Item description for The Great Turning Point: The Church's Catastrophic Mistake on Geology--Before Darwin by Terry Mortenson...
Overview Many people in the Church today have the idea that "young-earth" creationism is a fairly recent invention, popularized by fundamentalist Christians in the mid-20th century. Is this view correct? In fact, scholar Terry Mortenson has done fascinating original research on this subject in England, and documents that several leading, pre-Darwin scholars and scientists, known as "scriptural geologists" did not believe in long ages for the earth. Mortenson sheds light on the following: * Before Darwin, what did the Church believe about the age of the earth? * Why did it believe this way? * What was the controversy that rocked the Church in 19th-century England? * Who were the "scriptural geologists"? * What influences did the Church contend with even before Darwin's book? * What is the stance of the Church today? This book is a thoroughly researched work of reference for every library - certainly every creationist library. Terry Mortenson spent much time and work on this project in both the United States and Great Britain. The history of the Church and evolution is fascinating, and it is interesting to see not only the tremendous influence that evolution has had on the Church, but on society as well.
Publishers Description Many people in the Church today have the idea that "young-earth" creationism is a fairly recent invention, popularized by fundamentalist Christians in the mid-20th century. Is this view correct? In fact, scholar Terry Mortenson has done fascinating original research on this subject in England, and documents that several leading, pre-Darwin scholars and scientists, known as "scriptural geologists" did not believe in long ages for the earth. Mortenson sheds light on the following: Before Darwin, what did the Church believe about the age of the earth? Why did it believe this way? What was the controversy that rocked the Church in 19th-century England? Who were the "scriptural geologists"? What influences did the Church contend with even before Darwin's book? What is the stance of the Church today?
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More About Terry Mortenson
Dr. Terry Mortenson was born and raised in Owatonna, Minnesota. He studied math and was led to Christ at the University of Minnesota. In 1975 he joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and ministered to college students, first in America for four years and then for nearly two decades in Eastern Europe. He earned an M. Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago (1992) and a Ph.D. in the history of geology from Coventry University in England (1996). In 2001 he became a speaker, researcher and writer for Answers in Genesis in Kentucky. Over the past 25 years in 15 countries he has spoken or debated on the subject of creation and evolution in homes, churches, schools, Bible colleges, seminaries and secular universities. He has also written many magazine, journal or web articles. He and his wife. Margie, have five daughters and three sons.
Terry Mortenson currently resides in the state of Kentucky.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Great Turning Point: The Church's Catastrophic Mistake on Geology--Before Darwin?
The Great Turning Point: Geology Jettisons Theology Apr 5, 2007
Saint Augustine (354 - 430 CE) in "The Literal Meaning of Genesis" (trans John Hammond Taylor) provided excellent advice that author Terry Mortenson recklessly ignored:
"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world ... and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics. ... For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion." The last fourteen words of Augustine's text come from Paul's First Letter to Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7.
Augustine battled contemporaries who mistook Genesis for a science book, and would find our latter-day luddites equally reprehensible. Given the vast consilience of scientific evidence that clearly points to a 4.54 billion year old earth, and the centrality of evolution in the history of life, Augustine's advice is prescient and apropos.
As an employee of Answers in Genesis (AiG) Terry Mortenson signed a "Statement of Faith" that includes:
BASICS ARTICLE 3: "The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe."
GENERAL ARTICLE 6: "No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record."
Investigating nature - even when armed with the formidable tools of science, philosophy, and reason - challenges the most astute and perceptive human intellect. Mortenson, and the so-called 'scriptural geologists' celebrated in this book, abandoned science for a dysfunctional chimera of theology and dogma.
Contemporary geologists observe the structure, features and composition of the earth, and then attempt to construct hypothesis or theories that can explain their observations. Successful theories also predict as yet unobserved phenomenon, which are verified or falsified via further observation and/or experimentation. Any hypothesis or theory that conflicts with observation, or makes incorrect predictions is rejected. Philosophically science, and geology as a discipline, is based on methodological naturalism - which directs practitioners to seek natural causes for natural phenomena. This operational commitment to naturalism catalyzed the scientific revolution during the life of Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626 CE).
'Scriptural geologists' treated the Bible as the ultimate theory of life, the universe, meaning, and everything; and then attempted to shoehorn every observation - however inconsistent with their pre-ordained (priestly) views - into a self-imposed conceptual straightjacket. Observations that conflicted with dogma were rejected, or explained away via irrational faith-based mechanisms that asserted the primacy of unverifiable special revelation over empirically verifiable reality. Philosophically 'scriptural geologists' embraced methodological supernaturalism - effectively reinstating the demon-haunted dark ages world - by allowing capricious supernatural intervention at any point deemed necessary.
The 'scriptural geologists' lost this debate - their antique worldview posited nonsensical results in direct conflict with observation. People of any faith can be scientists - and many are deeply religious (e.g. Francis Collins) - but when doing science they compartmentalize faith and pragmatically embrace methodological naturalism because it works. Which is more than any honest observer can say about this book.
Ultimately "The Great Turning Point" is just another threadbare tract from the creationists-on-crack AiG claque. Christopher Hedges, author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, succinctly unmasked the goals and objectives of organizations like AiG when he wrote:
"They seek the imprint of science and scholarship to legitimize myth. ... The 'paraprofessional' organizations formed by the Christian right, organizations of teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers and scientists, mimic the activities of real professional groups. They seek to challenge the legitimacy and the power of the traditional organizations. The duplication of the structures and methods employed by the non-totalitarian world, the use of pseudo-science to dress up fantasy, is slowly undermining our legitimate scientific and educational institutions. It is destroying the foundations of our open society. It is ushering us into a world where lies are true."
When "scientists" first got too big for their britches Aug 12, 2006
This book seeks to counter the rantings of contemporaries of the Scriptural geologists of the early 19th century, repeated by later historians, who unfairly belittled the Scriptural geologists as being entirely ignorant nonscientists. It shows that several Scriptural geologists were about as qualified as anyone at the time to write on geological matters, and that they all made valid points. In the process, he touches on how little education and experience in geology Hutton, Lyell, Buckland, and other well-known geologists of the time had, and how little geological data there was to go on.
The title is, perhaps, a bit misleading, as it seems that if there had been a turning point it came a bit earlier. The work of the scriptural geologists came a bit late and was too little to influence enough people to stem the already-rising tide of naturalistic thought that had conquered the young field of geology. It wasn't so much that there was a turning point, but the scriptural geologists' work represented one last warning against the unbridled scientism, uniformitarianism, and philosophical naturalism that would inevitably lead to Darwinism.
Unfortunately, the slide down the slippery slope had begun a long time earlier with small, harmless steps. By the time of the scriptural geologists in the early 1800s, so many little steps had been taken that many influential people had already placed human reason above the clear words of Scripture in matters that should have been considered beyond the scope of science. By 1840, three major Christian geologists had recanted their belief in a global Flood.
Mortenson also documents a number of commentaries on the Bible from the period of 1639 to 1856, showing the prevalence of the young Earth, six 24-hour day creation viewpoint.
Important History Feb 24, 2005
This book is about the dawn of geology as a science in England. It recounts the early days when men first started studying the earth's crust and recording and interpreting their observations. Soon, many of these pioneers began to arrange these observations into theories about the history of earth. These theories became the center of much controversy at the time. It is this controversy and a forgotten group of men, the `Scriptural Geologists', who were involved in it that this book focuses on. In the early 1800s, geology did not exist as a profession. At the time, many who had the time and money began to study the earth's crust. Among these men, there were three main groups; 1) materialists who insisted on interpreting geology exclusively in terms of natural processes at rates of occurrence observable in the present; 2) clergymen who spent much of their spare time doing geology; 3) a group of men, dubbed `Scriptural Geologists' by their opponents, who insisted on the integrity of Genesis 1-11 as a broad framework within which to interpret geological observations. The materialist camp was divided into uniformitarians and catastrophists. The former postulated that natural processes had always proceeded at the same gradual pace they witnessed in their day. The latter added periodic cataclysms to this picture. Both envisioned untold eons of time - millions upon millions of years. Meanwhile, the `Scriptural Geologists' vehemently disagreed with the materialists' theories (both uniformitarian and catastrophic). They did so for three main reasons; 1) geological science was still in its infancy; it was much to early to be posing any theories of earth history; 2) the few observations and facts that were available were contradicted the idea of millions of years; and 3) `millions of years' theories undermined Genesis (and therefore the Gospel) and would lead to profound moral and social decay. These men, some of whom were eminently qualified in geology and others who were merely astute observers, published widely. Their books included in depth analysis of geological observations and theories. Further, they demonstrated empirically why Genesis was a sound framework within which geological theories could and should be developed. So, what of the clergymen-geologists? Most, in not all, were in full agreement with the materialist theories. However, they realized that this put them in a quandary. The book of Genesis clearly taught an earth history of thousands , as opposed to millions, of years interrupted about 4,500 years ago by a violent global flood. They tried to have their cake and eat it too. In order to harmonize these mutually exclusive approaches to earth history, they had to find the millions of years that were missing from the first three chapters of Genesis. Scripture-twisting commenced, and thus were born the Gap Theory, the Day-Age theory and various ideas about local floods or tranquil global floods. These clergymen joined with the materialists (atheists) in heaping scorn on the `Scriptural Geologists'. First, they insisted that the `Scriptural Geologists' were naïve to take God at his Word. Secondly, they accused them of being ignorant of geology and incompetent. These charges were largely without merit. Some of the `Scriptural Geologists' were at least as qualified as Hutton and Lyell (i.e. Young and Fairholme). The others, while not being technically qualified, were well-read in the field, conversant with the observations and facts.
This book has several important lessons. First, compromise has long-ranging consequences. The Church's acceptance of long ages in this particular controversy long preceded the advent of Darwinism. In fact, it is clear that this compromise `greased the skids' for the Church's later slide into acceptance of Evolutionism. Secondly, this book provides yet more evidence that Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is not a newfangled theory being foisted on the Church in these recent decades; nor did it have its origins in Seventh-Day Adventist theology, as some have claimed. YEC has a rich heritage in both Church history (from the first century forward) and in the history of science. In fact, the founders of most, if not all, of the modern scientific disciplines were Bible-believing, young earth creationists (i.e. they took God at his Word). These men included Newton, Faraday, Boyle, Pascal, Kepler, Linneaus, Mendel, Pasteur, Maxwell, and countless others. We can now add to this `hall of fame' the `Scriptural Geologists' profiled in this book (and in supplemental articles at AnswersinGenesis.org). Third, we are brought face to face with the old adage that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. These men and the controversy at the dawn of geologic science have been largely forgotten and indeed we see history repeating itself in the Church today. Eager to be well-thought-of and accepted by the scientific establishment, many have swallowed the claims of modern materialistic scientism and insist that there is no conflict with Genesis. Thus, for instance, we have Hugh Ross recycling the Day-Age theory and promoting a theology that is heavily dependent on the Big Bang and even much-debated String Theory (see his book Beyond the Cosmos). As well intentioned as I am sure he is, what happens when these currently fashionable theories collapse under the weight of contrary evidence and fall out of favor with the establishment? The `Scriptural Geologists' were concerned that compromising the clear teaching of Genesis would lead to profound moral and social decay. Their worst fears have proven true. One only has to look at the very post-Christian society of England to see that. Modern YECs share this concern here in America. Let us heed the warnings of history.
Disapointing Dec 2, 2004
I bought this book expecting it to be rich in geologic data as it relates to science-faith issues. The book was a let down.