Even though the Earth's age is never mentioned in the Bible, it is an issue because those who take a strictly literal view of the early chapters of Genesis can calculate an approximate date for the creation by adding up the life-spans of the people mentioned in the genealogies.

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Radiometric dating techniques indicate that the Earth is thousands of times older than that--approximately four and a half billion years old.

Many Christians accept this and interpret the Genesis account in less scientifically literal ways.

This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another.

In the process the paper refutes a number of misconceptions prevalent among Christians today.

When the glass is turned over, sand runs from the top to the bottom.

Radioactive atoms are like individual grains of sand--radioactive decays are like the falling of grains from the top to the bottom of the glass.

You cannot predict exactly when any one particular grain will get to the bottom, but you can predict from one time to the next how long the whole pile of sand takes to fall.

Once all of the sand has fallen out of the top, the hourglass will no longer keep time unless it is turned over again.

Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent.