Grand Canyon Age Estimates Fluctuate Wildly
Just when the park rangers were getting familiar telling the public the Grand Canyon was carved about 5 million years ago, some geologists announced the shocking news that it might be less than a million (05/31/2002, 07/22/2002). The age was plummeting as recently as November (11/30/2007). But then last month, another revision came: it’s 17 million years old. Now, another team claims it is 55 million years old, or older. National Geographic News announced that the majestic gorge is 9 times older than thought, and PhysOrg claimed it may be as old as the dinosaurs. Are these estimates or just guesstimates?
The new date, to be published in the May GSA Bulletin, is based on an inference about the time when minerals of apatite, containing uranium and thorium, began to cool when first exposed to the surface. This inference, however, depends on models of where the minerals formed and became exposed. The National Geographic article called this only “a clock of sorts” for dating the canyon.
The geologists from Caltech and Colorado University at Boulder noted that the rocks at the bottom of the canyon dated the same as those at the top. From this they inferred that an ancient canyon existed 55 million years ago that later became integrated with other sections that had evolved separately. Why? Because the only way the bottom and the top could have cooled at the same time, they surmised, was that “the gorge formed from previously existing canyons that eventually connected, rather than a plateau.” Brian Wernicke, a geology professor at Caltech, explained, “If there had not been a canyon, the gorge and rim samples would have been different.’
Some amazing claims emerge from the complexities of this model. In the PhysOrg article, Rebecca Flowers of Colorado University was quoted saying, “If you stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon today, the bottom of the ancestral canyon would have sat over your head, incised into rocks that have since been eroded away.” Visitors at the rim would be astonished to look up a mile into the sky and try to visualize an imaginary canyon above them that somehow turned into the canyon below them. Not only that, the river was running in the opposite direction! During all these millions of years, the plateaus around the canyon were eroding as fast as the canyon itself, they said. “Small streams on the plateaus appear to have been just as effective at stripping away rock as the ancient Colorado River was at carving the massive canyon.
If these inferences appear to go far beyond all empirical support, resting on some ratios of minerals, so be it. “It’s a complicated picture because different segments of the canyon appear to have evolved at different times and subsequently were integrated.”
Do you get the idea that modern secular geologists are absolutely clueless about the origin of one of the most stark exhibits of geology in the world? They can be perfectly happy with 70 million years, 100,000 years, 6 million years, 17 million years or 55 million years. All that matters is keeping the naturalistic belief system intact. They will even give us an imaginary canyon in the sky (that used to be ancient sediments) with a river eroding it down as fast as small streams did. Side canyons all join up together and make the river turn around and flow the other way. Isn’t science wonderful.
One little observation the secular team mentioned should have jumped up and shouted for attention. If the inferred dates of cooling were the same at the bottom and the top, then guess what! Maybe, just maybe, the canyon formed catastrophically. We know that happened at Washington’s channeled scablands and at Mt. St. Helens. Why, that would explain the whole Grand Canyon in a matter of days or weeks. Is that any less scientific than wavering between dates that differ by two orders of magnitude?. If it were the only inference to be drawn, that would be one thing – but the Grand Canyon is filled with other evidences of rapid deposition and rapid canyon formation. Take time to review some of them from our 09/16/2005 commentary.
In any other science, huge swings of speculation and reckless deployment of ad hoc circumstances and reliance on unobservables would be scorned. Creation scientists have been studying the Grand Canyon for decades now. They can point to real-world analogues to explain what happened. Their confidence in creation and Flood models has made some of them call this vast area “Exhibit A” for a worldwide flood and catastrophism. The elite secular geologists pretend these scientists, some with PhDs and years of field experience, don’t even exist. Take your pick whom you think has more credibility. One thing was clear to a New York Times reporter – the Christians have a richer time in the Canyon than the evolutionists (10/06/2005).