Age of the Earth: A Feasibility Study
Age of the Earth - Is it possible to determine such a thing with any certainty? The formation of the Earth is what is known as a "singularity." The event cannot be repeated in a lab and is not occurring in nature now. In determining the Age of the Earth, scientists must make assumptions that seem reasonable based on observable data. Certainty and assumption are contrary to each other. Therefore, the study of the Age of the Earth is a "feasibility study."
Age of the Earth: Young Earth vs. Old Earth
The scientific community presents the Age of the Earth from two distinct camps: The "Young Earth" advocates and the "Old Earth" advocates. There are various natural chronometers that seem to indicate either a Young Earth or an Old Earth. Both camps use such chronometers to back their position. They both claim their model is most feasible. How then will the dispute be settled?
Age of the Earth: Limiting Factors
The answer to the Age of the Earth question is found in "Limiting Factors." While it may be impossible to be certain when the Earth formed, we may determine when the Earth did not form. Limiting Factors are best explained with this illustration: A boat sinks. On board is a chest full of gold coins. As time passes, the wreck is forgotten. Centuries later, the boat is discovered, and the chest full of coins is recovered. How can we determine when the boat sank? We may not be able to pinpoint the date, but we are able to determine when it did not sink by looking at the dates on the coins. If a coin is marked with 1756, we know the boat did not sink in 1755 or 1730 or 1610, etc. It must have sunk after the coin was minted. The coin is a "Limiting Factor."
Age of the Earth: Factors Pointing to a Young Earth
There are many Limiting Factors limiting the possible Age of the Earth. Here are a few:
Magnetic Field. The Earth's magnetic field is essential to life on Earth for many reasons. One reason is that it deflects much of the cosmic radiation that destroys life. Precise measurements of the Earth's magnetic field have been made since 1829, all over the world. During that time, it has deteriorated exponentially -- that is, it has followed a predictable curve. By graphing this curve, we extrapolate that life would have been impossible before 20,000 BC (the field would be as strong as the Sun's at that point) and will cease to exist after 10,000 AD (there will be, for all practical purposes, no field left, and the Earth will be fried by cosmic radiation).
Earth Rotation. The Earth's spin is slowing down. We experience a "leap second" every year and a half. If it is slowing down, at one time it was going much faster. A faster spin would create a stronger Coriolis Effect, and life would be impossible as we know it.
Moon Drift. The moon is drifting slowly away from the Earth. If it is getting further away, then at one time it was much closer. The Inverse Square Law in physics states that if the moon was half the distance away, its gravitational effect on our tides would be quadrupled. One third the distance and it would be 9 times stronger. We would all drown twice a day. 1.2 billion (1,200 million) years ago, the moon would have been touching the Earth.
Age of the Earth: Young is Not Unreasonable
There are a number of additional Limiting Factors regarding the Age of the Earth that scientists are discovering on a more and more frequent basis. Interestingly, they all seem to indicate a Young Earth, or certainly, not one that is millions or billions of years old. Contrary to the general thinking of the last century, many scientists now accept that it is reasonable to view the Earth as fairly young.