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creation is represented as extending to the formation of the herbs of the field, though the verb created is not used in the fiat by which they were called into existence, but an expression equivalent to that employed in the creation of light. “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind,” chap. i. 11. Accordingly, in the description of the formation of man, both the verbs answering to create and to make are used as equivalent in meaning to signify his creation. It is inconsistent, also, with the representation that God then divided the light from the darkness, and called the one day and the other night, which implies that light had not before existed. It were an infinite misrepresentation to exhibit that separation as constituting them, if they had been distinguished from each other, and followed in a regular alternation every twenty-four hours through a round of countless ages.
To assume that light was not then created, but merely readmitted to the earth by a dispersion of dense vapors, that occasioned a temporary darkness, is to assume that the day had, in fact, returned at its regular period during that temporary darkness; as no vapors are ever known to envelop the earth so completely as to exclude the light. The diminution of light occasioned by the densest mists or clouds is very far short of an absolute extinction of it. Besides, if the sun shone in his full splendor on the exterior
of the imagined body of vapors, there must not only have been perfect day there, but his rays must have penetrated the body of the clouds to a great depth, and rendered them luminous. What a perversion of the passage to hold that the darkness that wrapped the deep extended only a few feet or rods from the surface, while at a short distance above the vapors were basking in a dazzling effulgence! What a degradation of the sublime act of the Almighty, by which he called into existence the light not only of our sun, but probably of all the countless stars and constellations that sparkle in our firmament, to represent it as nothing more than a dispersion of dense vapors that had temporarily intercepted his beams from the face of the waters! It is a sad exemplification of the perverting influence of this false theory, that men of the fine powers and just taste Dr. Buckland usually displays, are betrayed by it into such misconceptions.
It is to divest the work of the six days of the character of a creation, to exhibit the production of light as nothing more than a re-admission of it to the earth by a dispersion of clouds. If that assumption may be made in respect to light, it may be equally in respect to the atmosphere, the seas, the dry land, plants, animals, and even man. No reason can be given to justify it in respect to the one that will not be an equal justification of it in respect to the others. A scheme must be embarrassed with fatal difficulties that needs the aid of such an expedient for its support.
But not less unfortunately for his suppositionthere was then no atmosphere in existence to support vapors above the waters, and render such an accumulation of clouds possible as to intercept the rays of the sun! It was not until the following day that God made the firmament, and “ divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament,” in the form of vapors and clouds. As, then, on the first day, there were no waters except those that were under the firmament, that is, the waters of the abyss, there cannot have been any vapors in the space above them to occasion the darkness in which the deep was enveloped. The supposition is as contradictory, therefore, to the laws of vapor as it is to the sacred narrative. And, finally, it is in contravention of the principles of geology, which forbid the supposition of any physical event as a condition or basis of its theories, that cannot be proved by geological evidence to have taken place, and to have resulted from the chemical or mechanical agencies to which geologists refer the facts of the science. But what geological proofs can Dr. Buckland produce that, on the first day of the creation, a mass of vapors enveloped the abyss so dense as to wrap it in absolute darkness, though the
sun was shining above in unclouded effulgence ? Or what evidence can he allege that, in the total absence of an atmosphere, the forces of chemistry, fire, and water, acting with only their present energy, could fill the void above the ocean to a vast height with a cloud of vapor so dense, as wholly to intercept the rays of the sun. Can a greater self-contradiction, a more extraordinary absurdity be imagined ? Such is the inextricable embarrassment in which he involves himself by this attempt to bring the sacred word into harmony with his theory.
Dr. Hitchcock intimates that the darkness was occasioned by the absorption by matter of the light that previously existed.
"From the facts which modern science has developed as to the existence of light and heat in all bodies, we can hardly imagine that these were not created in the beginning along with matter. But these facts show us that they might have existed without being visible, or that, after having been visible during ages, they might have been ABSORBED into matter, and that it required the power of Almighty God to develop them to such an extent as was necessary to the new state of the earth ; that is to say, it was rather a recreation than an original production of light that is described in the third verse.”—Geology and Revelation, p. 91.
This group of errors is a fit associate of Dr. Buckland's. In the first place, not a syllable is uttered by Moses to indicate that such an absorption of light actually took place, and caused the darkness which Dr. H. attempts to explain by it. It is deemed by him enough to determine the question at issue, to assert that it might have occurred. A very satisfactory verification truly of the assurance he gives on an earlier page, that geology, instead of "a bundle of crude speculations and airy hypotheses,” is “a collection of striking facts, with inferences legitimately drawn according to the strictest rules of the Baconian Philosophy.” With what disdain would an attempt by a “theologian” to controvert one of his facts or inferences by such an expedient be received ! But in a geologist, “according to the strictest rules of the Baconian philosophy,” it seems to be thought enough to invalidate the plainest testimony of the Bible, and invest it with a meaning that is at war alike with the laws of language and of nature.
But in the next place, as invisible light and imperceptible heat would not have exerted the influences that are necessary to plants and animals, we are not able to see how their existence “ without being visible”—we were not before aware that heat is visiblecan furnish any explanation of the life of vegetables and animals during the ages in which it is supposed they may have been in that latent state.
Thirdly. We are equally unable to understand what is meant by the declaration, that “after having