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became extinct, or were destroyed by geological catastrophes, and that after a " tabula rasa," as it were, had thus been made on earth, the present vegetable and animal world was created. Thus fossil men would be primaeval men, so that if it could be proved that these fossil men exist, it would follow that, in ancient times, the earth was inhabited by men, the so-called PreAdamites, who were not our ancestors, but who died out before our ancestors were created. But, as we shall see later, most modern geologists have given up the idea of a strict distinction in the sense that I have spoken of between the present and the primaeval world. According to the theory which is gradually becoming established, some kinds of animals which exist now also existed in the earlier periods, and we are therefore not justified in assuming that a geological catastrophe took place, which destroyed the former animal and vegetable world, and preceded the creation of the present flora and fauna. Consequently there is no distinct boundary between the primaeval and the present world in the sense that I have spoken of, and the idea of a primaeval race of men falls to the ground. If the period before the first appearance of man on the earth is called the primaeval age, of course there can be no question of primaeval men; they would have been men existing before the first men.
If, therefore, we put aside the secondary meanings which have been attached to the word "fossil," and take it in its proper significance, we may speak quite unhesitatingly of fossil men; and if human remains are found in any deposits, or caverns, or anywhere, the question is not whether these remains are fossils, but
whether their age can be ascertained.
I shall have to enter fully into this question later. At present let us put aside human fossils, and let us look back at the history of fossils in general. What a change has taken place in the views of men of science during the course of not quite four centuries! The things which were formerly looked upon as strange lusfi.$ naturce, fit subjects for a collection of curiosities, now take a prominent position in geology as medals of creation; and in scientific zoology and botany, as the remains of extinct organic species. We can hardly understand now how such erroneous ideas can have prevailed on this subject in former times; and yet those who held those views were learned men, of great scientific merit, who were as firmly persuaded of the correctness of the theories which are now recognised as erroneous, as are the scientific men of the present day of the truth of their views. This brings the progress of science vividly before us, but it also shows us how imperfect and uncertain is all human knowledge; for although the scientific views of the past are now corrected, who will guarantee that the further progress of research may not prove that much which we now think that we know concerning the things of nature is false; and that in a hundred years' time, many of the views held by the greatest geologists of the present day will not meet with the pitying smile which we now bestow on the geological theories of the 17th century? Quenstedt's striking words can be again applied here: "No doubt the natural sciences may boast now-a-days of knowing some superficial things with certainty, nevertheless even this knowledge has been obtained only by an erroneous system. For if the beliefs which are held to be undoubted by one generation are immediately put aside by the next as false, the discreet observer will not fail to remark it. They are only human opinions, which appear in a new light as soon as new points of view have been opened out by the progress of science."1 That all our knowledge is fragmentary is true also of natural science.
The history of palaeontology contains an important lesson for theologians also. It was hasty to assert that because all fossils were caused by the Deluge, their existence was to be considered as a proof of the truth of the Biblical narrative, and, like Scheuchzer, to unite theology and natural science in a close alliance; the alliance could not last, for it was founded on an error. Since then theologians have perceived that it is far better to take up a position of reserve as regards natural science, and not to mix up theological and scientific matters, but to content themselves with proving that the results of scientific inquiry do not contradict the Bible and religion; a thing which is easily accomplished, and is quite sufficient for the dignity of revelation.
The immediate points of contact between Biblical theology and palaeontology are not—as I shall point out in my next lecture—such as to make a hostile collision between them probable. Indirectly, however, the further development of this science, as of all sciences, has its importance for religion. The great English geologist, Sir Charles Lyell, says: "The proofs now accumulated of the close analogy between extinct
1 Sonst und Jetzt, p. 280.
and recent species are such as to leave no doubt on the mind that the same harmony of parts and beauty of contrivance which we admire in the living creation, has equally characterized the organic world at remote periods. Thus as we increase our knowledge of the inexhaustible variety displayed in living nature, and admire the infinite wisdom and power which it displays, our admiration is multiplied by the reflection that it is only the last of a great series of pre-existing creations, of which we cannot estimate the number or Umit in times past."1
To this I have only one thing to add. All that we now—thanks to the discoveries of astronomers—know of the wonders of the starry heavens, is much more fitted to give us an idea of His grandeur whose glories the heavens declare, than was the scanty and limited knowledge of our forefathers; and in the same way our knowledge of the animal and vegetable world which clothed and peopled our earth in the primaeval age, if it is extended and made definite by the progress of palaeontology, will make the might, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator more overpoweringly evident to us than can be done by the existing creation.
1 Elements of Geology, p. 772.
THE PAL^BONTOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE EARTH
Before I can discuss the relation of those results of geological inquiry which deal principally with palaeontology, to the Mosaic account of creation, I must enter more fully into certain points which were only touched upon in my last lecture; and this in order to facilitate the review of the whole subject. The first of these is the use of fossils in determining the limits of the separate formations of the earth's crust, and their relation to each other.
I have already discussed the general division of rocks into stratified and unstratified, and I have told you that no fossils are found in the latter. The great mass of unstratified rocks which underlie the stratified rocks are supposed to be the oldest portions of the earth's surface, and these rocks are therefore called primitive. It is commonly supposed by geologists that the stratified rocks which are found in parallel layers, superposed above them, were gradually deposited by water. Werner called this part of the earth's surface the sedimentary rocks, in contradistinction to the primitive rocks which are always found below them, and to the alluvial soil which is always found above them. The lowest rocks, i.e. those sedimentary rocks which lie next to the primitive rocks, he called transition, and