Can We Trust Those Carbon 14 Dates?
Many creation supporters are Christians that are also interested in ancient history and like to read about the latest archaeological discoveries. However, they are concerned when, say, some very ancient remains are carbon-14 dated at forty or even fifty thousand years old. According to the Bible, the Creation itself is no more than 10,000 years old, so how does the Bible-believing Christian handle this kind of information? To assure ourselves, we need to lift the cloak of secrecy about carbon-14 dating.
Willard Libby developed the carbon-14 dating method in 1947. This was considered such a major breakthrough that he received the Nobel Prize a few years later. However, like every other method of measurement, the method itself had to be calibrated against things of historically dated and known age. Libby used wooden coffin lids and for the earliest dates was obliged to use historically dated material from Egypt. Libby reported in a footnote that the Egyptologist had confessed that Egyptian dating is “perhaps five centuries too old at five thousand years.” This one little footnote reveals that if Egyptian dates were honestly brought forward by five hundred years, they would confirm the biblical Exodus. Secondly, any ages greater than about 5,000 years are beyond the range of historical calibration. The bottom line is that the carbon-14 method does have several serious and recognized problems beyond about 2,000 years.