The following is a slightly modified excerpt from my book MAN AND HIS PLANET.
THE UNCERTAIN DEPTH OF HISTORY
by James E. Strickling
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, Western man had no real conception of the depth of the history of man or of the earth. Facts that were available were not adequately understood. Ideas about origins and prehistory thus conformed not so much to facts as they did to authority. The authority, of course, was the Bible.
The Masoretic text (Old Testament), prepared between the sixth and tenth centuries AD, has been accepted universally as the only authentic Hebrew Bible. An earlier version is the Septuagint, a Greek translation from the original Hebrew that dates from the third and second centuries BC. There are differences in the two that produce different dates for events in the earliest part of the biblical record. Primary events that differ in ascribed dates are the Creation, with a Masoretic-derived date of 4004 BC vs. a Septuagint-derived date of c. 5650 BC, and The Flood, with a Masoretic-derived date of c. 2460 BC vs. a Septuagint-derived date of c. 3400 BC.
These dates, however, were soon rejected (although the Septuagint was not specifically part of the debate) as researchers began to realize that the crust of the earth spoke of a much greater age than some 6000 years. And with the entrenchment of uniformitarianism and Darwinism, not only the dates but even the events in early biblical history were set aside; specifically, major catastrophes, such as The Flood, were regarded as fictions. This attitude prevailed in spite of abundant physical evidence, recognized even by Darwin, that in fact such upheavals did occur.
Little direct challenge to accepted “scientific dates” has been mounted in MAN AND HIS PLANET, but an implicit challenge has been lodged since modern dating techniques, on the surface, appear to present a formidable obstacle to many of the propositions I’ve presented.
The old saying, “You can’t tell a book by its cover,” often applies to situations as well, including this one. The bedrock of much orthodox chronology is radiometric dating. This method is used whenever minerals are available to which it can be applied. Thanks to this process, “scientifically” ascribed ancient dates are virtually sacrosanct. Radiometric dating, however, rests on assumptions that are as unfounded as those underlying Darwinism. (See discussion in MAN AND HIS PLANET.)
The technique of radiometric dating goes like this: One element (“parent”) radioactively decays at a measured rate into another (“daughter”). By the relative amounts of the parent and daughter elements in a given mass of material, the age of the material is easily calculated vis-à-vis the “known” decay rate, assuming that this rate has always been equal to its present value. And uniformitarianism leads us to believe that, indeed, the rate has remained constant since the original element or compound was formed—thousands of years for carbon-14 and millions of years for many other materials. We are assured further of the immunity of this dating process to external interference. Finally, one of the most convenient characteristics of the entire procedure was declared to me once in the classroom, quite matter-of-factly, by the chairman of the geology department of a major university: “If the dates don’t fit your theory, throw them out—use only the ones that do.”1 As high-handedly arbitrary as it sounds, such manipulation of the evidence is not an uncommon practice. There are documented cases of deliberate deceit to preserve dates actually refuted by objective analysis.2
Aside from such editing, and contrary to uniformitarian declarations, there is evidence of radioactive decay rates being altered by virtue of changes in the chemical compounds of which the subject elements are a part. Similar inconsistencies can result from variations in pressure.3 Articles have appeared in Nature and in The American Journal of Physics claiming that little or no justification exists for assuming the stability of decay rates over geological time. If these articles state a just case, the possibility of accurate radiometric age calculations vanishes like a will-o’-the-wisp, and accepted geological dates must be viewed as highly suspect.
Some interesting anomalies rivet the attention. Shells of living mollusks have been dated by carbon-14 at 2,300 years. Moon rocks have been dated by different radiometric methods at two to 28 billion years of age—the latter being several times the presumed age of the solar system. (With an insight into the nature of ancient lunar disturbances, Velikovsky actually foresaw this anomaly prior to the lunar landings.4) All around the world, lava flows that have occurred during the last two centuries have been potassium-argon-dated at hundreds of millions of years.5
How old is Earth? We don’t know. It may be billions of years old, but radiometric dating is no proof of this.
In the absence of appropriate radioactive materials, geological dating becomes even more precarious. According to Derek Ager, geological phenomena “must always be measured (in the absence of anything better) against the scale provided by organic evolution”6— that is to say, against a Darwinist geological calendar. A more imprecise, inaccurate scale would be difficult to conceive.
During the last hundred years, we have moved 180 degrees from the nineteenth century perception of time. Far from being too shallow, our perception today of the earth’s history could better be compared to a “bottomless pit.” To suggest that dinosaurs lived significantly less than 65 million years ago is to be relegated to the fringe ( Such a position, of course, is merely indicative of the relative size of support for a given viewpoint. Darwinism also was once far removed from “orthodox science.” ) To suggest that they lived as recently as 65,000 years ago would be seen by many as reason for assignment to the lunatic fringe. Yet, the latter figure is not out of the question. The uncertainty of underlying assumptions and the unreliability of so many chronological observations7 are cause to believe that the position on time taken by orthodox science is once again based more on authority—that of a favored philosophy—than on facts.
What dates or magnitudes of elapsed time are realistic? Unfortunately, this is a matter of great uncertainty, other than to say that the geological eras were more recent than historical geology claims and older than creationists allow. Indeed, some of the actual “eras” overlap tradition and history and at the same time predate creationist conceptions of “beginnings.” In fact, I and others have argued that there was intelligent life on Earth prior to the mythical “Beginning.”
Realistic absolute dates are hard to come by at present. There has been limited speculation based on catastrophist analysis, most notably by Velikovsky, who commented: “I am not in a position to point to the century or even the millennium when the Universal Deluge took place, but it must have happened between five and ten thousand years ago, probably closer to the second figure.”8
Velikovsky’s upper limit is compatible with the conventional estimate of the original date of the founding of the world’s oldest known city, Jericho, believed to have been first established circa 9000-8000 BC.9 If the city has any relevance to the dating of The Flood, it is the fact that it could help establish the latest possible date that the waters receded.
Concerning the more remote past, Roger Ashton expressed an opinion on the time of the appearance of the first planet-god, Saturn, i.e., “The Beginning”: “Crucial characters of gods, or the primordial god, did in fact originate at least 20,000 years ago.”10
The scale of time is a mystery, and all dates are highly speculative.
For now, our study of origins and other strange phenomena must be concluded with a display of the few blocks that we have hewn from the record in the rocks and from ancient reports, both oral and written. Some of these are summarized and depicted in MAN AND HIS PLANET.
Our planet has been jolted and pummeled. Our environment has been molded and remolded. Species have been repeatedly created and destroyed. Celestial neighbors have come and gone.
One violation has engendered another. Regimes have been overturned, starting with extraterrestrial disturbance: the atmosphere, Earth’s surface, the crust, and all life. New species arose as a result; in some instances, these bore little resemblance to their progenitors. Moreover, we find written in the rocks not just the origin of species, but the sudden birth of entire genera containing many species.
There is no evidence in Earth’s crust that the processes of gradualism are the ruling factors in the origin of species; gaps between fossil types abound, as they should not do if gradualism had any answers. Neither is there any uniformitarian evidence in the biosphere. Illusions of evidence are created by empty extrapolation. Gradualism measures an inch and stretches it to light years.
All kinds of records, natural and historical, bespeak the repeatedly collapsing schemes of nature and culture, followed each time by new life, new interrelationships, new environments, and new institutions. Man himself has been biologically and psychologically altered by the more recent of the disturbances.
We must break the shackles of uniformitarianism because the history of our planet is one of repeated violent metamorphosis, of repeated revolution in the biosphere, and of repeated revolution in the lithosphere. It is a history of cataclysm.
Further pursuit of interdisciplinary studies within a catastrophist framework holds out to the newcomer the certainty of unexpected new vistas and perspectives.
For those of us who have pursued catastrophist logic and research for decades, the road ahead is even more exciting: What we know about ourselves and our planet is negligible compared to what remains to be discovered. We can anticipate that the coming years will be replete with new insights into the pasts of mankind, Earth, our solar system, and the rest of the universe. Space probes continue to produce suggestive new evidence, if only it can be sifted and weighed in the right way. Earth probes are equally revealing and tantalizing.
What cannot be stressed enough is that even the most seemingly incredible testimonies bequeathed to us by our predecessors in antiquity are worthy of more scrutiny by far than the uniformitarians are willing to grant. Although early man’s understanding was limited, his intellectual capacity was no less than our own. Some of his most fantastic memoirs and chronicles are good-faith reports of observed phenomena, and judgments of their integrity cannot be based on their conformance to modern theories or opinions.
In truth, the “myth” of our ancestors is sometimes more rational than the “science” of our contemporaries, much of which will be tomorrow’s fantasy.
Time and questing minds will show that the record of cataclysm is the most significant record in the rocks. That is the record scientists should be trying to read. And even if we can’t reach the full truth, we can winnow many of the prevailing falsehoods.
- Fall 1983.
- See Immanuel Velikovsky, “Ash – A Historical Record” for a remarkable example of this practice: Pensée IV-1 (Winter 1973-1974), pp. 5-19.
- Henry Faul, Nuclear Geology (New York 1954), p. 10.
- 4. See Thomas Ferté, “A Record of Success,” Pensée II-2 (May 1972), p. 13.
- a. A. F. Kovarik, “Calculating the Age of Minerals from Radioactivity Data and Principles,” Bulletin Man and His Planet 232 No. 80, National Research Council (June 1931).
b. M. Keith and G. Anderson, “Radiocarbon Dating: Fictitious Results with Mollusk Shells,” Science 141 (1963).
c. Funkhouser, Barnes and Houghton, “The Problem of Dating Volcanic Rocks by the Potassium Argon Method,” Bulletin of Volcanologique 29 (1966).
- Derek V. Ager, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, 2nd ed. (London 1981), p. 71.
- See, for example, Velikovsky, “The Pitfalls of Radiocarbon Dating,” Pensée III-2 (Spring-Summer 1973), pp. 12-14, 50.
- Ibid., p. 13.
- Jacquetta Hawkes, Atlas of Ancient Archaeology, McGraw-Hill (New York 1974), p. 198.
- Roger Ashton, “The Genie of the Pivot,” KRONOS X-l (Fall 1984), p. 21.
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Above article is based on excerpt from MAN AND HIS PLANET – An Unauthorized History by James E. Strickling, Eloquent Books ISBN: 978-1-60693-099-1. Go towww.jimstrickling.com.
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About the Author
James E. Strickling holds degrees in electrical engineering and marketing. He is also a cum laude graduate in Interdisciplinary Studies (natural sciences, ancient history, philosophy). He is a former N.A.S.A. contractor and a former Member of the AT&T Technical Staff (now retired). He also taught mathematics for fifteen years at Georgia State University.
Mr. Strickling’s publications have appeared in the American interdisciplinary journals KRONOS, Aeon, Catastrophism and Ancient History, Creation Research Society Quarterly, the British Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Workshop, and the journal Genesis in Sweden.