An Essay towards a Natural History of the Earth
For the physician and natural historian John Woodward (c.1655-1728), fossils were the key to unlocking the mystery of the Earth's past, which he attempted to do in this controversial work, first published in 1695 and here reissued in the 1723 third edition. Woodward argues that the 'whole Terrestrial Globe was taken all to Pieces, and dissolved at the Deluge', and that fossilised remains were proof of the flood as described in the Bible. In the first part of the work, Woodward examines other theories of the Earth's history before presenting evidence - much of it based on his own fossil collection - in support of his theory. The work immediately prompted heated debate among his scientific contemporaries. Despite the controversy, Woodward was acknowledged as an expert on fossil classification, cementing this reputation with his influential Fossils of All Kinds (1728), which is also reissued in the Cambridge Library Collection.