What Should Christians Think of Radiometric Dating? pt. 1

Absolute dating techniques associated with radioisotope decay are perhaps the greatest challenge to a cogent and scientifically sustainable young-earth creationist model. How are Christians to respond to claims that the earth is billions of years old?

The following article has been reblogged with permission from Creation Unfolding. The views expressed in this article reflect those of the author, and not necessarily those of New Creation.

Pleochroic halos around crystals of zircons in a sample of biotite.
Image Credit: Strekeisen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44917251

Typically, most Christians and/or creationists will respond with some kind of anti-evolutionary rhetoric that categorically undermines the veracity of radioisotope dating—“it’s all bogus.” This is a mistake. Geochronology based on radioisotope models of decay is a scientifically robust discipline. A knee-jerk reaction that condemns the entire discipline is borne out of fear, not fact. Most creationist scientists are now quite convinced that millions of years’ worth of isotope decay has occurred and is displayed in rocks. The best evidence for this is the presence of uranium radio-halos. [Editor’s Note: see the small, round black smudges on the image above; the large roundish object is a zircon crystal from which the Uranium came.]

When the element uranium decays, small pieces of it shoot away from its center at high speeds in all directions. As each piece moves through solid rock, it cuts a path into the rock. This would be like shooting a bullet into ice: the bullet would cut through the ice and leave a path that you could see. Since these pieces shoot away from the uranium in all directions, all the little paths together etch a perfect sphere into the rock. Hence, a uranium halo.

Since it takes at least 100 million years for uranium to etch a mature halo into rock, then lots of radioisotope decay has occurred. Answers in Genesis geologist Andrew Snelling says this, “The presence of 238U radiohalos in granitic rocks at many levels throughout the Paleozoic-Mesozoic geologic record…is consistent with hundreds of millions of years’ worth of radioisotope decay having occurred.” (Snelling 2005 p. 400.)

Notice, these halos have nothing to do with complicated mathematics, charts, graphs, or interpretations. The halo is the product of a very well-known and simple “mechanical” process. It is true, we can’t get a close approximation as to how much radioisotope decay has occurred, but a mature halo allows us to approximate a minimum of about a hundred million years’ worth.

The Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth (RATE) group have proposed a possible solution. They conducted several experiments and collated data that suggests a change in the fundamental rate at which radioisotopes decay. In their model, accelerated radioisotope decay would have occurred during Creation Week with a possible second bout occurring during Noah’s Flood. Christians should not think this strange.

God does not require billions of years to make a mature planet. He could have made the earth instantly, or He could have fashioned it using supernaturally accelerated rates of change. The result of such a strategy would have important implications for humans. Vast processes are currently at work maturing our planet. Extrapolating the “current” rates of change backwards in time would lead to an erroneous “age” for the earth. Since God’s creative strategy was extraordinary, He graciously provided an account of it in His word—Genesis 1.

What remains is for humans to “believe” this account. Without the aid of special revelation, humans could never know when or how God created anything because they would be relying on their own methods of interpretation. Since humans interpret process in terms of time, and since God created a mature planet stamped with vast amounts of process, then humans will interpret those processes in terms of billions of years. But remember, there are no “dates” in the rock. They are geochemical reactions that humans interpret as time. This is why we need God’s historical account—to help us interpret process.

Click here to read part II!

Zeynel Cebeci, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Snelling, Andrew. 2005. “Radiohalos in Granites: Evidence for Accelerated Nuclear Decay.” In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, edited by L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling and E.F. Chaffin. El Cajon, California: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, Arizona: Creation Research Society

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephan Blackford
Stephan Blackford
June 21, 2021 8:19 PM

I’m not sure this is very reassuring.

Christian Ryan
June 22, 2021 12:51 PM

Hello Stephan!

This article is the first of a two-part series Dr. Coulson has written on radiometric dating. Please be sure to check out part II as well!

Ken Coulson
Ken Coulson
June 22, 2021 1:06 PM

Hi Stephan, i understand your lack of excitement. This is one of the most difficult topics in creationism. If, however, all rates were accelerated (for the purpose of heating crustal plates and thus allowing for rapid plate movements) then this single hypothesis can account for a lot of data. True, “so far” no naturalistic mechanism can account for these accelerated rates, but God’s word is true, and thus becomes the primary piece of evidence when interpreting the past. All the best, Ken Coulson

June 27, 2021 5:22 PM

It shouldn’t be. Check out my recent posts’ links.

Kelly Smith
June 23, 2021 4:36 AM

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have additional scripture and modern day Prophets to help explain many things that are not quite clear regarding the creation of the Earth. Of course, they don’t explain everything as much is to be revealed soon but these are available to everyone who desires to study them and there are all online.

A couple of things to note:

1-The earth was not created here in this solar system but was placed here in a perfect orbit string the Sun and given a moon for several reasons.

2-The earth is alive and has a spirit in it. It weeps because of the wickedness of the people that dwell on her.

3-It’s creation took 7 periods of Time and since it was created in Gods presence, time does not exist so we can’t measure it the same as we do here.

4-The elements from which the Earth was created have always existed. Yes they are billions of years old, but the earth is not.

5-Adam and Eve are children of Heavenly Parents. So are we.

6-The Fall of Adan and Eve was a good thing because it made it possible for us to obtain this physical body. They were SUPPOSED to partake of the fruit so we could progress in our eternal journey to become like Heavenly Father.

7-All the animals were PLACED here, they did not evolve. All plant life came from seeds that were sown here in this earth.

8-Jesus Christ is Jehovah who created all of this under the direction of God the Father. He is our Savior and Redeemer and paid the ultimate price in all of the Universe by fulfilling the Atonement so we could be forgiven of our sins and resurrected with our physical bodies to dwell eternally in some form of glory depending on the choices we make here and our reliance upon Jesus Christ.

9-God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the young prophet Joseph Smith in 1820 and restored the authority of the priesthood and His Church again which was taken because of iniquity. We have a prophet in the earth again today just like Moses. We invite all to come and learn new things. We never denigrate any religion because God has had a hand in all of them and was only prevented from revealing more because the people were not willing to accept more.

10-Jesus Christ is coming soon and the only people who will not be at war are those who are a part of Zion, the New Jerusalem which will be built here on the American Continent.

June 26, 2021 7:23 AM

I don’t think ‘flood geology’ is true. A site search here did not result in any hits for ‘Hawaii’. Check this out, please:

June 26, 2021 8:45 PM

God engineered a lot of clocks into his creation for us to discover and to learn how to use. Interestingly, they mutually validate and calibrate each other. He didn’t mess with the mechanisms after they were made. Here is a good example of said mutual validation and respective calibration:

“A 60,000 Year Varve Record from Japan Refutes the Young-Earth Interpretation of Earth’s History”:


June 26, 2021 8:47 PM

A relevant verse:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not established my covenant with the day and the night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth…’”

Jeremiah 33:25


June 27, 2021 4:26 PM

This is a favorite:

Girdled rocks

New evidence always supports the antiquity of the earth and it continues to build.

June 27, 2021 9:30 PM
Reply to  Dale

I haven’t got the hang of embedding links here. 😐


Girdled Rocks ← That works, for now anyway. Yay. 🙂

Last edited 2 years ago by Dale
June 27, 2021 5:16 PM

This should clear up some things:

The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology

June 27, 2021 9:29 PM
Reply to  Dale
June 27, 2021 5:20 PM

Try this on for size 🙂, by a Christian elementary particle physicist (check out other articles on his blog, too):

A Small Big Universe

June 27, 2021 9:26 PM
Reply to  Dale

I guess I haven’t figured out how to embed the links correctly.


Last edited 2 years ago by Dale
June 29, 2021 1:49 PM
Reply to  Ken Coulson

As I commented in Part 2:

What do I think of Peter’s words. “…the world that then existed”? Did Peter necessarily have a concept of a spherical earth? Regardless of that, he meant “world” in the same sense that I mean it in a limited way when I say “the Western world” or “the world of the ancient Greeks.”


Science confirms Genesis 1. The earth was a water world early on, covering the preexisting peaks.

“…and that BY MEANS OF THESE the world that then existed was deluged with water” only says that it was the same water, not that it had to cover the whole planet again. We’ve already covered what “the world that then existed” means.

July 3, 2021 6:45 AM

Barry Setterfield’s work with zero point energy, shows that light is slowing. It was going 3 billion times faster at creation than it is now. This would account for billions of years of decay in a short period of time.

You May Also Like