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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Notes

5 pages96 viewsSummer 2011

Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTA01H3
Professor
R Song
Chapter
2

Page:
of 5
Chapter 2: Eden Questioned Historical Perspectives
-Europeans used the Bible as the ultimate source of knowledge, and also for specific
questions concerning early history
-according to the Bible, the earth was less than 6,000 years old
-Archbishop James Ussher determined that the world was created in the year 4004 B.C
through reference to biblical detail, astronomical cycles and historical records
-his calculation was accepted
-this date was printed in the margins of many English-language Bibles beginning in 1701
-Ussher was wrong howeverhis result derived from simple math and historical analysis
-some Europeans and Americans, believing in God, began to seek enlightenment about the
world around them using the Bible and from nature itself
-many of these thinkers and believers (God-fearing) believed that they were practicing a
different way of worshipping and venerating God by the study and glorification of his works
-in 1691, the natural scientist and theologian Reverend John Ray expressed the view of
many scientists in the title of his book; the proper role of science
-the conduct of scientific inquiry was to reveal The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works
of the Creation
Uniformitarianism: The Contribution from Geology
-many natural scientists accepted Usshers claim of a recent divine creation
-but when they looked directly at nature, they saw evidence for extensive physical change in
the earth itself
-the earths appearance was viewed as the result of a serious of natural catastrophes
-Noahs flood was seen as the most catastrophic
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-many natural scientists believed that catastrophes (floods, earthquakes) accounted for the
diverse layers of rock and other evidence of substantial change
-catastrophists: an adherent of the idea that the world was changed over time by a series
of catastrophic events
-global catastrophes of the size and impact necessary to support the catastrophic view had
never been observed or recorded
-instead, geologists observed mostly slow-acting, steady processes of change
-some interpreted that these slow-acting processes had produced the present appearance of
the earth
-Burnet suggested that the condition of the earth could best be explained, and its age
determined by reference to ordinary, slow-acting, non-catastrophic natural processes
-natural processes such as ice, wind, and water
-he concluded that the world was young
-he argued that if the earth has been ancient, erosion would already have worn away the
tallest mountains
-he was unaware that mountain buildings were still taking place
-but he was on the right track by looking at natural phenomena even if his conclusion of a
young earth was incorrect
-Robert Hooke was fascinated by fossils
-he correctly interpreted them as the remains of animals and plants that no longer exist
-he said that the earth was always changing, but these changes were only partly of Noahs
flood
-they were also caused by long-term phenomenaordinary occurrences such as erosion that
went on all the time in nature
-the geological and biological records the results of slow, ordinary, long-term phenomena
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and catastrophic events
-like Burnet, Hooke also believed that the earth was quite young
-he was confused by that fact that ancient histories, like Egypt and China did not contain
descriptions of fossilization actually taking place
-in 1749, the first volume of, A Natural History, by Georges Buffon was published
-in this work, Buffon articulated a perspective called uniformitarianism
-uniformitarianism: the concept that biological and geological processes that affected
Earth in the past still operate today
-Buffon was saying to learn about the earth, study the earth
-the world looks the way it does because of known, natural, observable processes
-not because of catastrophic events that no one ever witnessed
-he said rivers could eventually create deep canyons, and tall mountains could be worn away
leaving flat plains
-in another volume, he stated that the world was indeed ancient and that Earths history
could be divided into six distinct epochs
-the six epochs clearly echoed the six days of creation in the Bible
-James Hutton studied natural, slowly working, repetitive processesuniform, natural
processes such as erosion and weathering
-the key element was time
-given enough timethe present appearance of the earth could be understood and
explained
-according to him, God had created the earth was what we today would call a self-regulating
system
-the slow erosion of mountains produced soil in which plants could grow
www.notesolution.com

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