Happy Birthday Universe

In a spirit of profound gratitude for the birth of the universe and each friend, flower and sunrise in it, friends and I love to celebrate Creation Day every October 23 by singing songs of celebration.

Each day, we learn of  new challenges facing humanity:  devastating hurricanes, floods, droughts, famines, fires, terrorism, mass shooters.  In order to effectively respond to these challenges,  we are free to step back and look at the whole of existence and give thanks for our lives, for the universe and for the powers that make everything possible.  With renewed sense of possibility, we can more effectively find creatives solutions to these challenges.

While every day is a great day to celebrate the birth of our universe, October 23, or Creation Day, is when people of all philosophies and religions can gather with friends to celebrate  the most momentous event of all time, the event that created time and space and everything in it.   This is a day to give thanks and rejoice for the awe and wonder of existence and its glorious unfolding into life, into awareness and into love. It’s also a day we may celebrate our place in creating a flourishing future.

Was October 23 the day the universe was born?  Who knows?  But what better day is there to celebrate the most auspicious event in our universe?

While the exact birth date of our universe may never be known, we do know that our Universe burst forth 13.8 billion years ago (give or take a few million years).

This presents us with a dilemma: what is the best date each year to throw a birthday party for the Universe, an occasion certainly worth celebrating?

October 23 was first suggested by James Ussher, the Archbishop of Ireland in the mid 1600s.  Bishop Ussher determined that the universe came into being on the eve of  October 23, 4004 B.C.

While some may ridicule Ussher for his calculation that the universe was created in only a few thousand years ago and for giving a precise date to a time that is surely unknowable, he, like other scholars of his era, had little data available to date the universe.  Two hundred years after Ussher, the best scientists thought the Earth was only a few million years old.  And, less than 60 years ago, many physicists believed that our universe was eternal and had no beginning.  It was only in 1965 that scientists had conclusive evidence that the universe had a beginning.

Although Ussher’s calculation was off by 13.8 billion years, no one else has suggested a better date for the birth of our universe.

Were Ussher alive today,  his scholarship and enthusiasm for science would have led him to agree that the age of the universe is around 14 billion years. In addition to being Professor of Divinity at Dublin’s Trinity College, Ussher embraced  Galileo’s idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun.   Inspired by the newly emerging scientific age which employed the best information available, Ussher consulted various sources when writing his chronology of the world. Ussher was also a deeply religious man and in 1658, he published his timeline in Annals of the Old Testament, which sought to reconcile science of his era with his faith

Like Ussher, I too am deeply inspired by the awe and wonder of the Power that Creates the Universe.   And like Ussher, I like to devote a day of the year celebrating the miracle of existence and the even greater miracle that we have evolved the capacity to witness the birth of stars, the evolution of life, and the emergence of human imagination, creativity and love.

So on October 23, I invite you to celebrate the event that set into motion all the other events: the birth of our universe.   This is a day to rejoice for the awe and wonder of the magnificent unfolding of life into awareness and into love. Creation Day is also a day we may renew our commitment to creating a flourishing future.

More Reading:

Bishop Ussher Dates the World: 4004, BC. byDr. Donald E. Simanek, Emeritus Professor of Physics,  Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, https://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/ussher.htm

Steady State Theory – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady_State_theory

Age of the Universe – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_universe

Rereading Darwin: Science now takes for granted the importance of forces and time spans we can’t perceive directly by Robert L. Dorit http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/keyboards-codes-and-the-search-for-optimality

Usscher and Galileo http://discourse.biologos.org/t/dr-cavaliers-comments-re-ussher-and-galileo/27