BIOL 400 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Genesis Creation Narrative, William Whiston, James Ussher
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BIOLOGY AND THE EMERGING PHYSICAL SCIENCES:
A. ROOTS OF GEOLOGY
1. The science of geology arose from both practical and theoretical
Where can we find valuable minerals and metals?
How did mountains form?
Where do rivers come from?
What are fossils?
How did the Earth form in the first place?
2. Sir Isaac Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation explained a hitherto
mysterious terrestrial phenomenon – the daily tides – and inspired the
search for theories of the earth and its origins that were based on physical
B. ARCHBISHOP JAMES USSHER AND THE GENESIS VIEW
1. Divine creation was recent, but how recent? James Ussher, Archbishop
of Armagh, published a chronology of human history, including events in
the Bible, 1650-1654.
Divine creation began, according to Ussher, at 12:00 noon on October
23, 4004 BC.
Things like glacial erratics made people wonder about how rocks got the way they are.
How do you know where to dig to ﬁnd these things?
One answer was that the Earth surface didn't have any mountains until after the fall of man and the great ﬂood. Mountains as
representing our fall from heaven.
Tracing the origins of rivers was a major exploration in the 1800s.
Some fossils don't look just like creatures alive today, it suggests extinction. A lot of people questioned the possibility of
extinction and so refused to believe fossils were organisms.!
Some thought thought that fossils were creatures that were created before creation, gods mistaken creations.!
Others thought they were natural formations that looked like organisms but were nothing more than irregularities.!
Beringer Hoax fossils were planted fake fossils to trick another researcher.!
Originally had a theological answer but people started to think about natural explanations of Earths creations.
Made people think that if you could deduce simple laws then you could understand other things. A
physical basis for understanding the Earth's history.
He had very speciﬁc dates. He was a very careful scholar who was using the assumptions and
procedures of scholars of his day. He worked backwards using biblical texts and texts from
geology and biology developed together
okotoks — worl’d biggest glacial erratic
Glacial Erratic — Harpoon point — Victoria
how can we get rich — where do u ﬁnd diamonds and golds — where is the oil going to
be — things like that — like alchemy
where do mountains come from?
mountains — part of our fall from heaven and sin
in the 17th century, the Seine River was quantatively found out that rain fall would be adequete for this river to form
some sort of arthropod — does have similar living resembelence — the
argument that fossils were organisms was very small — ammonite cast —
simple quantative law rthat would expalin soo much — may be it wouldn’t be possible
netownian physics began to be applied to geology and the earth — by means of commentary events
Geology - 2
Ussher arrived at his date by extensive Biblical and non-Biblical
research, which resulted in a 2000-page chronology of all human
history. Other scholars working at the same time using the same
methods came to similar conclusions.
2. The implication of the Genesis view is that only one geological event in
history significantly shaped the earth: the Great Flood of Noah.
C. EARLY SCIENTIFIC THEORIES OF THE EARTH
1. Early scientific models tried to incorporate the new knowledge of
physics and astronomy into an account of the earth’s origins and history.
2. New Theory of the Earth (1696) by William Whiston (c. 1667-1752) tried to
explain Biblical events by means of cometary events.
Whiston’s operating principle: accept the Bible as literally true, except if
you have reason to believe otherwise.
The six days of creation
According to Whiston, the point of view of Genesis is the surface of
the Earth, not the cosmos as a whole. Genesis is NOT an account of
the origin of everything.
The Earth (before the Biblical creation story takes up the narrative)
was a comet with a highly elliptical orbit. The orbit was made more
The common thinking was that the Earth is not the result of historical processes and time is not important in the study of the
Was appointed to his chair by Sir Isaac Newton.!
He based his theory of the earth Based on cometary events to account for major events.!
He accepted the bible as true unless good evidence is presented to believe otherwise
Similar to what was happening with the scholastics, bring modern science together with theology
The account of Earth ﬁnding its place in its current orbit. He thought prior to settling
the earth was a comet that was in a highly elliptical orbit
1680 — Kirch’s Comet
2 years later — 1682 — Halley’s Comet
convinced him that there were these periodic comets around
william Whiston became Newton’s succossor — practiced Newtonian mechanics — ev
the earth’s atmosphere clearifying is related to the concept of let there be light
Geology - 3
circular by God, working through Newton’s laws; physical laws are the
tools of God.
The Fall of Man, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of
Eden, were accompanied by the impact of a comet hitting the Earth.
The Flood occurred due to a close encounter between the Earth and the
water in the tail of a passing comet. Tidal forces caused by the comet
opened cracks in the Earth’s surface, resulting in the upward surge of
subterranean water, which contributed to the Flood of Noah.
The coming conflagration: soon, another comet will approach the Earth,
strip our atmosphere, raise molten interior material, and make the Earth’s
orbit more elliptical.
The consummation: Christ will reign for a thousand years, the Battle of
Armageddon will be fought, the righteous will win and go to heaven. The
Earth will take a direct hit from yet another comet, and will be knocked
back into a highly elliptical orbit. The End.
The physical laws are the tools of god that was used to create the habitable Earth. !
They thought that understanding physical laws was understanding the ways of God.!
He thought at this time one day was equivalent to one year as it was not spinning.!
This sent the Earth into rotation and created the seasons.!
Wondered where all the water came from to fuel the ﬂood. He thought the Earth was a rocky layer over subterranean water. Tidal forces disrupted the
crust and brought water up. Also thought that some of the water came from the comets tail that impacted the earth and started the ﬂood
At this point Christ will return and rule for 1000 years. There would be a big ﬁre to signal his return. !
After this a comet will hit and destroy the Earth after the righteous have been accepted to heaven. !
the fall man — comet that hit the earth — comet — resulted in the tilt of the earth. 23º
Noah and the ﬂood — comet — another comet approached the earth
look up William Whiston’s model of the ﬂood of Noah
the water from the ﬂood of noah — earth cracked and water rose from within the earth —
contributing to the water that envelopped the earth
Jesus returns and rules for a 1000 years
then comet — then comet again — then comet again