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This programme focuses attention on one particular item of religious belief - the Biblical Flood, and shows how its status has varied with the progress of geological science. In the programme Dr. C...olin Russell, Reader in the History of Science and Technology at the Open University, examines the relevance of the Mosaic account of the Flood to Thomas Burnet, Robert Jameson and Adain Sedgwick, because in microcosm their attitudes illustrate the developing relationship between science and religion which has been the theme of the course.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: AMST283, Science and belief: from Copernicus to Darwin
Item code: AMST283; 07
First transmission date: 19-06-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:10
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Producer: David Jackson
Contributors: Colin Russell; Gary Watson; Gabriel Woolf
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Floods, biblical; Religious belief
Footage description: Titles over sequence of engravings showing scenes from the Biblical flood. Excerpt from 'Mr. Noah and his floating zoo' (Kings Singers?). Colin Russell introduces the programme. Further lines from the song, and shots of rough sea. First discussed is Thomas Burnet's "Telluris theoria sacra" - "The sacred theory of the earth", 1681. This was an apocalyptic vision of universal history in which the flood marked the end of Paradise on earth. Burnet supports his theory of the flood with highly selective Biblical quotations. Illustrations from the book show his ideas of how it happened. Quotations read by Gabriel Woolf. Portrait of Burnet. Burnet's departure from Scripture brought a lot of opposition: shots of one book opposing his ideas. He corresponded with Newton: diagrams of his mechanical theories of the universe. Close-up of portrait. Short film of erupting volcanoes, lava flows, and stormy waters. Quotations from St. Peter read by Gary Watson. Second figure to be discussed is Robert Jameson, active in Edinburgh in the early 19th century. Portrait of him, above collection of rock specimens and crystals. Engraving of Jameson's museum of earth history. Portrait of Werner, his teacher at the mining academy of Freiburg. Photograph of cliff showing layered strata. Close up of large crystal. Shots of precipitation sedimentation taking place in tank. Shots of some of Jameson's letters. Russell explains his theory of rock formation by sedimentation from an original globe of water: Neputinism. Quotation from his preface to Cuvier's "Theory of the earth", claiming geological confirmation of the flood. Shots of cliffs, shells in rock, and engravings of the deluge. This started the so-called Diluvialist controversy: Russell comments on its historical context. Shots of giant basalt rocks. A major rival to Jameson was James Hutton, also of Edinburgh. Portrait. His theory laid new emphasis on the importance of fire in the earth's history. Cartoon illustrates the ensuing controversy. Although Hutton died in 1797 Jameson remained antagonistic to Huttonians and charged them to enter his museum. Photo of Old College Hall. Hutton's specimens were inherited by the museum but never displayed. Finally, Russell considers the career of Adam Sedgwick, who began as a committed Diluvialist but finally recanted, still holding that features now known to have been caused by glacial action were the result of flood water, but not the relatively recent Biblical flood. Portrait. Fossils. Boulders of Snap granite scattered over Northern England down to the coast. Sections of gravel deposits. Photos of glaciers Quotations from Sedgwick read by Gary Watson. Russell sums up, closing with a quotation from Burnet on the dangers of quoting scripture in support of natural features. Shot of opening page of Genesis.
Master spool number: 6HT/71392
Production number: 00525_3114
Videofinder number: 3355
Available to public: no