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Title: Creation and Its Records
Author: Baden-Powell, Baden Henry, 1841-1901
Language: English
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[Greek: Pistei nooumen kataertisthai tous aionas rhêmati theou eis to
mi ek fainomenon to Blepomenon gegonenai.]--HEB. xi. 3.


A brief statement of Christian Belief with reference to Modern facts and
Ancient Scripture.




       *       *       *       *       *







































Among the recollections that are lifelong, I have one as vivid as ever
after more than twenty-five years have elapsed; it is of an evening
lecture--the first of a series--given at South Kensington to working
men. The lecturer was Professor Huxley; his subject, the Common Lobster.
All the apparatus used was a good-sized specimen of the creature itself,
a penknife, and a black-board and chalk. With such materials the
professor gave us not only an exposition, matchless in its lucidity, of
the structure of the crustacea, but such an insight into the purposes
and methods of biological study as few could in those days have
anticipated. For there were as yet no Science Primers, no International
Series; and the "new biology" came upon us like the revelation of
another world. I think that lecture gave me, what I might otherwise
never have got (and what some people never get), a profound conviction
of the reality and meaning of facts in nature. That impression I have
brought to the attempt which this little book embodies. The facts of
nature are God's revelation, of the same weight, though not the same in
kind, as His written Word.

At the same time, the further conviction is strong in my mind, not
merely of the obvious truth that the Facts and the Writing (if both
genuine) cannot really differ, but further, that there must be, after
all, a true way of explaining the Writing, if only it is looked for
carefully--a way that will surmount not only the difficulty of the
subject, but also the impatience with which some will regard the
attempt. Like so many other questions connected with religion, the
question of reconciliation produces its double effect. People will
ridicule attempts to solve it, but all the same they will return again
and again to the task of its actual solution.

That the latter part of the proposition is true, has recently received
illustration in the fact that a review like the _Nineteenth Century_,
which has so little space to spare, has found room in four successive
numbers[1] for articles by Gladstone, Huxley, and H. Drummond, on the
subject of "Creation and its Records." May I make one remark on this
interesting science tournament? I can understand the scientific
conclusions Professor Huxley has given us. I can also understand Mr.
Gladstone, because he values the Writing as the professor values the
Facts. But one thing I can _not_ understand. Why is Professor Huxley so
angry or so contemptuous with people who value the Bible, whole and as
it stands, and want to see its accuracy vindicated? Why are they
fanatics, Sisyphus-labourers, and what not? That they are a very large
group numerically, and hardly contemptible intellectually, is, I think,
obvious; that a further large group (who would not identify themselves
wholly with the out-and-out Bible defenders) feel a certain amount of
sympathy, is proved by the interest taken in the controversy. Yet all
"reconcilers" are ridiculed or denounced--at any rate are contemptuously
dismissed. Can it be that the professor has for the moment overlooked
one very simple fact?

[Footnote 1: November, December, 1885; and January, February, 1886.]

The great bulk of those interested in the question place their whole
hope for their higher moral and spiritual life in this world and the
next on one central Person--the LORD JESUS CHRIST. If He is wrong, then
no one can be right--there is no such thing as right: that is what they
feel. It will be conceded that it is hardly "fanatical" to feel this.
But if so, surely it is not fanatical, but agreeable to the soberest
reason, further to hold that this (to them sacred) PERSON did (and His
apostles with Him) treat the Book of Genesis as a whole (and not merely
parts of it) as a genuine revelation--or, to use the popular expression,
as the _Word of_ GOD. That being so, can it be matter for surprise or
contemptuous pity, that they should be anxious to vindicate the Book,
to be satisfied that the MASTER was not wrong? That is the ultimate and
very real issue involved in the question of Genesis.

As long as people feel _that_, they must seek the reconciliation of the
two opposing ideas. If the attempt is made in a foolish or bitter
spirit, or without a candid appreciation of the facts, then the attempt
will no doubt excite just displeasure. But need it always be so made?

As to the first part of my proposition that attempts to reconcile
religion and science are received with a certain dislike, it is due
partly to the unwisdom with which they are sometimes made. Prof. H.
Drummond speaks of the dislike as general.[1]

If this is so, I, as a "reconciler," can only ask for indulgence, hoping
that grace may be extended to me on the ground of having something to
say on the subject that has not yet been considered.

Nor, as regards the impatience of the public, can I admit that there is
only fault on one side. In the first place, it will not be denied that
some writers, delighted with the vast, and apparently boundless, vision
that the discovery (in its modern form) of Evolution opened out to them,
did incautiously proceed, while surveying their new kingdom, to assert
for it bounds that stretch beyond its legitimate scope.

[Footnote 1: In the Introduction to his well-known book, "Natural Law in
the Spiritual World."]

Religionists, on the other hand, imagining, however wrongly, that the
erroneous extension was part of the true scientific doctrine, attacked
the whole without discrimination.

While such a misapprehension existed, it was inevitable that writers
anxious alike for the dignity of science and the maintenance of
religion, should step in to point out the error, and effect a
reconciliation of claims which really were never in conflict.

It is hardly the fault of "religionists" that it was at first supposed
that one _could_ not hold the doctrine of evolution without denying a
"special" creation and a designing Providence. It was on this very
natural supposition that the first leading attack--attributed to the
Bishop of Oxford--proceeded. And the writer fell into the equally
natural mistake of taking advantage of the uncompleted and unproved
state of the theory at the time, to attack the theory itself, instead of
keeping to the safer ground, namely, that whatever might ultimately be
the conclusion of evolutionists, it was quite certain that no theory of
evolution that at all coincided with the known facts, offered any ground
for argument against the existence of an Intelligent Lawgiver and First
Cause of all; nor did it tend in the slightest to show that no such
thing as creative design and providence existed in the course of nature.

What the discovery of evolution really did, was to necessitate a
revision of the hitherto popularly accepted and generally assumed and
unquestioned notion of what _creation_ was. And it has long appeared to
me, that while now the most thoroughgoing advocates of evolution
generally admit that their justly cherished doctrine has nothing to say
to the existence of a Creator, or to the possibility of design--which
may be accepted or denied on other grounds--the writers on the side of
Christianity have not sufficiently recognized the change which their
views ought to undergo.

As long as this is the case, there will continue to be a certain
"conflict," not indeed between science and religion, but of the kind
which has been vividly depicted by the late Dr. Draper.

It can scarcely have escaped the notice of the most ordinary reader
that, in the course of that interesting work, the author has very little
to say about religion--at any rate about religion in any proper sense of
the term. The conflict was between a Church which had a zeal for God
without knowledge, and the progress of scientific thought; it was also a
conflict between discovered facts, and facts which existed, not in the
Bible, but in a particular interpretation, however generally received,
of it.

The present work is therefore addressed primarily to Christian believers
who still remain perplexed as to what they ought to believe; and its aim
is to prevent, if may be, an unreasonable alarm at, and a useless
opposition to, the conclusions of modern science; while, at the same
time, it tells them in simple language how far those conclusions really
go, and how very groundless is the fear that they will ever subvert a
true faith that, antecedent to the most wonderful chain of causation and
methodical working which science can establish, there is still a Divine
Designer--One who upholds all things "by the word of His power."

The doctrine of evolution is still the _ignotum_ to a great many, and it
is therefore, according to the time-honoured proverb, taken _pro
magnifico_, as something terribly adverse to the faith. Nor can it be
fairly denied, as I before remarked, that some of the students of the
theory have become so enamoured of it, so carried away by the
intoxication of the gigantic speculation it opens out to the
imagination, that they have succumbed to the temptation to carry
speculation beyond what the proof warrants, and thus lend some aid to
the deplorable confusion, which would blend in one, what is legitimate
inference and what is unproved hypothesis or mere supposition.

It only remains to say that the basis of this little book is a short
course of lectures in which I endeavoured to disarm the prejudices of an
educated but not scientifically critical audience, by simply stating how
far the theory of cosmical evolution had been really proved--proved,
that is, to the extent of that reasonable certainty which satisfies the
ordinary "prudent man" in affairs of weight and importance. I have tried
to show that evolution, apart from fanciful and speculative extensions
of it, allows, if it does not directly establish, that the operation of
nature is not a chance or uncontrolled procedure, but one that suggests
a distinct set of lines, and an orderly obedience to pre-conceived law,
intelligently and beneficently (in the end) designed.

There are obviously two main points which the Christian reader requires
to have made clear. The first is that, the modern theory of evolution
being admitted, the constitution of matter in the universe and the
principles of development in organic life, which that theory
establishes, not only do not exclude, but positively demand, the
conception of a Divine artificer and director. The second point, which
is perhaps of still greater weight with the believer, is that where
revelation (which is his ultimate standard of appeal) has touched upon
the subject of creation, its statements are not merely a literary fancy,
an imaginary cosmogony, false in its facts though enshrining Divine
truth, but are as a whole perfectly true.

Whatever novelty there may be, is to be found in the treatment of the
second subject. The first portion of the work is only a brief and
popular statement of facts, quite unnecessary to the scientific reader
but probably very necessary to the large body of Churchmen, who have not
studied science, but are quite able to appreciate scientific fact and
its bearings when placed before them in an untechnical form, and
divested of needless details and subordinate questions.

But it is around the supposed declarations of Scripture on the subject
of creation that the real "conflict" has centred. Let us look the matter
quite fairly in the face. We accept the conclusion that (let us say) the
horse was developed and gradually perfected or advanced to his present
form and characteristics, by a number of stages, and that it took a very
long time to effect this result. Now, if there is anywhere a statement
in Holy Writ that (_a_) a horse was _per saltum_ called into existence
in a distinctive and complete form, by a special creative _fiat_, and
that (_b_) this happened not gradually, but in a limited and specified
moment of time, then I will at once admit that the record (assuming that
its meaning is not to be mistaken) is not provably right, if it is not
clearly wrong; and accept the consequences, momentous as they would be.
If, in the same way, the Record asserts that man, or at least man the
direct progenitor of the Semitic race,[1] was a distinct and special
creation, his bodily frame having some not completely explained
developmental connection with the animal creation, but his higher nature
being imparted as a special and unique creative endowment out of the
line of physical development altogether, then I shall accept the Record,
because the proved facts of science have nothing to say against it,
whatever Drs. Buchner, Vogt, Häckel, and others may assert to the

[Footnote 1: With whose history, as leading up to the advent of the
Saviour in the line of David, the Bible is mainly concerned.]

In the first of my two instances, the popular idea has long been that
the sacred record _does_ say something about a direct and separate
creative act; and this idea has been the origin and ground of all the
supposed conflict between science and "religion." As long as this idea
continues, it can hardly be said that a book addressed to the clearing
up of the subject is unnecessary or to be rejected _per se_.

As to the method in which this subject will be dealt with, I shall
maintain that the Scripture does _not_ say anything about the horse, or
the whale, or the ox, or any other animal, being separately or directly
created. And the view thus taken of the Record I have not met with
before. This it is necessary to state, not because the fact would lend
any value to the interpretation--rather the contrary; but because it
justifies me in submitting what, if new, may be intrinsically important,
to the judgment of the Church; and it also protects me from the offence
of plagiarism, however unwitting. If others have thought out the same
rendering of the Genesis history, so much the better for my case; but
what is here set down occurred to me quite independently.

A study of the real meaning of the Record, in the light of what may be
fairly regarded as proved facts, cannot be without its use to the
Christian. If it be true that a certain amount of information on the
subject of creation is contained in revelation, it must have been so
contained for a specific purpose--a purpose to be attained at some stage
or other of the history of mankind. It is possible also that the study
will bring to light a probable, or at any rate a possible, explanation
of some of those apparent (if they are not real) "dead-locks" which
occur in pursuing the course of life history on the earth.

Such considerations will naturally have more weight with the Christian
believer than with those who reject the faith. But at least the
advantage of them remains with the believer, till the contrary is shown.
The extreme evolutionist may cling to the belief that at some future
time he will be able to account for the entrance of LIFE into the
world's history, that he will be able to explain the connection of MIND
with MATTER; or he may hope that the sterility of certain hybrid forms
will one day be explained away, and so on. But till these things _are_
got over, the believer cannot be reproached as holding an unreasonable
belief when his creed maintains that Life is a gift and prerogative of a
great Author of Life; that Mind is the result of a spiritual environment
which is a true, though physically intangible, part of nature; and that
the absence of any proof that variation and development cross
certain--perhaps not very clearly ascertained, but indubitably
existing--lines, points to the designed fixing of certain types, and the
restriction of developmental creation to running in certain lines of
causation up to those types, and not otherwise.

It can never be unreasonable to believe anything that is in exact
accordance with facts as ascertained at any given moment of
time--unless, indeed, the fact is indicated by other considerations as
being one likely to disappear from the category of fact altogether.[1]

Enough has thus, I hope, appeared, to make the appearance of this little
work, at least excusable; what more may be necessary to establish its
claim to be read must depend on what it contains.

I have only to add that I can make no pretension to be a teacher of
science. I trust that there is no material error of statement; if there
is, I shall be the first to retract and correct it. I am quite confident
that no correction that may be needed in detail will seriously affect
the general argument.

[Footnote 1: At present it is an ascertained fact that certain chemical
substances are elements incapable of further resolution. But there are
not wanting indications which would make it a matter of no surprise at
all, if we were to learn to-morrow that the so-called element had been
resolved. Such a fact is an example of what is stated in the text; and a
belief based on the absolute and unchangeable stability of such a fact
would not be unassailable. But none of the above stated instances of
"dead-lock" in evolution are within "measurable distance" of being



In the extract placed on the title-page, the author of the Epistle
clearly places our conclusion that God "established the order of
creation"--the lines, plans, developmental-sequences, aims, and objects,
that the course of creation has hitherto pursued and is still
ceaselessly pursuing,[1] in the category of _faith_.

Of course, from one point of view--very probably that of the writer of
the Epistle--this conclusion is argued by the consideration that the
human mind forms no distinct conception of the formation of solid--or
any other form of--matter _in vacuo_, where nothing previously existed.
And what the mind does not find within its own power, but what yet _is
true_ in the larger spiritual kingdom beyond itself, is apprehended by
the spiritual faculty of _faith_.

[Footnote 1: [Greek: Kataertisthai tous aionas]. This implies more than
the mere originating or supplying of a number of material, organic, or
inorganic (or even spiritual) forms and existences. Whatever may be the
precise translation of [Greek: aion], it implies a chain of events, the
cause and effect, the type and the plan, and its evolution all

But from another point of view, the immediate action of faith is not so
evident. If, it might be said, the law of evolution, or the law of
creation, or whatever is the true law, is, in all its bearings, a matter
to be observed and discovered by human science, then it is not easy to
see how there is any exercise of faith. We should be more properly said
to _know_, by intellectual processes of observation, inference, and
conclusion, that there was a Law Giver, an Artificer, and a First Cause,
so unlimited in power and capacity by the conditions of the case, that
we must call Him "Divine."

And many will probably feel that their just reasoning on the subject
leads them to knowledge--knowledge, i.e., as approximately certain as
anything in this world can be.

But the text, by the use of the term [Greek: aion], implies (as I
suggested) more than mere production of objects; it implies a designed
guidance and preconceived planning. If it were merely asserted that
there is a first cause of material existence, and even that such a cause
had enough known (or to be inferred) about it, to warrant our writing
"First Cause" with capitals, then the proposition would pass on all
hands without serious question. But directly we are brought face to
face, not merely with the isolated idea of creation of tangible forms
out of nothing (as the phrase is), but rather with the whole history
and development of the world and its inhabitants, we see so many
conflicting elements, such a power of natural forces and human passions
warring against the progress of good, and seeming to end only too often
in disaster, that it becomes a matter of _faith_ to perceive a Divine
providence underlying and overruling all to its own ends.

The fact is, that directly we make mention of the "aeons"--the world's
age histories--we are met with that Protean problem that always seems to
lurk at the bottom of every religious question: Why was _evil_
permitted? Mr. J.S. Mill, many readers will recollect, concluded that if
there was a God, that God was not perfectly good, or else was not
omnipotent. Now of course our limited faculties do not enable us to
apprehend a really absolute and unlimited omnipotence. We _can_ only
conceive of God as limited by the terms of His own Nature and Being. We
say it is "impossible for God to lie," or for the Almighty to do wrong
in any shape; in other words, we are, in this as in other matters where
the finite and the Infinite are brought into contact, led up to two
necessary conclusions which cannot be reconciled. We can reason out
logically and to a full conclusion, that given a God, that God must be
perfect, unlimited and unconditioned. We can also reason out, _provided
we take purely human and finite premises_, another line of thought which
forbids us to suppose that a Perfect God would have allowed evil,
suffering, or pain; and this leads us exactly or nearly to Mr. Mill's

Whenever we are thus brought up to a dead-lock, as it were, there is the
need of _faith_, which is the faculty whereby the finite is linked on to
the Infinite. For this faith has two great features: one is represented
by the capacity for assimilating fact which is spiritual or
transcendental, and therefore not within the reach of finite intellect;
the other is represented by the capacity for reliance on, and trust in,
the God whose infinite perfections we cannot as finite creatures grasp
or follow.

In the difficult scheme of the world's governance, in the storms,
earthquakes, pestilences, sufferings of all kinds--signs of failure,
sickness, and decay, and death, signs of the victory of evil and the
failure of good--we can only _believe_ in God, and that all will issue
in righteous ends. And our belief proceeds, as just stated, on two
lines: one being our spiritual capacity for knowing that GOD IS, and
that we, His creatures, are the objects of His love; the other being the
fact that we only see a very little end of the thread, or perhaps only a
little of one thread out of a vast mass of complicated threads, in the
great web of design and governance, and that therefore there is wide
ground for confidence that the end will be success. We rely confidently
on God. If it is asked, Why is it a part of faith to have a childlike
confidence in an unseen God?--we reply, that the main origin of such
confidence is to be found in the wonderful condescension of God
exhibited in the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection.

This is not the place to enter on a detailed examination of the
essential importance of these great central facts of Christian belief in
establishing faith in the unseen, and distinguishing its grasp from the
blind clutches of credulity; but a single consideration will suffice at
least to awaken a feeling of a wide _vista_ of possibility when we put
it thus: Do we wonder at the spectacle of a righteous man, passing his
life in suffering and poverty, seemingly stricken by the Divine
hand?--But is not the case altered when we reflect _that the Hand that
thus smites is a hand itself pierced_ with the Cross-nails of a terrible
human suffering, undergone solely on man's account?

It can be proved easily, by exhaustive examples, to be the case, that
wherever the finite is brought into contact with the Infinite, that
there must be a dead-lock, a leading up successively to two conclusions,
one of which is almost, if not quite, contrary to the other. A very
striking instance of this is the question of Predestination and
Free-will. From the finite side, I am conscious that I am a free agent:
I can will to rise up and to lie down. It is true that my will may be
influenced, strongly or feebly, by various means--by the effect of
habit, by the inherited tendency of my constitution, by some present
motive of temptation, and so forth: but the _will_ is there--the
motive-influence or inclining-power is not the will, but that which
affects or works on will. A _motive_ pulls me this way, another pulls me
that; but in the end, my _will_ follows one or the other. I can, then,
do as I please. On the other hand, Infinite Knowledge must know, and
have known from all eternity, what I shall do now, and at every moment
of my future being: and for Omnipotence to know from all eternity what
will be, is, in our human sense, practically undistinguishable from the
thought that the Power has predestined the same; and man cannot of
course alter that. Here, then, by separate lines of thought, we are
brought to two opposite and irreconcilable conclusions. It is so always.
We cannot ourselves imagine how a fixed set of laws and rules can be
followed, and yet the best interests of each and every one of God's
creatures be served as truly as if God directly wielded the machinery of
nature only for the special benefit of the individual. The thing is
unthinkable to us: yet directly we reason on the necessarily _unlimited_
capability of a Divine Providence, we are led to the conclusion that it
must be possible. Here then is the province of _Faith_.[1]

[Footnote 1: The Scripture clearly recognizes the two opposing lines. In
one place we read, "Thou hast given them a law which _shall not be
broken_;" in another, "All things work together for good to them that
love God."]

It is by Faith, then--combined with only a limited degree of knowledge,
founded on observation and reasoning--that we understand that "the aeons
were constituted by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen
were not made of things which do appear" (the phenomenal has its origin
in the non-phenomenal).

While allowing, then, the element of Faith in our recognition of a
Creator and Moral Governor of the world, our care is in this, as in all
exercises of faith, that our faith be reasonable. We are not called on
to believe so as to be "put to confusion," intellectually, as Tait and
Balfour have it.



It will strike some readers with a sense of hopelessness, this demand
for a reason in our faith. A special and very extensive knowledge is
required, it seems, to test the very positive assertion that some have
chosen to make regarding the "explosion" of the Christian faith in the
matter of Creation.

We are told in effect that every thing goes by itself--that given some
first cause, about which we know, and can know, nothing, directly
primordial matter appears on the scene, and the laws of sequence and
action which observed experience has formulated and is progressively
formulating are given, then nothing else is required; no governance, no
control, and no special design. So that in principle a Creator and
Providence are baseless fancies; and this is further borne out by the
fact, that when the Christian faith ventures on details as to the mode
of Creation it is certainly and demonstrably wrong. If these
propositions are to be controverted, it must be in the light of a
knowledge which a large body of candid and earnest believers do not

Fortunately, however, the labours of many competent to judge have placed
within the reach of the unscientific but careful student, the means of
knowing what the conclusions of Science really are, as far as they
affect the questions we have to consider. At least, any inquirer can,
with a little care and patient study, put himself in a position to know
where the difficulty or difficulties lie, and what means there are of
getting over them. His want of technical knowledge will not be in his
way, so far as his just appreciation of the position is concerned.
Without pretending to take up ground which has already been occupied by
capable writers whose books can easily be consulted, I may usefully
recapitulate in a simple form, and grouped in a suitable order, some of
the points best worth noting.

The theory of cosmical evolution is not, in its general idea, a new
thing. The sort of evolution, however, that was obscurely shadowed forth
by the early sages of India (much as it is the fashion now to allude to
it) really stands in no practical relation to the modern and natural
theory which is associated with the name of CHARLES DARWIN, and which
has been further taken up by Mr. HERBERT SPENCER and others as the
foundation for a complete scheme of cosmic philosophy. The theory is
now, in its main features, admitted by every one. But there are a few
who would push it beyond its real ascertained limits, and would
substitute fancies for facts; they are not content to leave the
_lacunae_, which undoubtedly do exist, but fill them up by
hypothesis,[1] passing by easy steps of forgetfulness from the "it was
possibly," "it was likely to have been," to the "it must have been," and
"it was"!

To all such extensions we must of course object; there are gaps in the
scheme which can be filled in with really great probability, and in such
cases there will be no harm done in admitting the probability, while
still acknowledging it as such. An overcautious lawyer-like captiousness
of spirit in such matters will help no cause and serve no good purpose.
Nor is it at all difficult in practice to draw the line and say what is
fairly admissible conjecture and what is not. There are other gaps,
however, that at present, no real analogy, no fair inferential process,
can bridge over; and to all speculations on such subjects, if advanced
as more than bare and undisguised guesses, objection must be taken.

If this one line had been fairly and firmly adhered to from the first,
it can hardly be doubted that much of the acrimony of controversy would
have been avoided. It is just as essential at the present moment to
insist on the point as ever. But to proceed. Stated in the extreme
form, the theory is, that given matter as a beginning, that matter is
thenceforth capable, by the aid of fixed and self-working laws, to
produce and result in, all the phenomena of life--whether plant, animal,
or human--which we see around us. Matter developes from simple to
complex forms, growing by its own properties, in directions determined
by the circumstances and surroundings of its existence.

[Footnote 1: It is enough to instance the theories of Dr. Buchner and,
in earlier days, of Oken. The Häckel and Virchow incident in this
connection, and the noble protest of the latter against positive
teaching of unproved speculation, are in the recollection of all.]

If I may put this a little less in the abstract, but more at length, I
should describe it thus[1]:--

Astronomers, while watching the course of the stars, have frequently
observed in the heavens what they call _nebulae_. With the best
telescopes these look like patches of gold-dust or luminous haze in the
sky. Some nebulae, it is supposed, really consist of whole systems of
stars and suns, but at so enormous a distance that with our best glasses
we cannot make more out of them than groups of apparent "star-dust" But
other nebulae do not appear to be at this extreme distance, and therefore
cannot consist of large bodies. And when their light is examined with
the aid of a spectroscope, it gives indications that such nebulae are
only masses of vapour, incandescent, or giving out light on account of
their being in a burning or highly heated condition.

[Footnote 1: The biological evolutionist will, I am aware, object to
this, saying that the origin of the cosmos and nebular theories are
matters of speculation with which he is not concerned--they are no part
of evolution proper. But I submit that the general philosophical
evolution does include the whole. At any rate, the materialist view of
nature does take in the whole, in such a way as the text indicates.]

Now, it is supposed that, in the beginning of the world, there was, in
space, such a nebula or mass of incandescent vapour, which, as it was
destined to cool down and form a world, philosophers have called "cosmic

This cosmic gas, in the course of time, began to lose its heat, and
consequently to liquefy and solidify, according to the different nature
of its components; and thus a globe with a solid crust was formed, the
surface of which was partly dry and partly occupied by water, and
diversified by the abundant production of the various earths, gases,
metals, and other substances with which we are familiar. These
substances, in time, and by the slow action of their own laws and
properties, combined or separated and produced further forms. But to
come at once to the important part of the theory, we must at once direct
our attention to four substances; these would certainly, it is said (and
that no doubt is quite true) be present; they are oxygen, hydrogen,
nitrogen, and carbon. The first three would be, when the earth assumed
anything like its present conditions of temperature and air-pressure,
invisible gases, as they are at present; the fourth is a substance which
forms the basis of charcoal, and which we see in a nearly pure form
crystallized in the diamond.

Now, if these substances are brought together under certain appropriate
conditions, the oxygen and hydrogen can combine to form _water_; the
carbon and the oxygen will form _carbonic acid_; while nitrogen will
join with hydrogen to form that pungent smelling substance with which we
are familiar as _ammonia_. Again, let us suppose that three compound
substances--water, carbonic acid, and ammonia--are present together with
appropriate conditions; it is said that they will combine to form a
gummy transparent matter, which is called _protoplasm_. This protoplasm
may be found in small shapeless lumps, or it may be found enclosed in
cells, and in various beautifully shaped coverings, and it is also found
in the blood, and in all growing parts or organs of all animals and
plants of every kind whatsoever.

Protoplasm, then, is the physical basis of life. Simple, uniform,
shapeless protoplasm, combined out of the substances just named, first
came into existence; and as, however simple or shapeless, it always
exhibits the property of life, it can henceforth grow and develop from
simpler to ever increasingly complex forms, without any help but that of
surrounding circumstances--the secondary causes which we see in
operation around us.

If some readers should say they have never seen _protoplasm_, I may
remind them where every one has, at some time or another, met with it.
If you cut a stick of new wood from a hedge, and peel off the young
bark, you know that the bark comes off easily and entire, leaving a
clean white wand of wood in your hand; but the wand feels sticky all
over. This sticky stuff is nothing more than transparent growing
protoplasm, which lies close under the inner bark.

At first, the materialist holds, protoplasm appeared in very simple
forms, just such as can still be found within the sea, and in ponds. But
the lower organized forms of life are extremely unstable, and a
different _environment_ will always tend to evoke continuous small
changes, so that there may be advance in forms of all kinds. For if by
chance[1] some creature exhibits a variation which is favourable to it
in the circumstances in which it is placed, that creature will be fitter
than the others which have not that variation. And so the former will
survive, and as they multiply, their descendants will inherit the
peculiarity. Thus, in the course of countless generations, change will
succeed change, till creatures of quite a complex structure and
specialized form have arisen. As the circumstances of life are always
infinitely various, the developments take place in many different
directions; some fit the creature for life in deep seas, some for flying
in the air, some for living in holes and crevices, some for catching
prey by swift pursuit, others for catching it by artful contrivance, and
so forth. Many changes will also arise from protective necessity: if an
insect happens to be like a dead leaf, it will escape the notice of
birds which would snap up a conspicuously coloured one; and so the
dull-coloured will survive and perpetuate his kind, while the others are
destroyed. On the other hand, beauty in colour and form may have its
use. This is chiefly exhibited in the preference which the females of a
species show for the adorned and showy males.

[Footnote 1: Not really of course "by chance," but simply owing to such
circumstances as cannot be accounted for by any direct antecedents.]

Supposing an organism developed so far as to be a bird, but only with
dull or ugly feathers. By accident one male bird, say, gets a few
bright-coloured feathers on his head. Here his appearance will attract
birds of the other sex; and then by the law of heredity, his offspring
are sure to repeat the coloured feathers, till at last a regularly
bright-crested species-arises. In this way _natural variability_, acted
on by the necessities of _environment_ (which cause the _survival of the
fittest_ specimens) and the principle of _heredity_, viz., that the
offspring repeat the features of the parents, aided by the principle of
_sexual selection_, have been the origin and cause of all the species we
see in the world.

Thus we have an unbroken series--certain substances condensing out of
cosmic vapour, some of them combining to form the variety of rocks,
soils, metals, &c., and others giving rise to protoplasm which grows'
and develops into a thousand shapes and hues, of insect, fish, reptile,
bird, and beast.

And then it is, that charmed with the completeness and symmetry of such
a theory, and overlooking the difficulties that crop up here and
here--demanding some Power from without to bridge them over--certain
extreme theorists have rushed to the conclusion that in all this there
is no need of any external Creator or Providence--nothing but what we
call secondary causes, ordinary causes which we see at work around us
all day and every day.

How inconceivable, they add, is the truth of the Book of Genesis, which
asserts the successive creation of fully-formed animals by sudden acts
of command; and all accomplished in a few days at the beginning of the
world's human history!

This I believe to be a fair outline, though of course a very rough and
general one, of the Theory of Evolution as regards the forms of matter
and living organisms. Now it will at once strike the candid reader, that
even granted the whole of the scheme as stated, there is _nothing_ in it
that has any answer to the objection,--But may I not believe that a wise
Creator conceived and established the whole plan--first creating MATTER
and FORCE, then superadding LIFE at a certain stage, and then drawing
out the type and design according to which everything was to grow and
develop? Is not such a production and such a design the true essence of
Creation? Can all these things happen _without_ such aid? Let us then
look more closely at some of the steps in the evolution just described.
And let us stop at the very beginning--the first term of the series.

We may agree (in the absence of anything leading to a contrary
conclusion) that matter may first have appeared as a cosmic gas, or
incandescent vapour in space. It is probable, if not certain, that our
earth is a mass that has only cooled down on the surface, the centre
being still hot and to some extent, at any rate, molten; and in the sun
we have the case of an enormous globe surrounded with a _photosphere_,
as it is called--a blaze of incandescent substances, which our
spectroscopes tell us are substances such as we have on earth now in
cooled or condensed condition--iron, oxygen, hydrogen, and other such
forms of matter.

First of all, how did any _substance_, however vapoury and tenuous, come
to exist, when previously there was nothing?

If we admit, that there was a time when even cosmic gas did not exist,
then there must have been _an Agent_, whose _fiat_ caused the change.
And as that Agent does not obviously belong to the material order, it
must belong to the spiritual or non-material; for the two orders
together exhaust the possibilities of existence. If, however, it is
urged that "primal matter"--cosmic vapour--containing the "potentiality"
of all existence, is eternal and alway existed of itself, then we are
brought face to face with innumerable difficulties. In the first place,
the existence of matter is not the only difficulty to be got over; not
the only dead-lock along the line. We pass it over and go on for a
time, and then we come to another--the introduction of LIFE. I will not
pause to consider that here; we shall see presently that it is
impossible to regard life as merely a quality or property of matter.
When we have passed that, we have a third stoppage, the introduction of
_Reason_ or _Intelligence_; and then a fourth, the introduction of the
_Spiritual faculties_, which cannot be placed on the same footing as
mere reason. So that to get over the first point, and dispense with a
Cause or a Creator of matter, is of no avail: it is incredible that
there should be no Creator of matter, but that there should be a Creator
of life--an Imparter of reason, an Endower of soul.

But let us revert to the first stage and look at the nature of MATTER.



I take as self-evident the enormous difficulty of self-caused,
self-existent matter. And when we see that matter _acting_, not
irregularly or by caprice, but _by law_ (as every class of philosopher
will admit), then it is still further difficult to realize that matter
not only existed as a dead, simple, inactive thing, but existed with a
folded-up history inside it, a long sequence of development--not the
same for all particles, but various for each group: so that one set
proceeded to form the _object_, and another the _environment_ of the
object; or rather that a multitude of sets formed a vast variety of
objects, and another multitude of sets formed a vast variety of
environments. When we see matter acting by law, then if there is no
Creator, we have the to us unthinkable proposition of law without a

On the other hand, if we shut out some of the difficulties, keep our eye
on one part of the case only--and that is what the human mind is very
apt to do--we can easily come round to think that, after all,
_elementary_ matter--cosmic gas--is a very _simple_ thing; and looks
really as if no great Power, or Intellect, were required to account for
its origin. After all, some will say, if we grant your great, wise,
beneficent, designing Creator, the finite human mind has as little idea
of a self-existing God, as it has of self-existing matter and
self-existing law. _You_ postulate one great mystery, _we_ postulate two
smaller ones; and the two together really present less "unthinkableness"
to the mind than your one. That is so far plausible, but it is no more.
To believe in a GOD is to believe in One Existence, who necessarily (by
the terms of our conception) has the power both of creating matter,
designing the forms it shall take, and originating the tendencies,
forces, activities--or whatever else we please to call them--which drive
matter in the right direction to get the desired result. To believe not
only that matter caused itself, but that the different forces and
tendencies, and the aims and ends of development, were self-caused, is
surely a much more difficult task. It is the existence of such a
_variety_, it is the existence of a uniform tendency to produce certain
though multitudinous results, that makes the insuperable difficulty of
supposing _matter always developing_ (towards certain ends) to be

The advocates of "eternal matter" really overcome the difficulty, by
shutting their eyes to everything beyond a part of the problem--the
existence of simple matter apart from any laws, properties, or

But the simplest drop of water, in itself, and apart from its mechanical
relations to other matter, is really a very complex and a very wonderful
thing; not at all likely to be "self-caused." Water is made up, we know,
of oxygen and hydrogen--two elementary colourless, formless gases. Now
we can easily divide the one drop into two, and, without any great
difficulty, the two into four, and (perhaps with the aid of a magnifying
glass) the four into eight, and so on, _as long as_ the minute particle
_still retains the nature of water_. In short, we speak of the smallest
subdivision of which matter is capable without losing its own nature, as
the _molecule_. All matter may be regarded as consisting of a vast mass
of these small molecules.

Now, we know that all known matter is capable of existing either in a
solid, liquid, or gaseous form, its nature not being changed. Water is
very easily so dealt with. Some substances, it is true, require very
great pressure or very great cold, or both, to alter their form; but
even carbonic acid, oxygen, and hydrogen, which under ordinary
conditions are gases, can with proper appliances be made both liquid and
solid. Pure alcohol, has, I believe, never been made solid, but that is
only because it is so difficult to get a sufficient degree of cold:
there is no doubt that it could be done.

It might be supposed that the molecules of which dead matter (whether
solid, liquid, or vapourous) is composed, were equally motionless and
structureless. But it is not so: every molecule in its own kind is
endowed with marvellous properties. In the first place, every molecule
has a double capability of motion. In the solid form the molecules are
so packed together that, of course, the motion is excessively
restricted; in the liquid it is a little easier; in the gaseous state
the molecules are in a comparatively "open order." In most substances
that are solid under ordinary conditions, by applying heat continuously
we first liquefy and ultimately vapourize them. In those substances
which under ordinary conditions are _gas_ (like carbonic acid, for
instance), it is by applying cold, with perhaps great pressure as well,
that we induce them to become liquid and solid; in fact, the process is
just reversed. As we can most easily follow the process of heating, I
will describe that. First, the solid (in most cases) gets larger and
larger as it progresses to liquefaction, and when it gets to vapour, it
suddenly expands enormously. Take a rod of soft iron, and reduce it to
freezing temperature: let us suppose that in that condition it measures
just a thousand inches long. Then raise the temperature to 212 degrees
(boiling point), and it will be found to measure 1,012 inches. Why is
that? Obviously, because the molecules have got a little further apart.
If you heat it till the iron gets liquid, the liquid would also occupy
still more space than the original solid rod; and if we had temperature
high enough to make the melted iron go off into vapour, it would occupy
an enormously increased space. I cannot say what it would be for iron
vapour; but if a given volume of water is converted into vapour, it will
occupy about 1,700 times the space it did when liquid, though the weight
would not be altered.

It may here be worth while to mention that it is not invariably true
that a substance gets contracted, and the molecules more and more
pressed together, as it assumes a solid form. There is at least one
exception. If we take 1,700 pints of steam, the water, as I said, on
becoming cool enough to lose the vapourous form, will shrink into a
measure holding a single pint; if we cooled lower still, it will get
smaller and smaller in bulk (though of course not at all at the same
rate) till it arrives at a point when it is just going to freeze; then
suddenly (7 degrees above the freezing point) it again begins to expand.
Ice occupies more space than cold water; its molecules get arranged in a
particular manner by their crystallization.

On the admission of an _intelligent_ Creator providing, by beneficent
design, the laws of matter, it is easy to give a reason for this useful
property. It prevents the inhabitants of northern climates being
deprived of a supply of water. As it is, the solid water or ice
expands, and, becoming lighter, forms at the top of the water, and the
heavier warmer water remains below. But if ice always got denser and
sank, the warmer liquid would be perpetually displaced and so come up to
the surface, where it would freeze and sink in its turn. In a short
time, then, all our water supplies would (whenever the temperature went
down to freezing, which it constantly does in winter) be turned into
solid ice. This would be a source of the gravest inconvenience to the
population of a cold climate. If we deny a designing mind, the
alternative is that this property of water is a mere chance.

But to return to molecules. Molecules are endowed with an inherent
faculty of motion; only under the conditions of what we call the solid,
they are so compressed, that there is no room for any motion appreciable
to the senses. Even if the solid is converted into vapour, the molecules
are still much restrained in their movements by the pressure of the air.
But of late years, great improvements (partly chemical, partly
mechanical) have been made in producing perfect _vacua_; that is to say,
in getting glass or other vessels to be so far empty of air, that the
almost inconceivably small residue in the receptacle has no perceptible
effect on the action of a small quantity of any substance already
reduced to the form of gas or vapour introduced into it. Dr. W. Crookes
has made many beautiful experiments on the behaviour of the molecules of
attenuated matter in _vacua_. The small quantity of vapour introduced
contains only a relatively small number of molecules, which thus freed
from all sensible restraint within the limits of the glass vessel used,
are free to move as they will; they are observed to rush about, to
strike against the sides of the vessel, and under proper conditions to
shine and become _radiant_, and to exhibit extraordinary phenomena when
subjected to currents of electricity. So peculiar is the molecular
action thus set up, that scientific men have been tempted to speak of a
fourth condition of matter (besides the three ordinary ones, solid,
liquid, and gaseous), which they call the ultra-gaseous or radiant state
of matter.

This marvel of molecular structure seems already to have removed us
sufficiently far from the idea of a simple inert mass, which might be
primordial and self-caused. But we have not yet done. Even imagining the
extreme subdivision[1] of the particles in one of Dr. Crookes' vacuum
globes, the particles are still water. But we know that water is a
compound substance. The molecule has nine parts, of which eight are
hydrogen and one oxygen--because that is the experimentally known
proportion in which oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water. As we can
(in the present state of our knowledge) divide no farther, we call these
ultimate fragments of simple or elementary substance _atoms_.

[Footnote 1: As to the possibility of _indefinite_ subdivision of
matter, see Sir W. Thomsons's lecture, _Nature_, June, 1883, _et seq._]

Every substance, however finely divided into molecules, if it is not a
simple substance, must therefore have, inside the _molecular_ structure,
a further _atomic_ structure. And in the case of unresolvable or
"elementary" substance, the molecule and the atom are not necessarily
the same. For though there is reason to believe that, the molecule of
these does consist, in some cases, of only one atom--in which case the
atom and the molecule are identical; in other cases, the molecule is
known to consist of more than one atom of the same element; and the
atoms are capable of being differently arranged, and when so arranged
have different _properties_ or behaviour, though their nature is not
changed. This property is spoken of by chemists as _allotropism_. No
chemist on earth can detect the slightest difference in _constitution_
between a molecule of _ozone_ and one _oxygen_; but the two have widely
different properties, or behave very differently. There is thus a great
mystery about atoms and their possible differences under different
arrangement, which is as yet unsolved. Those who wish to get an insight
into the matter (which cannot be pursued farther here) will do well to
read Josiah Cooke's "The New Chemistry," in the International Scientific
Series. The mind is really lost in trying to realize the idea of a
fragment of matter too small for the most powerful microscope, but
existing in fact (because of faultless reasoning from absolutely
conclusive experiments), and yet so constituted that it is
_practically_ a different thing when placed in one position or order,
from what it is when placed in another.

Turning from this mystery, as yet so obscure, to what is more easily
grasped, we shall hardly be surprised to learn, further, that every kind
of, atom obeys its own laws, and that while atoms of one kind always
have a _tendency to combine_ with atoms of other kinds, it is absolutely
impossible to get them to combine together except on certain conditions.

The difference between combination and mixture is well known. Shake sand
and sugar in a bag for ever so long, but they will only _mix_, not
_combine_ or form any new substance even with the aid of electric
currents; but place oxygen and hydrogen gas under proper conditions, and
the gases will disappear, and water (in weight exactly equal to the
weight of the volume of gases) will appear in their place.

It is only certain kinds of atoms that will combine at all with other
kinds; and when they do so combine, they will only unite in absolutely
fixed proportions, so that chemists have been able to assign to every
kind of element its own combining proportion. The substances that will
combine will do so in these proportions, or in proportions of any _even
multiple_ of the number, and in no other. Thus fourteen parts of
nitrogen will combine with sixteen of oxygen; and we have several
substances in nature, called nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, nitric
di-oxide, &c., which illustrate this, in which fourteen parts of
nitrogen combine with sixteen oxygen or fourteen nitrogen with a
multiple of sixteen oxygen, or a multiple of fourteen nitrogen combine
with sixteen oxygen, and so on.

See now where we have got to. When we had spoken of a tiny fragment of
primal matter--a drop of water, for instance--it seemed as if there was
no more to be said; but no, we found ourselves able to give a whole
history of the molecules of which the substance consists; and when we
had considered the molecule, we found a further beautiful and intricate
order of _atoms_ inside the molecule, as it were.

And there is no reason to suppose that science has yet revealed all that
is possible to be known about atoms and molecules; so that if further
wonders should be evoked, the argument will grow and grow in cumulative

Let me sum up the conclusion to be drawn from these facts in a quotation
from a discourse of Sir John F.W. Herschel.

"When we see," says that eminent philosopher, "a great number of things
precisely alike, we do not believe this similarity to have originated
except from _a common principle independent of them_; and that we
recognize this likeness, chiefly by the _identity of their deportment
under similar circumstances_ strengthens rather than weakens the

"A line of spinning jennies, or a regiment of soldiers dressed exactly
alike and going through precisely the same evolutions, gives us no idea
of independent existence: we must see them act out of concert before we
can believe them to have independent wills and properties not impressed
on them from without.

"And this conclusion, which would be strong even if there were only two
individuals precisely alike in _all_ respects and _for ever_, acquires
irresistible force when their number is multiplied beyond the power of
imagination to conceive.

"If we mistake not, then, the discoveries alluded to effectually destroy
the ideas of an _eternal_ self-existent matter by giving to each of its
atoms the essential characters at once of a _manufactured_ article and
of a _subordinate agent_."

In other words, continuing the metaphor of the trained army, we see
millions upon millions of molecules all arranged in regiments, distinct
and separate, and the regiments again made up of companies or
individuals, each obeying his own orders in subordination to, and in
harmony with, the whole: are we not justified in concluding that this
army has not been only called into being by some cause external to
itself; but further, that its constitution has been impressed upon it,
and its equipments and organization directed, by an Infinite

There is, then, no such thing to be found in Nature as a simple,
structureless "primal matter" which exhibits nothing tending to make
self-causation or aboriginal existence difficult to conceive. To look at
matter in that light is not only to take into consideration a _part_ of
the case; it is really to take what does not exist, a part that exists
only in the imagination. The simplest form of matter we can deal with,
exhibits within itself all the wondrous plan, law, and sequence of the
molecular and atomic structure we have sketched out; and when we
consider that, having taken matter so far, we have even then only
introduced it to the verge of the universe, ushered it on to the
threshold of a great "aeon," when and where it is to be acted on by
"gravitation" and other forces, to act in relation to other matter, and
to be endowed perhaps with LIFE, we shall feel that the
self-existence--the uncaused existence of matter, and of the principles
on which matter proceeds or acts, is in reality not a less mystery than
the self-existence of a Designing and Intelligent Cause, but one so
great as to be itself "unthinkable."



We now come to _Living_ Matter; directing attention, first, to that
elementary form of life as exhibited in simple protoplasm and in the
lower forms of organism, and then to the perfect forms of bird and
beast. In each case, we shall find the same evidence of Design and
Intelligence, the same proof of "contrivance" and purpose, which we
cannot attribute to the mere action of secondary causes.

The simplest form in which LIFE is manifested is in a viscid gelatinous
substance without colour or form, called _Protoplasm_. Wherever there is
life there is protoplasm. Protoplasm, as before remarked, lies just
under the bark in trees, and is the material from which the growth of
the wood and bark cells and fibres proceeds. Protoplasm, is also present
in the muscles and in the blood, and wherever growth is going on.

But protoplasm also exists by itself; or, more properly speaking, there
exist living creatures, both plant and animal, which are so simple in
structure, so low in organization, that they consist of nothing but a
speck of protoplasm. Such a creature is the microscopic _amoeba_.
Sometimes these little specks of protoplasm are surrounded with
beautifully formed "silicious shells--a skeleton of radiating _spiculae_
or crystal-clear concentric spheres of exquisite symmetry and
beauty.[1]" The simplest _amoeba_ however, has no definite form; but the
little mass moves about, expands and contracts, throws out projections
on one side and draws them in on the other. It exhibits irritability
when touched. It may be seen surrounding a tiny particle of food,
extracting nutriment from it and growing in size. Ultimately the little
body separates or splits up into two, each part thenceforth taking a
separate existence.

[Footnote 1: Professor Allman.]

Now it is claimed that such a little organism contains the potentiality
of all life; that it grows and multiplies, and develops into higher and
higher organisms, into all (in short) that we see in the plant and
animal world around us. This, it is argued, is all done by natural
causes, not by any direction or guidance or intervention of a Divine

Here we must stop to ask how this protoplasm, or simplest form of
organic life, came to exist? How did it get its _life_--its property of
taking nourishment, of growing and of giving birth to other creatures
like itself?

The denier of creation replies, that just in the same way as, by the
laws of affinity, other inanimate substances came together to produce
the earth--salts and other compounds we see in the world around us--so
did certain elements combine to form protoplasm. This combination when
perfected has the property of being alive, just as water has the
property of assuming a solid form or has any other of the qualities
which we speak of as its properties.

Now it is perfectly true that, treated as a substance, you can take the
gummy protoplasm, put it into a glass and subject it to analysis like
any other substance. But simple as the substance appears, composition is
really very complicated. Professor Allman tells us that so difficult and
wonderful is its chemistry, that in fact really very little is known
about it. The best evidence we have, I believe, makes it tolerably
certain that protoplasm consists of a combination of ammonia, carbonic
acid, and water, and that every molecule of it is made up of 76 atoms,
of which 36 are carbon, 26 hydrogen, 4 nitrogen, and 10 oxygen.[1]

But no chemist has ever been able either to account theoretically for
such a composition, still less to produce it artificially. It is urged,
however, that it may be only due to our clumsy apparatus and still very
imperfect knowledge of chemistry, that we were unable artificially to
make up protoplasm.

[Footnote 1: Nicholson ("Zoology," p. 4) gives for Albumen, which is
nearly identical with protoplasm--Carbon, 144; Hydrogen, 110; Nitrogen,
18; Oxygen, 42; Sulphur, 2. These figures nearly equal those in the
text, being those figures multiplied each by 4 (approximately) and
without the trace of sulphur.]

And of course there is no answer to a supposition of this sort.
Nevertheless there is no sort of reason to believe that protoplasm will
ever be made; nor, if we could succeed in uniting the elements into a
form resembling protoplasmic jelly, is there the least reason to suppose
that such a composition would exhibit the irritability, or the powers of
nutrition and reproduction, which are essentially the characteristics of
_living_ protoplasm. It is not too much to say that, after the close of
the controversy about spontaneous generation, it is now a universally
admitted principle of science that life can only proceed from life--the
old _omne vivum ex ovo_ in a modern form.[1]

But here the same sort of argument that was brought forward regarding
the possibility of matter and its laws being self-caused, comes in as
regards life.

[Footnote 1: _See_ "Critiques and Addresses," T.H. Huxley, F.R.S.,
p. 239. So much is this the case, that it is really superfluous, however
interesting, to recall the experiments of Dr. Tyndall and others, which
finally demonstrated that wherever primal animal forms, bacteria and
other, "microbes," were produced in infusions of hay, turnip, &c.,
apparently boiled and sterilized and then hermetically sealed, there
were really germs in the air enclosed in the vessel, or germs that in
one form or another were not destroyed by the boiling or heating. Dr.
Bastian's argument for spontaneous generation is thus completely
overthrown. _(See_ Drummond, "Natural Law," pp. 62-63.)]

The argument in the most direct form was made use of by Professor
Huxley, but it is difficult to believe that so powerful a thinker could
seriously hold to a view which will not bear examination, however neatly
and brilliantly it may go off when first launched into the air. The
argument is that life can only be regarded as a further property of
certain forms of matter. Oxygen and hydrogen, when they combine, result
in a new substance, quite unlike either of them in character, and
possessing _new_ and different properties. The way in which the
combination is effected is a mystery, yet we do not account for the new
and peculiar properties of water (so different from those of the
original gases) as arising from a principle of "aquosity," which we have
to invoke from another world. The answer is that the argument is from
analogy, and that there is not really the remotest analogy between the
two cases. It is true that, as far as we know, electricity is necessary
to force a combination of the requisite equivalents of oxygen and
hydrogen into water. But though we do not know why this is, or what
electricity is, we can repeat the process as often as we will. But mark
the difference; the water once existing is obviously only a new form of
matter, in the same category with the gases it came from: it neither
increases in bulk, nor takes in fresh elements to grow, and give birth
to new drops of water. But protoplasm has something quite different--for
there may be dead protoplasm and living protoplasm, both identical to
the eye and to every chemical test. In either condition, protoplasm, as
such, has _properties_ of the same nature (though not of the same kind)
as those of water, oxygen gas, or any other matter; it is colorless,
heavy, sticky, elastic, and so forth; but besides all that (without the
aid of electricity or any physical force we can apply) one has the power
of producing more protoplasm--gathering for itself, by virtue of its
inherent power, the materials for growth and reproduction.

If directly water was called into existence it could take in
nourishment, and divide and go on producing more water--and if some
water could do this, while other water (which no available test could
distinguish from it in any other respect) could not, then we _should_ be
perfectly justified in giving a special name to this power, and calling
it "aquosity" or "vitality" or anything else, it being out of all
analogy to anything else which we call a "property" of matter.

In the introduction of LIFE into the _aeon_ of organic developmental
history, we have a clear and distinct period, as we had when _matter_
came into view, or when _the change_ was ushered in which set the cosmic
gas cooling and liquefying, and turning to solid in various form.

The fact is that every organic form, whether plant or animal, derived
from the protoplasmic compounds of carbon-dixoide, ammonia and water,
is, as Mr. Drummond puts it,[1] "made of materials which have once been
inorganic. An organizing principle, not belonging to their kingdom, lays
hold of them and elaborates them."

[Footnote 1: "Natural Law," p. 233.]

Thus by the introduction of LIFE we have a vastly enlarged horizon.
Before, in the organic world, we had only the "principle" of solidifying
or crystallizing, liquefying, and turning to gas or vapour, ever
stopping when the state was attained. Or if a combination was in
progress, still the result was only a rearrangement of the same bulk of
materials (however new the form) in solid, liquid, or gas, but no
increase, no nutrition, no reproduction. In the organic world we have
something so different, that whether we talk of "property" or
"principle," the things are entirely distinct.

The essential difference, stated as regards the mere facts of
irritability or motion, nutrition and reproduction, is so grandly
sufficient in itself, that one almost regrets to have to add on the
other facts which further emphasize the distinction between _life_ and
any _property_ of matter. But these further facts are highly important
as regards another part of the argument. For while what has just been
said almost demonstrates the necessity of a Giver of Life from a kingdom
outside the organic, the further facts point irresistibly to the
conclusion that we must predicate more about the Giver of Life that we
can of an abstract and unknown Cause.

The original protoplasm, when dead, is undistinguishable by the eye, by
chemical test, or by the microscope, from the same protoplasm when
living; and living protoplasm, again, may be either animal or vegetable.
Both are in every respect (externally) absolutely identical. Yet the one
will only develop into a _plant_, the other only into an _animal._ Nor
does it diminish the significance of the fact to say that the
differentiation is _now_ fixed by heredity. If we suppose protoplasm to
be only a fortuitous combination of elements, what secondary or common
natural cause will account for its acquisition of the fixed difference?
It is true that some forms of plants exhibit some functions that closely
approach the functions of what we call animal life; but, as we shall see
presently, there is no evidence whatever that there is any bridge
between the two--we have no proof that a plant ever develops into an
animal. Here is one of the gaps which the theory of Evolution, true as
it is to a certain extent, cannot bridge over; and we must not overlook
the fact. We shall revert to it hereafter.

Can it be believed, then, that protoplasm, as the origin of life, is
self-caused, and self-developed? And this is not all. I must briefly
remind my readers that the way in which animal protoplasm deals with the
elements of nutrition is quite opposite to that which plant protoplasm
follows. I might, indeed, have mentioned this at an earlier stage, when
I mentioned Professor Huxley's comparison of the chemical action in the
formation of water with what he assumed to be the case in the formation
of protoplasm. When water is formed, the two gases disappear, and an
_exactly equal weight_ of water appears in their place; but if living
protoplasm is enabled to imbibe liquid or other nutriment containing
ammonia, water, and carbonic acid, there is no disappearance of the
three elements and an equivalent weight of living protoplasm appearing
in its place. Protoplasm consumes the oxygen and sets free the carbonic
acid. Both kinds of protoplasm do this, until exposed to the light; and
then a difference is observed; for under the influence of light, animal
protoplasm alone continues to act in this way, and vegetable protoplasm
begins at once to develop little green bodies or corpuscles in its
cells, and afterwards acts in a totally opposite way, taking the carbon
into its substance and giving off the oxygen.[1]

[Footnote 1: Certain _fungi_ seem to afford an exception to this. The
above is, I believe, true as a theoretical action of plants and animals
in protoplasmic form. But practically, in all higher developments of
either kind, other distinctions come into play; e.g., that plants can
make use of inorganic matter, gases, and water, and elaborate them into
organic matter. Animals cannot do this, they require more or less solid
food--always requiring "complex organic bodies which they ultimately
reduce to much simpler inorganic bodies. They are thus mediately or
immediately dependent on plants for their subsistence" (Nicholson,
"Zoology," 6th ed. p. 17). It is perhaps with reference to this that in
the Book of Genesis the Creator is represented as giving _plant_ life to
the service of man and animals--while nothing is said of the preying of
_Carnivora_ and _Insectivora_ on animal life.]

Not only then has each kind of protoplasm its own mysterious character
impressed on it, and is compelled to act in a certain way; but still
further, each particle of animal and vegetable protoplasm, when directed
into its _general_ course of development as _plant or animal_, will
again only obey a certain course of development in its own line.

But we must proceed a step further; for those who would believe in the
sufficiency of unaided Evolution, bid us bear in mind how very
elementary the dawn of instinct or the beginning of reason is in the
lowest forms which are classed as animal, and how very small is the
gap[1] between some highly organized plants and some animal forms, and
argue therefore that they may justly regard the distinction as of minor
importance, and hope that the "missing link" will be yet discovered and
proved. At any rate, they minimize the difference, and urge that it is
of no account if at least they can establish the sufficiency of a proved
development extending unbroken from the lowest to the highest animal
form. And having fixed attention on this side, no doubt there is a long
stretch of smooth water over which the passage is unchecked.

[Footnote 1: At the risk of repetition I will remind the reader that
nature contains _nothing like_ a progressive scale from plant to animal.
It is _never_ that the highest plant can be connected with the lowest
animal as in one series of links. The animal kingdom and the plant
kingdom are absolutely apart. Both start from similar elementary
proteinaceous structures; and both preserve their development
upwards--each exhibiting _some_ of the features of the other. It is at
the bottom of each scale that resemblance is to be found, _not_ between
the top of one and the lowest members of the other.]

The Evolution theory is that all the different species of animals,
birds, and other forms of life have been caused by the accumulation and
perpetuation of numerous small changes which began in one or at most a
few elementary forms, and went on till all the thousands of species we
now know of were developed.[1] It _is_ a fact that all organic forms
have a certain tendency to vary. I need only allude to the many
varieties of pigeons, horses, cattle, and dogs which are produced by
varying the food, the circumstances of life and so forth, and by
selective breeding.

The contention then is: given certain original simple forms of life,
probably marine or aquatic--for it is in the water that the most likely
occur--these will gradually change and vary, some in one direction, some
in another; that the changes go on increasing, each creature giving
birth to offspring which exhibits the stored-up results of change, till
the varied and finished forms--some reptile, some bird, some
animal--which we now see around us, have been produced. And at last man
himself was developed in the same way. All this, observe, is by the
action of just such ordinary and natural causes as we now see operating
around us--changes in food and in climate, changes in one part requiring
a corresponding change in others, and so on.

[Footnote 1: The reader may find this admirably put in Wallace,
"Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection," p. 302.]

Nature contains no sharply drawn lines. Plants are different from
animals; but there are animals so low down in the scale of life that it
is difficult to distinguish them from plants. Pigeons are distinct from
pheasants, but the line at which the one species ends and the other
begins is difficult to draw. This fact seems to invite some theory of
one form changing into other. Accordingly the evolutionist explains the
working of the process which he asserts to be sufficient to produce all
the various forms of life in our globe.

After stating this more in detail than we have previously done, we shall
be in a better position to judge if the process (which in the main we
have no desire to deny or even to question) can dispense with _guidance_
and the fixing of certain lines and limits within which, and of certain
types towards which, the development proceeds. That is our point.

It is hardly necessary to illustrate the enormous destruction of life
which goes on in the world. Even among the human race, the percentage of
infants that die in the first months of their life is very large. But in
the lower forms of life it is truly enormous. Only consider the myriads
of insects that perish from hunger or accident, and from the preying of
one species on another. If it were not so, the world would be overrun by
plagues of mice, of birds, of insects of all kinds, and indeed by
creatures of every grade. The term "struggle for existence" is, then,
not an inapt one. All forms of living creatures have to contend with
enemies which seek to prey upon or to destroy them, with the difficulty
of obtaining food, and with what I may call the chances of
nature--cold, storms, floods, disease, and so forth.

Now, it is obvious that if some creatures of a given kind possess some
accidental peculiarity or modification in their formation which gives
them (in one way or another) an advantage over their fellows, these
improved specimens are likely to survive, and, surviving, to have

It is this perpetuation of advantageous changes, originally induced by
the circumstances of environment, that is indicated by the term "natural
selection." Nature chooses out the form best suited to the circumstances
which surround it, and this form lives while the others die out. And
this form goes on improving by slow successive changes, which make it
more and more fit for the continually changing circumstances of its

Subordinate also to this natural selection is the principle that bright
colour and other special qualities may be developed in the males of a
race, because individuals with such advantages are more attractive, and
therefore more easily find mates, than dull-coloured or otherwise less
attractive individuals.

Of each of these principles I may give a simple example. Supposing a
species of bird with a soft slender beak to be placed on an island,
where the only food they could obtain was fruit enclosed in a hard or
tough shell or covering. Supposing some birds accidentally possessed of
a beak that was shorter and stouter than the others', these would be
able to break open the shell and get at the fruit, while the others
would starve. Some of the descendants of the birds with the stout beaks
would inherit the same peculiarity, and in the course of several
generations there would thus arise a species with short and strong,
perhaps curved, beaks just fitted to live on fruits of the kind
described. In a similar way the webbed feet of birds that swim were
developed by their aquatic habits. And so with the long slender toes of
the waders, which are so well fitted for walking over floating aquatic

Of the other principle, sexual selection, a familiar example is the
bright and showy colouring of the male birds of many species: the
females of their species, as they need protection while helplessly
sitting on their eggs, are dull-coloured like the bark of trees or the
sand, among which their nests lie hid.

Some of the Himalayan pheasants exhibit this peculiarity to a marked
degree. Originally, it is said, the male bird, which was more brightly
coloured than the rest, got mated more easily by the preference shown to
him for his bright colour.

The question is, can we suppose all this to go on, by self-caused laws
and concurrence of circumstances, without a pre-existing design for the
forms to reach or an external guidance in the processes?



The heading of this chapter does not mark a new departure, for we have
been tracing existing forms of matter from the first, and have already
seen the necessity of believing in Creative Intelligence and Guidance.
We have seen that inorganic matter, with what we call its molecular or
atomic structure, cannot be reasonably regarded as self-caused; and we
have concluded with Sir J.F.W. Herschell that the sight of such a
well-arranged army, performing its evolutions in a regular and uniform
manner, irresistibly suggests a great Commander and Designer. We have
further found that the advent of LIFE demands a Power _ab extra_. We
have called attention to the gap, between plant and animal, which is
ignored or made light of, chiefly on account of the close approach of
the two kingdoms. But there is one broad distinction, namely, that of
elementary reason and no reason, or of consciousness and
unconsciousness, which is, in itself, a sufficient difficulty to pull
us up shortly. We have not yet fully considered this matter, because it
will come more appropriately at a later stage, and in the _à fortiori_
form. But we have justly noted it here. We cannot account for the most
elementary reason by any physical change; there is no analogy between
the two. The connection of mind and matter is unexplainable; and no
theory of development of physical form can say why, at any given stage,
physical development begins to be accompanied by brain-power and
_consciousness_. Admit candidly that the addition of intelligence at a
certain stage, however mysteriously interwoven with structural
accompaniments, is a gift _ab extra_, and we have at least a reasonable
and so far satisfactory explanation.

But when we have got an animal form, however simple and elementary, with
at least a recognizable "potentiality" of intelligence, we enter, as I
said, a long stretch of apparently smooth water, over which, for an
important part of our passage, we seem able to glide without any
difficulty from the necessary intervention of the so-called
supernatural. I have, then, to show that even here there is really no
possibility of dispensing with a Creator who has a purpose, a designed
scheme, and a series of type-forms to be complied with.

In order to fully exhaust the question how far natural selection is
capable of accounting for everything, it would be necessary to take a
very wide view of natural history and botany, which it is quite
impossible for us to attempt. But this is not necessary for our purpose.
We are perfectly justified in selecting certain topics which must arise
in the discussion. If, in studying these points, we find that _there_ at
least the intervention of a Controlling Power becomes necessary, and the
absence of it leaves things without any reasonable explanation, then we
shall have good and logical ground for holding to our faith in the
universal presence of such a Power. No chain is stronger than its
weakest link. If secondary causes cannot succeed at any one part of the
chain, it is obvious that they fail as a universal explanation.

This part of the work has already been done far better than I could do
it. In the first eight chapters of Mivart's "Genesis of Species" [1] the
argument has been ably and clearly put, and whatever answer is possible
has been given by Darwin and others; so that the world may judge. All
that can here be usefully attempted, is, by way of reminder, to
reproduce some main topics on which no real answer has been given. These
are selected, partly because they are less abstruse and difficult to
follow than some which might be dealt with, partly because they are
calculated to awaken our interest, and partly because the conclusion in
favour of a continual Providence; working through organized law and
system, appears to follow most clearly from them.

[Footnote 1: Second Edition, 1871.]

The points I would call attention to are the following:--

(I) That as natural selection will only maintain changes that have been
_beneficial_ to the creature, it is contrary to such a law, if acting
entirely by itself, that that there should be developments (not being
mere accidental deformities, &c.) disadvantageous to the creature. And
yet the world is full of such.

(2) That there are forms which cannot be accounted for on the
evolutionist supposition, that they were gradually obtained by a series
of small changes slowly progressing towards a perfect structure. They
would be of no use at all unless produced _at once and complete_.

(3) That natural selection, as apart from a Divine Designer, altogether
fails to account for _beauty_, as distinguished from mere brilliancy or
conspicuousness, in nature. Whereas, if we suppose the existence of a
beneficent Creator, who has moral objects in view, and cares for the
delight and the improvement of His creatures,[1] and looking to the
known effects on the mind of beauty in art and in nature, the existence
is at once and beyond all cavil explained.

[Footnote 1: "He hath made everything _beautiful_ in his time" (Eccles.
iii. II).]

(4) That we have positive evidence against _uncontrolled_ evolution
(uncontrolled by set plan and design i.e.) and a strong presumption in
favour of the existence of created _types_; so that evolution proceeds
towards these types by aid of natural laws and forces working together
(in a way that our limited faculties necessarily fail to grasp
adequately);[1] and so that, the type once reached, a certain degree of
variation, but never _transgression_ of _the type_, is possible.
Further, that on this supposition we are able to account for some of the
unexplained facts in evolutionary history, such as _reversion_ and the
_sterility of hybrids_; and to see why there are gaps which cannot be
bridged over, and which by extreme theorists are only feebly accounted
for on the supposition that as discovery progresses they _will_ be
bridged over some day.

[Footnote 1: "Also He hath set the world in their heart, so that _no man
can find out the work that God maketh_ from the beginning to the end"
(Eccles. iii II).]

(5) Lastly, that there is no possibility of giving _time_ enough on any
possible theory of the world's existence, for the evolution of all
species, unless _some_ reasonable theory of creative arrangement and
design be admitted.

The great objection--the descent of man and the introduction of reason,
consciousness, and so forth, into the world, will then form two separate
chapters, concluding the first division of my subject.

There is one point which the reader may be surprised to see omitted. It
is, that if these slow changes were always going on, why is not the
present world full of, and the fossil-bearing rocks also abounding in,
_intermediate forms_, creatures which _are on their way_ to being
something else? But there are reasons to be given on this ground which
make the subject a less definite one for treatment. It is said, for
example, that in the fossil rocks we have only such scanty and
fragmentary records, that it is not possible to draw a complete
inference, and that there is always the possibility of fresh discoveries
being made. Such discoveries have, it is asserted, already been made in
the miocene and again in later rocks; different species of an early form
of _horse_ which are (and this we may admit) the ancestral or
intermediate forms of our own horse, have been found. I therefore would
not press the difficulty, great as it is, because of the escape which
the hope of future discovery always affords. I will take this
opportunity to repeat that in this chapter I say nothing about the
difficulty which arises from the introduction of elementary reason or
instinct, and of consciousness, into the scale of organic being; that
will more appropriately fall in with the consideration of the
development of man, where naturally the difficulty occurs with its
greatest force.

(1) I come at once to the great difficulty that, if all existing forms
are due to the occurrence of changes that helped the creature in the
struggle for existence, how is it possible now to account for forms
which are not advantageous? yet such forms are numerous. Of this
objection, the existence of imperfect or neuter bees and ants is an
instance. The modification in form which these creatures exhibit is of
no advantage to them. It _is_ a great advantage, no doubt, to the other
bees; but then this introduces a view of some power _making_ one thing
for the benefit of another, not a change in the form itself adapted of
course to its _own_ advantage--since natural laws, forces, and
conditions of environment could not conceivably _design_ the advantage
of another form, and cause one to change for the benefit of that other.

Why is it, again, that crabs and crayfish can only grow by casting off
their shells, during which process they often die, as well as remain
exposed defenceless to the attacks of enemies? Why should stags shed
their horns also, leaving them defenceless for a time? Other animals do
not do so, and there is nothing in the nature of the horn which requires

This brief allusion is here sufficient. Mr. Mivart's work gives it at

(2) Passing next to the question of the advantage of _incomplete
stages_--portions of a mechanism only useful when complete, the most
striking examples may be found in the Vegetable kingdom. The
fertilization of flowering plants is effected by the pollen, a yellow
dust formed in the anthers, which is carried from flower to flower. In
the pines and oaks, this is done by the wind. But in other cases insects
visit a flower to get the honey, and in so doing get covered with
pollen, which they carry away and leave in the next flower visited. Now
one of our commonest and most useful plants, the red clover, is so
constructed that it can only be fertilized by humble bees. If this bee
became extinct, the plant would die out; how can such a development be
advantageous to it?

But the contrivances by which this process of fertilization is secured
are so marvellous, that I confess I am completely staggered by the idea
that these contrivances have been caused by the self-growth and
adaptation of the plant without guidance. There is a plant called
_Salvia glutinosa_[1]--easily recognized by its sticky calyx and pale
yellow flowers. The anthers that bear the pollen are hidden far back in
the hood of the flower, so that the pollen can neither fall nor can the
wind carry it away; but the two anthers are supported on a sort of
spring, and directly a bee goes to the flower and pushes in his head to
get the honey, the spring is depressed and both anthers start forward,
of course depositing their pollen on the hairy back of the bee, which
carries it to the stigma of the next flower. This process can be tested
without waiting for a bee, by pushing a bit of stick into the flower,
when the curious action described will be observed. It is very easy to
say that this admirable mechanical contrivance is of great use to the
plant _in its complete_ form; but try and imagine what use an
intermediate form would have been! If development at once proceeded to
the complete form, surely this marks _design_; if not, no partial step
towards it would have been of any use, and therefore would not have been
inherited and perpetuated so as to prepare for further completion. But
many other plants have a structure so marvellous that this objection is
continually applicable. Let me only recall one other case, that of the
orchid, called _Coryanthes macrantha_. In this flower there are two
little horns, which secrete a pure water, or rather water mixed with
honey. The lower part of the flower consists of a long lip, the end of
which is bent into the form of a bucket hanging below the horns. This
bucket catches the nectar as it drops, and is furnished with a spout
over which the liquid trickles when it is too full. But the mouth of the
bucket is guarded by a curiously ridged cover with two openings, one on
each side. The most ingenious man, says Mr. Darwin, would never by
himself make out what this elaborate arrangement was intended for. It
was at last discovered. Large humble bees were seen visiting the flower;
by way of getting at the honey, they set to work to gnaw off the ridges
of the lid above alluded to; in doing this they pushed one another into
the bucket, and had to crawl out by the spout. As they passed out by
this narrow aperture, they had to rub against the anthers and so carried
off the pollen. When a bee so charged gets into another bucket, or into
the same bucket a second time, and has to crawl out, he brushes against
the stigma, and leaves the pollen on it. I might well have adduced this
plant as another instance of the first objection, since it may well be
asked, How could such a development, resulting in a structure which
presents the greatest difficulty in the way of fertilization, be
beneficial to the plant? But here the point is that, even if any one
could assert the utility of such an elaborate and complicated
development, and suppose it self-caused by accident or effect of
environment, it certainly goes against the idea that all forms are due
to an _accumulation of small changes_. For these curious contrivances in
the case of _Salvia, Coryanthes_, and other plants, would in any case
have been no use to the plant till the whole machinery _was complete_.
Now, on the theory of slow changes gradually accumulating till the
complete result was attained, there must have been generation after
generation of plants, in which the machinery was as yet imperfect and
only partly built up. But in such incomplete stages, fertilization would
have been impossible, and therefore the plant must have died out. Just
the same with the curious fly-trap in _Dionoea_. Whatever may be its
benefit to the plant, till the whole apparatus as it now is, was
_complete_, it would have been of no use. In the animal kingdom also,
instances might be given: the giraffe has a long neck which is an
advantage in getting food that other animals cannot reach; but what
would have been the use of a neck which was becoming--and had not yet
become--long? here intermediate stages would not have been useful, and
therefore could not have been preserved.[2] In flat fishes it is curious
that, though they are born with eyes on different sides of the head, the
lower eye gradually grows round to the upper-side. As remarked by Mr.
Mivart, natural selection could not have produced this change, since the
_first steps towards it_ could have been of no possible use, and could
not therefore have occurred, at least not without direction and guidance
from without. Mr. Darwin's explanation of the case does not touch this

[Footnote 1: This species was instanced because the lectures which form
the basis of the book were originally delivered at Simla, in the N.W.
Himalaya, where, at certain seasons, the plant is a common wayside weed.
Mr. Darwin notices a similar and, if possible, more curious structure in
a species of _Catasetum_.]

[Footnote 2: See this fully explained by Mivart, "Genesis of Species,"
pp. 29, 30 (2nd edition).]

(3) The third point, the occurrence of so much _beauty_ in organic life,
is perhaps one of the most conclusive arguments for design in nature.

Here, if possible, more clearly than elsewhere, I see a total failure of
"natural causes." We are told that the beauty of birds (for instance) is
easily accounted for by the fact, that the ornamented and beautiful
males are preferred by the other sex; and that this is an advantage, so
the beauty has been perpetuated; and the same with butterflies and

We are told also that bright-coloured fruits attract birds, who eat the
soft parts of the fruit and swallow the hard stone or seed which is thus
prepared for germination, and carried about and dispersed over the
earth's surface. Again, showy coloured flowers attract insects, which
carry away pollen and fertilize other flowers.

All this is perfectly true; but it entirely fails to go far enough to
meet the difficulty.

Now passing over such difficulties as the fact that bright colours in
flowers _do not_ attract insects in many cases, but much more
inconspicuous flowers if they have a scent (mignonette, for example)
_do_; passing over such a fact as that afforded by the violet, which (as
some may not be aware) has two kinds of flower, one scented and of a
beautiful colour, the other green and inconspicuous, and it is the
_latter, not the former_ which is usually fertile;--passing over all
detailed difficulties of this kind, I allude only to the one great one,
that in all these cases, besides mere bright colour, conspicuousness or
showiness, there is a great and wonderful beauty of pattern, design, or
colour arrangement, in nature. Now there is not a particle of evidence
to show that any animal has, to the smallest extent, a _sense of
beauty_. On the contrary it is most improbable. The sense of artistic
beauty is not only peculiar to man, but only exists in him when
civilized and cultivated. Uneducated people among ourselves have no
sense of landscape and other beauty. How then can it exist in animals?

If there was nothing to explain but a uniform bright and showy colour,
natural selection might be sufficient to account for it. How is it,
then, that this is not the case? We have not only colour, but colour
diversified in the most elaborate and charming manner. Look at the
exquisite patterns on a butterfly's wing! look at the various delicate
arrangements of colour and pattern in flowers; or look again at the
arrangement of colour on a humming-bird--sometimes the tail, sometimes
the breast is ornamented, sometimes a splendid crest covers the head,
sometimes a jewelled gorget or ruff surrounds the throat; and these are
not uniformly coloured, but exhibit metallic and other changes of lustre
not to be imitated by the highest art. But to fully realize this, I had
best refer to a more familiar instance. Let any one examine--as an
object very easily procurable in these days--a peacock's feather. No
doubt the whole tail when expanded is very brilliant; but look closely
at the structure of a single feather; is all this arrangement needed
only to make the tail bright or conspicuous? Observe how wonderfully the
outer parts are varied; part has a metallic lustre of copper, part has
this also shot with green: then there is a delicate ring of violet with
a double yellowish border, all quite distinct from the inmost gorgeous
"eye" of green, blue, and black, and all arranged on the same feather!

Take, again, the so-called diamond beetle of Brazil; here the wing case
is black studded all over with little pits or specks, which as a whole
only give it a powdery pale-green colour; but place it in the sunlight
and look at it with a magnifying glass--each little speck is seen to be
furnished with a set of minute metallic scales showing green and red
flashes like so many diamonds. How does such a delicate ornament answer
the demands of mere conspicuousness?

But there is a stronger case than this. I before alluded to the
exquisite symmetry of the silicious and crystalline coverings of some of
the simplest forms of marine animalcules; and also I may here add the
beautiful colouring of _shells_ sometimes on the _inside_.[1] In what
possible way would this beauty serve for any purely _useful_ purpose?

[Footnote 1: See Mivart, p. 61.]

Lastly, how are we to account for the beauty of autumnal tints in woods,
or coloured _leaves_ in plants such as the _Caladium_? The beauty is of
no conceivable use to the plant.

"In Canada the colours of the autumn forest are notorious. Even on
cloudy days the hue of the foliage is of so intense a yellow that the
light thrown from the trees creates the impression of bright sunshine,
each leaf presents a point of sparkling gold. But the colours of the
leafy landscape change and intermingle from day to day, until pink,
lilac, vermilion, purple, deep indigo and brown, present a combination
of beauty that must be seen to be realized; for no artist has yet been
able to represent, nor can the imagination picture to itself, the
gorgeous spectacle.[1]"

Have we not here an exhibition which cannot be accounted for on any
principle of natural utility?

[Footnote 1: "Quarterly Review," 1861, p. 20.]

(4) The fourth point, as previously stated, will be best treated by
stating beforehand what is the conclusion come to, and then justifying
it. My suggestion is that if we suppose a continuous evolution without a
series of designs prescribed before life began to develop, and without
any external guidance, then we are lost in difficulties. We cannot
account for why variation should set in in the very different ways it
does, nor why such a vast variety of divergent results should be
produced. We cannot account for the tendency to reversion to a previous
type, when artificial or accidental variation is not continually
maintained,[1] nor for the sterility of hybrids; nor, above all, for
evolution performing such freaks (if I may so say) as the origination of
our small finches and the tropical humming-birds from earlier
vertebrates through the Mesozoic reptiles, the pterodactyles,
_Odontornithes_ and subsequent forms. Supposing that the Almighty
Designer created a complete _cosmos_ of (1) the starry heavens and the
planetary system, (2) then a scheme whereby earth and water were to be
duly distributed over our planet; (3) established the relations by
which the external heavenly bodies were to regulate our seasons, tides,
and times (as we know they do). (4) Suppose, further, that the Designer
did not make "out of nothing" the series of finally developed animals as
we now have them, but "made the animals make themselves"--that is to
say, created the type, the ideal form, and adapted the laws and forces
which constitute environment, so that development of form should go on
regularly towards the appointed end, but in separate and appropriate
channels, each terminating when its object had been attained. Suppose
these conditions (which, as we shall afterwards see, are what
Revelation, fairly interpreted, declares) to exist; all the known
_facts_, and also the fairly certain _inferences_ of Evolution, are then
accounted for.

[Footnote 1: Pigeon fanciers know that when they have once obtained, by
crossbreeding and selection, a particular form or feather, the utmost
care is needed to preserve it. If the parents are not selected the
progeny wilt gradually revert towards the original wild pigeon type.]

We have neither by revelation nor physical discovery an exact _scheme_
of all the types, nor which of the elementary forms were destined to
remain unchanged throughout. But some scheme of created types we surely
have. Whether what we call _species_[1] are all types or not, we cannot
say; probably not. All we can be sure of is that there are definite
lines somewhere. We see the sterility of some hybrids, for instance,
which would seem to indicate that while some forms can conjugate and
their offspring remain fertile, others (approaching, as it were, the
verge of separation) give rise to hybrids which are or not absolutely
sterile,[2] according as they approach, or are more remote from, the
designed barrier-line. And at that point the separation is insuperable.
Certain forms of _Carnivora_ and _Ungulata_ seem to be for ever
apart--not only the two great orders, but even subdivisions within them.
Reptiles and birds, on the other hand, unlike as they at first sight
seem, have no type line drawn to separate them; that, at least, is one
of the more recent conclusions of biological science.

[Footnote 1: It should be borne in mind that what we call a _species_ as
distinct from a mere variety, is a more or less arbitrary or provisional
thing dependent on the state of science for the time. Species are
constantly being lumped together by some and separated by others. It
follows most probably, that while some species are really types--i.e.,
one can never pass into the other and lose its essentials, unless it is
destined to disappear (like the pterodactyle), not being wanted in the
whole scheme--other species are really only varieties, and maybe lost or
modified without limit.]

[Footnote 2: We may well regard the mule as a peculiar form just such as
the evolutionist would rejoice to see: here is a modified species, which
has qualities different from those of either of the parent stock, and
well fitted "to struggle for existence." Yet this modified race would,
if left to itself, die out.]

In other cases where variation has occurred, and especially when it is
artificially--i.e., by the aid of selective breeding--caused or
favoured, there is the constant tendency to _revert_, which is at once
intelligible if there is a type scheme to be maintained.

If there were a series of created types, there may naturally have been
what I may call sub-types; which would be certain well-marked stages on
the way to the final form. Such sub-type forms would naturally occur at
different ages, and being marked would show their place in the scale,
and their connection with the ultimate perfect form. Such a possibility
would exactly account for the series of _Eohippus, Hipparion_, and
horse, which we have already instanced; and still more so for the rise
and disappearance of the great Mesozoic Saurians when their object was
fulfilled. Deny guidance and type, and everything becomes confused. Why
should variation take certain directions? how comes it that natural
forces and conditions of life so occur and co-operate as to produce the
variety of changes needed?

And there is also one other general objection which I desire to state.

Why should _development_ have gone in different directions _towards the
same object_? I grant that different circumstances would produce
different changes, but not for the same purpose. For example take
eye-sight. The world shows several types of eye. The _insect_ eye quite
unlike any other; the crustacean eye also distinct; and birds, fishes,
and animals having an eye which is generally similar and is somewhat
imitated by the eye of the _cuttle fish_ (which is not a _fish_, but a

Again, granted that _poison_ is a useful defence to creatures: how is it
given so differently?--to a serpent in the tooth; to a bee or a scorpion
in the tail; to a spider in a specially adapted _antenna_, and to the
centipede in a pair of modified legs on the _thorax_.

One would have supposed that natural causes tending to produce poison
weapons would have all gone on the same lines. And, curiously, in some
few cases, we have a sameness of line. About twelve species--all
fish--have an electric apparatus, familiar to most of us in the flat
sea-fish called _Torpedo_ and in the fresh-water eel called _Gymnotus_.
The only answer the anti-creationist can give to this dissimilarity of
development is that there are many vacant places in the polity of
nature, and that development takes place in that direction which fits
the creature to occupy a vacant place, and is, therefore, diverse.

It seems to me that this--the only answer that can he given--is
necessarily a modified form or mode _of creation._ How can _natural
causes_ know anything about a polity of nature and a vacant place, here
and there, so that the creature must develop in one way or another to
fill it?

Another set of cases is the production of similar functional results by
most diverse means, as in the case of flying animals, birds,
pterodactyles, and bats; here there is a widely different modification
of the fore-arm and other bones, all for the same purpose. The reader
will do well to refer to Mr. Mivart's book on this subject.

Again, the question of types seems to be pointed to in the curious fact
of what I may call the double development of birds from reptiles. Mr.
Mivart says, "If one set of birds sprang from one set of reptiles and
another set from another set of reptiles, the two sets could never by
'natural selection' only have grown into such perfect similarity." Yet
we can trace the _Struthious_ birds (those that, like ostriches, do not
fly) through the Dinosaurs and _Dinornis_, and the flying Carinate birds
though pterodactyles, _Archaeopteryx_, and _Icthyornis_, &c.

It might well be added to this part of the subject, that granted that
developmental changes were often small, that progress was attained
little by little, this does not appear to have been always the case.

The discoveries of the fossil species of horse,[1] _Eohippus,
Hipparion_, and so forth, clearly establish a developmental series, and
the ancient forms are claimed as the ancestor of the modern horse; but
these (Professor Owen tells us) differed more from one another than the
ass and the zebra (for instance) differ from the horse. Still, of course
it may be that there are still undiscovered intermediate forms; and in
any case there need be no desire to detract from the value of the
series, as really pointing towards a gradual perfection of the horse
from a ruder ancestor up to the latest type. But having reached the
type, and though that type exhibits such (considerable) variations as
occur between the Shetland pony, the Arab, and the dray-horse, we have
still no difficulty in recognizing the essential identity; nor is there
any evidence or any probability that the horse will ever change into
anything essentially different. All the fossil bats, again, were true
bats: and so with the rhinoceroses and the elephants. Granting the
fullest use that may be made of the imperfection of the geological
record, it is difficult to account for this, and still more for the
absence of intermediate forms (particularly suitable for preservation)
of the _Cetaceae_. The Zeuglodons from Eocene down to Pliocene, the
Dolphins in the Pliocene, and the _Ziphoids Catodontidae_, and
_Balaenidae_ in the Pliocene, are all fully developed forms, with no
intermediate species.

[Footnote 1: The series is thus (Nicholson, p. 702):--1.
_Eohippus_--Lower Eocene of America; fore-feet have four toes and a
rudimentary thumb or pollex. 2. _Orohippus_ (about the size of a
fox)--Eocene. 3. _Anchitherium_--Eocene and Lower Miocene; three toes,
but 2 and 4 are diminutive. 4. _Hipparion_--Upper Miocene and Pliocene;
still three toes, but 3 more like the modern horse and 2 and 4 still
further diminished. 5. _Pliohippus_--later Pliocene, very like Equus. 6.

Mr. Mivart remarks, "There are abundant instances to prove that
considerable modifications may suddenly develop themselves, either due
to external conditions or to obscure internal causes in the organisms
which exhibit them.[1]" If it is not so, granted to the full the
imperfection of the Geologic record, but remembering the cases where we
_do_ find intermediate forms; we ask why should they not be preserved in
other cases? If they ever existed we should surely see _more_ changing
forms; not only such as are more or less uncertainly divided species,
but whole orders running one into another. No evidence exists to show
that any bird has gradually passed into an animal, nor a carnivorous
beast become ruminant, or _vice versâ._

[Footnote 1:  P. 112] [Transcriber's note: Chapter VIII]

The analogy of changes that are known will not bear extension enough to
prove, even probably, any such change.

Surely if our conclusion in favour of a Divine Design to be attained,
and a Providential Intelligence directing the laws of development, is no
more than a belief, it is a probable and reasonable belief: it certainly
meets facts and allows place for difficulties in a way far more
satisfactory than the opposite belief which rejects _all_ but
"secondary" and purely "natural" causes.

So clear does this seem to me, that I cannot help surmising that we
should never have heard of any objection to Divine creation and
providential direction, if it had not been for a prevalent fixed idea,
that by "creation" _must_ be meant a final, one-act production _(per
saltum)_ of a completely developed form, where previously there had been
nothing. Such a "creation" would of course militate against _any_
evolution, however cautiously stated or clearly established. And no
doubt such an idea of "creation" was and still is prevalent, and would
naturally and almost inevitably arise, while nothing to the contrary in
the _modus operandi_ of Creative Power was known. What is more strange
is that the current objection should not now be, "Your _idea of
creation_ is all wrong," rather than the one which has been strongly
put forward (and against which I am contending), "There is no place for
a Creator."

(5) This is the only other _general_ point that remains to be taken up
in connection with the theory that all living forms are due to the
gradual accumulation of small favourable changes without creative
intervention. The objection is that we cannot obtain the inconceivably
long time required for the process of uncontrolled and unaided

I am not here concerned to argue generally for the shortness or longness
of the periods of geological time; let us, for the purposes of argument,
admit a very wide margin of centuries and ages; but _some_ limit there
must be. The sun's light and heat, for one thing, are necessary, and
though the bulk of combustible material in the sun is enormous, there
must be some end to it. Sir William Thomson has calculated (and his
calculations have never been answered) that on purely physical grounds,
the existence of life on the earth must be limited to some such period
as 100 millions of years; and this is far too short for uncontrolled

We know from fossils, that species have remained entirely unaltered
since the glacial epochs began, and how many generations are included
even in that! If no change is visible in all that time, how many more
ages must have elapsed before a primitive _Amoeba_ could have developed
into a bird or a Mammal?

In Florida Mr. Agassiz has shown that coral insects exist unchanged,
and must have been so for 30,000 years.

When we remember also the enormous destruction of life that takes place,
supposing that in a given form a few creatures underwent accidental
changes which were beneficial and likely to aid them--still what chances
were there that the creatures which began to exhibit the right sort of
change should have died before they left offspring! the chances against
them are enormous: and the chances have to be repeated at every
successive change before the finally perfected or advanced creature took
its place in the polity of nature. Moreover, there is the chance of
small changes being lost by intercrossing: our own cattle-breeders have
most carefully to select the parents, or else the favourable variety
soon disappears.

How then, seeing the power of stability which at least some forms are
found to exhibit--seeing too the enormous chances against the survival
of the particular specimens that begin to vary, and the further chances
of the loss of variety by intercrossing; how can we get the millions of
millions of years necessary to produce the present extreme divergence of
species? The fact is that the force of this objection is likely to be
undervalued, from the mere difficulty of bringing home to the mind the
immeasurable time really demanded by uncontrolled evolution.

Nor is the question of time left absolutely to be matter of belief or
speculation. For here and there in the geological records of the rocks,
we _have_ certain intermediate forms--or forms which we may fairly argue
to be such. But looking at the very considerable differences between the
earlier and the later of these forms--differences greater than those
which now separate well-defined species, it seems questionable whether
any of the divisions of Tertiary time, taking all the circumstances into
consideration, could be lengthened out sufficiently to accomplish the

At any rate, if any particular example be disallowed, the general
objection must be admitted to be weighty.

Now the intervention of any system of created designs of animal
form--however little its details be understood--and the production of
variations under _divine guidance_ which would lead more directly to the
accomplishment of such forms as the complicated flowers of orchids above
described, would unquestionably tend to shorten the requisite time.
There would, by a process of reasoning easily followed, be an immediate
reduction of the ages required, within practicable limits, though the
time must still remain long. More than that is not necessary. The
Ussherian chronology is not of Divine revelation, though some persons
speak of it as if it was. There is not the shadow of a reason to be
gleaned from the Bible, nor from any other source, that the commencement
of orderly development, the separation of land and water, earth and sky,
and the subsequent provision of designs for organic forms of life and
the first steps that followed the issue of the design, began six
thousand years ago, or anything like it. It can be shown, indeed, that
_historical_ man, or the specific origin of the man spoken of as Adam,
dates back but a limited time; and it is calculable with some degree of
probability how far; but that is all. We are therefore in no difficulty
when ample time is demanded; but we are in the greatest straits when the
illimitable demands of a slowly and minutely stepping development,
perpetually liable to be checked, turned back, and even obliterated,
have to be confronted with other weighty probabilities and calculations
regarding the sun's light and heat, and the duration of particular
geologic eras.



We now approach a special objection which always, has been (and I shall
be pardoned, perhaps, for saying _always will be_) the _crux_ of the
theory of unaided, uncreated evolution--the advent of reasoning, and not
only reasoning, but self-conscious and God-conscious MAN.

Here again the lines of argument are so numerous, and the details into
which we might go so varied, that a rigid and perhaps bald selection of
a few topics is all that can be attempted.

But I may remark that naturalists are far from being agreed on this part
of the subject. Agassiz rejects the evolution of man altogether. Mr. St.
G. Mivart, while partly admitting, as every one else now does, the
doctrine of evolution, denies the descent of man. Mr. Wallace, the great
apostle of evolution, opposes Darwin, and will have none of his views on
the descent of man; and Professor Huxley himself says that, while the
resemblance of structure is such that if any "process of physical
causation can be discovered by which the genera and families of ordinary
animals have been produced, the process of causation is amply sufficient
to account for the origin of man," still he admits that the gulf is vast
between civilized man and brutes, and he is certain that "whether _from_
them or not, man is assuredly not _of_ them."

The first difficulty I shall mention is, however, a structural one.
Supposing that an ape-like ancestor developed into man, on the
principles of natural selection; then his development has taken place in
a manner directly contrary to the acknowledged law of natural selection.
He has developed backwards; his frame is in every way weaker; he is
wanting in agility; he has lost the prehensile feet; he has lost teeth
fitted for fighting or crushing or tearing; he has but little sense of
smell; he has lost the hairy covering, and is obliged to help himself by
clothes.[1] If this loss was ornamental it is quite unlike any other
development in this respect, since no other creature has the same; for
ornamental purposes the fur becomes coloured, spotted, and striped, but
not lost. It is easy to reply that man being _intelligent_, his brain
power enables him to invent clothes, arms, implements, and so forth,
which not only supply all deficiencies of structure, but give him a
great superiority over all creatures. But how did he get that
intelligence? By what natural process of causation (without intelligent
direction) is it conceivable that, given a species of monkey, all at
once and at a certain stage, structural development should have been
retarded and actually reversed, and a development of brain structure
alone set in? Nor, be it observed, has any trace of _man_ with a
rudimentary brain ever been discovered. Savages have brains far in
excess of their requirements, and can consequently be educated and
improved. The skull of a prehistoric man found in the Neanderthal near
Dusseldorf is of average brain capacity, showing that in those remote
ages man was very much in capacity what he is at present.

[Footnote 1: It is remarkable that the loss of the hairy covering is
most complete when it is most wanted: the back, the spine, and the
shoulders are in nearly all races unprotected; and yet the want of a
covering from the heat or cold is such that the rudest savages have
invented some kind of cloak for the back.]

It must, however, be admitted that the special difficulties of the
origin of man are not purely structural. We do not know enough of the
Divine plan to be able to understand why it is that there is a certain
undeniable unity of form, in the two eyes, ears, mouth, limbs and organs
generally of the animal and man. Moreover, much is made of the fact, as
stated by a recent "Edinburgh Reviewer," that "the physical difference
between man and the lowest ape is trifling compared with that which
exists between the lowest ape and any brute animal that is not an
ape.[1]" This fact no doubt negatives the idea put forward by Bishop
Temple and others, that if there was an evolution of man, it must have
been in a special branch which was foreseen and commenced very far back
in the scale of organic being. For the structural difference might not
require such a separate origin; while the mental difference, affording
objections of a different class, will not allow of _any_ such evolution
at all. That there is _some_ connection between man and the animal
cannot be denied, and consequently, in the absence of fuller
information, very little would be gained by insisting on the purely
_physical_ development question. The Bible states positively that the
man Adam (as the progenitor of a particular race, at any rate) was a
separate and actual production, on a given part of the earth's surface.
All that we need conclude regarding that is that there is nothing known
which entitles us to say, "This is not a fact, and therefore is not
genuine revelation."

[Footnote 1: No. 331, July, 1885, p. 223.]

Moreover, as to the question of the possibility of human development
generally, there are certain considerations which directly support our
belief. For example, directly we look to the characteristic point, the
gift of intellect, we can reasonably argue that the action of a Creator
is indispensable. The entrance of consciousness and of reason, however
elementary, marks something out of all analogy with the development of
physical structure, just as much as the entrance of Life marked a new
departure in no analogy with the "properties" of inorganic matter.

From the first dawn of what looks like _will_ and _choice_ between two
things, and something like a _reason_ which directs the course of the
organism in a particular way for a particular object, we have an
altogether new departure. The difficulty commences at the outset, and
even in the animal creation; it is merely continued and rendered more
striking when we take into consideration the higher development of
intellect into power of abstract reasoning, self-consciousness and

It is perfectly true that the difference between the "instinct" of
animals and the reason and mind of man, is one of degree rather than
kind. As Christians, we have no objection whatever to a development of
reason from the lowest reason solely concerned with earthly and bodily
affairs to the highest powers searching into deep and spiritual truths.
But such a development, though it is parallel to a physical
development--as spiritual law appears to be always parallel (as far as
the nature of things permits) to physical laws--still is a development
which cannot under any possible circumstances dispense with an external
spiritual order of existence, and one which cannot be physically caused.
Nor is it conceivable that man should develop a consciousness of God,
when no God really exists externally to the consciousness.[1]

[Footnote 1: For our consciousness of God is obviously very different
from a figment of the imagination, or the sort of reality experienced in
a dream. This is not the place to develop such an argument, but it seems
to me more than doubtful whether we can even _imagine_ something
_absolutely_ non-existent in nature. When the artist's imagination would
construct, e.g., a winged dragon, the concept is always made up of
_parts which are real_--eyes like an alligator, bat-wings, scales of a
fish or crocodile, and so forth. All the members or parts are real, put
together to form the unreal. I do not believe that any instance of a
human conception can be brought forward which on analysis will not
conform to this rule.]

The main objection, then, that I would press is, that admitting any
possibility of the development of man from a purely physical and
structural point of view, admitting any inference that may be drawn
fairly from the undoubted connection (increasingly great as it is as we
go upwards from the lower animal to the ape) between animals and man,
that inference never can touch the descent of man as a whole; because no
similarity of bodily structure can get over the difficulty of the mental
power of man. We have to deal not with a part of man, but with the
whole. The difficulty cannot be got over by denying _mind_ as a thing
_per se_; for all attempts to represent mind as the _mere_ product of a
physical structure, the brain, utterly fail.

Nobody wishes to deny what Dr. H. Maudsley and others have made so plain
to us, that mind has (in one aspect, at any rate) a physical basis--that
is, that no thought, imagination, or combination of thought, is known to
us _apart from_ change and expenditure of energy in the brain. Nor can
we, by any process of introspection or observation of other subjects,
separate the mind from the brain and ascertain the existence of "pure
mind," or soul, experimentally. But still, there is no possibility of
getting the operations of mind out of mere cell structure, unless an
external Power has added the mind power, as a faculty of His endowing;
then He may be allowed to have connected that faculty ever so
mysteriously with physical structure; we are content. And I must insist
on the total failure of all analogy between the development of bones or
muscles and the development of mind; and even if we grant a certain
stage of instinct to have arisen, we are still in the dark as to how
that could develop into intellect such as man possesses, including a
belief in God. On this subject let us hear Professor Allman. Between a
development of material structure and a development of intellectual and
moral features, the Professor says, "there is no conceivable analogy;
and the obvious and continuous path, which we have hitherto followed up,
in our reasonings from the phenomena of lifeless matter to those of
living form, here comes suddenly to an end. The chasm between
_unconscious_ life and _thought_ is deep and impassable, and no
transitional phenomena are to be found by which, as by a bridge, we can
span it over.[1]"

There can be _life_ or _function_ without _consciousness_ or _thought;_
therefore, even if we go so far as to admit that life is only a property
of protoplasm, there can be no ground for saying that _thought_ is only
a property of protoplasm.

[Footnote 1: British Association Address.]

"If," says Professor Allman, "we were to admit that every living cell
were a conscious and thinking thing, are we therefore justified in
asserting that its consciousness with its irritability is a property of
the matter of which it is composed? The sole argument on which this view
is made to rest is analogy. It is argued that because the life
phenomena, which are invariably found in the cell, must be regarded as a
property of the cell, the phenomena of consciousness by which they are
accompanied must also be so regarded. The weak point in the argument is
the absence of all analogy between the things compared: and as the
conclusion rests solely on the argument from analogy, the two must fall
to the ground together."

Try and assign to matter all the properties you can think of, its
impenetrability, extension, weight, inertia, elasticity, and so forth,
by no process of thought (as Mr. Justice Fry observes in an article in
"The Contemporary Review [1]") can you get out of them an adequate
account of the phenomena of mind or spirit. We just now observed that
consciousness, thought, and so forth, are never exhibited apart from the
action of the brain; some change in the brain accompanies them all. We
do not deny that. But it is obvious that thought being manifested in the
presence of cerebral matter or something like it, is a very different
thing from thought being a _property_ of such matter, in the sense in
which polarity is the property of a magnet, or irritability of living

[Footnote 1: October, 1880, p. 587.]

To all this I have seen no answer. The way in which the opponents of
Christian beliefs meet such considerations appears to be to ignore or
minimize them, so as to pass over to what seems to them a satisfactory
if not an easy series of transitions. If Life is after all only a
"property" of matter, then given life, a brain may be produced; and as
mind is always manifested in the presence of (and apparently
indissolubly united with) brain structure, it is not a much greater leap
to accept _life_ as a property of _matter_ than it is to take _thought_
as a property of a certain _specialized physical structure_. It is true
that the distance is great between the instinct of an animal and the
abstract reasoning power of a Newton or a Herbert Spencer; but (as we
are so often told) the difference is of degree not of kind, and as the
brain structure develops, so does the power and degree of reason. As to
the difference in man, that he is the only "religious" animal--the one
creature that has the idea of God--that is a mere development of the
emotions in connection with abstract reasoning as to the cause of
things. No part of our mental nature is more common to the animal and
the man than the emotional; and if in the one it is mere love and
hatred, joy and grief, confidence and fear, in the other the emotions
are developed into the poetic sense of beauty, or the awe felt for what
is grand and noble; and this insensibly passes into _worship_, the root
of the whole being fear of the unknown and the mysterious. That is the
general line of argument taken up.

Even accepting the solution (if such it maybe called) of the two first
difficulties--life added spontaneously or aboriginally to matter, and
thought and consciousness added to organism--still the rest of the path
is by no means so easy as might at the first glance appear. Development
in brain structure certainly does not always proceed _pari passu_ with a
higher and more complex reasoning. In actual fact we find high
"reasoning" power, quite unexpectedly here and there, up and down the
animal kingdom. Some _insects_, with very little that can be called a
brain at all, exhibit high intelligence; and some animals with smaller
brains are more docile and intelligent than others with a much larger
development. The ape, in spite of his close physical approach to the
structure of man, and his still greater relative distance from the other
animal creation, is not superior (if he is not decidedly inferior) in
reason or intelligence to several animals lower down in the scale.

Savages, again, have a brain greatly in excess of their actual
requirements (so to speak). Hence the mere existence of brain, however
complex, does not indicate the possession of mental power.

There is reason to believe that all thought and exercise of the mind--in
fact, every step in the process of "Education," whereby an ignorant
person is brought at last to apprehend the most abstract
propositions--is accompanied by some molecular (or other) change. So
that a person who has been carefully educated has the brain in a
different state from that of an exactly similarly constituted person
whose brain has been subjected to no such exercise. But even if this
action could be formulated and explained, it would not follow that
thought is the _product_ of the molecular change; or that, _vice versâ_,
if we could artificially produce certain changes, in the brain, certain
thoughts and perceptions would thereon coexist with the changes, and
arise in the mind of the subject forthwith. And if not, then no process
of physical development accounts for grades of intellect; we have only
mind developing as mind. But the theory of evolution will have nothing
to do with any development but physical; or at any rate with mental
development except as the result of physical: it knows nothing of pure
mind, or spiritual existence, or anything of the sort.

In the nature of things we can have neither observation nor experiment
in this stage. We cannot by any process develop the lower mind of an
animal into the higher mind of man, and prove the steps of the
evolution.[1] It is important to remember that the power of _directing
the attention by a voluntary process of abstraction_, is one that
distinctively belongs to man. It is an effort of will, of a kind that no
animal has any capacity for. By it alone have we any power of abstract
reasoning, and it is intimately concerned with our self-consciousness
and memory, and with our language. I am quite aware that animals possess
something analogous to a language of their own; they can indicate
certain emotions and give warning, and so forth, to their fellows. But
that language could never develop into human language, or the animal
will (such as it is) ever rise to a human will, or animals become
endowed with self-consciousness, unless they could acquire the power of
voluntarily abstracting the mind from one subject or part of a subject
and fixing the attention on another. We cannot formulate any process of
change whereby the lower state could pass on to or attain to the higher
in this respect.

[Footnote 1: We can of course follow the sort of mental development
which is traceable when we consider the origin of our own sagacious and
faithful dogs in the wild prairie dog: but this development is always in
contact with the mind of man, and is, as it were, the result of man's
action, as man's development in mind and soul is the result of God's

Therefore again we conclude that the higher reason is a gift _ab

If we take a step further to the "spiritual" or "moral" faculties of
man, we have the same difficulty intensified, if indeed it does take a
new departure. To examine the question adequately would require us to go
into the deep waters of psychology; and here we should encounter many
matters regarding which there may be legitimate doubt and difference of
opinion, which would obscure and lead us away from our main line of

This I would willingly avoid. But it is quite intelligible, and touches
on no dangerous ground, when we assert that there is a distinct
ascent--an interval again raising developmental difficulties, directly
we pass from the intellectual to the moral. We may wonder at the high
degree of intelligence possessed by some animals; but we are unable to
conceive any animal possessing a power of abstract reasoning, having
ideas of beauty (as such), or of manifesting what we call the poetic
feeling. And still more is this so when we look at the further interval
that lies between any perception of physical phenomena, any reasoning in
the abstract, or investigation of mathematical truth, and the
overmastering sense of obligation to the "moral law," or the action of
the soul in its instinctive possession of the conception of a Divine
Existence external to itself. It is because of this felt difference that
we talk of the "spiritual" as something beyond and above the "mental."

The distinction is real, though we must not allow ourselves to be led
too far in attempting to scan the close union that, from another point
of view, exists between the one and the other.

In a recent number of "The Edinburgh Review,[1]" the author complains of
Bishop Temple thus: "He uses the word spiritual in such a way that he
might be taken to imply that we had some other faculty for the
perception of moral truths, in addition to, and distinct from, our
reason." And the writer goes on to make an "uncompromising assertion of
reason as the one supreme faculty of man. To depreciate reason (he says)
to the profit of some supposed 'moral' illative sense, would be to open
the door to the most desolating of all scepticisms, and to subordinate
the basis of our highest intellectual power to some mere figment of the

[Footnote 1: July, 1885, p. 211, in the course of the article to which I
have already alluded.]

On the other hand, some writers (claiming to derive their argument from
the Scriptures) have supposed they could assert three distinct natures
in man--a spiritual, a mental (or psychic), and a bodily. Now there is
no doubt that, rightly or wrongly (I am not now concerned with that),
the Bible does distinctly assert that a "breath of lives" [1] was
specially put into the bodily form of man, and adds that thereby "man
became a living soul." But it is also stated of the animal creation that
the breath of life was given to them,[2] and animals are said to have a
"soul" (nephesh).[3] So that neither in the one case nor the other have
we more than the two elements: a body, and a life put into it; though of
course the man's "life" (as the plural indicates, and other texts
explain) was higher in kind than that of the animal.

[Footnote 1: The plural of excellence appears to mark something superior
in the spirit of man over that of the animals. Also compare Job xxxiii.
4, "The breath of the Almighty hath given me life," with Isa. xlii. 5
and Zech. xii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Though not in the plural of excellence. See Gen. vi 17,
vii. 22, &c.]

[Footnote 3: Gen. i. 20, margin of A.V.]

St. Paul, it is true, speaks of the "whole spirit, and soul, and
body.[1]" But our Lord Himself, in a very solemn passage (where it would
be most natural to expect the distinction, if it were absolute and
structural, to be noticed), speaks of the "soul and body" only.[2]

The fact is that we are only able to argue conclusively that, besides
the physical form, we have a non-material soul, or a self. And our Lord,
whose teaching was always eminently practical, went no further. We are
conscious of a "self"--something that remains, while the body
continually grows and changes.

There was in _Punch_, some time ago, a picture of an old grandfather,
with a little child looking at a marble bust representing a child. "Who
is that?" asks the little one; and the old man replies, "That is
grandfather when he was a little boy." "And who is it now?" rejoins the
child. One smiles at the picture, but in reality it conceals a very
important and a very pathetic truth. Nothing could well be greater than
the outward difference between the grey hairs and bowed figure and the
little cherub face; and yet there was a "self"--a soul, that remained
the same throughout. In Platonic language, while the [Greek: eidôlon]
perpetually changes, the [Greek: eidos] remains. We have, therefore,
evidence as positive as the nature of the subject admits that we are
right in speaking of the _body and the soul, or self_. And as we cannot
connect the higher reasoning, and, above all, conscience and the
religious belief, as a "property" of physical structure, we conclude
that the Scripture only asserts facts when it attributes both to the
soul, as a spiritual element or nature belonging to the body. Man is
essentially one;[3] but there is both a material and a non-material, a
physical and a spiritual element, in the one nature. But, being a
spiritual element, that part of our nature necessarily has two sides (so
to speak). It has its point of contact with self and the world of sense,
and its point of contact with the world of spirit and with the Great
Spirit of all, from whom it came. _Because_ of that higher "breath of
lives" given by the Most High, man possesses the faculty of
_consciousness of God_ (i.e., the higher spiritual faculties), besides
the consciousness of self, or merely intellectual power regarding self
and the external world. Therefore, when an Apostle desires to speak very
forcibly of something that is to affect a man through and through, in
every part and in every aspect of his nature, he speaks of the "whole
spirit, soul, and body." To sum up: all that we know from the Bible is
that God gave a "soul" (nephesh) to the animals, in consequence of which
(when united to the physical structure) the functions of life and the
phenomena of intelligence are manifested. So God gave a non-material,
and therefore "spiritual," element to human nature; and this being of a
higher grade and capacity to that of the animal world, not only in its
union with physical structure, makes the man a "living soul"--gives him
an intelligence and a certain reason such as the animals have, but also
gives him, as a special and unique endowment; the consciousness of self
(involving--which is very noteworthy--a consciousness of its own
limitations) and the consciousness of God. Hence man's power of
improvement. If the man cultivates only the self-consciousness and the
reason that is with it, the Scriptures speak of him as the "natural or
psychic man;" if he is enabled by Divine grace to develop the higher
moral and spiritual part of his nature, and to walk after the Spirit,
not after the flesh, he is a "spiritual man."

[Footnote 1: 1 Thess. v. 23.]

[Footnote 2: Matt. x. 28.]

[Footnote 3: The well-known argument of St. Paul regarding the
resurrection in 1 Cor. xv. (ver. 45, &c.) is well worthy of
consideration in this connection. He deals with man as _one whole_;
nothing is said about a man being (or having) a spirit separate from his
soul and his body, and that spirit being given a higher body than it had
upon earth; but of the whole man, soul _and_ body, being raised and
changed into a man, also one whole, with a more perfect body--a body
more highly developed in the ascending scale of perfection. I do not
forget the passage where the same Apostle (2 Cor. v. 6) speaks of being
in the body, and absent from the Lord; and of being "clothed upon;" but
this does not in any way detract from the importance of the treatment of
the subject in the First Epistle.]

It is idle to speculate whether the "nephesh" of the animals, or the
"living self" of the man, is an entity separate from the body, and
capable of existing _per se_--of its own inherent nature--apart from
it. We do not know that animal forms are the clothing of a lower-graded
but separate spiritual form, or that such an animal soul or spirit can
exist separately from the body; and we do not _know_ (from the
Bible)--whatever may be the current language on the subject--that man's
spirit is in its nature capable of anything like permanent separate
existence.[1] Man is essentially one; and when the physical change
called death passes over him, it does not utterly obliterate the whole
being. The non-material element is not affected any more than it is by
the sleep of every night; and the man will be ultimately raised, not a
spiritual or immaterial form, but provided, as before, with a body, only
one of a higher capacity and better adapted to its higher
environments--the "spiritual body" of St. Paul, in a word. The original
union of mind and matter is, on any possible theory, mysterious; and the
separation of them for a time is neither less so, nor more. All this is
perfectly true, whether the non-material element in man's nature is
_necessarily_, inherently and _by nature_, immortal or not--a question
which I do not desire to enter on.

Hence it is that a certain element of truth is recognized in the protest
of the Edinburgh Reviewer. On the other hand, as we have not only
intelligence, emotions (which are possessed in lower degree by animals),
self-consciousness, the power of abstract reasoning, and the higher
faculties of the imagination,[2] but also the consciousness of God and
the commanding sense of right and wrong; and seeing that the last-named
are different in kind from the former, we give them a separate name, and
speak of the moral or spiritual nature or capacity of man, as well as
the intellectual or mental. Some (by the way) choose "moral" to include
both, holding that ethical perceptions arise out of (or are intimately
connected with) our sense of God. Others would make a further
distinction, and confine "moral" to the (supposed) bare ethical
perception of duty or of right and wrong, and add "spiritual" to
distinguish the highest faculty of all, whereby man holds communion with
his Maker and recognizes his relation to Him.

[Footnote 1: This remark does not, of course, in any way touch the
question whether the spiritual part of a man is conscious in the
interval between death and resurrection, or whether it can be made
sensible in any way whatever to living persons.]

[Footnote 2: The poetic sense, the perception of the beautiful, &c.]

Whether this further distinction is justified or not, there is a
distinction between the moral and the purely intellectual; and we are
justified in using different terms for things that are _practically_
different. This the Edinburgh Reviewer seems to have forgotten.

It was necessary to my argument to enter on this somewhat lengthy
examination of the spiritual nature of man, because, while we
acknowledge the unity of man, we are compelled to recognize in his
religious sense and aspirations and capacities something quite
disparate--something that we could not get by a natural process of
growth from such beginnings of reason as are observed in the lower

I am aware that Dr. Darwin conceived that the religious feeling of man
might have grown out of the natural emotions of fear,[1] love,
gratitude, &c., when once men began to question as to the explanation of
the phenomena of life, and to ascribe the forces of nature to the
possession of a spirit such as he himself was conscious of: and with
much more positive intent, Mr. H. Spencer has also, after most
painstaking inquiries, formulated what he conceives to be the origin of
religious belief in man. He refers us to the early belief in a "double"
of self, which double could be projected out of self, and remained in
some way after death, so as to become the object of fear, and ultimately
of worship. When this ancestor-worship resulted in the worship of a
multitude of "genii" (whose individuality, as regards their former
earthly connection, is more or less forgotten), then the idea of
attaching the numerous divinities or ancestor-souls to the ocean, the
sky, the sun, the mountains, and the powers of nature, arises; whence
the poetic systems of ancient polytheistic mythology. Gradually men
began to reason and to think, and they refined the polytheism into the
"higher" idea of one great, central, immaterial all-pervading power,
which they called God.

[Footnote: 1 See the "Descent of Man," vol. i. p. 68 (original edition).
But it is right to state that the subject is not treated in any way
whatever so as to argue that the religious belief is a fancy, or
development of fancy, with no God and no facts about God behind it.]

Mr. Spencer, in effect, concludes that this "God" is only man's own
idea of filling up a blank, of explaining the fact that there must be an
ultimate first cause of whatever exists, and there is also a great
source of power of some kind external to ourselves.[1]

I am not going here to enter on any special argument as to the validity
of these theories in their relation to the direct question of the nature
and existence of God. What we are here concerned with is, whether they
enable us to exclude the idea of a gift and a giver of spiritual or
mental (we will not quarrel about terms) nature to man, and whether, by
any fair reasoning from analogy, we can suppose man's reason and his
"_sensus numinis_" to arise by the mere stages of natural growth and
development. Dr. Darwin's supposition takes no notice of the moral law
and its influence; indeed he adopts[2] the view that conscience is no
sense of right and wrong, but only the stored up and inherited social
instinct, a sense of convenience and inconvenience to the tribe and to
the individual, which at last acts so spontaneously and rapidly in
giving its verdict on anything, that we regard it as a special sense. It
would of course be possible to expend much time and many words in
argument on this subject. There is not, and never will be, any direct
evidence as to the origin of conscience; and as that sense (like any
other power of our mental nature) is capable of being educated, evoked,
enlightened, and strengthened, and may also by neglect and contradiction
deteriorate and wither away, there is ample room for allowing a certain
part of the theory.[3] But many people who examine their own conscience
will feel that the description certainly does not suit them; there are
many things which conscience disapproves, of which no great evil
consequences to themselves or any one else are felt. Conscience is
constantly condemning "the way that seemeth good unto a man."
_Ultimately_ no doubt, there is real evil at the end of everything that
conscience warns a man against; but not such as "inherited experience"
is likely to recognize. Is it, for instance, the experience of the mass
of men, as men, that the "fleshly mind is death, but the spiritual mind
is life and peace"? Is not rather the world at large habitually putting
money-making, position-making, and the care of the things of the body,
of time, and of sense, in the first place; and is not the moral law
perpetually warning us that the fashion of the world passes away, and
that what seems gold is in reality tinsel? As far as the condemnation
that conscience passes on the broad evils which affect society--"thou
shalt not steal," "thou shalt not lie," or so forth--no doubt it is
supported by the transmitted sense of inconvenience; but who has told it
of the evil of things that do not affect our social state? and who has
changed the inconvenient, the painful, into the _wrong_? It is one thing
to instinctively avoid a theft or a falsehood, even if the first origin
of such instinct were the fear of consequences or the love of
approbation; it is quite another--the inward condemnation of something
which "the deceitfulness of sin" is able to excuse, and which the world
at large would regard as permissible or at least venial. Even if
inherited use has its full play, there is still a something wanted
before the one can be got into (or out of) the other. Why, again, are
savages prone to imagine natural phenomena to be caused or actuated by
"spirits"? Surely it is because there _is_ consciously a spirit in man,
and a Higher Power, even God, outside, who exists, though man in his
ignorance has many false ideas regarding Him.

[Footnote 1: It is not necessary to my immediate argument, and therefore
I do not press it into the text (though I should be sorry to seem to
forget it for a moment), to urge that St. Paul draws a clear distinction
between the intellectual faculties and the higher spiritual ones, when
he assures us that the clearest intellect alone cannot assimilate the
truths of religion. For the spiritual faculties have been in man
grievously deadened and distorted (to say the least of it), so that his
intellectual faculties, bright and highly developed as they may be, will
always prove insufficient for the highest life in the absence of the
"grace of God." It is exactly analogous to the case of a man whom we
might suppose to have his sense of sight, touch, &c., distorted, and he
himself unable to correct them by aid of the senses of others. However
acutely he might exercise his reason, he would be continually wrong in
his conclusions. See 1 Cor. ii., the whole, but specially vers. 14, 15.]

[Footnote 2: "Descent of Man," vol. i. p, 70.]

[Footnote 3: The attempt (already alluded to) to separate moral and
spiritual, to imagine something that is ethical, apart from the
religious idea, has lent some strength to these ideas of the moral
sense; but in fact, the moral sense is _inseparably_ connected with the
idea of God, and His approval and disapproval. The idea of God may be
obscured and lost, but conscience is the surviving trace of it; the
circumference that accounts for the broken arc.]

It is an objection of the same order that applies to the other theory
(Mr. Spencer's). There can be little doubt that in many respects it is
true: as an account of all _human_ systems of religion it is adequate
and natural; but it breaks down hopelessly when we try to use it to
explain how the conception of God originated in the mind. Just as there
is a felt difference--not of degree or in form, but essential and
radical in its nature--between the _undesirable_ and the _wrong_, so
there is a difference between the idea of a mysterious thing towards
which apprehension or awe is felt, and the conception of God. Granted
that man believed in his own spirit or double, and attributed similar
immaterial motor powers as a cause for the wind and waves, and so forth;
granted that he at last "refined" this into the belief in one Spirit
whose power was necessarily great and varied--the origin is still
unexplained. How did man get the idea of a personal spirit or double--no
such thing, _ex hypothesi_ existing? How did he get to formulate the
idea of a _God_ when he had simplified his group of many spirits into

If man is created with a consciousness of his own inner-self, _as a
self_, he is able naturally to imagine a like self in other beings; if
he has an idea of God innate in him, he can assimilate the truth when it
is at last presented to his mind; and that is why he feels that it _is_
a refinement; a rising from the lower to the higher (because from
falsehood to truth), to let the many gods give place to the One God. If
the idea of God has been obscured, and the power of its apprehension
deadened, the man can only grope about helplessly, fashioning this
explanation of nature and that--all more or less false, but all dimly
bearing witness to the two absolute facts, that there is an inner
non-material self, and an external non-material God.

If then there are insuperable difficulties in connecting thought with
matter by any process of unaided development, there are also great
difficulties, even when thought in a rudimentary form is given, in
conceiving it developed into man's reason, or man's religious belief, by
any known process of "natural" causation.



There are, however, some other matters connected with the history of man
on the globe, unconnected with psychological development, but which
demand notice, as making the argument against an undesigned, unaided
development of man a cumulative one. It is urged that whatever may be
thought of the connection of man with the animal creation, at any rate
the received Christian belief regarding the origin of man--especially
his late appearance on the scene--is contrary to known facts, and that
we have to mount up to a vast geologic antiquity to account for what is
known from exhumed remains in caves and lake dwellings, and the like.

Now no one pretends that the history of man is free from doubt and
difficulty, but the doubt and difficulty are not confined to the
"orthodox." For the inferences to be drawn from the exhumed remains are
equally doubtful whatever views be adopted.

I shall not go into great length on this subject, partly because some
recent popular tracts of Canon Rawlinson, Mr. R.S. Pattison, and others,
have already made the ordinary reader familiar with the main outlines of
the subject; and still more because, be the views of archaeologists what
they may, it is impossible for any rational person to contend either
that they can be reduced to anything like unity among themselves, or
that they lead to any conclusion favourable to the belief in the
self-caused and undesigned evolution of man.

It may be regarded as known, that at the dawn of history, mankind was
passing through what may be called a Bronze age, in which weapons of
bronze were used before tools of iron were invented. But this age was
preceded by one in which even bronze was unknown. Stone implements, and
some of bone and horn, were alone used. It is also well ascertained that
there were two _widely divided_ stone ages. The latter, distinguished by
the polishing of the stones, is described as the _neolithic_; the
former, in which flint and other hard stone fragments were merely
chipped or flaked to an edge, is called the _palaeolithic_.

It is hardly contended that the neolithic age could have been more than
four or five thousand years ago. There is always the greatest difficulty
in fixing any dates because from the nature of the case written records
are absent, and the stages of growth in the history of peoples overlap

We know that sharp flakes of stone were still used for knives in the
time of Moses and Joshua. We are not out of the stone age yet, as
regards some portions of the globe; and it is quite possible that parts
of the earth, not so very remote, may have been still in the midst of a
stone age when Assyria, Chaldaea, and Egypt were comparatively highly

It is also fairly certain that between the neolithic or smooth-stone
age, and the palaeolithic, certain important geological changes took
place, though those changes were not such as to have demanded any very
great length of time for their accomplishment.

The palaeolithic stone implements are found in river gravels and clays,
along the higher levels of our own Thames Valley, that of the Somme in
France, and in other places. They are also found at the bottom of
various natural caverns.

No human bones have been found as yet with the implements, but the bones
of large numbers of animals have. And it seems certain that the men who
made the implements were contemporaries of the animals, because in the
later part of the age, at any rate, they drew or scratched likenesses of
the animals on bone. Among these representations are figures of the
_mammoth_ an extinct form well known to the reader by description and
museum specimens of remains.

The animals contemporary with these primeval men were the mammoth,
species of rhinoceros and hippopotamus, the "sabre-toothed" lion, the
cave-bear, the reindeer, besides oxen, horses, and other still surviving

In his address to the British Association in 1881 Sir John Lubbock
called attention to the fact that these animals appear to indicate both
a hot and a cold climate, and he referred to the fact (known to
astronomers) that the earth passes through periods of slow change in the
eccentricity of its orbit, and in the obliquity of the ecliptic. The
result of the latter condition is, to produce periods of about 21,000
years each, during one-half of which the Northern hemisphere will be
hotter, and in the other the Southern. At present we are in the former

But the obliquity of the ecliptic does not act alone; the eccentricity
of the orbit produces another effect, namely, that when it is at a
minimum the difference between the temperatures of the two hemispheres
is small, and as the eccentricity increases, so does the difference. At
the present time the eccentricity is represented by the fraction .016.
But about 300,000 years ago the eccentricity would have been as great as
.26 to .57. The result, it is explained, would have been not a uniform
heat or cold, but extremes of both; there would probably have been short
but very hot summers, and long and intensely cold winters.

This, Sir John Lubbock thought, might account for the co-existence of
both hot and arctic species, like the hippopotamus and rhinoceros on the
one hand, and the musk-ox and the reindeer on the other.

But such considerations really help us little. In the first place, it is
only an assumption that the fossil hippopotamus _was_ an animal of a hot
climate--it does not in any way follow from the fact that the now
existing species is such; nor if we make the assumption, does it explain
how, if the hot summer sufficed for the tropical hippopotamus, it
managed to survive the long and cold winters which suited the arctic

Moreover, no such calculations can really be made with accuracy: we do
not know what other astronomical facts may have to be taken into
consideration, nor can we say when such "periods" as those which are so
graphically described, began or ended.

In this very instance, we know that the mammoth only became extinct in
comparatively recent times, since specimens have been found in Siberia,
with the hair, skin, and even flesh, entirely preserved. Granted that
the intense cold of the Siberian ice effected this, it is impossible to
admit more than a limited time for the preservation--not hundreds of
thousands of years. Professor Boyd Dawkins is surely right in stating
that the calculations of astronomy afford us no certain aid at present
in this inquiry.

As regards the geological indications of age, the best authority seems
to point to the first appearance of man in the post-glacial times: that
is to say, that the gravels in which the palaeolithic implements are
found were deposited by the action of fresh water after the great
glacial period, when, at any rate, Northern Europe, a great part of
Russia, all Scandinavia, and part of North America were covered with
icefields, the great glaciers of which left their mark in the numerous
scoopings out of ravines and lake beds and in the raising of banks and
mounds, the deposit of boulders, and the striation of rocks _in situ_,
which so many districts exhibit.

The few instances in which attempts have been made, in Italy or
elsewhere, to argue for a pliocene man (i.e. in the uppermost group of
the tertiary) have ended in failure, at least in the minds of most
naturalists competent to judge.

One of the most typical instances of the position of the implement age
has been discovered by Fraas at Shüssenried in Suabia; here the remains
of tools and the bones of animals (probably killed for food) were found
in holes made in the glacial _débris_.

But here, again, it is impossible to say when this glacial age
terminated, and whether man might not have been living in other more
favoured parts while it was wholly or partially continuing.

In Scandinavia no palaeolithic stone implements have been found, from
which it may be inferred that the glacial period continued there during
the ages when palaeolithic man hunted and dwelt in caves in the other
countries where his remains occur.

The best authorities do not suppose that the men _originated_ in the
localities where the tools are found; and there is so little known about
the geology of Central Asia (for example) that it is impossible to say
whether tribes may not have wandered from some other places not affected
by the glaciation we have spoken of.

Again, the gravels and brick earths containing the tools are just of the
kind which defy attempts to say how long it took to deposit and arrange

It may be taken as certain, that after the one age ceased and the first
men appeared, the beds in which their relics occur have been raised
violently, and again depressed and subjected to great flushes and floods
of water. The caves have been upheaved, and the gravels are found
chiefly along the valleys of our present rivers, but at a much higher
level, showing that there was both a higher level of the soil itself and
a much greater volume of water.

The Straits of Dover were formed during this period.

But none of these changes required a very long time; and if we can trace
back the later stone age, which shows remains of pottery and other
proofs of greater civilization, to the dawn of the historic period not
more than 4000 or 5000 years ago, there is nothing in the nature of the
changes which, as we have stated, intervened between the palaeolithic
and neolithic periods, that need have occupied more than a thousand or
two of years. Upheavals of strata and disruptions may be the work of
but a short time, or they may be more gradual. And as to the effect of
water, that depends on its volume and velocity; no certain rule can be
given. Our own direct experience shows that very great changes may take
place in a few hundred years.

"The estuaries," remarks Mr. Pattison,[1] "around our south-eastern
coast, which have been filled up in historical times, some within the
last seven hundred years to a height of thirty feet from their
sea-level, by the gradual accumulation of soil, now look like solid
earth in no way differing from the far older land adjoining. The
harbours out of which our Plantagenet kings sailed are now firm,
well-timbered land. The sea-channel through which the Romans sailed on
their course to the Thames, at Thanet, is now a puny fresh-water ditch,
with banks apparently as old as the hills. In Bede's days, in the ninth
century, it was a sea-channel three furlongs wide."

[Footnote 1: "Age and Origin of Man"--Present-Day Tract Series.]

Thus we are in complete uncertainty as to the date of the palaeolithic
man, or as to the time necessary to effect the changes in the surface of
the earth which intervened between it and the later stone ages. But
there is nothing which conflicts with the possibility that the whole may
have occurred within some 8,000 years.

For the supposition of Mons. Gabriel Mortillet that man has existed for
230,000 years, there is neither evidence nor probability. His theory is
derived from an assumption that the geologic changes alluded to occupied
an immense time; and the further assumption (if possible still more
unwarranted) that the old race which used the chipped stone tools
remained stationary for a very long period, and very gradually improved
its tools and ultimately passed into the neolithic stage when the art of
pottery became known, however rudely.

But, in point of fact, we are not required by our belief in Scripture to
find any date for the origin of man, at least not within any moderate
limits (not extending to scores of thousands of years). The Bible was
not intended to enable us to construct a complete science of geology or
anthropology, and the utmost that can be got out of the text is that a
date can be _suggested_ (not proved) for one particular family (that of
Adam) by counting up the generations alluded to in Holy Writ before the
time of Abraham. But these are manifestly recorded in a brief and
epitomized form; nor do all the versions agree. We may well believe that
a watchful Providence has taken care of the record of inspiration, but
we know it has been done by human and ordinary agency. The Bible is
God's gift to his Church, and the Church has been made in all ages the
keeper of it. Now in the matter of early dates and numbers, an unanimous
version has not been kept. According to the construction adopted in the
Septuagint, the creation of Adam would go back 7,517 years, while the
Vulgate gives 6,067 years. Dr. Hale's computation makes 7,294 years,
and the Ussherian 5,967;[1] the Samaritan version is, I believe, further
different from either.

As it is, the facts show nothing inconsistent with an approximation to
these several periods.

As to any absolute date for the appearance of man as a species, no
calculation is possible, because of a certain doubt, which no one can
pretend to resolve, as to whether the Scriptures do assert the creation
of _all_ mankind at any one period. If, owing to more positive
discoveries in the future compelling us to put further back the date of
man's first appearance upon earth, we have to suppose a beginning before
the time of Adam, we are reminded that there is an allusion in the sixth
chapter of the book called Genesis to "the sons of God" and the
"daughters of men." Now this passage cannot conceivably refer to angels;
nor can we ignore its existence, however doubtful we may feel as to its

[Footnote 1: I take these figures from Mr. R.S. Pattison.]

[Footnote 2: The text which speaks of God making "of one blood all
nations for to dwell on the face of the earth," would naturally apply to
the races existing when the speaker uttered the words: it would be as
unreasonable to press such a text into the service of _any_ theory of
the creation of man, as it was absurd for the Inquisition to suppose
that the Psalmist, when asserting that God had made the "round world so
fast that it could not be moved," was contradicting the fact of the
earth's revolution round the sun.]

It can hardly be denied that such a text opens out the _possibility_ of
an earlier race than that of Adam; in that case the creation of Adam
would be detailed as the creation of the direct progenitor of Noah,
whose three sons still give names (in ethnological language) to the main
great races of the earth, with whom exclusively the Bible history is
concerned, and especially as the direct progenitor of that race of whom
came the Israelites, and in due time the promised seed--the Messiah. I
do not say this _is_ so, nor even that I accept the view for my own
part; I only allude to the possibility, without ignoring any of the
difficulties--none of which, however, are insuperable--which gather
round it.

It is certainly a very remarkable fact that all about this region in
which the Semitic race originated, traditions of Creation somewhat
resembling the account in Genesis, the institution of a week of seven
days, and a Sabbath or day of rest from labour, existed from very early
times; and with these traditions, a belief in distinct races, one of
which owned a special connection with, or relation to, the Creator. Here
I may appeal to the work of Mr. George Smith and his discoveries of
tablets from the ancient libraries of Assyria. Originally, the country
to which I have alluded consisted of Assyria in the centre and Babylonia
to the south; while to the east of Assyria was a country partly plain
and partly hill, which formed the "plain of Shinar" and the hills beyond
occupied by Accadian tribes, from whose chief city, Ur, Abraham, the
forefather of the Jews, emigrated. The Assyrian documents are copies of
Babylonian originals, but the Babylonian kingdom itself was a Semitic
one founded on the ruins of an earlier population, the inhabitants of
the plain of Shinar and the mountains beyond. Some time between 3000 and
2000 B.C. the Semitic conquerors of Babylonia took possession of the
plains, and some time later conquered also the Accadian mountaineers.
The Babylonians possessed and translated the old Accadian records: the
Assyrian tablets are mostly, but not all, copies, again, of the
Babylonian transcripts. The celebrated "Creation tablets," which contain
an account closely corresponding to Genesis, are among those which were
not copied from Accadian originals; and they do not date further back
than the reign of Assur-bani-pal, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks; who
reigned in the seventh century B.C. They may therefore be derived from
the Bible, not the Bible from them. It would seem from some earlier
(Accadian) tablets, that a different account of the Creation existed
among them. But though it is doubtful how far the Accadians had
preserved this account, or at least had others along with it, _they had
a seven days week_ and _a Sabbath_. All this points to _one_ original
tradition, which specified days of creation and a Sabbath, though it got
altered and distorted, so that the true account was preserved as one
among many local variations. This goes to prove the immense antiquity of
the story, which is not affected by the fact that the actual inscription
of it which we at present have, dates only about 670 B.C. The point
here, however, interesting in the legends, is that they contained the
idea of a special connection of one particular race with the Creator,
and of other races, or of one other race, besides.

As far as the possibility of bringing forward the history of mankind as
any aid to the theory of Evolution is concerned, I might have very well
let the subject alone, or even noticed it more briefly than I have done.
For, in truth, there is no _evidence_ whatsoever, and all that the
denier of creation can resort to is a supposed analogy and a probability
that the peculiarities of man could be accounted for in this way or in
that. But the main purpose of my brief allusion is to introduce the fact
that, as far as any evidence to the contrary goes, we have an absolutely
sudden appearance of man on the scene, and no kind of transitional form.
Not only so, but there is no trace of any gradual development of man
when he did appear. There was the first palaeolithic man; then a
considerable geologic perturbation of the earth's surface, resulting in
the upheaval of the cliffs in which the caves of remains occur, and in
the alteration of the gravel beds in which the human remains are found;
and then the neolithic age, with its evidently greater civilization (as
evidenced by pottery, &c.) connected with early and traditional, but
still with recent, history; but no trace of any development of one race
into the other.

The absence of all progressive change is forcibly indicated by the
measurements of ancient skulls, which, though not found along with the
flint tools, have been found elsewhere. It has been fully shown that
they differ in no respect from the skulls of men at the present day;
while the skulls of the apes most nearly anthropoid, or allied to the
human form, remain as widely separated in brain-capacity as ever.[1]

Thus the fact remains, that no intermediate form between the ape and the
lowest man has been discovered, and that there is nothing like any
progressive development in the races of man. These facts, taken together
with what has been brought forward in the last chapter, show how
completely the theory of the descent of man breaks down; how utterly
unproved and untenable is the idea that he should have been evolved by
natural causes and by slow steps from any lower form of animal life.

[Footnote 1: The gorilla has a brain size of 30.51 cubic inches; the
chimpanzee and ourang-outang (in the males) from 25.45 to 27.34 inches.
According to Dr. J. Barnard Davis the average of the largest class of
European skulls is 111.99, that of the Australian 99.35 cubic inches.]



It will naturally be asked, "If there is all this objection to some
parts of the theory of Evolution, or to that theory in an extreme or
absolute form, how is it that it has been so eagerly accepted in the
ranks of scientific men?"

The answer is, in the first place, because the theory of Evolution is to
a great extent true. When men speak of controversy with the Evolutionist
and so forth, they of course mean such as insist on carrying the
doctrine to a total and even virulent denial of any Divine control at
all. And it must, I think, be admitted that much of the theological
opposition offered to the doctrine was aimed at _this_ aspect of it. At
first, men zealous for what they believed to be Divine truth, did not
discriminate; they saw that the then new idea of evolution was, in many
branches of its application, still very poorly proved, and they
conceived that it could not be accepted apart from a total denial of
religion. We have grown wiser in the course of time: misconceptions
have been swept away; and everybody may be content with the assurance
that there is no necessary connection even, far less any antagonism,
between evolution and the Christian faith at all. We may admit all that
is known of the one without denying the other. Where the controversy has
to be maintained is, that some will insist (like Professor Häckel) in
carrying evolution beyond what evidence will warrant; and not only so,
but will insist on polemically putting down all religion on the strength
of their improved theories. If "Evolutionists" complain of the treatment
they have received at the hands of "Theologians," they will at least, in
fairness, admit that there has been some misconception, some error on
both sides. What we maintain is, that evolution (i.e., here, as always,
unlimited, uncontrolled evolution) still fails to account for many facts
in nature; that we are still far from holding anything like a complete
scheme in our hands; there may be _limits_ to the wide circle of
progressive changes, to the results of development, of which we are
ignorant; and there is, above all, in that most important of all
questions--the descent of man--an absolute want of proof of animal
_descent_ (i.e., in any sense which includes the "soul" or spiritual
faculties of man). Hence that evolution in no way clashes with an
intelligent Christian belief. In saying this, I would carefully avoid
undervaluing the services which the evolution theory has rendered, and
is rendering, to science. Even in its first form as a mere hypothesis,
it was an eminently suggestive one; there was from the first quite truth
enough in it to make it fruitful, and many working hypotheses have been
immensely useful in science, which have in the end been very largely
modified. Before Darwin's wonderfully accurate mind and marvellous skill
in collecting and making use of facts, turned the current of natural
science into this new channel, men seemed to be without an aim for their
naturalist's work. The _savant_, for example, procured an animal
evidently of the cat tribe, and another species like a polecat. He knew
as a fact that the feline teeth had a certain structure, and that the
dental formula of the viverrine animals is different. Here, then, he
could distinguish and perhaps name the species; but what more was to be
done? All natural history as a study seemed to end in classifying and
giving long names to plants and animals. The Evolution theory at once
gave it a new object. Why is the dental formula of the _viverrinae_
different? What purpose has the long spur in the flower of _Angraecum_,
or the marvellous bucket of _Coryanthes_, the flytrap of _Dionaea_, the
pitcher of _Nepenthes_? What is the cause, what is the purpose, what is
the plan in the scheme of nature, of these structures? Under the
stimulus of such questions naturalists woke up to new views of
classification, to new experiments, inquiries, and to research for facts
and the explanation of facts, in all quarters of the globe. No wonder
that science rose, under such an impulse, as a butterfly from its
chrysalis. But some will not be satisfied with any scheme the parts of
which are separated, or which admits of anything unknown or
unexplainable. They want to unite all into one grand and simple whole,
which glorifies their own intelligence, and does not force them to
humble patience and waiting for more light. And then the fatal enmity of
the human heart--which is a plain fact, an undeniable tendency--delights
to get rid of the idea of God's Sovereignty, the humbling sense that
everything is at His absolute disposal, and nothing could be but as He
wills it. It seems so satisfactory to eliminate all external mysterious
power, to make the whole "_totus teres atque rotundus_"--having started
the great machine of being _somehow_ to see it all expand and unroll
of itself and advance to the end.

Imagination leaps the chasms, minimizes the difficulties, passes from
the possible to the certain, from the "may have been" to the "must have
been" and to "it was so," and, fascinated with the _completeness_ of its
scheme, commences to denounce and revile as ignorant and unscientific
all that would, calmly appeal to evidence, and confess ignorance, or at
least a suspended judgment, in any stage where the evidence is negative
or incomplete.

It has been well observed that "men are so constituted that completeness
gives a special kind of satisfaction of its own, and a habit of
specially regarding the general uniformity of nature begets a desire to
assume its absolute and universal uniformity."

There _is_ a great mystery underlying life and the plan in which the
animal form, the organs of sight, hearing, and the rest, run through the
whole creation: and, given a mystery, there is always ample room for
speculation. Taking firm hold of the facts of development and variation,
the extreme evolutionist is carried away with the idea of having the
same principle throughout: he is impatient of any line or any check; he
is therefore prepared to ignore all difficulties, to hope
against hope for the discovery of to him necessary--but, alas,
non-existent--intermediate forms, till at last he comes to deny, not
only his God, but his own soul, as a spiritual and supra-physical

[Footnote 1: Those who want a specimen of the way in which extreme
evolutionists will _romance_ (it can be called nothing else) will do
well to read Dr. Häckel's "History of Creation," only they must be on
their guard at every step. The author constantly states as facts (or,
perhaps, with an impatient "must have been") the existence of purely
hypothetical forms, of which there is _no kind_ of evidence. To such
ends does the love of completeness lead!]

Such extremes are no part of true science, and have neither helped the
progress of knowledge, nor advanced the condition of mankind. But, on
the other hand, let us hear no more of a sweeping condemnation of the
theory of Evolution as a whole; let us beware of any insistence
on, or assumption of, the supposed fact that God created
separately--ready-made and complete--all known animal forms, bringing
them up from the ground, like the armed men in the Greek legend, from
the dragon's teeth.

We have no more right to dogmatize and assume a scheme of creation from
a popular and long-accepted interpretation of the Bible, than the
evolutionist has to ignore the palpable evidences of Divine guidance and
design, and construct a theory or organic being which ignores both.




We have now completed the first portion of our inquiry: there remains
the second, which, to a large class, at any rate, will appear of not
less importance. For the Scriptures, which they have been taught to
trust, contain a brief but direct and positive statement regarding
Creation, as well as numerous other less direct allusions to the
subject, all (as far as I know) in unquestioned harmony with the first.

Is the account in the Book of Genesis true? It is necessary to answer
this question, because, even if a general belief in an Almighty Author
and Designer of all things is shown to be reasonable, still the
Scripture ought surely to support the belief; and it would be strange
if, when we came to test it on this subject, we found its professed
explanations would not stand being confronted with the facts.

No one will, I think, deny that the question is important. Writers of
the "anti-theological" school still continue to insist on the falsity of
the Mosaic narrative, as if the error was not yet sufficiently slain,
and was important enough to be attacked again and again. And
theological writers, down to the most modern, continue to explain the
text in one way or another;--besides, _they_ admit the importance, under
any circumstances. I do not forget that there is a school of thought,
which is distinctly Christian in its profession, but does not allow the
importance. It would regard the narrative as addressed to Jews only, and
therefore as one which does not concern us. If that was all, it would
not be needful for me to discuss the position. But it has been held, not
only that the narrative does not concern us, but _also_ that it is
certainly inaccurate.

This view I cannot adopt: it seems not quite fair to ourselves, and not
quite fair to the Jews. Let me explain what I mean. If we have nothing
to do with the narrative, let us abstain _equally_ from defending it
_or_ pronouncing it wrong--that is for ourselves. As to the Jewish
Church, a little more must be said. Let us admit, at any rate for
argument's sake, that the separation between the Jewish formal and
ceremonial religion and Christianity is as wide as can be wished. Nor
would I undervalue the importance of insisting on pure Christianity, as
distinct from Judaism. And, further, let us (without any question as to
ultimate objects) regard the narrative as primarily addressed to Jews,
and let us admit that it may have been unimportant, for the purpose of
the first steps in Divine knowledge, that any account should be given of
Creation beyond the primary fact that all idolatrous cosmogonies were
false, and that the Unseen God of Israel alone made the heavens and the
earth "in the beginning." Why should the Jews have received that truth
through the medium of a story of which the whole framework was false,
and nothing but the moral true? The framework, moreover, is one so
plainly _professing to be fact_, that it was certain to be received as
such by a simple people. It seems to me that there is something very
suspicious, something repugnant to notions of truth and honest dealing,
in the possible communication of underlying Divine truth through the
medium of stories, which are not stories on the face of them, but
profess and pretend to be statements of fact and authoritatively made.

But, further, it cannot be denied that, whatever allowance may have to
be made under the early Jewish dispensation for the ideas and weaknesses
of a semi-barbarous people, whatever "winking" there may have been "at
times of ignorance," the main object was, by a gradual revelation,[1] by
a system of typical ordinances and ceremonies, to lead up to the full
spiritual light of the Christian dispensation. Everything written, said,
or done, was a step--however small an one--always tending in the one
direction, according to the usual law of Evolution. The Christian
believer may then look back to the early stages as imperfect
foreshadowings and dim illustrations of the whole truth; but he would, I
should think, on any ordinary principles, be shocked to find truth
developed out of positive error. And should the error have been
discovered, as it now is[2] (in the view of these I am contending
against), this discovery might have arrested the further development of
Divine truth altogether. If Moses, or whoever wrote the Book of
Genesis--we will not cavil at that--was allowed to compose his own
fancies or beliefs on the subject of Creation, _and to state them as
Divine fact_ (no matter that the reader at the time was not able to find
out the error), would not grave suspicion attach to whatever else he put
forward? Who could tell that, on any other subject, the plainest and
most direct statement of fact was not equally a fancy, only embodying or
enshrining (under the guise of its errors) some real Divine facts? If
Genesis i. is unreliable, we have a case of a writer going out of his
way to add to certain truths, which might easily have been stated by
themselves, a number of positive declarations, _as of Divine authority_,
regarding facts, which are not facts.

[Footnote 1: I am not aware of any authority, living or dead, who has
gone so far as to deny that God's revelation to the Jewish Church was in
any way connected with Christianity; that it was not even a stage of
progress, or preparatory step towards the kingdom of Christ.]

[Footnote 2: And was _sure to be_ sooner or later, when a science of
Biology and Palaeontology became possible.]

The great truths that God is really the Maker and Author of all things,
and that man has a spiritual being, and so forth, surely _gain nothing_
from being conveyed to the world in the folds of a fable. And when it
is not in a confessed fable, but a fable put forth as fact--"God said,"
"God created," "it was so"--not only is there no gain, but our sense of
fitness and of truth receive a shock. A parable is always discernible as
a parable, a vision as a vision. When our Lord, for example, tells us of
the ten virgins, we do not suppose Him to be revealing the actual
existence of ten such maidens, wise and foolish. We know that He is
reading a lesson of watchfulness. But looking at the Genesis narrative,
who could suppose it to be a parable? If sober, unmistakable statement
of fact is possible, we surely have it here, in intention, at least.

The plan of teaching truth in an envelope of error is _per se_ difficult
to conceive. But how much worse is it when we consider--what criterion
does mankind possess for disinterring and distinguishing the elements of
truth? If in religion we had only to do (as some would perhaps contend)
with obvious enforcements of common morality and kindness, there might
be a possibility of getting over the difficulty, because man would
possess some kind of criterion whereby to distinguish what was
fictitious, by the simple process of considering whether any given
statement bore on morals or not. Such a test would not indeed go very
far, because the human race is by no means agreed on all moral
questions; nor does it always find it easy to say what is, and what is
not, directly or indirectly connected with morals. But, in fact, the
scope of religion cannot be so confined: and then the difficulty
returns; for a revelation that tells us anything of the nature of God
and His method of government, of the nature of our own being and of a
future state, must necessarily go beyond our own ethical knowledge and
powers of judging, or it would not be a revelation. Supposing that the
revelation regarding such vital subjects is occasionally conveyed
through the medium of erroneous statements, where in any given case
would be the certainty as to what was Divine truth, and what not so?

This argument applies equally to another school of thinkers, who do not
care to tell us what the narrative in itself means: who believe that God
did not do what He is said to have done in Genesis, and yet who hold
that the narrative is in a sense inspired, and that we may learn from it
the great facts that God (and none other) originated all things--that
man has a spiritual element in his nature, and that woman is equal in
nature, but subordinate in position, to man, and so forth. Not only is
enlightened judgment, even, inadequate to pronounce with certainty on
how much is true; but the strange feeling still remains, if God designed
to teach us these truths only, why was it not possible to enable the
writer[1] to state them without the (purely gratuitous) error? The
sufferance of such a strange and unnecessary mixture of error seems
rather like that "putting to confusion" of the human mind, which we feel
sure the Great Teacher would never willingly perpetrate.

[Footnote 1: For on the supposition stated, there _is_ a revelation in
the text. Nor could any class of believer deny this. It is entirely
unnecessary to define the kind and extent of insphation. But "all
Scripture is '_theopneustos_'"--I leave the word purposely untranslated
(2 Tim. iii. 16); that surely means that the Divine Spirit exercised
_some kind_ of continuous control over the writers.]

Nor, again, can the narrative be got over by saying it is a poetic side
or aspect of the facts, and not to be taken literally. If any one knows
exactly what this means, and can tell us always how to translate the
matter into plain language, it is to be wished that he would enlighten
the world as to the process. But even if such process exists infallibly
and universally, still, one would suppose, the narrative must, to begin
with, be unmistakable poetry. And here, again, the narrative bears every
mark of an intention to state facts, not poetic aspects of facts. Nor
can we take the narrative as belonging to a familiar class in Scripture
where a dream is used as a vehicle of communication. In those cases
there is really no room for doubt; the visible facts themselves are
obviously designed only to typify or represent some other facts.

The events stated in Genesis are not of this class. Those, therefore,
who would be content with getting over the narrative without caring for
its details, can, I must suspect, have hardly given adequate attention
to the form and to the contents of the narrative as it stands. Not only
are the statements positive, but, taking any interpretation whatever of
them, they are not nearly imaginative enough to suit the purpose.

They have an obvious amount of relation to fact which has never been

If the narrative is purely human even (and that the school we are
considering do not aver), how did the writer come to be accurate even to
that extent? Take only the order of events. I admit it does not
correspond with the geologic record in the way commonly asserted; yet it
has a very remarkable relation to that sequence.

Now, in any case, the writer could have had no knowledge of any kind _of
his own_ on the subject: how did he hit on this particular
arrangement?[2] It is a mere matter of calculation on the well-known
rules of permutation and combination to realize in how many different
ways the same set of events could have been arranged; the number is very

And he could derive no assistance from any similar existing narrative.
If we conclude from the Assyrian discoveries that a non-biblical but
similar narrative existed, still it is certain that the principal one we
as yet have is so late in date, that it is more likely to be derived
from the Bible than the Bible from it. And though, on referring to the
earlier tablets, we find traces of the same narrative, it is so obscured
by idolatrous and false details, that the Bible writer must have had to
make a virtually new departure to get his own simple narrative. A
re-revelation would be required. As to all other cosmogonies, Egyptian,
Indian, and Buddhistic, nothing can be more opposed in principle and in
detail than they are to the severe and stately simplicity and directness
of the Mosaic.

[Footnote 1: Not even, for example, by Professor Häckel.]

[Footnote 2: How, for example, did the writer come to introduce the
adjustment of hours of daylight and seasons in the _middle_, after so
much work had been done? How did he come to place _birds_ along with
fish and water monsters, and not separately?]

We cannot, then, account for the narrative on human grounds; nor can we
suppose that any inspiring control would have given the author so much
truth, and yet allowed so much error.

All this points to only one of two possible conclusions: either the
narrative is not inspired at all, and is a mere misleading story, into
which the name of God is introduced by the author's piety--and so really
teaches us nothing, since it is not revelation; _or_ the narrative is,
as a whole, divinely dictated, and must be true _throughout_, if we can
only arrive by due study at its true meaning. That part of it is, or may
be, true, even on the most cursory study, is not denied; that it is
_all_ true will appear, I think, in the sequel.

But there is a shorter and simpler reason why the rejection of the
narrative in Genesis would be a direct blow to Christian faith. The
plain truth is that it can hardly be denied, by any candid student of
the New Testament, that our Lord and His apostles certainly received the
early chapters of Genesis as of Divine authority. This has always been
perceived by the whole school of writers opposed to the Faith. They
therefore continue to attack these early revelations, and rejoice to
overturn them if they can, because they are aware that hardly any
chapters in the Bible are more constantly alluded to and made the
foundation of practical arguments by our Lord and His apostles.

If these chapters can be shown to be mythical, then the Divine knowledge
of our Lord as the Son of God, and the inspiration of His apostles, are
called in question. In the New Testament, especially, there are repeated
and striking allusions to Adam, the temptation of the woman by the
Serpent, and the entrance into the world of sin and death. Our Lord
Himself places the whole argument of His teaching on marriage and the
permissibility of divorce on Genesis ii. 24 (_cf_. St. Matt. xix. and
St. Mark x.). In St. John viii. 44 our Lord clearly alludes to the
Edenic narrative when He speaks of the tempter as a "manslayer ([Greek:
anthropoktonos]) from the beginning." Still more remarkable is the
argument of St. Paul in Romans v.; altogether based as it is on the
historical verity of the account of the Fall; and other allusions are to
be found in 1 Cor. xi. 8, in 2 Cor. xi. 3, in the Epistle to the
Ephesians, and elsewhere. In short, there are at least sixty-six
passages in the New Testament, in which the first eleven chapters of
Genesis are directly quoted or made the ground of argument. Of these,
six are by our Lord Himself, two being direct quotations;[1] six by St.
Peter, thirty-eight by St. Paul, seven by St. John, one by St. James,
two by St. Jude, two by the assembled apostles, three by St. Luke, and
one by St. Stephen.

[Footnote 1: St. Matt. xix. 4; St. Luke xvii. 27; and perhaps we might
add a third--St. Matt. xxiii. 35.]

We cannot, in fact, possibly avoid the conclusion that our Lord and His
apostles admitted the Divine origin and historical truth of these

Therefore, we are bound as Christians to accept them, and that without
glossing or frittering away their meaning, when we have arrived, by just
processes, at what that meaning really is.

The fact just stated further warns us against accepting an indefinite
interpretation which, while it acknowledges the truth of the general
conclusion, still virtually, if not in so many words, allows that the
details may be wholly inaccurate.



Passing, then, to a consideration of the explanations of the narrative
that may be or have been given at various times, I would first call
attention to the fact, that it seems in many instances to have been the
distinct purpose of Divine inspiration to allow the meaning of some
passages to be obscure; perhaps among other reasons, that men might be
compelled to study closely, to reason and to compare, and thus to become
more minutely acquainted with the record. Especially in a case of this
sort, where the world's knowledge of the facts would necessarily be
gradual, was it desirable that the narrative should be confined in
scope, and capable of being worked out and explained by the light of
later discoveries; because, had the narrative really (as has long been
supposed) been revealed to tell us what was the actual course of
evolution of created forms on earth, it would not only have occupied a
disproportionate space in the sacred volume, but would have been
unintelligible to the world for many centuries, and would have given
rise to much doubting and false argument, to the great detriment of
men's spiritual enlightenment. It would have diverted men's minds from
the great moral and conclusion of the whole (and here it is that the
"moral" or conclusion is so important) to set them arguing on points of
natural science.

The Bible was never intended (so far we may agree with all the schools
of thought) to be a text-book on biology or geology. We need rather to
be impressed with the great facts of God's Sovereignty and Providence,
and to know definitely that all the arrangements of our globe and all
forms of life are due to Divinely-created types. This is exactly secured
by the narrative as it stands; but such a purpose would not be served by
a narrative which, while it contained these great facts, had them
enwrapped in a tissue of unnecessary and false details. And therefore it
is, if I may so far anticipate my conclusion, that the narrative has no
direct concern with how, when, and where, the Creation slowly worked
itself out under the Divine guidance which is still elaborating the
great purpose of the "ages"; it confines our attention to what God, the
great Designer, did and said in heaven, as preliminary to all that was
to follow on earth. The former was not a proper subject for revelation,
because man would in time come to learn it by his studies on earth; but
the latter all ages could only learn--the first as well as the
latest--from a Divine Revelation.

Again, let me address a few words to those who are tempted, half
unconsciously perhaps, to think that any lengthy prelude and "elaborate"
explanation of Genesis must condemn the narrative _à priori_, or be
derogatory to the dignity of Revelation. Why the narrative should be
brief and concise I have just suggested. That it needs explanation of
_some_ sort is inevitable, because it _must_ be put into human language;
and directly such language is employed, we come upon such terms as "let
there be," "he created," and "days," which do not always call forth the
same ideas in all minds.

It will not have escaped the attention of any earnest student, that
Scripture has several different methods of describing things so as to
reveal them to men. This, a moment's reflection will enable us to
expect. However high and wonderful the things to be stated are, in order
to be brought within reach of human understanding _they must be
expressed in terms of human thought and experience_; and these are
imperfect and essentially inadequate. Hence it is, that many truths have
to be brought before us in special or peculiar ways.

How, for instance, are we told of the temptation and fall of man? How
are we to understand what was meant by the Tree of Life or the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil, or by the Serpent speaking and beguiling
Eve? We are at a great loss to give a precise explanation, though the
practical meaning is not difficult.

The facts may be none the less true, though from their transcendental
character it may have been necessary to put them down in mysterious,
possibly even in merely allegorical, language. Another instance of this
might be given in the account of Satan in the presence of the Lord as
described in the Book of Job, or of the lying Spirit described by
Micaiah when prophesying before Ahab. It maybe that these narratives
describe to us transactions in a world beyond our own, which _could_
only be conveyed to us in figures or in imperfect form. When St. Paul
was caught up into the third heaven, he "heard unspeakable things" which
it was not _possible_ for him to utter--the medium of expression was
wanting. Divine or mysterious things have, then, to be described in
peculiar language which is not always easy to understand. Nor, having
respect to the varying requirements of the different ages, or the
circumstances of the time and of the inspired writer, is it easy to
understand why any particular form of communication was selected, though
doubtless if we knew more we should see a good reason for it. This gives
us one class of Scripture passages--of methods of revelation. On the
other hand, there are in Scripture many facts of the highest import, and
in themselves of transcendent magnitude, which are yet capable of being
stated without any possibility of our interpreting or understanding the
narrative in more ways than one. When it is stated that Christ Jesus
rose from the dead, we know beyond all reasonable doubt what is meant.
The fact may be true or false, but the narrative of the fact needs no
explanation; there are no terms which need expansion--which could bear
more than one possible meaning, and which could be used accordingly in
one sense or another. This instances a second class. Again, we can bring
forward yet another class of Scripture revelations, namely, passages
which are necessarily understood with reference to certain other matters
which are unexpressed but are taken for granted, or in which the words
used may bear more than one meaning, or a meaning which is uncertain or
obscure. If the unexpressed matter can be supplied without doubt, then
all ages will agree in the interpretation; and if the terms can (by
reference to context or otherwise) be explained, the same result
follows: if not, then in interpreting the narrative, each age will _make
its own assumption_ regarding the terms used, on the basis of such
knowledge as it possesses. It follows, then, inevitably, that if the
state of knowledge varies, the interpretation will be different
according to the different standard of knowledge, according to which the
necessary assumptions are made. And yet all the while the authority of
the passage itself is not touched. As it is unquestionable that such
different classes of passage do occur in Scripture, it is merely a
question of criticism whether any given passage is of this class or
that, and whether its terms do admit of or require explanation. It is no
doubt possible to make mistakes and to err by refusing the direct
meaning, and giving to the terms an assumed meaning for which there is
no real necessity.[1] We have always to be on our guard against giving
special meanings to words where they are not required; but granted that
caution, there undoubtedly are passages in which either the terms
themselves are not plain, or in which they may really have a meaning
different from the ordinary one.

[Footnote 1: As, for example, where persons desirous to get over the
plain reference to Baptism in St. John iii. 5, try to explain away the
term "water" to mean something metaphorically but not actually water.]

To descend from the general to the particular, it is obvious that the
account of Creation in Genesis i., ii. is in such a form that we must
assume our own ideas of the term "day" therein employed, and also those
to be attached to "created" and similar terms.

In early times, no one would take "day" to mean anything else but an
earth day of the ordinary kind, and no one would question whether or not
the whole existing animals and plants, or their ancestors, appeared on
earth in six such days, or whether anything else was meant. Again, by
the time St. Augustine was writing, a little more knowledge of nature
and a little more habit of reasoning about the origin of things was in
the world, and that knowledge led people to suppose that creation meant
only the making of things "out of nothing," but that it would take
longer than six times twelve hours, so that "days" might mean "periods."

And people imagined for a long time that--taking for an example the
work in the middle of the narrative--there was a time when the earth
emerged from the tumult of waters, that it then got covered with plants,
the waters remaining barren of life; but that when the plants had come
up all over the ground, then the waters all at once became full of all
sorts of sea-shells, fish, and monsters of the deep, and so on.

They did all this, by naturally _assuming_ that the terms "creation,"
"day," &c., meant what the _existing state of knowledge_ at the time

At the present day, one would have supposed that every one must feel
that while the term "day" might or might not admit of explanation,
certainly _creation_ (i.e., terms implying it) did require very great
care in interpreting, and very great consideration as to what they
really meant But however that may be, we have here a passage which
_must_ have an explanation; and which must have an explanation that
depends on the state of knowledge.

The utility of Revelation is not negatived by this necessary result of
the employment of human language in describing the facts. It was _not_
necessary before, that all should be understood; it may be now
increasingly necessary in the purposes of God that it should be. At any
rate the fact is so, that in former days people did not possess the data
for knowing fully what creation meant, and certainly they do now possess
it to a very much greater extent at least. Always men could learn from
the narrative what it always was important for them to learn, namely,
God's Sovereignty and Authorship. It is in this way that the value of
the _general_ teaching of the narrative comes out, and not by trying to
allow a mixture of truth and falsehood in Revelation. All is and always
was true; but _all_ the truth was not equally extractable at all times.

Again: the dignity of the old written Revelation is not compromised
because God has virtually given a further revelation in His works,
i.e., by enabling man to know more about the rock-strata and the
succession of life on the earth. That is what it really comes to. It
should never be forgotten that the book of Nature _is_ a revelation.

The _works_ of God, if interpreted truly, are evidence of the same
nature as the _word_ of God if interpreted truly. God has created man
and his reason. It is impossible to suppose that it can be unrighteous
reasoning in God's sight, to derive from the facts of nature any
legitimate conclusion to which those facts point. It is childish to
believe that God created ready-made--if I may so speak--rocks with
fossils in them, marks of rain-drops showing which way the wind blew at
the time, foot-prints of birds, animals with remains of the prey they
had been feeding on, in their stomachs, and so forth. It is perfectly
reasonable and right to conclude certainly, that those creatures were
once living beings; that the surface of the earth was once a soft
sediment which received the impression of the rain-drops as they fell;
and that stratified rocks were deposited out of lakes and seas, as we
see alluvial strata deposited at the present day. It is impossible,
therefore, that (if we are not misled by appearances) any
well-ascertained fact can be contrary to the truth of God as explained
by Revelation. If we are not sure of the facts of nature, we must wait
patiently till further knowledge enlightens us, and must not hastily
conclude that the Bible is wrong. The repeated corrections which
successive years have compelled us to make in conclusions which were
once firmly accepted and proclaimed as "truths of science," should teach
us caution in this respect.

Nor, lastly, is it any reproach to the Church, as keeper of the Divine
Revelation, that its opinion of certain passages should vary with the
growth of knowledge. It would be hardly necessary to make this obvious
remark but for the fact that it has been reproached against Christian
belief, that science is contrary to the Bible, and that the Church has
ever had to confess itself wrong, after having persecuted people for not
following its peculiar views. It is, indeed, unfortunate that a blind
zeal for God has led, in the past, to persecution; the Church failing to
see that such men as Galileo and Bruno never denied God at all, nor did
their discoveries really contradict the Word. But persecution is not a
sin peculiar to the Church; it is a sin of human nature.

It is also true that Christian views may be wrong, but the fault is in
the views, not in the Bible.

Scientific men, of all people, should be the last to complain of
_change_ in views, seeing that what was science two hundred years ago is
now (much of it) exploded nonsense.

There is no harm whatever in changing our views about the meaning of
difficult passages--provided we never let go our hold on the central
truth, and put the error to our own account, not saying that the Word
itself is wrong.

It may, in this connection, be at once observed that any particular
explanation, or that one which I propose presently to suggest, of the
first chapters of Genesis, may not commend itself to the reader, and yet
the general argument I have adduced will hold good notwithstanding.

All that I care to contend is, that science does not contradict a
syllable of the narrative on _one_ possible interpretation, and that
changes in view as to interpretation are no arguments against the truth
of the passage itself.



Returning, then, to the narrative in the Book of Genesis, I think we may
take it as clear that the passage stands in such a concise and condensed
form, that it is obviously open to _be interpreted_. Further, that we
should not be surprised if the interpretation at the present day, with
our vastly increased knowledge of Nature, is different from what it was
in earlier times.

I make no apology for repeating this so often, because it is really
amazing to see the way in which "anti-theological" writers attack what
_they suppose_ to be the interpretation of the narrative, or what some
one else supposes to be such, and seem to be satisfied that in so doing
they have demolished the credibility of the narrative itself.

If you choose to assume that Creation as spoken of by the sacred writer
means some particular thing, or even if the mass of uneducated or
unreflecting people assume it and you follow them, I grant at once that
the narrative can be readily made out to be wrong.

Permit me, then, to repeat once more, that the narrative is in human
language, and uses the human terms "created," "made," and "formed," and
that these terms _do_ (as a matter of fact which there is no gainsaying)
bear a meaning which is not invariable. Hence, without any glossing or
"torturing" of the narrative, we are under the plain obligation to seek
to assign to these terms a true meaning _with all the light that modern
knowledge_ can afford.

Now (having already considered the school of interpretation which
declines to attend to the exact terms) we can confine our attention to
two classes of interpreters. One explains the term "days" to mean long
periods of time; the other accepts the word in its ordinary and most
natural sense, and endeavours to eliminate the long course of
developmental work made known to us by palaeontological science, and
supposes all that to have been passed over in silence; and argues that a
final preparation for the advent of the man Adam was made in a special
work of six days.

All the well-known attempts at explanation, such as those of Pye-Smith,
Chalmers, H. Miller, Pratt, and the ordinary commentaries, can be placed
in one or other of these categories.

Now, as regards both, I recur to the curious fact (already noted) that
it seems never to enter into the conception of either school to inquire
for a moment what the sacred writer meant by "created"--God
"created"--God said "let there be." It _is_ curious, because no one can
reasonably say "these terms are obvious, they bear their own meaning on
the surface;" a moment's analysis will scatter such an idea to the
winds. Yet the terms _are_ passed by. The commentators set themselves
right earnestly to compare and to collate, to argue and to analogize, on
the meaning of the term "days;" the other term "created" they take for
granted without--as far as I am aware--single line of explanation, or so
much as a doubt whether they know what it really means!

The interpretation that I would propose to the judgment of the Church is
just the very opposite. It seems to me that the word _day_ as used in
the narrative needs no explanation; it seems to me that the other does.
As regards the term "day," it is surely a rule of sound criticism never
to give an "extraordinary" meaning to a word, when the "ordinary" one
will give good and intelligible sense to a passage. And looking to the
fact that, after all, when the days of Genesis _are_ explained to mean
periods of very unequal but possibly enormous duration, that explanation
is not only quite useless, but raises greater difficulties than ever, I
should think it most likely that the "day" of the narrative should be
taken in the ordinary sense. But of this hereafter.

On the other hand, with regard to the terms "creation,[1]" "created,"
"Let there be," and so forth, I find ample room for the most careful
consideration and for detailed study before we can say what is meant.
Even then there remains a feeling of profound mystery. For at the very
beginning of every train of reflection and reasoning on the subject, we
are just brought up dead at this wonderful fact, the existence of
_matter_ where previously there had been _nothing_. The phrase "created
_out of_ nothing" is of course a purely conventional one, and, strictly
speaking, has no meaning; but we adopt it usefully enough to indicate
our ultimate fact--the appearance of matter where previously there had
been nothing. Nor is the difficulty really surmounted by alleging such a
mere _phrase_ as "matter is eternal," for we have just as little mental
conception of self-existent, always--and _without beginning_--existent
matter, as we have of "creation out of nothing."

[Footnote 1: The entire silence of commentators regarding the doubtful
meaning of "creation" is so surprising, that I have had the greatest
difficulty in persuading myself that the explanation I propose is new.
Yet certainly I have never come across it anywhere.]

The human mind has always a difficulty when it is brought face to face
with something that is beyond the scope not only of its own practical,
but, even of its theoretical or potential ability.

The "creation," therefore, of matter by a Divine Power is matter of
_faith_, as I endeavoured to set forth in the earlier pages of this
little work; but it is _reasonable_ faith, because it can be supported
by sound reasoning from analogy and strong probability.

All our attention, then, I submit, should be directed to understanding
what is "creation" in the sacred narrative.




§ 1. _Objections to the Received Interpretations_.

Taking the narrative as it stands, we find it to consist of two parts.
First, a general statement, of which no division of time is predicated,
and which is unaccompanied by any detail. Second, there is an account
seriatim of certain operations which are stated to have been severally
performed one on each of six days.

As regards the first portion, we have no definite knowledge of
scientific truth with which to compare the narrative. It is obviously
necessary for some Divine teacher to tell us authoritatively that God
originated and caused the material earth, and the systems of suns and
stars which men on the earth's surface are able to discern in the

We are consequently informed that in the beginning--there is no
practical need for defining further--"God created the heavens and the
earth." Here the question arises whether the Hebrew "bara," which is a
general term, alludes to the first production of material, or to the
moulding or fashioning of material already (in terms) assumed to exist.
I think that the conclusion must be that the best authority is in favour
of the idea of absolute origination of the whole;--the bringing the
entire system into existence where previously there was a perfect blank.
But even if the secondary meaning of "fashioned" or "forged" be allowed,
we have still an intelligible rendering. For in that case the first
origination of matter is tacitly assumed by the term itself, and the
statement would be, that the matter of the future cosmos so existing,
the Divine Artificer fashioned or moulded it into the orderly fabric it
has come to be.

The narrative then at once refers to our earth, with which, and with its
inhabitants, the whole volume is to be in future directly concerned.
"The earth was (or became) without form and void (chaotic), and darkness
was on the face of the deep (or abyss)."

We have no positive knowledge of what the first condition of terrestrial
matter was, apart from Revelation. The remarkable discoveries that the
spectroscope has enabled, and the facts learned from the physical
history of comets and meteorites, can do no more than make what is known
as the "nebular hypothesis" highly probable. But it is amply sufficient
for our purpose to point out, that if it is true that matter originated
in a nebulous haze to the particles of which a spiral rotatory motion
had been communicated, and if (confining our attention to one planet
only) that attenuated matter gradually aggregated in a ring or rings,
and then consolidated into a solid or partly solid globe, then the
results are briefly, but adequately and sublimely, provided for by the
form of the Mosaic statement.

Matter thus aggregating would have developed an enormous amount of heat,
and there would have been a seething mass of molten mineral matters,
with gases and other materials in the form of vapours, which would have
gradually cooled and consolidated. Vast masses of water would in time be
formed on one hand, and solid mineral masses on the other; the latter
would contract as cooling progressed, causing great upheavals and
depressions and contortions of strata. And before the advent of
life-forms, it is not difficult to conceive that the first state of our
globe was one which is intelligibly and very graphically described as
being "without form and void." Nothing more than that, can, from actual
physical knowledge, be stated.[1]

It is also stated that this confused elemental state of our earth was
accompanied at first by darkness. Material darkness that is--for the
potentiality of light and order was there; the SPIRIT OF GOD "moved" (or
brooded) upon the face of the abyss. This presents no difficulty of
interpretation, and may therefore be passed over for the present.

[Footnote 1: It would be hardly necessary (but for some remarks in the
course of the Gladstone-Huxley controversy) to observe that the term
"void" does not imply vacuity or emptiness, as of _substance,_ but
absence of defined form such as subsequently was evolved.]

Practically, indeed, there has been no grave difficulty raised over this
first portion. And if it is argued (on the ground of what I have already
in general terms indicated) that the term "created" will, on my own
interpretation, get us into difficulties, I reply that here, in its
position and with the context, there is no room for doubt, for clearly
the word implies _both_ the great primary idea of the Divine design or
plan formulated in heaven, _and_ the subsequent result in time and
space.[1] This will become more clear when I have further explained the

[Footnote 1: And of course if the true sense be "fashioned" or
"moulded," the question does not arise.]


But from this point the narrative commences to be more precise, and to
exhibit a very singular and altogether unprecedented division of
creative work into "days."

Now I have already indicated my doubt whether we ought to import any
unusual meaning to explain this term.

In the first place, the objection that till the movements and relations
of the sun to the earth were ordained there would be no _measure of a
day_ will not stand a moment's examination. Nor will the further
objection sometimes made, that even with the sun, a day is a very
uncertain thing: for example, a day and a night in the north polar
regions are periods of month-long duration, quite different from what
they are in England, or at Mount Sinai. Obviously, a "day" with
reference to the planet for which the term is used, means the period
occupied by one rotation of the planet on its own axis. The rotation of
the earth is antecedent to anything mentioned in the narrative we are
considering. In the nature of things, it would have been coeval with the
introduction of the _prima materies_--at least if any nebular hypothesis
can be relied on. The "day" would be there whether it were obscured by
vapours or not, and whether specially made countable and recognizable by
what we call the rising and setting of the sun, or not, and whether we
were standing in Nova Zembla or in Australia.

Nor is it of much use to refer to the general use of "day" for
indefinite periods, which is just as common in the English of to-day as
it was in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. But the double use of the
term in different senses has become general, just because it was found
in practice that no confusion ordinarily resulted; and surely such a
practice would not have been common, or at any rate would have been
specially avoided in the sacred volume, wherever any mistake or
confusion was likely or even possible.

No one can mistake what is meant when allusion is made to "the day in
which God made the heaven and the earth." No one falls into doubt when
the "days" of the prophets are spoken of--any more than they do now when
a man says, "Such a thing will not happen in my _day_."

Whenever in Daniel, or in similar prophetic writings, the term "day" is
used in a peculiar sense as indicating a term of years, we have no
difficulty in recognizing the fact from the context and circumstances of
the narrative; nor am I aware that any controversy has ever arisen
regarding the use of the term "day" _in any passage of Scripture
excepting in this_.

This fact alone is suspicious; the more so, because there is absolutely
nothing in the context to indicate that anything but an ordinary day is
intended. Not only so, but there _is_ in the context something that does
very clearly indicate (and I think Dr. Réville is perfectly justified in
insisting on this) that an ordinary terrestrial day is meant. One of the
primeval institutions of Divine Providence for men, my readers will not
need to be reminded, was that of a "Sabbath," which any one reading the
text would understand to mean a day, and which the Jews--the earliest
formal or legal recognizers of it--_did_ so understand, and that under
direct Divine sanction.

If the _days_ of Genesis mean indefinite periods of aeonian duration,
how is the seventh _day_ of rest to be understood?

But even if these difficulties are overcome, absolutely nothing is
gained by taking the day to be a period.

I presume that the object of gaining long periods of time instead of
days in reading the Mosaic record, is to assume that the narrative means
to describe the actual production on the earth of all that was created;
in other words, to assume a particular meaning for the words "created,"
"brought forth," &c and then to make out that if a whole age is
granted, Science will allow us a sequence of a "plant age" a "fish and
saurian age," a "bird age," and a "mammalian age";--that is, in general
terms and neglecting minor forms of life. But then _to make any sense at
all with the verses_ we are bound to show that each age preceded the
next--that one was more than partly, if not quite completely,
established _before_ any appearance of the next.

It is to this interpretation that Professor Huxley alludes when he says,
in his first article,[1] "There must be some position from which the
reconcilers of Science and Genesis will not retreat--some central idea
the maintenance of which is vital, and its refutation fatal.... It is
that the animal species which compose the water population, the air
population, and the land population,[2] respectively, originated during
three successive periods of time, and only during those periods of

[Footnote 1: "Nineteenth Century," December, 1885, pp. 856-7.]

[Footnote 2: These (unfortunate) terms are Mr. Gladstone's.]

For my own part, I hasten to say that, as one of the despised race of
"reconcilers," not only is this idea no central position from which I
will not retreat, but one which I should never think of occupying for
one moment.

But on the view of the _periods_, some such position must be taken up.
And if so, I must maintain that Professor Huxley has shown--if indeed it
was not obvious already--that the idea of a series of periods, and in
each of which a certain kind of life began and culminated (if it was not
fully completed) _before_ another began, is untrue to nature. This,
therefore, cannot have been intended by the author of Genesis.

I will here interrupt my argument for a moment to say that there is a
_certain degree_ of _coincidence_ between the succession of life on the
earth as far as it is explained by palaeontological research, and the
order of creation stated in Genesis; but that is not concerned with any
forced interpretation of the term "day." The coincidence is just near
enough to give rise to a desire to identify creative periods with the
series shown by the fossil-bearing rocks; while it is attended with just
enough of difference to furnish matter for controversy, and to expose
the interpreters to be cut up.

But to return. Nothing, I submit, is gained by getting _day_ to mean
period. Let us put the matter quite squarely. Let us take day to mean
period, and let us take all the verses to mean the _process_ of
_producing_ on earth the various life-forms.

In order to come at once to the point, let us begin with the time when
the dry land and the waters are separate. At that moment, there is
nothing said (or implied) about life already having begun in either
water or on dry land. God commanded plants to grow; consequently during
that _whole period_ nothing but plants, and that of all the kinds and
classes mentioned, should appear either in water or on land. That period
being done, then came the command for water animals, fish and great
monsters, and also birds. We ought, accordingly, to come next upon a
whole period in which no trace of anything but plants and these animals
can be found; and lastly, we ought to find the period of mammalia,
smaller reptiles, _amphibia_ and insects (creeping things).

That is the fair and plain result of what comes of supposing the terms
"let there be," &c., to mean _production on earth of the thing's
themselves_, and that the days are long _periods_.

All overlapping of the periods is inadmissible. All meaning is taken
away, if we allow of fish (e.g.) appearing in the middle of our first
period; for God did not command another day's work till after the first
was completed--"there was evening and there was morning, a first day"
(period), &c.

No; to suit the text so interpreted, we must have a full _period_ of
plants with no fish; then a period of both but no insects, no creeping
things, no animals; and so on. Now it is quite idle to contend any
longer, that any such state of things ever existed.

If we pass over the long series of the most ancient strata in which
doubtful forms of obscure elementary plant and animal life appear
_almost_ together, we shall come to shell-fish, and crustaceans fully
established in the water, and scorpions, and some insects even on land,
_before_ plants made any great show. For the Carboniferous--_the_ age of
acrogen plants, _par excellence_--does not occur till after swarms of
_Trilobite_ Crustaceans had filled the sea and passed away, and after
the Devonian fish-age had nearly passed away; and so on throughout.

The groups in nature overlap each other so closely, that though
plant-life (in elementary forms) probably had the actual start;
virtually the two kingdoms--plant and animal--appeared almost
simultaneously. There is nothing like the appearance of a first period
in which one _alone_ predominated. And long before the plants are
established in all classes, the great reptiles, birds, and some mammals,
had appeared. The seed-bearing plants--true grasses and exogens with
seed capsules (angiosperms) did not appear till quite Tertiary times.
That is the essential difference between the facts and the theory. If we
make a diagram, and let the squares represent the main groups, the order
(according to the period interpretation) ought to be as in A, whereas
it really more resembles B. Thus.

[Illustration: The dotted extensions of the squares indicate the fore
runners of the families, i.e., their first indications in the ages.]

[Illustration: _A New Interpretation suggested_]

But then it will be asked, if the day means only an ordinary day--not a
long period--what is there that actually could have happened, and did
happen, in _three days_ (for that is the real point, as we shall see),
such as the writer describes as the third, fifth, and sixth days?

I answer that on those days, and on the previous ones, God did exactly
what He is recorded to have done. After the creation of light (first
day), and the ideal adjustment of the distribution of land and water
(second day), He (_a_) "_created_," on the third day, plants, from the
lowest cryptogam upwards; then (_b_) paused for a day (the fourth) in
the direct work of creating life-forms, to adjust certain matters
regarding times and seasons, and regulation of climate, which doubtless
would not be essential during the early stages of life evolution, but
would become so directly a certain point was reached; then (_c_) resumed
the direct creating work (fifth day), with fishes, great reptiles,[1]
and birds (grouped purposely so, as we shall see); and, lastly (_d_),
before the Day of Rest, created the group of mammals (_carnivora_ and
_herbivora_), the "creeping things" of the earth, and man (also grouped

[Footnote 1: This term may be here accepted for the moment--not to
interrupt the argument. It will be more fully dealt with in a subsequent

But some one will ask, You then accept the earlier theory, that the
whole life-series that is now revealed to us by the rocks, from the
Laurentian to the Recent, is excluded from the narrative; and that some
special acts of creation, regarding only modern and surviving
life-forms, were made immediately before man appeared? By no-means; for
such a theory is not only in itself improbable, but is contrary to all
the evidence we possess of life-history on the earth, and is so hopeless
that it is really not worth serious examination and refutation.

We have no evidence of any such gap--such sudden change in the history
of life. Nor is it possible to find any place in the Mosaic story at
which we could reasonably interpolate a _long_ period, such as that
indicated by the entire series of rock strata. For a great part of such
a period, not only must there have been a regular succession of life
just the same in nature (though specifically different) as that now on
earth, but a regular distribution of land and water, and a settled
action of the sun and the seasons, would be required. No; we must give
up all the older methods which try to ignore the study of the word
"created," or to assume for it a meaning that it is not intended to

All depends, then, on what is meant by such terms as "created," "let
there be," "let the earth bring forth," &c. Perhaps it has occurred to
but few of my readers seriously to examine into their own mental
conception of an "act of creation." Some will readily answer, "Of course
it means only that at the Divine _fiat_, any given species--say an
elephant--appeared perfect, trunk, tusks, and all the peculiar
development of skull and skeleton, where previously no such creature had
existed." But what possible reason have they for this conclusion? None
whatever. It has simply been carelessly assumed from age to age, because
people at first knew no better; and when they began to know better, they
did not stop to amend their ideas accordingly.

Of course, as Professor Huxley puts it, millions of pious Jews and
Christians[1] supposed _creation_ to mean a "sudden act of the
Deity"--i.e., to mean just what the knowledge of the time enabled them
to imagine. They could do nothing else. The state of knowledge fifty
years ago would not have rendered it possible for an article like
Professor Huxley's (that to which allusion has several times been made)
to have been written at all. What wonder, then, that the multitude did
not understand what _creation_ meant, and that a reasonable
interpretation of the word has only become possible in quite recent
times? Surely all that is the fault of the reader, not of the text. I do
not even care that the writer himself did not fully apprehend the
subject. When a human prophet is entrusted with the divulgation of high
and wonderful things, it is quite possible that he may have been to
greater or less extent in the dark as to all or some of the
communication he was writing.

[Footnote 1: Article quoted, p. 857.]

All that can be reasonably required is that the narrative, as it stands,
shall be consistent with actual truth, and shall at no time come to be
provably at variance with it.

But let us look at the word "creation" more closely. We accept what we
are told, that in the beginning God called into existence force and
matter, the material or "physical basis," and all other necessaries of
life. Suppose, then (even dropping the question of Evolution, in order
to satisfy the "pious millions"), that this "matter" was all ready (if
I may so speak) to spring into organized form and being to take shape on
earth--what shape should it take? Why (e.g.) an elephant? Why not any
other animal, or a nondescript--a form which no zoologist could place,
recognize, or classify? The _form_, the ideal structure, the _formula_,
of the genus elephant must somehow have come into existence _before_ the
obedient materials and the suitable forces of nature could work
themselves together to the desired end.

Mr. Mivart has defined "creation" at page 290 of his "Genesis of
Species." There is original creation, derivative or secondary creation
(where the present form has descended from an ancestor that was
originally "directly" created), and conventional creation (as when a man
"creates a fortune," meaning that he produces a complex state or
arrangement out of simpler materials). That is perfectly true, so far;
but it is only a verbal definition, and still does not go inside, into
the _idea_ involved. We must go farther.

In every act of creation, two requisites can clearly be distinguished:
(1) the matter of life, and the forces, affinities, and local
surroundings necessary; and (2) the type, plan, ideal, or formula, to
realize or produce which, the forces and the matter are to act and
react. This second is all-essential; without it the first would only
produce a limbo of

"Unaccomplisht works of Nature's hand,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixt.[1]"

[Footnote 1: "Paradise Lost," iii. 455.]

No _creation_ in _any_ sense whatever could come out of it.

In the same way, when we speak of the Divine Artificer "creating," or
saying "Let there be," there are two things implied: (i) the Divine plan
or type-form, and its utterance or delivery (so to speak) to the
builder-forces and materials; (2) the result or the translation into
tangible existence of the Divine plan.

In every passage speaking of creation it _possible_ that both processes
may be implied; it may be clear from the text (as in Genesis i. 1) that
this is so. But it is equally possible that the first point only, which
in some aspects is really the essential matter, is alone spoken of.

And I submit that, given the general fact that God originated everything
in heaven and earth (as first of all stated generally in Genesis i.
1-3), the essential part of the _detailed_ or _specific_ creation
subsequently spoken of, was the Divine origination of the types, the
ideal forms, into which matter endowed with life was to develop;
_without_ any _necessary_ reference to how, or in what time, the Divine
creation was actually realized or accomplished on earth. It may be that
the _form_ so conceived and drawn in Nature's book by the Divine
Designer is a final form, up to which development shall lead, and beyond
which (at least in a material sense) it shall not go; or it may be that
it is a type intended to be transitory;[1] but _both the intermediate
and final forms must take their origin first in the Divine Mind, and be
prescribed from the Heavenly Throne,_ before the obedient matter and
forces and the life-endowment could co-operate to result in the
realization of the forms and the population of the globe.

[Footnote 1: The idea which I am endeavouring to make clear is well
illustrated by another passage in one of the Mosaic books--the account
of the Tabernacle. Moses had no idea of his own of the structure, its
furniture, implements, or the forms of these. The narrative expressly
states that the Divine power originated the designs, and caused Moses to
understand them. In a human work the designer would have drawn the
objects with measures and specifications, and given the papers to the
workmen. With the Divine work, where the design is in the Divine
Thought, and the workmen and builders are forces and elementary matter,
the process is a mystery, but in its practical bearing is understood
from analogy. The Tabernacle was truly God's _creation_, because it was
all commanded in design and "pattern" by the Almighty before Moses put
together the materials that realized the pattern in the camp of Israel.]

The reason why it is the _essential_ part, is, that when once the Divine
command issued, the result followed inevitably--that will "go without

In human affairs, also, we speak of the architect having _created_ the
palace or cathedral, or the ironclad; meaning thereby not the slow
process of cutting and joining stone, or riveting steel plates, but the
higher antecedent act of mind in evoking the ideal form and providing
for all contingencies in the adaptation and subsequent working of the
finished structure. And if we limit this use of the term "creation"
somewhat in speaking of human works, it is because the concept of the
human mind so often fails of realization; that it is one thing to
design, and another to accomplish. The grandest design for a palace may
fail to stand because some peculiarity of the stone has been forgotten,
or some character of foundation and subsoil has been misunderstood. The
noblest form of turret-ship may prove useless because the strength of
some material will not correspond to the ideal, or some curve of
stability has been miscalculated. Not only this: man may create, as a
sculptor, the ideal form for his to-be statue, or the dramatist his
character; but the perfect realization, either in marble or in an actual
being, may be impossible; the ideal remains "in the air." The ideal,
therefore, is not the major part of "creation" in a human work.

But with the Divine work it is otherwise. The Divine thought in Creation
and its result are separated by no possibility of failure. Given the
matter and the laws of force and of life, directly the Great Designer
has uttered His thought to those that are His builders, they _must_
infallibly and without discord, work through the longest terms, it may
be, of an evolutionary series, till, every transitional condition
passed, the final form emerges perfect.

Our very verbal definition, admitting as it does "derivative" creation,
implies this. We all speak of ourselves as "created." How so? We are not
produced ready made. Nor do we wholly solve the matter by saying that we
are "created" because we are born from parents who (if we go far enough
back) originated in a first production from the hand of Nature. We are
really "created" because the _design_--the _life-form of us_, which
matter and force were to work together to produce--was the direct
product of the Divine Mind.[1]

My question, therefore, of the Genesis interpreters is: Why will you
insist on the text meaning only the second element in Creation--the
production on earth, and not the Design or its issue in heaven?

The former we could find out some day for ourselves; we _have_ found out
some of it (though only some) already; the latter we could never know
unless we were told. Surely it is the "_dignus vindice nodus_" in this
case. To tell us the earth's history within a brief space would be
impossible, and would have been for ages unintelligible if it could have
been told; to tell us of God's creation is possible--for it has been
done; and the record, unless misread, is intelligible for all time.

The narrative, if it is a revelation of Divine Creation in heaven, takes
up ground that none can trespass on. None can say "it is not so," unless
either he will show that the words will not bear the meaning, or that
the context and other Scripture contradict it.

[Footnote 1: "_In Thy book_ were all my members written, while _as yet
there were none_ of them" (Psa. cxxxix. 16).

"How did this all first come to be you?
_God thought about me_
and I grew."--_Macdonald_.]

So soon as the matter of earth and heaven (and all that is implied
therewith) originated "in the beginning," the narrative introduces to
our reverent contemplation the solemn conclave in heaven, when, in a
serial order and on separate days, God declared, for the guidance of the
ever potentially active forces, and for materials ever (as we know)
seeking combination and resolution,[1] the _form_ which the earth
surface is (it may be ever so gradually) to take and the _life-forms_
which are to be evolved.

That this creative work was piecemeal, and on separate days, we know
from the narrative. _Why_ it was so arranged we do not know. Vast as was
the work to be done, almost infinite as was the complexity of the laws
required to be formulated, it _could_ have all been done at once, in a
moment of time; for time does not exist to the Divine Mind. But seeing
that the work was to be on earth, and for the benefit of creatures to
whom the divisions of time were all-important, we can dimly, at least,
discern a certain fitness and appropriateness in the gradual and divided

[Footnote 1: The reader will recognize that there is not the least
exaggeration in this. It is plain matter of fact, as I have endeavoured
to show in the earlier chapters of this book. Everywhere we see _force_
ready to be evoked by the proper method. Everywhere we see _molecular_
motion, and a perpetual combination and resolution of elements and
compounds, whether chemical or mechanical.]



In interpreting the narrative before us, we have an important aid which
has hardly received the attention it deserves. I allude to the other
passages of Scripture which were written by men undoubtedly familiar
with the Book of Genesis.

Now, in more than one of them, I find the idea that the Creation spoken
of is the _Divine work in heaven_, and not the subsequent and long
process of its realization on the surface of our globe, fully confirmed.

In the beautiful thirty-eighth chapter of the very ancient Book of Job,
we find a distinct allusion to a time when God "laid the foundations" of
the earth, prescribed "its measures," made a "decreed place" for the
sea, and framed the "ordinances of heaven," and this in presence of the
heavenly host assembled--

"When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted
for joy.[1]"

[Footnote 1: Job xxxviii. 7. The sons of God are clearly the angels
(_cf_. Job i, 6).]

The same idea can be gathered from the text which I have placed on the
title-page of this book. "By faith we understand that the aeons (the
whole system of nature in its various branches, physical, moral, and
social) were ordained ([Greek: kataertisthai]) by the word of God." The
_process_ of actual development is here passed over, as not being the
main thing; what attracts attention is the Divine Design, the "framing"
of the wonderful ideal or ordinance without which the "aeons" could not
proceed to unfold themselves. I do not mean, of course, for a moment to
imply that, after God had formulated the laws and designed the forms, He
left the working out of the results to themselves. I should be sorry if,
in bringing into prominence what has generally been overlooked, I seemed
to throw the rest in the shade. God's providence and continued
supervision are as important in themselves as the original design:--but
this is not the central idea embodied in the passage.

There is another Scriptural allusion which suggests the idea of a
Heavenly Conclave, and great act of Creation in heaven. It may be
considered somewhat remote, and even fanciful--but the fact is recorded
_both_ in the Old Testament and the New, and _something_ must be meant
by it. And, moreover, other and very meaningless interpretations have
been from the earliest times given, so that I can hardly omit the
subject if I would. I refer to the permanent presence in heaven, around
the Divine Throne, of the singular forms of being called _Cherubim_,
which seem to indicate some mysterious connection between the life-forms
of earth and the inhabitants of heaven, and some permanent
representation of typical created forms in heaven. In Ezekiel, chapter
i., and again in chapter x., this vision is presented to us.

The prophet was to be prepared, by a very vivid exhibition of the power
and glory of God as the Author and Ruler of the universe, to appreciate
the depth of degradation to which the Jews had fallen in their rejection
of such a God as their Lord and King and of the justice of the terrible
overthrow which was the consequence of that rejection.

The vision then displayed (as I understand it) GOD surrounded by the
typical forms of creation and the irresistible forces of nature. All
forms of life, all energies of nature, were thus shown to be His
creatures. There, around the throne, were four "cherubim" of remarkable
appearance. They were accompanied by the appearances of fiery orbs like
beryl stones, revolving in all directions with ceaseless energy. Any
account of this vision that I can give is, however, pitiable beside the
inexpressibly sublime picture drawn in Ezekiel, to which I must refer
the reader for his own study. And imagine what the feelings of the
prophet must have been when, fresh from the impression of this grandeur
of Creation--this glory and irresistible power of God as the Centre and
great Mover of all, he was taken to witness the pitiable sight of the
Jews turning away from His worship, and to see their elders burning
incense before walls covered with "every form of creeping things and
abominable beasts--all the idols of the house of Israel![1]" How must
the vision have prepared him to realize the depth of degradation with
which he had to contend, and have fired him with energy to denounce it!

There is, then, I think, considerable probability in the contention that
the vision represents God in Creation, surrounded by the types of
creation and the forces of nature.

There is, no doubt, the ancient tradition that the four Cherubim meant
the four Gospels; and this has now become deeply associated with
ecclesiastical symbolism. But I submit that this is only a fancy which
can best be left to church embroidery and stained windows; it is
unworthy of any serious notice. The beings are described, it will be
observed, with great minuteness: all have the same characteristic powers
of rapid motion, and all have _human hands_, a fact that so strikes the
prophet that he repeats it three times.[2] These four Cherubim, then,
seem to me clearly to indicate the archetypes of Creation, the great
design-forms of created life, showing themselves the progressive scale
from the Animal to the Man and the Angel. And these four great types
exactly answer to the resulting groups of created life. We have the
development of _Reptilia_ into _Birds_ as one final type; consequently
one face of each cherub has the Bird type--the Eagle head[3]. Two other
faces on each give us the _Animal_ type, one representing again the
great order Carnivora (the Lion), the other the Herbivorous Ungulates
(the Ox or Calf); while the fourth face indicates the last development,

[Footnote 1: Ezek. viii. 10.]

[Footnote 2: See chapters i. 8, x. 8, and x. 21. Remark, in passing,
that the human hand has always been the subject of wonder as an evidence
of Divine skill in Creation. Sir Charles Bell's Bridgewater treatise, on
the human hand as illustrating the proof of Divine wisdom and
contrivance in Creation, is just as good an argument _for Design_ now as
ever it was. I cannot here resist the temptation to notice one of those
small points in which the accuracy of the Bible is so constantly brought
to light. The popular notion of angels gives them wings as well as
hands--a form quite impossible from the natural history point of view;
_all_ animals of the vertebrate orders never have _more_ than two pairs
of limbs. And in winged animals the fore-limbs become wings. The popular
notion about angels is, however, artistic, not Biblical. Just the
contrary in fact. Here _is_ a vision of a mysterious form with wings and
hands, but how?--the figures are fourfold; and being winged, each
division might have been winged like the eagle, so each cherub would
have had _eight_ wings. But as one of the divisions had a human face and
human hands, the prophet only saw _six_ wings to each, leaving one
division where, nature's _Divine type_ being obeyed, there were _hands_,
and consequently no wings.]

[Footnote 3: Reptiles are unrepresented, perhaps as not being a final

I would say here, as regards the animal creation being represented by a
double form, that it is most curious to notice that this double division
of animals is found throughout Scripture, and seems to have its
counterpart in the actual facts of creation on earth.

Accompanying these created beings in this remarkable vision were
"wheels" which appeared to be spheres within spheres, revolving with
ceaseless activity and never turning, but always going forward. The
wheels were full of eyes. It appears to me probable that these
symbolize--and if so the symbol is at once full of meaning and
grandeur--the inevitable, ever wakeful energies and forces of nature,
the marvellous agency of electricity, chemical affinity, heat,
attraction, repulsion, and so forth. We are accustomed to speak of
"blind force;" but here observe the wheels are _full of eyes_, ever
vigilant to fulfil the purpose for which they are appointed. And this
representation of _forces_ appears necessary to complete a symbolic
representation of God in nature: since the world is made up of dead
matter, of living forms, and of forces or energies which are in
ceaseless motion and action, producing the changes which in fact
constitute the working of the whole system.

I cannot help thinking, therefore, that the imagery of this vision lend
support to the belief that there was a great Creation enacted in heaven,
which was followed by the actual carrying out of the processes on earth,
_but which has retained its representative forms in the heaven itself_.
Had this vision stood alone, it might have been passed over, on the
ground that it deals with high and transcendental matters, and that it
would be hardly safe to let a practical argument rest too much on it.
But the fact is that again in the New Testament a very similar vision is
mentioned (in the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation): here again
the four living creatures represent the typical forms of life, the
bird, the carnivorous and herbivorous animals, and man; and it will be
observed that in this case there is hardly room to doubt that we have an
exhibition of _Creation_, for there is express allusion to it in the
address of the elders--"Thou hast _created all things_, and for Thy
pleasure they are and were created."



But a step further is necessary: if the conclusion that I have come to,
by accepting "day" in its ordinary and natural sense, and by giving a
hitherto overlooked (and so far a new) meaning to "creation," is sound,
it must not only be rendered probable by reference to other parts of
Scripture written when Genesis was much nearer its original publication
than it is now; it is still (before all things) necessary, that the
interpretation adopted should be conformable to the context.

And I have heard it objected that there are verses which imply not only
a Divine Act in heaven, with the Sons of God in conclave around the
throne--sublime and wonderful picture!--but also distinctly indicate a
corresponding action on earth, and so require us to include in our
rendering of "creation" _both_ the ideas which (page 169 ante) I have
admitted may, on occasion be required by the terms. For example: after
the creative command in verses 7, 9, 11, 15, and 24, is declared, it is
followed by the words of fulfilment--"and it was so;" and in verse 11,
when God has said "Let the earth bring forth grass, &c.", in the next
verse it is positively recorded that the earth _did_ bring forth grass,

I of course admit all this, but it is in no way opposed to my

The _commencement_ of the _result_ probably, if not necessarily,
followed immediately on the issue of the finished command, viz., the
promulgation of the forms to be obtained and the processes to be
followed. The _whole_ result did not become accomplished then and there,
in the time mentioned, or exactly in the order mentioned: we know that
for a fact. Take, for example, the case of _vegetation_. Here the
author, in terms at once precise and universally intelligible, speaks of
"vegetation[1]" (grass of the A.V.), "herb yielding seed," and "trees
yielding fruit," thereby exhaustively enumerating the members of the
vegetable kingdom.

[Footnote 1: Nothing more is meant by the Hebrew "_deshe_." The true
"grasses" (_graminea_),--cereals, bamboos, &c., are certainly not
intended, for these are all conspicuously flowering plants, "herbs
yielding seed," and therefore coming under the second plainly defined
group. But the general term "sproutage" or "vegetation" is just adapted
to signify the mass of cryptogamic plant-life, the mosses, lichens,
algae, and then ferns, &c., which evidently formed the first stage of
plant-life on the globe.]

Now, as a matter of fact, there was no one long (or short) period
during which the whole of this command was realized, _before_ the next
creative act occurred.

At first _algae_ and low forms of vegetable life appeared; and doubtless
we have lost myriads upon myriads of such lower forms of plant-life in
the early strata, because such forms were ill calculated for
fossil-preservation, owing to the absence of woody fibre, silicious
casing, or hard fruit or seed vessels. But when we first have a marked
accumulation of specialized plant-life in the coal measures (Upper
Carboniferous), it is still only of cryptogams--ferns and great club
mosses. A beginning of true seed-bearing plants (Gymnosperm exogens) had
been made with the _conifers_ of the Devonian strata; but true
_grasses_, and the other orders of phanerogamic plants and arboreous
vegetation, do not appear till the tertiary rocks were deposited, very
long after the age of fish and great reptiles had culminated, and the
inauguration of the bird age and the mammalian age had taken place.

Looking only to the abundant, prominent, and characteristic life-forms
of the several strata, it could certainly be said that the period
when the _water_ actually brought forth a vast mass of its
life-forms--corals, sertularias, crustaceans, and fish of the lower
orders--must have _preceded_ (not followed) the time when the earth
produced vegetation of all kinds, and further that it must have come
after the appearance of scorpions and some land insects.[1]

[Footnote 1: A single wing found little more than a year ago is the sole
evidence of insects older than the Devonian; and scorpions
(highly-organized crustaceans) have been found in the Upper Silurian in
some abundance.]

Moreover, as the regular succession in periods of light and darkness on
the earth, and the sequence of seasons was not organized (but only a
generally diffused light, and, probably, an uniform and moist state of
climate without seasons) till _after_ the commands for the formation of
the whole of the large classes of plants, both cryptogams and
phanerogams, it is obvious that as many of these would require the
fuller development of seasonal influences, the whole process could not
have been worked out before the fourth day's creative work was begun.

This instance alone--and it would be easy to add others--shows that the
narrative cannot be meant to indicate what actually happened on earth,
i.e., to summarize the _entire realization_ of the Divine command.

Such being the plain facts with regard to the _kind of accomplishment_
meant by the terms "it was so," "the earth brought forth," &c., it is
quite plain that no violence is done to the text by explaining it as
intended to describe what God did in heaven, with the addition, that as
each command was formulated, the result on earth surely followed, the
thing "was so," and the earth and water respectively no doubt _began_
to "bring forth." More than this cannot be made out on _any_
interpretation that accords with facts. It seems so clear to me that
this is so, that I hardly need refer to the use of the terms the
"_waters brought forth"_ and the "_earth brought forth"_ and the phrase
in chapter ii. 5--the Lord made every plant _before it grew_.

If, as we have been long allowed to suppose, God spake and the water and
earth were _at once_ fully and finally peopled with animals where before
nothing but plants had existed, and so on, I should hardly have expected
the use of words which imply a gradual process--a gestation and
subsequent birth (so to speak) of life-forms.

How the _order_ in which the events are recorded stands in relation to
the subsequent history of life-development on earth, and what its
significance may be, I will consider later on. First I will conclude the
argument for the general interpretation of the narrative.

2. _The Second Genesis Narrative._

I have only one more direct argument to offer; but I think it is a very
important one. The first division of Genesis ends with the Divine
commands creating man and the day of rest which followed. The narrative
ending at chapter ii. verse 3 (the division of chapters here, as
elsewhere, is purely arbitrary), we have at verse 4 of chapter ii, what
has been loudly proclaimed as _another_ account of _the same_ Creation,
which, it is added (arbitrarily enough--but _any_ argument will do if
only it is against religion!) is contrary to the first.[1]

[Footnote 1: The contradiction is supposed to be in verse 19, as if then
the creation of animals was for the first time effected--after the man
and his helpmate. But it is quite clear that the text refers to the fact
that God had created animals; the command was, "Let the earth bring
forth," and the immediate act spoken of was not the formation of
animals, but the bringing of them to Adam to see what he would call

Now, even if there is a _second_ account of Creation, it would surely be
a circumstance somewhat difficult to explain. _Contrary_ in any possible
sense, the narrative (from chapter ii. 4, onward) certainly is not. But
why should there be a second narrative at all? On the hitherto received
supposition that chapter i. intends to tells us the _process_ of
creation--what God caused to be done on earth, not merely what He did in
heaven--there is apparently no room for a second narrative. Nor have I
seen any completely satisfactory explanation. But if we accept the view
that the first chapter explains the Divine Design, and its being
published (so to speak) and commanded in heaven, then it would be very
natural that that narrative should be followed by a second, which should
detail not the _whole_ process of all life existence on earth, but (as
the Bible is to be henceforth concerned with Man, his fall and his
redemption) with an account of _just so much of the_ process as relates
to the actual birth on the earth's surface of the particular man Adam,
the most important (and possibly not the only) outcome of the _fiat_
recorded in chapter i. vers. 27, 28.

In this view, not only _a_ second narrative, but just the particular
kind of narrative we actually have, is not only natural, but even
necessary. _Before_, we had a general account of how God ordained the
scheme of material-form and life-form on the earth; _now_ we have a
detailed account of how He actually carried out one portion of it--that
one portion we are most concerned to hear about, namely the man Adam,
the progenitor of our own race, of whom came JESUS CHRIST, "the son of

The account is designed to introduce to us the scene of Adam's
birthplace--the Garden of Eden.[2] The mention of a garden, and the
subsequent important connection of the trees of that garden with the
conduct of the man, naturally turn the writer's attention to the general
subject of the vegetation on the earth's surface. He prefaces his new
account accordingly with a brief summary--which I may paraphrase thus
without, I trust, departing from the sense of the original: "Such was
the origin of the earth (and all in it) and of the heavenly host, at the
time when God made them. He had made every plant _before_ it was in the
earth--every herb of the field _before_ it grew" (mark the language as
confirming what I have said--God "created" everything before it actually
developed and grew into being on the earth). "Rain did not then fall (in
the same way as now) on the earth, but the mist that exhaled from the
soil re-condensed, and fell and moistened the ground; but there was as
yet no MAN to till and cultivate the soil."

[Footnote 1: St. Luke iii. 38.]

[Footnote 2: Which had a real historic existence. _Vide_ Appendix A.]

Then God actually formed or fashioned _a man_. It is not now that He
created the ideal form to be produced in due time, but that He actually
formed the individual Adam, and placed him in a garden which He had
prepared for the purpose. All the words used now imply actual
production. The Divine ideal was ready, and the earth-elements (of which
we know man's body to consist) were ready at the Divine word to assume
the human shape. And that done, God "breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life" (mark the direct _act_ on the man himself), and the man
became a "living soul." There is nothing here of the "earth bringing
forth" as in the former narrative. We have the direct act of God, not in
the design only, but in the production of the thing itself.

If this is not a complete explanation and justification of the second
narrative, I do not know what, in common fairness, is entitled to be so

The language may be rigorously examined, and it will fully bear out the
position taken up.

I conceive, then, that the cumulation of proof need go no further. The
true explanation of Genesis i. also supplies the place for Genesis ii.
4, _et seq._, and overcomes all the difficulty that has hitherto
existed on the subject.

It will now, I trust, be clear that by such an interpretation of Genesis
we at once give (1) a full and natural meaning to all the terms; we
reconcile it with other Scripture, and we enhance all the sublime
attributes which we have been reverentially accustomed to connect with
this ancient passage. (2) We obviate the difficulty regarding the second
narrative in chapter ii. 4. And (3) we place the whole above any
possible conflict with science, and above any need for "reconciliation."
Here, too, is a purpose and meaning assigned to the _whole_ narrative,
without being driven into the difficult position of supposing the verses
to be the literary outcome of an ignorant imagination which gave
expression to its crude ideas only--though enshrining among utterly
false details a sublime truth, regarding which one can only wonder why
it could not have been stated without the encumbrance of the

The naturalist and the biologist may continue, unquestioned, to work out
more and more of the wondrous story of Life on the globe. They can never
disprove, or on any of their own grounds deny, that God is the Author of
all things--matter, force, and mind alike; that He designed the form and
relations of the earth; that He organized its light, its seasons, and
its changes; that He has furnished the types and patterns of all
life-forms which matter and force are conformably thereto, developing
on the earth. In short, REVELATION tells us that God did all this "in
the beginning," how His form-designs were thought out and declared in
six days, and how He rested on the seventh day.

SCIENCE will tell us how, when, and where the Creative fiats and the
designs of heaven were realized and worked out on earth.

Here is the separate province of each, without fear of clashing, or room
for controversy.



§1. _The Explanation of the Verses._

It remains only now to go over the narrative, the _general_ bearing of
which I have thus endeavoured to vindicate, so that minor matters of
detail, in which it is supposed (1) that some contradiction to known
physical fact may still lurk, and (2) something that negatives the
explanation suggested, may be cleared up.

Let us take it seriatim:--

"In the beginning God created the heaven (plural in the original) and
the earth."

As I have before remarked, we have no real need to discuss whether
"bara" means originated (created where nothing previously existed), or
whether we should render it "fashioned," i.e., moulded material (thus
assumed in terms to be) already in existence.

Either will yield perfectly good and consistent sense; but, as a matter
of fact, there is a virtual consensus of the best scholars that the
word is here used to denote original production of the material.

It is also clear that the text is intended to embrace the whole system
of planets, suns, stars, and whatever else is in space. So the Psalmist
understood it: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and _all_
the host of them by the breath of his mouth.[1]" Nor is there any
reasonable doubt, exegetically, that the subsequent allusion to the sun,
moon, and stars, refers (as the sense of the text itself obviously
requires) to their _appointment_ or adjustment to certain relations with
the earth, and assumes their original material production in space, to
have been already stated or understood.

"And the earth was (became) without form[2] and void, and darkness was
upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of
the waters."

I have, in another connection, already remarked on this verse, and so
shall not repeat those remarks.

[Footnote 1: Psa. xxxiii. 6, and so Psa. cii. 25; _cf_. 2 Peter iii. 5.]

[Footnote 2: Waste (R.V.).]

I will only say that the elemental strife and rushing together of
chemical elements under the stress of various forces and the presence of
enormous heat, would naturally envelop the globe in dense vapours, a
large portion of which would be watery vapour, capable of condensation
or of dispersion, under proper conditions, afterwards to be prescribed
and realized. As it is beautifully expressed in Job xxxviii., "When I
made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling-band
for it" (verse 8).

Then commences the serial order of Divine acts with reference to the


This verse is commonly taken as indicating a creation of light for the
first time in the entire cosmos or universe. And if it be so, there is
no objection, on any scientific ground, to the assertion that there was
once a time when as yet the vibrations and waves which we connect with
the idea of Light, had not yet begun. It is true that nebular matter, as
now observed, is believed to be, partially at any rate, self-luminous.
But this fact, supposing it to be such, is not inconsistent with a still
earlier time when light had not yet begun. From the "wave-theory" of
light, which is one of those working hypotheses which are indispensable,
and which, in a sense, may be said to be demonstrated by their
indispensability, it can clearly be seen that if light is caused by
rapid vibrational movement, there must have been--or at any rate there
is nothing against an authoritative declaration that there was--a moment
of time when the first vibrational impulse was given, when, in fact, God
said "Let there be light, and there was light," _before_ which also
there was "darkness upon the face of the deep.[1]"

[Footnote 1: It also needs only to be remarked, in passing, that we are
really in complete ignorance as to the light-medium, the
"luminiferous-ether" outside the comparatively thin stratum of our own
terrestrial atmosphere. We do not know whether there might not have been
a condition of the medium in which, up to the moment of a creative
_fiat_, it was incapable of transmitting light-waves.]

There is no necessary connection between the creation of light _per se_,
and the existence of any particular source (or sources) of light to our
planet or to other planets.

No justification is now needed for such a remark, and the almost
forgotten cavils of one of the "Essays and Reviews" may still survive as
a "scientific" curiosity, to warn us against too hastily concluding that
(in subjects where so little is really _known_) the Bible must be wrong,
and the favourite hypothesis of the day right.

But as a matter of fact, the text, especially when read in connection
with Job xxxviii., need not be taken to refer to any original creation
of light in the universe generally, but merely to the letting in of
light on the hitherto dark and "waste" earth. The command "Let there be
light" was followed on the next day by the formation of a firmament or
expanse. So that all the verse _necessarily_ implies is, that the thick
clouds and vapours which surrounded the earth were so dealt with, that
light could reach the earth: the light was thus divided from the
darkness, and the rotating globe would experience the alternation of day
and night.

The "day" having thus been created formally (so to speak), the Divine
Author proceeds to mark, by His own Procedure, the use of the "days"
which He had provided for the earth.

On this view, of course, the origin of light as a "force"--the first
beginning of its pulsations--is not detailed, any more than the origin
of electric force, or heat, or gravitation.

Here, too, I may remark that the idea of _creation_, which it has been
one of my chief objects to develop, is illustrated. This remark holds
good, whether an original creation of light is intended, or only an
arrangement whereby light was for the first time introduced to the
earth's surface. The idea of creating light not only involves the Divine
Conception of the thing, and the marvellous method of its production,[1]
but doubtless, also, all those wonderful laws of reflection, refraction,
polarization, and a thousand others, which the science of Physical
Optics investigates.

[Footnote 1: And this is still a mystery to us. _What_ light is we do
not know--we can only speak of our own sensation of it. Nor do we know
_what_ vibrates to produce light. Hypothetical terms, such as "ether,"
"luminiferous-medium," and so forth, only conceal our ignorance.]

Naturally enough, in this case, the double idea involved in
creation--the Divine concept and its realization--will, in the nature of
things, fall into one. No process of evolution is required; none is
indicated by science. Directly the Divine hand gave the impulse
concurrently with the Divine thought--light would be. In the nature of
things there is no place for a line between the Divine fiat and its
realization, as there is in the production of life-forms on the earth.
Or, on the other view, directly the Divine command went forth, the
vapours would clear and allow the transmission of light.


There has been gathered round this verse what I may call rather an
ill-natured controversy, because there is no real ground for it; and the
objections taken seem rather of a desire to find out something against
the narrative at any price, than to make the best of it. The verse, when
duly translated, implies that an "expanse"--the setting of a clear space
of atmosphere around the globe--formed one of the special
design-thoughts of the Creator, followed by its immediate (or gradual)
accomplishment. I think we should have hardly had so much cavilling over
this word "expanse" if it had not been for the term subsequently used by
the Seventy in their Greek version ([Greek: stereôma]). The ancients, it
is said, believed the space above the earth to be "solid."

Now I would contend that even if the Hebrew writer had any mistaken or
confused notions in his own mind, that would not afford any just ground
against revelation itself. But I would point out that many of the
expressions which may be quoted to show the idea of solidity, are
clearly poetical. And if we go to the poetic or semi-poetic aspect of
things, may I not ask whether there is not a certain sense in which the
earth-envelope may be said to be solid? The air has a considerable
density, its uniform and inexorable pressure on every square inch of the
earth's surface is very great. Such a word as [Greek: stereôma]
(_firmamentum_) does not imply solidity in the sense in which gold is
solid--as if the heavens were a mass of metal, and the stars set in it
like jewels; it implies, rather, something fixed and offering

It is obvious that a creative act was necessary for this "expanse." We
know of spheres that have no atmosphere; and we are so ignorant of the
true nature of what is beyond the utmost reach of our air-stratum, that
there is room for almost any consistent conjecture regarding it.

Moreover, observe that the atmosphere is not a _chemical_ combination of
gases, and one, therefore, that would take place like any other of the
metallic, saline, or gaseous combinations, of which no detailed account
is given--all being covered by the general phrase, "God created the
heaven and the earth." The air is a mechanical mixture, pointing to a
special design and a special act of origin. The necessary proportions of
each gas and its combined properties could not have originated without

But the main purpose of the expanse, as stated in the text, was to
regulate the water supply. That vast masses of watery vapour must at one
time have enveloped the globe, seems probable--apart from revelation;
and that part of this should condense into seas and fresh-water, and
part remain suspended to produce all the phenomena of invisible
air-moisture and visible cloud, while an "expanse" was set, so that the
earth surface should be free, and that light might freely penetrate, and
sound also, and that all the other regular functions of nature dependent
on the existing relation of earth and air should proceed--all this was
very necessary. And when we recollect what a balanced and complex scheme
it is--how very far from being a simple thing; we recognize in the
adjustment of earth's atmospheric envelope, a special result worthy of
the day's work.

Whether the separation between the condensed but ever re-evaporating and
re-condensing water on the earth's surface, and the water vapour in the
atmosphere, is _all_ that is meant by the division of the "waters that
are above the firmament" from those below, it would not be wise to
assert. We know so little of the condition of space beyond our own air,
and so little of the great stores of hydrogen which have been suggested
to exist in space (and might combine to form vast quantities of liquid),
that we may well leave the phrase as it stands, content with a partial


The only remarks that the first part of this verse calls for, are,
_first_, that it explains how far from mere chance-work the emergence of
land from the water was; _second_ how well it illustrates the use of
terms relating to creation.

The whole scheme of the distribution of the surface of earth into land
and water is one which demanded Divine foresight and a complete ideal[1]
which was to be attained by the action and reaction of natural forces,
just as much as the production of the most specialized form of plant-or

[Footnote 1: Compare Job xxxviii. 10, 11, and Psa. civ. 9.]

This is not the place to go into detail as to how much of the world's
life-history and its climatic conditions depend on the distribution of
land and water. It is sufficient to recognize the immense importance of
that distribution.

But, in the second place, it will be observed that while it is natural
to suppose (though not logically necessary) that the working out of the
Divine plan _commenced_ immediately on the issue of the Divine command
and the declared formulation of the Divine scheme, yet we know--few
things are better known--that the whole scheme was not completely
realized in one day, or one age--certainly not _before_ there was any
appearance of plant-life, aquatic, or dry land, or any appearance of

I believe (though I have lost my reference) it is held by some
authorities that the position of the great _oceans_ as they are now (and
omitting, of course, all minor coast variations) has been fixed from
very early geologic times. But, apart from that, we have ample evidence
of whole continents arising and being again submerged; and of continual
changes between land and water of the most wide-reaching character again
and again happening during the progress of the world's history. So that
here we may see clearly an instance where the revelation of the creative
act must be held to refer to the great primal design--teaching us that
it is a fact that at first all _was_ laid down, foreseen, and designed
by the Creator; but not referring to anything like an account of the
_results_ upon earth, which, for aught we know to the contrary, may not
yet be complete.

As to the second part of the text, we are here introduced to the
commencement of life-forms on earth.

No separation is recorded. Directly the chemical elements of matter have
so combined that a solid earth and liquid water (salt and fresh) are
formed, and the cooling process has gone on sufficiently long to enable
the dense vapours partly to settle down and condense, partly to remain
as vapour (dividing the waters above from the waters below)--directly
this process is aided by the admission of diffused light and by the
adjustment of the atmosphere, and the superficial adjustment of the
distribution of water and land surface is provided for, then plant-life
is organized.

It will be observed that even aquatic plants and algae though growing in
or under water, are nevertheless connected with the _earth_; so that the
phrase, "Let the _earth_ bring forth," is by no means inappropriate.

The earliest rock deposits are able to tell us little about the first
beginning of plant-life. Moreover, as animal-life began only with the
interval of one day (the fourth), we should expect to find--on the
supposition that the heavenly _fiat_ at once received the _commencement_
of its fulfilment on each day--that the first lowly specimens of
vegetable and animal life are almost coeval. And this is (apparently)
the fact.

It is to be remarked that plant and animal always appear in nature as
two separate and _parallel_ kingdoms. It is not that the plant is lower
than the animal, so that the highest plant takes on it some of the first
characters which mark the lowest animal: but both start separately from
minute and little specialized forms so similar that it is extremely
difficult to say which is plant and which is animal.[1]

[Footnote 1: See this well summarized in Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology"
(sixth edition, 1880), p. 13, _et seq._]

All the beginnings of life in _either_ kingdom would therefore be
ill-adapted (most of them, at any rate) for preservation in

[Footnote 1: I think this is quite sufficient, without relying on the
evidence of the great quantities of _carbon_ in the earliest
(Laurentian, Huronian, &c.) strata in the form of graphite. It is
possible, or even probable, that this may be due to carbon supplied by
masses of little specialized _Thallophyte_ and _Anophyte_ vegetation.]

All we know for certain is that vegetable-life was closely coeval with
the lowest animal-life, and that it was very long before specialized
forms, even of _cryptogams_, made a great show in the world.

Probability is entirely in favour of the actual priority being in
vegetable forms; and more than that is not required. For the Mosaic
narrative, while it places the origin of the vegetable kingdom actually
first, lets the _fiat_ for the animal kingdom follow almost immediately.

As to the _order_ of appearance of the plants, I will reserve my remarks
for the moment.


The sun and the stars, and all the host of heaven, are clearly
understood to have been created "in the beginning," under the general
statement of fact which forms the first verse of the narrative.

The 14th verse has always been understood to refer to the establishment
of the _relations_ between the earth and the sun, moon, and stars,
which have, as a matter of fact, been recognized by all ages and all
people ever since. The writer of the 104th Psalm certainly so understood
the passage--

  "He appointed the moon for seasons;
  The sun knoweth his going down.[1]"

The writer was instructed to use popularly intelligible language, and so
the text speaks of the lights as they _appear_ in the sky or firmament.

Even if we suppose that before this act, the sun was already
incandescent, and the moon capable of reflecting the light, the whole
arrangement of the earth's rotation may have been such that the
alternations of light and darkness may have been very different from
what they are now, and the seasons also. A moment's reflection regarding
the obliquity of the earth's axis, nutation, the precession of the
equinoxes, the eccentricity of the orbit and the changes in the position
of the orbit, will show us what ample room there was for a special
adjustment and adaptation between the earth and its satellite and
between both to the solar centre.[2] So that faith which accepts this as
a Divine arrangement made among the special and formal acts of Creation,
cannot be said to be unreasonable, or to be flying in the face of any
known facts.

[Footnote 1: Ver. 19, &c. The same word is also used of "making" priests
(l Kings xii. 31), and appointing (R.V.)("advancing" A.V.), ("making,"
as we familiarly say) Moses and Aaron (1 Sam. xii. 6).]

[Footnote 2: And the Psalmist justly speaks of God as _preparing_ the
light of the sun (Psa. lxxiv. 16).]

It is very remarkable, as showing how little we can attribute this
narrative, on any basis of probability, to mere fancy or guess-work,
that this matter should have been assigned to the fourth day--_after_
the fiat for plant-life had gone forth.

But the fact is that the unregulated light, and the vaporous uniform
climate that must have continued if the fourth day's command had never
issued, though it might have served for a time for the lowest beginnings
of life, especially marine or aquatic, would ultimately have rendered
any advance in the series of design impossible. Such a fact would never
have occurred to an ignorant and uninspired writer.

It is here impossible to say whether the whole arrangements indicated
were made at once in obedience to the Divine Design, or were produced

It has been suggested that uniformity of climate and temperature
continued up till the carboniferous ages, at any rate; and it is only in
the later ages that such differences of _fauna_ in different parts of
the world appear, as to show differences of climate more like what we
have at present.

Whether this is so or not, I am not concerned to argue. The narrative
tells us that God did, at a certain point in his Creative work, design
and ordain the necessary arrangements; and physical science may find
out, when it is able, how and when the adjustments spoken of came about.

     (i.) Let the waters bring forth the moving creature that hath life,
     (ii.) Let fowl fly above the earth on the face of the expanse.

As to (i.) the "creation" consisted of--great sea-monsters (or water
monsters), and every living thing that moveth.

Then the animal life received a _blessing_. Animals, even the lowliest,
are capable of a new feature in life--happiness in their being, which
cannot be predicated of plants.

    (i.) Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind ...
           the beast of the earth _after its kind (Carnivora)_, cattle
        _after its kind_ (_Ungulata_), and everything that creepeth on
           the ground _after its kind_.[1]

And also--

     (ii.) Let us make man.... So God created man in His
             own image--in the image of God created He him; male
             and female created He them.

(7) Then followed the day of rest.

[Footnote 1: See page 178.] [Transcriber's Note: Chapter XIV.]

§ 2. _The Order of Events considered._

It was convenient first to bring these later Creative Acts together
before beginning any remarks about any one of them.

It will now be desirable to notice what occurred, because here the
question of _order_ is concerned. I could not avoid a partial statement
on this subject at an earlier page, nor would it be quite sufficient
simply to refer the reader back to those pages. At the risk of some
repetition, I will therefore consider the subject here. It will be
observed that on the older interpretation, which passed over the special
act of God in _designing_ and _publishing the design,_ and descended at
once to the earth to the process of producing the designed forms, this
order was matter of great importance.

Granting the supporters of this view that the six days are unequal
periods often of vast duration, with or without important subdivisions,
they are bound to make out that each creation began, and was at any rate
well advanced, _before_ the next began. We ought, in fact, to see a
period more or less prolonged when the whole of what is indicated in the
_plant_ verse was well advanced, _before_ any marine or fresh-water life
appeared at all.[1]

[Footnote 1: There was "evening and morning" of the third day, i.e.,
beginning and _completion_, and also the whole interval of the fourth
day, _before_ the command of the fifth.]

All attempts to make out that this _was_ so, have proved failures. It is
assumed, for instance (and justly so), that life on the globe began with
low vegetable forms; these represented the "grass" of the text, and it
is suggested that the "fruit tree" is represented by the Devonian and
Carboniferous _conifers_. This in itself is a very strained view. It is
recollected that the terms used are not scientific, but for the world at
large; but without confining "fruit tree" to mean only trees having
_edible_ fruit, still the appearance of a few first species of
_conifers_ in the Devonian, can hardly be called an adequate fulfilment
of the requirements of the passage. But even so, myriads of fish and
other animals existed _before_ the Devonian and Carboniferous plant age.

The animal forms that so existed, have therefore to be _ignored_, or are
assumed to have been created without special notice: and it is said that
the Mosaic period of "moving creatures of the deep," fishes and
monsters, only began when the rocks begin to show _great abundance_ of
shells, of fish, and subsequently of huge reptilians which prepared the
way for birds--which gradually make their appearance towards the Trias.

But the Devonian "age of fishes" (Devonian including old red sandstone)
was far too important a period to be thus got rid of; and it is
difficult to understand _why_ the narrative should exclude all the
extensive and beautiful (though often little specialized) orders of
marine life--all the Corals, the Mollusca and Articulata, which had long
abounded--especially some of the Crustaceans, not an unimportant group
of which (_Trilobite_[1]) had also culminated and almost passed away
before the Devonian; to say nothing of the fact that _land_ "creeping
things" (scorpions among _crustacea_, and apparently winged insects) had

[Footnote 1: It is remarkable that the Trilobites rapidly culminated, so
that we have the largest and most perfect forms, such as _Paradoxus_,
with the lowest (_Agnostus_) in the same beds in Wales (Etheridge's
"Phillips' Manual," Part II. p. 32).]

It is a special difficulty also, that if _insects_ are included among
the "creeping things" of the _earth_ then various families of the
"land-creation" (sixth day) became represented _before_ the great
reptiles of the "water-creation" (fifth day).

The fact is that a glance at the subjoined Tables (which are only
generally and approximately correct) will suffice to show how the main
features of the progress of life-forms differ from what is required by
the older methods of reading Genesis. To reduce the table within limits,
I have grouped together all the lower forms of life in the animal table,
viz., the sponges, corals, encrinites, and molluscs. It is sufficient to
say that these appear in all the rocks except the very oldest--the
Caelenterata beginning, and the Molluscoids exhibiting an early order in
_brachiopoda_, which seems to be dying out. Crustaceans and insects
appeared as early as Silurian times.

The idea of successive "kingdoms" or "periods," each of which was
_complete_ in its actual fauna upon earth before the next was fully
ushered in, can no longer be defended.

It is in the _completion_ of one class of life before the other, that
the fallacy of the period theory lies--for completion is essential to
that theory which supposes "the Mosaic author" to have intended to
describe the _process of production on earth_.

But it is quite impossible to deny that there _is_ a certain observable
movement and gradual procession in the history of life which is exactly
consistent with what is most likely to have happened, supposing the
Divine designs of life-forms were first declared in successive order at
short intervals of time, and then that the processes of nature worked
out the designs in the fulness of time and gradually in order, each one
_beginning_ before the next, but only beginning.

I do not deny that it is perfectly _conceivable_ that the Creator might
have designed the forms in one order, and that the actual production or
evolution of the corresponding living creatures might not have been (for
reasons not understood) exactly, or even at all, coincident with the

But it is impossible to deny the strong feeling of probability that the
commands would _begin_ to be worked out, in the order in which they were

And here it is that the correspondence which undoubtedly exists, gives
rise to controversy.

From one point of view it is just enough to encourage the "period"
holders to try and arrange a scheme; but it is just hot enough to
prevent their opponents (justly) taxing them with straining or
"torturing" the text and failing fairly to make out their case after
all. From another point of view the correspondence is so far
established, and so undeniably unprecedented (in human cosmogonies) and
noteworthy, as to demand imperatively our careful consideration and
compel us to account for it.

It will be observed, first of all, that the whole "creation" (omitting
all incidental and preparatory works) is stated in _groups_ each having
an order within itself.

_Group_ 1. God created (both land and water) "vegetation"--plants
yielding seed, fruit-trees.

_Group_ 2.
In water, not necessarily excluding _amphibia_:--Great aquatic monsters;
fish and all other creatures that move. In air:--Winged fowl.

_Group_ 3. On land generally--for some forms are amphibious:--Beasts
(_Carnivora_), cattle (_Ungulata_, &c.), and other things that creep
on the ground (the smaller and lower forms of life collectively).

The order _within_ the groups is evidently of no consequence, because
the writer does not adhere to it in two consecutive verses dealing with
the same subject; while the "versions" seem to point to some variations
in the text itself as to arrangement, though not as to substance.

But as regards the order _of_ the groups themselves, it is, as I said,
very natural (but yet not logically inevitable) to expect that when the
results came to be existent on earth, those results should exhibit a
sequence corresponding to the order in which the groups were created.
And it is never denied (in _any_ of the most recent publications[1])
that to this extent nature confirms the belief.

[Footnote 1: I have done my best to verify this from the well-known
latest Manuals of Etheridge, Seeley, and Alleyne-Nicholson.]

I am aware that Professor Huxley's recent articles may at first sight
seem to go against this; but that is not so on any grounds of actual
fact, but of a particular _interpretation_--which I submit is wholly

For instance, it is insisted that the "sea-monsters" of the second group
included _sirenia_ and _cetacea_ (dugongs, manatees, and whales,
dolphins, &c.), which are mammals. In that case a portion of the command
would not have been obeyed--a number of the designed forms would have
been kept in abeyance--for a long time. And the same is still more true
if bats--a highly placed group of mammals--were included in "winged

But both these interpretations are distinctly arbitrary, incapable of
holding good, and also entirely ignore the conditions of a Revelation.

The narrative is not discussed or defended as an ordinary secular
narrative, which is true according to the _writer's uninspired intention
or the state of his personal knowledge_. It is defended as a Revelation.
The distinction is as obvious as it is important, directly a moment's
consideration is accorded.

If we assume, for a moment, that God _did_ (on any theory whatever of
Inspiration) instruct, direct, or enable the writer in making the
record, then it is obvious that the writer either put down what he saw
in a vision, or what was in some other manner borne on his mind. In any
case, he could have had no critical knowledge, and no historical
knowledge as an eye-witness, of the actual facts; and he may very well
therefore have used language the full meaning of which he did not
apprehend.[1] What alone is essential is, that the narrative as it
stands, on an ordinary critical, linguistic, and grammatical
interpretation, should not contain anything which is untrue. Suppose,
for example, the word "tannînîm" to be _incapable_ of bearing any other
meaning linguistically than "cetacean," then the narrative might be
objected to; but if it will bear a meaning which is consistent with
fact, then it is no matter that the writer at the time had an erroneous,
or (what is more likely) no defined, idea in his own mind of the
meaning. And so with "winged fowl"--the objection fails entirely, unless
it can be shown, not only that the writer might have thought "bats" to
be included, _but_ that linguistically the word _cannot have_ any other
meaning than one which would include bats.[2]

[Footnote 1: As is constantly the case in prophetic writings. Revelation
tells of the remote past sometimes as well as the future, and in neither
case could the inspired writer fully understand the meaning that was
wrapped up in his sentences.]

[Footnote 2: As a matter of fact, in the one case, if the writer's
knowledge were of any importance, it is almost certain that he did _not_
mean _cetacean_ or _sirenian_. In the other case it is impossible to say
whether he thought "bats" were included or not. It is not in the nature
of things that the writer could ever have seen or even heard of a
manatee or a dugong; nor is it likely that he had been a sea-farer, or
could have seen any Mediterranean cetacean. As far as his own knowledge
went, he probably had but a very confused idea. And if we refer to the
poetic description in Psalm civ. 25, 26, we find "leviathan," though
distinctly a sea creature, still one of which the writer had only a
vague traditional idea, certainly not a _known_ Mediterranean dolphin,
for in Job xli. the same term is applied to the crocodile.]

We have every right, then, to say that the "tannînîm" of the text may be
taken to refer to that great and remarkable age of Saurians which is not
only of very great importance in itself, but becomes doubly so when we
see its connection backward with the fishes, and forward through the
Pterodactyles to Odontoformae (_Apatornis_ and _Icthyornis_) and modern
winged birds (_Hesperonis_ for the Penguins); and through the
Dinosaurs[1] with the Saurornithes, with the _Dinornis_ and the
struthious birds; and through the Theriodonts with the mammalian

[Footnote 1: And perhaps the pachydermatous mammals (Nicholson,
"Zoology," p. 566).]

In that case the sequence of the two groups, plants and aquatic
animal-forms, is explained. They come almost together--plants being
probably actually the first, and mollusca, fishes, and saurians.

There is, further, no real dispute that the Saurians led up to the Aves,
and that the third group (of mammals) follows all the members of the
second group. The earliest known mammal (_microlestes_) is an isolated
forerunner of not very certain location, the real bulk of the mammalian
orders beginning in the Eocene. Seeing, too, how very closely one
Creative command is recorded to have followed on the other, it is not in
any way against the narrative that some land forms of crustaceans and
insects (and possibly others) began to appear at an early stage, when
the vegetable and water-animal forms had only progressed as far as the
Silurian and Devonian ages. Nor should we wonder if mammalian forms had
occurred earlier. I mention this because of the evident gap in the
geologic record between the Cretaceous and the Eocene, and because in
the article of December, 1885 (and elsewhere), Professor Huxley has used
language which suggests that mammals may have existed of which the rocks
give no sign. E.g. (p. 855): "The organization of the bat, bird, or
pterodactyle, presupposes that of a terrestrial quadruped ... and is
intelligible only as an extreme modification of the organization of a
terrestrial _mammal or_ reptile." The italics are of course mine. And
again (p. 855), "I am not aware that any competent judge would hesitate
to admit that the organization of these animals (whales, dugongs, &c.)
shows the most obvious signs of their descent from terrestrial

I do not quote these words of so great a master as presuming to question
them (even if, as a scientific verdict, I had any motive for so doing),
but merely to point out as a matter of plain and fair reasoning, that if
a Divine Creator had designed certain forms to be gradually attained by
the processes of Evolution, it would not be necessary that any actually
realized form or tangible creature should have existed as ancestors.
Logically, the necessity is _either_ that certain animals should have
actually existed whose descendants gradually lost or gained certain
features and functions till the forms we are speaking of resulted, _or_
that certain patterns or designs should have been created according to
which development proceeded by regular laws till the forms in question

A few words as to the terms used in describing the contents of each
group, may be added. It is obvious that the terms are intended to be
exhaustive of certain main groups which are described sufficiently,
without being cast in a form which would have been incompatible with the
use (at the time) of a human agent as the medium of the recorded

(1) "Vegetation" (of an indefinite character, but not bearing seed),
plants bearing seed, trees bearing fruit with the seed in it--certainly
exhaust the entire range of plant-life.

(2) Moving creatures that live (and fish are afterwards expressly
mentioned) and great monsters (tann[i=]n[i=]m), cover the entire field
of life up to Reptilia as far as these are aquatic forms.

(3) The terms used for the third group are also obviously
exhaustive--the separate mention of the _cattle_ and the _beast_
(Carnivora and Ungulates) is a form which is invariably noticed
throughout the Old and New Testaments. The "creeping things" would
include all minor forms, all land reptiles not described above as the
"tann[i=]n[i=]m," and insects.

And it is remarkable that the tortoises, the snakes, and, the more
modern forms of crocodile and lizard, and the amphibia and higher
insects, are all cainozoic--some of them were preceded by more or less
transitory representatives, e.g., the Carboniferous _Eosaurus_ and
Permian _Protosaurus_ the ancient Labyrinthodons and Urodelas,
Chelonians and the amphicaelian crocodiles. Snakes have no palaeozoic

Land insects, as might naturally be expected, go back to the times when
land vegetation was sufficiently established, and appear gradually all
along the line from the Silurian onwards. The modern types, however, are

The succession, we observe, may be illustrated by the resemblance of a
number of arrows shot rapidly one after the other in so many parallel
courses: all would soon be moving nearly together.

Plant-life, the subject of the first Divine designing, has, as far as we
can reasonably say, the start. According to known laws it appears in
elementary and undeveloped forms, and gradually progresses. One group
(Cryptogams) reaches a magnificent development and begins to die away in
point of grandeur, though still abundantly exemplified. Phanerogamic
plants in their lowest groups of gymnosperm exogens then begin to appear
in the Devonian conifers, gradually followed by _cycads_. And it is not
till Cainozoic times that we have the endogenous grasses and palms and
angiospermous exogens.

But the command regarding animal life had followed the other after a
short interval, so that we soon see this developing _pari passu_ with
the other groups--first the lower marine forms and gradually advancing
to the Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia, and then to Aves, as a special
division in the second great design group. Lastly the mammals appear and
man.[1] But throughout all, we see the rise, culmination, and decay of
many transitory and apparently preparatory groups--such as, for example,
the Labyrinthodons and Urodelas--preceding the modern types of Amphibia;
ancient fish-forms preceding modern ones, and either dying out or
leaving but a few and distant representatives; or again, the whole
tribes of ancient Saurians, of which something has already been said.
All these wonderful under-currents and cross-currents, rises and falls,
appearances and disappearances, nevertheless all work together till the
whole earth is peopled with the forms, designed in the beginning by the
Heavenly Creator.

[Footnote 1: Nor should we be surprised to find (should it be so
discovered) that some animals appeared after man. (_Cf_. "Nineteenth
Century" for Dec. 1885, p. 856.)]

No account of Creation can be other than wonderful and mysterious; nor
can the mystery of the Divine act be explained in language other than
that of analogy.

We can speak without mystery of a human architect conceiving a design in
his mind; and when he utters it, it is by putting the plans and details
upon paper, and handing them over to the builders, who set to work
(under the architect's supervision, and in obedience to all the rules
he has prescribed as to the methods of work and materials to be used).

All this we can transfer by analogy only, to a Divine design. The
design is in the Divine mind, and He utters it in no material plans or
drawings: the forces of nature and the chemical elements, His obedient
builders, have no hands to receive the plans or eyes to scan them; but
we can perceive the analogy directly, and that is all that is necessary
for Faith.

The origin of all we see in the world and in the entire Cosmos is, then,
in God; and as regards the adjustments of our globe and its relations,
and the actual life-forms in plant and animal, they came into existence
pursuant to groups of types or designs, made by the Divine Mind, and
declared by Him from His Throne in heaven, in six several days--periods
of the rotation of our earth.

That is the message of Revelation. It requires no straining of the
sacred text: it takes everything as it stands, and the seemingly lengthy
explanation it requires is not to manipulate the text, but to clear away
the heap of mistaken conceptions that have gathered round it:--to
establish the idea, that the terms "God said, Let there be," and so
forth, mean Heaven work, in the design and type--not earth work in its
realization and building up. Establishing this by illustration and
argument, nothing more is required in the way of textual exegesis except
to argue for the rejection of perverse and unsustainable meanings long
given to "days," to "expanse" or "firmament," and to "great whales" in
the narrative.

It will be admitted readily that if this account of Creation is the true
one, if the meaning assigned to the Genesis narrative is correct, it
affords no hindrance to _any_ conclusions that may progressively be
demanded by the investigation of life-history on earth.

It requires us to believe that the forms which life assumes are not
chance forms, nor the _unpremeditated_ results of environment and
circumstance. But we are not told positively which forms are transitory,
which are final.

It is only a matter of probable opinion, which it is quite open to any
one to dispute, that there is any indication of finality. I should
personally be inclined to think that we have indications that carnivora,
ungulates, and birds are final forms; that no evolution will ever modify
a bird further into anything that is not a bird; that no transition
between the ungulates and the carnivora is possible; that the
_proboscideae_ are not a final but a transitory type, dying out
gradually--our elephants and similar forms will disappear as the
mastodon did.

But I admit this is all mere speculation, in which I ask no one to
follow me.

On one important point only is there a difference; and if the text is
ever proved wrong on that, it must be given up. But it is here that all
scientific knowledge fails, in _any way whatever,_ to touch the sacred
text. There _is_ an unique and exceptional account of one "special
creation." A man "Adam" is described as having been actually created,
not born as an ultimately modified descendant of ancestors originally
far removed from himself. That is not to be denied; not only was his
bodily form specially created (conformably to the _type_ created in
Genesis i. 26), but a special spiritual and higher life was
imparted--for I believe that no one disputes this as the meaning of the
expression, "breathed into his nostrils the _breath of lives,_ and man
became a living soul."

It must be noted again--although I have before alluded to this in some
detail--that it is not impossible that, pursuant to the general command
"Let us make man," there _may_ have been other human creations, perhaps
not endowed with the higher life of Adam. If it is found difficult to
realize this because the _image of God_ is connected (from the very
first) with the design of Man's life-form, still it is to be remembered
as an undeniable fact, that the form, though one assumed by God Himself
in the Incarnation, _is connected_ in structure and function with the
general animal (Mammalian) type, and that even the Adamic or spiritually
endowed man _may_, by neglecting the higher and giving way to the lower
nature, develop much of the purely bestial in himself. So that the bare
possibility of a pre-Adamite and imperfect man cannot be _à priori_
denied. More than that it is not necessary to say. Nor is it necessary
that any origin of man should be limited to six or eight thousand years
back. If the state of the text is such that a perfect chronology is
possible,[1] then all that the Bible goes back to chronologically is the
particular man Adam. And it is quite impossible that any scientific or
historical contradiction can arise therefrom.

[Footnote 1: It should be borne in mind that just as Revelation is often
absolutely silent on many points that mere curiosity would like to see
explained, so also, the Divine Author may have allowed parts of the
original text of Revelation to be so far lost or obscured as to leave
further points that _might_ have been once recorded, now doubtful. All
that we may be quite sure of is that the text has been preserved for all
that is essential to "life and godliness."]



The information here put together is a compilation from papers in "The
Nineteenth Century," and other sources. It has no pretentions to
originality, but only to give a brief and connected account of the
subject, more condensed and freed from surrounding details than that
which the original sources afford.

Before entering on the subject, I would again call attention to the
surpassing importance of these early chapters of Genesis. And, I add,
that unbelievers are especially glad to be able to allege anything they
can against them, because they are aware that hardly any chapters in the
Bible are more constantly alluded to, and made the foundation of
practical arguments by our Lord and His Apostles, than these early
chapters in the Divine volume. If these chapters can be shown to be
mythical, then the divine knowledge of our Lord, as the Son of God, and
the inspiration of His Apostles, are put in question. All through the
Old Testament, allusions to Adam and to the early history in Genesis
occur; and among other passages, I will only here invite attention to
the 31st chapter of Ezekiel, where there is, in a most beautiful
description of the cedar-tree, an allusion to "Eden, the Garden of God"
(see also chapter xxviii. ver. 13), which some have thought to indicate
that the site was still known, and existing in the time of the prophet.
This at least may be remarked, that in verse 9, where the prophet speaks
of the "trees that _were_ in the Garden of God," the word _were_ is not
in the original, and the sense of the context would rather denote the
present tense--"the trees that _are_ in the Garden of God."

But it is in the New Testament that the most repeated and striking
allusions to Adam, the temptation of the woman by the Serpent, and the
entrance of sin and death into the life-history of mankind, occur.[1]

[Footnote 1: See on this subject page 137 _ante_.] [Transcriber's
note: Chapter X.]

As regards the narrative of Eden itself, there has been, from the very
earliest times, some disposition to regard it as mystical or
"allegorical," i.e., to regard it as representing spiritual facts of
temptation and disobedience, under the guise or story of an actual
audible address by a serpent, and the eating of an actual fruit. The
earliest translators seem to have glossed the "Gan-'Eden," everywhere in
the Old Testament (_except_ in Gen. ii. 8), by the phrase "the paradise
of pleasure," or some other similar term. And the Vulgate _always_ uses
some phrase, such as "place of delight," "voluptas," "deliciae," &c. It
must be admitted that there is some temptation to this course, because
of the inveterate tendency of the human mind to reduce things to its own
level--to suppose everything to have happened _in ways which are within
its present powers to comprehend._ We figure to ourselves the fear and
dislike _we_ should ourselves experience, of a large snake; we imagine
the amazement with which an intelligible voice would be heard to proceed
from such a creature; so far from being _tempted, we_ should at once be
moved to hostility or to flight; and thus we are inclined to throw doubt
on the narrative as it stands.

But this is to do what we justly complain of modern materialists and
positivists for doing--reducing everything to terms of present
experience and knowledge.

It has to be borne in mind, that _under the conditions of the case_, the
serpent was neither ugly, dangerous, nor loathsome, but beautiful and
attractive; that the residents of the Garden were familiar with the
"voice of God"--i.e., they had habitual intelligible communication with
heaven: probably, also, free intercourse with angelic messengers
(inconceivable as it may now seem to us) was matter of daily experience
to them. The woman would then recognize in the voice an Angel
communication; and unaware at first that it was an evil angel, it would
excite no surprise in her at all. Sensations of terror, surprise,
dislike, and so forth, were _ex hypothesi_ unknown. Why then should not
the narrative be exact, unless, indeed, we have some _à priori_ ground
for supposing that human nature _never could_ have been in a state where
the voice of God and angels sounded in its ears, and where innocence and
the absence of all evil emotion was the daily condition of life? The
unbeliever may sneer at such a state, but _reason_ why it should _not_
have been, he can give none. So, again, with the idea of the "tree of
the knowledge of good and evil" and the "tree of life." We are no doubt
tempted to think that these terms may be symbolic; but a more careful
reflection, and a deliberate rejection of the _influence of present
experiences_, may lead us to accept the narrative more literally. Even
now, we are not unfamiliar with the ideas of medicinal virtues in plants
and fruits. I see nothing impossible in the idea that God may have been
pleased to impart such virtue to the fruit of a tree standing in the
midst of the Garden, that physical health, immunity from all decay, and
constant restoration, should have been the result of eating the fruit;
and the eating of this fruit, we know, was freely permitted. The late
Archbishop Whately suggested, and I think with great probability, that
the longevity of the earliest generations of the Adamic race may have
been due to the beneficial effects of the eating of this fruit, which
only gradually died out. Just as we know at the present time, that
peculiarities introduced into human families, often survive from father
to son, till they gradually die out after many generations.

Again, as regards the "forbidden tree," it will not seem impossible,
that as a simple _test of obedience_ in a very primitive state, the rule
of abstinence from a particular fruit may have been literally enjoined,
and that the consequence of the moral act of _disobedience_ (rather
than the physical effect of the fruit eaten) should have been the
knowledge of evil, the first sensation of shame, terror, angry
dissension, and, worst of all, the alienation from God the source of all
good, which followed.

All such considerations of the reality of the history must gain greatly
in strength, if we can demonstrate that the Garden of Eden, the scene of
the temptation, the place where the trees that were the vehicles of such
consequences to the occupants of the garden, stood, had a real existence
and geographical site. Now I need hardly remark that the Mosaic
narrative unquestionably _professes_ a geographical exactness and a
literal existence of the garden, as no fabled locality--no Utopia or
garden of the Hesperides. I need only refer to the _data_ afforded to us
by Gen. ii. 8-14.

The Lord, it is said, planted a garden in Eden: it was "eastward;" but
that does not directly indicate its site. From Gen. iv. 16, we also
learn that the land of Nod where Cain dwelt (after the murder of Abel)
was on the east of Eden.

A river went out and watered the garden. After passing the limits of
Eden, the river is said to have divided itself, or parted, into four
heads, i.e., arms or branches. The first branch was called Pison. This
branch "compasseth," i.e., forms the boundary along the whole length of,
"_the_ Havilah." This country is spoken of as being a tract wherein was
produced good gold, "b'dolach" (translated "bdellium") and "shoham"
(translated "onyx.") The second branch was Gihon, which is described as
similarly compassing the district of K[=u]sh. Here our A.V., by
substituting "Ethiopia" for the original "C[=u]sh," has made a gloss
rather than a translation; and this gloss has given rise to several
errors of commentators in identifying the site of Eden. The Revised
Version has corrected the error.

The third branch was Hiddekel, the _Diklatu_ of the Arabs, the Tigra of
the old Persians, and the _Tigris_ of later writers. This is said to run
eastward towards Assyria.[1] The fourth river was the Frat or Euphrates.
Observe, in passing, that the author gives no detail about the great
river Euphrates, as being well known; while he adds particulars about
the Tigris, and describes the Gihon and the Pison in some detail.

[Footnote 1: So the margin of the A. and R. Versions more correctly.]

Now it will at once strike the reader that two of these rivers are well
known to the present day. The others are not.

It is in the identification of these two, and of the districts which
they "compassed," which form the difficulties of the problem. Up till
recent times, it is remarkable what a variety of speculations have been
attempted as to the situation of Eden. Dr. Aldis Wright, the learned
author of the article "Eden" in Smith's "Biblical Dictionary," remarks:
"It would be difficult, in the whole history of opinion, to find any
subject which has so invited, and at the same time completely baffled,
conjecture, as the Garden of Eden." And in another place he thinks that
"the site of Eden will ever rank with the quadrature of the circle, and
the interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy among those unsolved, and
perhaps insoluble, problems which possess so strange a fascination." It
is, however, to be remarked, (1)that all that was written before
Professor Delitzsch's researches were made known; and (2)that really a
great mass of the conjecture and speculation has been purely in the
air--undertaken without any reference to the plain terms of the text to
be interpreted. It is the extravagance of commentators, and their
insisting on going beyond the narrative itself, that has raised such
difficulties, and made the problem look more hopeless than it really is.

To what purpose are "the three continents of the old world" "subjected
to the most rigorous search," as Dr. Wright puts it--when it is quite
plain from the text itself, that the solution is to be sought in the
neighbourhood of the Euphrates, or not at all? The whole inquiry seems
to have been one in which a vast cloud of learned dust has been raised
by speculators, who began their inquiry without clearly determining, to
start with, what was the point at issue. Either the description in Gen.
ii. 3-14 is meant for allegory, or geographical fact: this question must
first be settled; and if the latter is agreed to, then it is quite
inconceivable that the words should imply any very extensive region, or
any fancied realm extending over a large proportion of one or other
quarter of the globe. The problem is then at once narrowed; and it is
simply unreasonable to look for Havila in India, or for Pison in the
province of Burma, as one learned author does!

Yet commentators have forgotten this; and gone--the earlier ones into
interpretation of allegory--the later into impossible geographical
speculation; while only the most recent have confined themselves to the
obvious terms of the problem as laid down in the narrative itself--a
narrative which (whether true or false) is clearly meant to be definite
and exact, as we have seen. Our A.V. translators are to be held, to
some extent, responsible for the freedom which speculation has
exercised, by themselves taking the C[=u]sh of the narrative to
"Ethiopia," i.e., to the African continent--for which there is no
authority whatever.

As regards the _allegorical_ interpretations, they are too extravagant
for serious notice. Souls, angels, human passions and motives, are
supposed to be represented by towns, rivers, and countries. To all this
it is enough to reply--What reason can we have for supposing an
allegory suddenly to be interpolated at Gen. ii. 8? There is no allegory
before it, there is none after.

Then as to the early geographical expounders. Josephus and others
supposed the allusion was made to the great rivers known to ancient
geography, all of which ran into that greatest river of all, which
encircled the globe. In this view, the Gihon might be the Nile, and the
Pison the Ganges! Here, again, it may be remarked it is impossible to
read the narrative and believe that the author meant any such widespread
region. Even if the author had the ancient ideas about cosmography
generally, that would not prevent his being accurate about a limited
region lying to the east of a well-known river in a populous country. In
later times Luther avoided the difficult speculation by supposing that
the Deluge had swept away all traces of the site! But unfortunately for
this convenient theory, it is a plain fact that the Deluge did not sweep
any two out of the four rivers named. The reader who is curious on the
subject, will find in Dr. A. Wright's article a brief account of the
various identifications proposed by all these commentators. It would not
be interesting to go into any detail. I shall pass over all those
extravagant views which go to places remote from the Euphrates, and come
at once to the later attempts to solve the question in connection with
the two known rivers, Euphrates and Hiddekel (Tigris); as this is the
only kind of solution that any reasonable modern Biblical student will

The different explanations adopted maybe grouped into two main attempts:
(1) to find the place among the group of rivers that surrounds Mount
Ararat in Northern Armenia, _vis._, in the extreme upper course of the
Euphrates near its two sources; (2) to find the place below the
_present_ junction of the Euphrates and the Tigris, along some part of
the united course, which is now more than two hundred miles long, and is
called "Shatt-el-'Aráb."

But neither of these attempts has been successful: the first must,
indeed, be absolutely dismissed; because the Hebrew phrases used in
describing the four _branches_ of the river that "went out," and watered
the garden, and then parted, cannot be applied to four independent
sources or streams--_upstream_ of the Euphrates. It will not, then,
satisfy the problem, to find four rivers somewhere in the vicinity of
the Euphrates, and which, in a general way, enclose a district in which
Eden might be placed. It may, indeed, be doubted whether this first
attempt (which I may call the "North Armenian solution") would ever have
been seriously entertained, but from the fact that the name Gihon--or
something very like it--did attach itself to the Araxes or Phasis, a
considerable river of Armenia. Finding a Gihon ready, the commentators
next made the Pison, the Acampsis; and then as Pison was near the
"Havila land," this country was laid on the extreme north of Armenia;
all this without a particle of evidence of any kind.[1] I may here take
the opportunity of remarking that a chance _similarity of names_[2] has
been, throughout the controversy, a fruitful source of enlarged
speculative wandering. Thus this name Gihon (Gaihun, Jíkhún, G[=e][=o]n,
&c.) that appears in North Armenia, again appears in connection with the
_Nile_; while again the name "Nile" has wandered back to the confines of
Persia, and one of the _Euphrates_ branches is still called
"Shatt-en-nîl." The ancients, indeed, had very curious ideas about the
Nile. Its real sources being so long undiscovered--no Speke or Grant
having appeared--imagination ran wild on the subject. Not only so, but
it is remarkable that the name _Cush_ should have acquired both a
Persian Gulf and an Egyptian employment: and the writer of the able
article in "The Nineteenth Century" (October, 1882) points out several
other singular instances in which names are common both to the
African-Egyptian region, and to this.

[Footnote 1: And it is astonishing to find the error generally
perpetuated in maps attached to modern Bibles.]

[Footnote 2: As distinct from a real philological connection of a modern
name with a more ancient one, and so forth.]

Turning now to the second of the two theories, the identification of the
site on the lower part of the Euphrates after its now existing junction
with the Tigris (and which the supporters of the theory have justified
by making the Gihon and Pison two rivers coming from Eden) must also be
set aside.

For the important fact has been overlooked that it is quite certain,
that anciently, the joint stream, (Shatt-el-'Aráb), as it now is, did
not exist. Though the Genesis narrative tells us of a junction
_immediately outside_ the southern boundary of the Garden, the Euphrates
channels and the Tigris branch (with part of the Euphrates water in it)
flowed separately to the Persian Gulf. It is quite certain that, in the
time of Alexander the Great, the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris were
a good day's journey apart. For this separate outflow there is the
incontestable evidence of Pliny and other authors quoted by Professor
Delitzsch. I may here also remark, that anciently the Persian Gulf
extended much farther inland than it does now. In the time of
Sennacherib, an inland arm of the sea extended so far, that a _naval_
expedition against Elam was possible; more than one hundred miles inland
from the present sea-line. The extension was called N[=a]r Marratum. In
Alexander's time, the city of Charax (now Mohamra) was founded close to
the sea (that was in the fourth century B.C.). It is known from later
histories, that shortly before the birth of our Saviour, the city was
from fifty to one hundred and twenty Roman miles inland. The change is
due to the "Delta," or alluvial formation at the mouth of the rivers.

Turning, then, to the recent inquiries (published in 1881[1]) by
Professor Fried. Delitzsch, it must be confessed that the results
obtained are such as to completely avoid all the difficulties that beset
the other explanations: yet we ought not to be too confident that it is
a final or absolute explanation. A certain caution and reserve will
still be wisely maintained on the subject. At any rate, they show that
_an_ explanation, one that answers _all_ the conditions of the problem,
_can_ be given; and that is a great thing.

[Footnote 1: "Wo lag das Paradies" (Leipzig, 1881) is the title of the

[Footnote: Professor Friedrich Delitzsch is Professor of Assyriology in
the University of Leipzig.]

In placing the site _on_ the Euphrates, and far from the mountain
sources, there is no violence done to the Hebrew language used to
describe the first river, as one that "went out," and watered the
Garden. The words do not require that the river should actually _take_
its _rise_ within the Garden limits; but it is necessary that the river
should be so situated, that its waters could be distributed by means of
creeks or canals across the Garden, that it could be said the river
"went out and watered the Garden." Now it is a remarkable fact, that in
the district just above Babylon, the bed of the Euphrates is in level
much higher than the bed of the Tigris (Hiddekel) to the east, and that
hence there always have been a number of very variable channels leading
from the Euphrates eastward to the Tigris. These, it is well known, were
often enlarged by the ancients and converted into useful "inundation
canals" for irrigation and the passage of boats. Imagine, then, the high
level river bed of the Euphrates, and various streams flowing off it
down to the valley of the Tigris, and we have a most efficiently
irrigated "Garden," and one accurately described by the text--the great
river "went out" and watered it. The Euphrates, moreover, is liable to
great flushes of water from the melting of the snows in wide tracts of
mountain or highlands from which its waters are collected, and these
volumes of water found vent from the overcharged mother-channel by
escape, not only through the side channels, just spoken of, but also by
other important branches on the other side. Every one who has seen one
of the great rivers of Northern India will at once realize the changes
that take place where a river liable to floods has its bed at a high
level. It is almost a matter of certainty that, in the course of years,
the branches and channels of rivers so constituted will change, and old
ones be left dry and deserted. These essential topographical conditions
have always to be remembered in interpreting the narrative of Genesis

In fact, they furnish us with points which help us in the problem at the
outset. (1) There is a part of the Euphrates, just above Babylon, where
the river naturally furnished abundant irrigation for a Garden planted
eastward of it, by means of natural irrigation channels flowing from the
high level down to the lower valley of the Tigris; and (2) there is also
a point from which the Euphrates did branch out, and several important
arms anciently existed.

Nor is the locality, in point of verdure and fertility, unsuitable. Not
only do the ancient histories make frequent mention of the canals and
streams flowing from the Euphrates which I have alluded to, but they
speak of the palm groves, the vines and the verdure of the Babylonian or
Chaldean region. Herodotus, in his first book, has the most glowing
description of the scene; and the kings of Babylon had numerous enclosed
gardens or parks: these were imitated in Persia, and gave rise to the
Persian name "Firdaus," which Xenophon imported into Greek in the form
of [Greek: paradeisos] or "paradise"--the term which was adopted by the
Seventy translators.

The actual locality which Professor Delitzsch proposes as the most
probable site of the Garden of Eden is between the present Euphrates and
Tigris, just to the north of Babylon. The boundaries would be--roughly
and generally speaking--the two rivers for East and West; while for the
North and South boundaries we should draw parallel lines through Accad
on the North and Babylon on the South.

But granted that the general locality and the relations of the river
Euphrates and Tigris satisfy the requirements of the text by such a
location as this: how about the other two _and_ the countries which they
compass? The troubles of the earlier commentators will warn us, that we
need not be too ready to force names, and to identify one river, and
then, _because_ we have fixed that, make the country which the text
requires follow it!

It is, however, in this matter that Professor Delitzsch's work is so
satisfactory. He has pointed out, that there is historical evidence (and
also that the local traces are not wanting in the present day) to prove
that, just below Babylon, we _can_ find two prominently important
channels or branches of the Euphrates, which will at least supply the
place of Pison and Gihon. As to the first, it is known that in historic
times a great channel called by the Greeks Pallakopas (navigable for
ships) used to carry off the surplus water of the Euphrates when swollen
in the summer season by the melting snows of the Armenian mountains. It
branched off from the main river at a point somewhat north of Babylon,
and flowed into the Persian gulf. There is, indeed, no _direct_ evidence
to show that this branch bore a name resembling Pison. _Palgu_ is the
Assyrian whence the Greek Pallakopas was derived. It is remarkable,
however, that the word Pison closely resembles the cuneiform term
"pisána," or "pisánú," which is used for a water-reservoir, a canal or a
channel; and as this "Pallakopas" was _the_ channel _par excellence_, it
may very possibly have been called "pisána" or Pison, the (great)
channel. The identification of the channel called "Pallakopas" will be
found mentioned in Colonel Chesney's work, "An Expedition to the
Tigris." The name, however, of this channel is not the only means we
have of identifying it. The Scripture says that the Pison compasses the
land of _Havilah_. Now let us remember, that the Scripture tells of two
Havilahs: (1) The second son of Cush[1] and brother of Nimrod, and (2)
one of the great great grandsons of Shem (Gen. x. 29). One we may call
the Cushite Havilah, the other the Joktanite Havilah. The dwelling-place
of the brother of Nimrod is not mentioned, but it is stated that the
Joktanite Havilah dwelt in "Mesha." The tenth of Genesis is an important
chapter, as showing how the descendants of Noah branched out and spread
over the countries all round the Euphrates; some going north to Assyria
(Nineveh), others to the east and west, and others south, to Arabia and
Egypt. Now it so happens that the whole country west of the great
Pallakopas channel, was called by the Assyrians "Mashu." Professor
Delitzsch identifies this Mashu of the cuneiform inscriptions, with the
"Mesha" mentioned in Scriptures, as the home of Havilah. We have also in
Gen. xxv. 8,[2] mention of a land of Havila that is "before"--i.e.,
eastward of--"Egypt as thou goest toward Assyria," which would answer
very well to this locality, west of the Euphrates. It is also known
(from sources which it would take too long to detail) that this country
did yield gold-dust. Pliny also mentions "Bdellium," if that was the
substance known as "B'dolach." It is indeed uncertain what this was, but
Gesenius long ago rejected the idea that it was a stone, because there
is no prefix to it, as there is to "shoham," which follows, and
certainly is a precious stone. The manna in the wilderness is described
as being of the "colour of bdellium," and was also like hoar-frost;[3]
hence the idea that b'dolach was a crystal. But a fragrant and precious
gum-resin seems more likely. The Magi who came to worship the Infant
Saviour from near this locality, brought offerings of _gold_, and also
fragrant gums and myrrh. Was "bdellium" (as probably being a fragrant
gum) one of these offerings?

[Footnote 1: See Gen. x. 9.]

[Footnote 2: See also 1 Sam. xv. 7.]

[Footnote 3: Exod. xvi. 14; Numbers xi. 7: "The appearance (lit. "eye")
of it was as the appearance of bdellium" (R.V.).]

The "Onyx," or "Shoham," was most probably a pure red cornelian, and
this also was found in the Babylonian provinces, and was specially worn
by the Babylonian kings.

So the country west of the Euphrates answers very well to Havila without
any forcing, and without any placing it there _because_ of the river
rendering such a plan necessary.

As to the fourth river (Gihon), Delitzsch identifies it, still more
clearly, with a channel known as the "Shatt-en-níl," which branches off
from the Euphrates at Babylon itself, and passing the Scriptural city of
Erech, rejoins the main river lower down. A clay tablet has actually
been discovered, having the Euphrates, Tigris, and this Shatt-en-níl
channel _together_: the name of the latter is given as "K[=a]hán de," or
"Gughánde," a name which closely resembles Gihon. The channel is,
however, identified independently of the name. For the Gihon is
particularized in the narrative, by the fact that it "compasses" the
land of Cush. This (as already pointed out) is not the Ethiopian Cush.

Delitzsch states, that the whole country bounded by this branch was
anciently called Kash-shu, which he identifies with the Cush of Genesis
ii. The syllable "Kash" appears throughout this locality. In fact
Kash-du or Kal-du is the origin of the familiar name Chaldea. In the
Hebrew, Kush (Cush) is the name given to the father of Nimrod, who
"began" his kingdom about this very site--Erech, and Calneh, and Accad
(Gen. x. 8, 10). Hence it is not surprising that relics of the name
should be found all round this neighbourhood. Nor does the evidence end
here. The district immediately around Babylon was called "Kár-dunish-i,"
i.e., the "Garden of the god Dunish." Now Kar is the Turanian form of
the Semitic G[=a]n, or Gin[=a] (garden); and what is more likely than
that, as the true story was lost in the heathen traditions and mythology
that grew up, the "garden" was attributed to the god Dunish--whereas the
real original had been not "Gàndunish," but "Gan'Eden?" This, though
only a conjecture, is the more probable, as one of the inscription-names
of Babylon itself was "Tintira," which, though a little obscure,
certainly means _either_ the "_grove_," or the _"fountain," of life._

We thus find, not only that four great branches of the river that "went
out," and watered the Garden can be traced, but that the two really do
"compass" tracts, that can, with the highest degree of probability, be
identified as C[=u]sh or Kash, and Havilah. The importance of Professor
Delitzsch's work may now be briefly glanced at. It may be objected, that
such a process of reasoning as that put forward, is not convincing to a
general reader who has not the means of criticizing or testing Professor
Delitzsch's conclusions: he therefore cannot be sure that, in selecting
two channels to represent the Pison and the Gihon, and in identifying
"Mashu" with Mesha of Havilah, and one of the Babylonian districts with
Kush, the Professor has at last hit off a solution of the problem which
will not in its turn be disproved, as all earlier solutions have been.
There is, however, this important conclusion to be safely drawn, viz.,
that a complete explanation in exact accord with the Hebrew text is
_possible_, and that hence nothing can be urged against the _narrative_,
on the ground (hitherto sneeringly taken) that the geography _was
impossible_ and so forth.

Next let me very briefly sum up what it is that Dr. Delitzsch has
done--marshalling the evidence, beginning from the broad end and
narrowing down till we arrive at the point.

(1) First, then, we are fixed by the narrative to some place between the
Euphrates and the Tigris.

(2) We find in the ancient inscriptions of the chief city of this
locality, constant allusions to a Garden, a primitive pair and a
temptation: one of these almost exactly reproduces the Bible story; it
is not of the earliest date and is a copy. But discovery is far from
being exhausted; all that we know is _consistent_ with the idea of an
original story, gradually corrupted by the addition of legends, and
introduction of mythological persons and heathen divinities. The true
belief in one God, who made Himself known by voice or vision to His true
worshippers, seems early to have been confined to a few of the Shemitic
families, while the others "invented" gods of their own.

(3) We find that the region about Babylon itself was called
Kár-dunishi--which easily recalls Kar or Gán-Eden. We also find the name
(Tintira) applied, indicating a "grove" or "fountain" of life; in the
locality where the direct legends most abound.

(4) We find from ancient authors that the district was one of rich
verdure--a land of gardens and irrigation.

(5) We find that some way above Babylon about Accad, the level of the
river bed Euphrates is so much higher than the valley of the Tigris
eastward, that numerous streams flow off from it, which would serve
admirably to irrigate a garden situated between the two, eastward of the

(6) We find that the Persian Gulf once extended more than one hundred
miles farther inland than it does now. That there was no joint outflow
of Tigris and Euphrates, but, though they did join their streams above,
they parted again and had still separate mouths--of the Tigris branch
one, of the Euphrates several.

(7) Lastly, Professor Delitzsch finds two channels which answer to Pison
and Gihon.

(8) He proves these two to be the right ones by considering the
countries which they "compass:" and actually finds the one that he
supposes to be the "Gaihûn," called, in the cuneiform clay tablets,
"Kahán or Gaghân-dé."

It is really only in (7) and (8) that there is any room for doubt and
for further inquiry.

At any rate, the credibility of the narrative, and a belief in its
purpose, as a topographically exact statement of fact, not an allegory
or legend, is established.

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