Well…It’s (Probably) Not Neutrinos

NOTE: Long after this article was published, new experimental data was published indicating that the effect is not real.

Over the course of my scientific career, I have been drug, kicking and screaming all the way, to the conclusion that radioactive half-lives have probably not been constant over the course of earth’s history. Because of this, I have written about observations that indicate the half-lives of certain isotopes seem to depend on the distance between the earth and the sun. The essence of the story is that investigators have been measuring the activity of certain isotopes over several years, and there seems to be a periodic variation in their half-lives. The half-lives increase and decreased based on the season. In addition, when a solar flare was observed, a marked decrease in the half-life of one isotope was observed. As I stated in my previous post on this subject, I think the researchers have done a good job eliminating the possibility that the observed variations are due to some artifact of the experimental procedure.

So if the observed variations in half-lives are real, what is causing them? Well, the sun emits tiny particles called neutrinos as a result of the nuclear fusion that is powering it. The distance between the earth and sun would affect how many of those neutrinos hit the earth. The closer the earth is to the sun, the more neutrinos would hit the earth. In addition, the number of neutrinos hitting the earth increases during a solar flare. The observations indicate that in both cases (during solar flares and when the earth is closest to the sun), radioactive half-lives increase decrease. In other words, radioactive decay slows down speeds up when the sun is hitting the earth with more neutrinos. Based on this reasoning, some nuclear scientists have proposed that neutrinos coming from the sun are somehow inhibiting accelerating radioactive decay. [ADDITION (5/10/17): A colleague informed me that I had the proposed neutrino effect backwards, so I corrected the wording, as indicated by the deletion marks and boldfaced type.]

The viability of that explanation was recently tested by a rather clever experiment, and the results of the test indicate that neutrinos are probably not responsible for the observed variation in half-lives.

R.M. Lindstrom and colleagues analyzed the decay of Au-198, a radioactive isotope of gold. They took samples of the isotope and fashioned them into different shapes: spheres and flat foils. Since Au-198 actually emits a neutrino when it decays, the gold isotopes in the sphere are exposed to neutrinos emitted by other gold isotopes in the sphere. This isn’t the case for the isotopes in the flat foil, so in the end, the gold isotopes in the spheres are exposed to significantly more neutrinos than the gold isotopes in the flat foils. If neutrinos inhibited radioactive decay in some way, the gold isotopes in the spheres should have a higher half-life than the gold isotopes in the flat foils. When the measured half-lives were compared, however, they were found to be identical within experimental error.1

So if the observation that radioactive half-lives depend on the distance between the earth and the sun is correct, the reason is probably not related to solar neutrinos. Interestingly enough, in their desire to protect radioactive dating methods, some outlets are reading far too much into the results of this study. For example, physorg.com reports on this study with the following headline:

Research shows radiometric dating still reliable (again)

Actually, the study doesn’t address the reliability of radioactive dating at all. Neither does it address whether or not the observed variations in radioactive half-lives are real. It merely says that if the half-lives of certain isotopes do depend on the distance between the earth and the sun, it is probably not because of solar neutrinos.

In the end, then, here’s where we are on this issue: The authors who have observed variations in radioactive half-lives based on the distance between the earth and the sun as well as the sun’s activity have produced strong evidence that what they have observed is a real effect. However, the most popular proposed explanation for the effect is probably not correct. Thus, if the observed variation in radioactive half-lives is real, it is more of a mystery than ever.


1. R.M. Lindstrom, et al., “Study of the dependence of 198Au half-life on source geometry,” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A622:93-96, 2010
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19 thoughts on “Well…It’s (Probably) Not Neutrinos”

  1. On behalf of the author of the Electric Universe, I would support the unreliability of radio active dating.Also, didn’t one particular ‘proof’ of space-time/ relativity use such a clock as its ‘stable source’ – so where is Einstein now?

    “The neutrino has almost no mass – it is the most collapsed form of matter.” I would also say there is a serious modification needed to your text: “Well, the sun emits tiny particles called neutrinos as a result of the nuclear fusion that is powering it.” If you refer to Wallace Thornhill’s website

    I would query the suggestion that our star is self-powered. Indeed the evidence is hotly against the 1930’s concept of INTERNAL nuclear fusion. Take a look at the utterly contradictory temperatures – coolest (5k) in the umbra of sunspots (see the through to Sun’s heart), hottest in the atmosphere (2M degrees). Far more likely our source of energy is actually the Milky Way – our mother galaxy. The plasma discharge we see around the sun produces nuclear fusion high in it’s atmosphere, where atomic particles are accelerated into the ‘solar wind’ discharge current.

    So what affects the radio-activity is dependent upon solar activity, our place in the sun’s orbit and the galaxies supply currents, etc. No saying where we were a few thousand years ago!

    1. Cigarshaped, I would certainly disagree with you about the sun. There is a lot of strong evidence that the sun is powered by thermonuclear fusion. Indeed, we can track the energy output of the sun and determine what should be observed if that energy all came from nuclear fusion, and we see exactly what is expected.

      The temperatures you cite are not contradictory. I agree that 50 years ago, the fact that the corona is so hot was a problem. But now we understand its temperature as a result of transitory magnetic field lines that heat it.

  2. Hey Dr Wile,

    is there any interaction between the magnetic force and the strong or weak force?

    1. Ben, the electromagnetic force and the weak force have been shown to have the same underlying physics (the exchange of gauge bosons). Thus, they have been “unified” into one force, called the electroweak force. However, at normal “everyday” energies, they don’t interact, since they operate at such different scales. When interaction energies reach above about 100 GeV, however, the forces become one and the same. To give you some idea of what that energy means, Big-Bang advocates think that level of interaction energies occurred shortly after the initiation of the Big Bang, when the universe was at a temperature of 1015 Kelvin.

  3. Dr Wile,
    Thanks for the NASA link. Unfortunately the concept of transitory magnetic field lines relies on UNobserved ‘magnetic field line reconnection’. This shows NASA’s lack of understanding about field lines. Proposing that these lines break, merge, and/or recombine is an error (violation of Maxwell’s equations) compounded on another error (the lines do not really exist in the first place). They are not physical entities, rather they are analogous to lines of latitude and longitude.
    NASA: “We need to find proofs that (magnetic reconnection) is really the story” says Gurman. One proof could be plasma jets, which scientists expect to be produced by the reconnection process.”

    Plasma jets can be demonstrated in the lab by the very simple z-pinch machine; applying a high voltage micro-second discharge across a pair of concentric metal tubes. The travelling circular electric field generates a concentric magnetic field which in turn serves to confine the plasma jet. In space they are often observed in galactic and stellar formations, where the scaled up plasma discharge can last for thousands of years and the jets extend for light years. All that is needed is electrical power – magnetic fields cannot exist without electric current (or time varying E-fields ). No reconnection necessary!

    Getting back to the Sun, our Creator constructed a very reliable power transformer system, supplied for a universal electrical power source. The detected universe has been found to be laced with a network of filamentary structures. Any time filaments form, this is Nature’s method of conveying electricity. Plasma (99.9% of space) conveys electric current by means of pairs of twisteded filaments. Each filament’s current producing a concentric magnetic field which itself constricts and combines the two filaments. Transmission lines work this way, carrying power across our lands.

    The beauty of an Electric Universe is that power is virtually unlimited and lossless. It also means that components can be switched on and off with ease, hence the Scriptures describe the Moon and stars going out – in the Last Days. Meanwhile I must emphasise that the Electric Sun model is constructed from tried and tested laboratory investigations. [Admittedly most plasma discharges experiments are done in 2D tubes, rather than 3D spheres (to represent the heliosphere)]. Actually some of Kristian Birkeland’s terella demonstrations came very close to simulating a sun, however they worked because EXTERNAL power was applied.

    If you read through Donald Scott’s http://www.electric-cosmos.org/sun.htm he gives many reasons for favouring Electric Sun over fusion model, eg how do you explain “May of 1999 the solar wind completely stopped for about two days. There are also periodic variations in the solar wind.”?

    As for neutrinos:
    The z-pinch effect of high intensity, parallel current filaments in an arc plasma is very strong. Whatever nuclear fusion is taking place on the Sun is occurring here in the double layer (DL) at the TOP of the photosphere (not deep within the core).
    ..the neutrino flux from the Sun varies inversely with sunspot number. This is expected in the ES hypothesis because the source of those neutrinos is z-pinch produced fusion which is occurring in the double layer – and sunspots are locations where there is no DL in which this process can occur. ..A star with a driving potential of 20 billion volts would expel protons energetic enough to reach the Sun’s surface, arriving with 10 billion electron volts of energy to spare. Such cosmic ions, when they collide with Earth’s upper atmosphere release the muon neutrinos that have been much in the news recently.

    Let’s give the Creator his credit, limitless power and His hand on the Switch!

    1. Cigarshaped, I am really sorry to say this, but you are confused about electricity and magnetism. It is not a violation of Maxwell’s equations for field lines to break, merge, and/or recombine. Also, it doesn’t matter whether or not the lines are real. They represent something that is real, and they certainly can do exactly the heating that is suggested.

      An excellent examination of the claims of the “electric sun” hypothesis can be found here. It demonstrates quite clearly that the objections against the sun being fusion-powered are truly devoid of merit. In answer to your question about the solar wind “stopping,” it did not stop. It simply was reduced to about 2% of its average value. In addition, such an event was actually PREDICTED by two scientists (Scudder and Fairfield) based on the solar fusion model.

      Not surprisingly, you fail to address the most compelling case for the fact that the sun is fusion-powered: you can calculate exactly what to expect from the fusion events necessary to power the sun, and you see precisely what you calculate coming from the sun. Thus, the energy inventory of the sun works perfectly under the solar fusion model.

      We give the Creator His due by determining how He created, and He clearly created the sun to run on nuclear fusion.

  4. What is the point of this thread in terms of the origins debate? I am no expert on nuclear decay, but it’s always been my understanding that _small_ variations in decay rates are possible from a number of possible causes. But unless you can show that they can vary by orders of magnitude, how does this support young earthism? And even if they did, it would not explain the overall patterns of radimetric dates in the geologic record, where stratigraphically lower rocks yield significantly older dates. According to most YE advocates, all fossiliferous rocks are only a few thousand years old, and thus would not show such a pattern, even if decay rates at some time were far different than today. Last, even if one had evidence of that (is there any?) one would have to deal with the ramifications of that (heat problems, etc). No?

    1. Glen, I think you need to read my previous posts on this issue (here, here, and here). As I say in the last of those links:

      Now don’t get all excited. These results are measureable, but they are small. If you are looking for something that shows “billions of years” worth of radioactive decay could occur in a few thousand years, these results will not please you. The observed effect is simply too small to affect radioactive dating techniques in any significant way…While these studies don’t directly affect the validity of radioactive dating techniques, they nevertheless tell us something very important: We clearly do not understand the process of radioactive decay as well as some would have you believe. Until the original study was published, no one would have believed that the earth-sun distance had anything to do with the rate of radioactive decay here on earth.

      As I make clear in the first linked article, you are really stretching the bounds of science to say that we can take the observation that radioactive half-lives have been constant for about 100 years and extrapolate that over billions of years. If you want to have any scientific justification for such a wild extrapolation, you must at least be certain that you understand the process well enough to assure yourself that the extrapolation could be valid. Given the fact that the variation discussed in this post was unimaginable just a few years ago, it is clear that we don’t have a good enough understanding of radioactive decay to justify the extrapolation.

      You say, “According to most YE advocates, all fossiliferous rocks are only a few thousand years old, and thus would not show such a pattern, even if decay rates at some time were far different than today.” However, that is not true. It is similar to the canard that many old-earthers use claiming that young-earthers expect no general pattern of fossils in the geological column. Of course they do, based on the order in which the rocks were formed and the ecosystems that were captured by the Flood as those rocks formed. In the same way, depending on how radioactive decay processes and isotopic abundances changed during the Flood, there could very well be a pattern in the rocks produced by the Flood. To me, the bigger problem with patterns lies with the old-earth view, given that there are so many exceptions to the overall pattern. It is very hard to understand those exceptions in an old-earth framework.

      Of course one has to deal with the ramifications of a change in radioactive decay rates. In fact, young-earth creationists were the first to bring up some of the problems associated with the accelerated radioactive decay their experiments indicate occurred, including excess heat and excess radiation.

  5. I think you’ve missed some of my points. Since many tests done on radioactive isotopes show no more than tiny variations in decay rates, and since a number of independent checks provide evidence that they have been constant for millions of years, the YE suggestion of huge changes in decay rates, based on evidence of tiny ones, is not reasonable. See Dalrymple’s book _The Age of the Earth_ for details. Then we have is the problem of the pattern of radiometric dates, which you must consider besides the fossil patterns. Again, even if decay rates were far different in the past, it still would not explain why there are largely consistent slopping patterns of radio dates, from several different methods from stratigraphically lowest to highest rocks the world over, if they are all just a few thousand years old. And again, if decay rates were far different, the ramifications would be staggering–basically the earth would reach thousands of degrees and no life as we know it would exist! Please address that.
    On the issue of fossils.. as someone who has done extensive field work, I can testify, as do virtually all working earth scientists (including most Christian ones), that the patterns of the fossil record are consistent with evolution and starkly at odds with YE and the supposed YE mechanisms like hydrologic sorting or ecological zonation. Indeed, the results of each would produce results far different than those found. For more on this see: http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Fossil_Sorting
    Last, many other robust lines of evidence, like trace fossils strongly conflict with YE/Flood geology.
    See http://paleo.cc/ce/tracefos.htm
    I myself once tried to make YE work, but the more I studied the field evidence, the more I realize that it did not, nor even come close. But I don’t expect many YEs to change their minds tho, even when so much evidence falsifies the view, unless they can shake Morton’s Demon–something Morton himself, and I, was once saddled with:

    1. Glen, you really don’t seem to understand the YE position very well. You say you “tried to make YE work,” but I guess you didn’t try very hard, because you seem to have a lot of misconceptions about it! We certainly do not say that small variations in radioactive half lives indicate there are large changes. We say that small changes that are a complete mystery clearly show that we don’t understand radioactive decay rates well enough to make the wild extrapolation necessary for an old-earth view.

      Once again, you are certainly wrong about not expecting patterns in the geological column when it comes to variable radioactive decay rates. It all depends on how it happened. Just because YEs don’t know all the details yet, you cannot ignore the compelling evidence for the YE view. In addition, you are quite conveniently ignoring all the exceptions to those patterns, which are significantly easier to understand in a YE framework than an OE framework.

      You say, “And again, if decay rates were far different, the ramifications would be staggering–basically the earth would reach thousands of degrees and no life as we know it would exist!” That is, of course, nonsense. It would all depend on exactly what the acceleration was, how long it lasted, and more importantly, what conditions existed at the time. For example, if heat energy produced by the accelerated radioactive decay ended up moving the continents rapidly during the Flood, the heat would not be nearly the problem that you claim it is. In addition, as discussed in the link you obviously ignored, Humphreys has suggested that the expansion of the cosmos during the Flood might explain how the heat was dissipated.

      It really seems that you need to read up on the YE view, as you have a lot of misconceptions about it, probably because of the material you have been reading. The Kuban articles you link, for example, are full of misconceptions, so it is not surprising that you have incorporated them into your thinking. As these links show, fossils present an enormous problem for old-earth geology, and they are much better understood in terms of Flood geology:





      I really don’t care what you end up believing on this issue. I would just like you to stop communicating misinformation regarding the YE view.

  6. jhwile,
    Your reply was as unkind as it was baseless. As far as me “misunderstanding” the YE position, hardly. I’ve been studying the issue in and out of the field for over 30 years. If the evidence favors YE as you claim, then why do almost all field workers, including most Christian ones, reject YEism–even when we started out biaed toward it? Just how much field work have you done? The comment that small chances indicate we don’t understand radio dating and therefore OE requires unwarranted extrapolation is simplistic and illogical for the reasons I stated last time, especially the _independent_ methods that confirm essentially the same dates and patterns the world over. While accusing me of being misinformed, how much reading have you done in the mainstream literature on this topic? Have you read Dalrymple’s book, which is probably the most comprehensive single treatment of the issue? It documents many robust lines of evidence confirm an old earth and old universe. You attempt to refute my statement about heat being a problem in accelerations by saying it depends on how much. You miss a critical point. If the change was enough to produce dates in the realm YE claims (several thousand years) then the result would be thousands of degrees. If the chance in decay rates were less, then you don’t get YE ages. Get it? You claim I conveniently ignore the “exceptions” to the fossil patterns. What exceptions? Alleged out of place fossils happens to be one of my areas of intense study. There are BILLIONS of fossils routinely found in the correct orders, and only a handful of macrofossils even alleged to be out of place, and those fall apart upon close study. If you have lots of well documented OOPs, please cite the scientific papers or even web sites documenting them. If YE were true, there should be MILLIONS of such “exceptions” and they would be easy to document.
    Have you read Glenn Morton’s articles? He like me was a former YEC who soon realized when he got into the field that the evidence was just not compatible with it, or even close.
    Your comment that I need to read up on the YE view only shows an example of your own presumption. I have literally shelves full YE books and articles which I have read from cover to cover, along with shelves more of mainstream work. Based on that and my extensive field work, I submit your patronizing comments about me needing to be better informed are examples of “projection.” By the way, I had to chuckle at your comment about the “Kuban articles” and how I have “incorporated them” into my thinking. Excuse me, I AM Glen Kuban. Those are my articles, based on careful resarch–in the case of the track work, many years of on-site field work. Again, how much field work have you done? You claim the articles are full of misinformation but cited not one example. Would you like to have a formal, written debate on any of the individual topics? Finally, the article YOU cited, which I was already familiar with, are the ones that oversimplify and misrepresent the actual evidence of the geologic record. You’d know that if you spent much time in the field, and if you did not have a case of Morton’s demon. Did you read that article? Please do so with a humble spirit, and I believe you might begin to reexamine your approach. Thank you.

    1. Glen, I am glad that you included your apology, as you were clearly the one being unkind, not me. You definitely do communicate misinformation when it comes to the YE position. For example, your statement that we claim small changes in radioactive half-lives imply big changes is definitely misinformation. Your idea that YEs are not addressing or even unaware of the heat problem with accelerated radioactive decay is definitely misinformation. Your mischaracterizations of what to expect in a YE framework are definitely misinformation. I have no problem with you believing what you believe. However, don’t mischaracterize the YE position just because you have not bothered to study it sufficiently.

      You ask, “why do almost all field workers, including most Christian ones, reject YEism–even when we started out biaed [sic] toward it?” I have no idea. I expect it has to do with indoctrination, but really, I can’t answer that question as I am not a psychologist and have not studied such people. However, the argument from authority and the argument from majority have never impressed me. The data impress me, and I am simply not impressed with the old-earth argument because the data do not support it.

      You ask, “Just how much field work have you done?” I am not a geologist, so I have done no field work. However, I am a nuclear chemist. If you were consistent in your dedication to the argument from authority, then, you would bow to my knowledge of the field when it comes to radioactive dating. I expect, however, that you won’t. In fact, I wouldn’t want you to. Authority means nothing. Data mean everything.

      You claim that “independent” methods confirm the same dates and patterns the world over. That is simply not true. When conflicting data are removed, you are right, there is confirmation. When conflicting data are not arbitrarily removed, there is not a pattern of confirmation.

      Of course I have read Dalrymple’s book. It does not produce robust evidence for the idea that the earth is old. I am sure it is convincing to someone who is predisposed to believe in his position, but it certainly didn’t convince me. Indeed, after reading his book, I was less convinced of the old-earth position, given the oversimplifications he needed to go through to make his case.

      I am afraid it is you who is missing the point regarding the heat problem. There are many, many ways to dissipate heat, and if that heat is produced in the correct way and under the correct conditions, it doesn’t pose an insurmountable problem. As I stated before (and you ignored), if it was used to power catastrophic plate tectonics, there might be no problem at all. To categorically state that the increased energy would have to be converted to heat ignores basic physics and is simply not true. Get it?

      Once again, I have to ask you to stop communicating misinformation when it comes to the YE position. There is absolutely no reason to believe there should be MILLIONS of out-of-place fossils in the fossil record under the YE interpretation. Indeed, given the assumed pattern of the Flood and the fact that the sediments would trap ecosystems, only a few exceptions would be expected. The problem is that under the OE interpretation, it is hard to understand ANY of them.

      I had to laugh out loud when I read, “You claim the articles are full of misinformation but cited not one example,” which was then shortly followed by, “Finally, the article YOU cited, which I was already familiar with, are the ones that oversimplify and misrepresent the actual evidence of the geologic record.” So you fault my statement and then make a very similar statement of your own. The fact is that I don’t care to spend time refuting the particulars of articles you link. I have better things to do.

      You ask if I would like to have a formal debate. I don’t really see the point. You mischaracterize the YE position, throw around insults because you don’t agree with people, and basically claim that people should believe you because you have more field experience. If you were more interested in being scientific, I might have been willing to debate you. However, given your unwillingness to even properly characterize the YE position, I have no desire.

      You ask if I have read Morton’s articles. I certainly have read some. In fact, I have commented on some of them here. The fact that he “was” a YE and now “is” an OE means very little to me. Once again, the data are what impress me, and the data with which I am familiar make me believe in a young earth. I certainly have read the “Morton’s Demon” article, long before you linked it. As I remember, it was well over 5 years ago. I read it on talkorigins, which I used to read frequently. No, I do not have a case of Morton’s demon, and it is unfortunate that you have to insult people just because they disagree with you.

  7. Jay, I am sorry if I sounded aggressive in my last post, but it really bothers me when people who have spent little time in the field tell me and others who have spent years doing that what the geologic and fossil records looks like. I am sure you have done a lot of good work in the lab, but on issues of geology and paleontology, please try to accept that people like me, Kevin Nelstead, Glenn Morton, and others did not change our views and accept OE due to bias or lack of research, but the opposite: from further in depth study of the empirical evidence as well as Biblical considerations. We spent intensively researching these issues, which is why I bristled at your repeated suggestions that I needed to get better informed. I for one (and I believe they too) would be delighted if the earth were young. However, we can’t ignore the mountains of evidence we’ve been privileged to see that argues strongly against it. Thank you.

  8. I want to also address the article you cited by John Woodmorappe: http://www.trueorigin.org/geocolumn.asp
    John’s arguments there are not logical. The fact is, there are many thousands of sites all over the world with multiple periods of the geologic column exposed, and in every case they are in the expected order. Moreover, there are numerous sites now known where all ten periods from the Cambrian onward are exposed, and in the proper order. Even the epochs and subdivisions within them, and the fossils, likewise are consistently in expected order. If YE were true, many if not most of these sites should have out of order periods and out of order beds within them.
    Thus the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the mainstream view, and not even close to what YE expects. Instead of appreciating this powerful evidence, JW tries instead to make an issue out of often “missing” strata within the periods. This is absurd. No model of earth history expects continuous deposition in any one place, or anything close to it. In mainstream geology, it is expected that there would be periods of erosion or breaks in deposition many times over the history of the earth. That extensive amounts of sediment are supposedly “missing” is moot in view of this, and does nothing to counter the massive import of all the formations and fossils in expected orders. In other words, mainstream geology can not only explain, but fully expects, exactly what we find, whereas the YE paradigm expects thousands of sites with out of order periods and fossils within them, which we do not find, or anything close.
    Last, while you panned my articles on craters, genetic diversity, and trace fossils, may I ask, did you even read them? At the rate you responded, it did not seem like you had time to. I invite you to please take the time to do so, and to please be specific with any objections, rather than just dismissing them out of hand or with sweeping generalizations. Thank you.

    1. Glen, thanks for your comments on Woomorappe’s article. It is unfortunate that you feel you have to mischaracterize the YE position once again in order to promote your views, but I guess I have come to expect that. You claim, “If YE were true, many if not most of these sites should have out of order periods and out of order beds within them.” That is simply not true. Once again, the Flood model expects the fossil layers to represent ecosystems, and that is what is seen. The “order” represents ecosystems, so we don’t expect a lot of “out of order” layers.

      You claim that JW, “tries instead to make an issue out of often “missing” strata within the periods.” That really isn’t the thrust of his argument. The thrust of his argument is that they are missing IN MOST PLACES. That is actually a very powerful argument. While I agree that no model of earth’s history expects continuous deposition everywhere, and while I agree that erosion will remove part or all of given layers, the fact that there is so little total geological column speaks that such formations are the exception, not the rule. That is his point, and it is powerful.

      Of course I have read your articles. You seem to think that I don’t read the alternate views. However, if you even bothered to look at my blogroll, you would see that I do. I read your articles in the past. Some parts of some of them have been updated, but when I clicked on them, I recognized them. Once again, I really have no desire to get into a debate with you about the details, as just this back-and-forth has been quite unpleasant, given your demeanor and your hostility to honest inquiry.

  9. Jay,
    I will address only the first couple remarks you made, because it is clear to me that we will never be able to engage in a productive exchange, or that you will change your view no matter how much evidence is provided to you. Your hypocrisy is astounding when you repeatedly make demonstrably false charges, and then claim I am the one creating misinformation. For example, you wrote:
    “You definitely do communicate misinformation when it comes to the YE position. For example, your statement that we claim small changes in radioactive half-lives imply big changes is definitely misinformation.” What statement? I made no such claim. What I did was ASK how showing minor variations in decay rates counter all the indepdent evidencent decay rates have not changed significantly.
    You were also misleading in writing: “Your idea that YEs are not addressing or even unaware of the heat problem with accelerated radioactive decay is definitely misinformation.”
    I did not say no YECs have addressed this. I suggested, as is true, that it is a problem, and asked YOU specifically to please explain how decay rates could change enough to produce dates only thousands of years, without creating excessive heat. I could go on with several other false or misleading statements you made while ironically, accusing me of the same, but I can see clearly now that I am wasting my time here, and that you have a severe case of Morton’s demon. Best wishes.

    1. Glen, I expect that you are right when you say, “we will never be able to engage in a productive exchange.” It is unfortunate, but I simply will not allow misinformation to be propagated on my site. You are quite incorrect when you say that I will never “change your view no matter how much evidence is provided to you.” In fact, if you had bothered to read one of my posts I had linked to you previously, you would find that I have changed my mind on radioactive decay specifically because of the evidence.

      You claim you didn’t say that YEs think small changes in radioactive half-lives mean large changes, but you certainly did. Here is your direct quote: “the YE suggestion of huge changes in decay rates, based on evidence of tiny ones, is not reasonable.” I think when you write as emotionally as you do, it is hard to keep straight what you have said and what you have not said. If you stick to discussing evidence, you probably won’t have that problem as much.

      Also, you certainly did indicate that no YEs had addressed the heat issue. After I gave you the link (that you ignored) about how Humphreys had addressed the issue, you came back with, “And again, if decay rates were far different, the ramifications would be staggering–basically the earth would reach thousands of degrees and no life as we know it would exist! Please address that.” I did address it with another YE’s view, but you acted like it hadn’t been addressed.

      If it makes you sleep better at night to think I am afflicted with Morton’s demon, please go right ahead. Since you aren’t really interested in evidence, you will end up believing what you want to believe on that issue anyway.

      I also find it interesting that after you decided “we will never be able to engage in a productive exchange,” you continued with two more posts.

      You claim that I am filtering the evidence to “preserve” my YE view, but if you would bother to read even a little bit of this blog, you would see that is not true. The only commitment I have to the YE view is the result of data. I have no desire to preserve it. If the evidence ever favored an OE view, I could change right away, as my discussions of theology clearly show.

      Once again, your discussion of the fossil record shows that you are not really willing to study the YE view of the Flood and how it preserved ecosystems in stages. I certainly agree that there is “overlap” between many different animals in ecosystems, but that is not enough. Remember, you are thinking that the geological column is a global phenomenon, but Flood geologists do not. Given the fact that even with the most generous way of identifying strata, it makes up less than 1% of geological formations, the Flood geologists are most likely correct. In any event, they look at each individual formation and try to determine how it was formed and at what stage of the Flood. I think you would benefit immensely by reading this article, which shows how Flood geology applies to the Grand Canyon when it comes to the order of fossils. When you approach geological formations individually, there is no problem with the fossil order in the Flood model.

      I turned down the invitation to debate you for the very reason I stated: this exchange is so very unpleasant because of your constant mischaracterization of the YE position, that there is no way I want to spend my valuable time experiencing more of it. Once again, you try to insult me over the issue, which speaks volumes about you.

      And now we come to yet another mischaracterization. You ask, “In your world, are we are all blind, stupid, or hopelessly biased?” Such a question assumes that these are the only choices, when of course they are not. In fact, I think most OEs hold their view because they value certain forms of evidence above others. I hold my YE view because I hold certain forms of evidence above others. Thus, BOTH of us are biased, as you expect from fallible human beings. Of course, I think the very fact that you asked this question shows what your comments have already shown: you think that YEs are “blind, stupid, or hopelessly biased.” That is truly unfortunate, but once again, it is not a surprise.

      In answer to your question, I certainly do believe that there are many plausible ways that the energy produced by accelerated radioactive decay could be dissipated without overheating the earth. Of course I cannot “quantify” my assertions, but then again, neither can you. You have asserted that “the result would be thousands of degrees,” but you have not bothered to quantify it. In fact, you cannot. In order to quantify, you would need to know the amount of energy that would be produced (which one could estimate) and ALSO the degrees of freedom available to this energy and ALSO the branching ratio between these degrees of freedom. You assume it all goes into heat, which is absurd on a physical level. It could go into many other degrees of freedom such as mechanical energy (as I have already discussed), expansion of space (as Humphreys suggests), reversals of the electrical currents in the core, etc. The fact is that YEs are working on this issue, and yet you claim that if it isn’t resolved RIGHT NOW, we have to ignore the compelling data that indicate decay rates did change. That is hardly scientific. We would know nothing about the nuclear force if people had taken that approach to the proton repulsion problem after Rutherford’s famous experiment!

      You obviously don’t know many YEs, because several of my YE friends have read Dalrymple’s book, and none of them found it convincing. Once again, I think this points to your preconceptions. I agree that Dalrymple’s book is convincing to someone who wants to believe in an old earth. To someone who is simply interested in what the bulk of the data say, however, he is rather unconvincing. The fact that you found it convincing, then, is not surprising to me.

      If your desire is to encourage YEs to re-evaluate their position, I don’t think insulting them and mischaracterizing their views is a proper way to go about it. That’s just my thought. I could be wrong…

  10. I felt compelled to leave a couple more comments. Suggesting you have Morton’s demon is not a put down. I myself had that affliction. It was an attempt to get you to open your mind and consider that you may be filtering (perhaps even subconsiously) data to preserve your YE view. In any case, as someone trained as a biologist and with many years of paleo work under my belt as well, I again attest that you are very wrong about the fossil record, and the ecological argument does not solve the problem of fossil succesion. This is the probably the last I will write, but let me at least try to disabuse you of the common YE misunderstanding about that. Let’s take dinosaurs as an example. Their fossils are found all over the world, and represent thousands of species, and numerous different ecological niches. Those niches clearly overlap functionally and geogtraphically with many large mammals, birds, etc. So if there were a world wide Flood, and all these creatures were living at the same time, we should find them fossilized together, or AT LEAST at the same geologic horizons. Please understand that last part. Even if you could claim, contrary to all evidence and reason, that their geographic ranges and ecological zones never overlapped, they STILL would be expected to he found in the same geologic horizons, but never are. There are BILLIONS of dinosaur fossils known, and BILLIONS of large modern mammal fossils, and so we certainly would expect many thousands, if not millions, to be found at the same horizons if not also the same sites. The problem gets even worse when you consider all the marine creatures lioke pleisosaurs, ichtyosaurs, etc that lived during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, and which often swam freely through the oceans, but which are not found with modern porposes and whales, which swam all over the same oceans, and would all be caught up in a global flood.
    Hydrolocic sorting, an argument also cited by many YECs, only makes the problem worse. First, violent global flood would often throw together many creatures and ecoosystems even if tightly segregated in life, any sorting would work AGAINST the YE model, because it would tend to sort together large modern mammals with similar sized dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. Elephants, hippos, rhinos, etc would be sorted with similar sized dinosaurs, titanotheres, etc. They never are. Ichtyosaurs and porpoises would sort together and fossilize at least in the same horizons. They never are. When one considers fossil plants, the problems for YECs compound further. Supposedly all the thousands of species of modern angiosperms (flowering plants, which dominate the modern flora on earth today) were present in the preFlood world just a few thousand years ago. And yet we find no angiosperm pollen in the entire Paleozoic (where we should find zillions by YEism), and only when angiosperm plants themselves begin to show up in the Mesozoic do we find even some. Since airborne pollen disperses throughout the atmosphere, and is among the most readily fossilized material, this evidence flies directly in the face of YECism, but entirely consistent with mainstream geology, as are thousands of other lines of evidence I could cite. Among them are trace fossils, genetic diversity, and diseases–the topics of my articles linked in a previous post, which you suggested influenced my thinking, even though I was the one who wrote them. I have had them up for years, and not one cogent response to the evidence there has been provided by YECs.
    So I am not surprised you turned down my invitation to a formal written debate on a specific topic. If I am so obviously wrong and was the one using misinformation or being the more unkind, I should think that would make it all the easier to debate me, and give you a chance to show it to everyone. But I think deep down you know your position is not secure or the one best supported by the bulk of evidence. As Keven N recently posted on his blog, even some more candid YE supporters acknowledge that evolution is not a theory in crisis, but goes a long way to explain many observations of biology, paleontology, and other fields.
    Finally, on the issue of fields of expertise. I grant that you probably know more chemistry and physics than me (tho I have taught those subjects, as well as biology, besides doing extensive paleo work), but here’s the kicker. The vast majority of scientists from all of those fields, including most Christian ones, reject YEism. In your world, are we are all blind, stupid, or hopelessly biased? You suggest I have been the more unkind, but what could me more unkind than believing that about thousands of sincere workers, many of whom are fellow Christians?

  11. One last thing Jay. You confused me about just what you believe on the decay rate issue. In one breath you accused me of extrapolating too much from your comments on the issue (I was just asking questions at that point), and
    in the next breath you seemed to be supporting the very thing you objected to me suggesting, namely, that YECs believe the decay rates could change enough to yield dates in only thousands of years, and yet not fry the earth, because heat could be dissipated by plausible means. Do you or do you not believe this? If you do, as someone with expertise in chemistry and physics, can you plesse quantify your assertions (or point to a source who does) showing
    1. what the specific rhamifications are in terms of temperatures and other effects if decay rates were that different, 2. Whether and how such temperatures (which others have calculated would be orders of magnitude too high to support life or be sufficiently “dissipated” by the mechanisms you suggest, and 3. How they could produce the slopping patterns of radio dates we see in the fossil record.
    Unless you can do these things, then comments about some evidence showing we don’t fully understand decay rates are moot. In short, even if decay rates COULD change as much as YE would need, if the earth and life could not withstand such changes, it does not help the YE case in the least. No?
    Last, if you really did read Dalrymple’s book from cover to cover, and found the evidence there unimpressive, you would be the first person I’ve run across who has done both. Most YECs I’ve met have not read it, or after they did, changed their view or at least began to question it.
    Thank you.

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