Origins 12(1):3-4 (1985).
Brief summaries of the main conclusions of the leading presentations are given below for those who may find the complete articles too long or technical.
AMINO ACID DATING
The nutritional need for 20 amino acids essential for the
construction of protein is widely recognized. That amino acids as specialized products of
plant and animal life should naturally decompose into simpler chemical compounds is
intuitive. For at least 30 years there has been recognition that the amino acid
composition of a fossil might provide an indication of fossil age, since some amino acids
decompose more rapidly than others.
Due to the agitation associated with the heat energy of their surroundings, all but one of the basic 20 amino acid molecules can become oriented so that part of its molecular configuration is a mirror image of its original configuration. The amino acids in protein of a living organism all have a "left-handed" (L-) configuration. After death of an organism the "right-handed" (R-) configuration accumulates until eventually the number of transitions from R- to L- becomes equal to the number of transitions from L- to R- structure within any interval of time. A measure of the ratio of R- and L- concentrations of an amino acid provides a potentially more precise indication of fossil age than does a measure of the concentration of different amino acids.
On pp. 8-25 this issue of ORIGINS presents a summary of the results that have been obtained from efforts to develop and utilize amino acid dating as an independent alternate to radiocarbon dating of organic remains. The conclusions indicated by this summary may be unanticipated, and even surprising, to many readers.
AN EVALUATION OF THE NUMERICAL VARIANTS OF THE CHRONOGENEALOGIES OF GENESIS 5 AND 11
The numerical data of the Septuagint text of the chronogenealogies
of Genesis 5 and 11 are considered by some to have priority over that of the Masoretic
text. The author outlines some impressive problems with that conclusion.
Although numerical variants are absent in all of the known manuscripts of the Masoretic text for both the antediluvian and postdiluvian periods, this is by no means the case for the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint, which have only one variant in the former to numerous variants in the latter.
These data have implications for schematization, as well as the choice of a representative manuscript or manuscript tradition as normative. If the Septuagint is to have priority over the Masoretic text, then one set of figures must be chosen as representative. The Codex Alexandrinus has usually been chosen for this purpose, since it is the oldest extant manuscript. However, older is not always necessarily better.
Due to the wide amount of variation in the numerical data, which point to their secondary character, and the obvious attempts at schematization in both the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch, it would seem that the Masoretic text, which has neither numerical variants or schematization, would be likely to preserve the figures closest to the original.
ARE MILLIONS OF YEARS REQUIRED TO PRODUCE BIOGENIC SEDIMENTS IN THE DEEP OCEAN?
How long would it take to produce the thick layers of microscopic
shells found on the floor of the ocean? Would this not require millions of years, and
would this not invalidate the scriptural account of creation a few thousand years ago?
For several reasons the argument for the necessity of a very long time required to accumulate the microscopic shells on the deep ocean floor is a poor one. At present some data indicate that there is a slow rate of production; on the other hand: 1) the layers of shells are not kilometers thick as has been reported, but probably at best an average of 0.2 km; 2) the biological potential of production is so great that this quantity of shells could probably be produced in much less than 2000 years; 3) a worldwide flood as described in Scripture could provide the nutrients necessary for such production; 4) caution is warranted because of the poor data that are currently available. Because of these factors a firm case against the biblical model of origins cannot be made on the basis of our present knowledge about these sediments.
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