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Stumbling in the Dark
The tour guide led the small group deep into Round Spring Caverns. He pointed out the dazzling formations, sometimes called speleothems, and explained how they took ten thousand years to form one inch. Several minutes later, the guide showed the group a mosquito trapped within flowstone (Orr). Flowstone forms as water deposits calcite over any object, and looks much like a frozen waterfall. The two facts do not match up. Either the guide’s growth rates are false, or the mosquito is either nonexistent or just dirt.
Through the eyes of old age believers, each speleothem represents long eons of time, slow natural processes, and rare accidents of nature. Through the eyes of young earth creationists, each speleothem represents a few thousand years, the fingerprint of God, and the shocking power of a global catastrophe. Evolutionists and creationists alike have tried to discover the age of speleothems. Today’s growth rates, out of place stalactites, and errors in isotopic dating methods, all point to quickly formed caves.
Many formations around the world defy the old ages of evolution. At Knaresborough, England, a waterfall is fed by an underground stream high in calcite. Since 1630, people have suspended various objects under the water. Calcite became deposited on the keepsakes within three to twelve months, depending on the size and material of the item. Everything from teddy bears, ties, and hats, to even umbrellas dangle in the water. Today a hat from 1853 is almost entirely engulfed in flowstone. The stone grew over it so the hat is now nearly invisible. This waterfall deposits calcite much faster than evolution time estimates (White).
Another example of fast growth rates occurs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Formations at the hot springs develop 23 mm per year (Meyers 8). This is faster than evolutionary estimates of .1 to 3 mm per year. The Kelly Caves on Kangaroo Island, Australia, grow about 7 mm every four years (“Focus:” 7). This may seem slow but is still faster than evolutionary time estimates. Also, caves observed in the tropics experience faster growth rates due to a warmer climate and increased rainfall. The evidence here is clear. These caves and many others around the world contain formations that just grow too fast, and evolutionists cannot explain them.
Evolution also cannot explain speleothems hanging from monuments, staircases, bridges, mines, and other unnatural objects. George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes, Indiana, contains several out of place formations. Rain water erodes minerals from this limestone monument and drips into the basement. The result of the water draining into the basement creates the same effect as water dripping into a cave.
Stalactites form when water deposits calcite on a surface such as a ceiling, and builds up into a stone cone. The water dripping from this deposits more calcite on the floor causing an upside down stalactite, called a stalagmite, to form. When the two formations grow together, they create a column. Those three formations decorate the once bare basement, including five columns eleven feet tall! Surprisingly, construction of the monument began in 1929 and the memorial was dedicated in 1936 (“Speleotherms:”).
Stalactites also are found under bridges in Philadelphia and they sometimes reach lengths over 30 cm (1 ft.) long (Meyers 8). These bridges were built in the last one hundred years. The growth rate of one foot per one hundred years defies evolutionary growth rates. In addition, stalactites are growing from the cement steps between two halls at Temple University, Philadelphia, built in 1973 (Meyers 7). A mine in Queensland, Australia, was void of decoration fifty five years ago, but is now covered in dazzling stone icicles (“Speleotherms:”).
Speleothems have also been known to form on walkways in caves (“Stone Waterfalls”), on rainwater tanks in Australia (Meyers 8), and on lab tubes used to collect drip water from leaky pipes (Wieland 15). Stalactites are even growing from the electrical wires in Jenolan Caves, Australia (“Focus:” 4)!
The Mollie Kathleen Mine at Cripple Creek, Colorado, was once very productive until its gold petered out in the early 1960’s. The mine closed in 1961 and was sealed off. However, portions of the mine are now open to public tours. Gary Livesay toured the mine with his wife and gazed upon fabulous formations of many colors and sizes. Soda straws stretched to lengths of 60-90 cm (2-3 feet), and several columns grew 2.7 m (9 feet) tall and 10-12 cm (4-5 in.) in diameter. Stalagmites were even growing from an old chair! All of these formed in just forty years (Livesay 45). Later, a couple from Colorado who read about the mine went to see it and received quite a shock.
Those two people toured the mine but saw none of the formations mentioned above. Their guide denied the existence of such wonders. Upon phoning the mine later, the couple was told the beautiful portion of the mine was not open to the public (Livesay 5). Another tourist, Sarah Bennet, went to see the formations and also saw none. One of the tour guides informed them the speleothems had been ‘removed’. What happened to the wonders at the Mollie Kathleen Mine is unclear. The owners may not have wanted people to see such formations because they were a testimony against evolution. Whatever happened, long age advocates have no explanation for the quickly created formations, but they still assign long ages to speleothems by using various isotopic dating methods.
The first method measures C-14, and, based on how much Carbon isotope 14 is found in a speleothem, evolutionists can determine its age. However, the C-14 method cannot correctly date any formations from the last one thousand years to the present, and due to other sources of Carbon in a speleothem, the method “is unreliable at best” (Baskaran). Pb-210 or Lead isotope 210, a second dating method, is also limited in that it cannot date speleothems deposited more than one hundred years ago (Baskaran).
So evolutionists use a third dating method, Thorium/Uranium (230Th/238U), which supposedly dates samples up to five hundred thousand years old (“Age determination of speleothem”). Five formations in Scarisoara Glacier Cave, Romania have been dated using Thorium/Uranium and they ranged from 14,800 to 126,300 years old. However, these dates have many problems. All of the samples were low in uranium content and, as a result, were difficult to date. So the scientists compensated by using “larger samples and prolonged counting times” thus making more room for error. The article containing the above dates of speleothems in the Glacier Cave, even admitted “…some of the dates still have large analytical errors” (Onac). Clearly this method is not accurate.
Also, using the Thorium/Uranium method, a stalactite from Winnats Head Cave, Peak District was dated (“Age determination”). The same formation returned a date eighteen thousand years less than when it was dated with a fourth method measuring Lead/Uranium (206Pb/238U) isotope (“Age determination”). This fourth technique is reported to only correctly date speleothems from a few million years old to the earth’s age of 4.5 to 5 billion years according to evolutionary time (“Age determination”). Therefore, the few most recent million years are ‘skipped’. Since young earth creationists believe the earth is six to twelve thousand years old, this method skips all of time!
The problems in these four methods are simply amazing. Carbon 14 can only date formations older than a few thousand years and often gets mixed up with other carbon sources, while Pb-210 can only properly date speleothems deposited in the last one hundred years. Thorium/Uranium dating is limited to the evolutionary age of five hundred thousand years and is inconsistent with Lead/Uranium dating which skips a few million years of evolutionary time. These systems are full of major time gaps, inconsistencies with each other, and many assumptions.
Several assumptions must be made to date a speleothem using any of the above methods. These are often very risky, and can lead to large errors. First, the specimen being dated is assumed to be free from external influences like major climate change and pressure changes. Second, no pressure or climate change is assumed to have “reset” the decay of isotopes. Third, before the unstable isotope was deposited in the speleothem, similar elements were assumed to be absent. Fourth, it is assumed the radioactive isotopes in the formation protected and maintained the original radioactive material, and the isotopes produced as the original elements break down. Fifth, nothing like weathering, leaking, heat, etc. is assumed to have caused the formation to loose its original elements or product elements (Seymour).
If the assumptions are not true, then the evolutionary dates are thrown off entirely by the delicate variables necessary to produce an accurate date of a speleothem. Even if isotopic dating was generally accurate, speleothem dates would still be too old. Dr. Silvestru, a creationist, points out, “even the tens of thousands of years assumed by evolutionists would mean we should see many more massive stalagmites than we actually find” (Wieland 15). Using the evolutionary growth rates, the speleothems we see today are actually too small!
According to the 3 mm standard, one of the world’s tallest stalagmites, located in Armand Cave in France, would have taken only 12,700 years to reach its towering 38 m height. This contradicts the dating method ages. Therefore, the stalagmite grew faster than it should have and the dating method on this formation did not work (Silvestru 48). Even though dating methods and their subsequent growth rates have been proven wrong by young earth creationists, evolutionists still back up old claims that caves, and speleothems, are tens of thousands to millions of years old.
Evolutionists actually attack creationists and claim caves cannot possibly form, much less their speleothems, in just four to six thousand years or so after the flood. They say acidic water cannot eat away hundreds of thousands of feet of dolomite or limestone in that “short” time because the water would loose its carbonic-acid. Therefore, evolutionists deduce tens of thousands if not millions of years are required for acidic water to reach present day cave depths and carve them out (Oard 279). Yes, this is a logical conclusion. In the time since the flood, carbonic-acid water is simply inadequate to eat away that much limestone and dolomite. But what if that acidic water had some help from volcanic actions? What if the flood provided a way for water to reach caves quickly? The result of those what ifs are speedily formed caves!
Several thousand years ago, God destroyed the earth completely with a global flood. Genesis 7:11b describes, “…on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.” Water rushed up from the earth’s crust; volcanoes spewed magma into the air and sea. The very geography of the entire earth changed. Limestone and dolomite were quickly deposited along with many other types of stone. The movement of land masses caused cracks to form in the limestone and dolomite (Silvestru 47). Water followed those fissures underground to where it carved the caves we see today. By following crevices formed during the flood, the water did not need to “dissolve” all that limestone. Volcanic actions also contributed to carving caves.
Volcanoes released hot sulfur and other gases into the water causing them to mix. The water, called hydrothermal water, ate through stone very quickly because of its heat and sulfuric content. Ten percent of caves in the world today contain evidence indicating formation by hydrothermal water (Oard 279). Many caves are just too wet to preserve any sulfur traces, but, according to “Caves for all Seasons” by Emil Silvestru, probably more than ten percent of caves were formed in this way. Once the flood waters carved the caverns, speleothems formed quickly (Silvestru 48).
Furthermore, massive amounts of water drained off the surface of the earth and flowed through the crust into caves and other reservoirs. With tons of water streaming into caves, speleothems such as soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone formed swiftly. Because of the flood, the beautiful creations in caves today did not take “forever” to form. Caves and speleothems are clearly not very old.
Caves today show speleothem growth is not consistent with the evolutionary rate of .1 mm to 3 mm per year. The beautiful stone icicles suspended from man made bridges, buildings, and mines demonstrate the possibility of stalactites forming in a short time. Errors and inconsistencies in isotopic dating prove the evolutionary methods unreliability. Evolution as a whole just does not work. Many evolutionists think they have life all figured out, but they are blinded from the truth by their own teachings.
Imagine a man winding his way deeper into a cave and finding his light slowly dimming. When it went out, he stumbled and wandered, hopelessly lost. Everything he did and everywhere he turned only made his predicament worse. Moments later he found himself teetering on the edge of an eternal abyss. The man was left with a choice. Death or life. Millions of years of evolution or six days of creation.
The choice is ours. A freak accident or a Creator. The speleothems help us see evolution is wrong. Caves are delicate structures and one little change or shift can upset them. Evolutionary ages provide plenty of time for those shifts to take place. However, there are still many active caves today, indicating that caves are not very old. Jonathan Wells commented on evolution, “…the problem of assembling the right parts in the right way at the right time and at the right place, while keeping out the wrong material, is simply insurmountable” (Strobel 39). Long years of evolution are not possible. The Bible tells us the truth and that truth leads to a path of righteousness; not one to an eternal abyss.
“Age Determination of Speleothems Using Th, Pb and U Isotope Ratios.” 28 April 2002.
http://karst.planetresources.net/filling_a_gap.htm> (5 January 2005).
Baskaran, M. and Lliffe, Thomas. “Age Determination of Recent Cave Deposits Using
Excess 210Pb – A New Technique.” 16 August 2003. http://www.tamug.edu/cavebiology/reprints/Abstract-81.html> (5 January 2005).
“Focus: News of Interest about Creation and Evolution.” Creation November 1983: 4-5.
Livesay, Gary. “Feedback: Cave Conundrum.” Creation December 2001: 4-5.
Livesay, Gary. “Mollie Kathleen’s Marvelous Mysteries.” Creation June 2001: 44-46.
Meyers, Stephens and Robert Doolan, “Rapid Stalactites.” Creation September
Oard, Michael. “Rapid cave formation by sulfuric acid dissolution.” TJ December 1998:
Onac, P. Bogdan. “Mineralogical Studies and Uranium-series Dating of Speleothems
from Scarisoara Glacier Cave (Bihor Mountains, Romania).” 2000. http://www.uib.no/People/nglbn/scari.pdf> University of Cluj, Dept. of Mineralogy: Institute of Speleology. (8 January 2005).
Orr, Bryson. Personal experience in Round Spring Caverns, Missouri. July 2004.
Seymour, G. L. “Absolute Dating of Speleothems – Words of Caution.” 28 April 2002.
http://karst.planetresources.net/absolute_dating_of_speleothems.htm> (7 January 2005).
Silvestru, Emil. “Caves for all Seasons.” Creation Volume 25 issue 3. June-
August 2003: 45-49
“Speleotherms: (sic) stalagmites and stalactites.” http://www.bible.ca/tracks/speleotherms-
stalagmites-stalactites.htm> (7 January 2005)
“Stalactites do not take millions of years!” Creation Issue 20 Volume 2.
March 1998: 27.
“Stone Waterfalls and Cave Carrots. The Story of Speleothems.”
http://www.umsl.edu/~joellaws/ozark_caving/mss/speleotm.htm> (5 January 2005).
Strobel, Lee. “Doubts about Darwinism.” The Case For A Creator. Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004.
The Student Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1992.
White, Monty. “The Amazing Stone Bears of Yorkshire.” Creation June-August 2002:
Wieland, Carl. “Caving in to Creation.” Creation June 1999: 10-15
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