hourglass rock

ICR's RATE Project Results Falsify Young-Earthism
(Even as Its Authors Claim the Opposite)

© 2017, Glen J. Kuban (DRAFT)

Last revised: 21 Nov. 2017

Although radiometric dating methods are not perfect, many independent radiometric methods (besides non-radiometric ones) give largely consistent dating results, and indicate the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years, which is orders of magnitude greater than any YEC "model" allows (Dalrymple, 1994). Moreover, these methods provide largely consistent results for the ages of various rock strata throughout the geologic column, and non-radiometric methods yield similar results (Deem, 2017; Duff, 2014; Young; 1988; 2008).

In contrast, most YECs claim the Earth, and indeed the entire universe, is only 6,000 to 10,000 year old universe and earth, but cannot point to a single reliable dating method that indicates this. Their main strategy has been to emphasize flaws in dating methods, and imply none of the results can be trusted. With the aim of more fully investigating the validity of radioisotope dating methods, in 1997 the Institute of Creation Research (ICR) and the Creation Research Society (CRS) launched an eight-year research program. It was named RATE for "Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth." Preliminary investigations carried out in the first three years were summarized in a publication by Larry Vardiman et al(2000), with a subsequent report entitled Thousands Not Billions by Donald DeYoung (2005). Although the authors declared the RATE project a success, when fully understood, it is seen to be an abject failure, and further confirmation of an ancient Earth.

First, the RATE authors employed a number of scientifically questionable methods (Neyman, 2003, 2004). Second, the authors raised a number of alleged problems for mainstream dating, such as Po halos and helium defusion rates, which have been well refuted (Kuban, 2013; Loechelt, 2008a, 2008b; Zweerink, 2012). Third, and most important, the RATE authors acknowledge that the amount of radioactive decay recorded in the geologic record is far greater than a YEC time frame can accommodate. One might think that they would then accept the logical conclusion that the Earth is old, or at least question their YEC views. Instead, they astoundingly claim that the results actually support their view. In order to do that, they proposed that nuclear decay rates were vastly accelerated during or soon after the "creation week" by some divine providential process (translation: miracle), even though there is no independent evidence for that. Even more problematic, if such acceleration had occurred, it would not generate more than enough heat to vaporize the entire earth. But that too did not deter the authors from their mission of supporting YECism. They then proposed more unspecified, ad-hoc, extra-Biblical miracles protect the Earth and all living things from the immense heat. They never explained why God would do either, since the only effect of accelerating decay rates would be to make the Earth old and generate lethal heat. Moreover, even the proposed acceleration would not solve the problem, since the sloping patterns of radio decay seen in the geologic record would not be produced, or anything close to them. Of course, one could imagine more miracles to change the patterns, even though there again would be no logical reason for it, other than to make the Earth look old. Such tactics, using ad-hoc miracles to evade clear and powerful evidence against YECism, and then claiming the evidence supports that view, shows how profoundly unscientific "scientific" creationism really is. For a more thorough evaluation of the RATE project see Isaac (2007).


Vardiman, Larry, Andrew A. Snelling, and Eugene F. Chaffin, 2000. Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth. Edited by ICR, El Cajon, CA & CRS, St Joseph, MI. Dalrymple, G. Brent. 1994. The Age of the Earth. Stanford University Press.

Deem, Rich, 2013. How Old is the Earth According to the Bible and Science? Web article at: http://godandscience.org/youngearth/age_of_the_earth.html

DeYoung, Donald, 2005. Thousands not Billions: Challenging the Icon of Evolution, Questioning the Age of the Earth. Master Books. 190 pages.

Duff, Joel, 2014. Smoking Gun Evidence of an Ancient Earth: GPS Data Confirms Radiometric Dating. Blog article at: https://thenaturalhistorian.com/2014/09/10/smoking-gun-evidence-of-an-ancient-earth-gps-data-confirms-radiometric-dating/

Isaac, Randy, 2007. Assessing the RATE Project. Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith (June 2007, pp. 143-146). Web version at: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/rate-ri.htm

Kuban, Glen, 2013. Unfounded Creationist Claims about Polonium Radiohalos. Web article at: http://paleo.cc/ce/halos.htm

Loechelt, Gary H. 2008a. Helium Diffusion in Zircon: Flaws in a Young-Earth Argument, Part 1 (of 2). Web article at: http://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2008/09/09/helium-diffusion-in-zircon-flaws-in-a-young-earth-argument-part-1-of-2

Loechelt, Gary H. 2008b. Helium Diffusion in Zircon: Evidence Supports an Old Earth, Part 2 (of 2). Web article at: http://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2008/09/16/helium-diffusion-in-zircon-evidence-supports-an-old-earth-part-2-of-2

Neyman, Greg, 2003, RATE Project: The Truth. Web article at: http://www.oldearth.org/rate.htm

Neyman, Greg, 2004, RATE Project Turns to Deception. Web article at: http://www.oldearth.org/ratedeception.htm

Zweerink, Jeff, 2012. Comments on the RATE Project. Reasons to Believe website article at: http://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2012/11/20/http-www.reasons.org-articles-comments-on-the-rate-project

Young, Davis A., 1988, Christianity and the Age of the Earth, Artisian Publishers. 188 pages.

Young, Davis A., and Ralph F. Stearley, 2008. The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth. IVP Academic, 510 pages.