The Archbishop James Ussher is responsible for the calculation, widely believed among evangelical christians and other wack-jobs, that the earth is only 6000 years old.

He started with the beginning of Saul’s reign as the first king of Israel. There was consensus that this had happened around 1020 BCE. He then worked backwords through the Bible, adding up all the years until he got to Genesis.

Even if you believe in the literal truth of the Bible, Ussher's math was nonsense. For example, he figured that the rule of Judges lasted 330 years. However, modern theologians believe that each Judge controlled separate tribe(s), so that their interval of rule overlapped, and the intervals specified in the Bible should not be simply added up.

For those who want to celebrate an anniversary party, Ussher (and others who don't believe in geology) say that the earth was created on October 22, 4004 BCE.

While his facts may have been flawed, namely the result of his innately unscientific source, Ussher's methodology was actually rather mature for his period (which was, for the record, shortly after the turn of the seventeenth century; pre-Renaissance). The specific nature of his estimations, while on its own quite amusing, was apparently made so as not to skew the estimation beyond its already vague scope more than it was intended as a precise attempt to discern the age of the universe.

As easy as it is to laugh at religion and its scientific applications in history, Ussher's approximation is an excellent example of just what kind of science was being derived from these supposedly flawless works. Calling Ussher a nutjob, or anything like it, is evidence more of modern ignorance than modern superiority.

Modern belief in this estimation or those much like it is surprisingly strong, when one does not pay exclusive attention to the scientific community. The subject of the Biblical age of the earth, when applied to modern sociology, is perhaps a good example of the great potential for massive populations to maintain belief in an apparent falsehood in light of faith.

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