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Basic Worldview:
103 Science, the Bible,
and Creation



Origins - Section Four:
Carbon-14 Problems


Origins - Section One: Introduction and the Basics
Origins - Section Two: Premature Dismissals
Origins - Section Two: Application of the Basics
Origins - Section Three: Creation
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Origin of Life
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Environment for Life 1
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Environment for Life 2
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Another Planet
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Origin of Species
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Speciation Factors
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Speciation Rates
Origins - Section Four: Time and Age, Redshift
Origins - Section Four: Philosophical Preference
Origins - Section Four: Cosmological Model 1
Origins - Section Four: Cosmological Model 2
Origins - Section Four: Dating Methods, Perceptions, Basics
Origins - Section Four: Global Flood Evidence
Origins - Section Four: Relative Dating
Origins - Section Four: Dating and Circular Reasoning
Origins - Section Four: The Geologic Column
Origins - Section Four: Radiometric Dating Basics
Origins - Section Four: General Radiometric Problems
Origins - Section Four: Carbon-14 Problems
Origins - Section Four: Remaining Methods and Decay Rates
Origins - Section Four: Radiometric Conclusions, Other Methods
Origins - Section Five: Overall Conclusions, Closing Editorial
Origins - Section Five: List of Evidences Table
Origins Debate Figures and Illustrations


Focus on Critical Evidence: Carbon-14 Dating

At this point, we have completed the first 3 segments on the topic of radiometric dating. We have completed our study of the fundamentals of radiometric dating, our discussion of the obstacles facing igneous and metamorphic radiometric dating in general, our examination of the problems facing the prominent potassium-argon method, and our exploration of the impact of a global flood on dating igneous and metamorphic rocks. Consequently, we are now ready to begin our fourth segment, which is an examination of the radiometric dating method using carbon-14.

In terms of basic vocabulary, it is important to note that carbon-14 dating is also called “radiocarbon dating.”                                                                         

“Prehistoric People, Placing prehistoric people in timeRadiocarbon dating is sometimes called C-14 dating.” – Worldbook, Contributor: Alan E. Mann, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University.

Carbon-14 datingalso called radiocarbon dating, method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (carbon-14).” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

It should also be noted that carbon-14 dating is important to a variety of significant fields of study, including archeology, anthropology, oceanography, pedology, climatology, and “recent” geology. This wide usage of carbon-14 dating is reflected in the quotes below.

Archeology, VIII DETERMINING THE AGE OF FINDS, B Absolute Dating, B3 Radiocarbon Dating – Radiocarbon dating was developed by American chemist Willard Libby and his colleagues in 1949, and it quickly became one of the most widely used tools in archaeology.” – "Archaeology," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Archaeology has been the chief beneficiary of radioactive-carbon dating, but late glacial and postglacial chronological studies in geology have also been aided greatly.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Dating Methods, III ABSOLUTE DATING METHODS. E Radiometric Dating, E2 Carbon-14 Method – Radiocarbon dating techniques, first developed by the American chemist Willard F. Libby and his associates at the University of Chicago in 1947, are frequently useful in deciphering time-related problems in archaeology, anthropology, oceanography, pedology, climatology, and recent geology.” – "Dating Methods," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

However, the most significant fundamental issue in carbon-14 dating is its process. Carbon-14 is unique among dating processes for several reasons, as we will see below. We will start our examination of the process with the key isotopes. Carbon-14 involves the radioactive decay of the parent isotope carbon-14 into the stable daughter isotope nitrogen.

Archeology, VIII DETERMINING THE AGE OF FINDS, B Absolute Dating B3 Radiocarbon Dating, [PHOTO CAPTION] Radiocarbon (C-14) DatingRadiation counters are used to detect the electrons given off by decaying C-14 as it turns into nitrogen.” – "Archaeology," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Carbon-14 dating – also called radiocarbon dating, method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (carbon-14).” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

As we have seen, other dating methods focus on the quantity of daughter isotopes to determine the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred, and therefore, the age of the item. However, nitrogen is a very common element that makes its way throughout the biological world by means of a normal process called the nitrogen cycle.

Nitrogen cyclecirculation of nitrogen in various forms through nature. Nitrogen, a component of proteins and nucleic acids, is essential to life on Earth. Although 78 percent by volume of the atmosphere is nitrogen gas, this abundant reservoir exists in a form unusable by most organisms. Through a series of microbial transformations, however, nitrogen is made available to plants, which in turn ultimately sustain all animal life. The steps, which are not altogether sequential, fall into the following classifications: nitrogen fixation, nitrogen assimilation, ammonification, nitrification, and denitrification. Nitrogen fixation, in which nitrogen gas is converted into inorganic nitrogen compounds, is mostly (90 percent) accomplished by certain bacteria and blue-green algae (see nitrogen fixation)…Nitrates and ammonia resulting from nitrogen fixation are assimilated into the specific tissue compounds of algae and higher plants. Animals then ingest these algae and plants, converting them into their own body compounds. The remains of all living things—and their waste products—are decomposed by microorganisms in the process of ammonification, which yields ammonia…Ammonia can leave the soil or be converted into other nitrogen compounds, depending in part on soil conditions. Nitrification, a process carried out by nitrifying bacteria (q.v.), transforms soil ammonia into nitrates, which plants can incorporate into their own tissues. Nitrates also are metabolized by denitrifying bacteria (q.v.), which are especially active in water-logged, anaerobic soils. The action of these bacteria tends to deplete soil nitrates, forming free atmospheric nitrogen.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Consequently, since nitrogen gets into all living things through the nitrogen cycle, the amount of nitrogen in any item would not necessarily equate to or indicate the amount of radioactive decay from carbon-14. In other words, nitrogen is such a common element that its presence in any item is not a result of radioactive decay but other extremely widespread natural process and, therefore, in this dating method the presence of the daughter element cannot indicate the amount of decay or age of an item. This is where the carbon-14 dating process becomes unique. In carbon-14 dating, age is not determined by counting the amount of daughter isotopes (nitrogen) as is the case with other absolute dating methods. Instead, the amount of the parent isotope, carbon-14 presently in an item is used as the indicator of its age.

In carbon-14 dating, the original amount of carbon-14 is considered to be a “known” factor. The amount of carbon-14 missing from the “known,” original quantity indicates how long decay has been occurring, and therefore the age.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Unlike most isotopic dating methods, the conventional carbon-14 dating technique is not based on counting daughter isotopes. It relies instead on the progressive decay or disappearance of the radioactive parent with time.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

The next critical question regards what items carbon-14 can be used to date. To answer this question, we need to understand where the isotope carbon-14 comes from. As indicated by the quotes below, carbon-14 is formed when cosmic rays, full of free neutrons (neutrons not inside or apart of an atom), come in contact with nitrogen in the earth’s upper atmosphere.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – The discovery of natural carbon-14 by Willard Libby of the United States began with his recognition that a process that had produced radiocarbon in the laboratory was also going on in the Earth's upper atmosphere—namely, the bombardment of nitrogen by free neutrons.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Carbon-14 dating – also called radiocarbon dating, method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (carbon-14). Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth's atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Cosmic ray a high-speed particleeither an atomic nucleus or an electronthat travels throughout the Milky Way Galaxy, including the solar system.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

RadiocarbonIn nature, radiocarbon forms when high-energy atomic particles called cosmic rays smash into Earth's atmosphere. Cosmic rays cause atoms in the atmosphere to break down into electrons, neutrons, protons, and other particles. Some neutrons strike the nuclei of nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere. Each of these nuclei absorbs a neutron and then loses a proton. In this way, a nitrogen atom becomes a radiocarbon atom.” – Worldbook, Contributor: Rainer Berger, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Geography, and Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles.

After being formed in the atmosphere by cosmic rays, carbon-14 makes its way into lifeforms, fossils, and geologic items in the following manner. First, like normal carbon, carbon-14 joins with oxygen in the atmosphere, thus becoming part of earth’s carbon dioxide supply.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Newly created carbon-14 atoms were presumed to react with atmospheric oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules. Radioactive carbon thus was visualized as gaining entrance wherever atmospheric carbon dioxide enters—into land plants by photosynthesis, into animals that feed on the plants, into marine waters and freshwaters as a dissolved component, and from there into aquatic plants and animals. In short, all parts of the carbon cycle were seen to be invaded by the isotope carbon-14.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

And second, as a component of some carbon dioxide atoms, carbon-14 then enters the carbon cycle. As indicated by the quotes below, the carbon cycle is the process by which the carbon present in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere enters into all living organisms on the earth.

RadiocarbonPlants absorb radiocarbon from the carbon dioxide in the air. Human beings and other animals take in radiocarbon chiefly from the food provided by plants. Radiocarbon dating is a process used to determine the age of an ancient object by measuring its radiocarbon content…The radiocarbon in the tissues of a living organism decays extremely slowly, but it is continuously renewed as long as the organism lives. After the organism dies, it no longer takes in air or food, and so it no longer absorbs radiocarbon. The radiocarbon already in the tissues continues to decrease at a constant rate. This steady decay at a known rate-a half-life of approximately 5,730 years-enables scientists to determine an object's age.” – Worldbook, Contributor: Rainer Berger, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Geography, and Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles.

Carbon, IV SCIENTIFIC APPLICATIONSCarbon-14 is continuously produced in the atmosphere by cosmic rays and is incorporated into all living matter. As carbon-14 decays, with a half-life of 5760 years, the proportion of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in a given specimen is a measure of its approximate age.” – "Carbon," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Carbon cycle – in biology, circulation of carbon in various forms through nature. Carbon is a constituent of all organic compounds, many of which are essential to life on Earth. The source of the carbon found in living matter is carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air or dissolved in water. Algae and terrestrial green plants (producers) are the chief agents of carbon dioxide fixation through the process of photosynthesis, through which carbon dioxide and water are converted into simple carbohydrates. These compounds are used by the producers to carry on metabolism, the excess being stored as fats and polysaccharides. The stored products are then eaten by consumer animals, from protozoans to man, which convert them into other forms. All animals return CO2 directly to the atmosphere as a by-product of their respiration. The carbon present in animal wastes and in the bodies of all organisms is released as CO2 by decay, or decomposer, organisms (chiefly bacteria and fungi) in a series of microbial transformations. Part of the organic carbon—the remains of organisms—has accumulated in the Earth's crust as fossil fuels (e.g., coal, gas, and petroleum), limestone, and coral.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Dating Methods, III ABSOLUTE DATING METHODS. E Radiometric Dating, E2 Carbon-14 MethodThrough metabolic activity, the level of carbon-14 in a living organism remains in constant balance with the level in the atmosphere or some other portion of the earth's dynamic reservoir, such as the ocean. Upon the organism's death, carbon-14 begins to disintegrate at a known rate, and no further replacement of carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide can take place.” – "Dating Methods," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Archeology, VIII DETERMINING THE AGE OF FINDS, B Absolute Dating, B3 Radiocarbon DatingAll living organisms accumulate this isotope through their metabolism until it is in balance with levels in the atmosphere, but when they die they absorb no more. Because the nucleus of C-14 decays at a known rate, scientists can determine the age of organic substances such as bones, plant matter, shells, and charcoal by measuring the amount on C-14 that remains in them.” – "Archaeology," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

As described in these quotes, living organisms participate in the carbon cycle through metabolic activity for as long as they remain alive. Consequently, living organisms are constantly taking in carbon from the carbon cycle, including carbon-14 in very small amounts. However, when an organism dies, metabolic activity ceases. From this point, the carbon-14 in the organism continues to decay at its normal rate without being replaced through metabolic processes. This means that through decay, the amount of carbon-14 in a dead organism will decrease in contrast to the amount in the rest of the world. The “missing” amount of carbon-14 then indicates how much decay has occurred, and, therefore, how long the organism has been dead. Consequently, carbon-14 can be used to date any thing that was once living and, therefore, acquired carbon and carbon-14 through the carbon cycle.

Here the critical question is how much carbon-14 is present in the carbon cycle? As indicated by the quotes below, the answer is that carbon-14 constitutes about 1 out of every trillion carbon atoms in the carbon cycle.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Invasion is probably not the proper word for a component that Libby calculated should be present only to the extent of about one atom in a trillion stable carbon atoms. So low is such a carbon-14 level that no one had detected natural carbon-14 until Libby, guided by his own predictions, set out specifically to measure it.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Radiocarbon – All living things contain radiocarbon. In the atmosphere, there is about one atom of radiocarbon for every trillion molecules of carbon dioxide gas.” – Contributor: Rainer Berger, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Geography, and Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles.

We now know how carbon-14 dating works and and have answered the question with regard to what items carbon-14 can be used to date. Carbon-14 can be used to date any item that participated in the carbon cycle. However, this process also creates one of the primary known limitations on carbon-14 dating. Carbon-14 cannot be used to date any rock or item. Instead, as indicated by the process, carbon-14 can only date items with material that was once living.

Archaeology, How archaeologists interpret findings – The most widely used dating method is radiocarbon dating. This method requires organic material-that is, something that was once living, such as plant parts, charcoal from cooking pits, bone, or shells.” – Contributor: Thomas R. Hester, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin.

The second prominent limitation on carbon-14 regards the question of how far back carbon-14 dating can be used. As indicated by the quotes below, the oldest items that carbon-14 can date are about 50,000 years old.

Dating, Absolute dating, Evaluation and presentation schemes in dating, Origin of radioactive elements used – Geologic events of the not-too-distant past are more easily dated by using recently formed radioisotopes with short half-lives that produce more daughter products per unit timeThe most widely used radioactive cosmogenic isotope is carbon of mass 14 (14C), which provides a method of dating events that have occurred over roughly the past 50,000 years.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – The occurrence of natural radioactive carbon in the atmosphere provides a unique opportunity to date organic materials as old as 50,000 years.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Archeology, VIII DETERMINING THE AGE OF FINDS, B Absolute Dating, B3 Radiocarbon DatingRadiocarbon methods can date sites that are up to 40,000 or 50,000 years old.” – "Archaeology," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Dating Methods, III ABSOLUTE DATING METHODS. E Radiometric Dating, E2 Carbon-14 MethodThe rapid disintegration of carbon-14 generally limits the dating period to approximately 50,000 years, although the method is sometimes extended to 70,000 years. Uncertainty in measurement increases with the age of the sample.” – "Dating Methods," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

It is also important to note, as indicated by the last quote above, that the older the sample is, the less reliable the carbon-14 date is.

The reason that carbon-14 is limited to 50,000 years or less is because of the relatively short-half life of carbon-14. For example, in contrast to uranium-238, which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, carbon-14’s half-life is 5,730 years (or 5,760), which means that it will take 5,730 years for half of carbon-14 to decay into nitrogen.

Dating Methods, III ABSOLUTE DATING METHODS. E Radiometric Dating, E1 Basic Theory – At the end of the period constituting one half-life, half of the original quantity of radioactive element has decayed; after another half-life, half of what was left is halved again, leaving one-fourth of the original quantity, and so on. Every radioactive element has its own half-life; for example, that of carbon-14 is 5730 years and that of uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years.” – "Dating Methods," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

RadiocarbonThe radiocarbon already in the tissues continues to decrease at a constant rate. This steady decay at a known rate-a half-life of approximately 5,730 years-enables scientists to determine an object's age.” – Worldbook, Contributor: Rainer Berger, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Geography, and Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles.

Furthermore, although it is not a limitation on what carbon-14 can date, it is significant that carbon-14 dating involves measuring for extremely minute quantities of the carbon-14 isotope dispersed throughout a sample.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – A major breakthrough in carbon-14 dating occurred with the introduction of the accelerator mass spectrometer. This instrument is highly sensitive and allows precise ages on as little as one milligram of carbon, where the older method might require as much as 25 grams for ancient material. The increased sensitivity results from the fact that all of the carbon atoms of mass 14 can be counted in a mass spectrometer. By contrast, if carbon-14 is to be measured by its radioactivity, only those few atoms decaying during the measurement period are recorded.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

(Keep in mind that the mass spectrometer doesn’t provide an age nor does it date anything. It only provides a count of the amount of isotopes, such as carbon-14, currently in a sample. This count is then used in an equation with other factors, some of which are assumed, in order to calcute the age of the object.)

As the quote above specifically states, formerly at least 25 grams of sample were required. But now, however, dates are determined using samples as little as “one milligram” (0.001 grams) of carbon. A milligram is equal to about one twenty-five thousandths of an ounce. Consequently, carbon-14 dates are based upon looking for one in a trillion atoms in samples that are smaller than one half of one percent of an ounce.

Having established the limitations on what carbon-14 can date, we arrive at 2 problems with carbon-14 dating that are uncontested. In other words, as we will see, these problems are acknowledged by evolutionary scientists and geologists.

The first problem with carbon-14 that is acknowledged by evolutionary scientists is its susceptibility to contaminations. It is known that carbon-14 samples are subject to contamination to such an extent that numerous processes have been derived in order to detect and correct for components of the sample that may be “younger” than the sample itself. This is explained in the quotes below.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – A final problem of importance in carbon-14 dating is the matter of sample contamination. If a sample of buried wood is impregnated with modern rootlets or a piece of porous bone has recent calcium carbonate precipitated in its pores, failure to remove the contamination will result in a carbon-14 age between that of the sample and that of its contaminant. Consequently, numerous techniques for contaminant removal have been developed. Among them are the removal of humic acids from charcoal and the isolation of cellulose from wood and collagen from bone. Today, contamination as a source of error in samples younger than 25,000 years is relatively rare. Beyond that age, however, the fraction of contaminant needed to have measurable effect is quite small, and, therefore, undetected or unremoved contamination may occasionally be of significance.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Dating Methods, III ABSOLUTE DATING METHODS. E Radiometric Dating, E2 Carbon-14 Method – Postdepositional contamination, which is the most serious problem, may be caused by percolating groundwater, incorporation of older or younger carbon, and contamination in the field or laboratory.” – "Dating Methods," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

As seen indicated by the minute ratios and sample sizes described previously, these quotes also attest that the amount of contamination needed to affect a sample would be quite small. As the first quote above states, beyond 25,000 years even a small amount of contamination “may occasionally be of significance,” which means the error in age may be “significant.”

The second problem with carbon-14 dating surrounds the fact that carbon dating utilizes the current trillion to 1 ratio in the carbon cycle as the assumed starting quantity for once-living items. Consequently, the present ratio of carbon-14 in a sample is compared to a starting ratio of a trillion to 1 to determine how much carbon-14 decay has occurred and, therefore, how much time has passed since organism’s death. However, since the amount of carbon-14 in the carbon cycle functions as the assumed starting ratio in the dated item, this equation both assumes and requires that the ratio of carbon to carbon-14 in the carbon cycle has not changed for the entire 50,000 years that carbon-14 can date. Carbon-14 calculations assume and require that the ratio of carbon to carbon-14 has not changed but has remained 1 trillion to 1 for the last 50,000 years. Any deviation in the starting ratio of carbon to carbon-14 will affect the carbon-14 age.

For example, we might consider what would happen if the carbon to carbon-14 ratio in the carbon cycle were 2 trillion to 1 instead of the 1 trillion to 1 ratio we measure presently. If we assumed that the ratio was constant and has always been 1 trillion to 1 throughout the past 50,000 years and then we measured a 4 trillion to 1 present ratio in a dead organism, it would appear that three-quarters of the carbon-14 had already decayed. Therefore, we would conclude that 2 half-lives of carbon-14 would have occurred and that the organism had been dead for 11,460 years, which is equal to 2 half-lives of 5,730 years each. In reality, however, if the starting ratio was 2 trillion to 1 in the past instead of 1 trillion to 1, then only 1 half-life would have occurred and the organism would have died only 5,730 years ago, which is well within the Biblical timescale, rather than 11,460 years ago, which exceeds the Biblical timescale. Thus, if the ratio of carbon to carbon-14 in the carbon cycle changes over earth’s history, the age of carbon-14 dates will easily jump by thousands or tens of thousands of years depending upon how much the ratio differs at any given time. At this point, we can compare this example to the stated reality concerning variations in the carbon-14 ratio.

Concerning the need for the carbon-14 ratio to remain uniform throughout the carbon cycle, we arrive at 2 essential questions. First, is carbon-14 distributed uniformly in plants and animals today? And second, has the present level been uniform throughout the past?

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – So low is such a carbon-14 level that no one had detected natural carbon-14 until Libby, guided by his own predictions, set out specifically to measure it. His success initiated a series of measurements designed to answer two questions: Is the concentration of carbon-14 uniform throughout the plant and animal kingdoms? And, if so, has today's uniform level prevailed throughout the recent past? After showing the essential uniformity of carbon-14 in living material, Libby sought to answer the second question…” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

The relevance of these questions is simple. If not uniform, then the initial starting amount is not known. If the initial starting amount is not known, then it is impossible to know how much carbon-14 is missing and how much decay has occurred. If you can’t know how much decay has occurred, then you can’t determine the age.

And even though the last line of the excerpt above indicates that “the essential uniformity of carbon-14” had been shown, the following quote from just 3 paragraphs later in the same article indicates that this is not ultimately correct. In fact, the quantity of carbon-14 varies from place to place.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – It is now clear that carbon-14 is not homogeneously distributed among today's plants and animals. The occasional exceptions all involve nonatmospheric contributions of carbon-14-depleted carbon dioxide to organic synthesis. Specifically, volcanic carbon dioxide is known to depress the carbon-14 level of nearby vegetation and dissolved limestone carbonate occasionally has a similar effect on freshwater mollusks, as does upwelling of deep ocean water on marine mollusks. In every case, the living material affected gives the appearance of built-in age.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

As this quote plainly states, environmental factors effect carbon-14’s distribution in things living in different places. However, what is so striking about the quote above is its citation of carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes as “depressing the carbon-14 level” of nearby organisms and limestone rock with the subsequent effect of giving the material “the appearance of built-in age.” Effectively, the emission of normal carbon from the volcanoes dilutes the carbon-14 ratio to levels below the standard trillion to 1. This is extraordinarily important given the role of volcanic activity in the Judeo-Christian account of a global flood. With volcanic activity occurring on a worldwide scale as the crust of the earth is broken up into plates and with enormous geyser-like fountains spewing volcanic gases up into the atmosphere all around the earth, a vast inflow quantity of normal carbon would suddenly be thrust into the carbon cycle. Potentially, organisms after the flood would have a drastically lower carbon-14 ratio, giving them the faulty appearance of “built-in age,” when in reality, the carbon-14 ratio was simply lower to begin with.

And, as stated in the quote below, in addition to the fact that carbon-14 ratios are not uniform around the world even today, the ratio of carbon-14 is also known to vary over time.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – In addition to spatial variations of the carbon-14 level, the question of temporal variation has received much study. A 2 to 3 percent depression of the atmospheric radioactive-carbon level since 1900 was noted soon after Libby's pioneering work, almost certainly the result of the dumping of huge volumes of carbon-14-free carbon dioxide into the air through smokestacks. Of more recent date was the overcompensating effect of man-made carbon-14 injected into the atmosphere during nuclear-bomb testing. The result was a rise in the atmospheric carbon-14 level by more than 50 percent. Fortunately, neither effect has been significant in the case of older samples submitted for carbon-14 dating. The ultimate cause of carbon-14 variations with time is generally attributed to temporal fluctuations in the cosmic rays that bombard the upper atmosphere and create terrestrial carbon-14. Whenever the number of cosmic rays in the atmosphere is low, the rate of carbon-14 production is correspondingly low, resulting in a decrease of the radioisotope in the carbon-exchange reservoir described above. Studies have revealed that the atmospheric radiocarbon level prior to 1000 BC deviates measurably from the contemporary level. In the year 6200 BC it was about 8 percent above what it is today. In the context of carbon-14 dating, this departure from the present-day level means that samples with a true age of 8,200 years would be dated by radiocarbon as 7,500 years old. The problems stemming from temporal variations can be overcome to a large degree by the use of calibration curves in which the carbon-14 content of the sample being dated is plotted against that of objects of known age. In this way, the deviations can be compensated for and the carbon-14 age of the sample converted to a much more precise date. Calibration curves have been constructed using dendrochronological data (tree-ring measurements of bristlecone pines as old as 8,200 years); periglacial varve, or lake sediment, data (see above); and, in archaeological research, certain materials of historically established ages.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

According to the quote above, different factors affect the amount of carbon-14 generated and present in the atmosphere and the carbon cycle at different periods of earth’s history over the last 50,000 years. First, notice that “since 1900” smokestacks in industrial countries have resulted in a 2 to 3 percent decrease in the ratio of carbon-14 to normal carbon. Second, notice similarly that nuclear-bomb testing in technological countries since the dawn of the atomic age has resulted in a “50 percent” increase in the carbon-14 ratio. These figures indicate just how sensitive this ratio is to environmental fluctuations, which in turn have a significant impact on the apparent age of dated items.

Third, notice from the quote above that beyond smokestacks causing a 2-3 percent shift and nuclear testing causing a 50 percent shift, “the ultimate cause of carbon-14 variations” over time is that cosmic rays vary in intensity at different times. This means that cosmic rays affect carbon-14 levels and ratios constantly and to an extent more significant than industrial or nuclear technology. In fact, according to the quote, these fluctuations constitute “measurable deviation,” which in the example cited is as much as 8 percent in the period between 1,000 and 6,200 BC. On this note, another question arises concerning how we know that the carbon-14 level was different at 1,000 or 6,200 BC? Is it simply that that, unless we assume a different level at that time, evolutionary predictions about dates don’t match with carbon-14 dates?

And fourth, notice that “objects of known age” are being used to calibrate carbon-14 dating. In light of the fact that relative dating methods, the geologic column, other radiometric dating methods have already been shown not to work, what other methods could be used to “calibrate” carbon-14 ages? In addition, the quote lists tree-ring dating and varve or lake sedimentation as a physical means of indicating and correcting for such deviations in the carbon-14 level. In a later section examining non-radiometric forms of absolute dating, we will demonstrate that neither of these phenomena are reliable forms of dating either. However, even the comparison to tree-ring dating and lake sedimentation demonstrates that the only reason for adjusting the “starting level” of carbon-14 is the fact that age of carbon-14 does not correspond to the age expectations dictated by other dating methods. Thus, not only is carbon-14 dating left without a means to identify and calibrate changes in the ratio of carbon-14, but this constitutes yet another example of circular reasoning in evolutionary dating. Effectively, one method that doesn’t work on its own is being used to prove another method that doesn’t work on its own either, and yet somehow, both faulty methods are considered reliable support for one another.

Moreover, the most important issue here is the impact that fluctuations in the carbon-14 ratio have on calculating ages by carbon-14. If the starting amount of carbon-14, the amount in the carbon cycle, is not constant but subject to changes in the past, there is no way to calculate ages by carbon-14 unless we know with certainty when and to what extent the carbon-14 ratio changed. We will return to known, dramatic changes in the carbon-14 ratio during the past a little later below as we cover the contested problems with carbon-14 dating. However, on this note, two additional points are worth mentioning. Number one, the potential for carbon-14 ratios to change over time makes carbon-14 dates “adjustable.” If carbon-14 dating results in a date that does not fit with expected or existing timelines, the date can be “corrected” or “calibrated” by assuming a slight change in the carbon-14 ratio at some point in the past. Under these conditions the actual date simply cannot be known. Number two, once it is admitted that the starting level and even the amount of cosmic rays can fluctuate up and down, the application of uniformitarianism to this dating method is nullified. It simply cannot be assumed that carbon-14 ratios remained uniform in time, just as they cannot be assumed in location either, as we have already seen above.

In summary, carbon-14 suffers from the obstacle that while the present ratio of carbon-14 is the standard used to measure the duration of decay and the age of an item, it is a known reality that carbon-14 ratios differ from one location to another in the present and also differ throughout the past. Thus, the underlying assumption of uniformitarianism has been disproved in the case of carbon-14. These factors make carbon-14 into an “adjustable” dating method that is based upon assumed ratios that are known to fluctuate. And consequently, carbon-14 ages are far from being simple, observed, empirical fact. This is similar to what we saw in the other dating methods, in which other assumptions were also adjusted in order to reconcile discrepancies and bring them back to the evolutionary ideal or expected evolutionary date or age.

With these 2 acknowledged, uncontested problems facing carbon-14 dating, it is no wonder that the evolutionary scientific community assesses carbon-14 dating as unreliable. In light of the problems described above for determining the actual starting ratio or level of carbon-14, Britannica gives the following assessment of the reliability of carbon-14 dating.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – It is clear that carbon-14 dates lack the accuracy that traditional historians would like to have. There may come a time when all radiocarbon ages rest on firmer knowledge of the sample's original carbon-14 level than is now available. Until then, the inherent error from this uncertainty must be recognized.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Having established this conclusion from Britannica Encyclopedia, we can also offer a similar assessment articulated by evolutionary anthropologist Robert Lee, as cited by creationist Thomas Kendall in his presentation titled, “Scientific Evidences for a Young Earth.

The troubles of the radiocarbon dating method are undeniably deep and serious. Despite 35 years of technological refinement and better understanding, the underlying assumptions have been strongly challenged, and warnings are out that radiocarbon may soon find itself in a crisis situation. Continuing use of the method depends on a ‘fix it as we go’ approach, allowing for contamination here, fractionation there, and calibration whenever possible. It should be no surprise, then, that fully half of the dates are rejected. The wonder is, surely, that the remaining half come to be accepted…No matter how ‘useful’ it is, though, the radiocarbon method is still not capable of yielding accurate and reliable results. There are gross discrepancies, the chronology is uneven and relative, and the accepted dates are actually selected dates.” – Evolutionary Anthropologist Robert Lee (Cited on “Scientific Evidences for a Young Earth,” Thomas Kindall, Seattle Creation Conference 2004, Copyright Northwest Creation Network, nwcreation.net, 47 minutes, 55 seconds)

Consequently, judging even from the acknowledged problems in carbon-14 dating, the method cannot be regarded as reliable and its ages cannot be regarded as “firm” empirical fact. This fact is even further substantiated by the evidence demonstrating what might be regarded as “contested” problems with carbon-14 dating. Unlike the “uncontested problems” listed above, these “contested” problems are not agreed upon by both sides. There is strong evidence in support of these “contested” problems and it should be noted that it is the interpretation of that evidence, which is in dispute, not the evidence itself. This will become apparent below as we establish exactly what the evidence is.

The central issue of this problem surrounds the concepts of full saturation and equilibrium. Every year radioactive decay will convert a certain percentage of the total amount of carbon-14 into nitrogen. Consequently, radioactive decay subtracts from the total amount of carbon-14. Conversely, cosmic rays produce a certain quantity of carbon-14 every year. Consequently, cosmic rays add to the total amount of carbon-14. However, unlike the amount of carbon-14 removed by decay, the amount of carbon-14 added by cosmic rays is not simply a percentage or ratio. It is a normal, fixed amount.

To illustrate these abstract concepts of “fixed amounts” and “percentages” and how they relate to one another, we might consider the following illustration. Suppose a man works for a company that, at the start of every year he works there, pays $10,000 into a retirement fund for him. That $10,000 would be a fixed amount. This payment is an adding mechanism. It adds to the total amount in the man’s retirement fund. In contrast, at the end of every year the government might require the man to pay 10% of the retirement fund in taxes. This tax is a subtracting mechanism. It subtracts from his total wealth, but unlike the adding mechanism, which is a fixed amount, the subtracting mechanism is a percentage.

To understand how the fixed amount and the percentage relate to one another, we can further consider how these 2 mechanisms affect the amount of money in this man’s fund year after year. After the first year, he would have $10,000 in the fund as a result of the fixed adding mechanism. However, that same year, he would pay 10% in taxes, which is only $1,000 dollars. This would leave him with a total of $9,000 in the fund. After the second year, another fixed amount of $10,000 would be added to the fund, for a total of $19,000. While the amount added remains the same because it is a fixed amount, the amount subtracted changes because it is a percentage or proportion of the total. Consequently, the second year, the 10% paid in taxes would be $1,900 rather than the $1,000 paid in taxes the previous year. This would leave $17,100 in the fund at the end of the second year. Every year the total amount in the fund would increase so long as the percentage equaled less than the $10,000 deposited by the company. However, after many years, once the fund reaches $100,000 total, the 10% tax would be equal to the $10,000 deposited by the company. The fund would now be completely saturated because equilibrium would be reached between the fixed amount of the adding mechanism and the percentage removed by the subtracting mechanism. Every year $10,000 would be added and $10,000 would also be subtracted. In this state of equilibrium or saturation, year after year, the amount in the fund would remain at $100,000.

The process is the same with the amount of carbon-14 in the carbon cycle. One mechanism, cosmic rays, is adding to the total amount of carbon-14 in a fixed amount year after year.

Cosmic rays…slam into atoms in the earth’s atmosphere and they start a process that makes carbon-14 out of nitrogen…At today’s cosmic ray rate…the production rate is 8 kilograms per year, or if you calibrated it in pounds, 18 pounds…Right now the total amount that we have…in the whole earth ecosystem is 62 tons.” – “Radiocarbon, Creation and the Genesis Flood,” Dr. Russell Humphreys Ph.D., Creation Science Foundation Ltd., 7 minutes, 15 seconds

Another mechanism, radioactive decay, is subtracting a percentage of the total of carbon-14 year after year.

“The half-life of carbon-14 is 5700 years…in about 6,000 years from now, we’ll have half that much…That means that about 0.01 percent, 1 hundredth of a percent, of carbon-14…decays every year.” – “Radiocarbon, Creation and the Genesis Flood,” Dr. Russell Humphreys Ph.D., Creation Science Foundation Ltd., 7 minutes, 15 seconds

When the total amount of carbon-14 reaches a level where the percentage removed annually by decay is equal to the fixed amount added annually by cosmic rays, equilibrium between the mechanisms occurs. From this point in time forward, the total amount of carbon-14 will remain the same. Consequently, this is the fullest saturation level that carbon-14 can achieve since no more can or will be added to the total.

Right now the total amount that we have…in the whole earth ecosystem is 62 tons. 0.01 percent of that’s decaying every year and that works out to about 7 kilograms every year decaying. So, we have 8 kilograms or 18 pounds being produced and 7 kilograms or 15 pounds decayingThe production rate is a little bit greater than the decay rate so it’s still increasingWhen it finally builds up to about 75 tons, then the decay rate and the production rate will be equal. In other words, it will be decaying at 8 kilograms per year, or 18 pounds per year, and being produced at 18 pounds per year. So, the amount of carbon-14 would level of at the maximum of 75 tons of carbon-14…75 tons of carbon-14, that’s the maximum amount we can have in the whole earth ecosystem.” – “Radiocarbon, Creation and the Genesis Flood,” Dr. Russell Humphreys Ph.D., Creation Science Foundation Ltd., 7 minutes, 15 seconds

The problem is that the earth has not yet reached saturation. The maximum amount of carbon-14 in the carbon cycle is 75 tons. Presently, the earth has only 62 tons of carbon-14 in the carbon cycle. This reveals several facts about the earth’s age that are relevant to carbon dating.

First, the fact that earth has not yet reached equilibrium requires a model of carbon-14 levels that includes the following. Number one, there would have to be an explanation for how carbon-14 reached as high as the current amount. Number two, there would have to be an explanation for why the earth has not yet reached saturation. After billions of years of the carbon cycle, the earth should have reached saturation a long time ago. There are only 2 possibilities for why it has not. Either, earth’s history is too short to reach saturation and equilibrium, or there was a historic event that removed a very large portion of carbon-14 recently enough that earth is still building back up toward equilibrium, a build-up that is still occurring today. This point also is indicative of a global flood, as we will describe in greater detail later on.

Second, the fact that the earth has not yet reached equilibrium demonstrates that there was less carbon-14 in the past. Thus, the ratio of carbon to carbon-14 was lower in the past than the current trillion to 1 ratio. This problem becomes even more insurmountable if the assumption of uniformitarianism is maintained. If we assume, as uniformitarianism does, that geologic processes have been the same historically, only the following options are possible. As time moves forward, either the total amount of carbon-14 should be increasing (if equilibrium has not been reached) or the total amount of carbon-14 should remain the same (if equilibrium has been reached). Conversely, if you go backward in time, either the total amount of carbon-14 should be the same as it is today (if equilibrium had already been reached in the past) or the total amount of carbon-14 should be less than it is today (if equilibrium had not been reached in the past). In short, the options are that the past should have either the same or less carbon-14 than today.

Yet evolutionists assert that there were higher levels of carbon-14 in the past. The quote below indicates that 3,000 years ago (1,000 BC) there was a “measurable difference” in the level of carbon-14. And, the quote goes on to state that 8,200 years ago (6,200 BC) the level of carbon-14 was actually almost 10 percent higher than today. These different levels of carbon-14 at times past are attributed to differences in the amount of cosmic rays bombarding the atmosphere at given points in time, which of course in turn produces carbon-14.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Studies have revealed that the atmospheric radiocarbon level prior to 1000 BC deviates measurably from the contemporary level. In the year 6200 BC it was about 8 percent above what it is today. In the context of carbon-14 dating, this departure from the present-day level means that samples with a true age of 8,200 years would be dated by radiocarbon as 7,500 years old.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Asserting a higher amount of carbon-14 in the past than is present today indicates 3 things. Number one, since the amount of carbon-14 should be increasing not descreasing until it reaches equilibrium, the only way for there to have been more carbon-14 in the past is if there was some sort of a major global event that removed a large portion of the carbon-14 so that even to this day cosmic rays have not built it back up to that same level. Number two, maybe the higher amount of carbon-14 is simply an artificial way to “adjust” an age that is “too young” to fit with an overall historical scheme and make it “older” so that will fit. And number three, no matter what the evolutionary principle of uniformitarianism is being violated here.

Third, not only do evolutionists believe in an 8 percent increase in carbon-14 between 1,000 to 6,000 BC, but they also believe there was a one-hundredfold increase in carbon dioxide in the past as well. As established already earlier in this segment, carbon-14 is measured in proportion to the quantity of normal carbon, particularly starting in carbon dioxide. This is indicated in the following 3 quotes. Notice in particular from the first and third quotes that the ratio of carbon to carbon-14 can also be stated as the difference between carbon dioxide and carbon-14.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Newly created carbon-14 atoms were presumed to react with atmospheric oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules. Radioactive carbon thus was visualized as gaining entrance wherever atmospheric carbon dioxide enters—into land plants by photosynthesis, into animals that feed on the plants, into marine waters and freshwaters as a dissolved component, and from there into aquatic plants and animals. In short, all parts of the carbon cycle were seen to be invaded by the isotope carbon-14.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – Invasion is probably not the proper word for a component that Libby calculated should be present only to the extent of about one atom in a trillion stable carbon atoms.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Radiocarbon – All living things contain radiocarbon. In the atmosphere, there is about one atom of radiocarbon for every trillion molecules of carbon dioxide gas.” – Contributor: Rainer Berger, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Geography, and Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles.

Consequently, as we have seen in cases of local volcanic activity, when natural phenomena increase the amount of carbon dioxide, the ratio of carbon dioxide to carbon-14 increases. In short, an increase of carbon dioxide means that the carbon-14 becomes an increasingly small proportion of carbon in the carbon cycle. And, as the quote below also indicates, such an increase of carbon dioxide falsely gives the appearance of greater age.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – It is now clear that carbon-14 is not homogeneously distributed among today's plants and animals. The occasional exceptions all involve nonatmospheric contributions of carbon-14-depleted carbon dioxide to organic synthesis. Specifically, volcanic carbon dioxide is known to depress the carbon-14 level of nearby vegetation and dissolved limestone carbonate occasionally has a similar effect on freshwater mollusks, as does upwelling of deep ocean water on marine mollusks. In every case, the living material affected gives the appearance of built-in age.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

As such, a hundredfold increase in carbon dioxide would constitute an emormous drop in the ratio of carbon-14 in the carbon cycle. Effectively, if the current ratio of carbon to carbon-14 is 1 trillion to 1, a hundredfold increase in carbon dioxide would multiply that ratio by 100 times producing a ratio of 100 trillion normal carbon atoms for every 1 carbon-14 atom. Consequently, organisms from such a timeperiod would appear to have undergone much more loss of carbon-14 from decay and, therefore, would give off an enormously large false age.

Evolutionists assert that this hundredfold increase of carbon dioxide existed 3.5 billion years ago.

"Atmosphere, Development of the Earth's atmosphere, Sequence of events in the development of the atmosphere, Variation in abundance of carbon dioxide – The approximately hundredfold decline of atmospheric CO2 abundances from 3,500,000,000 years ago to the present has apparently not been monotonous.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

The question is, without depending upon faulty radiometric dating methods in order to get ages like 3.5 billion years, how can we assign such a great age to this carbon dioxide increase?

In creationist models, events that are assigned timeframes of hundreds of millions or billions of years ago in the evolutionary model are greatly contracted so that those same events occur much more recently, within the last 6 to 10 thousand years. These contractions of time occur because the radiometric dating methods are not reliable for producing long ages. Since the only radiometric dating methods capable of generating dates beyond 50,000 years (radiometric dating of igneous and metamorphic rocks) simply don’t work, as we have already seen, there is little basis for asserting such an expansion of timeframes to hundreds of millions or billions of years in the first place. Consequently, the hundredfold increase in carbon dioxide can be accepted by creationists on the basis of empirical evidence supporting the concept of an increased proportion of carbon dioxide, while the evolutionary timeframe for that event is shown to be baseless and a matter of mere assumption. But, even in the evolutionary timeframe, dramatic increases in carbon dioxide are not limited to 3.5 billion years ago and the last 100 years since industrialization with fossils fuels and nuclear technology. Evolutionary theory also asserts that carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has “varied greatly” from 1.6 million to 10,000 years ago. This timeframe is denoted in the quote below by the terms “Pleistocene” and “Holocene.”

Climate, Climatic variations and change, Causes of climatic variation, Identified causes, Variations in atmospheric composition – The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is known to have varied greatly in geologic time and also in Pleistocene, Holocene, and Recent times, including the past century.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

The Pleistocene epoch spans from 1.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. And the Holocene epoch spans from 10,000 years ago to the present.

“Geologic Time, II DIVISION OF TIME – The Quaternary Period is divided into the Pleistocene (1.6 million to 10,000 years before present) and Holocene (10,000 years to the present) Epochs.” – "Geologic Time," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

This timeperiod covers the exact timeframe that carbon-14 dating is used for. As we have already seen, carbon dating can only be used on items that are at the most 50,000 years old.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – The occurrence of natural radioactive carbon in the atmosphere provides a unique opportunity to date organic materials as old as 50,000 years.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Dating Methods, III ABSOLUTE DATING METHODS. E Radiometric Dating, E2 Carbon-14 MethodThe rapid disintegration of carbon-14 generally limits the dating period to approximately 50,000 years, although the method is sometimes extended to 70,000 years.” – "Dating Methods," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Archeology, VIII DETERMINING THE AGE OF FINDS, B Absolute Dating, B3 Radiocarbon DatingRadiocarbon methods can date sites that are up to 40,000 or 50,000 years old.” – "Archaeology," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Consequently, carbon dioxide content has “varied greatly” at the very times when we need to know a standard starting ratio in the environment in order to compare and perform age calculations.

In summary, we consider the amount of circular reasoning that we’ve seen in all dating methods so far. You assume rock strata took a long time to be laid down. You assume “faunal succession,” that different types of animals arrived on earth in order according to macro-evolutionary processes. You date the ages of the rock strata by the fossils. You date the fossils by the rock strata they are found in. From these circular processes you obtain relative ages. Relative dating then dictates radiometric ages. Radiometric ages then provide ages that support relative dating. It is this circular reasoning that dates the hundredfold increase in carbon dioxide to 3.5 billion years ago and other “great variations” in carbon dioxide to 1.6 billion years ago. Consequently, based upon the circular reasoning, the increase in carbon dioxide is considered to be too far in the past to affect carbon-14 ratios and ages. But without the circular reasoning involved in such dating methods, such variations and increase would be within the range of carbon-14 and, therefore, would significantly impact the starting ratio of carbon-14 and the ages carbon dating produces. Effectively, we'd be looking at rocks and samples formed when the ratio of regular carbon to carbon-14 was up to 100 times greater than today. But based upon circular reasoning, we would be thinking that far more decay of carbon-14 had occurred and, therefore, that the samples were far older than they actually are.

In conclusion, in addition to the uncontested problems with carbon-14 dating and the admitted unreliability of carbon-14 by evolutionary scientists, the evidence and admissions by evolutionary scientists also indicates that carbon-14 ratios have differed dramatically in the past. In particular, the fact that the earth’s carbon-14 supply has not yet reached saturation combined with admissions of hundredfold carbon dioxide increases demonstrates that the starting ratio of carbon-14 cannot be assumed or used as a basis for making age calculations. On these grounds, as well as those listed as “uncontested problems,” we can see that carbon-14 dating does not work, particularly for items, which date farther into the past and therefore farther away from the known, present ratio of carbon-14.

Having concluded our examination of both the uncontested and the contested problems with carbon-14 dating, there is one last issue that needs to be covered before moving forward to the last few radiometric dating methods. In our previous segments analyzing radiometric dating for igneous and metamorphic rocks, we closed with a further demonstration of the devastating impact that a global or near-global flood would have on those dating methods. The same is true for carbon-14 dating. And as we will see, there is substantial physical evidence that global flood was responsible for a removal of massive amounts of carbon dioxide, which in turn would affect the ratio of carbon to carbon-14 as well as the saturation level of carbon-14 as described above.

The first indication that massive amounts of carbon dioxide were removed by the flood is the fact that sedimentary rocks contain most of earth’s carbon dioxide, such as limestone.

Earth [planet], Earth's changing climateMany scientists also believe that variations in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are responsible for long-term changes in the climate. Carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas," traps heat from the sun and warms Earth's atmosphere. Most of Earth's carbon dioxide is locked in carbonate rocks, such as limestone and dolomite. Earth's climate today would be much warmer if the carbon dioxide trapped in limestone were released into the atmosphere.” – Contributor: Steven I. Dutch, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.

Limestonesedimentary rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), usually in the form of calcite or aragonite. It may contain considerable amounts of magnesium carbonate (dolomite) as well.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

As established in an earlier section, the earth’s entire surface is covered by a “thin veneer” of sedimentary rocks approximately 1.8 kilometers or 1.1 miles thick on the continents.

Igneous rockThe Earth is composed predominantly of a large mass of igneous rock with a very thin veneer of weathered material—namely, sedimentary rock.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Sedimentary rock – On the other hand, the area of outcrop and exposure of sediment and sedimentary rock comprises 75 percent of the land surface and well over 90 percent of the ocean basins and continental margins. In other words, 80–90 percent of the surface area of the Earth is mantled with sediment or sedimentary rocks rather than with igneous or metamorphic varieties. The sediment-sedimentary rock shell forms only a thin superficial layer. The mean shell thickness in continental areas is 1.8 kilometres; the sediment shell in the ocean basins is roughly 0.3 kilometre.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Furthermore, as also established earlier, sedimentary rocks are by definition predominantly laid down by water.

Sedimentary RockSedimentary Rock, in geology, rock composed of geologically reworked materials, formed by the accumulation and consolidation of mineral and particulate matter deposited by the action of water or, less frequently, wind or glacial ice…Sedimentary rocks are classified according to their manner of origin into mechanical or chemical sedimentary rocks. Mechanical rocks, or fragmental rocks, are composed of mineral particles produced by the mechanical disintegration of other rocks and transported, without chemical deterioration, by flowing water. They are carried into larger bodies of water, where they are deposited in layers…They may also have been dissolved in water circulating through the parent rock formation and then deposited in a sea or lake by precipitation from the solution.” – "Sedimentary Rock," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Sedimentary, rock – Sedimentary rock is rock formed when mineral matter or remains of plants and animals settle out of water or, less commonly, out of air or ice…Most sedimentary rock starts forming when grains of clay, silt, or sand settle in river valleys or on the bottoms of lakes and oceans.” – Worldbook, Contributor: Maria Luisa Crawford, Ph.D., Professor of Geology, Bryn Mawr College.

The fact that nearly all of the earth’s surface is covered by a thin exterior layer of rock that was predominantly “deposited by the action of water” and settled out “in layers” from “larger bodies of water” is remarkably indicative that the earth was given an outer coat of sedimentary rock by a global flood. And since “most of Earth's carbon dioxide” is contained in its sedimentary rock, the evidence also consistently indicates that the flood removed a large portion of the earth’s carbon dioxide and buried it in the sedimentary rock. Furthermore, the removal of large amounts of carbon dioxide would also corroborate the assessment in our previous segment, “Focus on Critical Evidence: Evidence for a Global Flood,” which stated that the flood triggered a major climate shift from a previous, more uniform “greenhouse” or perhaps tropical environment prior to the flood to the colder climate we have today, which cycles between summer and winter and varies around the planet. (Additionally, the flood would also explain the expansion of glaciers and arctic conditions, known as the Ice Age, due to the global climates adjusting to the sudden absence of vast amounts of “greenhouse” gases.)

The second indication that massive amounts of carbon dioxide were removed by the flood is the fact that the ocean itself is a huge “reservoir for carbon dioxide.”

Ocean, Chemical and physical properties of seawater, Composition of seawater,

Dissolved inorganic substances – While the atmosphere is a vast repository of oxygen compared to the oceans, the total carbon dioxide content of the oceans is very large compared to that of the atmosphere.

Ocean, Chemical and physical properties of seawater, Composition of seawater, Effects of human activities – It is thought that the oceans, as a great reservoir of carbon dioxide, will ameliorate this consequence of human activities to some degree.”

Furthermore, as stated previously, the Holocene Epoch spans from 10,000 years ago to the present. This is indicated by the second quote below. Even evolutionary history agrees that the evidence indicates “an accelerated rise in sea level” took place in this timeframe.

“Geologic Time, II DIVISION OF TIME – The Quaternary Period is divided into the Pleistocene (1.6 million to 10,000 years before present) and Holocene (10,000 years to the present) Epochs. The Holocene is marked by the rapid retreat of the last continental ice sheets in Europe and North America, an accelerated rise in sea level, climatic moderation, and the expansion of human societies in every part of the world.” – "Geologic Time," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Not only have the ocean waters risen but they are also quite cold. In the quote above, this is reflected in the assertion that the rise in ocean level corresponded to the melting of continental ice sheets. Consequently, the water entering the oceans was formerly ice and, therefore, relatively quite cold. And not only has “an accelerated rise in sea level” taken place in the last 10,000 years, during the Holocene Epoch, but this same timeframe is also identified as a period of “great variation” in carbon dioxide levels in earth’s atmosphere.

Climate, Climatic variations and change, Causes of climatic variation, Identified causes, Variations in atmospheric composition – The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is known to have varied greatly in geologic time and also in Pleistocene, Holocene, and Recent times, including the past century.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Consequently, earth’s oceans today are both higher and colder than they were in the past. In fact, we can gain further insight by understanding just how cold the oceans are. For comparison, on the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius, the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 degrees Celsius, and human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and 37 degrees Celsius. In contrast, at its surface, the ocean’s warmest temperatures are 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) and the coolest temperatures are 29.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 degrees Celsius).

Ocean and Oceanography, VI TEMPERATURE – The temperature of surface ocean water ranges from 26° C (79° F) in tropical waters to -1.4° C (29.5° F), the freezing point of seawater, in polar regions. Surface temperatures generally decrease with increasing latitude, with seasonal variations far less extreme than on land. In the upper 100 m (330 ft) of the sea, the water is almost as warm as at the surface. From 100 m to approximately 1000 m (3300 ft), the temperature drops rapidly to about 5° C (41° F), and below this it drops gradually about another 4° to barely above freezing. The region of rapid change is known as the thermocline.” – "Ocean and Oceanography," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Below the surface, temperatures are much cooler. As indicate by the last quote above, from 100-1,000 meters the temperature is about 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit). From below 1,000 meters, the temperature drops to just above freezing. As indicated by the quote below, the average depth of the ocean is 5,000 meters. Since ocean water is 5,000 meters deep and all the water below 1,000 meters is just above freezing, this means that four-fifths or 80 percent of the oceans is just above freezing. 

Ocean and Oceanography, II OCEAN BASIN STRUCTUREThe world ocean covers 71 percent of the earth's surface, or about 361 million sq km (140 million sq mi). Its average depth is 5000 m (16,000 ft), and its total volume is about 1,347,000,000 cu km (322,300,000 cu mi).” – "Ocean and Oceanography," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The ocean’s cold temperature is relevant for the following reason. In general, the ability of a liquid, such as ocean water, to dissolve a gas, in this case carbon dioxide, depends on its temperature. In the quote below, carbon dioxide is “recovered” or released from the solvent (liquid) in which it is dissolved by heating that liquid.

Liquid, Solutions and solubilitiesThe ability of liquids to dissolve solids, other liquids, or gases has long been recognized as one of the fundamental phenomena of nature encountered in daily life…The ability of one substance to dissolve another depends always on the chemical nature of the substances, frequently on the temperature, and occasionally on the pressure…In this process, called absorption, the dissolved carbon dioxide is later recovered, and the solvent is made usable again by heating the carbon dioxide-rich solvent, since the solubility of a gas in a liquid usually (but not always) decreases with rising temperature.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Furthermore, as indicated by the quote below, it is well understood that the cold temperatures of the oceans, particularly at greater depths, causes the retaining of a much larger amount of carbon dioxide in the oceans than in the atmosphere. While a small portion of that carbon dioxide is released as the waters warm at low latitudes (closer to the tropics and equator), the small portion that is released in the warmer, lower latitude waters is balanced out by the acquisition of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the colder waters.

Atmosphere, Composition of the present atmosphere, Major components of the lower atmosphere, Distribution of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen compounds, Carbon compounds – Most of the carbon in the oceans is present in cold, relatively stagnant water at depth. It returns to the atmosphere in association with slow upwelling motion at low latitudes. As surface waters cool and sink at high latitude, they draw carbon from the atmosphere, roughly balancing the source at low latitude.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Consequently, the reason that ocean’s cold temperature is relevant is because if the ocean’s temperature was warmer, more carbon dioxide would escape from the ocean into the atmosphere. Thus, it is the present cold temperature of the ocean that causes so much carbon dioxide to remain dissolved there.

In conclusion, the bulk of earth’s carbon dioxide is present in 2 locations that are directly associated with a global flood, in a 1.1 mile thick veneer of sedimentary rock that was laid down by water and in the ocean waters itself, which have risen greatly sometime within the ten thousand years. If there was a Flood that laid down a large amount of earth’s carbon dioxide in sedimentary rocks, that dramatic drop in carbon dioxide would cause the temperature of the earth to drop. The dropping temperature would cause the ocean water to retain more carbon dioxide. And this twofold drop in the carbon dioxide level would cause a huge difference in the carbon-14 ratios both before and after the flood. In addition, some of the removed carbon dioxide would also include carbon-14, causing the carbon-14 level to drop below the saturation point. For both of these reasons, the ratio of carbon-14 before and since the flood would be much lower than today’s relatively high trillion to 1 ratio. Carbon dating would become progressively accurate only in more recent items as the carbon-14 progressively built up toward the present levels. Since this factor is not taken into account during carbon-14 dating, the lower quantity of carbon-14 in samples closer to the time before and right after the flood is mistakenly regarded as a result of decay time and age when in reality the samples simply started with lower amounts of carbon-14. So, once again, the flood, which is corroborated by both historic and geologic evidence, removes the larger ages that result from the circular reasoning inherent to radiometric dating, in this case carbon-14 dating. And only by assuming evolutionary timeframes and ignoring the evidence of a global flood, can any process provide the billions of years of earth history necessary in order to allow for evolution. Put simply, once a global flood is acknowledged as a part of geologic history methods for producing the evolutionary timescale become completely non-viable.

Lastly, concerning carbon-14 dating in general, we have established the following facts. First, because of its short half-life, carbon-14 cannot date any items older than 50,000 years. Thus, it cannot provide evidence for a 4.5 billion year history for the earth. Second, carbon-14 dating suffers significantly from contamination. Third, the ratio of carbon-14 can differ from one region to another today as a result of increased carbon dioxide from volcanic activity or industry. Fourth, the ratio of carbon-14 has varied in the past. Both of these 2 factors prevent age calculations because age is determined by the amount of carbon-14 that has decayed in comparison to the starting ratio, which is defined as the same ratio that is in the environment. Since the amount in the environment varies with time and location, such calculations simply cannot be made. Fifth, carbon-14 requires “calibration” by other evolutionary dating methods that do not work and utilize circular reasoning. Sixth, carbon-14 levels have not yet reached equilibrium or full saturation as they should have if the earth and the carbon cycle were around for billions or millions of years. This fact demonstrates that the earth is either not billions or millions of years old or that a significant event, such as a global flood, removed large portions of carbon from the carbon cycle relatively recently. Seventh, most of earth’s carbon dioxide is trapped within sedimentary rock and the oceans, both of which corroborate that a massive flood removed large portions of carbon from the carbon cycle. In turn, this would cause carbon-14 dates for items before the flood and after the flood to have “built-in” or false ages due to the fact that they would have lower carbon-14 ratios to begin with rather than carbon-14 being removed by long periods of radioactive decay. 

These prohibitive facts are acknowledged by the evolutionary community.

Dating, Absolute dating, Major methods of isotopic dating, Carbon-14 dating and other cosmogenic methods – It is clear that carbon-14 dates lack the accuracy that traditional historians would like to have. There may come a time when all radiocarbon ages rest on firmer knowledge of the sample's original carbon-14 level than is now available. Until then, the inherent error from this uncertainty must be recognized.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

The troubles of the radiocarbon dating method are undeniably deep and serious. Despite 35 years of technological refinement and better understanding, the underlying assumptions have been strongly challenged, and warnings are out that radiocarbon may soon find itself in a crisis situation. Continuing use of the method depends on a ‘fix it as we go’ approach, allowing for contamination here, fractionation there, and calibration whenever possible. It should be no surprise, then, that fully half of the dates are rejected. The wonder is, surely, that the remaining half come to be accepted…No matter how ‘useful’ it is, though, the radiocarbon method is still not capable of yielding accurate and reliable results. There are gross discrepancies, the chronology is uneven and relative, and the accepted dates are actually selected dates.” – Evolutionary Anthropologist Robert Lee (Cited on “Scientific Evidences for a Young Earth,” Thomas Kindall, Seattle Creation Conference 2004, Copyright Northwest Creation Network, nwcreation.net, 47 minutes, 55 seconds)

Yet the evolutionary timescale is admittedly based upon carbon-14, a dating method that is acknowledged to have “problems and uncertainties.”

Archaeology, Interpretation, Dating – Absolute man-made chronology based on king lists and records in Egypt and Mesopotamia goes back only 5,000 years. For a long time archaeologists searched for an absolute chronology that went beyond this and could turn their relative chronologies into absolute dates…There have been problems and uncertainties about the application of the radioactive carbon method, but, although it is less than perfect, it has given archaeology a new and absolute chronology that goes back 40,000 years.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Clearly, as hinted in the quote above, carbon-14 dating is kept in use not because it works but because it is so useful to supporting evolutionary theory, no matter how unreliable and baseless that support is. However, as we have seen the ages generated by carbon-14 dating are not objective or empirical evidence of age at all but instead, like other radiometric dating methods, these ages are merely based upon assumptions, including ultimately the circular assumption of evolutionary theory itself.


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