HOME

 

 

    NEWS

INTERVIEWS

RESOURCES

ABOUT

View by:

 SUBJECT

 THEME

QUESTION

  TERM

 PERSON

   EVENT

Assessing the Fossil Record - Louis Agassiz

The most prominent antievolutionist in America, indeed in the world, in the years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was the Swiss immigrant Louis Agassiz (1807-1873). Already a world-renowned authority on fossil fishes and glaciers when he moved to the United States in 1846, Agassiz soon acquired a professorship at Harvard University and established himself as the leading man of science in the United States. The son of a Protestant minister, he abandoned the Calvinist orthodoxy of his youth for liberal Unitarianism. 

Agassiz based his opposition to evolution on philosophical and scientific rather than biblical reasons. Late in life he confessed that he would "have been a great fellow for evolution if it had not been for the breaks in the paleontological record." In the decade or so before the appearance of the Origin of Species he acquired a reputation in some circles as an "infidel" because he ridiculed the notion that fossils represented "the wrecks of the Mosaic deluge" and dismissed the story of Adam and Eve as an "absurdity." Instead of a creation in six literal days about 6,000 years ago, he taught that the earth had undergone a series of catastrophes and divine re-creations, evidence of which could be seen in the fossil-bearing rocks. He believed that species of plants and animals had not originated "in single pairs, but were created in large numbers," in the habitats they were intended to populate. Living species thus had no genetic connection with previous inhabitants of the earth—and might not even be genetically related to members of the same species now living. 

Despite his own unorthodox beliefs, Agassiz became the darling of Christian antievolutionists in the 1860s and early 1870s. His death in 1873 deprived opponents of evolution of their leading scientific spokesman.Ronald L. Numbers, Darwinism Comes To America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), p. 28. The best biography of Agassiz is Edward Lurie, Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science (Chicago: University...

 Email link | Printer-friendly | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Ron Numbers

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions CD-ROM Preview...
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.