AND now, gathering into our hands all the light afforded by the foregoing facts and legends, let us address ourselves to this question: How far can the opening chapters of the book of Genesis be interpreted to conform to the theory of the contact of a comet with the earth in the Drift Age?
It may appear to some of my readers irreverent to place any new meaning on any part of the sacred volume, and especially to attempt to transpose the position of any of its parts. For this feeling I have the highest respect.
I do not think it is necessary, for the triumph of truth, that it should lacerate the feelings even of the humblest. It should come, like Quetzalcoatl, advancing with shining, smiling face, its hands full of fruits and flowers, bringing only blessings and kindliness to the multitude; and should that multitude, for a time, drive the prophet away, beyond the seas, with curses, be assured they will eventually return to set up his altars.
He who follows the gigantic Mississippi upward from the Gulf of Mexico to its head-waters on the high plateau of Minnesota, will not scorn even the tiniest rivulet among the grass which helps to create its first fountain. So he who considers the vastness for good of this great force, Christianity, which pervades the world down the long course of so many ages, aiding, relieving, encouraging, cheering, purifying, sanctifying humanity, can not afford
to ridicule even these the petty fountains, the head-waters, the first springs from which it starts on its world-covering and age-traversing course.
If we will but remember the endless array of asylums, hospitals, and orphanages; the houses for the poor, the sick, the young, the old, the unfortunate, the helpless, and the sinful, with which Christianity has literally sprinkled the world; when we remember the uncountable millions whom its ministrations have restrained from bestiality, and have directed to purer lives and holier deaths, he indeed is not to be envied who can find it in his heart, with malice-aforethought, to mock or ridicule it.
At the same time, few, I think, even of the orthodox, while bating no jot of their respect for the sacred volume, or their faith in the great current of inspired purpose and meaning which streams through it, from cover to cover, hold to-day that every line and word is literally accurate beyond a shadow of question. The direct contradictions which occur in the text itself show that the errors of man have crept into the compilation or composition of the volume.
The assaults of the skeptical have been largely directed against the opening chapters of Genesis:
"What!" it has been said, "you pretend in the first chapter that the animated creation was made in six days; and then in the second chapter (verses 4 and 5) you say that the heavens and the earth and all the vegetation were made in one day. Again: you tell us that there was light shining on the earth on the first day; and that there was night too; for 'God divided the light from the darkness'; and there was morning and evening on the first, second, and third days, while the sun, moon, and stars, we are told, were not created until the fourth day; and grass and fruit-trees were made before the sun."
"How," it is asked, "could there be night and day and vegetation without a sun?"
And to this assault religion has had no answer.
Now, I can not but regard these opening chapters as a Mosaic work of ancient legends, dovetailed together in such wise that the true chronological arrangement has been departed from and lost.
It is conceded that in some of the verses of these chapters God is spoken of as Elohim, while in the remaining verses he is called Jehovah Elohim. This is very much as if a book were discovered to-day in part of which God was referred to as Jove, and in the rest as Jehovah-Jove. The conclusion would be very strong that the first part was written by one who know the Deity only as Jove, while the other portion was written by one who had come under Hebraic influences. And this state of facts in Genesis indicates that it was not the work of one inspired mind, faultless and free from error; but the work of two minds, relating facts, it is true, but jumbling them together in an incongruous order.
I propose, therefore, with all reverence, to attempt a re-arrangement of the verses of the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, which will, I hope, place it in such shape that it will be beyond future attack from the results of scientific research; by restoring the fragments to the position they really occupied before their last compilation. Whether or not I present a reasonably probable case, it is for the reader to judge.
If we were to find, under the débris of Pompeii, a grand tessellated pavement, representing one of the scenes of the "Iliad," but shattered by an earthquake, its fragments dislocated and piled one upon the top of another, it would be our duty and our pleasure to seek, by following the clew of the picture, to re-arrange the fragments so as
to do justice to the great design of its author; and to silence, at the same time, the cavils of those who could see in its shocked and broken form nothing but a subject for mirth and ridicule.
In the same way, following the clew afforded by the legends of mankind and the revelations of science, I shall suggest a reconstruction of this venerable and most ancient work. If the reader does not accept my conclusions, he will, at least, I trust, appreciate the motives with which I make the attempt.
I commence with that which is, and should be, the first verse of the first chapter, the sublime sentence:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Let us pause here: "God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning";--that is, before any other of the events narrated in the chapter. Why should we refuse to accept this statement? In the beginning, says the Bible, at the very first, God created the heavens and the earth. He did not make them in six days, he made them in the beginning; the words "six days" refer, as we shall see, to something that occurred long afterward. He did not attempt to create them, he created them; he did not partially create them, he created them altogether. The work was finished; the earth was made, the heavens were made, the clouds, the atmosphere, the rocks, the waters; and the sun, moon, and stars; all were completed.
What next? Is there anything else in this dislocated text that refers to this first creation? Yes; we go forward to the next chapter; here we have it:
Chap. ii, v. 1. "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them."
And then follows:
Chap. ii, v. 4. "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when they were created, IN THE DAY that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Chap. ii, v. 5. "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."
Here we have a consecutive statement--God made the heavens and the earth in the beginning, and thus they were finished, and all the host of them. They were not made in six days, but "in the day," to wit, in that period of remote time called "The Beginning." And God made also all the herbs of the field, all vegetation. And he made every plant of the field before it was cultivated in that particular part of the world called "The Earth," for, as we have seen, Ovid draws a distinction between "The Earth" and the rest of the globe; and Job draws one between "the island of the innocent" and the other countries of the world.
And here I would call the reader's attention particularly to this remarkable statement:
Chap. ii, verse 5. "For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
Verse 6. "But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground."
This is extraordinary: there was no rain.
A mere inventor of legends certainly had never dared make a statement so utterly in conflict with the established order of things; there was no necessity for him to do so; he would fear that it would throw discredit on all the rest of his narrative; as if he should say, "at that time the grass was not green," or, "the sky was not blue."
A world without rain! Could it be possible? 'Did the writer of Genesis invent an absurdity, or did he record an undoubted tradition? Let us see:
Rain is the product of two things--heat which evaporates the waters of the oceans, lakes, and rivers; and cold which condenses them again into rain or snow. Both heat and cold are necessary, In the tropics the water is sucked up by the heat of the sun; it rises to a cooler stratum, and forms clouds; these clouds encounter the colder air flowing in from the north and south, condensation follows, accompanied probably by some peculiar electrical action, and then the rain falls.
But when the lemon and the banana grew in Spitzbergen, as geology assures us they did in pre-glacial days, where was the cold to come from? The very poles must then have possessed a warm climate. There were, therefore, at that time, no movements of cold air from the poles to the equator; when the heat drew up the moisture it rose into a vast body of heated atmosphere, surrounding the whole globe to a great height; it would have to pass through this cloak of warm air, and high up above the earth, even to the limits of the earth-warmth, before it reached an atmosphere sufficiently cool to condense it, and from that great height it would fall as a fine mist.
We find an illustration of this state of things on the coast of Peru, from the river Loa to Cape Blanco, where no rain ever falls, in consequence of the heated air which ascends from the vast sand wastes, and keeps the moisture of the air above the point of condensation.
Or it would have to depend for its condensation on the difference of temperature between night and day, settling
[1. "American Cyclopædia," vol. xiii, p. 387.]
like a dew at night upon the earth, and so maintaining vegetation.
What a striking testimony is all this to the fact that these traditions of Genesis reach back to the very infancy of human history--to the age before the Drift!
After the creation of the herbs and plants, what came next? We go back to the first chapter:
Verse 21. "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."
Verse 22. "And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth."
Verse 25. "And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."
Verse 26. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."
We come back to the second chapter:
Verse 7. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
We return to the first chapter:
Verse 27. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
We come back to the second chapter:
Verse 8. "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed."
Verse 9. "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good
for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
Verse 10. "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden," etc.
Here follows a description of the garden; it is a picture of a glorious world, of that age when the climate of the Bahamas extended to Spitzbergen.
Verse 15. "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
Here follows the injunction that "the man whom God had formed," (for he is not yet called Adam--the Adami--the people of Ad,) should not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And then we have, (probably a later interpolation,) an account of Adam, so called for the first time, naming the animals, and of the creation of Eve from a rib of Adam.
And here is another evidence of the dislocation of the text, for we have already been informed (chap. i, v. 27) that God had made Man, "male and female"; and here we have him making woman over again from man's rib.
Verse 25. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
It was an age of primitive simplicity, the primeval world; free from storms or ice or snow; an Edenic age; the Tertiary Age before the Drift.
Then follows the appearance of the serpent. Although represented in the text in a very humble capacity, he is undoubtedly the same great creature which, in all the legends, brought ruin on the world--the dragon, the apostate, the demon, the winding or crooked serpent of Job, the leviathan, Satan, the devil. And as such he is regarded by the theologians.
He obtains moral possession of the woman, just as we
have seen, in the Hindoo legends, the demon Ravana carrying off Sita, the representative of an agricultural civilization; just as we have seen Ataguju, the Peruvian god, seducing the sister of certain rayless ones, or Darklings. And the woman ate of the fruit of the tree.
This is the same legend which we see appearing in so many places and in so many forms. The apple of Paradise was one of the apples of the Greek legends, intrusted to the Hesperides, but which they could not resist the temptation to pluck and eat. The serpent Ladon watched the tree.
It was one of the apples of Idun, in the Norse legends, the wife of Brage, the god of poetry and eloquence. She keeps them in a box, and when the gods feel the approach of old age they have only to taste them and become young again. Loke, the evil-one, the Norse devil, tempted Idun to come into a forest with her apples, to compare them with some others, whereupon a giant called Thjasse, in the appearance of an enormous eagle, flew down, seized Idun and her apples, and carried them away, like Ravana, into the air. The gods compelled Loke to bring her back, for they were the apples of the tree of life to them; without them they were perishing. Loke stole Idun from Thjasse, changed her into a nut, and fled with her, pursued by Thjasse. The gods kindled a great fire, the eagle plumage of Thjasse caught the flames, he fell to the earth, and was slain by the gods.
But the serpent in Genesis ruins Eden, just as he did in all the legends; just as the comet ruined the Tertiary Age. The fair world disappears; cold and ice and snow come.
Adam and Eve, we have seen, were at first naked, and subsequently clothe themselves, for modesty, with fig-leaves, (chap. iii, v. 7;) but there comes a time, as in the
[1. Norse Mythology," pp. 275, 276.]
North American legends, when the great cold compels them to cover their shivering bodies with the skins of the wild beasts they have slain.
A recent writer, commenting on the Glacial Age, says:
"Colder and colder grew the winds. The body could not be kept warm. Clothing must be had, and this must be furnished by the wild beasts. Their hides must assist in protecting the life of men. . . . The skins were removed and transferred to the bodies of men."
Hence we read in chapter iii, verse 21:
"Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them."
This would not have been necessary during the warm climate of the Tertiary Age. And as this took place, according to Genesis, before Adam was driven out of Paradise, and while he still remained in the garden, it is evident that some great change of climate had fallen upon Eden. The Glacial Age had arrived; the Drift had come. It was a rude, barbarous, cold age. Man must cover himself with skins; he must, by the sweat of physical labor, wring a living out of the ground which God had "cursed" with the Drift. Instead of the fair and fertile world of the Tertiary Age, producing all fruits abundantly, the soil is covered with stones and clay, as in Job's narrative, and it brings forth, as we are told in Genesis, only "thorns and thistles"; and Adam, the human race, must satisfy its starving stomach upon grass, "and thou shalt eat the herb of the field"; just as in Job we are told:
Chap. xxx, verse 3. "For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time, desolate and solitary."
[1. Maclean's "Antiquity of Man," p. 65.
2. Chap. iii, verse 18.]
Verse 4. "Who cut up mallows by the bushes and juniper-roots for their food."
Verse 7. "Among the bushes they brayed, under the nettles were they gathered together."
And God "drove out the man" from the fair Edenic world into the post-glacial desolation; and Paradise was lost, and--
"At the east of the garden of Eden he placed cherubims and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life."
This is the sword of the comet. The Norse legends say:
"Yet, before all things, there existed what we call Muspelheim. It is a world luminous, glowing, not to be dwelt in by strangers, and situate at the end of the earth. Surtur holds his empire there. In his hand there shines a flaming sword."
There was a great conflagration between the by-gone Eden and the present land of stones and thistles.
Is there any other allusion besides this to the fire which accompanied the comet in Genesis?
Yes, but it is strangely out of place. It is a distinct description of the pre-glacial wickedness of the world, the fire falling from heaven, the cave-life, and the wide-spread destruction of humanity; but the compiler of these antique legends has located it in a time long subsequent to the Deluge of Noah, and in the midst of a densely populated world. It is as if one were to represent the Noachic Deluge as having occurred in the time of Nero, in a single province of the Roman Empire, while the great world went on its course unchanged by the catastrophe which must, if the statement were true, have completely overwhelmed it. So we find the story of Lot and the destruction of the cities of the plain brought down to the time
of Abraham, when Egypt and Babylon were in the height of their glory. And Lot's daughters believed that the whole human family, except themselves, had been exterminated; while Abraham was quietly feeding his flocks in an adjacent country.
For if Lot's story is located in its proper era, what became of Abraham and the Jewish people, and all the then civilized nations, in this great catastrophe? And if it occurred in that age, why do we hear nothing more about so extraordinary an event in the history of the Jews or of any other people?
Mr. Smith says:
"The conduct of Lot in the mountain whither he had retired scarcely admits of explanation. It has been generally supposed that his daughters believed that the whole of the human race were destroyed, except their father and themselves. But how they could have thought so, when they had previously tarried at Zoar, it is not easy to conceive; and we can not but regard the entire case as one of those problems which the Scriptures present as indeterminate, on account of a deficiency of data on which to form any satisfactory conclusion."
The theory of this book makes the whole story tangible, consistent, and probable.
We have seen that, prior to the coming of the comet, the human race, according to the legends, had abandoned itself to all wickedness. In the Norse Sagas we read:
Brothers will fight together,
And become each other's bane;
Their sib shall spoil;
Hard, is the world,
Sensual sins grow huge."
[1. "The Patriarchal Age," vol. i, p. 388.]
In the legends of the British Druids we are told that it was "the profligacy of mankind" that caused God to send the great disaster. So, in the Bible narrative, we read that, in Lot's time, God resolved on the destruction of "the cities of the plain," Sodom, (Od, Ad,) and Gomorrah, (Go-Meru,) because of the wickedness of mankind:
Chap. xviii, verse 20. "And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous"--
therefore he determined to destroy them. When the angels came to Sodom, the people showed the most villainous and depraved appetites. The angels warned Lot to flee. Blindness (darkness?) came upon the people of the city, so that they could not find the doors of the houses. The angels took Lot and his wife and two daughters by the hands, and led or dragged them away, and told them to fly "to the mountain, lest they be consumed."
There is an interlude here, an inconsistent interpolation probably, where Lot stays at Zoar, and persuades the Lord to spare Zoar; but soon after we find all the cities of the plain destroyed, and Lot and his family hiding in a cave in the mountain; so that Lot's intercession seems to have been of no avail:
Verse 24. "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven."
Verse 25. "And he overthrew those cities, and all the cities of the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."
It was a complete destruction of all living things in that locality; and Lot "dwell in a cave, he and his two daughters."
And the daughters were convinced that they were the
last of the human race left alive on the face of the earth, notwithstanding the fact that the Lord had promised (chap. iii, verse 21), "I will not overthrow this city," Zoar; but Zoar evidently was overthrown. And the daughters, rather than see the human race perish, committed incest with their father, and became the mothers of two great and extensive tribes or races of men, the Moabites and the Ammonites.
This, also, looks very much as if they were indeed repeopling an empty and desolated world..
To recapitulate, we have here, in due chronological order:
1. The creation of the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them.
2. The creation of the plants, animals, and man.
3. The fair and lovely age of the Pliocene, the summer-land, when the people went naked, or clothed themselves in the leaves of trees; it was the fertile land where Nature provided abundantly everything for her children.
4. The serpent appears and overthrows this Eden.
5. Fire falls from heaven and destroys a large part of the human race.
6. A remnant take refuge in a cave.
7. Man is driven out of the Edenic land, and a blazing sword, a conflagration, waves between him and Paradise, between Niflheim and Muspelheim.
We return now to the first chapter of this dislocated text:
Verse 2. "And the earth was without form, and void."
That is to say, chaos had come in the train of the comet. Otherwise, how can we understand how God, as stated in the preceding verse, has just made the heavens
and the earth? How could his work have been so imperfect?
"And darkness was upon the face of the deep."
This is the primeval night referred to in all the legends; the long age of darkness upon the earth.
"And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
The word for spirit, in Hebrew, as in Latin, originally meant wind; and this passage might be rendered, "a mighty wind swept the face of the waters." This wind represents, I take it, the great cyclones of the Drift Age.
Verse 3. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
The sun and moon had not yet appeared, but the dense mass of clouds, pouring their waters upon the earth, had gradually, as Job expresses it, "wearied" themselves,--they had grown thin; and the light began to appear, at least sufficiently to mark the distinction between day and night.
Verse 4. "And God saw the light: that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness."
Verse 5. "And God called the light day, and the darkness be called night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."
That is to say, in subdividing the phenomena of this dark period, when there was neither moon nor sun to mark the time, mankind drew the first line of subdivision, very naturally, at that point of time, (it may have been weeks, or months, or years,) when first the distinction between night and day became faintly discernible, and men could again begin to count time.
But this gain of light had been at the expense of the
clouds; they had given down their moisture in immense and perpetual rains; the low-lying lands of the earth were overflowed; the very mountains, while not under water, were covered by the continual floods of rain. There was water everywhere. To appreciate this condition of things, one has but to look at the geological maps of the amount of land known to have been overflowed by water during the so-called Glacial Age in Europe.
And so the narrative proceeds:
Verse 6. "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."
This has been incomprehensible to the critics. It has been supposed that by this "firmament" was meant the heavens; and that the waters "above the firmament" were the clouds; and it has been said that this was a barbarian's conception, to wit, that the unbounded and illimitable space, into which the human eye, aided by the telescope, can penetrate for thousands of billions of miles, was a blue arch a few hundred feet high, on top of which were the clouds; and that the rain was simply the leaking of the water through this roof of the earth. And men have said: "Call ye this real history, or inspired narrative? Did God know no more about the nature of the heavens than this?"
And Religion has been puzzled to reply.
But read Genesis in this new light: There was water everywhere; floods from the clouds, floods from the melting ice; floods on the land, where the return of the evaporated moisture was not able, by the channel-ways of the earth, to yet find its way back to the oceans.
"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."
That is to say, first a great island appeared dividing the waters from the waters. This was "the island of the innocent," referred to by Job, where the human race did not utterly perish. We shall see more about it hereafter.
"7. 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.
"8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."
The Hebrew Rokiâ is translated stereoma, or solidity, in the Septuagint version. It meant solid land--not empty space.
And if man was not or had not yet been on earth, whence could the name Heaven have been derived? For whom should God have named it, if there were no human ears to catch the sound? God needs no lingual apparatus--he speaks no human speech.
The true meaning probably is, that this was the region that had been for ages, before the Drift and the Darkness, regarded as the home of the godlike, civilized race; situated high above the ocean, "in the midst of the waters," in mid-sea; precipitous and mountainous, it was the first region to clear itself of the descending torrents.
"9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
"10. And God called the dry land Earth and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."
This may be either a recapitulation of the facts already stated, or it may refer to the gradual draining off of the continents, by the passing away of the waters; the continents
being distinguished in order of time from the island "in the midst of the waters."
"11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth: and it was so."
It has been objected, as I have shown, that this narrative was false, because science has proved that the fruit-trees did not really precede in order of creation the creeping things and the fish, which, we are told, were not made until the fifth day, two days afterward. But if we will suppose that, as the water disappeared from the land, the air grew warmer by the light breaking through the diminishing clouds, the grass began to spring up again, as told in the Norse, Chinese, and other legends, and the fruit-trees, of different kinds, began to grow again, for we are told they produced each "after his kind."
And we learn "that its seed is in itself upon the earth." Does this mean that the seeds of these trees were buried in the earth, and their vitality not destroyed by the great visitation of fire, water, and ice?
And on the fourth day "God made two great lights," the sun and moon. If this were a narration of the original creation of these great orbs, we should be told that they were made exclusively to give light. But this is not the case. The light was there already; it had appeared on the evening of the first day; they were made, we are told, to "divide the day from the night." Day and night already existed, but in a confused and imperfect way; even the day was dark and cloudy; but, with the return of the sun, the distinction of day and night became once more clear.
"14. And God said . . . Let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years."
That is to say, let them be studied, as they were of old, as astronomical and astrological signs, whose influences control affairs on earth. We have seen that in many legends a good deal is said about the constellations, and the division of time in accordance with the movements of the heavenly bodies, which was made soon after the catastrophe:
"90. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowls that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven."
That is to say, the moving creatures, the fishes which still live, which have escaped destruction in the deep waters of the oceans or lakes, and the fowls which were flying wildly in the open firmament, are commanded to bring forth abundantly, to "replenish" the desolated seas and earth.
"23. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
"24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."
God does not, in this, create them; he calls them forth from the earth, from the caves and dens where they had been hiding, each after his kind; they were already divided into species and genera.
"28. And God blessed them," (the human family,) "and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply and REPLENISH the earth."
Surely the poor, desolated world needed replenishing, restocking. But how could the word "replenish" be applied to a new world, never before inhabited?
We have seen that in chapter ii (verses 16 and 17) God especially limited man and enjoined him not to eat of the
fruit of the tree of knowledge; while in v. 22, ch. iii, it is evident that there was another tree, "the tree of life," which God did not intend that man should enjoy the fruit of. But with the close of the Tertiary period and the Drift Age all this was changed: these trees, whatever they signified, had been swept away, "the blazing sword" shone between man and the land where they grew, or had grown; and hence, after the Age of Darkness, God puts no such restraint or injunction upon the human family. We read:
Ch. i, v. 29. "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."
With what reason, if the text is in its true order, could God have given man, in the first chapter, the right to eat the fruit of every tree, and in the following chapters have consigned the whole race to ruin for eating the fruit of one particular tree?
But after the so-called Glacial Age all limitations were removed. The tree of knowledge and the tree of life had disappeared for ever. The Drift covered them.
Reader, waive your natural prejudices, and ask yourself whether this proposed readjustment of the Great Book does not place it thoroughly in accord with all the revelations of science; whether it does not answer all the objections that have been made against the reasonableness of the story; and whether there is in it anything inconsistent with the sanctity of the record, the essentials of religion, or the glory of God.
Instead of being, compelled to argue, as Religion now does, that the whole heavens and the earth, with its twenty miles in thickness of stratified rocks, were made in six actual days, or to interpret "days" to mean vast periods
of time, notwithstanding the record speaks of "the evening and the morning" constituting these "days," as if they were really subdivisions of sun-marked time; we here see that the vast Creation, and the great lapses of geologic time, all lie far back of the day when darkness was on the face of the deep; and that the six days which followed, and in which the world was gradually restored to its previous condition, were the natural subdivisions into which events arranged themselves. The Chinese divided this period of reconstruction into "branches" or "stems"; the race from whom the Jews received their traditions divided it into days.
The first subdivision was, as I have said, that of the twilight age, when light began to invade the total darkness; it was subdivided again into the evening and the morning, as the light grew stronger.
The next subdivision of time was that period, still in the twilight, when the floods fell and covered a large part of the earth, but gradually gathered themselves together in the lower lands, and left the mountains bare. And still the light kept increasing, and the period was again subdivided into evening and morning.
And why does the record, in each case, tell us that the evening and the morning "constituted the day, instead of the morning and the evening? The answer is plain:--mankind were steadily advancing from darkness to light; each stage terminating in greater clearness and brightness; they were moving steadily forward to the perfect dawn. And it is a curious fact that the Israelites, even now, commence the day with the period of darkness: they begin their Sabbath on Friday at sunset.
The third subdivision was that in which the continents cleared themselves more and more of the floods, and the increasing light and warmth called forth grass and the
trees, and clothed nature in a mantle of green. Man had come out of his cave, and there were scattered remnants of the animal kingdom here and there, but the world, in the main, was manless and lifeless--a scene of waste and desolation.
In the fourth subdivision of time, the sun, moon, and stars appeared;--dimly, and wrapped in clouds, in the evening; clearer and brighter in the morning.
In the next subdivision of time, the fish, which spawn by the million, and the birds, which quadruple their numbers in a year, began to multiply and scatter themselves, and appear everywhere through the waters and on the land. And still the light kept increasing, and "the evening and the morning were the fifth day."
And on the sixth day, man and the animals, slower to increase, and requiring a longer period to reach maturity, began to spread and show themselves everywhere on the face of the earth.
There was a long interval before man sent out his colonies and repossessed the desolated continents. In Europe, as I have shown, twelve feet of stalagmite intervenes in the caves between the remains of pre-glacial and post-glacial man. As this deposit forms at a very slow rate, it indicates that, for long ages after the great destruction, man did not dwell in Europe. Slowly, "like a great blot that spreads," the race expanded again over its ancient bunting-grounds.
And still the skies grew brighter, the storms grew less, the earth grew warmer, and "the evening and the morning" constituted the sixth subdivision of time.
And this process is still going on. Mr. James Geikie says:
"We are sure of this, that since the deposition of the shelly clays, and the disappearance of the latest local glaciers,
there have been no oscillations, but only a gradual amelioration of climate."
The world, like Milton's lion, is still trying to disengage its binder limbs from the superincumbent weight of the Drift. Every snow-storm, every chilling blast that blows out from the frozen lips of the icy North, is but a reminiscence of Ragnarok.
But the great cosmical catastrophe was substantially over with the close of the sixth day. We are now in the seventh day. The darkness has gone; the sun has come back; the waters have returned to their bounds; vegetation has resumed its place; the fish, the birds, the animals, men, are once more populous in ocean, air, and on the land; the comet is gone, and the orderly processes of nature are around us, and God is "resting" from the great task of restoring his afflicted world.
The necessity for some such interpretation as this was apparent to the early fathers of the Christian Church, although they possessed no theory of a. comet. St. Basil, St. Cæsarius, and Origen, long before any such theory was dreamed of, argued that the sun, moon, and stars existed from the beginning, but that they did not appear until the fourth day. "Who," says Origen, "that has sense, can think that the first, second, and third days were without sun, moon, or stars?"
But where were they? Why did they not appear? What obscured them?
What could obscure them but dense clouds? Where did the clouds come from? They were vaporized water. What vaporized the water and caused this darkness on the face of the deep, so dense that the sun, moon, and stars did not appear until the world had clothed itself
[1. "The Great Ice Age," p. 438.]
again in vegetation? Tremendous heat. Where did the heat come from? If it was not caused by contact with a comet, what was it? And if it was not caused by contact with a comet, how do you explain the blazing sword at the gate of Eden; the fire falling from heaven on "the cities of the plain"; and the fire that fell on Job's sheep and camels and consumed them; and that drove Job to clamber by ropes down into the narrow-mouthed bottomless cave; where he tells us of the leviathan, the twisted, the undulating one, that cast down stones in the mire, and made the angels in heaven to tremble, and the deep to boil like a pot? And is it not more reasonable to suppose that this sublime religious poem, called the Book of Job, represents the exaltation of the human soul under the stress of the greatest calamity our race has ever endured, than to believe that it is simply a record of the sufferings of some obscure Arab chief from a loathsome disease? Surely inspiration should reach us through a different channel; and there should be some proportion between the grandeur of the thoughts and the dignity of the events which produced them.
And if Origen is right, and it is absurd to suppose that the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the third day, then the sacred text is dislocated, transposed; and the second chapter narrates events which really occurred before those mentioned in the first chapter; and the "darkness" is something which came millions of years after that "Beginning," in which God made the earth, and the heavens, and all the host of them.
In conclusion, let us observe how fully the Bible record accords with the statements of the Druidical, Hindoo, Scandinavian, and other legends, and with the great unwritten theory which underlies all our religion. Here we have:
1. The Golden Age; the Paradise.
2. The universal moral degeneracy of mankind; the age of crime and violence.
3. God's vengeance.
4. The serpent; the fire from heaven.
5. The cave-life and the darkness.
6. The cold; the struggle to live.
7. The "Fall of Man," from virtue to vice; from plenty to poverty; from civilization to barbarism; from the Tertiary to the Drift; from Eden to the gravel.
8. Reconstruction and regeneration.
Can all this be accident? Can all this mean nothing?