Re: 19th century YECs.

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 23:50:19 EST

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "RE: Harry Rimmer not a YEC; Rimmer and Morris"

    Hi Glenn

    Glenn Morton wrote:

    > I have emphasized the period from 1830s-1850s. That was when geologic
    > knowledge seemed to be seeping down to the laity. I wanted to know what was
    > being said by the authors during that time. I have paid more attention to
    > how the flood was viewed than the age of the earth, although the two views
    > are related. In the 19th century one of the most widespread views of those
    > who believed in a global flood was that the earth was old but the flood was
    > global. This view is almost non-existent today--I knnow only one person who
    > holds this today. Within this view, one is able to concord the Scripture by
    > allowing an old earth, but keeping mankinds history at less than 6,000
    > years. This was a peculiar form of young-historyism which seemed to satisfy
    > the Biblical literalists during that time. Today the only thing left of
    > this view is the use of erratic boulders and bone breccias as evidence that
    > the flood occurred, but all but one modern advocate holds to a young earth.
    > Because of this different view point, it is difficult to place in modern
    > terms the people of the 19th century. There were YECs of modern form as
    > evidenced by Miller, but most people who would otherwise probably have been
    > young-earth, believed in a youthful history for mankind. This position was
    > destroyed as more knowledge cambe about showing that mankind has been on
    > earth more than 6,000 years. What I have found are the beginnings of many of
    > the modern YEC arguments, like the polystrate fossil argument, the comet
    > explanation for the flood, the sinking and rising of continents for the
    > cause of the flood, waters under the earth's surface as the cause of the
    > flood, the vapor canopy (or rings) as the cause of the flood, the
    > earth-axis-shift theory of the flood, the Flood-as-miracle view of the
    > flood, the-glacial-drift-as- evidence-of-the-flood (which is still used and
    > published today), the use of Guadalupe man as evidence of the flood, the
    > Cambrian explosion arguement, the transitional form argument, the tree ring
    > argument, the appearance of age argument, the population argument, the
    > frozen mammoth as evidence of the flood argument, the lunar recession
    > argument for a young earth, longevity of the patriarchs caused by no
    > radiation argument, Woodmorappe's magical carbuncle that lights the ark
    > argument, the natural reading of Genesis argument for what intepretation
    > should be allowed, and the use of anthropological tradition as evidence of
    > the flood. The same suspicion of scientific data and, like Allen, waiting
    > upon future discovery to explain things, is also evidenced among many of the
    > people I have read. Many of these arguments are to be found among people who
    > were old earth but today these same arguments are used by YECs. Thus, it is
    > a bit difficult separate their arguments from modern yecs.
    > I have also found analogues for Dick Fischer, Michael Behe, and me, in the
    > 19th century books.

    I am in essential agreement with what you say. Especially that last sentence.
    Sometimes there is no progress in ideas, only recycling. I suspect the reason
    why is that most people are not both scientifically and theologically literate,
    so when scientists and theologians write about theology and science they are all
    too often both naive and ignorant about the other discipline. Mea culpa.

    > >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.
    > Jon, I have already, several times stated that I agree that most clergy were
    > not YEC. As to whether or not I am giving too much prominence to them, that
    > may or may not be. History, it is often said, is written by the winners.
    > Evolution and the scientific method were the winners. That doesn't mean
    > that there wasn't a whole range of history going on of which, the winners
    > speaking to themselves, may have missed. As you have agreed, someone was
    > buying those books. And there were certainly a lot of them. While the
    > winners were congratulating themselves, the losers were busy buying books
    > that totally disagreed with the visible winners.
    > By the 1880s, no geologist believed in a global flood except the very old
    > geezer-geologists. Yet the books on the flood begin to multiply. We can pay
    > attention to the geologists who never wrote about the flood, other than as a
    > local event, after about 1840, or we can chose to learn what we can of those
    > who were ignoring the geologists AND the clergy.

    I agree. Why were people ignoring geologists and clergy? I think we need to do
    it culture by culture as well, the UK was not the US and neither was Oz.

    > >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.
    > That is what I am finding out. They did not die out. That simply isn't true.
    > Miller fights against them, but doesn't actually give their names, although
    > he makes it clear that he is fighting particular people. Granville Penn,
    > grandson of William Penn, and probable progenitor of Gosse's extreme
    > appearance with age argument(I am about to read that work, so I will verify
    > if that claim is true), wrote Mineral and Mosaic Geology in 1825 and
    > Conversations on Geology in 1840, and died in 1844. Yet Miller, in 1857 felt
    > the need to whack a book written 32 years earlier. Miller writes:
    > "Granville Penn, for instance, does not scruple to avow his
    > belief, in his elaborate 'Estimate of the Mineral and Mosaic
    > Geologies,' that both sun and moon were created on the first
    > day of creation, though they did not become 'optically visible'
    > until the fourth. " ~ Hugh Miller, Testimony of the Rocks,(New
    > York: Hurst and Company, 1857) p. 188
    > Why would Miller feel the need to whack a dead viewpoint? Indeed Miller has
    > an entire chapter entitled "The Geology of the Anti-geologists." If they had
    > died, why would he have to write this chapter?
    > By the way, that view of Granville Penn is exactly Hugh Ross' viewpoint!
    > 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.
    > You are unfamiliar with William Williams who was a young-earther, non-SDA
    > who presented this population growth argument in 1925. He started with the
    > assumption that the Jews doubled population every 161 years from 3850 b.p.
    > He writes:
    > "But let us generously suppose that these remote ancestors,
    > beginning with one pair, doubled their numbers in 1612.51 years,
    > one-tenth as rapidly as the Jews, or 1240 times in 2,000,000 years.
    > If we raise 2 to the 1240th power, the result is
    > 18,932,139,737,991 with 360 figures following." ~ William A.
    > Williams, Evolution Disproved, (privately published, 1925), p. 10.

    This is a new one on me. Can you tell me more?

    > You are unfamiliar with Harry Rimmer who was a Young-earther ( in the 1930s
    > and wrote lots of books and seemed to be a yec. He too was not SDA. Some say
    > he was a gap theorist but I find that hard to reconcile with some of his
    > statements Does this argument sound familiar having been placed on this
    > reflector just this week?
    > "The confusion grows worse when we leave the textbooks and get out in
    > field research, for we then see that the rocks with stubborn ignorance
    > refuse to follow the chart laid down by the World Congress of Geology!
    > In many places rocks one hundred million years old (?) are laid down on
    > top of rocks only one million years old! And this according to the
    > geologists' own way of reckoning. How could it happen? Why the only
    > possible way was for the earth's crust to slip and turn over. In some of
    > our California formations, notably of the Eocene period, the strata of
    > rock run straight up and down instead of across the mountain! When did
    > this tremendous shift take place? Dr. Price says that it was at the
    > time of the Flood. . ." ~ Harry Rimmer, The Harmony of Science and
    > Scripture, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1936) 22nd printing 1973, p.
    > 241
    > and
    > "But in the second chapter of this same book another meaning of 'day'
    > appears when the text starts:
    > 'These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were
    > created, in the day that Jehovah made heaven and earth.'
    > Here we have the day (yom) embracing in its meaning all the days (yoms)
    > of the first chapter, yet without doing violence to the meaning of the
    > word. We note again in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter ten and verse
    > ten:
    > 'And I stayed in the mount, as at the first time(yom) forty days(yoms)
    > and forty nights, and Jehovah hearkened unto me that time (yom) also."
    > "Here we see the word yom used for a solar day, and for forty solar
    > days, and for an occasion, all in the same verse. . .If the student
    > desires to accept the era theory, and say that these days were vast
    > periods of time, there is room enough in the Hebrew meaning to allow of
    > this interpretation BUT¨while we thus concluded that the days of
    > Genesis do not arbitrarily demand a solar day meaning, we must not lose
    > sight of the fact that these days of creation may very well have been
    > solar days." ~ Harry Rimmer, Modern Science and the Genesis Record,
    > (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1952), p.16-17
    > and
    > "Sixth: in the Hebrew manuscripts, when a definite number precedes or
    > accompanies the word 'yom,' a solar day is intended." ~ Harry Rimmer,
    > Modern Science and the Genesis Record, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans
    > Publishing Co., 1952), p. 19
    > and
    > "Finally, there is no reason to demand an extensive time period in the
    > days of creation in Genesis, except the desire to be in conformity with
    > the contentions and demands of the evolutionary school of geology." ~ Harry
    > Rimmer, Modern
    > Science and the Genesis Record, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans
    > Publishing Co., 1952), p. 22

    I have read of Rimmer, but only from secondary sources (essentially Numbers).
    As Ted he was not YEC, although he definitely was scientific creationist. Hence
    I mention him later on as influential on science and religion.

    > 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?
    > Rimmer was extremely influential, he is just forgotten today. He wrote lots
    > of books which sold a whole lot, long before Henry began his career as a
    > writer.

    And didn't even get a mention from him in the "Genesis Flood". Is he mentioned
    in "History of Modern Creationism"? I don't have that bit.

    > What about the role of the Missouri
    > >Lutherans? What
    > >position did the Moody Science Institute play? What about the ASA?
    > My recollection from H. Morris' History of Modern Creationism is that the
    > ASA split over the issue of YEC.

    It is in Number also. But it would be interesting to have more details than
    either of these sources, which mention the split only briefly. Morris regards
    the ASA as the enemy whereas Numbers tends to see it as a scientific creationist

    > > What were people
    > >reading in Christian magazines, newspapers, hearing in Sunday
    > >School? I think this is
    > >an area worthy of research.
    > Well, they were buying the books I am reading during the 19th century.

    The number of times these books were reprinted (and where) would be telling. It
    would give us an idea as to how late old ideas were still in circulation. After
    all, isn't "The Genesis Flood" still in publication? My copy is the 24th
    printing (1980), so goodness knows what it is up to now.

    I was speaking to an SDA friend who knows Ronald Numbers. His work of Ellen
    White is of course of great interest to that church. My friend mentions that
    while the sources of White's ideas on heath, diet, etc., have been largely
    discovered, where he geological ideas came from have not yet surfaced.



    > glenn
    > see
    > for lots of creation/evolution information
    > anthropology/geology/paleontology/theology\
    > personal stories of struggle

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