Using Scripture, Archbishop Ussher calculated the age of the Earth at about 6000 years. Specifically, he determined God completed the creation on 23 Oct, 4004 BC. This number was arrived at by adding up the ages of the prophets, and the “begats”, along with a few assumptions, because there is some ambiguity in the Scriptural text.
Ussher’s figure is the one most often quoted today, but other Christian scholars, using Biblical references, came up with similar figures:
Halafta – 3761 BC
Bede – 3952 BC
Scaliger – 3949 BC
Kepler – 3992 BC
Newton – c. 4000 BC
Yes, Kepler and Newton also moonlighted as scientists.
However, a perusal of modern Young Earth fundamentalist Creationist sources reveals vaguer, more hedgy estimates, usually imprecisely stated as “a few thousand years old” or “less than 10,000 years ago”.
Clearly, the sources are not backing down from their position that the Earth’s origin is not back in Deep Time, but they are somewhat less confident, or at least, more cautious about declaring exactly when.
I suspect this is the result of a modern realization that there simply isn’t enough detail in Scripture to justify a more precise reckoning, as opposed to second thoughts about the entire Young Earth concept. For whatever reason, Creationists still cling to the idea that the general ballpark figure should be several thousand and not billions of years. This caution reflects, no doubt, the committment to truth and accuracy of the Creationist community.
I’m curious as to the why of this shift, what it is due to and how was it conceived and the new consensus coordinated and disseminated to Creationists. Does anybody care to speculate?