Bailey does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

But, much to the consternation of scientists, young-Earth creationism, which holds Earth is only about 6,000 years old, continues to be promoted in some quarters, and remains very popular with the public, especially in the United States.

View the full list In one respect, science and religion have been largely reconciled since the 19th century, when geologists such as Charles Lyell recognised the evidence for a very old Earth.

Within a few decades, most mainstream religious denominations accepted this view as well.

Dating meteorites thus allows us to give a lower age to the Solar System (4,56 billion years old).

Lead isotope isochron that Clair Patterson used to determine the age of the solar system and Earth (Patterson, C., 1956, Age of meteorites and the earth: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 10: 230-237).

This age has been determined with the radioactive dating technique.

The precise decay rate of radioactive elements is used as a clock: the number of daughter products in one rock indicates its age.The overall reliability of radiometric dating was addressed in some detail in a recent book by Brent Dalrymple, an expert in the field.He argues the few instances in which radiometric dating has produced anomalous results “may be due to laboratory errors (mistakes happen), unrecognised geologic factors (nature sometimes fools us), or misapplication of the techniques (no-one’s perfect)”.But while errors and anomalies can occur, the burden of proof is not on scientists to fully account for each and every error.The burden is on sceptics to explain why tens of thousands of other carefully measured ages are all internally and externally consistent.As he notes: “if two or more radiometric clocks based on different elements and running at different rates give the same age, that’s powerful evidence that the ages are probably correct.” Along this line, the physicist Roger Wiens asks those who are sceptical of radiometric dating to consider that “all of the different dating methods agree …