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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/452

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438
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

with the first of the two accounts in Genesis, was sanctioned by Bossuet. In his universal history he declared, "Moses teaches us that this Potent Architect wished to create the universe in six days to show that he did not act under necessity or blind impetuosity, as certain philosophers imagine."[1]

The early reformers accepted and developed the same view, and Luther especially showed himself equal to the occasion. With his usual boldness he declared, first, that Moses "spoke properly and plainly, and neither allegorically nor figuratively," and that therefore "the world with all creatures was created in six days." And then he goes on to show how, by a great miracle, the whole creation was also instantaneous.

Melanchthon also insisted that the universe was created out of nothing and in a mysterious way, both in an instant and in six days, citing the text: "He spake, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created."

Calvin opposed the idea of an instantaneous creation, and laid especial stress on the creation in six days; having called attention to the fact that the biblical chronology shows the world to be not quite six thousand years old and that it is now near its end, he says that "creation was extended through six days that it might not be tedious for us to occupy the whole of life in the consideration of it."

Peter Martyr clinched the matter by declaring: "So important is it to comprehend the work of creation in the faith that we see the creed of the Church take this as its starting point. Were this article taken away there would be no original sin, the promise of Christ would become void, and all the vital force of our religion would be destroyed." The Westminster divines in drawing up their Confession of Faith specially laid it down as necessary to believe that all things visible and invisible were created not only out of nothing but in exactly six days.

Nor were the Roman divines less strenuous than the Protestant reformers regarding the necessity of holding closely to the so-called Mosaic account of creation. As late as the middle of


  1. For Philo Judæus, see his The Creation of the World, chap, iii; for St. Augustine on the powers of numbers in creation, see his De Genesi ad Litteram, iv, eh. ii; for Peter Lombard, see the Sententiæ, lib. ii, dist. xv, 5; and for Hugo of St. Victor, see De Sacramentis, lib. i, pars i; also, Annotat. Elucidat. in Pentateuchum, cap. v, vi, vii; for St. Hilary, see De Trinitate, lib. xii; for St. Thomas Aquinas, see his Summa Theologica, quest. Ixxxiv, art. i and ii; the passage in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493, is in fol. iii; for Bossuet, see his Discours sur l'Histoire Universelle; for the sacredness of the number seven among the Babylonians, see especially Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, pp. 21, 22; also George Smith et al.; for general ideas on the occult powers of various numbers, especially the number seven, and the influence of these ideas on theology and science, see my chapter on astronomy.