Refuting a Popular Argument by Old-Earth Geologists Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth

Abstract

The BioLogos Foundation has published a popular-level article by old-earth geologists Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth presenting arguments for an old earth. One such argument involves counts of sedimentary laminations (“varves”) within the floor of Japan’s Lake Suigetsu. Their article claims that the very large number of Lake Suigetsu varve counts is strong evidence for an old earth. Creation scientists would argue that most of the lamination couplets are not true annual events. In fact, a plausible explanation for the couplets was presented in the young-earth creationist literature one year prior to Davidson and Wolgemuth’s article. Davidson and Wolgemuth, however, present a new “spin” on the argument: they claim that the correlation between these “varve” counts and radiocarbon dates (as well as tree-ring counts), proves that the Lake Suigetsu varves are true annual events, thus presenting an unanswerable argument for an old earth. However, careful examination of the papers they cite shows that this apparent agreement is the result of the typical uniformitarian circular reasoning. Furthermore, Davidson and Wolgemuth made numerous errors in their article (even within their own uniformitarian framework) which cause one to question whether they carefully read all of the technical papers they cited. Furthermore, they seem to misunderstand the recent results of the RATE research project that showed strong evidence of ubiquitous in situ radiocarbon within fossil specimens that should be radiocarbon “dead” by uniformitarian reckoning. Such results pose a serious challenge to uniformitarian assumptions underlying conventional radiocarbon age-dating methods.

Introduction

Six years ago the BioLogos Foundation published an article entitled Christian Geologists on Noah’s Flood: Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology (Davidson and Wolgemuth 2010). As of 9/19/2016, this article was freely accessible online at http://biologos.org/files/modules/davidson_wolgemuth_scholarly_essay.pdf. The authors, Drs. Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth, present what they believe are strong geological arguments for an old earth. This review article focuses in particular on their claim that the good correlation between “varve” counts in Japan’s Lake Suigetsu (Fig. 1) and the radiocarbon ages for plant fossils found within the lake’s sediments present an unanswerable argument for an old earth. They made the same claims with the same example in a subsequent, virtually identical, presentation in a widely circulated Christian journal (Davidson and Wolgemuth 2012).

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