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False Notions of Geology-It is not a Science-It has no Laws–Geologists have
not an Exclusive Right to treat of the subject.
UNDER the conviction that the geological theory which thus conflicts with the word of God, is wholly mistaken, and may be easily refuted, and that its refutation and abandonment are demanded both by the interests of religion and the credit of geology, we shall proceed to point out the fallacy on which it rests; indicate proofs both from the record of Moses and from the earth, hitherto overlooked by geologists, which demonstrate it to be erroneons; and finally suggest the view of the subject, which seems to us to be required alike by the word of God and the facts of the science. To
for the discussion, it is important to correct several misapprehensions and prejudices that extensively prevail, and are obstacles to a candid consideration of the question.
In the first place, the language which geological lecturers and writers are accustomed to use, has produced the impression that geology is a demonstrative
science, having laws peculiar to itself, that are verified by the facts discovered in the strata of the earth; and thence, that the conclusions which they deduce from the strata, and embody in their systems, are the legitimate results of those laws, and as incontrovertible as the truths that are derived from the axioms or principles of other sciences. No misapprehension could be greater. Geology has no laws that are peculiar to itself. It professedly treats of the nature of the substances that constitute those parts of the crust of the globe that are accessible to our observation, and of the causes or forces to which they owe their present combinations and positions; and those forces are expressly defined as either chemical or mechanical; or those of attraction, by which particles that have an affinity are united in crystals and other solid forms; and those of fire and water, by which they are fused or disintegrated, and transported from one place to another.
This is seen from the following quotations :
“The history of the earth forms a large and complex subject of inquiry, divisible at its outset into two distinct branches, the first comprehending the history of the unorganized mineral matter, and of the various changes through which it has advanced from the creation of its component elements to its actual condition ; the second embracing the past history of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and the
successive modifications which these two great departments of nature have undergone, during the chemical and mechanical operations that have affected the surface of our planet.
“ In tracing the history of these natural phenomena, we enter at once into the consideration of geological dynamics, including the nature and mode of operation of all kinds of physical agents, that have at any time and in any manner affected the surface and interior of the earth. In the foremost rank of these agents we find fire and water—those two universal and mighty disorganizing forces which have most materially influenced the condition of the globe.
“The state of the ingredients of crystalline rocks has, in a great degree, been influenced by chemical and electro-magnetic forces, whilst that of stratified sedimentary deposits has resulted chiefly from the mechanical action of moving water, and has occasionally been modified by large admixtures of animal and vegetable remains.”—Buckland's Bridgewater T., pp. 34-37.
“ It is the province of geology to investigate the ancient natural history of the earth. To this purpose geologists must observe the effects of terrestrial agencies, both organic and inorganic, which are now in progress, in order to understand those which have been performed in earlier periods ; they must inquire what changes now take place upon the land and in the sea ; and whether these be due to mechanical, chemical, or vital agency; and compare these effects with the monuments of more ancient revolutions, and thus endeavor to trace the physical conditions of the globe from the earliest
period to the present date, so as to present a correct history of the successive steps by which it has been brought to its actual state, and made fit for the purposes which it now fulfills.
“ In the modern system of nature we recognize two great agencies employed in producing changes on the face of the globe. WATER, which wastes away grain by grain the elevated portions of the land, and deposits its spoils in lower situations, thus ever tending to equalize the levels of the surface. FIRE, which raises matter in masses from the interior of the earth, and thus tends to increase the inequalities of its surface. Both of these agents are chemical; water dissolves, heat fuses; both act mechanically. The mechanical effects of water depend on the general force of gravitation, and ever tend downwards ; but the mechanical force of heat is independent of gravitation, and ever struggles to overcome it.”--Phillips's Guide, pp. 3, 25.
Geology was defined to be the science which investigates the former changes that have taken place in the organic, as well as in the inorganic kingdoms of nature. As vicissitudes in the inorganic world are most apparent, and as on them all the fluctuations in the animate creation must in a great measure depend, they may claim our first consideration. The great agents of change in the inorganic world may be divided into two principal classes, the aqueous and the igneous. To the aqueous belong rain, rivers, torrents, springs, currents, and tides ; to the igneous, volcanoes and earthquakes. Both these classes are instruments of
decay as well as of reproduction; but they may also be regarded as antagonist forces. For the aqueous agents are incessantly labouring to reduce the inequalities of the earth's surface to a level ; while the igneous are equally active in restoring the unevenness of the external crust, partly by heaping up new matter in certain localities, and partly by depressing one portion and forcing out another of the earth's envelope.”—Lyell's Principles, p. 191.
Sir Charles Lyell holds not only that all the facts which it is the province of the science to explain, are to be referred to these causes, but that they are to be regarded as having been produced by an agency of essentially the same energy as that by which these causes are now giving birth to similar effects; as the result “ of one uniform system of change in the animate and inanimate world,” that has been in progress " from the remotest periods,” and is to continue through all future time.-P. 188.
The following is from Mr. Macculloch:
“The materials of this inquiry are objects and actions ; the result constitutes inferences; and these are retrospective, as well as present and future. The retrospect is the material for a theory of the earth.
“ The objects are the materials of the earth; the materials are rocks and fragments. Rocks and the larger fragments