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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/341

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GENESIS, GEOLOGY, AND EVOLUTION.

tively created at the beginning of the world! Here, then, we have a practical basis of argument to account for the many transitional forms which geology reveals in the past history of the world, as well as among the plants and animals living at the present day.

Yet another fact may be mentioned. Geographical botany and zoology began to be studied as travellers stocked our museums and herbaria with an ever-increasing number of beings brought from all parts of the world; and the (so to say) capricious distribution of identical forms in far-distant places—now explicable on the theory of migration and subsequent isolation—as well as the appearance of representative forms of allied though different kinds in certain districts, explicable only on the theory of descent with modification, has a strong prima-facie appearance against the theory of individual creations, even if geology did not furnish undoubted evidence of very frequent interchanges between land and sea having taken place. Without at present giving more reasons, the above will be sufficient to show cause why Science has found herself compelled to secede from the cramping toils of the creative hypothesis, and to take up that of the evolution of living things as better explaining all the foregoing phenomena. In proportion as the probability of the former was seen to decrease, so in the same degree does that of evolution increase. Hence, at the present day the argument in favor of development of species by natural laws may be stated in the following terms, viz.: "It is infinitely more probable that all living and extinct beings have been developed or evolved by natural laws of generation from preexisting forms, than that they with all their innumerable races and varieties should owe their existences severally to creative fiats."

But, even now, asks the theologian, Does not this theory controvert the Bible, for we are distinctly told that God created every thing after its kind?

In reply, it may be confidently shown that the theologian cannot be sure of the value of his interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, at least so far as he attempts to draw scientific deductions from it. Thus it may be observed to him that the words "create" and "make" are used indifferently; that no definition is given to insure accuracy as to their right interpretation. It is not stated whether God created out of nothing or out of eternally or at least preexisting matter. Moreover, in addition to the statement that God created or made all things, there is the oft-repeated assertion embodied in the word flat, but apparently overlooked, that He enjoined the earth and the waters to bring forth living forms. What does this expression imply?

The use of the imperative mood can only signify an agent other than the speaker. If, therefore, it be maintained that the sentence (ver. 21) "God created every living thing that moveth" signifies He made them by his direct Almighty fiat, it may be equally maintained that the sentence "Let the waters bring forth abundantly every mov-