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Carbon 14 Dating

September 13th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

With a friend I was discussing radio carbon dating and the assumptions it makes for dating. He like most people just could not grasp that people believe the Earth is ~6,000 years old when radio carbon dating dates organisms to tens of thousands years old.

Here is my very simple understanding of why it could be inaccurate.

As organisms live they take in carbon (14C and 12C) from eating and breathing, thus the ratio of 14C to 12C in living creatures will be the same as in the atmosphere. This ratio is said to be about 1:1trillion Carbon 14 to Carbon 2 atoms.

As an organism decays the 14C will turn into nitrogen (it’s radioactive.) What scientists do is measure the ratio of 12C to 14C and determine how long that organism has been dead.

A big problem with radio carbon dating is that the ratio of 14C to 12C is not constant. The level is affected by variations in the cosmic ray intensity which is in turn affected by variations in the earth’s magnetosphere. In addition, there are substantial reservoirs of carbon in organic matter, the ocean, ocean sediments (see methane hydrate), and sedimentary rocks. Changes in the Earth’s climate can affect the carbon flows between these reservoirs and the atmosphere, leading to changes in the atmosphere’s 14C fraction. With this being said we simply don’t know what the carbon ratio was like when that organism died.

From a biblical perspective, it makes sense to me that the carbon ratio changed given the fallen nature of our world. Our life spans were drastically reduced with the fall of man and maybe changing the carbon ratio is one of the ways God ensured we would die at an earlier age?

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