Radiometric Dating

Carbon 14 Dating of Fossils

June, 2017

Organic matter in the fossil record generally dates by carbon 14 (C14) dating to about 20,000 to 40,000 years. Other radioactive dating methods such as potassium/argon (K/Ar), rubidium/strontium (Rb/Sr), uranium/lead (U/Pb), thorium/lead (Th/Pb) and others that are based on decay of longer-lived isotopes often give ages in the millions or hundreds of millions of years for these fossils. Why is this? Why are the dates so different?

Many creationists believe that radioactive decay was faster in the past. However, in this talk I want to concentrate on reasons to believe the C14 dates are more accurate and that they give evidence that all life on earth is very young. If decay rates were faster in the past, then even the C14 dates could be too old.

How Carbon 14 Is Produced and Decays

Carbon 14 is an isotope of carbon with two extra neutrons in the nucleus. It is produced in the upper atmosphere. The rate at which this happens varies to some extent. Perhaps there was less C14 produced in the past, which would imply that even the relatively young C14 dates are too old.

The Ice Age, Climate Change, and Creation

January, 2016
Isaiah 45:18 (KJV) 

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. 

Genesis 8:22 (RSV) 

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

Revelation 20:11 (KJV) 

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 21:1 (KJV) 

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 

Accelerated Nuclear Decay Difficulties Solved?

September, 2015

One of the major challenges confronting the young earth view has been the supposed ages of millions of years  for the earth and dinosaurs—even billions for the age of the earth.   One proposal that has been made by creation scientists to account for this seeming discrepancy between secular science view and the creationist view is accelerated nuclear decay (abbreviated herein as ACCND).

What is ACCND? I will explain this by analogy. Think of an hourglass. It is used to tell time based on an assumed rate at which the sand moves through the neck of the hourglass. The movement of sand is analogous to the decay of radioisotopes. If the rate at which sand moves through the hourglass were accelerated by temporarily widening the neck, allowing more sand to fall through faster, we would have a lot more sand in the bottom half. Someone might look at the hourglass and conclude, based on the large amount of sand in the bottom part (or the amount of radioisotope decay products in a specimen), that a long time had passed. Actually, only a short time would have passed.

Creation: A Matter of Perspective

August, 2012

What perspective should we have when we investigate one of God's greatest miracles, the creation of all living things?

Fig 1 - perspective

Is it His nature to perform miracles in a way that could be confused with the natural order of things? Most of the accounts in scripture suggest otherwise. Jesus’ first recorded miracle was not to ferment grape juice into wine, but to create wine from water. His miracles were big, extraordinary events. He did not feed the five; He fed the 5,000. He did not raise Lazarus from the “mostly dead;” he purposefully waited four days so people would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He raised him from the “clearly dead.” He did not rise from an unguarded and open tomb, but from a well guarded tomb that was blocked by a large stone.

God is not the author of confusion (1: Corinthians 14:33). He intentionally performs miracles that are unmistakably and undeniably His. In this article, I’d like to briefly examine some scriptural evidence and then summarize some recent fossil finds which suggest that, consistent with the nature of God, creation was not natural.

How Accurate Is Radiometric Dating?

March, 2011

Did the z-pinch effect, above, produce electrical effects that altered radioactive decay rates in earth's past?

Dating methods based on radioactivity have been used to indicate a vast age, in the millions or billions of years, for certain rocks. However, in some cases, other methods yield much younger ages.

For example, some zircons have been radiometrically dated to about 4 billion years old.  The decay process for the zircons involves alpha particle emission from uranium and/or thorium inside the zircon. An alpha particle is simply a helium nucleus, which will quickly gather up 2 electrons and become a helium atom. (Electrons are quickly accumulated when you rub a balloon on some material - perhaps your hair - and then place the balloon on a wall or ceiling. The resulting static electrical force will hold the balloon in place.) So, the radioactive decay in the zircon results in helium production.

Evidences for a Recent Creation: Part 2

November, 2005

Part I mentioned helium retention in zircons and young carbon 14 dates as evidences for a recent creation and for an acceleration of decay rates in the past. Such an increase in decay rates should have more of an effect on ages computed from isotopes with long half-lives than elements with short half-lives.

Also, alpha decay and beta decay use different processes. Therefore they may not be affected the same amount by an increase in the decay rate. So discordances between alpha and beta decay ages are an evidence of disturbed decay. To sum up, the following are the evidences one would expect from accelerated decay in the past: Carbon 14 ages should be much younger than other isotopic ages like K-Ar, U-Pb, et cetera. Alpha and beta ages should differ. And ages computed from elements with long half-lives should be more affected than ages computed from elements with short half-lives.

Radioactive Decay Rates May Change

December, 2011

In 1 Corinthians 13 the Bible says, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” Our knowledge is imperfect in this life, and we are continually learning more. This is also true in the scientific realm, and theories that were once held often have to be given up. We may see scientific theories change again very soon due to new discoveries concerning rates of radioactive decay, the speed of light, and the degree of ape-human similarity. All of these areas are significant for theories of the origin of life on earth, so it is helpful to examine them in more detail. Here there is only space to examine the first of these areas, namely, the rate of radioactive decay.

Evidences for a Recent Creation: Part 3

December, 2005

Parts I and II mentioned young carbon 14 dates as evidence that very old isotopic dates correspond to true ages in the thousands of years. Also, helium retention in zircons and the pattern of discordances in isotopic dates suggest an increase of decay rates in the past. There is also evidence that human mutation rates were faster in the past, which is consistent with a higher level of radiation. Furthermore, the genetic diversity of humans and other organisms suggests an origin a few thousand years ago. Several references by Anderson and Spangler suggest that decay rates can vary.

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