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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2007
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Claim CD011.1:

Carbon dating is based on the atmospheric C-14/C-12 ratio, but that ratio varies. Thus the carbon dating method is not valid.


Morris, Henry M. 1985. Scientific Creationism. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 162-166.


  1. The variability of the C-14/C-12 ratio, and the need for calibration, has been recognized since 1969 (Dickin 1995, 364-366). Calibration is possible by analyzing the C-14 content of items dated by independent methods. Dendrochronology (age dating by counting tree rings) has been used to calibrate C-14/C-12 ratios back more than 11,000 years before the present (Becker and Kromer 1993; Becker et al. 1991). C-14 dating has been calibrated back more than 30,000 years by using uranium-thorium dating of corals (Bard et al. 1990; Edwards et al. 1993), to 45,000 yeas ago by using U-Th dates of glacial lake varve sediments (Kitagawa and van der Plicht 1998), and to 50,000 years ago using ocean cores from the Cariaco Basin which have been calibrated to the annual layers of the Greenland Ice Sheet (Hughen et al. 2004).


Matson, Dave E., 1994. How good are those young-earth arguments?


  1. Bard, E., B. Hamelin, R. G. Fairbanks and A. Zindler. 1990. Calibration of the 14C timescale over the past 30,000 years using mass spectrometric U-Th ages from Barbados corals. Nature 345: 405-410.
  2. Becker, B. and B. Kromer. 1993. The continental tree-ring record -- absolute chronology, 14C calibration and climate change at 11 ka. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 103: 67-71.
  3. Becker, B., B. Kromer and P. Trimborn. 1991. A stable-isotope tree-ring timescale of the Late Glacial/Holocene boundary. Nature 353: 647-649.
  4. Dickin, A. P. 1995. Radiogenic Isotope Geology, Cambridge University Press.
  5. Edwards, R. L. et al. 1993. A large drop in atmospheric 14C/12C and reduced melting in the Younger Dryas, documented with 230Th ages of corals. Science 260: 962-968.
  6. Hughen, K. et al. 2004. 14C activity and global carbon cycle changes over the past 50,000 years. Science 303: 202-207. See also Bard, E., F. Rostek and G. Ménot-Combes. 2004. A better radiocarbon clock. Science 303: 178-179.
  7. Kitagawa, H. and J. van der Plicht. 1998. Atmospheric radiocarbon calibration to 45,000 yr B.P.: Late glacial fluctuations and cosmogenic isotope production. Science 279: 1187-1190. See also Kitagawa, H. and J. van der Plicht, 2000. PE-04. A 45.000 year varve chronology from Japan.

Further Reading:

Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1991. The Age of the Earth. Stanford University Press.

Lowe, J. John, ed., 1991. Radiocarbon dating: Recent applications and future potential. Quaternary Proceedings Number 1, 1991, Published for the Quaternary Research Association, Wiley.
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created 2001-2-18, modified 2006-1-3