Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/459

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443
NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

catastrophe caused by human sin, a comet, which opened "the fountains of the great deep."

But, far more important than either of these champions, there arose in the eighteenth century, to aid in the subjection of science to theology, three men of extraordinary power—John Wesley, Adam Clarke, and Richard Watson. All three were men of extraordinary intellectual gifts, the purest character, and the noblest purpose; and the first named one of the greatest men in English history. Yet we find them in geology hopelessly fettered by the mere letter of Scripture, and by a temporary phase in theology. As in regard to witchcraft and the doctrine of comets, so in regard to geology, this theological view drew Wesley into enormous error.[1] The great doctrine which Wesley, Watson, Clarke, and their followers thought it especially necessary to uphold against geologists was, that death entered the world by sin—the first transgression of Adam and Eve. The extent to which the supposed necessity of upholding this doctrine carried Wesley seems now almost beyond belief. Basing his theology on the declaration that the Almighty after creation found the earth and all created things "very good," he declares in his sermon on the "Cause and Cure of Earthquakes," that no one who believes the Scriptures can deny that "sin is the moral cause of earthquakes, whatever their natural cause maybe." Again, he declares that earthquakes are the "effect of that curse which was brought upon the earth by the original transgression." Bringing into connection with Genesis the declaration of St. Paul that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now," he finds additional scriptural proof that the earthquakes were the result of Adam's fall. He declares, in his sermon on "God's Approbation of His Works," that "before the sin of Adam there were no agitations within the bowels of the earth, no violent convulsions, no concussions of the earth, no earthquakes, but all was unmoved as the pillars of heaven. There were then no such things as eruptions of fires; no volcanoes or burning mountains." Of course, a science which showed that earthquakes had been in operation for ages before the appearance of man on the planet, and which showed, also, that those very earthquakes which he considered as curses resultant upon the Fall were really blessings, producing the fissures in which we find to-day those mineral veins so essential to modern civilization, was entirely beyond his comprehension. He insists that earthquakes are "God's strange works of judgment, the proper effect and punishment of sin."

So, too, as to death and pain. In his sermon on the "Fall of Man" he takes the ground that death and pain entered the world by Adam's transgression, insisting that the carnage now going on among animals is the result of Adam's sin. Speaking of the birds, beasts,

  1. For his statement that "the giving up of witchcraft is in effect the giving up of the Bible," see Wesley's "Journal," 1766-'68.