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preposterous. What conceivable effect could the annihilation of light have produced on the strata at a distance below the surface, to which not a ray ever penetrated after the superposition of the rocks and earths that intervene between them and the atmosphere?
In the next place, they are prohibited by their prin ciples from assuming that any geological events have taken place, except such as have resulted from the chemical and mechanical forces to which they refer the formation of the strata. But they cannot account for the annihilation of light by those forces. Whether it is held to be an emanation from the sun, or an effect produced by that orb on an ether diffused through space, its annihilation would involve the annihilation either of the light-giving atmosphere of the sun, and all the similar orbs of our star system, or else of that ether, or both. But such a stupendous effect could not be wrought by chemistry, fire, or water, raised to any energy of which they can be thought to be capable, much less in acting only on the scale on which they are now producing effects. Light itself is a chemical agent, and can no more be annihilated by others than it can annihilate them. Water acts only on bodies with which it comes in contact, and fire only on such as are either in contact with it, or within the reach of the heat which it imparts. The sphere of chemical forces is equally limited. They are exerted only between particles of matter that are in absolute contact, or separated from each other by a very slight space. No greater contradiction, therefore, can be offered to their nature, than the supposition that the imagined annihilation of light was the work of their agency. It is to suppose that they extended their influence not only through the space that immediately surrounds the earth, but through the immeasurable realms which our star system occupies, and robbed the sun, and all other light-giving orbs, of their luminiferous atmospheres! A beautiful postulate, truly, of a theorywhich announces the conclusions it advances in contradiction to the Mosaic record, as the result of a "scientific induction."
The supposition of the obliteration of continents and islands by those agents, acting with their present energy, or a thousand times higher force, is equally absurd. It would involve the erosion or depression of every mountain and hill, and reduction of the surface universally to a geological level, by agents, as inadequate to the production of such an effect, as they are to annihilate the light of the countless suns and constellations that glitter in our heavens. Do these writers find any traces in the condition of the earth of such a catastrophe anterior to the Mosaic creation? Did philosophers, arrogating, as many of them do, an exclusive right and competence to treat of the subject,* ever before present such an extravagance to the faith of men?
Such are the extraordinary contradictions to their principles which they offer in these assumptions; such the stupendous postulates, wholly unproved, wholly incapable of proof, and irreconcilable with the genius of geology itself, which, by their own concessions, are requisite to a conciliation of their theory with the Mosaic record, and which, instead of reconciling them, only place them in a more complicated antagonism.
What is the question now to be tried? What do geologists mean by the principles of their science? What is the first of those principles? What is the second? What is or ought to be a third axiom of their system? What is or ought to be a fourth? Are they forbidden by their principles from assuming or inferring any facts that are not consistent with these axioms? What is the first statement of Genesis i. which is to be compared with their theory? What is there meant by the heaven? Give the reason for assigning that
* It is scarcely necessary to say that this fault does not appear in the higher class of writers. Notwithstanding what we deem their errors, the volumes of Bakewell, Buckland, Lyell, Sedgwick, De la Beche, Murchison, Daubeny, Conybeare, Mantell, Phillips, and many others, instead of an affectation of knowledge, and intolerance of all opinions that differ from theirs, are, like the works of the great chemists, zoologists, and astronomers, distinguished for good sense, modesty, and candor. If Macculloch is sometimes splenetic and reproachful, he generally has the justice to vent his sarcasms on those of his own profession. The pretence to learning and contempt of criticism, are generally in the inverse ratio of talents and attainments. sense to the word. What is the next declaration of the sacred narrative? What is meant by the earth? What is the first consideration which proves that the same earth is meant that now exists, and essentially in its present shape and solidity? What is the second? What is the third? Can these proofs be set aside by the pretext that the language is metaphorical? State the first law of the metaphor. Show by it that God, the name of him who is declared to have created the heaven and earth, is used literally. State the second law of the metaphor. Show that the words create, earth, waste, waters, and others, are used also in their literal sense. What is the only term in the passage that is used by a metaphor? Does the use of that term to denote the surface of the waters indicate that the other terms of the passage are not used in their literal sense? What is the next declaration of the sacred text, v. 3, i? What is it that is there said to have been called into existence? Is the light of the sun and stars clearly distinguishable from the sun itself and the stars? Is the fact that light was created after the sun itself and the stars from which it emanates, were called into existence, credible and consistent with the nature of those bodies? What is the first reason which proves that it was the light of the sun that was then created, not the sun itself? What other considerations prove it? Do these facts preclude the supposition of a prior existence of the earth, and its vegetable and animal races? Are the text and the geological theory here in direct contradiction to each other? Designate the points of their opposition. Can this antagonism be set aside by the pretext that the language of the sacred writer is metaphorical? Show why the word light cannot be used metaphorically. Show why evening and morning cannot. Show why day cannot. What further consideration proves that those words are not used by a metaphor? Is the construction put by geologists on the passage inconsistent also with the principle on which they professedly proceed, as well as with the sacred text? What do they assume or imply had been annihilated? How does this contradict their principles? How does their third axiom prove that their assumption of such an annihilation of light is unauthorized? How does it show that their assumption of the obliteration of continents and islands, and reduction of the globe to a geological level, so that the whole was immersed in the ocean, is absurd 1