Creationist radiocarbon dating

Counter-arguments will be dismissed as so many minor anomalies that will no doubt be explained away in due course. If the creationist repeats long-refuted claims, that is because he believes that there are refutations of the refutation, even if he cannot immediately call them to mind, or does not have time to explain them properly. You and I of course would never do such things, but your friends might when it comes to defending emotionally precious but logically fragile beliefs; consider, for example, what passes for political discussion in your favourite pub or chatroom.

And what does this mean for debating with creationists? Such a debate, unlike a discussion between people willing to learn from each other, is a zero-sum game. He will project simplicity, sincerity, and certainty, and when you come to reply, you will sound as if you are making excuses. He will present anomalies did I mention those year-old water snails? His followers will end up confirmed in their convictions, as will yours, and those in the middle will come away confirmed in their own initial conviction that there are two sides to the story, both worth hearing.

But does that mean that we can learn nothing from the creationists? But both Leonard and I have learnt a great deal from examining the creationist claims. Be smart, and learn from everyone. There are standard techniques for doing this, for instance by measuring non-radiogenic isotopes of the daughter material, and, these days, by microsampling of single crystalline grains. Lecture scene from Glasgow Skeptics in the Pub Facebook page. Atmospheric carbon diagram public domain, by Hokanomono via Wikipedia. Posted on March 25, , in Creationism , Religion , Science and tagged carbon isotopes , carbon dating , isotopic fractionation , Lake Suigetsu , photosynthesis , Radiocarbon dating , Radiometric dating , Willard Libby.

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?

Reblogged this on Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin and commented: Another good article by Paul. Creationists have been misrepresenting radiometric age-dating for over 80 years and are immune to criticism. Reblogged this on Patrick Mackie. I just sent this article to this bloke who is indeed impervious to criticism: Same final outcome, however arrived at. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

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Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Home About me Book: Leave a comment Comments 7. Paul Braterman March 25, at 8: Most of the tree-ring sequence is based on the bristlecone pine. This tree rarely produces even a trace of an extra ring; on the contrary, a typical bristlecone pine has up to 5 percent of its rings missing.

Concerning the sequence of rings derived from the bristlecone pine, Ferguson says:. In certain species of conifers, especially those at lower elevations or in southern latitudes, one season's growth increment may be composed of two or more flushes of growth, each of which may strongly resemble an annual ring. In the growth-ring analyses of approximately one thousand trees in the White Mountains, we have, in fact, found no more than three or four occurrences of even incipient multiple growth layers.

In years of severe drought, a bristlecone pine may fail to grow a complete ring all the way around its perimeter; we may find the ring if we bore into the tree from one angle, but not from another. Hence at least some of the missing rings can be found. Even so, the missing rings are a far more serious problem than any double rings.

Other species of trees corroborate the work that Ferguson did with bristlecone pines. Before his work, the tree-ring sequence of the sequoias had been worked out back to BC.

A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims

The archaeological ring sequence had been worked out back to 59 BC. The limber pine sequence had been worked out back to 25 BC. The radiocarbon dates and tree-ring dates of these other trees agree with those Ferguson got from the bristlecone pine. But even if he had had no other trees with which to work except the bristlecone pines, that evidence alone would have allowed him to determine the tree-ring chronology back to BC.

See Renfrew for more details. So, creationists who complain about double rings in their attempts to disprove C dating are actually grasping at straws. If the Flood of Noah occurred around BC, as some creationists claim, then all the bristlecone pines would have to be less than five thousand years old. This would mean that eighty-two hundred years worth of tree rings had to form in five thousand years, which would mean that one-third of all the bristlecone pine rings would have to be extra rings.

Creationists are forced into accepting such outlandish conclusions as these in order to jam the facts of nature into the time frame upon which their "scientific" creation model is based. Barnes has claimed that the earth's magnetic field is decaying exponentially with a half-life of fourteen hundred years. Not only does he consider this proof that the earth can be no older than ten thousand years but he also points out that a greater magnetic strength in the past would reduce C dates.

Now if the magnetic field several thousand years ago was indeed many times stronger than it is today, there would have been less cosmic radiation entering the atmosphere back then and less C would have been produced. Therefore, any C dates taken from objects of that time period would be too high. How do you answer him?


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Like Cook, Barnes looks at only part of the evidence. What he ignores is the great body of archaeological and geological data showing that the strength of the magnetic field has been fluctuating up and down for thousands of years and that it has reversed polarity many times in the geological past. So, when Barnes extrapolates ten thousand years into the past, he concludes that the magnetic field was nineteen times stronger in BC than it is today, when, actually, it was only half as intense then as now.

This means that radiocarbon ages of objects from that time period will be too young, just as we saw from the bristlecone pine evidence. But how does one know that the magnetic field has fluctuated and reversed polarity?

Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon Dating | NCSE

Aren't these just excuses scientists give in order to neutralize Barnes's claims? The evidence for fluctuations and reversals of the magnetic field is quite solid. Bucha, a Czech geophysicist, has used archaeological artifacts made of baked clay to determine the strength of the earth's magnetic field when they were manufactured. He found that the earth's magnetic field was 1. See Bailey, Renfrew, and Encyclopedia Britannica for details.

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In other words, it rose in intensity from 0. Even before the bristlecone pine calibration of C dating was worked out by Ferguson, Bucha predicted that this change in the magnetic field would make radiocarbon dates too young. This idea [that the fluctuating magnetic field affects influx of cosmic rays, which in turn affects C formation rates] has been taken up by the Czech geophysicist, V.

Bucha, who has been able to determine, using samples of baked clay from archeological sites, what the intensity of the earth's magnetic field was at the time in question. Even before the tree-ring calibration data were available to them, he and the archeologist, Evzen Neustupny, were able to suggest how much this would affect the radiocarbon dates.

There is a good correlation between the strength of the earth's magnetic field as determined by Bucha and the deviation of the atmospheric radiocarbon concentration from its normal value as indicated by the tree-ring radiocarbon work. As for the question of polarity reversals, plate tectonics can teach us much. It is a fact that new oceanic crust continually forms at the mid-oceanic ridges and spreads away from those ridges in opposite directions.

When lava at the ridges hardens, it keeps a trace of the magnetism of the earth's magnetic field. Therefore, every time the magnetic field reverses itself, bands of paleomagnetism of reversed polarity show up on the ocean floor alternated with bands of normal polarity. These bands are thousands of kilometers long, they vary in width, they lie parallel, and the bands on either side of any given ridge form mirror images of each other.

Thus it can be demonstrated that the magnetic field of the earth has reversed itself dozens of times throughout earth history. Barnes, writing in , ought to have known better than to quote the gropings and guesses of authors of the early sixties in an effort to debunk magnetic reversals. Before plate tectonics and continental drift became established in the mid-sixties, the known evidence for magnetic reversals was rather scanty, and geophysicists often tried to invent ingenious mechanisms with which to account for this evidence rather than believe in magnetic reversals.


  1. How Good are those Young-Earth Arguments: Radiocarbon Dating.
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  6. Since years is almost two half-lives for carbon, it's half-life being years plus or minus 40 years , we have excellent observational evidence that the decay rate is constant. We also have laboratory studies which support the constancy of all the decay rates used in radiometric dating. A great many experiments have been done in attempts to change radioactive decay rates, but these experiments have invariably failed to produce any significant changes. It has been found, for example, that decay constants are the same at a temperature of degrees C or at a temperature of degrees C and are the same in a vacuum or under a pressure of several thousand atmospheres.

    Measurements of decay rates under differing gravitational and magnetic fields also have yielded negative results. Although changes in alpha and beta decay rates are theoretically possible, theory also predicts that such changes would be very small [ Emery, ] and thus would not affect dating methods. There is a fourth type of decay that can be affected by physical and chemical conditions, though only very slightly.

    Radiometric back flips; How solid are those dates? (Creation Magazine LIVE! 5-10)

    This type of decay is electron capture e. Because this type of decay involves a particle outside the nucleus, the decay rate may be affected by variations in the electron density near the nucleus of the atom. For example, the decay constant of Be-7 in different beryllium chemical compounds varies by as much as 0. The only isotope of geologic interest that undergoes e. Measurements of the decay rate of K in different substances under various conditions indicate that variations in the chemical and physical environment have no detectable effect on its e.

    Believe it or not, a number of creationist attacks against radiometric decay rates are aimed at a kind of "decay" called internal conversion IC , which has absolutely nothing to do with the radiometric dating methods Dalrymple, , p. Harold Slusher, a prominent member of the Institute for Creation Research, claimed that "Experiments have shown that the decay rates of cesium and iron 57 vary, hence there may be similar variations in other radioactive decay rates.

    These are both stable isotopes so there is no decay rate to be changed. This statement merely reveals Slusher's ignorance of nuclear physics. Gamma decay of an excited state of iron 57 has been studied, but this has nothing to do with the kinds of decays used in radiometric dating.


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    DeYoung [ ] lists 20 isotopes whose decay rates have been changed by environmental conditions, alluding to the possible significance of these changes to geochronology, but the only significant changes are for isotopes that "decay" by internal conversion. These changes are irrelevant to radiometric dating methods.