mardi 4 avril 2017

Protestant Roots of Old Age / Evolution

Creation vs. Evolution : Protestant Roots of Old Age / Evolution · Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Cuvier's Analogy and Renaissance Humanism

I was drawn to Russell Grigg's article by the fact that C. S. Lewis was at least for long one of those old earthers and deep timers who were saying everything is getting toward final entropy. He obviously thought souls and even risen bodies could somehow be salvaged from that, but he thought that was what was going to happen.

C. S. Lewis was not mentioned in the article. Three other guys were. Not in the article itself, but in another one it linked to - also Russell Grigg.

CMI : The Future
Some issues for ‘long-age’ Christians
by Russell Grigg

While it would have been fun to see what C. S. Lewis might have answered on the paradox of a new heaven and a new earth and still the universe "is running irreversibly down" (except that God Almighty can reverse it), we can do with what Russell Grigg had to say on another group of writers, not Inklings.

Since the 1800s—i.e. from the time Lyell, Cuvier, Darwin and others challenged the traditional view that the universe was only thousands of years old—various Christians have tried to harmonize long-age views with biblical beliefs.

Lyell, Cuvier, Darwin ... sounds like two Protestants and a Catholic, right? At least up to apostasies, since Darwin did not remain even Protestant Christian.

Well, sounds like two English and a French, but this does not necessarily mean two Protestants and a Catholic. You see, the Frenchman Cuvier was not a Catholic.

Louis XIV had of course expelled the Calvinists who refused to convert to Catholicism, but he had also conquered Alsatia from Holy Roman Empire (while it was still such). Alsatia included a lot of Lutherans. And the ancestry of "our" Cuvier was of these.

Georges Cuvier - Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier1, dit Georges (il porte aussi les prénoms de Dagobert et de Chrétien selon les sources)2 Cuvier, né le 23 août 1769 à Montbéliard et mort le 13 mai 1832 à Paris, est un anatomiste français, promoteur de l'anatomie comparée et de la paléontologie au XIXe siècle. ... Né d'une modeste famille luthérienne de Montbéliard, il est le fils de Jean-Georges Cuvier (1715-1795) et de Clémentine Chatel (1736-1792) et le frère ainé de Frédéric Cuvier. Il épouse le 2 février 1804 Anne Marie Sophie Loquet du Trazail (1768-1849), veuve de l'ancien fermier général Duvaucel guillotiné en 1793, dont elle a eu une fille, Sophie Duvaucel (1789-1867), femme de lettres. Du mariage de Georges Cuvier et de Anne Marie Sophie Coquet du Trazail sont nés quatre enfants : trois enfants sont morts en bas âge et la quatrième, Clémentine Cuvier (1809-1827) est morte à l'âge de 18 ans.

Some more on this:

Cuvier was by birth, education, and conviction a devout Lutheran,[16] and remained Protestant throughout his life while regularly attending church services. Despite this, he regarded his personal faith as a private matter; he evidently identified himself with his confessional minority group when he supervised governmental educational programs for Protestants. He also was very active in founding the Parisian Biblical Society in 1818, where he later served as a vice president.[17] From 1822 until his death in 1832, Cuvier was Grand Master of the Protestant Faculties of Theology of the French University.[18]

This Lutheran was also racist:

Cuvier représentait la pensée scientifique dominante en France, en accord avec les préjugés racistes de l'époque, et son influence était grande9.

Dans ce contexte, il a fait des recherches sur les Noirs africains qu'il tenait pour « la plus dégradée des races humaines, dont les formes s'approchent le plus de la brute, et dont l'intelligence ne s'est élevée nulle part au point d'arriver à un gouvernement régulier »18. Peu après la mort de Saartjie Baartman, il entreprit de la disséquer19 au nom du progrès des connaissances humaines. Il réalisa un moulage complet du corps et préleva le squelette ainsi que le cerveau et les organes génitaux qui furent placés dans des bocaux de formol et exposés au Musée de l'Homme20. En 1817, il exposa le résultat de son travail devant l'Académie de médecine. La publication de ses Observations sur le cadavre d'une femme connue à Paris et à Londres sous le nom de Vénus hottentote21 témoigne des théories racistes des scientifiques de l'époque. Il fait notamment allusion à la classification des races humaines par le « squelette de la tête », et à une « loi cruelle qui semble avoir condamné à une éternelle infériorité les races à crâne déprimé et comprimé ». Saartjie Baartman est plus décrite par des traits simiesques que par son appartenance à la race noire : « Notre Boschimane a le museau plus saillant encore que le nègre, la face plus élargie que le calmouque, et les os du nez plus plats que l'un et que l'autre. À ce dernier égard, surtout, je n'ai jamais vu de tête humaine plus semblable aux singes que la sienne »22

This story we find also in the English wiki:

A major anthropological study done by Georges Cuvier was that of Saartjie Baartman. In 1815, Cuvier was a surgeon general to Napoleon Bonaparte. While in this position, the Naturalist received the body of a Khoikhoi woman by the name of Saartje or "Sarah" Baartman. Baartman was a South African immigrant who came to Europe based on the promise that she could become wealthy by displaying her body for Europeans. Based on this promise, Baartman sailed to England where she was treated like a slave and forced to continue displaying her naked body as a curiosity. During these showings, the emphasis was placed on Baartman’s prominent rear end and large sexual organs. In 1814, Baartman was taken to Paris and given to a travelling circus, and where she was subjected to scientific study. One of the scientists who examined her was Cuvier, who developed a fascination with her "ape-like" features.

Baartman died in poverty in 1815 from an unknown inflammatory disease (identified possibly as Syphilis). Her body was sent to Cuvier for scientific observation. Upon receiving the body, Cuvier first made several plaster casts and a wax mold of her body, and then proceeded to dissect her. He removed her skeleton and put it up for display, along with a cast, in the French National Museum of Natural History. Then, he separated her brain and genitals from the rest of her body. These organs were then preserved in jars that were on display for more than 150 years, first in the National Museum of Natural History, and then in the Museum of Man following its establishment in 1937. Her remains and casts were finally taken off display in the late 1970s, following complaints from the public. The display was replaced with one relating Baartman's story in the context of the history of scientific racism.[49][50]

And on his racialism itself:

Cuvier was a Protestant and a believer in monogenism, who held that all men descended from the biblical Adam, although his position usually was confused as polygenist. Some writers who have studied his racial work have dubbed his position as "quasi-polygenist", and most of his racial studies have influenced scientific racialism. Cuvier believed there were three distinct races: the Caucasian (white), Mongolian (yellow), and the Ethiopian (black). Cuvier claimed that Adam and Eve were Caucasian, the original race of mankind. The other two races originated by survivors escaping in different directions after a major catastrophe hit the earth 5,000 years ago, with those survivors then living in complete isolation from each other.[44][45] ... Cuvier's racial studies held the supposed features of polygenism, namely fixity of species; limits on environmental influence; unchanging underlying type; anatomical and cranial measurement differences in races; physical and mental differences between distinct races.[44]

Perhaps there is a reason why Uncle Andrew in The Magician's Nephew is depicted very much like George Cuvier by Pauline Baynes.

Obviously, an article like this cannot find favour with either J. P. Holding or Kent Hovind, they don't consider using the wikipedia as correct documentation.

I kind of think it is, if you use it in two languages and you know both (or if you use one language and come back some weeks later, or if the kind of information is not of a type likely to be filled in by ignorants or deformed by gross misunderstanding or partiality).

I will however not be a total dupe of either wiki or better renowned writers of similar culture to those behind the article.

They try to excuse Cuvier by claiming (or not directly claiming but leaving to be understood) that he was just following Academic standards of his time.

One answer is, wouldn't that be a warning against relying too much on Academic standards of any time, including one's own, that is now (when I am writing it + whenever you will be reading it)? But a more thorough one is, had be been a Catholic obedient to the magisterium, he could not have got away with it. His dissection of Saartjie Baartman would have been impossible if it hadn't been for the fact that the French Revolution humiliated the Catholic Church. His analysis could well have been on the Index Librorum for some time. Alas, I did not find it in the edition of 1949, online.

Earlier however, I think that Isaac de la Pereire (Jew, not Protestant, and then convert to Catholicism) was not just condemned as a writer due to polygenism, but also due to such judgements of "non-Caucasian races."

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Tuesday after
Ist Passion Sunday

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