But it was just my imagination — once again —
running away with me.
I tell you it was just my imagination
running away with me… – The Temptations, Just my imagination
For those of you unfamiliar with one James Ussher, Primate of All Ireland, this is the fellow who, using the Old Testament, claimed to come up with the exact age of planet Earth: the night preceding October 23, 4004 BC (BCE for those of you pedantic enough to point it out).
The Chinese took a swing at this, and claimed mama Gaea was 36,000 years old.
Most of the Greeks were ‘agnostic’ about it, but some guessed the world was eternal, and Plutarch recorded that some Tuscan sages claimed the world was re-created every 25,868 years.
The ancient Egyptians put it at somewhere around 39,670 BC. The Babylonians/Sumerians put it at a few hundred thousand years before them (but they also had kings who ruled for thousands of years, so it’s kinda sketchy). The Arabians put it as 6174 BC, the Mayans claimed it was August 11 3114 BC, the Hindus guessed somewhere around 158.7 trillion years (way to overshoot!), and we won’t even go into what the Zoroastrians claim (mostly because that cosmological gibberish gives me a brain ache).
As always, these estimates weren’t made via scientific observation, but extreme guesswork and were skewed by whomever was in power in that culture at the time.
Of course now we know that it’s all rubbish. Or most of us do. Some folks still have no clue. Scarier still is that some of them are running for office. As if that’s not enough, we have all sorts of creationist idiots taking a run at the presidency.
It is a sad, sad statement about our species that these fairy tales are still taken seriously.
(Oh, and as an aside, wish me a happy 53rd birthday.)
Till the next post, then.