Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

rence of the age of the world drawn from a premise then that lies out of the facta of geology? Is it not, therefore, a fallacy, instead of a legitimate scientific conclusion?

What is the third objection to their claim of an exclusive competence to criticise their own theory f

CHAPTER IV.

The Principles of Geologists—Their Theory tried by their own Criteria, irreconcilable with the History of the Creation in Genesis.

We will now proceed to try the question between the Scriptures and the theory of the geologists, by showing first what the facts are that are indicated by the Mosaic account of the six days' creation; and next by pointing out the contradictions both to that record and to the principles of geology itself, presented by the postulates and implications of that theory.

By the principles of geology are meant the principles on which the authors of that theory found their systems; or, in other words, the axioms on which they proceed in their explanations of the facts of the science; first, that the processes which have taken place since the creation of the world, such as the formation of strata, and their subsequent modifications, are to be referred entirely to such forces as are now in activity, and producing similar changes on the earth's surface, namely: gravity, chemical affinity, and the mechanical forces of water and fire.

Secondly, That those forces are to be regarded as having acted on essentially the same scale, both as to extent and intensity, as that on which they have given birth to similar effects since the date of authentic history, and are now producing them.

It is on this postulate, unsupported by evidence, and inconsistent, as we shall hereafter show, with many of the great facts of the science, that they found nearly the whole of their reasonings.

As it follows from this definition, that nothing falls within the sphere of the science, except effects that are the products of those forces, acting as far as the formation of strata is concerned, with much their present energy, it results,

Thirdly, that no geological events can be assumed by them to have taken place, except such as may have been produced by those forces. As they are held to be the only causes of geological effects, and the scale on which they are now acting is taken as the exponent of their capacity to produce their several classes of effects—as well as the measure of the rapidity with which the processes that are referred to them have been accomplished—no geological changes can be assumed and made a basis of induction, except such as may have resulted from those causes.

And finally, it results also, that no geological events can be assumed to have been wrought by those causes, and made the basis of induction, except such as can be proved from the present condition of the strata, to have actually taken place.*

* It results also from these positions, not only that all effects, if there are such, that cannot be referred to those agents, are excluded from the sphere of the science, but that all those of the species produced by them are also, that happen to transcend the effects of the same class which they are now generating. If the effects that are at present resulting from those causes, are the measure of their power to produce such effects, then none of the effects of the same species that required causes of higher energy, can have been the product of their agency. They must lie out of the sphere of the science, therefore, as absolutely as though they were the product of a supernatural power. This, which is the necessary result of their postulate, is indeed a solecism, and overturns the whole theoretical fabric which they have employed themselves in rearing. It contradicts the first great principle of inductive science, which requires that all effects of the same species, no matter what their dimensions are, should be referred to the same cause or causes of the same class. As it is plainly necessary that all effects that are from their nature referable to the force of gravity, such as the deposition of earthy and mineral substances that have been held in solution or suspension by water, which cannot be assigned to any other known power, should be ascribed to that force; so it is equally that all effects of the classes that are produced by chemical agencies, such as crystallization and the union of crystallized and other solidified matter in masses, should, without any consideration of the scale on which they exist, be referred to those agents; and in like manner that all of the several species which fire and water mechanically produce, should be regarded as the result of their agency. The great axiom on which they build their speculative system is thus in contradiction to a first great law of philosophy. Unscientific and solecistical as it is, however, they are compelled to adhere to it in order to give a color of validity to the conclusion they deduce from it of the vast age of the world; as the moment they admit a sliding scale of those forces, and assume that they rose or sank in energy, and acted on a larger or smaller area, proportional to the magnitude of the effects that are referable to them, that moment they quit the postulate on which they found their deduc

Such being the great postulates or axioms which they acknowledge as the criteria of the truth or error of their inductions, let us now look at the facts which are presented by the Mosaic history of the creation, and see how they consist with the views of these writers.

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," v. 1. By the heaven is meant, not all other worlds besides the earth, i. e. the universe; as it is implied in the temptation of the first pair by Satan that there were worlds and creatures before this creative fiat; and it is expressly indicated (Job xxxviii. 4-7), in which all the sons of God—implying that there were several orders of them—are represented as having shouted for joy when the

tion of the immense age of the world. If it is admitted that, at the period when the strata were formed, those forces acted on a scale as much greater in extent and energy than they now do, as those effects are greater than the corresponding classes that are now in progress, the whole ground is abandoned of the assumption, that they were the work of a slow process, and required a vast series of ages for their completion.

They do not, in fact, however, adhere to that postulate, which would exclude the deposition of strata and most other important processes from the sphere of geology, and circumscribe it to a few of late date that are of comparatively little moment; but, instead, attempt to account for all formations of the classes to which those forces give birth, whatever their magnitude may be, and however vast the energies were that called them into existence. Some of them, indeed, candidly admit the impossibility of accounting by such slight forces for many of the most important of the phenomena they are required to explain, and others swerve from the conditions they prescribe to themselves, whenever an exigency requires it.

« AnteriorContinuar »