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Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible.

When testing an object using radiocarbon dating, several factors have to be considered: First, carbon dating only works on matter that was once alive, and it only determines the approximate date of death for that sample.

Radiocarbon dating can’t tell the difference between wood that was cut and immediately used for the spear, and wood that was cut years before being re-used for that purpose.Nor can it tell if a much older spearhead was attached to a brand-new shaft.There is little of interest in what is by far the most common and stable kind, carbon-12.Carbon-13 is also stable, radioactively, but carbon-14 is radioactive.The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.

Today, the radiocarbon-14 dating method is used extensively in environmental sciences and in human sciences such as archaeology and anthropology.Rarely a week goes by without someone emailing me with a comment similar to the following: "They have found some fossils near where I live and have carbon-dated them to be 100 million years old".There is a lot to be written about dating methods-and many articles on the subject appear on the Answers in Genesis website-but what I am more concerned about in this article is, why do so many people believe that carbon-dating has dated fossils to be millions of years old.Beyond that timespan, the amount of the original C formed by irradiation of nitrogen by neutrons from the spontaneous fission of uranium, present in trace quantities almost everywhere.For these samples, other dating methods must be used. Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.