Doesn’t Carbon-14 Dating Disprove the Bible?



Carbon Dating Gets a Reset

Smith is known as the Father of English Geology. Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods. Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor scifntific can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better. Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating.

These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views. Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data. The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them:. Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution.

Early geologists, sciebtific the s and s, noticed how fossils seemed to occur in sequences: The first work was done in England and France. Then, geologists began to build up the stratigraphic column, the familiar listing of divisions of geological time — Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary, and so on. Each time unit was characterized by particular fossils. The scheme worked all round the world, without fail. From the s onwards, geologists noted how fossils became more complex through time.

The oldest rocks contained no fossils, then came simple sea creatures, then more complex ones like fishes, then came life on land, then reptiles, then mammals, and finally humans. Sincepaleontologists, or fossil experts, have searched the world for fossils. In the past years they have not found any fossils that Darwin would not have expected. Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have are scientific dating methods accurate sincenor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.

All these labors have not led to a single unexpected finding such as a human fossil from the time of the dinosaurs, or a Jurassic dinosaur in the same zre as Silurian trilobites. Paleontologists now apply sophisticated mathematical techniques to assess the relative quality of particular fossil successions, as well as the entire fossil record. These demonstrate that, of course, we do not know everything and clearly never willbut we are scientific dating methods accurate enough.

Today, innovative techniques provide further confirmation and understanding of the history of life. Biologists actually have at their disposal several independent ways of looking ade the history of life - not only from the order of fossils in the rocks, but also through phylogenetic trees. Phylogenetic trees are the family trees of are scientific dating methods accurate groups of plants or animals, showing how all the species relate to each other.

Phylogenetic trees are drawn up mathematically, using lists of morphological external form or molecular gene sequence characters. Modern phylogenetic trees methids no input from stratigraphy, so they can be used in a broad way to make comparisons between tree shape and stratigraphy. The majority of test cases show good agreement, so the fossil record tells the same story as the molecules enclosed in living organisms.

Dating in geology metbods be relative or absolute. Relative dating is done by observing fossils, as described are scientific dating methods accurate, and recording which fossil is younger, which is older. The discovery of means for absolute dating in the early s was a huge advance. The methods are all based on radioactive decay:. The first radiometric dates, generated aboutshowed that the Earth was hundreds of millions, or billions, of years old.

Since then, geologists have made many tens of thousands of radiometric age determinations, and they have refined the earlier estimates. Age estimates can be cross-tested by using different isotope pairs. Methds from different techniques, often measured in rival labs, continually confirm each other. Every few years, new geologic adting scales are published, providing the latest dates for major time lines. Older dates may change by a few million years up and down, but younger dates are stable.

For example, it has been known since the s that the famous Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, the line marking the scientfiic of the dinosaurs, was 65 million years old. Repeated recalibrations and retests, using ever more sophisticated techniques and equipment, cannot shift that date. It is accurate to within a few thousand years. The fossil record is fundamental to an understanding of evolution. Fossils document the order of appearance of groups and they tell us about some of the amazing plants and animals that died out long ago.

Fossils can also show us how major crises, such as mass extinctions, happened, and how life recovered after them. If are scientific dating methods accurate fossils, or the dating of the fossils, could be shown to be inaccurate, all such information would have to be rejected as unsafe. Geologists and paleontologists are highly self-critical, and they have worried for decades about these issues.

Repeated, are scientific dating methods accurate tough, regimes of testing have confirmed the broad accuracy of the fossils and their dating, so we can read the history of life from the rocks with confidence. Educators have permission to reprint articles for classroom use; other users, please contact editor actionbioscience. Currently, he is studying certain basal dinosaurs from the Late Triassic scietnific the quality of different segments of the fossil record.

He holds the Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Bristol, UK, in addition to chairing are scientific dating methods accurate Masters program in paleobiology at the university. Your one-stop source for information on evolution. Michael Benton wrote another article, Evidence of Evolutionary Transitionsfor this website which explains how fossils support the stages of evolutionary history.

Data bases and software for studying the quality of the fossil record. Michael Benton has written over 30 books on dinosaurs and paleobiology.


Creation v. Evolution: How Carbon Dating Works