A World Without History

— Scientific American

According to Aristotelian philosophy, earth was eternal, a world without history and with no end. Only with the advent of religions based on the promise of a final salvation – supposedly after the end of time – it became of great interest for philosophers and scholars to calculate the age and understand the possible lifespan of earth.

Already in the 17th century astronomers and physicists, like Sir Isaac Newton, had gathered enough knowledge to exactly calculate and predict the motion of planets and stars. Taking the bible and other religious texts as a collection of true, but undated stories, naturalists used described astronomical events to calculate an absolute chronology for the bible. Various sacred chronologies were proposed, but most naturalists agreed that the time span in the bible comprised almost 6.000 years. As the bible begins with the creation of the world, also the age of the earth was set at 6.000 years. To reconcile the celestial chronology with events recorded in the layers of earth, however, was much more difficult.

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