Define “Unreliable”

Given the opportunity, no Young Earth Creationist will resist a chance to attack the reliability of radioisotope dating. Certainly not the ICR’s Brian Thomas, who today tells us that Fluctuations Show Radioisotope Decay Is Unreliable.Halflife sim from wikipedia

A few years ago it was shown in a study that the rate of decay of radioactive material fluctuates slightly between the seasons. since then, this has been confirmed a couple of times, the most recent time in a lead-lined container to minimise environmental effects. Naturally, the creationists are crowing. However, they don’t cover everything.

For starters, this effect is tiny. It’s literally a case of it being so small we couldn’t have detected it before. And it cancels itself out – the increase in one season is balanced by a decrease in another.

The amount of inaccuracy this could bring into the dating methods is not nearly enough to allow in a young earth. It is also speculated that the sun’s gravity causes the rate to change. However, as the rate is increased when we are further from the sun, according to the ICR article (I can’t find an external source for that). This is the wrong direction for the creationists – if it were the opposite, you could argue for some kind of god-created gravity well, but you can’t really have less easily…

And we already knew that radon, the substance used, was a bit erratic.

All this does nothing to counter the fact that radioisotope decay matches up with everything else we have. It is not from it that we derive the ultimate age of the universe, yet it doesn’t exactly contradict it. If I had more time I would research some of the other things they mention in a 2004 article of theirs they cite, but I bet I’ll be back here soon enough…

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3 thoughts on “Define “Unreliable”

  1. it’s funny when creationists think “A-ha, gotcha”

    when it’s nothing secret or unknown or explainable or already accounted for

    if they bothered to actually understand and learn science, they wouldn’t constantly end up tripping over themselves when they get egg on their faces

  2. Pingback: Interpret the Evidence (So It Matches Your Pre-Existing Beliefs) « Eye on the ICR

  3. Pingback: Erosion on a Biblical Scale « Eye on the ICR

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