Radiation from the sun strikes the atmosphere of the earth all day long. This energy converts about 21 pounds of nitrogen into radioactive carbon 14. This radioactive carbon 14 slowly decays back into normal, stable nitrogen. Extensive laboratory testing has shown that about half of the C-14 molecules will decay in 5,730 years. This is called the half-life. After another 5,730 years half of the remaining C-14 will decay leaving only 1⁄4 of the original C-14. It goes from 1⁄2 to 1⁄4 to 1⁄8, etc. In theory it would never totally disappear, but after about 5 half-lives the difference is not measurable with any degree of accuracy. This is why most people say carbon dating is only good for objects less than 40,000 years old. Nothing on earth carbon dates in the millions of years, because the scope of carbon dating only extends a few thousand years. Willard Libby invented the carbon dating technique in the early 1950s. The amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere today is about .0000765%. It is assumed there would be the same amount found in living plants or animals since the plants breath CO₂ and animals eat the plants.
Since sunlight causes the formation of C-14 in the atmosphere, and normal radioactive decay takes it out, there must be a point where the formation rate and the decay rate equalizes. This is called the point of equilibrium. To illustrate: If you were trying to fill a barrel with water but there were holes drilled up the side of the barrel, as you filled the barrel it would begin leaking out the holes. At some point you would be putting it in and it would be leaking out at the same rate. You will not be able to fill the barrel past this point of equilibrium. In the same way the C-14 is being formed and decaying simultaneously. A freshly created earth would require about 30,000 years for the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere to reach this point of equilibrium because it would leak out as it is being filled. Tests indicate that the earth has still not reached equilibrium. There is more C-14 in the atmosphere now than there was 40 years ago. This would prove the earth is not yet 30,000 years old! This also means that plants and animals that lived in the past had less C-14 in them than do plants and animals today. Just this one fact totally upsets data obtained by C-14 dating.
The carbon in the atmosphere normally combines with oxygen to make carbon dioxide (CO₂). Plants breathe CO₂ and make it part of their tissue. Animals eat the plants and make it part of their tissues. A very small percentage of the carbon plants take in is radioactive C-14. When a plant or animal dies, it stops taking in air and food so it should not be able to get any new C-14. The C-14 in the plant or animal will begin to decay back to normal nitrogen. The older an object is, the less carbon 14 it contains. One gram of carbon from living plant material causes a Geiger counter to click 16 times per minute as the C-14 decays. A sample that causes 8 clicks per minute would be 5,730 years old (the sample has gone through one half-life) and so on.
The conclusion by many scientists and others who are aware of this information is that radiometric dating methods are nothing more than guesses based on highly speculative theories rather than on facts.
The Assumptions of Carbon Dating
Although this technique looks good at first, carbon-14 dating rests on at least two simple assumptions. These are, obviously, the assumption that the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere has always been constant and that its rate of decay has always been constant. Neither of these assumptions is provable or reasonable. An illustration may help: Imagine you found a candle burning in a room, and you wanted to determine how long it was burning before you found it. You could measure the present height of the candle (say, 7 inches) and the rate of burn (say, an inch per hour). In order to find the length of time since the candle was lit, we would be forced to make some assumptions. We would, obviously, have to assume that the candle has always burned at the same rate, and assume an initial height of the candle. The answer changes based on the assumptions. Similarly, scientists do not know that the carbon-14 decay rate has been constant. They do not know that the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere is constant. Present testing shows the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere has been increasing since it was first measured in the 1950s. This may be tied in to the declining strength of the magnetic field.
In addition to the above assumptions, dating methods are all subject to the geologic column date to verify their accuracy. If a date obtained by radiometric dating does not match the assumed age from the geologic column, the radiometric date will be rejected. The so-called geologic column was developed in the early 1800s over a century before there were any radio- metric dating methods. “Apart from very ‘modern’ examples, which are really archaeology, I can think of no cases of radioactive decay being used to date fossils.”1 Laboratories will not carbon date dinosaur bones (even frozen ones which could easily be carbon dated) because dinosaurs are supposed to have lived 70 million years ago according to the fictitious geologic column. An object’s supposed place on the geologic column determines the method used to date it. There are about 7 or 8 radioactive elements that are used today to try to date objects. Each one has a different half-life and a different range of ages it is supposed to be used for. No dating method cited by evolutionists is unbiased.2
The two assumptions that plague C-14 dating were discussed by Sylvia Baker 10 with regard to why “dates” of more than 6,000 years are often obtained by this method.
“Many … objections cast doubt on the reliability of this method. We shall consider just two of them.
- The theory assumes that carbon-14 is in equilibrium in the atmosphere — that it is being broken down at thesame rate at which it is being produced. However, calculations made to test this assumption suggest that carbon-14 is being produced nearly one third faster than it is disintegrating. If this is true, then none of the fossils that have been dated by this method could be more than a few thousand years old…”
- It is also true that cosmic rays would have been deflected away from the earth most effectively by the earth’smagnetic field if, … (it) was much stronger in the past. With fewer cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere, there would have been less production of carbon-14 then than now.
She then adds that there is thus … “no really reliable method of dating fossils …“ 10
Carbon dating was not invented until 1949. When the schools started to teach that the earth is billions of years old, back in 1830, the reasoning was not because of carbon dating. Carbon dating had not even been thought of yet. So why were they teaching that the earth was billions of years old back in the 1800’s? Billions of years are needed to make the evolution theory look good. Without billions of years to hide in, the theory looks absolutely ridiculous.
The geologic column is where it all started. The earth was divided up into layers. Each layer was assigned a name, an age, and an index fossil. The ages were chosen without any scientific reasoning: they were picked out of the clear blue sky! Now any dating technique that comes along, like carbon dating, has to match the geologic column: or it is rejected. This is only because the geologic column has been taught for so long now and is assumed to be true. Just because something has been taught for a long time does not make it true. However, this is the logic most scientists have. They might have to test a sample 5 or 6 times until they get the age that they want. How would you know any of the dates given are right if you are getting a different one every time?
“Radiometric dating would not have been feasible if the geologic column had not been erected first. [i]” They do not date fossils by carbon dating. Fossils are dated by their geological position. And as we mentioned earlier the dates on the geologic column were chosen out of the clear blue sky with no scientific basis. So their entire dating method for dating rocks and fossils is based off of circular reasoning.
The earth’s atmosphere is about 100 miles thick. The atmosphere has very distinctive layers to it. The earth’s atmosphere contains: 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, .06% carbon dioxide, and .0000765% radioactive carbon. This radioactive carbon 14 is different from regular carbon. It is produced by radiation striking the atmosphere. In essence, sunlight strikes the atmosphere, slaps the nitrogen around, and turns it into carbon 14. So it all starts by the sunlight striking the atmosphere. About 21 pounds of carbon 14 is produced every year; and that is spread out all over the world.
If you look at a periodic table you will notice that Carbon and Nitrogen are right next to each other. Nitrogen has an atomic weight of 14 and Carbon has an atomic weight of 12. If the sunlight slaps the nitrogen around, like talked about earlier, it will knock a few things off of it and it becomes Carbon 14. It still weighs as much as nitrogen, but it is now considered carbon. It is called radioactive because it is unstable and will eventually break apart. On average half of it will break down every 5,730 years.
While it is Carbon 14 it is floating around in the atmosphere and latches onto oxygen becoming carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis plants breathe in carbon dioxide and make it part of their tissue. Animals eat plants and make it part of their bodies as well. This is how Carbon 14 gets into the living world. It gets produced in the atmosphere from the sun, the plants breathe it in, and the animals eat the plants. We have all either eaten plants or eaten animals that have eaten plants. The plants are breathing in this carbon dioxide and some of the carbon is radioactive. If the atmosphere contains .0000765% radioactive carbon, it is assumed that the plants also have .0000765% radioactive carbon as well. So, you probably have .0000765% carbon 14 in you because you have been eating these plants or eating the animals that have eaten the plants.
When a plant or animal dies it stops taking in carbon 14 and whatever it had starts to decay. It was decaying while it was alive, but now there is nothing coming in to replace it. So what they do is compare the amount of carbon 14 in the fossil to the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere. If the fossil only contains half as much carbon 14 as the atmosphere, it is assumed to have been dead for one half-life, or 5,730 years. While it was alive it should have had .0000765% carbon 14. If a fossil only has .00003825% of carbon 14 it has been dead for one half-life. In theory the amount of carbon 14 never goes to zero. However, for practical purposes we cannot measure passed a certain amount. There should be no measurable carbon 14 after about 40,000 – 50,000 years.
“With their short 5,730 year half-life, no carbon 14 atoms should exist in any carbon older than 250,000 years. Yet it has proven impossible to find any natural source of carbon below Pleistocene (Ice Age) strata that does not contain significant amounts of carbon 14, even though such strata are supposed to be millions or billions of years old. Conventional carbon 14 laboratories have been aware of this anomaly since the early 1980’s, have striven to eliminate it, and are unable to account for it. Lately the world’s best such laboratory which has learned during two decades of low-C14 measurements how not to contaminate specimens externally, under contract to creationists, confirmed such observations for coal samples and even for a dozen diamonds, which cannot be contaminated in situ with recent carbon. These constitute very strong evidence that the earth is only thousands, not billions, of years old. [ii]”
Now think for a minute of what this means. The textbooks say that coal formed 250 million years ago. However, when coal is tested it still has carbon 14. How is that possible? If all of the carbon 14 atoms would have disappeared at a maximum of 250,000 years, why would there still be carbon 14 atoms in coal? Obviously it is not 250 million years old. Also diamonds, which they say formed millions and millions of years ago, still have carbon 14 in them. So how do you get carbon 14 in diamonds? Again it is obvious that they are not millions of years old.
The carbon dating assumptions need to be pointed out. The earth’s atmosphere is gaining 21 pounds of carbon 14 every year. It is also losing carbon 14 through decay. The question is how long would it take the atmosphere to reach a stage called equilibrium? The people who invented carbon 14 dating in the 1940’s did a lot of studies on this matter. They wanted to figure out how long it would take the atmosphere to reach a point where the construction rate and the destruction rate of carbon 14 was the same. They determined that it would take about 30,000 years to reach this equilibrium state. They made two bad assumptions after they came up with this calculation. They assumed that the earth was millions of years old and then assumed that they could ignore the equilibrium problem. It has been discovered that the earth has still not reached equilibrium. “Radiocarbon is forming 28-37% faster than it is decaying. [iii]”
Now think about that for a minute. If radiocarbon is still forming faster than it is decaying, that means the earth is less than 30,000 years old. It also means that you cannot carbon date anything! The reason is because you would have to know when the fossil was alive to know how much carbon 14 was in the atmosphere at that time. It simply does not work.
If you find a fossil in the dirt, the amount of carbon 14 can be measured and the rate of decay can be determined. However, that is all that can be determined. It is impossible to know how much carbon 14 was in it at death and it is impossible to know if carbon 14 has always decayed at the same rate.
If the earth had a canopy of water above the atmosphere, or a canopy of ice, that would have blocked out a lot of the radiation from the sun. This would have prevented most of the carbon 14 from even forming. Animals that lived before the flood would have lived in a world with much less carbon 14 to begin with. There may have been none at all, but the amount would certainly be less than what we have today.
“If a C-14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text. If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a footnote. And if it is completely ‘out of date’, we just drop it. [iv]” So does this mean that they simply choose any numbers that they want? That is exactly correct. If the number doesn’t fit what they expected, they throw the number out.
Here are some things to consider about carbon dating. When something of known age is dated: it doesn’t work. When something of unknown age is dated: carbon dating is assumed to work. That is not science!
[i] O’Rourke, J. E., “Pragmatism versus Materialism in Stratigraphy,” American Journal of Science, vol. 276 (January 1976), p. 54
[iii] R.E. Taylor et al., “Major Revisions in the Pleistocene Age Assignments for North American Human Skeletons by C-14 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry,” American Antiquity, Vol. 50, No. 1 1985 pp. 136-140
[iv] T. Save-Soderbergh and I.U. Olsson (Institute of Egyptology and Institute of Physics respectively, Univ. of Uppsala, Sweden), C-14 dating and Egyptian chronology in Radiocarbon Variations and Absolute Chronology”, Proceedings of the twelfth Nobel Symposium, New York 1970, p. 35
The Wild Dates of Carbon Dating
A few examples of wild dates by radiometric dating:
- Shells from living snails were carbon dated as being 27,000 years old. 3
- Living mollusk shells were dated up to 2,300 years old. 4
- A freshly killed seal was carbon dated as having died 1,300 years ago. 5
- “One part of the Vollosovitch mammoth carbon dated at 29,500 years and another part at 44,000.” 6
- “Structure, metamorphism, sedimentary reworking, and other complications have to be considered. Radiometric dating would not have been feasible if the geologic column had not been erected first.”7
- Material from layers where dinosaurs are found carbon dated at 34,000 years old.8
- Rocks formed in the Mount St. Helens volcano eruption in 1980 were dated from 350,000 to 2.8 million years old.
- Rocks known to be formed in the 1950’s and 1960’s were dated to 2.4 and 3.5 million years old respectively.