Is Radiometric Dating Accurate?

Is Radimetric Dating accurate

There are at least 67 different uniformitarian (the present is the key to the past) methods of dating the earth other than long-age radiometric dating: each of which yield ages of less than 500 million years. 1  Of these other methods, 44 yield maximum ages of less than one million years and 23 others yield (max) ages of one million to 500 million years.1  Yet all these other science-based methods that point to a much younger age than 4.5 billion years for earth’s age are ignored or rejected by evolution-believing people with degrees from college who apparently think that nobody (of importance) made them. 

These same people say that science is important. Yet when asked why they reject all but the oldest science-based dating methods, the answer often given is that (they think) long-age radiometric dating is more reliable and that science settled the matter of the earth’s age many years ago.  

What is less commonly known are any of the details of how the issue was settled: such as that the 4.5 billion year ‘date’ came from a single meteorite that was assumed to be the same age as the earth’s core.  And since this favored ‘date’ is the only one that’s trumpeted by the media it is the only date that many assume to be correct. 

There are many ways to keep track of time, the most reliable of which is to use actual records such as counting hours, days, weeks, and years.  However, when we speak of the distant past, there are no historical records and thus no verifiable way to prove that a certain ‘date’ is correct.  In many cases it is quite difficult to prove whether one method is superior to another: and in this regard, the only way of doing so is to closely examine how each method works and try to find fault with it.

In regard to the radiometric dating of rocks, it is known that various different radiometric methods often yield quite discordant dates for the same rock, thus proving that they cannot all be correct.  In this regard, pro-evolution scientists are very selective about which dates they accept and which ones they reject: such as any date that is contrary to the Geological Time Chart — to which all radiometric dates must fall in line with. 

In this regard it should also be pointed out that for the theory of life from non-life, and/or from amoeba to jellyfish, to man to have any chance at all of being true, then the earth must be very old.  Therefore, if a scientist has strong beliefs about this topic, he or she will tend to be biased against any evidence that contradicts their beliefs with regard to the earth’s reported age: of 4.5 billion years.  For example, the 67 (+) other methods of dating the earth, solar system, and/or universe.

With the exception of Carbon-14, radiometric dating is used to date either igneous or metamorphic rocks that contain radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium, argon, etc. And even though various radioactive elements have been used to ‘date’ such rocks, for the most part, the methods are the same.  They consist of measuring the amount of radiometric (mother) element and comparing it to the amount of stable (daughter) element. A discussion of the Uranium/Lead method follows.

Read more about the the Carbon-14 method to date dinosaur bones and its shortcomings in providing accurate results.

Uranium is radioactive, which means it is in the process of changing from an unstable element into a stable one.  The most common form is uranium-238.  It has a half-life of about 4.5 billion years.  This means that if you had some pure uranium-238 with no lead, that 4.5 billion years later, one half of it would have decayed into its stable daughter product (lead-206).  And after 9 billion years 75% of it would be lead and 25% uranium, and so on.  Few people realize it but all radiometric methods required at least three assumptions.  These are:

  1. The rate of decay has remained constant throughout the past.
  2. The original amount of both mother and daughter elements is known.
  3. The sample has remained in a closed system.

Constant Decay Rate:  

 For years it was assumed that decay rates from mother to daughter element was constant.  However, this is no longer the case, since there is now:

“… confirmatory evidence that … (an) episode of drastically accelerated decay has … (taken place with regard to) … Dr. Robert Gentry…  (and his work) on helium retention in zircons. The  landmark … paper, … can be summarized as follows:

When uranium decays to lead, a by-product of this process is … helium, a very light, inert gas, which readily escapes from rock.

  • Certain crystals called zircons, obtained from drilling into very deep granites, contain uranium which has partly decayed into lead.
  • By measuring the amount of uranium and ‘radiogenic lead’ in these crystals, one can calculate that, if the decay rate has been constant, about 1.5 billion years must have passed. (This is consistent with the geologic ‘age’ assigned to the granites in which these zircons are found.)
  • However, there is a significant proportion of helium from that ‘1.5 billion years of decay’ still inside the zircons. This … (was) … surprising for long-agers, because of the ease with which one would expect helium (with its tiny, light, unreactive atoms) to escape from the spaces within the crystal structure. There should surely be hardly any (helium) left, because with such a slow buildup, it should be seeping out continually and not accumulating.
  • Drawing any conclusions from the above (depended) … on actually measuring the rate at which helium leaks out of zircons. This is what one of the RATE papers reports on. The samples were sent (without any hint that it was a creationist project) to a world-class expert on helium diffusion from minerals to measure these rates. The consistent answer: the helium does indeed seep out quickly over a wide range of temperatures. In fact, the results show that because of all the helium still in the zircons, these crystals (and since this is Precambrian basement granite, by implication the whole earth) could not be older than 14,000 years. In other words, in only a few thousand years, 1.5 billion years’ worth (at today’s rates) of radioactive decay has taken place. Interestingly, the data have since been refined … to give a date of 5,680 (± 2,000) years. 2

In other words, something in the past caused a significant amount of helium to build up inside these zircons (such as from a rapid decay episode of uranium), yet, in spite of the fact that helium has been observed to leak out readily from these zircons, it has not done so: simply because it hasn’t had enough time to do so — suggesting that the zircons themselves are only a few thousand years old.

An interview with one of the scientists who discovered this can be found here.

Another paper on this subject states that:

“There is evidence to show … that (the) half-lives (of uranium-thorium-lead) are not constant but vary with time. This … comes from the study of pleochroic haloes which form in a rock in the following way. When a rock crystallises, the crystals of the minerals in the rock often enclose minute grains of other minerals which contain uranium and thorium. Now when the uranium or thorium disintegrates, the alpha particles which are emitted are slowed down by the crystals in which the grains of the uranium- or thorium-bearing minerals are embedded. Where these alpha particles finally stop, crystal deformation occurs (and) shows up as a discolouration or a darkening of the crystals. When the crystal is looked at under a microscope, these discolourations appear as dark rings—hence the name “pleochroic halo”. Now the magnitude of the radius of a pleochroic halo in a particular mineral depends on the amount of energy that the alpha particle has … (which) … depends on the half-life of the particular decay responsible for this alpha particle emission. In other words, the magnitude of the radius of a pleochroic halo in a particular crystal depends on the half-life of the decay responsible for the alpha particle emission. Now if … the radii of pleochroic haloes corresponding to a definite decay in a particular mineral are … (the same) size, then it can be safely assumed that the half-life of that decay is a constant. If, on the other hand, it is found that the radii vary, then this is proof that the half-life of that decay is not constant. 3 

“It has been found that the radii of pleochroic haloes due to the uranium and thorium radioactive decays do in fact vary in size in the same minerals 2,3,4,. This was first shown by Joly and Henderson who conducted most of the early studies on pleochroic haloes. This proves that the half-lives of the uranium and thorium radioactive decays vary … (and thus) … any age determination using this method of dating will be inaccurate because it is based on an invalid assumption.” 3

And yet another article asks: 

 ” … can we be sure the U and Th have always decayed at the same rates we measure today? No!  …  In fact … We have solid evidence that radioactive decay rates cannot have been constant. For example, discordant dates have been obtained on the same rocks by the different radioisotope methods. Discordant dates have been derived from helium diffusion and U-Pb dates on the same zircon crystals. Coexistent U and Po radiohalos argue against perpetual uniformity of decay rates. So do grossly discordant radiocarbon and radioisotope dates.4 Given ample evidence observable in the present that decay rates have not been constant throughout the supposed “deep time,” it is not reasonable to assume they have been uniform through unobservable eons. 4

Original Amounts Known: 

 The second assumption is much more speculative since there is no way to verify whether or not some (or most) of the daughter element was already present when the rock solidified. Therefore, a guess must be made. However, in some cases, a few scientists are telling us that they have solved this problem.

For example, with the uranium/lead method scientists have attempted to estimate what the original ratio (of uranium-238 to lead-206) was when the Earth formed. To do this they have selected a certain meteorite, which contained various types of lead (including lead 204, 206, 207 and 208) but no uranium, and they have assumed that this ratio is equivalent to the earth’s original lead ratio. They did this because it is almost certain that these lead isotopes were all present in large quantities when the earth was created. This is because “common” lead contains both radiogenic (lead 206, 207 and 208) and non-radiogenic lead (204) but it does not contain any uranium. In fact, about 98% of common lead is “radiogenic” (containing lead 206, 207, 208) and only 2% non-radiogenic. 5,6,7,8,9

A Closed System: 

 The third assumption is that the sample has remained in a closed system.  This is necessary due to outside influences such as heat and groundwater that can seriously alter the original material. And since the earth is not a closed system, these last two assumptions make radiometric dating highly subjective and questionable.

For example, if a rock sample was below the water table at any time, leaching would take place.  For Uranium/Lead dating this means that some of the uranium that was initially present would be “leached” out of the rock.  Leaching can also cause uranium to be leached into rocks that have little or no uranium in them.  Therefore, in virtually every case, scientists do not know what the original condition of the rock was; and, even if they did know, they don’t any more due to heat contamination, mixing, and leaching. This is discussed in detail by Dr. Snelling in an article on this topic.7

Note: As for the few cases where scientists do know what the “original” condition (or date of eruption) was, they still have not been able to come up with the correct “date” for the age of the rock without all sorts of fancy footwork and massaging of data. That’s because radiometric dating (with the exception of Carbon 14) is almost always performed on igneous rocks (i.e. those that were once in a molten state).  Also because, when different substances are in a liquid state, something  known as mixing almost always takes place: meaning that whenever a liquid (or molten) rock is erupted out of the earth, both the mother and daughter elements will be “mixed” together, thus making it virtually impossible to determine the time that an eruption took place.

The shortcomings of the radiometric dating method is one of many indications that our earth is only a maximum of 10,000 years old and was created by God.

Heat Contamination:

 Another problem that calls into question the credibility of radiometric dating is heat contamination. For example, In 1973, in Alberta, Canada (near the town of Grand Prairie) a high voltage line fell which caused nearby tree roots to fossilize almost instantly. When scientists at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan were asked what the results would be if these roots were dated by Potassium Argon method. Their response was that the results:

“Would be meaningless; it would indicate an age of millions of years Because Heat was Involved in the petrification process.” Mysteries of Creation by Dennis Petersen, p. 47.

Two well-documented examples of “heat contamination” are the 1800 and 1801 eruptions from two Hawaiian volcanoes. Although these eruptions were less than 200 years old, the radiometric “dates” obtained from them were 140 million to 2.96 billion years for one, and from 0 to 29 million years for the other — depending upon the (ocean) depth at which the lava sample was obtained. This is documented in Table 1 below.

This also brings up an important question:

 If radiometric dating methods are unable to produce the correct date in cases where the actual date of eruption is known, why should we believe that these same methods can produce accurate dates when the date of eruption is unknown?

The point is simply this: radiometric dating is known to produce grossly erroneous dates when heat is involved in the formation or fossilization process. And since the only rocks which yield ages in excess of 100,000 years are of volcanic origin, this method of dating the earth is not based on science, but rather speculation and subjective reasoning.  Unfortunately, the public is rarely informed of these facts.  The bottom line is that there are only two ways to verify whether or not radiometric dating methods have any credibility at all. These are:

  1. To compare the results with known dates based on historical and/or archeological data,
  2. To cross-check the results with one or more different methods of radiometric dating.

The following tables illustrate the highly questionable, if not totally unreliable, nature of the radiometric methods that are currently in use or have been used in the past to “date” volcanic materials.

Table 1:  A comparison between rocks of known age Vs radiometric “age.”

Rock Sample, Place of OriginKnown Age from historical or archaeological dataRock “Age” by radiometric datingMethod used
Sunset Crater, Arizona (10)1,900 yrs210K – 230K yrsK/Ar
Russian Volcano (11)24,000 yrs50 m.-14.6 b. yrsK/Ar
Mt Rangitoto, New Zealand (12)3,300 yrs485,000 yrsK/Ar
Vulcan’s Throne,  Grand Canyon (13)10,000 yrs max.114K – 120K yrsK/Ar
Hualalai Volcano,  Hawaii (14,15,16)200 yrs140 m.- 670 m. yrs K/Ar
Hualalai Volcano,  Hawaii (14,15,16)200 yrs160 m.- 2.96 b. yrs K/Ar
*Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii (17)200 yrs0 yrs at 1400 meters depthK/Ar
*Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii (17)200 yrs10-14 m.y. at 3420 meters depthK/Ar
*Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii (17)200 yrs13-29 m.y. at 4680 meters depthK/Ar

Note: Where abbreviations are used: b. = billion; and m. = million.

* The depth here refers to the depth below the surface of the water, since this volcano produced a lava flow that  flowed down the mountain and  into the ocean.

Table 2:  A comparison between different methods of dating rocks of unknown age.

Rock Sample,
Place of Origin
Known Age from Historical or 
Archeological Data
Rocks “Age” by
Radiometric Dating 
Method Used
Salt Lake Crater, Hawaii 18,19,20Unknown
2.6 m.-140 m. yrsHelium
Salt Lake Crater, Hawaii 18,19,20Unknown400K-3.3 b. yrs K/Ar
Cubic Diamonds, DR Kongo 21,22Unknown 6 Billion yrs K/Ar
KBS Tuff, E. Turkana, Kenya 23,24 Unknown 290K-221 m.. yrs K/Ar

KBS Tuff, E. Turkana, Kenya 25
Unknown2.42 million yrs Fission Track
Cardenas Basalts, Bottom of Grand Canyon 26-29Unknown715 million yrs K/Ar Isochron
Cardenas Basalts, Bottom of Grand Canyon 26-29 Unknown1.17 billion yrs Rb/Sr Isochron
Uinkaret Plateau, Top of Grand Canyon 26-29Unknown0.01-117 m. yrs K/Ar
Uinkaret Plateau, Top of Grand Canyon 26-29 Unknown1.30 billion yrs Rb/Sr Isochron
Morton gneisses, Minnesota 30Unknown2.50 billion yrs K/Ar
Morton gneisses, Minnesota 30 Unknown3.3 billion yrs Ur/Pb
“Allende” Meteorite 31,32,33Unknown3.9 b.-11.7 b. yrs Ur/Th/Pb Isochron
“Allende” Meteorite 31,32,33Unknown4.5 b.-16.5 b. yrs Ur/Th/Pb 
Moon Rocks 34Unknown4.6 b.- 8.2 b. yrs Ur/Pb
Moon Rocks 35Unknown2.3 b.- 3.76 b. yrs K/Ar
Moon Rock (breccia) 36Unknown124 b.- 125.5 b. yrs K/Ar

 * Notes: Where abbreviations are used: b. = billion; and m. = million.

 * “Allende” is the name given to the meteorite that was used to “date” the age of the earth.

* KBS stands for Kay Behrensmeyer Site. It is the site where the famous 1470 skull was found.

* Cubic Diamonds from Zaire were included because the “age” derived from them is greater than the purported (4.5 b.y.) age of the earth.

In a paper on this subject Dr. Plaisted said the following:

“After study and discussion of this question, I now believe that the claimed accuracy of radiometric dating methods is a result of a great misunderstanding of the data, and that the various methods hardly ever agree with each other, and often do not agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found.  I believe… there is a great need for this information to be made known, so I am making (it) available … ” 37

For the reasons discussed above, radiometric dating is not the absolute Time Clock that it has been portrayed to be by faithful evolutionists.


  1. Hodge, Bodie, How Old is the Earth, at
  2. Wieland, Carl, Radiometric dating breakthroughs, at
  3. Uranium-Thorium-Lead Dating Method, at
  4. Snelling, Andrew and Mitchell, Elizabeth,  Rocks Around the Clock: Do Zircons Contain Reliable Time Stamps
  5. Cooper, Miller and Patterson, A Trip Through Time, 1986, pp. 78-79.
  6. Williams, A. R., “Long Age Isotope Dating Short on Credibility,”  Creation Ex Nihilo (CEN) Tech. Journal, vol. 6(#1), 1992, pp. 2-5.
  7. Snelling, Dr. Andrew A. “The Failure of U-Th-Pb ‘Dating’ at Koongara, Australia,”  CEN Tech. J. vol. 9, no. 1, 1995, pp. 84-85, 90-91.
  8. Faure, G. Principles of Isotope Geology, 2nd edition, 1986, pp. 309-340.
  9. Dalrymple, G., The Age of the Earth, 1991, pp. 305-356.
  10. Morris, John D., Ph.D., The Young Earth, p.54; Additional reference provided in book.
  11. Petersen, Dennis, Mysteries of Creation, p.46.
  12. Morris, John D., The Young Earth, p.54; Additional reference provided in book.
  13. ibid. ref. 9.
  14. ibid. ref. 9, pp. 55-56.
  15. Taylor, Paul S., Illustrated Origins Answer Book, pp. 12-13, 61-62.
  16. Funkhouser, John G., and Naughton, John J., Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 73, No. 14, July 1968, pp.4601-4607.
  17. ibid. ref. 9, pp. 55-56.  Additional reference provided in book.
  18. ibid. ref. 9.
  19. ibid. ref. 12.
  20. Funkhouser, John G., and Naughton, John J., Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 73, No. 14, July 1968, pp.4601-4607.
  21. Williams, A.R., Creation ex nihilo Technical Journal, vol. 6, Part 1, 1992, p.4.
  22. Podosek, F.A., et al, Nature, vol. 334, 1988, pp.607-609.
  23. Lubenow, Marvin, “The Dating Game” Chapter in “Bones of Contention” pp. 247-266.
  24. Reader, John, “Missing Links,” pp.205-209.
  25. Nature, vol. 284, 3/20/80, pp. 225-234.
  26. ibid. ref. 9, pp. 57-60.
  27. Austin, Steve A., “Grand Canyon–Monument To Catastrophe,” ICR, pp.120-131.
  28. Ford, T.D., et al., Geological Society of America Bulletin  83, Jan. 1972, pp. 223-226.
  29. McKee, E.H., and Noble, D.C., Geological Society of America Bulletin 87, Aug. 1976, pp.1188-1190.
  30. Simak, C.D., “Trilobite, Dinosaur and Man,” pp. 50-51.
  31. ibid. ref. 9,  pp. 60-61.
  32. Patterson, C.C., Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta, vol. 10, 1956, pp.230-237.
  33. Williams, A.R., Creation Ex Nihilo Tech. Journal, vol. 6, Part 1, 1992, pp.2-5.
  34. ibid. ref. 8, p. 46.
  35. Science, vol. 167, 1/30/70, pp. 466-468, 479-480.
  36. ibid. ref. 32, pp. 479-480; Note: Though the age calculation (for sample No. 65,35) was not given, the ratios of Potassium -40 (K)/ Argon-40 (Ar) were listed in Table 1 on p. 480, thus allowing the age to be calculated. And though I agree with the writers of this article that this sample has  an excess amount of Argon-40, I also think it is highly probable that the argon which contaminated this sample also contaminated all of the other samples, and that this breccia was simply “contaminated” with more Argon.
  37. The Radiometric Dating Game, at:
Is Radiometric Dating Accurate?
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