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'Dogma on the Rocks'

March 15, 1986

Your editorial on the age of the Earth asserts that the age of the Earth has been scientifically established at about 4.6 billion years.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact there are many non-radiometric dating methods that point to a relatively young age.

Actually, however, the age of the Earth is beyond scientific investigation since its beginning apparently was not observed by a human being and it cannot be duplicated in the laboratory. That is to say, the age of the Earth, as well as the universe, is beyond application of the scientific method of investigation, which is composed of observation: identification; classification; hypothesis; and test and observe.

Moreover, any estimate of the age is dependent upon the assumptions made by the estimator.

Regarding radiometric dating, it is normally assumed that any sample to be dated originally contained only the pure parent element and that the decay rates involved that led to the present constituents were constant with time. Any error in these assumptions would lead to a false indication of age.

Actually, with any radioactive sample, it is not known what the original constituents were in terms of parent and decay elements and it is not known if the decay rates involved have been constant. It is also not known how much a sample has been contaminated or submitted to leaching.

Moreover, transmutation of the radioactive elements in the sample may have occurred due to neutron bombardment, or by other means. Differences between predicted and measured isotopic concentrations in samples have also been noted by researchers.

All these factors make radiometric dating methods totally unreliable.

DONALD B. HERBERT

Lomita

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