A Study of the Christian Public's Engagement with the New Geology of the 19th Century and its Implications for the Succeeding Centuries

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While Christian communities had no problem engaging positively with the sciences of astronomy, physics and chemistry, they had difficulty engaging with the emerging geology and biology of the 19th century. The ancient earth and evolutionary models of geology and biology respectively were seen as a direct attack on the biblical Genesis model of a young earth and a creation that took place over the period of a week. Some Christian apologists used Baconianism and the Scottish Common Sense philosophy to suggest that geology was not a real science. Geology was characterised as consisting of wild speculation, hypotheses and theories and lacking in solid factual evidence. In both Britain and North America Christian respondents to the new geology were classified as harmonizing geologists or scriptural geologists. This paper considers the nature of these respondents, their philosophical positions, and how these positions took form in the succeeding centuries in terms of different cognitive geological styles. The implications for the science education and science in society context will be discussed.

harmonizing geologist; scriptural geologist; baconianism; common sense philosophy

Bootsman, C., de Berg, K., & Rogers, L. (2014, December 4-7). A study of the Christian public's engagement with the new geology of the 19th century and its implications for the succeeding centuries. Paper presented at the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group Asian Regional Conference, Taipei, Taiwan.

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