Lou Montgomery says :
"[ ... ]
Could the Earth look old to we [sic] humans because our methods
for determining age are flawed? I'm not sure. Let's take
a scientific look and see what falls out. Carbon 14 dating.
[ ... ]"
Please list any scientific publications (and scientists) that support using
C14 dating to determine the age of the earth. The half-life of C14 is about
5730 years. The upper theoretical limit for C14 dating is about 57,000 years.
The upper practical limit however is about 40,000 years due to several
(1) The sample is not hermetically sealed after death (may get
(2) After 10 half-lives the amount of C14 is reduced by three orders of
magnitude (and remember that you didn't have very much to start with).
(3) Standard sample sizes for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) C14 dating
are one milligram (other methods use larger sample sizes). 10 micrograms
of modern carbon contamination will reduce the age of a 60,000 year old
sample to 37,000 years (10 micrograms worth of contamination can easily
occur even with the best labs using the best procedures).
Using C14 to date the age of the earth is every bit as silly as trying to
use an electron microscope to measure the distance between the earth and the
moon (i.e. using the wrong tools for the job at hand).
"1) LIVING Mollusks have been dated by the carbon 14 procedure
and assigned an age of 2300 years old. These results were
recorded in Science, vol. 130, Dec. 11, 1959."
Please check your references, since I am unable to find the article that you
(strangely enough) did not name or provide page numbers for. It is well known
that fresh-water clams produce low C14 dates. Carbon in the shells comes from
the water in their environment. Since dissolved limestone is frequently found
in water and limestone contains very small amounts of C14, shells contain much
less C14 than Tasmanian devils, toads, or trees (the latter three get their
C14 from the atmosphere). This fact is well known in the scientific community.
In fact, if you had bothered to "research" more contemporary literature you
would have discovered that laboratories routinely use ancient limestone,
marble, and coal as infinitely old (relatively speaking) references for
C14 dating. The ages that these circumstances produce (40,000 to 60,000
years) is a measure of how clean their equipment and procedures are (not
the age of the reference).
"2) Nature, vol. 225, March 7, 1970, reported a carbon 14 test
done on organic material contained in the mortar of an English
castle. Although the castle was known to be 787 years old, the
carbon 14 test gave an age of 7370 years."
Why haven't you read the article (actually - a letter to the editor)
that you are citing? It clearly states that the dates are wrong due
to contamination by ancient carbon. It really doesn't matter what the
reliability of C14 dating is since that would not have the slightest
influence on the age of the earth.
"3) Anarctic Journal of The United States, vol. 6, 1971 reported
that freshly killed seals were carbon 14 dated at 1300 years.
In the same series of tests mummified seals that had been dead
30 years were dated by this method at 4600 years old."
I will investigate this, but I suspect that the "Anarctic Journal of The
United States" doesn't exist (maybe you meant "Antarctic"?). Since they
were not trying to date the seals ("freshly killed") it sounds like they
were trying to ascertain the uptake of C14 in certain Antarctic wildlife.
It will be interesting to see if this report exists and especially if
it supports your young-earth creationist position.
"Why have the dating results been so inaccurate? Contrary to
a very important assumption on which carbon 14 dating is based,
not all plants absorb radioactive carbon equally. Recent
research has revealed a previously unknown internal weight
differentiating mechanism in some plants which rejects the heavy
radioactive carbon atoms - while still allowing the absorption
of normal carbon atoms. Thus, at death, these plants ( and the
animals that eat them) have abnormally low levels of carbon 14.
When these remains are dated they give the FALSE impression of
being VERY OLD."
Please cite a reference for the above claims (seems that you forgot to
here). I wonder why you "forgot" (hint - I already know the answer).
"As with other radiometric dating methods, the carbon 14
method depends on several assumptions. One of the most important
assumptions, in order for this method of dating to work, is
that the amount of radioactive carbon in the Earth's atmosphere
in the past would have been constant. This would mean that the
rate of formation of radioactive carbon would had have to equal
the decay rate in the age in which the specimens lived."
C14 dating has been verified through an independent means (tree-ring
dating). It is a well known fact in the scientific community that the
amount of C14 in the atmosphere has varied over geologic time and this
variation is routinely taken into account when this particular dating
method is used. Thus, the rest of your first argument falls flat upon
its pseudoscientific face. Tree-ring dating, by the way, has been done
to about 16,000 years ago by using multiple generations of bristle-cone
"Secondly, it must be assumed that the decay rate was the same
in the past as it is today. Another important factor is that NO
cotamination [sic] of radioactive carbon could have occurred
since the death of the specimen. There are a number of enviornmental
[sic] factors to consider which indicate that the RATE OF RADIOACTIVE
CARBON FORMATION HAS NOT BEEN CONSTANT throughout the history of
It is well known that radioactive decay rates vary as much as a few percent
under conditions of EXTREME temperature and pressure. A few percent, however,
cannot account for the several orders of magnitude of difference that we see
between what science measures and what dogmatic young-earth creationists keep
asserting (with no supporting evidence). Have you noticed that you keep going
back and forth between C14 formation and C14 decay in your arguments - this
only muddles what you are claiming (or is that part of your goal?). I already
addressed C14 formation rates in the previous paragraph. Although you have
chosen to emphasize the non-constant C14 formation rates as though it were a
newly discovered astounding blunder made by the scientific community, this
variation was, in fact, discovered by members of the scientific community and
not by creationists. Furthermore, that variation is routinely accounted for
in C14 dating and finally, IT DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY SUPPORT FOR YOUR CLAIMS.
"My intent here was not to enter the fray between the creation
and evolution advocates, merely to try and demonstrate the flaws
in this discussion of an Earth created with the APPEARANCE of age."
No, your goal was merely to promote a different set of standard creationist
arguments (creationists have spent a lot of time dismissing C14 dating). The
only flaws that you have shown are those in your own thinking and the tracts
that you are using. Did you really expect me to believe that YOUR "research"
uncovered an alleged 1959 reference and yet somehow missed the small mountain
of published data clearly showing that your fundamental thinking is grossly
wrong? I have already seen most of "your" arguments in creationist literature
(some, several years ago).
"If you students [sic] of this discussion are interested in
discussing other methods of dating such as, uranium-lead,
potassium-argon, radioactive half-life, halo method, radiohalos,
isochron or any that may be of interest to either side, simply
post into this newsgroup and I will respond in a scientific,
What is the "halo method" of dating? Please cite scientific references. If
by "radiohalos" you mean "radioactive polonium halos" then we need not be very
concerned since they have never been established as a reliable method to date
anything. The only "scientist" claiming that "radioactive polonium halos" are
a reliable indicator of age is creationist Robert Gentry (he insists that
halos prove that our galaxy cannot be older than 6,000 years). Gentry also
claims to have discovered the center of the universe(!) and falsified both
the theory of relativity and the big bang hypothesis(!!) He also endorses
a universal flood and a universe with the appearance of age (I note that
you claim to reject the latter). He is considered to be a very earnest
but hopelessly terminal crank. Not all creationists are liars - some are
merely very DENSE (and of course some are just plain ignorant).
You started out with "Let's take a scientific look and see what falls out"
and finished with "post into this newsgroup and I will respond in a scientific
non-offensive manner". Unfortunately, everything in your letter between these
two statements was standard creationist drivel (selective evidence, evidence
out of context, ignoring articles you yourself cited, illogical conclusion,
and general scientific illiteracy). You have also made the common creationist
assumption that any references (real or imagined) that you cite will never be
Also, it should be noted, virtually every real point that you brought up is
well known in the scientific literature. In other words, your arguments are
not trying to convince anyone who is scientifically literate, but rather to
convince scientific illiterates. Why do you target that particular audience?
I recommend that you try to measure the temperature of liquid nitrogen using
a standard household thermometer (the kind used to "take your temperature").
Check your answer against a reference (CRC) and then, if you can figure out
what went wrong, find a good set of encyclopedias and start reading. Or you
can keep posting here and someone will use your posting to explain how science
works (and how pathetic creation "science" is).
Anyone seeking a clear and concise but not too technical description of the
limits of C14 dating should consult [3b]. The author (T. W. Stafford Jr.) is
a recognized authority on Quaternary paleontology and AMS C14 dating. That
issue also discusses a recent creationist absurdity (C14 dating of dinosaur
fossils). And, as if that technique isn't already silly enough, these
particular fossils have been completely mineralized (i.e. they do not
contain any of the original organic material).
 Reviews of Thirty-One Creationist Books,
National Center for Science Education, 1984.
 Evolutionists Confront Creationists
Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division,
American Association for the Advancement of Science,
April, 1984, volume 1, part 3.
[3a] Creation / Evolution
Issue #30, Summer 1992.
Radiocarbon Dates for Dinosaur Bones?
A Critical Look at Recent Creationist Claims, pp. 1-9.
[3b] Creation / Evolution
Issue #30, Summer 1992.
Radiocarbon Dating Dinosaur Bones:
More Pseudoscience from Creationist, pp. 10-17.