A Response to Kent Hovind's Claims About the Age of the Universe
Last Update: January 6th, 2000
(Along with helpful suggestions for the improvement of his web site)
"Love the Lord your God … with all your mind" -Luke 10:27
The purpose to this web site is to address statements made by Kent Hovind about astronomy, the age of the Earth, and the age of the universe. These responses are put forward in a sense of Christian charity (or at least I'm trying my best) in an effort to correct misunderstandings about the process, the results and the "meaning" of science. Most sites critical of creationism take a religiously neutral tone. While I think that this is proper and necessary for science, it hinders a response to creationism. To a scientist, working with astronomy, biology, geology, etc., without invoking God makes as much sense as working with calculus without referencing religion. The orbit of Mercury does not change depending on the observer's religion. To the creationist believer, this neutrality is mistakenly seen as an attack on God himself! Therefore, I will not hesitate to make statements referring to my own religious beliefs, though I will scrupulously avoid doing so when scientific rigor is required.
The following section reproduces many of Kent Hovind's statements from this site, with responses to clarify some of the claims made.
Special Note: While I work on this page, please let me recommend this page, that answers these same questions.
- The Universe Is Not "Billions" of Years Old
This is Kent Hovind's original article. My responses will be in non-italicized dark blue, like so …
I will limit myself to discussing only the topic at hand. Brief references (including, someday, relevant links) will be made to point out what I consider to be unfair attacks, characterizations, etc.. I appeal to Kent Hovind to remove those attacks in the name of fairness! For clarity, I may omit some fraction of the original page.
I will do this if I feel the material omitted does not address itself to the central point. Anyone who feels that the omission of any item changes the meaning or context of the original article is invited to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The general theory of evolution is based on several faulty assumptions. (Note: It is important to understand by this statement that we are not disputing simple variations that some call "microevolution," whose micro-changes are often observed but never lead to a fundamentally different kind of plant or animal.) The following assumptions of evolutionary theory are easy to prove false:
In this section we will deal with the first of these assumptions. The others will be dealt with elsewhere. If, in fact, it could be demonstrated that the universe is not billions of years old, all other arguments about evolution become meaningless and unnecessary.
In children’s fairy tales, we are told:
frog + magic spell (usually a kiss) = prince
In modern "science" textbooks we are told:
- the universe is billions of years old,
frog + time = prince
The same basic fairy tale (evolution) is being promoted in textbooks today, but the new magic potion cited is time. When the theory of evolution is discussed, time is the panacea for all the thousands of problems that arise.
In nearly all discussions and debates about evolution that I have held at universities and colleges, I ask the evolutionists how certain things could have evolved by chance. Their answer is nearly always "Given enough time..." Time is the evolutionists’ god. Time is able to accomplish anything the evolutionists can propose. Time can easily turn a frog into a prince. Time can create matter from nothing and life from matter. According to evolutionists, time can create order from chaos.
Let us first be fair. If Kent Hovind's position is correct, does it need snide comments to defend it? "Time" is not the evolutionist's God. While some scientists are atheists or agnostics, many are Christian, or of another faith community. One of the first objections to evolution was that the earth was insufficiently old. Current estimates of the age of the earth, and the age of the universe came independently of evolutionary research. Please note that while Mr. Hovind often refers to all of modern science as "evolutionism", I use the term "evolution" to refer solely to biological evolution. Oh, and in case it needs to be told, the lines of descent that led to modern humans and modern frogs branched apart a LONG time ago, with a lot of critters in between.
But let’s remove time from the above equation. There would be the following three results:
1. Evolution becomes obviously impossible.
2.Evolutionists will scream like a baby whose pacifier has been pulled out because they know that if time is removed, their religion (evolution is religion, not science) is silly.
This form of "comment" should be beneath the dignity of anyone engaging in honest debate. Oh, and evolution is not a religion; science does not make claims about what is morally right or wrong, or whether there is or isn't a God, or any claims about religious issues! At no point on Kent Hovind's web pages could I find a defense of the claim that "evolution" (as Mr. Hovind defines it) is a "religion, not a science". The claim is made a great number of times without any support. The interested reader might wish to compare this to Kent Hovind's description of "the big lie".
3.Creation becomes the only reasonable alternative explanation for the existence of this complex universe.
Well, not necessarily, but you have to prove a young earth first!
Let’s imagine we are exploring an old gold mine, and we find a Casio Databank watch half buried in the mud on the floor of the mine. Suppose also that the correct time and date are displayed on the watch and it is still running smoothly. Then imagine that I tell you the watch has been there for over one thousand years.
- "That’s impossible!" you say. "That watch could not have been there for a thousand years, and I can prove it!"
- "How can you prove I’m wrong?" I say.
- "Well, for one thing, this mine was just dug 150 years ago," you say.
- "Okay," I admit, "you’re right about the thousand years being too much, but the watch has been here for 150 years at least!"
- "No!" you say. "Casio didn’t make the Databank watch until twelve years ago."
- "All right," I say. "The watch was dropped here twelve years ago then."
- "Impossible!" you say. "The batteries only last five years on that watch, and it’s still running. That proves it has been here less than five years."
- While we still can’t prove exactly when the watch was left there, you have logically limited the date to five years at the most. You have effectively proven that my initial statement about the watch being 1000 years old is wrong. The larger numbers prove nothing in this debate. Even if I were to radiometric-date the mud or the plastic in the watch to try to prove that it is thousands of years old, my data would be meaningless. The same logic can be applied to finding the age of the earth. If several factors limit the age of the earth to a few thousand years, the earth cannot be older than a few thousand years! Even if a few indicators seem to show a greater age for the earth, it takes only ONE fact to prove the earth is young.
But we're not concerned about the age of the watch! We're concerned about the age of the mine! The watch provides a minimum age for the mine, not a maximum age. By looking at other evidences, (the wood of the mine supports, the mine carts, etc.) we would find other lower limits for the age of the mine. Mr. Hovind has it backwards (though I am gratified to see him admit that there are indicators showing an old earth); the age of the earth is limited by the oldest reliable estimate we can find, not the youngest! If I have a five-year-old cousin, does that mean that the earth is only five years old?
General Error #1:
There is nothing that says that all features of the earth as it is today have existed as they are forever. For example, the statement that Niagara Falls and the Mississippi River aren't four billion years old proves nothing about the Earth!
- The Bible teaches that: God created the universe approximately 6000 years ago, ex nihilo (out of nothing) in six literal, twenty-four hour days. Then, approximately 4400 years ago, the earth was destroyed by a worldwide Flood. This devastating, year-long Flood was responsible for the sediment layers being deposited (the water was going and returning, Gen. 8:3-5). As the mountains rose and the ocean basins sank after the Flood (Psalm 104:5-8, Gen. 8:1), the waters rushed off the rising mountains into the new ocean basins. This rapid-erosion through still-soft, unprotected sediments formed the topography we still see today, in places like the Grand Canyon.
Well, actually this should read "Kent Hovind teaches …" or "According to Kent Hovind's interpretation of the Bible …". I hope that you will pardon me if I don't raise up Kent Hovind in place of the Lord God!
- The uniformitarian assumption—that today’s slow erosion rates that take place through solid rock are the same as has always been—is faulty logic, and ignores catastrophes like the Flood. (2 Pet. 3:3-8 says that the scoffers are "willingly ignorant" of the Flood.)
In the first place, you (or I, or anyone) are not allowed to make claims by fiat. To criticize uniformitarianism, you must have evidence, not simply attempting to shout down all dissent! Additionally, 2 Peter 3:5 states explicitly that the earth was formed out of water. Since astrophysical theory (borne out by observation) posits that the early universe was about 75% hydrogen and 25% helium, leaving little oxygen for water, this does represent a serious disagreement.
Sources have been left on the original page. Since reasoned arguments attacking mainstream science have been left off of this page, the page has the feeling of a "shotgun approach". I.e., if they see flaws in fifty of these arguments, maybe they'll miss the hole in the fifty-first, and buy it! To put it another way, if you can't dazzle 'em with dexterity, baffle 'em with b*******!
Evidence from Space
The shrinking sun limits the earth-sun relationship to less than "billions of years." The sun is losing both mass and diameter. Changing the mass would upset the fine gravitational balance that keeps the earth at just the right distance for life to survive. (1, p. 169; 2, p. 30; 4, pp. 56-63; 5, p. 26; 6, p. 43;)
This might mean something if, in fact, the sun were shrinking. While the Sun is giving off energy in the form of radiation, and mass in the form of the solar wind, this mass loss is completely insignificant compared to the total mass of the Sun. More important is the conversion of hydrogen to helium by nuclear fusion at the Sun's core. This is what will limit the survivability of the Earth, and here we have about five billion years before the Sun is unable to burn any more hydrogen at it core, becomes a red giant, and expands to be larger than the orbit of the Earth.
The ½ inch layer of cosmic dust on the moon indicates the moon has not been accumulating dust for billions of years. (2, p. 26; 3, p. 22; 4, p. 15; 6, p. 35; 7; 9, p. 25) *Insufficient evidence to be positive (almost all estimates before the lunar landing anticipated great quantities of dust.)
"I get a picture therefore, of the first spaceship, picking out a nice, level place for landing purposes, coming in slowly downward tail-first, and sinking majestically out of sight." -- Isaac Asimov, Science Digest, January, 1959, p 36
While I will address these claims (as time permits) on this page, for now I would like to direct you here, where I have already addressed this statement.
Lyttleton felt that the X-rays and UV light striking exposed moon rocks "could, during the age of the moon be sufficient to form a layer over it several miles deep." -- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, vol. 115, pp. 585-604
This quote is, I believe from 1962 or even earlier. Might one humbly ask why the literature search stopped just before RELIABLE estimates of cosmic dust accumulation levels started coming in?
The existence of short-period comets indicates the universe is less than billions of years old. (2, p. 31; 3, p. 27; 4, p. 35; 6, p. 37; 7)
First, this would limit the age of the solar system, not the universe. Second (and more to the point), the scientific theory is that the inner solar system's supply of short-period comets is being periodically replenished from the fringes of the solar system. The creationist idea is that all of these were created as part of the inner solar system. If this was true, then all short-period comets should be the same age, and this is definitely NOT the case.
Fossil meteorites are very rare in layers other than the top layers of the earth. This indicates that the layers were not exposed for millions of years as is currently being taught in school textbooks. (4, p. 26)
The moon is receding a few inches each year. Billions of years ago the moon would have been so close that the tides would have been much higher, eroding away the continents. (3, p. 25; 6, p. 43; 7)
The moon contains considerable quantities of U-236 and Th-230, both short-lived isotopes that would have been long gone if the moon were billions of years old. (8, p. 177; see also 4, p. 51, for information on rock "flow")
The existence of great quantities of space dust, which by the Pointing-Robertson effect would have been vacuumed out of our solar system in a few thousand years, indicates the solar system is young. (3, p. 29; 6, p.44)
However, this ignores that radiation pressure from the sun would balance the Pointing-Robertson effect.
At the rate many star clusters are expanding, they could not have been traveling for billions of years. (3, p. 29; 4, pp. 30 and 59; 6, p. 44)
Saturn’s rings are still unstable, indicating they are not billions of years old. (4, p. 45)
Jupiter and Saturn are cooling off rather rapidly. They are losing heat twice as fast as they gain it from the sun. They cannot be billions of years old. (5, p. 26; 4, p. 43; Jupiter’s moon, Io, is losing matter to Jupiter. It cannot be billions of years old. (4, p. 3)
Among other factors to consider is that all the ancient astronomers from 2000 years ago recorded that Sirius was a red star—today it is a white dwarf star. Since today’s textbooks in astronomy state that one hundred thousand years are required for a star to "evolve" from a red giant to a white dwarf, obviously this view needs to be restudied.
In the first place, Sirius is not a white dwarf star. The bright star Sirius (more properly "Sirius A") is a main sequence star somewhat hotter than our own Sun. However, there is a white dwarf star orbiting the bright, visible star, and this star is designated as "Sirius B". There is no evidence that Sirius B was a red giant star in historical times. Sirius comes from the Greek "seirios" meaning "sparkling" or "scorching". The human eye does not perceive color at low levels of illumination. (Check this out the next time you walk though you house to get a drink of water late at night.) Some stars (definitely including Sirius) are bright enough to trigger the color receptors in our eyes, where fainter stars simply appear as white dots. Unfortunately, Sirius really is white! This often causes the eye to try to "match" colors to Sirius, making it appear to be green, red, blue, in series, as our brain (without informing us as to what is going on) attempts to "fit" a color to Sirius. This is almost certainly why Sirius was also given the Arabic name of "Barakish", meaning "Of a Thousand Colors".
There does seem to be some connection between Sirius and the color red in Egypt and Greece. This is probably due to the fact that Sirius began rising in early morning at the beginning of autumn, and/or that Sirius always appears low in the sky as seen from the Mediterranean, and therefore was associated with "the lower airs". When the sun is seen this near to the horizon, it appears to be red.
Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, by Richard Hinkley Allen, is a very helpful source for material on the names of Sirius.
Evidence from Earth
The decaying magnetic field limits earth’s age to less than billions. (1, p. 157; 2, p. 27; 3, p. 20; 5, p. 23; 6, p. 42; 9, p. 25; 10, p. 38)
The volume of lava on earth divided by its rate of efflux gives a number of only a few million years, not billions. I believe that during the Flood, while "the fountains of the deep were broken up," most of the earth’s lava was deposited rapidly. (1, p. 156)
Dividing the amount of various minerals in the ocean by their influx rate indicates only a few thousand years of accumulation. (1, p. 153; 5, p. 24; 6, p. 42)
Now THIS one is a fairly venerable canard. The table that is quoted gives the time (in years) that a given element takes to accumulate in the ocean due to river inflow. The primary flaw here is that this does NOT take into account material entering or leaving the oceans in any other way. Therefore this ignores salts or minerals settling out of the ocean. What this table ACTUALLY measures is the "residence times" of the various materials in seawater. (Kenneth R. Miller, PP 46-47 of Science and Creationism, edited by Ashley Montague) This is quite a good thing, because the "time it takes aluminum to accumulate in the oceans is only 100 years! The other elements give a much larger range of answers, up to 260 million years for sodium. If the Earth really was ~6000 years old, then the time scale for all these elements should be about the same -> 6000 years! (Less for some of the more reactive elements.)
The amount of Helium 4 in the atmosphere, divided by the formation rate on earth, gives only 175,000 years. (God may have created the earth with some helium which would reduce the age more.) (1, p. 151; 6, p. 42; 9, p. 25)
The helium on Earth is a by-product of radioactive decay processes. While the average velocity of helium molecules is not quite equal to the Earth's escape velocity, that's the average. Some are a little warmer, and move more quickly, and some don't. There is a constant loss of helium to space. (Which is why the Earth's helium is due to radioactive decay - our original helium is long since gone.) There are also processes that can remove more helium from the atmosphere. Some chemical reactions (for example, the collision of ionized helium with atomic oxygen) can release energy which can jump-start the helium atom, and drive it (half the time, or so) away from the Earth. At high altitudes there tends to be a layer with a heavier concentration of electrons above a zone of positively charged ions. (The separation is due to the low mass of electrons compared with even the lightest elements.) Anyone who has taken physics 205 might notice that having an area of positive charge below an area of negative charge will cause light positive ions, especially hydrogen or helium to accelerate upwards. The magnetic field lines are open enough at the Earth's magnetic poles to allow a substantial amount of helium to escape. (This only happens at the magnetic poles because the magnetic field lines, which strongly affect the motion of charged particles in the upper atmosphere, are at those points pointed pretty much straight out. By the time that the field lines begin curving across to the other pole, the accelerated particle has quite a head of steam built up.) If this mechanism is not blithely ignored, it can be seen that the amount of helium in the Earth's atmosphere is in equilibrium - long-term equilibrium.
The erosion rate of the continents is such that they would erode to sea level in less than 14,000,000 years, destroying all old fossils. (2, p. 31; 6, p 38; American Science Vol 56 p 356-374)
Assuming that the surface of the Earth is a giant conveyer belt, this is true. However as the continental plates shift, some material will stay on the surface. This is, however, a reasonable explanation of why ancient fossils are more difficult to find and why they tend to be found in areas protected from erosion.
Topsoil formation rates indicate only a few thousand years of formation. (6, p. 38)
Niagara Falls’ erosion rate (four to five feet per year) indicates an age of less than 10,000 years. Don’t forget Noah’s Flood could have eroded half of the seven-mile-long Niagara River gorge in a few hours as the flood waters raced through the soft sediments.) (6, p. 39; 7)
See General Error #1, above.
The rock encasing oil deposits could not withstand the pressure for more than a few thousand years. (2, p. 32; 3, p. 24; 5, p. 24; 6, p. 37; 7)
Oil deposits are well known to migrate through rock to areas with lower pressure. No one claims that they stay immobile for all the time of their existence.
The size of the Mississippi River delta, divided by the rate mud is being deposited, gives an age of less than 30,000 years. (The Flood in Noah’s day could have washed out 80% of the mud there in a few hours or days, so 4400 years is a reasonable age for the delta.) (3, p. 23; 6, p. 38; 7)
See General Error #1, above.
The slowing spin of the earth limits its age to less than the "billions of years" called for by the theory of evolution. (3, p. 25; 7)
A relatively small amount of sediment is now on the ocean floor, indicating only a few thousand years of accumulation. This embarrassing fact is one of the reasons why the continental drift theory is vehemently defended by those who worship evolution. (1, p. 155; 6, p. 28; 7)
The largest stalactites and flowstone formations in the world could have easily formed in about 4400 years. (5, p. 27; 6, p. 39; 7)
The Sahara desert is expanding. It easily could have been formed in a few thousand years. See any earth science textbook.
The oceans are getting saltier. If they were billions of years old, they would be much saltier than they are now. (7; 9, p. 26; 10, p. 37)
Ice cores at the south pole and Greenland have a maximum depth of 10-14,000 feet. The aircraft that crash-landed in Greenland in 1942 and excavated in 1990 were under 263 feet of ice after only 48 years. This indicates all of the ice could have accumulated in 4400 years. (7)
Evidence from Biology
The current population of earth (5.5 billion souls) could easily be generated from eight people (survivors of the Flood) in less than 4000 years. (1, p. 167; 3, p. 27; 6, p. 41; 7)
- Listed below are some of the factors from various branches of science that limit the age of the universe (including earth) to within the last few thousand years. Though it cannot be scientifically proven exactly when the universe was created, its age can be shown to not be billions of years old. Each of the following evidences of a young earth is described in great detail in the books referenced below. Source number and page number are given for the following statements (at the bottom of this page):
This claim makes unrealistic assumptions about the rate of growth. The population of the world of 2000 BC (just those parts we have reliable knowledge of) could not have been generated by eight people in a few hundred years.
- The oldest living coral reef is less than 4200 years old. (6, p. 39; 7)
- The oldest living tree in the world is about 4300 years old. (6, p. 40; 7)
These are lower limits, not upper limits!
- Another factor to consider: The genetic load in man is increasing. Geneticists have cataloged nearly 1300 genetic disorders in the human race. It is certainly reasonable to believe that the human race was created perfect from the hand of the Creator but has been going downhill as a result of our disobedience to the laws established by the Creator and the increased radiation from the sun. The Bible teaches that we live in a sin-cursed world as a result of Adam’s sin.
- Evidence from History
- The oldest known historical records are less than 6000 years old. (1, p. 160)
Again, these are lower limits, not upper limits.
- Many ancient cultures have stories of an original creation in the recent past and a worldwide Flood. Nearly 300 of these Flood legends are now known.
And many cultures do not. Typically, those cultures that lived by rivers that flooded unpredictably typically had flood stories, while those who did not live near water did not. Also, the stories are drastically different in their details.
- The following Bible verses tell when "the beginning" was:
I have not included the Bible verses referred to because (a) most references to "the beginning" do not have to refer to "the beginning of the universe", and (b) science is limited to that which can be examined from physical evidence. The structure of science leaves revealed truth out of the picture entirely. My belief in my friends, wife, religion, etc., is not weakened in the least because I cannot prove scientifically. Nor do I try.
As I said before, that is incorrect. If even one method resulting in a great age for the earth is reliable, the earth is shown to be old. As it happens, there are NO successful proofs on this list, so my points here may well be superfluous. To be fair, I am in the process of showing how ALL the "evidences" are wrong. I have already listed many more than "one or two". The reason why the original Kent Hovind article strikes me as a less than honest approach is because listing fifty or sixty bad pieces of "evidence" means that if someone shows how one in particular is false, then they are "… try[ing] to discredit one or two of these evidences …" Is there ANY one piece of "evidence" on Kent Hovind's web site that he (or anyone else) will actually stand behind?!?
The burden of proof is on the evolutionists if they expect all taxpayers to fund the teaching of their religion in the school system. Many who believe in evolution are great at "straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel" (Mt. 23:24).
- Those who believe the earth is billions of years old will typically try to discredit one or two of these evidences and then mistakenly think that they have successfully proven the entire list wrong. This is not logical, of course. Each evidence stands independently: it only takes one to prove the earth is young.
Mainstream science has put forward much evidence. Creationism has put forward none. If you wish to claim creationism as a science, YOU must show evidence. Heck, at this point ANY reliable creationist evidence would be greatly appreciated. And, again, recognition of the process of evolution is not a religion even if you claim it is over and over again.
Thank heaven for that! Science does not deal in absolutes; that is more traditionally the province of religion. That others have used "perhaps, could have, we understand that..." is a strength, not a weakness!
Evolutionists may need billions of years to make people believe a rock can turn into a rocket scientist, but that time just isn’t available.
- Evolutionists love to assume uniformitarian processes. Many of the preceding evidences follow the same logic evolutionists use all the time in dealing with carbon dating, strata formation, genetic drift, etc.
- It is interesting to read the ramblings of nay-sayers like Scott, Matson, Babinski, etc. as they try to answer theses evidences for a young universe. See how many times they use words like: we believe, perhaps, could have, there is some reason to believe, etc.
This attitude confuses me perhaps more than anything else. The overwhelming majority of Christian denominations have recognized that a God of a universe billions of light-years across, and billions of years old, is so much more awe-inspiring than the image of God that the ancient Hebrews were able to comprehend. On the bright side, I now have a fuller understanding of the verse "… though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." (Matthew 13:13)
Again, just to be sure this is clear, life is understood to have developed from naturally occurring non-living chemicals. This is not at all the same as "rock into rocket scientist". That is a quaint turn-of-phrase, but a completely incorrect characterization.
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