Audacious targets are widely misunderstood—and widely misused. Unaware of the many fallacious assumptions used in the dating process, many people believe Carbon dating disproves the biblical timeline. Mike Riddle demonstrates. Radiocarbon dating, also known as the C14 dating method, Carbon has different isotopes, which are usually not radioactive; 14 C is the radioactive one.
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See this page in: Hungarian , Russian , Spanish. P eople who ask about carbon 14 C dating usually want to know about the radiometric  dating methods that are claimed to give millions and billions of years—carbon dating can only give thousands of years. People wonder how millions of years could be squeezed into the biblical account of history.
Clearly, such huge time periods cannot be fitted into the Bible without compromising what the Bible says about the goodness of God and the origin of sin, death and suffering —the reason Jesus came into the world See Six Days? Christians , by definition, take the statements of Jesus Christ seriously.
This only makes sense with a time-line beginning with the creation week thousands of years ago. It makes no sense at all if man appeared at the end of billions of years. Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth. One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: Carbon is made when cosmic rays knock neutrons out of atomic nuclei in the upper atmosphere. These displaced neutrons, now moving fast, hit ordinary nitrogen 14 N at lower altitudes, converting it into 14 C.
Unlike common carbon 12 C , 14 C is unstable and slowly decays, changing it back to nitrogen and releasing energy. This instability makes it radioactive. Ordinary carbon 12 C is found in the carbon dioxide CO 2 in the air, which is taken up by plants, which in turn are eaten by animals. So a bone, or a leaf or a tree, or even a piece of wooden furniture, contains carbon.
When the 14 C has been formed, like ordinary carbon 12 C , it combines with oxygen to give carbon dioxide 14 CO 2 , and so it also gets cycled through the cells of plants and animals. Because 14 C is so well mixed up with 12 C, we expect to find that this ratio is the same if we sample a leaf from a tree, or a part of your body.
In living things, although 14 C atoms are constantly changing back to 14 N, they are still exchanging carbon with their surroundings, so the mixture remains about the same as in the atmosphere.
However, as soon as a plant or animal dies, the 14 C atoms which decay are no longer replaced, so the amount of 14 C in that once-living thing decreases as time goes on. Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.
It cannot be used to date volcanic rocks, for example. The rate of decay of 14 C is such that half of an amount will convert back to 14 N in 5, years plus or minus 40 years. Anything over about 50, years old, should theoretically have no detectable 14 C left. That is why radiocarbon dating cannot give millions of years. In fact, if a sample contains 14 C, it is good evidence that it is not millions of years old. However, things are not quite so simple.
First, plants discriminate against carbon dioxide containing 14 C. That is, they take up less than would be expected and so they test older than they really are. Furthermore, different types of plants discriminate differently.
This also has to be corrected for. This would make things which died at that time appear older in terms of carbon dating. Then there was a rise in 14 CO 2 with the advent of atmospheric testing of atomic bombs in the s. Measurement of 14 C in historically dated objects e. Accordingly, carbon dating carefully applied to items from historical times can be useful.
However, even with such historical calibration, archaeologists do not regard 14 C dates as absolute because of frequent anomalies. They rely more on dating methods that link into historical records. Outside the range of recorded history, calibration of the 14 C "clock is not possible. The amount of cosmic rays penetrating the Earth's atmosphere affects the amount of 14 C produced and therefore dating the system.
The amount of cosmic rays reaching the Earth varies with the sun's activity, and with the Earth's passage through magnetic clouds as the solar system travels around the Milky Way galaxy. The strength of the Earth's magnetic field affects the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. A stronger magnetic field deflects more cosmic rays away from the Earth. Overall, the energy of the Earth's magnetic field has been decreasing,  so more 14 C is being produced now than in the past.
This will make old things look older than they really are. Also, the Genesis flood would have greatly upset the carbon balance. The flood buried a huge amount of carbon, which became coal, oil, etc. Total 14 C is also proportionately lowered at this time, but whereas no terrestrial process generates any more 12 C, 14 C is continually being produced, and at a rate which does not depend on carbon levels it comes from nitrogen.
Unless this effect which is additional to the magnetic field issue just discussed were corrected for, carbon dating of fossils formed in the flood would give ages much older than the true ages. Creationist researchers have suggested that dates of 35, - 45, years should be re-calibrated to the biblical date of the flood. Also, volcanoes emit much CO 2 depleted in 14 C.
Since the flood was accompanied by much volcanism see Noah's Flood… , How did animals get from the Ark to isolated places? In summary, the carbon method, when corrected for the effects of the flood, can give useful results, but needs to be applied carefully.
It does not give dates of millions of years and when corrected properly fits well with the biblical flood. There are various other radiometric dating methods used today to give ages of millions or billions of years for rocks. These techniques, unlike carbon dating, mostly use the relative concentrations of parent and daughter products in radioactive decay chains. For example, potassium decays to argon; uranium decays to lead via other elements like radium; uranium decays to lead; rubidium decays to strontium; etc.
These techniques are applied to igneous rocks, and are normally seen as giving the time since solidification. The isotope concentrations can be measured very accurately, but isotope concentrations are not dates. To derive ages from such measurements, unprovable assumptions have to be made such as:. The starting conditions are known for example, that there was no daughter isotope present at the start, or that we know how much was there. There is plenty of evidence that the radioisotope dating systems are not the infallible techniques many think, and that they are not measuring millions of years.
However, there are still patterns to be explained. Geologist John Woodmorappe, in his devastating critique of radioactive dating,  points out that there are other large-scale trends in the rocks that have nothing to do with radioactive decay.
The common application of such posterior reasoning shows that radiometric dating has serious problems. For example, researchers applied posterior reasoning to the dating of Australopithecus ramidus fossils. So they looked at some basalt further removed from the fossils and selected 17 of 26 samples to get an acceptable maximum age of 4. The other nine samples again gave much older dates but the authors decided they must be contaminated and discarded them.
That is how radiometric dating works. It is very much driven by the existing long-age world view that pervades academia today. A similar story surrounds the dating of the primate skull known as KNM-ER Various other attempts were made to date the volcanic rocks in the area. Over the years an age of 2. After this was widely accepted, further studies of the rocks brought the radiometric age down to about 1.
Such is the dating game. Are we suggesting that evolutionists are conspiring to massage the data to get what they want? It is simply that all observations must fit the prevailing paradigm. We must remember that the past is not open to the normal processes of experimental science, that is, repeatable experiments in the present.
A scientist cannot do experiments on events that happened in the past. Scientists do not measure the age of rocks, they measure isotope concentrations, and these can be measured extremely accurately. Those involved with unrecorded history gather information in the present and construct stories about the past.
The level of proof demanded for such stories seems to be much less than for studies in the empirical sciences, such as physics, chemistry, molecular biology, physiology, etc.
Williams, an expert in the environmental fate of radioactive elements, identified 17 flaws in the isotope dating reported in just three widely respected seminal papers that supposedly established the age of the Earth at 4.
The forms issued by radioisotope laboratories for submission with samples to be dated commonly ask how old the sample is expected to be. If the techniques were absolutely objective and reliable, such information would not be necessary. If the long-age dating techniques were really objective means of finding the ages of rocks, they should work in situations where we know the age. Furthermore, different techniques should consistently agree with one another. The secular scientific literature lists many examples of excess argon causing dates of millions of years in rocks of known historical age.
This is consistent with a young world—the argon has had too little time to escape. So data are again selected according to what the researcher already believes about the age of the rock. Steve Austin sampled basalt from the base of the Grand Canyon strata and from the lava that spilled over the edge of the canyon. By evolutionary reckoning, the latter should be a billion years younger than the basalt from the bottom.
Standard laboratories analyzed the isotopes. The rubidium-strontium isochron technique suggested that the recent lava flow was Ma older than the basalts beneath the Grand Canyon—an impossibility. If the dating methods are an objective and reliable means of determining ages, they should agree. If a chemist were measuring the sugar content of blood, all valid methods for the determination would give the same answer within the limits of experimental error.
However, with radiometric dating, the different techniques often give quite different results. In the study of the Grand Canyon rocks by Austin, different techniques gave different results. Techniques that give results that can be dismissed just because they don't agree with what we already believe cannot be considered objective.
In Australia, some wood found the Tertiary basalt was clearly buried in the lava flow that formed the basalt, as can be seen from the charring.
Lalonde AMS Laboratory at the University of Ottowa. Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit ORAU. Carbon is one of the chemical elements. Along with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur, carbon is a building block of biochemical molecules ranging from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to active substances such as hormones.
All carbon atoms have a nucleus containing six protons. Ninety-nine percent of these also contain six neutrons. They have masses of 13 and 14 respectively and are referred to as "carbon" and "carbon If two atoms have equal numbers of protons but differing numbers of neutrons, one is said to be an "isotope" of the other.
Carbon and carbon are thus isotopes of carbon Isotopes participate in the same chemical reactions but often at differing rates. When isotopes are to be designated specifically, the chemical symbol is expanded to identify the mass for example, 13 C.
Illustration by Jayne Doucette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Both 13 C and 14 C are present in nature. The abundance of 14 C varies from 0. The highest abundances of 14 C are found in atmospheric carbon dioxide and in products made from atmospheric carbon dioxide for example, plants. Unlike 12 C and 13 C, 14 C is not stable. As a result it is always undergoing natural radioactive decay while the abundances of the other isotopes are unchanged. Carbon is most abundant in atmospheric carbon dioxide because it is constantly being produced by collisions between nitrogen atoms and cosmic rays at the upper limits of the atmosphere.
The rate at which 14 C decays is absolutely constant. Given any set of 14 C atoms, half of them will decay in years. Since this rate is slow relative to the movement of carbon through food chains from plants to animals to bacteria all carbon in biomass at earth's surface contains atmospheric levels of 14 C.
However, as soon as any carbon drops out of the cycle of biological processes - for example, through burial in mud or soil - the abundance of 14 C begins to decline. After years only half remains. After another years only a quarter remains. This process, which continues until no 14 C remains, is the basis of carbon dating. A sample in which 14 C is no longer detectable is said to be "radiocarbon dead. They are derived from biomass that initially contained atmospheric levels of 14 C. But the transformation of sedimentary organic debris into oil or woody plants into coal is so slow that even the youngest deposits are radiocarbon dead.
The abundance of 14 C in an organic molecule thus provides information about the source of its carbon. If 14 C is present at atmospheric levels, the molecule must derive from a recent plant product. The pathway from the plant to the molecule may have been indirect or lengthy, involving multiple physical, chemical, and biological processes.
Levels of 14 C are affected significantly only by the passage of time. If a molecule contains no detectable 14 C it must derive from a petrochemical feedstock or from some other ancient source.
Intermediate levels of 14 C can represent either mixtures of modern and dead carbon or carbon that was fixed from the atmosphere less than 50, years ago. Signals of this kind are often used by chemists studying natural environments. A hydrocarbon found in beach sediments, for example, might derive from an oil spill or from waxes produced by plants.
If isotopic analyses show that the hydrocarbon contains 14 C at atmospheric levels, it's from a plant. If it contains no 14 C, it's from an oil spill. If it contains some intermediate level, it's from a mixture of both sources. Laboratory Capabilities Staff Contact Us. What is Carbon Dating?
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Recommended Journal of Radiocarbon. Radiocarbon Web-info Web-info Radiocarbon from University of Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, New Zealand.