Here, my goal is to take a more careful look at the conclusions put forth by various Ai G articles with regard to both anomalous ages obtained by the 14-C method (such as from coal, diamonds, and permineralized wood) and typical ages obtained from latest-Pleistocene (~80,000-12,000 years B. In doing so, I will consider their use of sources (from scientific literature), their understanding of the method itself, and the assumptions that go into their reasoning for why these ages (commonly more than 10,000 years B.
P.) are positive evidence for a young Earth (less than 10,000 years old). When the average person hears the term "radiometric dating", he/she most often recalls the radiocarbon method, even though this method is relatively unimportant to most research in geology.
Getting lost in the technical jargon — a minor detour I would like to make it clear that my purpose here is not to cloud the issue by introducing meaningless complexities to the discussion.
While his synopsis includes a number of minor factual errors (see below), I would recommend it to anyone not entirely familiar with the method at this point.
At the end of his explanation, he states: "Since no one was there to measure the amount of 14C when a creature died, scientists need to find a method to determine how much 14C has decayed." This is a valid point: if we don't know how much 14-C was present in the sample to begin with, our age estimate based on the remaining 14-C will simply be wrong.
It is quite another thing to make an argument against that simplified explanation without fully understanding or appreciating the true complexity of the issue.
This attack is called a strawman argument, and abounds anytime a complex issue is debated by those only vaguely familiar (one need only watch 5 minutes of any politically driven show — liberal or conservative — to see my point. One can start to see the basis of the young Earth argument — it lies with that "critical assumption" that we can know the original ratio of 14/12-Carbon in the atmosphere when the organic material was still alive.
The third point is most relevant to our discussion, since it results in 'both sides' affirming the accuracy of radiocarbon dating for any 'recent' samples (as opposed to nearly any other method, which must be discounted in all cases by anyone that believes in a young Earth).
Thus even from a 'young-Earth' standpoint, all radiocarbon dates (assuming that care is taken to eliminate contamination) are taken to be meaningful indicators of a given sample's age. Anyone familiar with typical studies employing the radiocarbon method knows that model ages obtained often exceed 10,000 years (e.g. So doesn't the method already affirm that the Earth (or at least it's now deceased inhabitants) must be at least this old?
Libby's book (Libby, 1955) is available in any university library and can be read by any of you interested (I only read it because it was referenced in Riddle's article, but now will say the work is nothing short of genius). Libby simply assume the 14/12-Carbon ratio to be constant.
On the contrary, he devoted ample discussion to why that ratio would always be in flux (e.g.
I have no problem with this and I believe he does a great job illustrating the basics of the radiocarbon method.