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Radiometric dating falsely assumes rates are constant

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Claim

Radiometric dating assumes radioisotope decay rates are constant, but this assumption is not supported. All processes in nature vary according to different factors, and we should not expect radioactivity to be different.

Source

Responses

  1. Radioactive decay constants depend finally on several fundamental constants which are today often believed to be fine-tuned. So change in radioactive decay constants can only be in concordance with a change in fundamental constants. This means that this claim of creationists contradicts other claims by them which are based on the fine-tuning of the universe. Interestingly, although the fine-tuning of the universe is disputed within the cosmologists community for various reasons, little doubt exists that even a small change in fundamental constants would change the universe so dramatically that the world and life at least as we know it would be impossible. In other words: No current life form would survive even small changes in fundamental constants which are necessary to alter the radioactive decay rates only little, not to mention the big changes which would be necessary for young earth creationism.
  2. Different radiometric techniques use many different isotope systems with different decay modes and chains. Because different physical forces are involved in varying proportions in the different decay modes, it is very unlikely that all radiometric techniques would be affected in exactly the same way by a change in decay rates. A significant change in decay rates should therefore show up in significant conflict between the results from different radiometric techniques, which is not the case. The results of the different methods all agree with each other.
  3. Several observations can be used to limit the change in decay constants and to show that accuracy of radiometric techniques is not affected. E.g the fact that the physics of stars is the same no matter how far the stars are away, and thus how far we look back in the history of the universe. Also the Oklo reactor, an ancient natural nuclear reactor, showed that decay rates were basically the same long time ago.
  4. Furthermore, the dates given by constant decay rates can be cross-confirmed by other dating methods such as ice-core samples, sea-floor spreading, and so on. It is precisely the reliability of the correlation between these various methods that make them all so credible.
  5. "All processes in nature vary according to different factors," despite being a trite expression that sounds scientific and that fits well into Chick tracts, is nevertheless totally wrong.
  6. If it is true that rates of radioactive decay are not constant, then Creationists are wholely unable to explain why the radioactive element Lawrencium has always been observed to have a half-life of approximately 4 hours, and always decays into the radioactive element Californium, which, in turn, has always been observed to have a half-life of 2.6 years.
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Fallacies contained in this claim

External Links

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

References

  1. Emery, G.T., 1972. Perturbation of nuclear decay rates. Annual Review Nuclear Science 22: 165-202.
  2. Fujii, Yasunori et al., 2000. The nuclear interaction at Oklo 2 billion years ago. Nucl. Phys. B 573: 377-401.
  3. Greenlees, Paul, 2000. Theory of Alpha Decay. [2]
  4. Knudlseder, J., 1999. Constraints on stellar yields and Sne from gamma-ray line observations, [3]
  5. Krane, Kenneth S., 1987. Introductory Nuclear Physics. John Wiley & Sons.
  6. Meert, Joe, 1996, 2002. Were Adam and Eve Toast? [4]
  7. Nomoto et al., 1997. Nucleosynthesis in type 1A supernovae, [5] and Nucleosynthesis in type II supernovae, [6]
  8. Perlmutter et al., 1997. Discovery of a supernova explosion at half the age of the universe and its cosmological implications, [7]
  9. Prantzos, N., 1999. Gamma-ray line astrophysics and stellar nucleosynthesis: perspectives for Integral, [8]
  10. Renne, P. R., Sharp, W. D., Deino, A. L., Orsi, G., Civetta, L., 1997. 40Ar/39Ar Dating into the Historical Realm: Calibration Against Pliny the Younger. Science 277: 1279-1280.
  11. Shlyakhter, A.I., 1976. Direct test of the constancy of fundamental nuclear constants. Nature 264: 340. [9]
  12. Thielemann et al., 1998. Nucleosynthesis Basics and Applications to Supernovae. [10]
  13. Uzan, Jean-Philippe, 2002. The fundamental constants and their variation: observational status and theoretical motivations. [11]

Further Reading

Related claims

Acknowledgments

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