c. 1635: First Public School
(Battle in the Schools)
First public school promotes Christianity. Massachusetts
Puritans found the first "free grammar school" in North America explicitly
to teach religion. Puritan schools reflect the religious faith and values
of a homogeneous community. Puritan minister John Cotton stresses "zeale is
but a wilde-fire without knowledge." The Puritans' goal is to have a devout
and well-educated community. Even in the 19th and early 20th century, U.S.
public schools will remain de facto Christian institutions.
c. 1650: Bishop Ussher
Bishop Ussher pinpoints Creation at 4004 B.C. Using
biblical chronology, Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland calculates that
the creation of Heaven and Earth took place in 4004 B.C. Biblical passages
provide Ussher with clues to the number of human generations -- and hence
years --since Adam and Eve. This date of 4004 B.C. is then used for 200
years in English editions of the Bible. Some biblical literalists of the
20th century will use similar methods to assert that life first appeared
on Earth less than 10,000 years ago.
c. 1660: Spontaneous Generation
(Rise of Evolution)
A close-up view of "spontaneous generation." New
instruments of magnification, including elegantly crafted microscopes,
are fueling scientific research. The ancient question of whether life
can arise from non-living matter now can be tackled in a new way.
Jesuit-trained physician Francesco Redi, for instance, shows why fly
maggots often crop up in putrefied meat. They are not the result of
"spontaneous generation," but rather born from eggs too tiny for the
naked eye to see.
-> Go to 1700