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..1 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.’
And 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
Do you remember the revolt of the scientists against the big bang theory for the origin of the universe? In 2004 a group of 33 leading scientists took out a paid advertisement in New Scientist.1 They titled it ‘Open Letter to the Scientific Community,’ basically stating that the big bang theory was fundamentally flawed.
An article copying that appeared on http://www.rense.com titled ‘Big bang theory busted by 33 top scientists’ (27 May 2004). See screenshot on left.
The list of names of scientists who agreed with the Statement—that is, disagreed with the theory of a big bang origin of the universe—is available here and many more added their names to that list.
These scientists only agreed on one thing. They were all united in their conviction that the big bang was a bust.
A renewed revolt against Darwinism
Old-earth creationist Kirk Bertsche has been critical of the RATE work on Carbon-14 dating diamonds, which indicate that they are not billions of years old, but less than 56,000 years (with evolutionary assumptions) and less than 7000 years old (with the correct biblical assumptions). Kirk Bertsche writes,1
The ICR (Institute for Creation Research) recently spent eight years on a project known as RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth). The RATE team claims the results have yielded convincing and irrefutable scientific evidence of a young earth.
John Baumgardner, a geophysicist with expertise in tectonic modeling, presents experimental data claiming to show that all biological material contains intrinsic radiocarbon, no matter how old that material may be thought to be.2,3 He makes additional claims that even non-biological carbonaceous material contains intrinsic radiocarbon. He suggests that this radiocarbon is residual from the material’s creation. If true, his claims would have far-reaching implications for the ages of these materials.