UPDATE—23rd May 2007: Since this article was first published (21st March 2007), there have been further developments. British prosecutors have announced murder charges against an ex-KGB agent, who denies any involvement in the Litvinenko death.
UPDATE—24th January 2016: Many news outlets again were giving much publicity to polonium and the Litvinenko case, after a British inquiry asserted that the assassination “probably” had been given approval at the highest level of Russian leadership.
Photo Elliott Back, Wikipedia.org
Celebrity actor Johnny Depp is reportedly planning to produce a movie about the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, with himself in the starring role.
More than four months since former spy Alexander Litvinenko drank a fateful cup of tea in London,1,2,3 his death from polonium poisoning continues to occupy the headlines,4,5 with the official British murder probe set to run for a few more weeks yet.6 Such is the interest in the case that movie giants Warner Bros have bought the film rights to a forthcoming book on the Litvinenko death, with Hollywood actor Johnny Depp to produce, and likely play the lead role in, the movie.7,8 (And the movie rights to Litvinenko’s 2002 book Blowing up Russia—newly re-released—have also been linked with Warner Bros.)9
‘Polonium? What’s that?’ was a common reaction of many people on hearing the initial reports.
Polonium-210 is a highly toxic radioactive isotope—a by-product of uranium decay discovered by physical chemist Marie Curie (with her husband, Pièrre) who named it after her Polish homeland. As the Litvinenko story unfolded, news agencies reported the following facts about polonium in relation to the spy scandal:
It was reported that when British police analysed a teapot at the London hotel visited by Litvinenko for traces of polonium-210 it gave an ‘off-the-chart’ reading for the radioactive material used in the killing.
For informed creationists, the news that polonium does not hang around for long (as per the last three dot points above) would not have been ‘news’. While polonium can be lethal to the body (as the Litvinenko poisoning showed), it’s also lethal to evolutionary ideas about millions of years—hence creationist literature is replete with references to polonium and its short half-life.
For example, a recent article in Creation magazine13 by Ph.D. geologist Andrew Snelling points out that the claim that granite (rock) takes millions of years to solidify and cool doesn’t stack up given the abundant polonium radiohalos found in granite rocks worldwide. (See, e.g., New record of polonium radiohalos, Stone Mountain granite, Georgia (USA).) Halos can’t form in molten rock—so if granite solidification takes millions of years then the polonium would have decayed long before the granite solidified. This means that radioactive ‘dating’ techniques which ascribe millions-of-years ages to these rocks are hopelessly wrong.
So how did the polonium get into the granite originally? Dr Snelling writes that the polonium radiohalos are evidence of ‘catastrophic geological processes on a young earth’ and equates it to the year-long Flood of Noah’s day, around 4,500 years ago.14
Similarly, polonium radiohalos found in coalified wood utterly demolish ideas of millions-of-years ages—see The collapse of ‘geologic time’, which explains how such evidence ‘speaks of a devastating flood that uprooted and smashed huge trees, depositing the debris with an enormous volume of sediment over a large area.’
Photo Mark Armitage
A fully developed polonium-218 radiohalo with three rings clearly visible.
Why should we concern ourselves with the Litvinenko/polonium poisoning saga?
The shooting of polonium into the world headlines very conveniently raises the profile of an element (polonium) that evolutionists have tried to ignore and/or hide. As such, it’s an opportunity for Christians to draw attention to what we know about polonium, demolishing the long-age arguments that are set up ‘against the knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).
The Apostle Paul told the Colossians (my emphasis in bold font):
‘Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ Colossians 4:5–6 (NIV)
The ongoing publicity surrounding the Litvinenko poisoning presents an opportunity for Christians to undo the poisoning of people’s minds that has occurred through evolutionary teaching.
Such poisoning has not been limited to those outside the church, but has affected large numbers inside as well, with many church leaders opting to downplay (or worse—e.g. ‘reinterpret’ or even deny)15 the biblical account of our origins.
The resultant ignorance/blurring of history in the minds of many in the church left them ill-equipped to resist—or even to recognize—attacks on the Bible’s historicity from rival accounts of history (see Darwin’s real message—have you missed it?).
Many Christians only became alarmed at last when they saw the Bible’s historical account of the person of Jesus being overtly challenged (see The Da Vinci Code: The church is mobilizing!).
However, by this time it was too late for many, with evolutionarily-derived ideas that ‘all religions are equally valid’ or that ‘there are many paths to “God”’ having taken hold, despite Jesus’ clear teaching that He alone is ‘the Way’ (John 14:6). Tragically, it seems that Alexander Litvinenko’s mind was subject to such poisonous teaching, with the news that, although ‘born an Orthodox Christian’, he converted to Islam on his deathbed.16
Litvinenko’s father, Walter, told Moscow’s Kommersant daily newspaper:
‘He said “I want to be buried according to Muslim tradition.”
‘I said, “Well son, as you wish. We already have one Muslim in our family—my daughter is married to a Muslim. The important thing is to believe in the Almighty. God is One.”’
Photo Mark Armitage
A group of very clear single-ring polonium-210 radiohalos. Their diameters are approximately 39 microns.
How utterly tragic—much more so than Litvinenko’s slow-and-painful death by polonium poisoning. Because let’s not forget that because of the first man’s sin, all of us are facing death—as the Bible says, ‘it is appointed for man to die once’ (Hebrews 9:27). However, it is the second death that we ought to consider in sober thought, remembering Jesus’ promise that He alone is the way we can ‘not be hurt at all by the second death’ (Revelation 2:11; also 20:6,14; 21:8). So the greater tragedy is that this knowledge seems to have been hidden from Alexander Litvinenko.
If only his father had instead pointed out to him that the ‘Allah’ of the Koran is NOT the same as the Almighty Creator God of the Bible. (See The Koran vs Genesis.)
If only his father had alerted the daughter to 2 Corinthians 6:14 before she ever even considered marrying a Muslim.
If only Walter Litvinenko had known to show his children that the Bible’s account of history is trustworthy—in contrast to all opposing counterfeits; see Holy Books?—and that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can assuredly know we’re safe from the ‘second death’.