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How do Young Earth Creationists account for all the things which have been radiometrically dated to more than 7000 years ago?

For example, the oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was Silene stenophylla (narrow-leafed campion), an Arctic flower native to Siberia, which was dated to be from about ~32,000 years ago. (See reference.) That would put them before plants existed for Young Earth Creationists (at the earliest, ~12,000 years ago).

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  • It seems like we don't have a canonical question about YEC views on radiodating, so I'll edit this to become one. – curiousdannii Apr 4 at 23:05
  • That's not really accurate. YEC scientists don't reject radiometric dating, but rather they recognize the problems with using let's say C14 dating something that is proposed to be greater 6000 years for other reasons already. I would recommend going creation.com for good resources on all this. Jonathan Sarfati writes significantly on this. You can also read Jason Lisle's work from Biblical Science Institute. He worked at ICR and AiG for a while. – WnGatRC456 Apr 5 at 0:29
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    @curiousdannii, your edit invalidates my existing answer. While I don't object to the question as such, and would be happy to attempt to answer it as a new question, I don't think your changes were appropriate, and I have flagged this accordingly. – Matthew Apr 5 at 1:45
  • Also, as currently worded, there is a better answer here. – Matthew Apr 5 at 2:06
  • If most of you think it would be better asked as a new question, that's fine. If one of you asks it then we can revert the edits here and close this as a duplicate of the new question. – curiousdannii Apr 5 at 3:21
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The literal answer is that YECs "account" for no such thing. They reject the accuracy of such dates, based on an alternate interpretation of the available evidence. However, that isn't very satisfying, so let's address the question you really want to ask, which is "how do YECs account for such supposed ages?".

The short version is that there is no such thing as "radiometric dating".

Rather, there is the ability to measure relative concentrations of various radioactive isotopes. I'm not going to attempt a detailed explanation (you could try here to start), but the short version is that, based on several (sometimes unprovable, sometimes falsified) assumptions, Uniformitarian Evolutionists (UEs) claim to be able to establish the age of certain artifacts (rocks, fossils, seeds, etc.) based on ratios of certain radioactive isotopes and their byproducts.

It should also be noted that these methods often employ various self-reinforcing feedback loops based on UE assumptions (chief of which is that God does not exist). To wit, various techniques such as position of an artifact within geological strata and alternate dating methods of colocated artifacts are used to help "dial in" the dating methodology.

The critical point here, however, is that these techniques have expected results. The methods may be adjusted in order to arrive at the "correct" results, and data that does not fit UE expectations may be discarded entirely (often written off as "contamination"). Simply the way in which these dating methods have been developed ought to be sufficient to place them into question.

Another problem is consistency. Different methods used on the same artifact can give wildly different results. In fact, there is evidence of systemic discrepancies; I'll come back to this point shortly. Other issues are known and sometimes even acknowledged by UEs.

However, to really understand why YECs reject UE "dating", we need to look at the main three assumptions on which those methods rest:

  • The relative proportions of radioisotopes are fixed at the time the artifact "comes into existence" (when a rock is formed in its current state, when an animal dies and begins the process of fossilization).

UEs themselves acknowledge that this assumption is problematic. YECs further point out that e.g. ¹⁴C concentrations may have been dramatically different prior to the Flood.

  • The relative proportions of radioisotopes are known at the time the artifact "comes into existence".

Not only does this rely on various assumptions, it has been, in at least some instances, demonstrably falsified. Lava rocks whose formation has been observed by living humans have, for example, been "dated" as "millions of years old". Also, again, effects of the Flood offer an alternate explanation for many observations.

  • The rate of radioactive decay has remained constant.

While this assumption does seem reasonable, and is even an explanation that a YEC would prefer (the YEC philosophy is to prefer non-miraculous explanations unless no other explanation seems reasonable), it is unprovable until and unless someone creates a working time machine. In fact, even non-YEC sources have shown evidence that the rate of decay is not constant and are experimenting with altering it, while some (YEC) experiments have already demonstrated that greatly accelerated decay is within the reach of not only God, but of Man. Moreover, there is evidence that the rate of decay was dramatically altered by God on at least one occasion in the past. Such evidence includes the previously mentioned systemic inconsistencies in radiometric "dating".

Really, the upshot of all this is that you should read the R.A.T.E. report, volumes I and II. These express a number of very specific problems with radiometric dating as accepted by UEs, at least some of which, TTBOMK have not been refuted plausibly. The upshot is that YECs possess a cohesive interpretation (admittedly based on Christian dogma) of the available evidence which ought to be weighed against — not simply ignored or rejected out of hand — the interpretation favored by UEs (based on athiestic dogma which UEs will often vociferously deny).

Finally, one would be remiss to not also consider that other evidence, not related to radiometric dating, can also be interpreted as indicative of an Earth that is thousands, not millions or billions, of years old. I wouldn't know where to start here, but see the links from my original version of the answer.

Now, obviously, not everyone accepts the YEC interpretation. However, the main point here isn't to argue which is right or wrong, but to answer the question of how YECs can "account for" certain evidences which are interpreted by UEs as indicating certain ages of various artifacts. Hopefully this answer can help you on a path to understanding that.


Old answer, for posterity:

As noted in a comment, I'm not entirely sure what you're asking, as your assumption seems to be faulty. However, the critical point seems to be "Christians who reject plants existing >7,000 years ago".

Well... the only such Christians I know are Young Earth Creationists, who reject anything (other than God, of course) existing more than 7,000 years ago.

Naturally, this also means they reject the claimed age of, well, anything as being more than 7,000 years. So I think the answer to your question is that they don't reconcile anything, but rather reject the validity of any dating that gives an answer of more than 7,000 years.

Here are a couple places you can start if you want to learn more about why YECs reject Uniformitarian dating:

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    This is actually a decent answer, and as detailed as it needs to be. YEC almost always attack the dating science in cases like this. The details vary but The approach is consistent. – DJClayworth Apr 4 at 20:54
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    There is no single consensus view among YEC Christians about radiometric dating. A good source to understand the most prevalent view among YEC practicing scientists, they do exist, is the RATE project. But very few actually reject radiometric dating as a whole but recognize the inherent limits and discrepancies among the multiple methods. One other thing you should investigate is the proposed magnetic reversals during the Noahic flood which I believe holds merit. – WnGatRC456 Apr 5 at 0:23
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    There are some (unprovable?) assumptions underlying radiometric dating techniques. For instance, a constant rate of radioactive decay over time regardless of temperature and pressure (imagine the T and P within a Big Bang singularity if you can). – Mike Borden Apr 5 at 12:34
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If the creation was 'good', as observed by God, why would there have been an instability in matter such that it spontaneously decayed (radioactively) emitting harmful radiation ?

Is it not more likely that radioactivity is the result of heavenly powers being relieved of their duties and subsequently being committed to 'chains' due to their rebellion against deity, Jude 1:6 ?

This relinquishing of certain aspects of creation was an effect of judgment, along with the flood of waters over the whole earth.

This also may explain the rapid reduction in longevity after the Flood, as, presumably and possibly, the new aspect of the altered creation - radioactivity - together with climactic changes, gave humanity a much shorter life span than before, Genesis 11.

Therefore radioactivity is not a reliable method of estimating the age of the earth.

What is known definitely is the seventy generations from Jesus Christ back to Adam as given by the genealogy provided by Luke.

The best source for Young Earth Creationism is Morris and Whitcomb's book The Genesis Flood published in 1961 which was a significant contribution to the field of scientific study regarding the cosmology, geology, physics, chemistry and biology associated with the flood in the days of Noah.


I am a Licentiate of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1978) with special training in the handling of radioactive isotopes for pharmaceutical and radiographic purposes.

I would probably also be termed a 'young earth creationist' although I think the term is mis-placed as I do not claim to know the 'age' of an earth whose first recorded 'days' were in the absence of any other celestial body (sun, moon and stars) and in the absence of any (earthbound) observer being able to document such a detail.

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    "Is it not more likely that radioactivity is the result of heavenly powers being relieved of their duties and subsequently being committed to 'chains' due to their rebellion against deity" This is a brand new idea, I've never heard any YECs say it before. Please provide evidence that other YECs teach this. – curiousdannii Apr 4 at 23:04
  • There is merit to some of your answer but I've never read any YEC scientist promote this. The reduction in age likely a result of the genetic bottleneck due to Noahic flood. Nathaniel Jeanson and Robert Carter have addressed this in their own work. You are correct that what is known is Luke's genealogy, but we must also recognize there are some missing individuals. That doesn't counter the young age however, it's very possible to know a rough date of the earth from scripture. Jason Lisle is a very good person to check out, especially his book "Understanding Genesis". – WnGatRC456 Apr 5 at 0:36
  • @curiousdannii See Morris and Whitcomb The Genesis Flood . Also see Morris and Whitcomb for Rheimanian Geometry and its implications. (Edited to include this referenece.) – Nigel J Apr 5 at 1:32
  • "Therefore radioactivity is not a reliable method of estimating the age of the earth." You can lose the "therefore". There are a number of issues with radiometric dating. One of which is that virtually all diamonds contain C14 that "should have" decayed a long, long time ago according to Uniformitarianism. Another excellent (and more recent) resource is the second volume of the R.A.T.E report. Anyone not familiar with this report has no business arguing for Uniformitarianism. – Matthew Apr 5 at 1:50
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    C14 in diamonds is mentioned in R.A.T.E. II (chapter 8). Some other articles. Uniformitarians claim this is "within the margin of error", but the basis for that assertion seems to be that the results would otherwise disprove Uniformitarianism. – Matthew Apr 5 at 3:27
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For Young Earth Creationists the general answer to anything that is claimed to be more than their believed age of the earth is that the thing really isn't that old.

With cases like this their usual claim is that the dating system is wrong. Carbon dating gets a lot of criticism in their literature. Geological dating is often attacked too. You can read up on the details because they are not very enlightening.

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