Buckland's designful geohistory (1832–36)

in Worlds Before Adam

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780226731285
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226731308 | DOI:
Buckland's designful geohistory (1832–36)

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This chapter discusses how the evidence for directionality could be harnessed for less-disturbing ends and shows how William Buckland made one such interpretation widely accessible. In his book, Buckland abandoned his earlier claim that the “geological deluge” had been the same event as the biblical Flood. In his opinion, the “deluge” had been real enough, but had long antedated the local event dimly recorded in Genesis. Buckland was aware that any interpretation of still-earlier geohistory depended on a foundation of well-established stratigraphy, and on the study of fossils reliably located within that framework. The naming of formations, and of larger “groups” such as Cretaceous and Carboniferous, was a matter of intense international discussion, in which George Greenough was prominent. The results of this kind of negotiation formed the basis for Buckland's summary of current stratigraphy, and hence for his interpretation of the fossil record—and the history of life—as unmistakably directional.

Keywords: William Buckland; directionality; directional geohistory; geology; stratigraphy

Chapter.  6486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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