A question that has been bothering you all your life is the title of a new post from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom: Do Carbon Ages Refute a Biblical Timeline?
It was written by one of ICR’s creation scientists, Brian Thomas, about whom we’re told: “Dr. Thomas is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Many reporters and scientists treat carbon dates like facts. Of course, the more recent dates work well enough. But news reports, textbooks, and even movies present enormous ages like “47,00 BCE” all the time. [Gasp!] Yet, the Bible records only about 6,000 years from creation until today. Does the science of carbon dating disprove the Bible’s reckoning?
You’ve always wondered that, haven’t you, dear reader? Brian says:
To find out, we need to peek into the carbon dating process that specialists use to arrive at tens of thousands of years. Carbon-14 is an isotope of the element carbon. It forms from nitrogen high in the sky at a certain rate on today’s Earth. It turns back into nitrogen usually long after it filters back down to Earth and enters plant and animal tissues.
Not bad. If you want some — ah — secular source of information, Wikipedia has an article on Carbon-14, but so far Brian is doing okay. He tells us:
A sensitive instrument measures the ratio of carbon-14 in organic remains to the more common and stable carbon-13 and carbon-12 isotopes. No scientist can measure the actual age of any artifact. We can measure amounts of things, like grains of sand in the two chambers of an hourglass, but not ages. Carbon dating is no exception. It begins with isotope ratio measurements. Scientists must use math formulas to convert isotope ratios into age estimates.
Math formulas? Egad! Brian continues:
The formulas they use have unknowns — numbers that cannot be measured. [Unknowns?] Workers make four key assumptions for these unknowns:
1. Carbon-14 has been decaying at basically the same rate throughout Earth’s history.
2. No carbon-14 or carbon-12 was added to, or taken from, the sample since it got buried.
3. The carbon isotope ratio in the sample matched the ratio in the rest of the world at that time.
4. The carbon isotope ratio in the ancient skies was the same as it is today.
That’s a lot of assumptions! Let’s read on:
Even when a radiocarbon laboratory measures very precise isotope ratios in a sample, any age estimate from the formula will only be as good as the four assumptions that went into it. Let’s accept the first three assumptions for the sake of argument. How can anyone cross-check the fourth one?
Wowie! Good question! The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims has a few articles on this, e.g.: Radiometric dating gives unreliable results, and also Carbon dating is based on the atmospheric C-14/C-12 ratio, but that ratio varies. Thus the carbon dating method is not valid.
Let’s have another excerpt from Brian:
Here’s the catch. If Noah’s Flood actually happened about 4,500 years ago, as the Scriptures record, then it would have affected, and possibly steamrolled, carbon-14 ratios in very old samples.
Huh? How would a flood have any effect on the decay rate of carbon-14? Brian explains:
In particular, Earth’s magnetic field strength has weakened since the Flood. Almost two centuries of measurements show that Earth’s magnetic field still decays. [So what?] Back when it was much stronger, it would have stymied carbon-14 production in the sky. [Huh?] Fewer carbon-14 atoms in plant and animal specimens (a lower carbon-14 ratio) would give them far more carbon years than they deserve.
*Groan* Here’s Brian’s last paragraph:
In the end, whoever insists that carbon dates of tens of thousands of years refute the Bible’s 4,500-year-old Flood merely reasons in a circle. [Hee hee!] Of course, the Bible’s Flood never happened in the minds of those who already assume it never happened! [The hell-bound fools!] On the other hand, placing the Flood back into world history reveals a bad assumption beneath higher carbon ages. The Bible, not carbon “ages,” gives us reliable history.
Brian’s last sentence is a keeper!
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