Q. I must confess that one of the things that has always bothered me is the absolute confidence many scientists and anthropologists, including Christian ones, place in their methods of dating. Even carbon 14 dating has a plus or minus that can be considerable, and furthermore, dating of stone objects is very iffy, especially if it is decided on the basis of: 1) the technology used to produce say a spear head (a technology which could have developed much sooner in some places and much later in others); or 2) the residue found this or that object, usually called patina or ancient patina. Chemical tests on patina can indeed demonstrate that the object in question is quite old, for example the patina in the inscription on the James ossuary which I wrote about and was involved with long ago. What it can’t do is give one a precise date in antiquity; 3) pottery shards and the like cannot give precise dates. So, I think it is not wrong to have a reasonable amount of skepticism about some of the claims of things going back 500,000 years B.C. or more, not least because we have no parallel evidence, no written records no etc. to confirm such a notion. Now I am not a young earther, and I do think evolutionary theory, at least at the micro level has a good deal of evidence to support it. But a theory is after all…. wait for it, a theory, and some aspects of it are questionable to say the least. I think Christians need to be careful and ask probing questions before committing themselves to a wholescale endorsement of this particular theory. Your thoughts?
A. There’s just no reason to resist the claim that humanity reaches back several hundred thousand years into the past. The cumulative evidence is decisive even if the range of error is tens of thousands of years.