BLACK ATHEISTS – Not All Scientists of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Century Were Atheists – The Scientific and Religious Beliefs of More Modern Scientists!

William H. Stiebing, Jr., in Uncovering the Past: a History of Archaeology (Prometheus Books: Buffalo, New York), 1993, Chapter 1:  “The Discovery of Prehistory, pp. 32-33, indicated

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century – “Nature’s God”:

Most seventeenth and eighteenth-century scientists saw nothing in their work that contradicted the BibleThey agreed that science, in uncovering the truths of nature would produce deeper reverence for Nature’s GodThus, anyone who interpreted scientific or archaeological evidence in a way that challenged religious doctrine or the historical reliability of the Bible had to fight an uphill battle for acceptance, not only among the general public, but also within the scientific community.

“Until the mid-nineteenth century, the quest for human origins began and ended – at least for the Western world – in the Garden of Eden.  In Biblical terms, God created Adam and Eve as fully human, indeed perfect, beings.  There was no semi-human, pre-Adam stage: how could there be when the perfect couple had been brought into existence at the creation of the world, which itself had taken place by some reckonings only in 4004 B.C.?  Then, over a century and a half ago, geologists began to argue that the world was much, much older than this, and Charles Darwin subsequently put forward the theory of evolution.  If animals had evolved from some ‘primitive’ earlier state, surely human beings had done so as well?  Darwin himself believed that we should look to Africa to find the ultimate cradle of humanity.”

According to Jewish rabbinical calculations, Roman Catholic tradition, and 17th century calculations by the Archbishop James Ussher,the world began or had its beginning no earlier than 4000 B.C.  Until the 18th century and even the 19th century, history was considered to have begun no earlier than 4000 B.C., according to the chronology based upon Genesis I made by Archbishop of Canterbury Usher and published in the 1611 edition of the King James Bible.  Only with the discovery of geological periods of time based on the ground levels revealing the age of  fossils of animals and humans that had lain long buried beneath the ground in the 17th century was there any discussion of “what took place following Noah’s flood that could explain the existence of those older formerly living animals and humans prior to the time that Abraham journeyed from Ur of the Chaldeas to Canaan; and the period of time that those “Hebrew” people, now known as “Jews”  lived in the land of Canaan.

Professor Stiebing stated:

“Europeans Derived their knowledge of ancient history from only two sources: the Bible and the accounts of the classical Greeks and Romans.   Chronologies based on these writings allowed the earth such a short span of existence that there simply was no time for prehistory.  Most scholars agreed that the world was only about six thousand years old, though there was considerable disagreement over the exact date of the creation.  Jewish rabbinical calculations from the Hebrew Masoretic text showed that the world began 3,740 Years Before the Christian Era.  Roman Catholic tradition, based on the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, placed the creation in 5199 B.C.  and most English-speaking Protestants accepted the seventeenth century Archbishop James Ussher’s calculation of the time of creation, 4004 B.C.  Ussher’s dates were placed in the margins of early Eighteenth century editions of the King James version of the Bible, making them seem even more authoritative.  The conflict between supporters of science and those who believed in the complete accuracy of all parts of the Bible had not yet begun.

16th and 17th Centuries Scientists:

“Of the various explanations given by many educated persons of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries … the most popular explanation of fossils was that they were the remains of living creatures killed and fossilized during the Biblical Flood.  Skeletons of fish or other marine creatures found far inland or on mountain slopes were thought to provide evidence of the absolute veracity of the Genesis Account.”

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century – “Nature’s God”:

Most seventeenth and eighteenth-century scientists saw nothing in their work that contradicted the BibleThey agreed that science, in uncovering the truths of nature would produce deeper reverence for Nature’s GodThus, anyone who interpreted scientific or archaeological evidence in a way that challenged religious doctrine or the historical reliability of the Bible had to fight an uphill battle for acceptance, not only among the general public, but also within the scientific community.

“Throughout Europe scholars fit pre-Roman antiquities into the presumed six thousand-year-long history of the world and assigned them to people known to have occupied various areas during the classical era.  Many monuments (including Stonehenge and Avebury) were thought to be the work of Druids, the priestly class of the Celtic peoples of France, Spain, and Britain in Roman Times. … Other remains were credited to the Slavs or Teutons.

A few people might have wondered about the many different kinds of artifacts that antiquarians assigned to the the same people and time.  However, most scholars continued to believe in a six-thousand-year history for mankind until the middle of the Nineteenth century.–

Developments in the field of Geology::

“Developments in the field of Geology Eventualy forced scholars to recognize the antiquity of the human race.  Like stone tools, fossil remains of plants and animals were often found in Europe in early modern times, but their true nature and importance was seldom realized.  As early as the Fifteenth century Leonardo Da Vinci recognized that fossils represented once-living creatures.  He also saw that the occurrence of marine fossils on dry land showed that areas of the continent had once been beneath the sea.  But during the next two centuries few investigators continued along the path blazed by Leondardo.


Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe (Basic Books Inc., Publishers: New York), 1977, 1988

Professor Weinberg stated:

“ … The urge to trace the history of the universe back to the beginnings is irresistible.  From the start of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, physicists and astronomers have returned again and again to the problem of the origin of the universe. [4]

I remember that during the time that I was a student and then began my own research (on other problems) in the 1950s, the study of the early universe was widely regarded as not the sort of thing to which a respectable scientist would devote his timeNor was this judgment unreasonable.   Throughout most of the history of modern physics and astronomy, there simply has not existed an adequate observational and theoretical foundation on which to build a history of the early universe.

Now, in just the past decade, all this has changed.  A theory of the early universe has become so widely accepted that astronomers often call it “the standard model.”  It is more or less the same as what is sometimes called the “big bang” theory, but supplemented with a much more specific recipe for the contents of the universe.  This theory of the early universe is the subject of this book.weinberg.

On up until the 20th century many scientists appeared to consent to the creation of the Old Testament by Moses.

Charles van doren, in A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future: the Pivotal Events, People, and Chievements of World History (Ballantine Books: New York), 1991

Van Doren stated:

“The authorship of Genesis has been one of the most discussed issues in biblical studies. .. Traditionally, Moses (Note:  1400 B.C. – 1300 B.C.) was regarded as the main author of Genesis and the following four books. However, it was accepted  that certain remarks (e.g. Genesis 12:6; 36:31) showed that some parts of the book had been added later.

The text of Genesis does not claim Moses as its author, in any case.  From the 19th century A.D. onwards mainline critical scholarship minimized the role of Moses in the compositionof the Pentateuch.

Indeed, the most widely-accepted view came to be that Genesis was composed from three major sources:”J” (10th century B.C..) “E”  (9th century B.C..) and “P”  (6th century B.C.).   Genesis, it was held, went through a series of modifications with new material being added with each new edition.   ... So far, no theory has emerged to replace the old source – critical consensus, so it is stilll assumed in many textbooks and commentaries. …

New Bible Commentary 21st Edition, Consulting Editors: D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, U.s.a.; R. T. France, Principal, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, Uk; J. A. Motyer, Formerly Principal, Trinity College, Bristol, Uk; G. J. Wenham, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, Cheltenham, Uk (Inter-varsity Press: Leicdster, England; Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, Usa), 1994 indicates:

Using the Bible as history would involve discussing the history or folk history of the Hebrews as an identifiable ethnic, racial, or population group in existence during human history prior to the historical exile of the Jews in 586 B.C. extending back to the time of Abraham historically indicated to have been close to the beginning of the Second Millennium B.C. (2000 B.C. – 1000 B.C.)

The period of the time of Moses (1350 – 1230 B.C.)

the settlement of Canaan about 1300 B.C. – 1220 B.C.,

The period of time of Joshua, 1300,  the Exodus, 1280 or 1260 B.C., and the crossing of the Jordan, 1240 – 1220

and the period of the two united Kingdoms of Israel and Judah from about 900 B.C. to 600 B.C.

That’s why from a Fundamentalist Christian ‘literalist” background and education many scientists were assumed to be non-atheists and Christians.  Actual statements by the beliefs of scientists did not emerge until some time in the 20th century.  The fact that they were officially recognized as “scientists” did not mean that all scientists believed and lived their life accordingly or made their conclusions based strictly on the “scientific theory and proof ” methodology.”  There were devout believers and crackpots then and now as well as intellectuals.  Carefully note the following:


About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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