Accuracy of radioactive dating

First, it provides no evidence whatsoever to support their claim that the earth is very young.If the earth were only 6000–10 000 years old, then surely there should be some scientific evidence to confirm that hypothesis; yet the creationists have produced not a shred of it so far.Such failures may be due to laboratory errors (mistakes happen), unrecognized geologic factors (nature sometimes fools us), or misapplication of the techniques (no one is perfect).In order to accomplish their goal of discrediting radiometric dating, however, creationists are faced with the daunting task of showing that a preponderance of radiometric ages are wrong — that the methods are untrustworthy most of the time.

I have selected four examples from recent literature, mostly studies involving my work and that of a few close colleagues because it was easy to do so.

It is rare for a study involving radiometric dating to contain a single determination of age.

Usually determinations of age are repeated to avoid laboratory errors, are obtained on more than one rock unit or more than one mineral from a rock unit in order to provide a cross-check, or are evaluated using other geologic information that can be used to test and corroborate the radiometric ages.

Radiometric dating of rocks and minerals using naturally occurring, long-lived radioactive isotopes is troublesome for young-earth creationists because the techniques have provided overwhelming evidence of the antiquity of the earth and life.

Some so-called creation scientists have attempted to show that radiometric dating does not work on theoretical grounds (for example, Arndts and Overn 1981; Gill 1996) but such attempts invariably have fatal flaws (see Dalrymple 1984; York and Dalrymple 2000).

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I could have selected many more examples but then this would have turned into a book rather than the intended short paper.

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