Radiometric dating

Author: SkepticalOne ,

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  • SkepticalOne
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    SkepticalOne
    I recently found out one of my close friends is a young Earth creationist. He is an engineer working in the aerospace field. Obviously, he is a smart guy, but he has a blind spot here. I pointed him to evidence which argued for an Earth older than 6000 years (his number) such as radiometric dating, dendrochronology, and ice cores. He has taken to studying radiometric dating. It has been awhile since I've had this debate, so I'd appreciate any arguments against radiometric dating from our resident young earthers or those familiar with their arguments. I'd like to be prepared for our next conversation. Thanks in advance!
  • zedvictor4
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    --> @SkepticalOne
    Smart is as smart does.

    Though, acceptance without proof is somewhat less reliable than radiometric dating.
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @SkepticalOne
    When talking about radiometric dating make sure to be specific with him as to the type. I assume if he is "taken with" radiometrics he will start to talk about carbon dating specifically as that is the direction his 'research' (glancing through the FAQ at Answers in Genesis or something) will take him because YECs in general have a habit of taking carbon dating as gospel and denouncing all other forms of dating as unreliable. The reason they tend to do this is carbon-14 is a relatively fast decaying particle in the radiometrics world and so is unreliable for any object older than I think 25,000 years or so and gives weird results for anything older, like 50,000 year old Triceratops bones or something. Obviously Triceratops bones are much older than that so if a result like that comes from radiometric dating it was probably done with carbon dating, which is rather like trying to measure the circumference of a city with a meter-stick except much much worse.

    General argument frameworks to expect:

    "Radiometric dating says that these Triceratops bones are 50,000 years old but scientists say all dinosaurs are millions of years old, radiometrics can't be trusted!"

    "Radiometric dating says that these Triceratops bones are 50,000 years old but scientists say all dinosaurs are millions of years old, this proves dinosaurs were around very recently!"

    "Radiometric dating says that these Triceratops bones are 50,000 years old but scientists have criticised the study that produced this result, proving that scientists are dogmatic and not open to new ideas!"

    "Radiometric dating says that these Triceratops bones are 50,000 years old but scientists have criticised the study that produced this result, proving that even scientists don't have any confidence in radiometrics!"

    That covers about 80% of everything YECs will ever say regarding radiometrics, they tend to not be too imaginative.
  • SkepticalOne
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    He did start with carbon dating, but I steered him to the other methods. So, I think we're good there. We'll see. 

  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @SkepticalOne
    As long as he has a firm understanding of why you steered him to other methods you should be.
  • SkepticalOne
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    Yes, I explained radiometric dating covers many types of dating and that they (along with dendrochronology and ice cores) corroborate an old earth. He seems receptive. 

    Just in case, I am dusting off my radiometric defense. I expect to hear the typical arguments related to zircons, contamination of the sample, misuse of the methods, and possibly radio-active decay occurring at a faster rate in the past. (He attempted the last one in our discussion). 
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @SkepticalOne
    and possibly radio-active decay occurring at a faster rate in the past. (He attempted the last one in our discussion). 
    Well yeah, anything is possible if you just immediately discard the concept of the laws of physics being a constant... smh.
  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @SkepticalOne

    hope this helps
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    I don't entirely agree with the vote on that debate. The RFD says:

     con lands some points that show the earth could be 10k years old, and pro lands some points that show it can’t be.

    But if part of a thing seems old and part of it seems young, wouldn't that mean it is likely that the overall thing is old?

    Like, if I find a 5,000 year old rock and a 4 billion year old rock that doesn't mean the Earth might be 5,000 years old or it might be 4 billion years old, it means the Earth is 4 billion years old and that 5,000 year old rock is younger than the Earth.
  • MisterChris
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    Read the debate more closely and you'll see that isn't what is being implied (For the record, I agree with you and Dr.Franklin that the Earth is probably old. I was mostly experimenting with that one)
  • ebuc
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    --> @SkepticalOne
    Is there some scientific evidence for 6000 year old Earth he is offerring?  Where does his 6000 year old number come from.  Could be he is not even starting with good ole fashion, rational, logical common sense irrespective of his education or job. 

    Is this just the Earth that he is stuck on 6000 years old or is he taking this to the whole solar system, galaxy and Universe?
  • SkepticalOne
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    --> @ebuc
    I'm pretty sure he is a young Earth Creationist. He knows that I am a separation of church and state guy, and was mentioning some things to be concerned about. In that list he mentioned something along the lines of 'secular geology'. I questioned his meaning and found that he essentially considered the teaching of an old earth to be some type of religious view (I assume because it contradicted his own religious view). 
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @SkepticalOne
    he essentially considered the teaching of an old earth to be some type of religious view
    It is very common among YECs to talk about how every part of science that shows YECism is wrong must be "part of some religion". They say it like religion is a bad thing despite being very open about the fact that their belief in a young earth is derived from their religious views. I think this apparent doublethink can be attributed to the fact that they they (often subconsciously) know that the accusation is BS but believe (for some reason that I am unable to figure out myself) that calling secularist views a religion will cause secularists to feel "insulted" in some way. Pretty weird way of thinking but w/e.