Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/740

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In the second half of the same century this view as to the literal acceptance of the sacred text was reasserted by St. Ambrose, who, in his work on the creation, declared that "Moses opened his mouth and poured forth what God had said to him." But a greater than either of them fastened this idea into the Christian theologies. St. Augustine, preparing his Commentary on the Book of Genesis, laid down in one famous sentence the law which has lasted in the Church until our own time: "Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind." The vigor of the sentence in its original Latin carried it ringing down the centuries: "Major est Scripturse auctoritas quam omnis humani ingenii capacitas."

Through the mediƦval period, in spite of a revolt led by no other than St. Augustine himself, and followed by a series of influential churchmen, contending, as we shall hereafter see, for a modification of the accepted view of creation, this phrase held the minds of men firmly. The great Dominican encyclopedist, Vincent of Beauvais, in his Mirror of Nature, while mixing ideas brought from Aristotle with a theory drawn from the Bible, stood firmly by the first of the accounts given in Genesis, and assigned the special virtue of the number six as a reason why all things were created in six days; and in the later middle ages that eminent authority. Cardinal d'Ailly, accepted in a general way everything regarding creation in the sacred books as written. Only a faint dissent is seen in Gregory Reisch, another authority of this later period, who, while giving in his book on the beginning of things a full-length woodcut showing the Almighty in the act of extracting Eve from Adam's side, with all the rest of new-formed Nature in the background, leans in his writings, like St. Augustine, toward a belief in the pre-existence of matter.

At the Reformation the vast authority of Luther was thrown in favor of the literal acceptance of Scripture as the source of natural science; the allegorical and mystical interpretations of earlier theologians he utterly rejected. "Why," he asks, "should Moses use allegory when he is not speaking of allegorical creatures or of an allegorical world, but of real creatures and of a visible world, which can be seen, felt, and grasped? Moses calls things by their right names, as we ought to do. . . . I hold that the animals took their being at once upon the word of God, as did also the fishes in the sea."

Not less explicit in his adherence to the literal account of creation given in Genesis was Calvin. He warns those who, by taking another view than his own, "basely insult the Creator, to expect a judge who will annihilate them." He insists that all species of animals were created in six days, each made up of an