Radiometric age-dates have long been held up by naturalists and even some Christians as something to be resolved by young-earth creationists to gain a seat at the table of naturalistic science. This belief is surprising because radiometric dating is based strictly in naturalistic philosophy and not biblical theology. The two different worldviews cannot be combined despite those who advocate some form of accelerated radioactive decay (e.g., Vardiman, et al., 2005).

The subjective nature of radiometric age-dating can always yield acceptable age-dates for rocks, minerals, and fossils because naturalists can adjust or disqualify them at will. This has recently been demonstrated by tests performed on a volcanic meteorite from Mars that gained wide notoriety in the mid-1990s.

Naturalistic interpretation determines the radiometric age

In 1984, a meteorite (ALH84001) was discovered in Antarctica and was overlooked for 10 years before it was determined to be of Martian origin (Kerr, 1996). While unusual in mineral composition and organic content (i.e., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were found in fractures) it sparked an international controversy because of small deposits of carbonate defined by some naturalists as evidence of extraterrestrial life (Figure 1). Much has been written by naturalists and creationists regarding the astrobiological implications of these carbonate traces and the interested reader can pursue further study through a keyword search at the Creation-Evolution Literature Database: http://bryancore.org/celd/index.html.

This article will focus on the controversy around the radiometric age of ALH84001 and highlight problems that radiometric age-dating creates for those interested in following the biblical framework of Earth history. According to naturalistic scientist Richard Kerr (1996):

Radiometric dating shows that ALH84001 congealed from magma to become part of the original Martian crust 4.5 billion years ago, just 100 million years after the planet formed, making it the oldest rock known from any planet. Still early in Martian history, a meteorite impact shattered the rock, leaving fractures where minerals — including the putative traces of life — formed perhaps 3.6 billion years ago. Much later, another impact launched the rock into space. Radioactive nuclei created by deep-space radiation show that it wandered there for 16 million years before blazing through Earth’s atmosphere and crashing into the Antarctic ice cap. It lay buried for 13,000 years until scientists found it on wind-scoured ice in the Allan Hills region of Antarctica….

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