John Muehleisen Arnold.

Genesis and science; or The first leaves of the Bible online

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recent discovery of which mathematical analysis
has celebrated one of its most glorious triumphs,
completes its orbit round the sun in 218 years. It
is of much the same size as Uranus, but the light of
the sun upon it is 1300 times weaker than upon our
own planet, and this alone would render it a most
unsuitable dwelling-place for the human race.

Altogether out of the question is a settlement
upon any of the 73 Asteroides, such as the Vesta,
Juno, Ceres, Pallas, Astnea and others. The attrac-
tion upon these is said to be so small that a muscular
motion to lift the foot would send the reader into
the air as high as the spire of a church, so that men
without wings could not exist upon it with any
safety, apart from the very small surface, which
would in itself be a serious objection.

Mars would certainly suit better for a human
habitation since the climate, atmosphere, and seasons
of this planet, approach nearer our own than that of
any other in our system. There are supposed to exist
seas, and snow regions. The annual revolution is
accomplished in 686 of our days, which days are
very nearly as long as ours. But the earth possesses
the same advantages, only in a higher degree of
perfection.

Mercury has days of 24 hours, and years of 87 of
our davs. It is nine times smaller than the earth.



CENTRAL POSITION OF THE EARTH. 265

Venus is nearly as large as the earth, the days are
nearly like our own, but the year counts only 224
days. All the disadvantages of change of seasons,
we found in Uranus, exist here, which renders all
higher organic life or vegetation impossible. Besides
this planet, like the moon, is supposed to be without
water.

Prom the above analysis it will appear that our
earth is not simply an important planet in the
system, but the planet without its equal. It is per-
fection to all intents and purposes. Of all planets
only the earth is adapted for the high purposes of
being the abode of man. If the body exists for the
sake of the spirit, then the planets exist for the sake
of the earth, intended as the abode of immortal
beings. Astronomy, therefore, in exact harmony
with the Bible, represents the earth as the central
point of our planetary system, and every leaf of
astronomical science bears evidence that the other
planets were as much created for the sake of the
earth, as the animal world for the sake of man. If
there be joy in heaven over one sinner that re-
peuteth, we may infer that more interest will attach
to the one planet upon which a whole fallen race is
bein^ redeemed, than to the millions of worlds, into
which sin and death never entered ; or if one of the
hundred sheep be gone astray, shall not the good
shepherd leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness to
seek and to bring it back ? If one province of the
kingdom rise in rebellion, however small, shall not
the king go in person and put forth his whole power
to restore it ? If the inhabitants of one planet have
fallen under a foreign power, shall not God recover
His supremacy ? The Lord seeth not as man seeth,
fur man looketh to the outward appearance. Who



266 CHAP. VI. GENESIS AND ASTRONOMY.

will say what is worthy of God and what is not
worthy of His greatness? His free grace is not
measured by distances of the moons from the sun,
or His love by the magnitude of the stars. We
cannot calculate how many cubic miles a planet or
a fixed star must possess, before God can become
incarnate upon it.

3. The Significance of the Appearance of the Light
Bearers on the fourth day of the Ilexa'emeron.

When the Jews strove among themselves, saying,
" How can this man give us his flesh to eat ?" Jesus
abstains from telling them, how it is to be done,
though it seemed most desirable that He should give
such an authoritative explanation as would prevent
all future strife, uncertainty, confusion, and doubt.
Our Lord repeats in stronger terms that it must be
done, yet he absolutely declines to explain how it is
to be done ; a hint that we are not always meant
to understand the fulness of God's ways and the
whole depth of His thought. Nor must we expect
to be taught fully, how all was done in the beginning
of besdnninj^s.

Prom the account, Genesis i., it will appear that
the li^ht-bearers were created when the waters above
and the waters under the firmament were divided.
Physical science, as far as possible, has recently
demonstrated that the Cosmogony iu Genesis i. could
not speak of the sun and the stars and the present
order of things before the separation of the two latest
or youngest planets, Venus and Mercury, was com-
pleted, and before the globe of the sun came into its
present form. The earth, on scientific grounds, is
assumed to have had its form and density before the
solar body, but the details cannot be given in this



THE LIGHT-BEARERS. 207

place. That the heavenly bodies on the fourth day
were not created, but finally made, fashioned, or
formed, will appear from the very term which is
used in the original. When thus made, God, accord-
ing to the original, gave, determined, set, or
appointed them in the firmament to give light upon
the earth. Hence if it be objected that these vast
worlds should be represented as the absolute work of
the fourth day, the objection is made to what really
is nowhere asserted in Genesis. Nor is it needful to
explain here that light itself was needful before
the originally dark heavenly bodies could constitute
themselves, for the formation itself implies physical
and chemical processes from which the existence and
the action of light could not possibly be excluded.

But Avhy was not the final making of the heavenly
bodies accomplished during the first day of creation,
as sciologists now-a-day assume it to have taken
place ? The dividing of the heavens and the earth
on the second day, it is said, seemed to require it,
and it would have appeared only natural that the
heavenly world should be completed before the
account of creation proceeded to the origin of vege-
tation of the earth below. This would undoubtedly
have been the case if the Cosmogony had been
the invention of human brains. Not one of our
sciologists would so far have forgotten himself as to
allow the earth to be clothed with verdure under
the primeval light, and before the photosphere had
been formed itself around the solar body. But God,
it would seem, chose to act differently, and wisdom
is justified of her children.

The final setting, appointing, or making as lights
in the firmament, of what had been created before,
takes place between the work of the third day on



268 CHAP. VI. GENESIS AND ASTRONOMY.

which the flora is produced, and between the fifth
day, on which the fauna is called forth from mother
earth. Hence we must recognise a step in this
work of the fourth day, which divides the flora from
the fauna, and actually prepares for the advent of
the latter.

The object of the setting of the heavenly bodies as
light-bearers is stated in verse iv., to divide the day
from the night, and secondarily, also, to be for signs,
and for seasons, and for days, and for years. The
division between day and night is less important for
vegetation, which has need of light only in a general
way, but the cycle of 24 hours for animal life is of
extreme importance. The flora has no need of these
changes of day and night, but it is indispensable for
the fauna. What unspeakably deep philosophy in
this wondrously simple story of creation ! Before
the animal appears, the conditions for his existence
are made perfect !

Hence cosmogonical hymn. Psalm civ., in reflect-
ing upon the creation, combines the w T ork of the
fourth, fifth, and sixth day-work of the hexaemeron,
in these words : " He appointed the moon for seasons,
the sun knoweth his going down ; thon Inakest
darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of
the forest do creep forth ; the young lions do roar
after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
The sun ariseth, and they gather themselves together
and lay them down in their dens. Man gceth forth
to his work and to his labour until evening." Here
we have the answer to the question, why the change
of day and night is followed by the creation of
the animal world.

The vegetable world is, indeed, affected by the
night, but the change of day and night is not need-



THE LIGHT-BEARERS. 269

fill to the flora as it is to the fauna. The waking
and the sleeping of the animal is not made to corres-
pond with the annual revolution of the earth around the
sun, nor with the revolutions of the moon around the
earth, but the animal organism is intimately con-
nected with the dally rotation of the earth around
its own axis. Man cannot wake three quarters of
the year, nor yet three quarters of a month, and he
cannot sleep one quarter of a year nor yet one quarter
of a month, but his constitution is so organised,
that he wakes three quarters of a day and sleeps one
quarter of the day of twenty-four hours.

Let us briefly notice the difference between
vegetable and animal life. The plant simply vege-
tates, and its life suffers no interruption. Day and
night it draws its nourishment out of the earth and
the air, perpetually changing inorganic into organic
matter, but its life cannot ascend higher than this.
The animal has a vegetable, but it has also a higher
animal life, to which the former is made subservient.
The life which the plant and the animal has in
common may be termed the vegetable or organic life ;
the life which is peculiar to the animal may be termed
the animal life. The vegetable or organic life has
its main function in the stomach, the bowels, the
heart, the lungs, etc. The animal life has its chief
functions in the brain, the senses, the feet, the
hands, etc. The organs of the vegetable or organic
life are said to be irregular, unsymmetrical in their
construction, and to differ widely in different indi-
viduals. But the organs of the animal life, the
senses, the brain, the muscles are strictly precise and
rigorously uniform in their construction, form, size,
or position. If there be any marked deviation,
the functions are either interrupted or destroyed ;



270 CITAP. VI. GENESIS AND ASTRONOMY.

not so in the organs of the vegetable or organic life.
Again, the organs of our vegetation-life never rest.
The heart, the lungs, the stomach are incessantly
active waking or sleeping. The food is constantly
assimilated, and the process of exhalation, respiration,
and circulation unceasing. Whenever these organs
cease to work, death immediately supervenes ; whilst
our animal life cannot subsist without repose, rest,
or sleep, our vegetable life in heart, lungs, and
stomach works uninterruptedly, and whilst the heart
performs its functions alike in the child and in the
grown-up man, the senses and the brain require
education. Yet the vegetable life of man, in K>me
respects, seems to be of more value than the animal
life, since we can live without eyes, ears, arms, and
feet, but not without a stomach or heart. Hence
the fitness of the parable which demands the cutting
off of the hand and the foot, and the plucking out of
the eye, if they happen to become a snare to the life
in the heart, for the heart can beat without them,
but if the heart die, the hand, foot, and eye must die
at the same time.

The necessity of sleep is regarded as self-under-
stood, but no one has, as yet, learned its true
secret. The plant and the vegetable portion of our
existence have no need of sleep, nor does rest of itself
brin°- us any new powers, as little as the stone
acquires fresh power by its unceasing rest. All that
has been said of the physiological necessity of sleep
is simply guess work. We know we need rest and
sleep, and whilst our vegetative functions — i.e., the
circulation of blood, digestion, and respiration go on
their way without intermission, the concentration
of the soul within itself is an absolute necessity, and
the deprivation of it leads to madness. We have to



PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT. 271

withdraw ourselves from the outer world, lest we he
swallowed up in it. It is not simply a question of a
fair distribution of labour among members of the
same body, but of a division of labour and rest.

4. The Physical development of our Planetary
System, and of our Earth when first created.

There can be no presumption in showing upon
what principles the outward act of creation may
possibly have taken place. As early as 1795, we read
of no less than fifty theories, yet among all specula-
tions, ancient and modern, the hypothesis of Laplace
seems to have received the greatest favour among
philosophers, though surrounded with difficulties of
its own. This theory of Laplace had been advocated
by Kant, as early as 1755, who assumes that there was
a time when our entire solar system was as yet
enveloped in one immense gas-ball, dark, shapeless,
suspended in boundless space. According to the law
of gravitation, first condensation took place ; then by
the action of heat and light followed circular motion
of the entire mass from east to west ; — the Spirit
moving upon the waters.

In consequence of its revolutions the orb assumed
more and more the spheroid and then the orbicular
shape, and when the centrifugal force exceeded the
centripetal power, a ring was thrown off at the
equatorial region, which, on being cast off, carried on
an independent rotation, finally forming itself into a
separate globe. Upon the same principle all the plan-
ets were said to have been formed, fresh rings being
thrown off, which became independent bodies, with
an independent rotary motion which they inherited
from the parent mass. The three rings of Saturn,
which are supposed might in time form themselves



272 CITAP. IV. GENESIS AND ASTRONOMY.

into a ninth, tenth, and eleventh moon, are pointed
out as an illustration of the process assumed in this
theory. As a still further evidence of the truth
of the theory, it is quoted that the more remote
planets are, as a rule, specifically of less weight than
those thrown off at a later period. Hence we may
infer that the velocity of the revolution of the
planet will increase in proportion to its approxima-
tion towards the centre of the system.

The seven planetoides, as we have seen at the
beginning, revolve between Jupiter and Mars in just
the locality, where to judge from the harmonious
mechanism of the system, we should expect a large
planet ; and the fact that all the planets move in the
same direction, and almost in the same plane of the
solar equator, can scarcely be otherwise explained,
than that all formed originally part of the solar body.
To illustrate how the several members of the system
were thrown off, M. Platean made experiments
with a drop of oil, put into a mixture of water
and spirits of wine. Yet hence it must not be in-
ferred that there is a purely accidental combination
of matter, or a blind necessity of so-called laws of
nature. The law of gravitation, indeed, supplies the
simplest rule of cosmical development, but this law is
not identical with the originator, the prime mover,
former, and maintainer of the universe. As there
can be no law without a law-giver, and no govern-
ment without an executive power, the creation, such
as it exists, without a Creator, would be wholly un-
intelligible. But the rationalitv of the above theorv
is considered established — first, by the regulated
distances of the planets from the sun ; secondly, by
the uniform motion of all planets from east to west
within a narrow plane, which coincides with the



PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT. 273

equator of the sun ; thirdly, by the increase in the
velocity in their orbits as they approach the sun, and
in the corresponding decrease of the velocity in the
rotation round their own axis ; fourthly, by the in-
creasing density of the bodies of the planets as they
approach the sun ; fifthly, by the spheroid shape of
the earth and of other planets ; sixthly, by the in-
crease of the temperature towards the centre of our
globe, which is 1° every 30 meters ; seventhly, by
the ring formations of Saturn, and of the system of
the fixed stars ; and, lastly, by the so-called light-
kernels of the comets and the ring-shaped nebulae
in the systems. And how are these assumptions to
be reconciled with the Bible cosmogony ?

In Genesis i. 1, we read that "In the beginning
God created the heavens and the earth." The
heavenly universe, therefore, was made in the
beginning, and when that beginning was, none but
He that inhabiteth eternity can know. Nor can
we know what other systems might have preceded
of which no record was given, and which may have
reached back into a past eternity, far beyond man's
grasp. But after that great beginning, in which the
heavenly universe was created, God created the sun
and stars of the planetary system, of which this our
earth is a member. That the world of fixed stars
was made prior to our planetary system is shown by
Job xxxviii. 4 — 7. The stars of the morning, of the
dawn, of the beginning, that were made first, are
said to have sung together when the foundations of
the earth were laid. And even these light-bearers of
our system may, possibly, have co-existed with the
light if, indeed, they did not precede the light, just
as the body in the case of Adam, and in every child
of Adam, invariably precedes the living soul. It

T



274 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

is marvellous, at all events, that as the creation of
light is placed at the head of the first triduum, or
three days, so the setting or appointing of the
heavenly bodies as the light-hearers of our system,
is placed at the head of the second triduum, or the
second half of the creation week.

Again, if the theory of the gas-hall, before noted,
could be assumed to be correct, how significant the
brooding or moving of the Spirit of God upon the
dark fluidum of matter ! The Biblical account, in
speaking of light before the light-bearers were
brought into requisition, leads us to think that con-
densation was connected with the first action of
light. In Job xxvi, 7—10, we read literally, "He
scattered the darkness over the shapeless desolation,
He suspended the earth upon nothing ;" that is, in
the endless space of the vast universe.



CHAPTER VII.



GENESIS, GEOLOGY AND PALAEONTOLOGY.



Geology and its Geognostic Eras,

1. When, in his Principia Philosphiae, 1641, Rene
Descartes had propounded his theory of metaphysics,
according to which our planet was originally a fiery
star, Amerpoel, in Cart esius Mosaizans,l669, under-
took to reconcile his speculations with the Bible.
Thomas Burnet, in his Telluris theoria sacra, 1681,
and Leibnitz, in his Protogaea, 1693 and 1749, so far
adapted their speculatio ns concerning the origin of



HISTORY OF GEOLOGY. 275

the earth to the Bible that both ascribed its present
form with Cartesius to the flood. In like manner
when petrified or fossil organisms first attracted
attention, most of the learned men of the age ascribed
them to the Biblical deluge. Thus John Wood-
ward, in his "Natural History of the Earth," 1696.
The waters were assumed to have dissolved the crust
of the earth, and the strata with their petrifactions
were ascribed to its effects. This theory had satisfied
Christendom for more than 1700 years, and even Strabo
attributed the shells and fossils to the deluge which
was known to all ancient nations. Suetonius speaks of
a collection of the fossil remains of large animals at
his villa in Capri, which were called the bones of
giants and the weapons of the heroes. Josephus
speaks of such remains being found at Hebron, and
St. Augustine saw a large " tooth ' ' near Utica, of
which as many as a hundred common teeth might
have been made, and he recognised in it a strong
proof that there were giants before the flood. It
was not before 1721, that Ant. ValisDeri propounded
a new system by which the fossils were considered
antediluvian, on the ground of their being too well
preserved to owe their origin to such a violent revo-
lution as the deluge. His disciples went still further
in teaching that there were several floods instead of
one.

Werner, with great ability, asserted the Neptunic
Theory towards the end of the last century ; but in
classifying the strata, which he pronounced to have
been formed in so many successive epochs, the oppo-
sition to Genesis acquired strength. The position of
Werner seemed to assume confirmation from Cuvier's
Becherches sur les ossemens-fossiles, 1808, who
classified the petrifactions according to the principles



276 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

of Natural History ; hence the famous theory of suc-
cessive creations or periods of formation. Meanwhile,
Hutton, in his "Theory of the Earth," 1795, advocated
the most determined Plutonic theory which explained
the geogonic process from the action of fire ; but at
the time it was published, it excited little attention.
Buckland, in his Beliquice Dihivianw, 1823,
collected a mass of evidence, on which he founded his
judgment of the universality of the flood. But such
was the very strong counter current of the day that
ere long he was driven to publish his "Geology and
Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural
Theology," in which he recalled his former views of
the Diluvium, and asserted that the traces he once
thought referred to our flood, must refer to one of
prior date. With this the Noachidian deluge, as
connected with the fossils, was shelved for the time.
Geology as an inductive science can only reason from
existing facts and known laws. In this all geologists
agree ; hence they decline to entertain any hypothesis
which takes for granted any other laws not known at
present. From the scientific point of view this is
quite rational and consistent ; but the question arises
whether the same causes and laws worked then, at
the same ratio, to the same extent, and with the
same strength as now ; or whether the results were
different in different ages, and therefore immensely
greater at the beginning. Again, other causes and
other laws might have operated then, which have
now ceased to work. Still, geology in order to main-
tain its character as one of the natural sciences, must
take nothing for granted. This will show at the
outset that we must distinguish between geognostic
facts and geological assumptions. Facts are prover-
bially stubborn, and cannot be questioned ; but



THE GE0GN0ST1C ERAS. 277

geological theories cannot be received as facts, and are
wholly different from simple probabilities and pos-
sibilities. As the "records of the rocks " are written
in ever changing dialects, and we are told, in different
ages, we cannot wonder if they be read and inter-
preted in different ways. Yet while geological
theories are still as antagonistic to each other as
Plutonism and Neptunism, many of our best natural-
ists and divines hold that geology and Genesis are
not at variance.

Geology classifies the strata of the earth as they
appear in different places, into primary, secondary,
and tertiary, or more recently into azoic, palaeozoic,
7iiesozoic, and cainozoic formations. Upon the earth-
strata and their fossiliferous inclosures of petrified
organisms, is founded the theorv of different creation-
periods. Partly from the successive layers of strata,
which are said to be found in the same order ; partly
from the assumed fact that the lower strata embody
only plants and animals of a less perfect order, it
was inferred that long periods had elapsed between
them. In the revolutions, or as some will have it,
in the evolutions of our globe, the existing fau na and
flora are supposed to perish, and in each case a fresh
fauna and flora are assumed to succeed, till the last
catastrophe, or the diliviiim, gave our earth its present
form. All seems based upon the assumption of a
succession of mechanical geogonies, each of which re-
quired a certain cycle of time for its formation. But
where is the proof that none but ordinary influences
were at work to produce certain results ? Who
can say whether these results were brought about
under conditions with which we are acquainted ? Is
it not possible that another atmosphere, another
mixture of heat and damp, another proportion of



278 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

oxygen and nitrogen were at work in the air sur-
rounding the newly-created earth ? What may
require a century now, may have been accomplished
in a couple of years. Things were less consolidated
and established. A fresh wall has less power to
resist than one long finished, and young wood than


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Online LibraryJohn Muehleisen ArnoldGenesis and science; or The first leaves of the Bible → online text (page 21 of 27)