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intended for our moral guidance, should be exempt from error wherever we are to look into it for the regulation of our conduct; but that the deity, who does not interfere unnecessarily, should have withheld any extraordinary assistance from such portions as relate to natural phenomena, in which man has no vital concern. Indeed, any revelation on such points as those would have been not only superfluous, but subversive of some of the great ends for which the book of nature has been unfolded, which appears to have been intended to awaken our appetite for inquiry, to afford a fit and healthy exercise for our reasoning faculties, and to impart glimpses of the great designs of the Creator in the system of the universe. Granting this to be the case, there seems an a priori improbability that the writings of Moses should contain any precise information on such subjects as these ; for the condition of the globe before the creation of man is clearly as irrelevant to the objects for which revelation was specially intended, as the question whether the moon has inhabitants or is endowed with an atmosphere."—Literary Gazette, 1834, p. 110.
The irreconcilableness of the history of the creation in Genesis with the views of geologists, is thus exhibited as so clear and indisputable that no safe course is left to divines but to admit that those portions of "the sacred volume which relate to natural phenomena" are not inspired, nor free from error, and that there is an intrinsic improbability, from the nature of the subject, that "the writings of Moses should , contain any precise information" respecting such events. As "natural phenomena" include not only the effects produced by the omniponent fiat in the six days of the creation, but all that were observable by the senses, and the theophanies, therefore, miraculous works and historical events recorded in the Scriptures; this sweeping doctrine, which surrenders all that the most eager infidel could ask, would not have been advanced had not its author felt the most unhesitating conviction that the narrative of the creation in Genesis cannot be conciliated with his views of the facts of geology.*
* That such is the result to which that supposition leads, is indicated by another British journalist, in animadverting on it.
"If the Bible speaks at all, it speaks truly; and it is utterly subversive of its authority to make one degree of inspiration for its moral declarations, and a lower, which is none at all, for its physical statements. Many geologists think that they can so explain the first chapter of Genesis as, without violence, to reconcile it with the known facts of geology; in this there is no shadow of scepticism. Others go further, and confess that they have no hypothesis by which they can do so; but even this, )/ this be all, is only a confession of ignorance ; but to advance one step beyond this, is to open the floodgates of infidelity; as even some professed Christians have allowed themselves to do, by treating the Mosaic cosmogony as a tradition or allegory, and not as a correct record of actual facts. Thus we find the Rev. Baden Powell, the Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford, in a sermon entitled Revelation and Science, saying:
"' If we look at the actual case of the writings of Moses, it is surely in every way the most probable supposition that tradition had preserved some legendary memorial of primeval events, and that the origin of the world had been recorded in a poetical cosmogony. As introductory to the revelation, Moses then put a religious application
Professor Sedgwick, a clergyman of the establishment and a distinguished geologist, indicates in an equally emphatic manner his conviction that it is wholly impracticable to harmonize the sacred record with the doctrines of the science. He says:—
"The only way of escape from all difficulties pressing upon the question of cosmogony, is to consider the old strata of the earth as monuments of a date long anterior to the existence of man and to the times contemplated in the moral records of his creation. The Bible is then left to rest upon its own appropriate evidence, and its interpretation is committed to the learning and good sense of the critic and commentator; while geology is allowed to stand on its own basis, and the philosopher to follow the investigations of physical truth wherever they may lead him, without any dread of evil consequences."—Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge, p. 108.
No terms could show more decisively that the history the Bible gives of the creation, is felt to be wholly irreconcilable with his geological theory. If coincident with each other, if not in the most palpable collision, why, in order to escape pressing difficulties, assume, in direct contravention of the
upon such memorials, for the stronger sanction of the enactments of that law to the Israelites, and adopted them for the illustration of religious truths, and as the vehicles of moral instruction to the chosen people.'"—Ch. Obser., June, 1834, pp. 369, 370.
It is thus, according to Professor Powell, in every relation, a mere fiction.
fact, that the Bible utters nothing on the subject of the earth's creation ?*
Though the conviction of these writers of the impossibility of reconciling those two views of the creation, is, in our judgment, legitimate, and had better be acknowledged than disguised, a great number of geologists recoil from it, and the startling and self-contradictious methods proposed by them for evading the abandonment, with which it is felt to be fraught, of the inspiration of the Scriptures, and maintain, some on one supposition and some on another, that the sacred narrative and the geological theory are consistent with each other.
* It is not easy, however, to see what way this expedient presents "of escape from all difficulties pressing upon the question." How is a consideration of "the old strata of the earth as monuments of a date long anterior to the existence of man, and the times contemplated in the moral records of his creation," to prevent them from being regarded as contradicting that record? To admit and proclaim that they are totally incompatible with each other, is a singular method of escaping the difficulties of their irreconcilableness, or of suppressing debate respecting it I The fact that geologists may adopt that hypothesis respecting their relations to each other, cannot exempt the critic and commentator from the necessity of interpreting the Bible by its proper laws, and defending it from the imputation of error, which that hypothesis casts on it. How, moreover, is "the Bible to rest upon its own appropriate evidence," if that evidence is admitted to be confuted by '' the old strata of the earth?" An extraordinary expedient really of avoiding an impeachment of the truth and inspiration of the Bible! Professor S. is here guilty, we apprehend, of what he denounces as a "sinful indiscretion" in those who attempt to evade the difficulty by extending the periods of time implied in the six days of the creation.
The principal hypotheses which have been advanced for the purpose of reconciling them are stated in the following manner by the Rev. W. D. Conybeare, England, a clergyman of the establishment, and an eminent geologist:—
"We may, perhaps, without real violence to the inspired writer, regard the period of the creation recorded by Moses, and expressed under the term of days, not to have designated ordinary days of twenty-four hours, but periods
of definite but considerable length Those
who embrace this opinion will, of course, assign the formation of the secondary strata, in great part at least, to those days of creation, and we have the authority of several divines for such an interpretation.
But "it does not seem inconsistent with the authority of the sacred historian to suppose that, after recording in the first sentence of Genesis the fundamental fact of the original formation of all things by the will of an intelligent Creator, he may pass, sub silentio, some intermediate state, whose ruins formed the chaotic mass he proceeds to describe, and out of which, according to his further narrative, the present order of our portion of the universe was educed. Upon this supposition, the former world, whose remains we explore, may have belonged to this intermediate aera."*—Outlines of the Geology of Eng. and Wales, introd. pp. lix., lx.
* He adopts the last of these hypotheses, as is seen from the