To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly:
I HAVE been an attentive reader of The Popular Science Monthly for over two years, and in that time not one article, editorial, or note of correspondence, has escaped my notice. Also, I have been deeply interested from the first in all the advanced positions of the Monthly, and have noted its strictures on the narrow intolerance and ignorance of the clergy, and the many hints that they should enlarge the field of their observation and knowledge; and I am convinced that many of these hints are well-timed. But, then, ought not men of science also to be more liberal and better acquainted with biblical knowledge? The theologian observes in the writings of men of science the same narrowness and ignorance of the Bible that the scientist sees in the writings of theologians concerning his particular line of study and investigation.
In No. XXXVII. of The Popular Science Monthly, the editor says, in his notice of Dean Stanley's sermon on the death of Sir Charles Lyell: "Dean Stanley is far from being alone in his views; they are shared by many other eminent clergymen who recognize that the Mosaic account of creation is without authority." But, does Dean Stanley indeed "recognize that the Mosaic account of creation is without authority?" Be that as it may, ought not any man to lose the respect of his fellow-men who will consent to remain a clergyman, and yet reject the authority of the Bible?
Certainly no particular account of creation was intended by the author of the Book of Genesis—nothing more than a brief outline, and he gives no intimation as to the time when this world began to be. Nor is there any reason why the six days of creation should not be regarded as so many general periods, without any limitation as to duration. But, if you will carefully notice the statements of Moses, you will find some things hard for the scientist to dispose of, if the account of creation is without authority. Moses says: "In the beginning the earth was without form and void." Does not the scientist say substantially the same thing?
Then take the different stages in the progress of the world, as stated by Moses, and especially as to the appearance of life; do they not agree perfectly with the revelations of science? Moses says the first life was vegetable—grass, herb, tree. Next came a low form of aquatic animal life—"the moving creature that hath life" developing into fishes and fowls of the air. Then land-animals, and, lastly, man appeared on the earth. Now, what says modern science of this arrangement? Does it not fully sustain this Mosaic account of creation? Even the modern doctrine of evolution—Darwinism, if you please—is as nearly taught in the first chapter of Genesis as in the revelations of modern science; and spontaneous generation seems to appear on the very face of the statements of Moses as therein recorded. Read verses 20 and 24: "And God said. Let the waters bring forth abundantly," etc., "And God said. Let the earth bring forth," etc. And as for man, if God saw fit to straighten up a monkey and endow him with human reason, whether that took the Almighty one hour or a thousand years, who need object? It is certain that it can be proved neither by the Bible nor modern science, either that God did or did not make man in that way.
But here comes the question as to the authority of the Mosaic account of creation: How was the author of that account able to state in so brief a space the main points in the earth's development, just as they are now known by the revelations of science, when he wrote at least three thousand years before the sciences which have now brought these things to light were born? Was Moses a profound scientist?