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Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology *Europe in the 16 th to early 19 th centuries J.

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Presentation on theme: "Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology *Europe in the 16 th to early 19 th centuries J."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology *Europe in the 16 th to early 19 th centuries J. Bourgeois 2007 ESS 408/508

2 Warnings about confounding scripture and nature from influential early Christian thinkers/writers When it is asked what we ought to believe in matters of religion, the answer is not to be sought in the exploration of the nature of things, after the manner of those whom the Greeks call “physicists.”... Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds as certain from reason and experience. Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. Augustine of Hippo [St. Augustine] A.D. 354 – 430 from Enchiridion c. 420 quoted in Lindberg, D.C., “Science and the early Church,” in D.C. Lindberg and R. Numbers, eds. God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Univ. of California Press, p

3 Warnings about confounding scripture and nature from influential early Christian thinkers/writers [St.] Thomas Aquinas c – 1274 A.D. quoted in Grant, E., “Science and theology in the Middle Ages,” in D.C. Lindberg and R. Numbers, eds. God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Univ. of California Press, p First, the truth of Scripture must be held inviolable. Secondly, when there are different ways of explaining a Scriptural text, no particular explanation should be held so rigidly that, if convincing arguments show it to be false, anyone dare to insist that it still is the definitive sense of the text. Otherwise unbelievers will scorn Sacred Scripture, and the way to faith will be closed to them. from Summa theologiae

4 Archbishop James Ussher Ussher’s chronology Ussher was NOT the first to calculate time since the first day of Genesis But his work was footnoted in the King James Bible

5 Joseph Justus Scaliger De Emendatione Temporum (1583) Univ. of Leiden library religious leader and scholar, expanded the notion of classical history from [just] Greek and Ancient Roman to include Persian, Babylonian, Jewish and Ancient Egyptian a cosmogony which outlined world history – assumed universal; scale of time traditional [Mosaic] 6000 years

6 Giordano Bruno Bruno being burned at the stake, after refusing to recant, even after torture February, 1600, Rome Described a cosmos without center or boundaries -- infinite, eternal, possibly uncreated -- allowed possibility of plurality of worlds Mystic, heretic, pantheist Denied original sin Excommunicated itinerant

7 “It was not Copernicus or Galileo but Giordano Bruno who grasped the great truth that the so-called fixed stars were actually huge suns like our own. Bruno conceived of a universe extending outward infinitely, containing suns without end, each, perhaps, racing through space with its own family of planets; Bruno's cosmos was a bold concept indeed, when compared with the stiffing, enclosed systems of Ptolemy and Copernicus.” W. Hollister, UCSB Ptolemy (left) and Copernicus (right) both imagined a fixed sphere of stars “Bruno visualized a planetary system similar to the one of Copernicus with a new concept that the stars extended outward infinitely” A.D c. 150 A.D. c A.D.

8 Galileo Galilei Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury Beginning in 1614, finally culminating in trial and condemnation in 1633, Galileo and his writings got him in trouble with Catholic dogmatists

9 René Descartes 1596 – 1650 champion of rational thought mechanistic view of cosmos Philosophiae Principia 1644 read excerpt in reading packet Earth starts as glowing mass, differentiates into three zones, outer region further layered, arranged by density. Ruptures of the outer crust generate topography, e.g.

10 I – incandescent, glowing center; M – opaque solid? C,E – solids, with C being “very solid and very heavy” air water 4 th ed. published posthumously

11 René Descartes 1596 – 1650 Strategies to avoid trouble -- Due to Galileo’s trial (1630s), Descartes “denies” his own theory Universe of indefinite limits Earth and possibly countless other bodies had own origins and histories Detached Earth history from cosmic history Possible to conceive human history in Bible as separate from history of cosmos sounds like Giordano Bruno…

12 Isaac Newton Newton, reacting to Descartes’ mechanistic view, writes letters to Thomas Burnet Newton tries to reconcile religion with the “laws of Nature” Evidence for divinity: regularity of solar system “perfection” of creation Attempted to reconcile Genesis with “science”, but also wrote to Burnet his view that Genesis was written for common folk, was not sophisticated Still, he tried to reconcile Mosaic account using natural laws; e.g., perhaps Earth not turning on the first day, which in that case could be very long.

13 Thomas Burnet 1635 – 1715 Sacred Theory of the Earth [1680s] frontispiece S.J. Gould writes about Burnet Mosaic account is a brief and finite Earth history in an ocean of past and future cosmic time Used natural knowledge to amplify and illuminate biblical narrative – can we use the laws of physics [first principles of Newton] to explain... ?

14 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Benoit de Maillet Strategies to avoid trouble – don’t publish your cosmogony in your own lifetime Protogaea [1749 – 33 years after death] 1) incandescent molten globe – 2) crystalline granite and gneiss 3) sphere of water, universal ocean Fossils are animal forms transformed in Earth history Telliamed [de Maillet spelled backwards] [1748 – 10 years after death] universal ocean gradually drying up valleys eroded as water retreats ridicules use of Noah’s flood in cosmogonies much of Telliamed quite fanciful

15 Lisbon, Portugal, catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in major impact on philosophy of the time challenges philosophy that creation is perfect and God benificent ref. Voltaire, Candide, e.g., “the best of all possible worlds” [not]

16 read excerpt in reading packet Georges Louis le Clerc de Buffon 1707 – 1788 Histoire Naturelle 1749  Introduction was a theory of the Earth Italian edition of Buffon’s Natural History Epoques de la Nature 1778 Cosmogony starts with molten Earth, six epochs plus a 7 th – man Finite age of Earth [c. 100,000 yr], experiments with cooling iron balls Separated science and religion, no attempt at reconciliation Most persuasive cosmogony of late 18 th century, but many didn’t accept it Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) condemns Buffon

17 Pierre Simon Laplace st edition was 1796 Popular account of cosmology 4th edition 1815 Start with hot gaseous mass – expanded sun, rotating and cooling rings abandoned as mass contracts, accreted to planets one ring left—asteroid belt moons—same process on smaller scale 1790s to early 1800s nebulous matter discovered [Herschel] nebular hypothesis Rejects supernatural, Calculates odds that solar system could be “accidental”

18 While not atheists, and working within a world largely controlled by the church, these cosmogonists were attempting, primarily, to generate cosmogonies that explained the world naturalistically, without requiring a strict adherence to the Mosaic accounts.

19 Cosmogonies with reference to Mosaic accounts & handiwork of God

20 Joseph Justus Scaliger De Emendatione Temporum (1583) Univ. of Leiden library religious leader and scholar, expanded the notion of classical history from [just] Greek and Ancient Roman to include Persian, Babylonian, Jewish and Ancient Egyptian a cosmogony outlined world history – assumed universal; scale of time traditional [Mosaic] 6000 years

21 Thomas Burnet 1635 – 1715 Sacred Theory of the Earth [1680s] frontispiece S.J. Gould writes about Burnet Mosaic account is a brief and finite Earth history in an ocean of past and future cosmic time Used natural knowledge to amplify and illuminate biblical narrative – can we use the laws of physics [first principles of Newton] to explain... ?

22 read excerpt in reading packet Athanasius Kircher Mundus Subterraneus, 1678 Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus “the standard geological treatise of the 17 th century” was more of a cosmology than a cosmogony Kircher referred to his world as the handiwork of GOD Remember this excerpt when we read about neptunism, volcanism and plutonism

23 A diagram from William Whiston's book, A New Theory of the Earth [1696] showing the trajectory of the earth and the flood-causing comet. Also wrote Astronomical Principles of Religion Natural and Revealed [1717] 1696 William Whiston Comets explained great physical events in earth history – deluge & conflagration Earth in harmonious equilibrium derived from original chaos His “physics” defied Newtonian principles

24 John Woodward Essay towards a Natural History of the Earth [1695] Studied strata and fossils Claimed whole sequence had settled in order of specific gravity out of chaotic global mixture at the time of the flood [Noah’s flood] Flood benificent His physical interpretation DIVERGES from literal interpretation, but invokes assistance of supernatural power Response of some: Noah’s flood more local And occurred after MOST of Earth history

25 Anton Lazzaro Moro De Crostacei degli altri Marini Corpi che si trovano su Monti [1740] Criticizes Burnet and Woodward Rejects Noachian deluge to explain strata Claimed he did not contradict but only supplemented Genesis account Testament at end wherein reformers of studies state that book contains nothing contrary to the Holy Catholic faith

26 Histories Egyptian and Chinese civilizations was of comparable length as Mosaic calculation Hard to explain distribution of plants and animals around the globe Difficult to fit accumulating written and natural history into narrative framework of Genesis and following books Problems with traditional chronology by 17th century Were accounts indicating greater antiquity fraudulent? Was God testing scholars’ faith?

27 Jean André deLuc Lettres Physique et Morales [1779] Conceded vast time scale of pre-human history But criticized eternalistic theories Flood only a few thousand years ago--tremendous disturbance Christians need only be concerned with creation and history of mankind For rest of history, Genesis should be seen as symbolic

28 However, work like Woodward’s and others helped establish the discipline of stratigraphy [see Hallam, Ch. 3] Strata show long history before any fossils [azoic period]; creation of all life separated from time of Earth’s origin Traditional literal chronology [6000 yrs] can’t explain Earth history without supernatural causes AND the tradition of Natural Theology persisted By the late 18th to early 19th century, most “scriptural geologists” have left the “scientific” community

29 Natural theology is the attempt to find evidence of a God or intelligent designer without recourse to any special or supposedly supernatural revelation. [Wikipedia] Wikipedia also says: From the 8th century, the Mutazalite school of Islam, compelled to defend their principles against the orthodox Islam of their day, looked for support in philosophy, and are one of the first to pursue a rational theology, called Ilm-al-Kalam (scholastic theology). Extra credit: Submit one or more examples of “natural theology” in earth sciences from these or other religious traditions.

30 Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 Counsel to King James champion of empirical/inductive method from The Advancement of Learning 1605 Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an all-applied moderation think or maintain, that man can search too far, or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficience in both; only let men beware… that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together. [emphases added; this is called the Baconian compromise, or the “two books” concept] quoted in Moore, J.R., “Geologists and interpreters of Genesis in the nineteenth century,” in D.C. Lindberg and R. Numbers, eds. God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Univ. of California Press, p

31 John Ray (1628 – 1705) Botanist and zoologist “father of natural history” “Aristotle of England” The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation (1693) 1692 – Miscellaneous discourses concerning the dissolution and changes of the world Can only understand world in terms of accepted religious principles of Judeo-Christian world, but Criticized Woodward as fanciful noted that specific gravity did NOT match order of fossils in strata -- “simplest empirical test” As in the Baconian “two books” tradition, Nature is a revelation of the Divine [the Creator]

32 William Paley 1743 – 1806 Natural Theology or Evidence of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity Collected from the Appearance of Nature [1806] Inferred existence of God from evidence of exquisite design in nature Provided credible explanation for why organisms were so perfectly adapted to their environments Made watch/watchmaker argument – design, e.g., of eye, hand No historicism, no geology; argument based only on present things

33 1829 – Francis Henry, Earl of Bridgewater, leaves £8000 to the Royal Society of London to be paid to persons to write, print and publish 1000 copies each, On the power, wisdom and goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation Buckland writes one of these treatises See reading packet

34 William Buckland – ordained in ministry 1813 – fellow, mineralogy and chemisty, Oxford; then Professor 1818 – Royal Society, readership in Geology 1820 – Vindicae Geologiae 1823 – Reliquiae Diluvianae 1825 – Canon of Christ Church 1825 – married Mary Morland, illustrator and collector of fossils 1836 – Bridgewater Treatise [see below] Some doubts were once expressed about the Flood Buckland arose, and all was clear as mud Shuttleworth* *Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night God said, Let Newton be, and all was light A. Pope, 1730 reading packet excerpt from:

35 /Bridgewater-Treatises/ Bridgewater- Buckland/text.htm/%20entry.htm Buckland’s Bridgewater Treatise is scanned and on the web!!!


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