Session 6: Is Carbon Dating Accurate?

Apologetics and the Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  11:30
0 ratings

Join us today as we discuss the questionable accuracy of carbon dating.

(Intro Music starts with first slide - read intro and move forward)
Welcome to Apologetics and the Gospel. My name is Pastor Jonathan White, and I am the Lead Pastor at CrossPointe Family Church in Hurricane, WV as well as a practicing Emergency Medicine Physician.

Question for Today: Is Carbon Dating Accurate?

What is Carbon Dating

As we start this discussion, it is important to understand what carbon dating actually is.
Carbon dating was developed by American physicist Willard F. Libby in 1946.
Carbon dating is also known as carbon-14 dating or radiocarbon dating. It is a method used to give an estimate on the age of a given organic material found in nature. Leading scholars in carbon dating do not recommend trying to date objects that are considered by secular scientists to be older than 50,000 years because there should be no carbon-14 remaining in these. This understanding will prove important later in our discussion today.
Carbon-14 is continually formed through the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere. Note that carbon is Carbon-12 when stable and Carbon-14 when radioactive.
For those of you who forget or haven’t studied electrons, protons, and neutrons - these are the parts of an atom - the smallest building block of life as we know it.
And this carbon-14 gradually decays over time after an organism dies. The estimated half-life of carbon-14 is around 5,730 years. Because of this, things that are assumed to be 50,000 years or older have undergone almost 10 half lives and should have little to no measurable carbon-14. Things that are assumed to be millions of years should have virtually no Carbon-14 whatsoever.

The Worldview Behind It

The idea of carbon dating takes an old earth worldview which is normally evolutionary in nature. It extrapolates what we can observe over a small amount of time and expands it from there.
Scientists continue to use carbon dating to try to ‘prove an old earth.’ By assuming that the decay rate of Carbon-14 today is occuring at the same rate as it was thousands of years ago, scientists have allowed their biased ‘old earth’ and evolutionary worldview to cloud their actual science. As we will see also in a moment, there are many factors that can affect the decay rate of Carbon-14.
Frankly, secular scientists have done what they accuse creation scientists of doing - only in reverse order. They have brought their atheistic, evolutionary, old earth worldview and have started there as they extrapolate the data they find today. However, secular scientists do not have the authority of God’s Word behind them as they bring their presuppositions to their work. They only carry with them the authority of men and women who have been proven wrong time and time again as their multiple theories continue to contradict one another.
They are not approaching science with a clear and objective mind. They are approaching it with a worldview set on denying the Word of God.
You see there are two types of science: Historical Science and Objective Science.

Two Kinds of Science

Historical science is based on subjective observations, opinions, and hypotheses. This type of science is unprovable objectively. This includes things like the study of the age of the earth. One cannot go back in time and do a objective experiment and collect data all along the way. Assumptions must be made in order for one to come to a hypothesis - which is known as an educated opinion.
Objective Science - is based on reproducible evidence. This type of science includes the study of gravity or chemical reactions. This type of science is generally reproducible.

What Type of Science is Carbon Dating?

Scientists argue that carbon dating is objective and reproducible. They are correct in one way. Many contemporary articles have shown radiocarbon dating to be fairly accurate - within 40 years or so. When looking at objects with known historical dates, carbon-14 dating has been shown to be fairly accurate dating back to 400 BC. Note - fairly accurate as there are some glaring outliers. This is much different than what secular scientists claim. But it is not as consistent as they would like. True objective science is reproducible time and time again. Yet, carbon dating has some significant shortfalls. Consider the following:
Radiocarbon was found in every piece of ‘ancient’ carbon tested per a study by Whitelaw. If the earth was as old as secular scientists believe, then there should be some organic material without any radioactive carbon. Multiple studies either by or reviewed by Dr. Andrew Snelling have found carbon in coal, limestone, and other rocks that are not supposed to have any radiocarbon in them because they were supposedly formed millions of years ago. This finding actually lends moreso to a young earth worldview.
Radiocarbon is found in diamonds which have been formed miles under the Earth’s surface. How did radioactive carbon get there if radiocarbon is to only be made in the Earth’s atmosphere? And why has not not degraded completely? The Bible would explain this because creation was only 6-10,000 years ago and the radiocarbon was infused at creation.
Carbon dating assumes that the atmosphere has not changed at all. We know that the Earth’s magnetic field was stronger in the past. This means that radiocarbon production rate was slower in the past which means that extrapolating today’s carbon dating would provide one with highly inflated results.
Kieth and Anderson radiocarbon-dated the shell of a living freshwater mussel at over 2,000 years old.
Multiple instances have shown trees growing near volcanic areas being dated much older than they really are due to carbon with little to no carbon-14 coming from under ground.
Multiple dinosaur bones, which are supposed to be millions of years old, have dated 30-40,000 years old per carbon dating.
These glaring issues only scratch the surface with concern for the accuracy of carbon dating.

Does carbon dating prove an old earth?

Absolutely not.

Why Aren’t the Problems with Radiocarbon Dating Discussed?

Sadly, many students in our schools and universities are not being taught the problems with carbon dating. They are taught as if this is a proven and reliable science without flaws. I was one of those students that was taught this way by some of my professors.
It was not until I was older and started researching, that I saw that there were flaws in their arguments.
Their dating methods were not the proverbial ‘nail in the coffin’ for the young earth creationist view that they were touted to be.
There is much more that we could discuss today. There are countless examples of flaws in this and other dating methods out there. They all assume that the atmosphere and Earth have been consistent and without change. And they also continue to deny the existence of a worldwide flood. Because if they recognize this flood, then their pseudoscience breaks down quickly.
But we understand from a Biblical worldview that the Flood changed everything.

The Worldwide Flood

Genesis 6-8 describes a worldwide flood covering the highest mountains of the Earth. Water was released from the deep as well as all of the water available in the atmosphere. Rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights and did not recede for around one full year. And this flood completely changed the earth. Extrapolating anything before this flood (which was around 4,400 years ago) would be a guess at best and a lie at worst.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

We are to test everything that comes to us. As a Christian, we should test it by the Word of God.
Proverbs 17:3 ESV
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.
The Bible gives an example of testing precious metals and gems to purify and refine them. The impurities are burned off when testing comes.
Things such as carbon dating do not stand the tests of refining by the fire of examination. First and foremost, the Bible disagrees with the dating radiocarbon provides. That radiocarbon dating disagrees with the Bible needs to be authoritative in and of itself. None of us were there at creation and none of us were present for the flood. But God was! And His Word is true. But even true scientists with integrity must admit that carbon dating is not an inerrant science.

Why do a podcast on this topic?

Dating methods have been used by atheists to challenge and test the faith of believers over the past decades. Scientists have used intellectual bullying techniques to make people fall in line with their pseudosciences. Yet it is their dating methods that are what does not withstand the challenge. And as always, the Word of God continues to prove true.
(Slide Closing 1)
This presentation has been put together to strengthen the faith of believers and to challenge the unbelief of others. I pray that you have found this presentation helpful.
Also, please note that this 10-15 minute presentation cannot exhaustively address most issues. My prayer is that it stimulates you to personally research further, and I am assured that you will find the Word of God proven time and time again.
(Slide Closing 2 with outro music)
Feel free to email any ideas you would like to see addressed by emailing me at There are slides prepared for each of these presentations which can be accessed at our church website at and select ATG. God bless and have a blessed week.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more