James Ussher (1581 – 1656) was the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland for about 30 years of his life. He is remembered today mainly for his assertion that the earth was created at about 6pm on the 22nd of October 4004 BC.
I learnt from his Wikipedia entry that he was taught to read by two blind spinster aunts which must have been an interesting exercise.
Dating the creation has been quite a popular exercise among theologians. Ussher’s date falls in the mainstream for his era but more recently an older date has emerged as a contender.
In 1970 Harold Camping, an American radio evangelist, published his calculation moving the creation back to 11,013 BC.
This fits much better with what we know about Cheddar Man. His remains were discovered in 1903 in Gough’s Cave in Somerset, England. Sometime after the beginning of Climate Change he (or his immediate forebears) meandered across Doggerland which connected Britain to Europe before Sea Level Rise severed the connection. He made it to the south-west of England about 10,000 years ago. This was not long after ice sheets up to three miles thick had melted.
Scientists have recently extracted C M’s DNA from a small quantity of bone taken from his skull. The Guardian reports …
The team homed in on genes known to be linked to skin colour, hair colour and texture, and eye colour. For skin tone, there are a handful of genetic variants linked to reduced pigmentation, including some that are very widespread in European populations today. However, Cheddar Man had “ancestral” versions of all these genes, strongly suggesting he would have had “dark to black” skin tone, but combined with blue eyes.
About 10% of modern-day poms are descended from this early population. The sun rarely shines in England and sunlight striking skin creates Vitamin D without which children suffer Rickets. Subsequent generations have become lighter skinned.
A pair of very skilled modern Europeans have produced an extremely accurate model of C M’s head, and as you can see, incontrovertible evidence of the oldest known human head tilt.
Post Script …
Wikipedia tells us that Ussher’s timing of the creation is …
frequently misquoted as being 9 a.m., noon or 9 p.m. on 23 October.
Is that really worth quibbling about when you’re out by more than 4 billion years?
Harold Camping not only dated the creation he was also kind enough to date the end of the universe. This occurred on May 21st, 2011. If you’re reading this he may well have been wrong.