Creationist views on carbon dating
Creationists such as Cook claim that cosmic radiation is now forming C in the atmosphere about one and one-third times faster than it is decaying. The creationists who quote Kieth and Anderson never tell you this, however. Thus, a freshly killed mussel has far less C than a freshly killed something else, which is why the C dating method makes freshwater mussels seem older than they really are. But other species produce scarcely any extra rings.
Thus it can be demonstrated that the magnetic field of the earth has reversed itself dozens of times throughout earth history. Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen N into carbon C or radiocarbon. Most of the tree-ring sequence is based on the bristlecone pine. When the organisms die, they stop incorporating new C, and the old C starts to decay back into N by emitting beta particles. Yes, Cook is right that C is forming today faster than it's decaying.
As for the question of polarity reversals, plate tectonics can teach us much. Even so, the missing rings are a far more serious problem than any double rings. This would mean that eighty-two hundred years worth of tree rings had to form in five thousand years, which would mean that one-third of all the bristlecone pine rings would have to be extra rings. See Renfrew for more details.
If they are right, this means all C ages greater than two or three thousand years need to be lowered drastically and that the earth can be no older than ten thousand years. Other species of trees corroborate the work that Ferguson did with bristlecone pines. For instance, Egyptian artifacts can be dated both historically and by radiocarbon, and the results agree. In the growth-ring analyses of approximately one thousand trees in the White Mountains, we have, in fact, found no more than three or four occurrences of even incipient multiple growth layers. So, if we measure the rate of beta decay in an organic sample, we can calculate how old the sample is.
This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters. Not only does he consider this proof that the earth can be no older than ten thousand years but he also points out that a greater magnetic strength in the past would reduce C dates. Kieth and Anderson radiocarbon-dated the shell of a living freshwater mussel and obtained an age of over two thousand years. Like Cook, Barnes looks at only part of the evidence. If we extrapolate backwards in time with the proper equations, we find that the earlier the historical period, the less C the atmosphere had.