Sunday, November 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Earth! You Just Passed 6009!

Via Threads From Henry's Web, I see that my favorite Christian fundamentalist apology website, Worldnutdaily, is ecstatic over the re-release of Bishop James Ussher's Annals of the World. Those familiar with the history of science (and those having taken my Anthropology 1 course) will recognize Bishop Ussher as the 17th century Anglican bishop who determined that the earth was not only created in 4004 BC, but that he also figured it that it came into existence on October 23 of that year (we apparently missed the earth's birthday two weeks ago - perhaps Bush and his fundamentalist buddies can make it a federal holiday?).

Worldnutdaily reports that everyone will be happy except for us Darwinists:

Of course, there will be those who disagree with Ussher's calculations of time – especially evolutionists who need billions of years to explain their theory of how life sprang from non-life and mutated from one-celled animals into human beings.

Of course, there will be those who accept without critique Ussher's calculations of time - especially creationists who require a 6000 year old earth in which to fit their personal interpretation of Genesis, written by tribal folks with no knowledge of science. Henry's Web calls it as it is:

But the article also calls this book “. . . a favorite of homeschoolers and those who take ancient history seriously.” That is simply incredible. Practically the entire field of ancient near eastern archeology has been created since that book was written. It is, itself, a historical artifact, and not a good source for the facts of the history of the world or of their interpretation. If homeschoolers are being taught history in this fashion, we have a great deal to be worried about.

One of the main reasons why I'm not all that excited about homeschooling: most of it is an attempt to limit knowledge, not expand it. I will probably purchase a copy of Ussher's book - in the context of a history of people trying to understand the world around them I think it is probably a classic. But to consider Ussher's book as having any practical application today is nonsense. His views went the way of the dodo long ago.

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