Creationist arguments against radiocarbon dating

Every process in nature operates at a rate which is influenced by a number of different factors. If any of these factors change, the process rate changes. Rates are at best only statistical averages, not deterministic constants. These rejoinders make it apparent that Morris's formulations of the assumptions underlying radiometric dating are only akin to the assumptions examined above. When geologists calculate the ages of rocks, they do assume that the system under consideration has remained closed in one particular respect.

They suppose that none of the daughter element has been added or subtracted. However, this does not commit them to the idea that the system was completely closed, that it engaged in no exchange of matter or energy with the environment. Like his memorable argument about the evolving junkyard, Morris's first reply only demonstrates his lack of understanding of basic concepts of physics. The crucial question is whether we can ever be justified in believing that the system was never contaminated by extra amounts of the daughter element. I have tried to explain how geologists can sometimes obtain good evidence for this conclusion.

Similarly, the second point is misguided. Geologists do not have to suppose that the system originally contained none of the daughter element. What is important is that they be able to compute the amount of the daughter element originally present.

A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims

Clearly, it is required only that D 0 be known, not that it be zero. It is perfectly possible to have excellent evidence for statements about events and situations that no human has observed. Geologists draw conclusions about the composition of original rocks by applying claims about the possibilities of incorporating elements into minerals, claims that can be tested in the laboratory.

So, for example, the thesis that certain minerals would have contained no original argon rests on a perfectly testable and well-confirmed claim. While those minerals were in the molten state, prior to the solidification of the rock, argon would have diffused from them. It is only after the molten rock has solidified that the argon formed through radioactive decay becomes trapped within it. Obviously, what is being applied in this case is our knowledge of the physical and chemical interactions of minerals and elements. Morris's third assumption, and his attempt to undermine it, raises a new issue.

In deriving equation 4 , from which rock ages can be computed, I employed equation 1 , the equation of radioactive decay. I asserted that l , which measures the rate of decay, is a constant. Morris suggests that the assertion is unwarranted. However, the claim that l is a constant does not descend out of thin air. It is the result of our knowledge of nuclear physics. Although the sciences sometimes teach us that the rate at which a process occurs can be affected by a number of factors, as when we learn that the rate at which water boils is affected by the pressure or that the rate at which mutations occur varies with X-ray irradiation, what we sometimes discover is that a process is impervious to outside influence.

Precious little affects the time of passage for a light ray between two points. Similarly, nuclear physics tells us that radioactive decay is well insulated against external interference. The reason is that the emission of particles from an atomic nucleus is under the control of forces that are enormously more effective at short distances than the forces at work in most physicochemical reactions.

Extensive attempts to modify these rates under a variety of physicochemical conditions have produced no effects.

Index to Creationist Claims

For example, his chief weapon in arguing for the possibility of variable decay rates is a vague proposal that the capture of free neutrons or the impact of neutrinos could affect decay constants Morris a, The latter idea is linked to a paragraph quoted from a "Scientific Speculation" column. But neither of these processes would affect rates of decay; even granting the possibility of change by neutrino impact or the practical likelihood of neutron capture, the result of these processes would be a modification not of the decay rate, but of the decaying nucleus. The old nucleus, which had been decaying at its specific rate, would be changed to a new nucleus, which would then change at its specific rate.

Note that if processes like these were to occur, they would be detectable since two separate sets of daughter elements would be produced. Morris's speculations are based on confusion. Morris then goes on to ignore the methods that geologists employ to ascertain the original amount of daughter element present in the rocks they attempt to date. His discussion of uranium-lead dating contains no mention of the simple technique for computing the initial abundance of lead that I described above. Needless to say, nothing is said about more sophisticated methods.

His treatment of potassium argon dating includes the statement: However, argon is an i nert gas, which does not become chemically bound to potassium minerals.

evidences for a young age of the Earth and the universe - RationalWiki

Moreover, the crystalline structure of some minerals makes them impermeable to argon. Hence the suggestion that the minerals that geologists date are easily contaminated is simply false. My brief discussion has only looked at a sample of the objections that Morris and his colleagues notably Slusher; see Slusher offer against radiometric dating. The errors I have identified are typical. No attempt is made to criticize the techniques that geologists carefully employ to determine the value of D 0 or to test whether the system has been contaminated.

Instead, those techniques are ignored. The picture thus presented is that radiometric dating methods compute the ages of rocks by applying equation 4 , assuming dogmatically that D 0 is zero and that the system is uncontaminated. Add to this distortion some vague speculations about changing decay rates perhaps based on a revisionist nuclear physics under development at the Institute for Creation Research? I shall deal with the positive arguments for a young earth in much less detail.

The reason for this is that once one has appreciated the radiometric dating techniques and their overwhelming evidence for the claim that the earth is more than 4 billion years old, it is clear that there must be some flaw in the attempts to show that the earth was created a few thousand years ago. In addition, the Creationist arguments most commonly trotted out share a simple flaw.

Creationists assume that certain processes, which we have independent reason to believe to be irregular and sporadic, take place at uniform rates. This has been confirmed by realistic modelling of population genetics, which shows that genomes are young, in the order of thousands of years. A biologically realistic forward-time population genetics program, SCPE 8 2: This argument relates to the claimed Fall of Man , in which it is posited that humans were cut off from God's life force and their genomes thus started "decaying".

Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating

This is completely factually inaccurate. Not only is there no evidence of a general genetic decay, but there are known recent beneficial mutations in humans, e. The data for " mitochondrial Eve img " are consistent with a common origin of all humans several thousand years ago. Creationists and scientists aren't talking about the same "Eve" here. Mitochondria contain mitochondrial DNA mtDNA , which derives from an early point in evolutionary history when mitochondria existing symbiotically with precursors to animals' cells merged.

Unlike the Eve of the Bible, Mitochondrial Eve is not believed to be the first human female; she is only the most recent matrilineal common ancestor of all persons living today. This does not imply that she was the only female around at the time, just that the mitochondrial lines of all the other women alive at that time were interrupted at some point, either by having no children or by having only sons.

Mitochondrial Eve had to inherit her mtDNA from her mother, after all, and her mother inherited it from her grandmother, etc. Finally, the geography that leads biologists to their conclusions about Mitochondrial Eve's origin in East Africa is more or less conclusive disproof of the claim of the Garden of Eden as having been present in what we now call the Middle East. This isn't necessarily evidence against a young earth per se , but certainly a problem for CMI's belief in Biblical inerrancy.

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Very limited variation in the DNA sequence on the human Y-chromosome around the world img is consistent with a recent origin of mankind, thousands not millions of years. The Y chromosome, unlike most DNA, is inherited only from the father, which means that all DNA on the human Y chromosome can be followed back to a single most recent common male ancestor.

That male would have inherited his Y chromosome from his father, who inherited it from his father, etc.

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  • The existence of a Y-chromosomal Adam does not mean that there was only one man alive at that time, but rather that the male-exclusive lineages of all the other men alive at that time have been broken — either by childlessness or by having only daughters. The only factor affecting the DNA on the Y chromosome is mutation, so measuring mutation rates and extrapolating them backwards can provide an estimate of when this most recent common male ancestor lived: Many fossil bones "dated" at many millions of years old are hardly mineralized, if at all.

    See, for example, Dinosaur bones just how old are they really? There is no requirement that fossil bones have to be re-mineralized — bones and teeth are naturally made from a mineral apatite , which is largely calcium phosphate in the first place, so have some chance of preservation.

    And this still leaves fossil bones which are dated many millions of years old that have been mineralized. There are also other hard parts, notably shells, that are formed of calcium carbonate calcite or aragonite and can be found almost unchanged since deposition as far back as the Cambrian. Dinosaur blood cells, blood vessels img , proteins img hemoglobin img , osteocalcin img , collagen img are not consistent with their supposed age, but make more sense if the remains are young.

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    Amino acid racemization dating is a technique that uses the ratio of amino acid isomers to date fossilized objects up to several millions of years into the past. Measuring the racemization of the amino acid isoleucine, for example, can date objects as far back as the claimed-implausible several million years. Living fossils img — jellyfish, graptolites, coelacanth , stromatolites, Wollemi pine and hundreds more. That many hundreds of species could remain so unchanged, for even up to billions of years in the case of stromatolites, speaks against the millions and billions of years being real.

    The jellyfish have actually changed, as have the coelacanths — they aren't the same species at all, as the author claims. They merely belong to the same order: Of the life forms given as examples, only the Wollemi pine is a species , and not such an old one as claimed.