Carbon-14 dating is an incredibly dynamic subject in the world of science. Secular Darwinist scientists hide the fact that dinosaur bones or even diamonds contain C-14. Creation science needs to evaluate the results of good equipment to get the ages found in samples to match the likely actual age. Let's begin with a letter to the Creation.com editor that was just published and also present more evidence including several links, one to a 20 page pdf on the subject. If you read this post, you understand how carbon-14 dates are calibrated by YEC scientists. Whereas the technique is not perfected, it exposes any secular carbon-14 dating results as laughable. Unless
Calibrating carbon dating
Published: 2 February 2013 (GMT+10)
Anthony P. from the United States writes:
I read the scientific article on the carbon dating done on the Jericho site written by Bruins and Van Der Plicht. When I did the math from their results section of the YBP, they all turned out to be right around the year 1400 BC. But in their abstract and conclusion they told how the date was around 1550 BC. I understand calibration might have something to do with this, but then in the article it says in italicized words that the uncalibrated date “Must Always Be Mentioned”. But when I read articles about the results, they never mention the uncalibrated data, which could actually be correct. Please clarify for me where I err. Thank you very much.CMI’s Dr Rob Carter responds:
As a fan of biblical archaeology, I was asked to address your question. I am not an expert in every subject that impinges on the discussion, but I will do my best.
Why is calibration necessary? Radiocarbon dates are affected by many outside factors. The accuracy of the machines is not in question (especially modern ones, which are astoundingly accurate when properly zeroed in). The rate of decay is also not in question. But, any source of old carbon in the ancient environment can affect the amount of C-14 in a sample.
- During the end stages of the Ice Age, it has been reasoned that the Mediterranean Sea had a sheen of fresh water on top (it would have been a lake at that point, not a sea), and that lots of old carbon may have built up in the salty waters below (this is the situation in the Black Sea today). When the fresh water flow petered out, the lake suddenly turned over, the surface became salty once again, and massive amounts of old carbon were dumped into the atmosphere. Any plants growing downwind would have been affected. Today, they have northerly Scirrocco winds in the winter and southerly Mistral winds in the winter, but all bets are off back in Ice Age times. It should be expected that this turnover could have affected C-14 dates in downwind areas by decades at least, and perhaps more, but nobody really knows. This was only a few thousand years ago (≤4k for the creationist, ≤10k for the evolutionist), well within the range of radiocarbon dating and perhaps on the edge of the modern historical era.
- There has been debate about whether or not Europeans brought syphilis back with them from the Americas, or whether it was already there before Columbus. Radiocarbon dates of syphilitic skeletons were used as evidence for pre-Columbian syphilis in Europe, until someone realized that every example came from coastal areas. A diet rich in seafood affects radiocarbon dates due to the incorporation of old carbon in the marine food chain. When a person eats lots of fish, they are eating ‘older’ carbon (lower C-14) and so the dates were off. This is quite controversial.
- The man who invented C-14 needed something that was historically dated to calibrate the techniques. He used Egyptian coffin lids, but noticed a systematic error: the older lids were dating several hundred years too old and the error decreased on younger samples. Why? Perhaps (I believe) Egyptian chronology is way off and needs to be adjusted by a couple of hundred years. Or, perhaps (I also believe) the atmosphere was flooded with old carbon during the Flood (through volcanism). Thus, any plant alive in the early post-Flood centuries would have less C-14 content and would then date ‘older’ when analyzed today.
This does not mean that recalibration is bad, indeed it is necessary, but it should make one more soberly assess any reported dates as being tentative.
The Jericho controversy is soundly rooted in C-14 calibration. The first excavations were performed prior to WWII, and supported the biblical chronology. When Kathleen Kenyon came away from her study in the 1950s and essentially announced ‘I see no evidence for the destruction of Joshua here,’ she was basing her opinions, in part, on the new field of radiocarbon dating.
See: The walls of Jericho, The story of Jericho, and Q and A pages on the Ice Age and radiometric dating. See also this useful offsite resource: Jericho chronology dispute.
Dr. Robert Carter
"What about carbon dating" is a pdf, very precise and somewhat technical that describes the basics of carbon dating. If you seriously want to know about the subject, it is a must read!!! It is 20 pages, so there is a full treatment of the subject. If you do not read it, hey, you do not really care to know the answer!
Did you know that wrongly-calibrated testing can yield dates from the future?
Carbon dating into the future
Published: 24 March 2007 (GMT+10)This week’s feedback is from Franky P of Canada, who has a question about instances of carbon dating giving negative (=future) ages. Andrew Lamb replies.
I checked out the Department of Earth Sciences at Brock University and noticed that they offer a radiocarbon dating service. One of their samples BGS-43 was dated 3000 YEARS IN THE FUTURE, more than once.
The website I found it at was http://www.brocku.ca/earthsciences/includes/c14Form.html. Do a
- f and type in the sample code, BGS-43, then look on the farthest right column and you will find this information.
I found this very curious and thought you might as well.
Dear Mr P
Thank you for your email of 6 March, submitted via our website.
I found the entry for the BGS-43 wood sample you referred to in the table at Brock University. The BGS-43 entry records this sample as coming from a large bore hole in Oak Island, Canada. The entry includes the comment ‘The “Calculated Age” is ~ +3000 yrs into the future. Repeated sample and got the same results.’
Testing of atmospheric nuclear bombs in the 1950s and 60s dramatically increased levels of radiocarbon (carbon-14, 14C) in the atmosphere—see the graph below. Measurements have always shown fluctuations in the level of atmospheric radiocarbon, but since the peak in the mid 1960s, the level has been steadily decreasing overall. A carbon age of thousands of years in the future like the one you described could indicate that the wood in question was cut/separated from the tree in the 1960s, when atmospheric radiocarbon levels were at their highest. (There are other phenomena besides nuclear bombs that also affect carbon isotope levels—see later.)
Several examples of future carbon dates appear in some research done on silk cloth.1 In this case fake antique silks were easily distinguished from authentic antique silks by their negative carbon dating ages, ranging from 900 to 1,600 years into the future.
Radioisotope dating relies on unprovable assumptions about the past, and unless we have reliable historical dates for objects, we cannot be certain that their calculated ages are accurate. The only reliable way to date anything is by the historical method—relying on trustworthy records such as the Bible. See Immeasurable Age.
Archaeologists will readily dismiss carbon-dating ages if they do not agree with the date they want or expect:
‘If a C14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text. If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a footnote. And if it is completely ‘out of date’, we just drop it.’2For example Australian archaeologist Dr Josephine Flood rejected the 30,000 year carbon-dates for ‘Mungo Man’ because she believes, based on other dating methods such as electron spin resonance, that Mungo Man is 60,000 years old.3 Both methods can’t be right, but both can be wrong, and we know from the accurate history recorded in the Bible that in this case both are wrong.
There is evidence of changes in carbon isotope ratios from era to era, region to region, species to species, and even from one part of an individual organism to another part. For examples, see the section ‘Other factors affecting carbon dating’ from Chapter 4 ‘What about carbon dating?’ of The Creation Answers Book. I highly recommend getting a copy of this book.
Carbon-dating relies on knowing the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 (normal non-radioactive carbon) in the atmosphere throughout history. But the carbon system is not always in equilibrium; there is not always a balance between the amount of new carbon-14 forming from nitrogen in the air due to solar radiation, and the amount of 14C leaving the atmosphere due to being absorbed by plants. As a recent Science article noted:
‘[T]he amount of 14C produced in the atmosphere varies with the sun’s solar activity and fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field. This means that the radiocarbon clock can race ahead or seemingly stop for up to 5 centuries. As a result, raw radiocarbon dates sometimes diverge from real calendar years by hundreds or even thousands of years. Thus researchers must calibrate the clock to account for these fluctuations, and that can be a challenge.’4Besides these regular changes, which secular scientists try to take into account, there was a unique event in earth’s history that also greatly upset the carbon balance, but which the scientific establishment refuses to take into account when calibrating the carbon-dating method. That event was the Flood.
There was massive worldwide volcanism during the Flood, with massive volumes of dust, CO2, and water vapour being ejected into the atmosphere. Volcanic CO2 tends not to contain 14C, just normal carbon. The ratio of 14C to 12C in the atmosphere would thus have become greatly diluted during the Flood, and would have remained low for many centuries, as the level gradually built up again towards equilibrium. Animals and plants in the immediate post-Flood centuries would have absorbed and ingested less 14C than modern (i.e. pre-nuclear bomb) era organisms. Hence artefacts from the first post-Flood millennium will generate ages older than they really are, due to starting with less 14C than would be expected based on the incorrect assumption that the ratio then was the same as in modern times. Carbon ‘dates’ older than 3000 years are likely to be grossly inflated.
The strength of the earth’s magnetic field has been steadily decreasing, meaning more solar radiation is reaching the atmosphere, and thus more 14C is being produced in our atmosphere. So even without atomic bomb testing, the atmospheric ratio of 14C to 12C may have been increasing, albeit very gradually. Note that the ‘natural level’ in the graph above is assumed. In fact the atmospheric carbon system may never have been in equilibrium. The blue line on that graph represents a mythical uniformitarian ideal that has not existed in the short period that records of atmospheric isotope levels have been kept. And yet the edifice of carbon dating basically relies on extrapolating this romanticized straight blue line 50,000 years into the past! This is not good science.
(This is the first assumption Darwinists made that guaranteed all of their dates would be both incorrect and guaranteed older ages than would be produced if a younger atmosphere was recognized. When C-14 dating began, the measurement tools were not sophisticated enough to determine if the atmosphere had reached equilibrium. Now we can see that it has not! - Radar)!
Carbon dating began in the late 1940s and some of the first things to be carbon dated were Egyptian artefacts, including the coffin of Pharaoh Djoser. The date of this pharaoh’s death was already considered to be accurately established, at 2750 BC. We know this date is incorrect because Egypt is a post-Flood civilization and this date precedes the Flood by several hundred years. Tests like these on ancient Egyptian artefacts formed the basis for the calibration of the carbon dating method. But scholars are now coming to the realisation that the traditionally accepted Egyptian chronology was greatly in error, and needs shortening by hundreds of years. A revolution in ancient chronology has been steadily building over the last decade, with a number of scholars publishing hard-to-refute evidence that traditional Egyptian chronologies are overextended by many hundreds of years.5 More and more archaeologists are beginning to accept that revision is inevitable. On the issue of an accurate chronology of ancient history, see Searching for Moses and In the days of Peleg.
Carbon dating actually tends to be the creationist’s friend because carbon-14 is found in many samples that are supposed to be millions of years old, when there should be no 14C left according to uniformitarian assumptions. For examples, see Dating Dilemma: Fossil wood in ‘ancient’ sandstone, Geological conflict, and Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend.
For those with the inclination, abundant evidence is available with which they can verify to themselves the unreliability of radiometric dating methods, including the carbon method.
- Turnbull, J., Sparks, R., and Prior, C., Testing the effectiveness of AMS radiocarbon pretreatment and preparation on archaeological textiles, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172: 469–472, 2000. Return to text
- Brew, J.O., cited in T. Säve-Söderbergh and I.
U. Olsson (Institute of Egyptology and Institute of Physics
respectively, University of Uppsala, Sweden), ‘C14 dating and
Egyptian chronology’, in Radiocarbon Variations and Absolute Chronology, Proceedings of the Twelfth Nobel Symposium, Ingrid U. Olsson (editor), Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm,
and John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, p. 35, 1970. Here is the quote in context:
C14 dating was being discussed at a symposium on the prehistory of the Nile Valley. A famous American colleague, Professor Brew, briefly summarized a common attitude among archaeologists towards it, as follows:Return to text
“If a C14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text. If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a foot-note. And if it is completely ‘out of date’, we just drop it.”Few archaeologists who have concerned themselves with absolute chronology are innocent of having sometimes applied this method, and many are still hesitant to accept C14 dates without reservations.
- Christopher Bantick, Extending the dreamtime, West Australian, 10 June 2000. Return to text
- Michael Balter, Radiocarbon dating’s final frontier, Science 313(5793):1560–1563, 15 September 2006. Return to text
- For example David Rohl in his book Pharaohs and Kings. (The US version of his book is titled A Test of Time.) CMI published a review of this book in
Journal of Creation 11(1):33–35. Another such call for drastic shortening of the Egyptian chronology came from Peter James, in his book Centuries of
Darkness, Pimlico, London, 1992. In the introduction to this book the highly regarded Cambridge Professor Colin Renfrew wrote:
‘The revolutionary suggestion is made here that the existing chronologies for that crucial phase in human history are in error by several centuries, and that, in consequence, history will have to be rewritten.’ (page xiv)
‘The authors of this book . . . show the frailty of the links by which the whole ramshackle chronological structure is held together. I feel that their critical analysis is right, and that a chronological revolution is on its way.’ (page xvi)Another worthwhile resource on the need to drastically shorten Egyptian chronology is James Jordan, The Egyptian Problem, Biblical Chronology 6(1), January 1994
- See also: Ian Taylor, Willard Libby and carbon dating Egyptian artifacts, Journal of Creation 17(3):58–59, 2003. Return to text
Dan Nuckuls cartoon
Again, if you want to comprehend the C-14 dating methodology being used by secular and creation scientists, you really need to read this paper!!!!
Fossils found in sedimentary layers can be calibrated to be about 4,300 years old (other than the very top layers produced post-flood) and thereby approximate and accurate ages can be figured from this starting point. If you do read all the papers and links, you will see that creation science continues to study this issue and seeks to get the most accurate ages and find methodologies that yield a consistent age. They are already far more successful that Darwinists, who publish utterly impossible ages with no shame.