Friday, 18 July 2014

Debate Under a Post of Phenomena - Cut Short

Blog post of Carl Zimmer/Phenomena commented on
Phenomena: The Loom (by Carl Zimmer) : The Old Old Earth
Hans Georg Lundahl
July 14, 2014
I would like to know on what grounds Fracostoro immediately ruled out the Flood of Noah.

An argument about the Flood making other kinds of impact or simply a preference of what Aristotle appears to have thought over what is true according to our faith?

“The world is not eternal,” declared the Jesuit priest Benito Pereira in the 1570s. “From its beginning to those days no more than five thousand six hundred years have elapsed.”

The traditional view. Obviously the exact time scale cannot easily be proven from evidence available visibly in nature to us now. St Thomas even went further, arguing that it is only through faith, not through reason that we know Aristotle was wrong in thinking the world eternal.

Some treated Noah’s Flood as a real geological event, but merely as the most recent of many great cataclysms. And for all the vigor of the Counter-Reformation, no one was burned at the stake for such claims.

The vigour of the Counter Reformation was hardly the same as that of the Inquisition against Albigensians.

An Isaac de la Peyrere had proposed a theory about pre-Adamites. Burnt at the stake? No. Forced to recant by Pope Alexander VII? Yes, very definitely.

R Wells
July 14, 2014
Your faith. Not “our faith”. Some of us persist in depending upon the notion that facts and science explain the natural world, just as Fracostoro did.

Joel Duff
July 14, 2014
Thank you for bringing this paper to our attention. Fascinating stuff. I wasn’t familiar with Fracostoro but great to see some perspective from this time period. What you have written here works quite well with what I have read of 17th century natural theologians especially their correspondences. Clearly, there was rising tension but this context from the 16th century helps makes sense of both their concerns but also some free exchange of ideas without the polemics the would come to characterize many 18th century works.

Ross Marks
July 14, 2014
“I would like to know on what grounds Fracostoro immediately ruled out the Flood of Noah”

The bible record of Noah’s flood does not provide sufficient time for shellfish to have grown.

July 15, 2014
I love to hear about how many people figured out ideas hundreds of years before the public accepted it. As usual the church stopped the progression of human society with the demonization of scientific breakthroughs. Sad.

Hans Georg Lundahl
July 15, 2014
Not sufficient time?

In what area? In some areas a lot of them would have been washed in from a larger area, I think particularly of Grand Canyon.

It can hardly have been the motive of Fracostoro, since he hardly had access to shellfish fossil chalk formations that size.

Brian Foulkrod
July 15, 2014
“I think particularly of Grand Canyon.”

I need not ask where that location came to mind, I’m familiar with the person pushing it, and not a single utterance he has ever made is based on fact.

Comments about scholars centuries ago stating what has become proven fact by making veiled comments about the man with a museum that treats the Flintstones as if it were a documentary is not worthy of debate.

David Bump
July 15, 2014
Thank you! This is very interesting. It seems a lot of what we think we know about the past (and other things) are over-simplified or just plain wrong. When I was young, it was oft-repeated that Columbus had to convince people that the world was round, not flat. Turns out Washington Irving made that part up and it got spread around as truth. Actually the problem was that Columbus had calculated the Earth was a smaller sphere than the more accurate figure the experts had.

Some people seem to think “the Church” “stopped the progression of human society with the demonization of scientific breakthroughs” when it actually supported a lot of research and, as this article points out, only leaned on people when they got away from pure scientific research. Far more leading Protestants were burned at the stake (not to mention many more followers) were burned at the stake than the scientists (or natural philosophers) who were even told to recant an idea.

Another common misconception may be that Darwin came up with evolution out of the blue, or made a sharp departure from Lamarck’s version. There were actually several people who proposed evolutionary ideas many years before Darwin, and Darwin rested the weight of biological change on a multi-generational version of the idea that environmental pressures and “use” could directly mold living things to fit.

Let’s not get the idea that everyone had decided early on that the Earth was practically eternal, though. The idea of the Earth being under 6,000 years old continued to be popular for some time — Bishop Ussher didn’t try to pin down the year (he didn’t try to be more accurate than that) until the 1600s.

If I may, I’d like to share some notes that may help give a contextual overview:

  • 1200s – Aquinas (Aristotle & Bible, 6 day creation, global Flood), Roger Bacon, Marco Polo
  • 1300s – Ockham, Wycliffe
  • 1300s-1400s – John Hus
  • 1400s – Gutenberg
  • 1400s-1500s – Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Amerigo Vespucci, Erasmus, Copernicus, Martin Luther, Zwingli, Henry VIII
  • 1500s – Calvin (_creatio ex nihilo_, 6,000 year old world, fixity of kinds, Noah historical, Flood global), Knox, Tycho Brahe, Mercator, Foxe’s _Book of Martyrs_
  • 1500s-1600s Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Bacon (6-day creation, nature a second book of revelation), Galileo, Johann Kepler (discovering the working of creation is like “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”)

    List of commentaries on Genesis shows, “To a man, there was absolutely no doubt that the Bible…was the only trustworthy record of earth’s six-thousand-year history.”

  • 1578 Guillaume de Salluste (1544-1590), French Huguenot, publishes _La Semaine_ — epic poem on the creation week — “World not Eternall, nor by Chance compos’d; But of meere Nothing God it Essence gave” — “possibly the most popular poem in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries — was translated into eight different languages.”
  • 1611 King James’ Authorized version of the Bible published
  • 1614 _History of the World_ by Sir Walter Raleigh. “Ralegh had full confidence in the Bible (the Geneva version) as a trustworthy and reliable source.” Dated creation 5031 B.C. Flood 2242 B.C. **proposed “that the flood had been placid”** — reasoning that the precise description of the location of Eden must mean that it had been preserved.
  • 1620 “Francis Bacon’s _… Novum Organum Scientiarum_ (Sets forth the principles and method of science. Bacon accepted the Biblical account of the creation of the Earth in six days.)]
  • {1620-1630 Johannes Kepler’s Somnium (1620–1630).[21] Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan consider the latter work the first science fiction story.[22][23] It depicts a journey to the Moon and how the Earth’s motion is seen from there.”
  • 1624 Lord Herbert of Cherbury: _De veritate_, foundation of theory of English deism. Herbert “never rejected the Bible but he considered it to be a man-made record… disregarded the teaching of Jesus’ … resurrection…”
  • 1644 Descartes’ _Principia Philosophicae_ (“Cogito, ergo sum”), Roger Williams’s _Queries of Highest Consideration_ on “separation of Church and State.”
  • 1650-1800 “Modern Era” — “Enlightenment or Age of Reason”
  • 1650 James Ussher — Earth’s age = 5,994 years
  • [1661 “Robert Boyle..._The Skeptical Chymist_, with definition of chemical elements”] Robert Boyle “devoted his life to the furtherance of both science and theology… one of the founders of modern-day chemistry.” “the Bible was Boyle’s constant companion” and he was encouraged by James Ussher to study biblical languages.
  • 1662 Book by Bishop Edward Stillingfleet, “a historical defense of the reasonableness of Christianity.” Denounced concept of eternality of matter. Six 24-hour day creation. (But a local Flood — only universal to mankind — possibly most of Asia…) “Yet he was in total agreement with the majority of the historians of the 17th century that this biblical catastrophe occurred some 1656 years after the creation of Adam.”
  • 1662 Charles II “granted a royal charter to the Royal Society of London.” “As a group, they believed that God was the omnipotent Creator and that they, through their scientific endeavors, could reveal to the world the grandeur and the beauty of His creation.”
  • [1663 “Robert Boyle: _Concerning the Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy_.”]
  • 1681 Jacques Bossuet’s _Discourse on Universal History_ – “biblically based… history was portrayed from a divine perspective.” Earth created in 4004 B.C.
  • 1687 _Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy_ by Isaac Newton [(_Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica_)]
  • 1695 Books by John Locke ["John Locke: _The Reasonableness of Christianity_."] and John Toland, controversial, “committed…to the importance of reason within the Christian faith. But…edging closer…toward…atheism.” _Essay Toward a Natural History of the Earth_ by Dr. John Woodward(1655-1728) “based on a complete confidence in the trustworthiness and historicity of the Bible.” Global Flood “accounted for the stratification of the earth.” “Genesis…the most plausible of scientific hypotheses concerning marine fossils, differing species of trees and the American people.”
  • 1728 Posthumous work of Newton’s: Divine creation of the world in 3999 B.C. (5,626 years)
  • 1738 “John Wesley’s evangelical conversion; George Whitefield follows him to Georgia as ‘Leader of the Great Awakening.
  • 1746 “Denis Diderot… _Pensees philosophiques_” deist turned atheist, organizer and chief editor of _Encyclopedia_. Intended to raise Reason “to a cult status.” Believed “The universe was self-originating and self-perpetuating…mankind was nothing more than a mechanism…of natural processes.”
  • 1748 Benoit de Maillet — Earth’s age = 2×10^9 (2 billion)years (book published 10 years posthumously, although some copies had circulated earlier) “our universe arose out of a vortex… swirling ashes, water and dust from a sun that had just burned up.” Based on the supposed rate of lowering of the ocean water level, concluded the Earth was covered in water 2 million years ago. “First modern uniformitarian.” saw life as an eternal potential of nature, gradually changing from marine plants to human beings. Even Voltaire considered it “scandalous and bizarre… dangerous.” de Maillet attempted to harmonize it with Scripture by describing the six days as “only a metaphorical expression.”
  • 1770 D’Holbach’s _The System of Nature_ “a highly-charged attack on supernaturalism…’the Bible of Atheism’” Even Voltaire reacted against it.
  • 1774 Comte de Buffon — Earth’s age = 75,000 years
  • 1789-1799 the French Revolution (1793-1794 Reign of Terror)
  • 1793-1795 Thomas Paine’s _Age of Reason_. “a scathing attack on the Bible” — much impact in England and America. Promoted deism — “Paine believed that only in the study of nature or natural religion could one find the true and trustworthy understanding of God.”
  • [1794 Erasmus Darwin (Charles' grandfather): _Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life_. (Proposed evolutionary history of life)]
  • 1795 James Hutton’s _The Theory of the Earth_ — A deist ancient-Earth creationist, believed in “omnipotent God” but “gave no credence to the Scriptures…Noachic Flood.” Theory of “uniformitarianism…the basis of modern gology.” “The concept of a worldwide catastrophe was discarded, not because it was disproven, but because it did not fit the new naturalistic paradigm.”
  • (based on notes from _The Faces of Origins: A Historical Survey of the Underlying Assumptions from the Early Church to Postmodernism_ by David Herbert, M.A., M. Div., Ed. D.; D & I Herbert Publishing, London, Ontario, 2004, and [in brackets] _The Timetables of Histo ry_ (The New Third Revised Edition), by Bernard Grun,)

[Most of above have really very little to do with the question. Separation of Church and State, though also erroneous (condemned by Pope St Pius X) is quite another question than Erasmus Darwin's book, which is on the index, unless he wrote another one that is - or at least which was on the Index last edition.]

gina rex
July 15, 2014
The article does demonstrate that some people would be super intelligent wherever and whenever they might have lived and that the intelligence of the mass of humanity has not improved with time.
Hans Georg Lundahl
July 16, 2014
@ Brian Foulkrod, I think you mean either Ken Ham or Kent Hovind.

Either way you are wrong, I have been pushing this myself for quite a while and I have had to look into the claims that ALL TIME PERIODS are represented in Grand Canyon.

They are not. Apart from very little Palaeocene or Miocene just “on top” (on top as on top or sideways on top?) the huge thickness of the layers, pretty unique on Earth, covers Palaeozoic / Pre-Cambrian marine fauna. Usually precisely shell fish.

My point, which I hope some other people than you get, was that Fracostoro was NOT dealing with the thickness of shell fish layers that Grand Canyon represent.
Hans Georg Lundahl
July 16, 2014
@David Bump:

“1681 Jacques Bossuet’s _Discourse on Universal History_ – “biblically based… history was portrayed from a divine perspective.” Earth created in 4004 B.C.”

How Anglican of him to agree with Ussher! Well, he was conciliatory with Anglicans.

Normally the Roman Martyrology follows St Jerome. Christ born 5199 Anno Mundi. Or 2957 Anno Diluvii.

Calvin did not change that except by preferring Masoretic text over Septuagint for exactitude of facts.

Hans Georg Lundahl
July 16, 2014
@ gina rex:

I definitely concur the average intelligence has not improved over time.

As to some people being super intelligent whenever or whereever they live … who do you mean? Me for being still Creationist in a world gone mad with old earthism or someone else?

Hans Georg Lundahl
July 16, 2014
@ author of article:

“Perhaps it was the fact that crabs and seashells live in the ocean, which was sixty miles from the city.”

You mean the sea, right? The Mediterranean Sea was perhaps sixty miles from Verona, but the Atlantic Ocean or Indian Ocean quite a bit further away.

See = Lake
Meer = Sea
Ozean = Ocean.

[Carl Zimmer would seem to be German.]

Mike Hopkins
July 16, 2014
If memory serves, one reason why the flood of Noah was rejected was the shelled animals were not on the mountains but rather _in_ them.
Hans Georg Lundahl
July 16, 2014
OK, Fracostoro was not a super genius about the mechanics of sedimentation.

Thanks for settling that!

Mona Albano
July 16, 2014
Hans wrote, “I have had to look into the claims that ALL TIME PERIODS are represented in Grand Canyon.”

Whoever said that is no scientist — perhaps you were listening to a “straw man” caricature of geological knowledge. The Grand Canyon contains striking examples of the Great Unconformity, where 250,000,000 to 1,200,000,000 years are missing from the geological record.

Mona Albano
July 16, 2014
Also, “There are fourteen major unconformities exposed within the Grand Canyon.

See Written In Stone...seen through my lens : The Great Unconformity of the Grand Canyon and the Late Proterozoic-Cambrian Time Interval: Part I - Defining It

This is a most fascinating article. I rejoice that people in earlier centuries could look at geological buildup and erosion and perceive that deep time was needed for it to happen.

Hans Georg Lundahl
July 17, 2014
“The Grand Canyon contains striking examples of the Great Unconformity, where 250,000,000 to 1,200,000,000 years are missing from the geological record.”

If you believe they are years, yes.

I believe they are biotopes. And most biotopes would be missing in most places at any time.

Steve Dutch
July 17, 2014
When I visited Verona a few years ago, in addition to all the culturel treasures, I was struck by the huge ammonites in the paving stones. Some were two feet across.
July 17, 2014
I am fascinated by this article, but I am more fascinated in the fact that people today still insist upon a discredited “Biblical” timeline, supported through willful ignorance and “cherry picking” of (often quote-mined) data points, rather than observable reality.
Toad coder
July 17, 2014
The funniest part about anyone defending the Noah myth, is that Christianity straight up stole the story from Mesopotamian civilizations, which existed outside of the young earth time frame.
Hans Georg LUndahl
[Comment lost, the button was pushed and an error message was announced, thus not published. It was also completely lost, because I had been used to getting my comments published, for some while, and I had taken no back up.]
H G Lundahl
[Comment similarily not published, but not completely lost either. I was aware of problem reemerging and had taken a backup. However, it is identical to parts of my last one. See that one.]
David Bump
17-VII-2014, in response to toad coder
Well, Toad, that’s the theory, because we have older copies of the Epic of Gilgamesh than anything written in Hebrew, but then, look up “ghost lineages” and you might see how just because we have older examples of one thing, that doesn’t mean that something else actually came before it.
Hans Georg Lundahl
18-VII-2014, not published*

If the fact that we YECs exist fascinates you, why not get a few facts about us straight?

I do not recognise your description of us as anywhere near accurate.

If you are interested in "our self descriptions" plus some assessments of your side, why not visit:

Creation vs. Evolution

I think its last message up to now includes and links to other message including an answer to "Toad coder" as well.

For those arriving later:

Creation vs. Evolution : Well, how about Mark Isaak? Too lazy to do his homework?

[full link to the precise message I mean]

@David Bump

With oral traditions we have LOTS of ghost lineages, where, unlike "strata from diverse periods" we really have a chronological succession.

* I frankly do not quite know whether the culprit behind the bug (similar both days) was a bug - very unlikely, since I was in two different libraries - or else sabotage from librarians - still pretty unlikely, since in two different libraries, but somewhat less impossible, since there could be collusion - or finally, most likely or least unlikely (the situation as such is not likely, so forget about finding what is "most likely," as in positively likely and more so than the alternatives, shall we!) deliberate sabotage from Phenomena blog - blogger, webmaster, etc.

I do know, if this is from Phenomena, it is not the first time that I have been pro forma allowed to debate, but in reality stopped right before I could turn the debate to my favour, in a game played with very great sensitivity. It happened with my Natural SCience teacher too, the one in ninth grade, who was and is a staucnh evolution believer and who was on occasion not interested in letting me have a real chance, but was interested in pretending he had given me one.

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