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Appearance of Youth-Fact or Fallacy?

Updated on May 23, 2013

Creationists are often called upon to explain the appearance of age in creation, yet there is also the appearance of youth in the cosmos. Youth and age are of course relative terms, especially as they relate to appearance. The appearance of youth is related to our understanding of the processes, in this case, the standard model, or the Big Bang Theory. I will consider eight examples of the appearance of youth.

Hubble Space Telescope image of Messier 77 spiral galaxy.
Hubble Space Telescope image of Messier 77 spiral galaxy. | Source

In the Sky

One of the foundational assumptions of the Big Bang Theory is that the universe is expanding; no argument there. The evidence for that assumption is the redshift of light coming from distant galaxies: again, no argument. This is interpreted to mean that the greater the redshift, the further away the galaxy is. Put another way, redshift is proportional to distance. Within the standard model, distance is also proportional to time, the further away something is, the further back in time the light is supposed to be coming from; time to argue.

Spiral galaxies are found throughout the universe. Spiral galaxies are thought to start as bar galaxies, and then as they spin, the stars nearer the center rotating around the center faster than the stars at the edge, the spiral shape is formed. The younger the galaxy (by evolutionary standards), the less wound up it should be. The estimated age of the Milky Way is 10 billion years. Galaxies nearby should be approximately the same age. All of these galaxies show only up to 300 million years worth of winding up. Current theories based on the standard model cannot account for this appearance of youth in spiral galaxies.

Galaxies are composed of stars. There are two types of stars observed and one hypothesized. These are referred to as Population I, stars like our sun with some heavy elements, Population II, which are thought to be older stars and have fewer heavy elements than Pop. I stars, and Population III, original stars with no heavy elements. There are lots of Population I and II stars observed and no Population III stars. It was originally thought that Population III stars being made entirely of hydrogen and helium would last a long time. That has now been changed to Population III stars burning up quickly and leaving unique supernovae. These supernovae have yet to be observed.

The number and types of super novae observed also point to a young universe. According to the standard model, three new super novae are formed a century. Over time these super novae will expand and dissipate, forming the different types of super novae, I, II, and III. As with stars, the sequence starts with youngest and moves to the oldest. Given the time elapsed from the theoretical formation of the Milky Way, there should thousands of these super novae remnants (SNRs), there are in fact only five (5) Type I remnants, and two hundred (200) Type II, consistent with a seven thousand year old galaxy. There are no Type III SNRs, while theory calls for 5000. At a minimum, something is wrong with the theory. As it stands, the observations suggest an appearance of age substantially less than proposed by theory, which means, an appearance of youth.

In the Sea

There are two things found in the sea that give an appearance of youth. One of them is the most obvious property of the ocean, salt.

No one knows how salty the ocean was to start with. In the standard model, the origin of the oceans is also unknown. The oceans were not formed with water from comets, as the hydrogen isotope ratio in comets is different from ocean water. Ocean water appears to be terrestrial in origin. All that we can say about the saltiness of the oceans at the beginning is that they were less salty than now.

Assuming that ocean water started out fresh, and extrapolating the current rates of sodium accumulation into the past, the oceans cannot be more than 62 million years old. There are three ways of putting sodium into the ocean, by rainwater, by surface water runoff, including rivers, and by submarine ground water discharge. Sodium is also removed from the ocean, some in the salt spray that settles on cars. By subtracting the sodium removed from the amount of sodium added, scientists come up with the amount of sodium is accumulating in the oceans. That amount gives the suggested maximum age as mentioned above.

For the standard model, this means, that in the past the rates of accumulation must have been much less. The evidence of higher rainfall (the Sahara desert was once green), ice sheets melting and ice dams breaking (the Grand Canyon) suggest otherwise. The evidence strongly suggests that rates of accumulation were higher in the past rather than lower.

Hold on, you say, doesn’t the maximum limit represent an appearance of age for creationists? No, it does not. As mentioned in my hub, Appearance of Age, appearance is a question of a function of a process. Evolutionary processes cannot account for the calculated age. Creationists believe that the Flood of Noah provided the necessary process for adding large amounts of dissolved material to the oceans giving it an appearance of age by the young earth model, but an appearance of youth when using the standard model.

In addition to dissolved materials being carried into the oceans, mud is also brought into the oceans. It is estimated that 20 billion tonnes of mud is deposited in the oceans every year. The average depth of the sediment on the ocean floor is approximately 400 metres. That depth can accumulate in 12 million years given the current estimate of deposition. To account for the discrepancy it has been suggested that subduction removes enough mud to maintain equilibrium. The calculated estimate for the removal of mud by subduction is 1 billion tons per year, not enough to make a difference.

The other suggestion, that rates of deposit were less in the past, also contradicts the evidence. The evidence suggests that rainfall in the past was greater than now, meaning mud deposition must also have been higher.

Given that the estimated age is twelve million years, wouldn’t that preclude a young earth? No. The twelve million years is in relation to the standard model, not the young earth model. Young earth geology includes Noah’s Flood, an event that greatly increased the rate of erosion and mud deposition. The evidence is better explained by the young earth model than by the standard model.

On the Land

Sediment flowing into the sea is a result of erosion. There are two kinds of erosion that I will consider, vertical erosion, and horizontal erosion. Vertical erosion is the erosion of surfaces downward. Tectonic forces are lifting up mountains; wind and rain erode them downward. The question is which force is dominant, the upward or the downward?

In the evolutionary model, the upward force is dominant. The uplift of mountains and continents exceeds the downward effect of erosion. The problem with this is the measured rates of erosion. Simply calculating the average rate of erosion for a continent (it doesn’t matter which one) shows that any continent should have eroded away within 50 million years. If uplift was occurring at a rate to offset this we then run into a huge problem for the standard model, the Geologic Column.

The Geologic Column is that generalized picture of sedimentary layers that shows that the earth is billions of years old. If uplift has been occurring at a rate that offsets erosion, the Geologic Column should have been eroded away; it should no longer be visible. That mountains and continents are still visible suggests that the standard model does not properly explain erosion or uplift.

Horizontal erosion is the other form of erosion, which causes problems for an old earth explanation. I became aware of horizontal erosion through my interest in military history. During World War 2 the Germans built fortifications along the coast of France. Many of those fortifications, built on bluffs and cliffs, have fallen onto the beaches and into the sea. In England and the United States, lighthouses have had to be moved inland to preserve them.

Along the chalk cliffs of England, the rate of erosion is 1m every six years. Given that the cliffs were deposited 65 million years ago (according to the evolutionary model), erosion could have eroded away 10,000 horizontal kilometers. As England is not this wide, it is unlikely that this much erosion has taken place.

All of the above appearances of youth are failed clocks. They are unreliable means of estimating the age of the earth. They do act, however, as markers, markers that can best be explained by a young earth model with a global flood.


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