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Being knowledgeable about such a widespread dating method is essential for Christians to address opposing arguments and critics. Natural radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by the French physicist Henri Becquerel.
A decade later, American chemist Bertram Boltwood suggested that lead was a disintegration product of uranium and could be used as an internal clock for dating rocks.
This perspective, generally termed the uniformitarian view of nature, constitutes a pillar of the secularist’s worldview and is fundamental in generating the concept of deep time in the origins discussion.
(See Figure 1 below.) Secularists believe that nuclear decay has been a part of the natural world since its formation some 13.8 billion years ago, and the nuclear decay rates for the various radioisotopes have been constant throughout that time.This makes energy spectroscopy for these decays more challenging than for alpha or gamma decays.If the parent nucleus decays to an excited state of the daughter nucleus for any of the above decays, then gamma rays can also accompany the emitted particles.Less common modes of decay are direct emission of a neutron or proton, double-beta decay, and spontaneous fission.As with alpha decay, these modes are generally observed in the heavier radionuclides with a few exceptions such as He (neutron emission).