by Bill Nugent
Creationists have long claimed that the various natural clocks, when properly understood and calibrated, give evidence for a young age of planet earth. This is especially true of the widely utilized carbon 14 dating method. You may remember from your high school biology class that carbon 14 is the radioactive cousin of the stable carbon 12 atom.
Plants ingest both types of carbon and when they die the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 is roughly the same as the ratio in the surrounding environment. The carbon 14 decays and is not replenished in the dead plant. Each carbon 14 atom sheds part of its atomic weight and turns into nitrogen. After about 5,730 years, half of the carbon 14 has decayed into nitrogen. This changes the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 in the dead plant and enables scientists to calculate how long ago the plant died. Thus we have a good reliable natural clock. [It’s actually a bit more complicated than that because the amount of carbon 14 in the general environment has varied in the past but generally speaking it is a good clock.]
Since the half life of carbon 14 is only about 5,730 years and carbon 14 is only found in trace amounts to begin with, any fossil alleged to be over 50,000 years old should have no detectable carbon 14 at all.
It has been a great embarrassment and unsolved mystery to evolutionists that coal and other fossils claimed to be millions of years old still have detectable levels of carbon 14 in them. Consider the following quote from the article “What About Carbon Dating” by Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, Ph. D. and Carl Wieland Ph. D. “Laboratories that measure carbon 14 would like a source of organic material with zero carbon 14 to use as a blank to check that their lab procedures do not add carbon 14. Coal is an obvious candidate because the youngest coal is supposed to be millions of years old, and most of it is supposed to be tens or hundreds of millions of years old. Such old coal should be devoid of carbon 14. It isn’t. No source of coal has been found that completely lacks carbon 14.”(Emphasis in original.) This same article goes on to discuss fossils discovered in Upper Permian and Middle Triassic rocks, claimed to be over 200 million years old. These fossils still have detectable carbon 14! The article is available for free download atwww.answersingenesis.org.
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 surface where temperature and pressure caused it to change to coal and oil. Some oil deposits are more than five miles below the surface. Fossil evidence shows that the preflood forests were far more dense than today’s forests.
Coal formation had to happen rapidly because slow accumulation of plant matter allows the plants to rot before they are buried by any layers of slowly accumulating sediment. Plant matter in today’s Amazon basin rots far more rapidly than plant matter in more temperate climates.
Much has been written by creationists about other natural clocks used by evolutionists. For instance the much toutedpotassium/argon method gives widely divergent dates for rock strata. The article quoted above also discusses how thepotassium/argon method gave dates in the millions of years old to lava flows that occurred less than 75 years ago in New Zealand!
The best evidence points to a young age of planet earth. The true age of earth is measured in the thousands, not billions of years. An earth that young doesn’t allow nearly enough time for evolution to take place.