John Muehleisen Arnold.

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

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wood seasoned. Creation is a mystery, and science
can draw no line where it ended, and where the laws
of nature entered upon their appointed work.

If creation be a mystery, it is impertinent in science
to seek to exhaust its workings. Life every where
withdraws from the gaze of the naturalist. The
origin of life is a mystery, and it is folly to argue
that such and such ages were necessary to produce
certain formations, when modern formations are seen
to be accomplished with wonderful rapidity before
our eyes, which, hereafter may be supposed to have
required immense periods for shaping themselves
into their present form and condition. It has been
observed that in exhausted mines which have been
abandoned, new minerals were formed, and salt-
mines, when exhausted, have been found to replenish
themselves.

Caves in chalk formations have been known to
become smaller, and at St. Verena one closed up
within twenty years. Sulphur has been found to
reproduce itself with astounding rapidity, as for
instance at Siansano. About thirty miles from
Batavia, on the estate of Mr. Denison, two cones of
lime formations rise in the midst of rice fields, and
they continue to re-form with astounding rapidity,
though constantly diminished by blasting for build-
ing purposes. On the coast of Messina a most rapid
formation of sandstone is going on, by sand being
mixed with ferrifreous " mergel," and with such



GEOGNOSTIC THEORIES. 279

swiftness and consistency that, within the brief space
of thirty years from its first sediment, it is used for
mill-stones. We expect the days will come when
men will blush for having so easily surrendered their
faith in the Mosaic cosmology, because it seemed
too narrow to embrace the monstrous figures of
geologists.

I question the proposition that the strata were
formed by a mechanical or chemical process. But if
these agencies were at work we cannot tell what
other unknown powers may have co-operated, of
which we have as yet no idea, and which may remain
a secret to the end of time. Have we not rapid
formations of cement of all kinds, and even instan-
taneous formations in the case of the meteorolithes,
formerly considered mythical, but which have long
been proved a reality ?

These masses of aereolithes or meteorolithes formed
instantaneously, have been discovered in every
possible shape and size ; one of them is described as
weighing about 20,000 cwts. Ainsworth speaks of
meteorolithes being found in a valley in America of
three feet long and one and a half foot thick. Is it
not possible, or rather probable, that the strata of the
earth were formed upon a similar principle, as sud-
denly and actually, after the creation of the chaos ?
Various analogies 1 jet ween the meteorolithes and the
older trap rocks, basalts, and modern lava have been
observed.

Since science has obtained no satisfactory insight
into the real modus operandi, and has not been able
to pass beyond rough guesses or vague conjec-
tures as to the order of the strata and the sequence
of their formation, we need not fear that the
Bible chronology prove too narrow to embrace



?



280 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

the whole truth. One thing must not be forgotten.
During her hour of travail at the beginning of time,
the earth worked upon other principles and in other
proportions, than we now see. As sometimes a
stream causes more sediment and destruction on its
banks in a single day, than has occurred in the
memory of several generations ; as every formation
has its subsequent quick growth at first, and of
subsequent repose ; as nations first have their
periods of great political convulsions, then of peace-
ful prosperity ; so the earth, the scene of all these
transformations, had her hour of travail, then of
comparative repose, when only faint pulsations
remain of her first colossal efforts.

Are not the surprising changes which the human
frame has to pass through in childhood beyond all
proportion, if compared with those of mature age ?
Does not the body of man grow fastest in the
beginning ? Is it, therefore, unlikely that the earth
should have passed through corresponding changes ?
Why should not the lateral changes in the crust of
the earth and her organisms have been brought
about in a comparatively brief period ?

Who will venture to say what was and what was
not possible, in ages of which we have really not the
faintest idea ? Suppose I have 40,000 slates on my
roof, and of these 400 require to be annually renewed,
it would be ridiculous thence to infer that it required
100 years to bring the whole house under cover,
because 100 x 400 = 40,000 ! The whole business of
slating the building may have been the work of a
few brief days. To build a house, different agencies
are employed from what are subsequently set to work
to keep it in repair. It may sound learned to over-



GEOGNOSTIC THEORIES. 281

whelm the reasoning faculties with monstrous calcu-
lations as to the ages required to produce certain
strata, or certain depths of lava, or a certain sediment
in a river bed, or to produce the coal-deposits in
England and Belgium ; but suppose a great fallacy
were to underlie all these calculations ? Take for
granted that coal-deposits were the result of a
prostrated vegetation, and of that alone, which adhuc
sub jitdice Us est, is it not possible that the entire
flora of some thousand square miles were flooded
together in a certain locality and embedded in sand-
strata ? in this case what appears to have been
stratified successively, may have been rapidly and
simultaneously accomplished.

Most ingenious calculations are made to ascertain
how many millions of years were needful to produce
the coal- formation. The only point however in which
all geologians agree, is, that all such calculations are
not to be trusted. Yet we may here note that
Groppert made experiments, in which he saw
vegetables turned into coal within If year, and this,
in water very close to the seething point. Likewise
cloth exposed to water exhalation was turned into
shining black coal ; we recall these long acknow-
ledged facts to the memory of those who seek
to give a zest to their geological speculations
by quotations of millions and billions of years.
Not geology as such, but the unscientific theories
and systems of geologists produce the apparent
contradictions of Science and llevelation. As Sir
Charles Ly ell's theory of the gradual formation of
strata was the natural reaction from the previously
assumed succession of violent catastrophes, it was
scarcely to be expected that it would find general



282 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

acceptance, and it was easy for Elie de Beaumont,
whilst acknowledging the truth in Ly ell's theory,
to insist upon local catastrophes, combined with
the more natural development as still observed.

" All matter," says Dr. Payne, "when brought into
being, even in the chaotic state of the earth, was im-
pressed with those properties and laws which, in its
condition of mineral substances, were destined to take
it in charge through all future time. But, these pro-
perties and laws were wholly incapable of bringing
the earth into its present state from any condition in
which it may be supposed to have existed originally.
Nevertheless it is philosophically probable that these
properties and laws were brought into operation
under the direct control of Creative Energy, although
there is nothing in the primary rocks to show that
the organisation of the earth might not have been as
wholly owing to the exercise of that Energy as the
original creation itself. Theoretical geology, to make
out its problem of long periods of time, declares for
the exclusive operation of one or the other, and
cutting loose from all the analogies in Scripture, and
assuming the properties of matter as the ground of
its logic, it spurns interpretations that admit the
Creator to any participation in the completion of
a work which the necessity of things obliges it to
acknowledge as bavins; originated in Creative Power.
The sacred writings abound with examples of the
co-operation of Creative Power with second causes,
or with instrumentalities which are equivalent to
such causes, and with many miraculous events in
which natural processes were apparently imitated."



THE STRATA EXAMINED. 283

2. Examination of the Strata, and of the Fossils
â– which they inclose.

In proceeding to the examination of geological and
geogonotic theories, we find that successive-creation
periods are inferred, partly from the order in which
the strata are found to follow each other, partly from
the different fossil remains, whilst embedded in them ;
whilst the sequence of their respective origin, deve-
lopment, and decay of the petrifactions is inferred
from the order in which the formations succeed each
other. The object of this paragraph is to examine
these theories fairly, and to see whether there be any
one of the various assumptions which has not been
upset by professional geologists

We notice first that the sciologists are divided into
two hosts, the Neptunists and the Vulcanists, res-
pecting the formation of the strata, and as long as
geologists have not passed beyond the line of theoris-
ing as to the origin of the formations, the inferences
drawn from them cannot be received as bona fide
results. To this must be added that the succession
or order of the strata by which all is to be determined,
is no where established. Not even the chief forma-
tions of primary, secondary, and tertiary formations,
much less the different intermediate strata, though
the most important, are in any two localities found
to overlie each other in the same order, but frequently
they are found altogether reversed

The theory holds that primary formations come
first, then the secondary, and tertiary as more recent
in proportion. But this theory is not in accord-
ance with fact. We nowhere find all the strata
in perfect order of succession, so that we are at once
put out. The best authorities admit that both in



281 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

kind and order the strata alter in different countries.
The condition is said by the advocates to afford no
criterion for determining the age of the formations.
Pfaff candidly allows that in our seas, chalk deposits
are found in one part, in others sand and clay ; also
that different strata had formed at the same time,
just as similar ones were formed at different times.
The same inundation, will deposit stones in one place,
wood, sand, and earth-sediment in other places. The
pivot of all geological science is the assumed regular
succession of the strata, hut this succession happens to
be only local, so that there is something at fault at the
very root of the system. To use an illustration, these
layers do not enfold the globe as the leaves of an
onion, but they appear only partial. Many members
of the series are said to fall out, so that either the
upper ones are altogether wanting, whilst the lower
are present, or some of the intermediate ones are
missing whilst the upper ones are present.

It is a well known fact that the Jurassic and Lias
formations fall out in America. Of the Silurian and
Devonian strata we have the former only in a few
places in Germany, and in Bohemia, but tbey re-
appear in Scandinavia and Russia, without being
covered by any of the more recent formations. The
Trias formations are mainly developed in England
and in Central Europe. The differences of the
tertiary strata are said to be so great, that geologists
do not venture to fix any standard which would be
applicable to any given number of regions.

In very many places, granite, gneiss, mica, etc.,
rest upon grauwacke, and even upon Jurassic
and chalk formations. On the left shore of the Elba
ponderous masses of granite repose upon clay. In
Norway the same formation is seen embedded upon



THE STRATA EXAMINED. 285

the transition Uebergangsschiefer. Near Predazzo in
the Southern Tyrol, chalk, said to belong to the Trias
formation, is covered by granite and Syenite. In the
Pyrenees a granite stratum of 37 meters forms a
massive layer between chalk formations. From no
other reason thin because the theory fails when
brought in contact with facts, geologists assume
older and younger granite, gneiss, and slate formations.
There is no independent criterion by which the
formations themselves could be distinguished from
each other, except it be in their position or order of
succession, which, of course, overturns the theory.

Naumann frankly admits that no eruptive power
could have dislocated these layers and placed them
where they now are ; in other words, that there was
no saving of a theory which was supposed to inva-
lidate the book of Genesis. These adverse layers are
stated by this eminent authority to be altogether
problematical and inexplicable. That the strata are
frequently reversed and far from what we are taught
they ought to be, is also admitted by Dickenson, who
repeatedly examined in situ every formation in
Europe, and whose professional calling enables him
to make his observations not only on the surface,
but also in many hundreds of mines. He says :
"Coal, for instance, lies not only in the ordinary
coal measures, but also in other positions. The
lignite is upon no particular formation ; jet or cannel,
as well as other coal, is found as high up as the
oolitic ; and anthracite far below, as in the
metamorphic or transition. The division also
of the lowest rocks into the granite, meta-
morphic, cambrian, silurian, and the Devonian
or old red sandstone, which in some instances has
been found practicable and convenient, is, in others,



286 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

impossible, there being frequently no distinctive line
of demarcation showing where one of the series
begins and the other ends, and the consecutive order in
certain localities becomes modified when far distant.
Prom the way in which the granite is generally
found sloping under the surrounding grauwacke, it
has been commonly supposed that the granite forms
the foundation on which all the other rocks rest. It
may be so; but there is no clear data for the sup-
position. The apex-like form in which the granite
often protrudes, is common also to the metamorphic,
Cambrian, and silurian, or, as they are sometimes
termed, the killas, or the grauwacke. It is the per-
vading form of these rocks, whether seen at the out-
crop, or when cut into deep under the surface. It
is also common to the masses of quartz, limestones,
&c, which occur in the grauwacke. There appears
an intimate relation between the granite and grau-
wacke ; probably it will ultimately be found that
not only these, but also other rocks associated with
them, and to which distinctive names have been
given, such as hypersthene, serpentine, diallage, por-
phyry, syenite, mica, and chlorite, schists and slates,
hornblende, greenstone or whin, basalt, and the trap
rocks in general, are only local modifications of the
same kind of rock, and that the whole forms the
grand base or matrix in which the more perfectly
stratified rocks have been generated."

Schilling judiciously established the following facts
as altogether indisputable : "First, no sedimentary
formation has been found to extend over the whole
globe ; secondly, the formations of the same period
differ from one another in various ways ; thirdly, the
complete system of strata, as assumed, nowhere
exists." Thus the Jura formations may have come



TIIE STRATA EXAMINED. 287

about at the same time as the chalk formations, only
in different places.

If none of the strata can be sharply defined, then
it is clear that the theory cannot stand. The
secondary group of formations is called transitory
from the very fact that it is as closely connected
with the supposed later or tertiary group. Wagner
admits, and his authority is binding, that in a
petrographic point of view, the transitory formations
reproduce the chief samples of the primitive rocks,
together with others peculiar to themselves. The
only important difference which he recognises is to
be found in the petrifactions. Pfaff, an impartial
authority, asserts that there is no difference between
the tertiary strata aud the earliest formations.
Buckland, von Leonhard, and Wilhelm Hoffmann,
hold that no safe line can be 'drawn between one
formation and another.

Then as regards the relation of the tertiary
formations to those of the diluvial and alluvial or
post-tertiary layers, Naumann says that it would
frequently depend upon the opinion of the individual
observer, or the united opinion of the several
observers, whether a certain stratum should be con-
sidered quartiary or tertiary, or be deemed a so-called
recent formation. In all such cases, therefore, the
decision depends upon the preconceived theory of
the observer. In cases where the formations are
determined by their petrifactions, the theory is
equally overthrown. The non-sequence in point
of order, and the absence of certain members in
localities where we should expect them, are fully
admitted by the authorities ; it only remains to say
that the theory cannot stand in the face of these
facts. If anything is to be inferred from the



288 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

preceding remarks, it is that the differences in the
formations afford no ground for the construction of a
systematic succession of creative periods.

The strata, which are never twice deposited ex-
actly alike as to their assumed order, have come to
stratify merely in the heads of geologians, like many
a system before. The formations were regarded as
the leaves and the petrifactions were considered the
writings of a book ; but, then, these leaves are
nowhere found complete, so as to furnish an integral
copy of the whole work. Therefore, what geology
has assumed for many a day nowhere exists. There
are indeed fragments of leaves of different sizes, in
different places, and in a more or less perfect con-
dition. We find the corner of a leaf here, and
a piece there, and are told that a system of
geology can be made out from these scattered frag-
ments. In other words, a theory was formed, and a
system constructed, and then diligent search was
made over and under the earth, to make the system
probable and consistent.

As, therefore, the strata cannot be exactly de-
fined ; and as moreover they are frequently reversed
in different countries, it was impossible to determine
their respective ages. But it was hoped that the fossil
remains themselves would have afforded distinctive
features to identify certain strata, no matter how far
away any member of the same group might be
situated ; and, based upon this view, the old and
convenient classification of primary, secondary, and
tertiary, has been set aside, and a zoic classification,
based upon the supposed ages of the fossils, has been
introduced. But the fossils have proved less reliable
than was anticipated.

Pfaff sums up the result of his labours by stating



THE FOSSIL INCLOSURES. 289

that there was a progress in the development of our
globe and its living inhabitants ; that each of the
periods into which the history of the earth was
divided, had its own fauna and flora, the majority of
the samples being peculiar to each formation;
that there were no gradual transitions from the
animal forms of one formation to that of another,
but that the new forms appeared suddenly; and
lastly, that the nearer we come to our own period
the more the forms approximate those now living."

But all these points instead of being bona fide re-
sults of geognostic labours, are simply the inferences
from the Plutonic theory of the author. The assertions
are based upon the supposition that the several strata
of the crust of the earth contained evidence of
several periods or epochs in the history of our globe.
But we have found the assumption at variance with
facts. The only thing which is true, is, that a con-
nection has been found to exist between certain form-
ations and certain fossils. But even this is not the pure
result of observation, and is only true according to
the very doubtful principle that what is true in
many, must be true in all cases. Many formations
of the same mineral quality and structure contain
the same petrifactions, but others of the same char-
acter make an exception. Hence it happens that
formations of exactly the same quality are classed
differently, simply on account of the fossil inclosures.

Yet, if we grant, for argument's sake, that the
strata always contain the same fossils, ivhich they
do not, this would prove nothing as regards the
periods during which the strata were formed, so long
as their age was not established upon other grounds.
Then again, it requires yet to be proved that each of
the main divisions embodies a flora and fauna which

u



290 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

are peculiar to those formations, and that there are
no transitions from one to the other. Wagner
admits that some have survived the imaginary des-
truction which succeeded the imaginary creation, at
the opening of each fresh era. If, he further adds,
many of the new living types did not exist in
the early strata, we must take it in the sense that
they were not yet discovered, when he wrote his good
and great book.

As regards the supposed entire change of the
organisms in each formation, opinions are greatly
divided. Naumann says: "Numberless cases are
known where the remains of one and the same
species re-appear, not only in two, but in several
formations in succession ; and the idea that there
was a progressive rise towards perfection, has
never yet been universally received by professional
geologists."

It is recorded in all geological works as an article
of faith, that the older formations embedded only
fossils of the lower order of the flora and fauna ; that
the mammalia appeared as late as the trias, jura,
and chalk formations, and warm-blooded ones as late
as the tertiary of kainozoic period. But what is the
fact ? No geologist will deny that the finest
specimens of fossil mammalia are found in the
Devonian sandstone. Cuvier laid great stress upon
the fact that no fossil ape had as yet been found in
his day in the tertiary formation, but now divers
kinds of apes have been discovered in India, South-
America, and Europe, as far back as the eocene
formation. Again, much has been made of the fact,
that no whales were found in the secondary strata,
but as time rolled on, specimens were found in a
formation which must be reckoned part of it. Before



GEOLOGICAL FALLACIES. 291

the year 1844 it was considered beyond a doubt that
reptiles only existed as far back as the Permian
period, but in the year 1852, they were discovered in
the coal formation ; and later, in still older strata.
These are only a few instances to show what little
reliance we can place on theories which are hastily
constructed from a few isolated observations.

No inferences, therefore, can be drawn from the
fossil remains. Were we to assume that the organic
creation had to pass through divers stages in the
lapse of ages, so as to produce first, simpler, and
afterwards, more delicately constructed organisms,
we should expect traces of this, and where we meet
the simplest and rudest forms we might hope to have
before us the oldest formation. But this is not in
accordance with fact. We observe nothing of a
sequence of time ; for we find the remains of verte-
bral animals in rocks which would seem much older
than the strata in which mollusca are entombed.

Another geognostic fallacy is, that many of the
primeval types have died out and that many of the
now living ones are not found in a fossil state. We
are certainly far from being in a position to settle
such a point. We know too little to say that because
certain species have not been found out, they do not
exist. We shall only be able to tell how many of
our living types then existed, when all parts of the
surface of the globe have been accurately searched
out. Till now we have only the most superficial
knowledge of a vast subject. This must not be
forgotten. The bottom of the seas, which occupy
nearly three-fourths of the earth's surface, is all but
unknown to us ; and the proportion of the greatest
depths yet made into the crust of the globe are no
more than fly-stings compared with the entire



292 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

bulk. We have as yet no exact knowledge of our
globe, and the main structure of our geologists is
based upon a groundless hypothesis.


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Online LibraryJohn Muehleisen ArnoldGenesis and science; or The first leaves of the Bible → online text (page 22 of 27)