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Thread: Age of rocks

  1. #1 Age of rocks 
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    How does one tell between an old rock and a new rock? What way would they test each rock to find the age of it? Thanks


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    I don't know the details but I think the 'nuclear clock is reset' when a rock is melted and returned back to an igneous rock. This clock is the half-life time of decay of radioactive elements to other lighter elements. Someone here will know the details.


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    sigh - i don't really feel like repeating what has already been discussed ad nauseam in the radio isotope dating question

    feel free to pick out the bits in the 700+ posts that have managed to stay on-topic
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    i tried to, but it got way out there and was a little hard to follow, so I would like to keep it real simple here. I have looked at a bunch of web pages, but have not found how they test rocks a scientific way, such as blind tests, so they would not know where the rocks were picked up from. Thanks for any replies.
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    The tests can't be done blind, since the different dating methods don't work through all time scales and in all applications. That is why sending fresh volcanic rock for Carbon dating will not produce accurate results.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiometric_dating

    The principles are not that complicated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    i tried to, but it got way out there and was a little hard to follow, so I would like to keep it real simple here. I have looked at a bunch of web pages, but have not found how they test rocks a scientific way, such as blind tests, so they would not know where the rocks were picked up from. Thanks for any replies.
    The simple version is that there are different methods of dating for different types of rocks. One method which retains a lot of confidence is uranium-lead (U-Pb) dating of igneous rocks (i.e granite). Minerals such as zircon are found within, and contain trace amounts of uranium. Measuring the amount of uranium in the mineral versus the amount of lead, and then using the half-life decay equation that describes the nature of uranium transforming into lead can yield a date for the point at which that rock solidified from a body of magma or lava.

    Keep in mind the above is very simplified.
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    The tests can't be done blind, since the different dating methods don't work through all time scales and in all applications. That is why sending fresh volcanic rock for Carbon dating will not produce accurate results.

    Isn't radiometric dating blind to a degree? Obviously the scientists carrying out the fieldwork and processing the results will know where a sample is from and maybe have an idea of the expected age, but I thought that the lab scientists who test te actual sample aren't told anything about the rock, only to carry out technique x on it.

    How does one tell between an old rock and a new rock? What way would they test each rock to find the age of it? Thanks
    Radiometric dates produce what are known as absolute dates (a number, basically) but most dating in geology is relative. Relative dating tells us x is older than y, but younger than z etc... This is mainly based on the principles of superposition and cross-cutting relationships. I'll go through the basics.

    Superposition basically means the oldest sediments (or lava flows) lay at the bottom of an undisturbed sequence, getting younger the further up you go. Just like layers of paint on a surface- the one you put on first will be subsequently covered over by new ones and the newest will be on the top. Folding and faulting might make it hard to see the original order, but with enough study, you will be able to work it out so long as the rock hasn't been destroyed.

    Cross cutting relationships basically involves looking at what features cut across others, for example if a fault cuts several layers of rock then you know for sure it was last active after that rock was laid down. The same goes for a body of igneous (once molten) rock that sets below ground (known as an intrusion). The intrusion must have set after the rock that surrounds it had been deposited already.

    Then there are the fossils. Say you use superposition to work out the order that rocks were originally deposited in an area. In every section you view, you see the same order of fossils within these rocks. There might be certain bands of fossils that occur once and only once in every sequence. No matter how far up or down a sequence you go, you don't find this band again or you don't find the order repeating itself. Once you're satisfied a band only occurs once or the pattern you are seeing does not repeat, you can be pretty sure that if you find the same thing elsewhere then it is part of the same group and of near-equal age to all the others.

    Geologists use all these methods in combination, and they agree pretty nicely. The order of rocks in a lot of areas had been pretty much decided upon based on order, cross cutting and fossil content long before radiometric dating became available. When we could put an absolute age on rocks this didn't result in any major revisions to the order that had allready been decided. Our big picture was pretty on the mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Matt
    The tests can't be done blind, since the different dating methods don't work through all time scales and in all applications. That is why sending fresh volcanic rock for Carbon dating will not produce accurate results.

    Isn't radiometric dating blind to a degree? Obviously the scientists carrying out the fieldwork and processing the results will know where a sample is from and maybe have an idea of the expected age, but I thought that the lab scientists who test te actual sample aren't told anything about the rock, only to carry out technique x on it.
    As I understand it, yes, with the testers only told which test to use. In fact, you should know better than me. :wink:

    I made the point of adding that, because of dishonest Creationist ploys to knowingly submit samples for the wrong tests in order to bring radiometric dating into disrepute. Just in case mastmec had those in mind.
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  10. #9  
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    the matt said
    Radiometric dates produce what are known as absolute dates (a number, basically) but most dating in geology is relative. Relative dating tells us x is older than y, but younger than z etc... This is mainly based on the principles of superposition and cross-cutting relationships. I'll go through the basics.
    This is circular reasoning.
    And either radiometric dating is absolute or relative, it can't be both.
    As much as I can find on radiometric dating is that there is a error of about 20 million years or so out of several billion. Is this why they can't correctly find the age of new volcanic rock?
    What other way could they test the rock?
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    Please reread the statement you quoted. Radiometric dating is absolute. Dating via superposition is relative. Two different methods that complement each other but are not the same.

    In regards to the error margin remember that 20 million years usually translates to an average of less then 1% on each side of the date! It is the size of the numbers that make them so large and improbable sounding.
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    radiometric dating is absolute, but it is cross-referenced with other (both absolute and relative) dating methods to ensure that anomalous results (which do occur, but not frequently enough to cast doubt on the whole methodology) are flagged up and further investigated

    as far as i'm aware, all of them have proven to be truly anomalous
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    Ok, how can radiometric dating be absolute if there is that sizable margin of error?
    So MarnixR, are you saying that all dating methods are not consistent?
    If we have no way to be acruate about dating fossils and rocks, how do we conclude that everything is millions of years old if the margin of error is millions of years?
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    Is this why they can't correctly find the age of new volcanic rock?
    I knew it!

    Ok, how can radiometric dating be absolute if there is that sizable margin of error?
    So MarnixR, are you saying that all dating methods are not consistent?
    If we have no way to be acruate about dating fossils and rocks, how do we conclude that everything is millions of years old if the margin of error is millions of years?
    Dude, 20 million years in a few Billion is nothing. Did you read the link I provided? It really is not that difficult to understand. They have to count the number of existing isotopes relative to the expected number. Even 5% error margin is more than acceptable. If you look, dates are given as between this and that dates to incorporate the error margin. The thing is that even with the error margin taken account of, dates are still found of hundreds and thousands of millions of years. The earth is simply undeniably very old. Different dating methods agree with each other within their error margins in the vast majority of cases. The decay rates are known to a very high accuracy and any variables are taken account of as far as is humanly possible when testing for the age of specimens. The methodology is geared towards finding the most accurate dates possible. They have NO reason to fabricate dates. Again, read an impartial link on how it works and try to understand it before bringing it into question.
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    You knew what, you brought that example up, so I went with what you started.
    I did read the link you gave, I got it. But, it still leaves a huge margin of error, and compairing it to billions does not make it better. If we can't acuratly test for age, then what is there to stand on?
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    Is this why they can't correctly find the age of new volcanic rock?.......
    I did read the link you gave, I got it.
    Those two sentences are not compatible with each other, mastmec. If you had really understood it, you would have known the answer. The margin of error is not huge percentage wise. If you had ever taken a science class, you would know that error margins are everywhere in science. When we measure something small, we give small error margins, size wise, but percentage wise it is not any less accurate. If no error margins are given, it is usually the average that is used for ease of explanation, but they are still there in the original data. 20 million years out of a billion is one part in 50, or 1% error in either direction. That is really pretty accurate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    You knew what, you brought that example up, so I went with what you started.
    I did read the link you gave, I got it. But, it still leaves a huge margin of error, and compairing it to billions does not make it better. If we can't acuratly test for age, then what is there to stand on?
    You might be surprised. Often the margin of error is significantly less than +/- 20 million years. Work done on the end-Permian and K-T mass exctinctions, for example, has narrowed the window to a scale of a few hundred-thousand years. To discard this evidence because it does not fit with our anthropic view of what is chronologically relevent would be a mistake.
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    Are you implying that the K-T mass exctinction happened a few hundred thousand years ago, instead of millions?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Are you implying that the K-T mass exctinction happened a few hundred thousand years ago, instead of millions?
    WHAT????? Where exactly does that comment come from? No where in this discussion has the K-T extinction even been mentioned, let alone stated that it may have happened at some time other then 65 million years ago.

    If you are implying that ALL radiometric dates have the same error margin, this is completely wrong
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    Read the first post on this page.
    I'm not implying anything about radiometric dating, I'm inquiring about it. Please explain the error margin where it is less.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Ok, how can radiometric dating be absolute if there is that sizable margin of error?
    Absolute does not mean precise down to the year. Absolute simply means that it assigns an age to a sample- a number, with or without a margin of error. This is in relation to relative dating (which radiometric dating is not as Palaeoichneum pointed out) which can by itself only tell us whether something is older or younger than another sample.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Read the first post on this page.
    I'm not implying anything about radiometric dating, I'm inquiring about it. Please explain the error margin where it is less.
    The op has nothing to do with the statement you made to posts ago. That specific statement is what I want clarified. The op is 2 short sentences do nothing to resolve this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum
    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Read the first post on this page.
    I'm not implying anything about radiometric dating, I'm inquiring about it. Please explain the error margin where it is less.
    The op has nothing to do with the statement you made to posts ago. That specific statement is what I want clarified. The op is 2 short sentences do nothing to resolve this.
    What is "op"?
    What do you want clarified?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Are you implying that the K-T mass exctinction happened a few hundred thousand years ago, instead of millions?
    I apologize if my wording was obtuse, but no, not at all. I'm saying that the date of 65 Ma can be bracketed within that margin of error.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Ok, how can radiometric dating be absolute if there is that sizable margin of error?
    So MarnixR, are you saying that all dating methods are not consistent?
    If we have no way to be acruate about dating fossils and rocks, how do we conclude that everything is millions of years old if the margin of error is millions of years?
    you misunderstand the meaning of the word absolute - in this context it means that an age value can be assigned in numbers of million or billions of years
    this is as opposed to the relative method where we merely state that one geological stratum is younger or older than another because of the rules of superposition

    it does not mean that the absolute age determination does not leave any room for a degree of error, which usually is a small percentage of the mean age determined
    and before you think that the word "error" means that it's all one big mistake, the word error is again a technical term meaning the degree of statistical uncertainty - that's why in the technical literature you will see age determinations expressed as e.g. 250 ± 2.5 MYA, or an error of 1% in the case of my example
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  26. #25  
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    OP means opening post

    I would like clarification of where your statement regarding the K-T boundary came from and what it is based off of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum
    OP means opening post

    I would like clarification of where your statement regarding the K-T boundary came from and what it is based off of.
    mastmec was replying to my post where I originally brought it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum
    OP means opening post

    Thanks

    I would like clarification of where your statement regarding the K-T boundary came from and what it is based off of.
    Goto the top of page 2 and read the top posts, it was a misunderstanding anyway.


    MarnixR: I understand 'margin of error' what I don't get is the complete trust and defence of the results of these tests with such a large margin of error. You can compair the results to anything you like to make it sound better, but there is a whole bunch of time in 20 million years.

    Are there any tests which can get more acurate results. And as far as the question of tested newly formed rocks from lava (all I got so far was a "I knew it" responce) Is there a way to test them and do they do blind tests on rocks?
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    where do you get your error of 20 million from + what rocks does it apply to ?
    certainly not to the more recent events such as the K-T boundary which is known to have an age of 65.5 ± 0.3 MYA

    it's only very old rocks, such as the Southwestern Isua Greenstone Belt, which have been measured with errors of that magnitude (in this case 2847 ± 26 MYA using the Pb-Pb method)
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  30. #29  
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    This article is a tad on the long side, but certainly worth a read if you are an any way unclear about radiometric dating:
    http://www.asa3.org/aSA/resources/Wiens.html
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  31. #30 Re: Age of rocks 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    How does one tell between an old rock and a new rock? What way would they test each rock to find the age of it? Thanks
    I recognise that several people have provided a number of answers to this question. I hope this contribution will add something.

    The starting point for age discrimination is the work of the Dane Niels Stensen in the seventeenth century. His Principle of Superposition noted that in a sequence of sediments the youngest stratum was on top, the oldest on the bottom.
    We can observe the principle at work as sediments are deposited in lakes, beaches, on the seabed, or on river flood plains. It is logical to extend the idea to older sediments and to sedimentary rocks that we have not seen deposited.

    Over vast areas of the Earth's surface we can trace individual strata for many kilometres, sometimes thousands of kilometres. It is then easy to determine the relative age of these different strata.

    William Smith - engaged in canal building in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - and one of the Fathers of modern geology, observed that not only could one trace strata for hundreds of miles, but that these strata had a consistent suite of fossils embedded in them. This led to the correlation of rocks that had not remained nicely inter-connected, but that had been twisted and deformed by tectonic activity. Thus it was still possible to date a rock in a relative way on the basis of its fossil content.

    In the latter part of the nineteenth century there was much interest in determining not only the relative age of rocks, but the absolute age as well.

    (A brief aside here mastec: in at least some of your posts you seem to confuse absolute with precise. Absolute does not mean precise - though an absolute age may also be precise. Absolute simply means we have been able to assigned some numerical value to the age of the rock. As has been explained by others this age will be known to some degree of accuracy. Relative ages do not have any associated number of years assigned to them - we simply say 'this rock is older than that one' and that determination is made on the basis of their field relationships or their fossil contents. )

    In particular this desire to determine absolute age focused on finding out the age of the Earth. Various attempts were made. Calculations of how long it would take to deposit the total thickness of rocks observed around the world; calculations of how long it would take for the oceans to become as salty as they are; and Lord Kelvin's estimate of how long the Earth would take to cool from a molten ball.

    There was thus a nasty conflict between a very old Earth, as envisaged by James Hutton (No vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.), as apparently required by Darwin for his evolution by natural selection to work, and the comparatively young Earth determined by various calculations.

    Radioactivity came to the rescue. It provided the explanation for the still warm Earth, the heat to power the plate tectonics that recycled the salt, and was derived from allied processes of nucleosynthesis that prevented the sun from burning out.

    That same radioactivity delivered an excellent means of delivering absolute ages for rocks. Others have given good links that address the particulars of the varous techniques involved. However, do not lose sight of the fact that it is the two methods together - absolute and relative dating - that allow us to interepret the history of our planet.
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  32. #31 Re: Age of rocks 
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt

    (A brief aside here mastec: in at least some of your posts you seem to confuse absolute with precise. Absolute does not mean precise - though an absolute age may also be precise. Absolute simply means we have been able to assigned some numerical value to the age of the rock. As has been explained by others this age will be known to some degree of accuracy. Relative ages do not have any associated number of years assigned to them - we simply say 'this rock is older than that one' and that determination is made on the basis of their field relationships or their fossil contents. )

    –noun 14. something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature, size, etc. (opposed to relative ).
    15. the absolute, a. something that is free from any restriction or condition.
    b. something that is independent of some or all relations.
    c. something that is perfect or complete.
    d. (in Hegelianism) the world process operating in accordance with the absolute idea.

    No I'm not confused, you are very laxed in your interpretation of the word. That way it gives the argument a whole lot of leeway.[/quote]
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    You missed this definition:

    Physics.
    Relating to measurements or units of measurement derived from fundamental units of length, mass, and time
    http://www.answers.com/absolute

    You have been told several times what "absolute dating" means. Please stop trying to undermine a technique based purely on a dislike of the words used to describe it. We are not being lax in our interpretation of the words at all- we are using the accepted definition. If you do not like the term, feel free to call it chronometric dating or calendar dating.
    May we please move on now?
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Matt
    You missed this definition:

    Physics.
    Relating to measurements or units of measurement derived from fundamental units of length, mass, and time
    http://www.answers.com/absolute

    You have been told several times what "absolute dating" means. Please stop trying to undermine a technique based purely on a dislike of the words used to describe it. We are not being lax in our interpretation of the words at all- we are using the accepted definition. If you do not like the term, feel free to call it chronometric dating or calendar dating.
    May we please move on now?
    Sure, when I see rocks with "made in mexico 1818" then we can call it chronometric dating.
    First, this is a scientific forum right?
    The matt said "Please stop trying to undermine a technique based purely on a dislike of the words used to describe it." Are you kidding me? "dislike" how about dishonest! You quoted a line from answers about a unit of measurement derived from fundamental units of length, mass, and time. That is FROM a fundamental unit, not using a flawed technique to calculate a fundamental unit. Anybody can come up with a number, that does not mean it's absolute unless it can be tested and retested and still come up with the SAME number like the weight of water, Thats absolute, +/- billion years, not absolute, no matter how much you dislike it!
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    Thats absolute, +/- billion years
    What?

    It is simply the terminology used. Scientists know what is meant when they talk of absolute dates, even if you don't. You are being uninformedly pedantic. Quarks are classified as strange, up, down, etc. No physicist actually think of them in that way of course. Please, you are playing the fool here.
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    Oh, so we can just use words that sound good for our position and call it "the terminology" So if science is not pedantic, then just what the hell is? It certaintly can't be english here.
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    Oh, so we can just use words that sound good for our position and call it "the terminology"
    Well, scientists choose the terminology so everyone involved in the field knows what is meant by it. It has been patiently explained to you what the terminology is and what is meant by it, but you seem to just be in a mood for fighting with people that oppose your own non-scientific ideas. Grow up.
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    My own non-scientific ideas? Where does that come from, I'm arguing for absolutes which is truly scientific. Otherwise it's philosophy, not science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    My own non-scientific ideas? Where does that come from, I'm arguing for absolutes which is truly scientific. Otherwise it's philosophy, not science.
    The difference between philosophy and science is the presence of evidence and the investigation of that evidence. Science obviously strives for absolutes, but can only ever come as close as their methods allow. In the case of radiometric dating, they have come awfully close. You are just staring blindly at the subjectively large error margins, but refuse to see just how small they are percentage wise and how precise the method really is. You can divide a yard into arbitrarily small subunits, so anything you measure can have large numerical error values. But when looked at in context, they are really very small and accurate. It has been explained to you patiently that absolute dates mean simply that a date has been assigned to it, as opposed to relative or no age. Yet you keep hammering on about the everyday definition as if it has anything at all to do with the validity of the research. What are you really at odds with? Do you think the earth is much younger or what?
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    Forget the terminology. I don't care if you don't like the term 'absolute datng'. That is the term whether you like it or not. Let us move on.
    Say I have used uranium-lead dating on a zircon crystal. The result I get tells me it is 100 million years old plus or minus 1 million years. Do you accept that the crystal is somewhere between 101 million and 99 million years old? If no, why?
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    So again, how can we correctly date young rocks that we actually know the age of?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    So again, how can we correctly date young rocks that we actually know the age of?
    Would you answer his question?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    So again, how can we correctly date young rocks that we actually know the age of?
    As one example, the eruption of Vesuvius was correlated with historical records based on the carbon isotopic signature of organic matter enclosed within the lava.

    Depends on what you mean by 'young'. When I hear that word, I generally think of anything in the Cenozoic.
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    mastmec, i'm afraid you're coming close to outstaying your welcome here
    how about answering other members' questions with a proper answer rather than a volley of bluster ?

    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    You quoted a line from answers about a unit of measurement derived from fundamental units of length, mass, and time. That is FROM a fundamental unit, ...
    yes, and as far as i'm aware, the year (or million / billion years) is a fundamental unit of time

    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    ... not using a flawed technique to calculate a fundamental unit. Anybody can come up with a number, that does not mean it's absolute unless it can be tested and retested and still come up with the SAME number
    how do you know it's a flawed technique ? because samples DO get tested and retested and come up with the same number WITHIN THE RANGE OF MEASURING ERROR, which, as has been pointed out repeatedly, amounts to something in the order of 1%, depending on the dating method used and the age of the rocks

    your insistence on measuring exactly the SAME NUMBER EVERY TIME is something that is NEVER achieved, not even in a high school chemistry of physics lab - experiments and tests ALWAYS comes up with a range of closely clustered values
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    This troll is not even funny, and his steering doesn't lead to education.

    Maybe better kill this thread before it sucks investment.
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    added a poll - if there's 10 more people voting yes than voting no, i'll lock the thread, if not then i'll leave it open
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Matt
    Forget the terminology. I don't care if you don't like the term 'absolute datng'. That is the term whether you like it or not. Let us move on.
    Say I have used uranium-lead dating on a zircon crystal. The result I get tells me it is 100 million years old plus or minus 1 million years. Do you accept that the crystal is somewhere between 101 million and 99 million years old? If no, why?
    In short, not yet. I have yet to find a way to test young rocks (volcanic rock that we know when it was formed) with acurate results. This is why I ask the question. Then low and behold I get the expected responces, I have insulted your theory, therfore you have to shutup decent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    I have yet to find a way to test young rocks (volcanic rock that we know when it was formed) with acurate results. This is why I ask the question. Then low and behold I get the expected responces, I have insulted your theory, therfore you have to shutup decent.
    so let me get this straight : you still have to find a suitable way to test young volcanic rocks (btw, good luck with that one, i don't think such a method exists), but you already have drawn the conclusion that you're going to give all of geology a bloody nose ?

    no wonder creationists make such poor scientists : your preconceptions not only guide what you're looking for, but also dictate what you're going to find before you've even found it
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    I have insulted your theory, therfore you have to shutup decent.
    You have only insulted your own intelligence.

    Why would we need to date them if we know when they formed?

    What do you classify as new rock?

    Are you attempting to group old rocks with new ones and the absence of a dating technique there?
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    No, that's not it at all. If we can't get an acurate base line for testing, then all the age tests are subject to critacize. As far as preconceptions go, what do you think evolution stands on? It's not facts. Other than micro-evolution (variations within a kind) None of the rest is backed up by provable evidence, nor is there phyisical evidence of God. I love science but I don't like being told something is science when it can't be proven. I think that we should be able to age rocks with great accuracy soon, untill then I will be skeptical of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    My own non-scientific ideas? Where does that come from, I'm arguing for absolutes which is truly scientific. Otherwise it's philosophy, not science.
    That's rather a misnomer anyhow because science is a branches of philosophy--hence the scientific doctorates of philosophy which are more than just a node to history.

    In any case I think more than enough time has been spent explaining the how the limitations of observations, measurements and testing are incorporated into science. While we'd all like precise measurement, there is very few examples where the observation methods or the very physics associated with the phenomena lend themselves to that unrealistic standard. So long as the error is relatively small and we understand the margin of error associated with the observation there's usually useful information. Such is case with measuring the age of rocks and most other things in science.

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    My watch cannot tell me the time to the nanosecond. Should I therefore disregard the time it gives me in hours and minutes?
    Do you know how radiometric dating works? Did you even read the link I posted? You really should.

    We can measure the decay rate of radioactive isotopes pretty damn well. We can measure the quantity of parent and daughter isotopes in a sample. Knowing the decay rate, we can work out how many half-lives have passed and therefore give the rock an approximate age.
    Dealing with half lives of thousands, millions or even bilions of years, no we do not have the precision nessecary to date a rock formed in the 1980s, but why is this a problem?
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    mastmec for the clarification and edification of the discussion please define what you mean when you say "young rock" before we go any further.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum
    mastmec for the clarification and edification of the discussion please define what you mean when you say "young rock" before we go any further.
    Say volcanic rock that we know in what year it happened, sometime that we has historical proof, like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and others in a shorter time period may be a good start.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    No, that's not it at all. If we can't get an acurate base line for testing, then all the age tests are subject to critacize. As far as preconceptions go, what do you think evolution stands on? It's not facts. Other than micro-evolution (variations within a kind) None of the rest is backed up by provable evidence, nor is there phyisical evidence of God. I love science but I don't like being told something is science when it can't be proven. I think that we should be able to age rocks with great accuracy soon, untill then I will be skeptical of it.
    We do have an accurate baseline, and that is radiometric decay. There is no evidence to suggest that the decay rates of elements used in dating have changed significantly, if at all, over the past 5 billion years. A few assumptions have to be made, but if done logically, are very sound. When geologists date a rock, they don't just grab any sample and zap it with a laser. The actual process is pretty complex - grinding up the rock, isolating dateable minerals, selecting suitable grains taking into account textures, structures, and zonation, and then modelling the result statistically. I find the biggest problem with radiometric dating is not the method itself, but rather the general public's lack of understanding of how scientists actually get an age date.

    Secondly, even if the method wasn't sound, a large amount of work has been done on sedimentation rates, facies-change stratigraphy, and paleoecology with respect to relative dating. And you know what? The two are closely correlated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Say volcanic rock that we know in what year it happened, sometime that we has historical proof, like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and others in a shorter time period may be a good start.
    if i really wanted to skeptical, i could also cast doubt on your historical "proof"
    after all, if you don't believe the laws of physics why should you believe the writings of mere men ?

    you weren't there to verify that history really happened the way books said it did, were you ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  57. #56 Re: Age of rocks 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    No I'm not confused, you are very laxed in your interpretation of the word. That way it gives the argument a whole lot of leeway.
    I was disappointed by your response. You gave a dictionary definition of 'absolute'. I've found that dictionary definitions are generally not very good when it comes to science. Rightly or wrongly science uses its terminology in a particular way.

    Certainly, when I see the phrase abolute dating it would never occur to me to think of it as meaning any of the things implied by your dictionary definitions. I can fully understand why it might seem that way to you. I'm not sure why you are so focused on this. I mean, if we agree to it, we could call it ballerina dating, or carpet dating. We have chosen to call it absolute dating. The meaning is very clear, and very precise within the scientific discipline it is defined in. I have used it in that way. My usage is not lax.

    With respect - and I really don't wish to get into an argument here - it does seem that you are using the word incorrectly in the context of dating and that your objections seem to arise from that misusage. Could you clarify for me what you find so wrong about what I claim to be the correct usage, in this context?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    My own non-scientific ideas? Where does that come from, I'm arguing for absolutes which is truly scientific. Otherwise it's philosophy, not science.
    Surely absolutes are a matter of faith, not science.

    As an exercise, I will run off and fetch the first scientific abstract that google scholar pulls up for 'radiometric dating.'

    Here it is:

    Here we report the first direct dating of the depositional age of a sedimentary carbonate rock using long-lived radioactive decay schemes. The Mushandike stromatolitic limestone, from the Masvingo (formerly Fort Victoria) greenstone belt of southern Zimbabwe1,2, yields a Pb/Pb isochron age of 2,83933 Myr. Published claims3 for an age of ~3.5 Gyr for the Mushandike limestone were based on its supposed intrusion by the Mushandike granite, for which a Rb–Sr whole-rock age of 3,445260 Myr had been reported4. New Rb–Sr and Pb/Pb isotope data for the Mushandike granite indicate a probable emplacement age of ~2,900 Myr, and new field evidence (J.L.O., P.T. & J.F.W., in preparation) suggests that the granite forms part of the basement on which the limestone was deposited. Thus the new dates do not support an age of ~3.5 Gyr for the algal stromatolites at Mushandike. The Pb/Pb isochron method may have wide applicability to dating the time of deposition of Precambrian fossiliferous and unfossiliferous limestones, and thus to the problem of the antiquity of life.
    Now, I've bolded the various bits in the abstract that demonstrate something along the lines of the non-absolute nature of the scientific method. This is the nature of science, a series of approximations.

    Put another way, a hypothesis can never be proven, only disproven. We seek to disprove our hypotheses.

    If you have been told that science is a study of absolutes you have been misinformed. As I mentioned to you on another thread, everything you are taught in science is wrong. What you are taught in science is an approximation, and subject to further refinement.

    Unlike the Bible which is considered to be the unerrant and immutable word of God, and thus underscoring why it is inappropriate to include in a science classroom.
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    on the other hand, by highlighting the word "probable" you're very likely to get the creationist knee-jerk reaction which wants to cast doubt over anything that they consider less than 100% certain - for some reason or another to them the word "probable" (even high probabilities in the 90%+ bracket) translates into "not very likely"

    to the absolutist mind anything that isn't totally black must be white, no shades of grey allowed
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    on the other hand, by highlighting the word "probable" you're very likely to get the creationist knee-jerk reaction which wants to cast doubt over anything that they consider less than 100% certain - for some reason or another to them the word "probable" (even high probabilities in the 90%+ bracket) translates into "not very likely"

    to the absolutist mind anything that isn't totally black must be white, no shades of grey allowed
    Hm... insightful! Thanks. I suppose one ought to use whatever language most readers understand.
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    Errrmm.... no. One ought to use appropriate language because it is proper usage, and has the added benefit of exemplifying why creationism, or any faith based endeavour for that matter, is not science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    on the other hand, by highlighting the word "probable" you're very likely to get the creationist knee-jerk reaction which wants to cast doubt over anything that they consider less than 100% certain - for some reason or another to them the word "probable" (even high probabilities in the 90%+ bracket) translates into "not very likely"

    to the absolutist mind anything that isn't totally black must be white, no shades of grey allowed
    Which is why the absolutist mind is not often the scientific mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Errrmm.... no. One ought to use appropriate language because it is proper usage, and has the added benefit of exemplifying why creationism, or any faith based endeavour for that matter, is not science.
    Ok, so cosmic, stellar, biological, chemical, and macro evoloution are not science, right, because they are all faith based.
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    My understanding of faith is that one holds a belief for which there is no evidence, or inconclusive evidence, for that belief.

    Faith can be a very positive attribute. Sometimes by having and displaying faith in an individual this may encourage and enable that individual to realise their potential. Equally faith at times may be negative. Having faith that a concoction of herbs will defeat a cancer can generate false hope.

    Scientists certainly use faith in their work. A scientist has faith that her hard work and diligence will lead to the succesful conclusion of a research project, or even a major breakthrough in her field.

    But surely mastec, science itself does not require faith. Indeed faith is deliberately and systematically excluded. A hypothesis must be cleaerly stated. It must be tested. It must be re-rested. It must be explored, prodded, dissected and scrutinised by many workers in the field. If, and only if, it stands up to this examination it will be accepted provisionally as true.

    But this acceptance is always provisional. At any time evidence may arise that disproves the hypothesis. Faith is not needed to 'believe' the hypothesis, because the hypothesis is always provisional.

    I sense, mastec, that you must doubt some part of this, or you would not claim that many aspects of science are faith based. I would like to understand why you have these doubts. Could you discuss this briefly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Errrmm.... no. One ought to use appropriate language because it is proper usage, and has the added benefit of exemplifying why creationism, or any faith based endeavour for that matter, is not science.
    Ok, so cosmic, stellar, biological, chemical, and macro evoloution are not science, right, because they are all faith based.
    absolute poppycock - there's plenty of evidence out there to support all the types of evolution that you seem to object to
    unlike you and your kind, most scientists let the data guide them when forming and testing hypotheses - the faith they have in a hypothesis is entirely dependent on how well the evidence supports it
    they are also aware that just because you dearly wish something to be true doesn't necessarily make it so

    btw, do you intend to become another jollybear, moving the topic when you see you can't win the original argument
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    Mastmec,
    The topic was dating of rocks. If you want to discuss something else, go start another thread. You haven't yet addressed my last post:

    Quote Originally Posted by the matt
    My watch cannot tell me the time to the nanosecond. Should I therefore disregard the time it gives me in hours and minutes?
    Do you know how radiometric dating works? Did you even read the link I posted? You really should.

    We can measure the decay rate of radioactive isotopes pretty damn well. We can measure the quantity of parent and daughter isotopes in a sample. Knowing the decay rate, we can work out how many half-lives have passed and therefore give the rock an approximate age.
    Dealing with half lives of thousands, millions or even bilions of years, no we do not have the precision nessecary to date a rock formed in the 1980s, but why is this a problem?
    Here is the link again. Read it.
    http://www.asa3.org/aSA/resources/Wiens.html

    Radiometric dating agrees with the ordering that was deduced through other means before the technique existed. If one or both of these were fundamentally flawed, this would not be the case.
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    John, I believe all aspects of evolution execpt micro, are all without any proof that they exsist. There is no evidence of any change from one to another, they are all theorys, otherwise they would be facts, hence faith in their work to study them. These studies are in fact a religion of sorts, they haven't been proven nor disproven. A lot of people on this forum like to poke fun at religion. They think for it to be a religion, one must be worshiping a God. Funny thing is, their theory is their god.
    MarnixR, no I'm not jollybear, haven't moved the topic, and as far as I know, nobody has been able to show that we can even date young rocks. If we can't date young rock acuratly what make you think that dating old rocks has any better results. And there is no evidence of evolution, it is how they interperate the things they find.
    The Matt, you wouldn't need a watch that only showed you what year your in would you. Time matters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    There is no evidence of any change from one to another, they are all theorys, otherwise they would be facts, hence faith in their work to study them.
    your confusion between theory and fact when it comes to science is now so well-known that you should really know better - even Wikipedia now has an entry showing the difference between the 2


    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    MarnixR, no I'm not jollybear, haven't moved the topic, and as far as I know, nobody has been able to show that we can even date young rocks. If we can't date young rock acuratly what make you think that dating old rocks has any better results.
    if you had taken the trouble to investigate dating methods you wouldn't insist on a proof that is not within the radiometric data methods to give : none of the methods that can be applied to volcanic rocks are capable of giving a valid reading on rocks of less than several 100,000 years old
    on the other hand, there is evidence of varves in lakes, or sedimentation on the ocean floor, or layers in ice cores where annual events can be recognised and which indicate durations of sedimentation of several 100,000 years

    i'll see i'll have to dig into the jollybear's thread to find the relevant references, but if that's what it takes, that's what i'll do
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    You have still failed to provide a valid objection to the techniques. If you believe they are incorrect over long timescales, why? How they perform over incredibly short timescales is irrelevant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    John, I believe all aspects of evolution execpt micro, are all without any proof that they exsist.
    As mentioned earlier, science is not about proof but rather disproof. None of the items you have mentioned have been disproven, after much testing within and without the scientific community. Indeed, mountains of evidence support them. That they have the quality of being disprovable is a hallmark of their scientific nature. They will never be "proven" as that concept is applicable only to law and mathematics, and not biology nor many other scientific disciplines.

    Gravity is not "proven." The term simply does not apply.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    If we can't date young rock acuratly what make you think that dating old rocks has any better results..
    I think you're asking: if we can't accurately age a first-year sapling, say to the week, how can we find the years of a mature tree. Right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    John, I believe all aspects of evolution execpt micro, are all without any proof that they exsist. There is no evidence of any change from one to another, they are all theorys, otherwise they would be facts, hence faith in their work to study them.
    I think Marnix has pointed out that you are misunderstanding the meaning and significance of the word theory. Theory is as good as it gets in science and that is pretty damn good. Theories are always provisional. Always. Please tell me where the faith is involved in provisionally accepting the best conclusion based on the available evidence?
    And really, there is a whole bunch of evidence out there for macro-evolution, despite your statement to the contrary. There are libraries filled with the evidence, and your reluctance to look at it and try to understand it will not alter that reality. But I don't want to get into a shouting match about it. I really would like you to give a more expansive answer to my highlighted question so that I can better understand why there is a disconnect in our understanding. Thanks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    As mentioned earlier, science is not about proof but rather disproof. None of the items you have mentioned have been disproven, after much testing within and without the scientific community. Indeed, mountains of evidence support them. That they have the quality of being disprovable is a hallmark of their scientific nature. They will never be "proven" as that concept is applicable only to law and mathematics, and not biology nor many other scientific disciplines.

    Gravity is not "proven." The term simply does not apply.
    Gravity is the same as evolution, it's a theory. That's about as high as a scientific idea can go, really. However, they'll just say it's "just a theory" without understanding the term.

    Science is actually based on disproval almost exclusively. If someone has 100 pieces of evidence for and only a single piece of evidence against, that hypothesis is thrown straight into the garbage can. Therefore, 1 piece of evidence against outweighs thousands or millions (in the case of evolution, billions) of pieces of evidence for. The idea must be reworked at the very least, hence disproval actually dictates science. Just backin you up here.



    LONG RANT ABOUT EVOLUTION:

    I can give you a nice example of macro evolution happening in the last 30 years:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...evolution.html

    Unless of course you're willing to argue that a harder bite, larger head and a completely different gut structure are just still micro evolution, in which case I think you'd better pick up a book. Here's some things to look into, Palaeontologically, that demonstrate evolution:

    [img]Tiktaalik[/img]
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...-missions.html

    Georgiacetus

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...hale-legs.html

    or how about reading a thread on this very forum on a transitional turtle

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/turtl...%27-15844t.php



    Still not convinced? Look at horses, Elephants, Ceratopsians, early birds, rodent molars and the list goes on and on and on.

    How about Dog breeds? Wine all you want about them not being different species, I promise you with more selective breeding like what is going on, they will be different species soon enough (infact, it's fast approaching a species complex considering that bulldogs can mate with any other breed really, they just won't if given the chance due to size restraints).

    Evolution isn't something you should believe in. It just plain happens, there is no belief in science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    John, I believe all aspects of evolution execpt micro, are all without any proof that they exsist. There is no evidence of any change from one to another, they are all theorys, otherwise they would be facts, hence faith in their work to study them.
    I think Marnix has pointed out that you are misunderstanding the meaning and significance of the word theory. Theory is as good as it gets in science and that is pretty damn good. Theories are always provisional. Always. Please tell me where the faith is involved in provisionally accepting the best conclusion based on the available evidence?
    And really, there is a whole bunch of evidence out there for macro-evolution, despite your statement to the contrary. There are libraries filled with the evidence, and your reluctance to look at it and try to understand it will not alter that reality. But I don't want to get into a shouting match about it. I really would like you to give a more expansive answer to my highlighted question so that I can better understand why there is a disconnect in our understanding. Thanks.
    Ok, condensed version, the big bang came from nothing or a dot, then there were planets and rocks which man and all living things evolved from. That I believe is basically your genisis. There is no evidence that any animal turned into another animal or plant nor man. There is no evidence that whales ever walked or snakes had legs or man had a tail, these are stupid ideas that an idiot came up with to fool other idiots in his thinking, aparently they had no knowlage of anatomy or could have easily figured out what these things were for. The librarys are full of pictures of dead things and details about where they were found and how old they think they are with lots of info you need to imagine all happened.
    All I wanted to know with this thread is if there was a way to date young rocks, I believe this is needed for anything else to even be considered.
    And I think that gravity has been proven, we're just not smart enough to know how and why.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Gravity is the same as evolution, it's a theory. That's about as high as a scientific idea can go, really. However, they'll just say it's "just a theory" without understanding the term.
    [/b]
    Errm, yes. One can always hope that creationists will learn the terminology properly, and that in the process scientists do not begin to use terminology improperly in some misguided effort to 'beat' a creationist at his game.

    Just backin you up here.
    Cheers,

    FR
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    There is no evidence that any animal turned into another animal or plant nor man. There is no evidence that whales ever walked or snakes had legs or man had a tail, these are <various insults>.
    Dear boy you are quite simply mistaken.

    Here is an example. The hypothesis is put forth that humans and chimps evolve from a common ancestor, and that all mammals have a more distant common ancestor.

    This hypothesis generates a prediction that can be tested. The prediction is that if the hypothesis is true, then the DNA of man and chimps will be more closely related than the DNA of man and pigs.

    Now, that prediction has been tested and found to be exactly the case.

    Here is another prediction that one can make.

    If evolution is true, then there will be no human fossils in strata that predate the origin of humans. In other words fossils for humans and dinosaurs will not exist in the same stratum. In fact, we can predict that no human fossils will be found in strata that predate dinosaurs as well.

    This prediction is also routinely tested as a matter of course, and found again to be exactly the case.

    We could go on.

    The point is that science is about testable hypotheses and attempting to disprove said hypotheses. The evidence for evolution (two pieces given above as an example) is so overwhelming at this point as to allow the hypothesis of evolution to be elevated to the status of theory.

    Let us take creationism as an exercise in this sort of armchair scientific approach. The hypothesis of creationism is that God created all life in its present for 6000 years ago. How can we test this.

    Frankly, I am having difficulty with conceptualising a prediction, and am open to suggestions. Creationism does not lend itself to testable predictions. That should be your first red flag that it is a matter of faith, not science.

    As a start perhaps we could say that if God created all organisms in their present form 6000 years ago, then there should be no natural records that are greater than 6000 years. Would you agree? Feel absolutely free to provide a different test if this one does not satisfy you. Indeed, the ability to test a hypothesis is another very important hallmark of science.

    In fact we have many natural records, from tree rings, to ice cores, to stratigraphy, to molecular clocks, and on and on, that disprove a 6000 year earth. Thus, creationism is not a tenable scientific hypothesis.
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  77. #76  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    Ok, condensed version, the big bang came from nothing or a dot, then there were planets and rocks which man and all living things evolved from. That I believe is basically your genisis. There is no evidence that any animal turned into another animal or plant nor man. There is no evidence that whales ever walked or snakes had legs or man had a tail, these are stupid ideas that an idiot came up with to fool other idiots in his thinking, aparently they had no knowlage of anatomy or could have easily figured out what these things were for. The librarys are full of pictures of dead things and details about where they were found and how old they think they are with lots of info you need to imagine all happened.
    All I wanted to know with this thread is if there was a way to date young rocks, I believe this is needed for anything else to even be considered.
    And I think that gravity has been proven, we're just not smart enough to know how and why.
    Mastmec, thank you for your reply. You made several points: here are my thoughts on them.

    I was talking about evolution, not about cosmology, or planetary formation, or abiogenesis. I mention this because if, for example, the Big Bang was to be disproved that would not invalidate evolution.

    There is evidence that whales walked (I am taking one of your examples). The anatomy of the whale skeleton shows parallels with that of land animals. (I think it's called homology, but this isn't my field.) There are intermediate fossils - missing links, if you wish to use the term - that display an intermediate form between land animals and the current whale flipper. This is not proof, but as others have pointed out science works by disproving theories, not proving them.

    I am not clear why you are discounting the pictures of dead things and details about where they were found and how old they think they are with lots of info you need to imagine all happened. You simply dismiss this volume of evidence. It seems almost arrogant to dismiss the work of thousands, probably tens of thousands of researchers - many of them Christians and devout followers of others faiths - to dismiss this work as misguided, or as somehow designed to promote materialism.

    As you point out, you wished to discuss age dating,, not evolution in general. Can you explain why you think you need absolute dating of rocks? We have excellent methods for relative dating. The absolute dating adds depth to our understanding but it is not necessary for it. What makes you think it is?

    Thank you,
    John
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    So, if like you said "others have pointed out science works by disproving theories, not proving them", then I could come up with theory about anything and it would be science untill proven otherwise? And where is this evidence of intermediant fossiles of whales having legs? I am not saying that all the people who dig up fossiles and study the earth are waisting their time, I think that work does help our understanding of our world. And for real absolute dating of rocks, what we have now is only good if you believe the theory that our dating is accurate.
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  79. #78  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    So, if like you said "others have pointed out science works by disproving theories, not proving them", then I could come up with theory about anything and it would be science untill proven otherwise? .
    Yes, this is exactly the case if you have come up with a theory in the scientific sense. A theory is not a wild idea, or speculation. A theory is an idea that has been tested in many ways, by many people and found to be consistent with observations. So if you had a theory, based upon observation, rigorous testing, peer review, replication of observations, that met consistency througout, it would be good science.
    If subsequently further testing/observations revealed a flaw in the theory, so that it was disproven (falsified) then it would still be good science, but wrong science. Science is not the knowledge, but the method we go about to gain the knowledge. As long as your theory had been derived in the correct way then it is good science.
    (As a side note - the people who are doing the testing have themselves been tested in many ways. Creationists sometimes think they are giving scientists a hard time. The creationist efforts are flimsy compared with the attacks mounted by fellow scientists. Thus only the individuals and the theories which are rugged enough to survive do so.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    And for real absolute dating of rocks, what we have now is only good if you believe the theory that our dating is accurate.
    depends on what you call accurate : all dating methods come with a measure of error in the order of a few % - for most purposes this is sufficient accuracy to confirm the general time framework of the rock sequences we're trying to evaluate
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Can I change my vote on the poll to yes? I was fine with this while it remained on topic, but this is gonna be no different to that several thousand post monstrosity of Jollybear's if the topic keeps wandering at this rate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastmec
    And where is this evidence of intermediant fossiles of whales having legs?
    try this:

    A new fossil study has pinpointed the moment when whales lost their distinct legs and tail and developed flukes, sometimes called tail fins, instead: Flukes are the two wide, flat triangular lobes on a whale’s back end and are made of skin and connective tissue, with bones in the middle [National Geographic News]. Researchers say that the Georgiacetus vogtlensis, whose fossil was found in Alabama, was one of the last whales to have powerful back legs and a tail like a dog’s, and that whales evolved flukes between 40 and 38 million years ago.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80...d-into-a-tail/

    what we have now is only good if you believe the theory that our dating is accurate.
    One important bit to keep in mind is that the many methodologically independent dating methods we have generally show good agreement with one another.
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical

    One important bit to keep in mind is that the many methodologically independent dating methods we have generally show good agreement with one another.
    Not to mention that Stratigraphy, palynology and paleontology all agree with one another on this timeframe, as far as progression are concerned.
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