Monday, November 9, 2009

tUPoC - Chapter 1 - Section 3

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

This Section Lisle calls Age Indicators. This is his why radiometric dating and light from distance stars is wrong, hint Goddidit.

"One additional point of conflict between creationists and evolutionists concerns the time scale of origins. Did life take billions of years to come about, or was it created in a short amount of time in the recent past? A number of evidences challenge the secular claim that the earth is billions of years old. Many could be listed, and in fact have been listed, on the Answers in Genesis website and in other resources.5 Here we will examine just a couple to get the flavor."

"5.; see Don DeYoung, Thousands not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2005)."

That is right his other resources are Answers in Genesis' web page, which was also the first resource he listed. You could say he is pointing to the book, which AiG sells. Donald DeYoung doesn't work for AiG, instead he is faculty at the Institute for Creation Research and on the board of directors for the Creation Research Society. Take that as you will.

"Many people have heard of carbon dating. However, most laymen are under the mistaken impression that carbon dating is used to show that the earth is millions or billions of years old. This is not the case. Carbon dating always gives ages much less than this, even on things that are allegedly millions or billions of years old. The reason is that the C-14 isotope is short-lived. Here’s how it works."

Well before we go into Lisle's idea of how carbon dating works, let's look at the real thing. First off, Carbon dating is never used to date anything over around 70,000 years old. It can't do it. It is works well for things in the age range of 58,000 to 62,000 years. These things must also get their carbon source from the air. Anything that receives carbon from a different source or reservoir will have an apparent age different than its actual age. This is how a shellfish that lives in a lake with limestone will test as an old age. Basically the limestone dissolves into the lake releasing the carbon with it. Then the shellfish ingests this carbon from the limestone. When tested the shellfish will give an apparent age closer to that of the limestone instead of the shellfish. Water is the main source of reservoir carbon. There are tests for this and the cause is known, plus radiocarbon dating is not the only form of dating. This should be apparent since carbon dating can't date things into the 100 thousands much less the billions.

"Most carbon is a stable variety called C-12, but a small fraction of carbon is C-14, which is unstable. Unstable means that C-14 is constantly decaying — it is continually and spontaneously changing into nitrogen. This happens slowly, one atom at a time. The rate is such that in 5,736 years, half of the C-14 will have decayed into nitrogen. After another 5,736 years, half of the remaining amount will have decayed, leaving only one-fourth of the original, and so on. So by making certain assumptions and then measuring the amount of C-14 in an ancient sample, scientists are able to make an estimate of the age."

So far he is correct, but I would like his clarification on certain assumptions. The only main assumption is that the production of C-14 in the upper atmosphere has held at a constant rate. Except that is not even held as an assumption anymore. In 1958 Hessel de Vries determined that C-14 varied up to 1% at times in the past atmosphere. Due to Hessel's work, calibration curves are used to more accurately account for the changes in C-14 over time and place. Using dendrochronology to verify tree tests, the carbon dating at its worse was off by 700 years. This would be an error percentage of around 1.4% at the worst.

"Since C-14 decays fairly rapidly (at least compared to the secular alleged age of the earth), it would decay to an undetectable amount after 100,000 years. In fact, if the entire mass of the earth were C-14, after one million years not even one atom would be left! So it may come as a shock for those who believe in an old earth to learn that C-14 has been found in allegedly very ancient substances, such as coal and diamonds — coal supposedly formed millions of years ago, in the evolutionary view. And the diamonds in which C-14 has been found are supposed to be over a billion years old in the secular view! The presence of detectable C-14 indicates that the true age of these things is only a few thousand years. Carbon dating certainly challenges the billions-of-years view."

The group that discovered C-14 in diamonds was from the Institute for Creation Research. The ICR called the group Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth or RATE for short. RATE found the C-14 and declared themselves winners without further investigation of what could possibly cause the C-14. Real scientists then took over the study as it was interesting. After investigating RATE's claims, this paper was written and peer reviewed. Also Kirk Bertsche wrote a paper on what was wrong with RATE's study. The short answer is contamination. Here is an excerpt from Bertsche:

"Diamond is difficult to combust. The RATE samples apparently required modifications to the normal procedure [1], presumably higher combustion temperatures and longer combustion times, likely increasing the sample chemistry contamination. The samples were reportedly pitted and may have been subjected to previous analyses and to unknown contamination. Nevertheless, RATE’s five deep-mine diamond samples had radiocarbon levels only slightly above background (0.01 to 0.07 pMC after background subtraction), while the seven alluvial samples ranged from 0.03 to 0.31 pMC after background subtraction.
Subsequently, the RATE team inserted diamond directly into an ion source, eliminating the sample chemistry, and measured much lower radiocarbon values, “between 0.008 and 0.022 pMC, with a mean value of 0.014 pMC,” apparently with no background subtraction [6]. This much lower value for unprocessed diamond provides strong evidence that their processed diamond samples had been contaminated, most likely by the modified sample chemistry.
Taylor and Southon have also measured unprocessed diamond, finding a similar range of 0.005 to 0.03 pMC without background subtraction. They interpret this result as their instrument background, primarily due to ion source memory. Their ion source current varied, unintentionally, over about a factor of two, perhaps due to crystal face orientation or to conductivity differences between samples. “The oldest 14C age equivalents were measured on natural diamonds which exhibited the highest current yields” [4]. This important observation provides evidence about the source of the radiocarbon.
If the radiocarbon were intrinsic to the sample, there would be no change in the radiocarbon ratio with sample current. The 14C, 13C, and 12C would change in unison. However, if the radiocarbon were coming from ion source memory or elsewhere in the accelerator, it should give a count rate independent of ion source current. Normalizing the radiocarbon count rate to the ion source current, which is predominantly 12C, would result in higher radiocarbon content for lower source currents, as observed. This data provides clear evidence that at least a significant fraction of the radiocarbon detected by Taylor and Southon in diamond measurements did not come from the diamonds themselves and thus could not be “intrinsic radiocarbon.”
The lower values for unprocessed diamond and the current-dependent behavior find no explanation in Baumgardner’s “intrinsic radiocarbon” model. But these results fit well with the Taylor and Southon evidence that instrument background (specifically ion source memory) is material-dependent, with diamond exhibiting significantly less ion source memory than graphite. The radiocarbon detected in natural, unprocessed diamond measurements seems to be nothing more than instrument background."

Back to Lisle:

"In fact, C-14 is found in virtually everything that has carbon in it, even deep down in rock layers that evolutionists believe to be hundreds of millions of years old. Yet, if those rock layers really were so old, they should not have even one atom of C-14 in them. These results are perfectly consistent with biblical creation. According to Genesis, the entire earth is not much more than several thousand years old, so it’s hardly surprising to find C-14 in just about everything. This is exactly what the creationist would expect. But carbon-14 is a serious challenge to the evolutionary system with its billions of years."

C-14 is constantly being replenished in the Earth's atmosphere, from the collision of neutrons with Nitrogen 14 atoms. The Earth's atmosphere is not the only place this can happen. Any source of neutrons like uranium can potentially create C-14. This is one of the many reasons rocks are not dated by C-14. C-14 is used to date organic remains that gain their carbon from the atmosphere.

A good article on Radiometric dating can be found on the Science in Christian Perspective page entitled "Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective". This is not a YEC article but of reasons why you don't have to accept YEC or OEC and be a Christian.

"Such evidences for youth can even be found in outer space. Comets are certainly consistent with the relative youth of the solar system but they pose a problem for the secular view. Comets are made of ice and dirt, and they orbit in elliptical paths that occasionally bring them close to the sun. When a comet passes close to the sun, solar radiation heats the comet, causing its icy material to vaporize and disperse into space. This lost material is swept back by solar radiation and solar wind; this is what forms the comet’s tail.

Since comets are constantly losing material, they cannot exist forever. It has been estimated that a typical comet can last for a maximum of about 100,000 years before completely running out of material. This is not a problem for the biblical time scale, but it certainly runs against secular thinking. If the solar system were really billions of years old, as evolutionists believe, then why do we still have comets?"

Lisle will cover this more in the next section which he calls "Rescuing Devices". He knows what the Oort Cloud is and he talks about it in the next section. This is still ignoring evidence contrary to a young Earth like distant star light. I am going to leave this for now as this will all be covered in the next section.


Whateverman said...

Yikes - this one was dense. You seem to know quite a bit about radiometric dating, Beams

BeamStalk said...

I like geology and paleontology. I am considering going back to college next year for it.