Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Earth!

According to James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (1581-1656), the world was created by God on the evening preceding October 23, 4004 BC.

The Earth is therefore 6,014 years old (there is no year 0 - the calendar goes from 1 BC to 1 AD).  Of course those evil godless geologists say it's closer to  4,540,000,000 (4.54 billion) years old.

Quite honestly, one can forgive Archbishop Ussher his belief since, back around 1650, there was little in the way of scientific evidence to support an ancient age for the Earth.  After the work of early geologists like James Hutton (1726-1797) and Charles Lyell (1797-1875), however, this view became more and more untenable as time went on.

The clincher, of course, was the development of radiometric dating in the 20th century which has conclusively shown the age of the Earth to within a few million years (± 1% or so).  Since the environmentalists own Earth Day in April, I'd like to see the geologists take October 23 as their day to celebrate the scientific study of the Earth - an ancient, dynamic, and fascinating planet.  Our home.

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