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Living snails were C14 dated at 2,300 and 27,000 years old

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Claim

Living snails were C14 dated at 2,300 and 27,000 years old, thus proving that carbon-dating is totally unreliable.

Source

  1. Hovind, Kent, n.d. Doesn’t carbon dating or Potassium Argon dating prove the Earth is millions of years old? [1]
  2. Hovind, Kent, 2003 Seminar Notebook (download the 2003 version free here or here) p.59 for "Living mollusk shells were dated up to 2300 years old." -Science vol. 141, 1963 p. 634-637

Response

  1. Creationists who use this claim fail to note that the snails lived in an environment that did not have access to atmospheric C14 (a pool formed from a limestone sinkhole). The C14 that the snails did have access to was dissolved out of the limestone, itself, and as a result, was "old" C14.
  2. The scientist didn't measure the living snails themselves. He measured their shells. The whole point is that the process through which the mollusks builds its shell (taking carbon from the water it lives in and NOT the atmosphere) doesn't "reset" the C14 "timer".
  3. In the 1963 paper by Keith and Anderson Table 1 on page 634 gives 7 dates from 3 different samples. The first set of 3 results come from "Marine samples", the second single date is from a "Lacustrine sample", and the last 3 dates are from "Fluvial samples". The Marine samples give an uncorrected mean C14 date of 155, the Lacustrine sample as 440 and the Fluvial samples give a mean uncorrected C14 date of 1733 with the highest of those being the date of 2300(+/-200) years old (being the only date which Kent Hovind mentions). On page 635, Figure 1 shows that the snails from rivers are not only deficient in C14 (as would be expected coming from a source, limestone, which has radioactively decayed and is not "recharged" like C14 in the atmosphere), but also were C13 deficient, explained by the concentration of leached humus in rivers and streams. What Kent Hovind does not mention is that these are the exact results we would expect since carbon in limestone (C14 deficient) and humus (C13 deficient) that has been leached into the water should be at higher concentrations at their source (the streams and rivers which the samples were taken) than in lakes and oceans downstream which are affected by cleaner sources and that some samples used for C14 dating will give incorrect ages when the organism sequesters most of it's carbon from water. The C14 dates in this paper are from these areas which contain "hard" water, heavy in dissolved solids from the surrounding landscape, and cannot be used to give accurate dates, which is the whole point of the paper.
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Fallacies contained in this claim

Links

  1. Matson, Dave E., 1994. How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments? [2]

References

  1. Keith, M. L., and G. M. Anderson, 1963. Radiocarbon Dating: Fictitious Results with Mollusk Shells. Science 141(3581): 634-637.
  2. Riggs, A. C., 1984. Major carbon-14 deficiency in modern snail shells from southern Nevada springs. Science 224(4644): 58-61. (6 April 1984).
  3. Strahler, A. N., 1987. Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy, Prometheus Books, Buffalo.

Further Reading

  1. Aitken, M.J., 1990. Science-based Dating in Archaeology. Longman, England.
  2. Bowman, S.G.E., 1990. Radiocarbon Dating. "Interpreting the Past" series. British Museum Publications, London.
  3. Faure, G., 1986. Principles of Isotope Geology (Second Edition). Wiley, New York.
  4. Taylor, R.E., 1987. Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective. Academic Press, Orlando, USA.


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