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An October Anniversary For Our Universe — And A 9,000-Year-Old Earth

A big anniversary is coming in a little over two weeks, marking the creation of the world — at least as according to James Ussher.

Ussher, a 17th-century Irish bishop and scholar, used the Bible to pinpoint the first day of the world's creation as October 23, 4004 BC. His method is explained here.

If Ussher were alive today, then, he'd be readying to celebrate the world's 6016th birthday.

[CORRECTION, 8:30am Monday, October 8: Commenters here at 13.7 kindly pointed out that the accurate number is 6015, because BC 1 was directly followed by AD 1 with no intervening "zero year". Thank you!]

Of course, science tells us that Ussher's calculation was significantly off. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and our own Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

But not everyone in 2012 has gotten the scientific message. This weekend many media outlets, including NPR, reported a modern perspective pretty close to that of Ussher's. Rep. Paul Broun (R) of Georgia revealed his belief recently that the Earth is only 9,000 years old.

Broun sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, a fact that makes his anti-science stance a matter of national importance, and an outrage, too.

You can keep up with more of what Barbara is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara J. King is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. She is a Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary. With a long-standing research interest in primate behavior and human evolution, King has studied baboon foraging in Kenya and gorilla and bonobo communication at captive facilities in the United States.

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