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January 8, 2011

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Q: What do we really know about radiometric dating?

A: When someone mentions scientific dating methods, the first thing to come to mind for most people is carbon dating. However, there are many methods that can be used to determine the age of the earth or other objects. The textbooks focus on relative dating, based on the layering of the rocks, and radiometric dating.

Relative ages are assigned to rocks based on the idea that rock layers lower in the strata were deposited before rock layers that are higher. Creationists do not necessarily disagree with this concept, but it can only be applied to layers that are found in one location and/or can be determined to have been deposited in a continuous layer over a very wide area. There is also a difference in the timescale used to explain the layers. Determining the relative age of a rock layer is based on the assumption that you know the ages of the rocks surrounding it. Uniformitarian geologists use so-called absolute dating methods to determine the ages of the surrounding rocks.

Certain types of rocks, especially those that form from magma (igneous), contain radioactive isotopes of different elements. It is possible to measure the ratio of the different radioactive parent isotopes and their daughter isotopes in a rock, but the ratios are not dates or ages. The dates must be inferred based on assumptions about the ratios.


Continue reading to learn more about the assumptions behind popular radiometric dating methods.

News to Note Quick Look

The teeth that could change everything: Is Homo sapiens twice as old as was previously believed? Or are evolutionists simply twice as credulous? Read more.


Who’s behind it all: The Roman Catholic Church continues to accept the big bang model of universal origins, but the pope makes it clear that believers should still see a divine mind behind the bang. Read more.


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