Development of an “old” universe in science

Notes of a lecture on the historical philosophical development of the notion that the universe is very old. The lecture was given August 1st 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.


Bishop James Ussher was the Irish Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland. He excelled in education, was fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. In 1654, after an exhaustive investigation, he published his date for the Creation of the Universe – 4004 B.C..When Ussher published this Creation date it was believed. There was nothing remarkable about that. If you add up the genealogies in the Bible, and with a bit of historical knowledge, you can easily get a time since the beginning of the world of around 6000 years. It was believed that God created the world as He said in Scripture about 4000 years before Christ. For roughly 18 centuries of the Christian era such a time period was widely believed.

In the 17th century Sir Francis Bacon developed the ideas of the modern scientific method – scientific empiricism—where one developed a thesis and did experiments to test it. Bacon has been called the ‘father of the scientific method.’

Middle ages onAnd it was from the Middle Ages science was nurtured in the Christian universities of Europe and flourished after that, from the Reformation on, underpinned by the rich Christian worldview that held that the Universe was created by a rational trustworthy God, and the unchanging laws of nature are His creation. Continue reading