Can we trust carbon dating?

(vanessa) #1

how can a christian respond to a question like “How do you explain fossils and other things being carbon dated back to millions of years old when christians belief in a young earth?”
And can we trust carbon dating ?

(Jeremy Finison) #2

There are several places you could research. A few are and and the Creation Today site. Do not just stop at looking into carbon dating as that really is only used for animal or beings type dating due to its decay rate but also look at the ones used for dating rocks like potassium argon for example. In short the issues with these dating methods are their false assumptions and clear data of live or recently died animals as well as rock from recent volcanic events like Mt St Helens showing very old dates (impossible). There are also tons of other evidences right before our eyes as to my the Bible is correct in its word.

(SeanO) #3

@vmckay That is a great question. To begin to answer this question, you need to understand one thing - not all Christians believe in a young earth. Below I have provided some threads on Connect that should help you grapple with how to interpret Genesis 1 and why there are different views of the age of the earth among Bible believing Christians. Personally, I have read the books produced by ICR that suggest that decay rates may not have been constant in the past and that we therefore cannot extrapolate beyond a few thousand years because catastrophic events like the flood may have altered decay rates (or God may have altered them). Personally, however, I do not think this argument would convince a skeptic who has a naturalistic worldview and the Bible says nothing about decay rates being changed - so it seems like the whole argument is circular. If the earth is young the decay rates must have changed - we believe the earth is young, so we posit that the decay rates were not constant. I do believe that this branch of science is particularly prone to bias both ways because the implications are believed to directly impact foundational assumptions of peoples’ worldviews. The issue of the age of the earth should not divide Christians, so I believe there is room for disagreement here.

This first link from Paul Copan gives a brief summary of different approaches to the science / faith dialogue and should help you get your footing.

May the Lord Jesus grant you wisdom as you study. Feel free to ask further questions.

Here also is a book you may consider reading:

Should apologetics discuss cosmology?
(Jimmy Sellers) #4

This is one of many links that will give some insights into carbon-14 dating but this is possibly just the tip of the topic. Other have already made some good points regarding the ultimate question, the age of the earth.

(vanessa) #5

@SeanO thank you for that !! obviously depending on how we interprut genesis 1 we then have a different outlook on the beginning of earth. Now obviously we cannot actually depict what happened 100% because we were not there. However God only knows, but if we get it wrong, do you think it is dangerous to believe the wrong way? i guess it is a tricky argument lol.

(SeanO) #6

@vmckay No, I do not think it is dangerous to believe either in a young earth or old earth. You can hold to young earth or old earth and still believe that:

1 - God created all things from nothing
2 - Jesus is the only way to God
3 - Jesus gave His life on the cross for our sins
4 - Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead

The age of the earth, to me, is either an opinion or conviction. It would only be dangerous to disagree if it was an absolute - something core to Christian belief.

  1. absolutes define the core beliefs of the Christian faith;
  2. convictions , while not core beliefs, may have significant impact on the health and effectiveness of the church;
  3. opinions are less-clear issues that generally are not worth dividing over; and
  4. questions are currently unsettled issues.

Does that make sense? Christ be with you.

(vanessa) #7

yes it does ! but wouldnt the belief of an old earth defend the theories of evolution we are taught in school ?
Or would the old earth just be the earth and its formation itself and not that abraham and adam and eve were some how cave men or like that kind of thing. ?
Hopefully that makes sense

(SeanO) #8

@vmckay Believing in an old earth does not require belief in evolution. It is true that those two beliefs are often linked together, but they do not have to be… The universe could be billions of years old while God still created humans from the dust.

Here is Hugh Ross talking about an old earth Christian perspective a little bit. He personally rejects evolution and yet accepts old earth. His view is one way of approaching this topic.

Also, some Christians (though I do not) believe that God used evolution to create human like creature and then intervened in the case of Adam and Eve to do something extra special. Adam and Eve were, according to this view, a kind of singularity where God stepped in and intervened in the process of evolution. Personally I do not find macro-evolution convincing as a scientific theory, even without the Bible.

(vanessa) #9

okay thank you for all that ! very helpful info !

(SeanO) #10

@vmckay Sure thing - feel free to ask more questions as they arise. Christ be with you.

(Renee Yetter) #11

This topic is near and dear to my heart for several reasons, not least of which is my circumstance of teaching science in a college classroom and the deep desire to be a good witness. I will be starting the Science elective in October, and am very much looking forward to it.

Above all, in my opinion, we must discuss these issues with great humility and a view toward what are critical, doctrinal issues, versus opinions on which salvation does not depend. @SeanO has made wonderful comments in that regard. I deeply appreciate that and look forward to browsing some of the resources he has shared. As we are in the early weeks of the semester and life is hectic, it will be a while, but thanks for sharing those!