Has YEC ever attempted to address the consilience of carbon dating?

In another thread @thoughful stated:

I did not wish to change the focus of that conversation, but in my travels I have not ever read a YEC article which addresses the consilience of 14C dating. Carbon dating correlates with tree ring counts, varves, ice cores, synchronization signals from solar flares and volcanic eruptions, archaeology, and more. If for any reason carbon dating ages are skewed, a common factor which influences all these other correlations must be in lockstep. Trees would sport dozens of annual rings per year, lake varves would reveal more seasons, freezing episodes in summer and pollen blooms in winter, and these trends would all have to match up exactly with the alteration of 14C results. That all requires some explanation as to why such unrelated phenomena changes stride at the same pace.

The mainstream science around carbon dating is just hunky dory with all this unrelated data correlating with 14C. Everything matches up with observational science. One decade on the 14C calibration curves matches up with ten annual rings - count 'em, ten varves - count 'em. There is no problem and thus no solution required. These annual events work together. It is YEC which has issues with the coordination of dating methods. So while there is no end of YEC articles perjuring themselves to divide and conquer 14C dating, dendrochronology, and varves separately, I have never seen a proposal for why all the dating methods would shift in the same way, to the same degree, at the same time, paced to be perfectly synchronized. Given this, YEC never has in fact actually advanced or attempted a scientific idea which demonstrates that the consilience of dating is unreliable. This goes beyond an assertion that such an idea has been put forward, but it is wrong. YEC has never even placed an entry, no matter how absurd or otherwise, to that discussion.


I think we’ve established that science is irrelevant. If it contradicts the bible, or one’s interpretation of the bible, it’s wrong. I’m not going to look through your damn telescope.


The only attempts I’ve ever seen have been to hand-wave the consilience away as “all making the same assumption of uniformitarianism.”

This is, of course, hogwash, for the very reasons that you’ve stated. Consilience is not an assumption of uniformitarianism; it is a test of assumptions of uniformitarianism. Tests of assumptions are not assumptions themselves.


In my own reading, YEC deal with this in exactly the same way that they do with the consilience between, say, the palaeontological sequence and what is required by the standard evolutionary account. Strata are out of order at overthrusts, there are or conceivably could be two varves in a single year, in a year of extreme drought a tree ring may fail to form, therefore the methods are unreliable and cannot be appealed to, just as we cannot trust a witness who has been caught lying. This goes along with a binary view of reality, justified by invoking what Popper said in the 1930s, and discards any arguments in favour of messy reality out of hand.
Once you have established that the testimony is fallible, it cannot be relied on, and consilience is irrelevant, just as the areas of agreement between two dishonest witnesses are unlikely to convince a court.


The problem for this account is that measurements don’t lie. Measurements can be wrong, but they don’t lie.

What YEC’s have consistently failed to do is explain how very different natural systems can all be wrong in exactly the same way. If we had an innacurate digital watch, an inaccurate analog watch, and an inaccurate hourglass we wouldn’t expect them to all be wrong by the same exact amount. To be more specific, why would a tree ring series in Europe, varve data in Japan, and speleothem data in North America all agree with each other?


I don’t disagree. All I’m saying is that YECs avoid the consilience problem because they regard each member of the consilience as defective and thus refuted, do not distinguish between major and minor uncertainties because EITHER a method is reliable OR it isn’t (absolutism), and brush away the argument that it beggars belief for different methods to nonetheless agree if their defects are serious, since they have already dismissed each indivdual method as devoid of merit. I am attemting to describe, diagnose if you like, not to justify


I haven’t read the papers referenced within this link yet, but it was on my agenda. It looks like they would say the data looks like it is synchronized because it has been sychronized. Tree Rings, Varves, and the Age of the Earth: An Update | The Institute for Creation Research

When I went researching on my own about varves two years ago, I hadn’t really searched creationist websites are that point. I went looking for the papers on Lake Suigetsu, and they explained for the oldest cores, they pulled 3 because getting one core wasn’t possible; they matched them up and did not hand count the varves, but used carbon dating to confirm.

You say that as if it’s an objection to the validity of the dates. Why?

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Not quite. Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth responded to this and other aspersions on the Lake Suigetsu data in this update of the original article.

Collecting more than one core allowed Suigetsu researchers to compare the number of varves counted between event markers in cores collected from different locations. For example, an obvious ash layer and an underlying flood layer found in one core could be easily identified at approximately the same depths in another core, and the number of varves counted between the event markers. If they come out the same, confidence is greater that the varve layers represent annual deposition over the whole lake. Youngearth writers latch on to any differences as evidence that the layering is discontinuous and untrustworthy for estimating age, without informing readers of the evidence provided that either explains differences, or that demonstrates that differences are exceedingly small. Outdated studies may also be cited in which discrepancies between cores were reported, without letting readers know that more recent studies with better sampling controls and analytical methods show minimal discrepancies. For example, Hebert et al. (2016) discussed mismatches on varve counts from the SG93 cores from Lake Suigetsu published in 1995, but not the work from the new cores and analyses with much better controls and results published in 2012 and 2013.35 But even if there is some error in the count, or if some of the couplets do not cover the entire lake bottom, the fact remains that there are tens of thousands of these layers, with carbon-14 contents that decline as expected if those tens of thousands of layers represent tens of thousands of years.

@Joel_Duff also writes of Lake Suigetsu in this article from his web site: A 60,000 Year Varve Record from Japan Refutes the Young-Earth Interpretation of Earth’s History

The Suigetsu cores also include volcanic tephra layers which synchronize with other records. I have not had time to delve into this paper, but it looks interesting: Identification and correlation of visible tephras in the Lake Suigetsu SG06 sedimentary archive, Japan: chronostratigraphic markers for synchronising of east Asian/west Pacific palaeoclimatic records across the last 150 ka


Probably the link I went to. I don’t recall exactly which I read. Suigetsu - Publications if you want me to find it, it won’t be tonight.

There are dozens of publications in that list. I’m particularly after a citation for your claim that “they matched them up and did not hand count the varves, but used carbon dating to confirm”, as this would seem to be a very odd claim – as counting them (analysing them, etc) would seem to be the whole point.


It’s fairly standard practice, when there are a lot of varves, to count the number in particular bits of the core and estimate others based on thickness.

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I can’t access the more important papers on that site, though my recollection is that I read one in the past.

Apologies. I misunderstood how they were using carbon dating (not for counting, but for calibration). http://www.suigetsu.org/radiocarbon.html

Relevant to counting:

Yes, but that would not be the case where the consilience between varves and other dating measures is what is under consideration. Which makes context, and what the varves are being used for an issue – continuing to make important a citation to give that context.

If parts of the varves were not counted in a study that had nothing to do with testing consilience, then the failure to count them would not in any way cast doubt on the reliability of that consilience.

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(Sorry for pasting a pic of the text – the source wouldn’t let me copy the text.)

This is something I’ve been thinking might be the case since I saw Valerie’s original comment, which specifically mentioned “manual counting” – that they might be using non-manual counting techniques for higher accuracy – it turns out that they use a combination of both to improve the accuracy.


It is possible to check out actual thin sections of the three 2006 (SG06) Lake Suigetsu varves cores for yourself. The Fukui Prefecture Varve Museum has a beautiful backlight public display.

Subsequent coring expeditions took place in 2012 (SG12) and 2014 SG14). This is an interesting popular level feature article which gives an idea of the field and lab work - Counting 70,000 Layers of Lacustrine Sediment to Obtain a Calibration Curve for Radiocarbon Dating.

CORRECTION: Four (not three) bore holes were extracted for SG06
SG06, a fully continuous and varved sediment core from Lake Suigetsu, Japan

In the summer of 2006, a new sediment core (‘SG06’) was recovered from the lake. Four separate boreholes were drilled and the parallel sets of cores recovered were found to overlap completely, without gaps between segments.

A Complete Terrestrial Radiocarbon Record for 11.2 to 52.8 kyr B.P

The SG06 core-set recovered in 2006 consists of four parallel cores that together avoid any such sedimentary gaps (4). Here, we report 651 14C measurements covering the period between 11.2 and 52.8 thousand years before the present (kyr B.P.) tied to a time scale derived from varve counting and temporal constraints from other records.


And yet YEC’s will ignore all this methodological rigor and continue to insist it is reasonable to believe the earth is only 6000 years old. Just watch.


If scientific findings don’t fit their interpretation of scripture, to the trash bin it goes. Its a shame, really. Not surprisingly, the same attitude - resistance to overwhelmingly contradictory evidence - is found among antivaxxers, climate change deniers, etcetera.


Here is the most detailed YEC response to the challenge represented by the Davidson and Wolgemuth paper concerning the consilience of data against the young earth chronology, authored by Jake Hebert and Timothy L. Clarey of ICR, and Andrew A. Snelling, Director of what passes for Research at AiG. There is much wrong with this paper, but I will lead with their conclusion…

Do Varves, Tree-Rings, and Radiocarbon Measurements Prove an Old Earth?

None of these dating methods are truly independent and thus objective. They are inter-calibrated and adjusted to agree because of the assumption they are supposed to agree, due to the assumed uniformity of geologic and physical processes that willfully ignores the evidence for the global Flood cataclysm and its aftermath. The 50,000 annual varves were never visually counted and only represent 50,000 years because they were “dated” as such using crosscalibrated, adjusted-to-agree, dating methods based on assumptions built on the foundation of assumed deep time.

This statement is directly contradicted in the relevant studies. The varves were counted. They were painstakingly counted, visually by optical microscope, and correlated with a manual review of x-ray instrumentation. Among other pertinent references are:

The multiple chronological techniques applied to the Lake Suigetsu SG06 sediment core, central Japan

Varve counting of SG06 is being undertaken by two complementary methods. The first is a more traditional approach, applying manual counting of laminae from thin sections under a high-powered optical microscope

Integration of the Old and New Lake Suigetsu (Japan) Terrestrial Radiocarbon Calibration Data Sets

Over 550 14C determinations have been obtained from terrestrial plant macrofossils picked from SG06, which have been coupled with the core’s improved, independent varve chronology (produced through the integration of 2 complementary counting techniques.)

So staff scientists of two principal YEC organizations authored a extended response which they published in what they hold to be a creationist peer reviewed technical level journal, and there promulgated such an egregious misrepresentation. This is not merely a difference in interpretation, looking at data with a creationist lens. Nor is that statement some sort of selective half truth. The charge that the varves were left uncounted constitutes culpable false witness.

Did they really think it credible that researchers would undertake this major expenditure of funding and effort and just not bother with the point of the entire exercise? Of course, to calibrate the varve record to the 14C curve, and then calibrate the 14C curve to the varve record would be circular. That is why scientists were not so dense as to do that. There may be instances where iterative dating techniques are useful, but in this case the varve count fulfills the criteria of a fully independent calibration.