Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/754

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

But, noble as the work of, these men was, the foundation of fact on which they reared it became evidently more and more insecure.

As far back as the seventeenth century far-sighted theologians had begun to discern difficulties more serious than any that had before confronted them. More and more it was seen that the number of different species was far greater than the world had hitherto imagined. Greater and greater had become the old difficulty in conceiving that, of these innumerable species, each had been specially created by the Almighty hand, that each had been brought before Adam by the Almighty to be named, and that each, in couples or in sevens, had been gathered by Noah into the ark. But the difficulties thus suggested were as nothing compared to those raised by the distribution of animals.

Even in the first days of the Church this had aroused serious thought, and above all in the great mind of St. Augustine. In his City of God he had stated the difficulty as follows: "But there is a question about all these kinds of beasts, which are neither tamed by man, nor spring from the earth like frogs, such as wolves and others of that sort, . . . as to how they could find their way to the islands after that flood which destroyed every living thing not preserved in the ark. . . . Some, indeed, might be thought to reach islands by swimming, in case these were very near; but some islands are so remote from continental lands that it does not seem possible that any creature could reach them by swimming. It is not an incredible thing, either, that some animals may have been captured by men and taken with them to those lands which they intended to inhabit, in order that they might have the pleasure of hunting, and it can not be denied that the transfer may have been accomplished through the agency of angels, commanded or allowed to perform this labor by God."

But this question had now assumed a magnitude of which St. Augustine never dreamed. Most powerful of all agencies to increase this difficulty were the voyages of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci, and other great navigators of the period of discovery. Still more serious became the difficulty as the continent islands of the southern seas were explored. Every navigator brought home tidings of new species of animals and of races of men living in parts of the world where

    to demonstrate the Truth and Excellency of the Bible, by Dr. Nehemiah Grew, Fellow of the College of Physicians and of the Royal Society, London, 1701. For Paley and the Bridgewater Treatises, see the usual editions;' also Lange, History of Rationalism. Goethe's couplet ran as follows:

    "Welche Verchrung verdient der Weltenerschöpfer, der Gnädig,
    Als er den Korkbaura erschuf, gleich auch die Stopfel erfand."

    For the quotation from Zoeckler, see his work already cited, vol. ii, pp. 74, 440.