Range of carbon 14 dating

Creationists often criticize radiocarbon dating in the context of discussions of the age of the earth.But, as is clear even from the very brief discussion in the previous paragraph, radiocarbon dating can say nothing one way or the other about whether the earth is many millions of years old, since such dates are far beyond this method's range of resolution.Because of this relatively short half-life, radiocarbon is useful for dating items of a relatively recent vintage, as far back as roughly 50,000 years before the present epoch.

In discussions of the age of the earth and the antiquity of the human race, creationists often assail perceived weaknesses in radiocarbon dating. Morris, for instance, wrote, "Despite its high popularity, [radiocarbon dating] involves a number of doubtful assumptions, some of which are sufficiently serious to make its results for all ages exceeding about 2000 or 3000 years, in serious need of revision." [Morris2000, pg. Radiocarbon dating is based on the fact that the interaction of cosmic rays from outer space with nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere produces an unstable isotope of carbon, namely radiocarbon.Thus carbon-14 has six protons and eight neutrons.) Carbon-12 is by far the most abundant carbon isotope, and carbon-12 and -13 are both stable.But carbon-14 is slightly radioactive: it will spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14 by emitting an anti-neutrino and an electron, with a half-life of 5730 years.We will deal with carbon dating first and then with the other dating methods.Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth.So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.Thus creationists and others who invoke perceived weaknesses in radiocarbon dating as justification to cast doubt on the great age of the earth are either uniformed on very basic scientific facts, or else are highly being disingenuous to their audience.Radiocarbon dating has been studied at great length over the past few decades, and its strengths and weaknesses are very well understood at this point in time.Clearly, such huge time periods cannot be fitted into the Bible without compromising what the Bible says about the goodness of God and the origin of sin, death and suffering—the reason Jesus came into the world (See Six Days? He said, This only makes sense with a time-line beginning with the creation week thousands of years ago.It makes no sense at all if man appeared at the end of billions of years.

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