Radiocarbon Equilibrium – Post by Michael J. Findley

Editor’s note: This post is a partial examination of the article cited below. One of the authors, Ken Wolgemuth, gave Findley a PDF copy of the article with a request for comment. The article is written from an Old Earth Creationist (OEC) point of view. Findley comments on the Old Earth 14C dating suppositions and the conclusions of some Young Earth Creationists (YEC) about 14C dating.

“…Raising the Carbon-14 content over several hundred years until reaching near-modern levels by the time of Israel’s first king (allowing semi-accurate radiocarbon dating of biblical artifacts)”
Testing and Verifying Old Age Evidence: Lake Suigetsu Varves, Tree Rings, and Carbon-14;
Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth June 2018

Believers in deep time who make comments like this either do not read YEC literature or do not understand what they are reading. Since there are hundreds of well documented articles and books, including several of my own, on this topic, the following is a very incomplete summary of our position.

First, 14C dating relies on analysis of the ratio of 14C to 12C in a sample. Accurate radiocarbon dating is a complex process. The YEC position is that the volcanic processes during the 2350 BC global flood added so much 12C to the global environment from CO2 that any sample taken soon after the flood would have considerably more 12C than any sample from the past 2600 years, when equilibrium was established after the flood.

Ancient cuneiform tablet

The Ancient Babylonian Chronicles (ABC) record hundreds of events from the 6th and 7th centuries BC. These events are great for radiocarbon dating, since, among these events, the Babylonians burned many cities. Hundreds of radiocarbon samples have been cross-dated with written documents on the destruction of Carthage and other cities burned by the Romans, Persians, Greeks, Hittites, Assyrians, and Egyptians, as well as the Babylonians. 14C dating is a difficult process, but tens of thousands of samples back to about the 8th century BC are supported by written documents, other artifacts (primarily pottery), and, in a few cases, dendrochronology (tree ring dating).

But as we go back in time, discrepancies arise. The Exodus is accepted as a historical event by Jews, Christians, Muslims (depending on the type of Muslim), and even many Secular Humanists. Using the statement in I Kings 6:1 that the Exodus took place 480 years before the foundation of the temple was laid, Ussher dates the Exodus as 1491 BC. While there is some question as to the exact date of the Exodus, if you accept I Kings 6:1, then you believe that the Exodus place within a few decades of 1491 BC.

Assuming that the Minoan eruption of Thera coincides with the Exodus, which is not universally accepted by YEC, then radiocarbon dating is off by at least 40 and perhaps as much as 110 years by 1491 BC.

Volcanic eruption

Assuming that Joseph is Imhotep (again, not all YECs do), Jacob entered Egypt according to Josephus in 1706 BC (Ussher). Artifacts associated with Imhotep are radiocarbon dated to be early 27th century BC. So 14C dating is more than 900 years older than actual dates by 1700 BC. This is near the end of the Ice Age, so the time the Israelites were in Egypt saw considerable reduction in environmental 12C.

Before the time of Abraham (about 1900 BC), the earth experienced much greater volcanic activity than today, keeping environmental 12C quite high. Those who believe that environmental 12C has remained relatively constant date artifacts from this period 5-10,000 BC. Artifacts 14C dated older than this have actual dates of about 2200 BC to 2350 BC.

Ruined city

Sea levels were 400 feet lower than today, so people and animals could walk to any place on earth. The oceans were still hot from the volcanic activity of the flood. But the lower sea levels caused ice sheets to form in higher elevations. The Ice Age was caused by elevation. These forces – hot oceans caused by residual volcanic activity from the flood – caused elevated 12C in lower elevations while mountains more than 30,000 feet above sea level on every continent reduced the 12C in higher elevations. So environmental 12C varied greatly by region during the Ice Age, 2350-1700 BC roughly.

So the YEC position is that the oldest possible radiocarbon sample is about 2350 BC. The difficulty obtaining accurate radiocarbon dates for older samples (actual date 2100-2350 BC roughly) is the massive increase in CO2 from volcanic activity putting massive amounts of 12C into the environment. But this 12C was not distributed evenly. Lower altitudes had much higher concentrations.

One thought on “Radiocarbon Equilibrium – Post by Michael J. Findley

  1. nice work.
    How would the calibration align w/ the YeC Seder Olam chronology we find in the YeC Moshe Emes series Torah Discovery Chronology to be in full alignment w/ the one historic actuality?
    Anno-Mundi / Before Christian Era
    creation week day six start year 1 / 3760
    Global flood ‘Mabul’ impacts yr. 1656 / 2104
    The ice ages 1657-1996 / 2103 – 1764
    Joseph (Imehotep) to Exodus 2229- 2448 / 1531-1312 (Includes great pyramid era)
    Holy Temple I 2928-3338 / 832-422
    Fall of Bavel to Cyrus the Great 3389 / 371
    Alexander victory at Issus 3443 / 317

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