But about the same time that Anglo-Irish Archbishop James Ussher calculated his Earth-formation date of October 26, 4004 BC, some of his keenest contemporaries puzzled over just how the Bible could be literally true.
Early on, the story that caused perhaps the most trouble was Noah's Flood.
Evolution was one explanation, but many savants believed a series of catastrophes had been followed by fresh creations.
One early evolutionist, Lamarck, proposed a form of evolution in 1800.
Biological evolution is change in the characteristics of living organisms over generations.
Despite your vastly superior tastes in music and fashion, you probably look vaguely like your parents, just as they look vaguely like their parents.
Only later came Noah's Flood, which was held responsible for depositing all those weird remains, like shells, in rocks on top of mountains.
If that actually happened, human remains should have appeared in the oldest rocks at the bottom of the heap, but they didn't. The oldest layers of rocks held different creatures, and the further down in the heap one looked, the weirder the creatures got.
Even further back in time, the fur would be scales.As unlikely as it sounds, life forms from spiders to spider monkeys belong to the same family tree.Even fungus merits an invitation to the family reunion.Not everyone who accepted an ancient Earth necessarily accepted biological evolution.By the early 19th century, the professional scientists and leisurely gentlemen who dabbled in geology or comparative anatomy entertained a variety of explanations for humanity's predecessors.Biblical scholars went back to calculating the length of a cubit.One more problem for Noah was a shift in philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries.Rather than simply relying on miracles, scholars and savants (there were few actual scientists just yet) adopted the view that God played by His own rules, so understanding nature could contribute to understanding God.And if God played by the rules, then a worldwide flood that covered the highest mountain peaks with water (and left seashells behind) would require the sudden creation and subsequent cleanup of a tremendous amount of liquid. Leonardo da Vinci himself poured scorn on such "just so" stories.Really far back in time, there wouldn't be any legs at all, just fins for swimming.Evolutionary theory argues that all the organisms alive on Earth today share a common ancestor.