A Story of Science, Sainthood and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of the Earth.
The extraordinary story of the 17th century Danish geologist Steno, who was the first man to claim that the earth must be older than the Bible claimed, forever changing Western civilisation's ideas of time and undermining biblical authority, yet ended his life a Catholic bishop.
Dubbed "the founder of modern geology" by Stephen Jay Gould, the 17th century Danish scientist Nicolaus Steno was the first man to discover "deep time": to suggest that the existence of fossils, particularly those far from where the animals of which they are the remains would have lived ("the seashell in the mountaintop") demanded a much longer history for the earth than the roughly six thousand years suggested by the Bible.
Steno's work was ignored for over a century; he himself dropped his geological studies without completing a university dissertation; he converted to Catholicism and later became a bishop; in 1988 he was beatified by Pope John Paul I.
Alan Cutler tells the story of this passionate and fascinating man, exploring his contributions to geology and his remarkable ideas on science and religion. Steno's work was eventually to transform Western ideas of time, creating not only a long past for the earth, but also the possibility of a future that was not about to be cut short by Armageddon.
The influence of this forgotten man was enormous; Cutler's book will be the first to give him his due, and to set him alongside Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin, in a work of fascinating narrative non-fiction.