by Bill Nugent
Article #228

Eight PhD scientists recently released their findings on the radioisotope evidence for the age of the earth. They were called the RATE group (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth). They spent eight years on the project. They studied many radioisotopic dating methods including carbon 14.

You may remember the carbon 14 dating method from your high school biology class. Carbon 14 is useful only in dating samples containing carbon which usually means plant and animal matter (though diamonds also contain carbon). Carbon 14 has a half life of only 5,730 years. This means an object 5,730 years old should have only half the amount of carbon 14 in ratio to carbon 12 as a new object.

Any object that is older than twenty carbon 14 half lives should not have any detectable carbon 14. In other words, since carbon 14’s half life is 5,730 years, twenty half lives would be 114,600 years and there should be no detectable carbon 14 in a sample that old.

The RATE group tested ten samples of coal which it obtained from the US Department of Energy Coal Sample Bank. The ten samples were of coal taken from coalfields all across the United States. The samples represented a wide range of standard time frames in the geologic column including the Cenozoic, Mesozoic and Paleozoic. The coal samples were considered to be tens to hundreds of millions of years old by traditional old earth standards. However, in direct contradiction to the standard old earth timeframe, all ten samples of coal had significant levels of detectable carbon 14.

The fact that carbon 14 was detected in every sample of coal clearly shows that the standard old earth estimates for the age of coal are wrong by several orders of magnitude. Old earth evolutionists assume that coal deposits and their accompanying fossils are many millions of years old because evolutionary processes require millions of years. Their presupposition of evolution distorts their ability to objectively date coal. A scientist is supposed to be objective and go to wherever the facts take him or her.

Carbon 14 dating, which is a highly accredited radioisotopic dating method, shows that the coal samples could not be older than 114,600 years. The objective scientific facts point to young earth. To be fair, I will point out that the age of any object cannot be nailed down with absolute certainty because geologic dating isforensic science and deals with nonrepeatable events that occurred in the distant past.

Forensic science is the type of science used by a police detective to reconstruct the timing of past events that occurred at a crime scene. Experimental science, by contrast, deals with repeatable events such as what occurs with chemicals in a test tube. Forensic science, since it deals with the past, is more subjective and open to interpretation.

The ten coal samples had carbon 14 levels consistent with an age estimate of approximately 50,000 years. That 50,000 year age estimate is quite older than the biblical time frame of approximately 6,000 years. The Bible, through its listing of the ages of the patriarchs in the genealogies, gives an approximate 6,000 year age of the earth since the creation.

The discrepancy is resolved when we take into account that the implied 50,000 year age of the coal is based on the assumption that the carbon 14 to carbon 12 ratio in the earth’s environment was the same when the coal was formed as it is today. Scientists atAnswers In Genesis and The Institute for Creation Researchwho study the earth’s magnetic field postulate that since the earth’s magnetic field was several times stronger in ancient times than it is today, carbon 14 was formed in the upper atmosphere at a much slower rate. Therefore there was much less carbon 14 available in the ancient earth than there is now and this accounts for the low amount in the coal. This implies that the coal samples’ actual age can reasonably be inferred to be within the biblical timeframe of 6,000 years.

To put it another way, the implied 50,000 year age of the coal blows away the old earth timeframe but even the implied 50,000 year age is likely much higher than the actual age of the coal. We can confidently say that the actual age is much younger than 50,000 years because carbon 14 levels were very low during the time of coal formation in the early earth.

The RATE group also tested twelve samples of diamonds and found detectable levels of carbon 14. This is especially significant because diamonds are not prone to any kind of potential contamination because of their extreme hardness. Old earth evolutionists claim that diamonds are up to 3.5 billion years old. The presence of carbon 14 in diamonds clearly shows the absurdity of that claim.

Other groups of scientists have found detectable levels of carbon 14 in dinosaur bones. I have read that scientists, even old earth evolutionist scientists, cannot find any fossil or coal that does not have carbon 14!

The RATE group was composed of scientists who believe in creation. Their work however, merely confirmed the work of noncreationist scientists who have measured carbon 14 in coal and diamonds since Accelerator Mass Spectrometry was used to measure carbon 14 in the early 1980s. As you can imagine, the discovery of carbon 14 in coal beginning in the 1980s sent shockwaves through the radiocarbon community. Dozens of papers were published in peer reviewed journals dealing with this embarrassing development. Painstaking efforts were made to eliminate any sample contamination or equipment malfunction yet carbon 14 kept showing up in coal and fossils!

One of the RATE scientists, John Baumgardner PhD, has cited many noncreationist scientific writings on carbon 14 in coal and diamonds. One of these is a 2007 paper by Taylor and Southon discussing the detection of carbon 14 in diamonds. Baumgardner also effectively rebutted a web posting by Kirk Bertsche that criticized the work of the RATE group.

Creationists claim that coal was formed rapidly during Noah’s flood when “all the fountains of the great deep burst open” (Gen. 7:11 NASB.) This Bible passage refers to massive volcanism and tectonic shifts that occurred during the flood. Huge land masses containing dense vegetation were subducted (buried) during the movements of the earth’s plates. This resulted in vast stores of vegetation being buried deep beneath the earth’s surface where temperature and pressure caused it to change into coal and oil. Some oil deposits are more than five miles below the earth’s surface.

Coal formation had to happen rapidly because slow accumulation of plant matter allows the plant matter to rot before it can be turned into coal. Plant matter in today’s Amazon basin rots far more rapidly than plant matter in more temperate climates.

Carbon 14 in coal and diamonds gives persuasive evidence favoring a young age of planet earth. Carbon 14, like the recent finds of blood remnants in dinosaur bones and other natural clocks showing a young age of earth are persuading an ever growing number of scientists. It used to be that creationists were like a hidden guerrilla band among PhD scientists. Now with the rapidly growing Intelligent Design Movement a regular army of evolution denying scientists has emerged.

Creation of this planet occurred within the biblical timeframe. Young age of earth clearly disproves Darwinian evolution.

My source for much of the material in this article is from The New Answers Book edited by Ken Ham and also the


(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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