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January 1, 1696

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Short Description:

William Whiston's New Theory of the Earth of 1696 combined scripture with Newtonian physics to propose that the original chaos was the atmosphere of a comet with the days of creation each taking a year, and the Genesis flood had resulted from a second comet. His explanation of how the flood caused mountains and the fossil sequence was similar to Woodward's.

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Book:

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A New Theory of the Earth, from Its Original, to the Consummation of All Things : Wherein the Creation of the World in Six Days, the Universal Deluge, and the General Conflagration, as Laid Down in the Holy Scriptures, Are Shewn to Be Perfectly..

Topics: (click to open)

Geology
Creationism of Life, Intelligent Design
Young Earth Creationism
Science
Religion

Important Text:

William Whiston's New Theory of the Earth of 1696 combined scripture with Newtonian physics to propose that the original chaos was the atmosphere of a comet with the days of creation each taking a year, and the Genesis flood had resulted from a second comet. His explanation of how the flood caused mountains and the fossil sequence was similar to Woodward's.


The book is organized as follows:

  • Introduction, discussing the text of Creation according to Genesis

  • Book I: Lematta, discussing the premises and assumptions on which his argument is based;

  • Book II: Hypotheses, discussing his model for the origin of the Earth;

  • Book III: Phaenomena, discussing evidence predicted by his model;

  • Book IV: Solutions, discussing how his model explains the evidence;

  • Appendix: An abstract of his theory drawn from various sources.

In the introduction, Whiston discusses the Mosaic account of creation. He argues for a literal interpretation of Genesis, writing:

"We must never forsake the plain, obvious, easy and natural sense, unless where the nature of the thing itself, parallel places, or evident reason, afford a solid and sufficient reason for so doing."

In so doing, he challenges allegorical and mythological interpretations of Genesis, concluding that:

"The Mosaic Creation is not a nice and philosophical account of the origin of all things; but a historical and true representation of the formation of our single Earth out of a confused Chaos, and of the successive and visible changes thereof each Day, till it became the habitation of mankind." (p.3)

He interprets the Genesis account of creation as being only of the preparation of the Earth for mankind, and not as an account of creation from nothing. He draws this from the text, as the account speaks of the waters that existed before God's first creative act on the first day, implying that the Earth predates Genesis chapter one.

He interprets the account of "placing the heavenly bodies in the firmament" as simply being a consequence of the terrestrial frame of reference, for the heavenly bodies do in fact revolve about the Earth from the perspective of a man standing on the Earth.

He describes his Arianism, or the view that Jesus is subordinate to God but first in creation, a view considered heretical within much of Christianity. He also asserts that it is very reasonable to believe that man may well be simply one of many intelligent beings, and certainly not the highest before God. He wrote that humanity was fallen, and currently in a miserable state akin to probation.

He concludes the introduction with his three Postulata:

  1. "The obvious or literal sense of scripture is the true and real one, where no evidence reason can be given to the contrary.

  2. That which is clearly accountable in a natural way, is not, without reason to be ascribed to a miraculous power.

  3. What ancient tradition asserts of the constitution of nature, or of the origin and primitive states of the world, is to be allowed for true, where ‘tis fully agreeable to scripture, reason, and philosophy."

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