Key Publication: Miscellanous Discourses, 1692
In Ray’s time understanding of creation was governed by the account in the Bible. It was thought that the earth dated from about 5000BC and that fossils were formed in nature as imitations of shells, fish or other creatures, but were not a genuine creature. Ray’s observations of the changing coastlines around Britain and his fossil excavations led him to question both of these.
He published his work on Fossils in his ‘Miscellaneous Discourses’, 1692. The work quickly sold out, and a second edition was published the next year. In particular, he put forward that fossils were the remains of creatures that were now extinct, going against the commonly held view that all creatures that God created at the beginning still existed.