Issue of Dating the Earth
Dating the Earth is a question disputable for two historically confronting groupings: religious creationists and materialistic evolutionists. A history of scientific approaches to the issue of determining the Earth’s age performs, in effect, oscillations toward materialism views or religious outlook. Exactly, within such an opposition two basic theories to the planet dating occur: catastrophism (based on the creationists’ ideas), and uniformitarianism (based on natural-scientific materialistic views). Despite different ideological arguments of the two theories, neither catastrophism, nor uniformitarianism exclude each other. Instead they are mutually complementary.
One of the basic arguments within the field of geology is the issue of the Earth dating. At the beginning of the 19th century in the geological branch of science the catastrophists’ theory prevails. As stated by Yaacov, “They [British geologists] did not see any conflict between geology and their Christian faith” (Dating the Earth 50). Thus, they viewed the geological processes having taken place long ago on the planet as the result of the Biblical deluge. Anyway, together with the rapid development of the scientific knowledges, which mean the rise of the materialistic outlook, the religious dogma starts to be disputable. The English Charles Lyell publishes “Principles of Geology” (1830-1833). “Lyell advocated an alternative method for scientific inquiry that was later dubbed ‘uniformitarianism’” (Dating the Earth 51). The uniformitarian theory operates with the idea that the age of the Earth is essentially more than stated within religious texts and is the result of the gradual geological processes of nature. Since then uniformitarianism has been dominating within geology and, consequently, any secular education system.
Nevertheless, in the 20th century a set of new geological discoveries, such as the theory of the continental drift by Alfred Wegener (1915), the theory of the giant meteor which resulted in rapid extinction of dinosaurs by Luis Alvares (1980), and the theory of a massive flood in the Channeled Scablands by Harlan Bretz (1929) let the catastrophists take their revenge: “These three examples clearly show that there has been a revival of catastrophism in modern science” (Dating the Earth 55). Moreover, the existing methods of radioactive dating become an issue for further discussion. As an example, Yaacov cite the potassium-argon dating claiming that it “can give dates older than the purported geologic age of the Earth, about 4,8 billion years” (Continental Drift, Asteroid Impacts, and the Flood, 92). According to Judaism, to which the author of the article belongs, the Earth is much younger than as stated by the uniformitarianists. Looking for parallels between the science and the Torah text (“[…] it is striking how very much in accord it is both with Torah sources and contemporary scientific theories” (Continental Drift, Asteroid Impacts, and the Flood, 91)), Yaacov just points at the flaws and weaknesses within the materialistic theory to support the creationists. Anyway, there are no firm evidences that either improve or completely defeat any of the theories. The “catastrophic” discoveries of the 20th century do not abolish uniformitarianism. They supplement it. That is …