BY ELD. J. O. CORLISS.
TEXT : ” 0 Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” 1 Tim. 6: 20.
Timothy, as a young minister starting out to preach the gospel, needed instruction and -warning. Hence the apostle closes his first epjstle to him with the solemn -words of the text, knowing that the preservation or loss of his faith depended on the sentiments he should afterward imbibe.
We are not opposed to science, by any means; for we believe its principles to be in perfect harmony with the Bible. If this good book came from God, and he is also the Author of science, then certainly its principles must be in harmony with his word. But now we are gravely told by scientists, and some of those, too, claiming to be Christians, that many of the principles of science actually contravene the word of God; and we are forced to see our children, before they are old enough to carefully weigh these matters, and become enabled to discriminate between truth and error, imbibe sentiments from text books at school, that, despite the religious influence at home, ripen them into skeptics and infidels at an early age. When these children are grown to young manhood and womanhood, the parents are made to witness their utter disregard of the Bible and its truths, and upon inquiry are pained to learn that their singular conduct arises from an en- tire disbelief of the sacred volume,—an unbelief imbibed when pursuing their studies at school. This is a very serious matter, and as parents, who are responsible for the well-being of our children, we should look carefully to their training, that nothing under the guise of science be allowed to enter into their education, that will lessen their reverence for the word of God.
The great apostle did not design that this epistle should be restricted to Timothy, or to those of his day; but as he, with prophetic eye, looked down through the future, and saw the dangers that would threaten the welfare of the church, he, through this epistle to his ” own son in the faith,” utters a solemn warning to avoid those speculations, falsely called science, that would be in opposition to the truth.
There never was a period when this scripture was more applicable, or the warning it contains more needed, than at the present time. The different avenues by which the heart may be entered have ever been narrowly watched by Satan, and he has not been slow to improve every opportunity to destroy man’s confidence in God, by first introducing doubts concerning the validity of the sacred word. The most effectual method now employed to accomplish this subtle work is by what is called the science of geology. While we freely admit the truth of the tacts established by geology in relation to formations at present existing in the earth’s crust, we, at the same time, contend that the theories of geologists, contem- plated in the light of science, are not altogether founded in truth. Many, and in fact nearly all, the premises upon which they base their inferences of the age of the world, are mere suppositions, unwarranted assumptions, and are a gross contradiction of the Mosaic account of creation.
Starting out on the premise that the forces which gave birth to the globe were just the same as those in operation now, geologists have very gravely stated that this earth on which we live was once in a state of fusion, and gradually cooled off, leaving a granite crust upon the surface of the huge, molten ocean; that in five hundred millions of years it cooled from 2000° down to 200°, and was then ready for the real work of evolution said to have taken place in the six days, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. They assume, also, that the present continents and islands are but the result of chemical and mechan- ical forces which acted with only the same inten- sity as those now in operation on volcanic mountains, at the mouths of rivers, and on the shores of seas, and that they produced a similar effect; hence, instead of the earth being the work of six literal days, as has been supposed from reading the account of creation,
* Discourse preached at Battle Creek, Sabbath afternoon, Feb.
?, 1880. Reported by H. P, Holser,
we must understand the six days assigned by Moses to that work, as meaning six long, indefinite periods, each covering a series of ages.
But, reasoning from their own premises, we think such conclusions are far-fetched, to say nothing of their manifest absurdity. For if it be true that the same forces operate now as then, and with the same intensity; and if the earth in the beginning cooled off from a molten mass of 2000° Farenheit to 200° in five hundred millions of years, or at the rate of one degree in about two hundred and eighty thousand years, it would have required but little more than fifty-six millions of years more to have reduced the temperature of the earth to zero. When we take into consideration with this the statement of geologists that each of the six days of creation week was a vast indefinite period, covering millions of years, and are apprised of the fact that vegetation did not make its appearance until the third day, our imagination is drawn upon largely to understand how it were possi- ble for plants to thrive in such a climate as must have been the result of this continued cooling process. And then, if the cooling process still continued through the succeeding indefinite periods until the sixth, when man was created, how uncongenial must have been the cli- mate of Eden at such a temperature, when we con- sider the scanty apparel of man in his first estate.
But there is not the least proof, nor even probabil- ity, that the world was ever in a state of universal fusion; and to build an inference of the age of the world on such an assumption, is to build it on an hy- pothesis that cannot be shown to have existed in fact. Such an inference is therefore wholly unscientific and utterly worthless.
But we are told that there is inscribed on nature’s tablets the record that our globe in its present state is the result of evolution, and that instead of being only about six thousand years old, as related in the Bible, it has existed through myriads and millions of es. God, says the geologist, is the author of na- ture, and on its tablets must have written the truth. And, not to appear out of harmony with the Bible, some of the more modest tell us that in order for man to comprehend creation, it was necessary for Moses to use language that would represent God as a human being, doing work in time as reckoned by man; but that these days were, in the actual history of creation, each long, indefinite periods of time.
After assuming this much, the conclusion is speedily drawn that the record of creation in Genesis is but an allegory, and cannot therefore be considered as literally true. We here quote the definition of allegory from Dr. Webster: ” A figurative sentence or discourse in which the principal subject is described by another subject resembling it in its properties and circumstances. The principal subject is thus kept out of view, and we are left to collect the intentions of the writer or speaker by the resemblance of the sec- ondary to the primary subject.” Hart, in his rhetoric, says, An allegory is ” a description of one thing under the image of another.”
According to these definitions, geologists consider the record of God’s creation but a figurative discourse, which not only relieves the chapter of its literal six days, but, of necessity, of a literal Creator also, since he is the principal figure in the history. Surely, there is but one more step to atheism.
They then proceed to state that the materials form- ing the strata of the earth are derived from rocks sep- arated from their mountain beds by the action of air, water, and heat, and conveyed by currents and rivers to the ocean, where they were distributed in layers over its bed, and were finally elevated from the bottom of the ocean to their present position. Of course, these changes were brought about by the same process and at the same slow rate by which similar depositions are now made, proving that an immense series of ages must have been occupied in their formation.
This may seem very plausible at first thought; but we would like to carry the matter a little further, and ask these gentlemen to tell us how the mountains from which the strata were derived came into exist- ence. From what great bodies were the materials produced of which these mountains were made? Were they formed by mechanical action? and was that action produced by the same forces now in oper- ation,—air, water, and heat ? If so, when was their manner of operating reversed? For at the present time water, instead of climbing elevations with suffi- cient force to deposit matter upon their highest points, naturally inclines to flow in the other direction.
Again, the strata of the earth are said by geologists to average about ten miles in depth, To suppose that the mountains from which these were formed covered as large an area as the strata occupy, Would be to sup- pose that they were at least ten miles above the level of the ocean. But at such an enormous height theair would be only of the most attenuated kind; and could vapors have ascended so high and fallen in the form of snow, they would have forever remained in that form, as heat sufficient to dissolve them could not have been developed at such an altitude. Then rivers could not have flowed from them, and conse- quently no detritus could have been carried from them to the ocean, and thereby formed layers like our pres- ent strata. Such an origin of the strata is therefore not only unscientific, Vrat extremely absurd.
In nearly every theory advocated by geologists to sustain their views of the great age of the world, ab- surdities and contradictions are painfully apparent; and for good reasons : 1. Geology is not a demonstra- tive science. The positions taken and theories ad- vanced by geologists are at variance, showing that geology has no laws peculiar to itself by which definite results can be reached. On the other hand, geology, in its legitimate office, is but a mere description of the materials that compose the crust of the earth. The suppositions as to how they were produced, are quite another thing.
2. In the science of astronomy, experiments have been made by which the size and distance of the heav- enly bodies are ascertained, how often each planet of our system revolves on its axis, and when each will be in perihelion; but in geology no analogous experi- ments are made; hence no laws can be deduced from the strata themselves by which vast periods of time were employed in their deposition. They furnish no facts, nor present any data, from which such a conclu- sion can be legitimately drawn. The theories, there- fore, upon which the great age of the world rests, are erroneous, and in direct antagonism to the inspired record, notwithstanding the efforts on the part of some to make them harmonize.
Prof. Bartlett, of Dartmouth College, sees a diffi- culty in harmonizing the statements of the Mosaic record concerning the last three days of creation week with the ” period-day ” theory, yet he thinks he finds sufficient evidence that the first three periods were not days of twenty-four hours, from the fact that the sun was not made a light-bearer to the earth until the fourth day; but that these were simply periods of al- ternate light and darkness. And because those periods in which the sun did give light are called days, the same as those before the sun appeared, he feels justi- fied in calling them all indefinite periods.
From these very considerations we think there are good reasons for believing that the first three days of creation week were the same as those which God ap- pointed to be measured off by the sun; and we have no evidence that the very first day measured by the sun was different from those now being marked off by God’s great time-keeper. And although the first three days cannot be strictly called solar days, from the fact that they were not marked off by the sun; yet when the light was divided from the darkness, there was a perfect day composed of an ” evening and morning.” This succession of light and darkness was produced by the revolution of the earth on its axis, in just the same manner that day and night now succeed each other, with this difference, that now the earth revolves into the light of the sun, while then it revolved into light emanating directly from God.
The record informs us that on the third day the dry land appeared, and vegetation was produced. But geologists say that it was impossible, by the laws of hydrostatics, for the water to be drained off in twenty- four hours, even with the speed of a railway train ; and in confirmation of this view they cite instances of heavy rains which have been weeks in draining off Such statements limit the power of God, and preclude miracles. It is not necessary to understand that the water must drain off; the record simply states that the dry land appeared. This might have been accom- plished by the depression of one part of the earth, and the elevation of another at the same time; and with those who believe in the miracles of the New Testament, it does not require a very great stretch of faith to be- lieve that God was able to do such a work in twenty- four hours.
But very many geologists give no place to miracles. Whatever cannot, in their minds, be accounted for on natural or scientific principles, is thrown out of the account. They are, however, forced to admit that the first human pair were produced outside of the ordinary course of nature, and that without pretending to ac- count for their origin otherwise than as a miracle. They are constrained to acknowledge that ” energy ” must have had a beginning outside of itself, since even the laws of nature cannot account for its origin,
But if the days of creation week were not definite days of twenty-four hours, how do they account for the Sabbath of the fourth commandment being based on the fact of God’s resting on the seventh day of that week 1 In this way: Say they, God’s rest-day and man’s are alike only in ratio. The scale differa As G-od wrought six long, indefinite periods and rested on the seventh, so man is to work six definite periods of twenty-four hours each, and rest the seventh.
It cannot be that men arrive at such conclusions as the result of close application to the study of the sub- ject ; for they would then see that six indefinite periods is an impossibility, since two, three, or four indefinite periods make only one indefinite period. Now just as soon, as we find anything to definitely mark the begin- ning and ending of the days, and thus separate them one from another, they become definite days. And since each day of creation week is definitely bounded by an ” evening and morning,” and distinctly num- bered one, two, three, etc., we have no hesitancy whatever in pronouncing them definite days.
Having learned that the days of G-od’s work and rest were definite days, we will next notice whether man’s days are like them in ratio only, or whether they are identically the same. God gave the Sab- bath to Adam in Eden after he himself had rested on it, and it was not a Sabbath for man till after God had rested on it, and blessed and sanctified it. Adam was created in the former part of the sixth day, and lived through the entire seventh day before it became a Sabbath for him. He could then keep it each week till his death, which occurred when he had reached the age of nine hundred and thirty years.
Allowing that the nine hundred and thirty years expired shortly after Adam received the Sabbath, they covered at least the time between his creation in the former part of the sixth day and the end of the seventh day, when God blessed the Sabbath and gave it to him. We have therefore at least two of the seven days condensed from long indefinite periods to the compass of nine hundred years. And if these two days are com- prehended within such a comparatively short space, we see no difficulty in reducing the others to a corre- sponding length.
Again, when G-od spoke his law from Sinai, he in- corporated in it a command regulating the observance of the Sabbath. He says: ” Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sab- bath of the Lord thy God. . . . For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” These six days of labor and one of rest were well un- derstood by the people of Israel to each mean the pe- riod of time measured by one revolution of the earth on its axis; for only thirty-three days before the law was spoken, God had given them their first supply of manna, which was then being continued to them as their daily food.
The children of Israel were instructed by Moses to gather manna six days; ” but” said he, ” on the sev- enth day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” Ex. 16 :26. On the sixth day, therefore, they gathered food enough to last them over the Sabbath. This arrangement was kept up through their entire sojourn in the wilderness, a period of forty years, and was therefore in full force when the law was spoken from Sinai. There certainly could be no doubt in their minds as to what day the commandment enjoined, or how often ^it would return.
Surely, no one can be found so rash as to argue for one moment that those days called Sabbaths, on which the manna was laid up and kept over, were long, in- definite periods. But God says distinctly in the fourth commandment that the seventh day—the day on which the manna was withheld—was the very one he had rested on after creating the world on the previous six days, and he therefore made that fact a basis for the institution of the Sabbath.
Did Jehovah make statements from Sinai, and then engrave them with his owa finger in tables of stone, to be preserved through succeeding generations, which would contradict what he had before written on the tablets of nature ? To suppose anything of the kind would be to suppose that he did, in the most moment- ous act of his administration, proclaim a falsehood that would soon be detected by his creatures, and cause them to distrust his truth, his goodness, and his wisdom.
The occasion of giving the law was one of so much importance that the angels of Heaven were summoned down upon the burning mount to hear its proclamation, and thus every loyal being in the universe was made to witness the awful majesty of the divine Lawgiver. Says Moses: “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.” Deut. 33 :2. The psalmist, speaking of the angels on that occasion says : ” The chariots of God are twenty thou- sand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” Ps. 68:17.These holy beings who shouted for joy when the foun dations of the earth were laid, knew full well the age of the world, and would certainly have detected any misrepresentation on the part of the Creator in rehears- ing the work of creation.
But what motive could the Lord have had in giv- ing such a reason for the institution of the Sabbath “2 He had a perfect right to establish it oa what day he pleased, without regard to whether he created the world in six days or in any other period of time. Then why give the assembled multitude of earth and Heaven such a reason for consecrating the Sabbath, unless he had actually done such a work in six days ? It would be incompatible with the character of the great God, and is therefore utterly impossible.
If in view of these considerations, geologists still contend that the characters graven on the strata of the earth, contradict the sacred account of creation as given in the first chapter of Genesis, then the law written on tables of stone is also convicted of false- hood, since the very precept which gives authority to that law, founds its reason for existence on the acts recorded in that chapter. Thus the law of God stands or falls with the first chapter of Genesis.
Nor does the matter end here. If the announce- ment from Sinai, ratifying the history of creation given in Genesis is false, it then follows that the en- tire Pentateuch is a fabrication. For if God, with- out any good reason whatever, incorporated in the decalogue a statement so grossly false, and one which was so sure to be detected and exposed, what cer- tainty can we feel that any other declarations made by him are not equally false 1 What reliance can be placed on the other enactments and institutions of the Pentateuch, said to be given by him?
But to reject the Pentateuch on account of its false claims, one must of necessity reject all the other books of the Old Testament; for they all acknowledge the histories, enactments, and institutions of the Penta- teuch as fundamental truths. They recognize the priesthood, the sacrifices, the covenants, the promises, and in fact the whole system of laws it records as in- stituted by God. If these are not his work, it is im- possible that the other should be.
But the rejection of the Old Testament necessarily leads to the rejection of the New; for the latter rati- fies in the fullest manner the historical statements, enactments, and religious institutions of the former, and founds its work of redemption on them. It therefore follows, that if the Mosaic history of crea- tion, the proclamation of the law at Sinai, the insti- tution of the priesthood, sacrifices, and rites of wor- ship, with the commands and revelations recorded by the prophets, are not from God, the New Testament cannot possibly be, since it everywhere recognizes them as realities, and is dependent on them for the truths it reveals.
Thus the entire Bible as a revelation stands or falls with the first chapter of Genesis. Let those who have listened to the seductive teachings of modern geologists consider well these points, before adopting theories that must inevitably draw them away from the service of God, and cause them to lose confidence in his word. After looking the ground over care- fully, we are satisfied that geology as commonly taught is in opposition to the word of God, and should be avoided as a science falsely so called.
The following forcible words from Dr. Lord so fully express our feelings on the subject, that we can do no better than to quote them; and with these we leave the subject with you :—
” These considerations sufficiently show that the contradiction which the modern theory of geology pre- sents to the record of the creation, by Moses, naturally leads those who assent to it to regard that record as erroneous, and prepares the way for a distrust and re- jection of the whole Bible. The skepticism which it is known to excite and foster, is not gratuitous and causeless, but the logical result of such an impeach- ment of that part of the word of God, which is the foundation of all the rest. The question, there: ore, between the Bible and that theory, is one of the ut- most interest. It is the question whether Christian- ity is credible and true, or whether it is contradicted and convicted of falsehood by the material works of the Creator. If it cannot be vindicated from the im- peachment offered by the geological theory# it cannot be vindicated at all; but skepticism is unavoidable, and nothing is left for those who would be consistent, but to adopt and propagate it. The subject is enti- tled, therefore, to the most serious consideration of all believers in revelation, and especially of the ministers of the gospel, whose office it is to teach and enforce the doctrines, laws, promises and predictions of the Scriptures as communications from God. They can- not, rationally, satisfy themselves with mere presump- tions, vague hopes, or undefined impressions, that theBible is God’s word, although it may be contradicted by his works. They cannot consistently act as his ministers, unless they can defend it from this imputa- tion, and show that it is entitled to be received as a divine revelation. They cannot fulfill their duty to those of their people who have been betrayed into skepticism, or are in danger of becoming its victims, unless able to point out the follacies and errors of the system which impeaches it, and show that the works of G-od, instead of confuting or contravening it, are both in perfect harmony with it, and offer it the most clear and ample corroboration.”
Review and Herald, February 19, 1880, pp 116-117