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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Modern Science Mistakes - Dating Part Three - Why Carbon-14 Dating Falsifies Evolution

As stated previously, the primary reason Darwinists and even Old Earth Creationists proclaim long ages for the Earth is the lack of understanding of the effects of a world-wide flood and the degradation of the power of the magnetic field.   Darwinists used to just LOVE carbon-14 dating until they discovered it limited the Earth to about a maximum age of 50,000 years.   They then began to pick things with incredibly long half-lives that cannot be calibrated well as a last resort, while Old Earth Creationists just do not understand that "science" has not "proved" long ages and therefore abandon the first and obvious meaning of Genesis in favor of a bunch of guys in lab coats.

When you abandon the Bible for the opinions of guys in lab coats, you take away the foundation of your faith in Christ.   When you lose your foundation of faith in Christ, you lose the power of Christianity and, when you lose the power of Christianity you stop seeing people getting saved and they wind up going to Hell.  Don't let people go to Hell, keep believing in the Bible as Truth in every area to which it speaks.

A Creationist Puzzle

50,000-Year-Old-Fossils

Keywords

Evolutionists aren’t the only ones who run into challenges when trying to reconcile radiocarbon dating with their view of history. How do creationists explain dates of 50,000 years?
Conventional geologists claim that fossils, coals, and diamonds are millions to billions of years old. Yet it has now been firmly established that they still contain measurable amounts of radiocarbon, which has a half-life (decay rate) of only 5,730 years.1
 
This creates a dilemma for conventional geology, as explained in Part 2 of this series.2 Absolutely no radiocarbon should be left in fossils, coals, and diamonds, because after just one million years it should have decayed away.

Yet the radiocarbon in these fossils, coals, and diamonds equates to “ages” of up to 55,000 years. This is much older than the biblical time frame of earth history, which attributes most fossils and coals to the global Flood of Noah’s day, about 4,350 years ago. What should Bible-believing Christians think about this apparent discrepancy?

Assumptions Change Estimate of Age

To solve this puzzle it is necessary to review the assumptions on which radiocarbon dating is based. These include:
  • The production rate of carbon-14 has always been the same in the past as now.
  • The atmosphere has had the same carbon-14 concentration in the past as now.
  • The biosphere (the places on earth where organisms live) has always had the same overall carbon-14 concentration as the atmosphere, due to the rapid transfer of carbon-14 atoms from the atmosphere to the biosphere.3
None of these assumptions is strictly correct, beyond a rough first approximation. Indeed, scientists have now documented that the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon-14 varies considerably according to latitude. They have also determined several geophysical causes for past and present fluctuations in carbon-14 production in the atmosphere.4
 
Specifically, we know that carbon-14 has varied in the past due to a stronger magnetic field on earth and changing cycles in sunspot activity. So when objects of known historical dates are dated using radiocarbon dating, we find that carbon-14 dates are accurate back to only about 400 BC.

The conventional scientific community ignores at least two factors that are crucial to recalibrating radiocarbon (so that it accounts for major changes in the biosphere and atmosphere that likely resulted from the Flood): (1) The earth’s magnetic field has been progressively stronger going back into the past, and (2) the Flood destroyed and buried a huge amount of carbon from the pre-Flood biosphere.

The Effect of a Past Stronger Magnetic Field

The evidence for the earth’s having a progressively stronger magnetic field in the past is based on reliable historical measurements5 and “fossil” magnetism trapped in ancient pottery.6, 7
 
A stronger magnetic field is significant because the magnetic field partly shields the earth from the influx of cosmic rays, which change nitrogen atoms into radioactive carbon-14 atoms. So a stronger magnetic field in the past would have reduced the influx of cosmic rays.

This in turn would have reduced the amount of radiocarbon produced in the atmosphere. If this were the case, the biosphere in the past would have had a lower carbon-14 concentration than it does today.
The best estimates indicate that the earth’s magnetic field was twice as strong 1,400 years ago, and possibly four times as strong 2,800 years ago. If this is true, the earth’s magnetic field would have been much stronger at the time of the Flood, and the carbon-14 levels would be significantly smaller.

So if you mistakenly assume that the radiocarbon levels in the atmosphere and biosphere have always been the same as they are today, you would erroneously estimate much older dates for early human artifacts, such as post-Babel wooden statuettes in Egypt. And that is exactly what conventional archaeology has done.

The Effect of More Carbon in the Pre-Flood Biosphere

An even more dramatic effect on the earth’s carbon-14 inventory would be the destruction and burial of all the carbon in the whole biosphere at the time of the Flood. Based on the enormous size of today’s coal beds, oil, oil shale, natural gas deposits, and all the fossils in limestones, shales, and sandstones, a huge quantity of plants and animals must have been alive when the Flood struck. It is conservatively estimated that the amount of carbon in the pre-Flood biosphere may have been many times greater than the amount of carbon in today’s biosphere.8
It is conservatively estimated that the amount of carbon in the pre-Flood biosphere may have been many times greater than the amount today.
We cannot yet know for certain how much radiocarbon (carbon-14) was in this pre-Flood carbon (a mixture of normal carbon-12 and carbon-14). Yet if the earth’s atmosphere started to produce carbon-14 (14C) at the Fall, then many radiocarbon atoms could have been in the pre-Flood biosphere by the time of the Flood, about 1,650 years after Creation.

However, if there was a whole lot more normal carbon (carbon-12, or 12C) in the pre-Flood biosphere, then the proportion of 14C to 12C would have been much less than the proportion in today’s biosphere.
So when scientists fail to account for so many more plants and animals in the pre-Flood biosphere and wrongly assume that plants buried in coal beds had the same proportion of carbon-14 as plants do today, their radiocarbon dating yields “ages” much higher than the true Flood age of about 4,350 years.

A Prediction Fulfilled

Now if this model of the earth’s past radiocarbon inventory is correct, then a logical prediction follows. Since all pre-Flood plants would have had the same low radiocarbon levels when they were buried, and they all formed into coal beds during that single Flood year, then those coal beds should all have the same low radiocarbon content.

They do! Samples from coal beds around the United States, ranging from Eocene to Pennsylvanian deposits, supposedly 40–320 million years old, all contain the same low radiocarbon levels equivalent to “ages” of 48,000–50,000 years.9
 
This makes sense only if these coal beds were all formed out of pre-Flood plants during the year-long Flood, about 4,350 years ago. Carbon-14 dates of the same value are expected in creation theory but contrary to the expectations of conventional old-earth theory.

The “Puzzle” Is Being Solved

So the radiocarbon “puzzle” can be solved, but only in the biblical framework for earth history. Research is therefore underway to find a means of recalibrating the radiocarbon “clock” to properly account for the Flood and its impact on dates for the post-Flood period to the present.

For example, conventional radiocarbon dating gives an age of “48,000 years” for a coal bed deposited during the Flood, about 4,350 years ago. This could be explained if the 14C/12C ratio at the time of the Flood was only 1/200th the ratio of the present world.

If scientists assume the ratio is 200 times greater than it really was, then their radiocarbon age estimate would be exaggerated by 43,650 years.10
 
In reality, calculations (described above) have led to estimates that the pre-Flood biosphere may have had more than 100 times the carbon-12 as the present earth. Using this information, we may be able to calculate how much carbon-14 was actually on the early earth at the Flood. This, in turn, would allow us to develop a proper interpretation of all carbon-14 dates.

Once the research is completed, one of the many exciting benefits is that it should be possible to begin more accurately dating any archeological artifact within the true chronology found in God’s Word.


Radiocarbon dating of fossils compares the amount of radioactive carbon atoms (C-14) to regular carbon atoms (C-12). Conventional dating methods assume the past ratio based on current levels. But what if these assumptions are wrong?

Lower Rate of Radiocarbon (C-14) Production

Cosmic rays bombard the earth’s atmosphere and produce neutrons. These neutrons collide with nitrogen atoms, changing them into radioactive carbon atoms (C-14).

Conventional dating assumes radiocarbon (C-14) production has remained stable. But the earth’s magnetic field, which protects the earth from cosmic rays, was once several times stronger than it is today. So we would expect much less radiocarbon to be produced in the past. That would result in much less C-14 compared to C-12.

Greater Volume of Regular Carbon (C-12)

Plants absorb carbon atoms during photosynthesis (mostly regular C-12 and little radioactive C-14). With a limited amount of radiocarbon to go around, more plants would mean less radiocarbon per plant.

Coventional dating assumes the volume of plants and animals in the world has remained relatively stable. But the abundance of fossils indicates that the pre-Flood world’s shallow seas and temperate climate supported much more plants and animals (containing mostly C-12) than today.

Lower Ratio of Radiocarbon (C-14) to Regular Carbon (C-12)

Radiocarbon begins to break down after plants and animals die. The amount of radiocarbon remaining determines the time that has passed. Conventional dating assumes the ratio of C-12 to C-14 was the same in animals in the past. But if the ratio was much lower in the animals in the past, then those animals would have much less radiocarbon to break down after they died. This would result in much younger dates than conventional methods assume.

Dr. Andrew Snelling holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney and has worked as a consultant research geologist to organizations in both Australia and America. Author of numerous scientific articles, Dr. Snelling is now director of research at Answers in Genesis–USA.
Help keep these daily articles coming. Support AiG.

Footnotes

  1. A. A. Snelling, “Radiocarbon Dating Part 1: Understanding the Basics,” Answers (Oct.–Dec. 2010), pp. 72–75. Back
  2. A. A. Snelling, “Radiocarbon Dating Part 2: Carbon–14 in Fossils and Diamonds—An Evolution Dilemma,” Answers (Jan.–Mar. 2011), pp. 72–75. Back
  3. S. Bowman, Interpreting the Past: Radiocarbon Dating (London: British Museum Publications, 1990), p. 14. Back
  4. Bowman, ref. 3, pp. 16–30; G. Faure and T. M. Mensing, Isotopes: Principles and Applications, 3rd edition (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), pp. 614–625; A. P. Dickin, Radiogenic Isotope Geology, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 383–398. Back
  5. T. G. Barnes, “Decay of the Earth’s Magnetic Field and the Geochronological Implications,” Creation Research Society Quarterly 8.1 (1971): 24–29. Back
  6. D. R. Humphreys, “Reversal of the Earth’s Magnetic Field during the Genesis Flood,” in Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, ed. R. E. Walsh, C. L. Brooks and R. S. Crowell, (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986), 2:113–126. What is “fossil” magnetism? The clay used to make pottery often contains mineral grains that are slightly magnetic. When the clay is baked, the grain’s magnetic field imprint at the time is “locked in” or fossilized. Back
  7. The strength of the earth’s magnetic field was not affected by field reversals. The sun also regularly experiences field reversals without loss of strength in the magnetic field. D. R. Humphreys, “Physical Mechanism for Reversal of the Earth’s Magnetic Field during the Flood, in Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, ed. R. E. Walsh and C. L. Brooks (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 1990), 2: 129–142. Back
  8. R. H. Brown, “The Interpretation of C-14 Dates,” Origins 6 (1979): 30–44; J. R. Baumgardner, A. A. Snelling, D. R. Humphreys, and S. A. Austin, “Measurable 14C in Fossilized Organic Materials: Confirming the Young Earth Creation-Flood Model,” in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, ed. R. L. Ivey, Jr. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 2003), pp. 127–147. Back
  9. J. R. Baumgardner, “14C Evidence for a Recent Global Flood and a Young Earth,” in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, ed. L. Vardiman, A. A. Snelling, and E. F. Chaffin (El Cajon, California: Institute for Creation Research, and Chino Valley, Arizona: Creation Research Society, 2005), pp. 587–630; D. B. DeYoung, Thousands . . . Not Billions: Challenging an Icon of Evolution, Questioning the Age of the Earth (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2005), pp. 45–62. Back
  10. These numbers are calculated in terms of half-lives, discussed in this series’ previous article. If the modern ratio is 200 times greater than the ratio at the Flood, the error ends up being 7.618 carbon-14 half-lives, or 43,650 years! Back 
Noah's Flood has left all sorts of evidence.  Here is an example but there are plenty more.

'Eromanga Sea' covering Australia during 'Jurassic' (from ABC OZfossil website).
'Eromanga Sea' covering Australia during 'Cretaceous' (from ABC OZfossils website).

You can see evidence for Noah’s Flood everywhere but unless you know what you are looking for you will not recognize it. Did you know that geology books, museums and fossil websites describe the effects of the Flood in graphic detail, even giving special names to different aspects of it? 

The diagram at left is from the science section of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website called called OZfossils. It says, “About one hundred and ten million years ago a shallow sea covered what is now arid inland Australia.”

This shallow inland sea has been called the Eromanga Sea and it is shown in the diagram. This is evidence for Noah’s Flood. The Bible says:
“The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. (Genesis 7:17–19)”
The reason why most scientists can explore this amazing geological evidence but not connect the dots is that they have the wrong search image in their minds. (These days we are well aware of how a scientist’s search image can affect their work.) Actually, the search philosophy they use was purposely designed in the early 1800s to avoid seeing Noah’s Flood. Some call that search image ‘uniformitarianism’, although geologists today prefer the term ‘actualism’.

Let’s mention a few of the many reasons why they don’t see the Flood.
  • The dates are wrong. They say it was 100 million years ago, so no one connects that it is actually Noah’s Flood they are looking at. But the dates were assigned by assuming the sediments were deposited slowly, when in fact they were deposited catastrophically. Hence the imaginary time disappears. Geologists these days routinely recognize that sedimentation was rapid, especially considering the enormous dinosaur fossils preserved in the area.
  • It was not a past environment. They assume they are looking at environments that existed for thousands, even millions of years. However, the kilometre thicknesses of sediments were deposited rapidly over a period of weeks or months during the Flood, as the waters were rising on the earth. (See Great Artesian Basin.)
  • The vegetation did not grow in the area. They assume the vegetation grew where it was buried, but it was carried into the area after being ripped out the places where it did grow. What we are looking at was not a lush rainforest but the place where the debris was dumped.
  • The animals did not normally live in the area. They assume the fosilized animals lived in the area. However, these were carried in by the floodwaters, some dead and some alive. The live ones continued to flee the rising waters (for a while) and we find their footprints at various places (see Dinosaur trackways (pdf)). The dead ones were buried in sediments in the area (had to be buried rapidly and lots of sediment). That is why is it common to find land and sea animals buried together. Also it is common to find animals and plants from warm climates fossilized in areas that now have cold climates (see Paradox of warm climate vegetation in Antarctica).
  • The sea covered the whole of Australia, not just a proportion of it. In the above diagram,geologists show the extent of the inland sea according to the extent of the sediments that exist now. From the diagram we see there was a lot of Australia that was supposedly not covered with water at this time. However, the sediments covered a much greater area in the past. Kilometres of thickness and vast areas of sediment have been eroded away. This happened later in the Flood, especially as the floodwaters receded from the land (see discussion on Perth geology and Collie basin).
Next time you see a display about the geological history of Australia, or wherever you live, realise that they are reporting evidence for Noah’s Flood. Once you understand the way they think, you can connect the dots and see Noah’s Flood in graphic detail.

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8 comments:

Jon Woolf said...

Ah, now this is more like it. Your maunderings about morality are just tedious, but your doomed-before-they-start attempts to sound like you know something about science are fun.

Darwinists used to just LOVE carbon-14 dating until they discovered it limited the Earth to about a maximum age of 50,000 years.

Except that it doesn't. As another commenter pointed out a couple of posts down, the age limit on C14 dating means that C14 can't be used on any sample older than about 50,000 years. It does not mean there are no samples available that are older than 50,000 years. A great many artifacts and remains are known that have no detectable C14 above background, indicating that they are older than 50,000 years.

They then began to pick things with incredibly long half-lives that cannot be calibrated well as a last resort

Well, except when those methods can be calibrated well -- usually by comparison with each other, sometimes by comparison with other dating methods such as electron spin resonance or thermoluminescence dating. Another method of calibration is to do a blind test on a sample of known age, such as the ash from Vesuvius's famous eruption that was accurately dated using the argon-argon method.

"Hot Lips" Houlihan said...

Radar, why do you think C-14 falsifies evolution?

I can clearly see why C-14 dating falsifies a young Earth - there is much hemming and hawing and hilarious non sequiturs by YECers about that in these posts - like this one, for example:

Samples from coal beds around the United States, ranging from Eocene to Pennsylvanian deposits, supposedly 40–320 million years old, all contain the same low radiocarbon levels equivalent to “ages” of 48,000–50,000 years.9

This makes sense only if these coal beds were all formed out of pre-Flood plants during the year-long Flood, about 4,350 years ago.


Um, no, that doesn't make any sense at all. Does it make sense to you? The scientific explanation makes far more sense here: given its half-life, C-14 is clearly only effective for dating purposes up to about 40-50,000 years, and beyond that the levels are in line with background radiation, contamination etc. Do creationists have actual evidence that shows that this is not the case? If so - link please.

What I think is the strongest indicator that YECs are grasping at straws here (and thus can't refute a clear falsification of their entire belief system...) is the fact that they can't come up with any alternative explanation for the mountains of data. I was looking forward to some kind of attempt to "calibrate" the C-14 data (never mind all the other radiometric data) to coincide with a YEC timeframe, but no dice. This is what you had said would be coming, but instead all we get is some vague handwaving:

"For example, conventional radiocarbon dating gives an age of “48,000 years” for a coal bed deposited during the Flood, about 4,350 years ago. This could be explained if the 14C/12C ratio at the time of the Flood was only 1/200th the ratio of the present world."

I suppose it could be explained that way. So is there any indication that this could have been the case?

(Incidentally, it could also be explained if the coal bed in question had not been deposited during the Flood, about 4,350 years ago, which for some reason is stated here as if it were confirmed fact.)

So where is this calibration then?

Keep digging, Radar - you'll find that it doesn't exist. You'll find that YEC can't provide this, and that the entire young-Earth scenario does not line up with the data. And simply pointing at some willfully misunderstood tiny portions of the data isn't going to make that problem go away for you.

Anonymous whatsit said...

"When you abandon the Bible for the opinions of guys in lab coats, you take away the foundation of your faith in Christ. When you lose your foundation of faith in Christ, you lose the power of Christianity and, when you lose the power of Christianity you stop seeing people getting saved and they wind up going to Hell. Don't let people go to Hell, keep believing in the Bible as Truth in every area to which it speaks."

Fantastic summary of the creationist mindset and their disdain for science (science is just "the opinions of guys in lab coats"). Well done, sir.

What's sad is that you overlook the possibility of accepting science while still believing in God and Jesus. Even though - unless I'm mistaken - you've admitted that a belief in a young Earth isn't necessary to believe in God.

Anonymous whatsit said...

"When you abandon the Bible for the opinions of guys in lab coats, you take away the foundation of your faith in Christ. When you lose your foundation of faith in Christ, you lose the power of Christianity and, when you lose the power of Christianity you stop seeing people getting saved and they wind up going to Hell. Don't let people go to Hell, keep believing in the Bible as Truth in every area to which it speaks."

Fantastic summary of the creationist mindset and their disdain for science (science is just "the opinions of guys in lab coats"). Well done, sir.

What's sad is that you overlook the possibility of accepting science while still believing in God and Jesus. Even though - unless I'm mistaken - you've admitted that a belief in a young Earth isn't necessary to believe in God.

Anonymous whatsit said...

Sorry about the double post - it told me I had entered the wrong captcha the first time around...

radar said...

Sorry, but Darwinists do not get to have "science" for themselves.

Science in the 21st Century owes more to Christian pioneers than to any atheist or agnostic men. It was the Bacons and Keplers and Maxwells and Newtons that advanced the scientific method (without naturalism artificially imposed) and founded the majority of modern scientific disciplines.

Today there are plenty of scientists who outwardly agree with ID or Creation and many more who do so privately so that they may keep their positions in academia or government because Darwinists are censoring bullies. Just ask Guillermo Gonzalez or David Coppedge about that.

Science is therefore the world of exploration and discovery and the application of said discoveries. It does not belong more to PZ Myers than it does to Jonathan Sarfati. It certainly does not belong to only naturalistic materialists!

radar said...

Argon method often provides vastly varied dates when used. In fact there is not one method that does not present great variations in age. C-14 is less likely to vary much when calibrated. It is fairly accurate inside 3-4 thousand years.

Jon Woolf said...

"Argon method often provides vastly varied dates when used."

Evidence please.

"In fact there is not one method that does not present great variations in age. C-14 is less likely to vary much when calibrated. It is fairly accurate inside 3-4 thousand years."

Well now, isn't that a coinkydink -- the only method you say is "well calibrated" is the only one that gives you the results you want to see.

Not very scientific attitude, dude. But then, creationism's claims of being scientific have never been more than a trick.