Radiometric Dating
The Age of the Earth: Part One

 

The only dating methods discussed (over and over again) by evolution-believing scientists and the mass media are ones that supposedly "prove" that the earth is billions of years old.  One of the most popular of these is known as radiometric dating.  However, not as well known is the fact that such methods have a number of serious flaws which are usually glossed over, or ignored when writing on, or discussing this subject in public.

With the exception of Carbon-14, radiometric dating is used to date either igneous or metamorphic rocks that contain radioactive elements such as uranium. And even though various radioactive elements have been used to "date" these rocks, for the most part, the methods are basically the same. They consist of measuring the amount of radioactive (mother) element and comparing it to the amount of stable (daughter) element. A discussion of the Uranium/Lead method follows.

Uranium is radioactive, which means it is in the process of changing from an unstable element into a stable one. The most common form is uranium-238. It has a half-life of about 4.5 billion years. This means that if you had some pure uranium-238 with no lead in it, 4.5 billion years later one half of it would have decayed into its stable daughter product (lead-206). And after 9 billion years there would be 75% lead and 25% uranium, and so on.  Few people realize it but all radiometric dating methods require making at least three assumptions.  These are:

1) The rate of decay has remained constant throughout the past.
2) The original amount of both mother and daughter elements is known.
3) The sample has remained in a closed system.

Constant Decay Rate:  
For purposes of radiometric dating it must be assumed that the rate of decay from mother element to daughter element has remained constant throughout the past. Although there is no way to prove whether or not this has been the case, scientists have attempted to alter the rate of decay of radioactive materials and have found that they are almost immune to change. Most creationists have few qualms in accepting this first assumption.

Original Amounts Known:  
The second assumption is much more speculative since there is no way to verify whether or not some (or most) of the daughter element was already present when the rock solidified. Therefore, a guess must be made. However, in some cases, a few scientists are telling us that they have solved this problem.

For example, with the uranium/lead method scientists have attempted to estimate what the original ratio (of uranium-238 to lead-206) was when the Earth formed. To do this they have selected a certain meteorite, which contained various types of lead (including lead 204, 206, 207 and 208) but no uranium, and they have assumed that this ratio is equivalent to the earth's original lead ratio. They did this because it is almost certain that these lead isotopes were all present in large quantities when the earth was created. This is because "common" lead contains both radiogenic (lead 206, 207 and 208) and non-radiogenic lead (204) but it does not contain any uranium. In fact, about 98% of common lead is "radiogenic" (containing lead 206, 207, 208) and only 2% non-radiogenic. 1,2,3,4,5,6

A Closed System:  
The third assumption is that the sample has remained in a closed system.  This is necessary due to outside influences such as heat and groundwater that can seriously alter the original material. And since the earth is not a closed system, these last two assumptions make radiometric dating highly subjective and questionable.

For example, if a rock sample was below the water table at any time, leaching would take place.  For Uranium/Lead dating this means that some of the uranium that was initially present would be "leached" out of the rock.  Leaching can also cause uranium to be leached into rocks that have little or no uranium in them.  Therefore, in virtually every case, scientists do not know what the original condition of the rock was; and, even if they did know, they don't any more due to heat contamination, mixing, and leaching. This is discussed in detail by Dr. Snelling in an article on this topic.4

Note: As for the few cases where scientists do know what the "original" condition (or date of eruption) was, they still have not been able to come up with the correct "date" for the age of the rock without all sorts of fancy footwork and massaging of data. That's because radiometric dating (with the exception of Carbon 14) is almost always performed on igneous rocks (i.e. those that were once in a molten state).  Also because, when different substances are in a liquid state, something  known as mixing almost always takes place: meaning that whenever a liquid (or molten) rock is erupted out of the earth, both the mother and daughter elements will be "mixed" together, thus making it virtually impossible to determine the time that an eruption took place. 


Heat Contamination: 
Another problem that calls into question the credibility of radiometric dating is heat contamination. For example, In 1973, in Alberta, Canada (near the town of Grand Prairie) a high voltage line fell which caused nearby tree roots to fossilize almost instantly. When scientists at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan were asked what the results would be if these roots were dated by Potassium Argon method. Their response was that the results:

"Would be meaningless; it would indicate an age of millions of years Because Heat was Involved in the petrification process."  Mysteries of Creation by Dennis Petersen, p. 47.

Two well-documented examples of "heat contamination" are the 1800 and 1801 eruptions from two Hawaiian volcanoes. Although these eruptions were less than 200 years old, the radiometric "dates" obtained from them were 140 million to 2.96 billion years for one, and from 0 to 29 million years for the other -- depending upon the (ocean) depth at which the lava sample was obtained. This is documented in Table 1 below.

This also brings up an important question:


If radiometric dating methods are unable to produce the correct date in cases where the actual date of eruption is known, why should we believe that these same methods can produce accurate dates when the date of eruption is unknown?

The point is simply this: radiometric dating is known to produce grossly erroneous dates when heat is involved in the formation or fossilization process. And since the only rocks which yield ages in excess of 100,000 years are of volcanic origin, this method of dating the earth is not based on science, but rather speculation and subjective reasoning.  Unfortunately, the public is rarely informed of these facts.   The bottom line is that there are only two ways to verify whether or not radiometric dating methods have any credibility at all. These are:

1. To compare the results with known dates based on historical and/or archeological data,
2. To cross-check the results with one or more different methods of radiometric dating.

The following tables illustrate the highly questionable, if not totally unreliable, nature of the radiometric methods that are currently in use or have been used in the past to "date" volcanic materials.

Table 1:  A comparison between rocks of known age Vs radiometric "age."

Rock Sample
Place of Origin

Known Age
 from Historical or 
Archaeological Data 

  Rock "Age" by 
 Radiometric Dating 

 Method 
Used

Sunset Crater, Arizona 7

1,900 yrs

210K - 230K yrs

K/Ar

Russian Volcano 8

24,000 yrs

50 m.-14.6 b. yrs

K/Ar

Mt Rangitoto, 
New Zealand 9

3,300 yrs

485,000 yrs

K/Ar

Vulcan's Throne, 
Grand Canyon 10

10,000 yrs max.

114K - 120K yrs

K/Ar

Hualalai Volcano, 
Hawaii 11,12,13

200 yrs

 140 m.- 670 m. yrs 

 Helium 

Hualalai Volcano, 
Hawaii 11,12,13

200 yrs

 160 m.- 2.96 b. yrs 

K/Ar

*Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii 14

200 yrs

0 yrs at 1400 
meters depth

K/Ar

*Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii 14

200 yrs

 10-14 m.y. at 3420 
meters depth

K/Ar

*Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii 14

200 yrs

 13-29 m.y. at 4680 
meters depth

K/Ar

Note: Where abbreviations are used: b. = billion; and m. = million.
* The depth here refers to the depth below the surface of the water, since this volcano produced a lava 
    flow that  flowed down the mountain and  into the ocean.

Table 2:  A comparison between different methods of dating rocks of unknown age.

Rock Sample
Place of Origin

    Known Age 
  from Historical or  Archeological Data 

Rocks "Age" by 
 Radiometric Dating 

Method
Used

Salt Lake Crater, 
Hawaii 15,16,17

 Unknown

2.6 m.-140 m. yrs 

Helium

Salt Lake Crater, 
Hawaii 15,16,17

 Unknown

400K-3.3 b. yrs 

K/Ar

Cubic Diamonds, 
Zaire 18,19

 Unknown

6 Billion yrs 

K/Ar

KBS Tuff, 
E. Turkana, Kenya 20,21 

 Unknown

290K-221 m.. yrs 

K/Ar

KBS Tuff, 
E. Turkana, Kenya  22 

 Unknown

2.42 million yrs 

Fission
Track

Cardenas Basalts, Bottom
of Grand Canyon 23,24,25,26 

 Unknown

715 million yrs 

K/Ar 
Isochron

Cardenas Basalts, Bottom 
of Grand Canyon 23,24,25,26 

 Unknown

1.17 billion yrs 

Rb/Sr 
Isochron 

Uinkaret Plateau, Top of  
Grand Canyon 23,24,25,26 

 Unknown

0.01-117 m.. yrs 

K/Ar

Uinkaret Plateau, Top of  
Grand Canyon 23,24,25,26 

 Unknown

1.30 billion yrs 

Rb/Sr 
Isochron 

Uinkaret Plateau, Top of  
Grand Canyon 23,24,25,26 

  Unknown

2.60 billion yrs 

Pb/Pb 
Isochron 

Morton gneisses, 
Minnesota 27

  Unknown

2.5 billion yrs 

K/Ar

Morton gneisses, 
Minnesota 27

  Unknown

3.3 billion yrs 

Ur/Pb

"Allende" Meteorite 28,29,30 

  Unknown

3.9 b.-11.7 b. yrs 

Ur/Th/Pb 
Isochron 

"Allende" Meteorite 28,29,30 

  Unknown

4.5 b.-16.5 b. yrs 

Ur/Th/Pb 

Moon Rocks 31

   Unknown

4.6 b.- 8.2 b. yrs 

Ur/Pb

Moon Rocks 32

   Unknown

2.3 b.- 3.76 b. yrs 

K/Ar

Moon Rock (breccia) 33 

   Unknown

 124 b.- 125.5 b. yrs 

K/Ar


* Notes: Where abbreviations are used: b. = billion; and m. = million.
* "Allende" is the name given to the meteorite that was used to "date" the age of the earth.
* KBS stands for Kay Behrensmeyer Site. It is the site where the famous 1470 skull was found.
* Cubic Diamonds from Zaire were included because the "age" derived from them is greater than the purported 
    (4.5 b.y.) age of the earth.

Dr. Plaisted and many others have come to the same conclusion, and in a paper on this subject he said that:

"After study and discussion of this question, I now believe that the claimed accuracy of radiometric dating methods is a result of a great misunderstanding of the data, and that the various methods hardly ever agree with each other, and often do not agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found.  I believe... there is a great need for this information to be made known, so I am making this article available in the hopes that it will enlighten others who are considering these questions...." 34 Emphasis Added 

For the reasons discussed above, radiometric dating is not the absolute Time Clock that it has been portrayed to be by faithful evolutionists.  See the links below for more detailed information on this topic.  

Copyright, 2006,  2013,  Randy S. Berg;   
 Copies may be printed or copied and distributed freely for educational purposes.

References

  See also:
The Age of the Earth Debate

And
Evidence that's Not supposed to Exist

 

Radiometric Dating   Continental Drift   The Big Bang   

Worldwide Flood   Young Earth Evidence 

 

Radiometric Links to additional Information

Excess Argon 
More Young Earth Evidence

The Pigs Took it All 
I'll take 2 million!  I'll take 220!   

The KBS Tuff 
This really happened.

Carbon Dating 
Why the Earth is likely Young.

What About Carbon Dating?
Step right up folks!

More Bad News 
for Radiometric Dating

4.6 Billion Years ??? 
Perhaps Not: after all the Hype 

What about the Isochron method 
that supposedly clears up some 
Bad News for Radiometric Dating?

Carbon-14 Dating 
Unfossilized Dino Bones

Radioactive Age Estimation 
Does it Prove Billions of Years?

Did Humans & Dinos Coexist? 
In spite of  old "dates" that are 
said (by some) to be correct

Old Age Dogma 
Tree from "250 million year"
dates only 33,000 yrs old

Radiometric Dating Game 
The Greatest Show on Earth 

Are Dinosaurs millions of yrs Old?  
Drawings on ancient temples & artwork 
Suggest they are probably not very old

What About Zircon? 
Oh Zircon, wherefore art Thou!

And those who want to know more may either order the above RATE Book,
on this subject, or 
Download it Here  from ICR's Website.  The Book is
Here

 

Related Articles on the Age of the Earth:
The Missing Roots 
The Missing Matter 
Essays  on  Evolution 
Science  Vs  Evolution
 
The  Age  of  the  Earth 
Young  Earth  Evidences 
The  Age of  the  Universe 
The Continental Drift Story 
Evidence for a Young  World 
More Geologic Evidences Page 
Evidence For A Recent Creation 
The Scriptures and a Young Earth 
Is the Earth  Really 4.5 Billion Years Old?
Do Evaporites and Varves favor an Old Earth?  
What You Probably Didn't Know About Ice Cores
 
If Corals are so Old, then why do they Date so Young? 
Young age of the Earth & Universe Questions & Answers
 

 

Books on the age of the Earth
The Young Earth  
The Age of the Earth 
Faith, Form, and Time
Thousands  Not  Billions 
The  Great Turning  Point 

Its  a  Young  World after all 
Illustrated Origins Answer Book 
Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth  

 


Links to Creationist Web Sites
Creationist Author Links
Creation Web Sites Links
VHS & DVD Video Links
The Age of the Earth Links
Modern Science's Foundation
True Origin Archive on Creation

Home 
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The Age of the Earth Debate 

See Also:
Did Humans come from Coral?
 
Was the Earth Created Instantly?  
Six Days or Six Long Time Periods 
Are Dinosaurs Millions of Years Old? 

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