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Glenn Morton: Who's misrepresenting history?

By Dr Terry Mortenson

5 February 2002

Recently Glenn Morton has been promoting his web article entitled 'John Murray: A Misrepresentation of History.' 1 Morton claims to have formerly been a young-Earth creationist but is now strongly opposed to creationist ministries. In his article Morton criticizes my handling of the historical evidence related to John Murray, an early 19th century 'Scriptural geologist' who was opposed to the old-Earth geological theories that were being developed at that time and wrote about his objections in a book in 1840. Morton attempts to show that Murray was not as geologically competent as I say he was, in fact that Murray was quite out of date and uninformed in his views.

Below I have responded point-by-point to his article, which was taken from the Web on [22 Jan 2002]. Mr Morton's original article is indented, while my interspersed comments begin with TM.

John Murray: A Misrepresentation of History

Copyright 2002 G.R. Morton This can be freely distributed so long as no changes are made and no charges are made.

An Answers in Genesis website talks about several 19th century 'Scriptural Geologists'. The page is written by Terry Mortenson who has a Ph. D. in the history of geology. The site is [John Murray bio URL]

I first became aware of Mortenson when I was forwarded a paper he gave at a Denver Theological Conference in November or December 2001. The conference was called ETS 2001.

TM: Morton told me in an email (dated 30 December 2001) that he got the paper from his son, who got the paper from me in Denver. But right here we have the first example of Morton's inadequate attention to details and to gathering the facts. The conference was the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, which met in Colorado Springs, not Denver, in November 14-16. Furthermore, I never personally met nor gave a paper to Morton's son in Denver, where I spent the weekend after ETS with my sister's family. I gave the paper to one person in Denver, my sister's pastor, who has written that he did not give the paper to anyone and in any case does not know Glenn Morton or anyone who is his son. Nor did I leave my ETS paper with my sister to give to others. Morton's criticisms of Murray's thoughts communicated in his 1840 book (The Truth of Revelation) reveal a similar lack of careful attention to detail. Morton also gives no evidence of having read Murray's Portrait of Geology (1838), which discusses geology much more than the section on geology and the flood in his 1840 book.

Since I was reading many 19th century creationist authors at the time, I was pleased to see the paper. But Mortenson didn't tell me anything about the BELIEFS of these supposedly great geologists who happened to believe in a global flood.

TM: Morton does not seem to have read my ETS paper very carefully.2 Contrary to Morton's assertion, I never said in my ETS paper (which Morton read) or my Ph.D. thesis (which he hasn't read) or in my short article on the website (which he has read) that Murray was a geologist. In fact, in my introductory web articles on the 'Scriptural geologists' (part 1 and part 2), prior to discussing individual men, I indicate that Murray and the other defenders of the literal truth of Genesis and opponents of old-Earth geological theories were given the label 'Scriptural geologists' by their critics.3 What I did explain in my ETS paper was that Murray and three other men (discussed in my 5 pages of my ETS paper and in 133 pages of my Ph.D. thesis) were geologically competent (by the geological standards of their day, which I clearly define in my thesis) to critically evaluate the evidence and arguments used in catastrophist and uniformitarian old-Earth theories. Murray and the others were not naïve, Bible-thumping, geological ignoramuses. Furthermore, throughout 9 of the 18 pages of my ETS paper I explain clearly, though of necessity briefly, the Scriptural geologists' beliefs about Scripture, geology, creation, Noah's Flood and the age of the Earth. So, again, I wonder how carefully Morton read my ETS paper.

Thus I decided to get the books I could. I was able to locate Murray's 1840 book and purchased it for a pretty penny. What I learned told me why Mortenson hadn't bothered to discuss the beliefs these guys whom he calls the 'Four of the geologically most competent Scriptural geolgists'. In looking at Mortenson's site, Mortenson claims that one of the Scriptural Geologists, John Murray, 'demonstrated an up-to-date knowledge of the writings of leading British and European geologists.'

This is a claim that can be examined in light of the knowledge of the day and in light of Murray's beliefs. The examination of those beliefs shows that Murray was using data at least 50 years out of date.

TM: Morton quotes out of context what I say about Murray. Murray was well informed about geological theory and evidence as it related to the arguments for an old Earth, even if he wasn't completely up-to-date about every detail of the structure of the Earth (most of the issues Morton mentions had nothing to do with establishing the dogma of the old-Earth interpretation of the Earth's stratigraphic record). Furthermore, Murray, being a life-long member of the London Geological Society, was well aware that the whole geological establishment was old-Earth in 1840. He was contending for the truth of Scripture the best he could. But, unfortunately, it was too little too late.

Most of the things Morton mentions below as evidence of Murray's ignorance had nothing to do with establishing the 'fact' that Earth history was much older that the Bible teaches. First, contrary to the implication of Morton's points 1, 2, and 4, Murray did not work out a detailed 'Flood model,' but rather gave informed objections for why Christians at that time did not need to abandon their faith in the literal truth of Genesis 1-11. Furthermore, his failure to address topics that Morton demands that he should have written about (in a book that devotes less than 20 of its 380 pages to a discussion of Noah's Flood and geology), is not an indication of Murray's geological ignorance, but of Morton's unreasonable demands 162 years later. Morton is wrong to base his criticisms on what Murray does NOT say, especially since he does not cite any explicit statements of error by Murray on these very topics. Morton fails to take Murray's comments in the context of his whole 1840 book and what he was trying to accomplish through it.

He failed to use data from his day in the following areas:

1. He failed to apply the known density of the earth to his flood model.

TM: The density of the Earth was never used as evidence for building or defending the old-Earth uniformitarian or catastrophist theories in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Since there are subterranean waters in abundance today, it is hardly a ridiculous assumption to think that there were such reservoirs before the Flood also, but containing even more water than today (given the teaching of Gen. 7:11). The fact that Murray had an erroneous view of the contents of the center of the Earth does not mean that he had no correct, or a largely incorrect, understanding of nature and especially of the geological record. More comments are below.

2. He failed to apply the thermal observations of mines getting hotter the deeper one went to his flood theory.

TM: See comments below.

3. He failed to deal or accept the stratification of the fossils which had been proven by William Smith 35 years earlier.

TM: Contrary to what Morton believes, William Smith's use of fossils in stratigraphy is loaded with problems which, I believe, has led geology into a maze from which it will never extricate itself. See further comments below.

4. He failed to apply his knowledge of pressure to his model of the flood.

TM: See comments below.

5. He failed to inform his readers of Agassiz's claim that glaciers, not the flood formed the glaciers--a claim which modern young-earth creationists, like Michael Oard, fully support.

TM:There was no reason for Murray to inform his readers in 1840 about Agassiz's theory. Contrary to what Morton implies, glacial theory was very much in debate in 1840 (when Murray's second edition was published, though the book may well have been sent to the publisher in 1839). It was certainly not a proven fact that everyone but Murray knew. On the contrary, Agassiz's theory was being hotly debated in that very year (1840) by leading experts and his theory did not triumph in Switzerland, his home country, until 1844 and then even later in other countries.4 See more comments below.

Murray also failed to inform his readers that the best geological minds of the day had rejected what he was saying.

TM:He didn't need to-most, if not all, of his readers would have already known this.

John Murray was a well respected scientist of the day doing most of his work in the area of chemistry and mining. He wrote a book, Truth of Revelation in 1831 which was expanded and republished in 1840. I own the 1840 edition. All of his quotes are from that book.

1. Density of the Earth

Murray believed in a global flood, as did many in his day. But Murray's mechanism was somewhat similar to Walter Brown's in this day. Murray wrote:

'There is a fact stated in Scripture of considerable importance when considered in this relation: 'the fountains of the great deep were broken up:'-this unequivocally implies the issue of torrents from the bosom of the globe; and it seems to us, more likely that the nucleus of the earth is an abyss of water than a lake of fire, however, the latter view of it might coalesce with Buffon's notion, of which that of Hutton was a more elaborate transcript.' (Murray, p. 215)

TM:First, Murray's statement is a passing comment in his discussion and he does not express it as a dogmatic position (for he says it 'seems' to him 'more likely' and indicates by the word 'however' that the other view might be right). Second, we must interpret him in his historical context. Many views that were dogmatically defended as fact at that time were not necessarily fact and have since been refuted or significantly modified. (For example, it was scientific orthodoxy in the 17th and 18th centuries to believe that 'phlogiston' was a gaseous substance released when a material burns. Not until 1774, when the great British scientist, Joseph Priestley, discovered oxygen, did the idea of phlogiston begin to be rejected, though Priestly believed in it until his death in 1804.) And Murray knew enough about the nature of science and the nature of man to keep him from accepting everything that was claimed to be 'proven scientific fact.' He was an independent thinker (which helps to explain why he was such a creative inventor) who believed that only the Word of God was infallibly true. History confirms the validity of Murray's humble view of science, rather than the arrogant dogmatism that reigns in many quarters of old-Earth evolutionary science.

Not only does he have the water of the flood coming out of the center of the earth, he has it disappear back into the center of the earth.

TM:While the quote by Murray suggests (though it does not clearly state) that he believed the waters of the Flood came from the center of the Earth, it does not say that the Flood waters retreated back into the center of the Earth. Again, Morton did not read carefully, therefore putting words into Murray's mouth. On the very next page (p. 216, from which Morton quotes below under point 4, but apparently read too quickly) Murray says that the waters of the Flood 'may have retreated into the profound abysses [note Murray's use of the plural] of the Earth.' But Murray also believed (p. 216-17) that much of the waters disappeared in the crystallization of crystalline (i.e., igneous or metamorphic) rocks and in the composition of sedimentary rocks, as well as going into the atmosphere and post-Flood ocean basins (and he suggests that sea level would possibly not have reached its present level until several centuries later).

This view was known to be false in 1840, indeed, it was known to be false in 1798. In that year, Cavendish measured the gravitational constant. It was this act which allowed us to know the mass of the earth. Scientists had long known the acceleration of gravity, but they had no idea how much mass it took to create that acceleration rate. Cavendish's measurement allow solving g = Gm/r2 = 9.8 m/s, where g is the acceleration of earth's gravity, G is the gravitational constant measured by Cavendish and m is the mass of the earth. (for pedantic types, there is an implicit test mass of 1 in the numerator)

Prior to 1798, we knew the radius of the earth but didn't know either the mass of the earth or G, the gravitational constant. Once the mass of the earth was known, the earth's density was easily determined, mass divided by the volume of the sphere. This yielded a value of 5.5 gram/cubic centimeter. Water has a density of 1 gram/ cubic centimeter, so it was quite clear as early as 1798 that Murray couldn't get away with claiming a reservoir of water in the center of the earth.

TM: Morton's mathematical discussion just makes far too much of Murray's brief and technically imprecise statement, since Murray does not say how big he imagined the watery abyss at the center of the Earth was and he says nothing about his beliefs about the constitution of the rest of the Earth.

So, this is the first point at which Murray failed to display his acceptance of the science of the day.

TM:He rejected a number of things that were widely accepted by the scientists of his day. But most of his beliefs reflected sound scientific orthodoxy. This is no different from any thoughtful creative scientist of his day, including all his old-Earth opponents: dissenting from the majority on a small number of points while embracing most of the body of scientific knowledge (some aspects of which would be shown later to be false).

As further evidence, even his contemporaries found such ideas absurd:

'Though the theory of the centre of the earth being an abyss of waters be rejected as absurd, it is quite supposable that, within a few miles of the earth's circumference, there might be fountains and depths of water sufficient for a universal Deluge. For, what is the distance of four or five miles in the crust of the earth?' (Burton 1845, p. 22-23)

2. Temperature inside the earth

It was quite well known, even from ancient times, that the deeper miners dug into the earth, the hotter the temperature inside the mine. It was also known that hot lava came out of the earth at certain places which were called volcanoes. Just a few years earlier, Charles Lyell had written of this well known fact when he wrote:

'Many observations and experiments appear to countenance the idea, that in descending from the surface to those slight depths to which man can penetrate, there is a progressive increase of heat;' (Lyell, p. 82)

TM:One wonders when Lyell made this statement, since Morton doesn't tell us which of the three volumes and which edition of Lyell's Principles of Geology he is quoting from (I couldn't find it on p. 82 of any volumes of my Univ. of Chicago 1990 reprint of Lyell's 1830-33 first edition, nor does the index in any of the volumes help to locate the quote elsewhere in the Principles.) But even so, Lyell does not speak dogmatically, but says cautiously that 'MANY observations and experiments APPEAR to countenance the idea.' Murray could not be held responsible for not bowing the knee to what 'appeared' at the time to be true, especially when the statement was made by Lyell, who even modern old-Earth evolutionary neo-catastrophists say was quite adept at misinterpreting and misrepresenting the facts.

Yet, by claiming that the earth's interior was water rather than fire, Murray failed to incorporate the observational data into his views, he failed to inform his readership of this fact, or to offer evidence for why he believed that the earth's interior was water other than that he needed that water for the Flood.

3. Stratification of the fossils

Thirty-five years before Murray published, a mining consultant/canal builder, had noticed an interesting fact. As you descended the lift in a mine, you could see various rock layers, one on top of another. The order was always the same; Simon Winchester wrote of Smith's discovery,

'The pattern, Smith saw, was always the same, in mine after mine after mine: from top to bottom, Sandstone, Siltstone, Mudstone, Non-marine Band, Marine Band, Coal, Seat-earth, and then again Sandstone, Siltstone, Mudstone, on and on. on top of everything, placid and unconformable, the Red Marls, the flatly sloping beds of the startlingly red Red Earth.' (Winchester, 2001, p. 76-77)

Smith used this knowledge to help the Lords of England decide if they had coal underneath their lands. Smith was in high demand because he could predict coal and no other man could. But Smith didn't stop there. He noticed that if you examined the fossils found in those rocks, regardless of the mine you were in, regardless of how distant that other mine was, the fossils were found in the same order. Some fossils were only found high while other fossils were only found deep in the mine, or at least always found deeper than those which consistently where higher up. Smith found that he could use the fossils to help him find the coal and other minerals which the Lords were looking for.

TM: This is an exaggeration of Smith's effectiveness and Simon Winchester is just plain wrong or Morton has quoted him out of context and distorted his meaning. In any case, Smith did not discover that the order of the strata and the fossils they contain are always in the same order. The fossils were not neatly and uniquely distributed through the record. One only has to look at Smith's Stratigraphical System of Organized Fossils (1817), which contains his geological map of England and Wales and his 'Geological Table of British Organized fossils' to see the repetition of the same kinds of fossils at many different levels of Smith's geological column.

Furthermore, most of the fossils he used to identify the different formations were shell creatures. However, he admitted his ignorance of conchology (which in 1817 and for many years later was in a serious state of confusion regarding taxonomic classification of shell creatures). Comments in square brackets are mine. He stated on p. vi, 'On this principle [using fossils to relative date the strata] I have ventured, without much knowledge of Conchology [and therefore probably not even knowing how confused the state of that science was], and with weak aids in that science, to give the outlines of a systematic arrangement combined with the stratified, it being much easier to learn the useful than to unlearn the useless; and finding myself pressed to the task by others, who are proceeding with such works with but imperfect knowledge of the Strata, I may therefore hope that my imperfections in the systematic arrangement placed against their's [sic] in the Strata, the balance will be in favour of this work.' So, Smith was pressured by the desire to be first to publish-to beat others who were as ignorant of the strata as he was of the shell creatures-to advocate his methodology, which in reality doesn't tell us the truth about the age of the strata.

Furthermore, regarding Morton's and Winchester's claim of a consistent order of fossils, I will quote Lyell. In his Manual of Elementary Geology (1855, pp. 460-62) Lyell showed the danger of saying certain creatures were not found in lower formations. He gives many concrete examples of creatures, which were believed before Smith's 1817 book to be found only in upper formations but then by 1855 had been discovered several formations lower in the geological record. And this was based just on continuing study of the strata in the UK. He concludes with these words of warning on p. 462: 'How then can we doubt, if every area on the globe were to be studied with the same diligence,--if all Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia were equally well known, that every date assigned by us in the above table for the earliest recorded appearance of fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals would have to be altered? Nay, if one other area, such as part of Spain, of the size of England and Scotland, were subjected to the same scrutiny (and we are still very imperfectly acquainted even with Great Britain), each class of Vertebrata would probably recede one or more steps farther back into the abyss of time: fish might penetrate into the Lower Silurian, --reptiles into the Lower Devonian. . .' For this reason Lyell goes on in this 1855 book to reject the idea of the progressive development of life.

Smith had no axe to grind about the Flood, indeed, he most assuredly believed in Noah's Flood, but he couldn't deny what he had observed, the fossils had a pattern.

TM: Wrong. Judging from Smith's own writings and those of his nephew (John Phillips),5 Smith was probably a vague semi-deist or very nominal Christian (deistic influences were widespread in the British church at this time, so it was not always easy to ascertain where a person stood spiritually). In any case, Smith was not a supporter of Biblical Christianity or in any way a defender of the Bible. He believed in a general deluge that was responsible only for the superficial detritus and topography of the Earth's surface, but he never connected this deluge with Noah's Flood, even though his friend writing at the same time did (Rev. Joseph Townsend [an old-Earth proponent], The Character of Moses Established for Veracity as an Historian, 2 Vol., 1813 and 1815).6 In fact, Smith makes no mention of Scripture in his theorizing about Earth history. Smith's ignoring of Scripture is essentially an anti-biblical position. So he did have a deceptively subtle axe to grind-looking for a way to explain the rock record without regard to the inspired revelation of his holy Creator, to whom he stood accountable for his sin. Neither his observations nor those of any other old-Earth geologist of his day (or the present) were the unbiased, let-the-facts-speak-for-themselves observations that Morton imagines.

But John Murray could deny it and did, thus denying what is clear fact and was clearly among the knowledge of his day. He wrote:

'Let it be remembered that there is no absolute CHRONOMETER in geology and I very much doubt whether there yet be a fixed relative one among fossiliferous rocks, because there are FOSSIL REMAINS COMMON TO THEM ALL; and again, fossils innumerable are common both to tertiary and secondary strata; a fact that repudiates the assumed distinction. The statics of a sound chronology being absent, prudence would require us to be cautious and less dogmatical in a science confessedly of intense interest, but comparatively young in age. Besides, fossiliferous rocks are local, not circumambient.' (Murray, p. 141-142)

By misrepresenting the observational fossil record, a record that even modern young-earth creationists acknowledge, Murray shows that he was not using the knowledge of his day.

TM: So, Morton grossly misrepresents the state of affairs with William Smith, and his criticisms of Murray on this point are invalid. Murray's quote on p. 141-42 above was perfectly accurate then and still is today (except that geology is no longer in its infancy, though just as lost regarding the true history of the Earth). It is Morton who is misrepresenting the observational fossil record, not Murray.

4. Pressure

Being involved in the mining industry, which requires pumping vast quantities of water out of the mines, Murray should have known the practical aspects of pressure. One can't push water into a high pressure area without higher pressure. Murray had written:

'It may be asked, and the question has certainly been often put, What has become of the surplus water of the deluge? Questions are easily put; but a fact once established cannot be doubted or denied, because there may be a difficulty in accounting for the phenomenon. For any thing we know to the contrary, the diluvial waters may have retreated into the profound abysses of the earth; besides, much would disappear as water of crystallization, in crystalline rocks, and much, also, as water of composition, in sedimentary rocks.' (Murray,p. 216-217)

Murray would have known that the deeper a column of water is, the greater is the pressure at the bottom of the column. Thus, water at the bottom of a pool has higher pressure. This is actually due to the weight of the overlying water which is pulled down by gravity. The density of the overlying material determines how rapidly pressure builds up. For rock, the pressure builds up around 2.4 times more rapidly than for water. What Murray was forgetting in his suggestion that the waters of the flood could drain back into the earth was that the weight of the rocks would create higher pressure (lithostatic pressure) than that possessed by a column of water (hydrostatic pressure). Thus, to force the water back into the earth would require a high pressure pump, yet Murray conveniently ignored that detail in the above explanation.

TM:Of course Murray would have known such things about water. Had Morton thought more about his own stated assumption about Murray, he would not have been so quick to accuse Murray of implying things that have no basis in the quote Morton cites.

5. Glaciers

In 1837 Louis Agassiz proposed that the diluvium, which many diluvial advocates had claimed as the remnants and evidence of the Flood, were actually produced by glaciers. The diluvium, as evidence of Noah's Flood, had been rejected over the previous 10 years, by Christian geologist after Christian geologist. Sedgwick had written in 1831:

'Having been myself a believer, and, to the best of my power, a propagator of what I now regard as a philosophic heresy, and having more than once been quoted for opinions I do not now maintain, I think it right, as one of my last acts before I quit this Chair, thus publicly to read my recantation. . .

'There is, I think, one great negative conclusion now incontestably established - that the vast masses of deluvial gravel, scattered almost over the surface of the earth, do not belong to one violent and transitory period. . .'

'We ought, indeed, to have paused before we first adopted the diluvian theory, and referred all our old superficial gravel to the action of the Mosaic Flood. . . . In classing together distant unknown formations under one name; in giving them a simultaneous origin, and in determining their date, not by the organic remains we had discovered, but by those we expected hypothetically hereafter to discover, in them; we have given one more example of the passion with which the mind fastens upon general conclusions and of the readiness with which it leaves the consideration of unconnected truths.' (Gould, p. 125)

Buckland gave up the idea that the diluvium was due to the flood in 1836, 4 years before Murray published his expanded book. Rupke notes:

'When Buckland publicly withdrew his support for the diluvial theory in 1836 his retraction was no more caused by Lyell's attack on diluvialism than Sedgwick's had been. To Buckland and Sedgwick alike the abandonment of diluvial geology Buckland and Sedgwick alike the abandonment of diluvial geology was not a rejection of cataclysmal debacles, but of the Mosaic deluge as an example of these. The date of the last geological deluge was put at shortly before the creation of man, and the biblical flood was reinterpreted as a quiet event.' (Rupke, p. 89)

Given these recantations, Murray should have informed his readers, and dealt with them, in an open and honest way. As it was, he hid them from his readers, and hid the threat that glaciers, rather than floods might have caused the diluvium.

TM: Murray was fully aware of Sedgwick's and Buckland's recantation of their unbiblical beliefs about Noah's Flood. But as I explained above, the glacial theory explanation for the detritus and boulders formerly attributed to the Flood by Sedgwick and Buckland was far from being set in stone in 1840.

Also, if we are going to criticize Murray for not telling his readers about Agassiz's theory that would only be accepted AFTER Murray wrote his book, then we should find fault in Agassiz for not telling his readers about the glacial theory proposed long BEFORE by the 'Scriptural geologist,' Andrew Ure, in his 1829 book, A New System of Geology (pp. 483-94 and 599-603).7 But it is not surprising that Ure's work would be ignored or even unknown, since his book received a scathing, but largely inaccurate, 'review' by the old-Earth geologist, Adam Sedgwick, in his 1830 presidential address to the London Geological Society (as I discuss in detail at the end of the chapter on Ure in my thesis).

Conclusion

Murray fails on these five points to be up to date and honest with his readers about the issues of geology as it related to the Scripture. And if Murray was not using the knowledge of his day, then Mortenson is profoundly misrepresenting the Murray's place in history, and misrepresenting Murray's knowledge of 19th century geology. Mortenson also misleads his readers by NOT mentioning ANY of Murray's beliefs, which if read by modern people will surely seem a bit bizarre, even to young-earth creationists. Once again, this is a case of Christian apologists citing only data they think will philosophically support their previously held conclusion. If Mortenson admits that the Scriptural geologists were really not dealing with the data of their day, then he must admit that they lost out, not because of some perceived bias, but because they didn't explain things very well.

References

Rev. Charles Burton, Lectures on the Deluge and the World After the Flood, (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., Hatchard & Son, Piccadilly, 1845)

Stephen J. Gould, The Flamingos Smile, (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1985)

Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology edited by James Secord, (New York: Penguin Books,1997)

John Murray, Truth of Revelation, (London: William Smith, 1840)

Nicolaas Rupke, The Great Chain of History, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983)

Simon Winchester, The Map that Changed the World, (London: Viking Books, 2001).

TM:In conclusion, Morton's handling of the historical evidence seems to fit his handling of the geological evidence. It would appear that he is the one who has an axe to grind, and is misleading his readers. His thinking has been influenced by old-Earth philosophical assumptions and by what I believe I have here demonstrated are his own less-than-careful observations and inadequate investigations. Therefore, his criticisms of Murray and my writings about Murray and the other 'Scriptural geologists' should be viewed in the light of those serious deficiencies. Murray was not a geologist. Neither he nor I claimed this. But by reading and fieldwork, Murray, like several other 'Scriptural geologists,' was very competent to judge the validity of the evidence used to argue that the Earth was much older than the Bible teaches.

For those interested, my 500-page thesis defends my conclusions in much greater detail than a one-page Web article or an 18-page paper for a theological conference can do. It is: T. J. Mortenson, 'British Scriptural Geologists in the first half of the Nineteenth Century' (Coventry University, 1996). This is available from the British Library Thesis Service either on microfilm for loan or on paper for purchase. Order from the British Library on the Web: http://www.bl.uk/services/document/brittheses.html. An American publisher (already secured) expects to have it in print before the end of 2002.


  1. Besides his full web article presented and discussed here, he has encouraged discussion of his article within the American Scientific Affiliation at http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200201/date.html. [RETURN TO TEXT]
  2. A copy of my ETS paper can be obtained from http://www.zondervanchurchsource.com/convention/ and following the instructions there under 'Receive Convention Papers Via Email.' [RETURN TO TEXT]
  3. These young-Earth creationists never claimed to be 'Scriptural geologists' but two of them did entitle their books 'Scriptural Geology.' [RETURN TO TEXT]
  4. See A. Hallam, Great Geological Controversies (Oxford University Press, 1992), p 87-104, esp. 94-97. [RETURN TO TEXT]
  5. John H. Brooke, Science and Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 194. [RETURN TO TEXT]
  6. For Smith's views on a deluge and his lack of connection to the Noachian Flood, see William Smith, Strata Identified by Organized Fossils (London, 1816), Introduction (second unnumbered page), William Smith, Deductions from established facts in Geology (Scarborough, 1835), John Phillips (Smith's nephew and geological pupil), Memoirs of William Smith (London: 1844), p. 25-26, and Leroy E. Page, 'Diluvialism and its Critics in Great Britain in the Early Nineteen Century,' in Cecil J. Schneer, ed., Toward a History of Geology (Cambridge: MIT, 1969), p. 265. [RETURN TO TEXT]
  7. Though only briefly elucidated, Ure's theory is remarkably similar to modern young-Earth views of the post-Flood ice age. [RETURN TO TEXT]

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