Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Digging Deeper into the Time Clock

Because the process of dating the past ages has become such a process today, with more than a hundred and thirty laboratories specializing in the dating methods, and every archaeologist and anthropologist worth their salt want to date their discoveries and theories, the dating of past ages has become an extremely important part of these sciences. The problem arises, however, when those dates seem to conflict with other theories, ideas, and models.
This problem is the most apparent when Carbon-14 is used to date settlements, such as the remote citadel at Choquequirao in Peru (above), and movements of past cultures and civilizations in areas, such as the Americas, where there is no accepted written history in which dates and findings can be compared. This especially shows up in the differences between archaeological dates of the Americas and those dates as understood in the Book of Mormon, and the overall chronology of time as stated in the Bible.
    Thus we have two schools of thought with which we deal when trying to use Carbon-14 dates resulting from testing on the basis of Willard F. Libby’s time clock, referred to within the system of radiometric dating or radiocarbon dating.
    As an example, archaeology claims Andean Peru has several pre-ceramic periods, with the Early Archaic period, 8000 to 5200 B.C.; the Middle Archaic 5200-3000 B.C.; the Late Archaic period, 3000 to 1800 B.C. and the Ceramic Formative stage, 1800 B.C. to early A.D. time. Thus they talk about the settlement of Caballete in the Fortaleza river valley of Peru that dates to 3000 B.C., which would place it before the Flood and long before the Nephites, who were the people who settled there. Thus, an immediate conflict arises in trying to equate an archaeological date given that predates the Egyptian pyramids with a people who did not arrive in the Americas before 600 B.C.
    Part of the problem is the immediate rejection of each system by those who belong in the opposite camp; i.e., evolutionists reject any discussion toward a younger Earth than 4.55 billion years of age; Young Earthers reject any discussion toward an Old Earth dating into evolutionary time frames. It doesn’t matter what the truth is to these groups—they simply have their mind made up to what they accept, believe, and promote.
Neither the evolutionist nor the creationist can prove the age of the Earth using a particular scientific method. Each realizes that all science is tentative because we do not have all the data, especially when dealing with the past. This is true of both creationist and evolutionist scientific arguments—evolutionists have had to abandon many “proofs” for evolution just as creationists have also had to modify their arguments. All rely on the dating methods of the past, and go from there in their opposing arguments.
    Consequently, in this blog, we do not use Carbon-14 dates for a calendar year time frame. When a date is given of 3000 B.C., or 1200 B.C., etc., we do not use that to show when a settlement, people, or culture existed on a calendar, but within a flow of time, i.e., if the Olmec Culture (Mesoamerica) date to 1500 B.C. and the Las Vegas/Valdivia Culture (Ecuador) date to 3500 B.C., then in the flow of time, the Valdivia came on the scene much earlier than the Olmec. However, the calendar dates (1500 or 3500 B.C.) cannot obviously be correct since 1500 is far too late for the Jaredites, and 3500 is far too early, based on the Bible dating of the Flood at 2344 B.C.
    This obviously leads us to the time clock and the accuracy or inaccuracy of its workings. In trying to explain this over the past five years in this blog, it becomes a difficult stumbling block for anyone attempting to justify the Book of Mormon dates, since radiocarbon dating has become such a popular, and unfortunately, such a well-accepted belief.
    A few days ago, following the first of this six-part series, on “How Old is Old?” we received several comments and questions about this issue—probably the biggest area for controversy in the scripture-evolutionary debate of recent years. We have taken one of these that seems the most representative and listed it below, in which we will try to dig a little deeper into this problem to expose the truth of the matter behind it all.
    Comment: “The counter that I have seen most often is that equilibrium has been reached, but that because of fluctuation in cosmic rays, there are natural (though minor) fluctuations in the amount of Carbon 14. "If the Earth is not in equilibrium, then when the living thing dies, additional Carbon-14 will enter the dead animal or plant life." This does not make sense to me. The entire foundation of Carbon-14 date measurement is that once dead, no additional Carbon 14 enters the organism.  How does increasing atmospheric Carbon-14, cause an increase in Carbon-14 in non-living organic matter? If you are claiming there is some kind of diffusion because of a differential between the atmosphere and organic remains, then Carbon-14 in organic remains would always receive an increasing influx of new Carbon-14 as the original Carbon-14 decayed. This would totally invalidate any use of Carbon-14 as a dating method regardless of whether atmospheric Carbon-14 is in equilibrium.”
    Response: Two things are involved here: 1) The exchange of carbon-14 in living matter, and 2) the decay of carbon-14 once the living matter dies. As long as matter is living (bone, wood, peat, plant, leather, people, etc.), it absorbs carbon-14 into its system—non-living matter, rock, stone, or anything that does not contain organic carbon, cannot be dated by carbon-14, though some are dated through other means.
Thus, when any living matter dies, the intake of carbon-14 into its system ceases, and a slow, steady decay takes place (with half of the carbon-14 existing at death decaying over a 5730, plus or minus 40, year span.
    All of this is based on a few assumptions that are simply impossible to prove. As an example, while there is no proof that the rates were different in the past than they are today, there is also no proof that they were the same. Thus radioactive dating relies purely on assumptions, such as:
1. There is the same amount of carbon-14 entering the atmosphere as the amount that decays, or leaves the atmosphere (called equilibrium);
2. The amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has always been the same;
3. Both parent (Carbon-14) and daughter (nitrogen-14, etc.) were initially present in the same amounts as today, or that the daughter isotope at the beginning is known so that it can be subtracted;
4. There was no Flood that added amounts of carbon-14 into the atmosphere or the lack of plants and trees that subtracted the amount of Carbon-12 released into the atmosphere afterward that changed the balance;
5. The artifact or specimen being measured has always been in a closed system isolated from its environment (no additional Carbon-14 or other isotope entered) and that no additional Carbon-14 escaped.
    There are others, but these are major issues that cannot be known when the artifact died, or during the time before or after its death, that can heavily affect the amount of carbon-14 left in the system when it is finally tested.
(See the next post for the answer to the comment listed above and why Carbon-14 testing is not effective in the way it is presently used, evaluated, and dated.)

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