페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

greatest influence on the rate of the formation of strata." 1

We can therefore only estimate with any certainty the relative, not the absolute age of the separate strata; that is to say, we can ascertain the place of a stratum in the whole series of stratified formations, and decide whether it is older or more recent than another; but we cannot say how much time has elapsed between the beginning or the end of the formation of that stratum and the present time. At any rate we cannot give it in numbers, not even in round numbers; but unless geologists are wholly wrong, we must assume that very long periods of time have elapsed since the first appearance of animals and plants on the earth.

I have thought it necessary to put together so much of the teaching of modern geologists, in order to be able to compare the Biblical narrative with what are, or are said to be, the results of palaeontological inquiry; for it will, I hope, be clear to you from the description I have given that all that is asserted is not absolutely proved.

1 Vogt, Lehrb. der Geol. ii. 337.

XVI.

GEOLOGY AND THE EIBLE ACCORDING TO THE LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE SIX DAYS.

I Have already observed in a former lecture1 that it is not necessary in the present day to refute the theory that all fossils were caused by the Deluge. But still I must examine thoroughly an attempted reconciliation, which rests more than any other on that theory, between the results of palaeontology and the statements of the Bible.

In addition to the theory that only six actual days elapsed between the first act of divine creation and the creation of man, the following opinion is held by several modern savants, and in Germany especially by Keil,s Veith, and Bosizio. They believe that all kinds of plants were created on the third day, all kinds of animals on the fifth and sixth days of the week of

1 Lecture XIV.

Genesis, p. 9. 2!eitschr. fur Ivth. Theol. 1861, p. 689. I could not obtain Keil's treatise on Die biblische Schopfwigsgeschichtt und die geologischen ErdbUdungstheorieen, which was published in the Theol. Zeitschr. Dieckhoff und Kliefoth, 1860, p. 479. This theory has also been supported by Sorignet and C. B., Gtology, etc., and others (cf. Zockler, Gesch. der Beziehungen, ii. 470); and by the Capucin P. Laurent, Etudes geologiquts, philologiquts et scripturales sur la Cosmogonie dt Moist, Paris 1863 (cf. Revue des sciences ecd. 1864, p. 884), by V. M. Gatti, a Roman Dominican monk (Institutiones apohgetico-polemicst, etc., Rome 1867; cf. Revue cath. 1870, t. 4, p. 198), and by the Abbe H. Rault, Cours e'lementairt d'eeriture sainte, Paris 1871, i. p. 148 ; see Theol. Lit.-Bl. 1872, p. 645. Baltzer criticizes the arguments put forward by Keil, Bosizio, and Veith in his Bibl. Schopfungsgeschichte, p. 202 seq.

creation. The fossils, therefore, are all remains of the plants and animals which have existed since the creation of man, and the formation of all fossiliferous strata must be traced to geological events and catastrophes which have occurred since the Fall. The Deluge was one of the principal causes, and the theory that the Deluge was the original cause of all the fossils was only incorrect because it did not take into account the catastrophes which occurred before and after the Deluge, and the regular geological developments which have taken place since the time of the creation.1 All that geologists say about the different flora and fauna of different periods is mere fancy; only one kind of fauna and flora has existed, that created in the week of creation. The fossil plants and animals may be included in the classes and orders of the present creation. No doubt the vegetable and animal world is not quite the same as it was in the beginning; many kinds and species died out in ancient times, and are only known to us by the fossils. The fact that fossil remains of existing species have not been found mingled with the fossil remains of extinct kinds and species in many strata, is due partly to the imperfection of our knowledge of the earth's crust, and partly to accident. Men of science have not yet decided, however, whether the species of plants and animals are capable of change, and how far this is the case; it is at any rate possible that the ancestors of our animals and plants were the very fossil animals and plants which palaeontologists believe to have belonged to different species.

1 Veith, Die Anfange, pp. 101, 351, 353 seq. Prophme und Glaube, p. 33 seq. Bosizio, Das Hexameron, p. 328.

The formation of species is still a secret to us, and recently Darwin and others have tried to prove that species are not created and unchangeable, but derived and changeable.1 The fact that no fossil remains of human beings have been found in the older strata does not prove that when those strata were formed no human beings existed; for the crust of the earth has not been by any means thoroughly examined, and the interior of Asia, man's first dwelling-place, has not been touched. Thirty years ago Cuvier laid stress on the fact that no fossil apes had been found; since then apes belonging to still existing species have been found in the tertiary formation. It is therefore very possible that remains of men, which have been already found in the so-called Cainozoic period, may be discovered in strata which geologists assign to the Mesozoic and Palaeozoic periods, and this would furnish a proof that these strata also were deposited at a time when the whole creation was completed and the race of Adam walked on earth.2

There is, from the exegetical point of view, just as little objection to be made to this theory as to that of the literal interpretation of the six days. Nor would it be right to oppose to this theory the fact that in its .account of the earlier history of mankind the Bible mentions no geological catastrophe but the Deluge. There was no reason why such catastrophes should be mentioned unless they had stood in the same

1 This Darwinian argument of Keil's was first adopted by Veith {Die Anfdnge, etc., p. 864), but he gave it up again afterwards (Prophezie und Glaube, p. 20).

! Keil, see Zeitschr. f. luth. Thecl. 1861. Veith, -Die Anfange, etc., p. 864. Bosizio, pp. 94, 458.

direct relation to man as did the flood in the days of Noah. The only question which must be considered in examining this theory is the following, Can it be brought into harmony with the assured results of geological, and especially of palaeontological inquiry? And I may at once state my conviction that this question must be answered decidedly in the negative. I need not show you at length that it hopelessly contradicts all that I have described in my last lecture as the teaching of modern geologists; the only question is, which of the two is erroneous and must be given up, the interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis as given by those theologians, or the history of the palaeontological periods as it is represented by nearly all modern geologists. Of course, if one of the doctrines of divine revelation were in question, there could be no doubt that a true Christian must believe it under any circumstances, but this is not a question of revealed doctrine, but only of the interpretation of a passage in Holy Scripture which some theologians believe to be correct, but which is only one of several interpretations, all, as I have already proved, theologically admissible. Theologically, therefore, we are quite unfettered in the question which is now before us; we need not say, nay we must not say, that the teaching of palaeontology is false because it contradicts the first chapter in Genesis, we must say rather, that if the teaching of palaeontology is right in the main, the literal interpretation of the six days is wrong; it must therefore be given up, and one of the other interpretations which have been shown to be exegetically admissible must be adopted. This no doubt is the

« 이전계속 »