Evolutionists say the earth is over 4.5 billion years old. But a plain reading of Scripture indicates that the real age of the earth is closer to 6,000 years. “Hold on,” people may say. “If the earth is that young, what about carbon dating? Don’t carbon dating methods prove the earth is old?”
That’s a great question! Let’s explore that concern and the assumptions that go along with it.
What Is Carbon Dating?
Carbon dating is a method that’s based on the assumption that the earth is billions of years old. This method is used to date things that contain carbon, such as rocks, wood or leather artifacts, and fossils of trees, plants, and animals.
Carbon dating supposedly works on things that are 50,000 years old or younger. It works by determining the amount of carbon-14 and carbon-12 in organic matter.
All living things absorb radioactive carbon (carbon-14) until they die. After that, the carbon begins to decay at a certain rate. By measuring the amount of carbon-14 in organic matter, scientists can supposedly tell when it died.
One dating device, the “Accelerator Mass Spectrometer,” is said to be accurate up to 80,000 years. It measures the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12.
The Biggest Problem With Carbon Dating
If carbon dating is accurate, then why do some diamonds and rocks thought to be millions or billions of years old still contain carbon-14? Clearly, there are some flaws to this method.
The biggest problem with carbon dating is that it’s built on several assumptions. These are the main three:
The production rate of carbon-14 has always been the same.
The atmosphere has always had the same carbon-14 concentration as it has now.
The biosphere (where organisms live on earth) has always had the same carbon-14 concentration as the atmosphere.
The overarching assumption here is that processes that occur today have always occurred at the same rate. This is a belief known as uniformitarianism.
For carbon dating to be accurate, the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the atmosphere has to have always been the same. This is what Dr. Willard Libby, who founded the carbon dating method, believed to be true.
Carbon Dating Doesn’t Work With a Stronger Magnetic Field
Scientists believe the earth’s magnetic field has progressively weakened over time. This is important to know because a stronger magnetic field would have reduced the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
How? Well, Dr. Andrew Snelling explains that “the magnetic field partly shields the earth from the influx of cosmic rays, which change nitrogen atoms into radioactive carbon-14 atoms.” A stronger magnetic field would’ve reduced the cosmic rays, which would’ve then reduced the amount of carbon-14.
If the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere was lower than evolutionists think, then their dates are way off and the earth is far younger than they realize.
Why Carbon Dating Doesn’t Work With a Global Flood
Carbon dating also doesn’t account for a global catastrophe that would’ve disrupted the atmosphere and the amount of carbon in it. You see, the Flood buried many living creatures and plants—and therefore, large amounts of carbon.
We know from the large amount of fossil fuels that there was far more vegetation before the Flood than we have today, writes Mike Riddle.
What does that mean? Simply that the world prior to the Flood had much more carbon in living organisms than exists today—perhaps as much as 500 times more. This would further dilute the amount of carbon-14, decreasing the ratio between carbon-14 and carbon-12.
The Flood’s effects on carbon—coupled with a stronger magnetic field—throw a wrench in evolutionists’ assumptions about carbon decay and carbon dating.
Learn More About Carbon Dating and Evolution
Creationists have done a lot of scientific research on carbon dating and the problems with it. Their discoveries are far more extensive than we could cover in this article.
But if you go to Answers TV, you can learn more about the scientific problems with carbon dating—and why it actually points to a young earth!
One of the most common “proofs” for why the Creation account in Genesis can’t be interpreted literally is that the earth is clearly billions of years old. After all, scientists have used dating methods to prove that… right?
Not quite! In this video, join Cal Smith as he explains why dating methods are often inaccurate.
Many people think that radiometric dating proves the earth is billions of years old. But those same people rarely understand the underlying assumptions behind that belief. Using simple illustrations, Dr. Andrew Snelling examines these assumptions and equips you with information to counter those anti-biblical arguments about the age of the earth.
Why does Creation matter? Where did Cain get his wife? Doesn’t carbon dating disprove the Bible? And isn’t evolution a fact? Watch to get answers to 15 of the most common questions about God, the Bible, and Creation. Your faith will be encouraged!