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The creationist argument that the ratio of C-14 to C-12 is not constant is actually based on the assumption of a young earth with an age of 10,000 years, and sudden changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by the assumed catastrophic events of the Genesis flood.
This is the motivation behind the 30,000 year figure quoted in the creationist position.
Evolution Position The following was extracted from an August 27, 1996 post by Howard Hershey ([email protected]). Carbon exists in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, a gas.
The assumption of a constant ratio of C-14 to C-12 is invalid; equilibrium would require about 30,000 years, and the C-14/C-12 ratio appears to be increasing still.Thus, measuring the degree to which the carbon 14 level is less than that in the atmosphere provides a measure of time since death.Mollusks, unlike plants et al., get the carbon for their shells from ancient carbonate and not the atmosphere. Therefore mollusk shells are inappropriate for carbon dating because they do not, even when alive, have C-14 at the level present in the atmosphere.When these organisms die, they no longer ingest C-14 (directly or indirectly) from an atmospheric source.Carbon 14 decays at a particular rate and is not replaced.