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 Post subject: Re: The Warfare of Science with Theology by A. D. White
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:56 pm 
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In his great work on Etymologies, Isidore took up Augus-
tine's attempt to bring the creation into satisfactory rela-
tions with the book of Genesis, and, as to fossil remains, he,
like Tertullian, thought that they resulted from the Flood of
Noah. In the following century Bede developed the same
orthodox traditions.

The best guess, in a geological sense, among the followers
of St. Augustine was made by an Irish monkish scholar,
who, in order to diminish the difficulty arising from the dis-
tribution of animals, especially in view of the fact that the
same animals are found in Ireland as in England, held that
various lands now separated were once connected. But,
alas! the exigencies of theology forced him to place their
separation later than the Flood. Happily for him, such facts
were not yet known as that the kangaroo is found only on an
island in the South Pacific, and must therefore, according
to his theory, have migrated thither with all his progeny,
and along a causeway so curiously constructed that none of
the beasts of prey, who were his fellow-voyagers in the ark,
could follow him.

These general lines of thought upon geology and its kin-
dred science of zoology were followed by St. Thomas Aqui-
nas and by the whole body of mediaeval theologians, so far
as they gave any attention to such subjects.

The next development of geology, mainly under Church
guidance, was by means of the scholastic theology. Phrase-
making was substituted for investigation. Without the
Church and within it wonderful contributions were thus
made. In the eleventh century Avicenna accounted for the
fossils by suggesting a " stone-making force " ; in the thir-
teenth, Albert the Great attributed them to a "formative
quality ; the following centuries some philosophers
ventured the idea that they grew from seed ; and the Aris-
totelian doctrine of spontaneous generation was constantly
used to prove that these stony fossils possessed powers of
reproduction like plants and animals.

Still, at various times and places, germs implanted by
Greek and Roman thought were warmed into life. The
Arabian schools seem to have been less fettered by the letter
of the Koran than the contemporary Christian scholars by
the letter of the Bible; and to Avicenna belongs the credit of
first announcing substantially the modern geological theory
of changes in the earth's surface.

The direct influence of the Reformation was at first un-
favourable to scientific progress, for nothing could be more
at variance with any scientific theory of the development of
the universe than the ideas of the Protestant leaders. That
strict adherence to the text of Scripture which made Luther
and Melanchthon denounce the idea that the planets revolve
about the sun, was naturally extended to every other scien-
tific statement at variance with the sacred text. There is
much reason to believe that the fetters upon scientific
thought were closer under the strict interpretation of Scrip-
ture by the early Protestants than they had been under
the older Church. The dominant spirit among the Reform-
ers is shown by the declaration of Peter Martyr to the effect
that, if a wrong opinion should obtain regarding the crea-
tion as described in Genesis, "all the promises of Christ
fall into nothing, and all the life of our religion would be

In the times immediately succeeding the Reformation
matters went from bad to worse. Under Luther and Me-
lanchthon there was some little freedom of speculation, but
under their successors there was none ; to question any in-
terpretation of Luther came to be thought almost as wicked
as to question the literal interpretation of the Scriptures
themselves. Examples of this are seen in the struggles be-
tween those who held that birds were created entirely from
water and those who held that they were created out of water
and mud. Li the city of Lubeck, the ancient centre of the
Hanseatic League, close at the beginning of the seven-
teenth century, Pfeiffer, '' General Superintendent " or bishop
in those parts, published his Pansophia Mosaica, calculated, as
he believed, to beat back science forever. In a long series
of declamations he insisted that in the strict text of Genesis
alone is safety ; that it contains all wisdom and knowledge,
human and divine. This being the case, who could care to
waste time on the study of material things and give thought
to the structure of the world ? Above all, who, after such a
proclamation by such a ruler in the Lutheran Israel, would
dare to talk of the '' days " mentioned in Genesis as " periods
of time"; or of the "firmament" as not meaning a solid
vault over the universe ; or of the '' waters above the heav-
ens " as not contained in a vast cistern supported by the
heavenly vault ; or of the " windows of heaven " as a figure
of speech?

In England the same spirit was shown even as late as
the time of Sir Matthew Hale. We find in his book on the
Origination of Mankind, published in 1685, the strictest devo-
tion to a theory of creation based upon the mere letter of
Scripture, and a complete inability to draw knowledge re-
garding the earth's origin and structure from any other

While the Lutheran, Calvinistic, and Anglican Reformers
clung to literal interpretations of the sacred books, and
turned their faces away from scientific investigation, it was
among their contemporaries at the revival of learning that
there began to arise fruitful thought in this field. Then it
was, about the beginning of the sixteenth century, that
Leonardo da Vinci, as great a genius in science as in art,
broached the true idea as to the origin of fossil remains ;
and his compatriot, Fracastoro, developed this on the modern
lines of thought. Others in other parts of Europe took up
the idea, and, while mixing with it many crudities, drew
from it more and more truth. Toward the end of the six-
teenth century Bernard Palissy, in France, took hold of it
with the same genius which he showed in artistic creation ;
but, remarkable as were his assertions of scientific realities,
they could gain little hearing. Theologians, philosophers,
and even some scientific men of value, under the sway of
scholastic phrases, continued to insist upon such explanations
as that fossils were the product of *' fatty matter set into a
fermentation by heat " ; or of a " lapidific juice " ; or of a
''seminal air "; t or of a "tumultuous movement of terres-
trial exhalations " ; and there was a prevailing belief that fos-
sil remains, in general, might be brought under the head of
" sports of Nature," a pious turn being given to this phrase
by the suggestion that these "sports" indicated some in-
scrutable purpose of the Almighty.

This remained a leading orthodox mode of explanation
in the Church, Catholic and Protestant, for centuries.

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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 Post subject: Re: The Warfare of Science with Theology by A. D. White
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:40 pm 
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But the scientific method could not be entirely hidden ;
and, near the beginning of the seventeenth century, De
Clave, Bitaud, and De Villon revived it in France. Straight-
way the theological faculty of Paris protested against the
scientific doctrine as unscriptural, destroyed the offending
treatises, banished their authors from Paris, and forbade
them to live in towns or enter places of public resort.

The champions of science, though repressed for a time,
quietly laboured on, especially in Italy. Half a century later,
Steno, a Dane, and Scilla, an Italian, went still further in the
right direction ; and, though they and their disciples took
o-reat pains to throw a tub to the whale, in the shape of sun-
dry vague concessions to the Genesis legends, they developed
geological truth more and more.

In' France, the old theological spirit remained exceed-
ingly powerful. About the middle of the eighteenth cen-
tury Buffon made another attempt to state simple geological
truths; but the theological faculty of the Sorbonne dragged
him at once from his high position, forced him to recant
ignominiously, and to print his recantation. It runs as fol-
lows: "I declare that I had no intention to contradict the
text of Scripture ; that I believe most firmly all therein re-
lated about the creation, both as to order of time and matter
of fact. I abandon everything in my book respecting the
formation of the earth, and generally all which may be con-
trary to the narrative of Moses." This humiliating docu-
ment reminds us painfully of that forced upon Galileo a
hundred years before.

It has been well observed by one of the greatest of mod-
ern authorities that the doctrine which Buffon thus ''aban-
doned " is as firmly established as that of the earth's rota-
tion upon its axis. Yet one hundred and fifty years were
required to secure for it even a fair hearing ; the prevailing
doctrine of the Church continued to be that "all things
were made at the beginning of the world," and that to say
that stones and fossils were made before or since *' the begin-
ning " is contrary to Scripture. Again we find theological
substitutes for scientific explanation ripening into phrases
more and more hollow — making fossils ' sports of Nature,"
or " mineral concretions," or " creations of plastic force," or
"models" made by the Creator before he had fully decided
upon the best manner of creating various beings.

Of this period, when theological substitutes for science
were carrying all before them, there still exists a monument
commemorating at the same time a farce and a tragedy.
This is the work of Johann Beringer, professor in the Uni-
versity of Wlirzburg and private physician to the Prince-
Bishop — the treatise bearing the title Litwgraphic Wirce-
biirgensis Specimen Priimini, " illustrated with the marvellous
likenesses of two hundred figured or rather insectiform
stones." Beringer, for the greater glory of God, had pre-
viously committed himself so completely to the theory that
fossils are simply '' stones of a peculiar sort, hidden by the
Author of Nature for his own pleasure,"^ that some of his
students determined to give his faith in that pious doctrine
a thorough trial. They therefore prepared a collection of
sham fossils in baked clay, imitating not only plants, reptiles,
and fishes of every sort that their knowledge or imagination
could suggest, but even Hebrew and Syriac inscriptions,
one of them the name of the Almighty ; and these they buried
in a place where the professor was wont to search for speci-
mens. The joy of Beringer on unearthing these proofs of
the immediate agency of the finger of God in creating fossils
knew no bounds. At great cost he prepared this book, w^hose
twenty-two elaborate plates of facsimiles were forever to
settle the question in favour of theology and against science,
and prefixed to the w^ork an allegorical title page, wherein
not only the glory of his own sovereign, but that of heaven
itself, was pictured as based upon a pyramid of these mirac-
ulous fossils. So robust was his faith that not even a pre-
mature exposure of the fraud could dissuade him from the
publication of his book. Dismissing in one contemptuous
chapter this exposure as a slander by his rivals, he appealed
to the learned world. But the shout of laughter that wel-
comed the work soon convinced even its author. In vain
did he try to suppress it ; and, according to tradition, hav-
ing wasted his fortune in vain attempts to buy up all the
copies of it, and being taunted by the rivals whom he had
thought to overwhelm, he died of chagrin. Even death did
not end his misfortunes. The copies of the first edition hav-
ing been sold by a graceless descendant to a Leipsic book-
seller, a second edition was brought out under a new title,
and this, too, is now much sought as a precious memorial of
human credulity.

But even this discomfiture did not end the idea which
had caused it, for, although some latitude was allowed
among the various theologico-scientific explanations, it was
still held meritorious to believe that all fossils were placed
in the strata on one of the creative days by the hand of the
Almighty, and that this was done for some mysterious pur-
pose, probably for the trial of human faith.

Strange as it may at first seem, the theological war
against a scientific method in geology was waged more
fiercely in Protestant countries than in Catholic. The older
Church had learned by her costly mistakes, especially in
the cases of Copernicus and Galileo, what dangers to her
claim of infallibility lay in meddling with a growing science.
In Italy, therefore, comparatively little opposition was made,
while England furnished the most bitter opponents to ge-
ology so long as the controversy could be maintained, and
the most active negotiators in patching up a truce on the
basis of a sham science afterward. The Church of England
did, indeed, produce some noble men, like Bishop Clayton
and John Mitchell, who stood firmly by the scientific meth-
od ; but these appear generally to have been overwhelmed
by a chorus of churchmen and dissenters, whose mixtures of
theology and science, sometimes tragic in their results and
sometimes comic, are among the most instructive things in
modern history.


We have 'already noted that there are generally three
periods or phases in a theological attack upon any science.
The first of these is marked by the general use of scriptural
texts and statements against the new scientific doctrine; the
third by attempts at compromise by means of far-fetched rec-
onciliations of textual statements with ascertained fact ; but
the second or intermediate period between these two is fre-
quently marked by the pitting against science of some great
doctrine in theology. We saw this in astronomy, when Bel-
larmin and his followers insisted that the scientific doctrine
of the earth revolving about the sun is contrary to the theo-
logical doctrine of the incarnation. So now against geology
it was urged that the scientific doctrine that fossils represent
animals which died before Adam contradicts the theological
doctrine of Adam's fall and the statement that "death en-
tered the world by sin."

In this second stage of the theological struggle with geol-
ogy, England was especially fruitful in champions of ortho-
doxy, first among whom may be named Thomas Burnet.
In the last quarter of the seventeenth century, just at the
time when Newton's great discovery was given to the world
Burnet issued his Sacred Theory of tJie EartJi. His position
was commanding ; he was a royal chaplain and a cabinet
officer. Planting himself upon the famous text in the second
epistle of Peter, he declares that the flood had destroyed
the old and created a new world. The Newtonian theory
he refuses to accept. In his theory of the deluge he lays
less stress upon the '' opening of the windows of heaven "
than upon the '' breaking up of the fountains of the great
deep." On this latter point he comes forth with great
strength. His theory is that the earth is hollow, and filled
with fluid like an egg. Mixing together sundry texts from
Genesis and from the second epistle of Peter, the theological
doctrine of the '' Fall," an astronomical theory regarding the
ecliptic, and various notions adapted from Descartes, he in-
sisted that, before sin brought on the Deluge, the earth was
of perfect mathematical form, smooth and beautiful, " like
an Egg,'' with neither seas nor islands nor valleys nor rocks,
" with not a wrinkle, scar, or fracture," and that all creation
was equally perfect.

In the second book of his great work Burnet went still
further. As in his first book he had mixed his texts of Gene-
sis and St. Peter with Descartes, he now mixed the account
of the Garden of Eden in Genesis with heathen legends of
the golden age, and concluded that before the flood there
was over the whole earth perpetual spring, disturbed by
no rain more severe than the falling of the dew.

In addition to his other grounds for denying the earlier
existence of the sea, he assigned the reason that, if there
had been a sea before the Deluge, sinners would have learned
to build ships, and so, when the Deluge set in, could have
saved themselves.

The work was written with much power, and attracted
universal attention. It was translated into various lan-
guages, and called forth a multitude of supporters and oppo-
nents in all parts of Europe. Strong men rose against it,
especially in England, and among them a few dignitaries of
the Church ; but the Church generally hailed the work with
joy. Addison praised it in a Latin ode, and for nearly
a century it exercised a strong influence upon European
feeling, and aided to plant more deeply than ever the theo-
logical opinion that the earth as now existing is merely
a ruin ; whereas, before sin brought on the Flood, it was
beautiful in its '' egg-shaped form," and free from every

A few years later came another writer of the highest
standing — William Whiston, professor at Cambridge, who
in 1696 published his Nt-zu Theory of the Earth. Unlike Bur-
net, he endeavoured to avail himself of the Newtonian idea,
and brought in, to aid the geological catastrophe caused by
human sin, a comet, which broke open '' the fountains of the
great deep."

But, far more important than cither of these champions,
there arose in the eighteenth century to aid in the subjec=
tion of science to theology, three men of extraordinary power
— John Wesley, Adam Clarke, and Richard Watson. All
three were men of striking intellectual gifts, lofty character,
and noble purpose, and the first-named one of the greatest
men in English history ; yet we find them in geology hope-
lessly fettered by the mere letter of Scripture, and by a tem-
porary phase in theology. As in regard to witchcraft and
the doctrine of comets, so in regard to geology, this theo-
logical view drew Wesley into enormous error. The great
doctrine which Wesley, Watson, Clarke, and their compeers,
following St. Augustine, Bede, Peter Lombard, and a long
line of the greatest minds in the universal Church, thought
it especially necessary to uphold against geologists was, that
death entered the world by sin— by the first transgression of
Adam and Eve. The extent to which the supposed neces-
sity of upholding this doctrine carried Wesley seems now
almost beyond belief. Basing his theology on the declara-
tion that the Almighty after creation found the earth and all
created things ' very good," he declares, in his sermon on
the Cause and Cure of Earthquakes, that no one who believes
the Scriptures can deny that " sin is the moral cause of earth-
quakes, whatever their natural cause may be." Again, he
declares that earthquakes are the " effect of that curse which
was brought upon the earth by the original transgression."
Bringing into connection with Genesis the declaration of St.
Paul that '* the whole creation groaneth and travaileth to-
gether in pain until now," he finds additional scriptural proof
that the earthquakes were the result of Adam's fall. He de-
clares, in his sermon on God's Approbation of His Works, that
" before the sin of Adam there were no acritations within
the bowels of the earth, no violent convulsions, no concus-
sions of the earth, no earthquakes, but all was unmoved as
the pillars of heaven. There were then no such things as
eruptions of fires ; no volcanoes or burning mountains." Of
course, a science which showed that earthquakes had been
in operation for ages before the appearance of man on the
planet, and which showed, also, that those very earthquakes
which he considered as curses resultant upon the Fall were
really blessings, producing the fissures in which we find to-
day those mineral veins so essential to modern civilization,
was entirely beyond his comprehension. He insists that
earthquakes are " God's strange works of judgment, the
proper effect and punishment of sin."

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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 Post subject: Re: The Warfare of Science with Theology by A. D. White
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So, too, as to death and pain. In his sermon on the Fall
of Man he took the ground that death and pain entered the
world by Adam's transgression, insisting that the carnage
now going on among animals is the result of Adam's sin.
Speaking of the birds, beasts, and insects, he says that, be-
fore sin entered the world by Adam's fall, '' none of these
attempted to devour or in any way hurt one another " ; that
" the spider was then as harmless as the fly and did not then
lie in wait for blood." Here, again, Wesley arrayed his
early followers against geology, which reveals, in the fossil
remains of carnivorous animals, pain and death countless
ages before the appearance of man. The half-digested frag-
ments of weaker animals within the fossilized bodies of the
stronger have destroyed all Wesley's arguments in behalf of
his great theory.

Dr. Adam Clarke held similar views. He insisted that
thorns and thistles were given as a curse to human labour,
on account of Adam's sin, and appeared upon the earth for
the first time after Adam's fall. So, too, Richard Watson,
the most prolific writer of the great evangelical reform
period, and the author of the Institutes, the standard theo-
logical treatise on the evangelical side, says, in a chapter
treating of the Fall, and especially of the serpent w^hich
tempted Eve: " We have no reason at all to believe that the
animal had a serpentine form in any mode or degree until
his transformation. That he was then degraded to a reptile,
to go upon his belly, imports, on the contrary, an entire
alteration and loss of the original form." All that admirable
adjustment of the serpent to its environment which delights
naturalists was to the Wesleyan divine simply an evil result
of the sin of Adam and Eve.

The immediate results of such teaching by such men was
to throw many who would otherwise have resorted to ob-
servation and investigation back upon scholastic methods.
Again reappears the old system of solving the riddle by
phrases. In 1733, Dr. Theodore Arnold urged the theory
of " models," and insisted that fossils result from " infinitesi-
mal particles brought together in the creation to form the
outline of all the creatures and objects upon and within the
earth"; and Arnold's work gained wide acceptance.

Such was the influence of this succession of great men
that toward the close of the last century the English oppo-
nents of geology on biblical grounds seemed likely to sweep
all before them. Cramping our whole inheritance of sacred
literature within the rules of a historical compend, they
showed the terrible dangers arising from the revelations of
geology, which make the earth older than the six thousand
years required by Archbishop Usher's interpretation of the
Old Testament. Nor was this feeling confined to ecclesias-
tics. Williams, a thoughtful layman, declared that such re-
searches led to infidelity and atheism, and are "nothing less
than to depose the Almighty Creator of the universe from
his office." The poet Cowper, one of the mildest of men,
was also roused by these dangers, and in his most elaborate
poem wrote :

" Some drill and bore
The solid earth, and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn
That He who made it, and revealed its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its age ! "

John Howard summoned England to oppose ''those sci-
entific systems which are calculated to tear up in the public
mind every remaining attachment to Christianity."

With this special attack upon geological science by means
of the dogma of Adam's fall, the more general attack by the lit-
eral interpretation of the text was continued. The legendary
husks and rinds of our sacred books were insisted upon as
equally precious and nutritious with the great moral and
religious truths which they envelop. Especially precious
were the six days — each " the evening and the morning " —
and the exact statements as to the time when each part of
creation came into being. To save these, the struggle be-
came more and more desperate.

Difficult as it is to realize it now, within the memory of
many now living the battle was still raging most fiercely in
England, and both kinds of artillery usually brought against
a new science were in full play, and filling the civilized world
with their roar.

About half a century since, the Rev. J. Mellor Brown, the
Rev. Henry Cole, and others were hurling at all geologists
alike, and especially at such Christian scholars as Dr. Buck-
land and Dean Conybeare and Pye Smith and Prof. Sedg-
wick, the epithets of " infidel," " impugner of the sacred
record," and "assailant of the volume of God."*

The favourite weapon of the orthodox party was the
charge that the geologists were " attacking the truth of
God." They declared geology *' not a subject of lawful in-
quiry," denouncing it as " a dark art," as " dangerous and
disreputable," as "a forbidden province," as "infernal ar-
tillery," and as "an awful evasion of the testimony of reve-

This attempt to scare men from the science having failed,
various other means were taken. To say nothing about
England, it is humiliatino;- to human nature to remember the
annoyances, and even trials, to which the pettiest and nar-
rowest of men subjected such Christian scholars in our own
country as Benjamin Silliman and Edward Hitchcock and
Louis Agassiz.

But it is a duty and a pleasure to state here that one
great Christian scholar did honour to religion and to him-
self by quietly accepting the claims of science and making
the best of them, despite all these clamours. This man was
Nicholas Wiseman, better known afterward as Cardinal
Wiseman. The conduct of this pillar of the Roman Cath-
olic Church contrasts admirably with that of timid Protes-
tants, who were filling England with shrieks and denuncia-

And here let it be noted that one of the most interestins:
skirmishes in this war occurred in New England. Prof.
Stuart, of Andover, justly honoured as a Hebrew scholar,
declared that to speak of six periods of time for the creation
was flying in the face of Scripture ; that Genesis expressly
speaks of six days, each made up of " the evening and the
morning," and not six periods of time.

To him replied a professor in Yale College, James Kings-
ley. In an article admirable for keen wit and kindly temper,
he showed that Genesis speaks just as clearly of a solid fir-
mament as of six ordinary days, and that, if Prof. Stuart had
surmounted one difficulty and accepted the Copernican the-
ory, he might as well get over another and accept the reve-
lations of geology. The encounter was quick and decisive,
and the victory was with science and the broader scholar-
ship of Yale.

Perhaps the most singular attempt against geology was
made by a fine survival of the eighteenth century Don —
Dean Cockburn, of York— to scold its champions off the
field. Having no adequate knowledge of the new science,
he opened a battery of abuse, giving it to the world at large
from the pulpit and through the press, and even through
private letters. From his pulpit in York Minster he de-
nounced Mary Somerville by name for those studies in
physical geography which have made her name honoured
throughout the world.

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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But the special object of his antipathy was the British
Association for the Advancement of Science. He issued a
pamphlet against it which went through five editions in two
years, sent solemn warnings to its president, and in various
ways made life a burden to Sedgwick, Buckland, and other
eminent investigators who ventured to state geological facts
as they found them.

These weapons were soon seen to be ineffective ; they
were like Chinese gongs and dragon lanterns against rified
cannon ; the work of science went steadily on.


Long before the end of the struggle already described,
even at a very early period, the futility of the usual scholastic
weapons had been seen by the more keen-sighted champions
of orthodoxy; and, as the difficulties of the ordinary attack
upon science became more and more evident, many of these
champions endeavoured to patch up a truce. So began the
third stage in the war — the period of attempts at compromise.

The position which the compromise party took was that
the fossils were produced by the Deluge of Noah.

This position was strong, for it was apparently based
upon Scripture. Moreover, it had high ecclesiastical sanc-
tion, some of the fathers having held that fossil remains, even
on the highest mountains, represented animals destroyed at
the Deluge. Tertullian was especially firm on this point,
and St. Augustine thought that a fossil tooth discovered in
North Africa must have belonged to one of the giants men-
tioned in Scripture.

In the sixteenth century especially, weight began to be
attached to this idea by those who felt the worthlessness of
various scholastic explanations. Strong men in both the
Catholic and the Protestant camps accepted it ; but the man
who did most to give it an impulse into modern theology
was Martin Luther. He easily saw that scholastic phrase-
making could not meet the difficulties raised by fossils, and
he naturally urged the doctrine of their origin at Noah's

With such support, it soon became the dominant theory
in Christendom: nothing seemed able to stand against it;
but before the end of the same sixteenth century it met
some serious obstacles. Bernard Palissy, one of the most
keen-sighted of scientific thinkers in France, as well as
one of the most devoted of Christians, showed that it was
utterly untenable. Conscientious investigators in other
parts of Europe, and especially in Italy, showed the same
thing; all in vain.f In vain did good men protest against
the injury sure to be brought upon religion by tying it
to a scientific theory sure to be exploded ; the doctrine
that fossils are the remains of animals drowned at the
Flood continued to be upheld by the great majority of
theological leaders for nearly three centuries as " sound
doctrine," and as a blessed means of reconciling science
with Scripture. To sustain this scriptural view, efforts
energetic and persistent were put forth both by Catholics
and Protestants.

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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In France, the learned Benedictine, Calmet, in his gfreat
works on the Bible, accepted it as late as the beginning of
the eighteenth century, believing the mastodon's bones ex-
hibited by Mazurier to be those of King Teutobocus, and
holding them valuable testimony to the existence of the
giants mentioned in Scripture and of the early inhabitants
of the earth overwhelmed by the Flood.

But the greatest champion appeared in England. We
have already seen how, near the close of the seventeenth
century, Thomas Burnet prepared the way in his Sacred
Theory of The Earth by rejecting the discoveries of Newton,
and showing how sin led to the breaking up of the ** founda-
tions of the great deep " ; and we have also seen how Whis-
ton, in his New Theory of the Earth, while yielding a little
and accepting the discoveries of Newton, brought in a comet
to aid in producing the Deluge ; but far more important
than these in permanent influence was John Woodward,
professor at Gresham College, a leader in scientific thought
at the University of Cambridge, and, as a patient collector
of fossils and an earnest investigator of their meaning, de-
serving of the highest respect. In 1695 he published his
Natural History of the Earth, and rendered one great service
to science, for he yielded another point, and thus destroyed
the foundations for the old theory of fossils. He showed
that they were not " sports of Nature," or " models inserted
by the Creator in the strata for some inscrutable purpose,"
but that they were really remains of living beings, as Xenoph-
anes had asserted two thousand years before him. So far,
he rendered a great service both to science and religion ;
but, this done, the text of the Old Testament narrative and
the famous passage in St. Peter's Epistle were too strong
for him, and he, too, insisted that the fossils were produced
by the Deluge. Aided by his great authority, the assault
on the true scientific position was vigorous : Mazurier ex-
hibited certain fossil remains of a mammoth discovered in
France as bones of the giants mentioned in Scripture ; Father
Torrubia did the same thing in Spain ; Increase Mather
sent to England similar remains discovered in America, with
a like statement.

For the edification of the faithful, such " bones of the
giants mentioned in Scripture " were hung up in public
places. Jurieu saw some of them thus suspended in one of
the churches of Valence ; and Henrion, apparently under
the stimulus thus given, drew up tables showing the size of
our antediluvian ancestors, giving the height of Adam as
123 feet 9 inches and that of Eve as 118 feet 9 inches and 9

But the most brilliant service rendered to the theological
theory came from another quarter; for, in 1726, Scheuchzer,
having discovered a large fossil lizard, exhibited it to the
world as the " human witness of the Deluge " : this great
discovery was hailed everywhere with joy, for it seemed to
prove not only that human beings were drowned at the Del-
uge, but that "there were giants in those days." Cheered
by the applause thus gained, he determined to make the
theological position impregnable. Mixing together various
texts of Scripture with notions derived from the philosophy
of Descartes and the speculations of Whiston, he developed
the theory that " the fountains of the great deep " were
broken up by the direct physical action of the hand of God,
which, being literally applied to the axis of the earth, sud-
denly stopped the earth's rotation, broke up "the fountains
of the great deep," spilled the water therein contained, and
produced the Deluge. But his service to sacred science did
not end here, for he prepared an edition of the Bible, in
which magnificent engravings in great number illustrated his
view and enforced it upon all readers. Of these engravings
no less than thirty-four were devoted to the Deluge alone.

In the midst all this came an episode very comical but
very instructive ; for it shows that the attempt to shape the
deductions of science to meet the exigencies of dogma may
mislead heterodoxy as absurdly as orthodoxy.

About the year 1760 news of the discovery of marine fos-
sils in various elevated districts of Europe reached Voltaire.
He, too, had a theologic system to support, though his sys-
tem was opposed to that of the sacred books of the Hebrews ;
and, fearing that these new discoveries might be used to
support the Mosaic accounts of the Deluge, all his wisdom
and wit were compacted into arguments to prove that the
fossil fishes were remains of fishes intended for food, but
spoiled and thrown away by travellers ; that the fossil shells
were accidentally dropped by crusaders and pilgrims re-
turning from the Holy Land ; and that the fossil bones found
between Paris and Etampes were parts of a skeleton belong-
ing to the cabinet of some ancient philosopher. Through
chapter after chapter, Voltaire, obeying the supposed neces-
sities of his theology, fought desperately the growing results
of the geologic investigations of his time.*

But far more prejudicial to Christianity was the con-
tinued effort on the other side to show that the fossils were
caused by the Deluge of Noah.

No supposition was too violent to support this theory,
which was considered vital to the Bible. By taking the
mere husks and rinds of biblical truth for truth itself, by
taking sacred poetry as prose, and by giving a literal inter-
pretation of it, the followers of Burnet, Whiston, and Wood-
ward built up systems which bear to real geology much the
same relation that the Christian Topography of Cosmas bears
to real geography. In vain were exhibited the absolute ge-
ological, zoological, astronomical proofs that no universal
deluge, or deluge covering any large part of the earth, had
taken place within the last six thousand or sixty thousand
years; in vain did so enlightened a churchman as Bishop
Clayton declare that the Deluge could not have extended
beyond that district where Noah lived before the Flood ; in
vain did others, like Bishop Croft and Bishop Stillingfleet,
and the nonconformist Matthew Poole, show that the Del-
uge might not have been and probably was not universal ;
in vain was it shown that, even if there had been a universal
deluge, the fossils were not produced by it : the only answers
were the citation of the text, *' And all the high mountains
which were under the whole heaven were covered," and, to
clinch the matter, Worthington and men like him insisted
that any argument to show that fossils were not remains of
animals drowned at the Deluge of Noah was '' infidelity."
In England, France, and Germany, belief that the fossils
were produced by the Deluge of Noah was widely insisted
upon as part of that faith essential to salvation.

But the steady work of science went on : not all the force
of the Church — not even the splendid engravings in Scheuch-
zer's Bible— could stop it, and the foundations of this theo-
logical theory began to crumble away. The process was,
indeed, slow ; it required a hundred and twenty years for
the searchers of God's truth, as revealed in Nature — such
men as Hooke, Linnseus, Whitehurst, Daubenton, Cuvier,
and William Smith — to push their works under this fabric of
error, and, by statements which could not be resisted, to un-
dermine it. As we arrive at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, science is becoming irresistible in this field. Blu-
menbach. Von Buch, and Schlotheim led the way, but most
important on the Continent was the work of Cuvier. In the
early years of the present century his researches among fos-
sils began to throw new light into the whole subject of geol-
ogy. He was, indeed, very conservative, and even more wary
and diplomatic; seeming, like Voltaire, to feel that "among
wolves one must howl a little." It was a time of reaction.
Napoleon had made peace with the Church, and to disturb
that peace was akin to treason. By large but vague conces-
sions Cuvier kept the theologians satisfied, while he under-
mined their strongest fortress. The danger was instinctively
felt by some of the champions of the Church, and typical
among these was Chateaubriand, who in his best-known
work, once so great, now so little — the Genius of Christianity
grappled with the questions of creation by insisting upon
a sort of general deception " in the beginning," under which
everything was created by a sudden fiat, but with appear-
ances of pre-existence. His words are as follows : '' It was
part of the perfection and harmony of the nature which was
displayed before men's eyes that the deserted nests of last
year's birds should be seen on the trees, and that the sea-
shore should be covered with shells which had been the
abode of fish, and yet the world was quite new, and nests
and shells had never been inhabited." But the real victory
was with Brongniart, who, about 1820, gave forth his work
on fossil plants, and thus built a barrier against which the
enemies of science raged in vain.

Still the struggle was not ended, and, a few years later, a
forlorn hope was led in England by Granville Penn.

His fundamental thesis was that '' our globe has under-
gone only two revolutions, the Creation and the Deluge, and
both by the immediate fiat of the Almighty"; he insisted
that the Creation took place in exactly six days of ordinary
time, each made up of " the evening and the morning" ; and
he ended with a piece of that peculiar presumption so famil-
iar to the world, by calling on Cuvier and all other geolo-
gists to *' ask for the old paths and walk, therein until they
shall simplify their system and reduce their numerous revo-
lutions to the two events or epochs only — the six days of
Creation and the Deluge." The geologists showed no dis-
position to yield to this peremptory summons; on the con-
trary, the President of the British Geological Society, and
even so eminent a churchman and geologist as Dean Buck-
land, soon acknowledged that facts obliged them to give up
the theory that the fossils of the coal measures were de-
posited at the Deluge of Noah, and to deny that the Deluge
was universal.

The defection of Buckland was especially felt by the or-
thodox party. His ability, honesty, and loyalty to his pro-
fession, as well as his position as Canon of Christ Church
and Professor of Geology at Oxford, gave him great author-
ity, which he exerted to the utmost in soothing his brother
ecclesiastics. In his inaugural lecture he had laboured to
show that geology confirmed the accounts of Creation and
the Flood as given in Genesis, and in 1823, after his cave ex-
plorations had revealed overwhelming evidences of the vast
antiquity of the earth, he had still clung to the Flood theory
in his Rcliquicc DiluviancE.

This had not, indeed, fully satisfied the anti-scientific party,
but as a rule their attacks upon him took the form not so
much of abuse as of humorous disparagement. An epigram
by Shuttle worth, afterward Bishop of Chichester, in imita-
tion of Pope's famous lines upon Newton, ran as follows :

" Some doubts were once expressed about the Flood :
Buckland arose, and all was clear as mud."

On his leaving Oxford for a journey to southern Europe,
Dean Gaisford was heard to exclaim : " Well, Buckland is
gone to Italy ; so, thank God, we shall have no more of this
geology ! "

Still there was some comfort as long as Buckland held to
the Deluge theory ; but, on his surrender, the combat deep-
ened : instead of epigrams and caricatures came bitter at-
tacks, and from the pulpit and press came showers of mis-
siles. The worst of these were hurled at Lyell. As we
have seen, he had published in 1830 his Principles of Geology.
Nothing could have been more cautious. It simply gave an
account of the main discoveries up to that time, drawing the
necessary inferences with plain yet convincing logic, and it
remains to this day one of those works in which the Anglo-
Saxon race may most justly take pride, — one of the land-
marks in the advance of human thought.

But its tendency was inevitably at variance with the
Chaldean and other ancient myths and legends regarding
the Creation and Deluge which the Hebrews had received
from the older civilizations among their neighbours, and had
incorporated into the sacred books which they transmitted
to the modern world ; it was therefore extensively " refuted."

Theologians and men of science influenced by them in-
sisted that his minimizing of geological changes, and his
laying stress on the gradual action of natural causes still in
force, endangered the sacred record of Creation and left no
place for miraculous intervention ; and when it was found
that he had entirely cast aside their cherished idea that the
great geological changes of the earth's surface and the mul-
titude of fossil remains were due to the Deluge of Noah, and
had shown that a far longer time was demanded for Creation
than any which could possibly be deduced from the Old
Testament genealogies and chronicles, orthodox indignation
burst forth violently; eminent dignitaries of the Church at-
tacked him without mercy and for a time he was under
social ostracism.

As this availed little, an effort was made on the scientific
side to crush him beneath the weighty authority of Cuvier ;
but the futility of this effort was evident when it was found
that thinking men would no longer listen to Cuvier and per-
sisted in listening to Lyell. The great orthodox text-book,
Cuvier's Theory of the Earth, at once so discredited
in the estimation of men of science that no new edition of it
was called for, while Lyell's work speedily ran through
twelve editions and remained a firm basis of modern thought."

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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 Post subject: Re: The Warfare of Science with Theology by A. D. White
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:12 am 
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As typical of his more moderate opponents we may take
Fairholme, who in 1837 published his Mosaic Deluge, and ar-
gued that no early convulsions of the earth, such as those
supposed by geologists, could have taken place, because
there could have been no deluge " before moral guilt could
possibly have been incurred " — that is to say, before the
creation of mankind. In touching terms he bewailed the
defection of the President of the Geological Society and
Dean Buckland — protesting against geologists who "persist
in closing" their eyes upon the solemn declarations of the

Still the geologists continued to seek truth : the germs
planted especially by William Smith, " the Father of Eng-
lish Geology," were developed by a noble succession of in-
vestigators, and the victory was sure. Meanwhile those
theologians who felt that denunciation of science as *' god-
less " could accomplish little, laboured upon schemes for
reconciling geology with Genesis. Some of these show
amazing ingenuity, but an eminent religious authority, going
over them with great thoroughness, has well characterized
them as " daring and fanciful." Such attempts have been
variously classified, but the fact regarding them all is that
each mixes up more or less of science with more or less
of Scripture, and produces a result more or less absurd.
Though a few men here and there have continued these
exercises, the capitulation of the party which set the literal
account of the Deluge of Noah against the facts revealed by
geology was at last clearly made.

One of the first evidences of the completeness of this sur-
render has been so well related by the eminent physiologist,
Dr. W. B. Carpenter, that it may best be given in his own
words : " You are familiar with a book of considerable value.
Dr. W. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. I happened to know
the influences under which that dictionary was framed. The
idea of the publisher and of the editor was to give as much
scholarship and such results of modern criticism as should
be compatible with a very judicious conservatism. There
was to be no objection to geology, but the universality of
the Deluge was to be strictly maintained. The editor com-
mitted the article Deluge to a man of very considerable abil-
ity, but when the article came to him he found that it was
so excessively heretical that he could not venture to put it
in. There was not time for a second article under that head,
and if you look in that dictionary you will find under the
word Deluge a reference to Flood. Before Flood came, a sec-
ond article had been commissioned from a source that was
believed safely conservative ; but when the article came
in it was found to be worse than the first. A third article
was then commissioned, and care was taken to secure its
'safety.' If you look for the word Flood in the dictionary,
you will find a reference to Noah. Under that name you
will find an article written by a distinguished professor of
Cambridge, of which I remember that Bishop Colenso said
to me at the time, In a very guarded way the writer con-
cedes the whole thing. You will see by this under what
trammels scientific thought has laboured in this department
of inquiry."

A similar surrender was seen when from a new edition
of Home's Introduction to the Scriptures, the standard text-
book of orthodoxy its accustomed use of fossils to prove the
universality of the Deluge was quietly dropped.

A like capitulation in the United States was foreshadowed
in 1841, when an eminent Professor of Biblical Literature
and Interpretation in the most important theological semi-
nary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Dr. Samuel Turner,
showed his Christian faith and courage by virtually accept-
ing the new view ; and the old contention was utterly cast
away by the thinking men of another great religious body
when, at a later period, two divines among the most eminent
for piety and learning in the Methodist Episcopal Church
inserted in the Biblical Cyclopedia, published under their su-
pervision, a candid summary of the proofs from geology,
astronomy, and zoology that the Deluge of Noah was not
universal, or even widely extended, and this without pro-
test from any man of note in any branch of the American

The time when the struggle was relinquished by enlight-
ened theologians of the Roman Catholic Church may be
fixed at about 1862, when Reusch, Professor of Theology at
Bonn, in his work on The Bible and Nature, cast off the old
diluvial theory and all its supporters, accepting the conclu-
sions of science.

But, though the sacred theory with the Deluge of Noah
as a universal solvent for geological difficulties was evidently
dying, there still remained in various quarters a touching
fidelity to it. In Roman Catholic countries the old theory
was widely though quietly cherished, and taught from the
religious press, the pulpit, and the theological professor's
chair. Pope Pius IX was doubtless in sympathy with this
feehng when, about 1850, he forbade the scientific congress
of Italy to meet at Bologna.

In 1856 Father Debreyne congratulated the theologians
of France on their admirable attitude: ''Instinctively," he
says, " they still insist upon deriving the fossils from
Noah's Flood. In 1875 the Abbe Choyer published
at Paris and Angers a text-book widely approved by
Church authorities, in which he took similar ground ; and
in 1877 the Jesuit father Bosizio published at Mayence a
treatise on Geology and the Deluge , endeavouring to hold
the world to the old solution of the problem, allowing,
indeed, that the " days " of Creation were long periods,
but making atonement for this concession by sneers at

In the Russo-Greek Church, in 1869, Archbishop Ma-
carius, of Lithuania, urged the necessity of believing that
Creation in six days of ordinary time and the Deluge of
Noah are the only causes of all that geology seeks to ex-
plain ; and. as late as 1876, another eminent theologian of
the same Church went even farther, and refused to allow
the faithful to believe that any change had taken place since
''the beginning " mentioned in Genesis, when the strata of
the earth were laid, tilted, and twisted, and the fossils scat-
tered among them by the hand of the Almighty during six
ordinary days.

In the Lutheran branch of the Protestant Church we also
find echoes of the old belief. Keil, eminent in scriptural
interpretation at the University of Dorpat, gave forth in
i860 a treatise insisting that geology is rendered futile and
its explanations vain by two great facts : the Curse which
drove Adam and Eve out of Eden, and the Flood that de-
stroyed all living things save Noah, his family, and the ani-
mals in the ark. In 1867, Phillippi, and in 1869, Dieterich,
both theologians of eminence, took virtually the same ground
in Germany, the latter attempting to beat back the scientific
hosts with a phrase apparently pithy, but really hollow— the
declaration that " modern geology observes what is, but has
no right to judge concerning the beginning of things." As
late as 1876, Zugler took a similar view, and a multitude of
lesser lights, through pulpit and press, brought these anti-
scientific doctrines to bear upon the people at large— the
only effect being to arouse grave doubts regarding Chris-
tianity among thoughtful men, and especially among young
men, who naturally distrusted a cause using such weapons.

For just at this time the traditional view of the Deluge
received its death-blow and in a manner entirely unexpected.
By the investigations of George Smith among the Assyrian
tablets of the British Museum, in 1872, and by his discov-
eries just afterward in Assyria, it was put beyond a reason-
able doubt that a great mass of accounts in Genesis are
simply adaptations of earlier and especially of Chaldean
myths and legends. While this proved to be the fact as
regards the accounts of Creation and the fall of man, it was
seen to be most strikingly so as regards the Deluge. The
eleventh of the twelve tablets, on which the most important
of these inscriptions was found, was almost wholly preserved,
and it revealed in this legend, dating from a time far earlier
than that of Moses, such features peculiar to the childhood
of the world as the building of the great ship or ark to escape
the flood, the careful caulking of its seams, the saving of a
man beloved of Heaven, his selecting and taking with him
into the vessel animals of all sorts in couples, the impressive
final closing of the door, the sending forth different birds as
the flood abated, the offering of sacrifices when the flood had
subsided, the joy of the Divine Being who had caused the
flood as the odour of the sacrifice reached his nostrils ; while
throughout all was shown that partiality for the Chaldean
sacred number seven which appears so constantly in the
Genesis legends and throughout the Hebrew sacred books.

Other devoted scholars followed in the paths thus opened
— Sayce in England, Lenormant in France, Schrader in Ger-
many — with the result that the Hebrew account of the Del-
uge, to which for ages theologians had obliged all geological re-
search to conform, was quietly relegated, even by most emi-
nent Christian scholars, to the realm of myth and legend."

Sundry feeble attempts to break the force of this dis-
covery, and an evidently widespread fear to have it known,
have certainly impaired not a little the legitimate influence
of the Christian clergy.

And yet this adoption of Chaldean myths into the Hebrew
Scriptures furnishes one of the strongest arguments for the
value of our Bible as a record of the upward growth of man ;
for, while the Chaldean legend primarily ascribes the Deluge
to the mere arbitrary caprice of one among many gods (Bel),
the Hebrew development of the legend ascribes it to the
justice, the righteousness, of the Supreme God ; thus show-
ing the evolution of a higher and nobler sentiment which
demanded a moral cause adequate to justify such a catas-

Unfortunately, thus far, save in a few of the broader and
nobler minds among the clergy, the policy of ignoring such
new revelations has prevailed, and the results of this policy,
both in Roman Catholic and in Protestant countries, are not
far to seek. What the condition of thought is among the
middle classes of France and Italy needs not to be stated
here. In Germany, as a typical fact, it may be mentioned
that there was in the year 1881 church accommodation in
the city of Berlin for but two per cent of the population,
and that even this accommodation was more than was
needed. This fact is not due to the want of a deep religious
spirit among the North Germans: no one who has lived
among them can doubt the existence of such a spirit ; but it
is due mainly to the fact that, while the simple results of
scientific investigation have filtered down among the people
at large, the dominant party in the Lutheran Church has
steadily refused to recognise this fact, and has persisted in
imposing on Scripture the fetters of literal and dogmatic
interpretation which Germany has largely outgrown. A
similar danger threatens every other country in which the
clergy pursue a similar policy. No thinking man, whatever
may be his religious views, can fail to regret this. A thought-
ful, reverent, enlightened clergy is a great blessing to any
country ; and anything which undermines their legitimate
work of leading men out of the worship of material things
to the consideration of that which is highest is a vast mis-

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

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