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Evidence of Ancient Atomic Knowledge?: Does Oklo Falsify Young Earth Creationism?....Page 4

Oklo Conversation

by Anthony C. James, 2006

William:Ahhh. Look at what the wind blew in. How ya doin”?


Robert: “Must have been an ill wind, huh”?


William: “Nah, not at all. Good to see you! Pull up a chair. Everyone else has deserted me out here. How’s the wife?

Robert: Well, we're not married yet! We're still just at that ackward "stalking" stage. But I have to admit that it's going pretty well. Two months and still no restraining order!

William: Wow! Then it really is serious!


Robert: Someday I’m going to marry that girl and -I’ve got my eye on a coupla  kids I think she’s really going to like, too! Hey! What’re we having? Smoked turkey? I guess, you being a Christian and all will have to pass on it? I mean cannibalism is a sin, right”?


William: “That’s very droll, Rob. I suppose you’ll be very happy to hear for the exact same reasons that there will be two turkeys and no ham?, You know that when it gets hot out people around you always think they smell bacon”.


Robert: “Touche”!


William: “Not that I’m keeping track, but that’s actually “three  che”.


Robert: “Touche”!


William: “If you insist. Did you know Dad is coming by? That’s why I was surprised to see you here.”


Robert: “Yeah, he’s already here. That’s one of the reasons I’m out here in the cold with you. I wasn’t gearing up to have to see him until over at the house tomorrow”.


William: “You still haven’t forgiven him for turning his back on your religion, huh”?


Robert: “Atheism isn’t a religion and it’s not even about that”.


William: “Stop trying to convert me, then. You know Dad's coming to church with me these days”?


Robert: “Yeah. Uncle Mike must be turning over in his grave. I'm trying to smarten you up-not convert you, idiot.”


William: I don’t believe Uncle Mike is dead. As a matter of fact, he was upstairs stuffing his face when I came out here”. Besides, do Atheists believe in consciousness after death?


Robert: “Yeah, well he’s not looking too good and he’s still drinking like a fish. You know he breaks out in hives if he just drives by a church- or, of course, if his blood alcohol drops below .08. Actually, I think he blames his falling out of recovery on your  becoming a Christian.”


William: “I think he drinks because he needs to in order to continue to be an “intellectually fulfilled Atheist”. You do remember that time as kids when we saw him praying over Mom when she was sick in the hospital”?


Robert: “That was no hospital, that was Kaiser. And he swears that he was- throwing up a rum and diet coke. If he knew you were still doubting his story he’d be turning over in his grave right now. Plus, if he was praying, it didn't do much good, did it"?


Robert: After a few minutes of companionable silence:  “So, did you get my e-mail?  The one about Oklo”?


William: “Oh, man! I should have known why you made a beeline out here! I thought maybe you were out here just to hang out. Please tell me that you don’t want to get involved in yet another evolution/creation debate”?


Robert: “No, not so much a debate. A discussion”.


William” Let’s save some time, why don’t you just stalk off”?


Robert:”I’ve got the goods, this time! Well, I always had the goods but this information I think you’ll find is very compelling evidence for an “old universe” and an “old earth”. He pulled some folded pages from his back pocket.


William: “For crying out loud! You brought the e-mail with you to a family celebration just so we could argue about it? Look I’m not sure that this is a good time for this, I’m frying a turkey, here”.


Robert: “Yeah well I’m trying to fry a turkey, too, bro. Would you be so kind as to pass me the peanut oil and close your eyes”?


He began to read:  “In the early 1970s, French scientists noticed something odd about samples of uranium recovered from the Oklo mine in Gabon, West Africa. All atoms of a specific chemical element have the same chemical properties, but may differ in weight; these different weights of an element are known as isotopes. Some uranium samples from Gabon had an abnormally low amount of the isotope U-235, which can sustain a chain reaction. This isotope is rare in nature, but in some places, the uranium found at Oklo contained only half the amount of the isotope that should have been there.

Scientists from other countries were skeptical when first hearing of these natural nuclear reactors. Some argued that the missing amounts of U-235 had been displaced over time, not split in nuclear fission reactions. "How," they asked, "could fission reactions happen in nature, when such a high degree of engineering, physics, and acute, detailed attention went into building a nuclear reactor?"

Perrin and the other French scientists concluded that the only other uranium samples with similar levels of the isotopes found at Oklo could be found in the used nuclear fuel produced by modern reactors. They found that the percentages of many isotopes at Oklo strongly resembled those in the spent fuel generated by nuclear power plants, and, therefore, reasoned that a similar natural process had occurred.


…. The uranium in the Earth contains dominantly two uranium isotopes, U-238 and U-235, but also a very small percentage of U-234, and perhaps small, undetectable amounts of others. All of these isotopes undergo radioactive decay, but they do so at different rates. In particular, U-235 decays about six-and-a-third times faster than U-238. Thus, over time the proportion of U-235 to U-238 decreases. But this change is slow because of the small rates of decay.

Generally, uranium isotope ratios are the same in all uranium ores contained in nature, whether found in meteorites or in moon rocks. Therefore, scientists believe that the original proportions of these isotopes were the same throughout the solar system. At present, U-238 comprises about 99.3 percent of the total, and U-235 comprises about 0.7 percent.5 5 Any change in this ratio indicates some process other than simple radioactive decay.

Calculating back to 1.7 billion years ago—the age of the deposits in Gabon—scientists realized that the U-235 there comprised about three percent of the total uranium. This is high enough to permit nuclear fissions to occur, providing other conditions are right.”


William tried to speak. Robert held up his hand.


Robert: “Hold on! That was from. A G.Cowan, in Scientific American.  Just a few more quotes and then let me place them in a context, and I’ll let you have the floor”. He continued: “

“Ultimately, the mystery was unraveled, when it was discovered that in the pockets of depleted uranium ore a characteristic spectrum of byproducts of nuclear fission were also present and in the distinctive ratio that might be anticipated if a natural fission reactor had produced them.

The U-235 from Oklo had been depleted partly because it had become the fuel of the reactor. It had also dwindled through time, simply by its own radioactive decay.

By calculating how long ago the U-235 had been sufficiently concentrated to fuel a chain reaction, the scientists were able to date the time it was operating to 2 billion years ago, about the age of rocks in which the uranium ore was found”.

“Next”, he said is this quote from Don Lindsay: “Another evidence is the natural nuclear reactor at Oklo, in Gabon. This reactor was actually just an unusually rich body of radioactive ore. So rich, in fact, that when it was formed, it approached critical mass. Studies of the unusual elements found there indicate that reactors acted the same two billion years ago as they do now. If the fine structure constant had been different by as little as one part in a million, the Oklo measurements should have detected that”.


Robert continued: “The point of all this is the following. To me, it’s not bad enough that you’re a creationist, but you are a young earth creationist! If this information does not make a dent with you in terms of creationism, at the very least it should either convince you or create some severe doubts in your mind about a young earth! I say this because the Oklo natural reactors are real, the nuclear reactions did occur, and could only have done so approximately 2 billion years ago when the uranium would have been sufficiently enriched. “


“Finally”, he concluded, “the mutagenic radiation from such natural reactors some 2 billion years ago could have been a major driving force in evolution!


Robert waited a moment but William hadn’t made a response. “Go on”, he said.


William: “Oh, I can speak now? Thanks, but I’m not even sure where to start”.


Robert: “Yeah, this is a tough one for creationists. I know of one guy who was formerly a young earth creationist who has become a “theistic” evolutionist” and “old earther”, just because he couldn’t come up with a “young earth” explanation for Oklo. Not only that, I sent you a newsgroup item where it showed that they pretty well savaged Dembski’s intelligent design filter because Oklo meets many of the criteria for intelligent design even though obviously, it was a natural phenomenon.”


William: “Yeah, no. I’d heard about Oklo years ago. Plus I did read all the stuff in your e-mail. It’s just that this will be our 1,000th discussion on these sort of topics and history tells me that even after hours of discussion, neither one of us is going to change his beliefs one bit. I don’t feel like I’ve got that kind of time, plus it’s cold, plus I’ve got to focus on frying this turkey and plus that other bird is going to freeze if I don’t get it in the house”.


Robert:”Okay, we’ll save the full discussion for e-mail. Just give me some of your initial thoughts because frankly, I don’t think there is an adequate young earth response to the Oklo phenomenon.. Wait one minute, and I’ll run your turkey inside. Get your thoughts together in the meantime”.


William: “You’re offering to help? You?  Ahh! You’ve had too many beers yourself huh? You’ve got to go potty!”


Robert: “Like its 1999. Get your little fundamentalist thoughts together, and I’ll be right back”!


When Robert came back he handed a tumbler to William. William: What’s this?”


Robert: “Some hot chocolate. You’re welcome”.


William: :Thanks! Umm. Do Atheists wash their hands? Cuz, you know, though its not in the Bible, they do say; cleanliness is next to ...Godliness. Oh, and tell me this? I've always wondered; what do I say if you sneeze again?!

Robert:"You simply apologize for forgetting about my allergy to cheap cologne."

William:"And it was so thoughtful of you to have given it to me for my birthday-even if it was only three quarters full. So, okay, back to the discussion; let me start with this. This whole science thing. This thing where we Christians try to approach the origin of ourselves and the universe in a “scientific” way is for your benefit only. We find it limiting, but because you claim that you can only see the universe through a particular lense, we try to accommodate you. We try to speak the language you say you can understand, while a more perfect language is set aside. We’re speaking baby talk here.”


Robert: “Gratuitous insult.” You’re simply saying that you don’t need evidence.


William:”We do need evidence, I’m just not limited to what you call evidence. Imagine if someone says that they could only understand love if they can put it into some kind of scientific formula, or measure it out to prove it experimentally?  “Science “can tell us little about the appreciation of a sunset, about the soul of man or so many other things. For that matter, science can tell us very little about the mind itself.


The thing is, science can only begin after the universe and the creation already exist. Science can tell us nothing about what happens before that. In fact, let me say this; science begins after creation. The first law of physics, conservation of matter and energy says matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This tells you that science does not know how matter came into existence. It should also tell you that if matter cannot be created under the laws of this universe, that something outside the 1st law created matter and energy. The most important law of science itself points to a “special creation” outside of science .”


Robert:”You are going to talk about Oklo, right?


William: “Special Creation” however, is something that happens “pre-science”. The fact of the matter is, if you were inclined  to stick exclusively to science, the 1st law would turn you away-it tells you not to look here in science because all we can tell you is that all this matter you see..? It can’t be created! If you want to know about creation, you have to look outside of science”.




William:”Okay. For all the years we’ve been talking about this, I’ve been consistent about what I believe, Seven "actual" days, special creation, ie God did it, He is the creator ex-nihlio (from nothing), a global worldwide flood, a young earth. Right.” Now, consistent with that, the laws of the universe are now set. But consistent with my beliefs, when Adam and Eve were created there was no death. By the way, I've been consistent but whether you realize it or not, you've been nothing but. Whatever you assert confidently about evolution, or the universe or the "big bang" is likely to be changed the next time we speak. You will then assert the new "take" as arrogantly as you did the prior "take".

I saw an article yesterday-- that I didn't read, but that says the big bang needs to be moved back another 2 billion more years. Me, I'm sticking with created in seven days not many thousands of years ago. You know what dude, I'll tell you the same thing tommorrow.


To be more specific about the 1st and 2nd laws of physics, my assumption is that in the beginning, the 1st law was set, but not the second, which is entropy… over time will lose energy and become less organized. I believe entropy came into existence after the fall. That is, death was introduced into this world; the spiritual death of man, the physical death of man and animal, and the beginnings of the physical death of the universe. At the beginning death was not part of the plan, nor was the winding down of the creation.


I’ll come back to this point.


Now, Oklo, okay? Materialists have available to them only one solution for the Oklo phenomenon; a naturalistic one. Nothing else fits uniformism and gradualism. On the other hand, Christians certainly can’t accept a naturalistic explanation, particularly if it is one that takes 1.8 billion years to occur. Neither Christians nor evolutionists apparently considered the idea of sophisticated civilizations prior to the flood of Noah in relation to Oklo. Well, evolutionists wouldn't but even Christians who believe in the flood tend to think of the pre-flooders as nomadic herdsmen with no technology.


For that reason, the very first thing that should have occurred to both groups about Oklo did not. Occam’s Razor (when there are multiple explanations- choose the simplest one) should have led to the conclusion-or at least the consideration that this was a “designed system” and not a natural one! 


Even though materialists were “freaked out” by the discovery and even though as you read  the scientific world initially resisted the idea of a natural breeder reactor they never for a minute considered the idea that “cave men” (because of their view of earlier man) could have built a breeder reactor! Oh, and by the way, something else you will have to adjust as you confidently assert evolutionary theories; Neanderthal DNA turns out to match "human" DNA to 99.99%" OOPS!


But I digress, consider; the Oklo reactor produced energy comparable to a modern nuclear reactor, was moderated by water so that the reaction could be controlled, and to this day still contains (holds in)the waste products from the reactor. It was a special type of reactor, a breeder reactor, which for years was a "holy grail" for nuclear scientists. It creates its own fuel! In short, this system was “well designed”, whether by "nature" or by man!. I submit to you that to believe it was built by aliens makes more sense to me than the idea that somehow "nature" built it and I don’t believe  aliens exist.


To say that you accept the idea that it was a natural phenomenon rather than a designed reactor proves that you probably don’t know how much technology went into building a working breeder reactor.


As for Dembski’s design filter; Dembski himself probably never considered that the reason his filter might “select” the Oklo reactor as a product of intentional design is that it is in fact a product of design! Duh!


Robert:”You can’t be serious”!?


William:“Look! I’m not saying that the reactors "Were" designed and built by man as a certainty. Whether or not it was or wasn’t does not impact me as a Christian. I’m saying that this should have been the very first thing considered or that it should have at the very least been on the list. I can send you a link later re some creation scientists who accept the idea that it is natural reactor but who show that it could still have happened in the context of a young earth, but  A mistake being made here is the idea that technology will always look the same—that advanced technology had to take the form that it did in this present age.


Let me ask you this; if you had to direct a team and the resources to build; the great pyramid with the technological level and tools we say were available to the supposed builders  thereof, the Egyptians (and whatever you may think, there is no firm evidence in any way that connects the pyramids of the Giza plateau to the dynastic Egyptians),   —or you had to direct the team and resources to place a man on the moon with the technology we had in the sixties , which challenge would be more difficult?


Do not be so quick to choose landing a man on the moon with the technology available at that time. In order to build the pyramid, you would have had quarry and then  move 2.3 million granite or limestone blocks weighing between 2.5 and 50 tons, 600 miles to the site of the pyramid. Keep in mind that the copper and bronze tools experts say the Egyptians used to precisely cut the stone blocks are softer than the limestone and granite blocks.  Keep in mind that you will need to lift and precisely place granite blocks, some again weighing nearly 50 tons, to a height of nearly 500 feet. That's 50 stories. These stones will need to be placed with such tolerances that a razor blade will not fit between them. Your pyramid will when finished line up with the four points of the compass with an accuracy of .06 degrees, supposedly, without a compass.


Your team will need to level the 13-acre limestone bedrock base to a degree of accuracy only recently achieved with laser technology using only the known technology of the Dynastic Egyptians. Among technological attributes to numerous to mention, your team will have to excavate  what’s known as the ‘Descending Passage’ some 350 feet into solid bedrock using copper and bronze tools, at a 26-degree angle-- all the while keeping the tunnel arrow-straight for its entire  length”!


Robert: (Feigning a yawn?) “Thanks! That’s fascinating! Not! Look, can you please tell me how you moved from the Oklo natural reactor to a man made triangle? I really want you to focus Billy if you can. How do you react to the information I provided about Oklo?


William: “My point is, that there is evidence of ancient high technology other than the ancient nuclear facility at Oklo”.


Robert:”Look, I’ll bite. The technology that built the great pyramid is in no way comparable to the technology or effort it took to put a man on the moon. I guess that means that I would take the pyramid. Give me enough slave labor and I’ll bring it in on time and under budget! The moon landing on the other hand required computers-much higher technology”!


William:"I don't think millions of unskilled slave laborers are going to help you build one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. How could you do it when experts are still arguing about how it was done in the first place? The point is, the choice is not a foregone conclusion. If you accept the dating of the current experts on the great pyramid, then for more than 5,000 years this precisely built yet huge structure was the tallest structure built by man. It’s been less than two hundred years since its height was surpassed. It’s almost 50 stories high and is built to a much higher precision that any modern highrise!”!


Robert: “Moving on to Oklo:…?


William:” What makes me laugh is the example we "creationists" use re: the tornado in the junkyard. The idea that the odds of evolution working to produce the diversity of life on earth would be like a tornado coming through a junkyard and completely assembling a 727. The problem is, we underestimate the gullibility of materialists! I mean, you’ll take those odds every time if it means that you don’t have to get down on your knees to worship God!


If you  and I could observe that junkyard and watch a billion years worth of tornados producing not so much as a ninety degree angle, I bet I know exactly what you’d say”…


Robert:: And that is…


William: :”Best two billion out of three”!?




William:” Your faith is almost inspirational. Okay. How did they conclude that the “natural reactor” was active nearly 2 billion years ago? I’ll tell you how. By making the assumption that  the nuclear decay rate or half-life of U235 has always remained constant. In other words, if the present laws and constants of nature had extended throughout the past, the Oklo uranium deposit could have become critical close to 2 billion years ago. Additionally, the conditions for a moderated reaction do not exist today and must be assumed to have existed in the past. So, this si what happened re: Oklo. 1) Freak out. 2)Sweat. 3)Come up with a “natural” explanation which at first was met with a pronounced skepticism but which later would become  dogma, i.e.’ darwinism, the big bang theory, dark matter, continental drift and Cold Play”!


Robert:”Cold Play”!


William::4)Gradually rally around the natural explanation because really, what else have you got. 5)Dogma. 6) Verify that constants are “constant” by using constants to arrive at a date a “natural” reactor was in operation. 7)Turn around and use Oklo with your new assumption generated numbers to prove that constants have always been constant! 8)Try to taunt creationists with your proof”!


Christians on the other hand should know consistent with their belief in both the “fall” and the flood have accepted a view that is completely opposed to uniform assumptions. Our view has always been catastrophic. Who knows how submersion in water for up to a year or more is going to impact radiometric dating?  Logically, both the fall of man and the flood eliminate uniformism.


This last part is to address the idea that there are Christians who’ve been impacted by the Oklo phenomenon in terms of their faith. You said some of them have been cowed by it and I’m just saying that perhaps they haven’t fully thought out what the implications are of their belief in the Biblical teachings on the history of the planet and the creation of the universe”.


Robert:”To be honest, I feel like you’re weaseling out of the Oklo implications, here. The one thing you’ve said which I will need to go and research is the idea that to arrive at an Oklo date they assumed constants were constant. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me because ; what else could they assume”. I will however agree that you can’t then go back and say Oklo proves that the constants were always constant. The idea that little green men built themselves a breeder reactor belongs on Stargate SG-1, which I know you watch, by the way.”


William:”You do know that there has been research indicating that the speed of light and other constants have or are changing? One of those studies even focused on Oklo, though they didn’t suggest a magnitude change in the constants.


Would you also agree that if today the fact that matter and energy are “conserved” indicates that there was a time before the present physical laws in this universe were set that another law, permitting the creation of matter must have been in effect”?


Robert: The Big bang….


William:” The Big bang was invented by someone who believed in the creation theory. I believe he was a minister who thought the big bang evidence supported the idea that God created the universe. However, the big bang couldn’t have created matter, it was how matter was dispersed, wasn’t it”?


Robert:”I’ll get back to you on that”.


William:”Continuing to respond to your Oklo information. You mentioned mutation. The idea that radiation from the nuclear reactor sped up evolution. I suppose I can’t just say “that’s dumb” and go back to frying this turkey? It is you know.


Mutation is bad for organisms, not good. Mutation destroys information, it does not add new information. This means that entropy, not only is at work in the universe, it is also at work on the genome. Ironically the very thing that evolutionists believe is responsible for building on the genome and increasing information is doing the exact opposite.


In fact, mutation in humans is much more frequent as previously thought. The human genome is gradually being destroyed by mutation. A population geneticist named “Crow” (and he’s on your team) estimates that humans are experiencing an irrevocable net loss of genetic information such that the “fitness” is declining by  1% to 2% per generation. This means that eventually, the human genome will lose too much information for the human race to continue. Read Remine’s book on Haldane’s Dilemma or Sanford’s Genetic Entropy. This of course has implications for the future and the past. In 8 generations, or 200 years human fitness may decline as much as 16% from today. Now if you take these numbers the other way; how old could the human race be?


Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon were physically stronger, had better eyesight (based on paintings in dark caves with no evidence of soot) and had larger brains. Our descendants will be much less robust than ourselves-if the Lord hasn’t come by that time.”


Robert: ”I believe I will find your picture in the dictionary under digress”! Let’s eat turkey tonight and finish this discussion by e-mail. I’m going to get some more material and stay focused on Oklo.  I think I can make some progress with you on this because it is so conclusive”!


William: “At your current rate of “progress”, should it remain constant, you’ll accomplish nothing  in 2 billion years”.

See Also

Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (#301), by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D.
Speed of Light May have Changed Recently
The Great Pyramid of Egypt, by Martin Gray

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