Fairy tales for adults

Richard Lightman richard at nezumi.plus.com
Thu Feb 13 01:22:37 PST 2003

* Steve Bougerolle <steveb at creek-and-cowley.com> [2003-02-13 08:20]:
> The 6000 year business comes from Bishop Ussher's chronology (and a few
> others), which date from about 350 years ago.  These guys added dates
> given at different points in Genesis and used those to get an estimate
> of the age of the world.
> So, Genesis does NOT contain any statement of the Earth's age.  You have
> to get that with a scientific analysis of what it says.  As such, this
> is a nice example of the point I have been making.  Genesis was not
> written to be a scientific explanation of the origins of the world, so
> the results you get by analyzing it scientifically are silly and people
> who believe them are even sillier.
> On the other hand, Genesis is a written myth encapsulating beliefs about
> the origins of the Jews (and the people around them).  A 6000 year
> figure for the origins of their historical traditions is a much more
> reasonable and believable conclusion from this analysis.  I'm not sure
> what Ussher's motives were in producing his date estimate, whether he
> was just interested in relative dates in the Bible or whether he really
> wanted to date creation.  Either way, we are not obliged to accept his
> estimates as speaking for Genesis itself.
> > Richard's question was, why would God make the universe look so old,
> > while at the same time try to convince everybody that it's relatively
> > young?
> Another loaded question.  Richard is assuming that Genesis was intended
> to present a picture of the age of the universe.  I believe that is not
> the case, so arguing about any age derived from it is just a waste of
> time and energy.
No I am not assuming that Genesis was intended to present a picture of the
age of the universe.

I am saying yet again that I find it hard to believe an educated,
intelligent person in this day and age can believe Genesis is literally

> The point on which the argument turns is this; can an educated, intelligent
> person in this day and age believe Genesis is literally true?  I say yes,
> because intelligent and well-educated people are still not obligated to
> follow scientific standards of analysis when they read it.  They are only
> obliged to judge it by literary standards.  In fact, they are not even
> obligated to understand science (although that does tend to conflict with
> "well-educated", I grant you).
Bishop Ussher and other educated christians came to the conclusion
that the story of genesis is set about 6000 years ago.

The first line of genensis:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

This is why I find it hard to believe an educated, intelligent person
can believe Genesis is literally true.

> At least a couple people on this list seem to like not to hear that, but
> frankly that is their problem.  Scientific analysis is NOT the only valid way
> of thinking, however much scientists and techies might like to believe it is
> so.  Their reactions to these topics are giving piles of ammunition to the many
> people (like myself) who say that scientists are taking over the role priests
> used to have as dictators of truth, and that they are showing all the same
> obnoxious tendencies that medieval clergy used to show.
Just as you find false arguments presented by some priests obnoxious,
I am annoyed by some of the things said by people claiming to be

I have said in previous posts that mathematicians have a different
tests for truth than scientists, and that both tests lead to useful
results. I have said in previous posts that there are limits to what
you can find out with science.

I have said in previous posts that different religions often agree on
certain things, so I suspect there is something in there to learn.
I have asked, and as yet not received clear answer:

What is the test of truth used in religion?


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