The God Delusion 2

Faith, in the religious usage, is defined as a "belief that is not based on proof." The very nature of faith makes a true theological debate impossible, but that doesn't seem to keep either side from giving it the old college try.

I was browsing an Evangelical website the other day and was surprised to find a section on radiocarbon dating. It began with a question: Why does the modern-day method of carbon dating along with the fossil record seem to contradict the bible? Being a question I myself ask repeatedly, I read the answer:

The simple fact is - it doesn't. So many inaccuracies with radiocarbon dating have been discovered that it is a wonder they still use it. I once heard of a trick played on scientists by some anti evolutionists. The scientists subsequently dated a piece of LIVE coral as 14,000 years old.

Ah yes, nothing like uncited anecdotal evidence to convince the wary! It's a wonder anyone still uses science at all! Aside from the fact that "live coral" are composed of myriad squishy polyps[1] that would be quite impossible to confuse for testable fossils, the short halflife of carbon-14 makes measurements accurate to within about a decade going back upwards of 26,000 years[2]. While this wouldn't be of much use pinning down the precise age of some Triassic sediment, it certainly proves the Biblical age of the earth is more than four times too small.

Incidentally the joker outside the pizza parlor also brought up radiocarbon dating, to which I quipped that I preferred the independently verifiable calculations from argon-argon radiometric dating[3]. His face twisted a little, but he was quick to counter that God was merely testing my faith.

Oh, Him again.