Four assumptions that underlie radiometric dating methods
However, this naturalistic uniformitarian interpretative framework is not required in order to adequately understand the evidence.
Nicolas Steno, who lived about 100 years before Hutton, is considered by many to be one of the fathers of modern geology because of four geological principles he formulated.
First there is the differentiation of operational science and historical science—or, equivalently, the differentiation between the collection of data using the scientific method (using repeatable experimentation) and the interpretation of these data to infer some behaviour/event in the past. Measurements are made in the present using a well-defined, detailed process for preparing the zircon crystal and sophisticated equipment for measuring the amounts of different isotopes of different elements present today in the sample.
These measurements are then analyzed using various formulas and techniques to infer something about the past history of the crystal. Dr Payne discusses the assumptions aspect at some length in his talk and, in fact, this seems to be the central element of the talk.
At the risk of making the response perhaps a bit longer than it might otherwise need to be and, perhaps, a bit more pedantic in places that it might otherwise need to be, this seemed like the most appropriate approach.
One of the results of imposing this interpretative framework is that the evidence of many thick layers of rock and abundant erosion, that are so obvious in places like the Grand Canyon, have been interpreted as requiring millions of years to deposit and erode.
(More about this later.) What is often overlooked is that, underlying the assumptions, there are presuppositions that can have a profound impact on the assumptions and, therefore, the analyses and conclusions, even to the extent of precluding getting the correct answer.
Dr Payne alludes to this near the end of his talk when he says something to effect of “people who believe in Flood Geology are forced …” implying that the acceptance of Flood Geology as a presupposition would have an impact on—indeed ‘force’—a particular interpretation of the data.
Before getting mired in details, it seems appropriate to review some more general considerations that impact this issue.
While it is possible that these aspects have been discussed within the Adelaide group in the past, it seems safer to proceed as it they had not, in order to provide a self-contained discussion.