The physicist Damian Kreichgauer entered the German Missionary Order Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) in 1892. From 1895 onwards, he taught natural sciences to future missionaries at the Order's seminary St Gabriel (Austria). In 1902, he published a book called Die Äquatorfrage in der Geologie (The Question of the Equator in Geology) with the Order's publishing outlet, in which he advocated the idea of a mobilistic Earth, where the Earth's crust as a whole moved with respect to the fluid core and the Earth's rotational axis. The main evidence for this idea he found in the changing of climate zones during geological epochs. Due to a small database, which was basically restricted to European plate localities, Kreichgauer did not notice discrepancies between polar wander on different continents. Nevertheless, the book was later cited and discussed as one of his precursors by Alfred Wegener in his book on the origin of continents and oceans. Kreichgauer also introduced his ideas to parallel the events of the biblical Genesis with geological epochs. He later expanded this ‘concordance theory’ in a separate book Das Sechstagewerk (The Work of the Six Days). He eventually abandoned scientific work, possibly due to censorship wielded by the Superior of his Order, unlike his contemporary, the Jesuit Erich Wasmann, a respected entomologist, who defended evolutionary ideas despite adverse Church politics and censorship.
Father Damian Kreichgauer SVD (1859-1940) and Father Erich Wasmann SJ (1859-1931): geology, earth history and evolution in two German lives between science and faith
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Martina Kölbl-Ebert; Father Damian Kreichgauer SVD (1859-1940) and Father Erich Wasmann SJ (1859-1931): geology, earth history and evolution in two German lives between science and faith. Earth Sciences History 1 December 2010; 29 (2): 311–330. doi: https://doi.org/10.17704/eshi.29.2.j2423722638t0596
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