The nice christian, JL, in her quest to convert my (rather pleasant) heathen ways went on the attack about carbon dating and it's 'wildly inaccurate' results.
Being on the back foot, I had some misconceptions about carbon dating but, in my defence, they were craftily worded fundie traps which I fell into. (eg. saying that carbon dating cannot measure age of fossils, so what proof is there?)
However, EVEN IF carbon dating methods were wrong, just because 'the bible says so' is not magically the only viable alternative. *sigh*
Tree rings are accurate to 9000 years. Pay attention - this is something most kids learn in primary school! You won't find a 50 year old tree with thousands of rings. NEWSFLASH - Trees predate the Abrahamic god! "But the bible says the sky pixie made trees! Whhhaaaahhh!!!!"
Redshift - How light frequency is affected by the fantastical speeds of astronomical phenomena moving away from us (creating light towards the infra red spectrum)
Carbon dating is a very good way of estimating. The biggest inaccuracies have occured when objects of 20000 years old have had an error of 3500 years. An error margin of up to 17%.
Even accounting for this extreme measure - hmmm - basic maths here - more than 6000 years!
The trap I fell into (because I simply don't know everything) was that you cannot use carbon dating for fossils. (Or diamonds, which are REALLY old! I just assumed that being made of carbon... doh!).
The above link explains more concisely the methods used and refutes the claims of creationist (and I use the word sarcastically) 'scientists'.
JL's mission was to get me to doubt scientific reasoning and to not take scientific opinion as the truth. And yes, we SHOULD not just believe everything we hear. We must make informed decisions based on evidence. We must be willing to accept that with our limited knowledge and senses (we can only see a razor thin slice of the EM spectrum for example) that we will make mistakes and improve upon our knowledge.
And that is what I love about science. For every opinion, theory and proposal in the public domain, it must be tested, scrutinised and every possible attempt is made to prove it wrong or come up with a better explanation with the evidence and reasoning to back it up. It is inspiring, it is challenging, it is dangerous, it gives us the tools to make sense of this amazing existence... it is truly humbling to realise that there is so much in existence that we will never know.
What I find demeaning, insulting, patronising, illogical and offensive to human intellect is that theists label 'don't know' with 'god'.
Science has been answering many 'don't knows' for centuries. People no longer need to fear myths and superstitions; worry about angering vengeful gods; conduct strange rituals; wear lucky charms etc. Thanks to science, we have grown up and matured as a species.
Science is not the enemy of religion but religion has suffered because of it. Ahhh, life was so much SIMPLER 6000 years ago.
Conclusion: Just because science freely admits the limits of our understanding and is constantly trying to improve its knowledge doesn't make the bible true! (Bl**dy obvious I know, but SOME PEOPLE... tsk)
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