A Creationists keeps responding to me insisting that radioactive dating is invalid because someone dated a 1986 lava flow from St Helens to 250,000 yrs, and they got a C14 date on Triassic Coal from the Sydney basin to 33,000 years.

I have tried to explain how these results likely came about, but of course I have no idea what methods these Creationists use.

see discussion here: https://qr.ae/pr90Bs

The "gotcha" with the C14 is described here: https://answersingenesis.org/fossils/dating-dilemma-fossil-wood-in-ancient-sandstone/

Does anyone know more about what these idiots are up to, and able to give a better response to explain that these results are not scientific proof of anything except the inability of Creationists to apply correct methods.

I see the cleverness of the 'Gotcha', it takes advantage of notions of simplistic understanding of science. Trying to explain to lay-persons the intricacies of these methods is difficult, and I am out of date myself with my geology!

  • $\begingroup$ Closely related: Giem's article on carbon dating. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ You are never going to win against Creationists. They appear to play clean, but they play dirty. As @DavidHammen states in his answer "they are lying, but that doesn't stop them from doing so. Their religion is at stake." They're making sure, in their minds, that they're going to heaven. They will always come back at you with what ever argument until you can't counter & then they've proved their point, to themselves. Say your piece once & then disengage. The one thing that occasionally shut ups some of them is this. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Fred Not only are creationists (young earth creationists in particular) fully vaccinated against logic and evidence, they have absolutely no qualms with lying. While lying might in general violate one of their sacred commandments, lying in the name of their religion apparently is totally okay. One is never going to "win" an argument against young earth creationists. Their deepest beliefs and their perceived pathway to heaven are at stake. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ Try checking out the article on the seventh day Adventist site grisda.org A search of the title should get you there. CARBON-14 CONTENT OF FOSSIL CARBON Paul A. Giem It is better to consider the actual evidence put forward rather than simply slagging off something which you don't agree with. I have been trying to track down an article which rebuts what is said here and so far have been unable to do so. I get pretty tired of people saying stuff that they have not bothered to research. Although I can understand that the average Joe can't get to grips with the actual science. For sur $\endgroup$
    – Andy
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 14:42

1 Answer 1


There are a number of issues associated with carbon 14 dating. Two key issues:

  • Carbon-14 cannot be used to date anything older than about 50 thousand years old. Carbon-14 has a half-life of about 5730 years. This short half-life is very useful for dating objects 20 thousand years old, or younger. Trying to use carbon-14 dating to date oil or coal? Useless. Trying to use carbon-14 dating on an object by other reliable estimates expected to be 225 million years old? Useless.
  • Samples can be contaminated, either in situ, in the collection process, or in the lab. This is particularly problematic with presumably old samples. Trying to use carbon-14 dating on a sample suspected to be 225 million years old cannot say the object is 225 million years old. It might however say the object is 33 thousand years old. The sample in question was in an easily contaminated sandstone deposit. It was beyond stupid to send that sample for carbon-14 dating.

Young earth creationists know these points and know they are lying, but that doesn't stop them from doing so. Their religion is at stake.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks David - it is fairly much what I had assumed, but I was not fully versed on the issue of contamination. I would assume rain water is the main source of contaimination here? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding K-Ar dating of recent rocks - would you suppose some Argon does get trapped in the glass matrix giving the ever so insignificant error here? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonRouse you don't even have to go that far, with rock that recent there is so little Argon you can't measure it accurately. worse they used only a single sample, which you do not do with samples from mixed material which has older and younger material mixed together. the single crystal they used could well be exactly the given age. so they failed at dating and basic geology. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 3 at 22:52

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