The history of human attempts to measure time is a fascinating story that starts with the only tools primitive people had, namely the seasons and cosmology (e.g., the sun day-and night-cycles, and moon phases and cycles). Attempts to measure time later became more sophisticated with the invention of formal calendars, sundials and mechanical clocks.
Most people recognize that all these devices have limitations and have the capacity to provide inaccurate information, but no one seriously questions the reliability and usefulness of them in providing a practical measure of time.
Within the past century the scientific community discovered that rocks have natural clocks built into them that very reliably measure the passage of time. Many parts of nature can be dated by this method—a method known as radiometric dating. While this means of measuring the passage of time is very straightforward, it not without certain challenges, just as mechanical clocks presents occasional challenges. But the idea that radiometric dating is reliable is widely accepted within the scientific community, having been validated through historically verified events, and through cross testing, and by very straightforward use of quantitative analysis.
Historically, many Adventists have been uncomfortable with this method of timekeeping—not because radioactive decay is an unreliable gauge of time, but because it creates problems for a young earth chronology.
In this article we are introduced to the science of radiometric dating and learn how it works and how science deals with some of its challenges.
- Jan M. Long
To conclude our "Bringing the Real World to Genesis" series, curated by Jan M. Long, we are republishing 10 articles from the Spectrum journal. This is the third article. Previous "Bringing the Real World to Genesis" articles can be found here.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5673