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Abstract

That order should govern the nature of the world is an idea not confined to England, though the history of science in this country demonstrates again and again that a conception of Divine Order lay at its heart. To people of earlier days, want of order implied confusion, displacement, derangement, time out of joint, even the presence of malevolent power – ‘when the planets in evil mixture to disorder wander’. The divine scheme revealed by scripture was a frame and support for Earth science. It told an indisputable story of an ordered beginning, a diluvial reordering, and a future end in dissolution. It was a story backed by secular law, and no thinking person could have been unaware of it. Yet ‘when’ and ‘how’ were legitimate questions, answered in detail by hexaemeron writers. It is an educational curiosity in England that a particular Biblical chronology drawn up in 1650 accompanied scriptures printed for use in schools until 1885 – a matter of consequence to the history of all geological thought in this country.

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