Radio-Carbon and Vikings
“Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?”
It has become axiomatic among many less scientific creationists to state that carbon dating is inaccurate. I have tried to explain that this is incorrect. In fact, none of the radiometric measurements are inaccurate insofar as they correctly, and accurately, measure the relative quantities of radioactive materials, and the stable daughter material into which they decay. Where the techniques go wrong is in making wrong assumptions by which to calculate the ages. An additional problem, however, is that many people mistake radio-carbon dating for other radiometric dating methods and do not realize that radio-carbon dating does not date anything older than about 100,000 years. This mistake over the identity of radio-carbon dating is made by both lay evolutionists and lay creationists alike.
The oldest radio-carbon dates, of between 50,000 and 100,000 years, are notoriously problematic, even by evolutionary standards. But this disguises the fact that much younger radio-carbon dates are actually quite accurate and are well within biblical timescales. One such dating recently made concerns the Viking Great Army which defeated the King of Mercia in the midlands of modern England in 873 AD. In the 1980s, a mass grave of 300 was found in Repton, Derbyshire. Many showed signs of violent injury but gave every appearance of having been buried at different times. More recently, radio-carbon dating has shown that all the bodies were killed at a single event in 873, so it is likely to be the grave of dead Viking soldiers from their invasion of Mercia. I like this use of carbon dating because it shows that, correctly used, technology is of great benefit to our understanding.
Prayer: Thank You once again, Lord God, that You have bestowed intelligence and abilities on so many people of scientific ability, even if they refuse to acknowledge You. Amen.
Ref: Catrine L. Jarman, Martin Biddle, Tom Higham, Christopher Bronk Ramsey. The Viking Great Army in England: new dates from the Repton charnel. Antiquity, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2017.196. Image: Derby Museum Viking Display, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.
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