October 23 4004BC, according to Bishop James Ussher of Armagh, was the date on which God created the universe. So today we celebrate the universe turning 6009 years old! (And I have to say, the cosmos is purty darned spry and sharp-witted for a hexamillenarian. It must be that vegan diet.) So everyone put on your party hats and join in on a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday!” (with all due royalties paid).

Ussher, if you’re wondering, arrived at his conclusion by extrapolating back through the various reigns and lifespans of the Hebrew kings and patriarchs, calibrating with known events from other calendars. The date itself was determined by finding the Sunday nearest the autumnal equinox (and thus the Jewish New Year), which in 4004BC fell on, indeed, the 23rd of October. The year also falls close to the Venerable Bede‘s estimate of 3952BC for the universe’s creation. Another theologian named James Lightfoot arrived at a similar date for the creation about the same time Ussher did, so the calculation of a 6000-year-old universe is often called the Ussher-Lightfoot Chronology.

The date is still celebrated among geologists and earth scientists, who will begin their festivities the evening before so as not to miss the momentous anniversary itself. In contrast, there is a small subset of creationism that holds the Ussher-Lightfoot Chronology to be absolutely correct. My research for this piece did not uncover any links between the Young-Earthers and the Flat-Earthers, but I’m sure some similarities of thought exist. You may be either saddened, frightened, or amused by the Young-Earthers; I chose to be amused.

In any event, today’s Café is open, so c’mon in, join the party, and have a slice of cake. If anybody can suggest some fun birthday-party games, the management would be eager to hear them!

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