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Author Topic:   Creationist problems with radiocarbon dating
Dman
Member (Idle past 4130 days)
Posts: 38
Joined: 02-26-2009


Message 31 of 194 (556628)
04-20-2010 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Coyote
04-19-2010 10:07 AM


My reply pertains to this:

quote:
I propose this thread to examine creationist claims about radiocarbon dating, and in particular the purportedly young ages that are sometimes found in materials that are actually very old.

While discussing "young age" evidences with a creationist he presented this link to me: http://www.answersingenesis.org/...n-ages-for-ammonites-wood

Which he claimed as support of a young earth.

Here is the abstract:

Fossil ammonites from lower Cretaceous mudstones in northern California, which are supposedly 112–120 million years old and biostratigraphic index fossils, were sampled along with fossil wood buried with them. Fragments of two fossil ammonite shells and four pieces of fossil wood yielded easily measurable radiocarbon (14C) equivalent to apparent 14C ages of between 36,400±350 and 48,710±930 years for the ammonites, and between 32,780±230 and 42,390±510 years for the wood. Any contamination with modern 14C due to the sample environment and handling was eliminated by the laboratory’s severe pre-treatment procedure. Any alleged contamination due to sample combustion or AMS instrument background was more than compensated for by the laboratory background of 0.077 pMC already having been subtracted from the reported results. The ammonite shells could not have been contaminated in the ground by replacement with modern carbonate 14C either, because they yielded almost identical 14C apparent ages as the wood buried and fossilized with them. It was concluded that the measured 14C is in situ radiocarbon intrinsic to the ammonites and wood when they were buried and fossilized. So once past conditions in the atmosphere and biosphere are taken into account, their true ages are consistent with their burial during the Genesis Flood only about 4,300 years ago, when the ocean waters washed sediments and ammonites onto the continents.

I lack the knowledge to critique this with any merit. I was hoping to maybe get some feed back from those here at EvC with the proper knowledge to do so. This seemed like the appropriate thread.

Thanks.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Coyote, posted 04-19-2010 10:07 AM Coyote has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by ZenMonkey, posted 04-20-2010 3:35 PM Dman has responded
 Message 35 by Coyote, posted 04-20-2010 4:01 PM Dman has responded
 Message 41 by kbertsche, posted 04-20-2010 4:55 PM Dman has responded
 Message 44 by Coragyps, posted 04-20-2010 5:23 PM Dman has acknowledged this reply

  
ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 3622 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 32 of 194 (556634)
04-20-2010 3:35 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Dman
04-20-2010 3:19 PM


Pretty easy even for me.
So far as I can tell, you can stop reading after the second sentence.

quote:
Fossil ammonites from lower Cretaceous mudstones in northern California, which are supposedly 112–120 million years old and biostratigraphic index fossils, were sampled along with fossil wood buried with them. Fragments of two fossil ammonite shells and four pieces of fossil wood yielded easily measurable radiocarbon (14C) equivalent to apparent 14C ages of between 36,400±350 and 48,710±930 years for the ammonites, and between 32,780±230 and 42,390±510 years for the wood.

Radiocarbon (C14) dating is accurate for items as old as 58,000 to 62,000 years but not older. Works great for dating human artifacts. Not so much for items hundreds of millions of years old. That's like trying to measure the width of a hair with a yardstick and then complaining that you don't come up with an accurate number.

Keep trying.


I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die.
-John Lydon

What's the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a new puppy? The puppy eventually grows up and quits whining.
-Steven Dutch


This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 3:19 PM Dman has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 3:47 PM ZenMonkey has responded

  
Dman
Member (Idle past 4130 days)
Posts: 38
Joined: 02-26-2009


Message 33 of 194 (556638)
04-20-2010 3:47 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by ZenMonkey
04-20-2010 3:35 PM


Re: Pretty easy even for me.
Radiocarbon (C14) dating is accurate for items as old as 58,000 to 62,000 years but not older. Works great for dating human artifacts. Not so much for items hundreds of millions of years old. That's like trying to measure the width of a hair with a yardstick and then complaining that you don't come up with an accurate number.

Man I hate arguing for creationists, but the argument here is that the wood contains 14C. It shouldn't considering that it was found in 112-120 million year old rock. They also make special note that contamination is not the issue.

ABE - Sorry, I should have been more clear on what the argument was.

Edited by Dman, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 32 by ZenMonkey, posted 04-20-2010 3:35 PM ZenMonkey has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by ZenMonkey, posted 04-20-2010 3:56 PM Dman has responded

  
ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 3622 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 34 of 194 (556641)
04-20-2010 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by Dman
04-20-2010 3:47 PM


Re: Pretty easy even for me.
I should have noted this, but if they're claiming that the wood that they were sampling was also fossilized then they're still off base. So far as I know, no-one uses C14 to date fossils, for the reason I stated in my previous post. I suppose that I'll actually have to read further in the article to see how they explain the presence of this wood in a much older layer. What they were doing seemed obviously wrong from the look of it, but I've also been wrong before.

Si erro, mone me.

ABE: Nope, I was right; they're full of unfiltered excrement. Upon re-reading the abstract, I can see that their claim is indeed that their 112 myo fossil samples are actually only about 40,000 years old, based on C14 dating. Of course, 40,000 years is still an order of magnitude greater than what they want, so they have to call on some magical fudge factor to be consistent with their Flood theory.

I remain unconvinced.

Edited by ZenMonkey, : No reason given.


I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die.
-John Lydon

What's the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a new puppy? The puppy eventually grows up and quits whining.
-Steven Dutch


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 3:47 PM Dman has responded

Replies to this message:
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Coyote
Member (Idle past 1218 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 35 of 194 (556642)
04-20-2010 4:01 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Dman
04-20-2010 3:19 PM


Ammonites
Not sure what's going on with the ammonites; I would have to see more details.

So once past conditions in the atmosphere and biosphere are taken into account, their true ages are consistent with their burial during the Genesis Flood only about 4,300 years ago, when the ocean waters washed sediments and ammonites onto the continents.

This is incorrect.

1) The current radiocarbon calibration curves take atmospheric fluctuations into account (as well as other effects). The effects are on the close order of 10% at their greatest, so even if they weren't accounted for the errors would not be great. Certainly they are not great enough to support a young earth.

2) There is no evidence for a flood about 4,300 years ago. I do archaeology and I deal with soils and cultural deposits of that age all the time. So do my colleagues, as well as geologists, sedimentologists, and other -ologists all around the world. There is no evidence of a flood in those deposits.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 3:19 PM Dman has responded

Replies to this message:
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dwise1
Member
Posts: 4812
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 6.7


Message 36 of 194 (556643)
04-20-2010 4:02 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by Flyer75
04-20-2010 2:50 PM


Re: RATE
The second link that JonF (Msg #26, replying to your Msg #13) lists 68 items. Take a look at it yourself to verify, but I think we have a match.

One of the problems with creationist claims is that they act very much like urban legends. They circulate around and, because they sound convincing (the only measure of merit creationists apply to them), get picked up and reused and sometimes embellished. Even the scientific sources being cited get passed on without any intervening creationists in the chain having bothered to look up those sources, though sometimes those will get changed, much as in the campfire game of "Telephone".

Taking the moondust claim as an example, H. Morris had referenced a "1976" NASA document ("written well into the space age!" -- every creationist repeating this claim was required to repeat that invocation) which, he claimed, showed that a 4-billion-year-old moon would have been covered by a layer of meteoric dust over 200 feet thick. When I wrote to the ICR asking for more information, they sent me a letter by Morris' source, Harold Slusher, who cited the "1976" NASA document and developed his formula for calculating that layer's depth. Every other creationist I saw using that claim also gave that exact same date. But when I pulled that NASA document off the university library shelf, I immediately saw that it was dated Aug 1965 and inside that it was printed in 1967. Furthermore, Slusher had included two extraneous factors in his calculations, the first by having misquoted his source and the second by violating the laws of mathematics, thus inflating his result by a factor of 10,000, correcting for which resulted in his over-200-foot layer becoming one-third of an inch, just what we did find there. The ICR's reaction was to completely ignore my findings and to summarily and without notice cancel my subscription to their Acts & Facts newsletter. Then a few years later, they officially dropped that claim and some creationists started using the correct 1965 date, though they continue to this day selling several books that still contain that claim.

"The New Defender's Study Bible". From amazon.com:

quote:
This study Bible provides a handbook for a solid defense of the accuracy, integrity, and inspiration of the Bible, a seven-day creation, and Jesus as God's incarnate son.

Hmph. Defending the Bible with PRATTs? Don't sound too bright an idea. And that page lists its price at nearly $500 (that's "five hundred dollars"). Say, if you're interested, I own this bridge back east in New York City that I'd be willing to sell to you.

PS
Sorry if that came off as too harsh. Although I'm taking a break this past decade, I'd read and listened to and followed the ICR's activities since about 1980. My very low opinion of the ICR is based on experience.

The basic party line I encountered was that if their claims are not true, then Scripture has no meaning and God does not exist, or at the very least is a monumental Liar who shouldn't be worshipped. And, of course, their claims are in fact not true.

I am appalled at anyone preaching such doctrine, especially under the pretense of "defending the Truth of the Bible", since it achieves what an army of anti-religion atheists could never ever hope to accomplish: proving that God does not exist.

My opinion is that there surely must be some better form of apologetics to use instead of "creation science". Certainly it would be difficult to find much that's worse, but then I could still be pleasantly surprised.

Edited by dwise1, : PS


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by Flyer75, posted 04-20-2010 2:50 PM Flyer75 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by Flyer75, posted 04-21-2010 2:30 AM dwise1 has responded
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Dman
Member (Idle past 4130 days)
Posts: 38
Joined: 02-26-2009


Message 37 of 194 (556644)
04-20-2010 4:13 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by ZenMonkey
04-20-2010 3:56 PM


Re: Pretty easy even for me.
Nope, I was right; they're full of unfiltered excrement. Upon re-reading the abstract, I can see that their claim is indeed that their 112 myo fossil samples are actually only about 40,000 years old, based on C14 dating.

I agree, but should we just call them liars when they state:

quote:
Any contamination with modern 14C due to the sample environment and handling was eliminated by the laboratory’s severe pre-treatment procedure. Any alleged contamination due to sample combustion or AMS instrument background was more than compensated for by the laboratory background of 0.077 pMC already having been subtracted from the reported results. The ammonite shells could not have been contaminated in the ground by replacement with modern carbonate 14C either, because they yielded almost identical 14C apparent ages as the wood buried and fossilized with them.

Assuming they aren't lying I'm not sure why there would be 14C found. And I really don't like to accuse someone of lying when I don't have enough knowledge on the subject

If you feel like looking more in depth at the 'paper' please do.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by ZenMonkey, posted 04-20-2010 3:56 PM ZenMonkey has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Coyote, posted 04-20-2010 4:24 PM Dman has responded

  
Dman
Member (Idle past 4130 days)
Posts: 38
Joined: 02-26-2009


Message 38 of 194 (556645)
04-20-2010 4:17 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by Coyote
04-20-2010 4:01 PM


Re: Ammonites
Not sure what's going on with the ammonites; I would have to see more details.

I wish I had more details for you. Was the 'paper' lacking the information? Or have you not had the time to look into it?

So once past conditions in the atmosphere and biosphere are taken into account, their true ages are consistent with their burial during the Genesis Flood only about 4,300 years ago, when the ocean waters washed sediments and ammonites onto the continents.
quote:
This is incorrect.

I agree.

Edited by Dman, : Spelling


This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by Coyote, posted 04-20-2010 4:01 PM Coyote has not yet responded

  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 1218 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 39 of 194 (556648)
04-20-2010 4:24 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Dman
04-20-2010 4:13 PM


Re: Pretty easy even for me.
I read the paper, and would have to check with some of the techs at various labs for their opinions on those C14 levels.

But don't you find it interesting the gyrations creationists go through to make dates in the 30-40k range come out at 6k?

And they criticize scientists????


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 4:13 PM Dman has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 4:48 PM Coyote has not yet responded

  
Dman
Member (Idle past 4130 days)
Posts: 38
Joined: 02-26-2009


Message 40 of 194 (556655)
04-20-2010 4:48 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by Coyote
04-20-2010 4:24 PM


Re: Pretty easy even for me.
I read the paper, and would have to check with some of the techs at various labs for their opinions on those C14 levels.

Thanks, that would be great! I'll keep an eye out for your response.

But don't you find it interesting the gyrations creationists go through to make dates in the 30-40k range come out at 6k?

If by interesting you mean bat f****** insane, then yes, I find it 'interesting'


This message is a reply to:
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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 1243 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


(1)
Message 41 of 194 (556660)
04-20-2010 4:55 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Dman
04-20-2010 3:19 PM


quote:
While discussing "young age" evidences with a creationist he presented this link to me: http://www.answersingenesis.org/...n-ages-for-ammonites-wood
Which he claimed as support of a young earth.

Here is the abstract:
...
I lack the knowledge to critique this with any merit. I was hoping to maybe get some feed back from those here at EvC with the proper knowledge to do so. This seemed like the appropriate thread.

Thanks.



To their credit, they explicitly spoke to the major errors that I identified in the RATE study:
Snelling writes:

However, the 14C measured in these fossils is well above the detection limit of the AMS instrument. Therefore the usual response to such a glaring and enigmatic discrepancy in absolute ages is to claim that the ammonite shells and wood were contaminated with modern carbon, either in the ground, or during sampling and in the laboratory. Four such sources of potential contamination were examined. In the laboratory the severe pre-treatment of the samples guarantees that any contamination from sampling and handling is totally eliminated. Then even if there were some contamination, as claimed by some, during the combustion and due to instrument background, the estimated 14C level involved would only be in the range 0.005–0.069 pMC. This is a trivial amount of 14C that if conceded would make no difference whatsoever to the very much higher radiocarbon levels measured in these ammonite shells and wood fossils, particularly as the results reported by the IsoTrace Laboratory already have a laboratory background of 0.077 pMC subtracted from them.

Furthermore, potential contamination of the fossils by ground or surface waters while they were still entombed in the mudstones can be ruled out. Any such environmental contamination of the fossil wood would be removed by the severe sample pre-treatment in the laboratory. On the other hand, environmental contamination of the ammonite shells by replacement with modern carbonate 14C can be discounted, because the ammonite shells yielded almost identical 14C levels and apparent ages as the wood buried and fossilized with them.


I don't have time to do a detailed critique at the moment, but I'll just point out some concerns and questions regarding their claims:
1) They are measuring values very close to background levels, about 1% of modern levels. A 1% contamination from modern carbon would account for this.
2) Have they considered all of the possibilities for in-situ contamination? I doubt it. E.g., what is the geology of the mudstone; does it contain any radioactive isotopes that could create 14-C in situ? Did any of the samples absorb or adsorb CO2 after collection?
3) Shells can be easily contaminated in situ, because the inorganic carbonate molecules can slowly exchange carbon with their environment. They allude to this, and it is explained more fully in my RATE critique.
4) What does it mean that this wood was "fossilized"? Presumably it was hardened by mineral deposits. Do these minerals contain any carbon or carbonates? Could this undergo subsequent carbon exchange with their environment, similar to shells or bone? How confident are they that ALL carbon-containing minerals were removed by chemical pretreatment?
5) Their persistent claim that "extreme" sample pretreatment will "guarantee the elimination of any contamination" is not correct. More extreme pretreatments will generally ADD a small amount of modern contamination and will RAISE the effective background. This is partly because the additional chemicals and glassware have more chance of absorbing CO2 from the air.
6) "The laboratory (Beukens 2007 a, b) reported that the dried residues of the petrified wood sub-samples (RNCW-1, 2, 3, 4A) at this point in the procedure did not have any wood structure and resembled detrital material. ... their carbon contents were low (typically 10%)" This is a red flag; it means that none of the wood cellulose remained after pretreatment! (And I suspect that IsoTrace suggested at this point that the sample was not worth dating.) What was the "wood" material that they actually dated?
7) The IsoTrace "standard background" of 0.077 pMC was subtracted from all of these results. Is this really the correct value for BOTH the wood and the shells, which undergo very different sample chemistry? Is the correction only 0.077 pMC with all of the additional chemistry that was applied to the wood? I am very skeptical that all of these extra steps did not contribute to a significantly higher background.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 3:19 PM Dman has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Taq, posted 04-20-2010 5:09 PM kbertsche has responded
 Message 43 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 5:19 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

  
Taq
Member (Idle past 84 days)
Posts: 8488
Joined: 03-06-2009


(1)
Message 42 of 194 (556664)
04-20-2010 5:09 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by kbertsche
04-20-2010 4:55 PM


4) What does it mean that this wood was "fossilized"? Presumably it was hardened by mineral deposits. Do these minerals contain any carbon or carbonates? Could this undergo subsequent carbon exchange with their environment, similar to shells or bone? How confident are they that ALL carbon-containing minerals were removed by chemical pretreatment? . . .

6) "The laboratory (Beukens 2007 a, b) reported that the dried residues of the petrified wood sub-samples (RNCW-1, 2, 3, 4A) at this point in the procedure did not have any wood structure and resembled detrital material. ... their carbon contents were low (typically 10%)" This is a red flag; it means that none of the wood cellulose remained after pretreatment! (And I suspect that IsoTrace suggested at this point that the sample was not worth dating.) What was the "wood" material that they actually dated?

This is perhaps the most disturbing part of the whole fiasco. 14C dating is for organic material. So what do they do? Test a sample where the organic material has been replaced by surrounding minerals. WTF?

I'm not an expert on 14C dating by any means, but I have spent my fair share of time troubleshooting methods and assays in my own lab setting. If you are looking for a signal that is just barely above background you have to be extra careful with sample selection and prep. It would seem to me that rocks buried in anaerobic conditions will quickly take up atmospheric carbon dioxide, just as one example. Do you really think the RATE group was interested in quality control?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by kbertsche, posted 04-20-2010 4:55 PM kbertsche has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by kbertsche, posted 04-21-2010 3:18 AM Taq has responded

  
Dman
Member (Idle past 4130 days)
Posts: 38
Joined: 02-26-2009


Message 43 of 194 (556671)
04-20-2010 5:19 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by kbertsche
04-20-2010 4:55 PM


kbertsche,

Thank you for the reply. If you do a more detailed critique I look forward to reading it.

Taq, thank you as well for your input.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by kbertsche, posted 04-20-2010 4:55 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

  
Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 44 of 194 (556672)
04-20-2010 5:23 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Dman
04-20-2010 3:19 PM


equivalent to apparent 14C ages of between 36,400±350 and 48,710±930 years for the ammonites, and between 32,780±230 and 42,390±510 years for the wood.

true ages are consistent with their burial during the Genesis Flood only about 4,300 years ago

So 4300 = 43,000 if you squint hard enough.

These people really are pretty funny. I wish they didn't control the State Board of Education here in Texas, though.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Dman, posted 04-20-2010 3:19 PM Dman has acknowledged this reply

  
Flyer75
Member (Idle past 1535 days)
Posts: 242
From: Dayton, OH
Joined: 02-15-2010


Message 45 of 194 (556775)
04-21-2010 2:30 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by dwise1
04-20-2010 4:02 PM


Re: RATE
dwise1 writes:

Hmph. Defending the Bible with PRATTs? Don't sound too bright an idea. And that page lists its price at nearly $500 (that's "five hundred dollars"). Say, if you're interested, I own this bridge back east in New York City that I'd be willing to sell to you.

No you didn't come off to harsh. This is a message board. I'm not easily offended here...lol.

PRATTs??? what does that stand for? sorry.

BTW, ICR has this Bible for $35. Not sure why one would be selling it for $500!!!


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