We stick the garden hose in and turn it on full blast.The water coming out of the hose is analogous to the continuous production of carbon-14 atoms in the upper atmosphere.
(Strahler, 1987, p.158) Lingenfelter actually attributed the discrepancy between the production and decay rates to possible variations in the earth's magnetic field, a conclusion which would have ruined Morris's argument.
Henry Morris chose not to mention that portion of the paper!
Creationists don't want their readers to be distracted with problems like that -- unless the cat is already out of the bag and something has to be said.
Tree-ring dating (see Topic 27) gives us a wonderful check on the radiocarbon dating method for the last 8000 years.
Sometimes it slows down to a trickle so that much more water is leaking out the barrel than is coming in; sometimes it goes full blast so that a lot more water is coming into the barrel than is leaking out. Lingenfelter's paper was written in 1963, before the cycles of C-14 variation we described had been fully documented.
Thus, the mere fact that the present rate of water coming in exceeds that of the water leaking out cannot be extrapolated back to a starting time. The point is that fluctuations in the rate of C-14 production mean that at times the production rate will exceed the decay rate, while at other times the decay rate will be the larger.
The barrel represents the earth's atmosphere in which the carbon-14 accumulates.
The water leaking out the sides of the barrel represents the loss (mainly by radioactive decay) of the atmosphere's supply of carbon-14.
Contrary to creationist Barnes' totally discredited claims, which I've covered in Topic 11, the earth's magnetic field (dipole moment) has, indeed, increased and decreased over time.
Strahler presents a graph of the earth's dipole moment going back 9000 years.
(The barrel is made deep enough so that we don't have to worry about water overflowing the rim.) Henry Morris argued that if we started filling up our empty barrel it would take 30,000 years to reach the equilibrium point.