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He was employed at Caltech's Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences at the time of writing the first edition.He is presently employed in the Space & Atmospheric Sciences Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another.In the process the paper refutes a number of misconceptions prevalent among Christians today.This paper is available on the web via the American Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community.Introduction Overview The Radiometric Clocks Examples of Dating Methods for Igneous Rocks Potassium-Argon Argon-Argon Rubidium-Strontium Samarium-Neodymium, Lutetium-Hafnium, and Rhenium-Osmium Uranium-Lead The Age of the Earth Extinct Radionuclides: The Hourglasses that Ran Out Cosmogenic Radionuclides: Carbon-14, Beryllium-10, Chlorine-36 Radiometric Dating of Geologically Young Samples Non-Radiogenic Dating Methods for the Past 100,000 Years Ice Cores Varves Other Annual-Layering Methods Thermoluminescence Electron Spin Resonance Cosmic Ray Exposure Dating Can We Really Believe the Dating Systems? Rightly Handling the Word of Truth Arguments over the age of the Earth have sometimes been divisive for people who regard the Bible as God's word.Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent.
Assuming a strictly literal interpretation of the week of creation, even if some of the generations were left out of the genealogies, the Earth would be less than ten thousand years old.Many people have been led to be skeptical of dating without knowing much about it. In spite of this, differences still occur within the church.For example, most people don't realize that carbon dating is only rarely used on rocks. A disagreement over the age of the Earth is relatively minor in the whole scope of Christianity; it is more important to agree on the Rock of Ages than on the age of rocks.The passage of time can be charted by the reduction in the number of parent atoms, and the increase in the number of daughter atoms.Radiometric dating can be compared to an hourglass.
You cannot predict exactly when any one particular grain will get to the bottom, but you can predict from one time to the next how long the whole pile of sand takes to fall.