Robert Young's self‐published biography of the Reverend William Branwhite Clarke (1798–1878) gives an absorbing insight into how European settlers came to understand the landscape of Australia, particularly New South Wales, in the nineteenth century. Clarke was an Anglican priest with a wide range of scientific interests who emigrated to Sydney in 1839 and claimed to have discovered the first evidence of gold in New South Wales, despite a counterclaim by Edward Hargraves. Clarke became fascinated by the physical environment of Australia and related his observations to contemporary scientific theories such as the theory of evolution. His interest in evolution has to be balanced by his vocation as a priest. Therefore, Young discusses how Clarke comes to understand the theory of evolution and its relationship to the creation story in Genesis.Young has reconstructed Clarke's life, predominantly through his scientific interests, from other biographies and the extensive Clarke Papers held in the Mitchell Library in Sydney. However, Clarke is initially introduced by examining how he reacted to his times. This introductory chapter is framed around three portraits of Clarke that demonstrate how the changing ideas of creation and the dispute over who first discovered gold in New South Wales affected Clarke
Journal of Religious History – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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