Recall that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter.Atoms are made up of much smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.
It cannot be used directly to date rocks; however, it can potentially be used to put time constraints on some inorganic material such as diamonds (diamonds could contain carbon-14). Cosmic rays from outer space, which contain high levels of energy, bombard the earth’s upper atmosphere.
These cosmic rays collide with atoms in the atmosphere and can cause them to come apart.
Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.
Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.
Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.
Many people have been led to believe that radiometric dating methods have proved the earth to be billions of years old.
For example, all carbon atoms have 6 protons, all atoms of nitrogen have 7 protons, and all oxygen atoms have 8 protons.
The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary in any given type of atom.
This has caused many in the church to reevaluate the biblical creation account, specifically the meaning of the word “day” in Genesis 1.
With our focus on one particular form of radiometric dating—carbon dating—we will see that carbon dating strongly supports a young earth.
(The electrons are so much lighter that they do not contribute significantly to the mass of an atom.) C), also referred to as radiocarbon, is claimed to be a reliable dating method for determining the age of fossils up to 50,000 to 60,000 years.