Chemically and Electrically Assisted Nuclear Reactions and YEC

Like most all YEC claims this is 100% bull feces. There was one rather dishonest attempt by YECs to pass off some contaminated coal as having large amount of 14C but nonsense crumpled under the first bit of scientific scrutiny. Keep in mind that if Sal’s ridiculous Creation / Flood story were true all coal everywhere on the entire planet would show large amounts of 14C. It would be trivially easy for any YEC to pick up some coal from anywhere and send it to a reputable radiocarbon lab but that never happens, does it Sal?


A modern AMS C-14 analyzer is not some dusty bench top apparatus the gets flicked on for occasional use. A dating facility is staffed by scientists and technicians who pretty much do nothing else and are going at it full time. It is a specialty in its own right, complete with association, journal, and conferences. So if it comes to their word against someone who “examined this in detail”, I will agree with the pros. And that is - there exists a baseline threshold of analytical signal beyond which no information can be determined. Contamination can never be ruled out. There is C14 in your lungs right now. It is entrained in groundwater. It is fresh in the bacteria in the ground. It is smeared and smudged everywhere from the sample extraction to point of preparation in the clean room. In the analyzer. In minuscule amounts, yes, but it is there as a limiting factor.

Then you have the calibration of the machine itself. Remember analytical chemistry lab. If you had the knack for killing the unknown molarity, congratulations. Instruments all have sensitivity limits. With C14 these correlate to a useful age estimation of 50,000 years, maybe 60,000 years or so with ideal conditions and larger error bars. No reputable lab is going to date to millions of years.

There are extensive and expanding catalogs of benchmark C14 dates against a large range of historical artifact cross checks, Antarctica and Greenland ice cores, and sediment varves, to refine the curve to reflect atmospheric variation of C14. This is way beyond demonstrating the principle - that is long in the bag - this is about the continuous process of narrowing the error bars and sharpening the resolution.

Of Course, the 60,000 years which is accessible is still an order of magnitude more than allowed under YEC, so everything which has carbon but is beyond that range has to be even older. It can be hundreds of thousands of years older, millions of years older, or as old as time. It is what we can C14 date, as well as what we cannot, that presents an intractable problem to the young earth worldview. That C14 dating works is not what some evolution addled biologist is of the opinion it works. It works because the laws of physics demand so, and large compliments of competent scientists have developed the craft and skills required to exploit these laws and obtain reliable results.


Oh boy, the good old “carbon 14 in ancient coals and diamonds” canard raises its head again.

It’s contamination, it’s as simple as that. YECs love to dismiss contamination as a “rescuing device” here, but it doesn’t work like that. Contamination is a systematic error. It is the null hypothesis. The burden of proof is on YECs to rule it out, especially since the reported levels are consistent with known, measured and well studied contamination vectors.

This is nothing whatsoever to do with “atheistic assumptions” or “materialistic rescuing devices” or anything else like that. Contamination is the null hypothesis in every area of science. To insist that contamination be hand-waved away as a “rescuing device” here is to demand that young-earth studies be granted a free pass with lower standards of rigour and quality control than everybody else. In some areas of science, if you dismissed contamination as a “rescuing device,” you would kill people.


You will of course understand that if the coal is 6000 years old, all the coal and oil everywhere should contain significant amounts of C14 - a lot more than what has been detected in the reports. It doesn’t. Tell me, why does that not right there disprove the YEC hypothesis of a 6000 years old Earth?

The reasons that some C14 has been detected (in low amounts) in some coal and oil is under investigation. Various explanations have already been offered. None of them seem unreasonable. Personally I am inclined to accept the in-situ generation model. Contamination can not be ruled out but I would think that more of an occasional source than the norm. Radiocarbon labs are pretty scrupulous places.

On the other hand, I have shown you several isochrons here, and as you know, I could show you a different isochron every day, day after day, and never run out. You haven’t even attempted an explanation for the fit of the data points. Why don’t you respond? Don’t you have a reasonable explanation?


Yes, but lightning!

Here is another nice moon basalt dating result:


This shows the isochrons of two different dating methods of the same sample, Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr. Not only do the two methods each yield very good isochrons, but the resulting ages are identical within their respective uncertainty ranges.

So here we have double consilience. Note that the Rb-Sr half life is about 48 Billion years, and the Sm-Nd half life is more than twice that, about 106 Billion years. Even if there was something causing a change in these decay rates (never demonstrated, apart from very small changes under some highly exceptional conditions that don’t occur on the surface of the Moon), it would have to be something that changes each rate in a different but highly specific way so that the results still give the same age. Remember, at the time of formation of the rock the points would all lie on a horizontal line in each plot. Over time, because of the decay, the points move whilst preserving their alignment.

(Figure from here , modified from here. )

ETA: This is the sample (approx. 4 cm across) (more info here)

What do you make of that, Sal?


There is also the classic essay written by Brent Dalrymple in which Dalrymple discusses the radiometric dating of K-T tektites found at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary (i.e. the K/T extinction event). Darlrymple describes it better than I ever could:

So that’s consilience between 3 different methods, including isochrons and discordia/condcordia.


We have known that radiometric dating works for over half a century now. These measurements don’t come cheap, thousands of dollars each. Why would research institutes waste their precious funds on techniques that don’t work?

Regarding one form of “contamination”, I developed the following with some pointers from YEC Nuclear Chemist J. Wile, PhD. Corrections welcome.

There are various reaction mechanisms to create C14. The main one involves Nitrogen in the atmosphere.

An alternative involves C13 acquiring a neutron from some source to become C14.

Some claim all we need is a little Uranium, or some other radio active substance. This thread attempts to critically refute some, but not all, of those claim.

But first from this secular peer-reviewed paper (that was referenced in TalkOrigins):

Problems associated with the use of coal as a source of (super 14) C-free background material. | Lowe | Radiocarbon

Many (super 14) C dating laboratories have established that coal samples exhibit a finite (super 14) C age, apparently caused by contamination of the specimens before any laboratory preparation is undertaken.

The bacterial or microbe contamination issue that the paper proposes has it’s flaws too! But more on that perhaps another time…

An estimate of the outer limit of the amount of C14 created by Uranium converting C13 to C14 in the geological record can be made on generous assumptions.

The spontaneous fission rate and neutron release rate is reported here:

For Uranium (mostly U238 where U235 rate negligible),

0.0136 Neutrons per gram per second

If we make the absurdly generous assumption that all neutrons released are thermal (aka, slow enough to be captured by C13), and the absurdly generous assumption that all neutrons find a C13 target (rather than just going through the whole carbon sample altogether), we can frame the reaction generation rate.

Approximately 1 gram of carbon has this many atoms. Using Avogadro’s number and the approximate atomic mass of Carbon.

6.021023/ 12 = 5 x 1022

number C14 atoms in typical 1 gram sample:

1.5x10^-12 * 5 x 10^22 = 7.5 * 10^10 atoms / gram

Converting only C13 to C14 at a rate of .0136 atoms per second creates over 5730 years (the half-life of C14):

at best

5730 * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day * 3600 seconds/hour *.0136 neutrons/gram/second = 2.4 x 10^9 C14 atoms /gram

AT best

(2.4 x 109) / ( 7.5 * 10^10 ) ~= 3% of modern carbon

But that assumes 1 gram Uranium per 1 gram carbon! Even a generous assumption of 0.1% Uranium and 99.9% carbon would be about 0.003% typical modern carbon. And this doesn’t even factor in the probability of neutrons hitting C13, or the probability the neutrons are thermal (capturable speed).

This figure parallels a claim in the paper in the link above with an alternate radiation source:

One suggestion is that radium, which is present in some coals at the sub pm level, as a decay product of the uranium/thorium series, may produce 4C during an extremely rare decay event (Rose & Jones, 1984). Jull,Barker and Donahue (1987) have detected 14C from this process in uranium/ thorium ores. Blendowski, Fliessbach and Walliser (1987) however, have shown that the 14( decay mode of 226Ra is only of the order of 10-11 of the preferred a decay channel to 222Rn. Thus, the amount of 14C produced by such events derived from radium in coal must be considered as insignificant.

Sal, you have been ignoring the thousands of consilient isochrones for days now. When will you deign them worth a reply?


Here is the rest of the paper’s abstract which Sal “accidentally” cut off: highlighting mine.

Many (super 14) C dating laboratories have established that coal samples exhibit a finite (super 14) C age, apparently caused by contamination of the specimens before any laboratory preparation is undertaken. In this work, the possibility that the contamination is due to microbial and fungal activity in the coal substrate is considered and some suggestions are made for alternative sources of background test materials for (super 14) C dating laboratories. Initial results indicate that geologically formed graphites contain little (super 14) C and are likely to be good background test materials, especially in (super 14) C AMS laboratories

Amazing that Sal’s computer always manages to erase the passages which directly contradict his YEC claims. :slightly_smiling_face:

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First correction: J Wile is not a Nuclear Chemist. He is a homeschooling textbook writer with a PhD in nuclear chemistry.

Second correction: that ratio is a figment of your imagination. You have no business teaching anyone about anything.


Sal? Sal? I wonder why the sudden cold feet.

He also ignores in situ 14N, 17O, and 11B, all of which can capture either neutrons or alpha particles(in the case of 11B) and produce 14C.

As well as radioactive elements other than uranium.

Indeed. I’ve read some of Wile’s materials. Sobering.

Yes. What has amazed me about the Wile homeschooling materials I’ve read is that you only need a little high school physics background to notice the many problems.

I feel the criticisms of my position are pretty good here in this discussion. I will present this thread to my YEC/YLC creation study group.

Thanks to all who participated so far.

But will you think about it and abandon and stop teaching all your claims that have been shown to be wrong? That would be the truly proper course of action.

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Got my threads confused. Ignore this post. Will delete later.

You have not shown my claims to be unequivocally wrong any more than I’ve shown your claims to be unequivocally wrong. We’re making evaluations based on incomplete knowledge. You have your faith in what’s the right answer is, and I have my faith in what the right answer is. We could be totally agnostic in the face of incomplete knowledge, but that’s rare.

I wouldn’t bet my soul on you being right, John. What’s there for Christians in my study to lose if I’m wrong. I’ll at least have leveled with them and exposed them to the other side of the argument, some of which I think are pretty good criticism.

I can’t say the same, however for abiogenesis theory or many facets of evolutionary theory nor the Big Bang or evolution of the solar system. For me to represent those as good theories would bother my conscience, especially abiogenesis theory.