No dearth of mirth today
October 23, 2007 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Happy 6010th birthday, world! Technically, God created the world (or possibly the entire universe?) the night before Sunday, October 23rd, 4004 BCE, but the 23rd is the day that some Young Earth Creationists still hold to be the Earth's birthday. Anglican Archbishop James Ussher arrived at this date in his 1650 magnum opus, Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti, and while many other dates have been interpolated from the Pentateuch, Ussher's has become the best known, probably because (starting in 1701, at the behest of Anglican Bishop William Lloyd) his chronology was included in copies of the King James Bible (and, centuries later, in editions of the Scofield Reference Bible).

This practice has subsided in recent decades, although some publishers apparently continue to include the chronology. And if you believe God created us recently, you're not alone: Gallup reports that as of June 2007, two-thirds of Americans say it's definitely or probably true that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years."

A bit of extra Americana: remember that scene from Inherit The Wind where "Matthew Harrison Brady" voices his unyielding support for Ussher's theory, even adding the bit about the creation occurring at 9:00 AM? In reality, Darrow and Bryan did discuss Ussher at some length, but Bryan expressed more ambiguity on the subject than the dramatizations suggest.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam (81 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
two-thirds of Americans say it's definitely or probably true that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years."

See, this is what happens when you don't go metric.
posted by meehawl at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


I'm just going to tag this for later. I'll be back in an hour or so to see how it's going.
posted by nola at 9:20 AM on October 23, 2007


Yeah, it was a long post. sorry
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 9:21 AM on October 23, 2007


These were some of the people who took that survey.
posted by mullingitover at 9:28 AM on October 23, 2007


Hardly looks a day over 5000.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:32 AM on October 23, 2007


Even if you are going to be silly enough to take Genesis chapter one literally how do you ignore the first verse??? "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." "The beginning" is undefined, which would allow for the observable (for example, when we turn binoculars upon the Andromeda galaxy, the light entering our eye had to leave the galaxy some two-and-a-quarter million years ago – and that's a nearby galaxy. The verses after Gen. 1:1 change context (reference point) from the universal to the scope of the earth's perspective, and seem to indicate how the earth came to progress to a point at which it could sustain human life.
posted by spock at 9:34 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Would the Chinese kindly dump all their dollar denominated securities, and peak oil get seriously underway so the societal apocalypse weeds out these atavistic nincompoops?
posted by bastionofsanity at 9:43 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


the light entering our eye had to leave the galaxy some two-and-a-quarter million years ago

Silly spock, God created the light in transit, just as He created trees that already had rings even though they weren't even a minute old.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:46 AM on October 23, 2007


Bible literalists tend to believe that you can pretend to quantify the amount of time light travels through space all you want, you can carbon-date the shit out of things, but as far as they're concerned, God is perfectly capable of creating things so they appear to be old. He's God.

My mother believes this stuff, or claims to. The church I attended until I was 18 was very clear on the relative youth of the universe, science be damned.
posted by padraigin at 9:47 AM on October 23, 2007


"The beginning" is undefined, which would allow for the observable (for example, when we turn binoculars upon the Andromeda galaxy, the light entering our eye had to leave the galaxy some two-and-a-quarter million years ago – and that's a nearby galaxy.

Stop your foul lies, Satan.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


the light entering our eye had to leave the galaxy some two-and-a-quarter million years ago

Your first mistake is using logic and reasoning.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


See, this is what happens when you don't go metric.

So 1 year is 20 metric years?
posted by howling fantods at 9:52 AM on October 23, 2007


My point is that none of those mental gymnastics are necessary if you just accept the first verse as literally as you take the rest of them. If they want to literally accept the Bible, how about starting with the first verse?
posted by spock at 9:53 AM on October 23, 2007


I imagine most literalists would read "In the beginning" and take it to mean "in the beginning", which, if you don't overthink it, implies that the creation of Earth took place in the beginning.
posted by padraigin at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Silly spock, God created the light in transit, just as He created trees that already had rings even though they weren't even a minute old.

Any sufficiently advanced nanotech fabrication technology is indistinguishable from Creationism.
posted by cortex at 9:59 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


God is perfectly capable of creating things so they appear to be old. He's God.

Is that like when I buy new jeans that already have that 'worn in' look?
posted by troubles at 10:00 AM on October 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


So, um, when's it end?
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 AM on October 23, 2007


"I imagine most literalists would read "In the beginning" and take it to mean "in the beginning", which, if you don't overthink it, implies that the creation of Earth took place in the beginning."

I'm a post-punk literalist: "In the beginning there was… Rhythm!"

(Silence is a rhythm too!)

Seriously, nice post.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 AM on October 23, 2007


6010 years ago? Damn I'm sick of these old-Earthers, everyone who has a clue knows that the Earth was created two years ago.

Come on, people. Pay attention; the facts are right there in front of you.
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on October 23, 2007


I imagine most literalists would read "In the beginning" and take it to mean "in the beginning", which, if you don't overthink it, implies that the creation of Earth took place in the beginning.

That's the POINT. The creation of the heaven and the earth precedes the description of the preparation of the "formless and waste" earth for human habitation which follows (described as creative "days" - from the someone on the earth's perspective, which would have been the intended reader's perspective).
posted by spock at 10:06 AM on October 23, 2007


Yeah, all those fossils (or Devil's Hoofs as like to call them) were just put in by god to test us (or it's The Flood)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:09 AM on October 23, 2007


...two-thirds of Americans say it's definitely or probably true that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.

Two-thirds. The conservative nutjob base in the country is certainly no more than a third. So at least a third of the set of independents and liberals believes this nonsense as well.

/me weeps for the country
posted by DU at 10:10 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Spock, the trouble is that the stars weren't created "in the beginning." The sun, moon, and stars came on Wednesday, Adam was created on Friday, and Jesus was born 4,000 years later.
posted by designbot at 10:11 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nola - I popped out for an 18-pack, so swing by and we'll crack a few while we wait. Personally, I like the post, though.

But Vic, dude, the user name is fantastic. Blew my head clean off with the reference.
posted by Sk4n at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2007


two-thirds of Americans say it's definitely or probably true that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years."

Most of these idiots can't remember when 9/11 happened, and we're going to trust them with 10,000 years?
posted by psmealey at 10:18 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is this something I'm meant to give a fuck about?
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:22 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's looks to be something whimsical, but some are taking it too seriously.
posted by wfc123 at 10:27 AM on October 23, 2007


I guess it's no coincidence that this falls so close to CAP LOCKS DAY.
posted by PlusDistance at 10:29 AM on October 23, 2007



That's the POINT. The creation of the heaven and the earth precedes the description of the preparation of the "formless and waste" earth for human habitation which follows (described as creative "days" - from the someone on the earth's perspective, which would have been the intended reader's perspective).


No, it says "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Then it describes how he went about the business. That is exactly how you read Genesis if you are a Bible literalist.

It would be like "This morning padraigin got up and did some stuff. She got out of bed and she got her kids dressed and she had a disagreement with Mr. padraigin over who was taking the kids to school and then she lost the disagreement and took the kids to school and now she's trying to explain to a Vulcan how wingnuts interpret the Bible. And it was not really all that good".
posted by padraigin at 10:32 AM on October 23, 2007


In Genesis 1:1-2:3 God creates plants, then birds and marine animals, then land animals, then men and women at the same time ("male and female created he them"). In Genesis 2:4-2:22, God creates man, then plants, then birds and land animals, then woman (from Adam's rib).
posted by kirkaracha at 10:36 AM on October 23, 2007


Stere-ere-o, kirkaracha. God has 3D goggles.
posted by cortex at 10:36 AM on October 23, 2007


The Earth just looks five billion years old -- it's had a hard 6,000 years, and appears far older than it really is. Much like Keith Richards.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:42 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


kirkaracha: s/contradiction/test of your faith/g

Remember, it isn't enough that you believe in Invisible Sky Giant(s) with a lack of evidence. You have to believe in the face of evidence.
posted by DU at 10:51 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]




So the universe is a Libra?
posted by Grangousier at 10:56 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


So the universe is a Libra?

Balance is better than most things. Thank God the universe isn't Scorpio. Then the laws of gravity and conservation of energy and such would only apply to you if it liked you.
posted by psmealey at 11:02 AM on October 23, 2007


Hey, I'm a Scorpio, just. Cuspular.
posted by Grangousier at 11:04 AM on October 23, 2007


I think the silliest notion is the the one that there is some powerful rationality that propels or should propel any sort of advancement in "civilization." Clearly, we can only manage that for 2,500 years maximum at a time or so before things go bonkers and we're back to eating crap and beating each other with pointy sticks.

/pictures God's calendar much like my Farside desk calendar.
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:09 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The 23rd, eh? Somewhere, Robert Anton Wilson is laughing.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:14 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


A good friend of mine is James Ussher a direct descendent of the bishop in question.

He named his first son Samuel, so whatever the sins of his ancestors, he is fully forgiven.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 11:17 AM on October 23, 2007


Damn earth-lovin' hippies creationists. Don't they know it's clearly blasphemous to celebrate birthdays?
posted by malaprohibita at 11:32 AM on October 23, 2007


Two-thirds???? WTF??? That doesn't past my sniff test. I poked around trying to find fault (like it was actually a survey of evangelicals) but haven't been able to. In this case, I am afraid my nose might be broken. How depressing.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2007



It's fun to laugh and ridicule, I suppose, but there are a lot of these people in the country, they have growing wealth and power, and many own guns. And they don't much like the rest of us. We probably one economic depression away from a civil war.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2007


Two-thirds???? WTF??? That doesn't past my sniff test.

If I had to guess, and I don't but I will anyway, I'd say that questions like creationism have become so thoroughly bound up with more general traditionalism and conservatism that answers to that question don't mean much.

I think someone might hear "Do you believe God made humans in their present form a few thousand years ago?" and answer "Yes" not because they actually believe it but because they're opposed to premarital sex and abortion and that's how a person who is opposed to those should answer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:41 AM on October 23, 2007


In the same poll (Question "A"), 52% of respondents stated that the following is definitely or probably true:

"Evolution, that is, the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life"

So how could 2/3 of the same group believe that humans were created < 10,000 years ago?
posted by Eyebeams at 11:47 AM on October 23, 2007


So how could 2/3 of the same group believe that humans were created <>

While 37% are idiots, 15% are dumbasses with no conviction.

posted by twistedonion at 11:53 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


What pisses me off most about creationists is the way they lack all appropriate wonder at the god they postulate. If god really did create the entire damn universe, from the largest supernova to the smallest subatomic particle, life, heat, energy, entropy, sentience, and probably a trillion other complex multifaceted phenomena that we haven't even found out about yet, he's infinitely more awe-inspiring than even the most devout creationist will admit. Instead, the best they can offer up is some bearded old guy obsessed with our little rock in an infinite universe who gets upset when somebody wears a condom or speaks his name out of turn. It's just so...mundane.
posted by SBMike at 11:56 AM on October 23, 2007 [5 favorites]




LOLXIANS!!!!
posted by mattbucher at 12:21 PM on October 23, 2007


One thing I dont get about Creationism, and forgive me for waxing overly simplisitic here, but.

Say everything the staunchest, standard-issue Creationist believes is true and were all made in His image and so on.

Then, why organs? Why veins? Why tissues?
What Im saying is. why the need for all that complexity?
Why wouldnt an arm just be an arm?
Just a solid piece of material.
An arm.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:30 PM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Made out of "arm"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:30 PM on October 23, 2007


I like that every time a creationist denies fossil evidence of things, he accuses god of lying.

Im sure the Jews are behind this somehow. Hmmmm.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:31 PM on October 23, 2007


Say everything the staunchest, standard-issue Creationist believes is true and were all made in His image and so on.

Then, why organs? Why veins? Why tissues?


Does God eat? Does He poop? Does He pee? For that matter, does He have a penis? Can He get an erection?
posted by LordSludge at 12:46 PM on October 23, 2007


I imagine most literalists would read "In the beginning" and take it to mean "in the beginning", which, if you don't overthink it, implies that the creation of Earth took place in the beginning.

Why wouldnt an arm just be an arm?
Just a solid piece of material.
An arm.
Made out of "arm"


Does God eat? Does He poop? Does He pee?

I'm not a creationist by any means, but the pro-science arguments in this thread make Kirk Cameron look like a Rhodes scholar.
posted by designbot at 12:49 PM on October 23, 2007


but the pro-science arguments in this thread make Kirk Cameron look like a Rhodes scholar.

pro-science arguments? There are plenty of ANTI-dipshit snarks.

But not many arguing FOR anything.

And face it. If people think the world is only a few thousand years old... a good pro science argument isn't gonna convince them otherwise.
posted by tkchrist at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2007


metafilter: I'm Sure The Jews Are Behind This Somehow

or perhaps

metafilter: Can God Get An Erection?
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2007


Can He get an erection?

Yes. Yes I can.
posted by quin at 12:59 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


senor Cardgage: I'm guessing because then it would be too easy to make us humans immortal, sturdy, and not at the mercy of bacteria, and even sustenance from plants/animals, much less air. The potential of suffering, pain, misery and death would allow an all-knowing entity to be able to judge the good and the bad people.

Remember, this life is just the prooving grounds, it's the "next" one (you know, the one that there we don't get any news about) where if we have any bodies, our arms will be made purely of arm.
posted by nobeagle at 1:05 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just for the record, I really wasnt intending that to be snarky.
Overly simplisitc, possibly. But it was meant to be a serious question.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:13 PM on October 23, 2007


The answer to your question is that the person who wrote down the creation story had a different conception of God than the later biblical authors. The early writers talk about God walking around the garden of Eden, wrestling with Jacob, etc. He was a physical being of normal size, with the form of a man, like most gods in other religions. His arm would have had muscles and flesh like anyone else's. It wasn't until much later that God morphed into the all-knowing omnipresent deity in the sky described by the prophets.
posted by designbot at 1:34 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh I know all that, designbot (for the record Im an atheist) but the question is meant to be posed to see how it would fit into the logic (limited though it may be) of the Creationist's own worldview.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:37 PM on October 23, 2007


um...in the beginning there weren't any days at all (there was no light and dark or moon or sun or earth, no?)..no one could ever tell when it was.
posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on October 23, 2007


I'd just like to add some perspective to this statement:

Gallup reports that as of June 2007, two-thirds of Americans say it's definitely or probably true that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years."

Straight Dope (Nov 2006):

To a degree, survey results reflect how the question is framed. Pew Research notes that its polls have found much wider belief in evolution than Gallup's, 26 percent versus 13 percent. The reason, Pew speculates, is that it doesn't mention God in the choices it offers participants, while Gallup does. Not wishing to declare themselves unbelievers, more Gallup respondents opt for the wishy-washy theist choice. The creationist numbers, on the other hand, can't be so easily explained away.

Things are still pretty bad, but the Gallup poll seems to skew the numbers down (for evolution) with its word choice.
posted by Tehanu at 1:46 PM on October 23, 2007


In the beginning, there was a lava lamp. God is old school.
posted by Tehanu at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2007


I'm Sure The Jews Are Behind This Somehow

We used to be but those wacky Christians just make stuff up all the time. Our year 1 is actually ike a year before Creation, no, in the Hebrew calendar ?

... What is the epochal year in the modern Jewish calendar? The epoch of the modern Hebrew calendar is 1 Tishri AM 1 (AM = anno mundi = in the year of the world), which in the proleptic Julian calendar is Monday, October 7, 3761 B.C.E., the equivalent tabular date (same daylight period). This date is about one year before the traditional Jewish date of Creation on 25 Elul AM 1....
posted by amberglow at 1:54 PM on October 23, 2007


like a year before : >
posted by amberglow at 1:55 PM on October 23, 2007


The Earth just looks five billion years old -- it's had a hard 6,000 years, and appears far older than it really is. Much like Keith Richards.

Love that!
posted by amberglow at 1:58 PM on October 23, 2007


(here's a link to the whole "year before creation" thing about the calendar--don't know how authoritative it is tho)
posted by amberglow at 2:00 PM on October 23, 2007


Humans emerge from a clam after prodding by a bird.
posted by phoque at 2:00 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


and from there: ...However, the meaning of what a "day" is in the Hebrew bible is not what we think a day means in the sense of a 24-hour day. Even the concept of a "day" in the seven days of creation does not represent a 24-hour day according to Orthodox Jews since they point out that the Sun did not appear until the 4th "day". Until the 4th "day", they reason, the idea of a 24-hour "day" would be meaningless. Therefore, the Hebrew year number is not necessarily supposed to represent a scientific fact. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:02 PM on October 23, 2007


Of course God punched in at 9 am. He’s a contractor. He got time and a half for starting on a Saturday, plus double time for working at night (no sun) and on the weekend. Then after a week he subcontracted the job to Adam. Which is really a way of laying off any trouble because there was no building permit. Ah, don’t get me started.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:18 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Then after a week he subcontracted the job to Adam.

Which is Judaism in a nutshell. : >
posted by amberglow at 3:20 PM on October 23, 2007


It's my birthday, too. Stupid earth, getting all the attention.
posted by Grod at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years."

This is a poorly worded summary of creationism in the first question. Depending upon how people interpret "at one time" it may include people who believe in evolution but think it was guided by God. That's a straight-out mistake on Gallup's part.

(The 10,000 is way off, but what's an order of magnitude here or there if you were never taught evolution in school. I never got any serious evolution education in all of high school.)

The survey does address these variations in later questions.
God alone 43%
God and development 38%
Development w/out God 14%

When I was a news blogger, I grew not to trust Gallup much. In political polls, Gallup's numbers are more favorable to the right than in other polls.

Plus, there is the increasing problem of selection bias when those who are willing to answer their land-line, unscreened, during dinner, are becoming a self-selected group.
posted by McLir at 8:14 PM on October 23, 2007


This blogger doesn't trust Gallup much either.
posted by McLir at 8:16 PM on October 23, 2007


Bible literalists tend to believe that you can pretend to quantify the amount of time light travels through space all you want, you can carbon-date the shit out of things, but as far as they're concerned, God is perfectly capable of creating things so they appear to be old. He's God.

My mother believes this stuff, or claims to. The church I attended until I was 18 was very clear on the relative youth of the universe, science be damned.


Tell them they're fooling themselves.
The universe is one minute old.

Those memories in your head?
You think God couldn't have created those?
posted by dreamsign at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2007


Double?
posted by neuron at 9:37 PM on October 23, 2007


If you have any knowledge of how the world works, this book is hilarious. (Granted, it's nearly 30 years old & even the young-earthers don't point to it any more.)
FWIW, I believe God created the universe about 15 billion years ago.
posted by neuron at 9:42 PM on October 23, 2007


These young Earthers need to be shoved back into the womb for some remedial brain development.
posted by stavrogin at 10:12 PM on October 23, 2007


According to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, the Earth's birthday is Oct. 21st:

"Current theories on the creation of the Universe state, that, if it was created at all and didn't just start, as it were, unofficially, it came into being ten and twenty thousand million years ago. By the same token the earth itself is generally supposed to be about four and a half thousand million years old.

These dates are incorrect.

Medieval Jewish scholars put the date of the Creation at 3760 B.C. Greek Orthodox theologians put Creation as far back as 5508 B.C.

These suggestions are also incorrect.

Archbishop James Usher (1580-1656) published Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti in 1654, which suggested that the Heaven and the Earth were created in 4004 B.C. One of his aides took the calculation further, and was able to announce triumphantly that the Earth was created on Sunday the 21st of October, 4004 B.C. at exactly 9:00 A.M., because God like to get work done early in the morning while he was feeling fresh.

This too was incorrect. By almost a quarter of an hour.

...the Earth's a Libra.

The astrological prediction for Libra in the "Your Stars Today" column of the Tadfield Advertiser, on the day this history begins, read as follows:

LIBRA 24 September - 23 October

You may be feeling run down and always in the same old daily round. Home and family matters are highlighted and are hanging fire. Avoid unnecessary risks. A friend is important to you. Shelve major decisions until the way ahead seems clear. You may be vulnerable to a stomach upset today, so avoid salads. Help could come from an unexpected quarter.

This was perfectly correct on every count except the bit about the salads.
" - exerpt from pgs. 3 & 4 of Good Omens
posted by msjen at 12:34 AM on October 24, 2007


Hey, the Mayans give me three goes - "The Maya calendar dates the beginning of the latest world cycle of time to August 11 or August 13, 3114 BCE or Monday, September 6th -3113 (3114 BCE)"... I'm going with them!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 8:20 AM on October 24, 2007


« Older The horse is out of the barn   |   Smile, Mahtha Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments