Geologic Dating Methods: Are They Always Accurate?“Geologists use radiometric dating methods to determine the age of strata and fossils. Are they always accurate? Does an evolutionary bias affect the dating?
When a new fossil is discovered, geologists assign a date for when they think the plant or animal lived. They normally use radiometric dating methods to date the fossil, and many promote these methods as being accurate. Yet when you look into the technical papers on these discoveries, you find that these dates are often questionable and are sometimes clearly in error.
What are radiometric dating methods?Several types of radiometric dating methods are used today. One of the best known is carbon 14 (C-14). When a plant or animal dies, the carbon in it has a small amount of radioactivity. C-14 is produced when high-energy particles from solar radiation hit the earth’s atmosphere and make the unstable element called C-14. As time goes by, this C-14 slowly changes back to stable atoms.
Britannica.com explains: “Carbon-14 dating, also called radiocarbon dating, [is a] method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (carbon-14). Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.
“Radiocarbon … is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain. Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food. Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years—i.e., half the amount of the radioisotope present at any given time will undergo spontaneous disintegration during the succeeding 5,730 years. Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon. …
“It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from 500 to 50,000 years old.”
There are also other radiometric dating methods that are used to date strata and fossils. One of the most common is the potassium-argon dating method. This is used to date volcanic rock to the time the volcano erupted. If this rock is above a fossil, that fossil can be dated as “older” than the volcanic rock above it.
Encarta 2006 Premium Encyclopedia’s article on “Archaeology” explains:
“Potassium-argon dating provides approximate dates for sites in early prehistory. Geologists use this method to date volcanic rocks that may be as much as 4 billion to 5 billion years old. Potassium is one of the most abundant elements in the earth’s crust. Many minerals contain radioactive K-40 (potassium 40) isotopes, which decay at a known rate into Ar-40 (argon 40) gas. Scientists use a device called a spectrometer to measure the accumulation of Ar-40 in relation to amounts of K-40. The ratio of these elements can indicate the age of a geologic layer, generally since it last underwent a metamorphosis, such as melting under the heat of molten lava from a volcanic eruption. Thus, geologic layers rich in volcanic deposits lend themselves to potassium-argon dating.”
Sometimes radiometric dating methods give results that are totally wrong. One example of this is the KNM-ER 1470 fossil found in Kenya by Bernard Ngeneo, a field worker for the famous paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey. When the original sample of the volcanic tuff was given to the laboratory, the potassium-argon date was about 230 million years. This date would mean that men lived during the time of the dinosaurs and would upset the evolutionary timescale. So new samples were sent and finally a date of 2.4 million years was eventually accepted (Nature 226, April 18, 1970, pp. 226-228).
Since evolutionary theory is generally assumed to be true, it is to be expected that dates that do not fit the evolutionary timescale will be reexamined or dismissed. But does this assumption lead to circular reasoning and wrong conclusions?Since evolutionary theory is generally assumed to be true, it is to be expected that dates that do not fit the evolutionary timescale will be reexamined or dismissed. But does this assumption lead to circular reasoning and wrong conclusions?
Assumptions of these methodsIn order to calibrate these dates, geologists must use certain assumptions:
- The amount of the radioactive element at the time of origin is known.
- The rate of decay of the radioactive element is the same throughout time.
- There has been no contamination or loss of the radioactive element or the radioactive decay products since being formed in the sample.
Scientists have to assume that C-14 production has been a constant in order to calibrate their dating methods. Yet it is known that the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere has changed over time, and the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere varies. The nuclear bomb tests of the 1950s, for example, actually changed the amount of radioactive carbon in the atmosphere.
Another problem with radiometric dating methods is the assumption about the amount of the original radioactive element. How do we know exactly how much potassium was originally in the volcanic rock? As we will see, this method clearly can give erroneous dates for strata.
Even the method used for dating a sample can lead to dramatic changes in dates for an item. National Geographic Magazine explained that a different dating method for C-14 indicated the oldest Maya civilization was not nearly as old as earlier data had indicated. The article states: “The remains of a woman found below a layered platform called Cuello in northern Belize had been thought to be more than 4,000 years old. … As a result of new dating methods, about a thousand years have been trimmed from the chronology” (“Oldest Known Maya: Not Quite So Old,” Nov. 8, 1990).
A thousand years is a very large error!
Radiometric dating methods are referred to as “absolute” dating, but that doesn’t mean the dates they arrive at are necessarily certain. Scientists use the term absolute to distinguish from relative dating methods. When fossil A is found in rock strata below a rock layer containing fossil B, fossil A can generally be dated as older, relative to fossil B. That is relative dating. But relative dating doesn’t yield actual age; that is what absolute dating attempts to do.
“Absolute dating complements relative dating by providing a specific (not necessarily precise) chronological age for a given specimen” (Glen Kuban, Introduction to Fossil Collecting, 1994-2000, emphasis added).
Yet many presume these dating methods are absolute in terms of certainty. This is misleading, since dates determined by radiometric dating methods are not always absolute at all.
Environmental conditionsErroneous dates can occur when the environment has affected the sample. For example, the C-14 dates of living mollusks found in rivers can give anomalous dates.
Continued at: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/is-there-a-god/proof-of-god/geologic-dating-methods/
Virginia Government Turmoil
Accusations abound with calls for resignation. What can we learn from this latest incident?
Transcript[Darris McNeely] Politics in the state of Virginia are kind of in a free fall right now with the top three political figures, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general and the governor, exposed for indiscretions going back several years, both sexually and racially, and calls now for their resignation, and it’s created quite a mess. These are not the first politicians to get in trouble like this, nor will they be the last politicians to get in trouble like this.
[Steve Myers] Yeah, it’s definitely something that’s not relegated to one political party or the other. I think it speaks to human nature and the challenges that we all face as we face life and we grow up and we make choices in our life.
[Darris] The governor’s comments first drew our attention here on Beyond Today when he described with graphic detail recently what an abortion would take place or basically infanticide after a fully born baby would be laid on the table and then a conversation between parents to decide its fate would take place. That erupted all over the news. We covered that on Beyond Today, and then other things have come out now in his life, the governor’s case, and the other two gentlemen. Again, just horrendous examples that call to mind certain scriptural principles, I think. We are in an age right now where whatever one did at some point in their past life, especially in their youth, can be called up and the person can be held accountable for it.
[Steve] That’s become more and more prevalent. You can hardly run for a political office these days if your past has anything that would hold you back because, and I think for one reason is that we’re not talking about forgiveness, we’re not talking about repentance in these things and people can’t get by these things. So, when you look at the political scene, if there’s things in the past that are going to come out, it’s going to cause a problem for you. So how do you become responsible for those things, how do go beyond those things? Because we all have problems and issues in our life.
[Darris] I think the lesson is there for us all to learn that any time in your life, whether you’re a young person or an older adult, our daily life and the actions we take, they have consequences. Sometimes we can do stupid things we shouldn’t. Sometimes they will then maybe we think be in the past, but there are principles from the Bible that show that the folly and the sins of our lives sometimes do come back.
There’s a scripture in Ecclesiastes 10:1 I think that applies to this. It says, “Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment and cause it to give off a foul odor, so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.” In the case of all three of these men, they’ve been elected to high office in the state of Virginia holding places of honor for their supposed wisdom and, yet, their folly from their past lives have now caught up with them.
[Steve] When you recognize that fact, then how do you get beyond this? How do you go beyond? What can they say to make it all right? They’ve behaved in manners that don’t bring honor to the office that they hold. And, yet, what do they do now? How do we react to those kinds of things?
[Darris] So, what do you think the big lesson, big takeaway is for us?
[Steve] I think one of the things is you can’t represent yourself to be something that you’re not. Oftentimes, it seems there’s this, and it goes throughout the political scene, that we present ourselves as far above these kinds of incidents when, in fact, we’ve done them ourselves. We’ve done maybe different versions of these things. And so, oftentimes, Christ pointed these things out where he would talk to the religious leaders of the day. He called them hypocrites because they would condemn people for doing similar types of things and raise themself up as being righteous and perfect and wonderful, and yet, they did the same things and they didn’t take account of themselves.
[Darris] Scripture does say your sins will find you out. God is not mocked.
[Steve] That’s right.
[Darris] And I think we have to all take a step back and regardless of the politics, regardless of the issues, remember what Scripture says and make sure that our morality, our ethics and our lives are anchored in the solid word of Scripture, the Bible, and the belief in God.” From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/virginia-government-turmoil
Not really a lot of progress this week. Jay was broke so he wanted to work for a couple of days. It took him a long time to install two more 4’ x 8’ sheets of wooden T1-11 on the wall that is outside the mini-house, but inside the attached green house. It had to be measured carefully for the cutting out for the window that looks into the green house from the mini-house kitchen, then the hot and cold pipes that were installed for the future sink, and an outlet, and I could tell that all that booze has affected Jay. After all, I have known him for over 20 years and he has worked here and built stuff here for most of that time until just a couple of years ago. His thinking isn’t like it used to be.
Then we moved the tools up the three steps into the future tool room which is at the back end of the greenhouse. Those inside walls need to be insulated and covered with T1-11 too. I had a very old heavy desk up against the far wall, but it was wedged in there so tight and was so heavy that we had to cut it up with a saw. It was made of that old sawdust-stuck-together type “wood” and over an inch thick, no wonder it was so heavy. It was going to be burned anyway.
I don’t want anything but real wood. Yes, even the T1-11 we are using is REAL wood. It came off another building, because now-a-days all you get is made of that Masonite-type stuff.
Thursday was Yoga and the Silver Sneakers exercises. But on that day the YMCA hosted a lunch and Valentine Dance. Most of the food was good, but there was fried catfish, so I brought that home for Jay’s cat. I don’t eat it because of Lev. 11:12 for one thing, and I don’t eat breaded fried food.
The dance was something else.
Here they are doing the limbo, but most of them cheated and just ducked under the pole.
And of course they played “Y-M-C-A” and they all did the actions that go with it.
All the seniors got up when they played the “Twist” from back in the 60’s, that is something they all knew how to do. A good time was had by all.
For the Sabbath potluck, as I had some ground turkey, I made it into Impossible Turkey Taco Pie: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/impossibly-easy-taco-pie/cad8267c-2cb0-4dc2-b6e7-9c57a9575430 . The “Impossible” pies are always welcomed, and sometimes I make them with fruit. Here are several “Impossible” recipes: http://oldrecipebook.com/bisquick-impossiblepies.shtml . I know, I know, processed food, but sometimes the Sabbath is a ‘cheat-day. We all eat more than we should when we have our delicious potlucks. The great company and conversation is addictive too.
The Bible readings were Gen. 47:28-48:22, Isa. 43:1-8, John 16:25-33, and all of Matt. 6. The Teaching was about How Important to Search and Learn from the Bible. Don’t take as true what someone tells you, verify it for yourself. (That applies to the Internet, too!!)
It was chilly in the church, I don’t think the thermostat works right, and I hadn’t dressed for the cold because it was supposed to be a warm day.