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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/803

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PROFESSOR HUXLEY ON THE WAR-PATH.

Genesis definitely excludes. The writer ascribes the subsequent repeopling of the earth, both as regards the lower animals and men, not to any re-creative work, but to ordinary generation. The divine employment of natural means is the dominant idea of the whole narrative. But seeing that the dimensions of the ark represent a vessel considerably smaller than the Great Eastern, it is clear that without what are called miracles on the most stupendous scale—which the writer does not seem at all to contemplate—the whole creatures of all the continents of the globe could not have been represented in it, even if they could have been brought together and congregated in one spot in western Asia. The writer or writers of the narrative in Genesis, or those still older recipients of tradition in whose hands that narrative grew into its present form and through whom it was transmitted, had presumably no more knowledge of the very existence of the New World, or indeed of the extent of the Old World, and of the quantity of animal life which swarms upon both, than they had of the nature of the sun or of the orbit of the earth. What they conceived or thought upon this subject has no moral or religious significance. Whether the American mastodon and megatherium, and the European mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros, and all the other huge Pleistocene mammalia, were saved at all, even in single couples—whether all the lesser mammalia which have survived could or could not be saved from drowning by the refuge afforded in a single vessel these are questions which do not seem to have been even thought of. Accordingly, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews does not even take the smallest notice of such questions, or, at all events, brushing them aside, fixes on the central conception of the whole narrative, the effect of the Deluge upon man, and the personal relations between one faithful patriarch and the Almighty Disposer of all events. He tells us that this one man "by faith, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house."[1] Here we have the whole essence and purport of the narrative in the Old Testament condensed, and reproduced by a Christian disciple who, whatever his name, is certainly, humanly speaking, one of the most powerful among the writers of the New. It matters nothing to this view of it, whether the Deluge was or was not conceived to be literally universal, complete, and simultaneous. It matters nothing what may or may not have happened at the same time to the kangaroos of Australia, to the moas of New Zealand, to the giraffes and countless antelopes of central Africa, or to the llama and tapir world of the South American continent. If there is any


  1. Hebrews, xi, 7.