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Universal History

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SACRED AND NATURAL EARTH HISTORY: AN ATTEMPT OF RECONCILIATION IN SIR ISAAC NEWTON’S CIVILISATION THEORY
K.S. Sharov

As an analysis of Sir Isaac Newton’s archival manuscripts and correspondence shews, the English scientist adhered to creationism. In a part of his historiographical civilisation theory, Newton was pondering on the question of processes related to the Earth creation as well as describing this divine act of Creation by the authors of the Scriptures, mainly prophet Moses, the author of the biblical book of Genesis. Newton tried to reconcile the sacred history of the Earth, set out in the book of Genesis, and natural science theory, based on physical, geological and astronomic data. Newton was the first scientist to propose the “theory of accommodation”. According to this theory, the book of Genesis describes the real events. However, the narrative is carried out in such a way as if any average person of the ancient world, one of the listeners of Moses, were present on the Earth surface at the time of Earth creation by God and were a witness to the events occurring at the time of Creation. Newton’s theory of accommodation is a unique version of creationism. It offers a “third way” between the literalism of the Church fathers and the scientific allegory widespread in natural science of the 17th century. Newton’s theory was formulated in his correspondence (1680–1681) with the English geologist Thomas Burnett. It was the first and rather successful conceptual attempt to reconcile the natural and sacred theories of Earth history.
Keywords: Isaac Newton, Thomas Burnet, Earth natural history, Earth sacred history, geology, astronomy, creationism, days of Creation.


DOI: 10.25791/vseist.03.2019.892

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Pp. 10-22.

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