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Making It In The Big Time

By Allan Eastman

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A Time To Be Born

Engraving depicting Adam and Eve

According to Christian beliefs, a monotheistic Deity created the first humans, Adam and Eve.

©iStockphoto.com/ivan-96

With their comparatively superior intelligence, Humans had a great curiosity about who they are and where they came from. Throughout their relatively brief history, they have attempted to explain themselves, their planet and the cosmos around them.

Every human culture has a Creation Myth – an explanation for the beginning of everything. For most of our existence, this has been explained in terms of superstition or religion.

Generally speaking, everything is the creation of some form of supreme beings – the Gods.

The Hindu religion, which stretches back over 5,000 years states that all is controlled by a trio of Gods – Brahma who creates, Vishnu who maintains, and Shiva who destroys. There are many worlds and many universes and when Shiva succeeds in destroying everything, all that is left is a vast ocean, with Vishnu riding on it on a giant snake. A lotus grows from his navel and from this flower, Brahma is born in order to rebuild the world and the cosmos again.

For the Chinese, in the beginning, all is chaos until a powerful light appears. This light creates Heaven and a small piece of heaven falls off to become Earth. From heaven and earth comes the forces of Yin and Yang – Yin is hot, fiery, male, energetic and Yang is cool, moist, female and drifting. The balance of these 2 forces keep things in harmony and from them comes everything else – day and night, the seasons, the 5 elements of water, earth, metal, fire and wood, and all living creatures. The world is given form by the Ancient One, Pan’Ku and when he dies, the parasites in his body become humans.

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Middle eastern and western creation stories come to rely increasingly on the activities of a group of Gods and finally in Judaism, on the actions of a monotheistic Deity who wilfully creates everything including the first humans, Adam and Eve. As the Hebrew religion developed, their scholars even set a date for the Creation, the equivalent of 3760 BC or 5770 years ago, by modern reckoning.

This is the first recorded Human attempt to numerically define the Time line of Human existence but it is far from being the last.

Both the Christian and Islamic religions fundamentally utilize the creation story of Judaism and accept the veracity of the Old Testament before diverging on their own revelation following the appearance of their main figures, Jesus and Mohammed.

In the Christian camp, many scholars tried to count up the years portrayed in the Bible to come up with a definitive Creation date – Augustine thinks about 5500 BC, Bede 5199 BC - but the most famous attempt to pin down the creation of the world was made by the Irish Bishop, James Ussher. He made a detailed study of the family stories in the Bible and even applied known secular History to it and in 1654, came up with the date of 4004 BC. Ussher was so sure of his calculations that he ultimately refined his date of the creation to 6 pm, Saturday October 22, 4004 BC, which made the first full day October 23rd.

Ussher’s date became standard fare for Christians and was even officially incorporated into the Church of England bibles after 1701.

Simultaneously with Ussher’s era, a new way of looking at things was gathering strength. The Age of Reason was underway and soon, all the assumptions and previous definitions about the Universe, the Earth and Human life would come under the scrutiny of the scientific method. A great schism between religion and science began to appear and things would never be the same again.

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