Today we present the fifth entry in our on-going BioLogos videocast series. The latest episode addresses the age of recently discovered hominid fossils and how scientists are able to obtain those dates. The script was written by biology student Joy Walters, with help from BioLogos president Darrel Falk.
For more, be sure to read our FAQs How are the ages of the Earth and universe calculated? and What scientific evidence do we have about the first humans?, as well as our recent infographic How Do We Know the Earth is Old?.
Author's Note from Joy Walters
As I mentioned in my first post, I grew up skeptical of the whole idea of evolution. One contributor to my disbelief was the lengthy timescale for the “tree of life” that was presented with the theory. I would hear, for example, that dinosaurs lived hundreds of millions of years ago, but there was no explanation of why this was true; it was just given as a fact. No one explained the methods of dating, and so I thought biologists simply estimated the ages of species to fit their preconceived notions of how long it would take for one species to emerge from another. It also seemed like the ages were periodically revised and extended farther back in time, and I figured scientists needed to manipulate numbers to make evolution plausible. This, in my mind, made the theory both unbelievable and dismissible.
Once I learned about the techniques used to date fossils, I realized that my first impressions were wrong; the ancient ages of species are scientific determinations rather than scholarly conjectures. However, I have found in recent conversations that Christians remain skeptical of old ages and the evolutionary time scale. For this reason, I wanted the videocast to address the process of fossil dating (what the methods are and why they are accurate) while focusing on cases where hominid fossils were discovered and dated using these very methods. My hope is that Believers would be informed about the evidence for human evolution and its scientific grounding.