Leibniz and the Origin of the Earth
My highly esteemed and well-learned audience,
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to take part in the opening ceremony of your venerable gathering and to speak a few words of welcome.
I was asked to keep it short, which is almost impossible for a universal scholar – such as I am – but I will do my best.
I am Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. I was born on July 1st, 1646 in Leipzig in the East of Germany. At the age of twenty years, I earned my doctorate degree and became a doctor of law.
After spending time in Mainz, Paris and London, I moved to Hannover in December 167) where I lived and worked for the next forty years.
As a natural scientist and philosopher I was always on the search to find the Source of Life. I am convinced that it is not found in a single particle, such as the Atomos, but instead in the Immaterial, in the living and spiritual Principle which constitutes the Indivisible and the source of Life itself.
In 1685, the Duke Ernst-August of Hannover assigned to me the task of researching the history of the Welfen, so to speak, the ancestral history of the royal house of Welfen. As I looked into the cultural history of this honourable house, I also researched their territories and dominions, as there is a difference if a community settles at the sea coast, on fertile plains or on a windswept wasteland. This is also mirrored in human culture. I introduced the so-called “Welfen-History” in the Protogaea, a geological and geographical memorandum on the origin of Earth.
Leibniz and the Origin of the Earth
„Even a small notion of great things is valuable. Therefore if we want to start with the most ancient state of our region we must say something about the earliest form of the Earth, and about the nature of the soil and of what it contains. For we inhabit the highest place of lower Germany, one where metals are especially abundant. But if we achieve less than we wanted to, at least we shall contribute by being an example: for when people contribute by being curious, the all-encompassing origin will be more easily understood."(Quote from Protogaea)
With these words I introduced the Protogaea and thus the history of the Welfen. Now, during our investigations of the Origin of Earth, we found some clues in the Genesis Account. Indications that can still be seen in the shape of our earth. Thus the Genesis story begins with the event that light and darkness were separated from each other. There is also the notion that our planet was a former star, made from glowing liquid. After this matter cooled down, it was covered by slags and cinder. Just like the sun and its sunspots. With the formation of these slags, the internal heat of the Earth was broken and a solid crust was formed. Slags that are made by a melting process are also a kind of a glass.
And indeed, the crust of our earth is such that all soils and stones become glass again through fire. It should be noted that Nature’s fires are incomparably larger and longer-lasting than the fire we humans can produce in our stoves or by using mirrors. But after all: limestone, which can withstand high temperatures in an oven, will melt to glass when heated by focal mirrors.
The crust must have formed large cavities inside the earth as it cooled and shrunk.
It also seems possible that there is a liquid nucleus inside the Earth, a powerful Volcano, in which all matter is liquefied. The huge eruptions and earthquakes indicate such a fire chamber. In my view, this process of cooling down of a formerly glowing and fluid planet led to the formation of the first solid skeleton of the Earth. With a crust, cavities, and possibly a liquid inner core. Let us now pay attention to an opponent of fire: water. It is easy to believe that when our planet was still glowing, water evaporated into the air, similar to a distillation. As the Earth cooled down even more, this water condensed into vapors and was finally absorbed by the Earth’s surface. This can be easily demonstrated by the observation that a burned object, when it cools, attracts moisture. Thus, water was formed, which washed over the surface of the earth and absorbed the traces of the great fire. And in these ashes and also salts were absorbed, such as alkaline salt, soda, or, as the Arabs say, potash and the more acidic seawater salt. These salts are well known from plant analyses.
Furthermore, it is certain that the water flowing over the surface of the earth came to a rest and the substances it contained, were deposited in different layers. We see this in the different layers of soil and in the different rock formations. It is certainly safe to assume that even after our planet became solid, earthquakes, floods and similar events changed the shape of the Earth. Let us now turn to a second significant event that has decisively determined the shape of our earth: in the Genesis account, this event is called the Great Flood. And to deny this event would be sinful!
But where did these enormous masses of water come from? These waters that overflowed the highest mountains and later disappeared again? I will refrain from looking at all the doubtful explanations and would like to refer to the obvious. When the earth solidified for the first time, a hardened earth skeleton was formed, in which there were huge cavities. These cavities were filled with water or with air. One can imagine that a weaker pillar of such a cavity could collapse and a huge mass of rock could crash into the underlying and previously enclosed sea, it is possible that this water could overflow even the highest mountains. This idea of buried cavities also explains why the layers of earth and rock are very often not arranged horizontally, as would be expected with a regular solidification and formation of sediments.
During my research in the Harz silver mines, I aimed to achieve a controlled drainage of the mines by means of a water cycle. In doing so, I could see mineral veins leading deep into the Earth. I also remember a mineral vein in Osterode in the Harz, which ended at one side of a valley and continued on the opposite side.
Are not these indications that an originally horizontal stratified deposit or solidified horizon had somehow been broken?
As for the Great Flood, there are also other signs:
Whether the bones that Otto von Guericke found in a cave near Scharzfeld in the Harz actually come from a unicorn, may be doubted.
However, the images of fish and shells that can be found in this cave and elsewhere, are undoubtedly images of actual living creatures. In a copper shale at Eisleben, I found the images of a barbel, a white fish and a perch, so well reproduced that even fins and scales were clearly visible.
However, these images were made of metal, namely copper. How this happened, may be explained by human artistry. For example: a silversmith covers a spider - or other animal - with clay, leaving a tiny opening. Then he burns the clay in a fire that hardens it. The ashes of the burned animal are washed out through the tiny opening with the help of mercury and filled with liquid silver. The result is a silver spider in which the hair and the veins are clearly visible. Similarly, this may have happened to the copper image of the fish.
However, we must always be aware that human artistry will always be only a faint reflection of Nature’s possibilities. And that is why we should always handle the given matters and affairs of Nature with great care. Just as the Roman jurist Plinius stated, one should exclude marble from use, as it will not occur again! And even in my time, we have not yet found the seed from which metals, gems, or other rare things can newly grow.
„Although the theory about Earth’s beginnings may well be credible, and even if it contains the seeds of a new science, which can be called Natural Geography, we would rather assume than to assert certainty. For though the sacred monuments speak for this theory, let us leave it to those who have the right to interpret it. Even if the clues of the ancient earth conform to present beliefs, our descendants will be able to determine things much better. Our curiosity will then be so far advanced that we can describe the types and layers of the Earth that form the landscapes. (Quote Protogaea)
With all my deepest respect and veneration, I wish you – my future scientists and researchers – a fruitful and successful conference
Thank you for your valued attention!
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
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