Re: 19th century YECs.

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 02:47:48 EST

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: YEC and loss of faith"

    Hi Glenn

    Glenn Morton wrote:

    > >Belief in a global flood does not make someone a young earther, at
    > >least not before
    > >the 19th century. We can say they were erroneous in their belief,
    > >and point out how
    > >this was erroneous in the light of contemporary knowledge
    > >(especially after the
    > >1840's) or even present day knowledge. But we should not equate
    > >belief in global
    > >dilluvialism with belief in a young earth.
    > >
    > I agree and I didn't and haven't said that. I don't even understand how you
    > get this from what I wrote. I specifically mentioned that Coooper was old
    > earth but global flood in that e-mail. As I said to Michael, I had two
    > categories--young-earth and global flood. THere were both in the 19th
    > century. I don't know why I must point out AGAIN and it was in your current
    > e-mail that I said:
    > >> "Currently I have in my personal library books from the following 19th
    > >> century young-earth/global flood advocates:"
    > That is 2 categories, not one. Repeat, that is 2 categories not 1. I don't
    > know how else to express this. If anyone else can do a better job at this,
    > please do it for me.

    I agree also, but you are coming are coming across as lumping all these people into the
    same category. You also seem to be giving undue emphasis to these people in the
    1800-1850 time frame.

    > In the 19th century there was a position which is extremely rare today. The
    > old-earth global flood advocate. They believed that human history was
    > short, that there was a global flood. This is a variant of the modern
    > young-earthers in which youth is applied only to human history but not to
    > the earth's history.

    And this was a very reasonable position based on what was then known.

    > Because claims are made that there were no YECs, I will post quotations
    > rather than just merely make the claim that they existed or didn't exist.
    > But there were YECs in the 19th century whom we would recognize today.
    > Mills is one.

    Who is making this claim? Note me, not anyone I have read (unless I missed it).

    > ”God, however, immediately summoned the murderer into his presence, banished
    > him from his father’s family, and sentenced him to become ‘a fugitive and a
    > vagabond in the face of the earth;’ But to remove his apprehension of
    > immediate death, he gave to the fugitive a sign of protection, and declared
    > that ‘whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold.’
    > “At this period, the world was one hundred and thirty years old,. . .”
    > Abraham Mills, The Ancient Hebrews: with an Introductory Essay concerning
    > the World Before the Flood, (New York: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1875), p. 11
    > An earth only 130 years old when Cain was slain is clearly a YEC position.
    > He was from 1875!
    > STrachan is another:
    > “If the Mosaic narrative be rejected, then we must believe that the world
    > was 3600 years without any written account of its own origin and of the
    > supervision exercised, over the affairs of men, by Divine Providence. Now I
    > ask the unbeliever himself, whether this be at all probable?” Rev. Alexander
    > Strachan, The Antiquity of the Mosaic Narrative, (Burnley: Thomas Sutcliffe,
    > c. 1852), p. 57-58
    > What an argument, but clearly this guy was YEC!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was 1852.
    > Murray was a young-earther:
    > “As for the question vexata of systems antecedent to man, with ‘millions of
    > ages,’ and ‘creations and destructions innumerable,’ I confess I have strong
    > objections to these dogmas. The phenomena of geology do not,in my mind,
    > warrant or require such deductions. There are difficulties, no doubt, but to
    > fly off from the orbit of induction to the eccentric regions of speculation,
    > is not a procedure best calculated to solve them.
    > . . .
    > “This applies to the existence of the world anterior to the Mosaic
    > cosmogony as well as to its eternity.
    > “Let it be remembered that there is no absolute CHRONOMETER in geology and
    > I very much doubt whether there yet be a fixed relative one among
    > fossiliferous rocks, because there are FOSSIL REMAINS COMMON TO THEM ALL;
    > and again, fossils innumerable are common both to tertiary and secondary
    > strata; a fact that repudiates the assumed distinction. The statics of a
    > sound chronology being absent, prudence would require us to be cautious and
    > less dogmatical in a science confessedly of intense interest, but
    > comparatively young in age. Besides, fossiliferous rocks are local, not
    > circumambient.” John Murray, Truth of Revelation, (London: William Smith,
    > 1840), p. 141-142
    > This was 1840.
    > And then there is the guy that Miller felt he had to mention:
    > Then there was the guy who is quoted in Hugh Miller's Footprints of the
    > Creator (Hugh Miller was the writer of the Rambles):
    > "SIR—I occasionally observe articles in your neighbour and
    > contemporary the 'Witness,' characteristically headed
    > 'Rambles of a Geologist', wherein the writer with great zeal
    > once more 'slays the slain' heresies of the 'vestiges of
    > Creation.' This writer (of the 'Rambles,' I mean)
    > nevertheless, and at the same time, announces his own tenets
    > to be much of the same sort, as applied to mere dead matter,
    > that those of the 'Vestiges' are with regard to living
    > organisms. He maintains that the world during the last
    > million of years, has been of itself rising or developing
    > without the interposition of a miracle, from chaos into its
    > present stat; and, of course, as it is still, as a world,
    > confessedly far below the acme of physical perfection, that
    > it must be just now on its passage, self-progressing,
    > towards that point, which terminus it may reach in another
    > million of years hence.[!!!] The author of the 'Vestiges,'
    > as quoted by the author of the 'Rambles,' in the last number
    > of the 'Witness,' complains that the latter and his allies
    > ware not at all so liberal to him as from their present
    > circumstances and position, he had a right to expect. He
    > 9the author of the 'Vestiges') reminds his opponents that
    > they themselves only lately emerged from the antiquated
    > scriptural notions that our world was the direct and almost
    > immediate construction of the Creator, --as much so, in
    > fact, as any of its organized tenants,--and that it was then
    > created in a state of physical excellence the highest
    > possible, to render it a suitable habitation for those
    > tenants, and all this only about six or seven thousand years
    > ago, --to the new light of their present physico-Lamarckian
    > views. And he asks, and certainly not without reason, why
    > should these men, so circumstanced be so anxious to stop him
    > in his attempt to move one step farther forward in the very
    > direction they themselves have made the last move?—that is,
    > in his endeavour to extend their own principles of self-
    > development from mere matter to living creatures. Now, Sir,
    > I confess myself to be one of those (and possibly you may
    > have ore readers similarly constituted) who not only cannot
    > see any great difference between merely physical and organic
    > development[!!], but who would be inclined to allow the
    > latter, absurd as it is, the advantage in point of
    > likelihood[!!!]. The author of the 'Rambles,' however, in
    > the face of this, assures us that his views of physical
    > self-development and long chronology belong to the inductive
    > sciences. Now, I could at this stage of his rambles have
    > wished very much that, instead of merely saying so, he had
    > given his demonstration. Most that those men have written on
    > the question at issue I have seen, not fully made up their
    > mind on the point.[!!!] Perhaps the author of the 'Rambles'
    > could favour us with the inductive process that converted
    > himself; and, as the attainment of truth, and not victory,
    > is my object, I promise either to acquiesce in or rationally
    > refute it[?] Till then, I hold to my antiquated tenets, that
    > our world, nay, the whole material universe, was created
    > about six or seven thousand years ago, and that in a state
    > of physical excellence of which we have in our present
    > fallen world only the 'vestiges of creation.' I conclude by
    > mentioning that this view I have held now for nearly thirty
    > years, and, amidst all the vicissitudes of the philosophical
    > world during that period, I have never seen cause to change
    > it. Of course, with this view I was, during the interval
    > referred to, a constant opponent of the once famous, though
    > now exploded, nebular hypothesis of La Place; and I yet
    > expect to see physical development and long chronology
    > wither also on this earth, now that THEIR ROOT (the said
    > hypothesis) has been eradicated from the sky.[!!!]—I am,
    > Sir, your most obedient servant.
    > 'Philalethes.'*
    > *It now appears that, though this letter was inserted in the
    > 'Scottish Press,' the organ of the United Presbyterians, its
    > writer is a Free Churchman. He has since published a good
    > many other anti-geological letters, chiefly remarkable for
    > their facts, to which, with a self-immolating zeal worthy of
    > a better cause, he has attached his name."
    > Hugh Miller, Footprints of the Creator, (Edinburgh: William
    > P. Nimmo, 1869), p. 256-257
    > originally published in 1850
    > And this was from 1850. YECs were there all the time. Now if anyone wants
    > to dispute this please quote these fellows claiming an old earth, then I
    > will have to recant.

    Nobody that some of these people were YEC Glenn. What I am suggesting is that you are
    giving much greater prominence to these people than their numbers warrant. The vast
    majority of clergy 1800-1850 were not YEC. The vast majority of people who wrote about
    geology 1800-1850 were not YEC. OEC's like Buckland, Whewell and Miller had a large
    and appreciative audience.

    After 1850 all sorts of things happen, and I think this is the interesting period
    because we still know so little. The anti-geologists die out, to surface in a few
    decades in the SDAs who were not mainstream evangelicals. Where had the ideas been in
    the meantime? We don't know. The Fundamentals are partly (not completely)
    anti-evolution but accepting of an old earth. William Jennings Byran was OEC. Only
    the SDA's Price and Clark visibly kept the fires burning into the 1940's when Henry
    Morris takes it up. The fact that Morris found a ready ear in non-evangelical circles
    for YEC among American evangelicals, indicates that it was there. Was Harry Rimmer
    sufficiently influential? What about the role of the Missouri Lutherans? What
    position did the Moody Science Institute play? What about the ASA? What were people
    reading in Christian magazines, newspapers, hearing in Sunday School? I think this is
    an area worthy of research.


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