Institute for Creation (Credulous) Research (Retards), PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voi
Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021
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No. 244 "Vital Articles on Science/Creation" October 1993
THE DATING GAP
by Marvin L. Lubenow.*
Copyright (c) 1993 by I.C.R.
All Rights Reserved
* Professor of Bible and Apologetics at Christian Heritage College
in El Cajon, California.
Evolution places severe demands upon fossils used to support it. A
fossil in an evolutionary sequence must have both the proper morphology
(shape) to fit that sequence and an appropriate date to justify its
position in that sequence. Since the morphology of a fossil cannot be
changed, it is obvious that the dating is the more subjective element of
the two items. Yet, accurate dating of fossils is so essential that the
scientific respectability of evolution is contingent upon fossils having
Popular presentations of human evolution show a rather smooth
transition of fossils leading to modern humans. The impression given is
that the dating of the individual fossils in that sequence is accurate
enough to establish human evolution as a fact. However, because of
severe dating problems which are seldom mentioned, this alleged sequence
cannot be maintained. To present the fossil evidence as a relatively
smooth transition leading to modern humans is akin to intellectual
It is impossible to give an evolutionary sequence to the human
fossils because there is a coverage gap involving the dating methods
which evolutionists believe are the most reliable radiocarbon and
potassium-argon (K-Ar). This gap is from about 40,000 ya (years ago) to
about 200,000 ya on the evolutionist's time scale. It covers roughly the
period known as the Middle Stone Age (MSA). This coverage gap lies
beyond what is considered the effective range for radiocarbon and prior
to what is considered the effective range for potassium-argon. This
problem period may be even larger because: (1) some dating authorities
believe that the effective range for K-Ar doesn't begin until about
400,000 ya, and (2) many of the older fossils are found at sites that
lack the volcanic rocks necessary for K-Ar dating and hence cannot be
dated by this method at all.
Although young-earth creationists challenge the legitimacy of all of
the dates obtained by the long-term radiometric methods, even
evolutionists are beginning to admit that this dating gap presents a
problem for them. However, the real seriousness of this problem seems to
elude them, even when they occasionally refer to it in their
In the past 15 years, the major focus of human evolution has shifted
from the origin of "all" humans to the origin of "modern" humans, and
the very time during which modern humans are alleged to have evolved
from their more primitive human ancestors is the period covered by this
gap. At least 406 human-fossil individuals are placed by evolutionists
in this 40,000-to-200,000-time-period gap and hence are questionably
dated. The inability of the radiocarbon and the K-Ar methods to cover
this time period explains why many alternate dating methods have been
devised to attempt to give coverage in this area. However, these
alternative methods have serious problems of their own.
Of the 84 anatomically modern Homo sapiens fossil individuals dated
by evolutionists beyond 40,000 years, 59 of them (70%) fall into this
40,000-to-200,000-year gap. (Anatomically modern Homo sapiens fossils
that are dated more recently than 40,000 years of age are not of great
significance for evolutionary purposes and are not under consideration
There are four Neanderthal fossil individuals that are dated more
recently than 40,000 years. They are the Amud I and Shukbah remains from
Israel and the Saint-Cesaire and Arcy-sur-Cure remains from France. All
other Neanderthal remains, some 300 fossil individuals, or approximately
98.6% of all of the Neanderthals, fall into the period covered by this
gap. (It is well known that another reason why many of the Neanderthal
fossils are poorly dated is because they were found long before the
importance of documenting fossils in their geological context was fully
The relatively new fossil category created by evolutionists, the
"archaic Homo sapiens" category, contains at least 64 fossil
individuals. Twenty-eight of them (44%) fall within this time gap.
Nineteen of the 222 Homo erectus fossil individuals (9% of the total)
likewise fall into this time gap. In all, 406 human-fossil individuals
which evolutionists feel are crucial in documenting the evolution of
modern humans fall into the gap between radiocarbon and K-Ar dating and
hence have uncertain ages.
Creationists have noted an interesting pattern in evolutionist
writings regarding the dating of fossils. Shortcomings of a dating
method in current use are not generally acknowledged by evolutionists.
Only when they feel they have devised a better method for a specific
time period, do they publicly admit the weaknesses of the method they
had been using previously. The result is that the public assumes the
dating methods used at any given time are adequate, whereas the dating
specialists working with those methods know that this is not necessarily
The latest illustration of not admitting the uncertainties of older
dating methods until newer ones have been developed centers around a new
method proposed for dating human fossils in this 40,000-to-200,000-year
time period. This new method, announced in the journal, _Science_,
involves racemization of amino acids in ostrich eggshell. The amino-acid
method was developed some time ago for dating bone material at archaeo-
logical sites. Because bone is porous, it is subject to ground-water
leaching. Hence, the method fell into disfavor because it gave question-
able dates. However, because ostrich eggshell is thought to be a rather
closed system, it is claimed that items found in association with it can
be dated more accurately by the amino-acid-racemization method.
The admissions now being made about the dating methods that have been
previously used by evolutionists to cover this time period are
particularly interesting. These admissions have profound implications
for human evolution. In the _Science_ article on ostrich-eggshell
dating, the authors state that many of the dates assigned to human
fossils in this 40,000-to-200,000-year period based on the older methods
were only "provisional," and that all such dating is "uncertain." These
are remarkable admissions. Anyone familiar with the paleoanthropological
literature knows that this is not the way most of the dates for fossil
discoveries in that time period have been presented. This time period is
critical for human evolution, and evolutionists have consistently
claimed a degree of certainty in their dating which now appears to be
The author does not wish to imply that the ostrich-eggshell-dating
method is a legitimate one. The point is that, for evolutionists to
claim they now have a "better" method for dating human fossils
discovered in the future does not correct the inaccurate dates of human
fossils that were discovered in the past. The dating flaws of the past
cannot be rectified because: (1) many of those fossil sites have been
destroyed or altered, so that reconstruction to allow for redating of
fossils after the fact is not possible; and (2) to find ostrich eggshell
that can be shown to have been in unquestioned association with those
previously discovered fossils is virtually impossible.
The uncertainty of fossil dates in the Middle Stone Age is just the
tip of the iceberg. For evolutionists, the problem is far more serious,
but few are willing to acknowledge it. William Howells (Harvard
University) states that the dating problems involve the entire Middle
Pleistocene (100,000 to 700,000 yr, according to evolutionists). This
would involve many more fossils than just those in the Middle Stone Age.
Howells writes: "It cannot be too strongly emphasized how much
uncertainty attaches to placement of all but a few of the fossils,
absolutely or relatively, especially for the Middle Pleistocene."
Creationists recognize that the problem is far greater than even Howells
suggests. But it is refreshing to know that some evolutionists are
speaking frankly about the dating problems involving the human fossils.
Human evolution demands precise dating of the relevant fossils.
Evolutionists now admit that the dates for the human fossils in the
significant Middle Stone Age period and elsewhere are uncertain. It
means that there is no such thing as a legitimate evolutionary fossil
sequence leading to modern humans. It also means that evolutionists
cannot make accurate statements regarding the origin of modern humans
based on fossils discovered thus far. Their continuing to do so reveals
that their statements are based on a belief system, not on the practice
of a rigorous science.
1. Richard G. Klein, _The_Human_Career:_Human_Biological_and_Cultural_
Origins_. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989): 254, 292.
2. For charts listing all of the fossils in this time period, see
Marvin L. Lubenow, _Bones_of_Contention_. (Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House, 1992)
3. A. S. Brooks, P. E. Hare, J. E. Kokis, G. H. Miller, R. D. Ernst,
and F. Wendorf, "Dating Pleistocene Archaeological Sites by Protein
Diagenesis in Ostrich Eggshell," _Science_ 248 (6 April 1990):
4. William W. Howells, _Homo_erectus:--Who,_When,_and Where:_A_Survey_,
"Yearbook of Physical Anthropology" 23, 1980 (Supplement 1 to the
"American Journal of Physical Anthropology"): 8.
This "Impact" was converted to ASCII, for BBS use,
from the original formatted desktop article.
Comments regarding typographical errors
in the above material are appreciated.
Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator
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