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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/157

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JUNE, 1890.


 

NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

VIII. THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN AND EGYPTOLOGY.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL.D., L.H.D.,

EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

IN the great ranges of investigation which, bear most directly upon the origin of man, there are two in which Science within the last few years has gained final victories.

The significance of these in changing, and ultimately in reversing, one of the greatest currents of theological thought, can hardly be overestimated; not even the tide set in motion by Cusa, Copernicus, and Galileo was so powerful to bring in a new epoch of belief.

The first of these conquests relates to the antiquity of man on the earth.

The fathers of the early Christian Church, receiving all parts of our sacred books as equally inspired, laid little, if any, less stress on the myths, legends, genealogies, and tribal, family, and personal traditions contained in the Old Testament, than upon the most lofty poems, the most instructive apologues, and the most powerful utterances of prophets, psalmists, and apostles. As to the life of man upon our planet, by bringing together indications of elapsing time in the various books of the Bible, early Christian commentators arrived at conclusions varying some-what, but in the main agreeing. Some, like Origen, Eusebius, Lactantius, Clement of Alexandria, and the great fathers generally of the first three centuries, dwelling especially upon the Septuagint version of the Scriptures, thought that man's creation took place about six thousand years before the Christian era. Strong confirmation of this view was found in a simple piece of