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and a certain class of writers, as we have seen in a former number of this work, (Bibl. Repos. Jan. 1837. p. 108,) maintain this theory with great confidence. They are writers who are greatly scandalized by the efforts of geologists to show that a long interval may have elapsed, undescribed, between the
beginning' and the six days of creation, lest too great latitude of interpretation should thus be allowed in biblical exegesis. And yet this hypothesis of theirs requires them to admit, contrary to what every child sees to be the truth in reading the Bible, that the waters of the flood did not first rise over the land and then subside, leaving the same land dry ; but that the land sunk down, which brought over it the ocean, and that other continents rose in other parts of the globe to form new habitations for organized beings. Hence they must further admit, that there must at that time have been an entirely new creation of plants and many animals. Also, that the description of the garden of Eden in Genesis is not a part of the Bible, but an interpolation ! Surely, men who can take such liberties as this with the Bible, where its language is plain and simple, should be cautious in condemning others for a more liberal interpretation of some passages which have always perplexed the critic. And further, this supposed interchange of land and water at the epoch of the last deluge, is contrary to many facts in geology ; such as for instance, the occurrence of the remains of land animals on all existing continents, imbedded in the higher strata. Tertiary deposites also, are frequent whose strata are horizontal, and whose level therefore cannot have been essentially altered since their deposition ; for otherwise they would have been tilted up. Yet these deposites were made anterior to the last geological deluge, because its relics are strowed over them. But in giving a history of this subject, we have already entered so fully into the arguments respecting this hypothesis, that we forbear lest we should be repetitious.
3. Another hypothesis imputes the deluge to the sudden elevation of the bottom of the ocean, so as to throw its waters over a part, if not the whole, of existing continents. No fact is more generally admitted, by those conversant with geology, than that our present continents once constituted the bottom of the ocean, and that almost equally certain is it, that different continents and different parts of the same continent, were elevated above the waters at different epochs. A distinguished French geologist, who has paid much attention to this point, thinks he
can distinguish as many as twelve of these epochs among the rocks of Europe, and there are several obvious in this country. It is generally admitted, also, that these elevations took place suddenly; that is, they resulted from a paroxysm of internal power.
Let us now imagine a continent, or even a single mountain chain, to be raised from the ocean's depths in a few days, or a few weeks. There can be no doubt but the waters would be driven in mighty waves over those continents, or at least over that part of them which was previously above the waters. Suppose, for example, that the bed of the northern ocean were to be thus lifted up over a vast area, by volcanic agency beneath, that is, by the accumulation of vapor and gases beneath the earth's crust. The result would be, that the waters of the northern ocean, with the vast masses of ice there accumulated, would be driven in a southerly direction, at least over the northern hemisphere. After the fractured crust had permitted the pent up gases, vapors, and lava, to escape, it would gradually subside, and thus bring back the diluvial waters to their former beds in a quiet manner ; and thus, ere long, all traces of the catastrophe would disappear, unless the aqueous currents should have been powerful enough deeply to denude the surface and transport diluvium and bowlders. Now we know that volcanic power does frequently operate in this very
Witness the new island of Sabrina, which, in 1811, was raised near the Azores, and gradually sunk back again after a few days : also, in 1831, the island of Hotham, or Graham, in the Mediterranean, which has also disappeared.
We are not anxious that our readers should believe this to have been the mode in which the Noachian deluge was produced. Our main object is to show that a natural cause exists sufficient to have produced that castastrophe, and thus to take away all improbability respecting the occurrence of such an event from its supposed physical impossibility. This is, however, the hypothesis respecting the cause of the Mosaic deluge, that is now extensively adopted by able geologists. Some have imputed it to the elevation of the Andes, others to that of the Alps. It seems to us, however, that there is every probability these mountains were raised from the ocean at an earlier period than that of the scriptural deluge ; and if the deluge of geology be regarded as identical, the waves produced by the lifting up of those mountains would not have flowed in a direction corresponding to the course which we have shown the waters of that
cataclysm to have taken. It is sufficient, however, to show, that geologists in general are now willing to admit that this cause is sufficient to deluge the globe. For, a few years since, it was thought that science could demonstrate the physical impossibility of such an event. We do not contend that this hypothesis is free from difficulties, or that it is to be received as established truth. But we maintain that it is in perfect conformity with the present state of geological science.
Were we disposed to speculate still further, we might suggest, that perhaps in this hypothesis, we find a cause for the
powerful rain of forty days that accompanied the deluge. For it is well known, that the vast quantities of aqueous vapor that are liberated when a volcano gets vent, sometimes produce long continued drenching rains. If a powerful eruption took place in northern regions, the vapor set free could be rapidly condensed by the cold, and fall in the form of snow or rain, possibly for a period as long as that described by Moses. would not lay much stress on this suggestion.
We here close our protracted comparison of the historical and geological deluges. We are aware that we have conducted our readers, --if indeed they have not grown weary and abandoned us, – through a great deal of what they may consider dry detail. But we have long been satisfied that the superficial and popular view of this subject, which is usually presented, does not bring the true state of the question before the mind, while it tends to prejudice still more against revealed truth, those acute minds who see how shallow and defective is the argument. If any one will thoroughly understand the subject, he must submit to the labor of getting acquainted with the details ; and instead of having presented too many of these for this purpose, we know that our reasoning will often appear obscure and inconclusive, because we have not presented more.
We shall now close by presenting a summary of the conclusions at which we have arrived.
We have endeavored to show, that the traditions found in all ages and in all nations, civilized and savage, respecting deluges, had probably a common origin, viz. the deluge of Noah ; though the facts were often blended with the history of local deluges.
We have shown that most extraordinary revolutions of opinion have taken place respecting the geological deluge; and have reduced the opinions of standard writers of the present day on this subject to three classes : first, some deny that any traces of Vol. XI. No. 29.
a general deluge exist on the globe : secondly, others admit a general deluge to have taken place, but place the epoch of its occurrence anterior to the creation of man ; and thirdly, some not only admit such a catastrophe to have taken place, but suppose it possible it may have been identical with that of Noah.
We have attempted to prove, that those who believe there are at present no traces in nature of Noah's deluge, are not thereby brought into collision with the Bible.
In doing this, we have shown that the organic remains in the secondary and tertiary rocks could not have been deposited there by the Noachian deluge; and that we are to look for the traces of that event only on the surface of the globe. Also, that the Mosaic account does not require us to presume that any marks of that catastrophe would remain to the present time. But yet, that the frequent occurrence of deluges in early times, as shown by geology, furnishes a presumption in favor of that described in Scripture.
We have shown, that there has been a powerful rush of waters over the northern hemisphere, especially America, from the north and north-west, in comparatively modern times; as is proved by the direction in which bowlders and diluvium have been transported, and by grooves and scratches on the surface of rocks, as well as by denuded vallies of considerable depth.
We have inferred that this geological deluge corresponds with that of Scripture, in having been extensive, if not universal, and in having taken place in comparatively recent times : and that therefore, it is possible the two deluges may have been identical; though the evidence at present rather preponderates against this opinion.
In considering the objections derived from geology and natural history against the Mosaic account of the deluge, we have concluded that no natural processes have been pointed out on the globe, whose commencement can be proved to have been at an earlier date than that event; though in some instances they might have begun before the flood, and have been since recommenced. Also, that the present state of geological theories renders the submersion of the globe by the flux and reflux of the waters quite possible and probable. Also, that we can explain the existence of the olive in the region of Ararat at the time of the deluge and its subsequent extinction, without resorting to a miracle. Also, that the language of Scripture does not necessarily mean that pairs of all animals on the globe, zoologi
cally considered, were preserved in the ark; nor that the flood was universal over the globe, but only in the regions where man dwelt; and hence that we are not required to suppose that all animals now on the globe have spread from the regions of Ararat. Also, that there may have been a new creation of many species after the deluge; so that the facts respecting the present distribution of animals, does not conflict with the Mosaic account.
Finally, in inquiring whether any natural causes could have produced the deluge, we have shown that of the three hypotheses maintained in modern times on this subject, the sudden elevation of a mountain or continent by internal force, is the only one that can be defended with any plausibility ; since the approach of a comet to the earth could have produced no such effect, and the idea that our present continents were raised from the bottom of the ocean at that time, is contradicted both by Scripture and geology.
If these conclusions be admitted, every reasonable man will allow, that the Mosaic account of the deluge stands forth fairly and fully vindicated from all collision with the facts of science. Nay, a presumption is hence derived in favor of the Mosaic account. We are aware that some will be disappointed if we do not go further, and say that geology strikingly confirms the Mosaic history, as it has been customary to do in most of our popular treatises on the deluge. But we prefer to take our stand on firm ground. And notwithstanding the multiplied evidences of diluvial action which geology presents, the difficulty of identifying these cataclysms with the Noachian deluge, is so great in the present state of our knowledge, that it is safer to consider the point as unsettled. Nor is this of much importance, so far as revelation is concerned. The truth and inspiration of the Bible rest on a foundation of evidence, independent of physical science, too deep and firm to need the auxiliary support of geology, or natural history. If we can only show, that there is no collision between the facts of revelation and those of science, we have done all that is necessary or important. If any remain skeptical after this is done, the cause of their infidelity does not lie in any scientific difficulties, nor in the want of independent evidence to the truth of the holy Scriptures. It is the fruit of a corrupt and unhumbled heart.