The Man Who Found Time by Jack Repcheck
Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, MA. 2003. $26.00
Reviewed by Robert E. Gentet
© CRSQ 41:45
This is the story of Scottish James Hutton (1726-1797) who along with Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) helped overthrow in the minds of many the belief in a Biblically-based, young Earth creation.
Repcheck’s thorough review of the historical aspects of the controversy is well worth reading. He shows how gradually through time bits and pieces of the Creation story were cast aside. The reasons were manifold.
Some were clearly due to faulty theology of the Church at the time – the Earth is the center of the universe, hence all the heavenly bodies revolve around it, the Genesis "kinds" are the same as the modern-day biological classification of "species," etc.
On the other hand, Hutton’s idea of an ancient Earth with "no vestige of a beginning -- no prospect of an end" was squarely founded upon his personal observations of slow erosion rates. This idea begot the huge assumption of slow geologic rates throughout the entire Earth’s history. Divine intervention was not allowed. Hence, it was impossible to conceive of the Earth as being young, in spite of it being so pictured in Biblical genealogies.
While more modern geology thought admits that catastrophes did, in fact, occur during geologic history, the over-all belief in an ancient Earth still prevails. Indeed, with the discovery of radioisotopes about a hundred years after Hutton’s death, the scientific community is confident that Hutton’s over-all idea of an ancient Earth is still sound. Obviously, this is the reason for young, Earth creationists to continue searching for possible ways in which radioactive decay rates may have been much higher in the geologic past, thus giving misleading, ancient dates based upon the assumption of uniform decay rates.