Explain the use of carbon dating

Some [skeptics] make it sound like there is a lot of disagreement, but this is not the case.

The disagreement in values needed to support the position of young-Earth proponents would require differences in age measured by orders of magnitude (e.g., factors of 10,000, 100,000, a million, or more).

Creationist Henry Morris, for example, criticizes this type of "uniformitarian" assumption [Morris2000, pg. But numerous experiments have been conducted to detect any change in radioactivity as a result of chemical activity, exceedingly high heat, pressure, or magnetic field. Scientists have also performed very exacting experiments to detect any change in the constants or laws of physics over time, but various lines of evidence indicate that these laws have been in force, essentially the same as we observe them today, over the multi-billion-year age of the universe.

None of these experiments has detected any significant deviation for any isotope used in geologic dating [Dalrymple1991, pg. Note, for instance, that light coming to earth from distant stars (which in some cases emanated billions of years ago) reflects the same patterns of atomic spectra, based in the laws of quantum mechanics, that we see today.

If two or more radiometric clocks based on different elements and running at different rates give the same age, that's powerful evidence that the ages are probably correct.

Along this line, Roger Wiens, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, asks those who are skeptical of radiometric dating to consider the following (quoted in several cases from [Wiens2002]): All of the different dating methods agree--they agree a great majority of the time over millions of years of time.

Dating schemes based on rates of radioactivity have been refined and scrutinized for several decades.

The latest high-tech equipment permits reliable results to be obtained even with microscopic samples.

Radiometric dating is self-checking, because the data (after certain preliminary calculations are made) are fitted to a straight line (an "isochron") by means of standard linear regression methods of statistics.

A recent survey of the rubidium-strontium method found only about 30 cases, out of tens of thousands of published results, where a date determined using the proper procedures was subsequently found to be in error.

One question that sometimes arises here is how can scientists assume that rates of radioactivity have been constant over the great time spans involved.

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