Geologists’ Dating Discrepancies

Author: Stephen Caesar
Subject: Radiometric Dating
Date: 5/31/2004

Evolutionists base their claims of great age for the Earth on scientific dating methods that, as discussed previously in this column, have been shown to be fundamentally flawed. One of the major problems is that discrepancies frequently appear when different teams of geologists date the same ancient geological formation. Some of the world’s top scientists held a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation to address this problem. The October 17 2003 issue of the journal Science (p. 375) reported on this symposium and the rationale behind it:

“Ever since modern geology began to emerge almost 2 centuries ago, scientists have been trying to whittle the expanse of geologic time into small, manageable bits. At a workshop held here [Washington, DC] early this month at the National Museum of Natural History, geochronologists declared that they must do better, much better[,] and called for an unprecedented effort to calibrate the geologic time scale….‘We need a major international cooperative network of geochronology centers dedicated to the goal of science-driven, integrative calibration,’ said Samuel Bowring of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a workshop organizer. Although no specific plan emerged, Bowring notes, participants agreed that ‘we have to make sure we’re all getting the same answer on the same rocks.’ THAT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAPPEN” (emphasis added).

One example of this is the attempted dating of the Latemar limestone belt in northern Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. Scientists have been trying to find out how long it took microscopic carbonate skeletons to pile up on the ancient seafloor to form this 600-meter layer. Science reported:

“ASSUMING that the distinctive layers of the Latemar matched climate cycles driven by clocklike variations in the shape of Earth’s orbit, sedimentologists estimated that it took about 8 million years to form the whole pile. Uranium-lead dating of zircons from volcanic ash beds in the Latemar, however, produced a figure of about 2 million years—too little time to form such deposits, sedimentologists say. YEARS OF WORK ON BOTH WAYS OF DATING THE LATEMAR HAVE FAILED TO RESOLVE THE CONFLICT” (emphases added).

The article went on to make two very interesting statements: “The general sparseness of reliable ages was the primary complaint at the workshop. ‘We desperately need more dates, and we want them now,’ said geologist Bruce Wardlaw of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, only half-jokingly. How to get them was less clear.” “In addition to more dating, researchers want better dating. Long-recognized problems with standards, interlab calibration, and sample processing have limited both the precision and the accuracy of uranium-lead and argon-argon radiometric dating.”

These statements speak for themselves. Rather than being scientifically-based signposts set in concrete, geologic ages reached by current dating methods are doubtful, inconsistent, and highly controversial, even among old-Earth evolutionists. Because of these problems, evolutionists cannot rightfully use their age estimates as incontrovertible evidence against the Biblical scenario of a young Earth.


Kerr, R.A. 2003. “A Call for Telling Better Time over the Eons.” Science 302, no. 5466.

Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at

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