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Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data.The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution.Also includes info on how fossils are formed, the “cleaning, preparing, & repairing” of fossils, and other useful resources.Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating.These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views.
Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.
New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’.
Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.
Biologists actually have at their disposal several independent ways of looking at the history of life - not only from the order of fossils in the rocks, but also through phylogenetic trees. Relative dating is done by observing fossils, as described above, and recording which fossil is younger, which is older.
The discovery of means for absolute dating in the early 1900s was a huge advance.