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Carbon Dating

Creation Science Briefs

Subject: Carbon Dating

A less-common form of the carbon atom, carbon-14, is used today by scientists as a method to date once-living organisms. Many people believe that carbon dating disproves the Biblical time scale of history. However, because of the difficulties with current C14 dating techniques, the dates produced have been shown to be faulty.

Carbon-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere by action of cosmic rays. Once the C 14 has been formed, by converting nitrogen-14 into carbon-14, it behaves like ordinary carbon-12, combining with oxygen to give carbon dioxide, and freely cycling through the cells of all plants and animals. Carbon-14 is used for a dating material because once it has been formed, C14 begins to decay radioactively back to nitrogen-14, at a rate of change that can be measured. As soon as an organism dies, the C14 atoms which decay are no longer replaced by new ones through respiration. Consequently, the ratio of C14 to C12 in that once-living organism decreases as time goes on. The problem with the carbon dating method is—scientists can not be sure of what the C14/C12 ratio was when the organism died. Carbon dating assumes that the ratio has remained constant; however, events, such as the industrial revolution, are known to have raised C12 levels. Other possible factors, such as the presence of a water canopy, would have lowered the amount of C14 in the pre-Flood world. Because pre-Flood specimens had so little carbon-14 in them, some might appear to have been decaying for tens of thousands of years. Also, the decay of the earth’s magnetic field would have direct effects on C14 level, again, giving artificially old ages the farther you go back in time. Finally, carbon dating has been shown untrustworthy with some present day aquatic specimens that were concluded to be thousands of years old. For example, the shells of living snails’ were carbon dated and showed that the snails had died 27,000 years ago. Other specimens have been carbon dated more than once, each time producing a different date varying by thousands of years. In overview, we see that the radiocarbon dating method is certainly no embarrassment to the Biblical creationist who believes in a young earth. In fact, when all data, such as the decay of the magnetic field and the canopy, is taken into accord, carbon dating seems to support a young earth.

CEM Staff

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