Why Evolution is Wrong, post 8 of 10: Carbon 14

      In my last post I neglected to mention a very important method of radio-metric dating commonly referred to as “carbon 14.”  This was not only because I was once again facing the constraints of article length and focus, but also because this method is very different from the ones that the evolutionists use to prove that the fossil record is very old. It not only requires a whole different set of rules for its use, but it also gives vital evidence that the fossil record may in fact be very young. 

            One of the main differences between carbon 14 and potassium-argon dating is that carbon 14 is used to test the age of organic materials that used to be alive: plants and animals. Also, carbon 14 has a much smaller half life, so it can be used to test for relatively recent dates. Finally, carbon 14 is unique because we know almost exactly how much isotope there is to start with.  As you will recall, this is one of the main problems facing other radiometric dating methods (note: in this method it is the parent isotope, not the daughter isotope that is the vital quantity). But not so with carbon 14.  This is because all living organisms keep a (relatively) constant ratio of carbon 14 in their bodies that is unchanged until the day they die.  As soon as they die, however, the carbon 14 decays into carbon 12.  So using this method we can fairly easily pinpoint the date in which death occurred.  This allows us, for example, to date a piece of wood that we might find entombed within an ancient pyramid.

            Because of all the reasons mentioned above, carbon 14’s best application is the field of archeology. It has been used extensively by archeologists with great effect.  Although it must be administered with extreme care, like all radiometric dating methods, it has proven itself time and time again as an accurate predictor of recent dates.  It has been tested many times on objects of a known date, and generally passed the tests with flying colors.  Over the years scientists have honed their methods to give them even more accuracy.

            Unfortunately, carbon 14 is not directly applicable to the field of paleontology. This is because it can only be used on objects that were once alive. Fossils do not normally qualify because their organic parts have been replaced by minerals which cannot be tested using this method. However, fossil fuels like petroleum and coal are still organic and can therefore be tested by carbon 14.  Of course these fuels are no longer individual organisms: they are many organisms crushed and mashed together by extreme force, so we cannot expect to get a single date corresponding to a specific animal.  However, if fossil fuels were created in the recent past like I believe they were, then we should definitely find a significant amount of carbon 14 still present in them. And this is exactly what we get. The following excerpt is from the wikipedia article on carbon 14.

            Most man-made chemicals are made of fossil fuels, such as petroleum or coal, in which the carbon-14 should have long since decayed. However, such deposits often contain trace amounts of carbon-14 (varying significantly, but ranging from 1% the ratio found in living organisms to amounts comparable to an apparent age of 40,000 years for oils with the highest levels of carbon-14) ]. This may indicate possible contamination by small amounts of bacteria, underground sources of radiation (such as uranium decay, although reported measured ratios of 14C/U in uranium-bearing ores would imply roughly 1 uranium atom for each two carbon atoms in order to cause the 10−15 14C/12C measured), or other unknown secondary sources of carbon-14 production. Presence of carbon-14 in the isotopic signature of a sample of carbonaceous material possibly indicates its contamination by biogenic sources or the decay of radioactive material in surrounding geologic strata.

            It is clear from this article that carbon 14 traces in fossil fuels are extremely common, giving strong evidence for a recent date of formation.  Note the different ways the authors attempt to explain away this “unexpected” phenomenon. They give the same general “excuse” that I gave for potassium-argon dating: alternative sources of the vital isotope. I find it interesting that they are so quick to discount the carbon 14 dates instead of the potassium-argon dates, even though carbon 14 decays 260,000 times faster!  This fast rate of change makes it much less vulnerable to significant contamination than potassium/argon..

            One final note about the dates we get from dating fossil fuels.  They should not be seen as being exact.  Carbon 14, like all radiometric dating requires some calibration, and has to factor in certain assumptions, such as the air content at the time the organisms lived. Also, the dates we get from fossil fuels varies from several thousand to tens of thousands, but tend to stay in that range. Again, I am not making the preposterous claim (unlike the potassium-argon proponents), that this method produces an accuracy of 1-2% for prehistorical objects, but that the fact that there is a significant Carbon-14 shadow indicates a generally recent date.


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