3. Scientific.--This class of objections rests on alleged contradictions between the language of the Mosaic books and the facts of science. For in stance, the Adamic creation is declared to contra dict the conclusions of geology, inasmuch as the period required for bringing the crust of the earth into its existing condition must have included countless centuries, and not a brief period of six clays. In the same way it is first argued, that the Scriptural narrative involves an universal deluge, and then, this meaning being assumed, that such a deluge, with all its accompanying circumstances, as recorded iit Genesis, cannot have taken place without a miracle wholly stupendous. A third objection is grounded on the chronology of the Bible, and on the asserted fact, that the duration of man upon the earth has extended to a period at least exceeding four or five times over the 6000 years allotted to him in the Pentateuch. A fourth objection is directed against the descent of all mankind from a single pair, and their primary migrations as recorded by Moses. It assumes that the physical peculiarities distinguishing the various races of the world are the results of a dif ference in species, not of a variety caused by the influence of climatic, physical, and social circum stances. There are many other minor objections of a more frivolous character, such as that which insists on fixing upon the word firmament,' in Gen. i. 6, the sense of a permanent solid vault, and then pointing out the opposition in which such an idea stands to astronomical science ; or such as the objection against the language of Joshua (x. 12), which is sufficiently answered by reference to the language of any modern almanac, and by the observation, that if the ancient Scriptures had been written in the terminology of science, they would have been simply unintelligible to the generation to which they were first given. But these captious difficulties are of little weight compared to the four objections mentioned above, all of which touch questions of the gravest importance. In addition to those general elements of error which we shall proceed to point out as belonging in common to all the modern objections urged against the Penta teuch, there are some considerations bearing spe cially upon this scientific class of difficulties to which it is necessary briefly to call attention.
In regard to theories of the creation and the deluge, it is necessary to distinguish with the utmost possible precision between the language of Scrip ture and any private interpretations of it. When the question is propounded, whether the six days of the Adamic creation were literal days of one re volution of the globe, or were successive periods of time ; when it is asked, whether the deluge was partial or universal, the particular opinion which each man may form must not be fastened on the scriptural language, as if it were its necessary and only admissible interpretation. It must be acknow ledged that opinions on either side are equally con sistent with a devout acceptance of the inspired word. Experience teaches the necessity of this caution ; for the lessons of geology have compelled us to separate between the creation and the begin ning of Gen. i. r and the Adamic creation of the later verses, and to allow the existence of untold periods between them. Now that we are accus tomed to this, we find that the change of interpre tation has not put any dishonour on the text, and we must feel that what has happened in regard to one verse may happen in regard to others. Modem science has undoubtedly proved the pre-existence of immense geological periods ; but we are quite able to reconcile them with the scriptural narrative, either on the hypothesis of the late lamented Hugh Miller, or on the optical hypothesis, of which the Rev. T. R. Birks is the living exponent. But we are not called to fix either one or the other inseparably upon the text.
The truth is, that, with reference to the creation, we are not yet in a position, and perhaps we never shall be, even to enter upon the work of reconcilia tion between Scripture and science. For the first preliminary is evidently to know what we are to reconcile ; and till science can fix some acknow ledged principles of cosmogony, it is evident that even the preliminary step cannot be taken. With
the sole exception of the immense geological periods already referred to, science has hitherto settled nothing. Its advocates are still at war among themselves on the first principles of the scheme, uniformitarian and catastrophist arguing with equal vehemence for their conflicting theories. 'fill modern science can assert definite and acknow ledged conclusions, it is manifestly premature to attempt a reconciliation between them and Scrip ture. The attempt only gives rise to speculative interpretations full of danger.
The same observation applies to the question of the deluge, and it may well be doubted whether the time is not at hand when that great catastrophe, as narrated in Scripture, will be accepted by men of science themselves as the true solution of many phenomena now referred to other causes. It is certain that the glacier hypothesis, now most in vogue among geologists, is weighted with the most enormous scientific difficulties. It is also observ able that objections confidently urged against the ark and its capability of containing the animals which were miraculously gathered together into it, rest wholly on the unproved supposition that the fauna of the antediluvian age were as widely and equably dispersed over the surface of the globe as the fauna of the post-diluvian. But, however these questions may be finally solved, the apologist for the Pentateuch must stand by the text of Scrip ture, and whether he believes in a partial deluge or an universal deluge, must not confuse the infallible text with his own fallible interpretation of it.
Lastly, the state of the controversy relative to the antiquity of man and the origin of races, illustrates with peculiar force the crude and incomplete state of all scientific investigation on these subjects, and the consequent rashness of all conclusions drawn from them unfavourable to the authority of the Pentateuch. For the rationalistic attack is urged from two contrary directions, and is supported by arguments directly contradictory to each other. On the one side we are told that the distinctive physical peculiarities of different human races are so deep, so irremovable, that they must be con sidered to indicate diversity of species and not simply varieties of one species ; that no climatic and social influences can explain them ; that con sequently the races of men must have been created distinct, and the scriptural narrative which asserts the common descent of all mankind must be un worthy of credit. On the other side, the very fact of an intelligent creation is called into question, on the ground that there are in the world no distinc tions of fixed species, but only variations so mutable that all existing differences are the mere result of natural causes. The inevitable conclusion from such premises is, that all forms of life whatever are self-developed out of one common primal form, and the idea of creation becomes superfluous, for the original monad can scarcely be considered as less self-developed than all the forms which have sprung from it. That such is the natural tendency of Mr. Darwin's theory of the origin of species we have a most impartial witness. This theory, when fully enunciated, founds the pedigree of living nature upon the most elementary form of vitalised matter. One step further would carry us back, without greater violence to probability, to inorganic rudi ments, and then we should be called upon to re cognise in ourselves, and in the exquisite elabora tions of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, the ultimate results of mere material forces left free to follow their own unaided tendencies' (Sir W. Armstrong at the British Association at Newcastle, 1863). On the one side, we are called to believe in the evidence of fixed species ; and on the other side, to believe in their non-existence. We are asked to believe that all living beings whatever, including man himself; have descended from original monads, and at the same time to believe that the races of mankind cannot have descended from a common parentage. The two arguments are totally irreconcilable, and till something like congruity can be introduced into our scientific theories, it is premature even to suggest their possible contradic tion to the inspired authority of the Pentateuch.