Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Why is it so Difficult to Obtain Accurate Dates? – Part IV

Continuing with the previous discussion on Carbon-14 being in equilibrium in the Earth’s atmosphere, it should be noted that in 1997, Charles Ginenthal, author of Celestial Motion and Cosmology, stated that Radiocarbon dating is not employed to test theories, but to support them…radiocarbon always gives a scattered set of dates. The theorists then pick the ones they believe to be correct.”
Left: Charles Ginenthal; Center: Immanuel Velikovsky; Right: Carl Sagan

Ginenthal, a noted supporter of the controversial Immanuel Velikovsky, and the author of Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky, and co-author of Stephen J. Gould and Immanuel Velikovsky, has published papers in the Journals Aeon, Meta Research and the Velikovskian, as well as in Rebels & Devils, The Psychology of Liberation, with distinguished authors Robert Anton Wilson, William S. Burroughs, and Timothy Leary, as written numerous articles supporting Velikovsky’s theories, believes strongly on the lack of accuracy of the radiocarbon system to determine historical dates.
    As an example, if the archaeologist is working in an area where the strata is considered to be 25,000 years old based on the geologic column, and a test of wood samples comes back say, 8,000 years, 11,000 years, 7,500 years and 28,000 years, the first three dates will be discarded in favor of the 28,000 year date, since it is the one that is closely aligned with the figures of the column and what the scientist expected.
    Theoretically, carbon dating can be used to estimate the ages of once-living samples as old as 30,000-40,000 years, although some earlier claims were as high, such as D. R. Harris et al., of the Department of Human Environment, at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, to 80,000 years, but is “strictly theoretical "(Michael G.L. Baillie, Tree-Ring Dating and Archaeology, University Chicago Press, 1989, p223; Harris, “The Impact on Archaeology of Radiocarbon Dating by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry and Discussion,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal society of London, Vol.323, No.1569, August 25, 1987, pp22-23).
    However, Hedges and Gowlett claim that “Due to the minute amounts of carbon-14 in any specimen, the radioactive emanations from older objects are difficult to separate from background radiation” (Robert E.M. Hedges and J.A.J. Gowlett, “Radiocarbon Dating by AMS,” Scientific American, January, 1986, p100).
    In fact, we are informed that “so few parent atoms remain after seven or eight half-lives (less than 1%) that experimental uncertainty creates a limit for radiometric methods” (B. W. Pipkin. Geology and the Environment, St. Paul, West Publishing, 1994, p36).
Left: Michael G.L. Baillie; Center: Robert .E.M. Hedges; Right: John Otis Brew

A famous American scientist, Professor John Otis Brew, Editor of One Hundred Years of Anthropology, Peabody Professor of American Archaeology and Ethnology and Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University—who not only was considered a titan in archaeology and conducted extensive archaeological research, but was also an author whose publications are still used today by archaeologists that conduct their work in the American southwest—in short, he briefly summarized a common attitude among archaeologists toward Carbon-14 dating when he said: “If a C-14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text. If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a footnote.
And if it is completely out of date, we just drop it’” (J.O. Brew, quoted by T. Save-Soderbergh (Egyptologist) & Ingrid Olsson (Physicist) in "C-14 Dating and Egyptian Chronology" in Proceedings of the Twelfth Nobel Symposium, John Wiley & Sons: New York, 1970 p35).
    In fact, few archaeologists who have concerned themselves with absolute chronology are innocent of having sometimes applied this method” (J. Säve-Söderbergh and Y. Olsson, “C14 Dating and Egyptian Chronology,” Proceedings of 12th Nobel Symposium, Institute of Physics, Uppsala University, 1970, p35). In addition, most people think carbon dating can be used to establish the age of anything old. They believe every artifact dug up or discovered by archeologists, anthropologists, geologists, or other scientists can have its age accurately determined by carbon dating, within a narrow range. But is that the truth? Let’s look at carbon-14 dating to discover just how accurate and reliable it really is.
First of all, C-14 dating is based on the ratio of two elements—Carbon 12 (C-12) to Carbon 14 (C-14)—found in a sample of the object being dated. The ratio of C-12 to C-14 is approximately 1 billion to one in today’s atmosphere. All living things, directly or indirectly, absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The carbon absorbed is both C-12 and C-14 and it is absorbed at the same ratio as it exists in the atmosphere.
    As stated earlier, once a living thing dies, it stops absorbing both C-12 and C-14 (Note that something must have been living at one time to absorb C-12 and C-14. Therefore, it is not possible to date inorganic material.
    Anything that was never alive cannot be dated using carbon dating methods. References to carbon dating of rocks, for example, are inaccurate since rocks were never alive.
    A basic quality of C-12, the most prevalent form of carbon, is stability—it doesn’t change. C-14, however, is unstable and begins changing immediately after it is formed. Each C-14 atom will lose an electron from the nucleus. The process of losing electrons is referred to as decay. The rate of decay is considered constant and measurable, and is expressed by the term “half-life,” which can be understood, for our purpose, by thinking of a block of ice. Our block weighs 10 pounds and begins to melt. The time it takes to melt until it weighs only 5 pounds (half the original weight) is called its “half-life.” For this example, let’s say the ice takes five hours to melt from 10 pounds down to 5 pounds. The half life would be five hours. This is not exactly the way C-14 acts, but it serves for a comparison.
    Unlike ice melting, the half-life of carbon and other unstable elements is constant. In other words, if it takes 5,730 years for 10 pounds of C-14 to decay to only 5 pounds, it would also take 5,730 years for 5 pounds to become 2.5 pounds. No matter how much you start with, it will take the same amount of time to reduce it to half, hence the term half-life.
    Since it takes about 30,000 years to go from zero C-14 until equilibrium is reached in the atmosphere, to the scientists that accept the concept of evolution, they conclude that the atmosphere is millions of years old. Since C-14 equilibrium would certainly have been reached in the first 30,000 years, it is assumed to have already happened millions of years ago.
Equilibrium is a state in which opposing forces are balanced, and hence a system does not change in time

As has been pointed out earlier, it is estimated to take about 30,000 years for the carbon in the atmosphere to reach equilibrium. Therefore, if that 30,000-year period has passed, then the present measurement of the atmosphere would be in equilibrium. However, if it is not in equilibrium, then the age of the Earth would have to be less than 30,000 years.
    In the late 1960s it was estimated that not only had the atmosphere not reached equilibrium but that measurements of about one-third, or show it had only reached a point around 10,000 years of age. In this regard it should be noted that while the most widely known form of radiometric dating is carbon-14—it cannot be used in dating dinosaur bones. With the half-life of carbon-14 at only 5,730 years, then at the outside Carbon-14 can only date samples up to about 50,000 years, so carbon-14 dating cannot date dinosaur bones which are supposedly tens of millions of years old.
    Yet, in a discovery recently by Dr. Brian Thomas, it was discovered that dinosaur bones still held dinosaur proteins over 70 million years after the demise of all dinosaurs. Obviously, the measurement showed that time elapsed between those dinosaur bones and he present could not possibly have been over 30,000 to 50,000 years old.
    This is one of the biggest questions that secular paleontologists have faced in the last two decades. To counter this fact, many of these scientists reason that some unique but undiscovered set of conditions grant proteins power to defy all odds and somehow survive unimaginable time scales. They think someone, someday, will discover the protein’s secret to survival.
    Dr. Thomas is a Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, Texas. He writes Creation Science Updates for, articles for Acts & Facts magazine, and has contributed to ICR books including Guide to Creation Basics, Guide to Dinosaurs, Creation Basics and Beyond, and the Science for Kids series. Dr. Thomas’ book Dinosaurs and the Bible has sold over 26,000 copies. He earned a masters in biotechnology from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1999 and a Ph.D. in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool in 2019. Creation magazine helped move Brian from evolution to creation. This led him to teach, write, speak, and research from a biblical creation perspective.
    As we pointed out, when the Carbon-14 “time clock” dating was first developed, it was based on the idea that the amount of C-14 was, in fact, stable and unchanging and, therefore, the ratio between C-12 and C-14 was thought to be constant, or in equilibrium. But in the 1960s, research proved this to be incorrect. It was discovered that C-14 equilibrium had not yet been reached in the atmosphere. In fact, it was estimated that the formation rate of C-14 was 30% greater than the decay rate, meaning the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere was (and still is) increasing.
    What was the solution for scientists to be able to continue using carbon-14 dating? They set the year of 1950 as a standard, deciding to use the ratio of C-12 to C-14 present in that year, despite having no data to back up this decision. They then considered the figures of 1950 as the criteria for measurement, ignoring the fact that at that the atmospheric equilibrium had not been reached.
    Further steps were needed since even this point of reference did not produce ages for material complementary to evolutionist thinking. So, scientists produced “correction tables.” When something is tested and carbon-14 dating doesn’t give the age scientists like, they apply these correction tables and change the age to match their predetermined estimates of the sample’s age.
    There is another remedy used in science to resolve conflicts with carbon-14 dating and preconceived notions: They simply don’t include the carbon-14 dating results as Professor Brew pointed out at the symposium. As an example, if a sample is “thought” to be 15,500 years old and carbon-14 dating suggests it is only 4,000 years old, the carbon-14 dating data is simply dropped from the records.
    And just like that, the conflict is resolved.
    The point is, and should never be forgotten, is that scientists have their own views on matters and when they write papers, often use figures and information that only promotes or supports their views. Some are not beyond the fudging level that most historians and scientists use to promote their own individual bias.
(See the next post,” Why is it so Difficult to Obtain Accurate Dates? – Part V,” for more on the manner in which C-14 dates are manipulated by the scientists)

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