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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/756

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pleasure he asks: "Who would like to get different sorts of lions, bears, tigers, and other ferocious and noxious creatures on board ship who would trust himself with them? and who would wish to plant colonies of such creatures in new, desirable lands?"

His conclusion is that plants and animals take their origin in the lands wherein they are found—an opinion which he brings Moses to support with passages from the two narrations in Genesis which imply generative force in earth and water.

But in the eighteenth century matters had become even worse for the theological view. To meet the difficulty the eminent Benedictine, Dom Calmet, in his commentary expressed the belief that all the species of a genus had originally formed one species, and he dwelt on this view as one which enabled him to explain the possibility of gathering all animals into the ark. This idea, dangerous as it was to the fabric of orthodoxy and involving a profound separation from the general doctrine of the Church, seems to have been abroad among thinking men, for we find in the latter half of the same century even Linnæus incline to consider it. It was, indeed, time that some new theological theory be evolved; the great Linnæus himself, in spite of his famous declaration in favor of the fixity of species, had dealt a death blow to the old theory. In his Systema Naturæ, published in the middle of the eighteenth century, he had enumerated four thousand species of animals, and the difficulties involved in the naming of each of them by Adam and in bringing them together in the ark appeared to all thinking men more and more insurmountable.

What was more embarrassing, the number of distinct species went on increasing rapidly, indeed enormously, until—as an eminent zoölogical authority of our own time has declared, "For every one of the species enumerated by Linnæus, more than fifty kinds are known to the naturalist of to-day, and the number of species still unknown doubtless far exceeds the list of those recorded."

Already there were premonitions of the strain made upon Scripture by requiring a hundred and sixty distinct miraculous interventions of the Creator to produce the hundred and sixty species of land shells found in the little island of Madeira alone, and fourteen hundred distinct interventions to produce the actual number of distinct species of a single well-known shell.

Ever more and more difficult, too, became this question of the geographical distribution of animals. As new explorations were made in various parts of the world, this danger to the theological view went on increasing. The sloths in South America suggested painful questions: how could animals so sluggish have got away from the neighborhood of Mount Ararat so completely and have traveled so far?