Thesis ID: CBB001561388

Lords of Creation: American Scriptural Geology and the Lord Brothers' Assault on “Intellectual Atheism” (2008)


Tison, Richard Perry, II (Author)

University of Oklahoma
Weldon, Stephen P.

Publication Date: 2008
Edition Details: Advisor: Weldon, Stephen P.
Physical Details: 475 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation examines the phenomenon of "scriptural geology"--the nineteenth century equivalent of young-earth creationism largely ignored by historians. More specifically, I look at two brothers prior to the Civil War who publicly defended a literal interpretation of Genesis 1--this at a time when naturalists and theologians were strongly campaigning for alternative readings in keeping with the scientific discovery of deep time. David and Eleazar Lord, however, favored an independent method of exegesis that relied on the analytical tools of philology to determine the intended meaning of any biblical passage. In the case of Genesis, they merely observed its literary style and grammatical construction rather than exegete it according to modern theories of natural science wholly unknown to the original Hebrew audience. In short, the Lords opposed any interpretation based primarily on extra-biblical considerations, such as fossil and other geological evidence. Given the prevailing evangelical ethos of this period, the primary theological animus for the Genesis reconcilers and the Lord brothers who opposed them was the doctrine of plenary inspiration and its corollary, biblical inerrancy. All orthodox parties who debated the time frame of Genesis 1 were nonetheless unified in their opposition to German rational, or "higher criticism," of the Bible. But whereas for some, preserving scriptural inerrancy led to the development of new interpretive strategies designed to harmonize the Genesis chronology with geological ages, the Lords took the opposite approach; they held out for the historical accuracy of the creation narrative by rejecting what they considered to be faulty philosophical and methodological assumptions informing science, all of which led to an unnecessary conflict between historical geology and the Biblical history of creation. It was this earth science, they argued, that needed to be reformulated--not the traditional view of Genesis. Because today's historians concentrate chiefly on those who reconciled Genesis to science during this period, such as the seminarians of Princeton, the opposing arguments of the other side have received scant coverage--this, in spite of the fact that their views represented a sizable segment of the nineteenth-century Church who continued to believe that the earth was only five days older than man. By focusing on the scriptural geology of the Lord brothers and giving their arguments serious as opposed to superficial scrutiny, this dissertation constitutes one modest attempt to mitigate a historiographic deficiency.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 69/06 (2008). Pub. no. AAT 3315300.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Thesis Santoro, Lily A.; (2011)
The Science of God's Creation: Popular Science and Christianity in the Early Republic (/isis/citation/CBB001567279/)

Book Mulsow, Martin; Assmann, Jan; (2006)
Sintflut und Gedächtnis: Erinnern und Vergessen des Ursprungs (/isis/citation/CBB001221564/)

Article Williams, Joyce E.; Maclean, Vicky M.; (2012)
In Search of the Kingdom: The Social Gospel, Settlement Sociology, and the Science of Reform in America's Progressive Era (/isis/citation/CBB001211211/)

Book Lynch, John M.; (2002)
Creationism and Scriptural Geology, 1817-1857 (/isis/citation/CBB000550975/)

Thesis Ziomkowski, Robert Marian; (2000)
Science, theology, and myth in medieval creationism: Cosmogony in the twelfth century (/isis/citation/CBB001560525/)

Book Walton, John H.; (2009)
The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (/isis/citation/CBB001200893/)

Thesis Rios, Christopher M.; (2010)
Reclaiming Peace: Evangelical Scientists and Evolution after World War II (/isis/citation/CBB001562780/)

Book Montgomery, David R.; (2012)
The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood (/isis/citation/CBB001321234/)

Article Breidbach, Olaf; Ghiselin, Michael T.; (2006)
Athanasius Kircher (1602--1680) on Noah's Ark: Baroque “Intelligent Design” Theory (/isis/citation/CBB001023826/)

Article Herbert, Robert L.; (2010)
The Sublime Landscapes of Western Massachusetts: Edward Hitchcock's Romantic Naturalism (/isis/citation/CBB001035014/)

Book Gorst, Martin; (2001)
Measuring Eternity: The Search for the Beginning of Time (/isis/citation/CBB000101760/)

Chapter Roberts, M. B.; (2009)
Adam Sedgwick (1785--1873): Geologist and Evangelical (/isis/citation/CBB000952232/)

Article Hahn, Roger; (2010)
Laplace's Private Religious Discomfort (/isis/citation/CBB001220613/)

Book Stanley, Matthew; (2014)
Huxley's Church and Maxwell's Demon: From Theistic Science to Naturalistic Science (/isis/citation/CBB001422028/)

Book Meer, Jitse M. van der; Mandelbrote, Scott; (2008)
Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: 1700--Present (/isis/citation/CBB001031753/)

Authors & Contributors
Boylan, Anne M.
Opal, Jason M
Gorst, Martin
Numbers, Ronald L.
Lynch, John M.
O'Connor, Ralph
History of Science
Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences
Massachusetts Historical Review
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Broadway Books
Thoemmes Press
Baylor University Press
IVP Academic
Pickwick Publications
Science and religion
Historical geology; theory of the earth
Sedgwick, Adam
Kircher, Athanasius
Hitchcock, Edward
Laplace, Pierre Simon
Steno, Nicolaus
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century, early
17th century
20th century
Early modern
United States
Great Britain
Massachusetts (U.S.)
Middle and Near East
American Scientific Affiliation

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment