Happy Birthday Universe

We know that our Universe burst forth 13.8 billion years ago (give or take a few million years).  The exact date of the birth of our universe is unknown, and will likely elude us forever.

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?

Perhaps October 23 is the ideal date to sing “Happy Birthday, Universe.”

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, he, like other scholars at the time, 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 another date for the birth of our universe.

So, in a lighthearted spirit of gratitude for the birth of the universe and all that is in it, I propose that we celebrate October 23rd as the day for the Creation of our Universe.

Were Ussher alive today,  his careful 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 he 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.  In 1658, he published his timeline in Annals of the Old Testament.  

While every day is a great day to celebrate existence, 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.


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