Radiocarbon Dating

From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

What about carbon dating? Doesn’t that give accurate dates of “prehistoric” civilizations?

Carbon dating is the ultimate benchmark of the evolutionary dating world. Everyone assumes that dates that follow the word “radiocarbon” are accurate, precise and sure. But are they?

The basic principle of radiocarbon dating is that plants and animals absorb trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 from carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere while they are alive but stop doing so when they die. The carbon-14 in a sample decays at a steady rate after it dies, and thus works like a clock. It is assumed that the amount of radioactive carbon left in the sample indicates how old it is.

But there is a major problem with this method. It is based on several assumptions, one of which is false. For this method to work, the rate of production of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has to remain constant through time. In truth, however, the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere varies with fluctuations in solar activity and Earth’s magnetic field, changes in atmospheric conditions and even the exploding of atomic bombs!

As a result, radiocarbon dating isn’t so accurate: “Provided they are adjusted, radiocarbon dates are now considered reliable as far back as 5000 B.C.,” writes archeologist and professor Martha Joukowsky in A Complete Manual of Field Archeology. “Since the dendrochronological sequence extends back only as far as about 5500 B.C., no way exists at present to check radiocarbon dates from 5500 to 10,000 B.C.”

When comparing radiocarbon dates with dates derived from tree rings, known as dendrochronological dating, the dates only agree accurately as far back as A.D. 640, and only generally well back to the time of Christ. Anything further back and the dates are as much as 800 years off. So scientists made calibration charts to make up for the variation. But they still have to verify their calibrations with samples of known dates. There is still a problem!

Radiocarbon dates can only be trusted up until the record left by trees can back them up. There is no other way to verify the calibration charts accurately! Scientists, however, will push the envelope to 10,000 B.C. without any way to verify it.

In 2004, the claimed reliability of radiocarbon dating supposedly got a boost to 26,000 years, and then again in 2010 back to 50,000 years ago—the point at which there is too little carbon-14 to measure accurately. Scientists now claim 50,000 years is as far back as this method can go. This latest system of dating developed by intcal, an international working group, was based on dating coral samples from the ocean floor.

Intcal extended radiocarbon dates beyond the limit of dendrochronology by basing it on “matched uranium series and radiocarbon dates on fossil corals, coupled with radiocarbon-dated organic material from laminated marine sediments in the Cariaco Basin, Venzuela” (Mike Walker, Quartenary Dating Methods, 2005).

Did you catch that? They apparently increased the effectiveness of radiocarbon dating by basing their calibration charts on radiocarbon-dated coral and sediment layers! That is circular reasoning—defending the method by using the very same method!

On top of that, radiocarbon dating coral presents great difficulties that make it unreliable. Why? Because of another assumption in radiocarbon dating: that it is a closed system. Once the “clock” starts, there is no gain or loss in radiocarbon elements used in dating. The trouble is, coral behaves differently. In coral, the carbon-14 decay rate is not stable; it picks up radioactive isotopes over time. In other words, the clock’s hour hand doesn’t move consistently.

The result?

“[P]roblems arising from past variations in the marine reservoir and also possible errors in the counting of laminated sediments mean this part of the calibration curve is less secure than that based on tree-ring records,” says Quartenary Dating Methods. “Despite the uncertainties associated with the older part of the age range, the international radiocarbon community has recommended that intcal 98 be used as the basis for calibration for the time being” (emphasis mine throughout).

So even though it is less reliable and has some serious problems, scientists ignore that and still use it. This book was written on the basis of the calibration that intcal has been developing for over 20 years, a process that has unfolded in the stages listed above.

How did the newest development come about? In an article titled “Radiocarbon Daters Tune Up Their Time Machine,” Science magazine explained: “[T]hanks to new and more accurate data from foraminifers, corals, and other sources—plus some fancy statistical treatments that help predict which way data gaps bend the curve—the intcal group has been able to resolve most of the discrepancies. ‘It took the group quite a while to come together and agree,’ says intcal team leader Paula Reimer, a geochronologist at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. But the new data, combined with what Reimer calls a ‘real sense of necessity’ among team members to resolve the debates, won the day” (January 15).

“Fancy statistical treatments” that didn’t even resolve all of the discrepancies? That doesn’t seem like a sound scientific process, does it? And what was it that finally got the scientists to agree on their uncertain calibration curve? A “real sense of necessity” to resolve the debate!

The problem with all these theories and conclusions is that they hark back to the scientists’ blind belief in the false theory of evolution. That is about the only thing the scientists agree on, yet it causes much confusion and chaos. Data has to be manipulated, skewed and given fancy treatment to make evolution fit the facts.

That is science based on a shifting foundation of sand! Yet that is the necessity by which these scientists are driven. They need a way to date artifacts further than 5,000 to 6,000 years ago so they can prove their false theory “true”!

If no dating system is created, evolution will forever be stuck in the realm of hypothesis. Even with such manipulation, the scientists still can’t remove all the discrepancies. In the end, it is still an unprovable hypothesis!

It is under this pretense that scientists take up the false hypothesis of evolution as their religion, the foundation of their knowledge. That is what the Bible terms “the oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20).

The bottom line is that scientists cannot reliably use radiocarbon dating on artifacts beyond the time of Christ. The method they use to attempt to do so is twisted to fit evolutionary theory.