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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/802

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

well be jubilant over the cognate fact that the six creative days in Genesis are now never thought or spoken of as compelling us to believe that the whole creative work which has been done on our planet since it was in a state of chaos, was a work accomplished within six literal days of twenty-four hours each. Or he might as well shout over the still older movement of thought which divorced the conceptions of the Christian world from the literal language of the geocentric astronomy. It is quite a mercy that Prof. Huxley has not trotted out our old friend Galileo again, and has taken refuge in such later and lesser lights as the late Canon William Harcourt, and the still living Canon Rawlinson. But even on this question of the possible universality of a deluge, Prof. Huxley takes no notice of certain features in the Hebrew narrative which manifest a most curious avoidance of the real scientific objection to a complete and universal deluge, in spite of some language which appears to assert it. It is not true, so far as I know, that any science has proved a universal deluge to be a physical impossibility. In particular, it is not true that there is any deficiency in our existing oceans of a quantity of water adequate—more than adequate—to cover the whole earth. On the contrary, it is a fact that the actual distribution of sea and of dry land on our planet is such that even a comparatively slight elevation of the floor of our oceans, together with some corresponding depression of the land, would spill over upon our continents enough water to submerge them completely, and to submerge them all. My distinguished friend Dr. John Murray (of the Challenger Expedition) has calculated that there is enough water in our existing seas to cover the whole globe with water more than two miles deep. This is the latest calculation of scientific inquiry, and it is curious. The fundamental objection to a complete and simultaneous deluge at so late a period of the earth's history is not physical but biological. It lies in its bearing upon the history and development of organic life. Even this objection applies only to the completeness, and not to the universality, of a deluge. That is to say, biological facts may be perfectly compatible with the partial and contemporaneous submergence of every continent on the globe, but not with any such submergence having ever been total or complete. As regards the lower animals, there must have been, so far as we can reason, other refuges than an ark. There must have been many areas left uncovered. But this necessity is demanded quite as much by the narrative in Genesis as by the scientific evidence of the distribution of life. The repeopling of the deluged earth by ordinary generation requires this absolutely. The universal destruction of all terrestrial life would have necessitated a complete re-creation of all its forms. And yet this is exactly the consequence which the narrative in