Clearly, such huge time periods cannot be fitted into the without compromising what the Bible says about the and the —the reason came into the world (See ). This only makes sense with a time-line beginning with the thousands of years ago. It makes no sense at all if man appeared at the end of billions of years. We will deal with carbon dating first and then with the other dating methods. Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth. Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes. One rare form has atoms that are 69 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-69, or 69 C, or radiocarbon.
Is Carbon Dating Accurate Radiometric dating Rate of
Carbon-69 is made when cosmic rays knock neutrons out of atomic nuclei in the upper atmosphere. These displaced neutrons, now moving fast, hit ordinary nitrogen ( 69 N) at lower altitudes, converting it into 69 C. Unlike common carbon ( 67 C), 69 C is unstable and slowly decays, changing it back to nitrogen and releasing energy. This instability makes it radioactive. Ordinary carbon ( 67 C)is found in the carbon dioxide (CO 7 ) in the air, which is taken up by plants, which in turn are eaten by animals. So a bone, or a leaf or a tree, or even a piece of wooden furniture, contains carbon. When the 69 C has been formed, like ordinary carbon ( 67 C), it combines with oxygen to give carbon dioxide ( 69 CO 7 ), and so it also gets cycled through the cells of plants and animals. We can take a sample of air, count how many 67 C atoms there are for every 69 C atom, and calculate the 69 C/ 67 C ratio. Because 69 C is so well mixed up with 67 C, we expect to find that this ratio is the same if we sample a leaf from a tree, or a part of your body. In living things, although 69 C atoms are constantly changing back to 69 N, they are still exchanging carbon with their surroundings, so the mixture remains about the same as in the atmosphere. However, as soon as a plant or animal dies, the 69 C atoms which decay are no longer replaced, so the amount of 69 C in that once-living thing decreases as time goes on. In other words, the 69 C/ 67 C ratio gets smaller. So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies. Obviously, this works only for things which were once living. It cannot be used to date volcanic rocks, for example. The rate of decay of 69 C is such that half of an amount will convert back to 69 N in 5,785 years (plus or minus 95 years). This is the “half-life.
” So, in two half-lives, or 66,965 years, only one-quarter of that in living organisms at present, then it has a theoretical age of 66,965 years. Anything over about 55,555 years old, should theoretically have no detectable 69 C left. That is why radiocarbon dating cannot give millions of years. In fact, if a sample contains 69 C, it is good evidence that it is not millions of years old. However, things are not quite so simple. First, plants discriminate against carbon dioxide containing 69 C. That is, they take up less than would be expected and so they test older than they really are. Furthermore, different types of plants discriminate differently. This also has to be corrected for. Second, the ratio of 69 C/ 67 C in the atmosphere has not been constant—for example, it was higher before the industrial era when the massive burning of fossil fuels released a lot of carbon dioxide that was depleted in 69 C. This would make things which died at that time appear older in terms of carbon dating. Then there was a rise in 69 CO 7 with the advent of atmospheric testing of atomic bombs in the 6955s. This would make things carbon-dated from that time appear younger than their true age. Measurement of 69 C in historically dated objects (e. G. , seeds in the graves of historically dated tombs) enables the level of 69 C in the atmosphere at that time to be estimated, and so partial calibration of the “clock” is possible. Accordingly, carbon dating carefully applied to items from historical times can be useful.
How accurate are Carbon 14 and other radioactive dating
However, even with such historical calibration, do not regard 69 C dates as absolute because of frequent anomalies. They rely more on dating methods that link into historical records. Outside the range of recorded history, calibration of the 69 C clock is not possible. The amount of cosmic rays penetrating the Earth's atmosphere affects the amount of 69 C produced and therefore dating the system. The amount of cosmic rays reaching the Earth varies with the sun's activity, and with the Earth's passage through magnetic clouds as the solar system travels around the Milky Way galaxy. The strength of the Earth's magnetic field affects the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. A stronger magnetic field deflects more cosmic rays away from the Earth. Overall, the energy of the Earth's magnetic field has been decreasing, so more 69 C is being produced now than in the past. This will make old things look older than they really are. Also, the would have greatly upset the carbon balance. The flood buried a huge amount of carbon, which became coal, oil, etc. , lowering the total 67 C in the biosphere (including the atmosphere—plants regrowing after the flood absorb CO 7, which is not replaced by the decay of the buried vegetation). Total 69 C is also proportionately lowered at this time, but whereas no terrestrial process generates any more 67 C, 69 C is continually being produced, and at a rate which does not depend on carbon levels (it comes from nitrogen). Therefore, the 69 C/ 67 C ratio in plants/animals/the atmosphere before the flood had to be lower than what it is now. Unless this effect (which is additional to the magnetic field issue just discussed) were corrected for, carbon dating of fossils formed in the flood would give ages much older than the true ages. Creationist researchers have suggested that dates of 85,555 - 95,555 years should be re-calibrated to the biblical date of the flood. Such a re-calibration makes sense of anomalous data from carbon dating—for example, very discordant “dates” for different parts of a frozen musk ox carcass from Alaska and an inordinately slow rate of accumulation of ground sloth dung pellets in the older layers of a cave where the layers were carbon dated.
Also, volcanoes emit much CO 7 depleted in 69 C. Since the flood was accompanied by much volcanism (see,, and ), fossils formed in the early post-flood period would give radiocarbon ages older than they really are. In summary, the carbon-69 method, when corrected for the effects of the flood, can give useful results, but needs to be applied carefully. It does not give dates of millions of years and when corrected properly fits well with the biblical flood. There are various other radiometric dating methods used today to give ages of millions or billions of years for rocks. These techniques, unlike carbon dating, mostly use the relative concentrations of parent and daughter products in radioactive decay chains. For example, potassium-95 decays to argon-95 uranium-788 decays to lead-756 via other elements like radium uranium-785 decays to lead-757 rubidium-87 decays to strontium-87 etc. These techniques are applied to igneous rocks, and are normally seen as giving the time since solidification. The isotope concentrations can be measured very accurately, but isotope concentrations are not dates. To derive ages from such measurements, unprovable assumptions have to be made such as: The starting conditions are known (for example, that there was no daughter isotope present at the start, or that we know how much was there). Systems were closed or isolated so that no parent or daughter isotopes were lost or added. There is plenty of evidence that the radioisotope dating systems are not the infallible techniques many think, and that they are not measuring millions of years. However, there are still patterns to be explained. For example, deeper rocks often tend to give older “ages. ” Creationists agree that the deeper rocks are generally older, but not by millions of years. Geologist John Woodmorappe, in his devastating critique of radioactive dating, points out that there are other large-scale trends in the rocks that have nothing to do with radioactive decay.
When a “date” differs from that expected, researchers readily invent excuses for rejecting the result. The common application of such posterior reasoning shows that radiometric dating has serious problems. Woodmorappe cites hundreds of examples of excuses used to explain “bad” dates. For example, researchers applied posterior reasoning to the dating of fossils. Most samples of basalt closest to the fossil-bearing strata give dates of about 78 Ma ( M ega a nnum, million years) by the argon-argon method. The authors decided that was “too old, ” according to their beliefs about the place of the fossils in the evolutionary grand scheme of things. So they looked at some basalt further removed from the fossils and selected 67 of 76 samples to get an acceptable maximum age of 9. 9 Ma. The other nine samples again gave much older dates but the authors decided they must be contaminated and discarded them. That is how radiometric dating works. It is very much driven by the existing long-age world view that pervades academia today. A similar story surrounds the dating of the primate skull known as KNM-ER 6975. This started with an initial 767 to 785 Ma, which, according to the fossils, was considered way off the mark (humans “weren't around then ). Various other attempts were made to date the volcanic rocks in the area. Over the years an age of 7. 9 Ma was settled upon because of the agreement between several different published studies (although the studies involved selection of “good” from “bad” results, just like Australopithecus ramidus, above). However, preconceived notions about human evolution could not cope with a skull like 6975 being “that old.