Re: John Murray 1840 young earther

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 02:42:55 EST

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    Thanks for your comments on 19c y ec and Mortenson., who stretchs credulity
    by trying to show how competent these anti-geologists of the 19c were. If
    you read his section on AIG he fails to prove his point. Except for George
    young there were poor at geology.

    It seems that history of science is coming into vogue with books like
    Cadbury on dinosaur Hunters and Winchester on Smith. Their common weakness
    is that they assume Christians were literalist and anti-geology which is

    Winchester is one of the worst and I enclose what I wrote in a review of The
    Map that changed the World.;

     "Secondly, Winchester has a totally inaccurate understanding of the British
    churches in relation to the rise of geology and simply repeats, with
    exaggerations, the old myths that there was a mighty war of Genesis and
    geology in the early 19th Century. He refers to the "church" negatively some
    thirty times and it gets tedious. His prejudice surfaces most blatantly on
    p29, 'The hunch that God might not have done precisely as Bishop Ussher had
    suggested,., was beginning to be tested by real thinkers, by rationalists,
    by radically inclined scientists who were bold enough to challenge both the
    dogma and the law, the clerics and the courts.'' Or to put not to fine a
    point on it, only those who were not Christians in any way. Here Winchester
    is writing of the 1790s a mere one hundred years after the Revd John Ray and
    Edward Lhwyd were questioning the age of the earth. In fact throughout the
    previous century most thinkers Christian or deist thought the earth was
    older than Ussher's estimate. What is the dogma and the law which forbade
    suggestions of an old earth? Granted some clerics did hold to Ussher's age
    but the vast majority did not. Lastly, who was under any threat from the law
    for holding to millions of years? How does Winchester explain that it was
    clerics Richardson and Townsend who spread Smith's ideas and Playfair Hutton
    's? In his discussion of the clerical trio Buckland, Sedgwick and Conybeare
    he manages not to mention that they were ordained and any reader of the book
    could be forgiven if he did not realise that Sedgwick was a devout
    evangelical cleric! Winchester simply cannot accept that a clergyman could
    actually accept geological ages without challenging his faith, as is
    evidenced by his comments on Lewis, who helped Murchison unravel the
    Silurian in 1831. He wrote,'Many of the . fossilists were .called divines -
    a curious happenstance, considering the assault that any intelligent
    understanding of fossils would later have on divinity's most firmly held
    notions, like the Creation and the Flood. The Reverend Thomas Lewis of
    Ross-on-Wye is characteristic of the type:' (p115) This can only be
    described as complete and utter nonsense, if not bigotry. The author has
    absolutely no knowledge of the doctrine of Creation or the Flood and is
    ignorant of how the clerical geologists actually thought. His section
    dealing with Ussher (p16-21) is both flippant and inaccurate and even gets
    the first day of creation on Monday 23 October (day one) and the creation of
    animals on the Thursday 26 October(day six)! Actually Ussher wrote, 'Sexto
    die, Octobris vigesimo octavo' and it was Friday the day before the Sabbath!
    This kind of lampoon is fine for Peter Simple in the Daily Telegraph but not
    for a serious Guardian journalist. Winchester has simply not grown out of
    the outworn conflict thesis of science and religion, which by now should
    have been rejected by any who dabbles in the history of science and
    Christianity. However it is a persistent myth which is propagated through a
    popular misunderstanding. This myth encourages both unbelief and

    For the early 19c we should note that many of the geologists were christian,
    devout clergy and often evangelcial e.g. Fleming. Sedgwick, Conybeare and
    possibly Henslow and Buckland. The usual argument that they were Broadchurch
    or liberal in theology is wrong


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Glenn Morton" <>
    To: "Asa@Calvin. Edu" <>
    Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 4:43 AM
    Subject: John Murray 1840 young earther

    > I have been doing some reading of 19th century young-earthers. I ran into
    > an Answers in Genesis site, which claimed that Murray was one of the best
    > 19th century youngearthers, and one of the most geologically competent. I
    > have critiqued that view
    > see

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