So, to determine the age of a tree, one can simply count the number of rings in a cross-section of the trunk.
According to Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, the oldest tree dated by direct ring-counting was a sequoia in northern California that was 2200 years old when it died (older ages have been claimed for other trees, but those were measured using carbon dating or crossdating, described below).
Dendrochronologists, however, look past the mere number of rings.
Of course, the rings are only affected if the tree is alive and growing at the time, and it is very difficult to count the rings of a living tree without killing it, which scientists try to avoid.
To get around these obstacles, dendrochronologists have developed an alternative means of tree-ring dating called crossdating.
Crossdating relies on the fact that the width of the light rings in a tree reflect the conditions of the annual growing season.
It seems straightforward enough to have captured my attention for the last week, but not quite enough to cause me to accept a 4.6 billion-year age for the earth.
Dendrochronology, generally speaking, is the science of using tree rings to date events.
As most people know, trees grow annual rings in the wood of their trunks, giving wood its characteristic appearance.
These rings form because the tree produces large cells with thinner walls during the spring growing season, and smaller cells with thicker walls at the end of summer, resulting in alternating light and dark bands that develop outward from the center.
As a young-earth creationist, I believe that the earth is approximately 6000 years old.
Obviously, many people do not agree with me, so it is apparent that the case is not clear-cut.