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Measuring the carbon ratio from these tree-ring chronologies allows scientists to directly account for any changes in atmospheric carbon-14 and even any supposed changes in decay rates (a large body of evidence indicates these are constant but some measurements claim the possibility of small changes).
Seldom has a single discovery generated such wide public interest.” Libby’s research demonstrated the usefulness of carbon-14 in dating samples thousands of years old.
Because these “much older” dates conflict with a reading of the Bible that contends the Earth is only 6,000–10,000 years old, some Christian organizations argue that radiocarbon dating does not give reliable dates past 5,000 years ago (the date these same organizations give for the timing of Noah’s flood).
These Christians’ reasons for viewing the dates as unreliable include an assumption of unchanging amounts of carbon-14 in the atmosphere, an assumption about unchanging decay rates for carbon-14, and questionable calibration techniques.
Even without calibration, the carbon-14 dates and the tree-ring and varve dates show a strong correlation, which means that any variations in atmospheric carbon-14 (or possible changes in the decay rate) must be truly small.
Years of calibrations have yielded straightforward tools for measuring that would be noncontroversial in other fields.