Young Earth Creationism has been criticised for lacking a solid scientific basis. It also should be criticised for lacking a solid Biblical basis.
Alice C. Linsley
Young Earth Creationists use Archbishop James Ussher’s chronology to date the age of the earth. They believe that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are chronological, and can be used to estimate when God created. They calculate the earth's age at 6000 years on the basis of lifespans assigned to the men named in Genesis 5 and 11. They ignore the line of Cain in Genesis 4 because they assume that his line became extinct in Noah's flood.
Ussher's scheme is terribly flawed. He failed to recognize that the so-called "genealogies" are actually King Lists. These lists are not generational, but regnal, and the reigns of some kings coincided. Tubal-Cain (Gen. 4) and Methuselah (Gen. 5) ruled at the same time. Tubal-Cain's sister, Naamah, married Methuselah. (See diagram below.)
Ussher also missed the fact that the lines of Cain and Seth intermarried, and as St. John Chrysostom recognized, the line of Cain received great mercy. Not only 7 fold for Cain, but 77 fold for Lamech the Elder (Gen. 4:24), and 777 in the case of Lamech the Younger (Gen. 5:31).
Further, these men are not the first humans on earth, but rulers of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion. They were kingdom builders, like Nimrod the Kushite (Gen. 10:8). This was a time of law codes such at the Law of Tehut, warriors, weapons, shrine cities such as Nekhen in Sudan, and numerous technologies associated with the Neolithic Period. These earliest rulers of Genesis lived between 6000 and 3000 B.C., millions of years after the appearance of archaic humans. The evidence of the Bible and the various sciences indicates that they lived in Africa or migrated out of Africa.
This last fact reveals the unbiblical and racist nature of YEC dogma. At the back of YEC books one finds the 12 Affirmations and Denials. Affirmation XII claims that the diversity of languages and skin color came about as a result of divine judgment at the Tower of Babel.
XII. We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve...and that the various people groups (with their various languages, cultures, and distinctive physical characteristics, including skin color) arose as a result of God's supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel..."
Africa always has had the greatest genetic and linguistic diversity of any continent. Long before the earliest Genesis rulers there already existed diversity of skin color. Here are images of red, black and brown Nubians.
Red and black Nubians
|Red and brown Nubians|
They resemble the warriors of Petra who had long wavy hair and wore feathers.
(Dr. Arthur Brack)
The Habiru marriage and ascendancy pattern
Ussher's errors reflect ignorance of the marriage and ascendancy structure of Abraham's ancestors as it is revealed in Genesis 4, 5 and 11. This same pattern characterizes Moses' family and Samuel's family. It is the distinctive pattern of the ancient Habiru (Hebrew), a caste of ruler-priests.
Ussher did not understand that the rulers listed had two wives so there were two first born sons. The first born son of the half-sister wife was heir to his father's throne. So Isaac was heir to Abraham's territory between Hebron and Beersheba. The first born son of the patrilineal cousin wife was named after his maternal grandfather and served as a prime minister in his grandfather's territory. So Joktan, Abraham's first born son by Keturah, was not Abraham's heir. He would rule in the territory of Joktan the Elder.
Judah likely had two wives. In Genesis 46, we read that Judah went into Egypt with his brothers and presumably settled in the land of Goshen with his wife and children. In Genesis 38, we read that Judah had sons by Shua who lived in the region of Adulla, Mareshah and Chezib in Horite territory.
Some lists provide the names of the first born sons of half-sister brides. Other lines are traced through the cousin bride who named her first born son after her father. This is the case with Methuselah's wife, Naamah, who named their first born son "Lamech" after her father (see bottom of diagram).
Let us examine in greater detail the problems with Ussher's scheme.
Ussher did not recognize that the Genesis genealogies are regnal, not generational. They cannot be used to count generations because they are king lists and some kings ruled simultaneously. Others ruled for short periods, and still others ruled for longer than a generation (40 years).
Usher insisted on reading Genesis as chronology, and therefore missed that some rulers were contemporaries. Lamech the Elder was a contemporary of Enoch, Methuselah's father. Abraham was a contemporary of Job. Nahor's son Tahash was a contemporary of Isaac.
None lived the lifespans assigned to them. These numbers are symbolic, with Kabalistic meanings coming from a later period. (Kabal is derived from the Egyptian words ka and ba which in modern parlance would "body and soul.")
Ussher did not recognize that some of the Biblical lists are telescopic. Telescopic lists leave out some names. Such lists give the names of only the most famous rulers. This means that we cannot use the king lists to date the earth.
Ussher ignored the later king lists, such as the Horite rulers in Genesis 36 and their royal kinsmen in Genesis 22:20-24. Here we find the identical marriage and ascendancy pattern as among the Genesis 4 and 5 rulers.
Ussher did not recognize that the lines of Cain and Seth intermarried, as did the lines of Ham and Shem and the lines of Abraham and Nahor. Each ruler had two wives. The cousin bride named her first born son after her father. Thus we find Esau the elder and Esau the Younger, Joktan the Elder and Joktan the Younger, Kenan is a variant of Kain, and could be called Cain the Younger. Likewise, Irad is a variant of Jared and could be called Jared the Younger.
In the case of Lamech's daughter, Naamah, the pattern is quite clear. She married her cousin Methuselah and named her first-born son Lamech after her father. This pattern of marriage can be traced from Genesis 4 and 5 to the lines of Joseph and Mary in the New Testament, demonstrating that Jesus is a direct descendant of the people to whom God made the first promise of the Bible that a woman of their ruler-priest lines would bring forth the "Seed" of God (Gen. 3:15).
Jesus' mother's name was Miriam daughter of Joachim Son of Pntjr (Panther) Priests of Nathan of Beth Lehem. From predynastic times, ntjr designated the ruler among the Kushites. The name Panther or p-ntjr meant "God is King." It is certain that Mary was of the ruler-priest caste because even those who hated her admit this. Sanhedrin 106a says: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.”
Ussher didn't know about the cousin bride's naming prerogative which meant that the cousin bride's father and her first born son had the same name. This explains the recurrance of names skipping a generation. There are two named Enoch; two named Lamech; two named Joktan, and two named Sheba. There are also two named Esau, as shown below.
Here we see that Esau the Elder married Adah. Esau the Younger married Oholibamah, a prefigurement of the Virgin Mary.
Seir is identified as a Horite in Genesis 36. The names Esau, Dishon, Uz, Lot/Lotan and Timna are Horite names. The name "Adah" can be traced back to Lamech the Elder. One of his wives was named Adah (Gen. 4:23).
Biblical studies have left Ussher behind
Ussher lived before the development of molecular genealogy which has shed much light on human origins, and especially on the dispersion of the ancient Nilotes and Kushites. He also lived before the development of kinship analysis which makes verification of the Genesis King Lists possible. It can no longer be claimed that these rulers did not live in history. Their marriage and ascendancy pattern is authentic and can be traced from Genesis 4 to the New Testament records of Mary and Joseph's families. It is not possible that this aspect of Biblical history could have been written back into the texts since the 66 books of the Bible represent the contributions of numerous scribes and authors over about 1200 years.
Related reading: Genesis on the Ancient Kingdom Builders; Cain as Ruler; Lamech's Story and Horite Kingship; Bishop Ussher Goofed; DNA Research Confirms Kushite Migrations; A Scientific Timeline of Genesis; Calculating the Dates of the Patriarchs; The Genesis King Lists; Two Named Esau; Abraham and Job, Horite Rulers; The Cousin Bride's Naming Prerogative; Why Fundamentalists Look Stupid; Objections to the Fundamentalist Reading of Genesis