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Carbon-14 dating Radioisotope dating The Biblical age of the earth.

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Presentation on theme: "Carbon-14 dating Radioisotope dating The Biblical age of the earth."— Presentation transcript:


2 Carbon-14 dating Radioisotope dating The Biblical age of the earth

3 Fundamental unit of matter Made up of components called subatomic particles Proton (positive charge) Neutron (no electrical charge) Electron (negative charge) Electron Nucleus


5 Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on earth. Familiar to us as: 1. the black substance in charred wood, 2. as diamonds, 3. and the graphite in lead pencils, also

6 carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes. One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms:

7 Types of carbon (isotopes) 14 6 9 6 16 6 Atomic mass Atomic number Carbon-14 is also referred to as: C-14 Carbon-14 14 C Radiocarbon

8 Atomic Mass The atomic mass (ma) is the mass of an atom at rest, most often expressed in unified atomic mass units.massunified atomic mass units The atomic mass may be considered to be the total mass of protons, neutrons and electrons in a single atom (when the atom is motionless).protons neutronselectrons atom

9 Atomic Number The atomic number (also known as the proton number) is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom.protonsnucleusatom It is traditionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element. chemical element

10 In an atom of neutral charge, the number of electrons also equals the atomic number.neutral chargeelectrons The atomic number is closely related to the mass number, which is the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. mass numberneutrons The mass number defines the isotope of the element and often comes after the name of the element, e.g. carbon-14 (used in carbon dating).isotopecarbon-14carbon dating

11 The proton number (atomic number) must change A neutron changes into a proton 14 6 14 7 The nucleus of an atom changes into a new element


13 Carbon-14 is made when cosmic rays knock neutrons out of atomic nuclei in the upper atmosphere. These displaced neutrons, now moving fast, hit ordinary nitrogen (14N) at lower altitudes, converting it into 14C. Unlike common carbon (12C), 14C is unstable and slowly decays, changing it back to nitrogen and releasing energy. This instability makes it radioactive.

14 Ordinary carbon (12C) is found in the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, which is taken up by plants, which in turn are eaten by animals. So a bone, or a leaf or a tree, or even a piece of wooden furniture, contains carbon. When the 14C has been formed, like ordinary carbon (12C), it combines with oxygen to give carbon dioxide (14CO2), and so it also gets cycled through the cells of plants and animals.

15 Cosmic Rays (radiation) Collision with atmosphere (N14) Forms C-14 C-14 combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO 2 )

16 We can take a sample of air, count how many 12C atoms there are for every 14C atom, and calculate the 14C/12C ratio. Because 14C is so well mixed up with 12C, we expect to find that this ratio is the same if we sample a leaf from a tree, or a part of your body.


18 Once a plant or animal dies the clock starts The plant or animal no longer takes in C-14 The C-14 present in the plant or animal begins to decay No more C-14 intake C-14 continues to decay

19 In living things, although 14C atoms are constantly changing back to 14N, they are still exchanging carbon with their surroundings, so the mixture remains about the same as in the atmosphere. However, as soon as a plant or animal dies, the 14C atoms which decay are no longer replaced, so the amount of 14C in that once-living thing decreases as time goes on. In other words, the 14C/12C ratio gets smaller.

20 So, we have a clock which starts ticking the moment something dies. Obviously, this works only for things which were once living. It cannot be used to date volcanic rocks, for example.


22 The rate of decay of 14C is such that half of an amount will convert back to 14N in 5,730 years (plus or minus 40 years). This is the half-life. So, in two half-lives, or 11,460 years, only one-quarter will be left.

23 14 6 14 7 14 7 Cosmic radiation 5,730 year half-life


25 Thus, if the amount of 14C relative to 12C in a sample is one-quarter of that in living organisms at present, then it has a theoretical age of 11,460 years. Anything over about 50,000 years old, should theoretically have no detectable 14C left. That is why radiocarbon dating cannot give millions of years. In fact, if a sample contains 14C, it is good evidence that it is not millions of years old.

26 However, things are not quite so simple. First, plants discriminate against carbon dioxide containing 14C. That is, they take up less than would be expected and so they test older than they really are. Furthermore, different types of plants discriminate differently. This also has to be corrected for.

27 Second, the ratio of 14C/12C in the atmosphere has not been constantfor example, it was higher before the industrial era when the massive burning of fossil fuels released a lot of carbon dioxide that was depleted in 14C. This would make things which died at that time appear older in terms of carbon dating. Then there was a rise in 14CO2 with the advent of atmospheric testing of atomic bombs in the 1950s. This would make things carbon-dated from that time appear younger than their true age.

28 Measurement of 14C in historically dated objects (e.g., seeds in the graves of historically dated tombs) enables the level of 14C in the atmosphere at that time to be estimated, and so partial calibration of the clock is possible. Accordingly, carbon dating carefully applied to items from historical times can be useful.

29 However, even with such historical calibration, archaeologists do not regard 14C dates as absolute because of frequent anomalies. They rely more on dating methods that link into historical records. Outside the range of recorded history, calibration of the 14C clock is not possible.

30 Used only on organic material Cannot be used to date rocks Maximum age limit about 60,000 years

31 If there is a lot of C-14 remaining in the fossil, we assume it has not been dead very long If there is very little C-14 remaining in the fossil we assume most of it has decayed and the animal lived a long time ago (i.e. 30,000 or more years) The C-14 dating method relies on measuring the amount of C-14 in the fossil

32 1.How fast C-14 decays (measured in half- lives - this is known: 5,730 years) 2.The starting amount of C-14 in the fossil We need to know two things We know number 1 How can we know how much C-14 was in an organism 5,000 years ago?

33 The ratio today in the atmosphere is 1-trillion to 1 The dating method relies on measuring the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample

34 Amount of stable C-12 Amount of unstable C-14 RatioYears Dead # Half-lives 100 Trillion1001-T to 100 100 Trillion 50 2-T to 1 5,730 1 100 Trillion 25 4-T to 1 11,460 2 100 Trillion 12.5 8-T to 117,190 3 100 Trillion 6 16-T to 1 22,920 4 100 Trillion 3 32-T to 1 28,650 5 Are there any assumptions in this process?

35 30,000 years to reach equilibrium Has the ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere always been the same? If YES, then the C-14 dating is valid for up to 60,000 years If NO, then we have no valid way of knowing the starting amount of C-14 and dates will be invalid

36 He found a considerable discrepancy in his measurements indicating that, apparently, radiocarbon was being created in the atmosphere somewhere around 25 percent faster than it was becoming extinct. Since this result was inexplicable by any conventional scientific means, Libby put the discrepancy down to experimental error. Richard, Milton, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, 1997, p. 32. (W. F. Libby, Radiocarbon Dating, 1955)

37 During the 1960s, Libbys experiments were repeated by chemists… The new experiments, though, revealed that the discrepancy observed by Libby was not merely an experimental error – it did exist. Richard, Milton, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, 1997, p. 32.

38 There is strong indication, despite the large errors, that the present natural production rate exceeds the natural decay rate by as much as 25 percent. Richard Lingenfelter, Production of C-14 by cosmic ray neutrons, Review of Geophysics, 1963, p.51.

39 The new atomic accelerator technique has consistently detected at least small amounts of carbon-14 in every specimen – even materials that evolutionists claim are millions of years old, such as coal… In one study of eleven sets of ancient human bones, all were dated at about 5,000 radiocarbon years or less. Walter Brown (Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Physics), In the Beginning, 2001, p. 245.


41 The amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earths atmosphere affects the amount of 14C produced and therefore dating the system. The amount of cosmic rays reaching the earth varies with the suns activity, and with the earth's passage through magnetic clouds as the solar system travels around the Milky Way galaxy.

42 A stronger magnetic field deflects more cosmic rays away from the earth. Overall, the energy of the earths magnetic field has been decreasing, so more 14C is being produced now, than in the past. This will make old things look older than they really are.

43 Also, the Genesis flood would have greatly upset the carbon balance. The flood buried a huge amount of carbon, which became coal, oil, etc., lowering the total 12C in the biosphere (including the atmosphereplants regrowing after the flood absorb CO2, which is not replaced by the decay of the buried vegetation). Total 14C is also proportionately lowered at this time, but whereas no terrestrial process generates any more 12C, 14C is continually being produced, and at a rate which does not depend on carbon levels (it comes from nitrogen).

44 Therefore, the 14C/12C ratio in plants/animals/the atmosphere before the flood had to be lower than what it is now. Unless this effect (which is additional to the magnetic field issue just discussed) were corrected for, carbon dating of fossils formed in the flood would give ages much older than the true ages.


46 Carbon-14 dating is based on an assumption The key assumption has been shown to be false (equilibrium) Carbon-14 dating is a reliable dating method for less than 3,000 years and not the claimed 60,000 found in many textbooks

47 What are they and how do they operate? What is the basic perception? How accurate are they? Are there any hidden assumptions?

48 Using radioactive dating, scientists have determined that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, ancient enough for all species to have been formed through evolution. Biology: Visualizing Life, Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1998, p.177.

49 Radiometric and other dating techniques, when used properly, are highly accurate means of establishing dates in the history of the planet and in the history of life. National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), 1995 Position Statements.

50 There are various other radiometric dating methods used today to give ages of millions or billions of years for rocks. These techniques, unlike carbon dating, mostly use the relative concentrations of parent and daughter products in radioactive decay chains.

51 Potassium Argon Decay Understanding Assumptions Uranium Decay Lead For example, potassium-40 decays to argon-40; uranium-238 decays to lead-206 via other elements like radium; uranium-235 decays to lead-207

52 The isotope concentrations can be measured very accurately, but isotope concentrations are not dates. To derive ages from such measurements, unprovable assumptions have to be made such as:

53 1. The starting conditions are known (for example, that there was no daughter isotope present at the start, or that we know how much was there). 2. Decay rates have always been constant. 3. Systems were closed or isolated so that no parent or daughter isotopes were lost or added.

54 These techniques are applied to igneous rocks, and are normally seen as giving the time since solidification.


56 Can you calculate how long you were outside?

57 Sunset Crater, Northern Arizona Potassium-argon: 200,000+ Reality: AD 1065 Lava flows at Mt. Ngaurhoe, New Zealand Potassium-argon: 275,000 Reality: 1949, 1954, 1975 Hualalai basalt, Hawaii Potassium-argon: 1.4 – 22 million Reality: AD 1801 Mt. Etna basalt, Sicily Potassium-argon: 140,000 – 350,000 Reality: 1972

58 Diamonds from Zaire: 6 billion years old! Mount St. Helens rocks 300,000 years old!

59 Assumption of starting amounts of elements Assumption of steady decay rate Assumption of a closed system If you base your theory on a wrong assumption, all your work can be correct, but the result will be wrong.

60 Rapid disintegration of comets Sediment on the ocean floor Decay of the Earths magnetic field Carbon-14 ratio in the atmosphere Helium in the Earths atmosphere Radiohalos for polonium in granites Population statistics Recession of the moon

61 Literal 6-day creation Gap theory Day-Age Theory Progressive creation Which one is correct? How can we know?

62 Very Good does not mean what it says Genesis 1 cannot be understood without outside scientific knowledge Death before sin The Genesis Flood was not worldwide The Bible (not just Genesis) becomes open to interpretation

63 Contrary to what people think its not impossible to know. Genesis chapter 1 was written in the Hebrew language which is consistent in using one structure for narrative and quite a different one for poetry. Charles Taylor (Ph.D. Linguistics/emphasis on Old Testament Hebrew), Linguistics, Genesis and Evolution, 1981.

64 Meaning of Yom Yom with a number Evening and morning Genesis 1:14 Exodus 20:11 Words used to indicate time Narrative versus poetry (VSO or SVO) In the beginning created God the heavens… = VSO Genealogies (Gen 5, 1Chron 1, Luke 3) Are the days of creation literal days?

65 Probably so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who dares not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that creation took place in a series of six days which are the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience… Professor James Barr, Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford.

66 There is nothing in the Bible to obviate the idea that the days in Genesis were 24 hour type days. Dr. Robert Cole (Ph.D. Semitic Languages), A PhD looks at the Genesis Days

67 A very important point that most people overlook when it comes to word use, is that it is impossible to use a word as a symbol or figuratively unless it already has a literal meaning. The word day cannot, in Hebrew or English, be used in the abstract of symbolic sense unless it already has a clearly understood literal meaning. Charles Taylor (Ph.D. Linguistics/emphasis on Old Testament Hebrew), Linguistics, Genesis and Evolution, 1981

68 It is a fact that before the modern era, nobody in the history of the church for over three thousand years ever questioned the chronology of the Bible, and only a tiny handful ever questioned that the six days of Genesis 1 were ordinary 24-hour-type days. James B. Jordan (D. Litt), Creation in Six Days, p. 17.

69 Genesis chapter 1 requires scientific information to interpret There was death before sin The Genesis Flood was NOT a worldwide flood What does Gods very good mean in Genesis 1:31?


71 It is not a Salvation issue, but… Authority of Gods Word … Jesus is the Creator Do we need the Old Testament? Creation is the foundation for the Gospel Why did Jesus die on the cross? What is happening in schools today? Attacks on the Bible Lack of respect by Christians for the Bible Evolution is being taught as a fact Evolution means materialism (No Creator) Evolution started in the Garden of Eden

72 Creation is the first element of the Christian worldview, the foundation on which everything else is built. It is the basis of human dignity, for our origin tells us who we are, why we are here, and how we should treat one another. Chuck Colson, How Now Shall We Live, 1999, p. 100.

73 Kurt WisePh.D. Paleontology Steven A. Austin Ph.D. Geology John Morris Ph.D. Geology Elaine KennedyPh.D. Geology Donald B. DeYoung Ph.D. Physics Walter BrownPh.D. Mechanical Engineering Russell Humphreys Ph.D. Physics Keith WanserPh.D. Condensed Matter Physics Danny R. Faulkner Ph.D. Astronomy Duane T. Gish Ph.D. Biochemistry Ross S. AndersonPh.D. Biochemistry Lane P. Lester Ph.D. Genetics Linda K. WalkupPh.D. Molecular Genetics Ray BohlinPh.D. Molecular Biology Gary E. Parker Ph.D. Biology Jonathan Sarfati Ph.D. Physical Chemistry Charles TaylorPh.D. Linguistics (O.T.) Robert ColePh.D. Semitic Languages Steven BoydPh.D Hebraic and Cognitive Studies Drs. John MacArthur, James Kennedy, David Jeremiah, Tim LaHaye

74 I am convinced there is far more evidence for a recent, six-day creation and a global Flood than there is for an old earth and evolution. Dr. Keith Wanser (Ph.D. Condensed Matter Physics), Creation ex nihilo, 1999, p. 39. (Dr. Wanser works with theoretical condensed matter physics and basic theories of matter)

75 Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth

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