Natural theology in the eighteenth century, as exemplified in the writings of Élie Bertrand (1713–1797), a Swiss naturalist and Protestant pastor
Published:January 01, 2009
Kennard B. Bork, 2009. "Natural theology in the eighteenth century, as exemplified in the writings of Élie Bertrand (1713–1797), a Swiss naturalist and Protestant pastor", Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility, Martina Kölbl-Ebert
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For Élie Bertrand (1713–1797) and his like-minded contemporaries, God's design and providence set the stage for understanding the workings of the Earth. Bertrand used various methods, including field observations, to accumulate considerable geological knowledge, which he published in his Dictionnaire universel des fossiles (1763) and Recueil de divers traités sur l'histoire naturelle (1766). By examining Bertrand's life and writings, we may come to appreciate the strengths and shortcomings of his visions of the natural world. His focus on collecting, cataloguing, and classifying natural objects and phenomena fitted the classic concept of natural history in his era. On the basis of his observations, he dared to systematize and theorize. His work provides a window on his time and on attempts of natural theologians then to understand the products and operation of the world. Once a counsellor to the King of Poland, a correspondent of Voltaire, and a contributor to the Encyclopédie, Bertrand's name has largely vanished from view. His hope to observe the world of nature so as to comprehend the word of God yielded constructive results but did not succeed in fulfilling natural theology's boldest aspirations.
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Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility
For thousands of years, religious ideas have shaped the thoughts and actions of human beings. Many of the early geological concepts were initially developed within this context. The long-standing relationship between geology and religious thought, which has been sometimes indifferent, sometimes fruitful and sometimes full of conflict, is discussed from a historical point of view. This relationship continues into the present. Although Christian fundamentalists attack evolution and related palaeontological findings as well as the geological evidence for the age of the Earth, mainstream theologians strive for a fruitful dialogue between science and religion. Much of what is written and discussed today can only be understood within the historical perspective.
This book considers the development of geology from mythological approaches towards the European Enlightenment, biblical or geological Flood and the age of the Earth, geology within ‘religious’ organizations, biographical case studies of geological clerics and religious geologists, religion and evolution, and historical aspects of creationism and its motives.