Radiometric Dating – Naturalistic/Evolutionary Perspective

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Marianis from the Front, The Biggest Challenges to Evolution | 3 comments

 

 

Introduction:

Radioactive elements are primarily heavier elements on the periodic scale with unstable atoms, usually because they are so big, and consequently the nucleus breaks down and loses energy, forming smaller atoms and particles and resulting in a more stable element. This process is sometimes described as going from a parent isotope (beginning element) to a daughter isotope (ending element).

Radiometric Dating methods are absolute methods in determining how old testable items are. Based on radiometric dating… how old is the earth? Why is it important to know the age of the earth? How many assumptions are made in these techniques? How large is the error within tests? Is radiometric dating reliable?

 

Naturalistic/Evolutionary Answer:

Radiometric dating has proven, over and over again, that the earth is billions of years old. Scientists know through diligent research that there are different methods for open systems, closed systems, and different rock types,[i] and corrections are able to be done to determine an accurate result. “Some of the methods have internal checks, so that the data themselves provide good evidence of reliability or lack thereof.”[ii] Errors will be clearly recognized when the data is analyzed. “The ages of rock formations are rarely based on a single, isolated age measurement,” but “are verified whenever possible and practical, and are evaluated by considering other relevant data.”[iii]

Radiocarbon dating (Carbon-14 decays away over time) is one of the most common dating techniques. “Radiocarbon dating can easily establish that humans have been on the earth for over twenty thousand years, at least twice as long as creationists are willing to allow. Therefore it should come as no surprise that creationists…have been trying desperately to discredit this method for years. They have their work cut out for them, however, because radiocarbon (C-14) dating is one of the most reliable of all the radiometric dating methods.”[iv]

© Eugene Alvin Villar, 2008. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. – picture credits from wikipedia.

From observations, there are usually many daughter isotopes and evidence (including radiohalos) of those having come from parent isotopes, which are less abundant (which is to be expected). More radioactive decay has taken place within the rocks than could have occurred in just a few thousand years. To suggest that the amount of radioactive decay we observe has occurred within 6,000 years, or even that the majority occurred due to a worldwide flood, is preposterous. It would have created a vast of heat all at once.

Creationists claim that there are many examples where radiometric dating has supposedly been shown to be unreliable. “This argument is specious and akin to concluding that all wristwatches do not work because you happen to find one that does not keep accurate time…Some of the “errors” are not errors at all but simply results obtained in the continuing effort to explore and improve the methods and their application.”[v] “Studies…are routinely done to ascertain which materials are suitable for dating and which are not, and to determine the cause of sometimes strange results.” For example, the 1801 lava flow in Hawaii was dated to be much older because of the foreign rocks that were included in the magma that were originally much older.[vi]

As another example, a living freshwater mussel was dated around two thousand years old due to the old carbon that is within the ocean.[vii] This is called “the reservoir effect,” which “is well known by scientists, who work hard to understand the limitations of their tools…Contrary to creationist propaganda, limitations of a tool do not invalidate the tool.”[viii] “Reservoir corrections for the world oceans can be found at the Marine Reservoir Correction Database.”[ix]

Radiocarbon dates can also be skewed because the dated plants are within 200 meters of volcanic vents and are thus getting old Carbon, but “200 m away from the source, plants yielded an age in agreement with that expected.”[x] So for most wood, “there is no such problem because wood gets its carbon straight from the air, complete with a full dose of C-14.”[xi]

Creationists claim that C-14 has been found in coal, oil, and natural gas and so they can’t be millions of years old. “Radiocarbon dating doesn’t work well on objects much older than twenty thousand years,” because background contamination radiation will disrupt the results.[xii] Others suggest that C-14 dating is accurate to about 40,000 or 50,000 years.[xiii]

“C-14 is forming today faster than it’s decaying. However, it has fluctuated up and down over the past ten thousand years. This is determined by analyzing the radiocarbon dates of bristlecone pines that are themselves a way of dating based on the amount of rings, which is very consistent.”[xiv] Tree-ring dating coincides with and calibrates the C-14 dating results.[xv]

The magnetic field strength would affect the creation and decay rates of C-14, but even though it has fluctuated over Earth’s history, it has been more or less the same based on archaeological and geological data. This also correlates well with tree-ring dating.[xvi]

The rate of decay of elements is well documented and the decay rate is constant and unchanging. Radiometric dating can even work when elements move in or out of rocks. The Earth has been very stable and a lot is known about the composition of the Earth throughout its history, thus scientists are able to make very accurate descriptions and estimations of how the elements have reacted.

There is little reason to doubt the accuracy of radiometric dating techniques. Countless radiometric studies of rocks and other objects from all over the world confirm ages of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, and billions of years old. Studies prove beyond a doubt that billions of years have ticked by.

“Dr. Dalrymple, an expert in radiometric dating with lots of hands-on experience, puts the percentage of bad dates at only 5-10 percent…When you consider that each radiometric method is subject to different types of error, that the different “clocks” run at different speeds, such an agreement would be extremely rare on the basis of pure chance. In a number of instances, more than you might imagine, dates are further corroborated by methods that have nothing to do with radioactivity. Thus, the big, statistical picture painted by radiometric dating is excellent. Today, we have some 100,000 radiometric dates, the vast majority contributing sensibly to the overall picture.”[xvii]

“For decades, young-Earth creationists (YECs) have vainly searched the geology and geochemistry literature to find ways of discrediting radiometric dating and protecting their antiquated biblical interpretations. YEC John Woodmorappe (a pseudonym), for example, has been at the forefront in misquoting and misrepresenting radiometric dating results from the geology and geochemistry literature.”[xviii] “The only way creationists can hang on to their chronology is to poke all the holes they can into radiocarbon dating. However, as we have seen, it has survived their most ardent attacks.”[xix]

 

by Brian Mariani and others

 

Is the above correct? Do you evolutionists agree with this position? I have tried to write it as you believe it. Do you have any disagreements or concerns or additions?

 

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[i] G. Brent Dalrymple, How Old is the Earth, A Response to “Scientific” Creationism: Radiometric Dating, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html, accessed August 8, 2014.

[ii] G. Brent Dalrymple, How Old is the Earth, A Response to “Scientific” Creationism: Radiometric Dating, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html, accessed August 8, 2014.

[iii] G. Brent Dalrymple, How Old is the Earth, A Response to “Scientific” Creationism: Radiometric Dating, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html, accessed August 8, 2014.

[iv] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[v] G. Brent Dalrymple, How Old is the Earth, A Response to “Scientific” Creationism: Radiometric Dating, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html, accessed August 8, 2014.

[vi] G. Brent Dalrymple, How Old is the Earth, A Response to “Scientific” Creationism: Radiometric Dating, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html, accessed August 8, 2014.

[vii] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[viii] Claim CD011.4, last modified July 8, 2004, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD011_4.html, accessed August 7, 2014.

Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[ix] Thomas Higham, Natural Corrections: Reservoir effects, web-info radiocarbon, http://www.c14dating.com/corr.html, accessed August 7, 2014.

[x] Thomas Higham, Natural Corrections: Reservoir effects, web-info radiocarbon, http://www.c14dating.com/corr.html, accessed August 7, 2014.

[xi] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[xii] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[xiii] Bernie Hobbs, A date with carbon, December 9, 2010, ABC Science, http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/12/09/3088319.htm, accessed August 5, 2014.

John Woodmorappe, Much-inflate carbon-14 dates from subfossil trees:a new mechanism, December 2001, Journal of Creation 15(3):43-44, Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/much-inflated-carbon-14-dates-from-subfossil-trees-a-new-mechanism#f1, accessed August 5, 2014.

[xiv] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[xv] Radiocarbon Calibration, University of Oxford, July 22, 2014, http://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/embed.php?File=calibration.html, accessed July 31, 2014.

[xvi] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

[xvii] Dave E. Matson, How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments? A1. Woodmorappe’s Collection of Bad Dates, 1994-2002, The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/hovind/howgood-add.html, accessed August 5, 2014.

[xviii] Kevin R. Henke, “RATE” Leaders Abandon Geologic Fantasies and Admit that Extensive Radioactive Decay has Occurred, Old Earth Ministries, http://www.oldearth.org/rate_admit.htm, accessed August 8, 2014.

[xix] Christopher Gregory Weber, Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating, Spring 1982, Vol 3, Num 2, Pages 23-29, http://ncse.com/cej/3/2/answers-to-creationist-attacks-carbon-14-dating, accessed July 17, 2014.

    3 Comments

  1. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (NIV, 1 Corinthians 1:25).

  2. Dishonest atheist “scientists” leave out the most poignant evidence of massively higher oxygen levels in the earths atmosphere before around 2500 BC, warmer tropical temperatures around the entire earth, and that this pre-flood atmosphere may well have filtered N-14 to much lower levels than post-flood. For any tool of science to be reliable it must be calibrated within a system, and the system must be stable. When there is a massive alteration of the system the tool cannot be relied upon. Here’s more on the topic: http://www.genesispark.com/exhibits/early-earth/atmosphere/

    • I mistakenly said filtered out N14 when I meant less radiation to change N14 to C14.

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