Debunking an Iconic Uniformitarian Ice Age Theory | The Institute for Creation Research

Debunking an Iconic Uniformitarian Ice Age Theory


The Milankovitch, or astronomical, theory holds that the timing of Ice Ages is controlled by slow changes in Earth’s orbital and rotational motions that vary the way sunlight falls on the earth. A famous 1976 paper in Science titled “Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages” seemed to confirm the theory.1

An arbitrary “wiggly” pattern can be constructed by adding together, in just the right combination, waves of different frequencies and amplitudes. A graph called a power spectrum shows the frequencies of the waves that make the biggest contribution to such a pattern. If the astronomical theory is correct, one might expect power spectra of climate data to show strong peaks at frequencies predicted by the astronomical theory. This was the case in the 1976 paper and was seen as strong evidence for the theory.

These results depended critically upon an assumed age of 700,000 years for the most recent reversal of Earth’s magnetic field. Yet, conventional scientists now claim this magnetic reversal occurred 780,000 years ago.2 What did this age revision do to the evidence for the Milankovitch theory?


I was unable to find the original, unaltered climate data used in the Pacemaker paper. So, using the figures in the paper, I very carefully reconstructed these data sets. I used the magnetic reversal to assign ages to the data the same way the Pacemaker authors did. I then successfully reproduced the power spectra in the Pacemaker paper. Finally, I redid these calculations using the new age assignment of 780,000 years.


Figure 1. Vertical lines are astronomical frequencies predicted by the Milankovitch theory, and peaks represent climate cycle frequencies, calculated after taking into account the new uniformitarian age of 780,000 years for the most recent magnetic reversal. Two of the three cycles no longer agree with Milankovitch expectations, and the third cycle is problematic for other reasons discussed in my technical papers.

Agreement with Milankovitch expectations was greatly reduced (see Figure 1).3 Details are found in the referenced articles, which contain links to my original technical papers. Scientists have made other changes to the Pacemaker climate data since 1976, so I also analyzed the most recent versions of these data I could find. In this case, agreement with the Milankovitch theory was even worse.4

I also found circumstantial evidence that conventional scientists had become aware of this problem in 1996 and had tried to quietly “fix” it, apparently without telling either the larger scientific community or the general public.5


The Milankovitch theory is routinely used to assign ages to ice cores and seafloor sediments. The acceptance of the theory has led many scientists to conclude that our climate is inherently unstable, requiring drastic action to fight global warming. Many Christians assume that Milankovitch-embracing scientists are hard-nosed empiricists who would gladly inform them if evidence for the theory were lacking.

My research shows this simply isn’t the case. It also demonstrates that hundreds of uniformitarian age assignments are in doubt, and it calls into question an important argument for catastrophic climate change.6 Although conventional scientists have ignored these results, they seem to have been a great encouragement to many Christians. One person even told ICR that this Milankovitch research played a role in his becoming a Christian and a young-earth creationist.


  1. Hays, J. D., J. Imbrie, and N. J. Shackleton. 1976. Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages. Science. 194 (4270): 1121-1132.
  2. Hebert, J. 2016. Milankovitch Meltdown: Toppling an Iconic Old-Earth Argument, Part 1. Acts & Facts. 45 (11): 10–13.
  3. Hebert, J. 2016. Milankovitch Meltdown: Toppling an Iconic Old-Earth Argument, Part 2. Acts & Facts. 45 (12): 10–13.
  4. Hebert, J. More Problems with Iconic Milankovitch Paper. Creation Science Update. Posted on July 13, 2018, accessed February 6, 2023.
  5. Hebert, J. Physics Today Article Ignores Monster Milankovitch Problem. Creation Science Update. Posted on May 24, 2020, accessed February 6, 2023.
  6. Hebert, J. 2017. Milankovitch Meltdown: Toppling an Iconic Old-Earth Argument, Part 3. Acts & Facts. 46 (1): 10–13.

* Dr. Hebert is Research Scientist at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Cite this article: Jake Hebert, Ph.D. 2023. Debunking an Iconic Uniformitarian Ice Age Theory. Acts & Facts. 52 (10).

The Latest
Florida Fossil Shows Porcupines Have Always Been Porcupines
The porcupine is an animal (rodent) that one does not soon forget. It is armed with formidable quills that deter even the hungriest predators. What...

Webb Telescope Discovers Another Record-Breaking Galaxy
Astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope have recently confirmed that two galaxies are extremely distant, with one becoming the new record holder...

The Power of Film & Video: Reaching All Ages with Truth | The...
Is there a place for the use of film and video within Christianity? If so, how can we leverage this powerful tool to reach viewers of all ages...

Scaly Skin on a Feathered Dinosaur?
Fossil experts from University College Cork in Ireland took stunning images of Psittacosaurus skin. The dinosaurs’ belly shows patches of skin...

T. rex Not as Smart as Thought
Have movies and most conventional paleontologists got it all wrong? T. rex and other theropod dinosaurs (the meat-eaters) are often portrayed as intelligent...

June 2024 ICR Wallpaper
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8 NKJV) ICR June...

A “Just-so” Story About Ancient Genes
An evolutionary website recently published “a groundbreaking study” that supposedly identifies a basic, uncomplicated, “simple”...

Dinosaurs with Bird Brains??? | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
Evolutionists claim that birds are descended from dinosaurs. A feature that is often cited as linking these two types of creatures is the brain....

From Ruins to Revelation: Truths Revealed Through Biblical Archaeology...
The Bible is full of people and places that are seemingly lost to time, but through the field of archaeology, new finds are shedding light on the incredible...

Bergmann’s Rule Falsely Refuted
A recent study of dinosaur sizes claims to break Bergmann’s rule.1 Bergmann’s rule was named after biologist Carl Bergmann, who...