Since 1955 the estimate for the age of the Earth has been based on the assumption that certain meteorite lead isotope ratios are equivalent to the primordial lead isotope ratios on Earth.In 1972 this assumption was shown to be highly questionable.
Nuclear laboratories, awash with funds and prestige, spun off the discovery of an amazing new technique radiocarbon dating.
Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods.
Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.
Despite this, the momentum gained in the two decades prior to 1972 has made 4.5 b.y.
a popularly accepted “universal constant” even though the foundations on which it was based have been virtually removed.
Since there doesn't seem to be any systematic error that could cause so many methods to agree with each other so often, it seems that there is no other rational conclusion than to accept these dates as accurate.