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THE RELIGION OF GEOLOGY AND ITS CONNECTED SCIENCES.




[Illustration: SECTION OF THE EARTH'S CRUST.]




THE RELIGION OF GEOLOGY AND ITS CONNECTED SCIENCES.


BY EDWARD HITCHCOCK, D. D., LL. D.,
PRESIDENT OF AMHERST COLLEGE, AND PROFESSOR OF NATURAL THEOLOGY
AND GEOLOGY.


"Science has a foundation, and so has religion; let them unite
their foundations, and the basis will be broader, and they will
be two compartments of one great fabric reared to the glory of
God. Let the one be the outer and the other the inner court. In
the one, let all look, and admire, and adore; and in the other,
let those who have faith kneel, and pray, and praise. Let the
one be the sanctuary where human learning may present its richest
incense as an offering to God; and the other the holiest of all,
separated from it by a veil now rent in twain, and in which, on a
blood sprinkled mercy seat, we pour out the love of a reconciled
heart, and hear the oracles of the living God." - _M'Cosh._


EIGHTH THOUSAND.

BOSTON:
PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, AND COMPANY.
1854.




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by

PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, & CO.,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District
of Massachusetts.


STEREOTYPED AT THE BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.




TO MY BELOVED WIFE.


Both gratitude and affection prompt me to dedicate these lectures to you.
To your kindness and self-denying labors I have been mainly indebted for
the ability and leisure to give any successful attention to scientific
pursuits. Early should I have sunk under the pressure of feeble health,
nervous despondency, poverty, and blighted hopes, had not your sympathies
and cheering counsels sustained me. And during the last thirty years of
professional labors, how little could I have done in the cause of science,
had you not, in a great measure, relieved me of the cares of a numerous
family! Furthermore, while I have described scientific facts with the pen
only, how much more vividly have they been portrayed by your pencil! And
it is peculiarly appropriate that your name should be associated with mine
in any literary effort where the theme is geology; since your artistic
skill has done more than my voice to render that science attractive to the
young men whom I have instructed. I love especially to connect your name
with an effort to defend and illustrate that religion which I am sure is
dearer to you than every thing else. I know that you would forbid this
public allusion to your labors and sacrifices, did I not send it forth to
the world before it meets your eye. But I am unwilling to lose this
opportunity of bearing a testimony which both justice and affection urge
me to give. In a world where much is said of female deception and
inconstancy, I desire to testify that one man at least has placed implicit
confidence in woman, and has not been disappointed. Through many checkered
scenes have we passed together, both on the land and the sea, at home and
in foreign countries; and now the voyage of life is almost ended. The ties
of earthly affection, which have so long united us in uninterrupted
harmony and happiness, will soon be sundered. But there are ties which
death cannot break; and we indulge the hope that by them we shall be
linked together and to the throne of God through eternal ages.

In life and in death I abide
Your affectionate husband,
EDWARD HITCHCOCK.




PREFACE.


Most of the following lectures were written as much as eight or ten years
ago, though additions and alterations have been made, from time to time,
to adapt them to the progress of science. They were undertaken at the
suggestion of my friend, Rev. Henry Neill, then of Hatfield, now of Lenox.
I had no definite intention as to the use to be made of the lectures; but
having for many years turned my attention to the bearings of science, and
especially of geology, upon religion, I felt a desire to put upon paper
the final results of my examinations. I threw them into the lecture form,
that I might, if best, deliver them to the geological classes which I
should instruct in the college with which I am connected. This I have done
for many years, and also have used them in various places before lyceums.
They are at length published, from a conviction that something of the
kind, from some quarter, is needed. Many of the thoughts, indeed, which,
at the time they were put upon paper, were original, have since been
brought out by other writers. Yet enough of this description probably
remain to expose me to severe criticism. I beg the intelligent Christian,
however, before he condemns my views, to settle it in his mind what he can
substitute for them that will be more honorable to religion. It is much
easier to find fault with a mode of defending the truth than to invent a
better method. We may not be pleased with certain views in vindication of
religion, and yet the alternative of rejecting them may be so much worse
as to lead us at least to be silent. Would that Christian critics had
always kept this fact in mind when writing upon the views of geologists!
They would find often that they are straining at a gnat and must swallow a
camel.

If my views are erroneous, as exhibited in these lectures, I cannot plead
that they have been hastily adopted. Most of them, indeed, have been the
subjects of thought occasionally for thirty years. I hope, however, that
all my suggestions will not be thought of equal importance in my own
estimation; since some of them are merely hypothetical hints thrown out
for the consideration of abler minds.

This work does not exhibit quite so much of logical exactness as I could
wish. But my leading object has been fully carried out, viz., to exhibit
all the religious bearings of geology. Several of the lectures, however,
have been written as if independent of all the rest; and, therefore, the
reader will find some leading thoughts repeated, but always in different
connections.

After acknowledging that more than a quarter of a century has elapsed
since this subject first engaged my attention, it may be useless for me to
ask any indulgence from criticism. But really, I feel less prepared to
write upon it than I did during the first five years in which I studied
it. I have learnt that it is a most difficult subject. It requires, in
order to master it, an acquaintance with three distinct branches of
knowledge, not apt to go together. First, an acquaintance with geology in
all its details, and with the general principles of zoölogy, botany, and
comparative anatomy; secondly, a knowledge of sacred hermeneutics, or the
principles of interpreting the Scriptures; thirdly, a clear conception of
the principles of natural and revealed religion.

As examples of efforts made by men who were deficient in a knowledge of
some of these branches, I am compelled to quote a large proportion of the
works which, within the last thirty or forty years, have been written on
the religion of geology; especially on its connection with revealed
religion. I am happy to except such writers as Dr. J. Pye Smith, Dr.
Chalmers, Dr. Harris, Dr. Buckland, Professor Sedgwick, Professor Whewell,
Dr. King, Dr. Anderson, and Hugh Miller; for they, to a greater or less
extent, acquainted themselves with all the subjects named above, before
they undertook to write. But a still larger number of authors, although
men of talents, and familiar, it may be, with the Bible and theology, had
no accurate knowledge of geology. The results have been, first, that, by
resorting to denunciation and charges of infidelity, to answer arguments
from geology which they did not understand, they have excited unreasonable
prejudices and alarm among common Christians respecting that science and
its cultivators; secondly, they have awakened disgust, and even contempt,
among scientific men, especially those of sceptical tendencies, who have
inferred that a cause which resorts to such defences must be very weak.
They have felt very much as a good Greek scholar would, who should read a
severe critique upon the style of Isocrates, or Demosthenes, and, before
he had finished the review, should discover internal evidence that the
writer had never learnt the Greek alphabet.

On the other hand, prejudices and disgust equally strong have been
produced in the mind of many a man well versed in theology and biblical
exegesis by some productions of scientific men upon the religious bearings
of geology, because they advanced principles which the merest tyro in
divinity would know to be false and fatal to religion, and which they
advocated only because they had never studied the Bible or theology.

And here I would remark that it does not follow, because a man is eminent
in geology, that his opinion is of any value upon the religion of geology.
For the two subjects are quite distinct, and a man may be a Coryphæus in
the principles of geology, who is an ignoramus in its religious
applications. Indeed, many of the ablest writers upon geology take the
ground that its religious bearings do not belong to the science.

These statements, instead of pleading my apology for the following work,
may only show my temerity and vanity. Nevertheless, they afford me an
opportunity of calling the attention of the religious public to the great
inadequacy of the means now possessed of acquiring a knowledge of the
different branches of natural science. I refer especially to comparative
anatomy, zoölogy, botany, and geology, in our literary and theological
seminaries. The latter, so far as I know, do not pretend to give any
instruction in these branches. And in our colleges that instruction is
confined almost entirely to a few brief courses of lectures; often so few
that the students scarcely find out how ignorant they are of the subjects;
and hence those who are expecting to enter the sacred ministry vainly
imagine that, at almost any period of their future course, they can, in a
few weeks, become sufficiently acquainted with physical science to meet
and refute the sceptic. In all our seminaries, however, abundant provision
is made, as it ought to be, for the study of intellectual philosophy and
biblical interpretation.

So well satisfied are two of the most enlightened and efficient Christian
denominations in Great Britain - the Congregationalists and the Scottish
Free Church - of the need of more extensive acquaintance with the natural
sciences in ministers of the gospel, that they have attached a
professorship of natural history to their theological seminaries. That in
the New College in Edinburgh is filled by the venerable Dr. Fleming; that
in the New College in London by Dr. Lankester. From a syllabus of Dr.
Fleming's course of lectures, which he put into my hands last summer, I
perceive that it differs little from the instruction in natural science in
the colleges of our country. This being the case, it strikes me that this
is not exactly the professorship that is needed in the theological
seminaries of our country. But they do need, it seems to me,
professorships of natural theology, to be filled by men who are
practically familiar with the natural sciences. If any such chairs exist
in these seminaries, I do not know it. They are amply provided with
instruction in the metaphysics of theology, hermeneutics, and
ecclesiastical history; and I should be sorry to see these departments
less amply provided for. But here is the wide field of natural theology,
large enough for several professorships, which finds no place, save a nook
in the chair of dogmatics. This might have answered well enough when the
battle-field with scepticism lay in the region of metaphysics, or history,
or biblical interpretation. But the enemy have, within a few years past,
intrenched themselves within the dominions of natural science; and there,
for a long time to come, must be the tug of the war. And since they have
substituted skeletons, and trees, and stones, as weapons, in the place of
abstractions, so must Christians do, if they would not be defeated. Let me
refer to a few examples to show how inadequately furnished the minister
must be for such a contest, who has used only the means of instruction
provided in our existing seminaries, literary and theological.

Take the leading points discussed in the following lectures. How can a man
who has heard only a brief and hurried course of thirty lectures on
chemistry, twenty on anatomy and physiology, fifteen upon zoölogy, ten
upon botany, ten upon mineralogy, and twenty upon geology, at the college,
with no additional instruction at the theological seminary, - how can he
judge correctly of points and reasoning difficult to be mastered by adepts
in these sciences? How certain to be worsted in an argument with an
accomplished naturalist who is a sceptic!

Suppose the sceptic takes the ground advocated by Oken and the author of
the "Vestiges." Let the clergyman, whom I have supposed, read the works of
Miller and Sedgwick in reply to the development hypothesis, and see
whether he can even understand their arguments without a more careful
study of the sciences on which they rest.

A subject of no small importance in its religious bearings has recently
excited a good deal of sharp discussion in this country. I refer to the
questions of the specific unity and unity of origin of the human race. To
a person who has never studied the subject, it seems a matter easy to
settle; yet, in fact, it demands extensive research even to understand.
And we have seen one of the most accomplished zoölogists and anatomists of
the present age take ground on these points in opposition to the almost
universal opinion. The result has been that not a few talented replies to
his arguments have appeared, mostly, I believe, from ministers. I have not
seen them all. But in respect to those which I have read it has seemed to
me, without having the least sympathy with the views of Professor Agassiz,
that the authors have not the most remote conception of the principal
arguments on which he relies, derived from zoölogy and comparative
anatomy; nor do I believe that they can understand and appreciate them
until they have studied those sciences.[1]

Although I fear that theologians are not aware of the fact, yet probably
the doctrines of materialism are more widely embraced at this day than
almost any other religious error. But in which of our schools, save the
medical, is there any instruction given in physiology and zoölogy, that
will prepare a man to make the least headway against such delusions? The
arguments by which materialism is defended are among the most subtle in
the whole range of theology and natural science; and without a knowledge
of the latter they can neither be appreciated nor refuted. The mere
metaphysical abstractions by which they are usually met excite only the
contempt of the acute physiologist who is a materialist.

I might refer, in this connection, to the whole subject of pantheism, in
its chameleon forms. The rhapsodies of spiritual pantheism must, indeed,
be met by metaphysics equally transcendental. But, after all, it is from
biology that the pantheist derives his choicest weapons. He appeals, also,
to astronomy, zoölogy, and geology; nor is it the superficial naturalist
that can show how hollow is the foundation on which he rests.

These are only a few examples of the points of physical science on which
scepticism at this moment has batteries erected with which to assail
spiritual religion. Will the minister but slightly familiar with the
ground chosen by the enemy be able not only to silence his guns, but, as
every able defender of the truth ought to do, to turn them against its
foes? Surely it needs a professor of natural theology in our theological
seminaries, (and if such chairs existed in our colleges they would be
serviceable,) to teach those who expect to be officers in the sacramental
host how to carry on the holy war. I do not see how much more time can be
given to the natural sciences in our colleges than is usually done,
without encroaching upon other indispensable branches. If, therefore,
provision be not made for studying the religious bearings of these
sciences in our theological seminaries, our youthful evangelists must go
forth to their work without the ability to vindicate the cause of religion
against the assaults of the sceptical naturalist. Would not, then, those
wealthy and benevolent individuals be great public benefactors, who should
endow professorships of natural religion in our schools of the prophets?

But I must not pursue this subject farther. I commit my work to the public
with no raised expectations of its welcome reception. I have a high
opinion of the enlightened candor of, the educated classes of our country,
especially those in the ministry. Yet I know that many prejudices exist
against science in its connections with religion. And, therefore, my only
hope of any measure of success in this effort rests upon the divine
blessing. But if the work be not pleasing to Infinite Wisdom and
Benevolence, why should I desire for it an ephemeral success among men?

AMHERST COLLEGE, May 1, 1851.




EXPLANATION OF THE FRONTISPIECE.


This section of the earth's crust is intended to bring under the eye the
leading features of geology.


1. _The relative Position of the Stratified and the Unstratified Rocks._

The unstratified rocks, viz., granite, sienite, porphyry, trap, and lava,
are represented as lying beneath the stratified class, for the most part,
yet piercing through them in the centre of the section, and by several
dikes or veins, through which masses have been protruded to the surface.
The unstratified class are all colored red, to indicate their igneous
origin. Granite seems to have been first melted and protruded, and it
continued to be pushed upward till the close of the secondary period of
the stratified rocks, as is shown by the vein of granite on the section.
Sienite and porphyry seem to have been next thrust up, from below the
granite; next, the varieties of trap were protruded from beneath the
porphyry; and last, the lava, which still continues to be poured out upon
the surface from beneath all the rest.


2. _The Stratified Rocks._

The stratified rocks represented on both flanks of the granite peak in the
section, appear to have been deposited from water, and subsequently more
or less lifted up, fractured, and bent. An attempt is made, on the right
hand side of the section, to exhibit the foldings and inclination of the
strata. The lowest are bent the most, and their dip is the greatest; and,
as a general fact, there is a gradual approach to horizontality as we rise
on the scale.


3. _The right hand side of the Section._

The strata on the right hand are divided into five classes: first and
lowest, the _crystalline_, or _primary_, destitute of organic remains, and
probably metamorphosed from a sedimentary to a crystalline state, by the
action of subjacent heat. 2. The _palæozoic class_, or those containing
the earliest types of animals and plants, and of vast thickness, mostly
deposited in the ocean. 3. _The secondary class_, reaching from the top of
the lower new red or Permian system, to the top of the chalk. 4. _The
tertiary strata_, partially consolidated, and differing entirely from the
rocks below by their organic contents. 5. _Alluvium_, or strata now in a
course of deposition. This classification is sometimes convenient, and
frequently used by geologists.


4. _The left hand Side._

On the left hand side of the section the strata are so divided as to
correspond to the six great groups of animals and plants that have
appeared on the globe. The names attached to the groups are derived from
[Greek: zôos] (_vivus_, living,) with the Greek numerals prefixed. The
lowest group, being destitute of organic remains, is called _azoic_, (from
[Greek: a] privitive and [Greek: zôos],) that is, wanting in the traces of
life; and corresponds to the crystalline group on the other side of the
section, embracing gneiss, mica slate, limestone, and clay slate, of
unknown thickness. The _protozoic group_ corresponds to the palæozoic of
the right hand side, and embraces lower and upper Silurian, Devonian, or
old red sandstone, the carboniferous group, and the Permian, or lower new
red; the whole in Great Britain not less than thirty-three thousand feet
thick. The _deutozoic group_ consists only of the triassic, or upper new
red sandstone, and is only nine hundred feet thick, but marks a distinct
period of life. The _tritozoic_ embraces the lias and oölite, with the
Wealden, and is three thousand six hundred feet thick. The _tetrazoic_
consists of the chalk and green sand, one thousand five hundred feet
thick. The _pentezoic_ embraces the tertiary strata of the thickness of
two thousand feet. The _hectozoic_ is confined to the modern deposits,
only a few hundred feet thick, but entombing all the existing species of
animals.


5. _Characteristic Organic Remains._

Had space permitted, I should have put upon the section a reference to the
most characteristic and peculiar mineral, animal, or plant, in the
different groups. Thus the azoic group is _crystalliferous_, or
crystal-bearing. The lower or Silurian part of the protozoic group is
_brachiopodiferous_, _trilobiferous_, _polypiferous_, and
_cephalopodiferous_; that is, abounding in brachiopod and cephalopod
shells; in polypifers, or corals; and in trilobites, a family of
crustaceans. The middle part, or the Devonian, is _thaumichthiferous_, or
containing remarkable fish. The upper part, or the coal measures, is
_carboniferous_; that is, abounding in coal. _The deutozoic group_ is
_ichniferous_, or track-bearing, from the multitude of its fossil
footmarks. The _tritozoic group_ is _reptiliferous_, or reptile-bearing,
from the extraordinary lizards which abound in it. The _tetrazoic_ is
_foraminiferous_, from the abundance of coral animalcula, called
foraminifera, or polythalmia, which it contains. The _pentezoic_ is
_mammaliferous_, because it contains the remains of mammalia, or
quadrupeds. The _hectozoic_ is _homoniferous_, or man-bearing, because it
embraces human remains.

There is no one place on earth where all the facts exhibited on this
section are presented before us together. Yet all the facts occur
somewhere, and this section merely brings them into systematic
arrangement.




CONTENTS.


Page

LECTURE I.
REVELATION ILLUSTRATED BY SCIENCE, 1

LECTURE II.
THE EPOCH OF THE EARTH'S CREATION UNREVEALED, 33

LECTURE III.
DEATH A UNIVERSAL LAW OF ORGANIC BEINGS ON THIS GLOBE
FROM THE BEGINNING, 71

LECTURE IV.
THE NOACHIAN DELUGE COMPARED WITH THE GEOLOGICAL DELUGES, 112

LECTURE V.
THE WORLD'S SUPPOSED ETERNITY, 146

LECTURE VI.
GEOLOGICAL PROOFS OF THE DIVINE BENEVOLENCE, 179

LECTURE VII.
DIVINE BENEVOLENCE AS EXHIBITED IN A FALLEN WORLD, 219

LECTURE VIII.
UNITY OF THE DIVINE PLAN AND OPERATION IN ALL AGES OF THE
WORLD'S HISTORY, 252

LECTURE IX.
THE HYPOTHESIS OF CREATION BY LAW, 285

LECTURE X.
SPECIAL AND MIRACULOUS PROVIDENCE, 327

LECTURE XI.
THE FUTURE CONDITION AND DESTINY OF THE EARTH, 370

LECTURE XII.
THE TELEGRAPHIC SYSTEM OF THE UNIVERSE, 409

LECTURE XIII.
THE VAST PLANS OF JEHOVAH, 445

LECTURE XIV.
SCIENTIFIC TRUTH, RIGHTLY APPLIED, IS RELIGIOUS TRUTH, 476




THE RELIGION OF GEOLOGY.




LECTURE I.

REVELATION ILLUSTRATED BY SCIENCE.


The leading object, which I propose in the course of lectures which I now
commence, is to develop the relations between geology and religion. This
cannot be done fully and fairly, however, without exhibiting also many of
the religious bearings of several other sciences. I shall, therefore, feel
justified in drawing illustrations and arguments from any department of
human knowledge which may afford them. I place geology first and most



Online LibraryEdward HitchcockThe religion of geology and its connected sciences → online text (page 1 of 39)