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One crucial area the RATE project did not touch on was the issue of how reliable are the determinations of the radioisotope decay rates, which are so crucial for calibrating these dating “clocks.” However, in a recent series of papers, Snelling (2014a, b, 2015a, b, 2016, 2017) reviewed how the half-lives of the parent radioisotopes used in long-age geological dating have been determined and collated all the determinations of them reported in the literature to discuss the accuracy of their currently accepted values.
Ironically it is the slow decay rates of isotopes such as Sm used for deep time dating that makes precise measurements of their decay rates so difficult.
From a creationist perspective, the 1997–2005 RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) project successfully made progress in documenting some of the pitfalls in the radioisotope dating methods, and especially in demonstrating that radioisotope decay rates may not have always been constant at today’s measured rates (Vardiman, Snelling, and Chaffin 2000, 2005).
Yet much research effort remains to be done to make further inroads into not only uncovering the flaws intrinsic to these long-age dating methods, but towards a thorough understanding of radioisotopes and their decay during the earth’s history within a biblical creationist framework.
The stunning improvements in the performance of mass spectrometers during the past four or so decades, starting with the landmark paper by Wasserburg et al.
(1969), have not been accompanied by any comparable improvement in the accuracy of the decay constants (Begemann et al.
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There is thus no impediment to accepting and using the Bible’s account of Creation and the Flood as a reliable framework for unravelling the history of the earth and the Pb isotopes found in its minerals and rocks.