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.