Hold charts hostage until he got log books
MATTHEW FOUNTAINE MAURY-PATHFINDER OF THE SEAS
Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Fontaine_Maury,
http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/270 , http://bibleabc.net/l3/has_done/question42b.htm,
Almost all Christians know that the Bible has is very valuable in spiritual and historical and
relationship areas and others. Some know about its value for science and how many of the
greatest scientists in history had deep faith in God and often developed their science from
statements and clues in the Bible. But, you might not know that the Bible’s science has saved
many millions of dollars for businesses and governments and others every year for over 150 years.
Here’s the story of how.
In 1825 at age 19, Matthew Fontaine Maury joined the United States
Navy as a midshipman on board the frigate Brandywine. carrying the
Marquis de La Fayette back to France (La Fayette had helped
enormously in the American Revolution as a general and had come
to America to celebrate its 50th anniversary). Almost immediately he
began to study the seas and record methods of navigation. In 1839,
he was in a stagecoach accident and broke his leg badly (some say his hip and knee). It did not
heal properly, and he was lame the rest of his life and his career as a sailor ended. Over the next
19 years Maury devoted himself to studying naval meteorology, navigation, winds, clouds, and
weather. He also studied the Bible. He could not help but be fascinated by passages that mention
the sea, such as Psalm 8:8, Psalm 107:23-24, and Ecclesiastes 1:7. Whoever studies the sea, Maury
contended, “must look upon it as a part of that exquisite machinery by which the harmonies of nature
are preserved, and then will begin to perceive the developments of order and the evidences of design”
(Physical Geography, p. 57). Because of his detailed knowledge of the oceans, he eventually
became Superintendent of the Naval Observatory and head of the Depot of Charts and
Instruments from 1841-1861. Here Maury was able to study thousands of ships' logs and charts.
One day Maury was very sick and he asked one of his daughters to get the Bible and read to him.
She Psalm 8 to him:
1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your
foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you
have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with
glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under
7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the
9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
FINDING THE PATHS OF THE SEA
Other could could read that and be inspired, but Maury was very aware of the challenges for the sailing
industry of his time. He repeated "the paths of the sea, the paths of the sea, if God says the paths of
the sea, they are there, and if I ever get out of this bed I will find them." (from “A Brief Sketch of the
Work of Matthew Fontaine Maury” by his son Colonel Richard L. Maury). He was also aware of
Ecclesiastes 1:6, which states: "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it
whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits."
Maury, on the basis of the Bible, concluded that there are well-established wind circuits, and that there are
literally "paths in the sea" - that is, definite currents in the ocean. He reasoned that if these wind currents
and ocean currents could be located and plotted, this information would be of great value to marine
navigators. Utilizing this information, the sailing vessels could be directed along routes that would take
advantage of these sea and air currents, reducing by many days the time required to traverse the seas.
Many of Maury's contemporaries, of course, would have scoffed at Maury. They would have said, "Maury,
do you really mean that you are going to spend hour after hour on some wild goose chase searching
through those dusty old logs and charts you have in your office just because the Bible says there are paths
in the sea?"
That is precisely what Maury did, however, and the Biblical statements were precisely verified. Maury found
and plotted the wind circuits and the ocean currents. Maury began deep sea soundings as soon as he was
strong enough, and found that two ridges extended from the New York coast to England. He also studied
the speed and direction of the ocean currents by setting adrift weighted bottles known as ‘drift bottles’.
These floated slightly below the surface of the water, and thus were not affected by wind. Instructions were
sealed in each bottle directing anyone who found one washed ashore to return it. From the location and
date on which the bottles were found, Maury was able to develop his charts of the ocean currents—the
‘paths’ of the seas, for ships to sail over one path to England and return over the other in much shorter
times. He found, for example, the great Gulf Current - a "path in the sea" forty miles wide and 2000 feet
deep flowing from the Gulf of Mexico up through the Atlantic. This current not only moves faster than other
ocean water, it has a major influence on countries that are near it. It keeps Norway 2 degrees centigrade
above freezing when it would otherwise be far below freezing. Cool water carried by some currents also
aids in dissipating tropical storms. Maury didn’t stop with the Gulf Current. He charted ocean currents all
over the world as well as charting winds, ocean depths and a number of others things that have greatly
aided the science of marine navigation.
Certain others had noticed currents flowing in the ocean before Maury, but Maury’s work was far
more detailed and precise. It was a gigantic jump forward and far more practical than anything
before. It was so accurate that it was and is used by ships traveling all over the world. His charts
became so valuable to ship captains that he would kind of hold the charts hostage, requiring ship
captains to turn over their log books to him before he would give them his charts. In this way he
could keep on making the charts even more accurate and useful.
In 1851 President Fillmore stated in his annual message that
by means of Maury's wind and current charts the passage
from the Atlantic to the Pacific ports of our country had been
shortened by about forty days. In 1854 the Secretary of the
Navy asserted that Maury's work had promoted commerce by
pointing out to the mariner new paths in the great deep where
favorable winds and currents lent aid; that his charts and
sailing directions, by shortening the voyages of merchant
vessels, were saving millions of dollars. The whole world is in
deep debt to this "Pathfinder" who trusted the Bible. Before
Maury charted the best paths from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it usually took a ship about 180 days
to sail from New York to San Francisco, fifteen thousand miles, around Cape Horn; but by the year
1855, after his charts had been in use for seven or eight years, the average time had been
reduced to about 133 days. In 1851, the Flying Cloud made the run in slightly less than ninety
days. The same year there was a famous race between the Sea Witch, the Typhoon, and the
Raven. The Raven won, making the long voyage in 105 days. The year before she had made the
same voyage in 97 days. Another long voyage for the sailing ships of those days was the trip from
England to Australia and New Zealand. They went down by the coasts of Spain and Portugal and
the long shores of Africa, turned eastward close around the Cape of Good Hope, and then crossed
the wide Indian Ocean. Homeward bound, they came back over the same route, often fighting
against adverse winds. It took them about one hundred and twenty days each way. Maury
proposed a new route for them. Following his directions, they made a wide circle around the Cape
of Good Hope going eastward, and then instead of turning back for the homeward voyage they
continued eastward ' the winds strong behind them, circled the globe, and came up into the
Atlantic around Cape Horn. By this new route they saved about forty-eight days on the round trip.
It is estimated that following the paths mapped out by Maury saved the merchants and ship
owners of the United States over two million dollars a year, and those of Great Britain about ten
million each year. In 1853 a number of merchants and other business men of New York presented
him with several fine pieces of silverware and a purse of $5,000. In 1854 Columbia University
made him a Doctor of Laws. The next year a New York firm named one of their fast ships in his
honor; and a few years later he received a letter of appreciation signed by 363 men in different
parts of the country. In 1855 a bill was offered in Congress proposing to give him $25,000 from
public funds, but this was not passed. (The Pathfinder of the Seas, The Life of Matthew Fontaine
Maury, John W. Wayland, 1930, p85)
Maury died in 1873. He was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. A monument
erected in his honour on Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia, reads: ‘Matthew Fontaine Maury,
Pathfinder of the Seas, the genius who first snatched from the oceans and atmosphere the secret
of their laws. His inspiration, Holy Writ, Psalm 8:8; Ecclesiastes 1:6.’
MAURY’S VIEWS OF THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE
It is often claimed that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. Yet the Bible’s accuracy when touching
on scientific subjects has led many great scientists, including Matthew Maury, to some outstanding
scientific discoveries. Maury knew full well that his view of the scientific accuracy clashed with those of his
colleagues. Before five thousand people at the founding of the University of the South in 1860, he proclaimed the
I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in
confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for
scientific purposes, and is therefore no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is
authority for everything it touches. What would you think of an historian who should refuse to
consult historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for the purposes of history?
The Bible is true and science is true and therefore each, the truth of the other if truly read, but proves
the truth of the other. The agents in the physical economy of our planet are ministers of Him who
made both it and the Bible. The records which He has chosen to make through the agency of these
ministers of His upon the crust of the earth are as true as the records which, by the hands of His
prophets and servants, He has been pleased to make in the Book of Life. ("A Life of Matthew
Fontaine Maury" by Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin. 1888 AD, p175)
He also wrote these things about his view of the Bible and Science that echo the thinking of many
of the greatest scientists in history.
You ask about the "harmony of science and revelation," and wish to know if I find distinct traces in
the Old Testament of scientific knowledge, and in the Bible any knowledge of the winds and ocean
currents. Yes, knowledge the most correct and reliable. ("A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury" by
Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin. 1888 AD, p158)
"As our knowledge of the laws of nature has increased, so have our readings of the Bible improved.-
The Bible frequently makes allusion to the laws of nature, their operation and effects. ... And as for
the general system of atmospherical circulation which I have been so long endeavoring to describe,
the Bible tells it all in a single sentence: The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about unto
the north; it whirleth about about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his
circuits."" - Ecclesiastes 1:6 (M.F. Maury, Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology, 1888
AD, 21 edition, p82, section 216)
Maury‟s daughter said about him, “For the Bible he entertained the highest veneration, and its testimony, to
his mind, was ever strengthened by the progress of scientific discovery.” Life of Matthew Fontain Maury,
Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin, 1888 AD p287)
Was Matthew Maury really a genius, or was he simply one who trusted the Bible as the Word of God?
Whether he was a genius or not, it was not his genius, but his faith in the Bible that directed his efforts into
a scientific research project, the results of which fully vindicated that faith.
There are numerous other instances in which scientific discoveries have been foreshadowed by Biblical
statements. The few cited do, however, reflect the fact that although the Bible may not be a book focused
on science, it has very significant scientific aspects that have proven to be scientifically accurate when
tested and have also provided enormous benefit to humanity when followed.
If you want to see other examples of how the Bible inspired science, check these websites for
Most Scientific Branches have been started by Christians or religious people.
The Greatest Creation Scientists of the last 1000 Years.
When we count the contributions of the Bible to science as well as many other crucial areas, we
have to agree that Dr. Charles Malik of Lebanon, former president of the United Nations General
Assembly, was very correct when he said, "I really do not know what will remain of civilization and
history if the accumulated influence of Christ, both direct and indirect, is eradicated from literature,
art, practical dealings, moral standards and creativeness in the different activities of mind and
AN ARTICLE AND SPEECH FROM MAURY
Maury’s article: The Bible And Science, Jan. 22, 1855
(blue highlights added for emphasis/focus)
From the Southern Churchman : - 1etter, by M. F. MAURY.
THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE.
Observatory, Washington, Jan. 22, 1855.
Your letter revived pleasant remembrances. Your questions are themes. It would require volumes to
contain the answers to them.
You ask about the "harmony of science and revelation," and wish to know if I find distinct traces in the
Old Testament of scientific knowledge, and in the Bible any knowledge of the winds and ocean
currents. Yes, knowledge the most correct and reliable.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades ? It is a curious fact, that the revelations of
science have led astronomers of our own day to the discovery, that the sun is not the dead centre of
motion around which comets sweep and planets whirl, but that it, with its splendid retinue of worlds
and satellites, is revolving through space at the rate of millions of miles in a year, and in obedience to
some influence situated precisely in the, direction of the star Alcyon, one of the Pleiades. We do not
know how far off in the immensities of space that centre of revolving cycles and epicycles may be, nor
have our oldest observers or nicest instruments been able to tell us how far off in the, skies that
beautiful cluster of stars is hung "whose influences man can never bind." In this question alone, and
the answer to it, are involved both the recognition and the exposition of the whole theory of
Science taught that the world was round; but potentates pronounced the belief heretical,
notwithstanding the Psalmist, while apostrophizing the works of creation in one of his sublime moods
of inspiration, " when prophets spake as they were moved," had called the world " the round world,"
and bade it rejoice."
You remember when Galileo was in prison a pump-maker came to him with his difficulties, because
his pump would not lift water higher than thirty-two feet. The old philosopher thought it was because
the atmosphere would not press the water up any higher; but the hand of persecution was upon him,
and he was afraid to say the air had lie weight. Now had he looked to the science of the Bible would
have discovered that the " perfect man of Uz," moved by inspiration, had proclaimed the fact
thousands of years before-" He maketh weight for the wind." Job is very learned, and his speeches
abound iii scientific lore. The persecutors of the old astronomers would also have been wiser and far
more just had they paid more attention to this wonderful book, for there they would have learned that
He "stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."
Here is another proof that Job was familiar with the laws of gravitation, for lie knew how the world was
held in its place ; and as for " the empty place " in the sky, Sir John Herschel has been sounding, the
heavens with his powerful telescope, and gauging the stars ; and where do you think lie found the
most barren part--" the empty places " of the sky ? In the north, precisely where Job told Bildad, the
Shuhite, empty place was stretched out. It is there where comets most delight to roam and hide
themselves in emptiness.
I pass by the history of creation as it is written on the tablets of the rocks and in the Book of
Revelation, because the question has been discussed so much and so often, that you, no doubt, are
familiar with the whole subject. In both the order of creation is the same. First, the plants to afford
subsistence, and then the animals, the chief point of apparent difference being as to the duration of
the period between "the evening and the morning." "A thousand years are in His sight as one day,"
and the Mosaic account affords evidence itself that the term "day," as there used, is not that which
comprehends our twenty-four hours. It was a day that had its " evening and morning " before the sun
I will, however, before proceeding further, ask pardon for mentioning a rule of conduct which I have
adopted in order to make progress with these physical researches, which have occupied so much of
my time and so many of my thoughts. The rule is, never to forget who is the Author of the great
volume which Nature spreads out before us, and always to remember that the same Being is the
Author of the book which revelation holds up to us, and though the two works are entirely different,
their records are equally true, and when they bear upon the same point, as now and then they do, it is
as impossible that they should contradict each other as it is that either should contradict itself. If the
two cannot be reconciled, the fault is ours, and is because, in our blindness and weakness, we have
not been able to interpret aright either the one or the other, or both.
Solomon, in a single verse, describes the circulation of the atmosphere as actual observation is now
showing it to be. That it has its laws, and is obedient to order as the heavenly host in their
movements, we infer from the facts announced by him, and which contain the essence of volumes by
other men. " All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; " " Into the place from whence, the
rivers come, thither they return again."
To investigate the laws which govern the winds and rule the sea is one of the most profitable and
beautiful occupations that a man -an improving, progressive man- can have. Pecked with stars as the
sky is, the field of astronomy affords no subjects of contemplation more ennobling, more sublime, or
more profitable than those which we may find in the air and the sea. When we regard these from
certain points of view, they present the appearance of wayward things obedient to no law, but fickle in
their movements and subject only to chance.
Yet, when we go as truth-loving, knowledge -seeking explorers, and knock at their secret chambers
and devoutly ask what are the laws which govern them, we are taught, in terms the most impressive,
that " when the morning stars sang together the waves also lifted up their voice," and the winds too,
joined in the mighty anthem."
And as the discovery advances, we find the mark of order in the sea and in the air that is in tune with
the "music of the spheres," and the conviction is forced upon us that the laws of all are nothing else
but perfect harmony.
M. F. MAURY, Lieut. U.S. Navy
("A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury" by Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin. 1888 AD, p158)
Maury’s Public Address: Nov. 30th, 1860
Nov. 30th, 1860
Maury's address at the laying of the corner-stone of the University of the South, on the Sewanee
Mountains in East Tennessee, was delivered at the request of Bishop Otey on Nov. 30th, 1860.
"Physical geography," he said, "makes the whole world kin. Of all the departments in the domains of
physical science, it is the most Christianising. Astronomy is grand and sublime; but astronomy
overpowers with its infinities, overwhelms with its immensities. Physical geography charms with its
wonders, and delights with the benignity of its economy. Astronomy ignores the existence of man
physical geography confesses that existence, and is based on the, Biblical doctrine 'that the earth was
made for man.' 'Upon no other theory can it be studied-upon no other theory can its phenomena be
reconciled. . . .
The astronomer regards the light and heat of the sun as emanations; -is forces to guide the planets in
their orbits and light comets in their flight - nothing more. But the physical geographer, when he
warms himself by the coal fire in winter, or studies by the light of the gas-burner at night, recognizes in
the light and heat which lie then enjoys the identical light and heat which came from the sun ages
ago, and which, with provident care, have been bottled away in the shape of a mineral, and stored
away in the bowels of the earth for man's use, thence to be taken at his convenience and liberated at
will for his manifold purposes.
" Here, in the schools which are soon to be opened, within the walls of this institution which we are
preparing to establish in this wood, and the corner-stone of which has just been laid, the masters of
this newly-ordained science will teach our sons to regard some of the commonest things as the most
important agents in the physical economy of our planet. They are also mighty ministers of the Creator.
Take this water " (holding up a glassful) " and ask the student of physical geography to explain a
portion only of its multitudinous offices in helping to make the, earth fit for man's habitation. There
may be in it a drop of the very same (for in the economy of nature nothing is ever lost or wasted)
which watered the Garden of Eden when Adam was there; escaping thence, through the veins of the
earth into the rivers, it reached the sea. Passing along its channels of circulation, it was conveyed far
away by its currents to those springs in the ocean which feed the winds with vapour for rains among
these mountains; taking up the, heat in these southern climes, where otherwise it would become
excessive, it bottles it away in its own little vesicles. These are invisible; but, rendering the heat latent
and innocuous, they pass like sightless couriers of the air through their appointed channels, and
arrive in the upper sky. This mountain draws the heat from them; they are formed into clouds and
condensed into rain, which, falling to the earth, make it soft with showers, causing the trees of the
fields to clap their hands, the valleys to shout, and the mountains to sing.". Thus the earth is made to
yield her increase, and the heart of man is glad.
Nor does the office of this cup of water in the physical economy end here. It has brought heat from the
sea in the, southern hemisphere to be set free here for the regulation of our climates; it has ministered
to the green plants, and given meat and drink to man and beast. It has now to cater among the rocks
for the fish and insects of the sea. Eating away your mountains, it fills up the valleys, and then, loaded
with lime and salts of various minerals, it goes singing and dancing and leaping back to the sea,
owning man, by the way, as a task-master-turning mills driving machinery, transporting merchandise
for him-and finally reaching, the ocean. It there joins the currents to be conveyed to its appointed
place, which it never fails to reach in due time, with food ill due quantities for the inhabitants of the
deep, and with materials of the right kind to be elaborated, in the workshops of the sea, into pearls,
corals, and islands-all for man's use.
"Thus the right-minded student of this science is brought to recognize in the, dewdrop the materials of
which ‘He who walketh upon the wings of the wind maketh His chariot.' He also discovers in the
raindrop a clue by which the Christian philosopher may be conducted into the very chambers from
which the, hills are watered.
I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in
confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific
purposes, and is therefore, of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority
for everything it touches. What would you think of the historian who should refuse to consult the
historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for the purposes of history ? The
Bible is true and science is true and therefore each, the truth of the other if truly read, but proves the
truth of the other. The agents in the physical economy of our planet are ministers of Him who made
both it and the Bible. The records which He has chosen to make through the agency of these
ministers of His upon the crust of the earth are as true as the records which, by the hands of His
prophets and servants, He has been pleased to make in the Book of Life.
They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the
discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it, the fault is not with the witness of His records,
but with the worm who essays to interpret evidence which he does not understand.
When I, a pioneer in one department of this beautiful science, discover the truths of Revelation and
the truths of science reflecting light the one upon the other, how can I as a truth-loving knowledge-
seeking man, fail to point out the beauty and rejoice in its discovery? Reticence on such an occasion
would be sin, and were I to suppress the emotion with which such discoveries ought to stir the soul
the ‘waves of the sea would lift up their voice,' and the very stones of the earth cry out against me.
As a student of physical geography, I regard earth, sea, air, and water as parts of a machine, pieces
of mechanism, not made with hands, but to which, nevertheless, certain offices have been assigned
in the terrestrial economy ; and when, after patient research, I am led to the discovery of one of these
offices, I feel, with the astronomer of old, 'as though I had thought one of God's thoughts, and tremble.
Thus as we, progress with our science, we are permitted now and then to point out here and there the
physical machinery of the earth a design of the Great Architect when He planned it all.
"Take the little Nautili. Where do the fragile creatures go? What directing hand guides them from sea
to sea? What breeze fills the violet sails of their tiny craft? And by whose skill is it enabled to brave
the sea, and defy the fury of the gale? What mysterious compass directs the flotilla of the graceful
Argonauts? Coming down from the Indian Ocean, and arriving off the stormy Cape, they separate, the
one part steering for the Pacific, the other standing for the Atlantic Ocean. Soon the ephemeral life
that animates these little Navigators will be extinct; but the same power that cared for them in life, now
guides them after death; for though dead, their task in the physical economy of our planet is not yet
finished, nor have they ceased to afford instruction in philosophy.
The frail shell is now to lie drawn to distant seas by the lower currents. Like the leaf carried through
the air by the wind the lifeless remains descend from depth to depth by an insensible fall, even to the
appointed burial-place, on the bottom of the deep, there to be collected into heaps, and gathered into
beds -which at some day are to appear above the surface, a storehouse rich with fertilizing
ingredients for man's use. Some day science will sound the depths to which this dead shell, has
fallen, and the little creature will perhaps afford solution for a problem as yet -unsolved ; for it may be
the means of revealing the existence of the submarine currents that have carried it off, and of
enabling the physical geographer to trace out the secret paths of the sea.
"Had I time I might show how mountains, deserts, winds, and water, when treated by the light of this
beautiful science, all join in one universal harmony, for each one has its part to perform in the great
concert of nature. . . .
The Church, ere yet physical geography had attained to the dignity of a science in our schools, and
even before man had endowed it with a name saw and appreciated its dignity, the virtue of its chief
agents. What have we heard here in this grove by a thousand voices this morning ? A song of praise,
such as these hills have not heard since the morning stars sang together the 'Benedicite' of our
mother Church invoking the very agents whose workings and offices it is the business of the physical
geographer to study and point out. In her services she teaches her children in their songs of praise to
call upon certain physical agents, principals in this newly-established department of human
knowledge; upon the waters above the, firmament, upon the showers, dew, wind, fire and heat winter
and summer frost and cold ice and snow, night and day, light and darkness, lightning and clouds,
mountains and hills, green things, tree and plants, whales and all things that move in the waters fowls
of the air, with beasts and cattle, to bless, praise, and magnify the Lord!
("A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury" by Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin. 1888 AD, p175)
Note on the above monument:
1. M F Maury's monument with text "Pathfinder of the Seas" (Matthew Fontaine Maury) monument;
Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia (west end of Monument Avenue)
2. The inscription reads: "Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, the genius who first
snatched from the oceans and atmosphere the secret of their laws. His inspiration, Holy Writ, Psalm
8:8; Ecclesiastes 1:6."
3. In his right hand is a pencil and the compass.
4. In his left hand is his Winds and Currents Charts
5. Leaning against the chair is the Bible that he used constantly for his explorations.
6. Matthew Fontaine Maury's monument on Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia isn't really a
"Confederate" monument. It was to be placed in Washington DC but disallowed because he sided
with Virginia which joined the Confederacy. Therefore the monument was placed in Richmond,
Virginia where he lived and worked for a short period of time developing the electric torpedo at his
cousin's home before he was assigned to Europe in the Confederate Secret Service.
KATHERINE C. STILES.
Some have called into question the Story
of Matthew Maury using the Bible as a
guide to discover ocean currents. In a
nutshell, I find it incredible that the US
Naval Institute would not only publish the
story if untrue in 1929, but then puts the
quote of the entire verse of Ps 8:8 "Paths
of the seas" on his monument. What did
the US Naval academy know that modern
skeptics don't know that would lead them
to do this? The book also references an
earlier newspaper story that says the
same thing. But the evidence gets even
more powerful, given the fact that the
State of Virginia built a monument to
Maury at Goshen Pass in 1923 and put
this inscription on it: "HIS INSPIRATION
HOLY WRIT Psalms 8 and 107, Verses 8,
23 and 24 Ecclesiastes Chap. 1, Verse 8".
Perhaps one of the most important
reasons NOT to reject the story, is
because no one BACK THEN questioned
it! To me the evidence is overwhelmingly
in favour that the basic story must be true.
The US Navel academy and the State of
Virginia are not some irresponsible
Internet vigilantes promoting rumors and
half truths. THEY ARE THE
AUTHORITATIVE HISTORIANS. The only
question is about WHEN Maury was first
inspired by the Bible to discover ocean
currents. Bible skeptics have supplied no
argument that has not been answered.
Until Bible skeptics supply me with some
documented reason to reject the story, it
remains a basic fact of history.
Side view. Bible sitting on floor behind his
EXTRAS-NOT ORGANIZED YET
He used these published the Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors
how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of
ocean voyages. Maury's uniform system of recording oceanographic data was adopted by navies
and merchant marines around the world and was used to develop charts for all the major trade
routes. to shorten sailing time to California thirty days, to Australia twenty, and to Rio Janeiro ten.
The waters, the whales, and even the winds have paths over or through the seas; tracing these,
Maury found also the best paths for ships. On the land a river now and then cuts a new channel.
At first we might suppose that a river in the sea will do so more frequently, but this is probably not
the case. The banks of water seem to hold a current in its channel as well as banks of clay and
stone. Maury's description of ocean currents is interesting. He says: "There are rivers in the sea.
They are of such magnitude that the mightiest streams of the land are rivulets compared to them.
They are either of warm or cold water, while their banks and beds are water of the opposite
temperature. For thousands of miles they move through their liquid channels unmixed with the
confining waters. They are the horizontal movements called currents. "The mariner can sometimes
detect them by the different color of their stream, while, if they give no such visible sign of their
existence, he can trace them by testing their temperature with his thermometer. "There is an
equatorial current sweeping from east to west all along on either side of the equator, and well nigh
encircling the globe. There are polar currents setting from the polar regions toward the equator;
and there are return currents setting from the equator toward the poles." (The Pathfinder of the
Seas, The Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, John W. Wayland, 1930, p81)
"With the light which these discoveries met, we ... (Plate 1.) why air, which has completed it. circuit
to the whirl* about the Antarctic regions, should then, according to the laws of magnetism, be
repelled from the south, and attracted by the opposite pole toward the north. Footnote: * „It whirleth
about continually.‟ - Bible" (M.F. Maury, Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology, 1888
AD, p 121, section 225)
It has been reserved for one of our own countrymen to discover the paths of the sea; to map the
tracks of the winds; to shorten sailing time to California thirty days, to Australia twenty, and to Rio
Janeiro ten. He has communed with the spirit of the sea earnestly and lovingly; and while it shouted
to others in thunder peals of omnipotence, and majesty, and eternity, it came and whispered to him in
gentle and soothing tones of divine beneficence, wisdom, love. The American Franklin drew the
lightning from heaven; the American Morse sent it as an errand-boy along the oscillating wire; and
now again American genius stands confessed in high superiority, as Maury tells us "whence the wind
cometh and whither it goeth," and then declares that long, long ago the Bible announced the same
teachings. He has shown us that the most exquisite proofs of perfect design and infinite skill are
manifested in ocean laws. Take the Gulf Stream. Here we have a river in the sea, "which in the
severest drouths never fails, in the mightiest floods never overflows; with banks and bottom of cold
water, while the current is of warm." It flows ceaselessly from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Seas.
It has a current more rapid than the Mississippi or Amazon. Some of our American writers supposed
this stream was caused by the Mississippi river, which had accumulated so much western American
force of character, that, entering the ocean through the Gulf, it pushed boldly on, holding tenaciously
together on the ground that "the union must be preserved, and refusing to submit to any interference
from Neptune till it paid its homage to Terminus in the Arctic Sea, and, in a quiet, respectable, and
eminently American (The Sea by , Eddy, Rev. T. M., A. M.: pp 460, The Ladies' repository: a
monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion./ vol. 15, iss. 8 Publication Date: Aug
Dr. Franklin was the first to suggest that the Gulf Stream clearly defined the longitude of vessels, and
notified them of their approach to the shores of this continent. Its waters are separated from the
common sea-water by a sharp dividing line. In making our northern coast in winter the sailor
encountered furious snow-storms and "gusty gales," which baffled his skill and drove back his
vessel, while the intense cold covered it with a mass of ice. The only refuge was to hold her away for
the Gulf Stream. When reached, the weary ship passed at once, as from the frigid zone, to the balmy
air of the tropics. "The ice disappears; the sailor bathes his limbs in tepid water; feeling himself
refreshed and invigorated with the genial warmth about him, he realizes the fable of Antsaus and his
mother Earth." These storm-conflicts were protracted and severe. Vessels bound to Norfolk or
Baltimore have encountered them as far down as the capes of Virginia, and have been repeatedly
driven back into the Gulf Stream, and have kept out forty, fifty, and even sixty days in vain attempts
to make the anchorage. Hence, ship captains naturally enough sought to secure more southerly
markets, and took their commerce to the ports of the Carolinas. "Before the temperature of the
stream was known, vessels beat back as above described had no refuge short of the West Indies." Dr.
Franklin's discovery of its temperature, and its importance in determining longitude-by the
thermometer-and ascertaining the locality of the ship, was made in 1775, but, in consequence of the
war with the mother-country, was not made public till 1790. When made known it demonstrated that
in approaching this country the warm water of the Stream and the cold water on the sides forming its
banks, if tried by the thermometer, would ascertain approximately his position. An old navigator,
writing to the Doctor, said that if the Gulf Stream had been of green and the banks of yellow, they
could not more certainly mark the sailor's path than they did by the use of the thermometer. (The Sea
by , Eddy, Rev. T. M., A. M.: p 461, The Ladies' repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to
literature, arts, and religion./ vol. 15, iss. 8 Publication Date: Aug 1855)
When our own Franklin flew his kite in the storm, who would have thought that the inkling which he
then caught as to a law of nature would enable us to turn aside the artillery of heaven? Or when, at
another time, he dipped his thermometer into the sea, how could the most keen sighted utilitarian
have perceived that the fact thus Stream, is matter of conjecture. Before their temperature was
known, vessels thus distressed, knew of no place of refuge short of the West Indies; and the
newspapers of that day,-Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette among them,-inform us that it was no
uncommon occurrence for vessels, bound for the Capes of the Delaware in winter, to be blown off
and to go to the West Indies, and there wait for the return of spring before they would attempt
another approach to this part of the coast. Accordingly, Dr. Franklin's discovery of the Gulf Stream
temperature was looked upon as one of great importance, not only on account of its affording to the
frosted mariner in winter a convenient refuge from the snow storm, but because of its serving the
Navigator with an excellent land mark or beacon for our coast in all weathers. And so viewing it, the
Doctor concealed the discovery, for we were then at war with England. (Paper on the Gulf Stream
and Currents of the Sea, MF Maury p. 395)
Matthew Fontaine Maury achieved considerable respect in the middle of the nineteenth century for
founding the science of oceanography. His mappping of the world‟s major ocean and wind currents
for the benefit of sailing ships earned him the title "pathfinder of the Seas." Other fields, such as
meteorology, navigation, and ordnance, also profited from his methodical and inventive mind.
Although largely forgotten outside his native Virginia, Maury endures in Bible-science literature as a
credible scientist who took a literal view of Scripture. According to one common story, Maury‟s
reading about the "paths of the sea" in Psalm 8:8 led him to discover ocean currents. Although
various aspects of this legend fail historical scrutiny, Maury held strongly to the view that the Bible
and science were in perfect harmony. For modern creationists, he represents a successful scientist
who eschewed the modernistic trend to divide secular and biblical knowledge. (Trevor J. Major,
M.Sc., 1995, "Honor to Whom Honor...Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873)," Creation Research
Society Quarterly, 32:82-87)
"On a monument erected by the state of Virginia to his memory is found a plaque that reads as
follows: "Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, the genius who first snatched from the
oceans and atmosphere the secret of their laws. His inspiration, Holy Writ, Psalm 8:8; Ecclesiastes
1:6." A genius? No. Just a simple Bible-believing Christian who trusted the inerrancy of the Word of
God. (Duane Gish, Days of Praise; Daily Bible Readings and Devotional Commentaries, January
I found the monument [Ann Lamont incorrectly calls it a tombstone in her book] information here:
Matthew Maury (1806-1873), On his tombstone [wrong: it is th monument, not the tombstone] at the
U.S. Naval Academy is inscribed the eighth Psalm, verse eight: which says in part ". . . whatsoever
passeth through the paths of the seas." He believed that if God said there were paths in the seas, it
should be possible to find them. He dedicated his life to doing just that, and find them he did. (Ann
Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who Believed the Bible, Creation Science Foundation, Australia, 1995,
"The first chart of the Gulf Stream was prepared about 1769 under the direction of Benjamin Franklin while
he was Deputy Postmaster General of the Colonies. The Board of Customs in Boston had complained that
the mail packets coming from England took two weeks longer to make the westward crossing than did the
Rhode Island merchant ships. Franklin, perplexed, took the problem to a Nantucket sea captain, Timothy
Folger, who told him this might very well be true because the Rhode Island captains were well acquainted
with the Gulf Stream and avoided it on the westward crossing, whereas the English captains were not.
Folger and other Nantucket whalers were personally familiar with the Stream because, he explained: 'in our
pursuit of whales, which keep to the sides of it but are not met within it, we run along the side and frequently
cross it to change our side, and in crossing it have sometimes met and spoke with those packets who were in
the middle of it and stemming it. We have informed them that they were stemming a current that was against
them to the value of three miles an hour and advised them to cross it, but they were too wise to be counseled
by simple American fishermen'." (The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson, p. 127)