Carbon 14 Dating?

The bible says that the earth is 6000 years old.
Science says that it is much older.
Science arrives at this conclusion by way of Carbon dating.

The bible talks of the Genesis flood that rids the world of most of its life.
Science concurs that there was a catastophic event, only it dissagrees on the time frame.
This dissagreement is used to invalidate the Bible.
However the technique (Carbon dating) is very unreliable.
Also, conditions pre-flood & post flood must have been very different, so any remains that pre-date the flood surely could not be tested under the same criteria as post flood.

Below is an article on the unreliability of Carbon dating.
Many detractors of the Bible use the fact that it says the earth is 6000 yrs old as reason to invalidate it.
Yet they do it on the strength of Carbon dating.
Hardly sounds like a reliable method.

I welcome your comments;

Why do geologists so frequently fail to understand that the biblical Flood was the force that created some geologic formations? One important answer lies in the way they date these formations.

The theory of evolution has become so ubiquitous in the scientific world today that it even distorts the way geological formations are dated. However, these dating methods have significant problems that can lead to serious errors of interpretation.

One of the most popular dating methods, carbon-14 (14C), is used for dating plant or animal remains. The book The Dynamic Earth explains the basis for this method: “Radiocarbon is continuously created in the atmosphere through bombardment of nitrogen-14 (14N) by neutrons created by cosmic radiation. 14C, with a half-life of 5730 years, decays back to 14N . . . As long as the production rate remains constant, the radioactivity of natural carbon remains constant because [the] rate of production balances the rate of decay.

“While an organism is alive and is taking in carbon from the atmosphere, it contains this balanced proportion of 14C. However, at death the balance is upset, because replenishment by life processes such as feeding, breathing and photosynthesis ceases. The 14C in dead tissues continually decreases by radioactive decay” (Brian Skinner and Stephen Porter, 1989, pp. 138-139). By measuring the amount of carbon-14 and comparing that amount to the original, scientists can obtain a date for the death of the organism.

However, there are many problems with the dates obtained through this method. For example, dating living mollusks by the carbon-14 method often yields clearly errant results—for instance, finding the mollusks to be up to 2,300 years old (“Radiocarbon Dating: Fictitious Results With Mollusk Shells,” Science, Vol. 141, p. 634). Carbon-14 dating methods are obviously affected by the environment.

Archaeologist John McRay notes: “Unfortunately, several recent discoveries combine to indicate that carbon 14 is not as valuable as was once hoped: (1) radioactive carbon atoms may not have existed in the earth’s atmosphere before 2000 B.C.; (2) the natural concentration of carbon 14 in the atmosphere has varied in certain periods, and (3) there is a high probability of sample contamination” (Archaeology and the New Testament, 1991, p. 34).

Recently a new method—accelerator mass spectrometry—has been used to date ancient items. This method has given a different date than previously accepted for the earliest Mayan civilization.

“The oldest known Maya turns out to be younger than archaeologists originally believed. The remains of a woman found below a layered platform at a site called Cuello in northern Belize had been thought to be more than 4,000 years old . . . As a result of new dating methods, about a thousand years have been trimmed from the chronology. Norman Hammond of Boston University, who began digging at Cuello in the 1970s, says the remains now are believed to be from about 1200 B.C., still earlier than any other known Maya settlement.

“The accelerator mass spectrometer allows scientists to analyze the bones of the ancient Maya without severely damaging them. The new technique can date carbon samples weighing only a few milligrams; a specimen the size of a match head will do” (“Oldest Known Maya: Not Quite So Old,” National Geographic, November 1990). Here a new dating method has changed by 1,000 years the earliest accepted date of Mayan civilization.

Consider then. Radiometric dating methods (those measuring geologic time by rate of radioactive decay) have been used to date formations that could be associated with Noah’s Flood. These dates supposedly prove these formations are millions of years old rather than thousands. Yet we find that different methods can yield radically different results.

As The Science of Evolution explains: “Several methods have been devised for estimating the age of the earth and its layers of rocks. These methods rely heavily on the assumption of uniformitarianism, i.e., natural processes have proceeded at relatively constant rates throughout the earth’s history . . . It is obvious that radiometric techniques may not be the absolute dating methods that they are claimed to be. Age estimates on a given geological stratum by different radiometric methods are often quite different (sometimes by hundreds of millions of years). There is no absolutely reliable long-term radiological ‘clock’” (William Stansfield, 1977, pp. 80, 84).

The potassium-argon [K-Ar] dating method, used to date lava flows, also has problems—as shown by studies of Mount St. Helens. “The conventional K-Ar dating method was applied to the 1986 dacite flow from the new lava dome at Mount St. Helens, Washington. Porphyritic dacite which solidified on the surface of the lava dome in 1986 gives a whole rock K-Ar ‘age’ of 0.35 + OR - 0.05 million years (Ma). Mineral concentrates from this same dacite give K-Ar ‘ages’ from 0.35 + OR - .06 Ma to 2.8 + OR - 0.6 Ma. These ‘ages’ are, of course, preposterous [since we know the rock formed recently]. The fundamental dating assumption (‘no radiogenic argon was present when the rock formed’) is questioned by these data.

“Instead, data from this Mount St. Helens dacite argue that significant ‘excess argon’ was present when the lava solidified in 1986 . . . This study of Mount St. Helens dacite causes the more fundamental question to be asked—how accurate are K-Ar ‘ages’ from the many other phenocryst-containing lava flows worldwide?” (Stephen Austin, “Excess Argon within Mineral Concentrates from the New Dacite Lava Dome at Mount St. Helens Volcano,” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, Vol. 10, No. 3, 1996, pp. 335-344).

In layman’s terms, these volcanic rocks that we know were formed in 1986—less than 20 years ago—were “scientifically” dated to between 290,000 and 3.4 million years old!
Such examples serve to illustrate the fallibility of the dating methods on which many modern scientists rely so heavily.

This catastrophic event you speak of was not a flood. It’s a layer of ash that is dated to be hundreds of millenia old. If you’re attempting to use this information as proof of the Bible’s validity, then the word “flood” would have to change to “massive, world-wide wild fire” to hold.

Carbon dating isn’t reliable science, though. I’ll give you that.

If you want to support the stories in the bible, perhaps you should consider the remarkable amount of evidence that shows a great flood that DID occur in the Fertile Cresent during that exact time period.

Thankyou Rafajafar.
What do you think caused this layer of ash?
Hundreds of millenia old?
How do we know?-Carbon dating?
If sciences best attempt @coming up with a time frame is Carbon dating, then it’s hardly worth taking any notice of whatsoever. It has been proven to be wildly wrong.
No threat to the 6000yr old earth talked of in the Bible.

Where is the fertile crescent?
Could that have been the Genesis flood?

Well, I say hundreds of millenia old because no ship in the world could be saved by something that created THAT much ash. It’s not just carbon dating, either. It’s found all over the world, and we can pretty much locate the date due to the strata in the earth’s crust. How far down is a pretty damn big indicator of how old it is. That’s actually part of how carbon dating is verified.

Carbond dating is unreliable, but not wildly wrong. That’s just not the case. It has potential flaws which are now accounted for such as improved analysis of molecular composition and decay rates.

It’s still off, but not by hundreds of thousands of years. It’s just an art more than a science now.

Quick little search shows where the Fertile Crescent is…

And could it have been the Genesis Flood? It sure could have. That would also explain why every civilization that spawned from there (because there were civilizations that spawned elsewhere) has a flood story.

EDIT: I have no idea, right now, what I meant by the very first sentence. I’m sure it made sense to me when I posted. I’m leaving it there for posterity sake.

As already explained, just because carbon dating is not 100% eliable, that does not mean that all dating methods are flawed (and isotopic studies tend to take into account the type and probable origin of the rocks - due to the sort of issue you quoted on with K-AR ratios).

It is quite possible to produce a consensus date on the basis a number of data sources - all of which suggest the earth is older than 6000yrs. There are even trees older than that…

Sorry Devil but you’ve been duped by some dodgy work by creationist “scientists”. You can read many debunkings and trashings of all those so called objections to dating methods on any decent atheist site.

The spattering of creationist scientists out there are mainly frauds with home made degrees (they set up an unaccredited universities and award themselves doctorates or professorships).

Not only that but Carbon dating isn’t the only source of how we date the Earth, there are many astronomical techniques that rely on things like the speed of light, etc. There are also physical processes that have to happen over large periods of time like the formation of certain lattices or the natural nuclear reactor which immediately put the age of the Earth way beyond the 6k mark.

I had a big discussion with someone else about this very subject and creationism/evolution in general before: … p?t=139127

As Rafajafar has pointed out there are many flood myths out there, in fact there are so many in so many different places that it’s almost proof enough on its own that a huge flood did happen. But this does nothing to prove Christianity, many religions of old have flood myths in them.

I’ve even read one theory that Christianity has stolen many of its stories and myths from other religions virtually word for word, even going as far as suggesting that the iconography of the cross is stolen from Roman/Greek symbology for the Sun. His argument that it was very rare for a cross to be used for Cruxifictions, usually it was a scaffold.

heh. matt your post was great but i grin knowing the fact that your biased against g-d, as much as i am. despite my common stance, i cant help feeling that our evolutionist/darwinian scientists are no different from the creationist scientists. its just one dogma for another.


No, I don’t think so, Dawkins is very public in his opposition to quacks like Milton, from an article in the New Statesman back in 1992:

Of course its right for the Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford to campaign against such rubbish, overtly and covertly, there is no reason why Milton’s pap deserves any print space, especially in a paper like the Telegraph. All it does is dupe suckers into believing that Evolution isn’t how we came about. Evolution is a cold hard fact, it’s not a theory or
the most popular theory, it’s the truth. Why give these shams anywhere to voice their lies?

To call it a witch hunt is the same as calling Milton a reliable source.

Matt, all of you so-called fact in evolution has been contradicted several times. Geological dating has been questioned due to the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. When it erupted it made roughly 7 layers in under a day that were supposed to take 20,000 years to form at a minimum. Also, river valleys can be formed in crash course time. In a matter of weeks the majority of the Upper Columbia River basin was formed in a matter of weeks due to flooding. Actual rivers do not really erode after forming a basin. Fuck You for your biased ignorance.

Whatever loser, if you want to listen to the ignorant ramblings of some guys who are still certain the Bible is the last word on where the world came from go commit yourself to the loony bin.

Umm…Matt, evolution would still be on the lunatic fringe now if it wasn’t for free speech. I believe in evolution, if the evidence is so strong for it, why censor anti-evolution views like that? All that will happen is that people like Milton will look stupid.


Sorry, the above post was me.

Ummm…thanks Steve. I certainly hope you don’t take these sorts of websites seriously–at least, not without seriously weighing other points of view.

Is a second past the same as a second next? Was a second just after the Big Bang the same as a second now? Is a year a “billion years” ago the same as a year this year?

In other words is time “linear”? Can not a thousand years prior be just as a second now? Now this is not strange for have we not heard of time dilation?

Imagine a time vs time plot, one axis “perceived time” and another “real time”. The curve is not a straight line, but with perceived time approaching real time asymptotically, ie every sec of real time takes longer and longer to elapse in our perception, from a viewer who can see real time. But we are totally unaware of it, as we cannot sense “real time” at all. It is something outside our perception.

Carbon 14 may well give elapsed time as we measure and know time today, but what was a million years today a million years ago?

A note on the status of “theory”. Evolution is a theory, but it is also a fact. The word “theory” implies no uncertainty as to validity. No one doubts the theories of relativity or quantum mechanics on account of their being “theories”.

A theory is an explanatory framework of facts, confirmed hypotheses, mechanisms etc and it cannot elevate to a law, no matter how much confirmatory evidence supports it. “Theory” is not equivalent to “hypothesis”, and being a theory does not imply a lack of empirical proof. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. Evolution is thus taken as fact, and is universally accepted in science, contrary to occasional claims by creationists.

carbon dating is not 100% accurate… or even to be generous lets say 50% accurate. what that does not mean that its a hit or miss kind of thing. It just means it will be off by a lot. If they figure something is like say 20 million years old. Even if they are off by 19 million years. That still puts it way beyond the 6000 years that the bible tells of.

Carbon dating only goes up to about 100,000 years doesn’t it? Still, they use other radio-isotopes for dating things that old, such as potassium-40. I’m not sure exactly how accurate they are - there are always various assumptions involved - but I do not believe they are that inaccurate. Nevertheless, you raise a good point, Frighter, which stands alongside the various other proofs of the world’s great age.

One of the annoying things about such issues, however, is the different epistemic standards often employed by creationists as opposed to scientists. As far as such individuals are concerned, all it takes is one contradiction, one inaccuracy or one incorrect scientist to bring down the theory of evolution, yet no matter how many blows are dealt to creationism they ignore them. And this is in addition to a failure to recognise science’s progressive nature versus creationism’s dogmatic stagnation.

A great example of that, kyry, would be most Christians’ denial of science’s reliability when it comes to evolution, but pointing to scientific evidence to prove the supposed credibility of, say, the gospels. Carbon dating has often been used (among other methods) by Christians to date biblical documents, while they deny its reliability in the case of fossil records.