« EelmineJätka »
There is a third way in which this intermingling of the bones of animals of different ages may be accounted for. With regard to the remarkable caverns in the province of Liege, Sir Charles Lyell says that Dr. Schmerling, the naturalist, by whom they had been carefully and laboriously examined, did not think they were “dens of wild beasts, but that their organic and inorganic contents had been swept into them by streams communicating with the sur face of the country. The bones, he suggested, may, often have been rolled in the beds of such streams before they reached their underground destination."1 It is clear, therefore, that no conclusive argument to prove that man was contemporary with certain extinct animals can be drawn from the fact that their remains have in some rare instances been found in the same localities.
Human Bones found deeply buried. Still less weight is to be attached to the fact that human bones have been found deeply buried in the earth. Every one knows that great changes have been made in the earth's surface within the historic period. Such changes are produced sometimes by the slow operation of the causes which have buried the foundations of such ancient cities as Jerusalem and Rome far beneath the present surface of the ground. At other times they have been brought about by sudden catastrophes. It is not surprising that human remains should be found in peat-bogs, if as Sir Charles Lyell tells us, “ All the coins, axes, arms, and other utensils found in British and French mosses, are Roman ; so that a considerable portion of the peat in European peat-bogs is evidently not more ancient than the age of Julius Cæsar.” ?
The data by which the rate of deposits is determined are so uncertain that no dependence can be placed upon them. Sir Charles Lyell says, “ the lowest estimate of the time required” for the formation of the existing delta of the Mississippi, is more than one hundred thousand years. According to the careful examination made by gentlemen of the Coast Survey and other United States officers, the time during which the delta has been in progress is four thousand four hundred years. Since the memory of man, or, since fishing-huts have been built on the coasts of Sweden, there has been such a subsidence of the coast that “a fishing-hut having 1 Antiquity of Man, p. 64.
2 Principles of Geology, p. 721. 3 Antiquity of Man, p. 43.
* See Report upon the Physics and Hy lraulics of the Mississippi River, etc., by Captain A. A. Humphreys, and Lieutenant H. L. Abbott, Corps of Topographical Engineers, U. S. Army, 1861, p. 435.
a rude fire-place within, was struck, in digging a canal, at a depth of sixty feet.”] “At the earthquake in 1819 about the Delta of the Indus, an area of two thousand square miles became an inland sea, and the fort and village of Sindree sunk till the tops of the houses were just above the water. Five and a half miles from Sindree, parallel with this sunken area, a region was elevated ten feet above the delta, fifty miles long and in some parts ten broad.” 2 While such changes, secular and paroxysmal, gradual and sudden, have been in operation for thousands of years, it is evident that the intermingling of the remains of recent with those of extinct races of animals furnishes no proof that the former were contemporaneous with the latter.
Flint Implements. Quite as much stress has been laid on the discovery of certain implements made of flint under deposits which, it is contended, are of such age as prove that man must have existed on the earth for ages before the time assigned in the Bible for his creation. To this argument the same answer is to be given. First, that the presence of the works of human art in such deposits is no proof that men were contemporaneous with such deposits; in view of the upheavals and displacements which all geologists admit are of frequent occurrence in the history of our globe. And secondly, the facts themselves are disputed, or differently interpreted by men of science of equal authority. This is especially true of the flint arrows, beads, and axes found in the valley of the Somme in France. Lyell is confident that the argument from them is conclusive. Later examinations, however, have led others to a different conclusion. This is a question for scientific men to decide among themselves, and which they alone are competent to decide. So long, however, as men of the highest rank as naturalists maintain that science knows of no facts inconsistent with the Scriptural account of the origin of man, the friends of the Bible are under no obligation to depart from the generally received interpretation of the Scriptures on this subject. Professor Guyot, as all who know him or have heard his public lectures, are well aware, teaches that there are no known facts which may not be accounted for on the assumption that man has existed seven or eight thousand years on this earth. It is well known also that this doctrine, until very
i Dana's Manual of Geology, p. 586.
2 lbid. p. 588. 8 To these Lyell devotes the seventh and eighth chapters of his work on the Antiquity of Man.
recently, was universal among scientific men. Cuvier was so convinced on this point that he could hardly be brought to look at what purported to be the fossil remains of man. This conviction on his part, was not a prejudice; nor was it due to a reverence for the Bible. It was a scientific conviction founded on scientific evidence. The proofs from all sources of the recent origin of man were considered such as to preclude the possibility of his being contemporaneous with any of the extinct races of animals. And even those who were led to admit that point, were in many cases disposed to regard the fact as proving not the antiquity of man, but the existence to a much later period than generally supposed, of animals now extinct. The occurrence of human relics with the bones of extinct animals, “ does not seem to me,” says Prestwich, " to necessitate the carrying of man back in past time, so much as the bringing forward of the extinct animals toward our own time."1 The fact that the monuments of human art cannot pretend to a higher antiquity than a few thousand years, renders it utterly incredible that man has existed on the earth hundreds of thousands or, as Darwin supposes, millions of years.
Argument from the Races of Men and from Ancient Monuments.
Another argument is founded on the assumption that the difference between the Caucasian, Mongolian, and negro races, which is known to have been as distinctly marked two or three thousand years before Christ as it is now, must have required countless ages to develop and establish. To this it is obvious to answer, First, that differences equally great have occurred in doinestic animals within the historic period. Secondly, that marked varieties are not unfrequently produced suddenly, and, so to speak, accidentally. Thirdly, that these varieties of race are not the effect of the blind operation of physical causes, but by those causes as intelligently guided by God for the accomplishment of some wise purpose. Animals living in the arctic regions are not only clothed in fur for their protection from the cold, but the color of their clothing changes with the season. So God fashions the different races of men in their peculiarities to suit them to the regions which they inhabit. Dr. Livingstone, the great African traveller, informs us that the negro type, as it is popularly conceived of, occurs very rarely in Africa, and only in districts where great heat prevails in connection with great moisture. The tribes in the interior of that continent differ greatly, he says, both in hue and contour.
1 Quoted by Professor Dana, Manual of Geology, p. 582.
The idea that it must have taken countless ages for men to rise from the lowest barbarism to the state of civilization indicated by the monuments of Egypt, rests on no better assumption. The earliest state of man instead of being his lowest, was in many respects his highest state. And our own experience as a nation shows that it does not require millenniums for a people to accomplish greater works than Egypt or India can boast. Two hundred years ago this country was a wilderness from the Atlantic to the Pacific. What is it now? According to Bunsen it would require a hundred thousand years to erect all these cities, and to build all these railroads and canals.
It is further urged as a proof of the great antiquity of man that the monuments and monumental records of Egypt prove that a nation existed in the highest state of civilization at the time of, or immediately after, the flood. The chronology of the Bible, it is argued, and the chronology of Egypt are thus shown to be irreconcilable.
In reference to this difficulty it may be remarked, that the calculations of Egyptologists are just as precarious, and in many instances just as extravagant as those of geologists. This is proved by their discrepancies. It may be said, however, that even the most moderate students of Egyptian antiquities assign a date to the reign of Manes and the building of the pyramids inconsistent with the chronology of the Bible. To this it may be replied that the chronology of the Bible is very uncertain. The data are for the most part facts incidentally stated; that is, not stated for the purposes of chronology. The views most generally adopted rest mainly on the authority of Archbishop Usher, who adopted the Hebrew text for his guide, and assumed that in the genealogical tables each name marked one generation. A large part, however, of Biblical scholars adopt the Septuagint chronology in preference to the Hebrew; so that instead of four thousand years from the creation to the birth of Christ, we have nearly six thousand years. Besides it is admitted, that the usual method of calculation founded on the genealogical tables is very uncertain. The design of those tables is not to give the regular succession of births in a given line, but simply to mark the descent. This is just as well done if three, four, or more generations be omitted, as if the whole list were complete. That this is the plan on which these genealogical tables are constructed is an admitted fact. “Thus in Genesis xlvi. 18, after recording the sons of Zilpah, her grandsons and her great-grandsons, the writer adds, • These are the sons of Zilpah .... and
these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.' The same thing recurs in the case of Bilhah, verse 25, 'she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.' Compare, verses 15, 22. No one can pretend that the author of this register did not use the term understandingly of descendants beyond the first generation. In like manner, according to Matthew i. 11, Josias begat his grandson Jechonias, and verse 8, Joram begat his great-greatgrandson Ozias. And in Genesis x. 15–18, Canaan, the grandson of Noah, is said to have begotten several whole nations, the Jebusite, the Amorite, the Girgasite, the Hivite, etc., etc. Nothing can be plainer, therefore, than that in the usage of the Bible, * to bear' and to beget’ are used in a wide sense to indicate descent, without restricting this to the immediate offspring.” 1
The extreme uncertainty attending all attempts to determine the chronology of the Bible is sufficiently evinced by the fact that one hundred and eighty different calculations have been made by Jewish and Christian authors, of the length of the period between Adam and Christ. The longest of these make it six thousand nine hundred and eighty-four, and the shortest three thousand four hundred and eighty-three years. Under these circumstances it is very clear that the friends of the Bible have no occasion for uneasiness. If the facts of science or of history should ultimately make it necessary to admit that eight or ten thousand years have elapsed since the creation of man, there is nothing in the Bible in the way of such concession. The Scriptures do not teach us how long men have existed on the earth. Their tables of genealogy were intended to prove that Christ was the son of David and of the Seed of Abrabam, and not how many years had elapsed between the creation and the advent.?
1 The Pentateuch Vindicated from the Aspersions of Bishop Colenso, by William Henry Green, Professor in the Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. J. New York, 1863, p. 134.
2 Herzog's Encyklopädie, article “ Zeitrechnung," which quotes the Benedictine work L'Art de rérifier les Dates. T. i., pp. xxvii.-xxxvi.