Eve, presented no difficulties to the docile minds of the middle ages and Reformation period; hence it was that, when the discovery of fossils began to provoke thought, these were declared to be "models of his works approved or rejected by the great Artificer, outlines of future creations, sports of Nature," or "objects placed in the strata to bring to naught human curiosity"; and this kind of explanation lingered on until in our own time that excellent naturalist, Mr. Gosse, in his anxiety to save the literal account in Genesis, has urged that Jehovah tilted and twisted the strata, scattered the fossils through them, scratched the glacial furrows upon them, spread over them the marks of erosion by water, and set Niagara pouring all in an instant, thus mystifying the world "for some inscrutable purpose, but for his own glory."
The next important development of theological reasoning had regard to the divisions of the animal kingdom.
Naturally, one of the first divisions which struck the inquiring mind was that between useful and noxious creatures, and the question therefore occurred, How could a good God create tigers and serpents, thorns and thistles? The answer was found in theological considerations upon sin: To man's first disobedience all woes were due. Great men for eighteen hundred years developed the theory that before Adam's disobedience there was no death, and therefore neither ferocity nor venom.
Some typical utterances in the evolution of this doctrine are worthy of a passing glance. St. Augustine expressly confirmed and emphasized the view that the vegetable as well as the animal kingdom was cursed on account of man's sin. Two hundred years later this utterance had been echoed on from father to father of the Church until it was caught by Bede; he declared that before man's fall animals were harmless, but became poisonous or hurtful on account of sin, and he said, "Thus fierce and poisonous animals were created for terrifying man, because God foresaw that he would sin, in order that he might be made aware of the final punishment of hell."
- For the citation from Lactantius, see Divin. Instit., lib. ii, cap. xi, in Migne, tome vi, pp. 311, 312; for St. Augustine's great phrase, see the De Genes, ad litt., ii, 5; for St. Ambrose, see lib. i, cap. ii; for Vincent de Beauvais, see the Speculum Naturale, lib. i, cap. ii, and lib. ii, cap. xv and xxx; also Bourgeat, Etudes sur Vincent de Beauvais, Paris, 1856, especially chaps, vii, xii, and xvi; for Cardinal d'Ailly, see the Imago Mundi, and for Reisch, see the various editions of the Margarita Philosophica; for Luther's statements, see Luther's Schriften, ed. Walch, Halle, 1740, Commentary on Genesis, vol. i; for Calvin's view of the creation of the animals, including the immutability of species, see the Comm. in Gen., tome i of his Opera omnia, Amst., 1671, cap. i, v. xx, p. 5, also cap. ii, V. ii, p. 8, and elsewhere; for Bossuet, see his Discours sur I'Histoire universelle, Œuvres de Bossuet, tome v, Paris, 1846; for Lightfoot, see his works, edited by Pitman, London, 1822; for Bede, see the Hexæmeron, lib. i, in Migne, tome xci, p. 21.