Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
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20-05-2012, 09:46 AM (This post was last modified: 20-05-2012 10:13 AM by Azaraith.)
Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
So I've got a fundy arguing with me about evolution & creationism and they made a claim that in the 1970s, the scientific community claimed that carbon-14 dating could be used to date fossils at millions of years old, etc. They also claimed that evolution was completely based on the idea that the earth is millions of years old. As in, they thought scientists looked at the world and said "gee, the world is millions of years old, that means animals must have evolved" (yes, no logic and I called them out on it immediately).

As I see it, it's damned obvious that you can't use carbon dating to date anything older than ~50-100,000 years because the half life of carbon-14 is too short and the proportion of N-14 to C-14 would be way too difficult to measure. In my view, anyone who knows anything about how to actually do radiometric dating would know this... Am I wrong? Were there really any scientists proposing just that? I can't find anything besides wacky Creationist websites claiming that (to which, fundy said that the scientific community was censoring/erasing the documents that showed they had argued that in the '70s).

I'm sure it might have been the case with laymen and some school teachers, but that's not the claim - I clarified that with the fundy, they stated that it was the scientific community. They of course accused me of attacking them and since I wasn't there, I don't know, because I just said I couldn't believe that anyone who knew their shit about radiometric dating would suggest that... and they claimed that scientists just twisted the data so that they could say the world was old and evolution worked (so that they could deny God, because everyone just doesn't want to obey Him Dodgy ). This fundy drives me crazy, but they're family and I can't just brush them off as uneducated and uneducatable...

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20-05-2012, 10:04 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
There were numerous revolutions with respect to radiometric dating techniques in the 50', 60's, and 70's. My guess is some funide has latched onto the fact that some of the same materials that had already been dated were redated and a new older age was found. The reason is fairly simple, improvements in instrumentation mean better estimates of lambda (and from that the half-life) and the ability to measure materials using smaller and smaller quantities. The last one is particularly important because crystals like those of zircon can have multiple stages to their growth, and the newer material will be towards the outside while the oldest part is at the center. Each age is significant but represents different events.

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20-05-2012, 10:16 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
(20-05-2012 09:46 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  As I see it, it's damned obvious that you can't use carbon dating to date anything older than ~50-100,000 years because the half life of carbon-14 is too short and the proportion of C-14 to daughter isotopes would be way too difficult to measure. In my view, anyone who knows anything about how to actually do radiometric dating would know this... Am I wrong? Were there really any scientists proposing just that? I can't find anything besides wacky Creationist websites claiming that (to which, fundy said that the scientific community was censoring/erasing the documents that showed they had argued that in the '70s).

I'm sure it might have been the case with laymen and some school teachers, but that's not the claim - I clarified that with the fundy, they stated that it was the scientific community. They of course accused me of attacking them and since I wasn't there, I don't know, because I just said I couldn't believe that anyone who knew their shit about radiometric dating would suggest that... and they claimed that scientists just twisted the data so that they could say the world was old and evolution worked (so that they could deny God, because everyone just doesn't want to obey Him Dodgy ). This fundy drives me crazy, but they're family and I can't just brush them off as uneducated and uneducatable...


You are correct. And Science is well aware of problems with Carbon dating.
Carbon dating ITSELF is not what is used to determine the age of the bones.
Does this help you ? Read the whole article. If not, please ask a specific question.
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environ...e-age1.htm
And BTW, "obeying god" has NOTHING to do with free inquiry. It's their deluded projection, requiring YOU to accept the crap.

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20-05-2012, 10:23 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
(20-05-2012 10:16 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(20-05-2012 09:46 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  As I see it, it's damned obvious that you can't use carbon dating to date anything older than ~50-100,000 years because the half life of carbon-14 is too short and the proportion of C-14 to daughter isotopes would be way too difficult to measure. In my view, anyone who knows anything about how to actually do radiometric dating would know this... Am I wrong? Were there really any scientists proposing just that? I can't find anything besides wacky Creationist websites claiming that (to which, fundy said that the scientific community was censoring/erasing the documents that showed they had argued that in the '70s).

I'm sure it might have been the case with laymen and some school teachers, but that's not the claim - I clarified that with the fundy, they stated that it was the scientific community. They of course accused me of attacking them and since I wasn't there, I don't know, because I just said I couldn't believe that anyone who knew their shit about radiometric dating would suggest that... and they claimed that scientists just twisted the data so that they could say the world was old and evolution worked (so that they could deny God, because everyone just doesn't want to obey Him Dodgy ). This fundy drives me crazy, but they're family and I can't just brush them off as uneducated and uneducatable...


You are correct. And Science is well aware of problems with Carbon dating.

Carbon dating ITSELF is not what is used to detrmine the age of the bones.

Does this help you ? Read the whole article. If not, please ask a specific question.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environ...e-age1.htm

And BTW, "obeying god" has NOTHING to do with free inquiry. It's their deluded projection, requiring YOU to accept the crap.
Thanks. I guess I can say that there is no evidence that scientists made such a claim in the '70s? I know about the different types of radiometric dating and how they work, which is why I found the claim that 'scientists used it to date fossils at millions of years old' preposterous. I'm just gonna have to turn it around and ask them to show me a credible source that makes the claim.

I know, but this particular fundy has some serious delusions - a massive conspiracy by scientists to disprove God via evolution, etc so that they don't have to obey him... CRAZY, especially considering the evolutionist scientists that happen to be Christian and supposedly obey him (PFR - predicted fundy response: they ain't real Christians).

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20-05-2012, 10:37 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
(20-05-2012 10:23 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  
(20-05-2012 10:16 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  You are correct. And Science is well aware of problems with Carbon dating.

Carbon dating ITSELF is not what is used to detrmine the age of the bones.

Does this help you ? Read the whole article. If not, please ask a specific question.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environ...e-age1.htm

And BTW, "obeying god" has NOTHING to do with free inquiry. It's their deluded projection, requiring YOU to accept the crap.

Thanks. I guess I can say that there is no evidence that scientists made such a claim in the '70s? I know about the different types of radiometric dating and how they work, which is why I found the claim that 'scientists used it to date fossils at millions of years old' preposterous. I'm just gonna have to turn it around and ask them to show me a credible source that makes the claim.

I know, but this particular fundy has some serious delusions - a massive conspiracy by scientists to disprove God via evolution, etc so that they don't have to obey him... CRAZY, especially considering the evolutionist scientists that happen to be Christian and supposedly obey him (PFR - predicted fundy response: they ain't real Christians).


The Theory of Natural Selection arose in England, independantly, (Wallace and Darwin), in England in the 1800's. His date, (the 1970's), is complete BS. Help me bearded !

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20-05-2012, 11:11 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
Carbon-14 dating literally can't be used to date anything older than 100,000 years old but during the 70's that number would have been no more than 50,000 years old (new equipment as of only a few years ago). Only a few techniques can be used on organic materials, C14 and U-Th-Pb as far as I know. Even in its earliest conception, the age limits of C14 were known. The biggest issue was variable production of N14 im the atmosphere as a result of solar flux. The calibration for that was tree C14 in tree rings (the rings provide an age and the ratio of C14/N14 allows them to calculate the production rate of N14 at any given age, that is needed in order to get the age using C14). The tree rings are only good for a few thousand years, so another calibration was used by looking at corals (no counting rings here but U-Th-Pb ages were used to calibrate the C14 ages).

For anything millions of years old, the strata are used to calculate ages and constrain the age of fossils (the ideal situation being a layer sandwiched by two ash layers, the ash has zircon which is ideal). So, it couldn't have been C14 (it has it's own journal so one could pull them and ensure that rogue scientists haven't been pulling out papers that say millions of years old).

He must mean some other technique was used and the only time that millions of years was assumed without knowing was when Darwin did it, and even then he knew of estimates by Lyell and others that indicated it must be millions of years old because of the sediment thicknesses).

So, my guess is that they are trying to use Darwin's best guess and confuse the issue with C14 dating since it is the technique that gives the youngest ages and they want it to say that all of the older ages are wrong.

Does he give specific examples as to what was dated and where?

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20-05-2012, 11:16 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
No, my gut is that they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. They definitely thought it was specifically carbon dating and millions of years. They just get offended when I say it's not even plausible that a scientist would claim that and say that I wasn't there, so I don't know, but they do.

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20-05-2012, 11:20 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
So neither of you were there, but they have some secret source of information that the scientific community is withholding from the world and/or is trying to get rid of? Specifically to disprove god? Ask them how an old earth disproves their god anyways.

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20-05-2012, 11:40 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
(20-05-2012 11:20 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  So neither of you were there, but they have some secret source of information that the scientific community is withholding from the world and/or is trying to get rid of? Specifically to disprove god? Ask them how an old earth disproves their god anyways.

Old Earth/New Earth, it ain't gonna help.
Genesis 1: 1-13
The earth was created, before the stars and planets, light was created before the source of light, (stars), day and evening happened before there was a sun to set, what happened to the "dome" in verse 7, what happened to the basin in verse 9, what happened to the body of water above the dome, how come he created a female in verse 27, but is still looking for a mate for "the man" in Chapter 2:18. (I guess he was forgetful). Don't get me started.

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20-05-2012, 11:52 AM
RE: Carbon-14 Dating and the 70s
haha, that's pretty much it. They see old earth as incompatible because of the Bible... 6-day creation, geneology from Adam w/ ages showing that it's 6,000 years, etc. Whole 9 yards YEC. I think I'm just going to find a way to avoid arguments on the subject with them, since it's frustrating to argue when they think that scientists are just falsifying everything and twisting data to make up stuff to avoid believing in God...

I also pointed out contradictions that are very blatant in the Bible, such as the passages in Isaiah and Revelation that refer to the "corners" of the earth (fundy: they meant north, south, east, and west and were being 'poetic') and the contradictions in whether Judas bought the land and threw himself off a cliff or if the priests bought the land after he died and buried him on it (fundy had no response here other than 'is it translated wrong?' and "I have to look into it").

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