Genesis 1 formed the basis of Christian beliefs about the Creation, about the remote human past. God had created the Earth and living things, including humanity, in six days, and on the seventh he rested. "Time we may comprehend," wrote English philosopher Sir Thomas Browne in 1643, "'Tis but five days older than ourselves."

About the same time, Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland used the long genealogies in the Old Testament to calculate that the world had been created on the evening of October 23 in 4004 BC.

The Ussherian chronology became a cornerstone of Christian dogma until the mid-nineteenth century. It was based on a belief in the literal historical truth of Genesis, Chapter 1 and allowed but 6,000 years for all of human existence, both historic and prehistoric.

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