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Title: The Story of Creation as told by Theology and by Science

Author: T. S. Ackland

Release Date: October, 2003  [Etext #4598]
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[This file was first posted on February 13, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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The History of the Creation with which the Bible commences, is not
a mere incidental appendage to God's Revelation, but constitutes
the foundation on which the whole of that Revelation is based.
Setting forth as it does the relation in which man stands to God
as his Maker, and to the world which God formed for his abode, it
forms a necessary introduction to all that God has seen fit to
reveal to us with reference to His dispensations of Providence and
of Grace.

It is, however, not uncommonly asserted that this history cannot
be reconciled with a vast number of facts which modern science has
revealed to us, and with theories based on observed facts, and
recommended by the unquestioned ability of the men by whom they
have been brought forward. At first sight there does seem to be
some ground for this assertion. Geology, for instance, makes us
acquainted with strata of rock of various kinds, arranged in exact
order, and of an aggregate thickness of many miles, which are
filled with the remains of a wonderful series of plants and
animals, these remains not being promiscuously collected, but
arranged in an unvarying order. It seems impossible that all these
plants and animals could have lived and died, and been imbedded in
the rocks in this exact succession, in six of our ordinary days.
Astronomy directs our attention to changes now going on in the
starry heavens which occupy ages in their development, and points
to traces in the constitution of our own world which seem to
indicate that it was formed by analogous means. Physiology reveals
to us the fact that the different varieties of plants and animals
now in existence are not separated from each other by well defined
lines of demarcation, but shade into each other by almost
imperceptible gradations; and geological researches show that
while the existing species of animals are the representatives of
those which lived and died at a period in which we can find no
traces of man, they are not identical with them, but that either
the old species must have died out, and been replaced by a fresh
creation, or a considerable change must have taken place in the
course of ages. These facts are held to be incompatible with the
account of creation given by Moses, and hence it is inferred that
a record, which appears to be so widely at variance with admitted
facts, cannot be entitled to the authority which is claimed for
it, as a fundamental portion of a Revelation made by the Creator

This difficulty is sometimes met by the assertion that the Bible
was not given to us to teach us Science, but to convey to us
certain information which was essential to our moral welfare, and
which we could not obtain by any other means; that these
discrepancies do not in any way interfere with that portion of
those truths which is involved in the History of Creation, but
that, however the narrative may be viewed as far as regards its
details, the facts that God is the Creator of all things visible
and invisible, that He is a Being of infinite Wisdom, Power, and
Love, and that He has placed man in a peculiar relation to
Himself, remain unaffected. On this ground it is often urged that
we may pass over scientific inaccuracies as matters of no great

Theologians are by no means agreed as to the nature and limits of
that inspiration by which Holy Scripture was written. There are
many who think that in matters purely incidental to its main
object, and lying within the reach of human faculties, the sacred
writers were left to the ordinary sources of information, and that
many alleged difficulties may be removed by this view.

But whatever may be thought of the application of this hypothesis
to some parts of the Bible, there are others to which it is
plainly inapplicable, and of these the narrative of the Creation
is evidently one. No theory of limited inspiration can be admitted
to explain any supposed inaccuracies in that narrative. It cannot
be liable to those imperfections which are inevitable when men
have to obtain knowledge by the ordinary means, because there were
no ordinary means by which such information could be obtained. The
most carefully preserved records, the oldest traditions could not
extend backwards beyond the moment when the first man awoke to
conscious existence. For every thing beyond that point the only
source of knowledge available was information derived from the
Creator Himself. It may be that a revelation of this character was
made to Adam in the days of his innocence, that it was carefully
handed down to his descendants, and that Moses, under the divine
direction, incorporated it into his history; or it may have been
directly communicated to Moses by special inspiration--that
matters not--but a divine revelation it must have been, or it is
nothing; the dream of a poet, or the theory of a philosopher, if
we can believe that such a philosopher existed at such a time. But
if it be indeed a revelation from the Creator Himself, we cannot
imagine that He could fall into any error, or sanction any
misrepresentation with reference even to the smallest detail of
His own work.

If then there are really any errors in this record--any assertions
which the discoveries of science have proved to be untrue, we
cannot account for them on any theory of limited inspiration. A
single proved error would be fatal to the authority of the whole
narrative. But, on the other hand, we are not justified in
expecting such an account of the Creation as would commend itself
to the scientific intellect of the present day. When we attempt to
form a judgment upon it. We must look not only to its alleged
author, but also to the purposes for which, the circumstances
under which, and the persons to whom it was given. In these we may
expect to meet with many limitations. It was not designed for the
communication of scientific knowledge, it was necessarily conveyed
in human language, and addressed to human intelligence, that
language and that intelligence being, not as they are now, but as
they were, taking the latest possible date that can be assigned to
it, considerably more than three thousand years ago.

This last consideration affects not only the record itself, but
also our facilities for understanding and forming a judgment upon
it. We have to contend with difficulties of interpretation arising
from our inability fully to realize the circumstances under which
it was given, and to place ourselves in the mental position of its
original recipients. Owing to our want of this power it may well
happen, that though we are in possession of vastly increased
knowledge, we may be far more liable to fall into error in some
directions, in the interpretation of it, than those to whom it was
originally addressed.

An additional difficulty arises from the circumstance that our
knowledge, wonderfully as it has been increased of late, is yet
very far from complete, and is probably in many cases still mixed
with error. Hence it may very well happen that where there is
complete harmony between the history and the facts, we may suspect
discord owing to our misunderstanding of the record, or our
misconception of the facts. In order that the harmony may be
recognized in its fulness, there must be a perfect understanding
of the record, and a perfect knowledge of the facts. But from both
of these we are probably at present very far removed.

If a person who was a thorough master of some science undertook to
write a treatise for the purpose of teaching children the
rudiments of that science, we should expect, and the more strongly
if the author were a master of language as well as of science,
that his work should contain indications of a master's hand. We
should expect that while the book conveyed clearly and simply to
the minds of those for whom it was written, the truths which it
was intended to teach, it should also convey to the more educated
reader some intimations of a deeper knowledge on the part of its
author. The choice of a word, the turn of a phrase, the order in
which facts were arranged, the occurrence here and there of a
sentence which an ordinary reader would pass over as unimportant,
would to such a person be indications of trains of thought far
more profound than those which appeared on the surface. And this
recognition would be proportional to two things--the amount of
scientific knowledge possessed by the reader, and his mastery of
the language in which the book was written.

Such, then, are the characteristics which we may expect to find in
the Record of Creation, if it be indeed, as we believe, a
revelation from God, made to men in a very low stage of
intellectual development. In order that we may be able to form a
satisfactory judgment of it, it will be well for us to consider a
little in detail two classes of difficulties. 1. Those which
belong to the Revelation itself, arising from the limitations to
which it was necessarily subject in its delivery. 2. Those which
arise from our imperfect knowledge of the language in which it is
written, and from our inability to place ourselves in the
intellectual position of those to whom it was originally given.

1. When this record was committed to writing, language was in a
very different condition from that in which it is now. We have an
account of the first recorded exercise of the faculty of speech in
Gen. ii. 19. Adam first used it to give names to all the living
creatures as they passed in review before him. In accordance with
this statement it appears, from the researches of philologists,
that language in its earliest state was entirely, or almost
entirely limited to words denoting sensible objects and actions.
It seems probable that these names were derived from radicals
expressing general ideas [Footnote: Max Muller's Lectures on the
Science of Language, First Series Lect. viii. ix.]; but there is
reason to doubt whether these radicals ever had a formal existence
as words--they seem rather to have been the mental stock out of
which words were produced. But the human mind had from the first
powers for the exercise of which this limited vocabulary was
insufficient. Even in the outer world there was much which was the
object of reason and inference rather than of sense, while the
whole world of consciousness was entirely unprovided with the
means of expression. To meet this difficulty words, which
originally denoted objects of sense, were used figuratively to
express ideas which bore some resemblance or analogy, real or
fancied, to their original significance. As time passed on this
difficulty was gradually diminished: synonyms crept into all
languages from various sources, and when once adopted, they were
in many cases gradually differentiated, the various senses which
the original word had borne were portioned off among them, and
increased precision was thus obtained.

But in the infancy of mankind the figurative system was in full
operation. Hence, all early documents have a strong tinge of the
poetic element. Poetry, strictly so called, probably had not as
yet a separate existence; but the whole spoken and written
language was permeated by that poetic spirit which delights in
tracing subtle analogies, and in expressing the invisible by means
of the visible. The translation of the Sanscrit Hymns, which has
recently appeared [Footnote: Hymns of the Big Veda Sanhita,
translated by Max Muller, vol. i.], furnishes a most valuable
illustration of this state of thought and of language. These hymns
are probably nearly coeval with the Pentateuch. They were the
production of a different branch of the human family, and indicate
a different tone of thought, but they bring out very clearly the
figurative character of primitive language, abounding in fanciful
descriptions of natural phenomena, which, when their metaphorical,
character was forgotten, passed by an easy transition into the
graceful myths and legends of early Greece.

Then there was a poverty in these primitive vocabularies even in
reference to sensible objects, which in many cases rendered it
necessary to employ the same word in more or less extensive
significations, and in the Semitic languages the power of
inflexion was in some directions very limited. This limitation is
most remarkable in the forms used for the expression of time. One
form alone was available to express those modifications which are
indicated by the imperfect, perfect, pluperfect, and aorist tenses
of the classical languages.

Instances of all these sources of uncertainty meet us very early
in Genesis. In the very first verse we have a word, [Hebrew
script], which has great latitude of meaning. It is either the
earth as a whole (ver. 1), or the land as distinguished from the
water (ver. 10), or a particular country (ii. 11). In many cases,
as in all these, the context at once determines the sense to be
chosen; but there are other cases in which considerable difficulty
arises. The whole question of the universality of the deluge
turns, in a great degree, upon the signification which is assigned
to this same word in the sixth and following chapters. In the
second verse we have another word, [Hebrew script], which is
capable of various interpretations. It is used throughout the
Bible in the three distinct meanings of "wind," "breath," and
"spirit." Where we read, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the
face of the waters," the Jewish paraphrase is, "And a wind of God
(i.e. a great wind) moved," &c. Here there is nothing in the
context to assist us in determining the sense to be chosen; but,
as will be seen in the sequel, modern science indicates that the
Jewish interpretation is untenable, and that our translation is,
consequently, the correct one. As an instance of confusion of
time, we may refer to ii. 19. In our translation this verse seems
to place the creation of animals after that of man; but in xii. 1,
the very same form is translated by the pluperfect, "Now the Lord
had said unto Abram." It ought evidently to be translated in the
same way here: "And out of the ground the Lord God had formed,"
&c. In ii. 5, on the other hand, the pluperfect might with
advantage have given place to another form: "For the Lord God did
not cause it to rain." The phenomenon referred to appears to have
been local and temporary. Had the pluperfect been omitted in one
case and supplied in the other two sources of apparent difficulty
would have been removed.

It is very clear, then, that there could be no approach to
scientific accuracy in a narrative written in such a language as
this. Such accuracy is, in fact, attainable only in proportion, as
science has moulded language for its own purposes. But language is
at all times an index of the general mental condition of the
people who use it, and so the knowledge and the ideas of the men
of these primitive times must have been extremely limited in all
those directions with which we have to do. Accordingly, we find no
trace of any doubt whether the information with reference to
external objects which was received through the senses was in all
cases to be depended on. There can be little doubt that to those
early observers the sky was a solid vault, on the face of which
the sun, moon, and planets moved in their appointed courses; the
stars were points of light, golden studs in the azure canopy; the
sun and moon were just as large as they appeared to be, and the
earth was a solid immovable plane of comparatively small extent.
At the time of the Exodus, it seems clear that, even among a
people so far advanced as the Egyptians, all that lay beyond the
mountains which bounded their land on the west was believed to
belong not to living men, but to disembodied spirits. It was the
terrible country through which the souls of the departed made
their arduous way to the Hall of Judgment [Footnote: "The Nations
Around," pp. 49, 50.] Accordingly, we find that the Egyptians made
no attempt to extend the limits of their empire in this direction,
while the monarchs of the Mesopotamian region seem to have been
equally unambitious of conquest beyond the mountain ranges which
bounded the valley of the Tigris on the east. Mesopotamia, then,
on the east, Egypt on the west, Armenia and Asia Minor on the
north, and Arabia on the south, seem, in the view of the
contemporaries of Moses, to have been the utmost regions of the
world. Ignorant as they were of any countries beyond these, they
were, of course, equally ignorant of the numberless varieties of
plants and animals that were to be found in them, and with which
we are familiar. Mining was not unknown, but the mines were few
and superficial; they could not reveal much of the structure of
the earth, and what little they did reveal passed unnoticed.
Nothing was known of the successive beds of rock which form the
crust of the earth, of the fossils with which they abound, or of
the gradual changes to Which they are still subject. If any one
had told the men of that generation that the solid earth on which
they stood, or the everlasting hills which surrounded them, were
undergoing slow but steady modifications, he would have been
looked upon as a madman.

A revelation, then, addressed to men whose language, whose
intellectual powers, and whose stock of ideas were thus limited,
must of itself also necessarily have been both limited and
destitute of precision. It could only deal with things with which
they had some acquaintance, or of which they could form some idea,
while, from the character of the language, and the extreme brevity
of the record, the treatment of even these few subjects must have
been of a vague and indefinite character. Traces of a deeper
knowledge there might be, but they would not lie upon the surface.
They must be carefully sought for, and then they would be
discernible only by those who were in possession of the key which
would unlock their hidden secrets.

Such are the limitations under which the revelation was
necessarily given. We have now to consider our own especial
difficulties, the obstacles which stand in our way when we would
discover for ourselves all the information which the record is
capable of conveying. For if this record be, as we believe, the
work of the Great Architect of the Universe, then it is probable
that its every detail is significant; that wherever it was
possible words were chosen which, when scrutinized, would convey
much more information than appeared on the surface. The great
problem for us to solve is, What are the difficulties which stand
in our way when we would seek this knowledge, and what are the
means by which those difficulties may be surmounted, and the
hidden treasure displayed?

Our first difficulty arises from a matter which, viewed in another
light, is one of our greatest blessings. We are familiar with the
Record through the medium of our own noble version. Probably it is
impossible for any translation more exactly to represent the
original as it presented itself in the first instance to the minds
of those to whom it was addressed. Accordingly we learn it in our
earliest childhood; its majestic phrases imprint themselves on our
memory; our undeveloped minds seem capable of taking in all that
it was intended to convey, and so the impressions formed of it in
our infancy abide with us all our days. We are contented with
them, and do not trouble ourselves to inquire whether there is not
something beyond, which we have not realized.

All this time we forget that, excellent as it is, it is after all
only a translation, and that the very best translation cannot
represent in their fulness the ideas embodied in the original.
Etymological relations between words often give a force and
meaning to a sentence which it is impossible to transfuse into
another language, because the same relations do not exist between
the words which we are constrained to employ. Then there is an
intimate relation between men's thoughts and the language which
they habitually use, so that those thoughts cannot be perfectly
expressed in a language whose character is different. Again in
every language there are many words which bear several cognate
senses, which may be represented by as many different words in the
language of the translation; so that if the best word is chosen,
much of the fulness of the original must be lost; while it may so
happen that the selected word has also a variety of
significations, which do not correspond with the varying meanings
of the original word, and thus senses may be ascribed to the
original which it will not bear, because the reader annexes to the
word in the translation a sense different from that in which it
corresponds to the original word. To all these sources of
imperfection must be added the fact that our translation was made
at a time when science was not yet sufficiently developed to
exercise any influence upon it. There was nothing to induce the
translators to attempt, where it was possible, to preserve any
indications of a deeper meaning, because they had no reason to
suspect that any such deeper meaning existed, or that any
indications of such a meaning were to be found.

To the difficulties of translation must be added the difficulties
of accumulated tradition. The characteristics which mark our own
childish intellect are apparent also in the collective intellect
of the human race in its earlier and ruder development. There are
two characteristics of the human mind in this condition, which
have had a very great effect on the interpretation of this portion
of the Bible.

The first of these is the impatience of doubt and uncertainty. The
power of recognizing the imperfection of our knowledge, and the
consequent necessity of suspending our judgment, is a power which
is only gradually acquired with the accumulation of experience.
The young untrained mind finds it difficult to realize the truth
that any information communicated to it is not altogether within
the grasp of its faculties. It must attach some definite meaning
to the words; it must image to itself some way in which great
events were brought about, great works were accomplished. It finds
it difficult to realize a fact as accomplished, unless it can also
picture to itself some way in which it might have been effected.
For this purpose such knowledge as it has at its command is
employed, and where that fails recourse is had to the imagination
to supply the deficiency. Thus it has been with ourselves in our
childhood, and thus it was in the childhood of the world.
Knowledge was indeed sought, but it was not sought in the right
way, and so the search often resulted in error, and this error
produced its effect in the interpretation of the passage in
question. The old school of inquirers started from certain
abstract principles, and endeavoared to reduce the results of
observation to conformity with those principles. This was the case
with astronomy. The old astronomers taking as axioms the two
assumptions that everything connected with the heavenly bodies
must be perfect, and that the circle is the only perfect figure,
easily satisfied themselves that the orbits of all the heavenly
bodies must be circles. Hence came the

    "Cycle on epicycle, orb on orb,"

by which they sought to account for the phenomena which they
observed. When once the method was changed, when once it had
occurred to Kepler that, as it seemed to be impossible to account
for the apparent motion of Mars by any theory of circular orbits,
it might be worth while to try to ascertain by observation what
its orbit really was, a few years of patient labour sufficed to
solve the problem.

It was science such as this, then, that our forefathers brought to
the interpretation of the Mosaic Record, and the consequence was
that when, from time to time, facts were casually brought to light
which might have led the way to vast discoveries, their true
significance was never discerned; all that was sought from them
was some additional support to the old views. Thus sometimes
gigantic bones were exhumed: without investigation, it was at once
assumed that they were human bones, and they were brought forward
to prove the truth of the statement, "There were also giants in
the earth in those days." Sea-shells were found on mountain sides,
far from and high above the sea--they were evidences of the

The second characteristic of that state of mind is its admiration
of the startling and the vast. In these alone it recognizes the
tokens of unlimited power. It is unable to appreciate those more
majestic manifestations of power which are discerned by the
enlightened eye, when a stupendous scheme is developed, gradually
and imperceptibly, but without pause or hesitation through a long
succession of ages; when a multitude of seemingly discordant
elements are at last brought together in a perfect work; when a
power, unseen and unnoticed, slowly but surely overrules the
working of ten thousand apparently independent agents, through a
thousand generations, and moulds their separate works into one
harmonious whole. Such a manifestation of power as this was beyond
the grasp of the untrained mind; but to such intellects there was
something irresistibly fascinating in the idea of a world rising
into perfect existence in a moment, of innumerable hosts of living
creatures called into being at a word. Such was the meaning of the
account of creation which naturally suggested itself to the
untrained mind, and there was nothing in science in those early
days to throw any doubt upon it, and so this belief was
unhesitatingly and almost universally adopted. Here and there,
indeed, some man of deeper thought than his brethren, such as St.
Augustine [Footnote: See St. Augustine, "De Genesi ad Literam,"
Liber Imperfectus, and Libri Duodecim, and also "Confessionum"
Liber xiii.], suspected that there might be more in that seemingly
simple record than was generally acknowledged; but such men had no
means of verifying their conjectures, and their number was very
small. For three thousand years the old view was practically
unquestioned, it received the tacit sanction of the Church, it
gradually became identified in the minds of all with the record
itself, and was as much an article of faith as the very Creed.

This was the state of things, when at last science awoke from its
long slumber, and began for the first time to employ its energies
in the right direction. Very soon discoveries were made which
startled the minds of all believers in the Bible. The first shock
which the old belief sustained was from the establishment of the
Copernican view of the Solar System. That the world was the
immovable centre of the universe, around which sun, moon, and
planets moved in their appointed courses, was universally held to
be the express teaching of the Bible; and when Galileo ventured to
maintain the new views in Italy, the Roman Curia took up the
question, and by the agency of the Inquisition wrung from him a
reluctant retractation of his so-called heresy. But it was of no
avail. The new doctrine was true, and it could not be crushed.
Fresh evidence of its truth was continually coming forward, till
at last it was universally received. Then the defenders of the
Bible had recourse to the suggestion that as the Bible was not
intended to teach us science, such errors were of no consequence,
But this argument, though perfectly sound with reference to such
passages as Joshua x. 12-14, where an event is described as it
appeared to those who witnessed it, is not admissible in such a
passage as Psalm xcvi. 10, where the supposed immobility of the
earth is alleged as a proof of God's sovereignty, and is made the
foundation of the duty of proclaiming that sovereignty among the
heathen. When the supposed proof was found to be a fallacy, the
statement in support of which it was alleged would be more or less
shaken. In such a passage, then, the theory of limited inspiration
is evidently untenable. At last the only sensible course was
adopted. Recourse was had to the original, and it was at once
apparent that the supposed difficulty had no real existence, but
that there was a very trifling inaccuracy in the translation; for
that the word translated "shall not be moved" really signified
"shall not be shaken or totter." The same word is used in Psalm
xvii. 5, "Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps SLIP
NOT." Instead, then, of an error, we have an exact description of
the earth's motion--a motion so steady and equable, that for
thousands of years no single individual out of the myriads who
were continually carried along by it had ever suspected its

Well had it been for all if the lesson thus taught had been deeply
laid to heart. But unhappily it was entirely unnoticed. Science
pursued its way with increasing energy, and more facts were year
by year brought to light which seemed entirely to contradict the
teaching of the Bible, and again alarm and distrust sprung up in
the minds of what, for want of a better name, we may perhaps be
allowed to designate as the "Theological Party." The power of the
Church of Rome was by this time so far curtailed that the old
means of repression were no longer available; but the old spirit
survived, and not in Rome only. There was the same blind distrust,
the same mistaken zeal for supposed truth, the same indignation
which naturally arises when things which we hold precious are
attacked, and, as it seems to us, without any sufficient reason.

There was indeed much to account for and even to justify the
feelings of anger and alarm which were excited, for the time when
these discoveries began to be brought prominently forward was the
latter half of the last century. At that time the famous French
Academy was doing its deadly work, and the new discoveries were
gladly hailed by the infidel philosophers of France, as weapons
against the Bible. But the reception given to these discoveries by
the theological party, though partially justified by the
circumstances of the times, was nevertheless very mischievous in
its results. For though the new discoveries were hailed
enthusiastically by the infidel school, a very large portion of
the men by whom they were made, and of those who were convinced of
their truth, were men of a very different character. They were
simple earnest seekers after truth as it is displayed in God's
works. Their belief in the Bible rested in most cases on the
authority of others. They had not investigated for themselves its
external evidences; in many cases they had neither the ability nor
the opportunity to do so; nor had many of them as yet become
practically familiar with that internal evidence which the
faithful Christian carries within him, though in time they might
have become so, had they not been driven into infidelity by the
reception which was given to their discoveries. When men of this
character were informed by those to whom they were accustomed to
look up as teachers in religious matters, that the discoveries, of
the truth of which they were so firmly convinced, and in which
they took such justifiable pride, were contradictory to the
teaching of the Bible, they were placed in a position of extreme
difficulty. For this statement was, in fact, a demand made upon
them that they should give up these discoveries as erroneous, or
else renounce their belief in the Bible. But their belief in the
Bible rested in the main on the authority of others; they felt
themselves incompetent judges of the evidence on which it rested,
while they were fully acquainted with, and competent judges of,
the grounds on which their own discoveries were based. The
evidence on which they acted was, to their minds, quite as
convincing as the Biblical evidence was to the minds of their
antagonists. Two things, then, were pronounced incompatible by
what seemed to be a competent authority; they could not adhere to
both, and the natural consequence was that their assent was given
to those statements which rested on evidence which they thoroughly
understood, and the Bible was rejected. Thus it has come to pass
that many of our scientific men, if not professed unbelievers,
have yet learnt to look upon the Bible with suspicion and
distrust. To some of them, as is evident from their writings,
their position is a matter of profound sorrow.

There have, indeed, been many noble exceptions to this state of
things. Many men whose pre-eminence in scientific knowledge and
research is admitted by all, have yet clung in childlike trust to
the Bible. They have recognized its authority, they have been
satisfied that God's Word could not be in opposition to His Work,
and they have been content to wait in unquestioning faith for the
day when all that now seems dark and perplexing shall be made
clear. But there have also been very many with whom this has not
been the case, and their unbelief has not affected themselves
alone. The knowledge of it has had a deadly effect upon thousands
who were utterly incompetent to form any judgment on either
theological or scientific subjects, but who gladly welcomed
anything which would help to justify them to their own consciences
in their refusal to submit themselves to a law which, in their
ignorance, they deemed to be harsh and intolerable. There has also
been another class of sufferers. Many persons who loved the Bible,
but whose education, and, consequently, whose powers of judgment
in the matter were very limited, have received very great injury
from the doubt which has been thrown on its authority. Unable of
themselves to form a judgment on the subject, they could not be
unmoved by the opinion expressed by those whom they regarded as
better informed than themselves. Hence their faith has received a
shock always painful and dangerous, often perhaps fatal.

Many attempts have been made to overcome the difficulty which has
thus arisen. When geologists first began to study the lessons
which are to be learnt from fossils, a suggestion was made which,
though it was soon shown to be untenable, has still perhaps a few
supporters. It was said that these fossils were not what they
seemed to be, the remains of creatures which once lived, but
simple stones, fashioned from the first in their present form by
the will of the Creator. But such an idea is at variance with all
that either Nature or Revelation teaches us concerning God. All
those who have any familiarity with the subject cannot but feel
that the suggestion of such a solution of the difficulty is little
short of a suggestion that the Almighty has stamped a lie upon the
face of His own Work.

Another proposed solution, which for a time seemed satisfactory,
assumed several successive creations and destructions of the world
to have taken place in the interval between the first and second
verses of Genesis. To these all the fossil remains were ascribed,
while the present state of things was supposed to be the result of
the operations recorded in the remainder of the chapter. But as
geological knowledge advanced, it soon became clear that there
were no breaks in the chain of life; no points at which one set of
creatures had died out, while another had not yet arisen to fill
up the void, but that all change had been gradual and progressive,
and that species still living on the earth are identical with some
which were in existence when the lowest tertiary strata were in
process of formation--a time which must have been many thousand
years prior to the appearance of man.

Other attempts have been made upon literary grounds. Hugh Miller
[Footnote: Testimony of the Rocks.] carefully worked out a
suggestion derived from a German source, that the history of
Creation was presented to Moses in a series of six visions, which
appeared to him as so many days with intervening nights. More
recently Dr. Rorison [Footnote: In Answers to "Essays and
Reviews."] has maintained that the first chapter of Genesis is not
a history at all, but a poem--"the Hymn of Creation." There is,
however, nothing in the chapter itself to confirm either of these
views. When visions are recorded elsewhere we are told that they
are visions, but no such hint is given us here. Nor do we find in
the passage any of the characteristics of Hebrew poetry. It is
inserted in an Historical document, and in the absence of any
proof to the contrary, it is plainly itself also to be regarded as

But there remains yet one method to be attempted. If there is
reason to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, just as the
universe is His Work, then we may well expect that each of them
will throw light upon and help us to a right understanding of the
other. And if there be one part beyond all others in which this
may be confidently looked for, it is that part in which the Divine
Architect describes His own work. We know how difficult it is to
understand a complicated process, or a complex piece of machinery,
from a mere written description; and how our difficulty is
lessened if we have the opportunity of inspecting the machinery or
the process. Just in the same way we may expect to encounter
difficulties, and to form erroneous conclusions when we study by
itself such a document as the history of Creation, and we may well
expect that those difficulties will be diminished, and those
errors corrected by an examination of that material universe, the
production of which it describes. And, on the other hand, if
science--the study of the universe--is found to throw light upon
and to receive light from the Bible, this is a fresh proof that
the Bible and the universe are from the same source; the authority
of the Bible is more firmly established, and the conclusions
arrived at by men of science are confirmed.

But before this can be done to any good purpose, something is
required from both the contending parties. The theological party
must be prepared to sacrifice many an old opinion, many a
cherished belief. Great care must be taken to discriminate between
the genuine statements of the Mosaic Record, and the old
interpretations which have been incorporated into and identified
with those statements. Some, perhaps, may fear lest, in rejecting
those interpretations, they may be setting at nought an authority
to which they ought to submit, since these interpretations seem to
have the sanction of the Church. But it can hardly be maintained
that those promises of Divine guidance and protection from error
which were given to the Church extended to such matters as this.
No question of faith or duty is involved in the interpretation
which we may give to the details of Creation. If there are some
parts of the Bible in which the earliest interpretation is
unquestionably the true one, there are also other parts, such as
many of the prophecies, which became intelligible only when light
was thrown upon them by subsequent events. And so it seems to be
with the Record of Creation: it can only be rightly understood in
proportion as we become acquainted with the details of the matters
to which it refers. Any interpretation which was put upon it
before those details were brought to light must of necessity be
liable to error.

But something is also required of the opposite party. At the very
threshold of the investigation they must be asked to lay aside, so
far as is possible, those prejudices against the Bible which have
naturally arisen in their minds from the obstinacy with which
views, which they knew to be untenable, have been forced upon
their acceptance as the undoubted teaching of God, so that they
may enter upon the investigation with unbiassed minds. Then they
must be careful to distinguish between established facts, and
theories however probable. There is something very fascinating in
a well constructed theory. Theories have again and again done such
good service in opening the way, first, to the discovery, and then
to the arrangement of facts, that we are very apt to assign to
them an authority far beyond that to which they are really
entitled. When, for instance, we have ascertained that a certain
number of facts are explained by some particular theory, we are
apt to assume prematurely, that the same theory must account for
and be in harmony with all similar and related facts; or, if we
have satisfied ourselves that certain results MAY have been
produced in a particular way, we are in great danger of being led
to conclude that they MUST have happened in that way. No mere
theory can have any weight against a statement resting on solid
evidence, but where the evidence is weak, or, what is practically
the same thing, where the knowledge of that evidence is defective,
a probable theory must carry great weight in influencing our
judgment. Care must therefore be taken to keep theories in their
proper place. Where we have to deal with well-established facts,
any interpretations to which those facts may lead us may be taken
as also established, but interpretations which are suggested by
theories only must be regarded as provisional, and liable to
future modification or rejection, as our knowledge increases.

The Mosaic Record itself, when carefully examined, seems to be
peculiarly open to the process suggested. No doubt there is yet
much work for Philology to do in its interpretation [Footnote:
Such words, for instance, as [Hebrew script:],[Hebrew script:],
[Hebrew script], used of different creative acts, may imply some
difference of which we are ignorant. So again the uses of the
words [Hebrew script], [Hebrew script:], and [Hebrew script:] for
"man," may have a bearing on some of those questions which now
seem most perplexing.], but one thing seems certain--there is in
it an absence of all detail. The facts to which it has reference
are stated in the briefest and most simple manner, without the
slightest reference to the means by which they were effected, or,
apart from the question of the days, the time which was occupied
in their accomplishment. When stripped of all that is traditional,
and examined strictly by itself, the narrative seems greatly to
resemble one of those outline maps which are supplied to children
who are learning geography, on which only a few prominent features
of the country are laid down, and the learner is left to fill in
the details as his knowledge advances. Only in this case the
details have already been filled in by the light of very imperfect
knowledge, aided by a fertile imagination. These we must
obliterate if we would restore the possibility of a faithful
delineation, and we must be careful, in future, to avoid a similar
error. We must put down nothing as certain which has not been
conclusively shown to be so.

This last caution is specially needed at the present time, for,
proud as we are of our advance in science, the amount of what is
certainly known is probably very much less than we imagine. A
great deal that was received as certain a few years ago, is now
considered to be doubtful, or even recognized as a mistake and
abandoned. This is especially the case with Astronomy, which seems
to be almost in a state of revolution. Dependent, as it is almost
entirely, upon mechanical and optical aid, every improvement and
discovery in these departments changes its position, bringing to
light new facts, and modifying the aspect of those which were
previously known. The very basis of all astronomical calculations,
the standard of time, is now no longer relied upon as invariable.
It is suspected of a change resulting from a gradual retardation
in the rate of the earth's rotation on its axis, produced by tidal
friction. When the binary stars were discovered, the discovery was
hailed as a proof of the universal prevalence of the law of
gravitation. Later observations have thrown doubt upon that
conclusion, as many pairs are known to exist, which, though they
have what is termed a "common proper motion," or are journeying
through space together, have no relative motion, which they must
show, if they were moving under the influence of their mutual
attractions. The supposed simplicity of the solar system has given
place to extreme complexity. A century ago, six planets, ten
satellites, and a few comets, were supposed to constitute the
whole retinue of the sun: now, instead of this, we have two groups
of four planets each, the individual members of each group closely
resembling each other in all points within our knowledge, while in
all these points the groups differ greatly. Between these two
groups lies a belt of very small planets, of which the 1st was
discovered on the first day of the present century, and the 124th
this year, and the number of known satellites has increased from
10 to 17. Add to this the meteoric groups, and their suspected
connexion with certain comets, and the perplexing questions
suggested by the Solar Corona and the Zodiacal light, and it will
be seen that our knowledge is in a transitional state; that with
so many problems unsolved, any apparent contradiction to the
sacred record will require a careful scrutiny to ascertain that
the grounds on which it is brought forward are well established.

Geology, so far as our present subject is concerned, stands upon a
somewhat different footing. Though a much younger science than
astronomy, it has one great advantage over it; the facts with
which it has to do are for the most part discernible by the
unaided senses, and it is therefore independent of instrumental
help. Many changes have occurred in the views of Geologists, but
in the main they have reference to processes [Footnote: Such, for
instance, is the modification of the views of geologists as to the
relative effects of "disruption" and "denudation" in determining
the features of the earth's surface.] rather than to results, and
it is the results with which we are chiefly concerned.

Physiologists have entered on the contest with the Bible on two
different, and seemingly contradictory grounds. Some of them have
maintained that the varieties of mankind are so distinct, that it
is impossible they can all be descended from a single human pair,
while others assert that not only all the varieties of mankind,
but all the varieties of living beings are descended from a single
progenitor. Between the advocates of these two systems there must
be such an enormous difference as to the extent to which variation
is possible, as to justify us in assuming that the fundamental
principles of physiological science are not yet satisfactorily

These are the three branches of science which come especially into
collision with the Mosaic Record of the Creation. Of these Geology
is the most important, because it is able to bring forward
unquestionable facts which are in direct opposition to the
traditionary interpretation Astronomy and physiology have little
to object except theoretical views; the hypotheses of Laplace and
Darwin. These, however, will have to be carefully considered. It
will be necessary for us first to ascertain whether there really
exists any such fundamental discrepancy between the record and
ascertained facts, or theories so far as they are supported by
facts, and stand on a probable footing, as should render all
attempts at harmonizing them vain. If this is found not to be the
case, we shall then be in a position to inquire whether modern
discoveries afford us any really valuable light, and can assist us
to form a somewhat more extended and accurate idea of the
processes described by the sacred historian.



The principal points on which there is a supposed discrepancy
between the Mosaic Record and the discoveries of geologists are as


I. That the world in all its completeness, as it now exists, was
moulded out of material in a chaotic state in six ordinary days.
Geologists have ascertained, beyond the possibility of a doubt,
that the process must have occupied countless ages.

II. That the first appearance of animal life was on the fifth of
those six days. Geologists have discovered that animal life was in
existence at the very earliest period to which they have as yet
been able to extend their investigations.

III. That all living creatures are divided into two classes, and
that the first of these classes was created on the fifth, the
second on the sixth day; and that each class, in all its
divisions, with the exception of man, came into existence
simultaneously. Geologists trace the rise and increase of each
class through a long course of ages.

IV. That death entered into the world through the sin of man. The
very existence of fossils implies that it was the law of all
animal life from the first.

V. That till the fall all creatures lived exclusively on vegetable
food. Geologists have ascertained the existence of carnivorous
creatures from a very remote period.

Besides these, there are some other supposed difficulties and
inaccuracies of a less important character, which may be noticed,
in passing, when the true meaning of the record is under


The question of the days is beyond all doubt the most important of
those which have to be discussed. On the one hand, the impression
naturally left upon the reader of the first chapter of Genesis is
that natural days are meant, and this impression is not removed by
a cursory inspection of the original. On the other hand, if there
is any one scientific belief which rests on peculiarly solid
ground, it is the belief that the formation of the world occupied
a period which is beyond the grasp of the most powerful

There is, indeed, some reason to think that the time claimed by
geologists is somewhat exaggerated. Their views are in many cases
based on the assumption that change is now going on, on the
surface of the earth, as it did in all past time--that it is the
same in character, in intensity, and in rate. But there are good
reasons for supposing that almost all the causes which lead to
change are gradually decreasing in intensity. The chief causes by
which changes are brought about are the upheaval and subsidence of
the earth's surface; the destructive agencies of wind, storms at
sea, rain and frost; and the action of the tides. Of these, all
but the last are directly dependent on the action of heat, and
there is every reason to believe that the heat of the earth is in
process of gradual dissipation. If this be the case, all those
agencies which are dependent on it must

[Footnote: It is thought probable that this process is complete,
or nearly so, in the moon. If this be the case, it is in all
probability in progress in the case of the earth, though, owing to
the much greater bulk of the latter, it occupies a longer period.
--Lockyer, Lessons in Astronomy, p. 93.] be declining in intensity;
but the rate of that decrease is unknown; it may be in
arithmetical, or it may be in geometrical progression. It is,
then, by no means impossible that changes, which now only become
discernible with the lapse of centuries, might, at some past
period of our globe's history, have been the work of years only.
Nor is it at all probable that the present rate of change, which
is assumed as the basis of the calculation, is known with any
approach to accuracy. Exact observations are of very recent date;
both the inclination and the means for making them are the growth
of the last two centuries, and the changes which have to be
ascertained are of a class peculiarly liable to modification from
a variety of local and temporary causes, so that a very much
longer period must elapse before we can arrive at average values
which may be relied on as even approximately accurate.

Another circumstance, which seems to merit more attention than it
has received, is the very frequent recurrence in Greek mythology
of allusions to creatures which have been usually regarded as the
creations of a poetic fancy, but which bear a strong resemblance
to the Saurian and other monsters of the Oolite and Cretaceous
formations. Of course, it is not impossible that these things may
have been purely poetic imaginings; but, if so, it is very
remarkable that such realizations of those imaginings should be
afterwards discovered. It would seem much more probable that these
legends were exaggerated traditions of creatures which actually
existed when the first colonists reached their new homes, in
numbers comparatively small, but still sufficient to occasion much
danger and alarm to the early settlers, and to cause their
destroyers to be regarded as among the greatest heroes of the time
and the greatest benefactors of mankind. The Hindoo tradition of
the tortoise on whose back stands the elephant which upholds the
world, and the account of Leviathan in the Book of Job, seem to
point in the same direction. [Footnote: For additional instances
see Tylor's Early History of Mankind, p. 303.]

But, after all, the question is not one of a few thousands of
years more or less, but of six common days, or many thousands of
years. It may help us to arrive at a right conclusion on the
subject if we endeavour to ascertain, in the first instance,
whether there are any strongly-marked indications that the writer
of the first chapter of Genesis did possess some accurate
information on some points in the history of Creation which he was
not likely to obtain by his own researches. For this purpose we
will place in parallel columns the leading facts recorded by
Moses, and a table of the successive formations of the rocks,
abridged from the last edition (1871) of Sir C. Lyell's Student's
Geology. This process will bring to light certain coincidences
which may serve as landmarks for our investigation.

       The Days.                                THE ROCKS.

    1. Creation of light.

    2. Creation of the Atmosphere.

        |The earth covered with water          |Laurentian.
    3.--|     [implied].                       |Cambrian.
        |Upheaval of land.                ----|Silurian.
        |Creation of terrestrial Flora.        |Devonian.

    4. The sun and moon made "Luminaries."----|Permian.

    5. Creation of birds and reptiles     ----|Jurassic.

    6.--|Creation of land animals.        ----|Eocene.
        |Creation of man.                      |Miocene.
                                               |Post Tertiary.


Laurentian: Upper Laurentian unconformably placed on Lower
Laurentian, which contains Eozoon Canadense.

Cambrian: Traces of volcanic action. Ripple marks indicating land.

Silurian: Earliest fish.

Devonian: Earliest land plants.

Carboniferous: The coal measures. Peculiarly abundant vegetation.
Earliest known reptile.

Permian: Foot-prints of birds and reptiles--with a few remains of
the latter.

Jurassic: The first bird, and the first mammal. The age of

Cretaceous: Reptiles passing away, mammalia abundant and of large

Post Tertiary: Human remains found only in the most recent
deposits. In this table we see certain points of strongly-marked

1. The oldest rocks with which we are acquainted--the Lower
Laurentian [Footnote: The age of granite is uncertain.--Lyell'a
Student's Geology, p. 548.]--were formed under water, but had
begun to be elevated before the next series, the Upper Laurentian,
were deposited. Ripple marks are found in the Cambrian group
[Footnote: Ibid. p. 470], indicating that the parts where they
occur formed a sea-beach, and, consequently, that dry land was in
existence at that time.

2. The earliest fossil land plants as yet discovered are found in
the Devonian series, and they gradually increase till, in the
Carboniferous strata, they attain the extreme abundance which gave
rise to the coal measures.

3. The age of reptiles. The earliest known reptile is found in the
Carboniferous strata. In the Permian and Triassic groups the
numbers gradually increase, till in the Lias, Oolite, and
Cretaceous systems, this class attains a very great development
both numerically and in the magnitude of individual specimens.
During the same period the first traces of birds are found. The
first actual fossil bird was found in the upper Oolite.

4. The age of mammalia. The first remains--two teeth of a small
marsupial--were discovered in the Rhaetic beds of the Upper Trias,
and a somewhat similar discovery has been made in beds of
corresponding periods in Devonshire and North America. During the
subsequent periods the numbers slowly increase, till in the
Tertiary strata the mammalian becomes the predominant type.

5. The earliest traces of man--flint implements--are found in the
Post Tertiary strata.

We have then in the Mosaic narrative five points which correspond
in order and character to five points in the Geological record;
and with reference to two, at least, of these points, we cannot
imagine any cause for the coincidence in the shape of a fortunate
conjecture, because, so far as we can tell, there was nothing
apparent on the face of the earth to suggest to the mind of the
writer the long past existence of such a state of things as has
been revealed to us by the discovery of the Carboniferous and
Reptilian remains. It seems then that Moses must have been in
possession of information which could not be obtained from any
ordinary source. But if he was thus acquainted with the order in
which the development took place, there is nothing improbable in
the supposition that he was not altogether ignorant of the length
of time which that development required.

Let us suppose then that his knowledge did extend a little
farther; let us suppose him to have been aware that each of the
Creations which he describes was a process occupying many
thousands of years--how could he have imparted this knowledge to
his readers? What modification could he have introduced into his
narrative, which without changing its general character, or
detracting from its extreme simplicity, should have embodied this

This amounts to the question: What words significant of definite
periods of time were in use, and consequently at the writer's
command, at this time? No language is very rich in such words; but
in the early Hebrew they seem to have been very scanty. The day,
week, month, year, and generation (this last usually implying the
time from the birth of a man to that of his son, but possibly in
Gen. xv. 16, a century) are all that we find. These in their
literal sense were evidently inadequate. Nor could the deficiency
be supplied by numerals, even if the general style of the
narrative would have admitted their use, for we find in Genesis no
numeral beyond the thousand. There was no word at all in early
Hebrew equivalent to our words "period" and "season." When such an
idea was to be expressed, it was done by the use of the word
"day," either in the singular, or more commonly in the plural.
Thus, "the time of harvest;" "the season of the first ripe fruit,"
are literally "the days of harvest," "the days of the first ripe
fruit." In Isaiah xxxiv. 8, the singular is used, and followed by
the word year in the same indefinite sense. "It is the day of the
Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy
of Zion."

The only method then which was open to the writer was to make use
of one of the words above mentioned in an extended sense, just as
he used the word [Hebrew script] (earth) in several senses. But if
one of them was to be employed, the one which he has chosen seems
the best; not only because its use in that way was common, but
because the brevity of the time covered by its natural
significance would in itself be a hint of the way in which it was
used. That which was impossible in a day might be possible in a
year or a generation. The extended significance of the word would
become apparent just in proportion as the time covered by its
natural significance was inadequate for the processes ascribed to

An additional reason may, perhaps, be found for the choice of the
word "day," in the accordance of its phenomena with some, at
least, of the processes which Moses describes--the dawn, the light
slowly increasing to the perfect day, and then fading away
gradually into night--these do seem aptly to represent the first
scanty appearance, the gradual increase, and the vast development
of plants, of the reptiles and of the mammalia, and in the case of
the first two classes, their gradual passing away.

But if the word was thus employed in a figurative, and not in its
natural sense, we may expect to find some indications in the
context that this was the case. Such indications we do find. The
fact that the work of Creation was distributed into days, is, in
itself, significant. There is no reason to believe that in the
opinion of the writer each day's work tasked to the utmost the
power of the Creator. Moses was evidently as well aware as we are,
that to Him it would have been equally easy, had He so willed, to
call everything into instant and perfect being at a single word.
Nor was the detailed description necessary to establish the
foundation of all religion--the right of the Creator to the entire
obedience of His creature For this the short recapitulation which
(ch. ii. 4) prefaces the more detailed account of man's peculiar
relation to his Maker would have been sufficient. Some purpose,
however, there must have been for this more particular account
which precedes the summary. We may trace two probable reasons. It
brings before us the method of the Divine Working in the light of
an orderly progress. But beside this, it is of infinite service to
us, in enabling us more thoroughly to realize the Fatherly
character and ever watchful care of our Creator. As far as that
care itself was concerned, it was unimportant whether the work was
instantaneous or progressive; but it was very important to us, in
so far as it affected our conceptions of God, and of our relations
to Him. For all our conceptions of God must rest ultimately on our
self-consciousness; we can form no idea of Him except in so far as
that idea is analogous to something which comes within the range
of our own experience. Now to us and to our feelings there is a
very wide difference between an act performed in a moment, and a
work over which we have lovingly dwelt, and to which we have
devoted our time, our labour, and our thought, for months or
years. The one may pass from our mind and be forgotten as quickly
as it was performed, but in the other we commonly feel an abiding
interest. When therefore the great Creator is represented to us as
thus dwelling upon His work, carrying it on step by step, through
the long ages, to its completion, we find it far less difficult to
realize that other truth, so precious to us, that His care and His
tender mercies are over all His works, that the loving
watchfulness which still upholds all, and provides for all, is but
the continuance of that care which was displayed in the creation
of all. Creation, Providence and Grace are blended together in one
continuous manifestation of the Divine Wisdom, Power, and Love.

But for this purpose it is of little importance to us whether
Creation is described as taking place in a moment, or in six
ordinary days. If the division into six days indicates orderly
progress and watchful care, we naturally expect to find the same
indications in each of the subordinate parts. To our imperfect
conceptions each single day's work would bear that same character
of vast instantaneous action which seemed so undesirable. It would
not help us to realize what it is so important that we should
thoroughly feel. The very fact then that the history of Creation
is divided into days carries with it a strong presumption that
those days are not ordinary days.

In the 14th and following verses, when Moses is describing the
formation of the heavenly luminaries, he is particular in
mentioning that one part of their office was to "rule over the day
and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness."
Hence it is sometimes inferred that he was under a mistake in
speaking of day and night at an earlier period. But such a mistake
seems incredible. To suppose that Moses did not perceive that what
he wrote in the 14th and following verses was incompatible with
what he had written in the 4th and 5th verses, if such an
incompatibility really existed, is to impute to him an amount of
ignorance or carelessness which is at variance with the whole
character of his writings from beginning to end. Instead of this
it will be shown hereafter that, in all probability, his
statements rested on a wide knowledge of facts. If then, under
such circumstances, he uses the word "day" long before he comes to
the formation of the sun, the natural inference is that he did so
designedly--that it was his intention that his readers should
understand that he was speaking of something very different from
that natural day which is regulated by sunrise and sunset.

The way too in which he introduces the mention of the first and
following days is apparently significant, though its full meaning
is probably more than we can at present understand. In ver. 5 he
carefully defines light and darkness as the equivalents of day and
night; but in the next verse he passes over these words, and
introduces two new ones, which he has not defined; these two words
being as much out of place before the creation of the atmosphere
as light and darkness are supposed to have been before the
Creation of the Sun. And not only does he introduce two new words,
but he introduces them in a very remarkable and, with our present
knowledge, unaccountable manner. Had he said "And there was
morning and there was evening, one day," we should have found no
difficulty in harmonizing; his words with what he had previously
said concerning the evolution of light. But he first of all
reverses the order, and then does not supply the natural
termination to his sentence--"And there was evening and there was
morning,"--"one night" would seem to be the natural conclusion;
but instead of that we read, "there was evening and there was
morning, one day." Whatever farther significance then may be
hereafter discovered in this remarkable statement, one thing at
all events seems clear, that it was designed to call attention to
the fact that the day spoken of was not a natural day. Probably
certain stages in the progress of the work were indicated, which
farther investigations may disclose to us. A few years ago such
stages seemed to be discernible, but the continued progress of
discovery has partly obliterated the supposed lines of
demarcation. Still further discoveries may bring to light other

In the opening of the second chapter we are told that God rested
on the seventh day from all His work, and His rest is spoken of in
such a way as to carry our thoughts at once to the Fourth
Commandment. In that commandment the duty of hallowing a seventh
portion of our time is based on the fact that "in six days the
Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and
rested the seventh day." But the analogy entirely fails unless the
days of the Creator's work bore the same proportion to the day of
His rest which man's six days of labour bear to his Sabbath. Now
we are expressly told in other parts of Scripture that the Divine
Sabbath is not yet ended (Heb. iii. iv.), and we are led to infer
that it will not end till He that sitteth upon the throne shall
say, "Behold I make all things new." If then the Sabbath of the
Creator is measured by thousands of years--the whole duration of
man upon the earth--it follows that the days of His work must have
been of corresponding length.

One more indication, so strong that in itself it seems sufficient
to decide the question, is to be found in the 4th verse of the
second chapter. [Footnote: It is not unusual with critics of the
German school to assert that this is an independent account of the
Creation. But the assertion does not appear to have any valid
foundation. The supposed grounds for it are well discussed in the
"Speaker's Commentary," vol. i. p. 23, and in "Aids to Faith,"
Essay v., Sections 2, 4, 5. It has already been pointed out that
the supposed variations in order rest entirely on the
translation.] In that verse all that is ascribed to the six days
in the preceding chapter is summed up as the work of a single day.
If then the word is used in a natural sense in the first chapter,
it is clearly used in an extended sense in the second chapter. But
if it had been used in a natural sense in the first chapter, there
would have been no need whatever for its use here. Its place would
have been taken--and most appropriately--by the word [Hebrew
script], a week, with which Moses was familiar (ch. xxix. 28;
Deut. xvi. 10). Its use here would have connected the weekly
division of time with the Creation, and as its presence would have
been thus strongly significant, its absence is a no less
significant indication that the six days spoken of in the
preceding chapter are something very different from six natural

Three points, therefore, seem to be clear:--

1. However the chapter may be interpreted, there are in it
coincidences with ascertained facts so marked that they cannot
possibly be fortuitous. They prove therefore that Moses was in
possession of some accurate information on the subject on which he
was writing.

As we proceed with our subject we shall come upon many more
indications of this, some of them exceedingly remarkable. It is
therefore by no means improbable that he was acquainted with the
fact, that the work which he was describing was one which had
occupied a long series of ages.

2. Supposing that Moses was acquainted with all which has now been
discovered by geologists, and that he was desirous of imparting
that knowledge to his readers, the language which he has employed
is the most appropriate that, under the circumstances, he could
have chosen for the purpose. 3. The phenomena exhibited by the
context indicate not only that he had this intention, but that he
also intended that such of his readers as were competent to
entertain the idea, should have sufficient indications to guide
them to his meaning.

Whatever then may be the real significance of the "days"--a point
which the knowledge at present in our possession seems
insufficient to explain--it seems very clear that something very
different from natural days is intended. And this is a sufficient
answer to the objection which is founded on that interpretation.
That there would be very many points which as yet we are unable
fully to understand, has been already shown to be not only
possible but probable; and among them it appears this question of
the true meaning of the days must be left for the present. When we
come to consider subsequently the great number of points in which
harmony between the narrative and discovered facts is brought out
on investigation, [Footnote: Chap. v.] we may well be content to
leave many points unexplained till our knowledge is greatly


The second objection has reference to the relative antiquity of
the various forms of life, of which we find traces in the
successive strata of the rocks. If it be assumed that the apparent
coincidences which have been pointed out between the Mosaic
narrative and the geological records are real, and that the
traditional interpretation is the true one, then we ought to find--

1. No traces at all of animal life below the Trias.

2. No traces of mammalia below the Cretaceous formation.

But the examination of the rocks leads to a very different result.
Traces of life have been found, probably in the Laurentian,
certainly in the Cambrian rocks. The earliest known fish is the
Pteraspis, which has been discovered in the upper Silurian
formation at Leintwardine, in Shropshire. The first member of the
reptilian order, Archegesaurus, occurs in the coal measures; and
the first traces of a mammalian--two teeth--occur at the junction
of the Lias and Trias. In every case, then, we meet with traces of
life at a period long anterior to that at which we should
naturally expect them.

In order to ascertain the real weight of this objection we hare to
investigate two points:--

1. What are the animals to which the Mosaic Record refers?

2. What does it really tell us about the creation of those

1. It is commonly assumed that all living creatures are
comprehended under the terms used in describing the work of the
fifth and sixth days. But a more careful examination shows that
there is no real ground for this assumption. The first point which
presents itself is the omission of the Hebrew word for fish,
[Hebrew script], in the account of the fifth day--an omission the
more marked, because the word does occur in vv. 26, 28, in which
dominion over all living creatures is granted to man. The two
words which are used in ver. 21 are [Hebrew script] from [Hebrew
script], to stretch out, to extend, and [Hebrew script], from
[Hebrew script], identical with [Hebrew script], to trample with
the feet. The description then points us to animals of great size,
especially length, which trample with the feet. "Great sea-
monsters," Gesenius calls them. These words clearly indicate the
Saurian and allied tribes of reptiles; and when we turn to the
rocks we find the remains of these creatures occurring in great
numbers, precisely at the point which Moses assigns to them.

Again, in the account of the sixth day, three classes of animals
are mentioned; but we have no means whatever of ascertaining what
kinds of animals were comprehended in these three classes, or
whether they included all the mammalia then known to the Jews;
much less then are we justified in inferring that they comprehend
all mammalia that were then, or ever had been in existence.

But it may perhaps appear strange, that the account of the
Creation of living beings should be of such limited extent,
embracing only reptiles, birds, and mammals. A little
consideration, however, will remove this apparent strangeness. We
should, perhaps, naturally expect to have some notice of the first
appearance of animal life; but from the circumstances under which
Moses wrote such a notice was simply impossible. The lowest and
simplest form of life with which we are now acquainted is the
Amoeba Princeps, a minute particle of jelly-like substance, called
sarcode--scarcely larger than a small grain of sand--and with no
distinction of organs or limbs. [Footnote: Carpenter, The
Microscope and its Revelations, p. 428.] The oldest known fossil,
Eozoon Canadense, is of a class but little above this--the
foraminifera; we may therefore deem it probable that life began
with some form not very unlike the Amoeba. How could the formation
of such a creature have been described to the contemporaries of
Moses? They could have had no idea of its existence. To describe
the first beginnings of life then, was, under the circumstances,
an absolute impossibility. But if a part only of the long series
of animal life could possibly be noticed, the determination of the
point at which he should first speak of it would be left to the
writer, guided as he would be by considerations of the object for
which, and the persons for whom, he wrote, which we must
necessarily in our position be unable duly to estimate. All that
we are entitled to expect is that the account, so far as it
extends, should be in accordance with facts.

The next point to be ascertained is, "Does the Mosaic Record
intimate that the creations of reptiles on the fifth, and of
mammals on the sixth days were entirely new creations, i.e. that
no creatures of these classes had existed before?" There is no
direct assertion to this effect; it is only an inference, though a
natural one, when we consider the circumstances under which it was
drawn. When, however, we turn to the original we find the 20th
verse worded in a way which seems designed to avoid the suggestion
of such an inference. Literally translated it is, "Let the waters
swarm swarms, the soul of life." Such creatures then may have
existed before, but not in swarms. And in the account of the sixth
day, as has been already noticed, three forms of mammalia are
specified, and we have no knowledge as to the varieties included
in these three forms. Nor is there here any intimation that it was
the first creation of such animals. The greater part of the
earlier fossils belong to the Marsupialia and Mouotremata, and we
have no reason to believe that these classes have existed in
historic times in Europe, Asia, or Africa. They are now confined
(with the exception of the opossums, which are American) to
Australia. They were therefore entirely unknown to the Jews, and
in consequence necessarily omitted in a document intended for
their use.

What has been said with reference to reptiles is also applicable
to birds. The first traces of them are found in the ornithichnites
of the new red sandstone, and the first fossil--Archaeopteryx, in
the Solenhofen strata, belonging to the Oolite. From the nature of
the case the remains are necessarily scanty, since birds would be
less exposed than other animals to those casualties which would
lead to their preservation as fossils, but enough traces have been
found to show that in the period corresponding to the fifth day
they were very numerous, and attained in many instances to a
gigantic stature. A height of from ten to twelve feet was not

When, therefore, we notice that the fifth and sixth days
correspond to two periods, in the first of which reptiles and
birds, and in the second mammalia, were the prominent types, the
words of the sacred historian seem to have an adequate
interpretation in that fact. There is no contradiction between the
two records. Moses describes but a very few of the facts which
geology has brought to light, but those few facts are in exact
accordance with the results of independent observation. The acts
of Creation of which Moses speaks correspond to remarkable
developments of the orders of animals to which he refers. To have
noticed the time of the appearance of the first individual member
of each class, as distinguished from the time when that class
occupied the foremost place in the ranks of creation, would have
been inconsistent with the simplicity and brevity of the
narrative, while it would have been unintelligible to those for
whom the narrative was intended, since these primeval types had
passed out of existence ages before the creation of man. It is,
however, noteworthy, that the first appearances of the several
orders follow precisely the same arrangement as the times of their
greatest development.


This objection may be very briefly disposed of, though it appears
to be one which has made a very deep impression on Mr. Darwin.
[Footnote: Origin of Species, p 1, &c.] It is entirely an
inference drawn from the old interpretation of the six days. While
that interpretation was received it followed, as a necessary
consequence, that the creation of all kinds of plants on the third
day, and of reptiles, birds, and mammalia on the fifth and sixth
days respectively, must have been simultaneous. But if that
interpretation is proved to be untenable, the inference drawn from
it falls to the ground. The language of the narrative seems to
point in an opposite direction. There is one instance in the
chapter in which the words used seem to point to an instantaneous
result. "And God said 'Let light be' and Light was," though in
this case the words probably have a further significance, which
has been brought out by the discovery of the nature of light. But
in these three cases the command is first recorded, with (in two
cases) the addition "and it was so," and then the narrative goes
on to speak of the fulfilment of the command, as if the command
and its fulfilment were distinct things.


These two objections may advantageously be considered together,
since the fifth is in a great measure, though not entirely,
dependent upon the fourth. For if death, in the common sense of
the word, was unknown till the fall of Adam, it follows as a
necessary consequence that no carnivorous creatures could have
existed before that time. On the other hand, it may be considered
as the natural death of large classes of animals to be devoured by
the carnivora; so that if there were no carnivorous animals prior
to the Fall, one of the avenues to death, at all events, had not
been opened.

There is really no ground at all for the first of these objections
in the actual history of Creation. It is only when the threat held
out to Adam (ii. 17) is viewed in the light of St. Paul's comment
upon it (Rom. v. 12; viii. 20) that the supposition can be
entertained. This, then, is the real foundation of the difficulty.

But, first of all, there is no reason to suppose that St. Paul's
words refer to any death but that of man. Now, it may well have
been, that although man, having a body exactly analogous to those
of the animals, would naturally have been subject, like them, to
the ordinary laws of decay and death, yet in the case of a
creature who possessed so much which raised him above the level of
the lower animals, there may have been some provision made which
should exempt him from this necessity. That this was the case
appears probable from the mention made in the narrative of the
Tree of Life. We have no intimation whether the action of the
fruit of this tree was physical or sacramental, but that, in one
way or other, it had the power to preserve man from physical death
seems almost certain from the way in which it is spoken of after
the Fall (iii. 22-24). But the mention of the Tree of Life leads
to the inference that the case of Adam was entirely exceptional.

In the next place, it does not seem probable that that dissolution
of the body which was the natural lot of all other animals was the
whole, or even the chief part, of the evil consequence of Adam's
fall. That it was included in the penalty seems probable, but it
only constituted a comparatively unimportant part of that penalty.
The threat was, "In THE DAY that thou eatest thereof thou shalt
surely die," and we cannot doubt that the Divine words were
exactly fulfilled, though Adam's natural death did not take place
for many hundred years. But the guilty creatures, covering their
nakedness with fig-leaves, crouching among the trees of the garden
in the vain hope of hiding themselves from the face of their
Maker, who were to transmit an inheritance of sin and shame and
misery to their yet unborn posterity, were surely very different
beings from those whom the Creator but a short time before had
pronounced "very good." The true life of the soul was gone; the
image of God defaced. This was the real, the terrible death. If
death in its full sense means nothing more than the dissolution of
the body, our Lord's words, "He that liveth and believeth in Me
shall never die," have failed of their fulfilment. That promise
has been in force for more than eighteen centuries, and yet no
case has occurred of a Christian, however holy he may have been,
or however strong his faith, who has escaped the universal doom.
The Church of the Patriarchs could point to an Enoch, the Jewish
Church to an Elijah, who were exempted from the universal penalty;
but Christianity can point to no such exemption, nor does she need
it. To her members, to die is to sleep in Jesus; to be absent from
the body is to be present with the Lord, for the penalty of death
is cancelled.

Though, then, it seems by no means improbable that Adam, if he had
not fallen, would have been exempt from the dissolution of the
body, yet this is not absolutely certain, and even if it were
certain, his case would be an exceptional one: no inference as to
the immortality of the animal creation could have been drawn from

The supposition that all animals prior to the fall lived entirely
on vegetable food rests partly on this groundless inference, and
partly on the Divine Words recorded in verse 30: "And to every
beast of the field, and to every fowl of the air, have I given
every green herb for meat." But it is important to notice that
these words are not recorded as addressed to the animals, like the
command to be fruitful and multiply. Had this been the case, any
omission to mention the flesh of other animals, might have been
looked upon as significant. Instead of this they are addressed to
Adam, and they follow other words in which the same things are
assigned to Adam for his food. They come then in the form of a
limitation to the rights granted to Adam, rather than of a
definition of the rights of the lower animals. Adam was to have
the free use of every green herb, but he was not to account
himself the exclusive owner of it. The beast of the field and the
fowl of the air were to be co-proprietors with him; they were to
have the use of it as freely as himself; but that they were to be
restricted to the use of vegetable food nowhere appears.
Accordingly we know that carnivorous creatures have existed from
the first, and that though to a superficial observer this may
appear a cruel arrangement, yet in reality it is a most merciful
provision, by which aged, weak, or maimed animals are preserved
from the agonies of death by starvation.

We may conclude then that there is no real contradiction between
the conclusions at which Geologists have arrived, and the words
actually made use of by Moses, but that all such supposed
contradictions have arisen from meanings being attached to those
words, which, though possible or even probable, were not the only
possible meanings. When the difficulty has been suggested, and the
words have in consequence been more closely examined, it appears
that they are capable of an interpretation in strict harmony with
every fact which Geologists have as yet discovered, and that in
many cases there are not wanting indications that the writer
intended them to be thus understood.



These objections, so far as they are based or supposed to be based
on ascertained facts, are very few and insignificant. The chief of
them are as follows:--

1. Moses describes light, and the division of night and day as
existing before the Creation of the Sun.

2. Moses describes the firmament as a solid vault.

3. Moses speaks of the stars as created on the fourth day, only
two days before Adam, whereas astronomers have asserted that many
of them are so distant that the light by which we see them must
have been on its way ages before Adam was created.

That part of the first objection which refers to the existence of
light prior to the creation of the Sun, appears so extremely
childish that it might have been thought unnecessary to notice it,
had it not been solemnly propounded in such a work as "Essays and
Reviews." [Footnote: Page 219] Anyone who is in possession of a
telescope of but moderate power may satisfy himself of its
futility on any starlight night. He has only to turn his telescope
to one or two of the more conspicuous nebulae; the Great Nebula in
Orion, for instance, or the Ring Nebula in Lyra, and his eye will
receive light which has not come from any Sun, for it is a well-
ascertained fact that these nebulae are nothing but vast masses of
incandescent gas. And this objection is singularly inappropriate
in the mouth of the opponents of the Mosaic Record, inasmuch as
the Nebular hypothesis is with them the favourite method of
accounting for the present state of things. The view which they
bring forward as an alternative to the Mosaic account assumes the
very state of things which, when, alleged by Moses, they denounce
as impossible. The other part of this objection, which refers to
the division of day and night, will be more advantageously
discussed when we come to consider the actual accounts of the
first and fourth days' work. It will then appear probable that the
statements which Moses has made on this subject, instead of being
indications of ignorance, are the result of a profound knowledge
of the subject on which he was writing.

Next, it is alleged that Moses describes the firmament as a solid
vault.[Footnote: Essays and Reviews, p. 220.] "The work of the
second day of creation is to erect the vault of heaven, which is
represented as supporting an ocean of water above it." That the
Greek and Latin translations in this place do seem to imply the
idea of solidity seems indisputable; and from the Latin the word
"firmament" has passed into our own language. But there is no
reason to think that the Hebrew word has any such meaning. It is
derived from a root signifying "to beat out--to extend."
[Footnote: May not this root, [Hebrew script], have some connexion
with [Hebrew script], "to be light," from which is derived the
Aramaic "Raca" of Matt. v. 22?] The verb is often applied to the
beating out of metals, but not always. It is a new doctrine in
etymology, that the meaning of a verbal noun is to be deduced from
the nouns which often supply objects to its root, instead of from
the meaning of the root itself. But even if it can be shown that
the word did originally involve such a meaning, that would be
nothing to the purpose. It would only be in the same case with a
vast number of other words, which, though etymologically untrue,
are habitually used without inconvenience, because they do convey
to the minds of others the idea which we intend to convey, their
etymology being lost sight of. Probably, the very persons who
bring forward the objection do sometimes use the word "firmament,"
though they know the error which is involved in it. Nor would they
be any more accurate if they substituted for it the Saxon word
"heaven," since that also involves a scientific inaccuracy. The
word used by Moses was the commonly recognized name for the object
of which he was writing; and no objection to his use of it can be
maintained, unless it can be shown that in using it he rejected
some other word equally intelligible to all, and which was at the
same time etymologically correct. But there is no ground for the
assumption that any such word existed in the time of Moses or at
any subsequent period.

The third objection, of course, ceases to have any force if the
days of creation are no longer regarded as natural days. But the
objection is in itself, apart from this condition, of no
consequence whatever. For, in the first place, it is by no means
certain, or even probable, that the stars referred to in the
fourth day's work are the fixed stars. The Hebrew has no word for
planets as distinguished from the fixed stars, although, as we
know for certain, the difference between the planets and the fixed
stars was recognized from a very early period. In every case,
then, the context must determine the sense to be given to the
word. In this case, the fact that these stars are mentioned in
connexion with the sun and moon, combined with our knowledge that
the planets, like the moon, are dependent upon the sun for their
light, would lead us to infer that they are meant.

But even if the fixed stars were meant, the objection would be no
longer tenable. It rests on certain estimates as to the supposed
distances of the fixed stars and star clusters, which were formed
by the late Sir W. Herschel from what he designated the "space-
penetrating power" of his telescopes. Starting with the assumption
that the stars were of tolerably uniform size and brilliancy, and
that the difference in apparent brightness was the result, and
therefore a measure of their distances, he proceeded to apply the
same process to the star clusters, which, even in a fair
telescope, present only the appearance of faint nebulous spots of
light, but are resolved into clusters of stars by more powerful
instruments. In many cases, he found that a certain proportion
existed between the telescopic power by which a cluster was first
rendered visible, and that required for its resolution, and by
this means he formed what he considered a probable estimate of its
distance. Other clusters there were which only became visible in
his most powerful telescopes, and which, therefore, he could never
succeed in resolving. These he placed at a still greater distance,
and from this estimate he deduced the conclusion that their light
must have been in some cases as much as 60,000 years in reaching
the earth.

But the whole foundation on which this long chain of inference
rested has now been shown to be evanescent. In the first place
many of his irresolvable nebulae have been proved by the
spectroscope to be true nebulae--masses of luminous gas, and not
star clusters at all; and, in the next place, the actual distances
of a few of the fixed stars have been approximately ascertained,
and it is proved beyond all doubt that the different degree of
brightness exhibited by different stars is no test at all of their
distance. Of all the stars in our hemisphere whose distance has
thus been measured, the nearest to us is one which can only just
be discerned by a practised eye on a favourable night, 61 Cygni,
whilst the most brilliant star visible in England, Sirius, is at a
considerably greater distance. The most competent judges estimate
the magnitude of Sirius as about one thousand times that of the
sun [Footnote: Mr. Proctor in Good Words, February, 1872.]. In
addition to this, many stars of very different magnitudes are
found to be related to each other in such a way as to show that
they are in actual, and not merely in optical proximity. The
clusters which were formerly supposed to consist of large stars at
enormous distances from us, are now, upon very solid grounds,
believed to be formed of much smaller stars, at much more moderate
distances, so that it is very improbable that there is any object
visible in the heavens whose light has taken so much as 6000
years, instead of 60,000 years to reach us.


We come now to the consideration of the Nebular Theory of Laplace,
in so far as it is opposed to the Mosaic account. It must be
remembered that, after all, this is only a theory. Even if it
could be satisfactorily established, it would only point out a way
in which this world MIGHT have been formed. That it could not have
been formed in any other way is an independent proposition, in
support of which no single argument has ever yet been brought
forward. There may be a greater or less probability that the earth
was formed in this particular way, that probability depending on
the extent to which the theory accounts for observed facts. This
it does in many cases, and it has in consequence been accepted AS
A WHOLE by many scientific men, as a substitute for the Scriptural
account. As will be seen hereafter, there are strong reasons for
admitting it as a supplement to the brief account given by Moses;
but our business now is to ascertain, whether it has any just
claim to be received instead of that account.

The theory seems to have been suggested by certain speculations of
Sir W. Herschel. In his telescopic examination of the Nebulae and
star clusters, he found that in a great number of cases, when a
nebula was rendered visible by a certain amount of telescopic
power, it would be resolved into separate stars by a telescope of
a little higher power. But there were some nebulae, visible in
very small telescopes, or even discernible with the naked eye,
such as those in Orion and Andromeda, which could not be resolved
even by his great four-foot reflector, the largest telescope that
had then been constructed. And these nebulae exhibited a great
variety of forms. Some of them were vast shapeless masses of faint
light; others, which he designated "planetary" nebulae, exhibited
a regular form--a circular disc more or less clearly defined,
often brightest in the centre. Others seemed to be intermediate
between these two classes. Hence he was led to the idea that these
were worlds in the process of formation, and that their varying
forms indicated varying stages of that process.

This suggestion was eagerly adopted by the members of the French
Academy, who were at that time on the look-out for anything which
they thought would help them to account for the existence of the
world, while they refused to acknowledge a Creator. It was taken
up by one of their number--Laplace--a man who stood in the very
foremost rank as a mathematician and physical astronomer, and
moulded into shape by him.[Footnote: There is a very full account
of Laplace's hypothesis, extracted from the works of Pontecoulant,
in Professor Nichol's System of the World, pp. 69--86.]

He assumed, that the Solar System existed at the very earliest
period as a shapeless nebula, a vast undefined mass of "fire-
mist;" that at some time or other the separate particles of this
fire-mist began to move towards their centre of gravity, under the
influence of their mutual attractions, and thus assumed a
spherical shape; that by some means or other a motion of rotation
was originated in this spherical mass, which increased in rapidity
as the process of condensation advanced. The effect of this
rotation would be a flattening of the sphere; the equatorial
diameter would increase while the polar diameter, or axis of
rotation, diminished; and when the centrifugal force thus produced
had reached a certain point, a ring would detach itself from the
equator, but would continue to revolve about the common centre. He
supposed that a succession of rings were thus thrown off, which
finally broke up and accumulated into one or more spherical
masses, forming the planets and their satellites, while the
remainder of the original sphere was condensed into the sun. The
planets and their satellites would continue to revolve about the
centre as the ring from which they were formed had done, while the
different original velocities of the particles of which they were
formed, some having been in the outer, some in the inner part of
the ring, would cause them also to rotate on their axis. As the
condensation advanced, the heat which had originally existed in
the "fire-mist" would be condensed also, so that all the masses
when formed would be in an incandescent state, but the planets and
their satellites being comparatively small would soon cool down,
while the sun, owing to its greatly superior bulk, still retains
its heat.

There is no doubt much to be said in favour of this theory, which
may be more advantageously considered hereafter, when we shall
have to consider it as supplementary to the Mosaic account. At
present we are only concerned with it as it claims to stand alone,
and to be accepted as a substitute for that account. Viewed in
this light, as a substitute for a Creator, as showing us how the
universe might have come into existence spontaneously, it utterly
breaks down in three points.

1. It gives us no account whatever of the origin of matter, but
assumes that it was already in existence at the time from which
the theory takes its point of departure. But some account of it
must be given. Either it was created by some higher power, or it
was eternal; for the idea of its being self-originated is
manifestly untenable. If it was created, there is an end of the
theory--the act of creation assumes the existence of a Creator;
and the only question left is, whether that Creator did more or
less. But the very object of the theory was to dispense with the
existence of a Creator. This alternative, then, it must reject,
and there is nothing left but to fall back upon the other, and to
assume that it existed from all eternity. But it is certainly not
less difficult to us to conceive the possibility of inert matter
being self-existent and eternal, than it is to recognize the
existence of an eternal and all-powerful Spirit. Our own
consciousness helps us to realize the possibility of the existence
of an Eternal Mind, and of the exercise of power by that mind; but
we have nothing to help us to a conception of self-existent

In addition to this, the idea of eternity precludes from its very
nature the idea of possible change. If there is change there must
be the distinction of before and after, and so of the succession
of existence, which involves the idea of time. That which is
subject to change, and this theory assumes a change in the
condition of matter, cannot be eternal.

2. The next failing point is, that this theory assumes a change,
of the origin of which it can give no account. The assumption is,
that matter which had existed from all eternity, or for an
indefinite time, in a state of perfect rest, suddenly began to
move towards its centre of gravity. A body, or a system of
particles, can remain at rest only under one of two conditions.
Either it must be acted on by no force at all, or all the forces
by which it is acted on must be in perfect equilibrium. If matter
existed under the first of these conditions, whence did the force
suddenly emanate? Force cannot be self-originated any more than
matter. But if the other alternative be adopted, how was the
equilibrium disturbed? It is a fundamental axiom of mechanics that
"a body (or system of bodies) at rest will continue at rest till
it be acted upon by some external force." But the theory supplies
no such external force, for it could only originate in that which
the theory ignores--the will and power of some intelligent Being.

3. The third defect is, that the theory does not give any
satisfactory account of the origin of the motions of rotation and
revolution. Laplace does not attempt this. He simply assumes that
a motion of rotation was set up somehow; but many of his
followers, perceiving that the theory broke down here--though they
passed the other two defects unnoticed--have attempted to supply
the deficiency in this point. Some have attempted to account for
this motion by analogy. It has been suggested that it was of the
same nature, and produced by the same causes, as the vortex which
is formed when a vessel full of fluid is emptied through an
orifice in its bottom. Pontecoulant, in his account of the theory,
enters more into detail. He assumes that in the process of
agglomeration large bodies of matter impinged obliquely on the
already formed mass, and so imparted to it a motion of rotation.

A consideration of the mechanical conditions of the problem will
show the unsoundness of Pontecoulant's views. It is of course
assumed that the forces by which this rotation is said to have
been produced are identical in their character with those with
which we are familiar, for the introduction of any force peculiar
to that time would be equivalent to an admission of a directing
power. The following propositions then seem unquestionable:--

1. The nebula must be considered as a system of particles acted on
by their mutual attractions, and by no other force.

2. When two particles of matter, a and b, attract each other, it
is a fundamental principle of mechanics, (commonly known as the
"Third Law of Motion") that whatever amount of momentum is
produced in a, an equal and opposite momentum must be produced in
b. Hence if the mutual action remain undisturbed, the two
particles will approach each other and finally meet. On their
union, the two momenta being equal and opposite will neutralize
each other, and there will be no tendency to produce motion of any
kind. 3. The same law will hold good with reference to any number
of particles, and therefore with reference to the supposed nebula.
Every single particle will produce a certain momentum in each of
the other particles, and at the same time will have impressed upon
it by each of the other particles an equal and opposite momentum.
Hence when all the particles are collected into a single mass,
each individual momentum will be balanced by an equal and opposite
one, and there can be no resultant motion.

The analogy from fluids flowing through an orifice fails, because--

1. The particles of the fluid are acted on by forces other than
their mutual attractions, and in many cases affecting them
unequally, e. g., friction against the sides of the containing
vessel and the orifice.

2. Because the orifice is not a point, but a finite area, and
consequently the particles of the fluid are acted on by forces
which do not pass through the same point.

Considered then as a substitute for the action of an intelligent
Creator, Laplace's theory utterly breaks down in three points,
which, as they will have to be referred to hereafter, it is well
to recapitulate.

1. It does not account for the origin of matter.

2. It does not account for the emergence of the force of

3. It does not give a satisfactory account for the motion of



The third science which is supposed to come into collision with
the Mosaic Record is Physiology. Here, however, we meet with no
objections which rest upon ascertained facts, as in the case of
geology. We have only to do with theories. All that can be brought
forward is merely matter of opinion or theory--such theory
resting indeed on a foundation of ascertained facts--but being in
itself a mere inference more or less probable from those facts.
Even if it were proved to be a true account of the causation of
those facts, it would be by no means certain that other facts,
however similar, might not have had a totally different origin.

At one time it was very confidently asserted, by many eminent
physiologists, that the differences between various branches of
the human race were so great, that it was impossible that all
should have descended from the same original stock. Probably this
opinion is still maintained in some quarters, but of late years
views of a diametrically opposite character have been brought
forward, and very ably advocated. In proportion as these views are
admitted to have in them an element of truth, the importance of
the older objection is diminished. It will therefore be
unnecessary to dwell upon it. This new view is, that not only all
branches of the human race, but all living beings now existing, or
that have ever existed on the face of the earth, are descended by
the process of "evolution," carried on under what are designated
as "natural laws" from some one variety, or small number of
varieties of living creatures of the lowest type.

This theory, like that of Laplace, had its origin among the French
Academicians, at the close of the last century. Its author was La
Marck. According to his view the simplest form of animal life, the
"monad," was spontaneously developed by some unknown process. From
this monad higher forms of animal life were produced, and the
course of development was continued till it finally culminated in
man. But it does not appear that La Marck suggested any means by
which the various stages of development were brought about, and
the view attracted little attention. Some thirty years ago it was
revived by an anonymous writer, in a work called "Vestiges of
Creation." In this work the idea of spontaneous generation was
repudiated. The original monad was supposed to have derived its
existence from an act of Creative Power, and to have been then
left to work out its own development, by virtue of powers
originally implanted in it. All its variations and advances were
supposed to be the result of the will and efforts of the creature
acting through many generations. Thus the desire and attempt to
walk ended in the development of legs, while wings were the final
result of its efforts to fly. It was felt, however, that this was
by no means a satisfactory account of the state of things, and so
the work, though it produced a great sensation at the time, has
now been almost entirely forgotten.

Latterly, however, the theory has found a far more able advocate
in the person of Mr. Darwin, with whose name it has been popularly
identified. By his indefatigable labours a vast variety of facts
have been collected and skilfully arranged, to show that all the
varieties of life may be satisfactorily accounted for by the
continued action, through a long course of ages, of certain
natural causes, with the results of which we are familiar, and of
which intentional use is continually made by man. Mr. Darwin does
not deny the existence of a Creator, but the tendency of his
arguments is to prove that His interference was limited to the
single act of original Creation; and that from the moment of its
creation the world has been a sort of automatic machine, producing
its results without any interference from any higher power.

The theory taken as a whole comes into contact with the Mosaic
Record in three points:--

1. As it assumes the possibility that life may be self-originated.

2. As it indicates a mode of procedure different from that given
by Moses.

3. As it requires unlimited time.

Of these the last is already disposed of, when the narrative is
shown to be capable of an interpretation in accordance with it.
The first requires only a brief notice; but the second must be
carefully investigated, to separate ascertained truth from
inferences which have no sufficient foundation.

The theory of spontaneous generation rests almost entirely upon
assumptions. Its only semblance of support from facts is derived
from certain experiments of a very unsatisfactory character, which
are said to have resulted in the production of some of the lowest
forms of animal life. These experiments have been by no means
uniformly successful. One or two experimenters have thought that
they have succeeded, but not uniformly, while the same process,
repeated by men whose scientific and manipulative powers are
universally recognized, has never once resulted in any seeming
development of life. Even if, however, they had been uniformly
successful, there would have been great reason to doubt whether
the apparent success was not really a failure--a failure in the
precautions necessary to exclude all germs of life from the matter
experimented upon. For the lower forms of life are excessively
minute; and their germs--eggs, seeds, or spores--must be far
smaller. It is known that these are constantly floating in the
atmosphere, though, owing to their extreme minuteness, the fact
can only be ascertained by the most skilful investigation. And the
lower forms of animalcules have a singular tenacity of life; they
can pass unharmed through processes which would be fatal to
creatures of higher organization. One variety is known to survive
entire desiccation; another lives upon strychnine; others bear
without injury great extremes of heat and cold; and if this is the
case with the mature creatures, it is probable that the germ
possesses still stronger powers of vitality. If one acarus can
live upon strychnine, then it is not impossible that mineral acids
should be harmless to others; the germs might be carried through
sulphuric acid in air without coming into contact with the acid,
as air would pass through in bubbles, in the centre of which they
might be suspended; or if like the diatomaceae, they were coated
with silex, they might come into contact with it and resist its
action. Thus one of the precautions commonly taken is not certain
in its action, and the same might be shown to be true of the
others. The theory of spontaneous generation is, in fact,
generally repudiated by Evolutionists, and cannot therefore be
taken as a starting-point.

We come then to the theory of Evolution with which Mr. Darwin's
name is associated. This theory asserts that all the varieties of
animal life now existing on the earth, however widely they may
differ from each other, are in reality derived from one, or a very
few original types; and that in this general statement the human
race is to be included. This theory rests upon the following
admitted facts.

1. There are not, as was at one time commonly supposed, broad and
distinct lines of demarcation between the different varieties of
animals and plants. Our increasing knowledge of zoology has
brought to light the fact that one species shades off into another
by almost imperceptible gradations. As we go back in the fossil
records of animal life in the past, we find that the species now
existing, while they are closely allied to correspondent species
of an earlier period, are scarcely ever identical with them, and
that the few cases of identity which do occur, are limited to the
most recent rocks. Either then the old species must have perished,
and new ones, similar but not identical, must have been created to
take their places, or there must have been a process of gradual
change, by which the present species have been derived from their
predecessors. In one or two cases fossils have been found which
combine, to some extent, forms which are now found in distinct
species, as if the process of variation had proceeded in distinct
lines from a common source.

2. No two animals of any class are exactly alike in all points.
Each has its individual peculiarities, and in some cases these
peculiarities are strongly marked.

3. Man has been enabled, to a certain extent, to make use of these
individual peculiarities, and by means of them to produce great
varieties in the breeds of domesticated animals. This has been
sometimes done unconsciously through a selection influenced by
other motives, and then the process has been very slow; but
latterly intentionally, with a view to the production of improved
breeds, and whenever this has been the case, changes of
considerable extent have been rapidly produced. By carefully
selecting the animals to be paired, any desired modification can
generally be produced in the course of a few generations. This is
exemplified in the numerous and increasing varieties of the breeds
of almost all domestic animals and birds.

The theory of Evolution then suggests that the same processes
which are employed by the cattle-breeder have been in operation
through untold ages. For the intention and care of the human
agent, Mr. Darwin substitutes two principles; one designated as
"Natural Selection," the other as "Sexual Selection." For their
full development he claims unlimited time. The ground on which the
Process of Natural Selection is maintained is as follows:--

It has been already noticed that no two individuals of the same
kind are exactly alike in all respects; each individual has some
peculiarities, generally very trifling, but sufficient to
distinguish it from all other individuals. Some of these
peculiarities will probably be such as to be of some service to
the individual in the struggle of life; they will assist it in
procuring food, or in resisting or escaping from its natural
enemies, while on the other hand the peculiarities of other
individuals will be prejudicial to them in these ways. The
consequence will be that a larger proportion of those having
favourable peculiarities will survive and propagate their kind;
their offspring will inherit the peculiarities of their parents,
and reproduce them in various degrees. The same process will then
be repeated, and thus from generation to generation the
peculiarity will be increased, till at last it is sufficient to
mark out, first a new variety, then a new species, and so on. This
process then, continued through a long course of ages, was at one
time considered by Mr. Darwin sufficient to account for all the
varieties of living creatures now existing, or that have existed
in past ages. But he has more recently satisfied himself
[Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i p. 152.] that there are many
phenomena which are not satisfactorily accounted for by this
principle, since many of the specific differences of animals are
found to exist in matters which, cannot directly promote their
success in the struggle of life. Such, for instance, are the
brilliant colours which are found, especially among the males, in
many species of birds. These he proposes to explain by the
supplementary theory of "Sexual Selection." His suggestion is that
these peculiarities are in some way attractive to animals of the
opposite sex, so that the individuals in which they are most
strongly developed are more successful than others in obtaining
mates, and that in this way the peculiarity is gradually fixed and

By these two processes, then, Mr. Darwin supposes that all the
differences now existing among animals have been produced and
perpetuated; and not only that, but that man also is the result of
similar processes, acting through a very long period; that the
progeny of certain "anthropomorphous apes" have, by slow degrees,
risen in the scale of being above their progenitors; that all our
faculties, intellectual and moral as well as physical, differ from
those possessed by lower animals in DEGREE only, and not in KIND,
[Footnote: Descent of Man, chaps, ii.-v.] so that man has arrived
at his present state by what may be termed purely natural
processes, without the intervention of any external power.

In considering these theories, our attention must first be
directed to some defects which appear to weaken the whole course
of the argument; and then we may consider the peculiar
difficulties in the way of the processes of natural and sexual
selection; and the grounds for the belief that man is in
possession of something entirely different in KIND from any
faculty or power possessed by any lower animals, which could not
therefore be derived by inheritance and improvement.

The first thing which strikes us in Mr. Darwin's works is that,
from time to time, he betrays a sort of latent consciousness that
his theory is insufficient; that the processes to which he
ascribes such vast results are not quite adequate to the purpose,
but that they need in some way to be supplemented. Every now and
then recourse is had to some law--some unknown cause--which must
co-operate in the production of the results he is considering. In
spite of the apparent care which he has taken to guard against it,
he is continually betrayed into a confusion between the two senses
in which the word "law" is employed. In its proper significance,
law is an expression of the will of an intelligent superior,
enforced by adequate power. In this sense the law may be
considered as an efficient cause. The combination of will and
power is an adequate cause for any result whatever. But Mr. Darwin
expressly excludes this sense of the word, in a sentence which
seems to involve a self-contradiction. "I mean by nature only the
aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by law only
the ascertained sequence of events." [Footnote: Plants and Animals
under Domestication, vol. i. p. 6.] Law, in this sense, then, is
simply the statement of observed facts, and as such can have no
action at all. It asserts that certain phenomena do uniformly
follow each other in an ascertained order; but it gives us no
information whatever as to the cause of those events, or the
reason why they do thus succeed each other. But, taking law in
this last sense, by his own definition, Mr. Darwin does,
nevertheless, continually bring forward certain "laws" as
accounting for certain results. Thus, we have the laws of
"Correlation of Growth," [Footnote: Origin of Species, ed. 1872,
p. 114.] "Inheritance limited to Males," [Footnote: Descent of
Man, vol. i. pp. 256, 257.] and a "Principle of Compensation."
[Footnote: Origin of Species, p. 117.] When Mr. Darwin, therefore,
brings forward these laws as efficient causes, he not only tacitly
admits the inadequacy of his theory to account for the phenomena
in question, but he also endeavours to supply the defect by
another cause, which, by his own definition, is no cause at all.
And further, Mr. Darwin calls in the action of "unknown agencies."
[Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 154.]

But it may be said, "Is not this the case with all sciences, at
least in their earlier stages? Are there not frequently, or
always, many phenomena which at first seem inexplicable, but which
are gradually accounted for as knowledge increases? If, then, this
is no objection in scientific pursuits generally, why should it be
so here?" This reasoning would be perfectly valid if Darwinism
were regarded simply as a scientific investigation. But it is
under consideration now on very different rounds. Whatever Mr.
Darwin's own views may be, the theory is brought forward by
others, not as a mere interesting speculation, but as antagonistic
to a record whose authority is attested by evidence of the very
highest class. It claims to discredit that record, and to be
received as a substitute for it. But that record, however it may
be interpreted, does give us adequate causes for all that it
professes to account for, in the will and operation of an Almighty
Creator. The theory, therefore, which professes to supplant it,
must at least stand upon an equal ground--it must give an
adequate account of everything. There must be no unverified laws.
To fall back upon such laws is in reality to fall back on the
working of that very power whose operation is formally denied.
[Footnote: See Foster's Essays, Essay i. Letter 5.]

The next point to be noticed is a great confusion between
assumptions and proved facts. This is especially prominent in that
part of his last work which is devoted to sexual selection. Thus,
in one case it is taken for granted, that various characteristics
of the males "serve only to allure or excite the female."
[Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 258.] "Hence" (because
brilliant colours of insects have probably not been acquired FOR
THE PURPOSE of protection), "I am led to suppose that the females
generally prefer, or are most excited by the more brilliant
males." [Footnote: Ibid. p. 399.] "Nevertheless, when we see many
males pursuing the same female, we can hardly believe that the
pairing is left to blind chance; that the female exerts no choice,
and is not influenced by the gorgeous colours, or other ornaments
with which the male alone is decorated" [Footnote: Descent of Man,
vol. i p. 421.] Such sentences are of continual occurrence, and do
duty in the argument as if they expressed ascertained facts. And
not only this, but in the very part of the work which is devoted
to establishing the adequacy of sexual selection to produce
certain effects, that adequacy is assumed from the very beginning.
Thus, we read, "That these characters are the result of sexual
selection is clear," [Footnote: Ibid. p. 258.] before we have got
six pages into an argument which occupies a volume and a half.
This is surely a strong instance of what is commonly called
"begging the question." Another instance of confusion of ideas is
to be found in the assumption of design which occasionally occurs.
Thus, we read, "In some other remarkable cases beauty has been
gained for the sake of protection, through the imitation of other
beautiful species." [Footnote: Ibid. p. 393.] "From these
considerations Mr. Bates inferred, that the butterflies which
imitate the protected species, had acquired their present
marvellously deceptive appearance through variation and natural
selection, in order to be mistaken for the protected kinds."
[Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 411.] In these cases there
is an assumption of purpose and design, which, necessarily implies
a designer, just as law, treated as an efficient cause, implies a
law-giver. It may indeed be that this is only an inaccurate way of
expressing something else; but then, such modes of expression are
usually the result of a want of clear perception of the ideas to
be expressed; and, in this case, such expressions must diminish
the weight to be assigned to Mr. Darwin's judgment.

We come now to the consideration of the first of Mr. Darwin's
supposed agencies--"Natural Selection," or, "Survival of the
fittest." The results produced by this process must be ascribed to
one of two causes: either they are the work of a Superintending
Providence, watching over and directing every separate detail; or
they are the result of pure chance and accident. There is nothing
intermediate between these two causes. Natural law--apart from
design and a designer--is, as we have seen, a nonentity--a mere
expression of observed facts, for which it can give no account
whatever. Mr. Darwin's argument is expressly directed to exclude
the interference of a superintending Providence. Chance is the
only cause which he can bring forward. The very first question,
then, which arises is, What is there upon which chance may
operate? What are the conditions from which the probabilities may
be calculated? Mr. Darwin assumes, and no doubt correctly, that
minute variations are continually taking place. But as these
variations are the result of accident [Footnote: If they are not
the result of accident, we again see design and need a designer.]
they will take place in various directions; some of them will have
a beneficial, some of them a noxious tendency. As, moreover, they
are supposed to be very small at each step, the difference of
advantage in the case of different individuals must be also very
small, and will not be likely to produce any considerable
difference in the chances of pairing. But in order that any
variation may be perpetuated and increased, the pairing of
similarly affected individuals is necessary. Parents, in which the
variations took opposite directions, would probably have offspring
of the normal type, the opposite variations neutralizing each
other. And this must be repeated again and again; and with every
repetition of the process required, the probabilities against it
would rapidly increase. Thus, supposing that in the first
generation the proportion of favourable conditions were such, that
of those animals that paired there were four of each sex that had
them to three that wanted them, the chances that any given pair
were alike in possessing them would be represented by the product
4/7 x 4/7, or 16/49. Hence, the chances would be rather more than
two to one against it. In the next generation it would be
256/2401, or more than eight to one, and so on. [Footnote: This is
given merely as an illustration of the nature of the calculation.
In any actual case the conditions would be infinitely more
complex, but the calculation, if it could be made at all, must be
made on this principle.]

But next, we have not to do with one series of changes only, but
with a vast number of different series going on in different
directions, if we are to have a large variety of animals produced
from a common stock. All the probabilities against the separate
variations must be combined, not by addition, but by
multiplication, so that the probabilities against the production
of all these separate forms become enormous.

Against all this improbability Mr. Darwin brings forward the
supposed advantages which these variations give to their
possessors. But here again a new element is introduced into the
calculation. It is assumed, in the very statement of the question,
that the process of adaptation has already taken place; the
original stock must have been adapted to the circumstances under
which they existed, or in their case the whole theory fails. If,
then, a fresh adaptation is wanted, it must be because a change in
external circumstances must have taken place. In order that a new
variety may be established there must be a concurrence between the
change of external circumstances and the change in the animals.
Here we get a new, and a large factor for our multiplication.

This argument may be, perhaps, made clearer by an illustration.
Mr. Darwin has written a very interesting book on the
fertilization of orchids by means of insects. According to his
view all insects are descended from one common type, and all
orchids are also descended from one parent; but we meet with
insects and orchids in pairs, each perfectly adapted to the other.
We will suppose that a change takes place in a particular orchid,
that the nectary recedes to a greater distance from the point to
which the insect can penetrate, and so an advantage is given to
those insects in which the haustellum is of a length above the
average. This may have a slight tendency to increase the number of
such insects; but then it will have an opposite tendency in the
case of the orchid. It cannot, of course, be supposed that the
variation, which is only partial in the insect, is universal in
the plant. The unchanged insects will therefore be confined to the
unchanged flowers, while the changed insects will be indifferent
on the subject, as they will be able to reach the nectary in any
case. Hence, an advantage will be given to the unchanged flower,
which will be more likely to be fertilized, and the two lines of
variation will move in opposite directions.

But next, the variation in the insects and the flowers must take
place at the same time and the same place, or no result will
follow to the insect, while the new variety of orchid must perish
for want of an insect to fertilize it. It is this which makes the
supposition of unlimited time almost useless, because just in
proportion as the time is increased the probability of two
independent events happening simultaneously is diminished.

But even supposing this difficulty out of the way, we meet with an
immediate repetition of it. The insect derives an advantage from
its increased haustellum, but what advantage does the plant derive
from its retiring nectary? How does that help it in the "struggle
of life?" But if it produces no beneficial result, the variation
according to the theory must drop. Hence we should arrive at an
insect suited for a new form of the flower, but no flower suited
to the new form of the insect.

If, then, we reject the idea of superintendence and design, we
have on the one hand an enormous antecedent improbability, while
on the other hand we have only a very small power by which a
direction may be given to the course of events, since by the
hypothesis in any one generation the change, and consequently the
superior advantage, is exceedingly small, and there is a strong
tendency in related changes, as in the case of the orchid and
insect, to move in opposite directions.

But next, in the varieties of animals with which we are
acquainted, there is a certain connexion between the differences
of independent organs, for which this theory does not help us to
account. Thus, for instance, according to this theory the canine
and the feline races are descended from a common ancestor. But
there are several points of difference between a cat and a dog.
There are the differences in the form of jaws, in the dentition;
in the muscles by which the jaws are moved, and in the feet and
claws. All animals of the cat tribe agree in all these respects,
so do all animals of the dog tribe. We never find a cat's head
combined with the feet of a dog. Why is this? Mr. Darwin attempts
to account for it by his supposed law of "correlation of growth,"
but, as has been already shown, any such law, being by Mr.
Darwin's definition the observed sequence of events and nothing
more, is utterly useless, when it is brought forward as a cause
for those events. On this point the theory completely breaks down.

3. The theory does not account for any changes which are not
immediately beneficial. [Footnote: In the "Origin of Species" (Ed.
1872) Mr. Darwin makes an admission which is virtually a giving-up
of his whole theory. He says, "In many other cases modifications
are probably the direct result of the laws of variation or of
growth, independently of any good having been thus gained; but
even such structures have often, as we may feel assured, been
subsequently taken advantage of," pp. 165, 166. Here, then, we
have a preparation for future circumstances, which surely implies
design.] If any rudimentary advance is made in the organism, if,
for instance, the rudiments of a new bone, or joint, or organ of
sense are developed, the nascent organ must, according to the
hypothesis of minute changes, be useless in the first instance.
Hence it would confer no advantage in the struggle of life; there
would be no tendency towards its preservation and growth. This
becomes a very important consideration, when certain important
differences in animal structure and habits are to be accounted
for. How, for instance, could the mammary glands be developed in
oviparous creatures? Mr. Darwin regards them as originating in
cutaneous glands, developed in the pouch of the marsupials. But
his grounds for this statement are very meagre. To a great extent
they rest on what an American Naturalist "believes he has seen;"
and besides, the ornithorhyncus, which has no pouch, and which is
lower in the scale of life than the marsupials, by Mr. Darwin's
own admission (O. S., p. 190), possesses the glands. Mr. Mivart's
question (Darwin, O. S., p. 189) is a very pertinent one.

Another point which this view fails to explain, is the
determination of the line of development in particular directions
at different periods. At one time it is most marked in fishes, at
another in reptiles, at another in mammals. How is this to be
accounted for?

4. The experience of cattle-breeders does not warrant the
assumption that the principle of natural selection has more than a
limited operation. No case has as yet been brought forward in
which varieties have been produced which were not capable of
interbreeding. Apart from their experience there is not a particle
of evidence in favour of the assertion that races which cannot be
made to breed together can be descended from a common stock. The
unlimited application of this principle is therefore a pure

5. To this must be added the circumstance that no authenticated
instance of variation by natural selection can be brought forward.
It is true that this is not a very important argument, because our
knowledge of those classes of animals in which natural selection
could act is even now very incomplete; and our knowledge of their
past history is still more limited, so that we are not in a
condition to prove a negative. But in such a case as this the onus
of proof should surely lie on the other side. It is for those who
would assert the theory to bring forward positive proof of it.
There is, however, one point in Mr. Darwin's view of domesticated
animals which tells against his theory. The cat remains unchanged,
because from its vagrant habits man has no control over its
pairing [Footnote: Darwin's "Animals and Plants," vol. ii. p.
236.]. Now considering the variety of conditions under which cats
exist, here is surely a great opening for natural selection. But
it has produced no results.

We come now to the theory of Sexual Selection, which is to account
for those peculiarities and distinctions which can have no
beneficial effect in the struggle of life, and which are accounted
for on the supposition that they render their possessors more
agreeable to the opposite sex, and so facilitate pairing, so that
those animals which possess them in a remarkable degree would have
the greatest chance of continuing their race. The case on which
Mr. Darwin mainly rests his argument is that of birds, in which
the males are frequently distinguished by exquisite colours and
very graceful markings, and in which also the proceedings of the
sexes can, in many cases, be more easily watched.

It is in maintaining this theory that Mr. Darwin has such frequent
recourse to what may be called the "argumentum ad ignorantiam."
"If such and such organs or ornaments were not designed for this
or that particular object, then we do not know of what use they
are." [Footnote: For instance, Descent of Man, vol. ii. pp. 284.
399.] This maybe very true, but it proves nothing, unless we
assume that we are or ought to be acquainted with, the use and
object of everything in nature. And it involves another and a very
wide question. There are certain tastes which seem to be inherent
in our nature, and there are certain external objects which afford
gratification to those tastes. Must we view this coincidence as
merely accidental? or is it a part of the design of the world that
it should minister not only to our needs, but also to our
enjoyments? Mr. Darwin does not reject the idea of an Author and
Designer of Nature, is he then prepared to assert that beauty did
not form a part of the design as well as utility? [Footnote: In
the "Origin of Species," p 159, Mr. Darwin does seem to assert
this; but he says in conclusion, "How the sense of beauty in its
simplest form--that is, the reception of a peculiar kind of
pleasure from certain colours, forms, and sounds--was first
developed in the mind of man and of the lower animals is a very
obscure subject," p. 162. To Mr. Darwin, with his present views,
it may well be obscure; but it presents no obscurity at all to
those who believe that the universe in all its details was
designed, and its formation superintended, by a loving Father,
whose will was that it should not only supply the needs, but also
minister to the enjoyment of all His creatures, nor to those who
in every form of beauty, physical, intellectual, or moral, behold
a far-off reflexion of the glory of the Invisible Creator.] If he
is not prepared to assert this, he must admit the possibility that
many things exist whose sole object is to minister to that sense
of beauty which is probably possessed by other beings besides

Mr. Darwin admits that many other causes, beside the supposed
preference on the part of one sex for certain material adornments
possessed by the other, influence the pairing of animals. In a
very large number of cases the female is quite passive in the
matter. The question is decided by a battle between the males, and
the female seems, as a matter of course, to become the mate of the
conqueror. In many other cases pairing seems to be the result of
accident; the two sexes pair as they happen to meet each other.
The great points on which Mr. Darwin rests his argument are that
in some cases, on the approach of breeding-time, certain
ornamental appendages become more highly developed or more
brilliantly coloured, [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. ii. p. 80.]
and that in many cases the males, when courting the females, are
observed to display their ornaments before them. [Footnote: Ibid.
vol. ii. p. 86, et seq.] but then there are other facts, which Mr.
Darwin. also notices, which detract more than he seems willing to
allow, from the relevancy of these facts. The development of
ornaments at breeding-time sometimes takes place in both sexes,
indicating some latent connexion with the reproductive organs;
thus the comb of the domestic hen becomes a bright red, as well as
that of the cock. It would appear then that the object of the
change is not to render the cock more attractive to the hens, for
how could it serve the hens (if the choice lies with them) to be
made more attractive to the cocks? Then again an old hen who is
past laying, often assumes, to a considerable extent, the plumage
of the cock. When these ornaments are the exclusive possession of
the male, they are often displayed for other purposes than the
gratification of the female. The possessors seem to be conscious
of their beauty, and to take a pleasure in displaying it to any

Very great beauty and brilliancy of colour is often found in cases
in which it can have nothing whatever to do with the relation
between the sexes. Thus, a vast number of caterpillars are
remarkable for their beauty; but in their immature state it can
have no relation to sexual selection; and if it may, or rather
must, have a different object in one case, what ground have we for
assuming that it may not have a different object in the other?

Again, we are not in a position to form any opinion as to the
causes which really influence the pairing of animals when choice
is exercised. We have no certain knowledge upon the important
question whether the ideal of beauty, if possessed by the lower
animals at all, is in all, or even in many cases, in accordance
with our own. We, for instance, admire a male humming-bird; what
certainty have we that he is equally beautiful in the eyes of his
mate? In cases where we have reason to believe that deliberate
selection has taken place, we do not know that that selection was
influenced by only one condition--that of beauty. There may have
been a thousand causes at work of which we know nothing. Mr.
Darwin brings forward an instance in which the owner of a number
of peahens wished them to breed with a peacock of a particular
variety, while they showed a deliberate preference for another
bird; and he supposes that their preference was decided by the
plumage. But there might have been another cause--at least the
circumstances as related by him seem to suggest it--which would
give a very different turn to the affair. The favoured peacock,
spoken of as "old," [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. ii. p. 119.]
was probably an old friend of the hens, while his unsuccessful
rival seems to have been a new introduction. The preference shown
by the hens would in this case be fully accounted for, without
supposing them to have exhibited any choice in the matter of

Then there are a vast number of peculiarities which are certainly
not ornamental in our eyes, but which are confined to the male
sex. They are, so far as we can tell, of no service whatever in
the struggle of life. With reference to these Mr. Darwin's
argument seems to be this,--"They can serve no other purpose with
which we are acquainted, therefore they must be attractive to the
female--therefore they must be acquired by sexual selection." Such
arguments as these cannot carry much weight. [Footnote: Descent of
Man, vol ii p 284.]

On the whole, we can hardly come to any other conclusion than that
the theory of sexual selection is not proved. In many cases it is
known that such selection is not the result of choice; in other
cases, where choice seems probable, we have no ground for
believing that external appearance is the sole ground of that
choice. It may exercise some influence, but that is all. Even if
admitted, there are many things which cannot be accounted for by
it without very extravagant assumptions. It cannot then be
admitted as covering the large classes of phenomena left
unaccounted for by the theory of natural selection.

So far as the lower animals are concerned, the results to which an
examination of Mr. Darwin's views has led us may be summed up in
the following propositions:--

1. That the two causes, natural and sexual selection, have
probably exercised some influence in the modification of animal
forms; but that the laws of probability preclude our entertaining
the belief that these causes can have had, by themselves, and
apart from a superintending power, anything beyond a very limited

2. That in cases where there have been related changes in
different parts of the same organism, or in different organisms,
the inadequacy of these two causes is virtually admitted by the
introduction of certain supposed laws; and that these laws, being
defined by Mr. Darwin to be no more than "the ascertained sequence
of events," cannot be regarded as efficient causes, and so cannot
supply the defect.

3. That there are particular points in the chain of life, in which
the transition from one form to another is so great, and so
incapable of graduation, that it is impossible to suppose that
these two causes can have been adequate to produce it. Of this a
notable instance is to be found in the transition from oviparous
animals to the mammalia.

We come now to the consideration of the origin of man, which Mr.
Darwin, in his last work, ascribes also to natural and sexual
selection. His view is, that man is descended from some family of
anthropomorphous apes, and that all those enormous differences
which, as he admits, exist between the highest ape and the most
degraded member of the human race, are differences of degree only,
and not of kind; that all our intellectual wealth, and all our
moral laws, are simply the development of faculties and ideas
which were possessed in a ruder form by the creatures from whom
man is descended.

So far as man's physical constitution is concerned, there is
undoubtedly something to be said in favour of this view. For man's
bodily frame is composed of the same elements, and moulded upon
the same general plan as that of the higher apes, and, what is
still more remarkable, it retains, in a rudimentary form, certain
muscles and organs which are fully developed and answer important
purposes in many of the quadrumana. Of these the tail is a
remarkable instance. But when the differences between the physical
peculiarities of man, and those of his supposed progenitors are
examined, the theory of natural selection collapses entirely, for
the development has taken the form which would be most
disadvantageous in the struggle of life. This is very clearly put
by the Duke of Argyll.[Footnote: "Recent Speculations on Primeval
Man," in Good Words, April, 1868.]

"The unclothed and unprotected condition of the human body, its
comparative slowness of foot; the absence of teeth adapted for
prehension or for defence; the same want of power for similar
purposes in the hands and fingers; the bluntness of the sense of
smell, so as to render it useless for the detection of prey which
is concealed;--all these are features which stand in fixed and
harmonious relation to the mental powers of man. But, apart from
these, they would place him at an immense disadvantage in the
struggle for existence. This, therefore, is not the direction in
which the blind forces of selection could ever work .... Man must
have had human proportions of mind before he could afford to lose
bestial proportions of body."

But it is in the intellectual and spiritual part of man's nature
that the greatest difficulty in the way of the application of
these theories arises. The strongest argument of all against them
is one which is incapable of proof, since it arises not from facts
around us, but from our own self-consciousness--our realization of
our own powers--and so, to each individual man it must vary in
apparent strength, in proportion as he realizes what he is, and
what it is in his power to become. The very outcry that has been
raised against Mr. Darwin's proposition is a proof of this. The
theory of the descent of man, as he propounds it, was felt to be
an outrage upon the universal instincts of humanity. But, because
this objection rests upon such a foundation, it is incapable of
being duly weighed and investigated as an argument, and we proceed
therefore to such considerations as are within our reach.

First of all it is desirable to dispose of one of the stock
arguments in favour of the theory. That argument is, that the
difference between the lowest type of savage and the highest type
of civilized man--between a Fuegian or an Australian on the one
hand, and a Newton, a Shakspeare, or a Humboldt, on the other,--is
quite as great as that between the higher forms of ape and the
lowest forms of humanity. But in this argument there is a fatal
confusion of ideas. The capacity for acquisition is confounded
with the opportunity for acquisition. That the savage is in
possession of but very few ideas does not prove that he is
incapable of more; it may equally well arise from the fact that he
had had no opportunity of acquiring more. The only way to test the
question is by putting a savagoe from his earliest infancy, under
the same favourable circumstances as the child of civilisation.
Whenever this experiment has been tried, and our missionaries have
had many opportunities of trying it, the difference has either not
appeared at all, or has proved to be very trifling. Mr. Darwin
himself seems to have been very much surprised at what he saw in
some natives of Terra del Fuego, who were for a time his
companions on board the "Beagle." "The Fuegians rank amongst the
lowest barbarians, but I was continually struck with surprise how
closely the three natives on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' who had lived
some years in England, and could talk a little English, resembled
us in disposition, and in most of our mental faculties."
[Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p 34] And these Fuegians had
not been educated from their infancy, they had only come to
England later in life, and were thus under an incalculable
disadvantage. Had they been heirs to such an intellectual
inheritance as fell to the lot of Mr. Darwin, there is nothing
extravagant in the supposition that they might have proved
themselves equal to him in the ability to make use of it. The
comparison then proves to be quite illusory; but it draws our
attention to a fact which is of very high importance in our
investigation of the difference between man and all other animals.
Man alone seems to be capable of laying up what may be termed an
external store of intellectual wealth. Other animals in the state
of nature make, so far as we know, no intellectual advances. The
bee constructs its cell, the bird builds its nest precisely as its
progenitors did in the earliest dawn of history. There is a
possibility that some advance, though a very small one, may be
made by animals brought under the control of man. It is said, for
instance, that a young pointer dog will sometimes point at game
without any training. But in this case the acquired knowledge is
congenital, and is therefore to be regarded as a development
brought about by superintended selection. But with man none of the
acquired knowledge is innate. It is a treasure entirely external
to himself until he has appropriated it by study of some kind or
other. There is no reason to believe that any advance in
intellectual power has been made by man, in his collective
capacity, since his first appearance on earth. Various individuals
have varying powers, but these differences are no result of
development, since they may often be found among members of the
same family, who have been subjected to the same discipline, and
enjoyed the same educational advantages. It follows that the gulf
between the ape and the lowest type of humanity is almost if not
quite as great as between the ape and the highest type. The savage
does not in any way help to bridge over that gulf.

But it is said that the moral and intellectual faculties which man
possesses, and which he looks upon as the great badge of his
superiority, are in truth only different in degree and not in kind
from those possessed by the lower animals. But the grounds on
which this assertion is based are wonderful in their tenuity. Dogs
are possessed of self-consciousness because they sometimes emit
sounds in their sleep from which it is concluded that they dream.
[Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 62.] "Can we feel sure that
an old dog, with an excellent memory, and some power of
imagination, as shown by his dreams, never reflects on his past
pleasures in the chace? And this would be a form of self-
consciousness." Our duty to our neighbour is entirely the result
of "social instinct," [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. pp. 70-
106.] and our duty to our God the development of a belief which
has its origin in dreams. [Footnote: Ibid, p. 66.]

It is impossible for us satisfactorily to meet these assertions
with a direct negative, [Footnote: There are some who think that
this statement may be directly refuted. Their views will be found
in the QUARTERLY REVEIW, July, 1871.] for this simple reason, that
we have no means whatever of knowing what ideas are present in the
minds of the lower animals, or even what communications pass
between them. For anything we can tell to the contrary, the bark
of a dog may be as articulate to his fellow-dogs as our speech is
to our fellow-men, while on the other hand to the dog our speech
may be as inarticulate as his bark is to us. But our total
ignorance of the mental state of animals which have been the
companions of man from the very earliest ages, our utter inability
to hold any conversation with them, is in itself a proof of the
wide gulf that separates them from us. Put two men of the most
widely separated races on a desert isle together, and a very
little time will elapse before they are able to hold some
communication with each other. If then the difference between man
and the lower animals were a difference of the same kind as that
between the civilized man and the savage, though greater in
degree, surely in so many thousand years something might have been
done to open a way for intellectual communication; some
development of the faculties of the lower creatures would have
been perceived, some means of interchanging ideas would have been
discovered. If Mr. Darwin had had for his companions on board the
"Beagle," instead of three Fuegians, as many Gorillas or
Chimpanzees, would he, at the end of the voyage, have been able to
report any approximation, at all to European mental
characteristics, or even to those of the lowest savage? But if the
difference be only one of degree, some approximation ought to have
taken place.

As then we can have no direct knowledge of the moral and
intellectual powers of animals, we can only judge of them from
their actions, and other external signs. One great mark of
difference has already been noticed. Man has, other animals have
not, the power of laying up an external treasure of intellectual
acquirements. Then there are certain arts which seem to be
indispensable to man in his lowest state--no savage is so low that
he is utterly destitute of them--no animal makes any pretence to
them. Such are the designing, construction, and use of tools. Mr.
Darwin asserts that in certain cases--very rare ones--apes have
been known to use stones to break open nuts; but the mere use of a
stone is a very different thing from the conception and deliberate
formation of a tool, however rude. Then there is the kindling of
fire, and the use of it for the purpose of cooking; and lastly,
the preparation and the wearing of clothes. The tools or the
clothes may be of the rudest kind, the tools may be formed from a
flint, and the clothes from bark or skin, but in the preparation
of each there are signs of intellectual power, of which we find no
indications whatever in the lower animals.

Another important difference between man and all other animals
lies in the fact, that whatever an animal does it does perfectly
from the first, but it makes no improvements. A bird's first nest
is perfect. With man the case is the reverse, it is only by many
trials, many failures, that he attains to skill in any operation,
but then he goes forward. Arts improve from generation to
generation. This seems to show that the faculties of man differ
from those of animals in kind, and not in degree only.

The question also arises, if man has been produced from an
anthropomorphous ape by a process of natural development, how is
it that the same process has not gone on in other lines? The dog,
the horse, and the elephant are at least equal in intelligence and
sagacity to the highest known apes. Such a development from them
cannot have proceeded through the line of the apes. If these
different orders are at all connected it must be through some
remote common ancestor. Why then has this development come to an
abrupt termination in some cases and not in all? It may indeed be
said that the dog and the horse are indebted for their
intelligence to the inherited results of long intercourse with
man, but this cannot be the case with the elephant, which is never
known to breed in captivity. Nor is there any reason to believe
that the present intelligence of the elephant is recently
developed. Why then has it been arrested in its course?

Whether or not we assume the theory of development to be wholly or
partially correct in reference to the lower animals, we must admit
that it is true of man, but in a sense totally different from that
which Mr. Darwin suggests. The development of which he is the
advocate is a development of race, in which the advance made by
each individual generation is exceedingly small, while the
difference in remote generations, the accumulated advance of
successive generations, is great. In man, on the contrary, there
is no reason whatever to believe that there has been any advance
at all in the race from the very earliest periods--that either in
physical power or intellectual ability the present generation of
men, taken as a whole, are in any way superior to their most
remote ancestors. The development of which man is especially
capable is the development of the individual, that development
being not physical, but intellectual and moral, and being in a
great degree dependent on the will and perseverance of the
individual, and very little on external circumstances. The result
of these individual developments has been the accumulation of a
vast fund of wealth, useful arts, sciences, literature, which form
the common possession of the whole race, but do not necessarily
imply the slightest advance in any particular individual--that
advance being dependent, not on the possession of those treasures,
but on the use made of them. In the case of man then development
does certainly exist, but it takes a line totally distinct from
that which Mr. Darwin advocates, and thus forms another broad line
of demarcation between man and the most advanced of the lower

It appears then that the faculties of man differ generically from
those of the animals. A new order of things seems to have
commenced with the appearance of man on the earth--an order in
which the highest place was to be maintained by intellectual
instead of physical power. No mere process of evolution then will
account for man's origin. His physical nature may have been formed
in that way; but we cannot believe that his intellectual and moral
nature were developed from any lower creatures. Only some special
Creative interference can account for his existence.

So far then as it tends to negative the continued operation of the
Creator, the theory of evolution is untenable. Like that of
Laplace, it fails to give an adequate cause for existing
phenomena. But it seems probable, as will be seen in the next
chapter, that both theories have in them much of truth. They
cannot point out the cause of the universe, but they may give us a
more or less accurate view of the manner in which that cause
operated. The facts brought forward by geologists have been shown
not to be incompatible with interpretations which the Mosaic
Record readily admits, though they conflict with existing notions
upon certain points. In no one then of the three sciences which
have been supposed to be specially antagonistic to that record, is
there anything to be found which can be maintained as a reasonable
ground for doubting that that record is, what it has always been
held to be by the Church, a direct Revelation from the Creator.



It is now clear that there is nothing in the Mosaic Record itself,
which is contradicted by any scientific discovery, and that all
the alleged difficulties arise either from interpretations
prematurely adopted, or from theories which, when carefully
examined, are found to be defective, but which may nevertheless
contain in them a large element of truth. But if scientific
discoveries are available for the refutation of erroneous
interpretations, the probability is that when rightly understood
they will help us to arrive at the true meaning, since the Works
of God are, beyond all other things, likely to throw light on that
portion of His Word in which those Works are described. Nor are
the theories to be passed over--the greater the amount of truth
which they embody the greater will be the likelihood that they
will receive help from, as well as throw light upon, such a
record; and thus we shall have additional evidence that the Word,
the Work, and the Intellect, which has scrutinized and interpreted
the Work, are all derived from the same source. We proceed,
therefore, to inquire whether these facts and theories do in any
way elucidate the concise statements of Scripture, so that we may
be enabled to arrive at a somewhat clearer idea of the meaning of
this most ancient document, and be enabled to entertain somewhat
more distinct views of the manner in which the Divine Architect
saw fit to accomplish His Work.

In pursuing this investigation two points must be carefully kept
in mind; the first is the distinction between theory and
conjecture on the one hand, and well ascertained facts on the
other. We shall have much to do with theory, and with conjectural
interpretations of observed facts. These can never stand on the
same footing as the facts themselves, but can only be regarded as
invested with greater or less probability. If it is found that
these theories do explain many observed facts, that they harmonize
with, and as it were dovetail into any proposed interpretation of
which the words of Moses are capable; and still more if that
interpretation actually completes the defective points of the
theories, and supplies an adequate cause for facts hitherto
inexplicable--then the presumption is a very strong one that the
interpretation thus supported is at all events an approximation to
the true one.

The second point to be carefully kept in mind is the very
imperfect state of scientific knowledge even at the present time.
As far as the matter in hand is concerned, the facts which are
ascertained beyond all possibility of doubt, are very few. New
means of investigation have very recently been discovered, and as
a consequence new sources of information have been pointed out,
new fields of research have been laid open. Twenty years ago the
spectroscope was a thing undreamt of--now astronomers reckon it as
of equal value with the telescope, while chemists find it
indispensable to their researches. Who shall say that the next
twenty years may not witness some invention of equal importance,
which shall throw upon us a fresh flood of light from some
unexpected quarter? If then the principle which has hitherto been
maintained is correct, that all our difficulties arise from
interpretations based upon insufficient knowledge, but maintained
as if of equal authority with the record itself, there is a great
danger lest after a time the same difficulty should recur--that
the discovery of fresh facts may discredit interpretations based
upon our present knowledge. Any interpretation therefore to which
we may be led by the scientific views at present entertained, must
be regarded as only provisional and tentative, liable at any time
to be either confirmed, amended, or rejected, as fresh discoveries
may be made.

Before we enter upon a detailed examination of the records of the
several days, there are two preliminary points to which attention
must be directed. We shall have to make frequent reference to
"law." It will be well that the sense in which the term is used
should be made clear. The account of the First Day's Work will
lead to the recent theory of the Correlation of Forces. As this is
probably a new subject to many, some previous explanation of it
will be necessary.

SECTION 1. OF LAW. [Footnote: This subject is fully treated in the
Duke of Argyll's "Reign of Law."]

Law, in its original and proper sense, is the expression to an
inferior of the will of a superior, which the inferior has it in
his power to obey or to resist, but resistance to which entails a
penalty more or less severe, in proportion to the moral turpitude,
or the injurious consequences of the act of disobedience. In this
its strict sense the law can only exist in connection with beings
possessed of reason to understand it, of power to obey it, and of
free will to determine whether they will obey it or not. When
these three conditions are absent law can have no existence. But
the result of perfect law, perfectly obeyed, would be perfect
order. Hence the observation of perfect order leads, by a reversed
process, to the supposition of some law of which that order is the
result. Hence arose in the first instance the term "natural laws,"
or "laws of nature." Events were found to follow each other in a
uniform way, and this uniformity was thus sought to be accounted
for. Probably in the minds of those by whom the word was thus
applied in the first instance Nature was not the mere abstraction
it is now, but an unseen power--Deity or subordinate to Deity--
working consciously and with design.

[Footnote: Mr. Darwin, especially in the "Origin of Species,"
seems continually to betray the existence of this feeling in his
own mind. Though he from time to time reminds us that by Nature he
means nothing but the aggregate of sequences of events, or laws,
he yet frequently speaks of Nature in a way which is applicable
only to an intelligent worker.]

But this feeling has disappeared, and now we are told that natural
law is "the observed sequence of events." In this case, then, the
true meaning of the word is entirely lost--it is no longer
possible to speak of law as the cause of any event.

But the old sense in which the word was applied to natural
phenomena had in it far more of truth than the modern one. It was
the imperfect expression of the great truth that God is a God of
order--that there is a uniform procedure in His works, because in
Him there is no change, no caprice. And it is of great importance
to us that we should realize this truth, because we are dependent
upon the laws of nature every moment of our lives. Every conscious
act is performed under the conviction that the natural forces
which that act calls forth will operate in a certain prescribed
manner. But this conviction, though it restricts us to the limits
of the possible, does not further impede the freedom of our will.
To a certain extent we can choose what action we will perform,
what forces we will call forth for that purpose, and what
direction we will give them. Sometimes we can arrange our forces
so that they will continue to act for a considerable time without
any intervention from us; in other cases continued interference is
necessary. But in all these cases there is no interruption of the
law by which the working of these forces is regulated. We have
then a limited control over these forces, and yet they are
unchangeable in themselves, and in their mode of action.

When, however, we strive to ascend from our own works to those of
God, we can no longer regard these forces as absolutely
unchangeable. If they are practically so, it is because it is His
Will that they should be so. It is this Will then which has its
expression in the so-called laws of nature. The term now assumes a
sense akin to, though not identical with, its original ethical
sense. It is no longer a rule imposed by a superior on an
inferior, but the rule by which the Supreme Being sees fit to
order His own Work. While however we admit the possibility of law
of this kind being changed, we have no reason to believe that in
the universe with which we have to do any such change has ever
taken place. But this does not preclude the possibility of Divine
interference in the processes either of Creation or of Providence.
New forces may from time to time be supplied, new directions may
be given to existing forces, without any variation in the laws by
which the action of those forces is regulated.

And if we believe that Creation was a progressive act, it is
rather probable than otherwise that such interferences should take
place. For a long period perhaps the uniformity of the work might
lead us to forget the Being who was working; but times would
arrive when definite stages of the work were accomplished, when
higher developments of being were rendered possible, and in the
introduction of those higher developments a something would be
seen which could not be the result of the processes with which we
had already become acquainted. Such interference would not in any
way justify the supposition that the designs of the Author of
Nature were changed, or that His original plan had proved
defective. The more natural inference would be that they were a
part of the plan from the first, but that the time for them was
not then come.

It will be seen in the sequel that in all probability many of the
special acts of Creation, mentioned in the Mosaic Record, are
interferences of this kind; that for long periods of time matters
advanced in a uniform manner; that the sequence of events was such
as our own experience would lead us to anticipate; but that these
periods were separated from one another by the introduction of new
forces and new results. Of the former we may speak then as carried
on under the operation of natural laws; the other may be described
as special interferences not antagonistic, but supplementary, to
natural laws, and forming part of the original design.


[Footnote: For fuller information on this subject, Grove's
"Correlation of the Physical Forces," or Tyndall's "Lectures on
Heat considered as a Mode of Motion," may be consulted.]

It has long been known that heat and light are closely connected
together. The accumulation of a certain amount of heat is always
accompanied by the appearance of light. But when it was found that
the light could be separated from the heat by various means, it
seemed possible that the two phenomena were simply associated. It
is now, however, ascertained that light and heat are identical in
their nature, and that a vast number of other phenomena--
electricity, galvanism, magnetism, chemical action, and
gravitation, as well as light and heat, are different
manifestations of one and the same thing, which is called force or
energy. In a great number of cases it is possible for us, by the
use of appropriate means and apparatus, to transform these
manifestations, so as to make the same force assume a variety of
forms. Thus motion suddenly arrested becomes heat. A rifle-ball
when it strikes the target becomes very hot. The heat produced by
the concussion against an iron shield is found sufficient to
ignite the powder in some of the newly invented projectiles. The
best illustration, however, is to be obtained from galvanism. By
means of the Voltaic battery we set free a certain amount of
force, and we can employ it at pleasure to produce an intense
light in the electric lamp, or to melt metals which resist the
greatest heat of our furnaces; it will convert a bar of iron into
a magnet, or decompose water into its constituents, oxygen and
hydrogen, or separate a metal from its combination with oxygen.
But in all these processes no new force is produced--the force
set free is unchangeable in itself, and we cannot increase its
amount. Owing to the imperfection of our instruments and our skill
a part of it will always escape from our control, and be lost to
us, but not destroyed. When, however, due allowance is made for
this loss, the results produced are always in exact proportion to
the amount of force originally set free. Thus, if we employ it to
decompose water, the amount of water decomposed always bears an
exact proportion to the amount of metal which has been oxidized in
the cells of the battery.

This force pervades everything which comes within the cognizance
of our senses. It exists in what are termed the elementary
substances of which the crust of the earth is composed. A certain
amount of it seems to be required to maintain them in the forms in
which we know them; for in many cases, when two of them are made
to combine, a certain amount of force is set free, which commonly
makes its appearance as heat. This seems to indicate that a less
amount of force suffices to maintain the compound body than was
requisite for its separate elements. Thus, when oxygen and
hydrogen are combined to form water intense heat is produced. If
we wish to dissolve the union, and restore the oxygen and hydrogen
to a gaseous state, we must restore the force which has been lost.
This, however, must be done by means of electricity, as heat
produces a different change--converting the water into vapour, but
not dissolving the union between its elements.

Force, in the shape of heat, determines the condition in which all
inorganic bodies exist. In most cases we can make any given
element assume the form of a solid, a fluid, or a vapour, by the
addition or subtraction of heat. Thus if a pound of ice at 32
degrees be exposed to heat, it will gradually melt--but the water
produced will remain unchanged in temperature till the last
particle of ice is melted--then it will begin to rise in
temperature; and, if the supply of heat be uniform, it will reach
a temperature of 172 degrees in exactly the same time as was
occupied in melting the ice. Thus then the force which was applied
to the ice as heat passes into some other form so long as the ice
is being melted--it is no longer perceptible by the senses--we
only see its effect in the change from the solid to the fluid
form. And this result is brought about by a definite quantity of
force. Each of the inorganic materials of which the crust of the
earth is composed seems thus to require in its composition a
definite amount of force.

The life of vegetables is developed in the formation of fresh
compounds of inorganic matter and force. No vegetable can thrive
without sunlight, either direct or diffused. This supplies the
force which the plant combines with carbon, hydrogen, and other
elements to form woody fibre, starch, oils, and other vegetable
products. When we kindle a fire, we dissolve the union which has
thus been formed--the carbon and hydrogen enter into simpler
combinations which require less force to maintain them, and the
superfluous force supplies us with light and heat.

The life of animals is developed by a process exactly the reverse
of vegetable life. It is maintained by the destruction of the
compounds which the vegetable had formed. These compounds are
taken into the body as food, and after undergoing certain
modifications and arrangements are finally decomposed. Of the
force thus set free a part makes its appearance as heat,
maintaining an even temperature in the body, and another part
supplies the power by virtue of which the muscles, &c., act. No
manifestation of animal life is possible except by force thus set
free. It seems all but certain that we cannot think a single
thought without the decomposition of an equivalent amount of the
brain. It must not, however, be concluded that force and life are
identical. Force seems to be only the instrument of which the
higher principle of life makes use in its manifestations.

Force then pervades the whole universe so far as it is cognizable
by our senses. But we cannot conceive of force as acting, without
at the same time conceiving of something on which that force acts.
That something, whatever it may be, we designate "matter." We have
not the slightest idea of what matter really is--no man has ever
yet succeeded in separating it from its combination with force.
Even if success were possible, which seems very improbable, it is
not likely that matter by itself would be discernible by any of
our senses. We know that two of them, sight and hearing, enable us
to perceive certain kinds of motion, i. e. manifestations of
force, and this is in all probability the case with the rest of
them. The existence of matter then is not known by scientific
proof but by inference. Our belief in it arises from something in
the constitution of our minds which makes it a necessary

There is one more point in reference to force which must be
noticed. It is indestructible, but it is capable of what is termed
"degradation." It may exist in various intensities and quantities,
and a small quantity of force of a higher intensity may be changed
into a larger quantity of force at a lower intensity. In the
instance above given of the union of oxygen and hydrogen, heat is
given out, but heat does not suffice to dissolve that union. The
force must be supplied in the more intense form of Voltaic
Electricity. But to reverse this process seems impossible for us.
As, however, this is clearly explained in a previous volume of
this series, [Footnote: Can we Believe in Miracles? p. 152.] it is
not necessary to dwell upon it at length.

We may conclude then that the whole material universe is built up
of matter and force in various combinations, but we can form no
conception of what these two things are in themselves; they are
only known to us by the effects produced by their union in various


"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

"And the earth was desolate and void, and darkness upon the face
of the deep."

These words carry us back to a time indefinitely remote. Eternity
and Infinity are ideas which we cannot grasp, and yet we cannot
avoid them. If we stretch our imagination to conceive of the most
distant possible period of time--the farthest point of space--
still we feel that there must have been something before the one,
that there must be something beyond the other; and yet we cannot
conceive of that which has no beginning, or no boundaries. The
first verse marks out for us as it were a definite portion of this
limitless ocean. "In the beginning," is the point from which time
begins to run--"the heavens and the earth," the visible universe
beyond which our investigations cannot extend. Whether other
manifestations of God have taken place in Eternity, or other
systems of worlds now exist in infinity, we are not told.

The heavens and the earth then are to be considered as comprising
the visible universe, sun, moon, and stars, and their
concomitants, which the eye surveys, or which scientific research
brings to our knowledge. All are comprehended in this one group by
Moses, and recent spectroscopic investigations teach us that one
general character pervades the whole. Every star whose light is
powerful enough to be analyzed, is now known to comprehend in its
materials a greater or less number of those elementary substances
of which the earth and the sun are composed. Whether any of these
worlds were called into perfect existence at once, or whether they
all passed through various stages of development, we are not told,
that in some of them the process of development is only
commencing, while in others various stages of it are in progress,
is, as will be seen presently, highly probable. But the narrative
takes no farther notice of anything beyond our own group of
worlds, and proceeds to describe the condition of the earth
(probably including the whole solar system) at the time at which
it commences. Its words imply such a state of things as
corresponds to what has been said in the preceding section of
matter, apart from force. No better words could probably have been
chosen for the purpose. The only word which seems to convey any
definite idea is in the following clause, where water is
mentioned. Until force was in operation water could not exist.
Probably St. Augustine's interpretation is the correct one--the
confused mass is called alternately earth and water, because
though it was as yet neither one thing nor the other, it contained
the elements of both. And the word "water" expressed its plastic
character. ("De Genesi ad Literam" Liber Imperfectus, Section 13,

One other important point in these words is, that they negative
the eternal existence of matter. The second verse describes it as
existing, because it had been called into existence at the bidding
of an Almighty Creator, as described in the first verse.


"And the Spirit of God (was) brooding upon the face of the water.

"And God said, 'Let light be' and light was.

"And God saw the light that it was good, and God divided the light
from the darkness.

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.

"And there was evening and there was morning, one day."

The first clause seems to belong rather to the period of action
than to the precedent indefinite period of chaos, and may
therefore be taken as marking the transition from the "beginning"
to the first day, better than as belonging to that beginning
itself. The Jewish interpretation of the clause is untenable in
the light of the doctrine of the Correlation of the Physical
Forces. Till force was evolved there could be neither air nor
motion, and so no wind. The words of course bear on their face an
assertion of the action of the eternal Spirit in the work of
Creation; but when we examine the position which they occupy, it
seems highly probable that they have beyond this a much more
definite signification. In them a sort of localized action is
ascribed to the Spirit--a something very different from the idea
conveyed by the often-repeated phrase, "And God said." What that
something may be it is hard for us to conceive, harder still to
express, but the following considerations may perhaps throw some
glimmering of light upon the matter:--

1. There must be some point in which the Creator comes into
contact, as it were, with His creature--a point at which His Will
first clothes itself in the form of a physical fact--the point to
which all second causes lead up, and at which they lose themselves
in the one first cause, the Will of God. Now this is what all
systems of philosophy require as their starting-point, but it is
entirely out of their unaided reach. But these words supply that
indispensable desideratum.

2. These words come in immediate connexion with the evolution of
light. Light is throughout the Bible intimately connected with the
Deity. It is His chosen emblem. "God is light." It is His abode.
"He dwelleth in the light inaccessible." It is the symbol of His
presence, and the means by which Creation is quickened. "In Him
was life; and the life was the light of men."

3. Light, as we now know, is only one form of the force by which
the universe is upheld. But the phenomena of light lead us to
infer the existence of what we call Ether, which is supposed to be
a perfectly elastic fluid, imponderable, and in fact exempt from
almost all the conditions to which matter, as we know it, is
subject, except that POSSIBLY it offers resistance to bodies
moving in it. [Footnote: Encke's comet shows signs of retardation,
as if moving in a resisting medium; but it is possible that that
resistance may not arise from the ether, but from the nebulous
envelope of the sun.] This fluid must pervade the whole universe,
since it brings to us the light of the most distant star or
nebula. As it is the medium through which light is conveyed, and
as light is now known to be identified with force of all kinds, it
seems by no means improbable that it is the medium through which
all force acts.

These words, then, seem to suggest the idea that the brooding of
the Spirit may have some connexion with the formation of that
ether which is indispensable to the manifestation of light, and
probably to the operations of all force; and that, if so, the
ether may also be the point at which, and the medium through
which, Spirit acts upon Matter. On the one hand, the facts that
force, as used, is constantly in process of degradation, and that
it is also constantly poured forth into space from the Sun and
Planets in the shape of heat, and so lost to our system, seem to
indicate that fresh supplies of it are continually needed; while,
on the other hand, the supply of that need seems to be implied in
the words, "By Him all things consist." "Upholding all things by
the word of His Power."

If this be so, we have a point up to which natural laws may
possibly be traced, but at which they merge in the action of the
Will of God, which is beyond our investigation. Here, then, is a
solution of that great difficulty, which those who are most
familiar with the laws of nature have felt in reconciling the
existence of those laws with a particular Providence and with the
efficacy of Prayer, since we have here the point at which all
forces and all laws begin to act, and at which, therefore, the
amount of the force, and the direction of its action, are capable
of unlimited modification, without any alteration of, or
interference with, the laws by which that action is regulated, and
consequently without the danger of introducing confusion into the

"And God said, 'Let light be' and light was." It has already been
pointed out that these words differ from those used in describing
any other creative act. They are the only ones which seem to imply
an instantaneous fulfilment of the command. Another matter which
has long since been observed, is their exact harmony with what
science teaches us respecting the nature of light. Light is not a
material substance, but a "mode of motion." It consists of very
small undulations propagated with inconceivable velocity. Hence of
it, and of it alone, it could not be correctly said that it was
created. To say that God made light would be inexact. The words
which are used exactly suit the circumstances of the case. But the
discovery of the correlation of forces has given to these words a
much more extended significance, while at the same time it
furnishes a satisfactory reason for their occurrence at this
particular point. So long as they were supposed to refer to light
simply, they seemed out of place. Light was not apparently needed
till there were organisms to whose existence it was essential. But
we now know that to call forth light, was to call force in all its
modifications into action. It has been seen that matter and force
are the two elements out of which everything that is discernible
by our senses is built up. The formation of matter has already
been described in the original act of creation. But till force
also was evolved, matter must of necessity remain in that chaotic
state to which verse 2 refers. To matter is now added that which
was required to enable the progressive work of Creation to be
carried on. The first result of this would probably be that the
force of gravitation would begin to act, while, from what the
telescope reveals to us, we may conjecture, that at the same time
the whole incoherent mass would be permeated with light and heat,
and some, at all events, of those elementary substances with which
chemistry makes us acquainted would be developed, and the whole
mass, acted upon by the mutual attraction of its several
particles, would begin to move towards, and accumulate about its
centre of gravity.

It has been shown that Laplace's Nebular Hypothesis, when
substituted for the action of a Creator, broke down in three
important points. Of these the first two were, that it failed to
give any account of the origin of matter, and of the first
commencement of the action of Gravitation. These two defects are
completely supplied by the first three verses of Genesis. We may
probably see in the "Great Nebula" in Orion an illustration of the
condition of the solar system when light first made its
appearance. It is very probable that that nebula has only very
recently become visible. Galileo examined Orion very carefully
with his newly invented telescope, but makes no mention of it.
[Footnote: Webb's Celestial Objects, p. 255, note.] At present it
is visible to the unaided eye even in England, where the
atmospheric conditions and its low altitude are alike
unfavourable. In Italy, where the atmosphere is remarkably pure,
and the meridian altitude is greater by 7 1/2 degrees, it must be
a conspicuous object, and had it been so at the time when Galileo
was observing the constellation, it could hardly have failed to
attract his attention. It was, however, noticed in 1618. It is a
vast, shapeless mass, having its boundaries in some parts
tolerably well defined, while in other directions it fades away
imperceptibly; its light is very faint, and when examined by the
spectroscope is found to proceed from a gaseous source. Professor
Secchi has traced it through an extent of 5 degrees. When it is
remembered that at such a distance the semi-diameter of the
earth's orbit subtends an angle less than 1 inch, some idea of the
enormous extent of this mass of gas may be formed. Drawings of it
have been made from time to time by our most distinguished
astronomers, which are found to differ considerably. Great
allowance must, of course, be made for differences in the
telescopic power employed, and in the visual powers of the several
observers, but the differences in the drawings seem too great to
be explained by those sources of inaccuracy alone, and actual
change in the nebula is therefore strongly suspected. Another
nebula of similar character, in which changes are suspected, is
that which surrounds the star A in the constellation Argo. This is
being very carefully watched through the great telescope recently
erected at Melbourne, and from the observations made there, it is
probable that fresh light may soon be thrown on the subject.

The next act recorded is, that "God divided the light from the
darkness." This is one of those passages which we are very apt to
pass over as unimportant, without giving ourselves any trouble to
ascertain what they mean, or asking if they may not give valuable
information, or supply some important hints. It is evident,
however, that in these words some act of the Creator is implied,
but when we inquire what that act was, the answer does not lie
immediately on the surface. Darkness is simply the absence of
light. It cannot therefore be said that God divided the light from
the darkness in the same sense in which it is said that "a
shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats". Between light and
darkness that division exists in the very nature of things, and it
could not therefore be said to be made by a definite act. Nor
again, is there any sharp well-defined boundary set between light
and darkness, so that we can say, "Here light begins, here
darkness ends." The very opposite is the case, the one blends
imperceptibly into the other. This then cannot be the meaning of
the words. But the next verse guides us to the real meaning. "And
God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night." The
division of light from darkness then is the alternation of night
and day. When God divided the light from the darkness He made
provision for that alternation. But we know that that alternation
is the result of the earth's rotation upon its axis, so that the
dividing the light from the darkness evidently implies the
communication to the accumulated mass of the motion of rotation.

It does not clearly appear in the account of the first day,
whether this alternation of day and night took effect immediately.
Certainly the introduction of it here does not prove that it did
so follow. For there was no way in which the fact of the earth's
rotation could be directly communicated to those for whom the
narrative was primarily intended. They were ignorant of the
spherical form of the earth, and so could not have attached any
idea whatever to a statement that it revolved about its axis.

The only way then in which Moses could speak of that rotation was
in connexion with some phenomenon resulting from it. The only such
phenomenon with which the Jews were acquainted was the alternation
of day and night. There was therefore no way in which Moses could
record the fact except with reference to this ultimate effect. It
does not follow that that effect was immediate. Beside the
rotation of the earth, another condition is required. The light
must come from a single source, and so when the act is recorded by
which that condition is effected, the division of light and
darkness is again noticed. The sun and the moon are set in the
firmament of heaven to divide the light from the darkness. But
that division was potentially effected when the motion of rotation
was given.

The third defect noticed in the Nebular Hypothesis was, that it
did not account for this motion of rotation. This defect, then,
like the two preceding ones, is supplied by the Mosaic Record, and
the hypothesis thus supplemented becomes complete. It is capable
of giving a satisfactory account of the phenomena to which it
applies. But as it is only a theory, and only points out a way in
which the universe might have been constructed, it does not in
itself exclude the possibility that some other plan might in fact
have been adopted, and we have now to examine into the reasons for
supposing that it was the method which was actually employed.
These divide themselves into two classes:--those which render it
probable that similar processes are now in progress; and those
which render it probable that the solar system has passed through
such a process.

It has already been pointed out that the great nebulae in Orion
and Argo seem to represent the condition of our system on the
first appearance of light, and that changes are strongly suspected
to be taking place in both; but we cannot expect to trace any
single nebula through the stages of its development, since that
development must occupy untold ages. All we can do is to inquire
if there are other nebulas which seem to be in more advanced
stages. It must at once be recognized, that if this be one of the
processes now going on, it is not the only one. There are many
nebulas "which have assumed forms for which the law of
gravitation, as we know it, will not enable us to account--such as
the Ring Nebula in Lyra, the Dumb-bell Nebula in Vulpecula, or the
double Horseshoe in Scutum Sobieski. But some nebulas can be found
which arrange themselves so as to illustrate the stages through
which we may suppose our world to have passed. These are chiefly
to be found among the planetary nebulse, which in a small
telescope exhibit a faint circular disc, but in larger instruments
frequently show considerable varieties of structure. Some of them
present the appearance of a condensation of light in the centre,
which gradually fades off; in others there is a bright ring
surrounding the central spot, but separated from it by a darker
space. The Nebula Andromeda 49647, [Footnote: The numbers are
those given by Sir J. Hersohel.] as seen in Mr. Lassel's four-foot
reflector appears as a luminous spot, surrounded by two luminous
rings, which, in the more powerful instrument of Lord Bosse,
combine into a spiral. Its spectrum is gaseous, with one line
indicating some element unknown to us. In another nebula, Draco
4373, there is a double spectrum, the one gaseous, indicating the
presence of hydrogen, nitrogen, and barium; the other, apparently
from the nucleus, continuous, and so representing a solid or fluid
mass, but so faint that the lines belonging to particular elements
cannot be distinguished. [Footnote: Hugging, Philosophical
Transactions, 1864.] Bridanus 846, and Andromeda 116, are probably
similar nebulee occupying different positions with reference to
us. They both give a continuous spectrum. The one in Bridanus is
described as "an eleventh magnitude star, standing in the centre
of a circular nebula, itself placed centrally on a larger and
fainter circle of hazy light." [Footnote: Lassell, quoted in
Webb's "Celestial Objects," p. 227.] The nebula in Andromeda
assumes a lenticular form; that in Bridanus would probably present
the same appearance if we saw it edge-ways. The former has
probably increased in brilliancy in the course of centuries. Mr.
Webb remarks of it, "It is so plain to the naked eye that it is
strange the ancients scarcely mention it." [Footnote: Webb's
"Celestial Objects," p. 180.] In these two nebulas we may perhaps
see the mass ready to break up into separate worlds, the
lenticular form being a natural result of extremely rapid
rotation. Prom the fact that Andromeda 116 gives a continuous
spectrum, Dr. Huggins inclines to the belief that it is an
unresolved star cluster. But the reasons which led Sir W. Herschel
to conclude that the nebula in Orion was gaseous, (a conclusion
which, though for a time discredited by the supposed resolution of
the nebula in Lord Kosse's telescope, was ultimately found to be
correct), are equally applicable here. In general a certain
proportion exists between the telescopic power requisite to render
a star cluster visible as a nebulous spot, and that which will
resolve it into stars; but this nebula, like that in Orion, though
visible to the naked eye, cannot be resolved by the most powerful
instruments yet made. And the nebula in Draco 4373, seems to
present an intermediate stage between the purely gaseous nebula
and this one. The faint continuous spectrum is probably the result
of incipient central condensation. This nebula, if recent
observations by Mr. Gill, of Aberdeen, are confirmed [Footnote:
Popular Science Review, 1871, p. 426.], is much nearer to us than
any of the fixed stars.

"We come now to the reasons derived from the Solar System itself,
and of these there are several, some of them of considerable
weight. The first is to be found in the uniform direction of
almost all the motions of the system. They are from west to east.
The sun rotates upon his axis, the planets revolve about the sun
and rotate upon their axes, and the satellites, with one
exception, revolve about their primaries, and, so far as is known,
rotate upon their axes in the same direction, from west to east,
and the motions take place very nearly in the same plane--the
ecliptic. This seems to point to the conclusion that these motions
have a common origin, as would be the case if all these bodies at
one time existed as a single mass which revolved in the same
direction. The one exception is to be found in the satellites of
Uranus, whose motion is retrograde. But there are certain
phenomena, which lead to the conclusion, that, on the outskirts of
our system, there has at some time or other been an action of a
disturbing force, of which, except from these results, we know

[Footnote: Bode's "Law of Planetary Distances," What holds good as
far as Uranus, breaks down in the case of Neptune. Both Leverrier
and Adams were to some extent misled by this law. The new planet
should according to their calculations, based on this law, have
been of greater magnitude and at a greater distance than Neptune.

The polar axis of Uranus, instead of being nearly perpendicular to
the ecliptic, as in the case of all the other planets (except
Venus), is nearly coincident with it. Venus occupies an
intermediate position, the inclination of its equator to its orbit
being 49 degrees 58'.]

 There is also strong reason for believing that the sun is still a
nebulous star, that the whole of the original nebula is not yet
gathered up in the vast globe which at ordinary times is all that
we can see. This aspect of the case, however, will come more fully
under our notice when we come to the work of the fourth day. The
figure of the earth, which is that naturally assumed by a plastic
mass revolving about its axis, and the traces which it retains of
a former state of intense heat, are both in accordance with this

When these facts are duly weighed, there seems to be a reasonable
probability that this process is the one which was actually
employed in the formation of the solar system. The remarkable
manner in which the theory adapts itself to the Mosaic account,
and the fact that that account records special interferences of
the Creator exactly at the points where the theory shows that such
interferences would be necessary, give rise to a very strong
presumption in its favour. We have in it also a clear illustration
of the combination of general laws of nature with special
interferences of Creative Power--the law of gravitation was called
into action, and the work would proceed steadily under that law
for a considerable period, till matters were ripe for a farther
stage in the progress, and then the special interference would
take place, in this instance the imparting the motion of rotation,
and the work would again proceed under the natural law. All this
while, however, the work would be one, and performed by one power,
the only difference being in the direct or indirect action of that

The only point an reference to the first day which remains to be
inquired into is the extent to which the work had proceeded at its
close. As the commencement of the second day's work implies that
at that time the earth had an independent existence, we may
conclude that the first day's work comprehended the casting off of
the several successive rings, and the condensation of those rings,
or some of them, into the corresponding planets and satellites.
These would probably still retain their intense heat, in virtue of
which they would be luminous.

Many of the multiple stars may not improbably present to us much
the same appearance as the solar system then presented. In many
cases we have one large star, with one or more very minute
attendants. Such a star is Orionis, a tolerably conspicuous star,
which has two companions invisible to the naked eye, but visible
with moderate telescopic power. (A telescope of 2.1 inches
aperture, by Cooke, shows them well.) Five more companions are
visible in a 4-inch telescope. In the large telescope at Harvard
no less than 35 minute stars have been seen in apparent connexion
with the brilliant star Vega. In all these cases it is true that
the distances and periods of the companion stars are very much
greater than in the case of the earth; but then our telescopes
will only enable us to discern the more distant companions. Any
small companion stars holding positions corresponding to those of
the four interior planets, would be lost in the light of the
primary star; and if, as is suspected, all the heavenly bodies are
subject to some resistance, however small, from the medium in
which they move, this resistance would in the course of ages
diminish the mean distance, and with it the periodic time of the
companion stars.

The latter part of the 5th verse has already been considered, and
there is no need to recur to it at this point. At the close of the
history we shall be in a better position to ascertain if any light
has been thrown on that mysterious subject.


"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the
waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

"And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were
under the firmament from the waters which were above the
firmament, and it was so.

"And God called the firmament Heaven, and there was evening and
there was morning, a second day"

The work of the second and third days evidently has its scene on
the earth alone. At its commencement the earth appears to have
become distinctly separated from the gradually condensing mass of
the solar system, and to have assumed its spherical form. It had,
in fact, acquired an independent existence; but it was still in a
chaotic state. Its elements, which were hereafter to assume the
three forms of solid, fluid, and gas, seem to have been still
blended together. Of the three states, fluidity seems to have been
that to which the mass most nearly approached. This seems to be
indicated by the application of the term, waters, to the two parts
into which it is now divided; for the Hebrew has no general word
for "fluid," so that the only method of expressing it was by the
use of this word "water" in an extended signification; and all
scientific investigations point to the same conclusion. The heat,
as yet, must have been so intense that no rocks or metals with
which we are acquainted could have remained in a solid form. The
sorting out and first arrangement of the materials of the earth,
with probably the farther development of a large portion of them
by the introduction of a new element, seems to have been the work
of the second day.

When we proceed to examine the narrative more closely, two
important questions suggest themselves:--l. What special
interference of Creative Power does it indicate? 2. What is the
meaning of the division between the waters which were above the
firmament and the waters which were under the firmament?

1. What special interference of Creative Power took place on the
second day? Till within the last ten years, it would have been
difficult to give a satisfactory answer to this question; for if
all the elements were already in existence at the commencement of
the second day, their arrangement would, as it seems, have been
brought about by the ordinary operation of natural laws which were
already established. The cooling and condensation of a portion of
the elements would have been effected by the radiation of their
heat, and the portions thus condensed would, under the influence
of gravitation, have arranged themselves in immediate proximity to
the centre of gravity, forming a solid or fluid nucleus, round
which those portions which still remained in a gaseous state would
have formed an atmospheric envelope. But here again the
spectroscope comes to our aid. In many of the nebulae which give
in it the bright lines indicative of gas, hydrogen and nitrogen
are the chief gases discovered. These must be in an incandescent
state, or they would not be visible at all. But hydrogen cannot,
in the present state of things, remain in this condition in
contact with oxygen; it must instantly combine with it, that
combination being attended with intense heat, and resulting in the
production of water. The introduction of oxygen, then, must
involve a very important crisis in the process of development; but
that introduction must have preceded the formation of atmospheric
air and water. Prior to the second day oxygen must either have
been non-existent, or it must have existed in a form and under
conditions very different from those under which it exists now.
Free oxygen cannot be in existence in the sun or in any celestial
object in which the spectroscope indicates the existence of
incandescent hydrogen. The special act of the second day would
appear to have consisted in the development of oxygen, or the
calling it from a quiescent state into active operation.

But the effects of the new element thus called into operation
would not be limited to the production of air and water. It is
estimated that oxygen constitutes, by weight, nearly half of the
solid crust of the earth. It forms a part of every rock and of
every metallic ore. The second day, then, must have been a period
of intense chemical action, resulting from the introduction of
this powerful agent.

But (2) what is the meaning of the division of the waters which
are above the firmament from the waters which were under the
firmament? At present all the water contained in the atmosphere,
in the shape of vapour and clouds, is so insignificant in
comparison with that vast volume of water which not only fills the
ocean, but also permeates the solid earth, that such a notice of
it seems unaccountable. Mr. Goodwin, indeed, maintains that there
was an ancient belief, not only that the firmament was a solid
vault, but that on it there rested another ocean, at least as
copious as that with which we are acquainted. [Footnote: Essays
and Reviews, p. 220] In support of this assertion he brings
forward the phrase, "The windows of heaven were opened" (Gen, VII.
11) and other similar expressions. But such phrases as this
evidently belong to the same class as the fanciful names so often
given to the clouds in the hymns of the Rig Veda. Both expressions
evidently point to a time when figurative language, if no longer a
necessity, was at all events a common and favourite form of
speech, and was understood by all. Dr. Whewell [Footnote:
Plurality of Worlds, chap. x. Section 5.] has put forward the
curious notion that when the creation of the interior planets was
completed, there remained a superfluity of water, which was
gathered up into the four exterior planets. But the only fact in
favour of such an hypothesis is the close correspondence between
the apparent density of these planets and that of water. Now, as
will be seen immediately, there is strong reason to believe that
the true density of these planets is much greater than their
apparent diameters would seem to indicate; so that the one
solitary ground on which the suggestion rests vanishes when it is
examined. Apart from this, however, the suggestion that there
would be any superfluous material when the work of creation was
finished, is a very strange one. Neither of these views, then, can
be accepted as giving a satisfactory meaning to the text.

Astronomical investigations however, which have been carried on
with great diligence during the last four winters, and which are
still being continued with unremitting interest, have brought to
light phenomena which seem to be in remarkable correspondence with
the state of things spoken of in the text. It has already been
noticed that the eight greater planets at present known to us are
divided into two groups of four by the intervening belt of minor
planets. These two groups have totally distinct characteristics.
In density, magnitude, and length, of day the members of each
group differ little from each other, while the two groups differ
very widely. The moon is the only satellite as yet known in the
inner group. The planets of the outer group are attended by at
least seventeen satellites.

Of these outer planets Jupiter, from his great brilliancy,
specially attracts observation, while from his comparative
proximity to the earth we are enabled to examine him much more
satisfactorily than we can Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune. Two facts
with reference to him have long been well known, the one, that the
polar compression in his case is much greater than it is in any of
the interior planets, so that when seen through a telescope of
very moderate power his disc is evidently elliptical, while the
compression of the interior planets can only be detected by the
most delicate micrometrical measurements--the other, that his
apparent surface is always crossed by several alternating belts of
light and shade, which though subject to constant changes of
detail, always preserve the same general character. Until recently
the generally received theory was that these belts consisted of
clouds, raised by the heat of the sun, and arranged in zones under
the influence of winds similar in character to, and produced by
the same causes as, the trade-winds which blow over our own
oceans. This view, however, has been shown by Mr. Proctor to be
untenable. [Footnote: See a paper by Mr. Proctor in the Monthly
Packet for October, 1870.]

About forty years ago, a very remarkable phenomenon was observed
simultaneously, but independently, by three astronomers, Admiral
Smyth, Mr. Maclean, and Mr. Pearson, who were watching a transit
of Jupiter's second satellite from stations several miles apart.
Admiral Smyth's account of it is as follows:--"On Thursday, the
26th of June, 1828, the moon being nearly full, and the evening
extremely fine, I was watching the second satellite of Jupiter as
it gradually approached to transit the disc of the planet. My
instrument was an excellent refractor of 3 3/4 inches aperture,
and five feet focal length, with a power of one hundred. The
satellite appeared in contact at about half-past ten, and for some
minutes remained on the edge of the limb, presenting an appearance
not unlike that of the lunar mountains which come into view during
the first quarter of the moon, until it finally disappeared on the
body of the planet. At least twelve or thirteen minutes must have
elapsed when, accidentally turning to Jupiter again, I perceived
the same satellite outside the disc. It was in the same position
as to being above a line with the lower belt, where it remained
distinctly visible for at least four minutes, and then suddenly
vanished." A somewhat similar phenomenon, but of shorter duration,
was witnessed by Messrs. Gorton and Wray, during an occultation of
the same satellite, April 26, 1863. In this case the satellite
reappeared after passing behind the apparent disc of the planet.
So lately as 1868 this phenomenon was regarded as inexplicable.
[Footnote: Webb's Celestial Objects, p. 141.]

In the winter of 1868-9 the attention of astronomers was called to
the fact that rapid and extensive changes were taking place in the
appearance of Jupiter's belts, and they have consequently been
watched from that time with unremitting attention by astronomers
furnished with telescopes of the best quality. The results of
these observations are given in two very interesting papers,
communicated to the Popular Science Review, by Mr. Webb.
[Footnote: Popular Science Review for April, 1870, and July,
1871.] Very curious markings and variations in the depth of shade
have been seen, accompanied by equally curious changes of colour.
Mr. Browning compares these changes to those which are seen when a
cloud of steam of varying depth and density is illuminated from
behind by a strong light, as when we look through the steam
escaping from the safety-valve of a locomotive at a gas-lamp
immediately behind it. This appears to be the true explanation of
the phenomenon. [Footnote: Popular Science Review, 1871, p. 307.]
These belts are probably due to vast masses of steam, poured forth
with great force from the body of the planet. As the atmosphere of
Jupiter is probably of enormous depth, the rotatory velocity of
its upper portions would be much greater than that of the surface
of the planet, hence the steam would arrange itself in belts
parallel to the equator of the planet. But this view leads us to
wonderful conclusions with reference to the condition of the

"Processes of the most amazing character are taking place beneath
that cloudy envelope, which forms the visible surface of the
planet as seen by the terrestrial observer. The real globe of the
planet would seem to be intensely heated, perhaps molten, through
the fierceness of the heat which pervades it. Masses of vapour
streaming continually upward from the surface of this fiery globe
would be gathered at once into zones because of their rapid change
of distance from the centre. That which is wholly unintelligible
when we regard the surface of Jupiter as swept like our earth by
polar and equatorial winds, is readily interpreted when we
recognize the existence of rapidly uprushing streams of vapour."
[Footnote: Mr. Proctor in Monthly Packet, October, 1870.]

Supposing then that the atmosphere of Jupiter is of very great
depth, and thus laden with masses of watery vapour, the effect of
a sudden current of heated, but comparatively dry, air or gas
would be the immediate absorption of the whole or a large portion
of the vapour, and the consequent transparency of the portion of
the atmosphere affected by it. We see this result continually on a
small scale in our own atmosphere, when a heavy cloud comes in
contact with a warm air current, and rapidly melts away, Many of
the rapid changes which have been witnessed in Jupiter's
appearance are readily explained if this view is admitted.
Supposing such a thing to have happened near the edge of the disc,
the phenomenon recorded by Admiral Smyth is at once satisfactorily
explained. When the satellite appeared to pass on to the disc, and
to be lost in the light of the planet, it would for some time,
proportional to the depth of Jupiter's atmosphere, have behind it
a background of clouds only, it would not have entered upon the
actual disc of the planet. If then these clouds were suddenly
absorbed, the atmosphere behind the satellite would become
transparent and invisible, the background would be gone, and the
satellite would reappear. In the case of the occultation witnessed
by Messrs. Gorton and Wray, the satellite would at first be hidden
by cloud only, and would reappear if the cloud were removed. Such
seems to be the true explanation of these hitherto mysterious
phenomena. That they could not have resulted from any alteration
in the motions of the planet or the satellite is evident. Such an
alteration would have been instantly detected, since the places of
both the planet and the satellites are computed years in advance,
and any such change would at once have thrown out all these

Assuming that this is the true solution of the mystery, we are
enabled to form an approximate estimate of the extent of the
atmosphere of Jupiter. The time between the first and second
disappearances does not seem to have been accurately noted.
Admiral Smyth's account makes it 16 or 17 minutes; but if we
estimate it at 15 minutes only, and if we further assume that the
second disappearance was upon the actual disc of Jupiter, and not
upon a lower stratum of clouds, we shall be safe from any risk of
exaggeration. The probability seems to be that the second
disappearance was caused not by the disc, but by the formation of
a fresh body of cloud, as it was not gradual, as in the first
instance, but sudden. We shall then only have an estimate which
cannot be greater, but may be much less, than the true value.

The mean distance of the second satellite from the centre of
Jupiter is in round numbers 425,000 miles, and consequently the
circumference of its orbit is 2,671,000 miles. The satellite
travels through this orbit in about 86 hours, which gives a horary
velocity of 31,400 miles, or 7850 miles in 15 minutes. This then
is the least possible depth of the atmosphere of Jupiter.
[Footnote: For the direction of the motion of the satellite would
be at right angles to the line of sight.] The whole diameter of
Jupiter, atmosphere and all, is 85,390 miles. Deduct from this
15,700 miles for the atmosphere, and we have for the diameter of
the solid nucleus rather less than 70,000 miles. The height of the
atmosphere is therefore not less than three-fourteenths of the
radius of the planet, and may be much greater. The extent of the
atmosphere, combined with the rapidity of rotation, accounts
satisfactorily for the great apparent polar compression of the
planet. Another inference is that the density of the planet must
exceed the ordinary estimate in the proportion of two to one.

But next, the atmosphere of Jupiter is probably of very great
density. Dr. Huggins states that he has observed in the spectrum
of Jupiter "three or four strong lines, one of them coincident
with a strong line in the earth's atmosphere." [Footnote: Lecture
at Manchester, November 16, 1870.] Strong lines mark increased
density in the absorbent medium, and lines hitherto unobserved
indicate new elements. It is therefore probable that the
atmosphere of Jupiter is not only much more dense than that of the
earth, but also contains some elements--which are absent from the
latter. When with this fact we connect the very great extent of
the atmosphere, it will be evident that the pressure at the
surface of the planet will be enormous, and from this we can form
an estimate of the intensity of the forces which must be at work
in the interior of the planet, to project jets of vapour through
such an atmosphere to so great a height.

The link which connects Jupiter with the earth, in the second
stage of its existence, is the mention by Moses of the "waters
which were above the firmament." Viewed in the light of the
present condition of the earth such a notice seems unaccountable.
But if the earth at that time were in a condition similar to that
in which Jupiter appears to be now, the water in the atmosphere or
above the firmament would be a very important element in any
description that might be given of it. It is in fact most probable
that all the water (in the strict sense of the word) then in
existence would be in a state of vapour, and that the waters which
were under the firmament were the molten materials which
afterwards formed rocks and ores, since, as has been already
noticed, the word is the only one which could be employed to
describe fluids in general.

We may now try to form some idea of the probable state of the
earth at this period. Its centre would be occupied by a fused
mass, in which were blended all the more intractable solid
constituents of the present world. This would be surrounded by an
atmosphere of very great height and density, containing not only
all the present constituents of air, but also all, or nearly all,
the water, and all the more volatile of the metals and other
elements. Carbonic acid, to a very large extent, would probably be
present, and a very considerable proportion of the oxygen which
now exists in combination with various bases, and forms by weight
so large a proportion of the solid crust of the world.

Owing to the intense heat, chemical combinations would readily be
formed between the ingredients of the fused mass and the other
elements which existed in the form of vapour, and thus the
earliest of the vast variety of existing minerals would be
elaborated. The volumes of steam which floated in the upper
regions of the atmosphere would rapidly part with their heat by
radiation into space, and would descend towards the surface of the
earth in the form of rain. At first probably, and for a long time,
they would not reach the surface, but as they approached it would
be again converted into vapour, and re-ascend to pass again and
again through the same process. But by this means the intense heat
of the nucleus would be gradually conveyed away, till the cooling
reached a point at which some of the superficial materials would
assume a solid form. It is by no means certain what is the true
primary rock--for a long time it was almost universally assumed to
be granite, since granite is uniformly found underlying the oldest
sedimentary rocks that are known. But as these rocks have been
forced from their original position and tilted up, the underlying
stratum may probably be of later date than the upper ones, since
it was the elevating agent. So that we can have no certain
knowledge on this point, since the earliest sedimentary strata,
wherever they retain their original position, must be at a depth
far below the reach of man. If, however, Sir C. Kyell's view of
the conditions requisite for the formation of granite are correct,
these conditions [Footnote: Student's Geology, chap. xxxi.]--heat,
moisture, and enormous pressure--would all be present at the
surface of the nucleus. Some kind of solid floor must have been
formed before the next stage could be reached, at which it would
be possible for water to exist in a fluid state. This, however,
would be possible at a much higher temperature than at present,
owing to the enormous atmospheric pressure. It is possible now, by
artificial means, to raise water, nearly if not quite, to a red
heat, without the formation of steam, and the pressure of the
atmosphere in the case supposed would, in all probability, be much
greater than any which we can now apply under the conditions
necessary for heating the water.

It is probable that at this point the close of the second day must
be placed: but the indications of the narrative do not enable us
to fix it with any degree of certainty. As, however, from this
point a new series of processes would commence, and those
processes are in intimate connexion with the first of the two
developments ascribed to the third day, the period when water
could first maintain a fluid form on the earth's surface, seems to
present the most probable line of demarcation.


"And God said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered
together in one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so.

"And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of
the waters called He Seas, and God saw that it was good.

"And God said, Let the earth sprout sprouts, the herb seeding
seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose
seed is in it, [Footnote: "It" seems preferable to "itself" here.
The same Hebrew word stands for both, but if the "fruit-tree" be
taken as the antecedent, which it must be if we translate
"itself," there seems no meaning in the statement. If we read
"it," the pronoun will refer to the fruit--"the tree whose seed is
in its fruit"--which gives an intelligible sense.] upon the earth,
and it was so.

"And the earth caused to go forth sprouts, the herb seeding seed,
and the fruit-tree yielding fruit whose seed is in it, after his
kind, and God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and
there was morning, a third day."

The record of the third day is a very important one, because it is
the first point at which the Mosaic Record comes in contact with
that other record which is written in the rocks. Up to this time
we have only been able to compare the statements of Moses with
conjectural views of the earliest condition of the earth, which,
though they may be highly probable, are at best only conjectures.
But from this point we have to deal with a number of ascertained
facts--certain landmarks stand out which enable us to fix the
correspondent parts of the two narratives, and guide us to the
identification and interpretation of their minor details.

The first of these landmarks is the appearance of the dry land,
or, in geological language, the commencement of the process of
upheaval. At the close of the second day the earth was, in all
probability, as we have seen, a globe internally molten, but
having a solid crust which was uniformly covered with a layer of
water, and surrounded by an atmosphere which, though it had parted
with some of its ingredients, was still very much more complex,
more dense, and more extensive than it is at present. The newly
condensed waters would rest on the surface of the primeval rock,
whatever that rock might be. The internal heat conducted through
it would keep the waters in a state of intense ebullition, and at
the same time their surface would be agitated by violent
atmospheric currents as the heated air ascended, and was replaced
by cooler air from the outer regions of the atmosphere. Under
these circumstances the water would dissolve or wear down portions
of the newly-formed rock on which it rested. At the same time the
steam, which would be continually rising from the boiling ocean,
would descend from the upper regions of the atmosphere in the form
of rain, and bring with it in solution considerable quantities of
those elements which still existed in the form of vapour, just as
rain now brings down ammonia and carbonic acid which it has
absorbed in its passage through the atmosphere. New combinations
would thus be formed between the materials dissolved or abraded by
the ocean and those brought down by the rain. When these
combinations had reached a certain amount they would be deposited
in the form of mud upon the bed of the ocean, and thus the
earliest sedimentary rocks would be formed. As the temperature
gradually decreased, the character of these combinations would
probably be changed, and at the same time the atmosphere would be
diminished in volume and density, and become more pure by the
absorption of a large portion of its original constituents, which
would have been incorporated into various minerals.

The earliest sedimentary rock with which we are acquainted at
present is what is known as the Laurentian formation. [Footnote:
The whole of the geological details in this section are taken from
Sir C. Lyell's Geology for Students.] It occupies an area of
200,000 square miles north of the St. Lawrence; and is also traced
into the United States and the western highlands of Scotland and
some of the adjacent isles. It is divided into two sections--the
Upper and Lower Laurentian. It is not certain that it is really
the oldest rock; for as every sedimentary rock is formed of the
debris of preceding rocks, it is very possible that all the
exposed portions of some older rocks may have been decomposed and
worn away; but it is the oldest yet known. The thickness of the
lower portion is estimated at 20,000 feet, or nearly four miles,
while the Upper Laurentian beds are 10,000 feet thick. At this
point we meet with the first traces of that process of upheaval
and subsidence which has ever since been going on in the earth.
The Lower Laurentian rocks had been displaced from their original
horizontal position before the Upper Laurentian were deposited
upon them.

This process of upheaval of some parts of the earth, accompanied
with subsidence in other parts, is one which cannot be accounted
for by any natural laws with which we are acquainted. It is in all
probability the result of a series of changes which are taking
place in the interior of the earth, but of which we know nothing
at all. It is in the commencement of this series of changes that
we trace that direct interference of the Creator--which is
indicated by the command, "Let the waters under the firmament be
gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." We
have not, however, any means of ascertaining how long a period
elapsed before the process of upheaval reached the point at which
the land would rise above the surface of the ocean.

The Lower Laurentian rocks are remarkable in another way. There is
little doubt that traces of life, the earliest yet known, occur in
them. They include a bed of limestone varying in thickness from
700 to 1500 feet. In all probability limestone, wherever it
occurs, is an animal product, though in many cases all traces of
its organization have been lost by exposure to heat. This
particular bed appears to have been formed by a very lowly
creature, which in organization was akin to the foraminifera, of
which large quantities are now known to exist at the bottom of the
Atlantic. It differed from them, however, in one respect--the
individuals were connected together, as is the case now with many
varieties of the coral animal. No notice of this first appearance
of life is found in the Mosaic Record, nor, for reasons already
given, was it possible that any mention of it should be made.

The rocks which come next to the Laurentian in the order of time
are those known as the Cambrian. They are so called because they
constitute a large portion of the mountains of North Wales, and it
was there that their characteristics were first carefully studied
by Professor Sedgwick. In one of the strata of this formation--the
Harlech Grit--what are known as "ripple-marks" are found, proving
that parts of these rocks at the time of their deposition formed a
sea-beach, and that consequently at this time, at the latest, the
dry land had emerged from the ocean. In these rocks there are also
decided traces of Volcanic Action, which seem to indicate the
existence of a Volcano similar to the recent "Graham's Island." At
this point a considerable advance in animal life is found. The
fossils comprise several corals, varieties of mollusca, and a
class of crustaceans peculiar to the very early rocks--the

On the Cambrian rocks rest the formations known as Silurian, from
the fact that they were first thoroughly examined in South Wales
(Siluria) by Sir E. Murchison. In these rocks many fresh varieties
of invertebrate fossils are found, and the vertebrata make their
first appearance, numerous remains of fishes having been
discovered. The earliest specimen was found in the Lower Ludlow
beds at Leintwardine, while the Upper Ludlow formation contains an
extensive bed composed almost entirely of fish-bones. Immediately
above this bed are found what seem to be traces of land-plants, in
the shape of the spores of a cryptogamous plant.

The Silurian rocks are succeeded by rocks which present two
distinct characters, but are probably contemporaneous, the
Devonian and the old Red Sandstone. The former seem to have been
deposited in the bed of the sea, while the latter is a fresh-water
formation. In these decided remains of land plants are found, of
which about 200 species have at present been discovered. The old
Red Sandstone is also peculiarly rich in fossil fish. The first
signs of coal appear in this series of rocks, but on a very small

We now come to what are known as the Carboniferous rocks, of which
the lower series is known as the mountain limestone, and above it
come the "coal measures," containing numerous beds of coal,
sometimes of great thickness. These beds have resulted entirely
from the decomposition, under peculiar circumstances, of an
enormous development of terrestrial vegetation. They seem to have
originated in vast swamps, subject to occasional flooding, and to
alternate movements of upheaval and subsidence. On these swamps
there must have existed for ages a vegetation of whose luxuriance
the richest tropical jungles of the present time can give us no
idea. They tell the tale of a time when the temperature of the
earth, was uniformly high (since coal fields are found in high
northern latitudes), when the atmosphere was charged with
moisture, and probably contained a large proportion of carbonic
acid. In the coal measures we come upon the first traces of land
animals. Several remains of reptiles have been found, as well as
footprints left on the soft mud or sand of a riverbank or sea-
beach. There seems to be no doubt that they were left by lung-
breathing animals.

The carboniferous strata form the second of our landmarks. They
seem to point to the fulfilment of the command that the earth,
should bring forth vegetation. There is, however, one point which
requires some notice. The Mosaic account, as we read it in our
English Bibles, seems to be limited to phanerogamous plants--
grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit.
Now, it is a well-known fact that the great mass of the
vegetation, the remains of which constitute coal, consisted of
cryptogamic plants, which do not produce seed, properly so called,
but only spores; the distinction being that the spore contains the
germ and nothing more, while in the seed the germ is provided with
a store of nutriment to assist in the earlier stages of the
development of the plant. What appears to be a farther
discrepancy, the absence of any traces of the grasses, leads in
reality to the solution of the difficulty.

The word which is translated "grass" [Hebrew script] means in
reality, any fresh sprout. Now it is remarkable that Moses
specifies three kinds of vegetation, with regard to two of which
it is noted that they produce seed, while nothing is said of the
seed of the remaining class. Grass too, is really a herb bearing
seed, and, as such would be included in the second class, and
there would have been no occasion, to mention it separately. It
would appear then that the first class consisted of seedless
plants, i. e. of the cryptogamia. This conclusion is strengthened
when we turn to verses 29 and 30. If the word [Hebrew script] were
correctly translated "grass," we should certainly expect to find
it in those verses, since the grasses contribute more to the food
of both man and beast, than all the other herbaceous plants put
together. This omission then, is an indication that the word, as
used in this chapter, denotes a class of plants which are not
commonly employed for food, and this condition also is fulfilled
in the cryptogamia.

There are then four special points in this period, of which two
seem to correspond with the Mosaic record, while the other two are
unnoticed in it. The two points of correspondence are the upheaval
of the dry land, and the prevalence of a very abundant and
luxuriant Flora. As in the case of the fifth and sixth days, the
words used with reference to land plants seem to denote a period
of remarkable development, rather than the first appearance. The
two points unnoticed are the beginnings of animal and vegetable
life. In the case of animal life the omission has already been
accounted for. The beginning of vegetable life was probably
contemporaneous with that of animal life, for each is necessary to
the other, since the food of the animal must be prepared by the
vegetable, and after being used by the former returns to a state
in which it is fitted for the nourishment of the latter. As animal
life commenced in the ocean, so in all probability did vegetable
life, though no certain traces of it are found in the earliest
rocks; but this is easily accounted for by the very perishable
character of the simpler forms of algae. Like the earliest
animals, the first algae were probably microscopic plants, and the
omission of any mention of them was therefore inevitable.

One characteristic of cryptogamic vegetation is important for its
bearing on the work of the fourth day. Almost all the phanerogamic
plants are dependent for their development upon the direct light
and heat of the sun. Deprived of these they either perish
entirely, or make an unhealthy growth, and produce little or no
fruit. But the cryptogamia, in general, thrive best when they are
protected from the direct rays of the sun. They nourish in a
diffused light, and with abundant atmospheric moisture. And so we
find them at this time doing what seems a very important work in
the progress of the world. By taking up and decomposing the excess
of carbonic acid which at this time probably existed in the
atmosphere, they at once purified that atmosphere, and rendered it
fit for the respiration of more highly organized creatures, and
laid up in the earth an invaluable store of fuel for the future
use of man. The other orders of vegetation seem to have existed in
very small proportions at this time, and only in their lower
forms. As the conditions of the earth changed, the cryptogamia
seemed to have dwindled away, while higher forms of vegetation
asserted their supremacy. It is not, however, improbable that a
special development at a much later period is indicated by the
mention in the second chapter of the formation of the garden of


"And God said, Let there be luminaries in the firmament of heaven
to divide between the day and the night, and let them be for signs
and for seasons, and for days and for years.

"And let them be for luminaries in the firmament of heaven to give
light upon the earth; and it was so.

"And God made the two luminaries, the great ones; the luminary,
the great one, to rule over the day, and the luminary, the small
one, to rule over the night, and also the stars.

"And God gave them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon
the earth.

"And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide
between the light and between the darkness; and God saw that it
was good.

"And there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day."

This day's work differs from that of the preceding and succeeding
days, in the fact that its sphere was without the earth, which was
only indirectly influenced by it, and consequently the geological
records give us no direct information upon the subject, though in
two points they tally with the Mosaical account. In the first
place, the deposits of coal, which preceded this period, indicate
a time when a nearly uniform temperature, and that a high one,
prevailed throughout the world. The coal beds are found not only
in tropical regions, but in very high latitudes. Not only is the
vegetation of which these coalfields are the result, analogous to
that which is now found in warm climates only--(this might be the
case, and yet we should not be justified in drawing the inference
that the actual species of plants were tropical, for it often
happens that different species of the same genus, having
considerable external resemblance, are very different in their
habits, some requiring tropical heat, while others flourish only
in temperate climates)--but the marked feature is the astonishing
luxuriance of this vegetation, which could only have been
developed under the most favourable circumstances of warmth and
moisture. Now the heat which any particular portion of the earth's
surface receives from the sun depends entirely upon the latitude.
hence it is impossible that a uniform high temperature could exist
in a world which derived its heat wholly or chiefly from that
source. Whether the high temperature which prevailed on the earth
during the deposition of the coal measures was derived from
internal heat it is impossible to say; it is evident that the
temperature of the earth's surface has been in past times, and
perhaps is now, modified by causes which no scientific research
has been enabled to detect [Footnote: Since the sun's secular
motion has been known, astronomers have suggested that the solar
system has been carried through portions of space having variable
temperatures. Geologists, however, do not seem inclined to accept
this as a sufficient reason for the phenomena observed.]. But we
may safely conclude that during the third day the earth did not
derive its heat from the sun. The second point, the barrenness of
the geological records of this period, will be noticed hereafter.

The record of the fourth day's work admits of two interpretations,
it may describe things merely as they appeared, or as they
actually occurred.

1. It is possible that the events of the fourth day may be
described phenomenally--that up to this period the state of things
on the earth had been to a great extent similar to that which we
have reason to believe is still existing in the planet Jupiter-
that the atmosphere was so charged with vapour that no direct rays
from the heavenly bodies could penetrate it; but that at this
time, owing to the declining heat, a great part of the aqueous
constituents of this vapour had been precipitated in the form of
rain, while other vapours had entered into chemical combinations
with other elements to form the various minerals of the earth's
surface, and the atmosphere had become first translucent, and then
transparent. While this process was going on, no direct light from
the sun, supposing it to be already in existence, could penetrate
the veil. Diffused light only could reach the earth's surface, but
when the atmosphere became clear the sun, moon, and stars would
become visible.

Against this view several objections may be brought. In the first
place, as has been already noticed, we cannot treat the account of
the Creation as derived from ordinary human sources. Either it is
a revelation from the Creator or it is nothing. Now we can readily
admit that a man, speaking of an event which lie had witnessed,
but did not understand, would describe it as it appeared to him,
but we cannot admit this supposition when the work is described by
the Great Artificer Himself. In the next place, the temperature of
the earth's surface must in this case have been affected by the
sun, and must therefore have been more or less dependent upon
latitude--and in the third place the distinction between day and
night must have come into operation, whereas the narrative implies
that it was yet incomplete.

2. The other possible interpretation is, that at this period the
concentration of light and heat in the sun was so far completed
that he became the luminary of the system, which had hitherto
derived its light and heat from other sources. Probably, for a
long time, the internal heat of the planets may have been so great
that they were a light to themselves. This state of things,
however, must have come to an end before animal or vegetable life
could have existed on their surface, but other ways exist, and are
in operation in other parts of the universe, by which light and
heat might have been supplied independently of the sun. That light
which is now gathered up in the sun might for a long time have
existed as a nebulous ring, similar to the well-known Ring Nebula
in Lyra. Any planets existing within such a ring would probably
derive from it sufficient light and heat. Or the nebulous matter,
in a luminous state, while slowly advancing to concentration,
might as yet have been so diffused as to fill a space in which the
earth's orbit was included. In either case the earth would have
received a uniform diffused light, without any alternations of
night and day. It is of course impossible that we should be able
to say whether there are any worlds in which such a state of
things prevails at present. Up to this time, with one possible
exception, [Footnote: "Sirius is accompanied by a 10 mag. star,
whose existence was suspected (like that of Neptune), long before
its discovery by Alvan Clark in 1861, from the irregular movements
of its primary. But though it appears so small, its disturbing
effects can only be accounted for on the supposition that its mass
is at least half that of Sirius, in which case its light must be
very faint, possibly wholly reflected." (Webb's Celestial Objects,
p. 202.)] the only worlds which the telescope has revealed to us,
beyond the limits of our own system, are self-luminous. No
reflected light is strong enough to make its existence perceptible
at such enormous distances in the most powerful telescope which
has yet been constructed.

There are some facts connected with our own system which make it
appear not improbable that up to the time of which we are speaking
the light which is now gathered up in the sun was diffused over a
space in which at all events the earth's orbit was included. It is
now a recognized fact that all the light of the system is not as
yet wholly concentrated in the sun, as we generally recognize it,
but that to some extent the sun is still a nebulous star. Under
ordinary circumstances we see only that circular disc, which we
usually recognize as the sun. Its surpassing brightness overpowers
every thing else, whether we view it with the unaided eye or
through the telescope. But when the actual disc is hidden from us
by the moon in a total eclipse, other regions of light surrounding
the disc, make their appearance, and in them the most wonderful
processes are continually going on. The simultaneous discoveries
of Messrs. Lockyer and Janssen, in 1868, have enabled some of
these processes to be continuously watched when the sun is not
eclipsed, but others can as yet only be seen during the few
minutes (never amounting to seven) which a total eclipse lasts, so
that as yet we know very little of them.

Immediately surrounding the disc of the sun, which is visible to
the naked eye, is a brilliant ring of light, known now as the
chromosphere or sierra. This is the region which till 1868 could
be seen only during total eclipses, but can now be watched at all
times by means of the spectroscope. In it symptoms of intense
action are from time to time witnessed. For many years past,
whenever a total eclipse occurred, there were observed on the edge
of this ring certain red prominences. The spectroscope has
revealed their nature. They consist chiefly of enormous volumes of
hydrogen, ejected from the surface of the sun with a velocity
almost inconceivable, and at the same time revolving about their
axis after the fashion of a cyclone. [Footnote: Popular Science
Review, January, 1872, p. 150; Look. Byer's Lecture on the Sun, at
Manchester, 1871.] A very remarkable instance of this was observed
in America in September 1871, by Professor Young. A mass of
incandescent hydrogen was propelled to a height of 200,000 miles
above the visible disc; of these the last 100,000 miles were
passed through in 10 minutes. Such events, though not commonly on
so vast a scale, are continually occurring on the surface of the
sun, and they seem to be in close connexion with the magnetic
phenomena occurring on the earth.

Beyond the chromosphere lies the corona. The spectroscope has not
yet rendered this visible at all times, and consequently we are
dependent upon the information to be obtained during the few
minutes of total eclipses, when alone it is visible. Consequently
during recent solar eclipses this has been the point to which the
attention of astronomers has been especially devoted. The eclipse
of December, 1870, decided one point, that the corona was a truly
solar phenomenon, and not, as some astronomers imagined, an
optical phenomenon, produced by our own atmosphere. The corona
presents the appearance of nebulous light, fading as it becomes
more remote from the sun, of very irregular outline, at some
points not extending more than 15', at others as much as 60' or
70' from the sun's disc, or, in other words, reaching to distances
from the sun's surface varying from 400,000 to 1,800,000 miles.
More important information has been obtained from the eclipse of
December 12,1871. It is now ascertained that the corona comprises
not only gaseous elements, especially hydrogen, but also solid or
fluid particles, capable of giving a continuous though very faint
spectrum with dark lines, indicating the existence of matter
capable of reflecting light. The character of the coronal spectrum
very much resembles that of the Nebula in Draco, No. 4373. The
ascertained extent of the corona exceeds a million of miles above
the surface of the sun, and it seems probable that the Zodiacal
light is only a fainter extension of it. [Footnote: Popular
Science Review, April, 1872, pp. 136-146.]

On a clear evening in the early spring months, as soon as twilight
is completely ended, a conical streak of light may be sometimes
seen, arising' from the western horizon, and extending through an
arc of 60 or 70 degrees, nearly in the direction of the Ecliptic,
and finally terminating in a point. This is the Zodiacal light. In
tropical climates it is seen much more frequently, [Footnote:
Humboldt, Kosmos, vol. i. p. 126 (Bohu's edition).] and is much
more brilliant than in England. This then is probably an envelope
of still fainter light than the corona. It must extend beyond the
orbit of Venus, as the maximum elongation of Venus is 47 degrees,
while the Zodiacal light has been traced for 70 degrees, and
probably farther. It is very possible that the earth is
occasionally involved in it, and that from it we derive that
diffused light which, though faint, is very serviceable to us on a
starless evening, and of which no other account has as yet been
given. The light we receive in this way is often as powerful as
that which we should receive from the stars if they were not
hidden by clouds.

These phenomena seem to point to the conclusion that the
condensation of light in the sun has been a very gradual process,
which is even yet incomplete. If we suppose that at the time of
the formation of the coal measures it was not far advanced, but
that a diffused light extended beyond the orbit of the earth,
similar in some respects to the present Zodiacal light, but equal
in intensity to the light which we now see in the corona, the
phenomena of the third day will be satisfactorily accounted for.
There is, however, still an enormous amount of mystery connected
with the sun. It is the centre from which an inconceivable amount
of force in the shape of light, heat, actinism, and probably other
manifestations, is hourly poured forth. If the whole of that force
were divided into two thousand million parts, the portion received
by the earth would be represented by one of those parts, and the
whole amount received by all the planets would fall short of
twelve of them. All the rest is radiated away into space, and so
far as we know at present lost to the system. The question then
arises, "How is this enormous expenditure supplied?" Various
sources of heat have been suggested, but none of them seem
satisfactory. One conceivable source there is, but that lies out
of the domain of science. Then again, metals, which only our most
powerful furnaces will even melt, exist in the sun's atmosphere in
the state of vapour. What must be the intensity of the heat which
underlies that metallic atmosphere? and what can be the solid or
fluid substances which, from the continuity of the spectrum, we
know must exist there?

We turn now to the Mosaic Record to see what light it throws upon
and receives from this investigation. The first thing to be
noticed is that the word used by Moses for the sun and moon is not
the same as that employed to denote light. It properly signifies a
light-holder, such as a candlestick, and harmonizes with the view
that the sun in his original state was not luminous, but was made
a luminary by the condensation of light previously existent under
other conditions. In the next place, though the apparent
dimensions of the sun and moon are the same, Moses correctly
describes the one as "the great light," the other as "the little
light," thus indicating a knowledge to which the astronomers of
his day had probably not attained.

The relation between the accounts of the first and fourth day's
work becomes clear if we assume that the sun was not made a
luminary till the fourth day. The division of night and day
depends upon two things, the rotation of the earth upon its axis,
and the concentration of light in the sun. Hence when the rotation
of the earth commenced that division was potentially provided for,
but the provision would not take effect until the second condition
was fulfilled by the concentration of light in the sun. The
indications given by the coal measures point, as we have seen, to
the same conclusion.

The only remaining question is "What was going on in the earth at
the same time?" Our materials for answering this question are but
scanty. So great an alteration in the sources of light and heat
must have involved great physical changes on the earth's surface,
and there is reason to believe that great mechanical forces were
at work producing vast changes in the relations of land and water.
"It has long been the opinion of the most eminent geologists that
the coalfields of Lancashire and Yorkshire were once united, the
upper coal measures and the overlying Millstone Grit and Toredale
Bocks having been subsequently removed by denudation; but what is
remarkable is the ancient date now assigned to this denudation,
for it seems that a thickness of no less than 10,000 feet of the
coal measures had been carried away before the deposition of even
the lower Permian Rocks, which were thrown down upon the already
disturbed truncated edges of the coal strata." [Footnote: Lyell,
Geology for Students, p. 377.] And this is but a single instance.

During the interval between the deposition of the coal measures,
which seem to belong to the third, and the Saurian remains which
mark the fifth day, we have the Permian and Triassic Rocks, of
which the Magnesian. Limestone and the new Red Sandstone are the
most important representatives in England. Till a very recent
period it was thought that these rocks belonged to a period
remarkably destitute of animal life, very few fossils having been
found in them. Recently, however, some very rich deposits have
been found in the Tyrol, belonging to this period, but they are
only local.

Of the Permian formation Sir C. Lyell says, "Not one of the
species (of fossils) is common to rocks newer than the
Palaeozoic." [Footnote: Geology for Students, p. 369.] This was
not then a time for the origination of new forms of life. In the
Trias, however, the new development of life, which was to attain
its full dimensions on the fifth day, begins to open upon us. The
earliest Saurian fossils are found, and the rocks still present us
with impressions of the feet of reptiles and birds, which walked
over the soft seashore, and left footprints, which were first
dried and hardened by the sun and wind, and then filled up with
fresh sand by the returning tide, but never entirely coalesced
with the new material.

At the close of this period the first traces of mammalian life
occur, in the shape of teeth, which are supposed to have belonged
to some small Marsupial quadrupeds, and in America the whole lower
jaws of three such animals have been discovered; but no other
remains have as yet been traced.

The Trias then seems to mark the boundary between the fourth and
fifth days. The fourth day seems to have been on the earth a
period of great change, not only in physical conditions, but also
in the forms of life. In the latter point of view, however, it
seems to have been marked by the passing-away of old forms much
more than by the origination of new ones, and hence the barrenness
of the Geological Records is in exact accordance with the silence
of the Mosaic Record as to any new developments.


"And God said. Let the waters swarm swarms, the soul of life, and
let fowl fly above the earth in the face of the firmament of

"And God created the monsters, the great ones, and every soul of
life that creepeth, with which the waters swarmed, after their
kind, and every winged fowl after his kind; and God saw that it
was good.

"And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill
the waters in the sea, and let fowl multiply on the earth.

"And there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day."

The fifth and sixth days of Creation are those to which the theory
of development chiefly refers. It will, therefore, be better to
defer the consideration of its bearing on the narrative till the
relation of that narrative to Geological facts has been
considered, since it can only be thoroughly weighed when taken in
connexion with the facts which belong to the two days.

The beginning of the fifth day may be assigned to a point near
where the Trias is succeeded by the Lias. As the Trias is drawing
to its close, the class of reptiles, whose first known appearance
belongs to the carboniferous epoch of the third day, begins to
show signs of advance. The first true Saurians are found in the
Trias: the great development takes place in the Lias and Oolite,
while in the chalk large quantities of kindred remains are found,
which, however, are not identical with the species found in the
earlier groups. Of these some were probably almost entirely
aquatic, as their limbs take the form of paddles; others were
purely terrestrial, a large proportion were amphibious, and some,
as the pterodactylus, bore the same relation to the rest of their
class as the bats bear to the other mammalia, being furnished with
membranous wings, supported upon a special development of the
anterior limbs. One important characteristic of the race at this
time was the great size of many of its members: thirty feet is by
no means an uncommon length. This marks the fitness of the name
given to the class by Moses.

Very few actual remains of birds have been found; but this is not
surprising, since birds would rarely be exposed to the conditions
which were essential to the fossilization of their remains. The
earliest known fossil bird is the Archaeopteryx, the remains of
which were found in 1862 in the Solenhofen Slates, which belong to
the Oolite formation. Though the actual remains of birds are very
few, traces of their footprints have been found in many places,
from the New Red Sandstone upwards, and these traces prove not
only that they were very numerous, but also that they attained to
a gigantic size, as their feet were sometimes from twelve to
fifteen inches in length, and their stride extended from six to
eight feet. During this period, then, these two classes must have
been the dominant races of the earth. As the precursors of these
classes made their appearance at a much earlier period, so the
epoch of birds and reptiles witnessed the beginning and gradual
advance of the class which was to succeed them in the foremost
place--the mammalia. Generally, however, the mammalian remains of
this period belong to what are considered the lower classes--the
monotremata and marsupialia. The close of this period must have
been a time of great disturbance in the Northern Hemisphere, since
the chalk which runs through a great part of Northern Europe, and
frequently attains a thickness of 1000 feet, must have been
deposited at the bottom of a deep sea, and subsequently elevated.


1. The Mammalia.

"And God said, Let the earth cause to go forth the soul of life,
cattle, and creeping thing, and the beast of the earth (wild
animals) after his kind; and it was so.

"And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle
after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after his
kind; and God saw that it was good."

In these two verses there are one or two points which call for
notice. In the first place, the creatures mentioned are divided
into three classes, of which two, cattle and the beast of the
earth, are tolerably clear in their general significance, though
their extent is not determined. The third is denoted by a word
which had already been employed to describe the work of the fifth
day, and is translated in our version "creeping thing." The
probability seems to be that it has reference to such classes of
animals as the smaller rodentia, and the mustelidas, whose motions
may be appropriately described by the word "creeping." That it
denotes four-footed creatures has already been pointed out. The
next point is, that in each case the singular is used; in the case
of the domestic animals this fact is lost to the English reader by
the use of the collective noun "cattle." Of course it is a common
usage, to denote a class of animals by a singular noun used
generically, but the statements of the passage would also be
justified if one pair only of each of the three types specified
were called into existence at first. It is also to be noticed that
while the word [Hebrew script], the earth is used to define the
wild beast; another word, [Hebrew script] the ground, is applied
to the "creeping thing." There is probably a reason for this,
though it may not at present be apparent.

When we turn to the Geological record, we find that the period of
the chalk was followed by the deposition of the tertiary strata.
During the upheaval of the chalk these strata seem to have been
gradually laid down in its hollows, and around its edges. They
extend from the London clay upward to the crag formations which
appear on the Eastern coast of England at intervals from
Bridlington to Suffolk. In these strata we see signs of an
approach to the existing state of things. As we ascend through
them, a gradually increasing number of the fossil shells are found
to be specifically identical with those which at present inhabit
the ocean.

Another characteristic of this period is the abundance of fossil
remains of mammalia; but in this case, although the remains are
evidently, in many cases, those of creatures nearly allied to
those now existing, they are not identical, very great
modifications both of bulk and of minor structural details having
taken place. One very important point of difference is the vastly
superior bulk of these ancient animals: a good illustration of
which may be seen in the skeletons of the mammoth and of the
modern elephant, which are placed near each other in the British
Museum. Many of these animals appear not to have become extinct
till long after the appearance of man.

The first appearance of mammalia, as has been already noticed,
must have been long before this, as the earliest fossils yet found
are at the lower limit of the Lias. They belong, however, to the
genus Marsupialia, of which, as far as we know, no representatives
were in existence in any part of the world known to Moses, so that
even on the supposition that he intended to give an account of the
first appearance of the classes of animals which he mentions, the
omission of these would have been inevitable. His words, however,
appear to point to a time when the mammalia occupied the leading
place, just as the reptiles had occupied the leading place at a
previous epoch. And his words are fully borne out by the records
of the rocks.

At the close of the tertiary period great changes once more took
place in the Northern hemisphere. There was a great and extensive
subsidence, in consequence of which a large portion of Northern
and Middle Europe must have been under water, the mountain summits
only appearing as detached islands. At the same time, from causes
utterly unknown to us, there was a great depression of
temperature, the result of which was, that all, or nearly all the
land, in those regions which were not submerged, was covered with
glaciers, much as Greenland is now, and from these glaciers vast
icebergs must from time to time have been detached by the sea and
floated off, carrying with them fragments of rock, some freshly
broken, some rounded by long attrition, which were deposited on
the then submerged lands as the ice melted, and are now found as
boulders, sometimes lying on the surface, at others dispersed
through beds of clay and sand formed under water from the debris
worn down by the glaciers. A subsequent movement of elevation
ushered in the state of things which exists on the earth at the
present time.

2. Man.

"And God said, Let Us make man (Adam) in Our image after Our
likeness; and he shall have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the
earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

"And God created man (the Adam) in His image, in the image of God
created He him; male and female He created them.

"And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and
multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish
of the sea, and the fowl of the heaven, and over every animal that
creepeth upon the earth.

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb seeding seed,
which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which has
in it the fruit of a tree seeding seed; to you it shall be for

"And to every animal of the earth, and to every fowl of the
heaven, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, in which
is the soul of life, every green herb is for meat; and it was so.

"And God saw every thing--which He had made, and behold it was
good exceedingly.

"And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."

The terms in which the Creation of man is spoken of are such as to
challenge particular attention and to induce us to expect
something very different from what occurred on any previous
occasion. In the first place, more agents than one are introduced
by the use of the plural form of the verb, and thus at the very
commencement of man's career there is an intimation of that
mysterious fact of the Trinity in Unity which was to have so
important an influence upon his future destiny. Then we are told
that man was to be formed in the Image of God, a statement which
probably is of very wide import. It has been variously interpreted
as having reference to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual
nature of man; to the fact that the nature of man was afterwards
to be assumed by the Second Person of the Trinity; to the
delegated empire of this world which man was to hold. There are
two expressions of St. Paul: that "man is the image and glory of
God" (1 Cor. xi. 7), and that "the invisible things of Him from
the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by
the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead"
(Rom. i. 20), which seem to indicate that this record has a
significance which as yet we can only partially understand. Then
the story of man's creation is repeated in the second chapter, and
while the other events recorded in the first chapter are very
briefly summarized, that of man is very much amplified. This does
riot necessarily indicate an independent account, as is sometimes
asserted; at the fourth verse of the second chapter a distinct
portion of revelation commences--the special dealing of God with
man, and this could not be intelligible without an amount of
detail with reference to man's origin, which would have been out
of place in the short account of the origin of the world by which
it is preceded. In this account the creation of Adam and Eve is
recorded as two separate events, the latter of which is described
in terms of deep mystery, of which all that we can say is that
they point to that still deeper mystery--the birth of the Bride--
the Lamb's Wife from the pierced side of the Lamb. But in the case
of Adam there is a remarkable difference from anything that has
gone before. Two distinct acts of creation are recorded; one of
which places man before us in his physical relation to the lower
animals, while the other treats of him in his spiritual relation
to his Maker. "The Lord God formed man (the Adam) dust from the
ground (adamah), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
lives; and man became a soul of life." The inspiration of the
"breath of lives" distinguishes the creation of man from that of
all other creatures.

The Geological records harmonize exactly with the Bible as to the
date of man's appearance on the earth. It is towards the close of
the age of gigantic mammalia, that the earliest remains of man's
workmanship make their appearance in the shape of tools and
weapons rudely fashioned from stone. Parts of human skeletons have
also been occasionally found, but they are exceedingly rare.
Weapons and bones are alike confined to superficial, and
comparatively very recent formations. From such traces as have
been found there is no reason to believe that any physical changes
of importance have taken place in man's body since his first
appearance on the earth. The differences which do exist are of the
same kind as, and not greater than, the differences which exist
between individuals at present.

The gift of dominion over the lower animals seems to indicate
something different from that which gives one animal superiority
over another, and accordingly we find that it is not by physical
power that that dominion is exercised; but that in most of his
physical faculties man is inferior to the very animals which he
holds in subjection. It is partly in virtue of his intellectual
superiority, and partly perhaps by means of an instinctive
recognition on the part of the animals of man's higher nature
(Gen. ix. 2) that that supremacy is maintained.


We have now to consider the question of development, in reference
to the Mosaic Record of the last two days, and to the known facts
to which that record has relation. The account of the third day's
work has also a bearing on the subject, but as the same
considerations will to a great extent apply to animals and to
plants, it will not be necessary to make any special reference to

The facts in favour of the theory of development are these:--1.
The different classes of plants and animals are not separated by
broad lines of demarcation, but shade insensibly into each other.
2. The characteristics of the same species are not constant; the
lion, for instance, the horse, the elephant, and the hyena of the
present day differ in many minor points from the corresponding
animals of the Tertiary period, so that unless there was a
possibility of spontaneous change, we must assume successive
creations of animals, with only trivial differences. 3. In all
animals there are minute individual differences, and if under any
circumstances these differences had a tendency to accumulate, they
might in the course of time result in great structural
modifications. 4. Man has been able to take advantage of this fact
and by careful selection to mould the breeds of domestic animals
to a certain extent in accordance with his own wishes.

The theory of development assumes that for the care of man other
forces might be substituted, which in a long course of ages might
result in changes of far greater extent than those produced by
human agency. The forces assigned are natural selection and sexual
selection. The difficulties in the way of this hypothesis have
been already considered, and only require to be briefly re-stated.

1. As regards modifications of organs already existing, the two
alleged causes are insufficient to account for the results which
we witness, since in each individual case the concurrence of many
contingent causes, continued through a long series of ages, is
required to produce the result. But the probabilities against
such, a concurrence in any one case are enormous, and against
their concurrence in a large number of cases the chances are
practically infinite.

2. That such causes do not at all account for cases in which an
entirely new organ is developed, such as mammary glands--or for
the case of man, in which intellectual superiority is accompanied
by a loss of physical power.

3. That from the nature of the case it is impossible for us to
ascertain that natural or sexual selection has ever acted to
produce a single modification, however small, and that the results
of man's superintendence have not as yet passed beyond certain
narrow limits, so that there is no justification for the
assumption that such modifications are capable of being carried to
an unlimited extent.

We see that in the only case in which change is known to have been
brought about, it has been the result of choice and design. If
then there is a probability that choice and design may have been
exercised by a power higher than man, there is no longer any
reason to doubt but that results much greater than any to which
man can attain may have been brought about by the same means. And
in fact the advocates of the theory of development do virtually
admit the existence and action of such a power, whenever they have
recourse to assumed "laws" to account for phenomena for which
their naked theory can give no reason. For, as has been shown,
law, if it is to be assigned as an efficient cause, and not merely
as the statement of observed facts, can only be regarded as the
expressed and enforced will of a higher power. And there was no
reason why those minute variations themselves, which are the basis
of Mr. Darwin's hypothesis, should be considered casual. Instead
then of natural selection, or sexual selection, let us suppose
that the selection took place under the superintending care of the
Creator, and was directed towards the carrying out of His designs,
and then we shall have no reason to doubt but that all results
which consisted only in the modification of existing organs may
have been obtained by the operation of those laws which we term
natural, because they express modes of operation with which we are
so familiar that we look upon them as automatic.

But there are other results for which no natural laws with which
we are acquainted will thus account. Just as no mechanical laws
within our knowledge will account for the rotation of the earth,
so no physiological laws yet discovered will account for the
changes when totally new orders of being came on the stage--when
the course of life took, as it were, a new point of departure. But
it is precisely at these points that the Mosaic Record points to a
special interference on the part of the Creator. How that
interference took place we are not informed. Very possibly it may
have been the result of other laws which lie wholly out of the
reach of our powers of observation. But whatever may have been its
character, it does not in any way imply change or defect in the
original plan, unless we know, (what we do not know, and cannot
ascertain) that such interference formed no part of the original
design. Everything bears the marks of progressive development, and
there is nothing improbable, but rather the reverse, in the
supposition that such a plan should include special steps of
advance to be made when the preparation for them was completed.

The Mosaic Record tells us nothing about the method by which God
created the different varieties of plants and animals. All that we
read there is just as applicable to a process of evolution, as to
any other method which we may be able to imagine. But it is
remarkable that what Moses does say is just what is required to
make Mr. Darwin's theory possible. So far then as the lower orders
of creation are concerned, the hypothesis of development, modified
by the admission of uniform superintendence and occasional special
interferences on the part of the Creator, may be accepted as being
the most satisfactory explanation that can be given, in the
present state of physiological science, of the Scriptural

But we have yet to consider this hypothesis as applied to man in
Mr. Darwin's latest work. We naturally recoil from the thought
that we have sprung from some lower race of animals--that we are
only the descendants of some race of anthropoid apes. So long as
it is asserted that we are no more than this, we may well be
reluctant to admit the suggestion. But if it be admitted that to a
physical nature formed like the bodies of the lower animals, a
special spiritual gift may have been superadded, the difficulty
vanishes. All Mr. Darwin's arguments with reference to physical
resemblances may then be admitted, and we may allow that he has
given a probable explanation of the method by which "the Lord God
formed the Adam, dust from the ground" while we maintain that the
intellectual and moral faculties of man are derived from a source
which lies beyond the investigations of science.

The conclusions to be drawn from this investigation may be briefly
summed up as follows:--

1. There is every reason to conclude that the process of Creation
was carried on, in great part, under the operation of the system
of natural laws which we still see acting in the world around us:
such laws being so far as we are concerned only an expression of
an observed uniformity in the action of that Being by whom the
Universe was created and is upheld.

2. That inasmuch as the development of a new state of things
differs from the maintenance of a condition already existing, the
working of these laws was necessarily from time to time
supplemented by special interferences of the Creator, but that
such interferences formed parts of the original design, and are
not indications of anything in the shape of change or failure.

3. That many of the events recorded in the Mosaic Record are of
the nature of such special interferences, while others point to
remarkable developments of particular forms of organic life.

4. That these interferences thus recorded occur at the exact
points at which natural laws, so far as science has yet been able
to ascertain them, are inadequate to produce the phenomena which
then took place, and that the developments are proved by geology
to have taken place at the points indicated.

5. That the six days into which the work is divided by Moses do
correspond to the probable order of development--that in three of
them, the third, fifth, and sixth, this correspondence is marked
by facts ascertained by Geology--that the fourth, in which no
terrestrial phenomenon is recorded, corresponds to a very long
period in the Geological record in which no indications of any new
development are found--while the first and second indicate a state
of things which the nebular hypothesis renders highly probable,
but of which no positive information is within the reach of

Admitting then that there is something in the way in which the
days are spoken of which we are at present unable to understand,
we may yet confidently assert that such a record could not have
been the product of man's thought at the period at which it was
written. It is utterly impossible that it should have been the
result of a series of fortunate conjectures without any foundation
to rest upon, and scientific foundation there was none, for there
is every reason to believe that the sciences which might perchance
now supply some foundation are entirely the growth of the last
three centuries. There is then only one conclusion that we can
draw, that it is a revelation from the Creator Himself, and that
if there is anything in it which seems inexplicable or erroneous,
that appearance arises from our own ignorance of facts, and not
from any error on the part of the Author.
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by T. S. Ackland