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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/741

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

evening and a morning, and that no new species has ever appeared since. He dwells on the production of birds from the water as resting upon certain warrant of Scripture, but adds, "If the question is to be argued on physical grounds, we know that water is more akin to air than the earth is." As to difficulties in the scriptural account of creation, he tells us that God "wished by these to give proofs of his power which should fill us with astonishment."

The controlling minds in the Roman Catholic Church steadfastly held this view. In the seventeenth century Bossuet threw his vast authority in its favor, and in his Discourse on Universal History, which has remained the foundation not only of theological but of general historical teaching in France down to the present republic, we find him calling attention to what he regards as the culminating act of creation, and asserting that, literally, for the creation of man earth was used, and "the finger of God applied to corruptible matter."

Protestant Europe held this idea no less persistently. In the seventeenth century Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, the great rabbinical scholar of his time, attempted to reconcile the two accounts in Genesis by saying that of the "clean sort of beasts there were seven of every kind created, three couples for breeding and the odd one for Adam's sacrifice on his fall, which God foresaw"; that of unclean beasts only one couple was created; and finally, that "heaven and earth, center and circumference, were created all together, in the same instant, and clouds full of water," and that "this work took place and man was created by the Trinity on October 23, 4004 b. c., at nine o'clock in the morning." Here was, indeed, a triumph of Lactantius's method, the result of a thousand years of biblical study and theological thought since Bede, in the eighth century, and Vincent de Beauvais, in the thirteenth, had declared that creation must have taken place in the spring. Yet, alas! within two centuries after Lightfoot's great theological demonstration as to the exact hour of creation, it was discovered that at that hour an exceedingly cultivated people, enjoying all the fruits of a highly developed civilization, had long been swarming in the great cities of Egypt, and that other nations hardly less advanced had at that time reached a high development in Asia.

So literal was this whole conception of the work of creation that in these days it can scarcely be imagined. The Almighty was represented in theological literature, in the illustrations of Bibles, and in works of art generally, as a sort of enlarged and venerable Nuremberg toymaker; a pictorial representation in accordance with the well-known sacred account, showing the Creator in the act of sewing skins of beasts into coats for Adam and