Biblical Fundamentalism

Using the Bible to justify anything.

Biblical Fundamentalism

Recent History

June 1, 1650

Origins

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The Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher, calculates the act of Creation to have occurred in 4004 B.C based on numerology in the Old Testament. This calculation would be believed for 200 years until evolution and geology started to push back.

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For almost two millennia the Judeo-Christian story of

the Creation was taken for granted throughout the

Western world. With no good reason to doubt it,

the teaching of the increasingly powerful Christian

churches that God created man in his own image

was a comfortable one. There was a certain curiosity,

though, about just when this miraculous event had

occurred. James Usher (1581-1656), Archbishop of

Armagh, came up with an answer in 1650, when he

announced, as a result of his calculations based on the

numerology of the Old Testament, that the Creation

had taken place in 4004 B.C.

January 1, 1680

Telluris theoria sacra (The Sacred Theory of the Earth)

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Reverend Thomas Burnet tries to explain the creation story using natural philosophy, i.e. not use any miracles. "They say in short that God Almighty created waters on purpose to make the Deluge ... And this, in a few words, is the whole account of the business. This is to cut the knot when we cannot loose it."

On the subject of miracles, the Reverend Thomas Burnet published his century's most famous geological treatise in the 1680s, Telluris theoria sacra (The Sacred Theory of the Earth). Burnet accepted the Bible's truth, and set out to construct a geological history that would be in accord with the events of Genesis.

But he believed something else even more strongly: that, as a scientist, he must follow natural law and scrupulously avoid miracles. His story is fanciful by modern standards: the earth originally was devoid of topography, but was drying and cracking; the cracks served as escape vents for internal fluids, but rain sealed the cracks, and the earth, transformed into a gigantic pressure cooker, ruptured its surface skin; surging internal waters inundated the earth, producing Noah's flood. Bizarre, to be sure, but bizarre precisely because Burnet would not abandon natural law. It is not easy to force a preconceived story into the strictures of physical causality. Over and over again, Burnet acknowledges that his task would be much simpler if only he could invoke a miracle. Why weave such a complex tale to find water for the flood in a physically acceptable manner, when God might simply have made new water for his cataclysmic purification? Many of Burnet's colleagues urged such a course, but he rejected it as inconsistent with the methods of "natural philosophy" (the word "science" had not yet entered English usage):

They say in short that God Almighty created waters on purpose to make the Deluge ... And this, in a few words, is the whole account of the business. This is to cut the knot when we cannot loose it.

Burnet's God, like the deity of Newton and Boyle, was a clock-winder, not a bungler who continually perturbed his own system with later corrections.

We think him a better Artist that makes a Clock that strikes regularly at every hour from the Springs and Wheels which he puts in the work, than he that hath so made his Clock that he must put his finger to it every hour to make it strike: And if one should contrive a piece of Clockwork so that it should beat all the hours, and make all its motions regularly for such a time, and that time being come, upon a signal given, or a Spring toucht, it should of its own accord fall all to pieces; would not this be look'd upon as a piece of greater Art, than if the Workman came at that time prefixt, and with a great Hammer beat it into pieces?

January 1, 1793

The Vegetarian Crusade

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Founder of the Bible Christians Church, William Cowherd, joined the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church in Manchester in 1793 and embraced the politics of Christian spiritualism, pacificism, and meatless dietetics.

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The Bible Christians migrating to Philadelphia did so with the full support of the movement’s founder, William Cowherd, who preached that it was only possible to live an authentic religious life in an agricultural society.


In 1793, Cowherd, tired of the sectarian quibbles and professional jealousies that seemed to pervade Anglicanism, left his pulpit and became the spiritual leader of the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church in Manchester. He embraced the radical politics of the movement, including its Christian spiritualism, pacifi st worldview, and meatless dietetics. Cowherd quickly realized, however, that even the Swedenborgians were affl icted by interpersonal conflict and power plays. Infl uenced by the radical politics of Thomas Paine and William Godwin, Cowherd decided to start his own movement.  At the heart of the Bible Christian Church were three guiding principles: temperance, pacifism, and a meatless diet.  In the early years of the nineteenth century, Cowherd’s church grew, primarily drawing members of Manchester’s working class with the promise of salvation for their souls and free vegetable soup for their stomachs.

June 22, 1797

Account of Flint Weapons Discovered at Hoxne in Suffolk

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John Frere dug up some old weapons and animal bones in England and realized they may be much more ancient than young earth creationism would suggest. Frere presented his results and wrote "weapons of war, fabricated and used by a people who had not the use of metals... The situation in which these weapons were found may tempt us to refer them to a very remote period indeed, even beyond that of the present world"

An interest in the past, instigated by observing worked stone tools in a clay mining pit, led him to become a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Society and to conduct excavations at a site just south of Hoxne, 8 km east, and across the River Waveney, from his home in Roydon, near Diss. Frere wrote a letter to the Society of Antiquaries about flint tools and large bones of extinct animals found at a depth of approximately twelve feet (four meters) in a hole dug by local brickworkers. He described the worked stones as "...weapons of war, fabricated and used by a people who had not the use of metals... The situation in which these weapons were found may tempt us to refer them to a very remote period indeed, even beyond that of the present world...." In addition, Frere carefully described the stratigraphy of the find, with the tools lying below an apparent ancient sea floor, yet not in a position to which they could have been washed down. Although Frere's letter was officially read at the Society on 22 June 1797, and published by it in 1800, his interpretation was so radical by the standards of the day as to be overlooked for six decades, until noticed by John Evans.[5][6]

Frere's is considered one of the most important middle Pleistocene sites in Europe, because of what he observed in his letter: juxtaposition of artefacts, animal remains and stratigraphic evidence. Its significance is double: for paleoanthropology, showing Homo presence in Britain approximately 400,000 years ago, and, for geology, dating stages of the European Great Interglacial period (known in Britain as the Hoxnian).



THE BEGINNING OF PALEOLITHHIC ARCHAEOLOGY

printed as "Account of Flint Weapons Discovered at Hoxne in Suffolk,"

Archaeologia, 1800, vol. 13, pp. 204-205.

John Frere's account of finding in 1790 Acheulean handaxes associated with the large bones of unknown animals (actually elephants) is the first clear presentation of the association in an open site of manmade tools and extinct animals. This account was ignored until J. Flower called attention to it sixty years later. Prestwich (see his account further on in this chapter) and Lyell (1863:166169) visited the Hoxne pit and described the geology, and interest in the locality is still active (West, 1956).

The Beginning of Paleolithic Archaeology

John Frere

LETTER TO THE REV. JOHN BRAND, SECRETARY, READ JUNE 22, 1797

Sir:

I take the liberty to request you to lay before the Society some flints found in the parish of Hoxne, in the county of Suflolk, which, if not particularly objects of curiosity in themselves, must, I think, be considered in that light from the situation in which they were found.

They are, I think, evident weapons of war, fabricated and used by a people who had not the use of metals. They lay in great numbers at the depth of about twelve feet, in a stratified soil, which was dug into for the purpose of raising clay for bricks.

The strata are as follows:

1. Vegetable earth l l/2 feet.

2. Argill 7 l/2 feet.

3. Sand mixed with shells and other marine substances 1 foot.

4. A gravelly soil, in which the flints are found, generally at the rate of five or six in a square yard, 2 feet.

In the same stratum are frequently found small fragments of wood, very perfect when first dug up, but which soon decompose on being exposed to the air; and in the stratum of sand (No. 3), were found some extraordinary bones, particularly a jawbone of enormous size, of some unknown animal, with the teeth remaining in it. I was very eager to obtain a sight of this; and finding it had been carried to a neighboring gentleman, I inquired of him, but learned that he had presented it, together with a huge thighbone, found in the same place, to Sir Ashton Lever, and it therefore is probably now in Parkinson's Museum.

The situation in which these weapons were found may tempt us to refer them to a very remote period indeed; even beyond that of the present world; but, whatever our conjectures on that head may be, it will be difficult to account for the stratum in which they lie being covered with another stratum, which, on that supposition, may be conjectured to have been once the bottom, or at least the shore, of the sea. The manner in which they lie would lead to the persuasion that it was a place of their manufacture and not of their accidental deposit; and the numbers of them were so great that the man who carried on the brickwork told me that before he was aware of their being objects of curiosity, he had emptied baskets full of them into the ruts of the adjoining road. It may be conjectured that the different strata were formed by inundations happening at distant periods, and bringing down in succession the different materials of which they consist; to which I can only say that the ground in question does not lie at the foot of any higher ground, but does itself overhang a track of boggy earth, which extendsunder the fourth stratum; so that it should rather seem that torrents had washed away the incumbent strata and left the bogearth bare, than that the bogearth was covered by them, especially as the strata appear to be disposedhorizontally, and present their edges to the abrupt termination of the high ground.

If you think the above worthy the notice of the Society you will please to lay it before them.

I am, Sir,

with great respect,

Your faithful humble Servant,

John Frere

January 29, 1809

The Vegetarian Crusade

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On Sunday 29 January 1809, the Reverend William Cowherd stepped into the pulpit of his Salford church to issue his sermon and changed the world forever. "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat."

Cowherd's meat-free movement

On Sunday 29 January 1809, the Reverend William Cowherd stepped into the pulpit of his Salford church to issue his sermon and changed the world forever.

Surprisingly, his subject wasn't one of the hot topics of the day - industrial change, the Napoleonic Wars or the abolition of slavery – but animals and, in particular, the eating of them.

Reading from his King James Bible, he read to the congregation from the book of Genesis and, in particular, chapter nine verses three and four:

"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat."

With these words, Rev Cowherd began the first formal vegetarian movement in Britain. There had been many vegetarians before him - the Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras and famous writers Mary Shelley and Voltaire for example – and religions such as Buddhism and Zoroastrianism held vegetarian beliefs, but his sermon set in motion a chain of events that would lead to an abstinence from meat becoming separate from any religious beliefs and traditions.

Of course, Rev Cowherd's motivations were spiritual and religious – he saw the eating of meat as a symbol of man’s expulsion from Eden (where Christians believe humans had lived harmoniously alongside animals) – but they also came from his egalitarian ideals.

His belief that 'all men are created equal' had been simply stretched to the idea that 'all species are created equal' – something that would ring true with many modern vegetarians.


Opposition to the movement

It didn't, however, ring quite so true with his fellow churchmen. The minister’s church, Christ Church on King Street in Salford, was part of the Swedenborgian New Church (a Christian movement which developed from the writings of the eighteenth century Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg), who regarded the idea of vegetarianism as "a pernicious doctrine".


In fact, another local Swedenborgian minister, Reverend Richard Hindmarsh, who set up a chapel on nearby Bolton Street, said that if Cowherd's followers died, it would be precisely because they weren't eating meat, and referred sarcastically to the vegetarian church as the "Beefsteak Chapel".

Such was the rift between Cowherd's ideals and that of his church, that in the summer of 1809, he made the decision to leave the Swedenborgians behind and set up his own order, that of the Bible Christians, made up of his own congregation and those of three other churches (in Hulme and Ancoats).

Ancient History

Books