Today there are many Christians who accept the reliability of geologic dating, but do not compromise the spiritual and historical inerrancy of God's word. While a full discussion of Genesis 1 is not given here, references are given below to a few books that deal with that issue. There are a number of misconceptions that seem especially prevalent among Christians. Most of these topics are covered in the above discussion, but they are reviewed briefly here for clarity.
Radiometric dating is based on index fossils whose dates were assigned long before radioactivity was discovered. This is not at all true, though it is implied by some young-Earth literature. Radiometric dating is based on the half-lives of the radioactive isotopes. These half-lives have been measured over the last years. They are not calibrated by fossils. No one has measured the decay rates directly; we only know them from inference. Decay rates have been directly measured over the last years. In some cases a batch of the pure parent material is weighed and then set aside for a long time and then the resulting daughter material is weighed.
In many cases it is easier to detect radioactive decays by the energy burst that each decay gives off. For this a batch of the pure parent material is carefully weighed and then put in front of a Geiger counter or gamma-ray detector. These instruments count the number of decays over a long time. If the half-lives are billions of years, it is impossible to determine them from measuring over just a few years or decades. The example given in the section titled, "The Radiometric Clocks" shows that an accurate determination of the half-life is easily achieved by direct counting of decays over a decade or shorter.
This is because a all decay curves have exactly the same shape Fig. Additionally, lavas of historically known ages have been correctly dated even using methods with long half-lives. Most of the decay rates used for dating rocks are known to within two percent.
Such small uncertainties are no reason to dismiss radiometric dating. Whether a rock is million years or million years old does not make a great deal of difference. A small error in the half-lives leads to a very large error in the date. Since exponents are used in the dating equations, it is possible for people to think this might be true, but it is not. This is not true in the context of dating rocks.
Radioactive atoms used for dating have been subjected to extremes of heat, cold, pressure, vacuum, acceleration, and strong chemical reactions far beyond anything experienced by rocks, without any significant change. The only exceptions, which are not relevant to dating rocks, are discussed under the section, "Doubters Still Try", above.
A small change in the nuclear forces probably accelerated nuclear clocks during the first day of creation a few thousand years ago, causing the spuriously old radiometric dates of rocks. Rocks are dated from the time of their formation.
For it to have any bearing on the radiometric dates of rocks, such a change of nuclear forces must have occurred after the Earth and the rocks were formed. To make the kind of difference suggested by young-Earth proponents, the half-lives must be shortened from several billion years down to several thousand years--a factor of at least a million.
But to shorten half-lives by factors of a million would cause large physical changes. As one small example, recall that the Earth is heated substantially by radioactive decay. If that decay is speeded up by a factor of a million or so, the tremendous heat pulse would easily melt the whole Earth , including the rocks in question! No radiometric ages would appear old if this happened. The decay rates might be slowing down over time, leading to incorrect old dates.
There are two ways we know this didn't happen: We should measure the "full-life" the time at which all of the parent is gone rather than the half-life the time when half of it is gone. Unlike sand in an hourglass, which drops at a constant rate independent of how much remains in the top half of the glass, the number of radioactive decays is proportional to the amount of parent remaining.
A half-life is more easy to define than some point at which almost all of the parent is gone. Scientists sometimes instead use the term "mean life", that is, the average life of a parent atom. For most of us half-life is easier to understand. To date a rock one must know the original amount of the parent element. But there is no way to measure how much parent element was originally there.
It is very easy to calculate the original parent abundance, but that information is not needed to date the rock. All of the dating schemes work from knowing the present abundances of the parent and daughter isotopes. There is little or no way to tell how much of the decay product, that is, the daughter isotope, was originally in the rock, leading to anomalously old ages.
A good part of this article is devoted to explaining how one can tell how much of a given element or isotope was originally present. Usually it involves using more than one sample from a given rock. It is done by comparing the ratios of parent and daughter isotopes relative to a stable isotope for samples with different relative amounts of the parent isotope.
From this one can determine how much of the daughter isotope would be present if there had been no parent isotope. This is the same as the initial amount it would not change if there were no parent isotope to decay. Figures 4 and 5, and the accompanying explanation, tell how this is done most of the time. This article has listed and discussed a number of different radiometric dating methods and has also briefly described a number of non-radiometric dating methods.
There are actually many more methods out there. Well over forty different radiometric dating methods are in use, and a number of non-radiogenic methods not even mentioned here. This refers to tiny halos of crystal damage surrounding spots where radioactive elements are concentrated in certain rocks. Halos thought to be from polonium, a short-lived element produced from the decay of uranium, have been found in some rocks. A plausible explanation for a halo from such a short-lived element is that these were not produced by an initial concentration of the radioactive element.
Rather, as water seeped through cracks in the minerals, a chemical change caused newly-formed polonium to drop out of solution at a certain place and almost immediately decay there. A halo would build up over a long period of time even though the center of the halo never contained more than a few atoms of polonium at one time. Other researchers have found halos produced by an indirect radioactive decay effect called hole diffusion, which is an electrical effect in a crystal.
These results suggest that the halos in question are not from short-lived isotopes after all. At any rate, halos from uranium inclusions are far more common. Because of uranium's long half-lives, these halos take at least several hundred million years to form. Because of this, most people agree that halos provide compelling evidence for a very old Earth. A young-Earth research group reported that they sent a rock erupted in from Mount Saint Helens volcano to a dating lab and got back a potassium-argon age of several million years.
This shows we should not trust radiometric dating. There are indeed ways to "trick" radiometric dating if a single dating method is improperly used on a sample. Anyone can move the hands on a clock and get the wrong time. Likewise, people actively looking for incorrect radiometric dates can in fact get them. Geologists have known for over forty years that the potassium-argon method cannot be used on rocks only twenty to thirty years old. Publicizing this incorrect age as a completely new finding was inappropriate.
The reasons are discussed in the Potassium-Argon Dating section above. Be assured that multiple dating methods used together on igneous rocks are almost always correct unless the sample is too difficult to date due to factors such as metamorphism or a large fraction of xenoliths. Low abundances of helium in zircon grains show that these minerals are much younger than radiometric dating suggests. Zircon grains are important for uranium-thorium-lead dating because they contain abundant uranium and thorium parent isotopes. Helium is also produced from the decay of uranium and thorium.
However, as a gas of very small atomic size, helium tends to escape rather easily. Researchers have studied the rates of diffusion of helium from zircons, with the prediction from one study by a young- Earth creationist suggesting that it should be quantitatively retained despite its atomic size.
The assumptions of the temperature conditions of the rock over time are most likely unrealistic in this case. The fact that radiogenic helium and argon are still degassing from the Earth's interior prove that the Earth must be young. The radioactive parent isotopes, uranium and potassium, have very long half-lives, as shown in Table 1. These parents still exist in abundance in the Earth's interior, and are still producing helium and argon.
There is also a time lag between the production of the daughter products and their degassing. If the Earth were geologically very young, very little helium and argon would have been produced. One can compare the amount of argon in the atmosphere to what would be expected from decay of potassium over 4.
The waters of Noah's flood could have leached radioactive isotopes out of rocks, disturbing their ages. This is actually suggested on one website! While water can affect the ability to date rock surfaces or other weathered areas, there is generally no trouble dating interior portions of most rocks from the bottom of lakes, rivers, and oceans. Additionally, if ages were disturbed by leaching, the leaching would affect different isotopes at vastly different rates.
Ages determined by different methods would be in violent disagreement. If the flood were global in scope, why then would we have any rocks for which a number of different methods all agree with each other? In fact, close agreement between methods for most samples is a hallmark of radiometric dating. We know the Earth is much younger because of non-radiogenic indicators such as the sedimentation rate of the oceans. There are a number of parameters which, if extrapolated from the present without taking into account the changes in the Earth over time, would seem to suggest a somewhat younger Earth.
These arguments can sound good on a very simple level, but do not hold water when all the factors are considered. Some examples of these categories are the decaying magnetic field not mentioning the widespread evidence for magnetic reversals , the saltiness of the oceans not counting sedimentation! While these arguments do not stand up when the complete picture is considered, the case for a very old creation of the Earth fits well in all areas considered. The fact is that there are a number of Bible-believing Christians who are involved in radiometric dating, and who can see its validity firsthand.
A great number of other Christians are firmly convinced that radiometric dating shows evidence that God created the Earth billions, not thousands, of years ago. This is not true at all. The fact that dating techniques most often agree with each other is why scientists tend to trust them in the first place.
Nearly every college and university library in the country has periodicals such as Science , Nature , and specific geology journals that give the results of dating studies. The public is usually welcome to and should! So the results are not hidden; people can go look at the results for themselves.
Over a thousand research papers are published a year on radiometric dating, essentially all in agreement. Besides the scientific periodicals that carry up-to-date research reports, specific suggestions are given below for further reading, both for textbooks, non-classroom books, and web resources. Resources On the Web: Virtual Dating--a very helpful educational course on half-lives and radioactive decay was put together by Gary Novak at California State University in Los Angeles.
This site has several interactive web "workbooks" to help the reader understand various concepts involved with radiometricdating. Reasons to Believe--a Christian ministry supporting the old-Earth viewpoint. Hugh Ross, the founder and head of the ministry, holds a PhD in Astronomy. The ministry supports an accurate interpretation of the Bible while also supportive of science as a tool to study God's creation. Most of the members hold an old-Earth view, though membership is open to anyone supporting their positional statement. This website has numerous resources on theology and Bible-science issues.
There is a wealth of information, including presentations on the interpretation of Genesis chapters , a resource list of apologetics ministries, etc. A review of Phillip Henry Gosse's Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot , in which fiat creation with the appearance of age is suggested. Origins--this site is devoted mainly to evidences for intelligent design in nature. Talk Origins--an archive dedicated to creation-evolution issues. It includes separate resource sections on the reliability of radiometric dating, introductory articles, advanced articles, radiocarbon dating, etc.
C Dating--The radiocarbon laboratories at Oxford England and Waikato New Zealand Universities jointly operate this website which gives very comprehensive information on radiocarbon dating. Portions of it were written specifically for use by K students, so it is easy to understand. The site contains explanations on measurements, applications, calibration, publications, and other areas. Cornell University Geology Lecture Notes--A large number of pdf files of geology lecture notes are available on the web.
These are university-level lecture notes describing radiometric dating and related topics. The following books are popular college-level Geology texts that deal in depth with various dating techniques. Geologic Time is very easy to read and has been around for quite some time. The text by Dalrymple is meant to be relatively easy to read, but is also very comprehensive. The Faure and Dickin texts are regular textbooks for Geology, including more mathematics and more details.
Cambridge University Press, pp. Brent The Age of the Earth. Stanford University Press, pp. AComprehensive Textbook for Geology Students. Faure, Gunter Principles of Isotope Geology , 2nd edition. Wiley, New York, pp. Atheneum Books, New York, 92 pp. This is a book designed for easy reading on the general subject of dating.
This short book covers topics from archeology to tree ring dating to radiocarbon dating of the dead sea scrolls, to dating of meteorites and moon rocks. The book is out of print, but slightly used copies can be obtained from online dealers like Amazon. Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. This book is a quite comprehensive reference on all methods for determining dates less than about a million years old.
Prometheus Books, Buffalo, pp. This book is a very thorough and comprehensive refutation of young-Earth ideas, written by a non-Christian. The only negative aspect is that at one point Strahler throws in a bit of his own theology--his arguments against the need for a God. This book is long and in small print; it covers a wealth of information.
For ice core studies, the Journal of Geophysical Research, volume , starting with page 26,, has 47 papers on two deep ice cores drilled in central Greenland. Books on scripture, theology, and science: He addresses typical objections brought up by young-Earth adherents, including the death of animals before Adam and Eve's sin, entropy or decay before the fall, the six days of creation, and the flood. This is a very readable theological book about Genesis.
Sailhamer has served on the translation committees for two versions of the book of Genesis. Ross, Hugh Creation and Time: Hugh Ross has a PhD in Astronomy. In this book Dr. Ross defends modern science and an old age for the universe, and refutes common young-Earth arguments. He firmly believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. Schroeder, Paramount, CA, pp. A persuasive book written for the Christian layman. Stoner uses arguments both from the theological and the scientific side. He talks somewhat philosophically about whether God deceives us with the Genesis account if the Earth is really old.
Stoner also tries to discuss the meaning of the Genesis 1 text. Van Till Howard J.
This book talks about the misuse of science by both hard-line atheists and by young-Earth creationists. A good deal of the book is devoted to refuting young-Earth arguments, including a substantial section on the Grand Canyon geology. Its authors are well-known Christians in Geology and Physics. Wiester, John The Genesis Connection.
New dating technique could establish age of the Turin Shroud - Telegraph
John Wiester has taught Geology at Westmont and Biola University, and is active in the American Scientific Affiliation, an organization of scientists who are Christians. This book discusses many scientific discoveries relating to the age of the Earth and how these fit into the context of Genesis 1.
He argues for an old Earth and refutes many of the common young-Earth claims including their objections to radiometric dating. The following people are sincerely thanked for their contributions to the first edition: Davis Young Calvin College , Dr. I thank my wife Gwen, and children, Carson and Isaac, for supporting me in this work, and I thank God for giving us the intelligence to understand little bits and pieces of His amazing creation.
More about the author: Wiens received a bachelor's degree in Physics from Wheaton College and a PhD from the University of Minnesota, doing research on meteorites and moon rocks. He spent two years at Scripps Institution of Oceanography La Jolla, CA where he studied isotopes of helium, neon, argon, and nitrogen in terrestrial rocks. He worked seven years in the Geological and Planetary Sciences Division at Caltech, where he continued the study of meteorites and worked for NASA on the feasibility of a space mission to return solar wind samples to Earth for study.
Wiens wrote the first edition of this paper while in Pasadena. In he joined the Space and Atmospheric Sciences group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he has been in charge of building and flying the payload for the solar-wind mission, as well as developing new instruments for other space missions.
He has published over twenty scientific research papers and has also published articles in Christian magazines. Wiens became a Christian at a young age, and has been a member of Mennonite Brethren, General Conference Baptist, and Conservative Congregational, and Vineyard denominations. He does not see a conflict between science in its ideal form the study of God's handiwork and the Bible, or between miracles on the one hand, and an old Earth on the other. Alpha decay Radioactive decay in which the atom's nucleus emits an alpha particle.
An alpha particle consists of two neutrons and two protons--the same as a helium atom nucleus. In alpha decay, the daughter is four atomic mass units lighter than the parent. Alpha decay is most common in heavy elements. Atom The smallest unit that materials can be divided into. An atom is about ten billionths of an inch in diameter and consists of a nucleus of nucleons protons and neutrons surrounded by electrons. Beta decay Radioactive decay in which the atom's nucleus emits or captures an electron or positron. The daughter ends up with the same mass as the parent, but ends up with one more neutron and one less proton, or vice versa.
Because of the different number of protons, the daughter is a different element with different chemical properties than the parent. Bound-state beta decay A special kind of beta decay in which an electron is given off by the nucleus, and the electron ends up in an inner orbital, or electron shell. This kind of decay only occurs if the nucleus is stripped of the electrons that would normally be in the inner electron shells. As such, this decay only occurs in the center of stars, and was only confirmed experimentally in the s. Calibration The cross-checking of one measurement with another, usually more certain measurement.
Essentially every method of measurement, whether a thermometer, a ruler, or a more complicated instrument, relies on calibration for accuracy.
Carbonate A term used rather loosely in this context to describe deposits containing the carbonate anion. Carbonates play an important role in many caves, where cave formations are the result of dissolution and re-precipitation of material interacting with carbonic acid. Carbonates in recent cave deposits are useful because of their high carbon content, which can be used to calibrate radiocarbon with uranium-series ages. Closed system A system rock, planet, etc. In reality there is always some exchange or influence, but if this amount is completely insignificant for the process under consideration e.
Cosmic ray A very high-energy particle which flies through space. Cosmic Rays are stopped by the Earth's atmosphere, but in the process, they constantly produce carbon, beryllium, chlorine, and a few other radioactive isotopes in small quantities. Cosmic-ray exposure dating Dating of surfaces exposed to cosmic rays by measuring the neon, helium-3, or other cosmogenic isotopes produced in rocks or meteorites exposed to cosmic rays. Cosmogenic Produced by bombardment of cosmic rays. Carbon is said to be cosmogenic because it is produced by cosmic rays hitting the Earth's atmosphere.
Daughter The element or isotope which is produced by radioactive decay. Decay The change from one element or isotope to another. Only certain isotopes decay. The rest are said to be stable. Dendrochronology The counting of yearly growth rings on trees. A continuous record of growth rings has been used to calibrate radiocarbon ages back as far as 10, years ago. Deposit Mineral or sandy matter settled out of water or accumulated in a vein.
Deuterium 'Heavy hydrogen'; the heavy isotope of hydrogen which contains one proton and one neutron, as compared with only a single proton in normal hydrogen. Water consists of molecules mostly containing normal hydrogen, but with a few molecules containing deuterium. Electron-capture decay The only type of radioactive decay that requires the presence of something--an electron--outside of the atom's nucleus.
Electron capture decay of light atoms--those having the fewest electrons--can be very slightly affected by extremely high pressures or certain chemical bonds, so as to change their half-lives by a fraction of a percent. But no change in the half-lives of elements used for radiometric dating has ever been verified. Element A substance that has a certain number of protons in the nucleus. Each element has unique properties. Elements may be further broken down into isotopes, which have nearly all of the same properties except for their mass and their radioactive decay characteristics.
Radioactive Subject to change from one element to another. During the change, or decay, energy is released either in the form of light or energetic particles. Radiocarbon Carbon, which is used to date dead plant and animal matter. Radiocarbon is generally not used for dating rocks. Radiometric dating Determination of a time interval e. Radiometric dating is one subset of the many dating methods used in geology. Stalactite A cylindrical or conical deposit of minerals, generally calcite or aragonite forms of calcium carbonate , hanging from the roof of a cavern, and generally formed by precipitation or crystallization of carbonates from water dripping from the roof.
Stalagmite Columns or ridges of carbonate rising from a limestone cave floor, and formed by water charged with carbonate dripping from the stalactites above. Thermoluminescence TL dating A method of dating minerals and pottery. Rather than relying on a half-life, this method relies instead on the total amount of radiation experienced by the mineral since the time it was formed.
This radiation causes disorder in the crystals, resulting in electrons dwelling in higher orbits than they originally did. When the sample is heated in the laboratory in the presence of a sensitive light detector, these electrons return to their original orbits, emitting light and allowing an age to be determined by comparison of the amount of light to the radioactivity rate experienced by the mineral.
Three-isotope plot In dating, this is a plot in which one axis represents the parent isotope and the other axis represents the daughter isotope. Both parent and daughter isotopes are ratioed to a daughter-element isotope that is not produced by radioactive decay. This type of plot gives the age independent of the original amounts of the isotopes. Tree ring A ring visible in the sawed or cored section of a tree which indicates how much it grew in a year.
The age of a tree can be determined by counting the growth rings. Two-component mixing The mixing of two different source materials to produce a rock. On rare occasions this can result in an incorrect age for certain methods that use three-isotope plots. Two-component mixing can be recognized if more than one dating method is used, or if surrounding rocks are dated. Uranium-series decay chain The decay of the long-lived uranium and and thorium which produce shorter-lived radioactive daughters, each of which decay to lighter radioactive elements until they eventually end up as various stable isotopes of lead.
Varve A sedimentary layer showing distinct texture or color for different seasons within a single year. Varve layers can be counted like tree rings. Xenolith Literally, a foreign chunk of rock within a rock. Some rocks contain pieces of older rocks within them. These pieces were ripped off of the magma chamber in which the main rock formed and were incorporated into the rock without melting. Xenoliths do not occur in most rocks, and they are usually recognizable by eye where they do occur. If unrecognized, they can result in an incorrect date for a rock the date may be of the older xenolith.
Some young-Earth proponents recently reported that rocks were dated by the potassium-argon method to be a several million years old when they are really only a few years old. But the potassium-argon method, with its long half-life, was never intended to date rocks only 25 years old. These people have only succeeded in correctly showing that one can fool a single radiometric dating method when one uses it improperly. The false radiometric ages of several million years are due to parentless argon, as described here, and first reported in the literature some fifty years ago. Note that it would be extremely unlikely for another dating method to agree on these bogus ages.
Getting agreement between more than one dating method is a recommended practice. A typical argon-argon dating plot. A rubidium-strontium three-isotope plot. When a rock cools, all its minerals have the same ratio of strontium to strontium, though they have varying amounts of rubidium. As the rock ages, the rubidium decreases by changing to strontium, as shown by the dotted arrows.
Minerals with more rubidium gain more strontium, while those with less rubidium do not change as much.
Healthy Dating Techniques
Notice that at any given time, the minerals all line up--a check to ensure that the system has not been disturbed. Some of the oldest rocks on earth are found in Western Greenland. Because of their great age, they have been especially well studied. The table below gives the ages, in billions of years, from twelve different studies using five different techniques on one particular rock formation in Western Greenland, the Amitsoq gneisses.
Technique Age Range billion years uranium-lead 3. The top number, 3. The size of this range is every bit as important as the actual number. A number with a small uncertainty range is more accurate than a number with a larger range. For the numbers given above, one can see that all of the ranges overlap and agree between 3. Traditional carbon dating involves removing and burning small samples of the object.
Scientists remove a small sample from an object, such as a cloth or bone fragment. The new method does not involve removing a sample of the object. The results match those of conventional carbon dating techniques, they say. Others contend that the artefact postdates the Crucifixion of Jesus by more than a millennium. More from The Telegraph. Participants will learn assertiveness, awareness, assessment, confidence, action and safety, according to Mount Shasta Martial Arts Program head instructor Chuck Buhs.
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New dating technique could establish age of the Turin Shroud
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