Impact of French Atheistic Deep-Time Beliefs

When I first saw the material that is linked below, I was not exactly enthusiastic. While I do have some interest in history, I was not all that interested in the history of France. I was glad I paid attention, however, because we can follow the connections and see the impact it has for us today.

The two articles linked here show how atheistic beliefs about deep time influenced France, and then Britain, and onward.
Credit: Pixabay / Gerd Altmann

It has been said that no movement occurs in a vacuum or because of a single incident. We can follow the origins of various events of history. The Russian Revolution of 1917 didn't begin with Lenin, evolution was an ancient religion before Erasmus and then Charles Darwin picked it up, the American civil rights movement did not being with the staged Rosa Parks incident, and so on.

Evolution and deep time are entrenched in civilizations. The British were influenced by the French (but downplayed that for the sake of national pride), and the French were influenced by paganism and the so-called Enlightenment (read: rejecting the Creator and the authority of the Bible). Not only did this French influence spill over into Britain and eventually into Darwinian evolution, but also into other countries. 

Atheism and Deism embraced these views, and professing Christians became roundheels to the desires of secularists. The French Revolution was not about reason, but an angry rebellion against God — which included mass murder. Here are two admittedly lengthy papers for your edification.
Belief in deep time and an evolutionary process grew in late 17th-century and
18th-century France. There were a number of reasons for this: growing religious struggles, political unrest, and interest in non-Christian religions from ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Indian Sub-continent. During the middle of the 18th century there was also growing agitation for revolution, but suppression by the powers of State and Church only encouraged the revolution. Undermining the scriptural account of creation and the Flood arguably became part of the process of undermining the existing order, although that may not have been the initial or full motivation. In the 17th century the struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism over Church authority was at its height in Europe, and the Jesuits were central to that struggle into the 18th century. Following the work of the Jesuit-trained Descartes, an excessive skepticism in the name of reason was directed towards knowledge gained through Scripture, although with far less skepticism directed towards beliefs from eastern religions or the human imagination.
You can finish the first paper by clicking on "Deep time in 18th-century France—part 1: a developing belief". This lays the foundation for the second part where things get even more interesting.
The first part to this paper showed how, in 18th century France, the influence of non-scientific factors encouraged belief in deep time and a rejection of the Noahic deluge. There was a prior commitment, through Cartesian methodology, to remove the testimony of Scripture from science, and to prefer fallible human inductive inferences. There was also misrepresentation of the geological evidence where it supported Scripture; a growing preference for deep time and evolution, that partly stemmed from Eastern religions; and growing political agitation for revolution. This paper discusses, albeit briefly, how these influences from France shaped beliefs in Britain during the 18th century, specifically through the work of David Hume, Erasmus Darwin and James Hutton. Then it will be considered how these 18th century beliefs were re-shaped by Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin for 19th century consumption. The link to France was seemingly written out of the narrative, and the overt paganism was removed, while retaining the flawed naturalistic methodology that arbitrarily rejected biblical testimony. As part of this process a slow and silent attack was used against Christianity to avoid causing open offence, that is until after the publication of Darwin’s Origins.
To see where this all leads, click on "Deep time in 18th century France—part 2: influence upon geology and evolution in 18th and 19th century Britain".

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