Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

cally. For who will undertake to give us the dynamics of a miracle ?

But the slowness of the petrifactive process is one of the minor difficulties opposed to the diluvial origin of fossil organic remains. The rocks which contain them are divided into several distinct groups, and these into hundreds of minor strata, quite, and sometimes totally distinct from one another in their mineral and organic contents. Is it possible now, to conceive how the diluvial waters should have been successively charged with ingredients so widely and often totally distinct; so that now they should deposit only limestone, now limestone with clay, and then with sand; now clay alone, and now sand only; now the coarsest pebbles, and now the finest loam ; now gypsum,

then chalk; then rock salt. But the changes in the organic remains in different groups of strata are still more difficult to explain by diluvial action. For some of the larger groups, the secondary and tertiary series for instance, do not contain any animals or plants that are common. And in the lesser divisions of the strata we find many new genera and species that appear for the first time as we ascend in the series, and then often again disappear from the next higher member. In a particular formation, , however, there is a general correspondence among all the organic beings found in it; as if all were adapted to a particular set of circumstances ; while in the next formation, either above or below, the type of organic existence is changed, as if adapted to a new set of circumstances. If we find one animal, or plant, for instance, adapted to a tropical climate, we find all others in the same formation fitted to a similar condition. If one animal appears intended for living in a low marshy region, we find others, as well as the plants, analogous to those that now flourish best in such situations. If we find one marine animal in a rock, nearly all the other organic beings in the same rock are of marine origin : though in such a case, there is an occasional mixture of fresh water or terrestrial remains, which appear to have been drifted into the ocean by floods and rivers. On the other hand if we meet with a few fresh water remains in a rock, we may calculate that nearly all in that stratum partake of the same character. In short, the evidence is perfectly irresistible, that the successive groups of organized beings in the different formations must have lived and died in different conditions of the globe, which are incompatible with one another so far as animal and vegetable life are concerned. How can all this mutual

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

adaptation of organic beings, the regularity of their groupings, the total diversity in some cases of their specific and even generic characters, and the evident adaptation of their natures to diverse and changing circumstances. How is all this to be explained, if organic remains be the result of a deluge of a single year! Really, it seems to us that it is hardly possible for the human mind to conceive of an explanation of the origin of organic remains more absurd and opposed to facts.

In the fourth place, the organic remains in rocks do not correspond with the animals and plants now existing on the globe. In the higher members of the tertiary strata, we find a few species which cannot be distinguished from those now alive. Yet the greater part of the species, even in the tertiary rocks, are extinct : and if we descend into the secondary class, out of the thousands of species that have been brought to light, it is said that not one appears to be identical with any now in existence. But if they were all buried by the Noachian deluge, how happened our existing races of animals and plants to have escaped ? And how happens it that the deeper we descend into the earth, the organic remains become more and more unlike living beings ? If entombed by the agitated waters of a deluge, we ought to expect that our existing races would be found as often at the bottom as at the top of the fossiliferous rocks. There is no way of avoiding these conclusions, except by maintaining that there was an entirely new creation at the deluge; and of species for the most part different from those that were destroyed by that catastrophe. We have, indeed, no serious objection to the supposition that a new exertion of creative power was put forth subsequent to the deluge: but we suspect if it did take place, the new animals and plants created must have been of species that existed previously : for it seems to have been the express object of taking pairs of all animals into the ark, to continue in existence those species that were living before the flood. And we know that man was the same before as after the deluge. Yet no remains of antediluvian men have been discovered in the rocks. Nor can this difficulty be got over by saying that man may not have existed in Europe and America before the deluge: for organic remains have been obtained from many places in Asia, and have been found to agree with those of Europe and America in a want of conformity to the existing organic creation, and the absence of human relics. But we will not any further multiply arguments, although it Vol. X. No. 28.

43

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

might be easily done, to show that no marks of the Noachian deluge are to be expected in the secondary and tertiary rocks. For if any of our readers, in spite of the opposing evidence now presented, will still believe that the petrifactions abounding in these rocks are to be referred to that catastrophe, probably no further array of arguments would change their opinion. We can bardly believe, however, that any intelligent man, who will look at the subject even as we have presented it, until he understands it, will much longer hold on to a belief, which ought no more to stain the fair escutcheon of our theological literature.

2. We proceed to say, secondly, that the Mosaic account does not require us to admit that any traces of the Noachian deluge would remain permanently on the face of nature. Even admitting, as we have done, that the scriptural account would lead us to infer that not a little of violence and tumultuous action attended that event, it does not follow that its effects could be distinguished thousands of years afterwards. Currents of water could have affected only the surface of the globe, and their effects would be similar to those now produced by rivers and floods. Yet as they would be spread over the whole surface, and not so much confined as rivers, to a particular channel, they would be less striking, and sooner obliterated. They would consist principally in the removal of the softer parts of the surface and the abrasion of the harder parts. But similar processes have been going on ever since the last deluge, almost every where; and whether, after the lapse of centuries, we should be able to distinguish diluvial from alluvial action, it is impossible to say. Perhaps the traces of Noah's deluge might be all obliterated. If they are all gone, then, the fact argues nothing against the scriptural account.

Those geologists who deny that there are any marks of a general deluge on the globe, for the most part maintain, that the Mosaic account of Noah's deluge, does not imply any violence or powerful movement in the waters. In a former number of this work we have quoted the opinion of several of these writers; and it is unnecessary to repeat them in this place. We have made the supposition most unfavorable to the Scriptures, viz. that there was violence and tumult in the diluvial waters ; and therefore some traces of them must for a time have remain

But we think that no man capable of estimating the effects of geological agencies will maintain that they must certainly have remained till the present time.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

3. But thirdly, even if no real traces now exist, we maintain that geology furnishes presumptive evidence in favor of the occurrence of such a deluge as that of Noah.

In the opinion of most geologists, this science teaches us that there have been numerous deluges, more or less extensive, that have swept the earth's surface since the commencement of the changes which its crust has undergone : And if causes have existed sufficiently powerful to produce these catastrophes, in times past, why might not that of Noah have been one of the number? That different chains of mountains have been upheaved at various epochs from the bottom of the ocean, seems to be extremely probable. And if this was done suddenly, it must have thrown the ocean in violent commotion over lands already elevated. The last occurrence of this kind may have constituted the deluge of Noah. It is true, that a few able geologists, who will admit no diminution of energy in the forces that have acted on the globe, reject the opinion that mountain chains have been suddenly elevated ; and these writers will allow of the occurrence of only limited deluges, such as do now sometimes happen. On their theory, geology furnishes no presumption one way or the other in respect to Noah's deluge; and they suppose that event to have been miraculous. But in the view of the greatest number of geologists, the evidence of former powerful deluges is too strong to be resisted. That evidence, in respect to the last of these events, we shall now proceed to exhibit, in a form as much divested of technicalities as possible, that our readers may be able to judge for themselves, which opinion on the subject is most probable. We have shown, that even on the supposition that geology is utterly destitute of proof respecting the Noachian deluge, or even of any general deluge, it does not bring science at all into collision with the Scriptures. But should we be able to make out a probable argument in favor of a general deluge in former and comparatively recent times, even though we cannot fix its date, it will afford a presumption in favor of the Noachian deluge.

Our object is to present the evidence, which has been relied on in geology, to prove a general deluge. And we wish for the present to leave out of the argument all reference to Noah's deluge ; and simply to inquire, whether there is geological evidence of an extensive deluge since the earth assumed essentially its present form. We have already attempted to show that it is unreasonable to look for any such evidence in the regular

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

strata of the globe. We must, therefore, confine our attention
solely to the surface. And the position taken by those geolo-
gists, who maintain that here we do meet with marks of a deluge,
may be stated as follows.

The phenomena of diluvium prove a powerful rush of water
from the north over the northern hemisphere.

To make this argument understood, we must go somewhat into detail. And we shall, as far as possible, confine ourselves to the diluvium spread over the northern part of the United States: both because we have very extensively examined it with our own eyes, and because we apprehend that there are one or two important parts of the evidence, obvious enough in our country, which seem to be much less perfectly developed in Europe.

1. The first fact that sustains the above position, is, that bowlders and diluvial gravel are found almost uniformly in a southerly direction from the rocks from which they have been detached.

For such readers as are not much acquainted with the details of geology, a few explanations may here be necessary to the full understanding of this subject.

There are scarcely any individuals, who have not observed, that the greater part of the earth's surface is covered over with sand and gravel, rounded by water ; although it may often be hid by the alluvial soil that from year to year is accumulating. Sometimes too, ledges of rock break through this deposit. In other places it is piled up into small hills, having that rounded outline, which results from the action of water. Indeed, no one can attentively examine these accumulations of sand and gravel, without being satisfied that they are composed of fragments broken off from ledges of rocks and rounded and triturated by currents of water, and by those currents removed away from their parent rock, and brought into their present situation. Such masses of sand and gravel are denominated diluvium, under an impression that they must have resulted from a partial or general deluge. For all accumulations which could have been brought into their.present situation by existing streams, or any other agencies now operating, are not regarded as diluvium; and it is only those deposits whose present situation cannot be explained by existing agencies, that are thus denominated. Now the position which we take is, that this diluvial sand and gravel, will, on examination, be found to have been swept in a

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »