Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/64

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Miltonic account the order in which animals should have made their appearance in the stratified rock would be this: Fishes, including the great whales, and birds; after that, all varieties of terrestrial animals. Nothing could be further from the facts as we find them. As a matter of fact we know of not the slightest evidence of the existence of birds before the Jurassic and perhaps the Triassic formations.

If there were any parallel between the Miltonic account and the circumstantial evidence, we ought to have abundant evidence of the existence of birds in the Devonian, the Silurian, and the Carboniferous rocks. I need hardly tell you that this is not the case, and that not a trace of birds makes its appearance until the far later period which I have mentioned.

And again, if it be true that all varieties of fishes and the great whales, and the like, made their appearance on the fifth day, then we ought to find the remains of these things in the older rocks—in those which preceded the Carboniferous epoch. Fishes, it is true, we find, and numerous ones; but the great whales are absent, and the fishes are not such as now live. Not one solitary species of fish now in existence is to be found there, and hence you are introduced again to the dilemma that either the creatures which were created then, which came into existence the sixth day, were not those which are found at present, are not the direct and immediate predecessors of those which now exist; in which case you must either have had a fresh creation of which nothing is said, or a process of evolution; or else the whole story must be given up, as not only devoid of any circumstantial evidence, but contrary to that evidence.

I placed before you in a few words, some little time ago, a statement of the sum and substance of Milton's hypothesis. Let me try now to put before you as briefly the effect of the circumstantial evidence as to the past history of the earth which is written without the possibility of mistake, with no chance of error, in the stratified rocks. What we find is, that that great series of formations represents a period of time of which our human chronologies hardly afford us a unit of measure. I will not pretend to say how we ought to measure this time, in millions or in billions of years. Happily for my purpose, that is wholly unessential. But that the time was enormous, there is no sort of question.

It results from the simplest methods of interpretation, that all that is now dry land has once been at the bottom of the waters. Leaving out of view certain patches of metamorphosed rocks, certain-volcanic products, it is perfectly certain that at a comparatively recent period of the world's history—the Cretaceous epoch—none of the great physical features which at present mark the surface of the globe existed. It is certain that the Rocky Mountains were not. It is certain that the Himalaya Mountains were not. It is certain that the Alps and the Pyrenees had no existence. The evidence is of the plainest pos-