Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/339

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325
GENESIS, GEOLOGY, AND EVOLUTION.

its offspring "after his kind," generation after generation, without any noticeable change. Any other animals than those now living on the globe were never conceived. Fossil shells were supposed to be either deep-sea creatures thrown up upon the beach, or, if found on land and upon hills, easily accounted for by the Deluge.

Every living thing was believed to have been created at once by the word of the Lord: and all within the space of six literal days.

When geology came to be studied with some philosophic spirit, it was soon discovered that many fossils were not of living species; that six days was incontestably too short a period to account for geological phenomena; that a flood, even if conceded to have been universal, was unable to solve many a problem of disturbance and stratification. Moreover, it was perceived that the earth's structure was separable into several strata; and that each stratum contained a group of fossils unknown either in the stratum above or below it; and upon this discovery was based the principle that disconnected strata might be recognized by the identity of their organic remains. In addition to these facts, the phenomena now known as dislocation, contortion, upheaval, unconformability, and others, frequently occurred, and apparently often during periods intervening between the deposition of strata.

These latter appearances, taken into consideration with the daily phenomena of volcanic action, induced the geologist to conceive, and the theologian to adopt, the theory of successive creations after cataclysmic and predetermined destructions of all existing life by the Almighty: while, to meet the now well-established truth of almost infinite ages having elapsed, the theologian adopted the interpretation of ages for the Hebrew word yōm or day. If, however, the first chapter of Genesis be read without any reference to or thought of geological discoveries, and the first three verses of the second chapter be carefully compared with the fourth commandment, it will not appear how any notion of an indefinite time can be given to the word "day" at all. The writer of Genesis seems to signify a day in the ordinary sense, and apparently without any conception of indefinite periods at all.

Geology ceased not to pursue her avocations steadily and uncompromisingly.

The study of the rocks soon brought to light a large increase of the number of strata: so that at the present day there are thirteen "formations," embracing thirty-nine principal "strata," the strata themselves being often subdivided into minor ones. If, therefore, the miraculous recreations be true, they must have been very numerous. But with the discovery of additional strata a larger insight was obtained into the distribution in time of animal and vegetal life. It was then discovered that these "created groups" were not so rigidly defined as at first supposed, and consequently the rule established by geologists themselves can only be applied cautiously in attempting to