The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Frank Sobiech, 2009. "Nicholas Steno’s way from experience to faith: Geological evolution and the original sin of mankind", The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, Gary D. Rosenberg
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Nicholas Steno (1638–1686) always started from his own observations, either in anatomy and geology or regarding theological truths. This was in line with Galileo Galilei’s principle that when investigating physical questions, one should not begin with biblical texts. Thus, Steno had an advantage over other theologians like Vincent de Contenson (1641–1674) who adopted old-fashioned scientific theories from classical antiquity. Though Steno’s conception, in contrast to Athanasius Kircher (1601–1680), emphasized the accidental nature of Earth’s history, it still left a place for the Creator. When observing the geological structure of Earth, Steno concluded that shifts of Earth’s surface were part of nature’s corruption by the original sin of mankind, referring to biblical Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:1–24. Therefore, Steno, who was the first to present a history of Earth before the Deluge, viewed subterranean veins as places not created by God at the beginning of time, but instead within a geological process having begun with the malediction of Earth; in other words, nature was disturbed by original sin. For him, God’s original purpose for Earth’s properties remained hidden and unknown to men, because most of them at first glance seemed to be useless for life on Earth. Both before and after Steno’s conversion, his standpoint remained fundamentally the same and supported his own geological insights.