Monday, February 9, 2009

Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend

By Jonathan Sarfati


What do hard sparkling diamonds and dull soft pencil ‘lead’ have in common? They are both forms (allotropes) of carbon. Most carbon atoms are 12 times heavier than hydrogen (12C), about one in 100 is 13 times heavier (13C), and one in a trillion (1012) is 14 times heavier (14C). Of these different types (isotopes) of carbon, 14C is called radiocarbon, because it is radioactive—it breaks down over time.

Radiocarbon dating

Diamond Some try to measure age by how much 14C has decayed. Many people think that radiocarbon dating proves billions of years.1 But evolutionists know it can’t, because 14C decays too fast. Its half-life (t½) is only 5,730 years—that is, every 5,730 years, half of it decays away. After two half lives, a quarter is left; after three half lives, only an eighth; after 10 half lives, less than a thousandth is left.2 In fact, a lump of 14C as massive as the earth would have all decayed in less than a million years.3

So if samples were really over a million years old, there would be no radiocarbon left. But is this not what we find, even with very sensitive 14C detectors.4


Diamond is the hardest substance known, so its interior should be very resistant to contamination. Diamond requires very high pressure to form—pressure found naturally on earth only deep below the surface. Thus they probably formed at a depth of 100–200 km. Geologists believe that the ones we find must have been transported supersonically5 to the surface, in extremely violent eruptions through volcanic pipes. Some are found in these pipes, such as kimberlites, while other diamonds were liberated by water erosion and deposited elsewhere (called alluvial diamonds). According to evolutionists, the diamonds formed about 1–3 billion years ago.5

Dating diamonds

Geophysicist Dr John Baumgardner, part of the RATE research group,6 investigated 14C in a number of diamonds.7 There should be no 14C at all if they really were over a billion years old, yet the radiocarbon lab reported that there was over 10 times the detection limit. Thus they had a radiocarbon ‘age’ far less than a million years! Dr Baumgardner repeated this with six more alluvial diamonds from Namibia, and these had even more radiocarbon.

The presence of radiocarbon in these diamonds where there should be none is thus sparkling evidence for a ‘young’ world, as the Bible records.

References and notes

  1. For example, the ‘Rev.’ Barry Lynn, leader of the anti-Christian group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, proclaimed in a nationally televised debate, ‘Carbon dating, that shows the earth is billions of years old!’ (Firing Line, PBS, 19 December 1997). Return to text.
  2. The time t since radioactive decay commenced can be given by N/N0 = e–λt, where N is the number of atoms measured in the present; N0 is the initial number; λ, the decay constant, which is related to the half life t½ by λ = ln2/t½. This presupposes that the system is closed, so that the loss of atoms is solely by decay, and that the decay rate is constant. See also Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise, ch. 12, Master Books, Arkansas, USA, 2004. Return to text.
  3. The earth’s mass is 6x1027 g; equivalent to 4.3x1026 moles of 14C. Each mole contains Avogadro’s number (NA = 6.022x1023) of atoms. It takes only 167 halvings to get down to a single atom (log2(4.3x1026 mol x 6.022x1023 mol–1) = log10(2.58x1050) / log102), and 167 half-lives is well under a million years. Return to text.
  4. AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) counts the atoms themselves, and can detect one 14C in more than 1016 atoms, or measure a 14C/C ratio of <10–16 or 0.01% of the modern ratio (0.01 pMC, percent modern carbon). Return to text.
  5. Otherwise the diamond would anneal into graphite, so-called pencil ‘lead’. See Snelling, A., Diamonds—evidence of explosive geological processes, Creation 16(1):42–45, 1993; cf. Diamond Science, <>, accessed 22 May 2006. Return to text.
  6. Vardiman, L., Snelling, A. and Chaffin, E., Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Vol. II, ch. 8, Institute for Creation Research, California, USA, 2005. Dr Baumgardner also investigated many coal samples, and they also turned out to have 14C. Return to text.
  7. Baumgardner, J., 14C evidence for a recent global flood and a young earth; in ref. 6, ch. 8. See also his paper Measurable 14C in fossilized organic materials: confirming the young earth creation-flood model, 5th International Conference on Creationism, 2003. Return to text.

Source of the article: Creation Ministries.


  1. Alex, shall I add this article also to your long string of unaddressed problems for your world view? That makes 7 now.

    I continue to pray for you. God Bless

  2. The radiocarbon which was detected in the RATE diamond measurements came primarily from sample chemistry and secondarily from instrument background. They later eliminated the sample chemistry and obtained lower numbers. Taylor and Southon did similar measurements with unprocessed diamond; their data indicates that the radiocarbon they measured was due to instrument background.

    For a much more detailed analysis of the RATE radiocarbon claims, do a web search for the paper "RATE's Radiocarbon: Intrinsic or Contamination?" by Kirk Bertsche.

  3. This response was written by Joel Tay who requested me to post this responding to you kb:


    Are you Kirk Bertsche? You share the same initials.

    I believe Kirk Bertsche has already been rebuted by John Baumgardner as far back as Oct 2007 titled "Roast of RATE radiocarbon reviler". A second repost against the creationists position in the linked 2008 version (which doesn't seem to be significantly updated) of his 2007 article, Baertsche doesn't reference Baumgardner's rebuttal, though he knew about it. That suggests that Baertsche couldn't rebut it ot at least didn't want you or his ASA buddies to know about it.

    Kirk Bertsche tried to pass himself off as an expert on C-14 dating by saying he had been an "accelerator physicist" at an accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon laboratory. It sounds like he maintained the particle accelerator that is part of such an installation, but it also appears that he knew little about the actual techniques that such laboratories are presently using to do C-14 dating."

  4. Ryan and Joel,

    You haven't investigated very carefully. If you look closely at my rebuttal of RATE's radiocarbon claims, you will see that it was written AFTER the Baumgardner response that you refer to, that it REFERENCES Baumgardner's response, that it directly QUOTES the main technical claims that Baumgardner makes in his response, and that it responds DIRECTLY to them. You can find this rebuttal on various websites (ASA, RTB, TalkOrigins).

    My rebuttal also contains a summary of modern radiocarbon dating as well as a brief summary of my own background in the field. If you doubt any of this, I invite you to contact the experts at any of the world's leading AMS laboratories for corroboration.

    Kirk Bertsche


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