Bishop Ussher, Time Traveler

James Ussher (1581-1656), an Irish theologian and scholar, at one time had possibly the largest collection of books in Western Europe. A tireless collector, he eventually donated the collection to Trinity College, Dublin, which his uncle James Ussher helped found. During his lifetime he was widely known as a defender of learning, of the value of books secular and sacred, and a proponent of maintaining an independent identity for Irish Protestant faith. He was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1625.

But what he is really known for is his chronology of creation. Using the Book of Genesis, he painstakingly followed the series of "begats" back in time and determined that the universe was created in the year 4004 BC, on October 23. (Refinements by others further pinpointed this to 9 a.m., London time, or midnight in the Garden of Eden.) This chronology was inserted in the margins of many editions of the Authorized Version of the Bible ("King James Version") in the 19th century, and has been used as "proof" of the fallacy of evolution, molecular biology, astrophysics and many other scientific endeavors in the 20th century.

There is no evidence to show Ussher would approve of these recent "proofs."


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