Start Radioactive or radiometric dating

Radioactive or radiometric dating

This paper is available on the web via the American Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community.

Hutton's theories were short on evidence at first, but by 1830 most scientists concurred that Noah's ark was more allegory than reality as they documented geological layering.

Using fossils as guides, they began to piece together a crude history of Earth, but it was an imperfect history.

A breakthrough came with the discovery of radioactivity at the beginning of the 1900s.

Certain isotopes are unstable and undergo a process of radioactive decay, slowly and steadily transforming, molecule by molecule, into a different isotope.

After all, the ever-changing Earth rarely left a complete geological record.

The age of the planet, though, was important to Charles Darwin and other evolutionary theorists: The biological evidence they were collecting showed that nature needed vastly more time than previously thought to sculpt the world.

But it wasn't until the late 1700s -- when Scottish geologist James Hutton, who observed sediments building up on the landscape, set out to show that rocks were time clocks -- that serious scientific interest in geological age began.