Carbon 14 dating unreliable

Carbon-14 dating is unreliable because it once showed a living mollusk to have been dead for 3,000 years. Such errors arise from misapplication or anomalous but well-understood conditions As pointed out by zoologist Tim Berra (19), many of the "obviously wrong dates" creationists point to come from misapplication of carbon dating to samples for which it was never supposed to work in the first place.The short half-life (5,730 years) of C (carbon-14) makes carbon dating accurate only up to 50,000 years, so in some cases creationists derive incorrect results by applying the test to samples older than 50,000 years.However, a correction can be made on the basis of carbon 14 readings on items whose age is known from archeological records.Trees and plants that get their carbon from the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere will, while they are living have a percentage of carbon 14 equal to that in the atmosphere.This is the motivation behind the 30,000 year figure quoted in the creationist position.Creationists attack all radioactive dating with the claim that radioactive decay rates may have been different in the past.Basically, we've been using items of known age to check the accuracy of carbon dating ever since the method was invented in the late 1940s.

There probably have been small fluctuations, leading to an uncertainty of plus or minus ten percent, confirmed by dating objects of a known age.Carbon 14 decays at a particular rate and is not replaced.Thus, measuring the degree to which the carbon 14 level is less than that in the atmosphere provides a measure of time since death.However, the evidence does not support the creationist claim of large changes in the amount of carbon dioxide.The creationist argument that the ratio of C-14 to C-12 is not constant is actually based on the assumption of a young earth with an age of 10,000 years, and sudden changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by the assumed catastrophic events of the Genesis flood.

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