While Secular Humanism or Secularism has many beliefs, there are some core beliefs. These Fundamentals are written down in their Authoritative documents such as the Humanist Manifestos I, II and III and A Secular Humanist Declaration by CODESH (Council for Democratic Secular Humanism) co-authored by Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson, both editors of The Humanist magazine.
I believe, that is I have examined the evidence and concluded this to be true, that the foundational belief of secularism is a belief in deep time. Both Wikipedia and the USGS (United States Geological Survey) websites, articles on planet Earth open with statements saying the age of the earth is 4.54 billion years old. Since there are no signs anywhere on earth proclaiming any particular age, other methods must be used to determine the age of the earth. The USGS opens with “So far scientists have not found a way to determine the exact age of the Earth directly from Earth rocks because Earth’s oldest rocks have been recycled and destroyed by the process of plate tectonics. If there are any of Earth’s primordial rocks left in their original state, they have not yet been found. Nevertheless scientists have been able to determine the probable age of the Solar System and to calculate an age for the Earth by assuming (emphasis mine) that the Earth and the rest of the solid bodies in the Solar System formed at the same time and are, therefore, of the same age.
The ages of Earth and Moon rocks and of meteorites are measured by the decay of long-lived radioactive isotopes of elements that occur naturally in rocks and minerals and that decay with half lives of 700 million to more than 100 billion years to stable isotopes of other elements. These dating techniques, which are firmly grounded in physics and are known collectively as radiometric dating, are used to measure the last time that the rock being dated was either melted or disturbed sufficiently to rehomogenize its radioactive elements.” USGS website
Dogmatic statements of fact in such articles are mixed with words like assumed, presumed, considering and nearly.
“The best age for the Earth comes not from dating individual rocks but by considering the Earth and meteorites as part of the same evolving system in which the isotopic composition of lead, specifically the ratio of lead-207 to lead-206 changes over time owing to decay of the decay of radioactive uranium-235 and uranium-238, respectively.” USGS website
Similar statements can be found on hundreds, perhaps tens of thousands, of websites. However. “Facts are stubborn things;” said John Adams, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”3
All radiometric methods give us a ratio of one element to another; the ratio of C14 to C12, the ratio of uranium to lead, the ratio of potassium to argon, etc. This ratio does not give us a date, an age or any way of determining a date or an age unless the element was a 100% “charged”, composed of nothing but the pure radioactive isotope. The USGS website describes a radioactive isotope as, “the last time that the rock being dated was either melted or disturbed sufficiently to rehomogenize its radioactive elements.” This is a description of the original condition of the samples. It is necessary to make an assumption of that 100% condition for the formula to work.
The original condition of each of these samples, whether earth rock, meteorite or moon rock, is both unknown and unknowable. For the earth to be 4.54 billion years old, two very important assumptions must be true. We must know as an absolute fact the original condition of the sample being tested and we must know that the environmental conditions since the test was made until now did not alter the decay rate of the sample. Our current knowledge of radiometric dating tells us that the only way the decay rate can be altered is through a worldwide thermonuclear bombardment. One possible way this could take place would be an explosion of an outer layer of the sun.
If the original condition of a sample is, according to the USGS website, “the last time that the rock being dated was either melted or disturbed sufficiently to rehomogenize its radioactive elements”, was not 100%, then that sample would test to be older, perhaps much older than the data would indicate. What if, just to use one radiometric dating method as an example, when the uranium was originally rehomogenized, it was 90% lead?
This article is assuming that the people taking the sample are honest, that the technicians running the test are honest and that the radiometric tables the published dates are based on are accurate. That is, if the assumptions are correct for the date of the earth, then the date of 4.54 billion years is correct.
But what if the assumptions are in error?
“Facts are stubborn things;” said John Adams, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”