The following article is primarily based on a discussion of radiocarbon dating found in The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 1. Radiocarbon dating is based on a few relatively simple principles. The vast majority of these are C (pronounced "c twelve"), the stable isotope of carbon.
However, cosmic radiation constantly collides with atoms in the upper atmosphere.
From then on, the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon will decrease, because the unstable radiocarbon atoms will slowly decay. From this measurement the age in radiocarbon years is calculated. Modern radiocarbon dates are calibrated using long tree-ring chronologies.
After about 50,000 years, the radiocarbon concentration remaining is too small to be measured for the purpose of radiocarbon dating. This is necessary to remove errors in raw radiocarbon dates caused by fluctuations in the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere in the past.
The raw radiocarbon date of any sample can then be converted to true date by using this calibration table.
This calibration step eliminates any concern about fluctuations in historic radiocarbon to stable carbon ratios or decay rates.
MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.(This, in turn, is caused by variations in the magnetic fields of the earth and sun, for example.) Although the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the atmosphere has varied over time, it is quite uniform around the globe at any given time because the atmosphere mixes very quickly and constantly.Plants obtain all their carbon atoms from the atmosphere.It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field.In the following article, some of the most common misunderstandings regarding radiocarbon dating are addressed, and corrective, up-to-date scientific creationist thought is provided where appropriate. Radiocarbon is used to date the age of rocks, which enables scientists to date the age of the earth.The ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon atoms in the atmosphere has varied in the past.This is because the amount and strength of cosmic radiation entering the earth's atmosphere has varied over time.Thus the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in living animal tissue is also virtually the same as the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the atmosphere at any given time.This ratio is the same for all organisms across the globe at a given time due to the mixing of the atmosphere mentioned above.Comparison of ancient, historically dated artifacts (from Egypt, for example) with their radiocarbon dates has revealed that radiocarbon years and calendar years are not the same even for the last 5,000 calendar years.Since no reliable historically dated artifacts exist which are older than 5,000 years, it has not been possible to determine the relationship of radiocarbon years to calendar years for objects which yield dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years.