Implications For Creation
Robert Gentry, M.S.
Reprinted by Permission of the Creation Science
Fellowship, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., from the
Proceedings of the 1986 First International Conference on Creationism.
[Note: The main text in this report is identical with the first
part of my AAAS report given on pages 269-283 of this Appendix,
and is not repeated here. Instead we go directly to the Discussion
and Closure sections.]
[The Discussion section features objections and criticisms offered by
three scientists. The Closure section consists of our responses to these
objections and criticisms.]
Attempts to find radiohalos in meteorites and moon rocks have
been unsuccessful, although both galactic cosmic ray and solar
cosmic ray tracks have been found in appropriate crystals from
each of these sources. The limitation of radiohalos to earth
minerals of hydrothermal classification suggests that water may
be essential to the process(es) by which radiohalos are formed.
The location of radiohalo centers in mica along conduit paths
and cleavage planes supports this inference.
The existence of mature uranium halos in association with unsupported
polonium halos presents a problem for a view that limits the
real time ages of all minerals to less than 10,000 years. A 5
micron radius sphere of pure uraninite as a radiohalo center
would require in the order of 3 million years to produce sufficient
alpha particles to develop the minimum crystal disordering for
a detectable 33 micron radius radiohalo (Polonium-214). A 3
micron radius sphere of monagite with one uranium impurity atom
per unit monagite lattice element would require about 190 million
years to develop a minimally detectable 3 micron radius radiohalo
in mica. Thus the in situ creation of polonium impurity centers
for unsupported polonium radiohalos and uranium impurity centers
for mature uranium radiohalos at any time within the last million
years also requires the uranium centers and are in every way
indistinguishable from halos that would be produced by the uranium
decay series as presently observed. For many individuals such
a scenario requires the Creator to produce unnecessary "evidence"
for events that did not occur in reality.
In presenting to the public at large, or any segment thereof
such as the scientific community, the Biblical creationist interpretations
set forth in this paper, it is desirable to recognize that Polonium
halos are definitive evidence of instantaneous, in situ creation
only if one has perfect and complete knowledge concerning all
other possibilities. Such knowledge may be possessed only by
deity. The present limits to human knowledge do not justify asserting
that there are no possible circumstances under which the regular
processes maintained by the Creator could have progressively
deposited Polonium within some samples of granite, comparable
to the much more readily understandable accumulation at Polonium
centers in "coalified" wood.
If the polonium for unsupported polonium radiohalos in granite
was an in situ primordial creation at halo center sites, it would
be the only known primordial appearance of an element with other
than a complete spectrum of isotopes. Polonium has 26 isotopes,
all of which are radioactive. The 5 longest half-life members
of this family, together with their half-lives and stable end
|Polonium 209 ||103||years ||Thallium 205|
|Polonium 208||2||.93 ||years||Lead 204|
|Polonium 206||8||.8||days||Lead 206, Mercury 202|
|Polonium 207||5||.7||hours||Lead 207|
|Polonium 204||3||.6||hours||Lead 204|
|Polonium 205||1||.8||hours||Thallium 205|
According to the well-established empirical relationships between
isotope abundance, half-life, and binding energy per nucleon,
primordial polonium would be composed largely of its longer-lived
isotopes, and its residue would be principally thallium 205 and
lead 204. However thallium has never been reported as a polonium
radiohalo center constituent, and lead 204 may be absent also
[Robert V. Gentry, Nature 252 (Dec. 13, 1974), pp. 564-566; Annual
Review of Nuclear Science 23 (Dec. 1973), pp. 347-362, specifically
page 360]. Why is only lead 206 featured, the end product of
uranium daughter products polonium 218, 214 and 210? The presence
in uranium and polonium radiohalo centers of selenium, which
would be precipitated also under conditions favoring the precipitation
of uranium and polonium, favors explanation of radiohalos with
processes involving solution transport of uranium and its daughter
products, even though the details of such processes cannot be
elaborated at the present lack of knowledge concerning hydrothermal
environments and crystal formation [Norman Feather, Communications
to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, No. 11, 1978, pp. 147-158].
Synthesis of a hand-sized piece of granite would prove that at
least one laboratory procedure may be successful; it would be
only suggestive, not definite, with respect to the actual processes
that have determined the characteristics of a specific sample
of natural granite.
It is unsound to assert (p2, ¶3), without firm theoretical or
observational support, that large variations in alpha decay rate
were associated with alpha particles of unvarying penetration
range. An explanatory model that contains such a requirement
suffers a severe loss in credibility.
The suggestion attributed to Gentry, et al., in the quotation
from Norman Feather (p5, ¶1, reference 24) accounts for unsupported Polonium
halos by radiation from daughters of hypothetical, extremely
long-lived, extinct isomers of Polonium parents, not in terms
of the fiat, in situ creation explanation given in this paper.
A critical reader of the paper may wonder why Pb atoms are expected
to be less tightly fitted into a Zr2SiO4 lattice than U and Th
Since the He content of He-producing gas wells increases with
well depth, it would be desirable to clarify the relationship
between temperature, ambient He pressure, and expected He retention
in zircons with U and Th impurity.
In conclusion, this reviewer wishes to express appreciation for
the discussion of Polonium halos in "coalified" wood that is
given in this paper.
Robert H. Brown, Ph.D.
Loma Linda, California
Dr. Gentry's years of excellent experimental work and observations
on radiohalos make him without doubt the world's leading authority
on them. However, I have a problem with his view that the "orphan"
Polonium halos (the ones unaccompanied by halos from parent nuclides)
must be primordial. Why (as Dr. Robert Brown has suggested) are
the only orphan halos from Polonium isotopes in the Uranium decay
series? Shouldn't there be some halos or daughter products from
the other Polonium isotopes as well? It seems to me that there
are other possible creationist explanations for the orphan halos.
One which John Baumgardner, myself, and others have discussed
has the following features:
Uranium decays at an early stage of earth history (for example,
after the Fall), producing Polonium 210, 214, and 218.
Decay stops for a period (say from the Fall to the Flood),
during which time the Polonium is physically or chemically separated
from the Uranium.
Decay restarts (say during the Flood), producing halos in
already-existing granite crystals.
This model is new and not well thought out yet. I cite it merely
as a contrasting illustration. If someone rises to Dr. Gentry's
famous challenge and synthesizes granite, it might prove that
the halos are not primordial. But it would not prove that the
halos were formed by natural processes working at present rates.
D. Russell Humphreys, Ph.D.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
My essential criticisms of Dr. Gentry's halo interpretations
have been published in more detail elsewhere (Physics Today,
April 1983, 11-13). The main problems with his thesis are:
The inclusion minerals at the centers of halos are nearly
always minerals that are known U or Th-bearing minerals like
zircon or monazite. These minerals are not geochemically compatible
with Group VI elements like Po and there is no reason to believe
they would have Po except from decay of U or Th.
The only isotopes of Po that Dr. Gentry reports finding are
those that form by alpha decay of U and Th. There are 26 isotopes
of Po, and the 22 that are not alpha decay products of U and
Th have not been reported. These two points strongly indicate
that the Po Dr. Gentry finds is due to conventional U and Th
decay and is not primordial, unresolved problems notwithstanding.
Dr. Gentry alternates between uniformitarianism and non-uniformitarianism
as it suits his hypothesis. He accuses orthodox geologists of
circular reasoning for assuming that the halos imply constant
nuclear decay rates without direct proof, but he assumes (without
direct proof) that his halos are due to alpha radiation in the
past and (again without direct proof) that he can identify the
halos with specific elements. I believe Dr. Gentry is correct
when he identifies his halos, but he is correct only because
uniformitarianism is valid. Finally, he gratuitously assumes
that, if decay rates change, they must slow down with time; couldn't
they just as easily be speeding [p. 313] up so that rocks are older than radiometric ages indicate?
Assuming uniformity of physical laws is neither arbitrary nor
circular: We live in a universe of patterns, and once a pattern
is known to exist, the burden of proof is on someone who asserts
that the pattern can change. When our checkbooks fail to balance,
we do not assume lightly that someone has tampered with our account;
we look for errors in our accounting instead. Similarly, we assume
that unresolved problems in science will turn out to have a conventional
explanation and only when the evidence becomes incontrovertible
do we postulate changes in the laws of nature. As points (1)
and (2) above indicate, Dr. Gentry's halos do not come anywhere
close to this level of urgency. There is every reason to believe
the halos have a conventional origin. In addition, there is no
observational evidence that decay rates can change as drastically
as they must to accommodate the creationist time scale; there
is no theoretical basis for believing that they can change (Barry
Setterfield makes a game try, but his treatment is full of errors).
The paltry few percent change in electron-capture decay rates
that creationists cite fall far short, in degree and in kind,
of the million or so times that all forms of decay would have
to speed up to reconcile creationist chronology and the radiometric
time scale. Until creationists can demonstrate such enormous
accelerations of decay beyond any doubt, and that probably means
in the laboratory, most geologists will continue to be unrepentant
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Reviews of scientific papers by competent scientists are of inestimable
value in probing weaknesses and inconsistencies of a another
scientists work, and thus are essential in the determination
of scientific truth. By their very nature, reviews must be critical,
even to the point of being highly critical, so that the scientific
community will not be left in doubt concerning possible flaws
in the work being reviewed. As many scientists can testify, the
referee process required by scientific journals has saved many
a reputation by exposing errors in technical papers prior to
publication. At other times, however, that same process has also
acted to prevent unpopular scientific truth from being published.
Indeed, even these ICC Proceedings may contain things which would
not pass muster in the open literature, and it might be said that
in many cases the reason would be prejudice against the creation
perspective. On the other hand, there is the possibility that
some papers may have genuine flaws which need to be identified.
This is all the more reason why creation scientists need to have
their work examined and scrutinized by their peers. The history
of Christianity has amply demonstrated that much done in the
name of God bears little or no resemblance to the teachings of
the Bible, or to the progress of truth.
With this in mind I must—if I am really interested in the scientific
truth as it relates to creation and evolution—have my findings,
discoveries, and conclusions reviewed by those scientists who
would be most critical of my work. This I have endeavored to
do over the past twenty years as I have submitted my results
to the secular scientific community for review and publication.
The results of those endeavors have been recounted in detail
in my recent book Creation's Tiny Mystery. There I attempted
to provide a basis for laymen and scientists to arrive at an
intelligent decision about the scientific validity of my discoveries
of evidence for creation and a young age of the earth.
As necessary as it has been for my work to go through the referee
procedures mandated by the secular scientific community, I consider
it just as necessary for it to be scrutinized by the reviewers
chosen by the organizing committee of the ICC. The article I
submitted for these ICC Proceedings is part of a paper originally
published in 1984 in the Proceedings of the Sixty-Third Annual
Meeting of the Pacific Division of the AAAS. At that time I
requested a vigorous response to the evidences for creation and
a young age of the earth summarized therein. None was forthcoming;
so I am pleased that critical reviews have now been given by
three respected scientists and even more pleased that one is
an evolutionist. My intent in responding to those reviews is
again to provide a basis for laymen and scientists to evaluate
the scientific validity of my discoveries of evidence for creation
and a several-thousand-year age of the earth.
At the outset I wish to emphasize my personal esteem for all
the reviewers. This is needful because in order to clarify matters
it has been necessary to take strong exception to parts of some
reviews. In certain instances, ideas and assumptions are introduced
which differ considerably from my views and my creation model, and then these
ideas are used to raise questions about the scientific implications
of my research for creation. Some background information on halos
is given below so that the reader can intelligently evaluate
ny responses to these ideas.
Experimental results published over the last 20 years show that
polonium halos exist in Precambrian granites independently of
any other type of radioactivity; thus I have said they are evidence
of primordial polonium—meaning polonium that was created independent
of, and separate from, any decay products in the uranium decay
chain. The existence of primordial polonium halos in Precambrian
granites identifies these rocks as part of the primordial Genesis
rocks of our planet. In other words, primordial radioactivity
and primordial rocks were created simultaneously when God called
the earth into existence during creation week. In contrast, the
evolutionary theory of the origin of the Precambrian granites
supposes that these rocks crystallized from a slowly cooling
magma over eons of geological time. Fortunately, there is an
experimental test by which the origin of the granites can be
settled. It is also a test which has devastating consequences
for the theory of evolution.
The basic premise of the entire theory of evolution is the uniformitarian
principle, which is the assumption that the cosmos, including
the earth, came to its current state solely through the action
of known and unchanging physical laws. (Some readers may be more
familiar with the term principle of naturalism.) The practical
application of the uniformitarian principle to evolutionary geology
implies that the Precambrian granites repeatedly formed naturally
throughout billions of years of geologic time—and by naturally
I mean with nothing more than known physical laws to govern their
crystallization. But if this theory of granite origin is actually
true, then it should be possible to reproduce this type of rock
today by melting a piece of granite and allowing it to cool under
suitable laboratory conditions. The end product should be another
piece of granite similar to the original. If this could be done,
evolutionists would be able to claim that the basic premise of
their theory has some basis in fact, and I would withdraw my
claim that the Precambrian granites were the Genesis rocks of
our planet. In addition, if polonium halos could then be produced
in that synthesized granite, I would also withdraw my claim that
polonium halos in granites are primordial.
After waiting almost eight years for the scientific community
to respond to this falsification test, there still has been no
demonstration of granite synthesis. It is certain that evolutionists
would have performed this critical test long ago if it were possible
for them to have done so. This impossibility can be traced to
the fact that the fundamental premise of their theory—the uniformitarian
principle—is not now, nor has it ever been, a sufficient basis
for the Precambrian granites to form. In other words, both the
Precambrian granites and the enclosed primordial halos required
supernatural power to bring them into existence. Thus, irrespective
of how many pieces seem to fit into the evolutionary scenario,
the truth is that the uniformitarian principle is a false, hypothetical
assumption. This background information is essential because
parts of the reviews of Brown and Dutch rely heavily, either
directly or indirectly, on this erroneous principle.
For example, paragraph 1 of Brown's review implicitly utilizes
the uniformitarian principle in an attempt to support a secondary
origin of polonium halos in earth rocks. Before discussing how
this is done, I note first that the mention of cosmic ray tracks
in this paragraph is irrelevant to the topic under discussion,
because cosmic ray tracks have no connection whatsoever with
halos. Second, Brown omits some pertinent information when he
refers to the absence of halos in meteorites and lunar rocks.
For the benefit of the non-scientist who may not understand what
this is all about, I should explain that in referring to meteorites
and lunar rocks Brown is attempting to correlate the absence
of halos with the absence of water. True, as far as we know,
meteorites and the lunar rocks returned to earth do not contain
water. What Brown does not say, however, is that most of these
lunar rocks are not primary rocks, but surface rocks which recrystallized
from molten material produced by meteorite impact. The absence
of halos in lunar surface rocks is expected because any halos
that might have existed in the original (pre-impact) lunar rock
would have been destroyed by melting. Likewise, because of the
vacuum on the moon, any water which might have existed in original
lunar rock specimens would certainly have been lost during the
high temperature phase of the impact process. Thus the general
absence of halos in recrystallized lunar rocks is a natural consequence
of the mode of formation of those rocks, and only incidentally
related to the absence of water.
In this context I should add that there is reason to continue
the search for halos in lunar rocks. I think it is conceivable
that halos may still exist in tiny, unmelted fragments of certain
primary minerals contained within those rocks. Whether such fragments
do exist in the lunar rocks now on earth will not be known until
all those rocks are sectioned and carefully examined.
Before discussing Brown's assertion about minerals of hydrothermal
classification, I will discuss his evaluation of halos in mica,
a mineral that is generally considered to be of this type. In
his first paragraph Brown suggests, without any supporting evidence,
that halo centers along conduits and cleavage planes in mica
support a hydrothermal origin of halos in this mineral. (In other
words, halos which developed from radioactivity captured out
of a solution containing significant concentrations of radioactive
elements.) This suggestion was [p. 315] initially made by some early investigators who worked on halos
about a half a century ago. There were serious problems with
this hypothesis then, and even more difficulties with it now.
First, to associate halos in mica with a hydrothermal origin
because their centers are along cleavage planes is meaningless because the crystal structure
of mica is such that every center is situated along some basal cleavage plane. Secondly,
there are numerous uranium and thorium halo centers in mica, such as monazites and zircons,
which are not considered to be of hydrothermal origin (in the conventional usage of that
term). Thirdly, Brown fails to say that the perfect cleavage properties of mica provided
me with the opportunity over 20 years ago of examining the microscopic
distribution of alpha radioactivity around polonium halo centers,
and those studies showed no evidence for a secondary origin of
polonium halos in this mineral. In fact, the report describing
those results is cited in my ICC paper.
I now turn attention to my respected colleague's comment about
halos being found in earth minerals of hydrothermal classification.
This comment is a clear reference to the standard uniformitarian
supposition that many primary minerals formed over geological
time by very slow crystal growth either in a magma containing
water, or in aqueous solutions laden with the chemical elements
of which the mineral is composed. Uniformitarian geologists adopted
this belief long ago mainly because: (1) it is possible to use
aqueous solutions to slowly grow crystals of some minerals in
the laboratory, and (2) there was evidence that many secondary
minerals in sedimentary deposits had formed in this fashion.
Geologists merged these two observations together with the uniformitarian
principle and went on to assume that the vast number of primary
minerals found in the earth—here I refer to the minerals found
in crystalline rocks such as the Precambrian granites and pegmatites—achieved
their large size through a slow growth process.
In my recent book, Creation's Tiny Mystery, I challenge the assumption
that large crystals of primary minerals grew from small crystals
over evolutionary time, and in particular refer to the existence
of polonium halos as unambiguous evidence that these minerals
were created. I also note in my book that evolutionary geologists
should long ago have seen the falsity of this supposition both
from the huge size of some natural crystals and from their inability
to synthesize even reasonable size specimens of certain minerals
such as biotite, an iron-rich mica which often contains radiohalos.
Summarizing, the term "minerals of hydrothermal classification"
does represent a correct description of origin when applied to
secondary mineral formation in sedimentary deposits. On the other
hand, it is incorrect when applied in the conventional geological
sense to describe the origin of primary minerals. Thus, Brown's
argument for a water-related origin of halos in those minerals
is invalid because it is based on the erroneous assumption that
primary (or primordial) minerals developed through slow crystal
growth over geological time.
For further clarification of the preceding paragraph, I should
emphasize that, as might be expected, in the context of my creation
model certain terms have a different meaning. With this new meaning
there may be a definite relation between primary minerals and
"minerals of hydrothermal classification." In my book, Creation's
Tiny Mystery, I referred to the creation of earth's primordial
rocks in the context of an instantaneous crystallization of a
primordial liquid. More precisely, I envision there were a variety
of primordial liquids called into existence on Day 1 (and perhaps
Day 3) which gave rise to various types of primordial rocks.
In my opinion, 2 Peter 3:5 strongly suggests that these primordial
liquids must have included water at some instant in time within
the creation process. In this sense the primordial (primary)
minerals created on Day 1 (and perhaps Day 3) of creation week
could also be viewed as "minerals of hydrothermal classification."
Skipping over paragraph 2 momentarily, paragraph 3 expresses
some of my colleague's philosophical views, and he is certainly
entitled to those opinions. Moreover, any scientist has a right
to formulate any hypothesis he chooses about creation, and he
is entitled to use the data published in my reports in this endeavor.
However, if my data are used, then that scientist should be careful
to state just where his own assumptions are introduced into his
interpretation of my data, and in addition, he should make it
quite clear that the conclusions obtained with these different
assumptions are separate and distinct from my views. Unfortunately,
that distinction is not clear in several places in Brown's review
of my ICC paper, hence the need for extensive clarification on
my part. Paragraph 2 is one place where such clarification is
Brown introduces his second paragraph by stating that the existence
of well-developed uranium halos in association with polonium
halos presents a problem for a view that limits the age of all
minerals—or equivalently, the age of the earth—to less than
10,000 years. In Figure 1(a) and 1(b) I show two examples of
the specific association of halos to which my colleague refers
in the above statement. (Readers desiring further information
about these halos should refer to the photos in my ICC paper.)
|Figure 1. Both (a) and (b) show a polonium-218 halo adjacent
to an overexposed uranium halo in the Wolsendorf fluorite.
(Scale is about 1 cm = 29 micrometers).
Given the above information, we need to understand why Brown
asserts the association of uranium and polonium halos presents
a problem for a young age of the earth, and then determine whether
the reasons for that assertion are scientifically valid.
The basis for his assertion is found in the second sentence of
paragraph 2. There the claim is made that it would take from
3 million to 190 million years to produce well-developed (mature)
uranium halos. In other words, Brown attempts to call into question
a young age of the earth by saying that it must have taken millions
of years for uranium halos to form in the minerals in which they
are found. He fails to say, however, that the millions of years
that he claims are needed for uranium halos to develop is neither
a scientific fact, nor a part of my creation model, but is instead
a deduction at which he arrives by assuming a uniform radioactive
decay process throughout geological time. But as discussed in
my book, the assumption of uniform decay is just a corollary
of the fallacious uniformitarian principle. In other words, the
millions of years which Brown assigns to the development of uranium
halos are imaginary because they are computed on the basis of
a false assumption.
Paragraph 2 of Brown's review concludes with a reference to the
Creator producing unnecessary "evidence" for events which did
not occur in reality. With all due respect, the reader should
understand that here my colleague is arguing against a straw
man of his own devising, for the scenario described in his second
paragraph is completely foreign to my creation model. Specifically,
he mentions the in situ creation, sometime within the past million
years, of polonium centers for polonium halos, and uranium halo
centers for well-developed (mature) uranium halos. At first glance
this statement may seem to fit into my creation model, but this
is an illusion. One irreconcilable difference between my creation
model and the above comment is the reference to the in-situ creation
of uranium impurity centers for well-developed (mature) uranium
halos. In Brown's own words this "requires the uranium centers
and halos are in every way indistinguishable from halos that
would be produced by the uranium decay series as presently observed."
But since the "the uranium decay series as presently observed"
is undergoing uniform radioactive decay, then it seems that Brown
is referring to the creation of uranium centers with characteristics
which he interprets as evidence of uniform radioactive decay
over an extended period of time.
This whole idea is foreign to my creation model. Nowhere do I
propose that uranium halo centers were created with the characteristics
associated with uniform radioactive decay over an extended period
of time. Such a scenario implies, first, that the uranium centers
were created with artificial characteristics, and second, that
uranium halos in granites were not produced by alpha-particle
interaction with those rocks, but instead are just colorations
which were directly imprinted into them.
This view is conceptually, philosophically, and scientifically
at variance with two major tenets of my creation model—namely,
(1) that polonium halos are genuine evidence of an instantaneous
creation of the Precambrian granites precisely because alpha
particles emitted from rapidly decaying primordial polonium atoms
did produce polonium halos in those rocks (in other words, polonium
halos are truly autographs of radioactivity that had only a [p. 317]
fleeting existence), and (2) that uranium and thorium halos likewise
resulted (via an accelerated decay process) from the interaction
of alpha particles from uranium and thorium centers that were
created simultaneously with the granites.
In my model uranium and thorium halos are post-creation entities
which formed via an enhanced radioactive decay process during
one or more of the three biblically-based singularities described
in my ICC paper. On this basis, I can easily account for the
close association of uranium and polonium halos,, such as shown
in Figure 1. I must conc~ude, therefore, that the problems cited
in the second paragraph of Browns review concerning the association
of uranium and polonium halos are due primarily to his use of
the errcneous uniformitarian principle and the associated uniform
decay rate assumption, and secondarily to the introduction of
an idea which is completely foreign to my creation model.
In paragraph 4 Brown argues for a secondary rather than a primordial
origin of polonium halos in granites, but unfortunately he overlooks
nearly all the scientific evidence which negates this hypothesis.
Through many experiments over the past two decades I have shown
the unequivocal differences between the secondary polonium-210
halos in coalified wood—meaning
those that resulted from water transport of uranium daughter
activity—and the several
types of primordial (independently created) polonium halos in
granites. Brown does not at
all deal with the vast differences in uranium content and transport
rate between granites and gel-like wood (the early stage of coalified
wood), nor in any way attempt to provide experimental evidence
for a secondary origin of polonium halos in granites. Instead,
he argues against a primordial origin of polonium halos in granites
using arguments which appear to be based on scientific fact.
The following discussion presents another view of those arguments.
In the beginning of paragraph 4 Brown argues against primordial
polonium halos using an idea initially proposed several years
ago by one of the other reviewers (Dutch). His main line of argument
utilizes a particular concept of the isotopic composition of
primordial polonium. Using this concept Brown arrives at what
he feels should be the composition of halo centers at present,
and then notes that I have not reported such compositions. All
this leaves the impression that something must be wrong with
my conclusion that polonium halos in granites are primordial.
Unfortunately, some very important information was omitted from
Brown's discussion. We shall see that the picture changes considerably
when all the pieces of the puzzle are included.
Readers should understand first that I have never said, or even
remotely suggested, that primordial polonium would be composed
of the isotopes cited in paragraph 4 of Brown's review. His definition
of primordial polonium is quite different from mine, and the
reader is entitled to know the reasons why the two are fundamentally
What my colleague has done—apparently unwittingly—is to combine
two results from experimental physics together with a theoretical
result of the evolutionary Big Bang model, and then lumped everything
together as if it is based on experimental nuclear physics. In
particular, Brown claims "well-established empirical relationships
between isotope abundance, half-life, and binding energy per
nucleon . . ." establish the composition of primordial polonium
as he states it. If all parts of this statement were true, there
would be some scientific justification for Brown's version of
primordial polonium. The problem is, however, that one crucial
part of the above statement is not true.
Specifically, while nuclear physics has established empirical
relationships between half-life and binding energy per nucleon,
it definitely has not established a pattern of primordial isotope
abundances as Brown claims is the case. The pattern of isotope
abundances to which Brown refers—which also forms the basis
of his definition of primordial polonium—is in reality the end
result of theoretical calculations pertaining to the Big Bang
theory of the evolution of the universe.
To understand Brown's version of primordial polonium the reader
needs to understand how cosmologists view the origin of matter.
First, because modern cosmologists believe only the two lightest
elements—hydrogen and helium—were made in the Big Bang, they
must find some way to account for all the heavier elements in
the universe—including those composing the earth, sun and planetary
system. Their theory is that these heavier elements were formed
billions of years ago in fusion reactions deep inside certain
stars. As explained in my book, they also believe interstellar
space became sprinkled with heavier elements as more and more
stars exploded through eons of time. Then, through processes
which have never been clearly defined, supposedly the remnants
of these violent explosions somehow reaccumulated to form other
stars, one of which is assumed to have been the proto-sun, the
forerunner of both our sun and the earth.
Here we must pause to separate fact from assumption. It is doubtless
true that some chemical elements are produced in stellar fusion
reactions—by charged particle reactions, or by slow neutron
capture (the s-process), or by rapid neutron capture (the r-process)—but
it is [p. 318] just sheer fiction to assume that all the heavier elements
in the universe were produced by such reactions. But this is
what modern cosmologists do, and on this basis they proceed to
theoretically calculate the primordial isotopic abundances of
all the heavier elements.
Such patterns of isotope abundances are only theoretical patterns
because they involve several unverified assumptions about the
exact path by which fusion build-up of the heavier elements is
thought to have occurred. I should add that what correspondence
there is between the most commonly accepted theoretical abundance
pattern and the actual abundance pattern as measured on earth
is the result of varying the parameters in the theoretical calculations
to fit the measured abundances. (Readers desiring more details
on how isotope abundance calculations are linked to various aspects
of the Big Bang theory may consult an older publication, Nuclear
Astrophysics, authored by Nobel laureate William A. Fowler, and
published by the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia,
1967, or a more recent one, "Nucleosynthesis and its Implications
on Nuclear and Particle Physics", Proceedings of the NATO Advanced
Research Workshop on Nucleosynthesis and Its Implications
on Nuclear and Particle Physics, Les Arcs, France, March 17-23,
1985, 0. Reidel Publishing Company, 1986.)
The above discussion shows that the theoretical isotope abundance
pattern used by Brown to formulate his version of primordial
polonium and its most prominent decay product, thallium-205,
is hinged on the assumption that the heavier chemical elements
on earth—specifically including polonium—originated in stellar
nucleosynthesis. Using that assumption Brown interprets the absence
of thallium-205 in halo centers as indicating the absence of
primordial polonium, hence implying that something is wrong with
my identification of primordial polonium halos.
Here a most important point needs to be emphasized. There is
another explanation for the absence of thallium-205 besides the
one Brown has mentioned, namely: Instead of the missing thallium-205
indicating something is wrong with my identification of primordial
polonium halos, what it actually shows is that the Big Bang version
of primordial polonium is without any scientific basis. We should
ever remember that the validity of a theory is determined on
the basis of whether it agrees with the relevant experimental
facts, and in this case it is abundantly clear that the Big Bang
version of primordial polonium does not agree with the experimental
Therefore, I reaffirm that polonium halos in granites did form
from the decay of primordial polonium-218, polonium-214 and polonium-210,
and this is why halo centers feature the decay product lead-206.
(Halos from bismuth-212/polonium-212 also exist but are much
rarer than those just listed.) I believe these types of polonium
halos are evidence that the true isotopic composition of primordial
polonium—meaning the polonium God created when He called the
earth into existence—was irreconcilably different from that
expected on the basis of the Big Bang model. In other words,
when God called the earth into existence He left unambiguous
evidence of His creative power which could never be confused
with the Big Bang scenario. (Readers interested in knowing other
reasons why the Big Bang model is wrong should consult the more
extended discussion given in my book.)
On a different subject in paragraph 4, Brown refers to the presence
of selenium in both uranium and polonium radiohalo centers, and
the assertion is made that this is evidence for the explanation
of halos involving solution transport of uranium daughters. The
first problem with this view is that selenium is definitely not
a constituent of uranium radiohalo centers, and it is not clear
why such a claim would be made. (In fact, one of the other reviewers,
Dutch, correctly notes that Group VI elements, which includes
selenium, are not geochemically compatible with the U- and Th-bearing
minerals that normally constitute U and Th halo centers.) Secondly,
only in a very few cases have I observed selenium in the centers
of polonium halos in granites. Possibly Brown generalized the
results given in my 1974 Science report and incorrectly inferred
that selenium in polonium halo centers in granites is the rule
rather than the exception. Thus, all the arguments cited in this
paragraph in support of a secondary origin of polonium halos
in granites are based either on ideas or suppositions which are
foreign to my views, or on incorrect interpretations of my published
In paragraph 5, my respected colleague does not directly comment
on the implications of the falsification test as I have defined
them, but instead generates his own interpretation predicated
on the assumption of a successful outcome of that test. Brown
is entitled to his views, but he fails to mention the evidence
which contradicts the assumption of a successful outcome—namely,
that, according to conventional theory, the conditions for reproducing
granite from a granite melt have existed in nature countless
times, yet the end result is rhyolite, a fine-grained, non-halo-containing
rock that is quite different from granite, a coarse-grained
rock which does contain halos. Additional explanation
is given in my book, Creation's Tiny Mystery (page 130).
In paragraph 6 of his review, Brown claims my model of enhanced
alpha decay suffers a severe loss of credibility. But this conclusion
is obviously based on his acceptance of uniform radioactive decay
rates—a direct consequence of the uniformitarian principle.
Thus, this particular criticism results from his acceptance and
use of a fallacious assumption.
Paragraph 7 could easily be interpreted as a correction to an
erroneous claim on my part, but the fact is that my comments
about Feather's evaluation are correct as they stand.
In answer to paragraph 8, U and Th atoms are more tightly bound
because they are part of the zircon lattice structure. The Pb
atoms, on the other hand, being the radiogenic end-products of
U and Th decay, are rather loosely bound primarily because they
have been displaced about 100 angstroms (by recoil from a series
of alpha emissions) from the original U and Th lattice sites
into a region where lattice disruption has occurred.
Paragraph 9 refers to the helium content of helium-producing
wells. These may have their source in secondary uranium deposits,
that is, uranium which has been separated from primary uranium-bearing
minerals and widely dispersed via solution transport. A prime
example of secondary uranium deposits are those of the Colorado
Plateau. Helium migration occurs without difficulty from such
deposits because of the dispersed state of uranium and its daughters.
There are two reasons why helium migration from zircons in granites
is much lower than from helium escape from these secondary deposits.
First, there is the difference in uranium content. Zircons, which
may contain only about 100 ppm (parts per million) of uranium,
are encased within granites containing an even smaller concentration
of uranium, usually about several ppm. These concentrations are
generally much lower than the uranium concentrations found in
many secondary uranium deposits. Secondly, migration (or diffusion)
from zircons has been found to be relatively slow at ambient
temperatures, a fact which is attributable to the crystalline
structure of this mineral. These two factors account for helium
effusion from helium wells being significantly higher than helium
diffusion from zircons. Thus nothing in this paragraph contradicts
my claim that helium in zircons taken from deep cores is very
strong evidence for a several-thousand-year age of the earth.
About paragraph 10, I appreciate the compliments about my work
on halos in coalified wood. Of course, the analytical techniques
that were used to investigate polonium halos in
coalified wood were the same as those used to investigate primordial
polonium halos in granites.
In summary, I thank Dr. Brown for presenting his detailed objections
in print, thus enabling me to clarify to the scientific community
some issues that have long been misunderstood. And in closing
my response to his review, I again express my respect and admiration
for him personally.
Turning to Dutch's review, part (1) reveals how easy it is to
arrive at erroneous conclusions when reading someone else's reports.
It is true that U and Th halo radiocenters are generally known
U- and Th-bearing minerals, but Dutch displays a lack of knowledge
of radiohalos by erroneously assuming these minerals also form
the centers of polonium halos. The data I have published, especially
in my 1974 Science and Nature reports, show that polonium halo
radiocenters in granites are quite distinct from the usual U-
and Th-bearing minerals found at the centers of U and Th halos.
Other unpublished results of mine are in agreement with these
findings. Thus, when Dutch argues against polonium being in U-
and Th-bearing minerals, he is arguing against a straw man of his
Part (2) in essence disputes the conclusion that polonium halos
in granites are primordial on the basis that halos from other
polonium isotopes should also be present if this were the case.
Dutch has produced no scientific evidence to contradict the existence
of primordial polonium halos in granite. Instead he has introduced
a hypothetical phenomena into the discussion—namely, of what
he thinks primordial polonium should consist—and then claims
that my model must be wrong because it doesn't include his hypothetical
component. This is, of course, exactly the same argument that
Brown used in paragraph 4 of his review. As I showed in my lengthy
response to Brown's paragraph 4, the fallacy in this whole idea
is the assumption that the Big Bang version of primordial polonium
is correct. Indeed, as I indicated in the conclusion of my response
to Brown's paragraph 4, the isotopic composition of lead in polonium
halos in granites provides unmistakable evidence that the Big
Bang version of primordial polonium is fictitious.
As mentioned previously, I have provided abundant scientific
evidence that some polonium halos in nature are secondary—referring
to the polonium-210 halos found in uranium rich coalified wood
specimens from the Colorado Plateau—and have shown in detail
how these halos differ from the primordial polonium halos in
granites. For some reason Dutch omits any mention of these differences
from his review.
In part (3) Dutch attacks my creation model because it includes
elements of uniformity and nonuniformity. It should be noted that
his attack is based on philosophical rather than [p. 320]
scientific grounds. I make no apologies for proposing a model
that includes both uniformity and nonuniformity because this
is what the scientific evidence dictates. What Dutch avoids saying
is that my model can account for both primordial polonium halos
in granites as well as secondary polonium halos in coalified
wood, which is something the standard evolutionary model can
never do. What is most interesting in this paragraph is the way
Dutch first raises questions about the identification of polonium
halos using the uniformitarian aspect of my model, but then admits
my identification of polonium halos is correct after all! The
last point in this paragraph concerns whether decay rates may
have speeded up or slowed down. My response is that the evidence
from the U/Pb ratios in coalified wood, as well as the results
from both the Pb and helium retention in zircons taken from deep
cores, provides strong evidence that the earth's age is very
young. This implies an enhancement in the decay rate in the past.
The last paragraph of Dutch's review starts out as a philosophical
defense of the uniformitarian principle, with the implication
that evolutionists have the truth. With this mind-set Dutch then
proceeds to relegate all my discoveries for creation to the category
of "unresolved problems in science." He claims that scientists
will only revise their beliefs after they are confronted with
incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. But somehow he fails
to see that evolutionists have been confronted with just that
kind of evidence for a long time—the falsification test was
proposed almost eight years ago. Clearly, when the issue between
creation and evolution was reduced to the outcome of an experimental
test, evolutionists signally failed—and are continuing to fail—to
meet the challenge of creation.
Dutch's comments about variable decay rates reveal again, unfortunately,
that he continues to utilize the straw man approach—this time
erecting two of them—as a means of attacking my work. As just
noted (two paragraphs ago), the evidence cited for a change in
the decay rate is based on the U/Pb ratios in coalified wood
and the results of Pb and He retention in zircons taken from
deep granite cores. I also cite the existence of primordial polonium
halos in Precambrian granites of presumably varying geological
ages as prime evidence that the different radiometric ages of
those granites are fictitious. But I oppose the idea that it
is possible to produce significant decay rate changes at present.
Dutch must surely realize that this is my position because the
creation model I have proposed—and about which he comments—pictures
significant decay rate changes only in the context of supernatural
intervention into the affairs of this planet during such periods
as creation week and the time of the flood. From this it can
be seen that the whole Idea of inducing significant decay rate
changes at present is diametrically opposed to the basic tenets
of my creation model.
Near the end of his review Dutch begins to critique other creationists'
views of radiometric dating, including a reference to changes
in electron-capture decay rates. I do not understand why these
remarks are included in his review because all the views that
Dutch comments on here are quite different from mine, and in
fact are completely disassociated from my results.
Finally, I again express my personal esteem for Dutch. And in
response to his last sentence, I would hope that he—and for
that matter all who hold a purely uniformitarian view of earth
history—would carefully consider that God left scientific evidence
of creation to help those who doubt Genesis come to a full knowledge
of the truth of His Word.
In considering Russ Humphrey's review, aside from the question
about other polonium halos—to which I have already responded
in the preceding reviews—it appears to be mainly an outline
of a tentative model conceived by Russ and John Baumgardner.
There are some similarities between their model and mine—we
both incorporate some form of change in the radioactive decay
rate into our models. This means that we both recognize the uniformitarian
principle is not a valid premise for reconstructing earth history.
The significant differences between our models, as I understand
them, are as follows:
In their model radioactive decay doesn't start until some
time such as the Fall, whereas in mine it begins during creation
week. The reason I include radioactive decay processes within
the pristine framework of creation week is that, from my understanding,
luminous stars were in existence during this time, which was
of course before the Fall. It is my belief those stars radiated
energy through essentially the same nuclear reactions that are
now operative, and that some of those reactions involved radioactive
decay processes as well as nuclear fusion.
In their model radioactive decay ceases from the Fall to
about the time of the Flood, whereupon it begins again. In my
model, there are several special periods of decay rate enhancement
such as creation week, the Fall, and the Flood, to name the major
ones. My model includes the possibility of an enhanced decay
rate during creation week for the generation of heat, thus causing
an expansion or uplift of land masses, resulting in the appearance
of dry land. At the time of the Flood I see the possibility that
an enhanced decay rate was again operative, this time perhaps
for the primary purpose of initiating violent upheavals within
the earth through rapid melting.
In their model radioactive decay restarts after the Flood,
whereas in my model there is an enhancement in the decay rate
during the period of the Flood.
Without further discussion about the differences between our
models, the most important question is whether their model can
account for the existence of polonium halos in granites. The
first problem is of course to identify the source of uranium
for the polonium. For polonium halos embedded within a large
granite formation it is in many cases difficult, if not impossible,
to find a significant concentration of uranium nearby.
Then comes the question of transporting polonium through the
solid rock. The movement of radioactivity via solution transport
is certainly valid for gel-like wood, but quite difficult to
justify for movement through granite. Ordinarily this must be
done by diffusion, an exceedingly slow process, which when considering
the time between the Fall and the Flood, would imply only small
distances would be traversed.
Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to the formation of polonium
halos in this tentative model seems to be inherent in the model
itself. That is, if decay stops after the Fall, then polonium
is a stable element with the ratios of the various polonium isotopes
fixed in the proportion that existed at the time decay ceased.
Thus all isotopes of polonium would move in unison (chemically
speaking) and there would be no isotopic separation at all. The
same is true for the lead and bismuth beta-precursors of polonium.
This means that, if decay restarted at the Flood, there would
be only one type of polonium halo (polonium-210) from the uranium
series rather than the three types which actually exist.
The reason for this becomes apparent when it is realized that
during the period of decay the isotopic abundances of polonium-218,
-214, and -210, bismuth-214 and -210, and lead-214 and
-210, are determined by the half-lives. For all three elements
the 210 isotope has a half-life that is several hundred times
greater than the 214 or 218 isotope. This means that in every
case where polonium, bismuth, or lead may be separated as an
element in a radiocenter, the 210 isotope of that element will
be in vastly greater abundance than the 214 or 218 isotope, and
thus lead to the formation of polonium-210 halos in every instance.
In other words, there would be no possibility of halos originating
solely with polonium-218 or polonium-214 to produce either a
balanced-coloration three-ring polonium-218 halo or a two-ring
polonium-214 halo. Examples of these balanced-coloration polonium-218
and polonium-214 halos are shown in the radiohalo catalog in
Finally, since Russ ends his review with comments about the falsification
test, it is appropriate to relate two new items about this topic.
In the first instance a friend recently informed me that a California
geologist had claimed one of the geology films distributed by
Ward's Natural Scientific Establishment, Inc. showed granite
synthesis. Subsequently, I contacted the producer of the film,
Mr. Silas Johnson, now retired, of Coronado, California. According
to Johnson this film is mainly an overview of geologic
history explaining in general terms the conventional view of
the origin of igneous rocks.
The film was designed for the high school level and contains
nothing relating to the experimental synthesis of granite.
Another report is far more interesting. A Canadian evolutionist
wrote me, and sent copies to a number of prominent evolutionists,
that the geology course, Understanding the Earth, offered on
TV-Ontario, features a film on igneous rocks that shows granite
synthesis. I obtained a videotape of that film, which is program
3 in the Understanding the Earth series. The purpose of the series
is to educate students in the conventional, uniformitarian view
of earth history, including the idea that granites cooled slowly
from a melt. As a means of accomplishing that purpose, program
3 shows a laboratory experiment that claims to duplicate conditions
under which granite is thought to have formed. In the film granite
powder is melted under pressure and then allowed to cool. The
resulting specimen is said to show a resemblance to granite.
The film does not claim that the cooled specimen is actually
a granite. It states only that the experiment can be interpreted
as being suggestive of how
granites formed. To say the specimen resulting from a granite
synthesis experiment just
resembles granite, instead of actually being a granite, is exactly
what the falsification test is all about. Thus, the Canadian
evolutionist, who wrote to me about this TV program illustrating
granite synthesis, erroneously equated an imitation granite with
the genuine article.*
From my viewpoint the results of this experiment have been one
of evolution's best kept secrets—the experiment itself was done
over twenty years ago—and it is now time for this particular
secret to be given the widest possible exposure.
As this response goes to press I am checking to see what, if
any, additional details about this interesting experiment may
be determined at this late date. In my opinion creation science
is about to move into a new era. There are exciting posslbilities!*
Robert V. Gentry
[*As the UT presentation showed (pages 199-204), I was successful
in locating one of the rock
specimens here referred to, and it was not a granite. Creation
science has moved into a new era.]