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Transcript of Lu Buffon
(Georges Louis-Leclerc) Georges Louis Leclerc (later Count de Buffon), was born 1707 and passed in 1788, at the age of 80
Buffon was a cosmologist, naturalist and encyclopedic author who founded the basic theory of evolution preceding Darwin. Though he conceived the possibility of gradual change within species and the similarities between apes and humankind, he rejected these ideas for being too heretical. Buffon was born into a family of civil servants, and was encouraged to study law in the family tradition. Against this, he became a naturalist and was one of the most important of his field of all time. He endorsed the immutability of species and the idea of a 6,000 year old Earth, coinciding with the date of the Creation, and the age of mankind. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, Inheritance (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1982) While Buffon
believed in and
teachings of Genesis,
he took part in
of the theory of
His fear of heresy kept him from furthering this idea.
Inadvertently, he inspired the beginning of the end of the fairly universal belief in Intelligent Design in Europe. He was the first to propose the theory that the planets had been created in a collision between the Sun and a comet. While his great project opened up vast areas of knowledge that were beyond his powers to encompass, his Histoire naturelle was the first work to present the previously isolated and apparently disconnected facts of natural history in a generally intelligible form. Jean Piveteau, www.britannica.com, accessed April 6, 2013 Statue of Buffon at Jardin de Plantes Very importantly for the history of scientific thought, Buffon concieved an alternative to the Bibilical creation of the Earth, but rejected the idea similarly to his notice of gradual changes in species, in fear of heresy. He also believed that the evidence favoring the Bible greatly outweighed the alternatives that he entertained, namely, the complexity of all beings favoring an intelligent designer. It is important to note that the comet theory he conceived removes the intention and will of God by assuming that the planet is here by chance instead of by His will. Though he ultimately rejected his own theories, he might have been one to set into motion the questioning of intelligent design at a time where it was almost universally accepted, therefore paving the way for Darwin and his revolutionary "Origin of Species". The innovative ideas of Buffon and
his rejection of them made him a very interestingly
contradictory in the history of naturalism. For his ideas, he was once forced to recant for the notion he conceived of biological and cosmic evolution, and so whether it was his own personal beliefs that stopped him, or the fear of excommunication, is up to debate. Presentation by Jessica A. Vazquez