Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/655

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THE LIGHTS OF THE CHURCH AND OF SCIENCE.

guage and physical conformation. Whether the earth moves round the sun or the contrary; whether the bodily and mental diseases of men and animals are caused by evil spirits or not; whether there is such an agency as witchcraft or not—all these are purely scientific questions; and to all of them the canonical Scriptures profess to give true answers. And though nothing is more common than the assumption[1] that these books come into conflict only with the speculative part of modern physical science, no assumption can have less foundation.

The antagonism between natural knowledge and the Pentateuch would be as great if the speculations of our time had never been heard of. It arises out of contradiction upon matters of fact. The books of ecclesiastical authority declare that certain events happened in a certain fashion; the books of scientific authority say they did not. As it seems that this unquestionable truth has not yet penetrated among many of those who speak and write on these subjects, it may be useful to give a full illustration of it. And for that purpose I propose to deal, at some length, with the narrative of the Noachian Deluge given in Genesis.

 

The Bampton lecturer, in 1859, and the Canon of St. Paul's, in 1890, are in full agreement that this history is true, in the sense in which I have defined historical truth. The former is of opinion that the account attributed to Berosus records a tradition—

not drawn from the Hebrew record, much less the foundation of that record; yet coinciding with it in the most remarkable way. The Babylonian version is tricked out with a few extravagances, as the monstrous size of the vessel and the translation of Xisuthros; but otherwise it is the Hebrew history down to its minutæ (p. 64).

Moreover, correcting Niebuhr, the Bampton lecturer points out that the narrative of Berosus distinctly implies the universality of the flood:

It is plain that the waters are represented as prevailing above the tops of the loftiest mountains in Armenia—a height which must have been seen to involve the submersion of all the countries with which the Babylonians were acquainted (p. 66).

I may remark, in passing, that many people think the size of Noah's ark "monstrous," considering the probable state of the art of ship-building only sixteen hundred years after the origin of man; while others are so unreasonable as to inquire why the translation of Enoch is less an extravagance than that of Xisuthros. It is more important, however, to note that the universality of the deluge is recognized, not merely as a part of the


  1. For example, it appears to me to pervade and vitiate Mr. Wilfrid Ward's argument in the last number of this review.