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sufficient, so far as revelation is concerned, to have shown that no presumption is derived from geology against the truth of Moses's history of the deluge; but rather a presumption in its favor even on the most unfavorable supposition.
3. We now proceed, as the third general branch of our subject, to consider the most important objections derived from geology and natural history, against the truth of the Mosaic history of the deluge.
Not many years since, it was thought by the skeptical, that civil history furnished many facts inconsistent with the recent date of the Noachian deluge. The archives and traditions of Assyria, Egypt, and China, the Hindoo astronomical tables, and the Zodiacs of Denderah and Esneh, were mustered for battle with the Bible. The shout of victory, on the part of infidelity, rung loudly before the tug of the war had come. And it was not so much Christians who stood up in defence of the Bible, as it was men, who with little regard for the Scriptures, were yet friends to fair examination. Before the magic scrutiny of such minds, the hoary aspect of these vaunted relics disappeared, and strong confirmation of the Mosaic chronology was the result. So that it is no longer necessary to go into a labored refutation of the extravagant chronologies of semi-barbarous nations, nor of their supposititious astronomical epochs.* Many of the objections to the Mosaic chronology, derived from science, also, now that the subjects are better understood, have ceased to be adduced by intelligent infidels; but we must briefly refer to some, which, by those not thoroughly acquainted with science, are still occasionally adduced in opposition to the authority of Moses.
1. It has been thought that certain natural processes now going on, must have had an earlier commencement than the date of the Noachian deluge.
It is hardly necessary here to refer to the seven lava beds, said to exist around Mount Etna, with a rich stratum of soil, or decomposed lava, between each of them; and each of which it was supposed must have demanded at least 2000 years for its formation and decomposition. For it now appears that the supposed decomposed surface is nothing but a ferruginous tufa,
By far the best view of these subjects which we have seen is contained in the interesting Lectures of Dr. Wiseman on the Connection between Science and Revelation, recently republished at Andover.
which is often produced at the beginning or end of a volcanic eruption; and, therefore, these successive beds of lava might have been produced in as many years.
The gorge or ravine, 200 feet deep and seven miles long, between Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario, has long been thought to require an immense period for its excavation; at least 10,000 years. Admitting this to be true, we do not see how it clashes with the chronology of Moses, according to the view which most christian geologists take of the creation of the world. For why may not that excavation have commenced anterior to the deluge; nay, before the six days of creation? Nearly all real geologists now believe that our continents remain essentially the same as they were before the deluge; so that antediluvian processes of excavation might have been resumed in the postdiluvian period. But there is another and probably a better mode of meeting this difficulty. Prof. Rogers, as we have seen, (p. 346, No. 28,) supposes that the trough below the falls may have been commenced by diluvial agency; and that the waters of the lake have only modified it and are slowly extending it southerly. The fact that this trough lies in a north and south direction favors this suggestion, made as it is by a cautious and able geologist; and whoever is familiar with diluvial phenomena, will see at once that it is extremely probable. According to this theory all calculations made from the present rate of retrocession of the falls, will give us no correct results as to the time when the process began, because we do not know at what point the abrading process began.
2. Another objection formerly urged with confidence, is, that it is mathematically impossible for the present oceans of the globe to be raised so as to cover its whole surface. This would require several additional oceans to be superimposed upon those now existing, and from whence could this immense additional quantity of water have proceeded; or if miraculously obtained, what has become of it?
Some have replied, by considering the whole phenomena of the flood as miraculous. And a perusal of the scriptural narrative is apt to leave the impression on the mind that such was the case. But according to the present state of geological science, there is no need of resorting to a miracle to escape from this objection. For in the first place, we have endeavored to show that there is nothing in the Scripture account of the deluge that requires us to consider it universal, except so far as man
dwelt on the globe. But secondly, the sudden elevation of a continent, or mountain chain, would raise such a wave, as in its flux and reflux, must overwhelm all the dry land, although all continents might not be submerged at the same moment. We have sometimes been almost disposed to believe that this flux and reflux of the diluvian waters is referred to in the ivy jibq of Gen. 8: 3, and the ion of Gen. 8: 5, (literally, in going and returning and in going and decreasing) but we suppose that the Hebrew idiom will not allow that any thing more is included in these phrases than a continual decrease of the waters.
3. Some parts of the globe it is said exhibit no marks of diluvial agency. Chaubard, as already stated, (p. 351, No. 28,) declares that erratic blocks or bowlders are wanting in the Pyrenees, the Appenines, the Carpathian mountains, and the mountains of Bohemia; and Mr. Lyell states that he did not find them in Sicily, nor in Italy, till he approached the foot of the Alps." Humboldt states, also, that there are no such fragments at the eastern foot of the equatorial Andes.* Mr. Lyell likewise represents the cones of extinct volcanoes in central France as showing no marks of erosion by water. These facts are not, however, adduced by these writers to disprove the occurrence of such a flood as Moses describes; but some of them at least suppose that they show that catastrophe to have been local, not universal; or that it was too quiet to leave any permanent traces of its existence. And if we admit that the Noachian deluge was not universal, as we have endeavored to show may be done consistently with the terms of the sacred record, these statements are no objection to that history. But we may be permitted to doubt whether they throw any formidable difficulty in the way of one who contends for the universality and powerful action of the Mosaic deluge. For it is very certain that the force of diluvial currents was greatly modified by local circumstances, having been most powerful in mountainous regions, or where the waters were forced through narrow gorges. Hence it is easy to conceive, that in some regions those currents might have been so feeble, as for instance on extensive plains, as to leave few or no traces. And as to the volcanic cones of central
* Lyell's Anniversary Address before the London Geol. Society, 1836. p. 32.
+ Lyell's Geology, Vol. 3. p. 273.
France, is it certain that they may not have been thrown up since the time of Noah's flood? For the earliest historical records respecting that country, do not reach back within 2000 years of that event. Or if they were antediluvian, is it certain that the diluvial currents might not have been comparatively feeble in that region?
4. The existence and preservation of the olive on mount Ararat have been regarded as other objections against the Mosaic account of the deluge. It does not now grow, it is said, in the vicinity of that mountain, certainly not near its top, which is covered with perpetual snow. It might be a sufficient reply to this difficulty, that there has been in all ages not a little diversity of opinion as to the situation of the Ararat on which the ark rested. If the opinion should prove true, that it is really a part of the Himmaleh range in India, the objection would disappear. But not to resort to this mode of avoiding the difficulty, if we regard the sacred and geological deluges as identical, we have the strongest reason to suppose that at the time of the latter, there was no small change of the temperature of northern regions. All the northern part of Asia abounds with the remains of the elephant. It is true that one of these animals, found preserved entire in ice, was covered with hair; and some have thought that this circumstance proves the animal to have been an inhabitant of a cold climate. But if it inhabited a climate as cold as the one now existing there, whence could it obtain vegetable food? The truth is, that hairy elephants are now found in the higher and cooler parts of India; and this shows us, that though the climate of Siberia when inhabited by these extinct races of elephants was colder than the present unmodified climate of the torid zone, yet it was not much colder. And hence the antediluvian climate around the present Ararat, might have been warm enough to have produced the olive. Indeed, for this purpose very little change was probably necessary; we mean in the lower parts of Armenia; since Strabo mentions that in his day one part of that country did actually produce the olive.
That a change of climate did take place at the epoch of the geological deluge, is proved very conclusively from the fact above referred to, of the discovery of an entire elephant encased in ice on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. For previous to the time in which he was enveloped in the ice, the climate must have been too warm, in order that such an animal might live,
Historical and Geological Deluges.
to suppose he was frozen up during the winter so firmly as not to thaw out again during the summer. But the congelation, when it took place, was so powerful that the ice remained unmelted till the beginning of the present century. The change of climate therefore, must have been sudden and permanent. Whether the pouring down of the contents of the Arctic Ocean upon that country might have been a sufficient cause of this change, we hardly feel prepared to say. That it would produce as great a change of temperature as we suppose took place, for the time being, we doubt not. We find it difficult, however, to conceive that this cause should still continue in operation. On the whole, beset as the subject is with difficulties, we are prepared to say little more than that a change of climate did take place at the epoch of the last geological deluge; and if the deluge of Scripture be identical, this fact removes all difficulty respecting the growth of the olive in Armenia. Or, if they be not identical, what happened at one of these cataclysms, may have been repeated during the other.
It appears that during the Noachian deluge the olive tree from which the dove obtained a leaf, was neither uprooted, nor did it lose its vitality. Hence some have inferred that there could not have been much violence in the diluvian waters. But we have only to suppose that particular tree to have stood in a sheltered situation, and it might have remained unaffected though the waters raged with great fury around it. As to the "leaf plucked off," it might have been put forth after the waters had subsided; for there was an interval of more than a month and a half between the time when the ark first grounded, and when the dove was sent forth the second time. Some have supposed the olive to have been a new creation, of which we have reason to suppose there may have been many examples immediately subsequent to the deluge. But in that case, the leaf could hardly have been evidence to Noah that the earth had become so dry that vegetation had again put forth. do we see any need of miraculous agency in the case, and therefore we ought not to admit it without strong proof.
5. Another objection to the Mosaic account of the deluge is, that pairs of all the animals on the globe could not have been preserved in the ark. From the days of Celsus, who in reference to this difficulty denominated the ark κιβωτόν ἀλλόκοτον, the absurd ark, to the present time, this objection has been urged as quite unanswerable. And many theologians have made