Last Thursdayism

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Last Thursdayism (sometimes Last Tuesdayism or Last Wednesdayism) refers to the idea that the universe may have been created last Thursday, but with the physical appearance of being billions of years old. Under this notion, people's memories, history books, fossils, light already on the way from distant stars, and so forth would all have been formed at the time of creation (last Thursday) in a state that causes them to appear to be older. It forms both a philosophical point about how our observations may not match with "reality" and a reductio ad absurdum of some young-Earth creationist ideas; if the world was created 6000 years ago with the appearance of being made billions of years ago, what stops us simply claiming it was made last Thursday in the same manner?

The "Last Thursday" variety is a parody of the omphalos hypothesis, and a relative of Bertrand Russell's equally parodic five minutes ago hypothesis.

Contents

[edit] Proving Last Thursdayism

Last Thursdayism (and any similar idea) can be seen as "hyperomphalisms", extreme forms of omphalist doctrine designed to show the absurdity of it. As such they constitute a sceptical hypothesis of the very existence of past, not just events that occur within it. Bertrand Russell explains the problems with proving that the universe was created, intact, at a set point in the past in his "five minute hypothesis":

There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that "remembered" a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago.
Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Mind, 1921, pp. 159–60) [1]

[edit] Deceitful god

Last Thursdayism speaks to the character of a god who would perpetrate such deception of false memories and evidence. That is, such a god would be a liar. While a lying god is not an entirely inconceivable possibility, it is still something most people would not readily consider (since it contradicts an oft-presumed characteristic of the reasonably well-known Abrahamic god version, namely that this entity is perfectly good and hence not deceitful).

[edit] Fundies Say the Darndest Things

The following quote from Fundies Say the Darndest Things explains why people find the Last Thursdayism idea difficult to comprehend.

Last Thursdayism is false because I clearly remember events from before Last Thursday. It does not follow that God could have fixed our minds and experiences to make us think we only felt things before last Thursday. For example I have a note with the date on it, "Wednesday, July 15, 2009." This would not be possible if the world was created on "Thursday July 16, 2009."[2]

[edit] Recent manifestation

A recent manifestation of Last Thursdayism appeared on the USENET group talk.origins in 1991, as a hyperbolic response to omphalism. It gradually gained popularity, and on August 25, 1996 the FAQ [3] for the Church (its Catechism) was posted to talk.origins by Michael Keane. It is similar to Unicornism or Pastafarianism, and claims that the universe was created Last Thursday by "Queen Maeve the Housecat", who on Next Thursday (Judgment Day) will admit those who were nice to cats to Paradise and damn the unkind, the uncaring, and Creationists to the never-cleaned Eternal Litterbox. Since then the website for Last Thursdayism has become defunct.

A new incarnation has popped up that is similar to solipsism.[4]

[edit] Other possible days of creation

It should be noted that in some circles, especially talk.origins, Last Tuesdayism is taken as a schism of Last Thursdayism and is founded on the belief that the world was created last Tuesday but that unlike last Thursdayism, this happens every Tuesday.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. http://www.theinfidels.org/zunb-bertrandtrussell.htm
  2. Freethought and Rationalism discussion board - post 6021616
  3. Church of Last Thursday FAQ author=Micheal Keane date=1996-08-25 newsgroup=talk.origins http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_thread/thread/9263b3be16d586f3 accessdate= 2007-10-08
  4. The Church of Last Thursday
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