A short Book Review
By Fr. Abram Abdelmalek
The Theory of the Earth
by Thomas Nail
The first book that had this name was that of James Hutton's which was first publishes in 1788. It introduced the concept of uniformitarianism, which posits that geological processes observed in the present can explain the geological features of the past. The book aimed at discrediting biblical literal interpretation of the Genesis account and that the Earth is much older than what the Bible states. The author claims that Earth is the product of natural forces. Hutton's ideas influenced Charles Lyell, who greatly affected Charles Darwin.
Thomas Nail took the same name for his book “Theory of the Earth” which he published in 2021 in 352 pages.
Nail was an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver when he wrote the book. Now he is a professor at the same institute.. He is a leading expert in the field of continental philosophy and has written several books on the subject. His research focuses on the intersection of philosophy, science, and technology, with a particular emphasis on the history of the concept of the Earth.
The book is well-researched and tries to make a contribution to the secular understanding of the history the Earth. The author presents a different perspective on the topic, challenging the notion that science and technology have always been the driving force behind the understanding of the Earth, and showing how ancient cultures had rich and complex cosmologies that were intimately tied to their understanding of the Earth and its place in the universe.
The book is written with an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on insights from a wide range of fields, including history, philosophy, and anthropology.
Though the book discusses many cultural and spiritual beliefs, it does not give enough weight to the biblical account of the Earth's history and did not take into account the religious and spiritual significance of the Earth from Judeo-Christian angel. It promotes a secular and human-centered understanding of the Earth, rather than a divine and spiritual one.
Nail argues that the nature of earth is not static nor ahistorical. He introduces the concept of kinetics to explain how it can overcome these two issues.
The geokinetic theory he claims he is introducing is not a new one. Harold Jeffreys (- 1891) wrote about it. Robert Parker who is an American geophysicist and one of the pioneers of seismic imaging and the study of the Earth's subsurface processes wrote about geokinetics as early as 1978. Andrew Benson who was a Norwegian geophysicist who made important contributions to the development of seismic imaging and the study of subsurface processes. Paul Delaney, a Canadian geophysicist who made important contributions geokinetics.
A general critique on the style and clarity of writing is that the book may not be accessible for readers who are not already familiar with some of the concepts and theories discussed. The author assumes that the reader has a certain level of background knowledge in the history of science and ideas, which may make the book less accessible to a general audience.
In his argument for natural processes, he posited that nature could lean and memorize. That makes nature able to develop and evolve. An example of this is that nature has remembered the hexagonal crystals of ice to produce basaltic columns and beeswax. He is substituting the intelligent designer with an intelligent nature.
The book has a systematic approach to present the topics. It starts with inanimate to animates. Every chapter goes a level later in history according to the secular believe, from the Flow of Matter to The Fold of Elements followed by The Planetary Field, then discusses the Centripetal Minerality, followed by the different geological eons and the development of atmosphere, Biogenesis, Vegetality, Elastic Animality, and evolution.
The book does not delve deeply enough into the scientific aspects of the Earth. While the author does touch on scientific concepts, the focus of the book is primarily on the cultural and historical aspects of the understanding of the Earth. For readers looking for a more in-depth examination of the scientific theories and discoveries related to the Earth, this book may not be the best fit.
It is also a philosophical book with no much scientific preparation for the reader which makes it a bit difficult to follow on the main arguments and ideas in the book.
Overall, the book provides some strange philosophical ideas on the evolution of earth from the primordial state to the Anthropocene without tackling the law of causality and the prime cause.
In conclusion, Hutton laid the fake conception of uniformitarianism some 230 years ago, Nail assumes that nature can think for itself, memorize, devise, and evolves. It is a good read to learn how secular science is getting overly confused.