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Table of Contents
Thomas Burnet was a royal chaplain to King William III of England and a cabinet officer. He was an English theologian and a notable writer on cosmogony, where his famous work was Telluris Theoria Sacra, or The Sacred Theory of the Earth.
See the fact file below for more information on Thomas Burnet or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Thomas Burnet worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Thomas Burnet was born at Croft near Darlington in 1635.
- He attended Northallerton to study grammar under Thomas Smelt, who was impressed by his scholarly endeavors.
- He went to Clare College, Cambridge in 1651 after studying at Northallerton Grammar School.
- Burnet moved to Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1654 through the influence of Ralph Cudworth, the Master of Clare.
- In 1657, he became a fellow of Christ’s and obtained his Master’s degree in 1658.
- After his degree, he remained at the college and became a senior university proctor in 1667.
- Though he was not all the time in his residence, Burnet was a fellow of Christ’s until 1678.
- While he stayed in Cambridge, Burnet worked intimately with the Cambridge Platonists, specifically Henry More and Ralph Cudworth.
- Burnet traveled to Europe as a tutor in 1671 and obtained a second European tour in 1675.
- After living in Cambridge, he moved to London.
- Burnet took employment as a traveling companion to Lord Wiltshire, son of Charles Paulet, 6th Marquess of Winchester, and as a tutor to Lord Ossory, grandson of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde.
- Through the influence of the Duke of Ormonde, Burnet was appointed master of the Charterhouse School, Smithfield, London in 1685.
- In Burnet’s duties, he defended the authority of the Church of England. This put him in good favor when Catholic King James II was overthrown in 1688 and replaced by Protestant King William III, Prince of Orange, and his wife (James’s daughter) Queen Mary II.
- After the Glorious Revolution Burnet received an appointment a chaplain in ordinary and Clerk of the Closet to William III (until 1695).
- In 1695, Burnet retired from court and lived quietly for the rest of his life at Charterhouse, London.
- He died on September 27, 1715 and was buried in the Charterhouse chapel.
LIST OF WORKS
- It was during his travels that he formulated his views as well as the theories about the Earth. His works made him notable and at the same time, a controversial figure.
- Burnet published his famous works in 1681 entitled the Telluris Theoria Sacra (Sacred Theory of the Earth) and in 1692 entitled the Archaeologiae Philosophicae (The Ancient Doctrine Concerning the Origin of Things), including the De Statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium (On the State of the Dead and the Resurrection) which was published in 1727 after his death.
CONTRIBUTION TO SCIENCE
- Burnet’s popular work Telluris Theoria Sacra, or the Sacred Theory of the Earth, published its first two parts in 1681 in Latin. The book, which comprised a theory of the structure of the Earth, attracted much attention and the book was shortly translated into English. The third and fourth parts were published in 1689. A review of the Theory of the Earth completed the large work which was published in 1690.
- The book was an attempt to reconcile the stories of creation as described in Genesis with observable facts.
- For example, he postulated a hollow earth with most of the water inside until Noah’s flood, at which time mountains and oceans appeared.
- Based on his calculation, eight times the volume of water on the surface of the Earth would be needed to cause a biblical style flood.
- He was, to some extent, influenced by Rene Descartes who wrote in 1644 the Principia philosophiae also addressing the earth’s creation.
- Burnet’s book incited a great deal of controversy in its time.
- Herbert Croft published a criticism on his work in 1685 which accused Burnet of not following the book of Genesis. Still, Burnet defended his views against the critics.
- Despite the criticisms, Isaac Newton remained an admirer of Burnet’s theological approach to geological processes. Newton even sent a letter to Burnet, suggesting the possibility that when God created the Earth, the days were longer. However, the proposal of Newton wasn’t considered by Burnet being scientific enough to supplement his views on the creation of the Earth.
- He considered lengthening the days as already part of God’s intervention. Burnet tightly held his belief that God created the world along with its processes perfectly from the start.
- Burnet published in 1692 the Archaeologiae Philosophicae sive Doctrina Antiqua de Rerum Originibus (The Ancient Doctrine Concerning the Origin of Things) wherein he considered whether the fall of man was a symbolic event rather than literal history.
- The resulting disturbance among his contemporary theologians caused him to resign his post as clerk.
- Burnet’s works were controversial, yet remarkable to many and influenced several people. One of them was Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an English poet and philosopher. Burnet was cited at the beginning of the 1817 edition of his longest and major poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
- The influence of Burnet reached even the moon. The ridge on the moon Dorsa Burnet was named after him.
Thomas Burnet Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Thomas Burnet across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Thomas Burnet worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Thomas Burnet who was a royal chaplain to King William III of England and a cabinet officer. He was an English theologian and a notable writer on cosmogony, where his famous work was Telluris Theoria Sacra, or The Sacred Theory of the Earth.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Thomas Burnet Facts
- Burnet’s Background
- Life of Burnet
- Vocabulary Check
- Burnet’s Education
- Influence of Burnet
- Burnet’s Works
- The Sacred Theory of the Earth
- Criticism Article
- Earth’s Creation Collage
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Link will appear as Thomas Burnet Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 29, 2020
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