Radioactive dating methods
Science in Christian Perspective. Wiens Estates Drive, Los Alamos, NM RCWiens MSN. Wiens has a PhD in Physics, with a minor in Geology. His PhD thesis was on isotope ratios in meteorites, including surface exposure dating. Radiometric dating--the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements--has been in widespread use for over half a century. There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them.
It has become increasingly clear that these radiometric dating techniques agree with each other and as a whole, present a coherent picture in which the Earth was created a very long time ago. Further evidence 3 methods of radiometric dating from the complete agreement between radiometric dates and other dating methods such as counting tree rings or glacier ice core layers. Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent.
Many are also unaware that Bible-believing Christians are among those actively involved in radiometric dating. This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another.
In the process the paper refutes a number of misconceptions prevalent among Christians today. This paper is available on the web via the 3 methods of radiometric dating Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community. The Hourglasses that Ran Out Cosmogenic Radionuclides: Doubters Still Try Apparent Age? Rightly Radiimetric the Word of Truth Appendix: Common Misconceptions Regarding Radiometric Dating Techniques Resources on radiomftric Web Further Reading: Books Acknowledgements More About the Author Glossary.
Arguments over the age of the Earth have sometimes been divisive for people who regard the Bible as God's word. Even though the Earth's age is never mentioned in the Bible, it is an issue because those who take a strictly literal view of the early chapters of Genesis can calculate an approximate date for the creation by adding up the life-spans of the people mentioned in the genealogies.
Assuming a datting literal interpretation of the week of creation, even if some of the 3 methods of radiometric dating were left out of the genealogies, the Earth would be less than ten thousand years old. Radiometric dating techniques 3 methods of radiometric dating that the Earth is thousands of times older than that--approximately four and a half billion years old.
Many Christians accept this and interpret the Genesis account in less scientifically literal ways. However, some Christians suggest that the geologic dating methoods are unreliable, that they are wrongly interpreted, or that they are confusing at best. Unfortunately, 3 methods of radiometric dating of the literature to Christians has been either inaccurate or difficult to understand, so that confusion over dating techniques continues. The next few pages cover a broad overview of radiometric dating techniques, show a few examples, and discuss the degree to which the various dating systems agree with each other.
The goal is to promote greater understanding on this issue, particularly for the 3 methods of radiometric dating community. Many people have been led to be skeptical of dating without knowing much about it. For example, most people don't realize that carbon dating is only rarely used on rocks. God 3 methods of radiometric dating called us to be "wise as serpents" Matt. In spite of this, differences still occur within the church.
A disagreement radiometrci the age of the Earth is relatively minor in the whole scope of Christianity; it is more important to 3 methods of radiometric dating on the Rock of Ages than on the age of rocks. But because God has also called us to wisdom, this issue 3 methods of radiometric dating worthy of study. Rocks are made up of many individual crystals, and each crystal is usually made up of at least several different chemical elements such as iron, magnesium, silicon, etc.
Most of the elements in nature are stable and do not change. However, some elements are not completely stable in their natural state. Some of the atoms eventually change from one element to another by a process called radioactive decay. If there are a lot of atoms of the original radiometroc, called the parent element, the atoms decay to another element, called the daughter element, at a predictable rate.
The passage of time can be charted by the reduction in the number of parent atoms, and the gadiometric in the number of daughter atoms. Radiometric dating can be compared to an hourglass. When the glass is turned over, sand runs from the top to the bottom. Radioactive atoms are like individual grains of sand--radioactive decays are like the falling of grains from the top to the bottom of the glass. You cannot predict exactly when any one particular meyhods will get to the bottom, but you can predict from one time to the next how long the whole pile of sand takes to fall.
Once all of the sand has mehods out of the top, the hourglass will no longer keep time unless it is turned over again. Similarly, when all the radiometriv of the radioactive element are gone, the rock will no longer keep time unless it receives a new batch of radioactive atoms. The rate of loss of sand from from the top of an hourglass compared to exponential type of decay of radioactive elements.
In exponential decay the amount of material decreases by half during each half-life. After two half-lives one-fourth remains, after three half-lives, one-eighth, etc. Unlike the hourglass, where the amount of sand falling is constant right up until the end, the number of decays from a fixed number of radioactive atoms decreases as there are fewer atoms left to decay see Figure 1. If it takes a certain length of time for half of the atoms to decay, it will take the same amount of time for half of the remaining atoms, or a fourth of the original total, to decay.
In the next interval, with only a fourth remaining, only one eighth of the original total will decay.