Ussher…He’s the one with the band-aid right?

24 October 2007

While most of us were presumably present at the moment of our own birth, few can honestly say they can clearly recall it.  Even fewer had a good sense of the exact hour or day when this singularly important event took place, at least at the time.

While we tend to take knowledge of our own birthdate for granted (mine’s November 1 by the way, I know you’ve all been trolling my Amazon wishlist), we of course depend upon the memory of other interested parties, namely our parents.  Dial back several centuries or so, and most humans had only a very hazy idea of when the were born perhaps narrowed down to a particular season of a given year.

High-born Europeans, like James Ussher, were better off than most, and we might assume that his literate clerk father is responsible for the unusually exact record we have for Ussher’s birth (see image above).

As Primate of All Ireland, Ussher took it upon himself to calculate the exact birthdate of the Earth using the best documentary accounts of his time.  After considerable scholarly investigation Ussher deduced that the planet was created around nightfall on October 22nd, 4004 BCE.

Hearty chortles across the interweb today in response to the WorldNetDaily piece commemorating the 6010th [sic] birthday of the planet.  Anyone adhering to Ussher’s chronology in 2007 deserves a chortle.

However, it’s important to remember that Ussher himself was working in 1658 well before Jim Hutton, Chas Lyell, or Chuck D.  In building his chronology Ussher attempted to integrate historical records from different cultures across the “Middle East” (what’s the PC term for the fertile crescent anyway?), or what WorldNetDaily hilariously calls “secular sources.”  All hail secular Marduk!

Uh, anyway…go read Steve Gould’s classic “Fall in the House of Ussher” for an excellent account of how the Irish Primate should be a hero for modern academics and not reality-challenged young earthers.

6 Responses to “Ussher…He’s the one with the band-aid right?”

  1. Julia Says:

    I thought the one with the band-aid was Nelly?

    I only realised it was Creation Day late yesterday evening, en route to Tesco. Too late to blog about it, and you’ve done a much better job anyway.

  2. Neil Says:

    Oh yeah, Nelly…

  3. Julia Says:

    After a while they all merge into one anyway…

  4. LH Says:

    You have a superb blog. I write a science blog called Fresh Brainz mainly about evolutionary biology and some neuroscience.

    Would you like to blogroll?

    Best regards!

  5. Chelsea Says:

    “They all merge into one anyway…”


  6. Anthony Ussher Says:

    I am a direct descendant of Archbishop James Ussher of Dublin. He was one of the finest academic brains of his time. Although his theories on the origin of the Earth now seem faintly (in fact, more than faintly) ludicrous, in their time, they were ground breaking as one of the first effective attempts to draw from texts of several religions. Sadly his academic genes and even more sadly his considerable wealth have faded over the years but he still holds a special place in our family history.

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