John Muehleisen Arnold.

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

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The ocean may hide many a living form, which as
yet has not been discovered. It has been argued
with some ability that we find in the so-called sea-
serpent the closest affinities with those extraordinary
Enaliosauria, or marine Lizards, whose fossil
skeletons are richly scattered through the oolite and
the lias. Examples are by no means rare of animals
older geologically than the Enaliosauria being still
extant. The very earliest forms of fishes are of the
placoid type, and it is remarkable that not only is
that type still living in considerable numbers, but
the most gigantic examples of this class belong
to itβ€” viz : sharks and rays, and these exhibit
peculiarities, by no means far removed from the
ancient types.

Again, the Chimcera appears in oolite, in wealden,
and in chalk ; it disappears, or rather is not yet
found in any of the tertiary formations, but it re-
appears somewhat rarely in the modern seas. It is
represented by two or more species inhabiting the
northern and southern oceans.

Again, the Iguanodon, a vast Saurian, which was
cotemporaneous with the Plesiosaur, though transmit-
ing no marked representative of its form through
the tertiary era, is yet well represented by the
existing Iguanodce of the American tropics. The
Iguana is not an Iguanodon, yet the forms are
closely allied : likewise the so-called sea-serpent is
not an actual Plesiosaur, but it is found to bear a
similar relation to that ancient type. We must
know all the species now alive as well as those



GEOLOGICAL FALLACIES. 293

buried in the strata, before we can hope to give
a final judgment.

Wagner writes as follows : "As the imagination
loves to ornate the stories of antiquity and to
present them more grotesque than they are, it
has constructed forms out of the fossil remains
which go far beyond the reality. It is now
quite common to conceive superlative paradoxical
and even gigantic forms, and yet this conception is
not in harmony with the reality. Certainly we have
the very strange forms of the Trilobites, Ichthyosauri,
Plesiosaari, Pterodactyli, and others. Yet the pre-
sent world is not without such strange forms. As
regards the magnitude of the petrified animals, we
have certainly no living amphibiae, which could be
compared with the giant forms of the fossils ; yet
our seas nourish in their bosom the gigantic types
of the whale, which in magnitude surpass all beings
of the former world. Even the primeval Mammoth
has not surpassed the largest samples of our modern
elephant. If the colossal forms of the old world
are no more represented in the present order of
things, other giant frames have taken their place,
so that as regards multiplicity and magnitude of
the organic forms, our present forms are no wise
thrown into the shade by those of the former."
The difference can be no proof of different creations
or creation-periods. Much is doubtful as yet, but
what is certain clearly shows that the theory of
successive periods of the earth's formations and of
renewed creations of plants and animals has no
justification in the fossil organisms.

As one of the most powerful proofs that the fossil
remains date to a period prior to the appearance of
man, the absence of fossil-men was early adduced.



294 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

Yet Buckland wisely pointed to the fact that Asia
as the centre of man's original abode had not yet been
examined. Wagner, whilst holding that the petrified
fauna and flora date prior to our present world, yet
admits that examinations in those remote parts
might at once furnish a totally different view, and
overthrow all pre-established theories.

But the remains of man have appeared in the
caves of Gailenreuth, Liittich, and in Brazil, together
with fossils which were always regarded as prior to
man, just because no fossil- man had previously
appeared in their company. Naumann, Marcel de
Serres, Tournal, de Christol, Boue, Austin, Lund, and
other geologians have admitted that man lived
together with certain species of mammalia which
have now died out.

Wagner argues that if man had been witness to
the catastrophe which buried the fossil remains, we
should expect that his bones would reappear in the
diluvial formations ; that even his products of art
in metal or stone would make themselves seen.
What is here wanted has been found by Lyell,
however far we may differ as to the age ascribed to
these remains. The history of Somme, near Abbeville,
whatever may have been the frauds, clearly proves
that human bones have been found mixed with the
fossils of certain animals which before were boast-
fully described as being much older than the human
period. Both were buried and stratified together,
and the existence of extinct fossil animals in
tertiary formations can no longer prove that these
formations were completed before the appearance of
man upon the earth.

The result is that the theory of the creation-
periods is unsound and untenable. So-called primary



GEOLOGICAL FALLACIES. 295

formations rest frequently upon the so-called transi-
tion and secondary strata. This mystery is
not solved by assuming later and cryptogene for-
mations, but simply avoided. When these theories
are therefore at variance with our cosmogony,
theology need not sacrifice the historical matter-
of-fact sense of Biblical history. Natural science in
general, and geology in particular, has not yet pro-
gressed so far, as to allow these theories and com-
binations any weight or authority whatsoever.
Any day may bring forward fresh discoveries which
would overthrow the speculations of half a century,
and bear down a host of conjectures.

So long as it is undetermined whether the species
of fauna and flora are really fixed, and thus render
a fresh creation needless, and so long as the
time of the appearance of man is undecided, the
fossil remains can in no way be opposed to the Bible
cosmogony.

A well-founded difficulty from these fossils could
arise only in two cases, first, were it possible to
render it probable, if not certain, that the earth
had undergone no change since the seventh day
of the creative week ; and, secondly, if science could
fix a boundary between what belonged to creation
and what belonged to the process of the subsequent
development. But neither the one nor the other
can ever take place.

Take the first case. It appears from the book of
Genesis that there was at the beginning a separation
of land and water, but there is no light given
whether the division of continents and water were
then as they are now, or, whether β€” e.g., the Black
and Caspian Seas were separated on the third day ;
or whether the Mediterranean was then already



296 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND GEOLOGY.

united by the Straits of Gibralter with the Atlantic
Ocean ; or whether the localities of London, Paris, or
Mayence were laid dry immediately after the crea-
tion, or remained under water for centuries after,
forming bays of oceans or inland lakes.

Again, the Bible records that after the separation
of land and water, the earth was covered with herbs,
grass, and trees, that the water and the air were
replenished with the living creatures of our fauna
and flora. But the number of these species is no
where given, nor are we supplied with a scientific
account of these beings, so that we might compare
them with the catalogues of the present day.

Again, the Bible records three events, which made
a lasting impression upon the earth and its organic
creatures ; the first is the curse, which affecte l tl e
whole animal world, and subjected them to vanity β€”
Genesis iii. 17, and Romans viii. 20 ; and the second
is the flood, by which the whole earth was put under
water, and all living creatures destroyed, with the ex-
ception of those saved by the ark. Yet the Biblical
accounts respecting these two events are so brief,
and so entirely religious, if we might say so, that
we can make no inferences from them as regards the
extent of the changes,and the nature of the alterations
thereby affected. These two catastrophes science
may ignore. The first is, indeed, altogether beyond
the province of science, and the flood may also be
shelved with the remark, that there was no stratum
which could be assigned to such a general flood.
The third historical event which produced a great
change on the surface and in the configuration of
the earth, is that alluded to in Genesis x. 25. When
the flood retired, the Persian Gulf, the Bed Sea,
the Mediterranean, the Caspian and Black Seas, the



THREE EVENTS WHICH BEFEL OUR GLOBE. 297

Bay of Biscay, the North Sea, and the Baltic, are
supposed not to have existed. Australia was not
yet separated from Asia, nor Asia from America.
" And unto Eber were born two sons, the name of
one was Peleg, for in his days was the earth divided"
The earth till then was one whole. We read only
of Egypt at a later time. That this dividing of the
earth could not mean the dividing of the people
thereon, is clear from the peculiar expression which is
used in Genesis xi. 8 ; moreover Peleg did not
live in Shinar. Most probably, then, this division
was what it expresses, a terrestrial event, and to
commemorate that event Eber named his son
Peleg to recall the catastrophe. Europe and Africa
could not easily become inhabited from Asia, had
they been as difficult of access as now from the land
of Shinar. After this division of the earth, the new
portions were quickly formed into independent em-
pires, amongst which we recognize the Egyptians
as if they had existed from times immemorial.
Erom Genesis x. we learn that the partition of the
earth surprised the ancients. The Deucalion flood
seems to refer to this catastrophe, which gave origin
to the Mediterranean ; and it will indeed be diffi-
cult to tell how many of the local flood-legends of
antiquity may have taken their origin from this
division of the earth. If the earth was divided, and
if this is recorded and commemorated, it is clear
that from the beginning it was not so.

This passing glance at geognostic theories will
show how much confusion has been caused by
mistaking fact for fiction, and fiction for fact. As
yet all is uncertain, contradictory, and unestablished.
The theory of creation-periods as founded upon the
strata with their fossil inclosures, is, for the present,



298 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND PALEONTOLOGY.

at least, built upon sand. More than this, it is in
direct contradiction to the fact that the formations are
frequently reversed in their order, without any
warrant of this reversal being attributable to vol-
canic action.

If the days in Genesis were days, and not periods,
the fossil remains must date from a period pos-
terior to the creation. But it in no way follows
that all formations without petrifaction date their
origin from creation itself. We have formations of
all classes devoid of fossils ; and some of these may
have been formed as late as those which contain them.
The geological lines drawn between strata are purely
imaginary, and, in many instances, it will require a
bold man to decide to which formation a given sec-
tion of the earth's crust really belongs.

3. Facts and Fictions of Palwontoloc/y.

It is both useless and absurd to guess in which of
the many possible states the earth was originally
created, since no science can possibly pass the line of
conjecture. We are not left in the dark as regards
the condition in which the flora and fauna were
created, and hence we may argue from what we actually
know, as to what we do not know. We rationally as-
sume that the flora and fauna were created in a state
of maturity, without passing through what are now
considered the preliminary stages of their existence.

By observing men in different stages from infancy
to old age, we may form certain rules for estimating
the age of man generally, and are thus usually able
to guess the age of a person, otherwise unknown to
us. We may very possibly make a mistake, but
no one would guess a full grown-man to be only six
years old. These rules are applicable to all man-



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 299

kind, excepting only Adam and Eve who were
created in a state of maturity.

From analogy, any observer, who had seen our
first parents on the day of their creation, would
have said that they must he, at least, from sixteen
to twenty years of age. Whilst, therefore, we can
infer the previous stages which an individual has
passed through from childhood to manhood, we find
in the case of our first parents that the analogy
completely fails. The time needed for the develop-
ment of their frame, the expansion of their organs,
the consolidation of their bones, the results of certain
marks of age, intelligence, and strength, if calcu-
lated upon the known principles of physiology, must
in their case be obviously erroneous.

Take another instance. We calculate the age of a tree
by its rings, and even from its general size. Thus
according to analogy we should say of an oak which
we can no longer embrace, that it was at least more
than ten or thirty years old. But are these modes
of reasoning applicable to the trees of Paradise ? Is
it not rational and most probable that the first
vegetation was created full-grown, so that there may
have been trees which seemed perhaps hundreds of
years old ? The grass, the herb yielding seed, and
the fruit-tree yielding fruit were created on the
third day. There was the simultaneous creation of
plants and trees in all their perfection, bearing fruit
fit for man and beast, who very shortly would have
need of them. Years of sunshine and rain were nut
required to produce the effects of trees in maturity. A
botanist of our day, if introduced to these larger speci-
mens of vegetation, would doubtless miscalculate their
respective ages and the previous history of that flora.
What under ordinarv circumstances would need



300 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND PALEONTOLOGY.

centuries may have been the result of a single day.

Again, the moving creature in the water and the
fowl flying in the air were not produced in the
ordinary way ; the latter, for instance, were not
reared and hatched as those we know of. They were
all created, at once moving in the water and flying
in the air. There were birds before there were eggs,
and scientific calculations as to the stages these crea-
tures would have passed through on the evening of
the fifth day would have been utterly at fault. The
same holds good of the animals created a few hours
only, it may be, before man. Adam saw them
brought to him by God, and had Adam then possessed
the experience in zoology which he naturally soon
acquired, he would have inferred from the appearance
of these full-grown animals, that they must have at
least been several years old.

I argue from this, that the earth alone could
make no exception to this general rule, and I hold
that the surface of the globe was as fully developed,
as was Adam himself when made in the image of
God. If all things were created fully developed, with
every sign and symptom of an age which they did
not really possess, why should not the earth be made,
as it were, in full bloom, in full development, bearing
marks in its formations of an age which in reality it
never possessed ? The geologist would have made
the same mistakes as to the age of certain rocks and
their stratifications, which the physiologist would
have made in his examination of the first man the
day after his creation. This argument ought to have
some weight with scientific men.

Having read the leading books, English, Con-
tinental, and American, on the subject, and weighed the
arguments on each side, I have come to the conclusion



WHENCE OUR GEOLOGICAL AGES. 301

that the geognostic ages are as essentially unreal,
unhistorical, and mythical, as are the chronological
eras of the Hindus with their succession of deluges,
Mahayugs, and Kalpas. The whole system of modern
geology is a reproduction of Brahminical geogonies
and Maha Pralayas, or great floods. Had we an
account of how the first thought of geological ages
sprang up in the mind of some European sage,
we should find that it was as directly imported from
the Hindu Pooranic cosmogony, as the transmuta-
tion hypothesis was imported from Hindustan into
France in 1749. Let us now glance at the ancient
Hindu geogonies for a few moments.

An ordinary year is considered to be equal to a day
and a night of the gods. Three hundred and sixty
of these divine days and nights constitute a " year
of the gods." Twelve hundred such years form an
"age of the gods," or, as it is generally termed, a
Mahayug, or great age. One of these ages is, there-
fore, equal to 432,000 years of mortals !

Each of these great ages of the gods is sub-
divided into four smaller ones, the Satya or Krita,
Treta, Dwapar, and Kali, which correspond in
succession and in character to the golden, silver,
brazen, and iron ages of the Greek and Homan
Mythologies.

Seventy-one of the great ages of the gods make a
Mavantara, during which one Manu or Saint, with
his posterity, is supposed to be invested with the
sovereignty of the earth. As there are fourteen
Manus, there are fourteen Mavantaras of equal
length.

Those fourteen grand periods of time, equal in all
to 1,000 Mahayugs, make together one Kalpa. The
Kalpa, consisting of 4,320 millions of common years,



302 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND PALAEONTOLOGY.

is again looked upon as " a day of Brahma, and his
night also has the same duration." Then 360 of
these enormous days and nights compose a year of
Brahma, a period which exceeds in length three
hillions of the years of mortals. A hundred such
years is the duration of Brahma, and of the universe ;
or, in other words, the age of Brahma and the
duration of the world is calculated at upwards of
300 hillions of common years ! Above half of this
time has already expired ; and we are now living
in the 4954 th year of the Kali Yug, of the 28 th
Mahayug, of the seventh Mavantara, of the first
Kalpa or day of the fifty-first year of Brahma's age.
In other words, we are considerably beyond the
150 billionth year of the creation !

Having thus ascertained the age, and estimated
the duration of the universe, we proceed to the
changes which have taken place in the world. At
the commencement of each important cycle of time,
such as the Mahayug, mankind was declared to be
virtuous and happy. The latent predispositions to
evil are made manifest and come to a crisis ; accord-
ingly, at the termination of each cycle of time, there
are great changes, ushered in by floods and storms,
designed for the destruction of a degenerate race of
men. These catastrophes affect only the terrestrial
globe, which is re-peopled by the righteous, whose
lives have been preserved by a miraculous inter-
position of the Deity.

But there are greater changes recurring at wider
intervals. At the close of each Kalpa, or day of
Brahma, commences his night. The Deity, when
about to enter upon his repose, surrounds himself
with darkness. The heavenly bodies are shrouded
in gloom ; torrents of rain pour down from the sky,



WHENCE OUR GEOLOGICAL AGES. 303

and mighty tempests trouble the ocean. The seven
lower worlds are at once submerged, as well as the
earth which we inhabit. The waters even rise to
the two worlds next in order of ascent above the
earth. In the midst of this tremendous abyss,
Brahma, as Vishnoo, reclines on the huge serpent
Ananta, with closed eyes, reposing in mysterious
slumber! Here, then we have a deluge, which
rises above the Polar Star, according to the position
assigned to it by the Hindus. The wicked perish ;
the righteous, with the progenitors of mankind, and
the gods inhabiting the third world, rush in conster-
nation and terror into the fourth world. Those most
distinguished for virtue may ascend still farther
into one or other of the highest worlds, where they
remain until Brahma's night is over.

When he awakes, the heavenly bodies shine again,
the waters disappear, and the earth reappears ; every
form of being is renewed, by a process which, in
many respects, is only a repetition of that which had
taken place before. A partial destruction of the same
kind, or a disorganisation of the ten lower worlds,
recurs at the close of every Kalpa, or day of Brahma,
and a similar renovation at the termination of every
succeeding night. And as Brahma's life counts
36,000 days and nights, there must be as many
partial destructions and reconstructions of the larger
moiety of the universe. But when Brahma's life
comes to a close, a Maha Pralaya takes place, or the
destruction of the entire universe.

This catastrophe is said to be ushered in by a
hundred years of rain, and for one hundred years
more there will be storms and hurricanes, fiercely
drifting dismal vapours darkening the atmosphere ;
the sun drinking up the sea and the rivers of



301 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND PALEONTOLOGY.

water. Circling masses of flame will envelope the
world in a universal conflagration. When all shall
thus be re-fused into the essence of the Supreme
Brahm, all souls, good or evil, all spirits, just or
unjust, will find a speedy absorption in Brahm.
In short, all things corporeal or incorporeal,
animate or inanimate, gods and men, angels and
devils, animals, vegetables, minerals, earth, sea, and
sky, fire and water, sun, moon, and stars, all things
visible or invisible, will shrink away till wholly re-
absorbed into the impersonal essence of the Supreme
Spirit, the sole-existent incomprehensible Brahm !

When myriads of ages have thus passed away,
compared with which, " the life of Brahm is but a
grain of sand in proportion to the solar system,"
Brahm awakes again, and then all things are
reproduced. Every successive universe is but a
repetition of that which preceded it. During the
existence of each, it is subjected to the same periodic
disorganisations at the close of every day of Brahm ;
and to a corresponding series of renovations at
the close of every night of Brahm. The first six
Mavantaras having come to a close, the present,
or seventh Mavantara, was introduced, as usual,
by one of the inferior deluges ; that is, by a general
deluge confined to this earth. Of this deluge,
accounts are given in the Pooranas, which as we
have seen, strongly resemble the Mosaic flood.

We shall, I think, hit upon the truth if we con-
vert the primary, secondary, tertiary, and diluvial
periods into the four lesser Yugs into which each
Mahay ug is subdivided ; if we turn the geological
floods into Brahminical deluges, and transcribe the
azoic, palaeozoic, mesozoic, and kainozoic ages into
the Satya, Treta, Dwapar, and Kali Yug, if



WHENCE OUR GEOLOGICAL ERAS. 305

we regard the fourteen Mavantaras of the Brahmin
as the counterpart of the fourteen geognostic
periods of modern geologists, embracing 1) the Gneiss,
2) the Cumbrian, 3) the Silurian, 4) the Devonian,
5) the Coal, 6) the Permian 7) the Trias, 8) the Jura,
9) the Chalk, 10) the Eocene, 11) the Miocene,
12) the Plioscene, 13) the Pleistocene, 14) the Alluvial
period.

Fossils β€” i.e., things, dug out of the earth, are taken
to describe the organic remains of plants or animals
which may, or may not be, in a petrified state. Paige-
ontology, with all the present knowledge of chemistry,
is to this day ignorant of the real process of such
petrifaction, nor has any attempt succeeded to imitate
or reproduce it.

When first discovered, as already shown, they were
considered the memorials of the Biblical deluge, or
the effects of a vis plastica or vis formativa, produced
by some inherent powers in nature, plays of nature,
lusus naturce, pulsations of creative omnipotence,
which were only blessed with an ephemeral existence.
That these lapides figurati bore resemblance in their
singularly shaped forms to created objects had not
escaped observation ; and the case of a German
professor is still remembered for whom the students
prepared the rare satisfaction of digging up stars,
suns, moons, which they had manufactured of stone,
and buried where they knew- the learned man
was likely to order his excavations. The discovery
strengthened his impression that these petrifactions
were freaks of nature, and he discovered the cruel
trick only after a folio with the most beautiful
engravings of his fossils was published !

When the skeleton of a Mammoth was exhumed
near Burgtonna, in the year 1669, the Collegium

v



306 CHAP. VII. GENESIS AND PALEONTOLOGY,

wiedicum declared it to be a freak of nature. It
might not be out of place to state here that divines,


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Online LibraryJohn Muehleisen ArnoldGenesis and science; or The first leaves of the Bible → online text (page 23 of 27)