Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology
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Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology

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  1. Religion and natural philosophy [“science”] in earth studies* Cosmogonies Chronologies Natural theology J. Bourgeois 2007 ESS 408/508 *Europe in the 16th to early 19th centuries

  2. Warnings about confounding scripture and nature from influential early Christian thinkers/writers When it is asked what we ought to believe in matters of religion, the answer is not to be sought in the exploration of the nature of things, after the manner of those whom the Greeks call “physicists.” . . . Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds as certain from reason and experience. Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. Augustine of Hippo [St. Augustine] A.D. 354 – 430 from Enchiridion c. 420 quoted in Lindberg, D.C., 1986. “Science and the early Church,” in D.C. Lindberg and R. Numbers, eds. God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Univ. of California Press, p. 19-48.

  3. Warnings about confounding scripture and nature from influential early Christian thinkers/writers First, the truth of Scripture must be held inviolable. Secondly, when there are different ways of explaining a Scriptural text, no particular explanation should be held so rigidly that, if convincing arguments show it to be false, anyone dare to insist that it still is the definitive sense of the text. Otherwise unbelievers will scorn Sacred Scripture, and the way to faith will be closed to them. [St.] Thomas Aquinas c. 1225 – 1274 A.D. from Summa theologiae 1265 - 1274 quoted in Grant, E., 1986. “Science and theology in the Middle Ages,” in D.C. Lindberg and R. Numbers, eds. God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Univ. of California Press, p. 49-75.

  4. Archbishop James Ussher 1581 - 1656 Ussher was NOT the first to calculate time since the first day of Genesis But his work was footnoted in the King James Bible 1650 Ussher’s chronology

  5. De Emendatione Temporum (1583) a cosmogony which outlined world history – assumed universal; scale of time traditional [Mosaic] 6000 years Joseph Justus Scaliger 1540-1609 religious leader and scholar, expanded the notion of classical history from [just] Greek and Ancient Roman to include Persian, Babylonian, Jewish and Ancient Egyptian Univ. of Leiden library

  6. Bruno being burned at the stake, after refusing to recant, even after torture February, 1600, Rome Giordano Bruno 1548 - 1600 Mystic, heretic, pantheist Denied original sin Excommunicated itinerant Described a cosmos without center or boundaries -- infinite, eternal, possibly uncreated -- allowed possibility of plurality of worlds

  7. c. 150 A.D. A.D. 1543 Ptolemy (left) and Copernicus (right) both imagined a fixed sphere of stars c. 1584 A.D. “Bruno visualized a planetary system similar to the one of Copernicus with a new concept that the stars extended outward infinitely” “It was not Copernicus or Galileo but Giordano Bruno who grasped the great truth that the so-called fixed stars were actually huge suns like our own. Bruno conceived of a universe extending outward infinitely, containing suns without end, each, perhaps, racing through space with its own family of planets; Bruno's cosmos was a bold concept indeed, when compared with the stiffing, enclosed systems of Ptolemy and Copernicus.” W. Hollister, UCSB

  8. Galileo Galilei 1564 - 1642 Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury Beginning in 1614, finally culminating in trial and condemnation in 1633, Galileo and his writings got him in trouble with Catholic dogmatists

  9. Philosophiae Principia 1644 read excerpt in reading packet René Descartes 1596 – 1650 champion of rational thought mechanistic view of cosmos Earth starts as glowing mass, differentiates into three zones, outer region further layered, arranged by density. Ruptures of the outer crust generate topography, e.g.

  10. air water 4th ed. published posthumously I – incandescent, glowing center; M – opaque solid? C,E – solids, with C being “very solid and very heavy”

  11. Strategies to avoid trouble -- Due to Galileo’s trial (1630s), Descartes “denies” his own theory René Descartes 1596 – 1650 Universe of indefinite limits Earth and possibly countless other bodies had own origins and histories Detached Earth history from cosmic history Possible to conceive human history in Bible as separate from history of cosmos sounds like Giordano Bruno…

  12. Newton, reacting to Descartes’ mechanistic view, writes letters to Thomas Burnet Newton tries to reconcile religion with the “laws of Nature” Evidence for divinity: regularity of solar system “perfection” of creation Isaac Newton 1643 - 1727 Attempted to reconcile Genesis with “science”, but also wrote to Burnet his view that Genesis was written for common folk, was not sophisticated Still, he tried to reconcile Mosaic account using natural laws; e.g., perhaps Earth not turning on the first day, which in that case could be very long.

  13. Sacred Theory of the Earth [1680s] Thomas Burnet 1635 – 1715 frontispiece S.J. Gould writes about Burnet Mosaic account is a brief and finite Earth history in an ocean of past and future cosmic time Used natural knowledge to amplify and illuminate biblical narrative – can we use the laws of physics [first principles of Newton] to explain . . . ?

  14. Strategies to avoid trouble – don’t publish your cosmogony in your own lifetime Protogaea [1749 – 33 years after death] 1) incandescent molten globe – 2) crystalline granite and gneiss 3) sphere of water, universal ocean Fossils are animal forms transformed in Earth history Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 1646 - 1716 Telliamed [de Maillet spelled backwards] [1748 – 10 years after death] universal ocean gradually drying up valleys eroded as water retreats ridicules use of Noah’s flood in cosmogonies much of Telliamed quite fanciful Benoit de Maillet 1656 - 1738

  15. Lisbon, Portugal, catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 1755 -- major impact on philosophy of the time challenges philosophy that creation is perfect and God benificent ref. Voltaire, Candide, e.g., “the best of all possible worlds” [not]

  16. Histoire Naturelle 1749  Introduction was a theory of the Earth Epoques de la Nature 1778 read excerpt in reading packet Italian edition of Buffon’s Natural History Georges Louis le Clerc de Buffon 1707 – 1788 Cosmogony starts with molten Earth, six epochs plus a 7th – man Finite age of Earth [c. 100,000 yr], experiments with cooling iron balls Separated science and religion, no attempt at reconciliation Most persuasive cosmogony of late 18th century, but many didn’t accept it Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) condemns Buffon

  17. 1st edition was 1796 Popular account of cosmology Rejects supernatural, Calculates odds that solar system could be “accidental” Pierre Simon Laplace 1749 - 1827 nebular hypothesis 4th edition 1815 • Start with hot gaseous mass – expanded sun, rotating and cooling • rings abandoned as mass contracts, accreted to planets • one ring left—asteroid belt • moons—same process on smaller scale • 1790s to early 1800s nebulous matter discovered [Herschel]

  18. While not atheists, and working within a world largely controlled by the church, these cosmogonists were attempting, primarily, to generate cosmogonies that explained the world naturalistically, without requiring a strict adherence to the Mosaic accounts.

  19. Cosmogonies with reference to Mosaic accounts & handiwork of God

  20. De Emendatione Temporum (1583) • a cosmogony • outlined world history – assumed universal; • scale of time traditional [Mosaic] 6000 years Joseph Justus Scaliger 1540-1609 religious leader and scholar, expanded the notion of classical history from [just] Greek and Ancient Roman to include Persian, Babylonian, Jewish and Ancient Egyptian Univ. of Leiden library

  21. Sacred Theory of the Earth [1680s] Thomas Burnet 1635 – 1715 frontispiece S.J. Gould writes about Burnet Mosaic account is a brief and finite Earth history in an ocean of past and future cosmic time Used natural knowledge to amplify and illuminate biblical narrative – can we use the laws of physics [first principles of Newton] to explain . . . ?

  22. Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus “the standard geological treatise of the 17th century” was more of a cosmology than a cosmogony Kircher referred to his world as the handiwork of GOD Athanasius Kircher 1602 - 1680 read excerpt in reading packet Remember this excerpt when we read about neptunism, volcanism and plutonism Mundus Subterraneus, 1678

  23. 1696 Comets explained great physical events in earth history – deluge & conflagration Earth in harmonious equilibrium derived from original chaos His “physics” defied Newtonian principles William Whiston 1667 - 1752 A diagram from William Whiston's book, A New Theory of the Earth [1696] showing the trajectory of the earth and the flood-causing comet.  Also wrote Astronomical Principles of Religion Natural and Revealed [1717]

  24. John Woodward 1667 - 1728 Essay towards a Natural History of the Earth [1695] • Studied strata and fossils • Claimed whole sequence had settled in order of specific gravity out of chaotic global mixture at the time of the flood [Noah’s flood] • Flood benificent • His physical interpretation DIVERGES from literal interpretation, but invokes assistance of supernatural power Response of some: Noah’s flood more local And occurred after MOST of Earth history

  25. Anton Lazzaro Moro 1689 - 1740 • Criticizes Burnet and Woodward • Rejects Noachian deluge to explain strata • Claimed he did not contradict but only supplemented Genesis account De Crostacei degli altri Marini Corpi che si trovano su Monti [1740] Testament at end wherein reformers of studies state that book contains nothing contrary to the Holy Catholic faith

  26. Problems with traditional chronology by 17th century Histories Egyptian and Chinese civilizations was of comparable length as Mosaic calculation Hard to explain distribution of plants and animals around the globe Difficult to fit accumulating written and natural history into narrative framework of Genesis and following books Were accounts indicating greater antiquity fraudulent? Was God testing scholars’ faith?

  27. Lettres Physique et Morales [1779] • Conceded vast time scale of • pre-human history • But criticized eternalistic theories • Flood only a few thousand years • ago--tremendous disturbance • Christians need only be concerned with creation and history of mankind • For rest of history, • Genesis should be seen as symbolic Jean André deLuc 1727 - 1817

  28. By the late 18th to early 19th century, most “scriptural geologists” have left the “scientific” community Strata show long history before any fossils [azoic period]; creation of all life separated from time of Earth’s origin Traditional literal chronology [6000 yrs] can’t explain Earth history without supernatural causes However, work like Woodward’s and others helped establish the discipline of stratigraphy [see Hallam, Ch. 3] AND the tradition of Natural Theology persisted

  29. Natural theology is the attempt to find evidence of a God or intelligent designer without recourse to any special or supposedly supernatural revelation. [Wikipedia] Wikipedia also says: From the 8th century, the Mutazalite school of Islam, compelled to defend their principles against the orthodox Islam of their day, looked for support in philosophy, and are one of the first to pursue a rational theology, called Ilm-al-Kalam (scholastic theology). Extra credit: Submit one or more examples of “natural theology” in earth sciences from these or other religious traditions.

  30. Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 Counsel to King James champion of empirical/inductive method from The Advancement of Learning 1605 Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an all-applied moderation think or maintain, that man can search too far, or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficience in both; only let men beware… that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together. [emphases added; this is called the Baconian compromise, or the “two books” concept] quoted in Moore, J.R., 1986. “Geologists and interpreters of Genesis in the nineteenth century,” in D.C. Lindberg and R. Numbers, eds. God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Univ. of California Press, p. 322-350.

  31. The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation (1693) As in the Baconian “two books” tradition, Nature is a revelation of the Divine [the Creator] John Ray (1628 – 1705) Botanist and zoologist “father of natural history” “Aristotle of England” 1692 – Miscellaneous discourses concerning the dissolution and changes of the world Can only understand world in terms of accepted religious principles of Judeo-Christian world, but Criticized Woodward as fanciful noted that specific gravity did NOT match order of fossils in strata -- “simplest empirical test”

  32. William Paley 1743 – 1806 Natural Theology or Evidence of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity Collected from the Appearance of Nature [1806] Inferred existence of God from evidence of exquisite design in nature Provided credible explanation for why organisms were so perfectly adapted to their environments Made watch/watchmaker argument – design, e.g., of eye, hand No historicism, no geology; argument based only on present things

  33. 1829 – Francis Henry, Earl of Bridgewater, leaves £8000 to the Royal Society of London to be paid to persons to write, print and publish 1000 copies each, On the power, wisdom and goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation Buckland writes one of these treatises See reading packet

  34. 1808 – ordained in ministry 1813 – fellow, mineralogy and chemisty, Oxford; then Professor 1818 – Royal Society, readership in Geology 1820 – Vindicae Geologiae 1823 – Reliquiae Diluvianae 1825 – Canon of Christ Church 1825 – married Mary Morland, illustrator and collector of fossils 1836 – Bridgewater Treatise [see below] reading packet excerpt from: William Buckland 1784 - 1856 Some doubts were once expressed about the Flood Buckland arose, and all was clear as mud Shuttleworth* *Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night God said, Let Newton be, and all was light A. Pope, 1730

  35. Buckland’s Bridgewater Treatise is scanned and on the web!!! http://www.geology.19thcenturyscience.org/books/Bridgewater-Treatises/06-1837-Bridgewater-Buckland/text.htm/%20entry.htm