RE: David Livingstone's take on geology and creation

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Sun Feb 02 2003 - 03:24:21 EST

  • Next message: George Murphy: "Re: David Livingstone's take on geology and creation"

    Hi Jon,

    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: []On
    >Behalf Of jdac
    >Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2003 1:13 AM

    >First of all we must defer to Michael's research. As I recall his data
    >indicates that no more than 10% of Anglican clergy were YEC in the
    >first half of
    >the 19th century.

    It is not his research I am disputing. It is his conclusion. The concept
    that because the clergy were all one way doesn't logically require that the
    laity were that way also. My point is that like today, most clergy are not
    rejecting of science, yet much of modern US laity appear to be. Thus, while
    Michael's research can be correct, it doesn't follow that they actually led
    the people on this issue.

    The handful of people who published from this
    >perspective is
    >consistent with this. So does your estimation that 10% of Miller's
    >book is aimed
    >at refuting YEC. Also almost no person in high office in the CoE
    >was YEC and
    >many of the clerical geologists also held high office. The YEC's
    >did not have
    >the performance, profile, and public and scientific impact of
    >people such as
    >Conybeare, Whewell, Buckland, Sedwick, Miller, Fleming or
    >Playfair. The YEC
    >stream of 19th century thought should not be ignored, but it should not be
    >over-emphasised either. The impression you are giving me
    >(doubtless incorrect)
    >is that you want the YEC stream to be dominant.

    Let's look at it this way. Would you write an apologetical book spending 10%
    of the time refuting geocentrism? Of course not. You would bore your
    readers to death. Yet, I can point you to modern Christians who believe in
    geocentrism. But they are such a small minority as to be unworthy of
    comment. Thus, you find no books refuting their position. You don't even
    find a chapter refuting their position. Yet with Miller, you and Michael
    seem to be giving the impression (also most likely incorrect) that there
    were hardly any YECs in the mid to late 19th century. I see no logical
    reason to agree with that given the observation that Miller spent time
    refuting those positions. Indeed Miller quotes some of these people. Are
    you all saying that they spent large chunks of their books refuting a tiny
    minority position which would not have been of any interest to their
    readers? I would also note that the social structure of the UK in the 19th
    century was such that the upper classes (which often included the clergy)
    engaged in a discussion with themselves and ignored or saw as irrelevant the
    views of the lower classes.

    I would quote Hitchcock: "Too often, however, up to the present time, has
    the theologian on the one hand, looked with jealousy upon science, fearful
    that its influence was hurtful to the cause of true religion; while on the
    ohter hand, the philosopher, in the pride of sceptical spirit, has scorned
    an alliance between science and theology, and even fancied many a
    discrepancy." Hitchcock, 1851 p. 476

    Why would he write 'up to the present time' if there weren't a significant
    number of people rejecting the scientific view? Would I or you write, 'Too
    often, however, up to the present time, has the theologian rejected
    heliocentricity?? I doubt it. There are hardly any of them. Admittedly,
    Hitchcock was speaking of North America.

    Concerning the lack of acceptance of modern science by the laity I would
    quote James A. Secord, who edited Lyell's Principles:
    "For most readers, the authority of Scripture continued to outweigh that of
    strata-maps and sections, so that biblically-oriented accounts of earth
    history predominated in publishers' lists right thorugh the first half of
    the cnetury. Sharon Turner's Sacred HIstory of the World of 1832, 'firmly
    attached to the great Newtonian principle, of the Divine causation of all
    things', went into its eighth edition two years before Lyell's book did.
    Books in the same tradition were written by Thomas cHalmers, Edward Hitchcok
    Granville Penn, John Bird Sumner, Andrew Ure and Nicholas Wiseman--respected
    authors whose writings often sold more copies and were better known than
    those of Lyell and his friends." James A. Secord, "Introduction," Charles
    Lyell, Principles of Geology, Penguin Books, 1997, p. xxiv

    While YECs were certainly in a minority, those who read books from the above
    authors may very well have been YEC, just as today many YECs avidly buy the
    books fo the generally old-earth ID group. But more importantly, YEC or
    not, those in the pews, who were buying those books, did generally believe
    in a literal Bible which is also something that much of the clergy didn't by
    the mid-part of the 19th century.

    You certainly give greater
    >emphaisis to the 10% than you do the 90%. If you do not want to give this
    >impression, perhaps a bit more empahsis on the 90% would be good

    One must be very careful not to equate what is seen with what was there. The
    historian can only work with what was preserved. I would draw attention to
    the parallel problem of the archaeologist. Archaeologists mostly find stone
    tools and non-perishable materials in ancient cultures. Yet study after
    study of very rare sites which do preserve perishable material show that the
    technology was much, much different than what is in the normal site.

    ďAs early as the 1960s, the late Walter Taylor noted that in his excavations
    in a series of dry caves in Coahuila in the 1940s, finished perishable fiber
    artifacts were four times more common than artifacts of wood and twenty
    times more common than stone tools. This same ratio has been found again
    and again in hundreds of dry caves, rockshelters, and other contexts where
    conditions favored the preservation of all of a groupís technology. Much
    the same ratios of fiber, wood, and stone artifacts are found in
    hunter-gatherer societies of more recent times, even in Arctic and
    sub-Arctic settings." James Adovasio and Jake Page, The First Americans,
    (New York: Random House, 2002), p. 287-288

    In the 19th century, the laity didn't have the money to get their views
    published and thus, those views are like fiber artifacts. We know they
    were a significant force ONLY because Miller and others of the time spent a
    large part of their books fighting them.



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