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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

Testimony of Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple

Testimony of Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA (Plaintiffs Witness) - transcript paragraph formatted version.


A: (Continuing) it on the floor and all thirty-five senators hear it.

Q: At the time that you introduced what is now Act 590, as to the extent of your knowledge as a layman in science, did you feel that there was and is scientific evidence to support creation science?

A: Yes, I did.

MR. WILLIAMS: No further questions.

THE COURT: May this witness be excused?

MR. KAPLAN: Yes, Your Honor.

MR. CEARLEY: Plaintiffs call Doctor Brent

Dalrymple. Mr. Ennis will handle direct.



called on behalf of the plaintiffs herein, after having been first duly sworn or affirmed, was examined and testified as follows:



Q: Doctor Dalrymple, will you please state your full name for the record?

A: Yes. My name is Gary Brent Dalrymple.

Q: I'd like to show you Plaintiffs' Exhibit Ninety-eight for identification, your curriculum vitae.


Q: (Continuing) Does that accurately reflect your education, training, experience and publications?

A: Yes, it does.

MR. ENNIS: Your Honor, I move that Plaintiffs' Exhibit Ninety-eight for identification be received in evidence.

THE COURT: It will be received.

MR. ENNIS:. (Continuing)

Q: When and where did you receive your Ph.D.?

A: The University of California at Berkeley in 1963 in the field of geology.

Q: What is your current employment?

A: I am presently employed as the assistant chief geologist for the western region of the United States Geological Survey, and I am one of three assistant chief geologists for the three regions of the United States. The western region includes the eight western states in the Pacific coast territory.

Q: Were you responsible for scientific testing of the lunar rock samples returned from the moon?

A: Yes. I was selected by NASA to be one of the principal investigators for the lunar rocks returned by the Apollo Eleven through Thirteen missions.

Q: What are your areas of expertise?

A: My areas of expertise include general geology,


A: (Continuing) geochronology, paleomagnetism, and radiometric data in general.

Q: What, briefly, is geochronology?

A: Well, geochronology includes methods that are used to determine the ages of geological events.

Q: Have you published a substantial number of books and articles in these fields?

A: Yes. Over a hundred scientific papers and a book that is commonly used as a textbook in radiometric dating classes.

MR. ENNIS: Your Honor, I offer Doctor Dalrymple as an expert in the fields of geology, geochronology, paleomagnetism and radiometric dating techniques in general.

MR. WILLIAMS: No objection.


MR. ENNIS: (Continuing)

Q: Doctor Dalrymple, I have just handed you a copy of Act 590. Have you had an opportunity to read Act 590?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: Is there anything in the Act's definition of creation science to which the field of geochronology is relevant?

A: Yes. Section 4(a)(6) specifies, and I quote, A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds, end of quote.


Q: Is there anything in the Act's definition of evolution to which the field of geochronology is relevant?

A: Yes. Section 4(b)(6) specifies, quote, An inception several billion years ago of the earth and somewhat later of life, end of quote.

Q: Are you familiar with the creation science literature concerning the age of the earth?

A: Yes, I am. I have read perhaps two dozen books and articles either in whole or in part. They consistently assert that the earth is somewhere between six and about twenty thousand years, with most of the literature saying that the earth is less than ten thousand years old.

Q: Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate that the earth is no more than ten thousand years old?

A: None whatsoever. In over twenty years of research and reading of scientific literature, I have never encountered any such evidence.

Q: Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate the earth is no more than ten million years old?

A: None whatsoever.

THE COURT: Wait a second. What is it that the creation scientists say is the age of the earth?

A: They make a variety of estimates. They range between about six and about twenty thousand years, from


A: (Continuing) what I've read. Most of them assert rather persistently that the earth is less than ten thousand years. Beyond that they are not terribly specific.

Q: Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate the earth is no more than ten million years old?

A: None whatsoever.

Q: Are you aware of any scientific evidence to indicate a relatively young earth or a relatively recent inception of the earth?

A: None whatsoever.

Q: If you were required to teach the scientific evidences for a young earth, what would you teach?

A: Since there is no evidence for a young earth, I'm afraid the course would be without content. I would have nothing to teach at all.

Q: Is the assertion by creation scientists that the earth is relatively young subject to scientific testing?

A: Yes, it is. It one of the few assertions by the creationists that is subject to testing and falsification.

Q: Have such tests been conducted?

A: Yes. Many times, by many different methods over the last several decades.

Q: What do those tests show?

A: Those tests consistently show that the concept of a young earth is false; that the earth is billions of years


A: (Continuing) old. In fact, the best figure for the earth is in the nature of four and a half billion years.

And I would like to point out that we're not talking about just the factor of two or small differences. The creationists estimates of the age of the earth are off by a factor of about four hundred fifty thousand.

Q: In your professional opinion, are the creation scientists assertions of a young earth been falsified?

A: Absolutely. I'd put them in the same category as the flat earth hypothesis and the hypothesis that the sun goes around the earth. I think those are all absurd, completely disproven hypotheses.

Q: In your professional opinion, in light of all of the scientific evidence, is the continued assertion by creation scientists that the earth is relatively young consistent with the scientific method?

A: No, it is not consistent with the scientific method to hold onto a hypothesis that has been completely disproven to the extent that it is now absurd.

Q: How do geochronologists test for the age of the earth?

A: We use what are called the radiometric dating techniques.

Q: Would you tell us very briefly, and we'll come back to the details later, how radiometric dating techniques work?


A: Yes. Basically we rely on the radioactive decay of long lived radioactive isotopes into isotopes of another element. By convention we call the long lived isotopes that's doing the decaying the parent, and the end product we call the daughter.

What we do in principal is we measure the amount of parent isotopes in a rock or mineral and we measure the amount of the daughter isotope in a rock or mineral, and knowing the rate at which the decay is taking place, we can then calculate the age.

It is considerably more complicated than that, but that's the essence of those techniques.

Q: Are these isotopes, isotopes of various atoms?

A: Yes, they are.

Q: Could you briefly tell the Court what an atom is, how it's composed?

A: Well, an atom consists of basically three particles. The nucleus, or inner core of the atom, has both neutrons and protons. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what the chemical element for that atom is. Both neutrons and protons have the same mass.

Neutrons have no charge. The number of neutrons in an atom do not determine the elemental characteristics of that atom, only the number of protons. Orbiting the nucleus of the atom is a cloud of electrons


A: (Continuing) that orbit more or less like the planets around the sun.

Q: Could you tell us briefly what an isotope is?

A: Yes. Differing atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons in a nucleus are called isotopes of that particular element. The addition of a neutron, more or less, as I said, does not change the character of the element, it only changes the atomic mass. And in some cases, when several neutrons are added to the nucleus, the atom becomes unstable and becomes radioactive.

Q: Could you give an example of an isotope?

A: Yes. Carbon-14, for example. The element, Carbon, normally contains six protons. Ordinary carbon contains six neutrons, as well, giving it an atomic mass of twelve. That is usually indicated by the capital letter C, for carbon, and the superscript in the upper left hand corner denotes it being Carbon-12 for the atomic mass. If we add two neutrons to that atom, it can become Carbon-14, which is designated C-14.

Carbon-14, because of those two extra neutrons, is unstable and is radioactive, whereas Carbon-12 is not radioactive.

Q: Why did geochronologists rely upon radiometric dating techniques rather than other techniques?

A: Because radioactivity is the only process that we


A: (Continuing) know of that's been constant through time for billions of years.

Q: Is radioactive decay affected by external factors?

A: No, radioactive decay is not affected by external factors. That's one reason we think it's been constant for a long time.

Q: Could you give an example of processes that are affected by external factors.

A: Yes. Examples would be the rates of erosion or the rates of sedimentation. That is the rate that sediments are deposited into the oceans and lakes. Both of those processes are affected by the amount of annual and daily rainfall, they are affected by the height of the continents above sea level, they are affected by the amount of wind, and so forth.

We know that all those factors vary with time, both on a daily and annual basis, and, therefore, the rates are not constant. They can't be used to calculate ages of any sort.

Q: Do creation scientists rely on the rates of erosion or sedimentation in their attempts to date the age of the earth?

A: Yes. In some of their literature they have used both of those techniques, and that is a good example of how unscientific some of their estimates are, because


A: (Continuing) again, these processes have not been constant over time.

Q: Could you tell us why radioactive decay rates are basically impervious to external factors?

A: It's basically because the nucleus of an atom is extremely well protected from its surroundings. And also because radioactive decay is a spontaneous process that arises only from the nucleus; it's not affected by external factors. The cloud of electrons that surrounds the nucleus of an atom provides very good protection against external forces. And also the strength of the nuclear glue, the strength of the nuclear binding, is among the strongest forces in nature. This is one reason why scientists have to use powerful and extensive accelerators in atomic reactors to penetrate the nucleus of an atom. It's really tough to get in there.

Q: Have scientists tested and measured those decay rates under various circumstances to see whether they would be affected by external forces?

A: Yes. There has been a variety of tests over the past number of decades addressing exactly that point. And they found, for example, that decay rates do not change with extremes of temperature, from a hundred ninety-six degrees below zero Centigrade to two thousand degrees


A: (Continuing) Centigrade. The rates were not affected.

At pressures of a vacuum or two thousand atmosphere, for example, thirty thousand pounds per square inch, we found that the combining of radioactive isotopes in different chemical compounds does not affect the decay rates.

Q: Have any tests ever shown any change in the decay rates of any of the particular isotopes geochronologists use in radiometric dating?

A: None. They've always been found to be constant.

Q: Are changes in decay rates of various isotopes at least theoretically possible?

A: Yes. Theoretically in some instances, and let me explain that. There are three principal types of decay involved in radioactive dating techniques. One is alpha decay. That's the decay that involves the ejection of an alpha particle from the nucleus of the atom. Another is beta decay. That involves the injection of something like an electron - it's called a beta particle - from the nucleus.

Theory tells us that neither of those types of decay can be affected by external factors, and in fact, none of the experiments have ever shown any effect on either alpha or beta decay.

There is a third type of decay called electron capture,


A: (Continuing) where an orbital electron falls into the nucleus and converts a proton into a neutron. That type of radioactive decay, because the original electron comes from the electron shell, one can imagine if you depress that shell a little bit, you might increase the probability of the electron falling into the nucleus.

Theory tells us that such changes in electron capture decay are possible, but theory also tells us that those changes should be very small. And in fact, the maximum changes ever detected or ever forced have been the Beryllium-7, and that changes only one-tenth of one percent. No larger.

There have never been any changes affecting any of the decays being used for radioactive dating.

Q: Do creation scientists challenge the constancy of those radioactive decay processes?

A: Yes, they do. There have done that on a number of occasions.

Q: Have they advanced any scientific evidence to support their challenge?

A: None whatsoever.

Q: Did they use the relevant data on the decay rates in a fair and objective manner, in your professional opinion?

A: No. In fact, they frequently cite irrelevant or


A: (Continuing) misleading data in their claims of decay rates change.

Q: Could you give an example?

A: Yes, I can give two examples. The first is in an Institute for Creation Research technical monograph written by Harold Slusher entitled, I believe, A Critique of Radiometric Dating.

In that publication he makes the statement that the decay rates of Iron-57 have been changed by as much as three percent by strong electric fields. The problem with that is that Iron-57 is not radioactive. Iron-57 is a stable isotope. When Iron-57, it does undergo an internal conversion decay, and by that I mean simply a mechanism for getting rid of some excess energy. And that type of decay does also have a decay rate, but it's completely irrelevant to radioactive dating.

So when Iron-57 decays, "by internal conversion", it remains Iron-57. One of the dating schemes used in geology involved internal conversions. So the example of Iron-57 cited by Slusher is simply irrelevant.

And in fact, he did reference his source of that data, and I've been unable to confirm the fact that Iron-57 decay rates by internal conversion have been changed, so I'm not sure that's even true.


Q: But even if it were true, it would be irrelevant because Iron-57 would remain Iron-57?

A: That's exactly right.

Q: And the isotope techniques you rely upon are changed from one element to another?

A: That's true.

Q: Could you give, another example?

A: Yes. Another example frequently cited is the use of neutrinos. They frequently claim that neutrinos might change decay rates. There are several things wrong with that hypothesis also. The first thing, the source of their statement was a column in Industrial Research by Frederich Houtermanns entitled Speculative Science or something. Scientific Speculation is the title of his column.

And without any empirical evidence whatsoever, Houtermanns speculated the neutrinos might somehow effect radioactive clocks. But there is no theory for that and there is no empirical evidence that such is the case.

The creationists conveniently leave out the speculative nature of that particular idea. The second thing is that neutrinos are extremely small particles. They have virtually no mass or little mass and no charge. They were first postulated by Pauli back in the 1930's as a way of an atom carrying off excess energy


A: (Continuing) when it decays by beta decay. They interact so little with matter, in fact, that they're very difficult to detect, and it's several decades later before they were even detected. Neutrinos can pass completely through the earth without interacting with the matter, and there's no reason at all to suspect that they would change the decay rates or alter the decay rates in any way.

Finally, the creationists typically argue that neutrinos might reset the atomic clock. I am not quite sure what they mean by that, but if it's used in the usual sense, to reset a clock means starting it back at zero. The effect of that would be that all of our radiometric dating techniques would overestimate the geologic ages and ages of the earth, not underestimate them. So that works against their hypothesis.

Q: If they reset the clocks, then the test results from that resetting would show the earth to be younger than in fact?

A: Yes. What, in fact, we would have would be a minimum age instead of a correct age. So it works in exactly the opposite direction.

Q: In addition to questioning the constancy of the decay rates, do creation scientists make other criticisms of radiometric dating?

A: Yes. One of their other criticisms is that your


A: (Continuing) parent or daughter isotopes might be either added or subtracted from the rock between the time of its formation and the time it would be measured. And they commonly say that since we can't know whether or not the daughter or parent isotopes have been added or subtracted, therefore, we have no basis for assuming they are not, or for calculating an age from this data.

Q: Is that commonly referred to as the closed system-open system problem?

A: Yes. Basically all radiometric dating techniques require - most of them do, not all - most of them require that the rock system, the piece of rock or the mineral they were measuring, has been a closed system since the time of crystallization up until the time that we measure.

And what they're basically saying is that we have no way of knowing whether they have been a closed system or not.

Q: What steps do geochronologists take to insure that the samples they test have remained closed systems and have not changed since they were initially formed?

A: We try to be fairly careful with that. We don't run out and pick up just any rock and subject it to these expensive and time consuming tests. There are several different ways we go about this. The first thing is, we can observe the geological circumstances in which the


A: (Continuing) sample occurs. And that tells us a lot about the history of that sample, what kinds of external factors it might have been subjected to. The second thing is that there are microscopic techniques that we can use to examine the rock in detail and tell, whether or not it's likely to have been a closed system since its formation.

You see, all things that can affect the rock system in terms of opening it also leave other evidence behind, like changes in minerals that we can observe. So we have pretty good field and laboratory techniques which will tell in advance whether a system has been a closed system or an open system.

Q: Do you, yourself, engage in that testing process?

A: Oh, yes, all the time. As a result, I personally reject perhaps a half to three-quarters of all samples for dating just for that very reason that the samples are not suitable. This rejection is done before we get any results.

Q: Once you have a sample which you believe has not changed since formation, is there any objective way to test a sample to determine whether you're right or wrong?

A: Yes. There are a number of objective ways to do that. These ways rely on the results themselves.

Q: Do the results themselves show whether the sample has changed its formation?


A: Yes, they do.

Q: If the results of a test showed that a sample had changed since formation, is that sample then utterly worthless?

A: No, not at all. We are not always interested in the age of the rock, For example, sometime we are interested in the age of the heating events. If, for example, a rock body has been subjected to heating, we might be more interested in what event caused that heating than the usual crystallization age of the rock, so that usually these kinds of results give us other kinds of information.

They also tell us a good deal about the state of that sample, whether or not it has been an open or closed system. So just because we don't get a reliable crystallization age doesn't mean that we aren't getting other information.

For example, we might end up with the age of the heating events which would be an extremely valuable piece of information. Sometimes just knowing the sample has not been a closed system is an extremely valuable piece of information.

So we use these dating techniques for lots of things other than determining the age of the rock sample.

Q: How many methods are there for determining


Q: (Continuing) subjectively whether a sample has been changed since formation?

A: Well, there are quite a variety, but I think they can be lumped into about four categories. Those include dating two minerals from the same rock; using two different techniques on the same rock; other tests that Are called geological consistency tests, and finally, there is a category of techniques called isochron techniques that also serve that purpose.

Q: Could you briefly describe the first method?

A: Yes. In dating of two minerals from the same rock, the reason we do that is because different minerals respond in different ways to external factors.

For example, in the potassium argon method, the daughter product is argon, which is a rare gas. It's not terribly happy being inside minerals. It doesn't chemically combine with any of the other elements there.

If we take the mineral biotite, that's a mica, for example, and date that with the potassium argon method, then we also date the mineral hornblende with the potassium argon method, if there has been an external influence on this system, we expect those two minerals to respond differently.

This is because the biotite would start to release its argon at temperatures of perhaps two-fifty to three


A: (Continuing) hundred degrees centigrade, whereas the hornblende would reach six or seven hundred degrees centigrade before it starts to release its argon.

There, of course, has been a heating event of, let's say hypothetically five hundred degrees, we would expect to see argon loss or younger ages from the biotites, whereas the hornblende might retain all of its argon completely.

The main point is that when we get a discrepancy like this, we know that something has happened to the system that made it, violate our assumption of a closed system, and that's valuable information.

Q: And if you get that result, you then do not use that sample to postulate an age for the initial formation of the samples?

A: That's right. The results themselves tell us that that would be a very dangerous conclusion to come to. But we can postulate that there has been something happen to that rock.

Q: Go to the second method you use.

A: The second method involves using two different dating techniques on the same rock. This has a couple of advantages. It's a little more powerful than the first method.

For example, if we use the potassium argon method, which has a half life of one point two five billion years, and


A: (Continuing) we use the rubidium strontium method, which has a half life of forty-eight point eight billion years, we essentially have two clocks running at different speeds but keeping the same time.

If I could use an analogy, we might have two wristwatches. One wristwatch might use a balance wheel that rotates back and forth five times a second. On the other hand we might have a digital watch that uses a little quartz crystal that operates at a speed of, let's say, twenty thousand times a second. We, then, have two watches that are ticking at different rates but keeping the same time. That same advantage accrues to using two different methods on the same rock.

The second advantage is the daughter products are different. The daughter product of the potassium argon method is argon. It's a rare gas. It behaves quite differently to heating, whether in alteration, than does strontium-87, which is the daughter product of the rubidium strontium method. Strontium-87 is not a gas, it's a chemical element that likes to be in chemical combination with certain other things in a rock.

So again we expect a different response.

Q: Does testing a sample with the two or more techniques frequently yield the same age for that sample?

A: Yes. Particularly in the cases where we know from


A: (Continuing) other evidence that the sample has been undisturbed, we commonly get that result.

Q: What do creation scientists say about age agreements between different techniques?

A: Well, they usually just ignore them. They don't pay any attention to them at all.

Q: Does testing a sample with two or more techniques ever yield different rates for that sample?

A: Yes. Quite often it does.

Q: What do creation scientists say about those age disagreements?

A: Well, they usually use those disagreements and purport that they have evidence that the techniques don't work.

Q: Is that a scientific assessment of the evidence?

A: Well, no. There are several things wrong with that. In the first place, when we get disagreements, they are almost invariably caused by some external factor that has caused one of the clocks to read in a way that's too young. It gives us an age that is too young.

The second thing is that age that is too young might measure, for example, the age of the event. Those ages that are too young are still millions and millions of years old, which, even though we don't have agreement between the techniques, still contradict the hypothesis


A: (Continuing) of an earth less than ten thousand years old.

Finally, the reason for doing these kinds of tests is to determine in advance upon the results themselves whether or not the technique is reliable. Therefore, they are using our very test method as a criticism of the method itself, and I sort of consider that dirty pool. It's not very honest.

Q: What's the third method commonly used to test the changes in a sample?

A: Well, the third method involves geological consistency. Rocks don't occur all by themselves. They usually are surrounded by other rocks, and the relationship of the sample to these other rocks can be determined.

Perhaps the simplest example might be a lava flow. If we have a stack of lava flows from a volcano and we are interested in determining the age of that volcano or that stack of lava flows, we wouldn't just date one rock. We would date one from the top of the sequence, perhaps; we would date one from the bottom of the sequence, and we might date eight or ten intermediate in the sequence. We know because of the way lava flows form, one on top of the other, that all of those ages should either be the same or they should become progressively older as you go


A: (Continuing) down in the pile.

If, in fact, we get random or chaotic results, that tells us that something is wrong about our assumption of the closed system, so we can use a variety of geological consistency tests like this to test the results as well.

Q: What is the fourth method that you rely upon?

A: Well, the fourth is really a family of methods called isochron techniques.

Q: How do the isochron techniques differ from the other techniques you've just mentioned?

A: These are techniques that have especially built in checks and balances, so that we can tell from the results themselves, without making any other assumptions, whether or not the techniques are giving reliable ages.

Some isochron techniques really work very well, and work best on open systems. Isochron techniques typically yield two important results. One is, most of the isochron techniques are able to tell us the amount and composition of any initial daughter that is present. That's not something we need to assume, it's something that falls out of the calculations.

The second thing is that the isochron techniques tell us very clearly whether a sample has been opened or closed. If the sample is still an isochron, then we know that that


A: (Continuing) sample is a good closed system. If we don't get an isochron, we know that something is wrong with the sample. And we get these results just from the experimental data themselves, without any other geological consideration.

So they are ultimately self-checking, and they are one of the most common, surefire ways to date rocks.

Q: Have creation scientist's produced any evidence or suggested any plausible theory to support their assertion that the earth is only about ten thousand years old?

A: No. I know of no plausible theory that they suggest. They have proposed several methods that don't work.

Q: Have you looked into the creation science claim that the decay of the earth's magnetic field shows a young earth?

A: Yes. I've looked into that in some detail. That is rather fully described in an Institute for Creation Research technical monograph by Thomas Barnes, which if I recall correctly is titled The Origin and Destiny of the Earth's Magnetic Field.

Let me try to explain briefly what Barnes asserts. For the last hundred and fifty years or so, since 1835, scientists have analyzed the earth's magnetic field, and they have noticed that the dipole moment, and we can think


A: (Continuing) of that just as the strength of the main magnetic field, has decreased, and it has decreased in intensity over the last hundred and fifty years.

The decrease amounts to about six or seven percent. Barnes claims that the earth's magnetic fields are decaying remnants of a field that was originally created at the time the earth was created, and that it is irreversible decaying and will eventually vanish, in about nine or ten thousand years.

What Barnes does is assume that this decay is exponential. Actually you can't tell whether it's exponential within the earth, but he assumes it's exponential going back to a hypothesis proposed by, actually a model proposed by Sir Forrest Land back in the eighteen hundreds.

Land is not talking about the magnetic field, though. He gives the mathematical calculations that Barnes uses. Barnes then calculates a half life with this presumed exponential decay, extrapolates backwards in time and concludes that in 8000 B.C. the strength of the earth's dipole moment would have been the same as the strength of the magnetic star.

And since that is obviously absurd, and I would have to agree that that would be absurd, therefore, the earth must be less than ten thousand years old.


Q: What is wrong with that claim?

A: Well, there are quite a few things wrong with that claim. To start with, Barnes only considers the dipole field. The earth's magnetic field, to a first approximation, is like a dipole. That is, it produces the same field as would a large bar magnet, roughly parallel to the axis of rotation of the earth, lining across the merging poles, circle around the earth, and return back in at the other pole. But that's not the whole story. That's only the part that Barnes works with.

The other component of the magnetic field is the non-dipole field. These are irregularities that are superimposed on the dipole field and amount to a considerable proportion of the total field.

Finally, theory tells us that there is probably another very large component of the magnetic field inside the core of the earth that we can't observe because the line of the flux are closed.

So Barnes makes several mistakes. First, he equates the dipole field with the total earth's field, which it's not. It's only a part of the earth's field. And second, he equates the dipole field strength with the total magnetic energy. And both of those extrapolations are completely unjustified.

Careful studies of the non-dipole and dipole field over


A: (Continuing) the past fifty years have shown that the decrease in the dipole field is exactly balanced by an increase in the strength of the non-dipole field.

In fact, over the last fifty years, as far as we can tell, there has been no decay in total field energy external to the core at all. Similar studies over the last hundred and twenty years show a very slight decrease in the total field energy external to the core. So in fact, we don't know exactly what's happening to the total field energy.

And finally, paleomagnetic observations have shown that the strength of the dipole moment doesn't decrease continually in one direction, but it oscillates with periods of a few thousand years. So it goes up for a while and goes down for a while. At the same time the non-dipole field is also changing.

And lastly, he completely ignores geomagnetic reversals. Paleomagnetic studies of rocks have shown conclusively that the earth's field has periodically, in the past, reversed polarities, so that the North Pole becomes the South Pole, and vice versa. This happens rather frequently geologically, that is, hundreds of thousands to millions of years at a time.

We now have a pretty good time scale for those reversals over the last ninety million years. And Barnes completely


A: (Continuing) ignores that evidence.

One thing we do know about geomagnetic reversals from the evidence, of rocks is that during the process of the field reversing, the dipole moment decays.

Q: What do creation scientists say about the possibility of the polarity reversals?

A: Well, they claim that they can't happen, and they claim that they have not happened.

Q: Is there any basis for that claim?

A: No, none whatsoever. The paleomagnetic evidence is very sound, and, in fact, it's verified by other evidence as well.

It's also interesting to note that the earth's field is not the only field that reverses polarity. For example, in 1953, the dipole field of the sun was positive polarity in the North and negative polarity in the South pole. Over the next few years the strength of the sun's dipole field began to decrease, very much in the same way that the strengths of the earth's dipole field is now decreasing, until within a few years it had vanished entirely. It couldn't be measured from the earth.

Then gradually it began to reestablish itself, and by 1958 the sun's dipole field was completely reversed, so that the North Pole, instead of being positive, was now negative, and vice versa for the South Pole.


A: (Continuing) So geomagnetic reversals are not a surprising phenomena, and in fact, they are expected. Magnetic reversals have also been seen in the stars.

Q: But creation scientists just deny that that happens?

A: Well, they never mention that. It's simply ignored.

Q: Do creation science arguments for a young earth rely on the cooling of the earth?

A: Yes. They commonly use that argument. And again, that argument is one that has been championed by Thomas Barnes and some of the patrons of the Institute of Creation Research.

That particular theory, or idea, goes back to an idea championed by Lord Kelvin (Thomson) who started in the mid-eighteen hundreds. At that time you must remember that there was no such thing as radioactivity. By that I mean it had not been discovered yet.

Kelvin observed that the temperature of the earth increased as it went downward from the surface. That is, he observed the geothermal gradient. He had started with the assumption that the earth started from a white hot incandescent sphere and it cooled to its present state. So he calculated how long that would take.

His first estimates were something between twenty and four hundred million years. Later he settled on twenty-four million years, which was not his figure, but


A: (Continuing) it was a figure that was first calculated by the geologist Clarence King, who quite incidentally was the first director of the Geological Survey.

The problem with total analysis in Barnes championing of this thing is that partly he took a physical way to calculate the age of the earth. The problem with that is that in 1903 Rutherford and Soddy demonstrated conclusively that there's an enormous amount of energy available in radioactive decay. In fact, all of the heat now pouring outward from the earth can be accounted for solely by radioactive elements in the earth's crust and mantle.

Kelvin never publicly recanted his views, but in the history of his life it has been recorded that he privately

Admitted that the discovery by Rutherford and Soddy that said this enormous energy is from radioactive decay had completely disproved his hypothesis. Even Kelvin knew it was wrong.

It's quite amazing to me that the creationists would hold such an idea for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that we've known for all these centuries that Kelvin's calculations were completely irrelevant. And the second thing is that Kelvin thought the earth was billions of years old.

Q: Do creation scientists rely on the accumulation of meteor dust as evidence for a young age of the earth?


A: Yes. That's another one that they claim. And I've looked into it some, and if you don't mind, I'd like to refer to some notes on that so that I get the figures straight.

Q: Could you explain that creation science claim?

A: Yes. Morris, in 1974, and also a book by Wysong in 1966, both claim that there's evidence that the influx of meteoric dust to the earth is fourteen million tons per year.

And they calculate that if the earth were five billion years old, this should result in a layer of meteoric dust on the earth a hundred and eight-five feet thick. And they say, "How absurd, we don't observe this," of course.

There are some problems with that, however. They are relying on calculations done by a man by the name of Peterson in 1960. What Peterson did was collect volumes of air from the top of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, using a pump originally developed for smog, I believe.

Then he thought about the dust. Then he analyzed this dust for nickel content. He observed that nickel was a fairly rare element on the earth's crust. That's not exactly true, but that was the assumption that he used.

And he assumed that the meteoric dust had a nickel content of two and half percent. So using the mass of dust that he had and the nickel content of the dust and an


A: (Continuing) assumed two and a half percent nickel content for meteoric material, he was able to calculate the annual volume of meteoric dust that flowed into the earth.

He came up with a figure of about fifteen million tons per year, but when he weighed all of the evidence, he finally concluded that perhaps, about five million tons per year was about right.

Morris, on the other hand, and Wysong, both choose thehigher number, I think because that makes the layer of dust thicker.

The problem with that is that nickel is not all that uncommon in the earth's crust, and probably Peterson was measuring a lot of contamination.

There have been more recent estimates than Peterson's. In 1968, for example, Barker and Anders made an estimate of the meteoric influx of cosmic dust based on the uranium osmium contents, which are extremely rare, of matter in deep sea sediments. And they came up with an influx figure that was a factor of twenty-three lower than Peterson's figure, and, therefore, twenty-three times lower than the figure used by Morris.

Probably the best completely independent estimates, however, are based on satellite data, satellite penetration data. That is, the number and the mass of particles distract satellites as they orbit the earth.


A: (Continuing) And NASA collected quite a bit of these data in the 1960's.

There was a review of that done in 1972, and you note that that information was available when Morris and Wysong wrote their book, but they didn't cite it.

Q: What does that NASA data show?

A: Well, that showed that the influx of meteoric materials was, in fact, not fourteen million tons or even five million tons per year, but more like eleven thousand tons per year. In other words, two orders of magnitude lower.

And coming out here on the plane, I redid Morris' calculations using these better figures, and I came up with a rough layer of four point six centimeters in five billion years. And of course, with the rainfall and everything, that simply would have been washed away.

There's an interesting aside. NASA was quite concerned about the layer of dust on the moon. NASA estimated that it would produce a layer of dust on the moon in four and a half billion years of about one and half to perhaps fifteen centimeters maximum. And in the least disturbed areas of the moon, the astronauts measured a thickness of about ten centimeters, so the observations agree exactly with the predictions.

Q: Do these observations on the moon prove that the


Q: (Continuing) earth or the moon are, in fact, four point five to five million years old?

A: No, they don't prove anything whatsoever except that there's dust on the moon. It's another one of those processes that has a non-constant rate. We have more reason to suspect that the rate of influx of meteoric dust has been constant with time. In fact, we have a lot of reasons to suspect that it is not.

For example, in the early history of the earth, four and a half billion years ago when the earth was first formed, it was sweeping up out of space enormous amounts of material. During those periods of the earth's history, we would expect the influx rate to be very, very high. Now it's much lower.

The evidence indicates it has probably been constant for perhaps the last ten million years. We have no idea what the rate of influx of meteoric dust has been over geologic history. So it's one of these things that you simply can't use.

Q: Do creation scientists rely upon the shrinking of the sun?

A: Yes. That's another one I've read, and that stems from a paper, I think in the Institute of Creation Research Impact, Number 82, published in April of 1980. Their claim is based on a paper by Eddie Inpornasian (Aram Boornazian) which was published in 1979. Using


A: (Continuing) visual observations of the sun, Aram Boornazian observed that they thought that the sun's diameter was decreasing. And it was decreasing at such a rate that in a hundred thousand years the sun would vanish to a point.

And the creationists work this backwards and say that if the earth was as old as geologists claim it was, then the sun would have been very large in the past history, and would have been so large that life would not have been possible on the earth.

The problem with this particular calculation is that the original data of Aram Boornazian was completely wrong. There had been another study done by Irwin Shapiro of MIT, who used twenty-three transits of mercury across the face of the sun that occurred between 1736 and sometime within the last few years, a much more accurate way to measure the diameter of the sun than the techniques used by Aram and his colleagues. Shapiro, his paper was published in 1980. He said rather conclusively that the sun's diameter is not changing at all. The sun is not shrinking or it's not growing.

Q: Are you aware of other supposed tests for the earth's age proposed by creation scientists?

A: Yes. There are a number of them in a book by Morris called, I believe, The Scientific Case for Creation. As I recall, he proposes about seventy


A: (Continuing) different methods that he lists. They ranged all the way from influx of soda aluminum into the oceans, for which he gets a figure of a hundred years, I believe, to influx of magma into the crust, for which he gets a figure of five hundred million years.

MR. ENNIS: Your Honor, Plaintiffs have previously marked for identification excerpts from that particular book that include approximately six pages to which Doctor Dalrymple might refer in his testimony. I have given copies of those additional six pages to the Attorney General.

If there is no objection, I'd like for those six pages to be added and included with Plaintiffs' Exhibit Eighty-Six for identification.


MR. ENNIS: (Continuing)

Q: I'd like to show you Plaintiffs' Exhibit Eighty-Six for identification.

A: Okay.

Q: Does Mr. Morris, in that book, acknowledge any assumptions he used in deciding which of those tests to rely upon and which not to rely upon?

A: Yes, he does. On page 53 he makes the following statement: "It is equally legitimate for creationists to calculate apparent ages using assumptions which agree with


A: (Continuing) their belief in special creation, provided they acknowledge that fact. And then he goes on to present seventy such calculations, most of which are made by him and his colleagues, but some of which he refers to the scientific literature.

Q: What do those seventy tests supposedly show?

A: Well, Morris approaches this in a rather strange way. He says, "I'm going to make all these calculations for the age of the earth using these assumptions," and then gets a variety of results, ranging from too small to measure, to, I don't know, five hundred million years, something like that.

And he says, "Look how inconsistent the results are. As you see, we really can't calculate the age of the earth." However, he thinks that the young ages are probably more reliable than the old ages, basically because there would have been less time for external factors to affect the calculation.

The problem with these seventy ages is that most of them rely on rates that are not constant. And these seventy also include things like the magnetic field and meteoric dust, which I have already discussed.

Sometimes, however, he uses very misleading and erroneous data.

Q: Could you give me an example of that?


A: Yes, I can. There is one which is here, number thirty-three. It's entitled, "Formation of Carbon 14 on Meteorites." The age he lists is a hundred thousand years, and the reference he gives is to a paper published in 1972 by Boeckl. There is a problem with that, and that is that Boeckl's: paper was not about meteorites at all; Boeckl's paper was about tektites. Tektites are objects which are thought to originate on the earth.

The second thing was that Boeckl was interested in calculating the cosmic rays exposure ages for these tektites. He wanted to know how long they had spent in space.

In order to make the calculations he was trying to make, he had to assume an initial age for the tektites. His calculations were not terribly sensitive at all to what he assumed, so he just assumed ten thousand years for his particular purpose.

I don't know where Morris got a hundred thousand years. That figure he must have made up. But the fact is that Boeckl's paper wasn't about the subject Morris claims it was. There was no data in Boeckl's paper that could be used to calculate the age of the earth or anything else.

The one age that Boeckl was trying to calculate was the residence time of these objects in space, and that's all. So this is truly misleading and very unscientific.


Q: Doctor Dalrymple, in conclusion, in your professional opinion, is there any scientific evidence which indicates a relatively recent inception of the earth?

A: There is none whatsoever.

MR. ENNIS: I have no further questions, Your Honor.

THE COURT: I think we probably ought to recess for the night. How long do you think your cross examination is going to be?

MR. WILLIAMS: Not very long, your Honor.

THE COURT: You are talking about five or ten minutes?

MR. WILLIAMS: It will be a little longer. Might take twenty minutes, or under.

THE COURT: Why don't we wait until tomorrow to do it if you don't mind.

I found out today that GSA recalculated the cost of driving an automobile, and it is not twenty-two and a half cents a mile like they were paying us; it is twenty cents a mile. And you can find some comfort in that, but I think I am going to protest by quitting early today.

(Thereupon, Court was in recess

At 5:15 p.m.)

446. Page is missing.




On Behalf of the Plaintiffs:


Cross Examination by Mr. Williams Page 449

Redirect Examination by Mr. Ennis Page 471

Recross Examination by Mr. Williams Page 486


Direct Examination by Mr. Novik Page 494

Cross Examination by Mr. Childs Page 577


Direct Examination by Mr. Novik Page 514

Cross Examination by Mr. Williams Page 611


Direct Examination by Mr. Cearley Page 641

Cross Examination by Mr. Childs Page 684




Plaintiffs' No. 121 474 474

Defendants' No. 1 486 486

Plaintiffs' No. 93 494 494

Plaintiffs' No. 96 515 515

Plaintiffs' No. 101 552 552

Plaintiffs' No. 123 556 556

Defendants' No. 2 616 616

Plaintiffs' No. 40 649 649

Plaintiffs' No. 41 - 50 660 660

Plaintiffs' No. 128 667 667

Defendants' No. 3 689 689


(December 9, 1981)

(9:00 a.m.) THE COURT: I see you all made it back, and I believe we are about to begin the cross examination of Doctor Dalrymple.



Q: Is constancy of the rate of radioactive decay a requirement for radiometric dating?

A: Yes. It is required that radiometric dating be based on constant decay rates, at least within limits of significant areas, and what I mean by that is that if the decay rates were to change a percent or two, that would probably not significantly alter any of our major conclusions in geology.

Q: To the best of your knowledge, has the rate of radioactive decay always been constant?

A: As far as we know from all the evidence we have, it has always been constant. We have no, either empirical or theoretical reason to believe it is not.

Q: So as far as you know, it would have been constant one billion years ago, the same as it is today.

A: As far as we know.

Q: Five billion years ago?

A: As far as we know.


Q: Ten billion years ago?

A: As far as we know.

Q: Fifteen billion?

A: I don't know how far back you want to take this, but I think for the purposes of geology and the age of the solar system, we are only interested in using radiometric dating on objects we can possess in our hand, so we only need to take that back about four and a half or five billion years.

I think whether it's been constant fifteen billion years is irrelevant, we have no way of getting samples that old. We can only sample things that have been in the solar system.

Q: How old is the solar system, to the best of your knowledge?

A: As far as we know, it is four and a half billion years old.

Q: The solar system itself?

A: The solar system itself. Now, when we talk about the age of something like the solar system, you have to understand that there was a finite period of time over which that system formed, and we may be talking about a period of a few hundred years, so it is not a precise point in time, but some interval, but compared with the age of the solar system, it is thought that that interval


A: (Continuing) was probably rather short-a few percent.

Q: Are you aware of when those scientists hypothesized or when the so-called Big Bang occurred, how many years ago?

A: No, I am not sure exactly when that was supposed—

Q: Would the rate of radioactive decay have been constant at the time of the Big Bang?

A: I am not an astrophysicist. I don't know the conditions that existed in the so-called primordial bowl of soup, and so I am afraid I can't answer your question.

Q: So you don't have any opinion as to whether it was constant then?

A: That's out of my field of expertise. I can't even tell you whether there were atoms in the same sense that we use that term now.

Q: But you did state that it had always been constant as far as you knew, but now you state you don't know about the Big Bang, whether it was constant then; is that correct?

A: Well, what I said, it's been constant within the limits in which we are interested. For the purposes of radiometric dating it hardly matters whether it was constant at the moment of the Big Bang. Let me say this-

Q: I don't want to interrupt you.


A: That's all right.

Q: You say as far as you are concerned, for the purposes of your concern it has been constant as far as you know, and your purposes go back to the age of the earth for four point five billion years; is that correct?

A: Yes, that's correct.

Q: But you base that age of the earth on the assumption or on this requirement that it has always been constant; is that correct?

A: That is not entirely- That's correct, but it is not an assumption. It is not fair to calculate it that way. In a certain sense it is an assumption, but that assumption has also been tested.

For example, if you look at the ages of the oldest, least disturbed meteorites, these objects give ages at one point five to four point six billion years. A variety of different radioactive decay schemes, schemes it at different half lives. They are based on different elements. They would not give those identical ages if the rate of decay had been constant.

Q: But do those schemes that you mentioned there rely upon the requirement that the rate of radioactive decay has always been constant as well?

A: Yes, they do.

Q: So all methods you know would rely upon this, what


Q: (Continuing) you termed a requirement and what I termed an assumption; is that correct?

A: That is correct.

Q: The rate of decay is a statistical process, is it not? I think you testified yesterday to that.

A: Basically, it is.

Q: Would you agree that any deviation in the rate of decay would have to be accompanied by a change in physical laws?

A: As far as we know, any change in decay would have to be accompanied by a change in physical laws, with the exceptions that I mentioned yesterday. There are small changes known in certain kinds of decay, specifically in electron capture, a tenth of a percent.

Q: What do you consider the strongest evidence for the constant rate of radioactive decay?

A: Well, I don't think I could give you a single piece of strongest evidence, but I think the sum total of the evidence, if I can simplify it, is that rates of decay have been tested in the laboratory and found to be essentially invariant.

Theory tells us those rates of decay should be invariant. And when we are able to test those rates of decay on undisturbed systems; that is, systems that we have good reason to presume have been closed since their


A: (Continuing) formation clear back to the oldest objects known in the solar system, we find we get consistent results using different decay schemes on isotopes that decay at different rates.

So that is essentially a synopsis of the evidence for constancy of decay.

Q: Did you say- but is it not true that as long- Well, if the rate of decay has varied and as long as the variation would have been uniform, would you still get these consistent results?

A: It is possible to propose a set of conditions under which you could get those consistent results.

THE COURT: Excuse me. I didn't understand that.

THE WITNESS: I think what he is saying is, is it possible to vary the decay rate in such a way that you could still get a consistent set of results by using different decay schemes, and I think it is always possible to propose such a set of circumstances, yes.

So that question is in the nature of a "what if", and one can always come to the conclusion that you can restructure science in such a way to make that "what if" happen. But that is not the sort of thing we usually do unless we have good reason to presume the physical laws have changed, and we presume they have not.

The same is true with things like the speed of light,

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