« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
has rendered more plausible,) we do not feel that Scripture lays us under the necessity of maintaining it. Irrespectively of any reference to geology, the term days, in the first chapter of Genesis, may be taken to mean periods of duration of indefinite extent, without exceeding the latitude often assumed in the application of that word in Scripture. Nor does this admission at all affect the notion of creating acts being independent of time. All must agree, that the creative acts recorded were successive; and it cannot affect their extra-natural, their immediately divine character, whether we suppose them to have been exerted at intervals of twenty-four hours, or of longer periods. To that part of the work before us, which seems to insist upon the necessity of adhering closely to the restricted system of interpretation, we, with all respect for the Author, demur.
The third class of writers on Geology is intermediate between the two just mentioned. Of these, De Luc is at the head. We cannot again name this eminent man, without expressing our admiration of his genius and industry, and our pleasure at seeing a recent edition of his letters, accompanied with valuable remarks and illustrations by the late Rev. Henry De La Fite.
Of Geology in general, we may confidently affirm with the present Writer, that, so far as it can be considered as established science, it contains nothing contrary to Scripture. But, with him, we may go further, and supported by such high authorities as De Luc, Professor Buckland, Mr. Young, and others, differing among themselves on many points, yet on this point agreed, may add, that its researches have afforded much valuable and interesting corroboration of the sacred narrative.
In accordance with these views, our Author remarks :
- While we profess the highest respect for the valuable researches of a Cuvier, a Brongniart, a Buckland, a Ledgwick, a Greenough, a Lyell, and many others, we consider that they are not infallible. We much esteem the interesting facts which they have presented; but their deductions may not always correspond with the legitimate requirements of inductive truth; and it is admitted on all hands, that our advancement in geology must extend very far beyond our present attainments, before we have any right to think about the structure of a theory. Geology was formerly called a “system of paradoxes.” Is it consistent with induction, to overlook the only authentic record of the infant history of the world, and yet introduce eastern fables, because they happen to exceed the limits prescribed by the Mosaic cosmogony, and dance to the tune of millions of years; and that because such a term of years has been preconceived to be necessary ? This takes for granted the thing that remains to be proved, and is in direct variance with the maxims of inductive science. It will be time enough to grant the requirement, when positive and substantial facts shall have proved it to be necessary; but we deny the concession on the mere dictum of pre
conceived opinion, or bold assumption. We cannot establish our premises better than by referring to geologists themselves. Are not the proteus forms of geological speculations, systems of geology, and theories of the world, at this moment, the laughing-stock of well informed men? Cuvier pays a well merited compliment to Professor Buckland, for steering his bark of observation clear of these whirlpools of fantastic opinions, in which so many have perished. M. Cuvier calls this distinguished geologist, “ a philosopher who does honour to geology by precise and consistent observations, as well as by the steadiest opposition to random hypotheses ;" and in geology, these “ random hypotheses” have been almost as numerous as the authors who have written on this branch of science. Nothing can be more opposed to true science, than to pronounce on the priority of formation, or the comparative age of rocks, from either their structure or the organic remains they present: the entire question remains just as it was. M. Alexandre Brongniart thus propounds his opinion: “ In those cases where characters derived from the nature of the rocks are opposed to those which we derive from organic remains, I should give the preponderance to the latter.” This seems to us to imply an admission, that nothing definite can be inferred from the nature of the rocks ; moreover, that between the nature of the rock, and the organic remains, there may be a palpable discrepancy; and that these may be even at complete antipodes with each other. The event has proved, from what we have already mentioned, that no evidence as to priority can be obtained from the nature of the fossil remains displayed in particular strata. In addition to what has been said on this subject, we may further state, that encrinites, entrochites, and pentacrinites are found in clay slate, grauwacke, transition limestone, alpine limestone, lias, muschelkalk, and chalk. It may be reasonably asked, how these three species of fossils could indicate any particular formation, when they are found in so many types and structures of rocks altogether different? If they would go to prove any thing at all, it would be that of a contemporaneous formation; but certainly not distinct epochas. The same observation applies to madrepores, belemnites, &c. which are equally diversified in their abodes. It follows, therefore, that they afford no clue whatever either as to “ the order of creation,” or priority in the question of the “ epochas of formation.” We find the same evidence when we take up the fossilbones of quadrupeds in their more complete and perfect organization.
To this interesting topic we shall again recur. We therefore infer as a matter of fact, that the theory of successive development is founded in error. Certain organic remains have been considered peculiar to certain formations, at once supplying data to determine the identity of such formations in remote countries, and becoming a chronometer to determine the relative epochas of formations; but this is altogether illusory; and yet, these have been propounded with an effrontery sufficient to overawe, for a time, the disciple of truth. These errors, though now completely exploded, are still however, by some, promulgated at the present moment as truths. “ It is,” says Mr. Lyell, in a foot note, “ an encouraging circumstance, that the cultivators of science in our own country, have begun to appreciate the true value of the principles of reasoning most usually applied to geological questions." He then adverts to the expression, a geological logician, used by the President of the Geological Society, in an address to its members, and adds :-“ A smile was seen on the countenance of some of the auditors, while many of the members, like Cicero's augurs, could not resist laughing ; so ludicrous appeared the association of geology and logic.” It is almost unnecessary to say, that, however the doctrine of repeated destruction, and as repeated creation, might coalesce with the slumbers and waking hours of the mythology of Menù, it laid the axe to the very root of the volume of Revelation. Those have been greatly deceived, who expected to see the order of creation registered in the rocks of the globe; who supposed that zoophytes were historic medallions of the most ancient formations; that other rocks, agreeably to their presumed relative age, carried the series from this point up. wards, until it terminated in the more perfect types of organization displayed in quadrupeds; and that all these had been swept away before the creation of quadrumanous animals and of man, just as if the destruction of inferior tribes was the necessary pioneer for monkeys and humanity ..... Worlds of living beings alternating with worlds of death, destruction and death supervening before the creation of man and the first transgression, were the opinions of geologists."
pp. 98-100. . We believe that no quadrumanous animals, such as the ape or monkey, have ever been found fossil in the great formations of the globe; but it by no means follows from hence, that the discovery is not yet to come. Quadrumanous animals are entirely tropical, having their dwelling in trees. One of the most important of recent discoveries in geology, is the fact of the bones of the Mammoth having been found at North Cliff in Yorkshire, in a formation entirely lacustrine ; while all the land and fresh-water shells in this formation, thirteen in number, have been accurately identified with species and varieties now existing in that county. Bones of the bison, whose habitat is now a cold, or at any rate a temperate clime, have been found in the same place. That these quadrupeds and the indigenous species of shells found along with them, had a contemporaneous existence in Yorkshire, (a fact which Mr. Lyell justly considers to be of vast importance in geological science,) has certainly been demonstrated by the Rev. W. V. Vernon, who had a pit sunk to the depth of upwards of two hundred feet through undisturbed strata, in which the organic remains of the Mammoth were found imbedded, together with shells, in a deposit which seems to have resulted from tranquil waters. Mr. Vernon considers these phenomena as proving, that there has been but little, if any change of temperature in the climate of Britain since the Mammoth lived there. Dr. Schouw, of Copenhagen, had come to a similar conclusion as to the climate of Palestine, from calculating the mean temperature necessary to the growth of the palm. The date palm is as successfully cultivated now in Palestine, as in the earliest period of which we have any account. The city of palms, or Jericho, was so called from the groves of palms in its vicinity ; while pagan historians amply confirm what sacred history has so unequivocally described. Thus there seems no legitimate ground to suppose, either
that mammoths were non-contemporaneous with fossil remains of existing genera and species; or that the climate of the globe has materially changed since the era in which mammoths lived. The indiscriminate mixture of the higher types of organization with the lower types of animal formation, bids defiance to their being legitimately considered as a test in the decision of the question of the comparative age of rocks. The date of formations cannot, therefore, be determined from any particular description of organic remains, because the same organic remains are found in other strata and other formations. The obvious inferences from these premises are, that, 1. The theory of the successive development of animal forms has not the shadow of proof; 2. The various types of organization were contemporaneous; and as they now are, so they have ever been ; 3. That geological facts, so far from countenancing an entire change of climate, prove the very reverse ; and it follows, therefore, 4. That tropical vegetation, and tropical zoology, the organic wreck of which has come from every quarter of the globe, must have been transported by the violent action of the currents of an universal deluge, which has certainly circumfused the globe.' pp. 111-113.
Upon the interesting inquiry respecting fossil remains of MAN, the Author has the following remarks.
It has often been asserted, that man, from never having been found in the state of a fossil, must needs belong to a creation comparatively recent, as the commencement, perhaps, of what Mr. Lyell would call a “ geological cycle ;” which, however, we confess our inability to comprehend : and if there is one more decided attempt to strike at the very foundation of Revelation, than another, it is this. But it is not more repugnant to Revelation, than to sound philosophy and right reason; nor is there a single fact which can be brought forward to warrant such an assertion. Suppose that nothing of the kind had really been found, would it not be rash, in the present infant state of geological science, to infer that such may not be found? And yet, this has been received amongst geologists as a species of axiom. When the vast diluvial beds of clay and gravel, and the superior strata in Asia, shall have been explored, it will be time enough to venture on such a conclusion; but to hazard this opinion at present, is of a piece with the sweeping assumptions of geologists from first to last.'
We pity the evasive shifts to which those who reject Revelation are reduced, in considering this question. Let us take Mr. Lyell's remarks. “But another and a far more difficult question may arise out of the admission that man is comparatively of modern origin. Is not the interference of the human species (!) it may be asked, such a deviation from the antecedent course of physical events, that the knowledge of such a fact, tends to destroy all our confidence in the uniformity of the order of nature, both in regard to time past and future? If such an innovation could take place after the earth had been exclusively inhabited for thousands of ages by inferior animals, why should not other changes as extraordinary and unprecedented happen from time to time? If one new cause was permitted to supervene, differing in kind and energy from any before in operation, why might not others have come into action at different epochs ? Or what security have we that they may not arise hereafter? If such be the case, how can the experience of one period, even though we are acquainted with all the possible effects of the then existing causes, be a standard to which we can refer all natural phenomena of other periods ? ” Now these are certainly very heavy reasons, and entirely neutralize Mr. Lyell's assumptions ; (for they are no better;) while our Author, in these very admissions, becomes suicidal to the whole drift of the argument for which his volume was written. The title of this otherwise certainly interesting work is this:-“ Principles of Geology, being an Attempt to explain the former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by reference to Causes now in operation.” Let us examine how Mr. Lyell meets his own inferences. “ Now these objections,” says he, “ would be unanswerable, if adduced against one who was contending for the absolute uniformity throughout all time of the succession of sublunary events.” Then follows an assurance, that he is not disposed to indulge in the philosophical reveries of the Egyptian and Greek sects. He, however, says nothing about those of India. Shall we call Mr. Lyell a “ geological logician;" and is this to be accepted as a specimen ? If Revelation is to be encountered with this kind of Logic, it may be safely met with pity and contempt.' pp. 116-118.
The Author then states the facts connected with the most striking cases of human fossils, for which we must refer to his book. Upon the strength of these facts he contends, in opposition to the mass of geologists, for the equal antiquity of human bones with those of antediluvian animals, and expresses his concurrence with Mr. Granville Penn, Mr. Young, and others, who think that, in addition to partial changes, both ante and post-diluvian, one universal deluge is quite sufficient to account for the facts and phenomena of geology; and that 'to suppose any more,
is a positive infraction of Sir Isaac Newton's celebrated maxim, that if one explanation is sufficient, it is superfluous and unne. 'cessary to assume more.' He then proceeds.
. Besides the authorities above mentioned, it is cheering to learn that M. Constant Prevost has lately laid before the Academy of Sciences, a treatise on the great geological question,— Whether the continents which are now inhabited, have or have not been repeatedly submerged? This Author maintains firmly, that there has been only one great inundation of the earth; and that the various remains of animals and plants, which have given rise to the supposition of successive inundations, have floated to the places where they are now occasionally found. Every successive investigation and every new discovery weaken the speculations of geologists; which are, at the present moment, only, at the best, “ a bowed wall and a tottering fence”: and though they may, for a little longer, be able to satisfy themselves in the principles of “geological logic”, we doubt whether they will be able to convince others. None who are capable of reflecting, will be disposed to abandon Revelation, the proof of which is adamant at every