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Matthew Maury and the Paths of the Sea

A Response to Ross Olson's Web Site

On my web site (rossolson.org) a letter to a theistic evolutionist was posted and in that letter Matthew Maury was mentioned as having found the Gulf Stream based on the Scripture which speaks of "The Paths of the Sea."

I am pleased to find that the site has been visited and disappointed that my first comment was a correction, yet glad to have been informed. The following is the e-mail from Mr. Holloway and links to articles by Mr. Trevor Major who has also written on the subject.

Ross Olson

Dr. Olson,

I noticed a letter you published on the Internet that mentions "Paths of the Sea". You have an incorrect understanding of the "Paths of the Sea" non-discovery. Matthew Maury did not discover the Gulf Stream. Benjamin Franklin published a chart of the Gulf Stream 20 years before Maury was born and neither was Franklin the first. The "Paths of the Sea" story is just a tall tale that captured the imagination of many fundamentalists. I am attaching Franklin's chart of 1786 to this message.

See my other comments below:

My Comments: Matthew Maury was born in 1806 and his active career must have started not before at least 1826. He was an experienced sailor and later a famous oceanographer as you say. However, he was not the first to discover ocean currents or "Paths of the Sea" They were known for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years before the time of Matthew Maury. I am attaching a chart published by Benjamin Franklin that shows the Gulf Stream. This chart was published in 1786, 20 years before Matthew Maury was born. Also, Ponce De Leon wrote about the Florida current in the early 1500s, about 300 years before Maury. Your web site and many others on the Internet grossly misrepresent the facts of this case. With due regard for high quality standards, I hope you will see fit to correct your comments to be in agreement with the facts. Incidentally other Christian sources on the Internet state that the story is a myth about how Maury was prompted by the Bible to search for paths of the sea. Whatever the truth about the little story, it is a fact that Maury was by no means the first to realize the importance of ocean currents, nor did he discover them. See the attachment for a photo of Franklin's chart. One last remark; Maury did not need the Bible to inform him about ocean currents because they were well known to sailors of his day.

Franklin's Gulf Stream

Robert Holloway

Nevada Technical Associates, Inc.

From: Vince L
Sent: January 11, 2010
Subject: Correction to the skeptic's response about Maury's discovery of the paths of the sea

Dear Mr Olson,
I read your article on "www.tccsa.tc/articles/maury.html" with interest. I also read the 'correction' submitted to you.

I reckon part of the 'correction' may be accurate - others found the ocean currents before Maury - but I've not seen any corroborating evidence that the charts and data are correct. Without evidence to either confirm or deny the writer's claims, I will not comment.

However, I have found clear evidence that Maury's inspiration was definitely from the Bible, specifically Psalm 8. I would like to therefore correct the 'correction' and ensure that proper credit for Maury's inspiration is duly noted. Whether one believes the Bible or not, it cannot be discounted in its inspiration of mankind over the millenia.

Please note the content below (from www.bible.ca/tracks/matthew-fontaine-maury-pathfinder-of-sea-ps8.htm) which includes the written testimony from Maury's son on the issue. Please include the actual facts in place of the skeptic's opinion regarding the "myth".


A Brief Sketch of the Work of
Matthew Fontaine Maury
By Richard Launcelot Maury
1915 AD

WHEN I took charge of the Georgia Room, in the Confederate Museum, in Richmond, Virginia in 1897, I found among the De Renne collection an engraving of the pleasant, intellectual face of Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury, so I went to his son, Colonel Richard L. Maury, who had been with his father in all his work here, and urged him to write the history of it, while memory, papers and books could be referred to; this carefully written, accurate paper was the result.

At one time, when Commodore Maury was very sick, he asked one of his daughters to get the Bible and read to him. She chose Psalm 8, the eighth verse of which speaks of "whatsoever walketh through the paths of the sea," 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."

He did begin his deep sea soundings as soon as he was strong enough, and found that two ridges extended from the New York coast to England, so he made charts for ships to sail over one path to England and return over the other.

The proceeds from the sale of this little pamphlet will be used as the beginning of a fund for the erection of a monument to Commodore Maury in Richmond.


For a brief overview, see Trevor Major's article at http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/rr1995/r&r9505b.htm

There is a longer article in Creation Research Society Quarterly which can be obtained from Apologetics Press

Major, T. (1995), "Honor to Whom Honor...Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873)," Creation Research Society Quarterly, 32:82-87.

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone 334-272-8558

For another article on the relationship of Frankin's discovery and the detailed charting done by Maury, Click HERE.