Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?


Clarify Share Report Asked August 20 2015 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood. Several factors...

August 20 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20130807 12032 18udcoo Chris Button Retired Fire Captain, sinner saved by Grace
One of the best explanations I've heard for carbon dating is from ICR. (I hope I'm using the right terms.) All radioactive dating is based on one substance (mother) decaying over time and becoming another substance (daughter). If you know the rate of decay and how much of the daughter substance is currently present you can work backwards and determine the age of an object. The problem with this is you have to make assumptions.

Suppose you walk into a room at 9:20am and see a man peeling potatoes. He has a basket with 80 unpeeled potatoes and a basket of 20 peeled potatoes. You observe the man for 10 minutes and watch him peel 10 potatoes. Since he is peeling at a rate of one potato per minute you can deduce that he started peeling potatoes at 9am. You can deduce that the basket of unpeeled potatoes started with 100 potatoes and the other basket had no potatoes.

The problem is you must make assumptions for your conclusions to work. Suppose the man peeled the first few potatoes at a rate of one potato every three minutes until he got good at it. Then his rate increased to the observed rate of one per minute. Or perhaps he started peeling at two per minute for the first several minutes until he got tired and slowed down to the observed one per minute. Suppose just before you walked into the room someone brought in 15 peeled potatoes and placed them in the basket. Or perhaps just before you walked into the room someone had just removed 50 peeled potatoes. All of these factors affect your conclusion that the man started at 9am.

In the same way, scientists assume that the rate of decay has been constant from the beginning of time when they only observed a constant rate of decay for their limited period of observation. They assume values for the mother and daughter substances even though no one was around to verify the starting values.

Science is based on observation and hypotheses. I have a hypothesis and set up experiments to observe what happens. The results prove or disprove my hypothesis. Or I observe something and come up with a hypothesis. Based on experimentation and observation, I prove or disprove my hypothesis. Either way, I can only observe that for which I am present. I can also base experiments on what other people have observed. But that means I must have faith in their processes and conclusions and assume they were right. They in turn must have faith in those who came before them and so on. Eventually we come to a point in time when someone had to be the first and even that person had to make assumptions.

Since science is based in faith, why not have faith in what the Bible says (which continues to be proven truthful over and over)?

September 25 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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