Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/666

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same thing of the story of the creation.[1] Between these two lies the story of the creation of man and woman and their fall from primitive innocence, which is even more monstrously improbable than either of the other two, though, from the nature of the case, it is not so easily capable of direct refutation. It can be demonstrated that the earth took longer than six days in the making, and that the deluge, as described, is a physical impossibility; but there is no proving, especially to those who are perfect in the art of closing their ears to that which they do not wish to hear, that a snake did not speak, or that Eve was not made out of one of Adam's ribs.

The compiler of Genesis, in its present form, evidently had a definite plan in his mind. His countrymen, like all other men, were doubtless curious to know how the world began; how men, and especially wicked men, came into being, and how existing nations and races rose among the descendants of one stock; and, finally, what was the history of their own particular tribe. They, like ourselves, desired to solve the four great problems of cosmogeny, anthropogeny, ethnogeny, and geneogeny. The Pentateuch furnishes the solutions which appeared satisfactory to its author. One of these, as we have seen, was borrowed from a Babylonian fable; and I know of no reason to suspect any different origin from the rest. Now, I would ask, is the story of the fabrication of Eve to be regarded as one of those pre-Abrahamic narratives, the historical truth of which is an open question, in face of the reference to it in a speech unhappily famous for the legal oppression to which it has been wrongfully forced to lend itself?

Have ye not read, that he which made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh? (Matthew, xix, 5).

If divine authority is not here claimed for the twenty-fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis, what is the value of language? And again, I ask, if one may play fast and loose with the story of the fall, as a "type" or "allegory" what becomes of the foundation of Pauline theology?—

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

  1. So far as I know, the narrative of the creation is not now held to be true, in the sense in which I have defined historical truth, by any of the reconcilers. As for the attempts to stretch the Pentateuchal days into periods of thousands or millions of years, the verdict of the eminent biblical scholar, Dr. Riehm (Der biblische Schöpfungsbericht, 1881, pp. 15, 16), on such pranks of "Auslegungskunst" should be final. Why do the reconcilers take Goethe's advice seriously?—

    "Im Auslegen seyd frisch und munter!
    Legt ihr's nicht aus, so legt was unter."