Time and tide

A standard fundamentalist belief puts the birth of the Universe at about 4,000 BC. ( A date worked out by Bishop Usher a couple of centuries ago by adding up generations based on the begats in the Bible)

This is clearly a belief that could only be held by people who have never loooked at rocks. Forget the fossil record, that fundamentalists can present as put there by god deliberately to test us. (That evil superbeing strikes again.)

As soon as you look at any rock apart from volcanic pumice and try to imagine how it was formed, you have to start opening your mind to periods of time that are genuinely unimaginable to us. Not unapproachable by reason but impossible to conceive of intuitively, because they are so many orders of magnitude greater than our human life span.

All the same, the ancient Hindus managed to have a good stab at conceiving the length of time that a universe endures – in Hindu cosmology, the length of a day of Brahma is 4,320,000,000 years. It is followed by a night of equal length. This process is repeated for 311 trillion human years, followed by an equal time of nothingness and the rebirth of the Universe. Ad infinitum, if that’s not infinite enough for you.

This suggests that people living a couple of thousand years after the supposed fundamentalist day zero (who one could assume to have traditions a lot closer to first-hand knowledge than we do today, if there was any truth in the nonsense) had a truly astonishing awareness of the scale of the universe. Which makes the fact that a fair number of people living today, in the most technologically and materially advanced country on earth, believe the universe is about 6,000 years old pretty astonishing.

1 thought on “Time and tide

  1. The Brahman day is pretty close to the approximate age of the Earth (4,567,000,000 years old) and well within the error bars of that estimate.

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