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Space NASA Science

The Universe Is 13.73 Billion Years Old 755

Posted by kdawson
from the so-happy-birthday-already dept.
CaptainCarrot writes "Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer has summarized for his readers the new results released by NASA from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which has been surveying the 3K microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang. Some of the most interesting results: The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million. Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin. And ordinary matter and energy account for only 4.62% of the universe's total. Plait's comment on the age result: 'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"
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The Universe Is 13.73 Billion Years Old

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:06PM (#22677824) Journal
    They forgot to take into account the time they did the experiment and the time they published the results.
  • Big Mistake (Score:5, Funny)

    by clonan (64380) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:07PM (#22677840)
    'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"

    You NEVER tell a woman she looks older!!!
    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:25PM (#22678136)
      In the beginning the singularity was void and without (much of anything), then BLIND CHANCE said "Let there be Quanta!"
      and the morning and the evening of the first femtosecond. .......And the Hawkings radiation begat energy, and the energy begat matter, yea even unto the event horizon... Hey the only Genesis I know well was made by Sega...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      She might be 13 billion, but she has the body of a 16 billion year old.
    • Re:Big Mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:40PM (#22678412)
      Most Bible Thumpers have it totally wrong. IF they actually read the bible, they would have found that the earth was NOT actually created in 6 or 7 days. YES YES That is the GENESIS account, BUT, the original hebrew/aramaic translations describe a day as a period or era (really undetermined period of time) Psalms describes that a day with God is as a thousand years (let you look it up for yourself). this does not mean day with God IS a thousand years. It really just means a day is a long long time. hence AS a thousand years and not IS a thousand years. SO it is plausible he created the universe AND still have the big bang theory still be in harmony. Except that Scientists don't want to accept that and Zealot, fundamentalist religionsists do not want to acknoledge this.

      Make no mistake, what I am saying here is that an open mind be kept on BOTH sides. It is entirely possible our universe was created by a supreme being. There seems to be too much order in the small and larger details for that to be considered a "random" accident of the universe. On the other hand it coule be random which also seems possible as well. The answer is not conclusivly known for either or, and only human arrogance would presume otherwise. One day we WILL know the absolute truth of it. But at this time there is too much bickering and closed minded ness on both sides to actually try to figure this out.

      Hundreds or thousands of years from now our decsendents (assuming we don't blow ourselves up before then) will look at us much the way we look at our ancestors or we will be living life the way the Bible says things will happen. Right now we have "the earth is flat" mentality about all this religion AND science. We know very little about space especially since we have not been out there exploring it. And no being just outside our atmostphere does not count. It gives alot of info, but until we can explore our own Solar System fully, we have very little data to go on other than what we can see with the limits of a telescope.
      • Re:Big Mistake (Score:4, Insightful)

        by uxbn_kuribo (1146975) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:48PM (#22678542)
        Alternatively, you could just take it that the Bible Thumpers have taken a good book of mythology and Jewish legend and claimed it as fact. It's kinda like if people still believed that Zeus created the universe from Mt. Olympus. Except people take it seriously.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jmilne (121521)

          Zeus created the universe from Mt. Olympus

          The Titans did all the hard work. All Zeus did was lead a hostile revolt and spread his Olympian seed everywhere.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by clonan (64380)
          But Zeus DIDN'T create the Universe...

          If I recall my Greek mythology, Gia gave birth to the Titans, which were led by Cronus who is the father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Hades and a few others. Cronus didn't want a successor so he ate every child Rhea (his wife and sister) had until Zeus, the youngest, who she hid until he grew up and rescued his siblings from the stomach of Cronus.

          Zeus was the master of the heavens but he didn't create them :-)
      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:00PM (#22678728) Homepage Journal

        BUT, the original hebrew/aramaic translations describe a day as a period or era
        ... or even a parsec?
      • Re:Big Mistake (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Pope (17780) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:17PM (#22679052)
        "Both" sides?

        So which of Earth's many religions is the correct one with respect to the creation of the universe?
        • by microbox (704317) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:07PM (#22679896)
          So which of Earth's many religions is the correct one with respect to the creation of the universe?

          That would be The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster [venganza.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)
        The universe is complicated. A supreme being who created the universe would be at least as complicated, and probably much more so. So how did the supreme being come about?

        Positing a supreme being explains the universe but the explanation introduces even more complexity that in turn has to be explained. It doesn't get you anywhere. Yes, it's possible, but it's not a useful hypothesis. No "Scientists" don't need to give it special consideration just so they can be "in harmony" with an ancient story book.
        • Re:Big Mistake (Score:5, Informative)

          by clonan (64380) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:49PM (#22679600)
          The religious argument is that God has always existed and will always exist and therefore does not need a creator and does not raise the question of what came before..

          While unprovable, it is at least consistent.
        • Re:Big Mistake (Score:5, Interesting)

          by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:13PM (#22680908)

          A supreme being who created the universe would be at least as complicated, and probably much more so. So how did the supreme being come about?
          Christians don't claim to know the answer. The question is probably wrong, and the answer, to the extent that there is one, probably isn't expressible in human logic or physics.

          Consider a Looney Tunes animated film as a metaphor for the universe. Such a film is 2-dimensional, its "time" (measured in frames) is totally unlike the time in the outside world, the physics is mostly consistent but unlike real-world physics, etc. Bugs Bunny wants to know: what happened before the opening credits, and who drew the animator? (It must have been an even more complicated animator!)

          The answer is completely outside his understanding. The animator is vastly more complex than a cartoon character, and he wasn't drawn at all. Nothing happened before the opening credits: the animator's world is outside the film, and the nature of time there is completely different.

          Similarly, questions like "what happened before the creation of the universe" and "who created God" are not really meaningful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JSBiff (87824)
        I, a few years ago, after trying to get a broad overview of different disciplines of science, and taking various science courses, have come to pretty much accept the 'old universe' view, because it's not just *one* science, it's evidence from almost all the different disciplines of science which draw a picture which can *only* be explained by an old universe. I mention that, at the start, so that people understand that my response is not a defense of the young universe belief.

        But, that said, while people li
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bob-taro (996889)

        Most Bible Thumpers have it totally wrong. IF they actually read the bible, they would have found that the earth was NOT actually created in 6 or 7 days. YES YES That is the GENESIS account, BUT, the original hebrew/aramaic translations describe a day as a period or era (really undetermined period of time) Psalms describes that a day with God is as a thousand years (let you look it up for yourself). this does not mean day with God IS a thousand years. It really just means a day is a long long time. hence AS a thousand years and not IS a thousand years. SO it is plausible he created the universe AND still have the big bang theory still be in harmony. Except that Scientists don't want to accept that and Zealot, fundamentalist religionsists do not want to acknoledge this.

        You are overlooking the words "...And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.". A literal reading pretty much limits that to one solar day. If you are looking for room for an old earth, you need go no farther than Gen 1:1-2 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ". This is before the "first day", so the creation of the heavens and the ea

      • by microbox (704317) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:01PM (#22679806)
        Except that Scientists don't want to accept that and Zealot, fundamentalist religionsists do not want to acknoledge this.

        I don't think there are many scientists who would have a problem with God creating the universe, so long as the God explaination is in accordance with observable evidence. Hence, not 6000 years ago.

        Now many scientists would also say that the God explaination doesn't add any value - as in "who created God". But don't read too much into that.

        Scientists aren't opposed to God, en masse, but they *are* opposed to ignorant zealots who don't understand the principles of evidence, and spew their crap on society through political action groups. But that's a larger issue than just intelligent design and young-earthers. There's also global-warming deniers too.
      • Re:Big Mistake (Score:4, Insightful)

        by radtea (464814) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:10PM (#22679932)
        It is entirely possible our universe was created by a supreme being.

        Then you will also grant that it's entirely possible that our universe was created by a mediocre being. Or any one of an infinite number of possible alternative mediocre beings. Or any one of an infinite number of possible supreme beings, each one distinguished from all the others by the arbitrary standard used to define "supreme." Or perhaps a committee of beings, some supreme, some not so supreme.

        Now, why you would believe any of this is possible is something of a mystery, particularly with regard to your use of the word "being", which is normally understood to mean "a thing that exists in an entirely ordinary sense within our universe." Obviously, this use of the term "being" can't possible apply to whatever it is that created the universe, so you must be using "being" in a completely non-standard and totally misleading way.

        Whatever completely novel meaning you want to give the word "being", the concept of "possibility" only applies to things that exist in the aforesaid entirely ordinary sense, and as your supreme "being" manifestly cannot exist in that sense, there is no possibility that it exists at all, that being the only sense of existence there is.

        Because the universe is everything that exists, the belief that beings outside the universe exist is not even self-consistent.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Except that Scientists don't want to accept that

        Accept? A scientist doesn't care. Religion is outside science, and so a scientist should "not accept that" like they care whether Red Lobster serves tartar with their hush puppies. It's something they may or may not have a personal opinion on (I'm opposed to tartar, personally), but it is irrelevant to their job, duties, and findings as a scientist.
      • Re:Big Mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Forthac4 (836529) <Forthac4@gmail.com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:21PM (#22680138)
        Saying there is too much order in the universe for it to be random chance is like a puddle remarking at how well a pot hole conforms to its shape.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rnelsonee (98732)
        It goes beyond that - of the four creation stories in the Bible, two are located in Genesis. Genesis 1:1-2:4 is one story, and another is in 2:4-2:25. One of the most redeemable things about the ever-popular KJV Bible is that it preserved the translations of the old Hebrew, so it's trivial to separate them out and identify which story is which. When the bible says 'the Lord' they meant one story (stories from the older Judea, who called God "Elohim"), and 'God' is the newer, Israelite stories ("Yaweh").
    • by xSauronx (608805) <xsauronxdamnit&gmail,com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:49PM (#22678560)
      I was thinking "6k ought to be enough for anybody" /close enough, right?
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:07PM (#22677846) Homepage Journal
    Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
    and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
    Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
    Rotate your tires.
    Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
    and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
    Know what to kiss... and when.
    Consider that two wrongs never make a right... but that three do.
    Wherever possible, put people on hold.
    Be comforted that in the face of all erridity and disallusionment,
    and despite the changing fortunes of time,
    there is always a big future in computer maintainance.

    Remember the Pueblo.
    Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
    Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
    Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
    especially with those persons closest to you...
    that lemon on your left, for instance.
    Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
    would scarcely get your feet wet.
    Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face.
    Gracefully surrender the things of youth,
    birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
    and let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
    Hire people with hooks.
    For a good time call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
    Take heart amid the deepening gloom
    that your dog is finally getting enough cheese,
    and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot,
    it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

    You are a fluke of the Universe.
    You have no right to be here,
    and weather you can hear it or not,
    the Universe is laughing behind your back.

    Therefore, make peace with your god,
    whatever you conceive him to be:
    hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.
    With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
    the world continues to deteriorate.

    Give up

    Music by Christopher Guest
  • Wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:08PM (#22677856)
    There was a universe before I was born?
  • by ToxikFetus (925966) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:08PM (#22677864)
    Well, I'm glad that's settled. Now let's see if they can figure out my mother-in-law's age.
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:10PM (#22677890) Homepage Journal

    The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million.
    This is precision, not accuracy. The result will be judged accurate when there are lots of duplicate experiments getting the same result.
    • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:33PM (#22678302)
      "The result will be judged accurate when there are lots of duplicate experiments getting the same result."

      You can do the same experiment as many times as you want, but as long as you are using the same theoretical foundations, you won't get any closer to the actual result. The only way to judge that the results are accurate are to devise experiments capable of giving results similarly precise but which are founded on different, but accepted, principles. Sort of like how the various methods for dating fossils give similar results.
      • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:47PM (#22678516)

        You can do the same experiment as many times as you want, but as long as you are using the same theoretical foundations, you won't get any closer to the actual result. The only way to judge that the results are accurate are to devise experiments capable of giving results similarly precise but which are founded on different, but accepted, principles. Sort of like how the various methods for dating fossils give similar results.

        Still won't work. Those methods have also been validated by testing against multiple known samples - otherwise, you find yourself in a catch-22 in which you can't trust the alternate methods either. What you need to do is build a fusion reactor, create a bunch of new universes, warp into them at some future time, and measure their age. Then come back and tell me about it. Oh, and make sure you don't kill your dad or something in the process, or then you're really screwed.

        Otherwise, we're all just pissing in the wind here.

    • the "accuracy" referred in the headline is the +/1 120 million years margin of error.

      so yes, they've calculated it to 4 figures of precision, and within +/- 0.874%. I'd say that's impressive work.
  • by hal2814 (725639) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:11PM (#22677914)
    "After about a microsecond, it had cooled enough for protons and neutrons to form. Three minutes later (yes, just three minutes) it had cooled enough for protons and neutrons to stick together."

    Is it a literal microsecond or a figurative one? You always have to question measurements of time in creation stories. Did they really mean a minute? Maybe that minute was 4 years long...
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:11PM (#22677918)
    It is simultaneously 13.73 billion years and 6000 years old, depending on your frame of reference. As we know, time dilation means that a spaceship flying for a year at a high enough speed could return to Earth only to find that the crew's families have been dead for a thousand years due to local time passing at different rates for objects moving at different speeds. For this reason, a photon moves at the speed of light no matter how fast you are moving relative to that photon. Similarly, from our frame of reference inside the Universe, 13.73 billion years have elapsed. From another frame of reference, it is 6000 years old and not a minute more. Both measurements are perfectly valid and correct.
  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:14PM (#22677954)

    We now know that the universe is flat with only a 2% margin of error.

    This would make a good bar bet - which is flatter, the universe, or Kansas? [guardian.co.uk]

  • The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million. Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin. And ordinary matter and energy account for only 4.62% of the universe's total. Plait's comment on the age result: 'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"
    This was already spelled out in the bible, the answers are all there. Recall that the number of towns and villages in Joshua [ibs.org] concatenated with the number of sons Abraham's brother had [ibs.org] concatenated with how many days old Isaac was when he was circumcised [ibs.org] concatenated with the number of sons Noah had [ibs.org] concatenated with Jesus' age when he died is (by no mere coincidence) 2288333 1/3! Which proves that one year to God is like 2,288,333 and 1/3 years to humans.

    Do the math, the earth really is 6,000 god years x 2288333 1/3 human yr/god yr = 13.73 billion human years old!

    It all fits, the answers were already right before your eyes in the good book. Who needs a scientician or "NASA" to tell us this when we already know it?!
  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:23PM (#22678114) Homepage Journal

    Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.

    I wish we could get to the point where we don't give these people credibility via recognition. People don't feel the need to mention the Flat Earth Theory whenever the subject of the round earth comes up.

    I know the Evolution Deniers / Young Earthers are more vocal than the Flat Earthers these days, so it's probably not possible. I think legislative insanity should be fought vehemently. But doing this everyday mocking just plants the idea in people's minds that there is some debate, both with equally valid viewpoints.

    One of the best ways to combat crazyness is to ignore it. We have very few Nazis in the United States because they are ignored as lunatics. Europe has a lot of them because they are banned. School shootings are caused by the media publicity of past school shootings. Holocaust denial is done because it gets attention. And similarly, evolution denial is fueled because of the controversy. Some people just want to believe the opposite of the mainstream.

    The best way to put evolution denial and young earth insanity in the grave is to ignore it, unless it raises its head and tries for force its views down the throats of children.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
      Yea, but the reason the Nazi's got so nasty in the first place is because no one was willing to stand up to them.

      Leave them their hysteria, leave them their irrationality, but don't allow their brainless assertions to go unanswered. I think this sort of thing is precisely the way to deal with them; humor, fact, and dispassion. Scientific fact stands on it's own, and has no need of faith or belief...If they want to continue to try and pretend that the evidence that sits right before their eyes is false, let
  • by kbonin (58917) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:26PM (#22678166) Homepage
    The assertions in the article are derived from the following postulate:

    If the universe were open, the brightest microwave background fluctuations (or "spots") would be about half a degree across. If the universe were flat, the spots would be about 1 degree across. While if the universe were closed, the brightest spots would be about 1.5 degrees across.

    I've heard these sweeping statements before, can anyone point out a reasonably accessible proof that overcomes basic statistical counterarguments? Basic common sense here - I can infer some interesting characteristics about gravity by splashing paint on my wall and studying the results from across the room, but I don't really have enough data to overcome a host of other contributing factors...
    • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:49PM (#22678552)

      I've heard these sweeping statements before, can anyone point out a reasonably accessible proof that overcomes basic statistical counterarguments?
      What basic statistical counterargument do you think you can make? You can't make any unless you know what the error bars are, which you've just admitted you don't.

      Anyway, you can't prove anything in science, so I don't know what kind of a "proof" you're looking for. You can merely show that the data are highly consistent with one set of assumptions, and inconsistent with another. But it's always possible that there are a third set of assumptions with which the data are also consistent. Possible, however, does not mean plausible; as more kinds of data accumulate, it grows harder to construct alternate theories that are consistent with a growing body of evidence. Which is the point of science.

      I can infer some interesting characteristics about gravity by splashing paint on my wall and studying the results from across the room, but I don't really have enough data to overcome a host of other contributing factors...
      The WMAP data set is quite a lot of data, actually, and "a host of other contributing factors" are studied in this analysis.

      In particular, see Section 5.2.4 and Figure 19 of this paper [nasa.gov] for the assumptions made and factors considered in this conclusion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dmartin (235398)
      I can give you a somewhat oversimplified picture of the "why the universe is flat" claim, and how the size of the dots come into it.

      Current thinking is that the universe had structure on all different scales. That is, we had some blobs where there was a little bit more matter than average (overdense regions) and some blobs where there was a little bit less matter than average (underdense regions). The "all different scales" means that these blobs (statistically) were just as likely to be 1 mm across as 1 m
  • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:32PM (#22678274)
    "Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin."

    No, space is flat to within 2% (on cosmological scales, according to WMAP Year 5). Spacetime is curved, as per general relativity.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:34PM (#22678320)
    Before WMAP, the other two age indicators gave contadictory ages of the universe. The Hubble expansion constant suggested a young age 10 B.Y., though there was a wide error range depending on the distance measure.
    Low-metal stars in globular clusters are thought to be the universe's oldest and from nuclear-synthesis physics thought to be 15 B.Y. The disagreement among the two clocks was so bad for a while, some astronomers thought the big-bang hypothesis was flawed.
    The third and most recent clock - spatial power spectrum of the background microwave radiation- gives a percise age within the error range of the other two ages. Further observations of the other two clocks seem to be converging to this one. Astromenrs are now happy, kissing and making up.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday March 07, 2008 @02:39PM (#22678392)
    The universe was born on February 29 - so it's really just a bit over 3 billion years old.
  • lots of serious astronomy went on when mankind still hadn't figured out that the solar system was heliocentric. so you can still do science while you still have an anthropocentric bias to your research. however, we got over the idea the earth was the center of everything

    although we are still getting over the idea of mankind being the center of the biological world. some of us (not on slashdot, i am speaking in a broader sense of all of mankind) still grapple with evolution as contentious

    but even still in cosmology, anthropocentrism colors our percetions as mortal biological creatures: we have a beginning, a middle, and an end. and we imprint this in our abrahamic religions. and we imprint this in our cosmological awareness of the universe. but must the universe have a beginning, middle and end?

    i am going to sound like a crackpot here to some people, but scientific convention has been overthrown before, and i am sure it will be again: the big bang smells bad to me. i am certain its evidence is being misinterpreted. much as misinterpreting the evidence of seeing the sun rise and set means the sun is going around the earth. you can say i am showing a bias of my own here. and yes, i am: anthropocentric ideas are wrong in describing how the universe actually is, that's my bias. and i hope that bit of intellectual honesty on my part will allow some of you to admit to the anthropocentric stink about the big bang theory

    the universe is endless, in time and space. there, i said it. i of course have no proof of this. but i can conjecture that time dilation effects as we backtrack towards the big bang means that there never really is a beginning. or that the big bang, as huge is it, is still a local effect, not the sum total of the universe, that there is still something going on out there beyond the microwave background radiation, perhaps other big bangs. that we see all around us hubble's outward momentum, but it is still a local effect, that somewhere out there, beyond the cosmic backgorund radiation, some being is looking around him and worrying about a cosmic crunch. that his hubble constant is reversed. like waves on the ocean on a massive scale: wave tip here, trough there

    to me, the big bang has the stink of abrahamic religious myth all over it. i think the big bang will be found to be merely another vestige of our trek from superstition to real science, like the phlogiston theory [wikipedia.org] or lamarckian evolution [wikipedia.org]. taken very seriously in their times, as silly as they seem now. so i think it will be with the big bang theory someday too, that it's obvious abrahamic influence will be more accutely seen in later generations

    i may be pilloried and voted as a troll by the defenders of the status quo here for saying this, but i will still say it: the big bang will be disproven. the universe is endless in time and space

  • by gillbates (106458) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:46PM (#22679542) Homepage Journal

    You know, the interesting thing is that the Bible doesn't say that the Earth is 6,000 years old.

    In fact, the majority of Jews - from whom the scripture came - do not believe it is 6,000 years old.

    Nor do the 2 billion Catholics in the world.

    Nor do the nearly 1 billion (maybe more) Muslims in the world.

    Yet they all believe in the books of Moses.

    The belief that the Earth was formed in 4,004 B.C. is held only by a small, minority sect of protestants who insist on interpreting the Bible literally. Problem is, that a literal interpretation of the Bible doesn't support this theory - there are gaps in the genealogies which make arriving at an exact date impossible. In fact, you can't even get a ballpark figure using literal interpretation, because the books weren't written as an historical or scientific reference. So things get left out that you would need to know to determine even the approximate dates.

    Suppose, for an instant, that you are God, telling Moses how you created the world:
    God: In one femtosecond, I created all the matter in the Universe.
    Moses: What's a femto-second? How many days is that?
    God: It's a, wait, oh, nevermind... Let me rephrase that: I spoke and created the Universe on the first day...

    It's not false, but it's not precise either. However, it is as precise as could be written down at the time, because the concept of a femto-second wouldn't become widely known for another 40 centuries.

    No matter what the topic, you can find people who will read their particular biases into anything. You can find the same behavior among the Da Vinci code believers who think somehow that, in spite of the book being fiction, the Catholic Church is "hiding the real truth". Kind of like the 9/11 and JFK conspiracy theorists.

    I'm not sure why people like to trot out the 6,000 year old theory every time someone mentions the age of the Universe. Perhaps it is because they're seeking an opportunity to tar the faiths of the world with the brush of ignorance. Perhaps their ignorance of religion allows them to believe that all believers think this way. Regardless, it is getting a little old, and quite frankly, pedantic.

  • by Memophage (88273) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:47PM (#22680516)
    Wait.. the earth is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old [wikipedia.org] itself... so the entire universe is only ~3 times older than the earth itself?

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