Problems with the radioactive dating methods: By Dr. Jay L. WileIS RADIOACTIVE DATINGACCURATE?
What do the scientific facts reveal? The fact that radioactive isotopes decay at a measurable rate allows scientists to use radioactive decay as a means of dating objects of unknown ages. This is known as radioactive dating. Although it can be accurate under certain circumstances, it is important to note that it has some serious weaknesses as well. It must be viewed critically, despite the fact that some scientists may try to convince you otherwise. We will look at the scientific facts to draw our own conclusions.
Carbon 14 Dating The best way to examine the strengths and weaknesses of radioactive dating is to examine one of the methods in detail. Since Carbon 14 dating is the best known, we will discuss that one. Carbon 14 decays by beta decay with a half- life of 5,700 years. All living organism contain a certain amount of Carbon 14 making all living organisms somewhat radioactive.
Organisms continually exchange Carbon 14 Living organisms continually exchange Carbon 14 with their surroundings. We exhale carbon dioxide some of which contains Carbon 14. We eat plants and animals that contain Carbon 14. Thus, organisms are continually exchanging Carbon 14 with their environment. As a result, at any time an organism is alive, it contains the same amount of Carbon 14 as does the atmosphere around it.
At Death Carbon 14 Begins Decreasing When an organism dies the Carbon 14 exchange ceases. The amount of Carbon 14 in the organism begins to decrease. Every 5,700 years, half the Carbon 14 will decay away. Normally, organisms that have been dead a long time tend to have less Carbon 14 than those that just recently died.
How does it worK? If we know how much Carbon 14 was in the organism when it died, and if we can measue the amount it has now, the difference will be the amount of Carbon 14 that has decayed away. Since we know how quickly Carbon 14 decays, we can then tell how long the organism has been dead.
Assumptions: If we knew how much? The problem lies in figuring out how much Carbon 14 was in the organism when it died. If there is no direct measurement of the amount of Carbon 14 when the organism died, then we must make an assumption of how much Carbon 14 would have been measured. In the case of Carbon 14, scientist assume that the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere has not changed that much over time.
Prior to first Atomic Bomb Atom Bombs increase the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere. Scientists assume that the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere before the first atomic bomb was essentially the same for hundreds or thousands of years before.
Calculations When the age of a dead organism is being measured with Carbon 14 dating, we assume that the amount of Carbon 14 it had when it died was the same as the amount that was in the atmosphere prior to the first atomic bomb explosion, which is something that was measured. That gives us a value for how much Carbon 14 was initially in the dead organism. We can measure how much Carbon 14 is still in the organism and calculate how long the orgaism has been dead.
Is the Assumption Accurate? The age we get from this process is completely dependent on the assumption we made about how much Carbon 14 was in the organism when it died. If that assumption is good, the age we calculate should be accurate. If that assumption is bad, the age we calculate will not be accurate. So the question becomes, “Is the assumption accurate?” In short, the answer is “No.”
Tree Ring Dating & Carbon 14 Through a process involving tree rings, there is a way to measure the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere in the past. Tree rings can be counted to determine how old the tree was. Each ring represents a year in the trees life..
Carbon Dating with Tree Rings Through a complicated process scientists can measure the amount of Carbon 14 in a tree ring and use it to determine how much Carbon 14 was in the atmosphere during the year in which the tree was grown.
3000 year old tree rings Scientists have studied the Carbon 14 content in tree rings as much as 3000 years old. From these measurements they have determined the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere over the past 3000 years. Sometimes it has varied as much as 70% over that time period. The variation has been correlated to certain events that occur on the surface of the sun. We know that the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere has not stayed constant. It has varied greatly. We know the initial assumption of Carbon 14 dating is wrong. Therefore, we know we cannot trust most of the dates obtained.
Why Most? Since we can determine the amount of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere during the past using tree rings, we can actually use that data to help us make our initial assumption which becomes much more accurate. We do not have Carbon 14 measurements for tree rings much more than 3000 years as most trees are younger than that. Thus, we can only make accurate assumption for organism that have died within the last 3000 years. For organisms older than 3000 years we have no tree ring data to help us find an accurate initial measurement, therefore we cannot really believe their Carbon 14 dates.
3000 years or younger = accurate The Carbon 14 dating can be believed for organism that have been dead for 3000 years or less. This is a good tool for archaeology. If the archaeologists finds a manuscript or piece of cloth, he can use Carbon 14 dating to determine its age. As long as the results are about 3000 years or younger, the date can be believed. If the date turns out to be significantly older than 3000 years, there is no reason to believe it.
Important Initial Assumptions Radioactive dating involves a pretty important initial assumption. If the assumption is good the results are good, but if the assumption is bad, the results will be bad. There are a lot of other techniques of radiactive dating besides Carbon 14. They suffer the same problem. In every radioactive dating tecnique, we must make assumptions about how much of a certain substance was in the object originally. Such assumptions are quite hard to make accurately.
Have half-lives remained constant? Another assumption made is believing that the half-lives of radioactive isotopes have remained constant over time. Thus, no matter how old the object we are dating is, the half –lives of the radioactive isotopes in it have always been the same. Standard nuclear physics indicates this is a good assumption. However, experimental evidence suggests otherwise.
Studies in Flood Geology Based on these facts, it´s not surprising that radioactive dates are often found to be in conflict with each other or other dating techniques. In his book, Studies in Flood Geology, John Woodmorappe has compiled more than 350 radioactive dates that conflict with one another or with other generally accepted dates. These erroneous dates demonstrate that the assumptions used in radioactive dating cannot be trusted.
Belief Systems Cloud Inadequacies Many in the scientific community are unwilling to admit to the inadequacies of radioactive dating because they like the results- large dates. There are rocks that radioactive dating techniques indicate are more than 4 billion years old. Scientist who believe in the hypothesis of evolution want the earth to be that old. Their hypothesis requires an old earth and radioactive dating techniques provide dates that indicate a very old earth. As a result, they turn a blind eye to the inadequacies, because it gives them the answer that they want.
Different Mindsets- Different Conclusions Hopefully, as time goes on, this unfortunate situation will change and evolutionists will be more open to the discrepancies in the radioactive dating technique.
References Dr. Jay L. Wile, Exploring Creation with Physical Science, 2nd Edition, pages 334-336. Google Images: for educational purposes only Presentation by Dennis Molinski for educational purposes only.