radiocarbon dating and creationism

Kathy Snow, 39 years old


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The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 's. It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved radiocarbon dating and creationism this field. In the following article, some of the most common misunderstandings regarding radiocarbon dating are addressed, and corrective, up-to-date scientific creationist thought is provided where appropriate. MYTH 1. Radiocarbon is used to date the age of rocks, which enables scientists to date the age of the earth. Radiocarbon is not used to date the age of rocks or to determine the age of the earth. Other radiometric dating methods such as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium are used for such purposes by those who believe that the earth is billions of years old.

The article is in straightforward language and the non-technical reader could profitably work through it. Carbon 14 C or radiocarbon as it is often called, is a substance manufactured in the upper atmosphere by the action of cosmic rays. Ordinary nitrogen 14 N is converted into 14 C as shown to the right. Ordinary carbon is carbon 12 C. We find it in carbon radiocarbon dating and creationism in the air we breathe CO 2which of course is cycled by plants and animals throughout nature, so that your body, or the leaf of a tree, or even a piece of wooden furniture, contains carbon. When 14 C has been formed, it behaves just like ordinary carbon 12 Ccombining with oxygen to give carbon dioxide 14 CO 2and also gets freely cycled through the cells of all plants and animals. The difference is this: once 14 C has been formed, it begins to decay radioactively back to 14 N, at a rate of change which can be measured.

Brown A summary of the physical phenomena involved in radiocarbon dating is given. Laboratory procedure determines the amount of radioactive carbon a sample contains now. The year A. Thus a decrease to one half of the amount found in A.
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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 at the Institute for Creation Research ICR have been trying desperately to discredit this method for years. They have their work cut out for them, however, because radiocarbon C dating is one of the most reliable of all the radiometric dating methods. This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters. Answer: Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen N into carbon C or radiocarbon. Living organisms are constantly incorporating this C into their bodies along with other carbon isotopes. When the organisms die, they stop incorporating new C, and the old C starts to decay back into N by emitting beta radiocarbon dating and creationism. The older an organism's remains are, the less beta radiation it emits because its C is steadily dwindling at a predictable rate.

The topic of radiometric dating and other dating methods has received some of the most vicious attacks by young earth creation science theorists. However, none of the criticisms of young earth creationists have any scientific merit. Radiometric dating remains a reliable scientific method. To broaden your learning experience, we provide links to resources on radiocarbon dating and creationism old earth websites, noted below by this graphic - Article Submission Policy. Roger Wiens.

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