RE: David Livingstone's take on geology and creation

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Wed Jan 29 2003 - 16:56:04 EST

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    Michael wrote:
    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: []On
    Behalf Of Michael Roberts
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 10:29
    >In 1857virtually all scots presbytarians and nearly all anglicans accepted
    vast ages of geology. At that time there was a lower proportion of
    >YEC than there are today. (Remember old fashioned evangelicals and
    fundamentalists believe in an old earth. None of this new-fangled YEC for
    them) !857 was
    >also the year when Hugh Miller ppublished Teh testimony of the Rocks - a
    classic on geology and genesis.

    Two comments on Miller's book. I am delighted that you do acknowledge here
    (at least implicitly) that there were YECs. Miller spends an entire chapter
    on YEC arguments and he wouldn't have done that if they were totally
    insignificant. Secondly, I have both the American version and the British
    1857 version of this work. In the American version, there is an extended
    preface by the editors which may shed some light upon the expectations with
    which Miller's book was greeted. Below is from p. 165 of Foundation, Fall
    and Flood, 1998. It is my view of what was bugging Miller. Before the
    historians slap me (as they do everytime I touch on history) I will simply
    say this is my view, and there is some reading between the lines.:

                In the autumn of 1855, an American publisher received an offer
    for the publication of a new book by Hugh Miller. Miller was a famous
    British geologist who was also a devout Christian. He had written a very
    popular book on the Old Red Sandstone. Miller believed the Bible. He was
    also concerned with the distortions concerning geology, which were being
    made by his fellow Christians. This new book would address the tension
    between geology and the Bible. The publishers were very interested and
    closed the deal at once.

                Over the next year, advance pages were written and dispatched to
    the American publisher. As the editor perused the papers they were
    convinced that this book was a monumental work. They wrote, "It became more
    and more evident that the work was destined not only to extend his fame, but
    to establish for him new and special claims to the admiration and gratitude
    of mankind." The editor felt that Miller had been successful in dealing with
    the science/religion issue.

                As Miller struggled with the issues and finished his work, he
    became more and more depressed. No one knows what was actually going
    through his mind during the final stages of manuscript preparation but the
    issues of how to explain the Divine record were clearly on his mind. As a
    geologist, Miller knew that he had not solved the issue of the flood. All
    he had done was explain why the Flood could not be global. He had not
    offered a detailed and successful scenario for the Flood. He had suggested
    that the Caspian basin was the locale for Noah's flood. His scenario did not
    allow one to point to a group of rocks and say, "There, those are the rocks
    deposited by the Flood." All he did was note that the Caspian used to be
    bigger than it is now, but that does not prove that the Caspian was
    catastrophically filled. It simply proves that the water is evaporating more
    rapidly today than the rivers can replenish it. He admitted that he was on
    weak ground and called his view a 'conjecture'.1 He also admitted that the
    Flood might have been miraculous rather than natural.2 This was almost
    equivalent to admitting that he had not solved the problem.

                Miller's despair grew. On the night of December 23, 1856, after
    finishing the proof reading of his manuscript, Miller called his doctor to
    dinner. There he told the doctor that he had been up at night for several
    weeks working on the book. The doctor told him that he had been
    overworking, that he should stop work and take a rest. Miller agreed that
    that would be good.

                After their dinner, Hugh Miller took his bath, and retired to
    his bedroom. An hour or so later, the maid entered the room and found a look
    of horror on his face. She fled the room rapidly. Later that night, Hugh
    Miller, the famous author, wrote a note to his wife, pulled out his pistol
    and shot himself to death.

                Christians who do not study geology are unaware of the
    difficulties this subject presents to the believer, but Hugh Miller knew!
    While not coming to the depths of despair Miller faced, I have found it very
    difficult to deal with the misunderstandings of geology I hear from the
    pulpit. Miller knew, as I know, that what my fellow Christians are teaching
    about science is not correct. It challenges one's faith when he realizes
    that most of one's fellow believers are quite willing to make definitive
    statements about geology and other areas of science when they have never
    studied the subjects. It is painful to know that Christian apologists
    regularly ignore observational data.
    Miller blew his brains out.


    Having now gone through 3 winters in Scotland where Miller committed
    suicide, I can attest that the constant darkness (very short days) can get
    one down. That had to have an impact on his point of view. Dec. 23rd is
    about as dark as it gets--a mere 6 hours of low to the horizon sun. But the
    thing that struck me was that people were expecting him to have solved the
    flood problem, and it was obvious that he knew he hadn't.

    for lots of creation/evolution information
    personal stories of struggle

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