Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/451

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phers, declared that bees are generated out of decomposed veal, beetles out of, horse-flesh, grasshoppers out of mules, and scorpions out of crabs. Under the influence of the biblical account of Nebuchadnezzar, which appears to have taken strong hold upon mediæval thought in science, he declared that human beings had been changed into animals, especially into swine, wolves, and owls. As to fossil remains, he, like Tertullian, thought that they resulted from the Flood of Noah.[1]

In the following century Bede developed the same orthodox traditions in science; but he held with St. Jerome that the reason why God did not pronounce the work of the second day good is to be found in the fact that there is something essentially evil in the number two. As to the Deluge, he discussed the question as to the amount of food taken into the ark, and declared that there was no need of a supply for more than one day, since God could throw the animals into a deep sleep, or otherwise miraculously make one day's supply sufficient.[2]

The difficulty in making Noah's ark large enough to contain all the animals had begun to be seriously felt even at that period. Origen had dealt with it by supposing that the "cubit" in Noah's time was six times greater. Bede explained Noah's ability to complete such a Herculean task by supposing that he gave to it a hundred years; and he leaned toward diminishing the number of animals taken into the ark, supporting himself upon Augustine's theory of the after development of insects out of carrion. In this way the strain upon faith required in believing that all the animals were literally brought into the ark was somewhat lessened.

The best guess in a geological sense among the mediæval followers of St. Augustine was made by an Irish monkish scholar,[3] who, in order to diminish the difficulty arising from the distribution of animals after the flood, 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. Fortunately for this theologian, the fact that the kangaroo is only found on a continent in the South Pacific, and so, in accordance with the theory, must either by a single leap have jumped from Mount Ararat to Australia, or have found his way across a causeway temporarily erected between Armenia and the South Pacific continent, had not been discovered.

These general lines of thought upon geology and its kindred science of zoölogy were followed by St. Thomas Aquinas and by the whole body of mediæval theologians, so far as they gave any attention to such subjects.

But there was one influence coming from the Hebrew Scriptures which wrought to mitigate ideas regarding the worthlessness of any study of Nature; this came from the grand utterances in the Psalms

  1. See Isidore, "Etymologiæ," xi, 4, xiii, 22.
  2. See Bede, "Hexæmeron," i, ii.
  3. The so-called Pseudo-Augustine. His treatise, "De mirabilibus mundi," is usually appended to the works of Augustine.