Can one argue against Carbon Dating?


. . . I had the same thought about the circular reasoning involved in estimating the age of the earth, and even told my teacher that it sounded absurd. She, being a faithful Christian, told me to write what the textbooks stated for the sake of the exam without arguing. My doubt now is this: The age of fossils is estimated based on Carbon Dating—measuring how much Carbon-14 is present, and using the halflife principle. How can we argue against such scientific procedures?  (Hannah’s first question)

I would rather point you to good online material, which are written by people who have a background in science, than give you an answer myself.

Scientists who are Christians tell us that Carbon Dating is a friend of Christians. This is because, even in the hands of scientists who do not believe in a young earth, Carbon Dating does not point to a millions-of-years-old earth but to one that is less than a million years old. However, even this is far bigger than the 6000 years we want to arrive at, based on the Holy Scriptures.

The problem lies in the assumptions made by scientists when using Carbon Dating. I am not suggesting that they are being dishonest. It is just that they assume that the environment on the earth has been fairly constant, whereas Christians have sufficient reason to believe that the earth’s atmosphere has changed in the last 6,000 years.

Do read the following articles about Carbon Dating.

Does carbon dating prove the Earth is millions of years old?
Carbon-14 dating – explained in everyday terms
Carbon Dating—Answers for kids
Doesn’t Carbon-14 Dating Disprove the Bible?

I would like to quote from the first article because the candle example is useful in understanding the framework of the argument (against the results obtained from Carbon Dating).

Although this technique looks good at first, carbon-14 dating rests on two simple assumptions. They are, obviously, assuming the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has always been constant, and its rate of decay has always been constant. Neither of these assumptions is provable or reasonable.

An illustration may help:
Imagine you found a candle burning in a room, and you wanted to determine how long it was burning before you found it. You could measure the present height of the candle (say, seven inches) and the rate of burn (say, an inch per hour). In order to find the length of time since the candle was lit we would be forced to make some assumptions. We would, obviously, have to assume that the candle has always burned at the same rate, and assumes an initial height of the candle.

The answer changes based on the assumptions. Similarly, scientists do not know that the carbon-14 decay rate has been constant. They do not know that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is constant. Present testing shows the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere has been increasing since it was first measured in the 1950’s. This may be tied in to the declining strength of the magnetic field.


  1. I don’t agree with Carbon dating. Humans and Carbon should not mix. Humans should date humans and carbon should date carbon, end of story. Unless your post was in reference to Carbon dating Carbon?

    • Ha ha,
      I’ve published your comment only because I like you, your comment made me laugh, and I’m delighted that you do visit my blog occasionally.

    • LOL Raoul. Have you ever gone school? Or were you educated by the American School system?. In Canada you learn at about age 13 that all living things are made out of 4 elements, period. Those are Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. If you are thinking about carbon in terms of the black stuff that comes out of burnt wood then your arguement is faulty at its core, as you are not even comparing like things, in philosophy this is called the Straw man falacy (argueing a point when your point isnt even relevant to the arguement.) It depresses me that people are so scared to face simple facts, and if ‘god’ had any intellegence at all (like grade 5 education) then all creationists would be doomed. If you look upon truth with fear then you have no hope.

      All Anger is the Root of Fear. All of it. This is not a belief but a fact and if that makes you angry you are too scared (fear) to face a hard truth.

      • Hi Cullen, thank you for your reply.
        I was pleasantly surprised to see it, as such a long time has passed since I wrote this. It is always good to receive correspondence from like minded people, whether it be within 3 minutes or 3 years!
        I enjoy philosophy very much, so it will come as no surprise that I completely agree with you that the Straw man fallacy is when you argue a point when you point is not even relevant to the argument.

        PS. I have gone to school, up until I was 8 in Curacao, and then my mother and I left for America where I continued the rest of my schooling (funnily enough, we also considered settling in Canada).
        I do remember learning, at probably age 14 or 15, what you mention about elements, although we were told it was 96% of all living things I think (a difference between the schooling systems maybe?). I did really enjoy science in school however, something that influenced me to pursue a degree in Political Science which I will complete in the next year.

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