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Reason and Revelation Volume 33 #3

More Conflicting Evidence Regarding the Alleged Age of the Grand Canyon

Evolutionary geologists have argued about the age of the Grand Canyon for decades. In recent years, scientists have changed their tune from claiming that “40 million years were required for the Grand Canyon to be eroded” (Hoffman, 1987, p. 11), to a “prevailing view” that the canyon’s carving “occurred after 5 to 6 million years ago” (Flowers and Farley, 2012, 338[6114]:1616). Some have still contended that the canyon is as old as 17 million years (Perkins, 2012), and other evolutionary geologists have come to the conclusion that the Grand Canyon was not even carved over a long period of time at all, but rather, catastrophically—growing “in quick, violent spurts from massive flooding of the Colorado River” (“Baby Grand,” 2003, p. 7)—a contention closer to what creationists have long espoused. Recent research by geologists from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the California Institute of Technology (Flowers and Farley) indicates that newer dating techniques yield age estimates much higher.

Science magazine reports that:

The pattern of helium concentrations in the samples suggests that substantial parts of the western portion of the Grand Canyon were already carved to within a few hundred meters of their current depth by about 70 million years ago…. That’s a far cry from the 5-million-to 6-million-year-old age suggested by previous research, and is about quadruple the oldest previous estimate from other teams for the canyon’s age (Perkins, emp. added).

Quite an abrupt change, to say the least. And many geologists are skeptical. Geologist Richard Young of the State University of New York, Geneseo said, “I like the work [this team is] doing, and a lot of the stuff they’ve done is really interesting, but there’s a lot of evidence for a young Grand Canyon” (as quoted in Perkins). Professor emeritus of geosciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson said, “this [notion of an old Grand Canyon] isn’t what most people are thinking…. The Grand Canyon is a very young-looking feature to this geologist’s eye” (as quoted in Perkins). Structural geologist of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque thinks the new findings are “out in left field,” seeing as his team of researchers “also analyzed helium concentrations in apatites that were collected just a couple of kilometers downstream from where Flowers and Farley collected their samples in the western Grand Canyon” (Perkins). Their results, which will be published in the coming months, “bolster the notion of a young gorge [i.e., fewer than 20 million years old—JM]” (Perkins).

What are we to make of this clearly controversial discussion? First, as usual, evolutionists cannot even agree with each other over their assertions, and yet we are supposed to blindly believe them. Geologist Rebecca Flowers of the University of Colorado at Boulder, lead author of this new research, herself admits that, “If history were as simple as the popular view, the canyon’s origins wouldn’t continue to be a topic of hot debate” (as quoted in Perkins, emp. added). If the alleged evidence prompting the previous “prevailing” timeline—a timeline that had been touted as fact by most geologists for decades—is, in truth, questionable enough to potentially call for its being brushed aside due to the latest evidence, how can it be said that the evidence for the previous timeline was as substantial as had been asserted? Who’s to say that this new evidence is not also questionable, in spite of the claims of today’s geologists?

Second, evolutionary dating techniques continue to prove themselves to be suspect, since they yield completely different age results for the same specimen (in this case, a canyon), often differing by millions and millions of years. This problem, as we have discussed elsewhere (i.e., Miller, 2013), is likely due to the inherent flaws in the assumptions being utilized in evolutionary dating techniques, and is further evidence to substantiate that truth. Once again, viewing the geologic column through the lense of catastrophism (especially in light of the global Flood of Noah’s day) eliminates the continuing contradictions implied by this latest find. [NOTE: For previous articles documenting fluctuating alleged ages for the Grand Canyon, see: Butt, 2003; Butt, 2008.]


“Baby Grand” (2003), National Geographic Kids, p. 7, March.

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Changing Their Tune about the Age of the Grand Canyon?” Apologetics Press,

Butt, Kyle (2008), “Wrong About the Grand Canyon,” Apologetics Press,

Flowers, R.M. and K.A. Farley (2012), “Apatite 4He/3He and (U-Th)/He Evidence for an Ancient Grand Canyon,” Science, 338[6114]:1616-1619, December 21.

Hoffman, J.S. (1987), Grand Canyon Visual (San Diego, CA: Arts and Crafts Press).

Miller, Jeff (2013), “Don’t Assume Too Much: Not All Assumptions in Science Are Bad,” Apologetics Press,

Perkins, Sid (2012), “A Grand Old Canyon,” Science Now,

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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