Stick with me here for a moment, I do have a point.
I don't believe the Earth is just 6,000 years old (or even 10,000 years old), and I'm a Christian... I do believe that much of the Bible is mistranslated or has been changed over time to fit an agenda. The widely-used perspective that the Bible is God's word and He wouldn't allow it to change is a crock and we all know it, we just don't want to hear it when it would require our comfortable lives to be unstable. That's fine, you keep your beliefs to stay happy. I happen to believe that God created science for man to venture into and discover great things. We have and we will continue to do so.
Those being my beliefs, and my mind being more open to truths than most other Christians, there is STILL no way that you or anyone can prove that carbon dating is accurate in any way without someone inventing a time machine, travelling 5,000 years back in time and watching that person or creature die right where it is dug up. There's nothing you can say to me to change my mind about that - all your relevant data and fact-finding can only be based on other data and facts collected BEFORE 5,000 years ago.
That being said, a Christian person, spending any portion of their time in an open forum such as this, spends a lot of their time having to explain themselves and exactly why they believe what they believe. I'd really like to see what someone who actually believes in carbon dating's accuracy has to say about it.
So... why do you believe in carbon dating? Where is your scientific PROOF?
We're getting into a lot of explanation now. First, you want to know how exponential decay is calculated. Unfortunately, that involves more math, which you seem to believe is a massive hoodwink that has been pulled on society.
Next, you want to know how something that has a half life of 5,568 years can be used to calculate the age of anything older than 11,000 years. This marks a misunderstanding about what is meant by ''half life.'' To say something has a half life of 50 years does not mean that 50 years following its creation, half of it will be gone. A half life measures the probability of decay, not decay itself. So if you have one atom with a half life of one day, in one day, it has a 50% chance of having decayed. So half life is an average of probability.
Lastly, you remark that carbon dating, since its principles and mathematics are so haphazard, is as accurate as looking at something and guessing its age. But carbon decay is not simply a mathematical theory and does not exist simply on paper; it is a measurable, physical phenomenon that can be tested and verified. Take an organic object and put it in a chromatograph, and you can physically verify its levels. This is why your mistrust of it is a little strange. It's a physically measurable phenomenon whose results have been backed up through direct observation of other physical evidence:
''That radiocarbon ages agree so closely with tree ring counts over at least 8000 years, when the observed magnetic effect upon the production rate of C-14 is taken into account, suggests that the decay constant itself can be assumed to be reliable.'' (Strahler, 1987, p.157)
What seems to be driving your distrust is a combination of ''If I can't see it, it's not true'' and ''If I don't understand it, it's not true.'' Conspiracy theorists engage in this type of logic as well, and the problem is that this never leads to new understanding. It's a self-perpetuating cycle of mistrust and doubt that casts dispersion on each new piece of evidence. (''We never went to the moon!'' ''Well... here's a photo of the lander taken from Earth.'' ''Photoshopped!!'' ''Sigh... Fine, have it your way'')
If you don't understand a subject, don't pronounce everyone else as categorically foolish. Why not use it as an opportunity to gain a new piece of knowledge instead? This article isn't so bad, as a way to get started:
I understand that. I'm not questioning whether carbon dating works on something we already know a time-frame for (thus defeating the purpose, but establishing that its somewhat accurate within our conceived time-scale)... I want to know how we know that the half-life of C-14 is is 5,568 years, when no one exists to verify this for us?
Mathematically calculating something that's accuracy decays just as the compound does isn't plausible or possible. Sure, you can plug the numbers in and go on about how it MUST be accurate, but seriously, EVERYTHING looks good on paper. Applying that math to the real world just doesn't work like everyone wants it to.
What I don't understand is if you have roughly 11,136 years until every bit of carbon turns to Nitrogen-14, ignorantly turning your back on the fact that its primary weakness is not in the math, but in the real world outside of the lab and off of the paper... If you have that time-frame, why is it they use it to date items found from 50,000 to 60,000 years ago?
Ignoring even that, what about the Suess effect? Does it really seem logical to assume our calibration curves do anything more than just throw it off more? Mathematically, its fine, but let's be honest, mathematically, the earth should be hotter than it is, it should have rained yesterday, and 2,000 more people should be dead. You can't rely on these averages and medians to accurately date ANYTHING with this method any more than I could hold it in my hand, take a good look at it, and guess about how old it is.
So while I appreciate your respect for the power of math, C-14 isn't math, its a part of this natural world, and this world doesn't follow an equation no matter how John F. Nash, Jr. you want to get on me.
Half life is the period of time it takes for half of a substance to decay. Something with a half life of 5,000 years wouldn't be all gone in 10,000. In the second 5,000 years half of remaining half of the substance would decay and in another 5,000 years half of that forth would remain.
The reason why we trust carbon dating is because the age it estimates agrees with the age known historically or estimated by other methods.
Radioactive decay is in fact very predictable. Many things in nature do in fact behave in a very predictably; were this not so we would never be able to make accurate clocks or consistently cook soft boiled egg (ok, the later can still be tricky). In my college chemistry lab we even made a radioactive isotope and measured its rate of decay. Mathematics simply gives us tools to describe the way the natural world's behavior.
xreply: "There's nothing you can say to me to change my mind about that"
You seem to have made up your mind since you stated that no amount of evidence or logic will change your mind.
People accept carbon dating because it is a valid scientific technique. Other people reject it because it goes against their dogma.
seriously you think that? go to class or something and learn and see that religion is fate and a cover of government. but on the earth its over 2 billion years old, where are you getting the earth is 5000 years old? that makes no sense. evolution takes place over millions of years(has been proven) and we all came from a single celled organism that evolved(proven again). science is the only fact that people can trust. please for the love of god do not question carbon dating without knowing what it is and how it is done. you seem that you think you know what it is but you don't. WE EVOLVED we did not just appear. and I think you are think of why stuff is normally said around 5000 years ago. that is when the 1st civilizations starting to come about. NOT THE 1ST PEOPLE but the 1st civilizations. people have been on earth for if I remember right for over 30k+years now. but with civilizations(u need a government, a written language, and records[of some sort]. but 1st go learn some things about earth and how people came about.
While I appreciate your passion, this isn't really an issue that is open for creative interpretation. Carbon 14 decays at a very measurable rate, and the math exists to back it up:
You can even look at the calibration curve:
And no one ever said anything about Carbon 14 dating only being used to date very, very old things. It's quite accurate for determining the age of antiques up to 1950. It's pretty easy to determine whether or not such recent dates are correct. No need for a time machine.
so you believe in science but you dont believe in mathmatics?? Mathmatics is pretty much the basis of all science.
also mike just schooled your asss haha as I agree with him 1000%