Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Worldnutdaily and “Real History”

In their usual breathless marketing style, the Worldnutdaily is offering a new version of Bishop James Ussher’s classic Annals of the World. The front page of WND declares:

Real history, untampered with by ‘them’

And yes, the emphasis and the scare quotes are in the original. They further declare:

Considered not only a literary classic, but also an accurate reference, “The Annals of the World” was so highly regarded for its preciseness that the timeline from it was included in the margins of many King James Version Bibles throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

There’s just one tiny little problem with this – it’s completely false. Ussher’s “timeline” begins with the creation of the world 6009 years ago, in 4004 BC. But the world is of course far older than that and even when it comes to recorded human history, we have records that predate the alleged creation event. Apparently, this is what passes for an “accurate reference” at the Worldnutdaily.

Comments

  1. #1 Oolong
    August 16, 2005

    If I remember correctly (I may be wrong), Usher actually knew the date of creation to the DAY. I can’t remember it, but his ability for precise geological dating is even more amazing than you note.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    August 16, 2005

    Oolong wrote:

    If I remember correctly (I may be wrong), Usher actually knew the date of creation to the DAY. I can’t remember it, but his ability for precise geological dating is even more amazing than you note.

    Even better, he knew the exact time – the entrance of the night preceding the twenty third day of October, 4004 BC.

  3. #3 Ed Darrell
    August 16, 2005

    It was somebody else who calculated creation to the day and hour.

    For his part, Ussher, a geologist, issued any number of disclaimers. Basically it was a geology paper, and as he apologized in the introduction, he just used the sources he had, hoping that geologists in the future would correct the timeline as they learned.

    So Ussher’s work is flawed, 16th century science, which its author had hoped would be updated.

    Physicians in that day often bled people to let out the evil spirits. One must resist the urge to hope the editors of WorldNut find a physician to practice such 16th century medicine on them, and keep practicing either until he gets it right or all the demons are gone.

  4. #4 Raging Bee
    August 16, 2005

    Wait a minute — how can God have said “Let there be light” at the “entrance of the night?”

    And what time zone are we talking about here?

  5. #5 Raging Bee
    August 16, 2005

    Hey, it’s reduced in price by $10.00!

  6. #6 Simon
    August 16, 2005

    Actually, bleeding was not generally to release evil spirits, but to adjust the balance of the four basic humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile) in the body. They thought that imbalances in the humors caused the diseases associated with a surplus or deficiency of each. In the case of bleeding, it was generally used to alleviate fevers, which were associated with being overly Sanguine.

  7. #7 PZ Myers
    August 16, 2005

    There was more to it than just an antique interpretation of geology. It was based on numerology, and a belief that God liked nice round numbers with lots of zeroes. He was arguing for thousand-year intervals in human history — the world began in 4004BC because the birth of Jesus was in 4BC, putting it precisely 4000 years before an important date in Christian mythology.

  8. #8 Oolong
    August 16, 2005

    PZ,

    It is not surprising that God would like nice round numbers and so prefer lots of zeros. After all, it has long been accepted that God’s existence can be derived from the fact that the heavenly bodies are perfect spheres (similar to a zero) and that those bodies travel in perfectly round orbits (my, again similar to a zero!). It is therefore not surprising that numerology would reveal a similar connection. All that talk about there being “threes” in everything is overblown. Zeros are everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

  9. #9 ruidh
    August 16, 2005

    I have to think the reference to Ussher as a geologist is a joke. He was, of course, Archbishop of Armagh in the Protestant Church of Ireland in the 17th Century.

    To answer the time zone question, it was either local time or Greenwich Time.

  10. #10 Raging Bee
    August 16, 2005

    Are you sure it wasn’t Jerusalem time?

  11. #11 J
    August 16, 2005

    They thought that imbalances in the humors caused the diseases associated with a surplus or deficiency of each. In the case of bleeding, it was generally used to alleviate fevers, which were associated with being overly Sanguine

    Which, of course, is where they got the name for “Good Humor” ice cream.

    Therefore, in order to balance our humors, we need to eat more ice cream!

  12. #12 raj
    August 16, 2005

    This is funny as heck.

    I wonder if WorldNutDaily will also publish Robert Heinlein’s “Future History.” At least Heinlein knew that what he was doing was science fiction.

  13. #13 Matthew
    August 16, 2005

    Unfortunately my library does not have a copy except on microfilm, i’d love to read this. I also find creationist history to be fascinating. For it to work you have to fit an extraordinarily large amount of events occuring right after each other. There are well known wars that occured right after the alleged worldwide flood; it is just impossible that the world could have been repopulated in time for all of the things that went on directly after the supposed date of said flood.

  14. #14 raj
    August 16, 2005

    Pardon me if I post off-topic, but one of the funniest comedic sites I’ve seen is http://www.venganza.org/

  15. #15 John
    August 16, 2005

    “There are well known wars that occured right after the alleged worldwide flood”

    I have never heard of this before. Can you point me to where I can learn more about it?

  16. #16 Matthew
    August 16, 2005

    Sure, I can only give you a little info though. According to the Ussher timeline the worldwide flood occurred in 2348 BCE. The Assyria empire was established in 1900BCE, the Hyksos invaded Egypt in (i think) 1700BCE, and the Aryans invaded India (though this is a very speculative theory) in 1800BCE. Wikipedia has a nice long article on the Aryan invasion if you’re interested:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan_Invasion_Theory

    There have been many people who have written about the problems of having a single family repopulate the earth in time for these (and other) well known historical events, but I don’t have any links off hand. Some have gone as far as calculating how fast the population would have had to of grown for any of this to work out, and to my recollection, it seems enough by itself to debunk YEC.

  17. #17 John
    August 16, 2005

    Thanks, Matthew, you’ve given me enough to get off and running.

  18. #18 Jason Kuznicki
    August 16, 2005

    Another favorite of mine is the population growth that would have been necessary from the time the Israelites came to Egypt until the time that they left. Read Genesis, do the math. It’s truly insane, even if you assume perfectly modern rates of infant mortality, which they most certainly did not have.

  19. #19 Raging Bee
    August 17, 2005

    I haven’t read this book at all, but from what I hear, the author was just an Archbishop writing a history based on the currently-available information, with no dishonest agenda poisoning his integrity. Which is more than I can say for WorldNutDaily.

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