There are three men whose contributions helped free science from the
straitjacket of theology. Two of the three - Nicolaus Copernicus and Charles
Darwin - are widely known and heralded for their breakthroughs. The third,
James Hutton, never received the same recognition, yet he profoundly
changed our understanding of the earth and its dynamic forces. Hutton
proved that the earth was likely millions of years old rather than the
biblically determined six thousand, and that it was continuously being
shaped and re-shaped by myriad everyday forces rather than one cataclysmic
In this expertly crafted narrative, Jack Repcheck tells the remarkable story of this Scottish gentleman farmer and how his simple observations on his small tract of land led him to a theory that was in direct confrontation with the Bible and that also provided the scientific proof that would spark Darwin's theory of evolution. It is also the story of Scotland and the Scottish Enlightenment, which brought together some of the greatest thinkers of the age, from David Hume and Adam Smith to James Watt and Erasmus Darwin. Finally, it is a story about the power of the written word. Repcheck argues that Hutton's work was lost to history because he could not describe his findings in graceful and readable prose. (Unlike Darwin's Origin of the Species, Hutton's one and only book was impenetrable.)
A marvelous narrative about a little-known man and the science he founded, The Man Who Found Time is also a parable about the power of books to shape the history of ideas.
Looking So Far Into the Abyss of Time
On a sunny June afternoon in 1788, three gentlemen from Edinburgh, along with several farmhands, boarded a boat on a desolate Scottish beach. After clearing the waves, they began sailing south along the North Sea coast. The men were in search of a rock exposure on the battered cliffs that would prove one of the most stunning claims in the history of sciencethat the earth was ancient beyond calculation. In the late eighteenth century, as in all centuries since the formation of the Christian church, this was a blasphemous statement. The Scottish Presbyterian Church, the English Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Catholic Churchindeed, all Christian churches, their clergies, and their followersbelieved that the earth was not even 6,000 years old. This belief was a tenet based on rigorous analysis of the Bible and other holy scriptures. ...
If you liked The Man Who Found Time, try these:
The ultimate journey to discover how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since.
Darwin's Armada tells the stories of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Joseph Hooker and Alfred Wallace, four young amateur naturalists from Britain who voyaged to the southern hemisphere during the first half of the nineteenth century in search of adventure and scientific fame.
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