ADAM SEDGWICK (22 March 1785 – 27 January 1873) was one of the founders of modern geology. He proposed the Devonian period of the geological timescale . Based on work which he did on Welsh rock strata , he proposed the Cambrian period in 1835, in a joint publication in which Roderick Murchison also proposed the Silurian period. Later in 1840, to resolve what later became known as the Great Devonian Controversy about rocks near the boundary between the Silurian and Carboniferous periods, he and Murchison proposed the Devonian period.
Though he had guided the young Charles Darwin in his early study of geology and continued to be on friendly terms, Sedgwick was an opponent of Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection .
* 1 Life and career * 2 Geological views and evolution * 3 Sedgwick Club * 4 Sedgwick Museum * 5 Sedgwick Prize * 6 Sedgwick Trail * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 External links
LIFE AND CAREER
He studied mathematics and theology, and obtained his BA (5th
Wrangler ) from the University of
Sedgwick studied the geology of the British Isles and Europe. He founded the system for the classification of Cambrian rocks and with Roderick Murchison worked out the order of the Carboniferous and underlying Devonian strata. These studies were mostly carried out in the 1830s. The investigations into the Devonian meant that Sedgwick was involved with Murchison in a vigorous debate with Henry De la Beche , in what became known as the great Devonian controversy.
Sedgwick investigated the phenomena of metamorphism and concretion , and was the first to distinguish clearly between stratification , jointing , and slaty cleavage . He was elected to Fellow of the Royal Society on 1 February 1821. In 1844, he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .
Sedgwick was an owner of slaves in plantations in Jamaica and was awarded £3783 in compensation for 174 slaves, following the abolition of slavery by the British government.
GEOLOGICAL VIEWS AND EVOLUTION
The Church of England , by no means a fundamentalist or evangelical church, encloses a wide range of beliefs. During Sedgwick's life there developed something of a chasm between the conservative high church believers and the liberal wing. After simmering for some years, the publication of _ Essays and Reviews _ by liberal churchmen in 1860 pinpointed the differences. In all this, Sedgwick, whose science and faith were intertwined in a natural theology , was definitely on the conservative side, and extremely outspoken about it. He told the February 1830 meeting of the Geological Society of London : "No opinion can be heretical, but that which is not true.... Conflicting falsehoods we can comprehend; but truths can never war against each other. I affirm, therefore, that we have nothing to fear from the results of our enquiries, provided they be followed in the laborious but secure road of honest induction. In this way we may rest assured that we shall never arrive at conclusions opposed to any truth, either physical or moral, from whatever source that truth may be derived".
As a geologist in the mid-1820s he supported William Buckland 's interpretation of certain superficial deposits, particularly loose rocks and gravel, as "diluvium" relating to worldwide floods, and in 1825 he published two papers identifying these as due to a "great irregular inundation" from the "waters of a general deluge", Noah\'s flood . Sedgwick's subsequent investigations and discussions with continental geologists persuaded him that this was problematic. In early 1827, after spending several weeks in Paris, he visited geological features in the Scottish Highlands with Roderick Murchison . He later wrote "If I have been converted in part from the diluvian theory...it was...by my own gradual improved experience, and by communicating with those about me. Perhaps I may date my change of mind (at least in part) from our journey in the Highlands, where there are so many indications of local diluvial operations.... Humboldt ridiculed beyond measure when I met him in Paris. Prévost lectured against it." In response to Charles Lyell 's 1830 publication promoting uniformitarian geology Sedgwick talked of floods at various dates, then on 18 February 1831 when retiring from the Presidency of the Geological Society he recanted his former belief in Buckland's theory.
He strongly believed that species of organisms originated in a succession of Divine creative acts throughout the long expanse of history. Any form of development that denied a direct creative action smacked as materialistic and amoral. For Sedgwick, moral truths (the obtainment of which separates man from beast) were to be distinguished from physical truths, and to combine these or blur them together could only lead to disastrous consequences. In fact, one's own hope for immortality may ultimately rest on it.
He stated in 1830 that Scriptural geologists proposed "a deformed progeny of heretical and fantastical conclusions, by which sober philosophy has been put to open shame, and sometimes even the charities of life have been exposed to violation." In 1834 he continued, "They have committed the folly and SIN of dogmatizing," having "sinned against plain sense," and "of writing mischievous nonsense," "Their eyes cannot bear to look upon" truth and suppose an "ignorant and dishonest" theory. They show "bigotry and ignorance,' of nature's laws and natural phenomena.
While he became increasingly Evangelical with age, he strongly supported advances in geology against conservative churchmen. At the September 1844 British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at York he achieved national celebrity for his reply defending modern geology against an attack by the Dean of York , the Reverend William Cockburn , who described it as unscriptural. The entire chapter house of the cathedral refused to sit down with Sedgwick, and he was opposed by conservative papers including _ The Times _, but his courage was hailed by the full spectrum of the liberal press, and the confrontation was a key moment in the battle over relations between Scripture and science. Sedgwick in 1867
When Robert Chambers anonymously published his own theory of universal evolutionism as his "development hypothesis" in the book _ Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation _ published in October 1844 to immediate popular success, Sedgwick's many friends urged him to respond. Like other eminent scientists he initially ignored the book, but the subject kept recurring and he then read it carefully and made a withering attack on the book in the July 1845 edition of the _ Edinburgh Review _. _Vestiges_ "comes before with a bright, polished, and many-coloured surface, and the serpent coils a false philosophy, and asks them to stretch out their hands and pluck the forbidden fruit", he wrote in his review. Accepting the arguments in _Vestiges_ was akin to falling from grace and away from God's favour.
He lashed out at the book in a letter to Charles Lyell, bemoaning the consequences of it conclusions. "...If the book be true, the labours of sober induction are in vain; religion is a lie; human law is a mass of folly, and a base injustice; morality is moonshine; our labours for the black people of Africa were works of madmen; and man and woman are only better beasts!" Later, Sedgwick added a long preface to the 5th edition of his _Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge_ (1850), including a lengthy attack on _Vestiges_ and theories of development in general.
Charles Darwin was one of his geology students in 1831, and accompanied him on a field trip to Wales that summer. The two kept up a correspondence while Darwin was on the _Beagle_ expedition , and afterwards. However, Sedgwick never accepted the case for evolution made in _ On the Origin of Species _ in 1859 any more than he did that in _Vestiges_ in 1844. In response to receiving and reading Darwin's book, he wrote to Darwin saying: "If I did not think you a good tempered parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous — You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction—">'s locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved. Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?"
Sedgwick regarded natural selection as "but a secondary consequence of supposed, or known, primary facts. Development is a better word because more close to the cause of the fact. For you do not deny causation. I call (in the abstract) causation the will of God: & I can prove that He acts for the good of His creatures. He also acts by laws which we can study & comprehend—Acting by law, & under what is called final cause, comprehends, I think, your whole principle".
He emphasised his distinction between the moral and physical aspects of life, "There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly". If humanity broke this distinction it "would suffer a damage that might brutalize it— and seems to shut the door on any view (however feeble) of the God of Nature as manifested in His works. From first to last it is a dish of rank materialism cleverly cooked and served up".
Despite this difference of opinion, the two men remained friendly until Sedgwick's death. In contrast to Sedgwick, liberal church members (who included biologists such as George Rolleston , William Henry Flower and William Kitchen Parker ) were usually comfortable with evolution.
The Sedgwick Club , the oldest student-run geological society in the world, was set up in honour of him in 1880.
On the death of Sedgwick it was decided that his memorial should take the form of a new and larger museum. Hitherto the geological collections had been placed in the Woodwardian Museum in Cockerell's Building. Through the energy of Professor T. McK. Hughes (successor to Sedgwick) the new building, termed the Sedgwick Museum , was completed and opened in 1903.
In 1865, the University of
To celebrate the bicentenary of Sedgwick's birth a geological trail was created near Dent, the village where he was born. The Sedgwick Trail follows the River Clough , highlighting rock features and exploring the Dent Fault .
* ^ Background note on Adam Sedgwick
* ^ Ray Spangenburg, Diane Moser, The Age of Synthesis:
1800–1895. Infobase Publishing. p. 94
* ^ Bernard V. Lightman, Bennett Zon.
Evolution and Victorian
* ^ von Zittel, Karl Alfred 1901. _History of geology and palaeontology to the end of the nineteenth century_. Scott, London. p432 * ^ Rudwick M.S.J. 1985. _The great Devonian controversy_. Chicago. * ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 9 September 2016. * ^ "Summary of Individual Legacies of British Slave-ownership". _www.ucl.ac.uk_. Retrieved 2016-09-01. * ^ Browne 1995 , p. 129, Sedgwick, Adam (1830). "Geological Society, Feb. 19 – At the Annual General Meeting of the Society, held on this day, the President, Professor Sedgwick, delivered the following Address from the chair: –". _The Philosophical Magazine: Or Annals of Chemistry, Mathematics, Astronomy, Natural History and General Science_. 7. Richard Taylor. p. 310. * ^ Herbert 1991 , pp. 170–174, Sedgwick, Adam (April 1831). "Address to the Geological Society, delivered on the Evening of the 18th of February 1831, by the Rev. Professor Sedgwick, M.A. F.R.S. &c. on retiring from the President's chair". _Philosophical Magazine_. 9. Taylor & Francis. pp. 312–315. Retrieved 13 June 2014. * ^ Sedgwick 1830 , p. 310 * ^ Sedgwick, Adam (1834). _On the Studies of the University_. pp. 148–153. * ^ James Secord, _Victorian Sensation_ (2000), pp. 232–233. * ^ James Secord, _Victorian Sensation_ (2000), pp. 233, 246. * ^ Letter of Adam Sedgwick to Charles Lyell, 9 April 1845, in _The Life and Letters of the Rev. Adam Sedgwick_ vol. 2 (1890), pg. 84. * ^ _A_ _B_ "Darwin Correspondence Project – Letter 2548 – Sedgwick, Adam to Darwin, C. R., 24 Nov 1859". Retrieved 24 January 2009. * ^ Letter to Miss Gerard from Adam Sedgwick, 2 January 1860, in _The Life and Letters of the Rev. Adam Sedgwick_ vol. 2 (1890), pgs. 359–360. * ^ http://sedgwickclub.soc.srcf.net/index.php * ^ 1911 _Encyclopædia Britannica_ Archived 20 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine .
* J.W. Clark and T.M. Hughes , _The Life and Letters of the Reverend
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