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On the surface, radiometric dating methods appear to give powerful support to the statement that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years.
We are told that these methods are accurate to a few percent, and that there are many different methods.
If these dates are correct, this calls the Biblical account of a recent creation of life into question.
After study and discussion of this question, I now believe that the claimed accuracy of radiometric dating methods is a result of a great misunderstanding of the data, and that the various methods hardly ever agree with each other, and often do not agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found.
We can assume that the Precambrian rocks already existed when life began, and so the ages of the Precambrian rocks are not necessarily related to the question of how long life has existed on earth.
The Cambrian period is conventionally assumed to have begun about 550 million years ago.
By measuring the ratio of daughter to parent, we can measure how old the sample is. Each radioactive element has a half-life, which tells how long it takes for half of the element to decay.Potassium is about 1/40 of the earth's crust, and about 1/10,000 of the potassium is potassium 40.Uranium decays to lead by a complex series of steps. Thus we obtain K-Ar dating, U-Pb dating, and Rb-Sr dating, three of the most common methods.When it is stated that these methods are accurate to one or two percent, it does not mean that the computed age is within one or two percent of the correct age.It just means that there is enough accuracy in the measurements to compute t to one or two percentage points of accuracy, where t is the time required to obtain the observed ratio of daughter to parent, assuming no initial daughter product was present at the beginning, and no daughter or parent entered or left the system.