THE YOUNG EARTH
Science has developed a method of dating
which in many cases can determine how long ago a plant or animal
lived. This method is known as carbon-14 dating and is based
on the radioactive decay of this isotope.
Carbon is vital to all life on earth. All
living systems on earth utilize large amounts of the element
carbon in their life processes. Carbon is the element which primarily
makes up coal, charcoal, pencil leads, lamp-black, and many other
familiar substances. When food is burned in a pot, the hard,
black material remaining is primarily the carbon which the food
There are three isotopes or forms of carbon
which occur naturally on earth. These are carbon-12, carbon-13,
and carbon-14. Carbon-12 and carbon-13 are stable, non-radioactive
isotopes, and they do not decay. Carbon-14, however, is radioactive,
and over a period of time each carbon-14 atom emits a beta particle
(electron) and becomes a stable isotope of nitrogen.
If an amount of carbon-14 were placed in
a jar and put on a shelf, 5,730 years later only half of it would
remain. This number, 5,730, is termed the half-life in years
of carbon-14. If sometime in the past, a jar containing one pound
of carbon-14 had been placed on a shelf and had not been bothered
since then, knowing that the jar originally contained one pound,
we could measure the amount remaining in the jar and determine
fairly accurately how long it had been there.
Carbon-14 is produced in the earths
atmosphere by atomic radiation from the sun. All life forms ingest
carbon-14 into their living systems by eating and breathing.
Carbon-14, therefore, permeates all living tissue with the same
percentage of total carbon that is found in the atmosphere.
Approximately 99% of the carbon in the world
today is carbon-12. About one percent is carbon-13, and only
traces of carbon-14 exist. Because carbon-14 is radioactive and
gives off atomic radiation, the tiny amounts in organic material
are sufficient to measure the carbon-14 remaining after a fossilized
plant or animal has been dead for many years, thereby allowing
a determination of the approximate date of death.
Based on carbon-14 dating, scientists have
theorized that the world is billions of years old. When the amount
of carbon-14 remaining in dinosaur bones is measured, an extremely
tiny amount is found, indicating apparently that these prehistoric
animals lived millions of years ago.
These findings, however, do not agree with
the Bible, for the Bible indicates that the world is only about
6,000 years old. The technique of using carbon-14 for dating
is sound only if the original amount of carbon-14 is known. Thus,
in using carbon-14 to date ancient life, scientists assume that
the amount of carbon-14 on earth has always been what it is today.
The Bible indicates, however, that this assumption is not correct
and explains why it is not correct.
Genesis 1:6-8 describes the second day of
creation week: And God said, Let there be a firmament in
the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the
waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which
were under the firmament from the waters which were above the
firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.
And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Notice that the firmament divided the waters.
Some of the water was above the firmament, and some of the water
was below the firmament.
The firmament is the atmosphere surrounding
the planet earth. Genesis 1:20 shows this by stating that God
made the birds to fly in the firmament: And God said, Let
the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath
life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament
of heaven. This verse in the New International Version
says, And God said, Let the water teem with living
creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse
of the sky. Thus, we see that the firmament is the
expanse of the sky, which separates the water from the water.
Genesis 1:6-8 says that part of the water was above this firmament
and part of the water was below the firmament.
Notice that these verses tell us that the
water is above the firmament, and not in the firmament. What
water is in the firmament is really particles of water from the
earth, from under the firmament, temporarily suspended during
the water cycle of evaporation and rain. These particles occur
only in the lower part of the firmament, the upper parts being
free of water vapor.
Much of the water which flooded the earth
during the time of Noah came from that which was above the firmament.
The water above the firmament was in orbit around the earth and
provided a very effective radioactive shield which enveloped
the earth and protected the earths atmosphere from the
atomic radiation from the sun. Since atomic radiation from the
sun was not reaching the earth, carbon-14 was virtually nonexistent
in the atmosphere.
Carbon-14 dating, therefore, is an accurate
method only for dating material which lived after the flood.
This method cannot be used accurately to date organic material
before the flood because we do not know how much carbon-14 ancient
This situation is analogous to the example
of our jar containing one pound of carbon-14. If the jar had
been put on the shelf containing only a fraction of an ounce
of carbon-14 and we were told that it originally contained one
pound, our dating method would determine that the jar had been
there for millions of years.
As always, the Bible states the situation
correctly when it indicates that the earth is about 6,000 years
old. No evidence has ever been found which, when correctly interpreted,
shows the Bible to be in error.