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Creation by natural law : Laplace's nebular hypothesis in American thought

Author: Ronald L Numbers
Publisher: Seattle : University of Washington Press, ©1977.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Belief in the divine origin of the universe began to wane most markedly in the nineteenth century, when scientific accounts of creation by natural law arose to challenge traditional religious doctrines. Most of the credit - or blame - for the victory of naturalism has generally gone to Charles Darwin and the biologists who formulated theories of organic evolution. Darwinism undoubtedly played the major role, but the  Read more...
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Named Person: Pierre Simon Laplace, marquis de; Laplace, Pierre Simon <marquis de,; Pierre Simon Laplace, marquis de; Pierre Simon Laplace, marquis de
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Ronald L Numbers
ISBN: 0295954396 9780295954394
OCLC Number: 2508404
Notes: Based on the author's thesis, University of California, Berkeley.
Description: xi, 184 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Contents: A natural cosmogony. The nubular hypothesis comes to America. --
The nebular hypothesis under attack. --
Daniel Kirkwood's analogy. --
Acceptance. --
Confirmation and rejection. --
Design and providence. --
The mosaic story of creation. --
The nebular hypothesis in the Darwinian debate. --
Appendix 1: Denominational attitudes toward the nebular and Darwinian attitudes. --
Appendix 2: Laplace's nebular hypothesis.
Responsibility: by Ronald L. Numbers.

Abstract:

Belief in the divine origin of the universe began to wane most markedly in the nineteenth century, when scientific accounts of creation by natural law arose to challenge traditional religious doctrines. Most of the credit - or blame - for the victory of naturalism has generally gone to Charles Darwin and the biologists who formulated theories of organic evolution. Darwinism undoubtedly played the major role, but the supporting parts played by naturalistic cosmogonies should also be acknowledged. Chief among these was the nebular hypothesis proposed by Pierre Simon Laplace in 1796, which explained the origin of the solar system as a natural development over extended periods of time. Ronald Numbers focuses on Laplace's theory as it affected American scientific thought. he first traces the history of Laplace's cosmogony chronologically, from its European inception to its demise about 1900. the last three chapters explore some of the theological and scientific consequences resulting from the acceptance of this cosmogony. Most significant was the change in the status of supernatural doctrine. When the nebular hypothesis lost credence at the end of the nineteenth century, those who had before tried to accommodate natural theory with supernatural doctrine no longer felt compelled to do so when faced with succeeding theories. The nebular hypothesis, it seems, had established natural law in the heavens.

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