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We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the written word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong; rather leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled.
Instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree.1
We believe that it is the duty of every theological student to investigate the Scriptures, and of every scientific student to investigate nature, simply for the purpose of elucidating truth. And if either should find that some of his results appear to be in contradiction, whether to Scripture or to nature, or rather to his own interpretation of one or the other, which may be erroneous, he should not affirm as with certainty that his own conclusion must be right, and the other interpretation wrong; but should leave the two side by side for further inquiry into both, until it shall please God to allow us to arrive at the manner in which they may be reconciled.
In the meanwhile, instead of insisting, and least of all with acrimony or injurious statements about others, upon the seeming differences between science and the Scriptures, it would be a thousand times better to rest in faith as to our future state, in hope as to our coming knowledge, in charity as to our present differences.
1 The first declaration was published in the AtMnseum of Sept. 17, 1864, p. 375. The second in that of Oct. 8, 1864, p. 464.
GENERAL EXPLANATION OF THE MOSAIC HEX^EMERON.
I Have already proved at length that the object of the Bible is not to give us scientific teaching, but only to impart to us religious and moral truths. That God created the world is apparently such a religious truth; the Bible, therefore, is quite on its own ground when it tells us this in the first verses of Genesis. But why does it not confine itself to this simple, uncontested theological statement? why does it give in the rest of the chapter that which seems to belong more to science than to dogma or morality, a history of the development of the kosmos?
If Moses says more than "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," or if God has revealed anything further than this, this further revelation must be of religious, moral, and theological importance, and it must have been revealed because of this theological importance, and not because of its scientific interest. It is in fact only necessary to read the first chapters attentively in order to find out the theological truths, which are plainly enough expressed in it, although they are not formulated as dogmatic statements. I will just enumerate these before I proceed to explain the chapter, because, as you will perceive, it will materially facilitate further inquiries.
1. The general statement, "God created the heavens and the earth," is made more distinct, although not more complete, if we add to the general idea of heaven and earth an enumeration of the principal things which are contained in this idea, e.g. the stars, plants, animals, etc. It was not absolutely necessary that Moses should add this enumeration, but he might have had reasons for it, and we shall see later what these reasons were. His first statement is therefore illustrated and explained by the further relation given in this chapter. We see the heavens bright with the sun, moon, and stars, and covered with clouds from which the rain pours down upon the earth. Moses teaches us that it is God who has created the firmament, and the waters of the firmament, and it is God who has made the two great lights and the stars, and set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth. On the earth we see the land covered with various kinds of herbs and trees, we see air, water, and land inhabited by all kinds of animals; Moses teaches us that it is God who has caused the waters to be gathered together into one place, and the dry land to appear; it is God who has commanded that the earth should bring forth herbs and trees after their kind, that is, of different kinds; and that there should be fruit-bearing trees, which could therefore reproduce themselves, and from which the herbs and trees which we now see have sprung. It is God who has made the animals in the water, in the air, and on the land, and He has blessed them, and said, "Be fruitful and multiply." He has therefore given them the power of propagating their species, so that although the animals now hiving have not been created directly by God, they are descended from those first created by God in the manner He willed and ordered, and therefore they must be called the creatures of God. And man, the highest and noblest of visible living beings, was created by God; male and female created He them, and He blessed them, and said, "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." So we all who now live on the earth, and all who have lived before us and have inhabited the earth, are the creatures of God, for we are descended from the man and woman whom God created and endowed with the power of reproduction. You must admit that to the simple childlike mind of man — and it is to this that the Bible first appeals — the doctrine of the creation of the world by God is represented in this detailed and concrete manner much more impressively and effectively than if Moses had confined himself to the simple statement, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," although that would be quite sufficient for a dogmatic compendium. Even from this point of view, therefore, we must admit that Moses was justified in amplifying this general statement; at any rate we cannot reproach him with having in the following verses forgotten the object of Holy Scripture —the religious teaching of mankind. And apart from their form in the Mosaic Hexaemeron, which will be discussed later on, natural science can make no objection to the above statements, for as it cannot dispute the assertion that God created all things, there can be no objection to our tracing back these things to the divine cause, though as to the mode in which this is done we shall come to an understanding later on. 2. When we say God created the world, it follows as a matter of course that the world coming into being through the will of God, was created as God willed, that the work of the divine creative activity was adequate to the divine idea and plan. But it is often well to repeat a thing which appears to be a matter of course, and Moses had reasons no doubt for insisting on the truth just mentioned. He does this by concluding his account of the separate divine works with the words "and God saw that it was good," that is, that His will had been adequately realized in His works, for God calls that good which corresponds to His idea and to the divine will. Moses repeats this phrase several times, and I cannot help pointing out shortly the peculiarly striking and appropriate way in which he applies the expression. On the first day God creates the light, and divides the light from the darkness, "and God saw the light that it was good,"—not the darkness also, for that is not created by God, it is no Ens, but only the negation of light. On the second day God made the firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament from the waters that were above the firmament. The phrase, "and God saw that it was good," is only in the Greek translation here, and it is evidently an unfortunate addition to the text, for the work of the second day is still unfinished and imperfect, and cannot be described as good, because the divine idea has not as yet been realized. It is not till the fourth day that the lights are set in the firmament, and then "God saw that it was good ;" the waters under the heavens were all gathered together in one place, and the dry land appeared, and it is only after this separation has taken place and the final condition