Parent to Daughter Radiometric Dating
The 7th grade biology textbook, “Life Science” states on page 138 that scientists, “can accurately determine the age of the rock using radioactive dating methods“. On another page it calls radiometric dates on rocks, “absolute”.
If this is true then why does the scientific journal, “Nature“, (267, 16 June 1977: 649) say, “The accuracy of any age can only be guessed at, in that we do not know the true age of any geological sample.” ?
The answer to that question is that there are a lot of problems underlying the assumptions behind radioactive dating that the textbook is not helping us to understand. All the radioactive dating methods have pretty much the same problems, but since the text mentions the uranium to lead dating method, let’s take a look at some of the assumptions and problems associated with it.
The first assumption is that the rate of decay from the parent element, (in this case Uranium) to the daughter elements or product (in this case lead) is always constant. Has it been? According to Fred Jueneman, (“Industrial research and Development, June “82 p. 21)
“There has been in recent years the horrible realization that radio decay rates are not as constant as previously thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences. And this could mean that the atomic clocks are reset during some global disaster, and events that brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 65 million years old but, rather, within the age and memory of man.”
If atomic clocks could be reset as this and other scientists admit, than the first assumption supporting this dating method is shown to be false. Not only is the idea of accelerated decay becoming more credible, (we’ll look at evidence for this later), but at the very least it would be dishonest to rule out the possibility.
The second assumption is that the entire daughter element (in this case lead) is in fact a product of decay from uranium. However, scientists know that lead can be formed in rock at the time of formation and does not have to be a product of decay. Therefore this second assumption is proven to be false. Since science has no way of telling which lead is a product of decay and which is not, they have no way of knowing the true age of any rock sample unless they were there when it was formed.
A third assumption is that the rock formation in question has remained a closed system. There is no way to know if the rock has remained free from any hydro thermal or other known or unknown processes that can wash parent or daughter elements into or out from the rock. Scientists acknowledge that both parent and daughter elements can be washed into or out of the rock by various processes, thus changing the ratio of uranium to lead being measured. Any judgment about the history of any rock then, is merely assumption, not fact or empirically verifiable, thus far from absolute.
Following is a series of questions with answers being given in quotes from various scientific journals.
Are Radio-isotope Rock Dates Real or Hypothetical?
“There has been in recent years the horrible realization that radio decay rates are not as constant as thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences…and events that brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 65 million years ago, but rather within the age and memory of man.” Jueneman, Industrial Research and Development, 6-82 p.21
“It is obvious that radiometric techniques may not be the absolute dating methods they are claimed to be. Age estimates on a given geological stratum by different radiometric methods are often quite different (sometimes by hundreds of millions of years). There is no absolutely reliable radiological clock.” W. Stansfield Ph.D. The Science of Evolution, p. 84
“No relevant geophysical or paleontological data are free of compromising assumptions and technical difficulties. Agreement among three independent lines of data does not add reliability to the conclusion.” Olsen, et al, American Journal of Science, 282: 1-44 1982
Has over emphasis of radiometric dating become common in school ?
“Subjective and, in many instances, incorrect use of radiometric data has become endemic in the earth science literature. Mathematical analysis of imperfect and in many cases, highly subjective data sets leads to dubious conclusions.” Baski, Geology, 15:147-150, 1990, p.95
Is it obvious when a rock sample has been contaminated?
“It is self-evident that a contaminated sample will give an erroneous date, but it is frequently impossible to ascertain if a sample has indeed been contaminated.” Bradely, Quaternary Paleoclimatology, 1985, p.54
Surely the uranium to lead method is reliable?
“The U-pb and Rb-Sr systems are known to be highly susceptible to resetting by hydrothermal. diagenetic and metamorphic processes.“ Toulkeridis et al. 1998, p. 138
But we must know the “absolute age” of some rocks?
“The accuracy of any age can only be guessed at in that we do not know the true age of any geological sample. “Nature, June 16, 1977 267,649
“The intelligent layman has long suspected circular reasoning in the use of rocks to date fossils and fossils to date rocks.” Rourke, American Journal of Science, vol. 276, Jan. 1976, p.47
Has the age of the Earth been proven?
“It is widely believed that studies of lead isotopes in terrestrial samples provide a well determined age of the Earth (for an excellent review see Dalrymple, 1991.) We show this to be incorrect, even though a roughly accurate answer is sometimes obtained, but is not necessarily at all related to the formation of the Earth,” Harper and Jacobsen, 1996, pp. 113 l-32,Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, (emphasis added)
What are the chances of a rock system remaining free from environmental influences?
” Thirdly, to obtain the age of formation of a rock or mineral, the material must have remained a closed chemical system since its formation…unfortunately, geological environments and materials do not often meet this requirement.” Durrance, 1986, Radio Activity in Geology, p.287
“…the assumption that during the whole life of the rock volume being analyzed, neither the radio-active element nor its decay products have moved into or out of this volume is practically unlikely to be realized in nature at all or, if it is, it occurs only in exceptional cases.” Skobelin 1990 p.25, Sharapov, Bugayov, in Bartokyriakidis p. 17-37 “Deliberations of state and ways of perestroika in Geology”.
How has radio-metric dating fared when compared with rocks of known dates?
The Mt. Saint Helens 1980 eruption gave dates from 50,000 to 2.8 million years.
Mt. Etna basalt known to be 26 years old gave dates of 350,000 my.
The Kilauea Iki basalt, 110 years old, gave an age of 8.5 million. Many more samples could be given.
Almost without exception, when recently formed rocks are dated by radioactive techniques, they give “ages” hundreds of times older than the actual age of the rocks. How then can radio-metric dating be trusted to date rocks of unknown ages, particularly when the great ages they usually give are contradicted by such physical evidences of a young Earth as sea floor sediments, erosion rates of the continents, etc.?