Burnet, Thomas, c.1635–1715, English cleric and scientist, b. Croft, in Yorkshire, England. He was educated at Northallerton and Cambridge. Following travels in Europe, Burnet published in 1681 the first two parts of his theory of the formation of the earth under the title Telluris theoria sacra (English version Sacred Theory of the Earth, 1684), in which he held that at the time of the Deluge the earth was crushed like an egg, the fragments of the shell becoming mountains. Burnet's book attracted much attention, and his description of the creation of mountains and his stress on the account of creation in Genesis influenced the new science of geology for a hundred years. In his Archaeologiae philosophicae (1692) he treated the account of the fall of man as an allegory.
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