Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/458

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its largest churches,-gave a lecture which, as was claimed in the public prints and in placards posted in the streets, was to show that science supports the theory of creation given in the sacred books ascribed to Moses. A large audience assembled, and a brilliant series of elementary experiments with oxygen, hydrogen, and carbonic acid was concluded by the Plateau demonstration. It was beautifully made. As the colored globule of oil, representing the earth, was revolved in a transparent medium of equal density, as it became first flattened at the poles, as rings then broke forth from it, and revolved about it, and, finally, as some of these rings broke into satellites, which for a moment continued to circle about the central mass, the audience, as well they might, rose and burst into rapturous applause.

Thereupon a well-to-do citizen arose and moved the thanks of the audience to the eminent professor for "this perfect demonstration of the exact and literal conformity of the statements given in Holy Scripture with the latest results of science." The motion was carried unanimously and with applause, and the audience dispersed, feeling that a great service had been rendered to orthodoxy. "Sancta simplicitas!"[1]

What this incident exhibited on a small scale has been seen elsewhere with more distinguished actors and on a broader stage. Scores of theologians, chief among whom of late, in zeal if not in knowledge, has been Mr. Gladstone, have endeavored to "reconcile" the two accounts in Genesis with each other and with the truths regarding the origin of the universe gained by astronomy, geology, geography, physics, and chemistry. The result has been recently stated by an eminent theologian, the Hulsean Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He declares, "No

  1. For an interesting reference to the outcry against Newton, see McCosh, The Religious Aspect of Evolution, New York, 1890, pp. 103, 104; for germs of an evolutionary view among the Babylonians, see George Smith, Chaldean Account of Genesis, New York, 18*70, pp. 74, 75; for a germ of the same thought in Lucretius, see his De Naturâ Rerum, lib. v, 187-194, 447-454; for Bruno's conjecture (in 1591), see Jevons, Principles of Science, London, 1874, vol. ii, p. 299; for Kant's statement, see his Naturgeschichte des Himmels; for his part in the nebular hypothesis, see Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus, vol. i, p. 266; for value of Plateau's beautiful experiment, very cautiously estimated, see Jevons, vol. ii, p. 30; also Elisée Reclus, The Earth, translated by Woodward, vol. i, pp. 14-18, for an estimate still more careful; for a general account of discoveries of the nature of nebulæ by spectroscope, see Draper, Conflict between Religion and Science; for a careful discussion regarding the spectra of solid, liquid, and gaseous bodies, see Schellen, Spectrum Analysis, pp. 100 et seq.; for a very thorough discussion of the bearings of discoveries made by spectrum analysis upon the nebular hypothesis, ibid., pp. 532-537; for a presentation of the difficulties yet unsolved, see an article by Plummer in the London Popular Science Review for January, 1875; for an excellent short summary of recent observations and thought on this subject, see T. Sterry Hunt, Address at the Priestley Centennial, pp. 7, 8; for an interesting modification of this hypothesis, see Proctor's writings.