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the path of light which reaches us through extent, and thousands of yards in thickness. a vista of six thousand years, leaves much Besides, if the mineral structure of these that is dark and unexplored extending im-rocks, and the organic remains which are measurably on every side. Shall we be included in them, be owing to the action rash enough to speak as authoritatively as of the deluge, still, considered as a natural if that vast expanse were accurately and en- agent, it must have dissolved the substantirely known? ces of which they are composed, and then Having premised these few remarks, we deposited them as a chemical precipitate shall now return to the consideration of the from the waters which held them in soludifficulties presented by geology, some of tion: and in the short space of three months which we have noticed. For many years which it endured, such a result, on ordinary these geological phenomena were deemed principles, appears as impossible as the soto be sufficiently accounted for by the No- lution of a piece of limestone rock in a botachian deluge; indeed, some of them have tle of water, in which it is permitted to been but just now alluded to by ourselves, remain for three months. If we cannot as illustrative of that event. Now the proofs hope for the one, neither can we admit the of that event, and the phenomena which other. Even if they were dissolved in the may be considered as its effects, are con- waters by which they were overflowed, how fined to the upper strata alone, and to the does it happen that the fossils should have marks of recent diluvial action which the resisted its influence? The matter of which earth bears upon its surface. But, at least they are in great part composed has a far judging by the ordinary laws of natural greater affinity for water than the stony agency, it is very different with those or- matter in which they are enveloped; how ganic remains which are buried more than can we believe that they were preserved a thousand feet deep in the hardest rocks, uninjured while the more stubborn material and which in many instances are covered was compelled to yield? Again, if the by overlying strata of a flinty hardness, remains of organic life in the various priwhich no passing flood of waters could mary and secondary rocks be owing to such possibly penetrate, and particularly a flood a cause, how can we account for their orof such short duration as that of Noah. derly and regular distribution? They are Moreover, the effects of this deluge must not found in any part of the earth in that necessarily have been mechanical. If it confused and disorderly mass to which they produced any chemical effects it could have would be reduced by such a violent mebeen but in a very small degree. It would chanical agitation. Each stratum has its be able to transport large beds of gravel own peculiar fossils. Some of these strata from one region to another; to scoop out have been broken and disturbed by some deep channels for itself through beds that powerful subterranean movement, before had previously been horizontal, or to en- the incumbent strata were deposited. Many large valleys that had been partially opened of the fossils are found in the same spot in before. It might abrade the sharp corners which they grew. They are all found alof stones by friction, and make the granite most as scientifically arranged, according rock, many tons weight, round as the peb- to their genera and species, throughout the ble of the running brook. It might sever different formations, as they would be in an island from the mainland to which it the museum of a naturalist-the most anwas joined, or lower the level of a large cient and the extinct species in the lower, tract of country, by transporting elsewhere the recent and existing species in the upthe clay and sand of which it was in great per strata of the earth. Moreover it is evpart composed. But here its effects must ident to any one who has observed the reend. It might disturb, but not create. It lative positions of the rocks in many of our might abrade or denude rocks, but it could mountain valleys, that they cannot be owing not make them. If it created, it could only to one and the same cause. The rocks on be by mechanical addition, such as we may the mountain side are generally inclined at suppose to take place in the formation of a a sharp angle to the horizon, while the valbank of sand or gravel. But without sup-ley is occupied by a horizontal bed of limeposing preternatural agency, we cannot stone. The latter must be more modern conceive such power in the Noachian flood than the other, because it is incumbent upas would be sufficient to dissolve or disturb, on it, and cannot be owing to the same or affect to any considerable degree, a bed cause,-unless we maintain that the early of rock thousands of miles in geographical | rocks were reduced to a state of disinte
gration, and then with all its fossils solidi-ers of revelation have been unwilling to fied; that after this process was performed, rest their cause upon this event alone, and it was upheaved from a horizontal position have sought the solution of terrestrial pheand fractured by repeated concussions; and nomena in other and earlier principles of then, and not till then, that the limestone action. It is quite possible and very probwas deposited, which is made up of differ- able that many of the sedimentary deposits ent materials, and contains organic re- which have attracted the attention of geomains altogether distinct from the other; logists, were produced by the slow and and that all these mighty changes took gradual operation of the laws of nature, place in the short space of three months, during the long period of nearly two thouwhich the Noachian deluge lasted. We sand years, which elapsed between the creneed hardly say that such a supposition ation and the deluge. It is quite possible seems very difficult to be admitted on the that many extensive tracts of land that now recognized principles of science, and ac- form parts of our continents, were during cording to the ordinary manner in which the this period submerged, and being below laws of nature are now known to operate. the level of the antediluvian ocean, became We have said that upon the recognized covered by the deposits, which, on the principles of science, and according to the subsidence of the waters, were found ordinary laws of nature, the deluge will hardened into stone. Great pressure and not account for these phenomena. But we altered circumstances of temperature will should not forget that the ordinary laws of produce results in an incredibly short time, nature are not always observed. There which otherwise would require long periods are circumstances and times in which the for their production. Thus a piece of Supreme Being deviates from these laws, wood which by accident remained immersed and for His own wise ends brings into ac- in the boiler of a steam engine, and subtion mighty and energetic powers, which jected to the enormous pressure exerted by are "not dreamt of in our philosophy." the elastic vapor, was found by professor Such there have been at more than one Liebig to have been almost converted into period of the world's history. Is it for us! coal in the space of a few hours. to shorten His arm, or to measure the mar- The great difficulty presented by the vellous works which in His justice, or in phenomena of the geological world, is the His mercy, He may think fit to achieve? amount of time said to be necessary for The very deluge itself cannot be accounted their production. This difficulty, however, for by the existing laws that regulate the arises in great measure from the supposiworld, how much less the numberless con- tion that the intensity of the forces in action sequences which such an event must have at present in the earth, is precisely or nearly brought with it, or the physical anomalies the same as at the former and earlier which it must have left behind it in its periods. This supposition seems to us not course? How many mighty forces must only gratuitous, but even opposed to expehave operated to produce that one result, rience. We know, for instance, and are which swept away the millions of living men; assured on unquestionable and admitted destroyed, with a few exceptions, every form authority, that the duration of human life of animal, it may be of vegetable, existence, in the early periods of its existence, was and swelled in one tremendous flood over the prolonged to almost an incredible extent. hills and mountains of the earth. How much There is no law at present known to us of geological derangement and of concussion which could account for the longevity of the of the earth's crust, must have taken place Patriarchs. An individual nine hundred when the fountains of the great deep were years old, would in our days be looked on broken up, and the cataracts of heaven not only as a curiosity, but as a miracle, poured down their rushing flood upon the yet such was almost the ordinary duration abodes of men! When such mighty and of human life in its primeval condition. supernatural causes were called into opera- How greatly must the law that regulates tion, and such confessedly miraculous pow- the duration and condition of animal exisers were employed, it would be difficult as tence have altered since then! And if in it would be hazardous to say what physical one instance, why not in many more? Is phenomena may not, and could not, have it not unsafe to measure the period necesbeen produced. But yet, while admitting sary for the production of genera and spethe possibility of these diluvial conse- cies in former times, by the same standard quences, many of the advocates and defend- which we apply at present? There is no OCTOBER, 1844. 13
point more warmly debated by modern geolo gists, than the question of the identity of the present causes of change upon the earth's surface, with those of the olden time. Yet it is in a great measure on this controverted ground, that the Scriptural difficulties are raised.
that the facts which it exhibits to his view, must ever be in accordance with those that God has revealed. It is in this spirit that the best and wisest men have compared the inspired Word with the works which that Word records. From the earliest times Again, should the believing mind, with the details of the creation have been an many eminent geologists of the Italian interesting subject of inquiry, and the school, rest on the plain statement and lit-learning and ingenuity of many of the eral words of the inspired narration, what difficulty has it to fear? Should the scriptural student receive the Mosaic statement, as it has so long been received, and say that the earth came such as it is from the hands of its Maker, and that the various and wondrous phenomena of the geological world formed, in the designs of His wise and far-seeing economy, part of the furniture with which it was to be adorned, what inconsistency or inconvenience would it involve? Clearly none. Its Almighty Creator could have done so, if it were His will. He could have His own wise ends, though we may not be able to discover them. The smallest infusoria of the chalk may be intended to show forth His power and glory, albeit that it never had a tenant within its diminutive walls, as perfectly as the scientific geologist who presumes to dictate to Him what His ends and arrangements ought to be, in the formation of the universe. Would it answer no wise ends to teach us humility and distrust of our own powers? would it not be worthy of Him, in his material as in his spiritual dispensa tions, to lead all understanding captive and make it obedient to His own? Would it be incompatible with His attributes, to try our faith and docility, by inculcating a salutary distrust of ourselves? Is there not some such purpose implied in the words of Scripture: "Mundum tradidit disputationibus eorum ut non cognoscat homo opus, quod operatus est usque ad finem."
While the believer has this principle to rely on, he need fear nothing from the fluctuating systems of Philosophy, if the conflicting, uncertain theories which have been put forward, even in our time, may deserve the name. The Mosaic record has survived the fall of many once popular hypotheses; it is destined to survive the fall of many more. But while the Christian's faith in the veracity of its statements, is firm and unchanging, it is yet permitted him to look abroad over the face of nature, and in its truths and harmonies to contemplate other forms of the Divine power, than what are witnessed there, knowing
Fathers have been employed in discussing the mode and order in which that creation was achieved. Since the science of geology began to be cultivated, and to occupy so large a share of public attention, this branch of scriptural knowledge has attracted the notice, and enlisted the services, of many of our most able Christian writers. It was matter not only of interest, but of importance, to ascertain how far the book of Genesis will permit us to go to meet the requirements of philosophy. But in proposing to our readers the several interpretations which have been adopted to reconcile geological appearances with the sacred writings, we would impress on them, in conformity with the advice of St. Thomas, not to pin their faith on any. We adopt them only as hypotheses, which the Scripture leaves us at liberty to receive, should the strong evidence of facts (real, not imaginary) render it necessary to deviate from the literal and popular meaning of the account of the work of the six days. Much inconvenience, and not a little of evil has arisen from adhering to mere opinions, however widely received, as if they were part of the deposit of the faith entrusted to us. We know that the opinions of good and wise men, and the universal belief of mankind, before the time of Copernicus, with respect to the relative positions of the parts of our planetary system, did not prevent the reception of his hypothesis, when the advance of scientific knowledge rendered it necessary. And in like manner, the popular belief with respect to the work of the six days, ought not to prevent us from adopting any other supposition not opposed to the Divine word, should the strong evidence of facts, and the advance of sound knowledge render such a change imperative. We shall always hail the progress of real knowledge, and rejoice in the manifestation of the truth.
A third method of reconciling these phenomena with the Mosaic narrative, may be said to date its origin from the time of St. Augustine, if not earlier. Though in one part of his writings he seems of opinion,
and do all thy works, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day, therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it."
that the formation of the world, with all geology, and was at one period the most various adornment, was instantaneous, and rational and satisfactory solution of the difthat the six days were but the successive ficulties we encountered, which presented manifestations of God's works to the heav-itself to our own minds.* enly intelligencies; yet in his City of God, But we confess that we had always some he suggests that the six days of creation reluctance to stray so far from the literal were long periods of time, at the ending of meaning of the text. It is true that the which the earth was subjected to some word is often used in other significations great change, and became the theatre of than a mere solar day, but it is always in a some new display of the creative power. manner that can leave us no doubt as to its This interpretation, which for many centu- real meaning. There is something in the ries lay almost neglected in the pages of context to define its signification. The the holy father, adverted to, but not ap- morning and evening of the first days of the proved by the commentators, was by many creation mean the same thing, and are inadopted when the requirements of geology tended to denote the same duration of time, seemed to demand some modification of the as the morning and evening of the fifth and previously and popularly received account sixth days. They are used it as it were by anof the creation. It was adopted by many ticipation. If Moses meant to express the writers both Protestant and Catholic, and actual duration of twenty-four hours, what is sufficient to account for the existing ap- other more precise words could he make pearance of things; and as these periods use of? Moreover in the twentieth chapare undetermined, sufficient time is afforded ter of Exodus, when he is enforcing the for any duration which the necessities of Sabbatical precept, he makes no distinction geology require, and it has the additional between the days of the week and those of advantage of presenting to us the works of the creation, "Six days shalt thou labor creation in precisely the same order as they are disclosed to us by the succession of strata, and the development of organic life. The only obstacle to its admission seems to be the generally admited acceptation of the word " day," and the difficulty of deviating so far from its ordinary meaning. But we should, at the same time, recollect that the word day is often employed in a wider and more extended signification It is sometimes, as in Job, applied to express the entire life of man; in other places it means a year. In the very second chapter of Genesis it is used to express the entire time of creation. "These are the genera tions of the heavens and the earth, in the day that the Lord God made the heavens and the earth." This extension of its meaning is employed in several other passages. It is not limited to the duration of a solar day, by the words morning and evening, with which it is said to be synonymous. For there could be no rising or setting of the sun, and therefore, no inorning or evening before the sun was made, which was only on the fourth day. There is, therefore, no absolute and insurmountable difficulty in our interpret-centioribus theologis atque interpretibus tuentur, Hanc expositionem quam non pauci ex reing the word day to mean a period of time, which was occupied in the production of certain events upon the earth, and which is commensurate with the rise and decline of a definite order of existence upon its surface. This interpretation is able, to a certain extent, to meet all the requirements of
Nondum exploratum est, utrum sex dies de quibus, Gen. i. est sermo in enarranda rerum creationem sint revera sex dies naturales, an potius, sex indeterminatæ atque indefinitæ, plurium aut dierum aut annorum periodi, patroni hujus posterioris sen tentiædicunt. Si nons olum Philoni Judeo, sed et Clementi Alex. Origeni.' Procopio Gazendi creationis allegorice interpretari, ac totum creatiac presertim Augustino licuit salva fide sex dies onis opus momento temporis expletum asserere, si absque temeritatis nota Sanctus Eucherius Lugdunensis, Tonti, Serry, Macedo, Berti aliique eandem sententiam tueri potuerunt, si non admodum difficilem expositionem primi Geneseos capitis, Cajetanus et Melchior Canus impune dederunt, aperte consequitur, nihil obesse quo minus expositio de sex periodis indeterminatis, admittatur, eo magis quod S. Augustinus speciatim doceat, creationis, sic enim loquitur. De Civ. Dei, lib. i nil temere pronunciandum, circa naturam dierum cap. 6. Qui dies cujusmodi sint, aut perdifficile nobis, aut etiam impossbile est cogitare, quanto magis dicere?'
nos neque amplectimus neque respuimus. Hoc unum nobis est in præsentia dicere, ejusmodi sententiam, non solum salva fide sed etiam absque temeritatis nota defendi posse."-Perrone Theologia, vol. iii. p. 82.
We should suppose it unnecessary to remind our readers that F. Perrone is the professor of theology in the Roman College.
If the meaning were not the same, how | and that the world was older than he was could the analogy hold good, cr where wont to believe? Having obtained suffiwould be the legality of his inference? cient evidence, would he not be justified in We should therefore be disposed to pre-disconnecting statements which, in his igfer another interpretation which we per- norance, he had supposed to be immediceive to be rapidly gaining ground among ately consequent upon one another? It is no Catholic theologians. According to this unusual thing in Scripture to have events supposition, the six days were of ordinary thus intimately connected in the narrative, solar duration, and the greater part of the which were separated by others, and which phenomena of geology were produced be- occurred only after long and distant interfore they commenced, and during a period vals; and our Scripture readers will not which may have elapsed between the begin-fail to bring many such to their recollecning, when all things were called forth, tion. The object of the Mosaic narrative, from nothing, and the formation of the as we before observed, was man. present order of things, as described in the vicissitudes by which the earth was remotefirst chapter of Genesis. It disconnects, in ly prepared for his reception, did not immethe order of time, the first verse from those diately appertain to its purpose, and may that immediately follow, and maintains that have been, perhaps, therefore omitted, as it a long and to us immeasurable, interval omits any mention of the angelic spirits, of took place between them. The present for-their creation, their attributes, their partial mation of the earth is related immediately defection, and forfeiture of their glorious after the creation, but it is not necessary inheritance. These are intimately confor us to believe that it was immediately nected with man; they are united in many consequent thereon. "In the beginning and close relations with him, and have God created the heavens and the earth is many important functions to discharge in the prelude by which the sacred writer the Divine economy; yet is there no mencommences his narrative, and in which he tion of them in the record of the Divine vindicates the power and sovereignty of creations. How much less surprising it is, God. But how far that event preceded the that Moses should have passed over in sievents recorded the in next sentence, or lence other less important, and less noble how many revolutions of animal and vegeta- forms of existence, and made no mention of ble life may have taken place upon its sur- the Iguanodon, and the Pterodactylus, and face, or by how many dread and fearful the Plesiosaurus, or the other monsters of convulsions these changes were brought the olden time. The creation of all the about, it is not given to us to know. Com-constituent parts of the material world, we pare the beginning of Genesis with the be- believe to have been instantaneous; its ginning of the Gospel of St. John, and how subsequent organization to have been va striking is the resemblance between them? rious and successive,-produced and deIf the words of the apostle were the only stroyed at different times, and it may be, record of the antecedent world that reach for anything that we know, regulated by ed our time, if the documents of sacred and laws of combination and of motion, differprofane history were destroyed, would it ent in intensity, if not in kind, from anynot be as rational to conclude, that the thing now in existence; though this differmission of the Baptist followed immediately ence can be, with our present knoweledge, or shortly after the beginning there men- nothing more than a conjecture. The sitioned, as to infer that the work of the six multaneous creation of the constituent parts days followed immediately on the creation of the material universe, seems to be declarof the world? If a traveller, with no know-ed by the words of Ecclesiastes, "crealedge of an earlier order of things, and no vit omnia simul," and in the words of the other document to guide him, were to be fourth Council of Lateran, held under Innocast on the shores of Egypt, and to contem-cent III.: "Firma fide credendum est, plate for the first time the monuments of Deum ab initio temporis, simul utramque the cities of the Nile, and the wondrous de nihilo condidisse naturam, spiritualem achievements of the Pharaohs, would he not et corpoream, Angelicam et mundanam." be justified infering that these were then conformity with this express and solemn, works of men who lived before that period, and we should think, decisive declaration, A. Lapide, in his interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, says, "Deus proprie primo die tantum creavit omnia creauda,
* See the Theses Theologica prefixed to this