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World's 6000th Birthday - Not!!

                                                             October 14, 1=


A "Birth-of-the-Earth-Day Party" to mark the exact day believed by
many to be the 6000th anniversary of the "Creation of the World" will
be held on October 23.  For more than two centuries the vast majority
of Christians accepted the calculation of James Ussher, a seventeenth
century bishop, that the Earth was created on October 23, 4004BC. 
Even today, around 20% of Americans still believe that the world was
created less than 10,000 years ago.

The Earth's first ever millennial birthday party will be held at 8
p.m. on October 23, 1996, at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New
York.  The mock celebration of the historic non-event will feature
guest appearances by "Charles Darwin" and "Noah" along with a
globe-shaped birthday cake with a candle for each millennium.  The
evening's light-hearted entertainment will be combined with a more
serious message, given by anthropologist Professor H.James Birx.

Birx, a professor of anthropology at Canisius College, New York,
will explain why Ussher's Biblical world-view was replaced by the
naturalistic theory of evolution.  He will also examine current
attempts to replace education about evolution with creationist
teaching in American schools.  Professor Birx is the author of many
books on evolution, including Interpreting Evolution (Prometheus
Books, 1991,) and is an expert on the historic development of, and
competition among, theories of evolution and creation.

Bishop Ussher's claim for the exact day for the "Creation of the
World" was based on detailed study of the Old Testament, adding up the
life spans of the Patriarchs and the ages at which they "begat" their
successors.  The overwhelming evidence available from scientific
fields including geology, biology, paleontology, genetics,
anthropology, archaeology and cosmology, reveal that 6000 years ago
human civilizations were already flourishing and show the Earth to be
at least 4- 5 billion years old.

But 1 in 5 Americans still prefer Bishop Ussher's methods and
conclusions to those of modern science.  A recent independent survey
for Free Inquiry magazine showed that 19.1% of Americans believe that
the world was created by God between 5000 and 10,000 years ago (the
poll had only a 2.53% margin of error.)  Moreover, the creationist
movement is gaining increasing political power.

A national watch-dog group, People for the American Way (PFAW),
recently highlighted the growing influence of Biblical creationists. 
More than a quarter of the Republican state party platforms they
examined included creationist planks (6 states out of 22.)  An
additional five states have introduced creationist legislation this

The Center for Inquiry is the international headquarters of the
Council for Secular Humanism (publisher of Free Inquiry magazine) and
the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal (CSICOP, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer.)  The meeting is
organized by the "Friends of the Center for Inquiry."  The
"Birth-of-the-Earth-Day Party" and Professor Birx's talk on the "Fall
of the House of Ussher" are free and open to the public. *            
                                                 * *