Saturday, November 24, 2012

Adam Sedgwick - a Christian and a Geologist

Adam Sedgwik (1785-1873)
wikimedia
Question: Who discovered Devonian?
Answer: Adam Sedgwik (1785-1873) discovered it while he was working in the region of Torbay on the Channel shore of Devon. Especially important is the Lummata quarry still considered among the most important Devonian deposits on the surface of planet Earth .

Question: Was Adam Sedgwik an atheistic naturalist and defender of the theory of evolution by natural selection by his countryman and his student Charles Darwin (1809-1882)?
Answer: No.
- Adam Sedgwik is among the founders of modern Geology. He was teaching in the university and also  Darwin was among his students. Charles Darwin was very interested in Geology and a personal family friend of Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875).
- Sedgwik is known in the history of science as a fierce opponent of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

Question: Did Sedgwik believe in the Biblical Flood?
Answer: Yes, he did.
Professor Adam Sedgwik was also a theologican in the Anglican Church of England and a personal believer. Still in early 1820'ies he explained the lighter soil deposits of sand, mud and conglomerates as product of floods. He wrote in 1825 that the Biblical Flood is the last and most violent of the floods that have occurred in the past.

Question: Who was Sedgwik's teacher about the Flood?
Answer: Adam Sedgwik followed the publications of a famed naturalist William Buckland (1784-1856) who had advanced the 18th century theory of recurring floods (fluvialism). Buckland is the first scientist who has described the fossil of a dinosaur (megalosaurus). He represented the Biblical Gap theory according to which there is a long gap in time between the two creation stories at the beginning of the Bible (creation of the world, creation of Adam and Eve). Buckland was thinking that he has found actual evidence of Noah's flood on the rocks, but later adopted the view of the influential Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) that Ice Age rather than massive floods has created the smooth rock layers visible in the nature.

Question: Did Sedgwik accept Lyell's uniformist theory, according to which geological formations have been created by processes that occur at the same speed throughout ages?
Answer: First no later yes.
After the publication of the first volume of Charles Lyell's major work in 1830 (Principles of Geology 1830-33) Sedgwick was still writing about catastrophic floods. But already in 1831 Sedgwick changed his opinion and gave up the fluvialist views of W. Buckland and his students.

Question: Was the believing professor against scientific research?
Answer: No
Sedgwik encouraged English churchmen to study Geology, was teaching it in the University and wrote important papers on it. In 1844 he was completely alone when he sharply rejected the criticism the Dean of York, Reverend William Cockbury, aimed at the young science of Geology. The Times wrote about the debate in the front page and it is considered an important event and even turning point in the history of the relationship between modern science and religion.

Question: Why Sedgwik opposed Darwin?
Answer: Because of spiritual and moral reasons. Sedgwik believed that God has created the species separately during history.  For him the theory proposed by Darwin that does not refer to God in anyway was materialistic and immoral. Moral truths separate mankind from the rest of the creation ruled by physical truths. "Mixing the two can only lead to destructive consequences and even the eternal fate of man is in danger."

Question: Was Sedgwik right in rejecting so sharply the theory proposed by Robert Chambers (1844) and Charles Darwin (1859) of natural selection as the key to evolution of species?
Answer: No.
Scientific research of evolution has progressed enormously in the direction pointed by Darwin's theory. God cannot be used as an argument in scientific research, because He is invisible and hidden. The great works of God's creation can best be seen in careful methodical scientific research using tools that have been given to man. Religion and science must not be mixed in a wrong way. 
Question: Was Sedgwik right in suggesting that Darwin's theory of evolution will have a negative impact on the moral and religion of mankind? 
Answer: Yes.
(*The details in the text are taken from the online dictionary Wikipedia)

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