It has been shown that Laplace's Nebular Hypothesis, when substituted for the action of a Creator, broke down in three important points. Of these the first two were, that it failed to give any account of the origin of matter, and of the first commencement of the action of Gravitation. These two defects are completely supplied by the first three verses of Genesis. We may probably see in the "Great Nebula" in Orion an illustration of the condition of the solar system when light first made its appearance. It is very probable that that nebula has only very recently become visible. Galileo examined Orion very carefully with his newly invented telescope, but makes no mention of it. [Footnote: Webb's Celestial Objects, p. 255, note.] At present it is visible to the unaided eye even in England, where the atmospheric conditions and its low altitude are alike unfavourable. In Italy, where the atmosphere is remarkably pure, and the meridian altitude is greater by 7 1/2 degrees, it must be a conspicuous object, and had it been so at the time when Galileo was observing the constellation, it could hardly have failed to attract his attention. It was, however, noticed in 1618. It is a vast, shapeless mass, having its boundaries in some parts tolerably well defined, while in other directions it fades away imperceptibly; its light is very faint, and when examined by the spectroscope is found to proceed from a gaseous source. Professor Secchi has traced it through an extent of 5 degrees. When it is remembered that at such a distance the semi-diameter of the earth's orbit subtends an angle less than 1 inch, some idea of the enormous extent of this mass of gas may be formed. Drawings of it have been made from time to time by our most distinguished astronomers, which are found to differ considerably. Great allowance must, of course, be made for differences in the telescopic power employed, and in the visual powers of the several observers, but the differences in the drawings seem too great to be explained by those sources of inaccuracy alone, and actual change in the nebula is therefore strongly suspected. Another nebula of similar character, in which changes are suspected, is that which surrounds the star A in the constellation Argo. This is being very carefully watched through the great telescope recently erected at Melbourne, and from the observations made there, it is probable that fresh light may soon be thrown on the subject.
The next act recorded is, that "God divided the light from the darkness." This is one of those passages which we are very apt to pass over as unimportant, without giving ourselves any trouble to ascertain what they mean, or asking if they may not give valuable information, or supply some important hints. It is evident, however, that in these words some act of the Creator is implied, but when we inquire what that act was, the answer does not lie immediately on the surface. Darkness is simply the absence of light. It cannot therefore be said that God divided the light from the darkness in the same sense in which it is said that "a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats". Between light and darkness that division exists in the very nature of things, and it could not therefore be said to be made by a definite act. Nor again, is there any sharp well-defined boundary set between light and darkness, so that we can say, "Here light begins, here darkness ends." The very opposite is the case, the one blends imperceptibly into the other. This then cannot be the meaning of the words. But the next verse guides us to the real meaning. "And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night." The division of light from darkness then is the alternation of night and day. When God divided the light from the darkness He made provision for that alternation. But we know that that alternation is the result of the earth's rotation upon its axis, so that the dividing the light from the darkness evidently implies the communication to the accumulated mass of the motion of rotation.
It does not clearly appear in the account of the first day, whether this alternation of day and night took effect immediately. Certainly the introduction of it here does not prove that it did so follow. For there was no way in which the fact of the earth's rotation could be directly communicated to those for whom the narrative was primarily intended. They were ignorant of the spherical form of the earth, and so could not have attached any idea whatever to a statement that it revolved about its axis.
The only way then in which Moses could speak of that rotation was in connexion with some phenomenon resulting from it. The only such phenomenon with which the Jews were acquainted was the alternation of day and night. There was therefore no way in which Moses could record the fact except with reference to this ultimate effect. It does not follow that that effect was immediate. Beside the rotation of the earth, another condition is required. The light must come from a single source, and so when the act is recorded by which that condition is effected, the division of light and darkness is again noticed. The sun and the moon are set in the firmament of heaven to divide the light from the darkness. But that division was potentially effected when the motion of rotation was given.
The third defect noticed in the Nebular Hypothesis was, that it did not account for this motion of rotation. This defect, then, like the two preceding ones, is supplied by the Mosaic Record, and the hypothesis thus supplemented becomes complete. It is capable of giving a satisfactory account of the phenomena to which it applies. But as it is only a theory, and only points out a way in which the universe might have been constructed, it does not in itself exclude the possibility that some other plan might in fact have been adopted, and we have now to examine into the reasons for supposing that it was the method which was actually employed. These divide themselves into two classes:—those which render it probable that similar processes are now in progress; and those which render it probable that the solar system has passed through such a process.
It has already been pointed out that the great nebulae in Orion and Argo seem to represent the condition of our system on the first appearance of light, and that changes are strongly suspected to be taking place in both; but we cannot expect to trace any single nebula through the stages of its development, since that development must occupy untold ages. All we can do is to inquire if there are other nebulas which seem to be in more advanced stages. It must at once be recognized, that if this be one of the processes now going on, it is not the only one. There are many nebulas "which have assumed forms for which the law of gravitation, as we know it, will not enable us to account—such as the Ring Nebula in Lyra, the Dumb-bell Nebula in Vulpecula, or the double Horseshoe in Scutum Sobieski. But some nebulas can be found which arrange themselves so as to illustrate the stages through which we may suppose our world to have passed. These are chiefly to be found among the planetary nebulse, which in a small telescope exhibit a faint circular disc, but in larger instruments frequently show considerable varieties of structure. Some of them present the appearance of a condensation of light in the centre, which gradually fades off; in others there is a bright ring surrounding the central spot, but separated from it by a darker space. The Nebula Andromeda 49647, [Footnote: The numbers are those given by Sir J. Hersohel.] as seen in Mr. Lassel's four-foot reflector appears as a luminous spot, surrounded by two luminous rings, which, in the more powerful instrument of Lord Bosse, combine into a spiral. Its spectrum is gaseous, with one line indicating some element unknown to us. In another nebula, Draco 4373, there is a double spectrum, the one gaseous, indicating the presence of hydrogen, nitrogen, and barium; the other, apparently from the nucleus, continuous, and so representing a solid or fluid mass, but so faint that the lines belonging to particular elements cannot be distinguished. [Footnote: Hugging, Philosophical Transactions, 1864.] Bridanus 846, and Andromeda 116, are probably similar nebulee occupying different positions with reference to us. They both give a continuous spectrum. The one in Bridanus is described as "an eleventh magnitude star, standing in the centre of a circular nebula, itself placed centrally on a larger and fainter circle of hazy light." [Footnote: Lassell, quoted in Webb's "Celestial Objects," p. 227.] The nebula in Andromeda assumes a lenticular form; that in Bridanus would probably present the same appearance if we saw it edge-ways. The former has probably increased in brilliancy in the course of centuries. Mr. Webb remarks of it, "It is so plain to the naked eye that it is strange the ancients scarcely mention it." [Footnote: Webb's "Celestial Objects," p. 180.] In these two nebulas we may perhaps see the mass ready to break up into separate worlds, the lenticular form being a natural result of extremely rapid rotation. Prom the fact that Andromeda 116 gives a continuous spectrum, Dr. Huggins inclines to the belief that it is an unresolved star cluster. But the reasons which led Sir W. Herschel to conclude that the nebula in Orion was gaseous, (a conclusion which, though for a time discredited by the supposed resolution of the nebula in Lord Kosse's telescope, was ultimately found to be correct), are equally applicable here. In general a certain proportion exists between the telescopic power requisite to render a star cluster visible as a nebulous spot, and that which will resolve it into stars; but this nebula, like that in Orion, though visible to the naked eye, cannot be resolved by the most powerful instruments yet made. And the nebula in Draco 4373, seems to present an intermediate stage between the purely gaseous nebula and this one. The faint continuous spectrum is probably the result of incipient central condensation. This nebula, if recent observations by Mr. Gill, of Aberdeen, are confirmed [Footnote: Popular Science Review, 1871, p. 426.], is much nearer to us than any of the fixed stars.
"We come now to the reasons derived from the Solar System itself, and of these there are several, some of them of considerable weight. The first is to be found in the uniform direction of almost all the motions of the system. They are from west to east. The sun rotates upon his axis, the planets revolve about the sun and rotate upon their axes, and the satellites, with one exception, revolve about their primaries, and, so far as is known, rotate upon their axes in the same direction, from west to east, and the motions take place very nearly in the same plane—the ecliptic. This seems to point to the conclusion that these motions have a common origin, as would be the case if all these bodies at one time existed as a single mass which revolved in the same direction. The one exception is to be found in the satellites of Uranus, whose motion is retrograde. But there are certain phenomena, which lead to the conclusion, that, on the outskirts of our system, there has at some time or other been an action of a disturbing force, of which, except from these results, we know nothing."
[Footnote: Bode's "Law of Planetary Distances," What holds good as far as Uranus, breaks down in the case of Neptune. Both Leverrier and Adams were to some extent misled by this law. The new planet should according to their calculations, based on this law, have been of greater magnitude and at a greater distance than Neptune.
The polar axis of Uranus, instead of being nearly perpendicular to the ecliptic, as in the case of all the other planets (except Venus), is nearly coincident with it. Venus occupies an intermediate position, the inclination of its equator to its orbit being 49 degrees 58'.]
There is also strong reason for believing that the sun is still a nebulous star, that the whole of the original nebula is not yet gathered up in the vast globe which at ordinary times is all that we can see. This aspect of the case, however, will come more fully under our notice when we come to the work of the fourth day. The figure of the earth, which is that naturally assumed by a plastic mass revolving about its axis, and the traces which it retains of a former state of intense heat, are both in accordance with this theory.
When these facts are duly weighed, there seems to be a reasonable probability that this process is the one which was actually employed in the formation of the solar system. The remarkable manner in which the theory adapts itself to the Mosaic account, and the fact that that account records special interferences of the Creator exactly at the points where the theory shows that such interferences would be necessary, give rise to a very strong presumption in its favour. We have in it also a clear illustration of the combination of general laws of nature with special interferences of Creative Power—the law of gravitation was called into action, and the work would proceed steadily under that law for a considerable period, till matters were ripe for a farther stage in the progress, and then the special interference would take place, in this instance the imparting the motion of rotation, and the work would again proceed under the natural law. All this while, however, the work would be one, and performed by one power, the only difference being in the direct or indirect action of that power.
The only point an reference to the first day which remains to be inquired into is the extent to which the work had proceeded at its close. As the commencement of the second day's work implies that at that time the earth had an independent existence, we may conclude that the first day's work comprehended the casting off of the several successive rings, and the condensation of those rings, or some of them, into the corresponding planets and satellites. These would probably still retain their intense heat, in virtue of which they would be luminous.
Many of the multiple stars may not improbably present to us much the same appearance as the solar system then presented. In many cases we have one large star, with one or more very minute attendants. Such a star is Orionis, a tolerably conspicuous star, which has two companions invisible to the naked eye, but visible with moderate telescopic power. (A telescope of 2.1 inches aperture, by Cooke, shows them well.) Five more companions are visible in a 4-inch telescope. In the large telescope at Harvard no less than 35 minute stars have been seen in apparent connexion with the brilliant star Vega. In all these cases it is true that the distances and periods of the companion stars are very much greater than in the case of the earth; but then our telescopes will only enable us to discern the more distant companions. Any small companion stars holding positions corresponding to those of the four interior planets, would be lost in the light of the primary star; and if, as is suspected, all the heavenly bodies are subject to some resistance, however small, from the medium in which they move, this resistance would in the course of ages diminish the mean distance, and with it the periodic time of the companion stars.
The latter part of the 5th verse has already been considered, and there is no need to recur to it at this point. At the close of the history we shall be in a better position to ascertain if any light has been thrown on that mysterious subject.
SECTION 5. THE SECOND DAY.
"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
"And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so.
"And God called the firmament Heaven, and there was evening and there was morning, a second day"
The work of the second and third days evidently has its scene on the earth alone. At its commencement the earth appears to have become distinctly separated from the gradually condensing mass of the solar system, and to have assumed its spherical form. It had, in fact, acquired an independent existence; but it was still in a chaotic state. Its elements, which were hereafter to assume the three forms of solid, fluid, and gas, seem to have been still blended together. Of the three states, fluidity seems to have been that to which the mass most nearly approached. This seems to be indicated by the application of the term, waters, to the two parts into which it is now divided; for the Hebrew has no general word for "fluid," so that the only method of expressing it was by the use of this word "water" in an extended signification; and all scientific investigations point to the same conclusion. The heat, as yet, must have been so intense that no rocks or metals with which we are acquainted could have remained in a solid form. The sorting out and first arrangement of the materials of the earth, with probably the farther development of a large portion of them by the introduction of a new element, seems to have been the work of the second day.
When we proceed to examine the narrative more closely, two important questions suggest themselves:—l. What special interference of Creative Power does it indicate? 2. What is the meaning of the division between the waters which were above the firmament and the waters which were under the firmament?
1. What special interference of Creative Power took place on the second day? Till within the last ten years, it would have been difficult to give a satisfactory answer to this question; for if all the elements were already in existence at the commencement of the second day, their arrangement would, as it seems, have been brought about by the ordinary operation of natural laws which were already established. The cooling and condensation of a portion of the elements would have been effected by the radiation of their heat, and the portions thus condensed would, under the influence of gravitation, have arranged themselves in immediate proximity to the centre of gravity, forming a solid or fluid nucleus, round which those portions which still remained in a gaseous state would have formed an atmospheric envelope. But here again the spectroscope comes to our aid. In many of the nebulae which give in it the bright lines indicative of gas, hydrogen and nitrogen are the chief gases discovered. These must be in an incandescent state, or they would not be visible at all. But hydrogen cannot, in the present state of things, remain in this condition in contact with oxygen; it must instantly combine with it, that combination being attended with intense heat, and resulting in the production of water. The introduction of oxygen, then, must involve a very important crisis in the process of development; but that introduction must have preceded the formation of atmospheric air and water. Prior to the second day oxygen must either have been non-existent, or it must have existed in a form and under conditions very different from those under which it exists now. Free oxygen cannot be in existence in the sun or in any celestial object in which the spectroscope indicates the existence of incandescent hydrogen. The special act of the second day would appear to have consisted in the development of oxygen, or the calling it from a quiescent state into active operation.
But the effects of the new element thus called into operation would not be limited to the production of air and water. It is estimated that oxygen constitutes, by weight, nearly half of the solid crust of the earth. It forms a part of every rock and of every metallic ore. The second day, then, must have been a period of intense chemical action, resulting from the introduction of this powerful agent.
But (2) what is the meaning of the division of the waters which are above the firmament from the waters which were under the firmament? At present all the water contained in the atmosphere, in the shape of vapour and clouds, is so insignificant in comparison with that vast volume of water which not only fills the ocean, but also permeates the solid earth, that such a notice of it seems unaccountable. Mr. Goodwin, indeed, maintains that there was an ancient belief, not only that the firmament was a solid vault, but that on it there rested another ocean, at least as copious as that with which we are acquainted. [Footnote: Essays and Reviews, p. 220] In support of this assertion he brings forward the phrase, "The windows of heaven were opened" (Gen, VII. 11) and other similar expressions. But such phrases as this evidently belong to the same class as the fanciful names so often given to the clouds in the hymns of the Rig Veda. Both expressions evidently point to a time when figurative language, if no longer a necessity, was at all events a common and favourite form of speech, and was understood by all. Dr. Whewell [Footnote: Plurality of Worlds, chap. x. Section 5.] has put forward the curious notion that when the creation of the interior planets was completed, there remained a superfluity of water, which was gathered up into the four exterior planets. But the only fact in favour of such an hypothesis is the close correspondence between the apparent density of these planets and that of water. Now, as will be seen immediately, there is strong reason to believe that the true density of these planets is much greater than their apparent diameters would seem to indicate; so that the one solitary ground on which the suggestion rests vanishes when it is examined. Apart from this, however, the suggestion that there would be any superfluous material when the work of creation was finished, is a very strange one. Neither of these views, then, can be accepted as giving a satisfactory meaning to the text.
Astronomical investigations however, which have been carried on with great diligence during the last four winters, and which are still being continued with unremitting interest, have brought to light phenomena which seem to be in remarkable correspondence with the state of things spoken of in the text. It has already been noticed that the eight greater planets at present known to us are divided into two groups of four by the intervening belt of minor planets. These two groups have totally distinct characteristics. In density, magnitude, and length, of day the members of each group differ little from each other, while the two groups differ very widely. The moon is the only satellite as yet known in the inner group. The planets of the outer group are attended by at least seventeen satellites.
Of these outer planets Jupiter, from his great brilliancy, specially attracts observation, while from his comparative proximity to the earth we are enabled to examine him much more satisfactorily than we can Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune. Two facts with reference to him have long been well known, the one, that the polar compression in his case is much greater than it is in any of the interior planets, so that when seen through a telescope of very moderate power his disc is evidently elliptical, while the compression of the interior planets can only be detected by the most delicate micrometrical measurements—the other, that his apparent surface is always crossed by several alternating belts of light and shade, which though subject to constant changes of detail, always preserve the same general character. Until recently the generally received theory was that these belts consisted of clouds, raised by the heat of the sun, and arranged in zones under the influence of winds similar in character to, and produced by the same causes as, the trade-winds which blow over our own oceans. This view, however, has been shown by Mr. Proctor to be untenable. [Footnote: See a paper by Mr. Proctor in the Monthly Packet for October, 1870.]
About forty years ago, a very remarkable phenomenon was observed simultaneously, but independently, by three astronomers, Admiral Smyth, Mr. Maclean, and Mr. Pearson, who were watching a transit of Jupiter's second satellite from stations several miles apart. Admiral Smyth's account of it is as follows:—"On Thursday, the 26th of June, 1828, the moon being nearly full, and the evening extremely fine, I was watching the second satellite of Jupiter as it gradually approached to transit the disc of the planet. My instrument was an excellent refractor of 3 3/4 inches aperture, and five feet focal length, with a power of one hundred. The satellite appeared in contact at about half-past ten, and for some minutes remained on the edge of the limb, presenting an appearance not unlike that of the lunar mountains which come into view during the first quarter of the moon, until it finally disappeared on the body of the planet. At least twelve or thirteen minutes must have elapsed when, accidentally turning to Jupiter again, I perceived the same satellite outside the disc. It was in the same position as to being above a line with the lower belt, where it remained distinctly visible for at least four minutes, and then suddenly vanished." A somewhat similar phenomenon, but of shorter duration, was witnessed by Messrs. Gorton and Wray, during an occultation of the same satellite, April 26, 1863. In this case the satellite reappeared after passing behind the apparent disc of the planet. So lately as 1868 this phenomenon was regarded as inexplicable. [Footnote: Webb's Celestial Objects, p. 141.]
In the winter of 1868-9 the attention of astronomers was called to the fact that rapid and extensive changes were taking place in the appearance of Jupiter's belts, and they have consequently been watched from that time with unremitting attention by astronomers furnished with telescopes of the best quality. The results of these observations are given in two very interesting papers, communicated to the Popular Science Review, by Mr. Webb. [Footnote: Popular Science Review for April, 1870, and July, 1871.] Very curious markings and variations in the depth of shade have been seen, accompanied by equally curious changes of colour. Mr. Browning compares these changes to those which are seen when a cloud of steam of varying depth and density is illuminated from behind by a strong light, as when we look through the steam escaping from the safety-valve of a locomotive at a gas-lamp immediately behind it. This appears to be the true explanation of the phenomenon. [Footnote: Popular Science Review, 1871, p. 307.] These belts are probably due to vast masses of steam, poured forth with great force from the body of the planet. As the atmosphere of Jupiter is probably of enormous depth, the rotatory velocity of its upper portions would be much greater than that of the surface of the planet, hence the steam would arrange itself in belts parallel to the equator of the planet. But this view leads us to wonderful conclusions with reference to the condition of the planet.
"Processes of the most amazing character are taking place beneath that cloudy envelope, which forms the visible surface of the planet as seen by the terrestrial observer. The real globe of the planet would seem to be intensely heated, perhaps molten, through the fierceness of the heat which pervades it. Masses of vapour streaming continually upward from the surface of this fiery globe would be gathered at once into zones because of their rapid change of distance from the centre. That which is wholly unintelligible when we regard the surface of Jupiter as swept like our earth by polar and equatorial winds, is readily interpreted when we recognize the existence of rapidly uprushing streams of vapour." [Footnote: Mr. Proctor in Monthly Packet, October, 1870.]
Supposing then that the atmosphere of Jupiter is of very great depth, and thus laden with masses of watery vapour, the effect of a sudden current of heated, but comparatively dry, air or gas would be the immediate absorption of the whole or a large portion of the vapour, and the consequent transparency of the portion of the atmosphere affected by it. We see this result continually on a small scale in our own atmosphere, when a heavy cloud comes in contact with a warm air current, and rapidly melts away, Many of the rapid changes which have been witnessed in Jupiter's appearance are readily explained if this view is admitted. Supposing such a thing to have happened near the edge of the disc, the phenomenon recorded by Admiral Smyth is at once satisfactorily explained. When the satellite appeared to pass on to the disc, and to be lost in the light of the planet, it would for some time, proportional to the depth of Jupiter's atmosphere, have behind it a background of clouds only, it would not have entered upon the actual disc of the planet. If then these clouds were suddenly absorbed, the atmosphere behind the satellite would become transparent and invisible, the background would be gone, and the satellite would reappear. In the case of the occultation witnessed by Messrs. Gorton and Wray, the satellite would at first be hidden by cloud only, and would reappear if the cloud were removed. Such seems to be the true explanation of these hitherto mysterious phenomena. That they could not have resulted from any alteration in the motions of the planet or the satellite is evident. Such an alteration would have been instantly detected, since the places of both the planet and the satellites are computed years in advance, and any such change would at once have thrown out all these computations.
Assuming that this is the true solution of the mystery, we are enabled to form an approximate estimate of the extent of the atmosphere of Jupiter. The time between the first and second disappearances does not seem to have been accurately noted. Admiral Smyth's account makes it 16 or 17 minutes; but if we estimate it at 15 minutes only, and if we further assume that the second disappearance was upon the actual disc of Jupiter, and not upon a lower stratum of clouds, we shall be safe from any risk of exaggeration. The probability seems to be that the second disappearance was caused not by the disc, but by the formation of a fresh body of cloud, as it was not gradual, as in the first instance, but sudden. We shall then only have an estimate which cannot be greater, but may be much less, than the true value.
The mean distance of the second satellite from the centre of Jupiter is in round numbers 425,000 miles, and consequently the circumference of its orbit is 2,671,000 miles. The satellite travels through this orbit in about 86 hours, which gives a horary velocity of 31,400 miles, or 7850 miles in 15 minutes. This then is the least possible depth of the atmosphere of Jupiter. [Footnote: For the direction of the motion of the satellite would be at right angles to the line of sight.] The whole diameter of Jupiter, atmosphere and all, is 85,390 miles. Deduct from this 15,700 miles for the atmosphere, and we have for the diameter of the solid nucleus rather less than 70,000 miles. The height of the atmosphere is therefore not less than three-fourteenths of the radius of the planet, and may be much greater. The extent of the atmosphere, combined with the rapidity of rotation, accounts satisfactorily for the great apparent polar compression of the planet. Another inference is that the density of the planet must exceed the ordinary estimate in the proportion of two to one.
But next, the atmosphere of Jupiter is probably of very great density. Dr. Huggins states that he has observed in the spectrum of Jupiter "three or four strong lines, one of them coincident with a strong line in the earth's atmosphere." [Footnote: Lecture at Manchester, November 16, 1870.] Strong lines mark increased density in the absorbent medium, and lines hitherto unobserved indicate new elements. It is therefore probable that the atmosphere of Jupiter is not only much more dense than that of the earth, but also contains some elements—which are absent from the latter. When with this fact we connect the very great extent of the atmosphere, it will be evident that the pressure at the surface of the planet will be enormous, and from this we can form an estimate of the intensity of the forces which must be at work in the interior of the planet, to project jets of vapour through such an atmosphere to so great a height.
The link which connects Jupiter with the earth, in the second stage of its existence, is the mention by Moses of the "waters which were above the firmament." Viewed in the light of the present condition of the earth such a notice seems unaccountable. But if the earth at that time were in a condition similar to that in which Jupiter appears to be now, the water in the atmosphere or above the firmament would be a very important element in any description that might be given of it. It is in fact most probable that all the water (in the strict sense of the word) then in existence would be in a state of vapour, and that the waters which were under the firmament were the molten materials which afterwards formed rocks and ores, since, as has been already noticed, the word is the only one which could be employed to describe fluids in general.
We may now try to form some idea of the probable state of the earth at this period. Its centre would be occupied by a fused mass, in which were blended all the more intractable solid constituents of the present world. This would be surrounded by an atmosphere of very great height and density, containing not only all the present constituents of air, but also all, or nearly all, the water, and all the more volatile of the metals and other elements. Carbonic acid, to a very large extent, would probably be present, and a very considerable proportion of the oxygen which now exists in combination with various bases, and forms by weight so large a proportion of the solid crust of the world.
Owing to the intense heat, chemical combinations would readily be formed between the ingredients of the fused mass and the other elements which existed in the form of vapour, and thus the earliest of the vast variety of existing minerals would be elaborated. The volumes of steam which floated in the upper regions of the atmosphere would rapidly part with their heat by radiation into space, and would descend towards the surface of the earth in the form of rain. At first probably, and for a long time, they would not reach the surface, but as they approached it would be again converted into vapour, and re-ascend to pass again and again through the same process. But by this means the intense heat of the nucleus would be gradually conveyed away, till the cooling reached a point at which some of the superficial materials would assume a solid form. It is by no means certain what is the true primary rock—for a long time it was almost universally assumed to be granite, since granite is uniformly found underlying the oldest sedimentary rocks that are known. But as these rocks have been forced from their original position and tilted up, the underlying stratum may probably be of later date than the upper ones, since it was the elevating agent. So that we can have no certain knowledge on this point, since the earliest sedimentary strata, wherever they retain their original position, must be at a depth far below the reach of man. If, however, Sir C. Kyell's view of the conditions requisite for the formation of granite are correct, these conditions [Footnote: Student's Geology, chap. xxxi.]—heat, moisture, and enormous pressure—would all be present at the surface of the nucleus. Some kind of solid floor must have been formed before the next stage could be reached, at which it would be possible for water to exist in a fluid state. This, however, would be possible at a much higher temperature than at present, owing to the enormous atmospheric pressure. It is possible now, by artificial means, to raise water, nearly if not quite, to a red heat, without the formation of steam, and the pressure of the atmosphere in the case supposed would, in all probability, be much greater than any which we can now apply under the conditions necessary for heating the water.
It is probable that at this point the close of the second day must be placed: but the indications of the narrative do not enable us to fix it with any degree of certainty. As, however, from this point a new series of processes would commence, and those processes are in intimate connexion with the first of the two developments ascribed to the third day, the period when water could first maintain a fluid form on the earth's surface, seems to present the most probable line of demarcation.
SECTION 6. THE THIRD DAY.
"And God said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so.
"And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas, and God saw that it was good.
"And God said, Let the earth sprout sprouts, the herb seeding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in it, [Footnote: "It" seems preferable to "itself" here. The same Hebrew word stands for both, but if the "fruit-tree" be taken as the antecedent, which it must be if we translate "itself," there seems no meaning in the statement. If we read "it," the pronoun will refer to the fruit—"the tree whose seed is in its fruit"—which gives an intelligible sense.] upon the earth, and it was so.
"And the earth caused to go forth sprouts, the herb seeding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit whose seed is in it, after his kind, and God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning, a third day."
The record of the third day is a very important one, because it is the first point at which the Mosaic Record comes in contact with that other record which is written in the rocks. Up to this time we have only been able to compare the statements of Moses with conjectural views of the earliest condition of the earth, which, though they may be highly probable, are at best only conjectures. But from this point we have to deal with a number of ascertained facts—certain landmarks stand out which enable us to fix the correspondent parts of the two narratives, and guide us to the identification and interpretation of their minor details.
The first of these landmarks is the appearance of the dry land, or, in geological language, the commencement of the process of upheaval. At the close of the second day the earth was, in all probability, as we have seen, a globe internally molten, but having a solid crust which was uniformly covered with a layer of water, and surrounded by an atmosphere which, though it had parted with some of its ingredients, was still very much more complex, more dense, and more extensive than it is at present. The newly condensed waters would rest on the surface of the primeval rock, whatever that rock might be. The internal heat conducted through it would keep the waters in a state of intense ebullition, and at the same time their surface would be agitated by violent atmospheric currents as the heated air ascended, and was replaced by cooler air from the outer regions of the atmosphere. Under these circumstances the water would dissolve or wear down portions of the newly-formed rock on which it rested. At the same time the steam, which would be continually rising from the boiling ocean, would descend from the upper regions of the atmosphere in the form of rain, and bring with it in solution considerable quantities of those elements which still existed in the form of vapour, just as rain now brings down ammonia and carbonic acid which it has absorbed in its passage through the atmosphere. New combinations would thus be formed between the materials dissolved or abraded by the ocean and those brought down by the rain. When these combinations had reached a certain amount they would be deposited in the form of mud upon the bed of the ocean, and thus the earliest sedimentary rocks would be formed. As the temperature gradually decreased, the character of these combinations would probably be changed, and at the same time the atmosphere would be diminished in volume and density, and become more pure by the absorption of a large portion of its original constituents, which would have been incorporated into various minerals.
The earliest sedimentary rock with which we are acquainted at present is what is known as the Laurentian formation. [Footnote: The whole of the geological details in this section are taken from Sir C. Lyell's Geology for Students.] It occupies an area of 200,000 square miles north of the St. Lawrence; and is also traced into the United States and the western highlands of Scotland and some of the adjacent isles. It is divided into two sections—the Upper and Lower Laurentian. It is not certain that it is really the oldest rock; for as every sedimentary rock is formed of the debris of preceding rocks, it is very possible that all the exposed portions of some older rocks may have been decomposed and worn away; but it is the oldest yet known. The thickness of the lower portion is estimated at 20,000 feet, or nearly four miles, while the Upper Laurentian beds are 10,000 feet thick. At this point we meet with the first traces of that process of upheaval and subsidence which has ever since been going on in the earth. The Lower Laurentian rocks had been displaced from their original horizontal position before the Upper Laurentian were deposited upon them.
This process of upheaval of some parts of the earth, accompanied with subsidence in other parts, is one which cannot be accounted for by any natural laws with which we are acquainted. It is in all probability the result of a series of changes which are taking place in the interior of the earth, but of which we know nothing at all. It is in the commencement of this series of changes that we trace that direct interference of the Creator—which is indicated by the command, "Let the waters under the firmament be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." We have not, however, any means of ascertaining how long a period elapsed before the process of upheaval reached the point at which the land would rise above the surface of the ocean.
The Lower Laurentian rocks are remarkable in another way. There is little doubt that traces of life, the earliest yet known, occur in them. They include a bed of limestone varying in thickness from 700 to 1500 feet. In all probability limestone, wherever it occurs, is an animal product, though in many cases all traces of its organization have been lost by exposure to heat. This particular bed appears to have been formed by a very lowly creature, which in organization was akin to the foraminifera, of which large quantities are now known to exist at the bottom of the Atlantic. It differed from them, however, in one respect—the individuals were connected together, as is the case now with many varieties of the coral animal. No notice of this first appearance of life is found in the Mosaic Record, nor, for reasons already given, was it possible that any mention of it should be made.
The rocks which come next to the Laurentian in the order of time are those known as the Cambrian. They are so called because they constitute a large portion of the mountains of North Wales, and it was there that their characteristics were first carefully studied by Professor Sedgwick. In one of the strata of this formation—the Harlech Grit—what are known as "ripple-marks" are found, proving that parts of these rocks at the time of their deposition formed a sea-beach, and that consequently at this time, at the latest, the dry land had emerged from the ocean. In these rocks there are also decided traces of Volcanic Action, which seem to indicate the existence of a Volcano similar to the recent "Graham's Island." At this point a considerable advance in animal life is found. The fossils comprise several corals, varieties of mollusca, and a class of crustaceans peculiar to the very early rocks—the trilobites.
On the Cambrian rocks rest the formations known as Silurian, from the fact that they were first thoroughly examined in South Wales (Siluria) by Sir E. Murchison. In these rocks many fresh varieties of invertebrate fossils are found, and the vertebrata make their first appearance, numerous remains of fishes having been discovered. The earliest specimen was found in the Lower Ludlow beds at Leintwardine, while the Upper Ludlow formation contains an extensive bed composed almost entirely of fish-bones. Immediately above this bed are found what seem to be traces of land-plants, in the shape of the spores of a cryptogamous plant.
The Silurian rocks are succeeded by rocks which present two distinct characters, but are probably contemporaneous, the Devonian and the old Red Sandstone. The former seem to have been deposited in the bed of the sea, while the latter is a fresh-water formation. In these decided remains of land plants are found, of which about 200 species have at present been discovered. The old Red Sandstone is also peculiarly rich in fossil fish. The first signs of coal appear in this series of rocks, but on a very small scale.
We now come to what are known as the Carboniferous rocks, of which the lower series is known as the mountain limestone, and above it come the "coal measures," containing numerous beds of coal, sometimes of great thickness. These beds have resulted entirely from the decomposition, under peculiar circumstances, of an enormous development of terrestrial vegetation. They seem to have originated in vast swamps, subject to occasional flooding, and to alternate movements of upheaval and subsidence. On these swamps there must have existed for ages a vegetation of whose luxuriance the richest tropical jungles of the present time can give us no idea. They tell the tale of a time when the temperature of the earth, was uniformly high (since coal fields are found in high northern latitudes), when the atmosphere was charged with moisture, and probably contained a large proportion of carbonic acid. In the coal measures we come upon the first traces of land animals. Several remains of reptiles have been found, as well as footprints left on the soft mud or sand of a riverbank or sea- beach. There seems to be no doubt that they were left by lung- breathing animals.
The carboniferous strata form the second of our landmarks. They seem to point to the fulfilment of the command that the earth, should bring forth vegetation. There is, however, one point which requires some notice. The Mosaic account, as we read it in our English Bibles, seems to be limited to phanerogamous plants— grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit. Now, it is a well-known fact that the great mass of the vegetation, the remains of which constitute coal, consisted of cryptogamic plants, which do not produce seed, properly so called, but only spores; the distinction being that the spore contains the germ and nothing more, while in the seed the germ is provided with a store of nutriment to assist in the earlier stages of the development of the plant. What appears to be a farther discrepancy, the absence of any traces of the grasses, leads in reality to the solution of the difficulty.
The word which is translated "grass" [Hebrew script] means in reality, any fresh sprout. Now it is remarkable that Moses specifies three kinds of vegetation, with regard to two of which it is noted that they produce seed, while nothing is said of the seed of the remaining class. Grass too, is really a herb bearing seed, and, as such would be included in the second class, and there would have been no occasion, to mention it separately. It would appear then that the first class consisted of seedless plants, i. e. of the cryptogamia. This conclusion is strengthened when we turn to verses 29 and 30. If the word [Hebrew script] were correctly translated "grass," we should certainly expect to find it in those verses, since the grasses contribute more to the food of both man and beast, than all the other herbaceous plants put together. This omission then, is an indication that the word, as used in this chapter, denotes a class of plants which are not commonly employed for food, and this condition also is fulfilled in the cryptogamia.
There are then four special points in this period, of which two seem to correspond with the Mosaic record, while the other two are unnoticed in it. The two points of correspondence are the upheaval of the dry land, and the prevalence of a very abundant and luxuriant Flora. As in the case of the fifth and sixth days, the words used with reference to land plants seem to denote a period of remarkable development, rather than the first appearance. The two points unnoticed are the beginnings of animal and vegetable life. In the case of animal life the omission has already been accounted for. The beginning of vegetable life was probably contemporaneous with that of animal life, for each is necessary to the other, since the food of the animal must be prepared by the vegetable, and after being used by the former returns to a state in which it is fitted for the nourishment of the latter. As animal life commenced in the ocean, so in all probability did vegetable life, though no certain traces of it are found in the earliest rocks; but this is easily accounted for by the very perishable character of the simpler forms of algae. Like the earliest animals, the first algae were probably microscopic plants, and the omission of any mention of them was therefore inevitable.
One characteristic of cryptogamic vegetation is important for its bearing on the work of the fourth day. Almost all the phanerogamic plants are dependent for their development upon the direct light and heat of the sun. Deprived of these they either perish entirely, or make an unhealthy growth, and produce little or no fruit. But the cryptogamia, in general, thrive best when they are protected from the direct rays of the sun. They nourish in a diffused light, and with abundant atmospheric moisture. And so we find them at this time doing what seems a very important work in the progress of the world. By taking up and decomposing the excess of carbonic acid which at this time probably existed in the atmosphere, they at once purified that atmosphere, and rendered it fit for the respiration of more highly organized creatures, and laid up in the earth an invaluable store of fuel for the future use of man. The other orders of vegetation seem to have existed in very small proportions at this time, and only in their lower forms. As the conditions of the earth changed, the cryptogamia seemed to have dwindled away, while higher forms of vegetation asserted their supremacy. It is not, however, improbable that a special development at a much later period is indicated by the mention in the second chapter of the formation of the garden of Eden.
SECTION 7. THE FOURTH DAY.
"And God said, Let there be luminaries in the firmament of heaven to divide between the day and the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years.
"And let them be for luminaries in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.
"And God made the two luminaries, the great ones; the luminary, the great one, to rule over the day, and the luminary, the small one, to rule over the night, and also the stars.
"And God gave them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth.
"And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide between the light and between the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
"And there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day."
This day's work differs from that of the preceding and succeeding days, in the fact that its sphere was without the earth, which was only indirectly influenced by it, and consequently the geological records give us no direct information upon the subject, though in two points they tally with the Mosaical account. In the first place, the deposits of coal, which preceded this period, indicate a time when a nearly uniform temperature, and that a high one, prevailed throughout the world. The coal beds are found not only in tropical regions, but in very high latitudes. Not only is the vegetation of which these coalfields are the result, analogous to that which is now found in warm climates only—(this might be the case, and yet we should not be justified in drawing the inference that the actual species of plants were tropical, for it often happens that different species of the same genus, having considerable external resemblance, are very different in their habits, some requiring tropical heat, while others flourish only in temperate climates)—but the marked feature is the astonishing luxuriance of this vegetation, which could only have been developed under the most favourable circumstances of warmth and moisture. Now the heat which any particular portion of the earth's surface receives from the sun depends entirely upon the latitude. hence it is impossible that a uniform high temperature could exist in a world which derived its heat wholly or chiefly from that source. Whether the high temperature which prevailed on the earth during the deposition of the coal measures was derived from internal heat it is impossible to say; it is evident that the temperature of the earth's surface has been in past times, and perhaps is now, modified by causes which no scientific research has been enabled to detect [Footnote: Since the sun's secular motion has been known, astronomers have suggested that the solar system has been carried through portions of space having variable temperatures. Geologists, however, do not seem inclined to accept this as a sufficient reason for the phenomena observed.]. But we may safely conclude that during the third day the earth did not derive its heat from the sun. The second point, the barrenness of the geological records of this period, will be noticed hereafter.
The record of the fourth day's work admits of two interpretations, it may describe things merely as they appeared, or as they actually occurred.
1. It is possible that the events of the fourth day may be described phenomenally—that up to this period the state of things on the earth had been to a great extent similar to that which we have reason to believe is still existing in the planet Jupiter- that the atmosphere was so charged with vapour that no direct rays from the heavenly bodies could penetrate it; but that at this time, owing to the declining heat, a great part of the aqueous constituents of this vapour had been precipitated in the form of rain, while other vapours had entered into chemical combinations with other elements to form the various minerals of the earth's surface, and the atmosphere had become first translucent, and then transparent. While this process was going on, no direct light from the sun, supposing it to be already in existence, could penetrate the veil. Diffused light only could reach the earth's surface, but when the atmosphere became clear the sun, moon, and stars would become visible.
Against this view several objections may be brought. In the first place, as has been already noticed, we cannot treat the account of the Creation as derived from ordinary human sources. Either it is a revelation from the Creator or it is nothing. Now we can readily admit that a man, speaking of an event which lie had witnessed, but did not understand, would describe it as it appeared to him, but we cannot admit this supposition when the work is described by the Great Artificer Himself. In the next place, the temperature of the earth's surface must in this case have been affected by the sun, and must therefore have been more or less dependent upon latitude—and in the third place the distinction between day and night must have come into operation, whereas the narrative implies that it was yet incomplete.
2. The other possible interpretation is, that at this period the concentration of light and heat in the sun was so far completed that he became the luminary of the system, which had hitherto derived its light and heat from other sources. Probably, for a long time, the internal heat of the planets may have been so great that they were a light to themselves. This state of things, however, must have come to an end before animal or vegetable life could have existed on their surface, but other ways exist, and are in operation in other parts of the universe, by which light and heat might have been supplied independently of the sun. That light which is now gathered up in the sun might for a long time have existed as a nebulous ring, similar to the well-known Ring Nebula in Lyra. Any planets existing within such a ring would probably derive from it sufficient light and heat. Or the nebulous matter, in a luminous state, while slowly advancing to concentration, might as yet have been so diffused as to fill a space in which the earth's orbit was included. In either case the earth would have received a uniform diffused light, without any alternations of night and day. It is of course impossible that we should be able to say whether there are any worlds in which such a state of things prevails at present. Up to this time, with one possible exception, [Footnote: "Sirius is accompanied by a 10 mag. star, whose existence was suspected (like that of Neptune), long before its discovery by Alvan Clark in 1861, from the irregular movements of its primary. But though it appears so small, its disturbing effects can only be accounted for on the supposition that its mass is at least half that of Sirius, in which case its light must be very faint, possibly wholly reflected." (Webb's Celestial Objects, p. 202.)] the only worlds which the telescope has revealed to us, beyond the limits of our own system, are self-luminous. No reflected light is strong enough to make its existence perceptible at such enormous distances in the most powerful telescope which has yet been constructed.
There are some facts connected with our own system which make it appear not improbable that up to the time of which we are speaking the light which is now gathered up in the sun was diffused over a space in which at all events the earth's orbit was included. It is now a recognized fact that all the light of the system is not as yet wholly concentrated in the sun, as we generally recognize it, but that to some extent the sun is still a nebulous star. Under ordinary circumstances we see only that circular disc, which we usually recognize as the sun. Its surpassing brightness overpowers every thing else, whether we view it with the unaided eye or through the telescope. But when the actual disc is hidden from us by the moon in a total eclipse, other regions of light surrounding the disc, make their appearance, and in them the most wonderful processes are continually going on. The simultaneous discoveries of Messrs. Lockyer and Janssen, in 1868, have enabled some of these processes to be continuously watched when the sun is not eclipsed, but others can as yet only be seen during the few minutes (never amounting to seven) which a total eclipse lasts, so that as yet we know very little of them.
Immediately surrounding the disc of the sun, which is visible to the naked eye, is a brilliant ring of light, known now as the chromosphere or sierra. This is the region which till 1868 could be seen only during total eclipses, but can now be watched at all times by means of the spectroscope. In it symptoms of intense action are from time to time witnessed. For many years past, whenever a total eclipse occurred, there were observed on the edge of this ring certain red prominences. The spectroscope has revealed their nature. They consist chiefly of enormous volumes of hydrogen, ejected from the surface of the sun with a velocity almost inconceivable, and at the same time revolving about their axis after the fashion of a cyclone. [Footnote: Popular Science Review, January, 1872, p. 150; Look. Byer's Lecture on the Sun, at Manchester, 1871.] A very remarkable instance of this was observed in America in September 1871, by Professor Young. A mass of incandescent hydrogen was propelled to a height of 200,000 miles above the visible disc; of these the last 100,000 miles were passed through in 10 minutes. Such events, though not commonly on so vast a scale, are continually occurring on the surface of the sun, and they seem to be in close connexion with the magnetic phenomena occurring on the earth.
Beyond the chromosphere lies the corona. The spectroscope has not yet rendered this visible at all times, and consequently we are dependent upon the information to be obtained during the few minutes of total eclipses, when alone it is visible. Consequently during recent solar eclipses this has been the point to which the attention of astronomers has been especially devoted. The eclipse of December, 1870, decided one point, that the corona was a truly solar phenomenon, and not, as some astronomers imagined, an optical phenomenon, produced by our own atmosphere. The corona presents the appearance of nebulous light, fading as it becomes more remote from the sun, of very irregular outline, at some points not extending more than 15', at others as much as 60' or 70' from the sun's disc, or, in other words, reaching to distances from the sun's surface varying from 400,000 to 1,800,000 miles. More important information has been obtained from the eclipse of December 12,1871. It is now ascertained that the corona comprises not only gaseous elements, especially hydrogen, but also solid or fluid particles, capable of giving a continuous though very faint spectrum with dark lines, indicating the existence of matter capable of reflecting light. The character of the coronal spectrum very much resembles that of the Nebula in Draco, No. 4373. The ascertained extent of the corona exceeds a million of miles above the surface of the sun, and it seems probable that the Zodiacal light is only a fainter extension of it. [Footnote: Popular Science Review, April, 1872, pp. 136-146.]
On a clear evening in the early spring months, as soon as twilight is completely ended, a conical streak of light may be sometimes seen, arising' from the western horizon, and extending through an arc of 60 or 70 degrees, nearly in the direction of the Ecliptic, and finally terminating in a point. This is the Zodiacal light. In tropical climates it is seen much more frequently, [Footnote: Humboldt, Kosmos, vol. i. p. 126 (Bohu's edition).] and is much more brilliant than in England. This then is probably an envelope of still fainter light than the corona. It must extend beyond the orbit of Venus, as the maximum elongation of Venus is 47 degrees, while the Zodiacal light has been traced for 70 degrees, and probably farther. It is very possible that the earth is occasionally involved in it, and that from it we derive that diffused light which, though faint, is very serviceable to us on a starless evening, and of which no other account has as yet been given. The light we receive in this way is often as powerful as that which we should receive from the stars if they were not hidden by clouds.
These phenomena seem to point to the conclusion that the condensation of light in the sun has been a very gradual process, which is even yet incomplete. If we suppose that at the time of the formation of the coal measures it was not far advanced, but that a diffused light extended beyond the orbit of the earth, similar in some respects to the present Zodiacal light, but equal in intensity to the light which we now see in the corona, the phenomena of the third day will be satisfactorily accounted for. There is, however, still an enormous amount of mystery connected with the sun. It is the centre from which an inconceivable amount of force in the shape of light, heat, actinism, and probably other manifestations, is hourly poured forth. If the whole of that force were divided into two thousand million parts, the portion received by the earth would be represented by one of those parts, and the whole amount received by all the planets would fall short of twelve of them. All the rest is radiated away into space, and so far as we know at present lost to the system. The question then arises, "How is this enormous expenditure supplied?" Various sources of heat have been suggested, but none of them seem satisfactory. One conceivable source there is, but that lies out of the domain of science. Then again, metals, which only our most powerful furnaces will even melt, exist in the sun's atmosphere in the state of vapour. What must be the intensity of the heat which underlies that metallic atmosphere? and what can be the solid or fluid substances which, from the continuity of the spectrum, we know must exist there?
We turn now to the Mosaic Record to see what light it throws upon and receives from this investigation. The first thing to be noticed is that the word used by Moses for the sun and moon is not the same as that employed to denote light. It properly signifies a light-holder, such as a candlestick, and harmonizes with the view that the sun in his original state was not luminous, but was made a luminary by the condensation of light previously existent under other conditions. In the next place, though the apparent dimensions of the sun and moon are the same, Moses correctly describes the one as "the great light," the other as "the little light," thus indicating a knowledge to which the astronomers of his day had probably not attained.
The relation between the accounts of the first and fourth day's work becomes clear if we assume that the sun was not made a luminary till the fourth day. The division of night and day depends upon two things, the rotation of the earth upon its axis, and the concentration of light in the sun. Hence when the rotation of the earth commenced that division was potentially provided for, but the provision would not take effect until the second condition was fulfilled by the concentration of light in the sun. The indications given by the coal measures point, as we have seen, to the same conclusion.
The only remaining question is "What was going on in the earth at the same time?" Our materials for answering this question are but scanty. So great an alteration in the sources of light and heat must have involved great physical changes on the earth's surface, and there is reason to believe that great mechanical forces were at work producing vast changes in the relations of land and water. "It has long been the opinion of the most eminent geologists that the coalfields of Lancashire and Yorkshire were once united, the upper coal measures and the overlying Millstone Grit and Toredale Bocks having been subsequently removed by denudation; but what is remarkable is the ancient date now assigned to this denudation, for it seems that a thickness of no less than 10,000 feet of the coal measures had been carried away before the deposition of even the lower Permian Rocks, which were thrown down upon the already disturbed truncated edges of the coal strata." [Footnote: Lyell, Geology for Students, p. 377.] And this is but a single instance.
During the interval between the deposition of the coal measures, which seem to belong to the third, and the Saurian remains which mark the fifth day, we have the Permian and Triassic Rocks, of which the Magnesian. Limestone and the new Red Sandstone are the most important representatives in England. Till a very recent period it was thought that these rocks belonged to a period remarkably destitute of animal life, very few fossils having been found in them. Recently, however, some very rich deposits have been found in the Tyrol, belonging to this period, but they are only local.
Of the Permian formation Sir C. Lyell says, "Not one of the species (of fossils) is common to rocks newer than the Palaeozoic." [Footnote: Geology for Students, p. 369.] This was not then a time for the origination of new forms of life. In the Trias, however, the new development of life, which was to attain its full dimensions on the fifth day, begins to open upon us. The earliest Saurian fossils are found, and the rocks still present us with impressions of the feet of reptiles and birds, which walked over the soft seashore, and left footprints, which were first dried and hardened by the sun and wind, and then filled up with fresh sand by the returning tide, but never entirely coalesced with the new material.
At the close of this period the first traces of mammalian life occur, in the shape of teeth, which are supposed to have belonged to some small Marsupial quadrupeds, and in America the whole lower jaws of three such animals have been discovered; but no other remains have as yet been traced.
The Trias then seems to mark the boundary between the fourth and fifth days. The fourth day seems to have been on the earth a period of great change, not only in physical conditions, but also in the forms of life. In the latter point of view, however, it seems to have been marked by the passing-away of old forms much more than by the origination of new ones, and hence the barrenness of the Geological Records is in exact accordance with the silence of the Mosaic Record as to any new developments.
SECTION 8. THE FIFTH DAY
"And God said. Let the waters swarm swarms, the soul of life, and let fowl fly above the earth in the face of the firmament of heaven.
"And God created the monsters, the great ones, and every soul of life that creepeth, with which the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind; and God saw that it was good.
"And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the sea, and let fowl multiply on the earth.
"And there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day."
The fifth and sixth days of Creation are those to which the theory of development chiefly refers. It will, therefore, be better to defer the consideration of its bearing on the narrative till the relation of that narrative to Geological facts has been considered, since it can only be thoroughly weighed when taken in connexion with the facts which belong to the two days.
The beginning of the fifth day may be assigned to a point near where the Trias is succeeded by the Lias. As the Trias is drawing to its close, the class of reptiles, whose first known appearance belongs to the carboniferous epoch of the third day, begins to show signs of advance. The first true Saurians are found in the Trias: the great development takes place in the Lias and Oolite, while in the chalk large quantities of kindred remains are found, which, however, are not identical with the species found in the earlier groups. Of these some were probably almost entirely aquatic, as their limbs take the form of paddles; others were purely terrestrial, a large proportion were amphibious, and some, as the pterodactylus, bore the same relation to the rest of their class as the bats bear to the other mammalia, being furnished with membranous wings, supported upon a special development of the anterior limbs. One important characteristic of the race at this time was the great size of many of its members: thirty feet is by no means an uncommon length. This marks the fitness of the name given to the class by Moses.
Very few actual remains of birds have been found; but this is not surprising, since birds would rarely be exposed to the conditions which were essential to the fossilization of their remains. The earliest known fossil bird is the Archaeopteryx, the remains of which were found in 1862 in the Solenhofen Slates, which belong to the Oolite formation. Though the actual remains of birds are very few, traces of their footprints have been found in many places, from the New Red Sandstone upwards, and these traces prove not only that they were very numerous, but also that they attained to a gigantic size, as their feet were sometimes from twelve to fifteen inches in length, and their stride extended from six to eight feet. During this period, then, these two classes must have been the dominant races of the earth. As the precursors of these classes made their appearance at a much earlier period, so the epoch of birds and reptiles witnessed the beginning and gradual advance of the class which was to succeed them in the foremost place—the mammalia. Generally, however, the mammalian remains of this period belong to what are considered the lower classes—the monotremata and marsupialia. The close of this period must have been a time of great disturbance in the Northern Hemisphere, since the chalk which runs through a great part of Northern Europe, and frequently attains a thickness of 1000 feet, must have been deposited at the bottom of a deep sea, and subsequently elevated.
SECTION 9. THE SIXTH DAY.
1. The Mammalia.
"And God said, Let the earth cause to go forth the soul of life, cattle, and creeping thing, and the beast of the earth (wild animals) after his kind; and it was so.
"And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after his kind; and God saw that it was good."
In these two verses there are one or two points which call for notice. In the first place, the creatures mentioned are divided into three classes, of which two, cattle and the beast of the earth, are tolerably clear in their general significance, though their extent is not determined. The third is denoted by a word which had already been employed to describe the work of the fifth day, and is translated in our version "creeping thing." The probability seems to be that it has reference to such classes of animals as the smaller rodentia, and the mustelidas, whose motions may be appropriately described by the word "creeping." That it denotes four-footed creatures has already been pointed out. The next point is, that in each case the singular is used; in the case of the domestic animals this fact is lost to the English reader by the use of the collective noun "cattle." Of course it is a common usage, to denote a class of animals by a singular noun used generically, but the statements of the passage would also be justified if one pair only of each of the three types specified were called into existence at first. It is also to be noticed that while the word [Hebrew script], the earth is used to define the wild beast; another word, [Hebrew script] the ground, is applied to the "creeping thing." There is probably a reason for this, though it may not at present be apparent.
When we turn to the Geological record, we find that the period of the chalk was followed by the deposition of the tertiary strata. During the upheaval of the chalk these strata seem to have been gradually laid down in its hollows, and around its edges. They extend from the London clay upward to the crag formations which appear on the Eastern coast of England at intervals from Bridlington to Suffolk. In these strata we see signs of an approach to the existing state of things. As we ascend through them, a gradually increasing number of the fossil shells are found to be specifically identical with those which at present inhabit the ocean.
Another characteristic of this period is the abundance of fossil remains of mammalia; but in this case, although the remains are evidently, in many cases, those of creatures nearly allied to those now existing, they are not identical, very great modifications both of bulk and of minor structural details having taken place. One very important point of difference is the vastly superior bulk of these ancient animals: a good illustration of which may be seen in the skeletons of the mammoth and of the modern elephant, which are placed near each other in the British Museum. Many of these animals appear not to have become extinct till long after the appearance of man.
The first appearance of mammalia, as has been already noticed, must have been long before this, as the earliest fossils yet found are at the lower limit of the Lias. They belong, however, to the genus Marsupialia, of which, as far as we know, no representatives were in existence in any part of the world known to Moses, so that even on the supposition that he intended to give an account of the first appearance of the classes of animals which he mentions, the omission of these would have been inevitable. His words, however, appear to point to a time when the mammalia occupied the leading place, just as the reptiles had occupied the leading place at a previous epoch. And his words are fully borne out by the records of the rocks.
At the close of the tertiary period great changes once more took place in the Northern hemisphere. There was a great and extensive subsidence, in consequence of which a large portion of Northern and Middle Europe must have been under water, the mountain summits only appearing as detached islands. At the same time, from causes utterly unknown to us, there was a great depression of temperature, the result of which was, that all, or nearly all the land, in those regions which were not submerged, was covered with glaciers, much as Greenland is now, and from these glaciers vast icebergs must from time to time have been detached by the sea and floated off, carrying with them fragments of rock, some freshly broken, some rounded by long attrition, which were deposited on the then submerged lands as the ice melted, and are now found as boulders, sometimes lying on the surface, at others dispersed through beds of clay and sand formed under water from the debris worn down by the glaciers. A subsequent movement of elevation ushered in the state of things which exists on the earth at the present time.
"And God said, Let Us make man (Adam) in Our image after Our likeness; and he shall have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
"And God created man (the Adam) in His image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them.
"And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the heaven, and over every animal that creepeth upon the earth.
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb seeding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which has in it the fruit of a tree seeding seed; to you it shall be for food.
"And to every animal of the earth, and to every fowl of the heaven, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, in which is the soul of life, every green herb is for meat; and it was so.
"And God saw every thing—which He had made, and behold it was good exceedingly.
"And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."
The terms in which the Creation of man is spoken of are such as to challenge particular attention and to induce us to expect something very different from what occurred on any previous occasion. In the first place, more agents than one are introduced by the use of the plural form of the verb, and thus at the very commencement of man's career there is an intimation of that mysterious fact of the Trinity in Unity which was to have so important an influence upon his future destiny. Then we are told that man was to be formed in the Image of God, a statement which probably is of very wide import. It has been variously interpreted as having reference to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual nature of man; to the fact that the nature of man was afterwards to be assumed by the Second Person of the Trinity; to the delegated empire of this world which man was to hold. There are two expressions of St. Paul: that "man is the image and glory of God" (1 Cor. xi. 7), and that "the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead" (Rom. i. 20), which seem to indicate that this record has a significance which as yet we can only partially understand. Then the story of man's creation is repeated in the second chapter, and while the other events recorded in the first chapter are very briefly summarized, that of man is very much amplified. This does riot necessarily indicate an independent account, as is sometimes asserted; at the fourth verse of the second chapter a distinct portion of revelation commences—the special dealing of God with man, and this could not be intelligible without an amount of detail with reference to man's origin, which would have been out of place in the short account of the origin of the world by which it is preceded. In this account the creation of Adam and Eve is recorded as two separate events, the latter of which is described in terms of deep mystery, of which all that we can say is that they point to that still deeper mystery—the birth of the Bride— the Lamb's Wife from the pierced side of the Lamb. But in the case of Adam there is a remarkable difference from anything that has gone before. Two distinct acts of creation are recorded; one of which places man before us in his physical relation to the lower animals, while the other treats of him in his spiritual relation to his Maker. "The Lord God formed man (the Adam) dust from the ground (adamah), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives; and man became a soul of life." The inspiration of the "breath of lives" distinguishes the creation of man from that of all other creatures.
The Geological records harmonize exactly with the Bible as to the date of man's appearance on the earth. It is towards the close of the age of gigantic mammalia, that the earliest remains of man's workmanship make their appearance in the shape of tools and weapons rudely fashioned from stone. Parts of human skeletons have also been occasionally found, but they are exceedingly rare. Weapons and bones are alike confined to superficial, and comparatively very recent formations. From such traces as have been found there is no reason to believe that any physical changes of importance have taken place in man's body since his first appearance on the earth. The differences which do exist are of the same kind as, and not greater than, the differences which exist between individuals at present.
The gift of dominion over the lower animals seems to indicate something different from that which gives one animal superiority over another, and accordingly we find that it is not by physical power that that dominion is exercised; but that in most of his physical faculties man is inferior to the very animals which he holds in subjection. It is partly in virtue of his intellectual superiority, and partly perhaps by means of an instinctive recognition on the part of the animals of man's higher nature (Gen. ix. 2) that that supremacy is maintained.
SECTION 10. DEVELOPMENT.
We have now to consider the question of development, in reference to the Mosaic Record of the last two days, and to the known facts to which that record has relation. The account of the third day's work has also a bearing on the subject, but as the same considerations will to a great extent apply to animals and to plants, it will not be necessary to make any special reference to it.
The facts in favour of the theory of development are these:—1. The different classes of plants and animals are not separated by broad lines of demarcation, but shade insensibly into each other. 2. The characteristics of the same species are not constant; the lion, for instance, the horse, the elephant, and the hyena of the present day differ in many minor points from the corresponding animals of the Tertiary period, so that unless there was a possibility of spontaneous change, we must assume successive creations of animals, with only trivial differences. 3. In all animals there are minute individual differences, and if under any circumstances these differences had a tendency to accumulate, they might in the course of time result in great structural modifications. 4. Man has been able to take advantage of this fact and by careful selection to mould the breeds of domestic animals to a certain extent in accordance with his own wishes.
The theory of development assumes that for the care of man other forces might be substituted, which in a long course of ages might result in changes of far greater extent than those produced by human agency. The forces assigned are natural selection and sexual selection. The difficulties in the way of this hypothesis have been already considered, and only require to be briefly re-stated.
1. As regards modifications of organs already existing, the two alleged causes are insufficient to account for the results which we witness, since in each individual case the concurrence of many contingent causes, continued through a long series of ages, is required to produce the result. But the probabilities against such, a concurrence in any one case are enormous, and against their concurrence in a large number of cases the chances are practically infinite.
2. That such causes do not at all account for cases in which an entirely new organ is developed, such as mammary glands—or for the case of man, in which intellectual superiority is accompanied by a loss of physical power.
3. That from the nature of the case it is impossible for us to ascertain that natural or sexual selection has ever acted to produce a single modification, however small, and that the results of man's superintendence have not as yet passed beyond certain narrow limits, so that there is no justification for the assumption that such modifications are capable of being carried to an unlimited extent.
We see that in the only case in which change is known to have been brought about, it has been the result of choice and design. If then there is a probability that choice and design may have been exercised by a power higher than man, there is no longer any reason to doubt but that results much greater than any to which man can attain may have been brought about by the same means. And in fact the advocates of the theory of development do virtually admit the existence and action of such a power, whenever they have recourse to assumed "laws" to account for phenomena for which their naked theory can give no reason. For, as has been shown, law, if it is to be assigned as an efficient cause, and not merely as the statement of observed facts, can only be regarded as the expressed and enforced will of a higher power. And there was no reason why those minute variations themselves, which are the basis of Mr. Darwin's hypothesis, should be considered casual. Instead then of natural selection, or sexual selection, let us suppose that the selection took place under the superintending care of the Creator, and was directed towards the carrying out of His designs, and then we shall have no reason to doubt but that all results which consisted only in the modification of existing organs may have been obtained by the operation of those laws which we term natural, because they express modes of operation with which we are so familiar that we look upon them as automatic.
But there are other results for which no natural laws with which we are acquainted will thus account. Just as no mechanical laws within our knowledge will account for the rotation of the earth, so no physiological laws yet discovered will account for the changes when totally new orders of being came on the stage—when the course of life took, as it were, a new point of departure. But it is precisely at these points that the Mosaic Record points to a special interference on the part of the Creator. How that interference took place we are not informed. Very possibly it may have been the result of other laws which lie wholly out of the reach of our powers of observation. But whatever may have been its character, it does not in any way imply change or defect in the original plan, unless we know, (what we do not know, and cannot ascertain) that such interference formed no part of the original design. Everything bears the marks of progressive development, and there is nothing improbable, but rather the reverse, in the supposition that such a plan should include special steps of advance to be made when the preparation for them was completed.
The Mosaic Record tells us nothing about the method by which God created the different varieties of plants and animals. All that we read there is just as applicable to a process of evolution, as to any other method which we may be able to imagine. But it is remarkable that what Moses does say is just what is required to make Mr. Darwin's theory possible. So far then as the lower orders of creation are concerned, the hypothesis of development, modified by the admission of uniform superintendence and occasional special interferences on the part of the Creator, may be accepted as being the most satisfactory explanation that can be given, in the present state of physiological science, of the Scriptural Narrative.
But we have yet to consider this hypothesis as applied to man in Mr. Darwin's latest work. We naturally recoil from the thought that we have sprung from some lower race of animals—that we are only the descendants of some race of anthropoid apes. So long as it is asserted that we are no more than this, we may well be reluctant to admit the suggestion. But if it be admitted that to a physical nature formed like the bodies of the lower animals, a special spiritual gift may have been superadded, the difficulty vanishes. All Mr. Darwin's arguments with reference to physical resemblances may then be admitted, and we may allow that he has given a probable explanation of the method by which "the Lord God formed the Adam, dust from the ground" while we maintain that the intellectual and moral faculties of man are derived from a source which lies beyond the investigations of science.
The conclusions to be drawn from this investigation may be briefly summed up as follows:—
1. There is every reason to conclude that the process of Creation was carried on, in great part, under the operation of the system of natural laws which we still see acting in the world around us: such laws being so far as we are concerned only an expression of an observed uniformity in the action of that Being by whom the Universe was created and is upheld.
2. That inasmuch as the development of a new state of things differs from the maintenance of a condition already existing, the working of these laws was necessarily from time to time supplemented by special interferences of the Creator, but that such interferences formed parts of the original design, and are not indications of anything in the shape of change or failure.
3. That many of the events recorded in the Mosaic Record are of the nature of such special interferences, while others point to remarkable developments of particular forms of organic life.
4. That these interferences thus recorded occur at the exact points at which natural laws, so far as science has yet been able to ascertain them, are inadequate to produce the phenomena which then took place, and that the developments are proved by geology to have taken place at the points indicated.
5. That the six days into which the work is divided by Moses do correspond to the probable order of development—that in three of them, the third, fifth, and sixth, this correspondence is marked by facts ascertained by Geology—that the fourth, in which no terrestrial phenomenon is recorded, corresponds to a very long period in the Geological record in which no indications of any new development are found—while the first and second indicate a state of things which the nebular hypothesis renders highly probable, but of which no positive information is within the reach of science.