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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You a Christian? Well then, October 23 is your BIG day! Or so the Toronto Star reporter thought ...

Last Saturday afternoon, I was working quietly in my office, when the phone rang. I recognized the number of course (416 367-2000) - the Toronto Star has had that number about as long as I can remember. A reporter wanted to know what Christians were planning to do to celebrate October 23.

October 23? Well, in my tradition, that's the feast of the saintly John Capistrano, but I don’t expect everyone to know. I didn’t myself, until I looked it up.

It turned out that the reporter had learned that a 17th century Irish archbishop Ussher had methodically dated the origin of the world to this date about six thousand years ago. And, given that I was a "fundamentalist author" , he was sure I could tell him about the big celebrations to be expected today.

I pointed out, of course, that describing me as a fundamentalist author was the Toronto Star's mistake in the first place. Repetition, even into millions of copies, does not turn a Catholic into a fundamentalist, or a person who thinks the Earth is billions of years old into someone who thinks it is thousands of years old. No matter. To the best of my knowledge, young earth creationists (the accurate term for people who think that the earth is only thousands, not billions of years old) do not treat Ussher's chronology as a form of prophecy. (Ussher wrote before modern geology had contributed much to a discussion of the age of the Earth. He relied on genealogy, not geology, to work out his figures but Biblical genealogies probably feature gaps. As I pointed out in By Design or by Chance?, the serious young earthers use geology and paleontology now.

Anyway, I pointed out that Orthodox Jews (not Christians) use a dating system based on the assumption that the Earth is only about 6000 years old. In that case, today is 11 Cheshvan 5768. Why not research that? I suggested. I wonder what he eventually did ...

But you know, his idea is a good one in principle .... Happy Creation to all of you out there! Glad you're here!

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