It is difficult indeed for today’s geologist to appreciate the intellectual straight-jacket imposed by adherence to the notion of a young Earth. Yet, prior to James Hutton (1726–1797), various biblical chronologies had “firmly established” the age of the Earth to be about 6000 years. The most detailed chronology was that of James Ussher, Archbishop of Armaugh, Ireland, who declared that Earth was created at noon on Sunday, 23 October, 4004 B.C. The good Archbishop was not alone; dozens (if not hundreds) of chronologists plied the trade from the 4th century A.D. well into the 18th century. Nor were...

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