dinosaurs weren’t living yet. God had not yet created the dinosaurs when those sediments in the Grand Canyon were deposited, but all these track marks that are up there in the more recent Mesozoic rocks or what the flood geology people would refer to as late flood sediments, that’s where trackways are found with dinosaur tracks and in those windows with dinosaur bones. Okay? 

Kurt: Alright.

Ken: Questions about that?

Kurt: Yeah. 

Ken: Go ahead.

Kurt: Because I have had a couple prepared questions here, getting back to the flood geology here, there seem to be two ideas within the church about how the Grand Canyon was formed. You have the, I’m not sure how to describe it, you have the standard geological model that the Earth is millions of years old and the Grand Canyon was formed slowly over this very very long period of time, so much so as you mentioned, there are no dinosaur bones so far deep, right, because they came on the scene relatively later in light of the age of the Earth, but then the second view is “Hey. No. The Earth is actually very young relatively speaking and so you use the term because the flood geologists have their own model and method that it’s a late flood sediment? Was that correct?

Ken: They have the dinosaur bones as in the late flood. This slide showing early flood represents those that are in the Grand Canyon itself. Alright? Late flood there in northern Arizona and Utah, all of those settlements are former north in Utah. Those they referred to as the late flood, yes. I do want to emphasize in this discussion, virtually all Christians who are geologists recognize the long, ancient, ages of the Earth. It is very, very, very few, just a handful, that are promoting the religious component of flood geology.

Kurt: So how would they say that Noah’s flood explains the Grand Canyon forming?

Ken: For them, they imagine huge tsunamis sweeping across the North American continent and depositing all of these sediments in just 150 days of the first part of Noah’s flood.

Kurt: Okay.

Ken: The problems with that include that limestone shown by the Red Wall Limestone where my pointer is right now. Limestones don’t form by flooding water. Limestones are coral reefs that were there. Think of the Great Barrier Reef or think of the Bahamas or think of the Florida Keys or think of Belize in the Caribbean. Those are coral reef type deposits. They’re not transported by water and deposited. That’s one of the challenges that argues against Noah’s flood being responsible for the Grand Canyon.

Kurt: Gotcha. We’ve got about 6 minutes here before we need to take our break, but I’ll let you have it here, Ken.

Ken: Okay. Let me go a few more steps. I did manage to keep my name off the cover of the book because I’m not an editor. I’m a co-author of two chapters and there’s one of them called Broken and Bent Rocks. I’m going to show a couple of examples, about two or three examples here where the flood geology people do a misrepresentation of some of the geology to the church. For example, here are some tightly folded rocks that you can see in this photograph in a portion of the Canyon and the flood geology folks claim that these sediments were soft when they were folded because these are in the base, basically the base of the sedimentary rocks that are exposed in the Canyon and they make that these rocks have no fractures and breaks in them because when rocks are hard, they will produce cracks when they’re bent and broken. Well, in fact, in the book we show the fact that that very same fold that’s there in fact is just loaded and loaded with cracks. There are lots of cracks there and these lines were put on by the chairmen of the Department of Geology here at University of Tulsa who is a specialist in what’s called structural geology. He notes and identifies it as fact because those two red arrows are not parallel to each other, it indicates that not only were the rocks hard, but alternate layers were not exactly the same degree of hardness. Some were a little bit more malleable than others. It shows variation even in the mechanical behavior. That’s one example.

Kurt: I’ve already learned something new. I didn’t know rocks could bend like that, but I guess with enough pressure over time….

Ken: They can.

Kurt: Yeah. They can.

Ken: And they have cracks, and if they’re buried deeper, in fact, that professor has on his desk a very small sample that’s about a foot long and it shows folds really bent around almost about a 170 degrees. That’s done very deep and very high pressure and it’s very hot. 

Kurt: Okay.

Ken: One component, one idea that’s made is that looking between the layers of the Grand Canyon that some people can’t see the evidence of erosion or significant channels. There’s a photograph from the book on figure, I guess you can read the figure, your picture’s over top of me so I’m not sure, that shows, in fact, a big channel cut down into the Red Wall Limestone that’s 400 feet thick. There’s the Red Wall Limestone that’s below it and it’s called Surprise Canyon and it has marine fossils right there in the middle so that’s showing passage of time, showing erosion between the layers.

Kurt: Yeah.

Ken: Another example is flood geologists often claim that the Earth’s plates are such that they have made the mountains very quickly and that it was the flood 4,300 to 4,500 years ago that made the mountains. Well, I’m gonna drop out of the powerpoint and show an example of Pangaea splitting apart. Go here, computer. There we go. Watch this animation and observe as India crashes into Asia, that that causes the formation of the Himalaya mountains and it’s very powerful, gazillions of earthquakes would have happened over that time period and these events happened, the crashing into Asia forming the Himalaya mountains, was about over the time period from about 10 to 20 million years ago. This whole video is playing showing the motions of the continents over about 180 million years. Crash crash crash, boom boom boom, endless earthquakes and the Himalaya mountains are formed, and the Himalaya mountains have marine fossils and limestones high up in the mountains because that’s what was down on the coast of Asia before India crashed into it. Very interesting, and again evidence of long passage of time. What’s our time into the break now?

Kurt: Two minutes.

Ken: Alright. I’ll talk about one or two other things and then we’ll go into the break. This is one of my favorite diagrams in the book. Figure 9.14. One of the components that flood geologists claim is that the radioactive decay that has happened over the 4.6 billion years of the history of the Earth has all happened basically in this last 6-10,000 years. If, in fact, that were the case and those decay rates were so much faster in the past, the logical interpretation is there would be so much heat released with that much radioactive decay happening in a short amount of time that the Earth’s crust would be molten and we would not be here. That’s one of those realities of lots of heat released in a short amount of time. It just couldn’t be dissipated in a few thousand years. Here’s some praise for the book. It’s one of the best introductions to geology that this person has ever read or seen. He feels the section about the book, the geological material in the book enough would make it a worthwhile purchase even if somebody were not particularly interested in flood geology that is spearheaded by young-Earth creationists. We had a chance to have the book in the Grand Canyon so this is book signing day and that’s the first how significant it is to sign books.

Kurt: Ah. And of course, you were signing those books in New York City, right?

Ken: Yeah. New York City. We were right at the Canyon. We were right there outside of the bookstore, and our colleague knew about this signing so he opened up about four cases and said “Can you sign them?” and he passed them on to Carol. “Carol. You sign them and then, Greg, you sign them.” We left that day having signed about three or four cases of books. There’s the picture of it on the bookshelf inside the bookstore.

Kurt: Wonderful. Ken. Why don’t we take our break here?

Ken: That’s fine. 

Kurt: When we come back, we’ll talk more with you about radiocarbon dating. We do have a question from someone following here on Facebook and also for those that are tuning in as well, I had a question come in over the Christmas holiday and I’ll be answering that at the end of our program today so you want to stay tuned and stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.

*Clip plays*

Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you want to learn how you can become a sponsor on our program, go to our website Veracityhill.com and click on that patron tab. We’ll lay out different options, and for those that were listening in on that commercial, yes. If you text the word Defenders to 555-888, then you will get that free PDF on the top five ways to share the gospel online. We are joined by Ken Wolgemuth today and we’re talking about the Grand Canyon and the age of the Earth and in the second half of the program we’re going to talk about radiocarbon dating and engage with some of the questions that we’ve had submitted today. Ken. I didn’t tell you about this next segment of the show. It’s called Rapid Questions where we ask you questions about yourself, things you like, your interests, those sorts of things. Just a way for our listeners to get to know you a little bit better.

Ken: I’m listening.

Kurt: It’s sixty seconds, but I’d love to see your face so if you’re able to stop the screenshare.

Ken: Oh yeah. Temporarily. That’s easy. I got to get it out of powerpoint.

Kurt: Sure. And then click on Skype and our window should pop back up.

Ken: Yeah. There. I got it. Skype. And what, stop the screenshare completely?

Kurt: Correct, for the time being.

Ken: Where is that?

Kurt: It’s the bottom right of the window. There you are.

Ken: Okay.

Kurt: Okay. There you are. Good to see you again.

Ken: Good to see you again.

Kurt: This is Rapid Questions.

Ken: I’m listening.

Kurt: I will start the game clock here. You won’t hear it, but our audience will. They get the full experience of the program. Okay. Are you ready?

Ken: I’m listening.

Kurt: Here we go. Taco Bell or KFC? Your food of choice? Taco Bell or KFC?

Ken: Oh, my. Taco Bell.

Kurt: What’s your favorite sport?

Ken: Skiing. Whoa.

Kurt: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?

Ken: Yes.

Kurt: What’s the last film that you saw, last movie?

Ken: Last movie. The Author’s Wife.

Kurt: Okay. What type of music do you listen to?

Ken: Classical. 

Kurt: Do you have a garden?

Ken: At my daughter’s house, yes.

Kurt: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Ken: I gravitated into chemistry because that’s what my Dad was. I enjoyed science.

Kurt: You enjoyed science.

Ken: Did not expect to be a geologist. That happened later.

Kurt: Okay. What is the best childhood memory that you have? The best childhood memory.

Ken: Canoeing and hunting with my Dad. 

Kurt: Okay. Very nice. Thanks for playing Rapid Questions there. 

Ken: Oh. I didn’t know what that was like. You just sprung that on me unexpectedly. I guess that’s part of your activity.

Kurt: That’s right. Part of the program here.

Ken: At least I got to say skiing. Skiing is going to be in heaven. It has to be for people like me.

Kurt: Are you talking cross-country skiing or downhill skiing?

Ken: Downhill skiing.

Kurt: Downhill. There aren’t too many mountains in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ken: No, no, no. This is because we lived in Salt Lake City for three years, three ski seasons. Lovely powder with 10% water. Lovely spouts that will hit your face.

Kurt: Nice. I haven’t experienced the mountains in Utah in the wintertime. Sounds like fun. I’ll have to do that someday.

Ken: Okay.

Kurt: Back to the program here. Ken, you’d be welcome to go ahead and share the screen there.

Ken: Share the screen again.

Kurt: We’re talking about the Grand Canyon and the age of the Earth. We do have a question here.

Ken: Go ahead.

Kurt: Maybe you can answer this question while you get the powerpoint up. It comes from one of our popular listeners and viewers, Tony. He says, “Doesn’t millions of years of evolution”, now mind you Ken has not used the term evolution yet, “Or ancient Earth theology put death before sin? The Bible says death is a result of sin so was Adam before all other creation including the dinosaurs? The Bible timelines don’t agree with that. Just my thoughts and questions.” Ken. I have a response I typically provide, but you’re the expert on our program today. Maybe, I’m sure you’ve encountered this question before about death before the fall.

Ken: Yeah. I go straight to Scripture and see what death is about, what’s the meaning of death related to the fall. At the time of the fall in Genesis it describes that God warns Adam and Eve that if they eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that they will die and that, in fact, happened because they died spiritually, but they lived physically on yet for another couple hundred years or whatever the timeframe was. Alright? #2. When we go specifically to Romans 5:12, it talks about the meaning of death, that is, through death came through one man, Adam, and likewise, we’re restored in our relationship to God through one man, Jesus. It says very specifically there that death came to all men. It says nothing about animals. I see no reason at all that animal death in any sense is connected with the significance of the word death, physical death, before the fall related to animals. This death, we are of a spiritual nature, and so we spiritually are dead in our sins before we are restored by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. What do you add to that?

Kurt: I don’t want to take up much more time from the presentation that you’ve got for us here, but it is something that maybe we could even devote a full episode to, death before the fall. Tony. It’s a very good and important question that you ask.

Ken: Indeed.

Kurt: There are books written just on this topic actually, death before the fall, and ways that we can understand what the Bible says about death, and Ken, you kind of brought this up. To this Tony, I would say to you, sometimes it’s not nuanced which death the Bible is talking about, spiritual death, physical death, or both. Getting through that can be helpful in understanding how we might reconcile what we observe about the physical world with what the Bible teaches about human nature and spirituality. Alright, Ken. I’ll let you back at it. Tony. That’s a very good question. Ken. We’ll get back here to you what you have to show us on the book and also maybe I had some questions about radiocarbon dating, very technical term, and we’ll get to that here.

Ken: Just sort of FYI, we’re going to do a little bit about the rudimentary dating that is done in the Grand Canyon and then we’ll get to radiocarbon because I want to be able to show that Hawaiian section that you have queued up to show after a bit.

Kurt: Okay.

Ken: This slide is just an emphasis on somebody who wrote to us and expressed his great appreciation for the fact that he wrote the book because it became significant to him. Of course, in the middle of something that’s controversial it’s always good to have those kinds of comments. We have a full chapter with that question so just how old is this rock? It was written by an expert in radiometric dating, Roger Wiens, and there’s that slide again that I showed you about the Earth being molten. If all the Earth 4.5 billion years of Earth radioactivity were crammed into 10,000 years, Earth would be molted. I’m going to now look at and give some ages that are given again as a chapter in the book of, remember these rocks in the Canyon itself are paleozoic in age so from 500 million to 200 million, but I’m going to show an example of some igneous rocks that are way down here in the Precambrian and give some of those ages that are there. These are ages that are in the table and likewise, there’s that piece of, that same figure that shows a shale down in here that has some intrusions of igneous rocks and the ages of these include Uranium-lead and this gizmo is over the top there….Get that down out of the way…there….okay….so….Skype…

Kurt: We’re still here.

Ken: Okay. I want to get my red laser. There. I got it. So, one that’s done with these two, this radioactive atom has a value of about 1.3 billion years of the age. Here’s Uranium-Lead which is about 1.2 billion years and notice the error bars. Those two are essentially the same, they’re within the same window. This is[NP1]  very slightly less and then Potassium-Argon is lesser to a greater degree. These are essentially very similar showing that these rocks are basically between 1 billion years and 1.4 billion years old. Argon is known to escape from the rocks when the rocks are heated up. We have a very reasonable explanation why this one is younger, because some of the argon leaked out. The point is these rocks down below in the core of the Canyon are over a billion years old. That’s the point that I want to make. Now, we want to use Hawaii islands and if you cue up the video, I’m going to show a few things. Here is the big island of Hawaii and the Kilauea Volcano has been spewing out lava this spring and it’s flowed down toward the coast and it’s covered roads and it’s even flowed as a lava flow into the ocean. That’s liquid rock. When that liquid rock cools down to a solid crystals then a radiometric dating timer starts and begins to click away. If you’d please key up the video that I gave to you and show it to the folks.

Kurt: Alright. Here we go. 

*video plays*

Ken: So they can see it?

Kurt: Yes. It is playing.

Ken: Okay. That’s fine.

*continuing play*

Kurt: Alright. That was a very interesting video and well done, I liked the animations there, Ken. For me, learning about the confirmation of the working theory, right, so the working theory was 2,9 inches per year, but to have the satellites be able to confirm that it was moving at that rate from, I guess stations on the Hawaiian Islands could communicate with the satellites, that was fascinating.

Ken: Yes. And if people have questions about that because we’ll promptly go on to radiocarbon if there are no questions on that.

Kurt: I’m wondering how much time we can give to going through the radiocarbon. We’re running a little low on time already today.

Ken: What is our time in another five minutes?

Kurt: If we could do five minutes. That would be good.

Ken: That will be fine. I’ll get two parts of it.

Kurt: Yeah. Then we’ll have to bring you on in the future.

Ken: Five minutes will get us to biblical archaeology.

Kurt: Okay.

Ken: Go?

Kurt: Yes. Go ahead, once you’re ready with the slides. 

Ken: Okay. I’ll get this one up then.

Kurt: While you do that, we’ve got some folks commenting here. Tim, is that Hebble?

Ken: Helble?

Kurt: Yes.

Ken: Tim Helble. He’s our fantastic photograph finder for the book. Great praise to Tim Helble.

Kurt: Okay. He’s following along and we’ve got some others too. Thank you for those tuning in and I know there are lots of questions. Please stick with us here. We’ll go through some radiocarbon dating information here. It’s a big term and hopefully, Ken can help explain what it means.

Ken: Okay. We’ll look at a short vid for radiocarbon. Now, my colleague, Greg Davidson and I have published a paper about this and if you are interested in this 14-page paper that was written and published in the Journal For The American Scientific Affiliation and if you would like a copy, please copy my email address down there and send me a message with your email and I will send you the complete 14-page paper that has all these figures and the explanations. Maybe we’ll bring that up later, but I’ll leave it as basically, Wolgemuth2@aol.com. Very simple? Okay? Radiocarbon is produced in the upper atmosphere because cosmic rays bombard the Earth all the time and they basically produce carbon-14 from nitrogen. That carbon-14 gets taken up by trees during photosynthesis and it gets incorporated into the tree rings and tree rings will be wide in a wet year and they’re narrow in a dry year so trees have a variety of thicknesses of those tree rings because of wet-dry seasons. All radioactive atoms have what’s called a half-life which means they’re an initial state of many atoms and in one half-life, half of those have decayed away and in a second half-life, another half is decayed away, and there’s a diagram that helps to show it and this diagram is in the Grand Canyon book in that chapter. Another way to look at it is that the top diagram that has all blue dots, a hundred blue dots, after one half-life, fifty of those have decayed away. After another half-life, another 25 have decayed away, successively going to lesser and lesser amounts with half of them disappearing with each successive half-life. There’s the big fancy equipment that’s used to measure radiocarbon in the laboratory called an accelerator mass spectrometer and the concept is that from the modern amount of carbon today in the atmosphere represented here by 100% in that top of that graph. As time passes, that carbon-14 decays away and so if a mastodon bone is found that has 6% of the original carbon left we can convert that and use that information and recognize that that animal lived about 23,000 years ago. That’s the idea of a radiocarbon date, measuring how much of this carbon is remaining and then finding out how long ago that animal died and no longer took up additional radiocarbon. The first step here, I’m going to combine two different independent methods, that is growth of tree rings which is biology, and the carbon-14 content which is chemistry or nuclear chemistry of the decay. We can match like bar code the wide and dark bands of a tree that lived in the past with a living tree today to recognize that these portions of those two trees lived during the same seasons and likewise these portions of these two trees lived during the same seasons and we can extend that tree ring count back into time beyond living trees. The young-Earth community makes a couple of challenges that tree rings can grow multiple rings per year and that this cross-dating is just coincidental or they’ll make the claim that we assume that carbon-14 production up in the atmosphere is constant through all of time. We’re going to address each of these as we look at this kind of data.

We have prepared a window of two lines here that represent expectations of where radiocarbon should be in the past from what we understand about the production of radiocarbon in the atmosphere. We’re first just going to look at the first 14,000 years. When we measure the amount of radiocarbon that is in tree rings, it falls from 100% down to about 20% of the modern carbon over a period of time of 14,000 years. That represents and shows that, in fact, these trees that are measured, in this case, it’s a German Oak species in Europe, obviously Germany. It shows a very regular decline that is expected from the knowledge of the way this radioactive half-life of carbon-14 impacts. We can treat that as showing the evidence that the Earth is at least 14,000 years old by that continuous record of radiocarbon decaying away over 14,000 years. What are our options of understanding this kind of data? Greg Davidson and I see this as God giving us some pretty awesome tools to verify that 14,000 tree rings does represent the passing of 14,000 years and that these trees didn’t produce lots of year with two rings per year. The other option is that God precisely altered three independent phenomena, that is the tree ring growth per year, that production of carbon-14 in the atmosphere, and the decay rate to match these conventional geochemistry expectations by altering the laws of nature. One has to look at those two options and see which one represents God’s character as we study from the Bible. Let’s look at this, what’s my timing now would you say? Another 2-3 minutes?

Kurt: Probably a couple of minutes and we had some questions that I want to follow up with.

Ken: I’m just going to show one or two biblical archaeology examples. Hezekiah’s tunnel was built from the Gihon Spring in this area of Jerusalem down, and it’s about a mile and a half, or a mile, something like that, to the pool of Siloam. Geologists went down into that, basically, that tunnel, and they’ve sampled materials that were used to basically line that with a plaster and they found some wood in there and they did radiometric, radiocarbon dating on some of that wood sample and those plant samples in the tunnel. There is the record that shows the red line is the amount of radiocarbon with the passage, this is over 4,000 years rather than 14, I expanded just the section to 4,000 years, and so the value of the radiocarbon in that wood that was found in Hezekiah’s tunnel is about 72% and that converts to an age, a calendar year age of tree ring number of about 2,800 years or 800 years B.C. That’s consistent with the biblical record of when Hezekiah lived.

Second example that I’ll show are the Dead Sea Scrolls. Critics of the Bible argue that the Dead Sea Scrolls must have been written after the time of Christ because it describes the crucifixion, but when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and radiocarbon was done on them, they have about 76% of the radiocarbon left in them which translates to 2,100 years, that is evidence that, in fact, they were prepared before the time of Christ and so that’s one of the pieces of evidence that demonstrates it and supports a pre-time of Christ as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

One example from my Alma Mater, Wheaton College, about 15 years ago, more than that now, excuse me. 30 years ago, a mastodon was found in the Chicago area and it eventually was donated to Wheaton College and there it is on display in our new science building. The bones of that mastodon were sent to a radiocarbon laboratory and in that case it had about 26% of the modern carbon still left in his bones and that translates to 13,500 years. There’s an example of applying basically the radiocarbon in the bones of that mastodon to a calendar year age that that animal lived, about 13,500 years ago. 

Kurt: Alright.

Ken: The limit there about radiocarbon in tree rings stops at about 14,000 years. That’s the furthest back. I think we’ll leave it at that and the paper I have available that I can send to folks will elaborate on this going on back to 50,000 years.

Kurt: Good. Good. Ken. Why don’t you stop the screenshare so I can ask, I’m going to try to synthesize a couple of the questions that came in from Steven and it looks like….

Ken: Then I get back to Skype, right?

Kurt: Yes. Go back to Skype.  Stop the screenshare. The bottom right there. You have to probably click on the window, click on the Skype window.

Ken: There it is. Okay now? There we go.

Kurt: Yep. One of the concerns that a few of the viewers here have had is that some of the projections, the estimates of the Hawaiian Islands moving over time and also with regard to the tree rings, if I could synthesize fairly their questions it would be that we’re assuming here a consistent atmosphere, consistent condition, and what about, they might say, a global event, would that speed up the rate and thus with friction, things would slow down? Are there factors that are modifying what we might be seeing which would still explain some of the features we observe?

Ken: Yeah. Jeremiah 25:33 indicates to us where God says that He has prepared the laws of nature to remain the same as they are today. Okay? He tells us that the laws of nature have been consistent. The radioactive decay of these atoms are not going to be changed by any kind of flooding. We’ve tested the radioactive decay processes by enormously high temperatures. That doesn’t change the radioactive decay half-life. We’ve tried in enormous high gravity environments….

Kurt: Lots of pressure.

Ken: Lots of pressure, great magnetic fields, and there is nothing because remember the radioactive decay process is happening in the nucleus of atoms which is only a little small portion in the middle whereas the size of the atom is controlled by the electrons that are flying around the nucleus. This is a nuke process in the nucleus not impacted by temperature, time, or anything like that. There’s a fairly common theme that we’re making assumptions that can’t be tested. Well, the definition of an assumption is to believe something that has no support or evidence of. We’re not making any assumptions. We’re testing each step. The fact that we have the tree rings and we have the radiocarbon that we’ve tested in the laboratory over and over and over again, that radioactive decay rates do not change. That’s my basic answer to that type of question. We’re testing and verifying every step of the process. We’re distinctly not making assumptions which means accepting something without any supporting evidence. We don’t do that the best we can tell. That’s called wild speculation.

Kurt: I’m sure some of the viewers might have follow-ups. 

Ken: That’s fine. I’m listening.

Kurt: Unfortunately, we probably have to close our program today.

Ken: That’s fine.

Kurt: You have made your email available. Is it okay if I say it again? It was a powerpoint slide.

Ken: Give it to them, particular for the radiocarbon, because that record goes back with this incredible lake in Japan. It goes back to 50,000 years. It’s really impressive.

Kurt: Ken’s email if you’re interested in engaging with him is Wolgemuth2@aol.com and feel free to message him. He’d be happy to send you resources, the paper that you mentioned and would love to hear from you. Ken. Thank you so much for joining us on our program today and I think we’re very much going to have to bring you back on in the future so we can continue on exploring aspects that you’ve brought up in the presentation.

Ken: Thank you very much. It’s been a real privilege to me.

Kurt: Good. If you could stick on here, I’ll close out the show and we’ll reconnect in a few moments.

Ken: I’ll hang on.

Kurt; Great. Thanks, Ken. We had a question come in and due to time, I’m not going to be answer to it, but I will whet your appetite if you’re interested. Aiden, from New York City, he wrote in, he said, “I’m a big fan of your ministry and have benefitted greatly from Veracity Hill. I have a question, in Revelation as well as in Paul’s letters, James and Hebrews, we are told that Jesus is coming soon. Revelation says that He will come soon and to not seal up the words of the book because the time is near. Aiden continues going on and on and he basically says, “How should we understand these biblical references to Jesus coming soon? Thanks.” Aiden. Thank you for your question. Again, due to time I’m not able to get around to it this week. Next week though, if you tune in, I’ll go ahead and answer Aiden’s very good and important question about the, we might say the veracity of the biblical text. If it says Jesus is coming soon why is the Bible not true since it’s been 2,000 years. It’s a very good question Aiden, and if you are interested in Aiden’s question and want to know the answer to that, tune in for next week and I will answer that. Next week we begin our Explore God series and joining us to answer the first big life question, “Is there meaning or purpose in life?” is Dr. Douglas Groothuis of Denver Seminary and Chris is impressed that we got Doug on the program here. Chris is a big fan. He’s got his big book over there on at least my shelf or your desk or it’s somewhere here in the office. 

That does it for our program today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors. They are Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, and Fox Restoration and I want to thank our technical producer Chris and our guest Ken Wolgemuth and last but not least, I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. 

 [NP1]Unclear at 44:30

Not at this time
Not at this time

Seth Baker

View all posts

Never Miss an Episode!