author of 'The Old Red Sandstone,' 'Footprints of the Creator,'
etc. etc.

'Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field.' — Job.

Edingurgh: William P. Nimmo,

First published in 1857

"I have been described as one of the wretched class of persons who teach,
that geology, rightly understood, does not conflict with revelation."

454 + 10 pages,

This electronic edition prepared by Dr. David C. Bossard
from original documents in his personal library.

October, 2005.

Copyright © 2005 by Dr. David C. Bossard.  All rights reserved.


Dedication to James Miller, Esq. F.R.S.E.  vii-viii  vii  viii

[vii] This volume is chiefly taken up in answering, to the best of its author's knowledge and ability, the various questions which the old theology of Scotland has been asking for the last few years of the newest of sciences.

[vii] I have been described as one of the wretched class of persons who teach, that geology, rightly understood, does not conflict with revelation.

To the Reader ix-xi  ix  x  xi

[x] It will be seen that I adopt, in my Third and Fourth Lectures, that scheme of reconciliation between the Geologic and Mosaic Records which accepts the six days of creation as vastly extended periods. I certainly did once believe with Chalmers and with Buckland that the six days were simply natural days of twenty-four hours each -- that they had comprised the entire work of the existing creation, -- and that the latest of the geologic ages was separated by a great chaotic gap from our own. ... The conclusion at which I have been compelled to arrive is, that for many long ages ere man was usherred into being, not a few of his humbler contemporaries of the fields and woods enjoyed life in their present haunts, and that for thousands of years anterior to even their appearance, many of the existing molluscs lived in our seas. That day during which the present creation came into being, and in which God, when he had made "the beast of the earth after his kind, and the cattle after their kind," at length terminated the work by moulding a creature in His own image, to whom he gave dominion over them all, was not a brief period of a few hours' duration, but extended over mayhap millenniums of centuries. No blank chaotic gap of death and darkness separated the creation to which man belongs from that of the old extinct elephant, hippopotamus, and hyaena; for familiar animals such as the red deer, the roe, the fox, the wildcat, and the badger, lived throughout the period which connected their times with our own; and so I have been compelled to hold, that the days of creation were not natural, but prophetic days, and stretched far back into the bygone eternity. ... I have yielded to evidence which I found it impossible to resist.

Note xii  xii

Contents xiii-xiv  xiii  xiv

Lecture 1: The Palaeontological History of Plants  1 
001  002  003  004  005  006  007  008  009  010  011  012  013  014  015  016  017  018  019  020  021  022  023  024  025  026  027  028  029  030  031  032  033  034  035  036  037  038  039  040  041  042  043  044  045  046  047  048  049  050  051  052

>Palaeontology, Palæontology, plant classification, Lindley, Geologic ages: Silurian, Old Red (Devonian), Caboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Oolitic, Cretaceous, Tertiary, Geologic plant order: Thallogens (sea-weeds, fucoids), Acrogens (Lycopods -- club moses, horse-tails, ferns), Gymnogens (conifers, cydadaceae), Monocotyledons, Dicotyledons, Dicotyledonous  trees, Geologic animal order:  Radiata, Articulata, Mollusca, Fishes, Reptiles, Birds, Mammals, Placental Mammals, Man, Cuvier, geologic history of insects: carbonaceous - scorpions, cockroaches, wood-louse, locusts, grasshopers, Oolitic - dragonfly, ants, crickets, butterfly, Tertiary: Eocene - bee

[045] Agassiz, ... finds reason to conclude that the order of the Rosaceae -- an order more important to the gardener than almost any other, and to which the apple, the pear, the quince, the cherry... and various brambleberries belong, together with all the roses and the potentillas, -- was introduced only a short time previous to the appearance of man.  And the true grasses, -- a still more important order ... corn-bearing plants -- scarce appear in the fossil state at all. They are peculiarly plants of the human period.  ...  Let me instance one other family... the Labiate family -- to which the lavenders, the mints, the thymes, and the hyssops belong ...

[051] Man's world, with all its griefs and troubles, is more emphatically a world of flowers than any of the creations that preceded it... flowers in general were profusely produced just ere he appeared, to minister to that sense of beauty which distinguishes him from all the lower creatures, and to which he owes not a few of his most exquisite enjoyments.

Lecture 2: The Palaeontological History of Animals  53 
053  054  055  056  057  058  059  060  061  062  063  064  065  066  067  068  069  070  071  072  073  074  075  076  077  078  079  080  081  082  083  084  085  086  087  088  089  090  091  092  093  094  095  096  097  098  099  100  101  102  103  104  105  106

>body plans: star-like (corals, sea-anemones, star-fishes), articulated (worms, crustaceans, insects), bilateral or molluscan (cuttle-fish, clams, snails), vertebrates (spine,  cerebrum), Silurian: radiates - corals (4-rays or multiples), sea-pens (akin), crinoids, articulata - Trilobites, mollusca - cephalopods, brachiopods, Old Red Sandstone - fishes: Silurian - Placoid (mod. skate, dogfish),  Old Red - Ganoids (anc. Coelacanth, mod. Sturgeon) , Cretaceous Chalks - Ctenoid & Cycloid, reptiles - lizards, batrachians (frogs, newts, salamanders), Oolitic period: whales, lizards, Tertiary - serpents, placental animals, Lias - birds (hurons, cranes based on footprints), middle or miocene - pachyderms, mastodon, late tertiary?: hyaena, oxen, sheep,

[066] I need scarce say, that the Palaeontologist finds no trace in nature of that golden age of the world of which the poets delighted to sing, when all creatures lived together in unbroken peace, and war and bloodshed were unknown. Ever since animal life began upon our planet, there existed, in all the departments of being, carnivorous classes, who could not live but by the death of their neighbours, and who were armed, in consequence, for their destruction, like the butcher with his axe and knife, and the angler with his hook and spear. ... Never were [these weapons] more formidable than in the times of the Coal Measures. ... This early exhibition of tooth, and spine, and sting... must be altogether at variance wih the preconceived opinions of those who hold that until man appeared in creation, and darkened its sympathetic face with the stain of moral guilt, the reign of violence and outrage did not begin, and that there was no death among the inferior creatures, and no suffering,

Lecture 3: The Two Records, Mosaic and Geological  107 
107  108  109  110  111  112  113  114  115  116  117  118  119  120  121  122  123  124  125  126  127  128  129  130  131  132  133  134  135  136  137  138  139  140  141  142  143

"The Writings of Moses do not fix the antiquity of the globe." Thomas Chalmers

[123] "The mere geographer or astronomer might have been wholly unable to discuss... the various meanings of the Hebrew verbs. But this much, notwithstanding, he would be perfectly qualified to say:— However great your skill as linguists, your reading of what you term the scriptural geography or scriptural astronomy must of necessity be a false reading, seeing that it commits Scripture to what, in my character as a geographer or astronomer, I know to be a monstrously false geography or astronomy. Premising, then, that I make no pretensions to even the slightest skill in philology, I remark further, that it has been held by accomplished philologists, that the days of the Mosaic creation may be regarded, without doing violence to the genius of the Hebrew language, as successive periods of great extent. And certainly, in looking at my English Bible, I find that the portion of time spoken in the first chapter of Genesis as six days, is spoken of in the second chapter as one day.... Philology cannot be sound which would commit the Scriptures to a science that cannot be true."

[135] "Had there been human eyes on earth during the Palaeozoic, Secondary, and Tertiary periods, they would have been filled in succession by the great plants, the great reptiles, and the great mammals... I ask whether the Mosaic account of creation could be rendered more essentially true than we actually find it, to the history of creation geologically ascertained.... The inspired writer seized on but those salient points that, like the two great lights of the day and night, would have arrested most powerfully, during these periods, a human eye...."

[140] The geological facts … lead me to believe that the days of the Mosaic account were great periods, not natural days..

>  geologic order: Triassic, Lias, Oolite, Cretaceous, Weald

Lecture 4: The Mosaic Vision of Creation  144  144  145  146  147  148  149  150  151  152  153  154  155  156  157  158  159  160  161  162  163  164  165  166  167  168  169  170  171  172  173  174

[155] If the revelation [of the Creation narrative] was by vision, that circumstance affords of itself a satisfactory reason why the description should be optical: and, on the other hand, since the description is decidedly optical, the presumption is of course strong that the revelation was by vision.

p156 "What would sceptics such as Hobbes and Hume have said of an opening chapter in Genesis that would describe successive periods,—first of molluscs, star-lilies, and crustaceans, next of fishes, next of reptiles and birds, then of mammals, and finally of man; and that would minutely portray a period in which there were lizards bulkier than elephants, reptilian whales furnished with necks slim and long as the godies of great snakes, and flying dragons, whose spread of wing greatly more than doubled that of the largest bird? The world would assuredly not receive such a revelation." ... From every view of the case, then, a prophetic exhibition of the pre-Adamic scenes and events by vision seems to be the one best suited for the opening chapters of a revelation.

...We thus get this very important rule of interpretation, viz. that the representations of pre-human events, which rest upon revelation, are to be handled from the same point of view, and expounded by the same laws, as the prophecies and representations of future times and events, which also rest upon revelation.

p160 Creations days: Day One = azoic (pre-Cambrian); Day Two = Silurian & Old Red; Day Three = carboniferous period (great plants); Day Four = Permian and Triassic period; Day Five = Oolitic and Cretaceous periods (great sea-monsters and birds); Day Six = Tertiary period (great terrestrial mammals).

Lecture 5: Geology in its Bearings on the Two Theologies, Part I.  175 
175  176  177  178  179  180  181  182  183  184  185  186  187  188  189  190  191  192  193  194  195  196  197  198

Lecture 6: Geology in its Bearings on the Two Theologies, Part II 199 
199  200  201  202  203  204  205  206  207  208  209  210  211  212  213  214  215  216  217  218  219  220  221  222  223  224  225  226  227  228  229  230  231  232  233  234  235  236  237  238  239  240  241  242

Lecture 7: The Noachian Deluge, Part I  243 
243  244  245  246  247  248  249  250  251  252  253  254  255  256  257  258  259  260  261  262  263  264  265  266  267  268  269  270  271  272  273  274  275  276  277

>Noachian Flood, Deluge, flood traditions, flood of Deucalion, Lucian, tamanac, Matalcueje, under the whole heavens = upon the face of the whole earth, local flood,

Lecture 8: The Noachian Deluge, Part II  278  278  279  280  281  282  283  284  285  286  287  288  289  290  291  292  293  294  295  296  297  298  299  300  301  302  303  304  305  306  307  308  309  310  311  312  313  314  315  316  317  318

>Voltaire, Goethe

Lecture 9: The Discoverable and the Revealed  319 
319  320  321  322  323  324  325  326  327  328  329  330  331  332  333  334  335  336  337  338  339  340  341  342  343  344  345  346  347

p319 "Natural phenomena, when of an extraordinary character, powerfully impress the untutored mind....Great tempests, inundations, eclipses, earthquakes, thunder and lightning, famine and pestilence, the births of monsters, or the rare visitation of strange fishes or wild animals, come all to be included in the mythologic domain."

p328 Parable of the Chronometer "It is of first importance often to the navigator that he have a good chronometer, seeing that his ability of determining his exact position on wide seas,... must very much depend on the rectitude of his instrument. But it may be of very little importance to him to know how chronometers are made. And so a friend may reveal to him where the best chronometers are to be purchased, with the name of the maker, without at the same time revealing to him the principle on which they are constructed. Let us suppose, however, that from some peculiarity in the mode of the revelation, the navigator has come to believe that [the revelation] includes both items,—an enunciation regarding the place where and the maker from whom the best chronometers are to be had, and a farther enunciation regarding the true mechanism of chronometers. Let us suppose farther, that while the good faith and intelligence of his friend are unquestionable, the supposed revelation regarding the construction of chronometers... is altogether erroneous and absurd. ...[H]e might seriously compromise the intelligence or integrity of his friend in the judgment of all who held, on his testimony, that it was his friend, and not from his own misconception of his friend's meaning, that the view originated. ... The sailor's error respecting the construction of chronometers is to be tweted and exposed, not by any references to what his friend had said, but by the art of the chronometer-maker.

... Now, it will be found that those mistakes of the theologians wo which I refer have been exactly similar to that of the navigator in the supposed case, and that they are mistakes which must be corrected on exactly the same principle....

[p332] Attaching literal meanings to what we now recognise as merely poetic or oratorical figures, [early Christian theologians] believed that not only was it revealed to them that God had created the heavens and the earth, but also that He had created the earth in the form of an extended plain, and placed a semi-globular heavens over it...."

p333 Turretine's defense of the Ptolemaic doctrine, quoting Scripture: First, The Sun is said in Scripture to move in the heavens, and to rise and set.... Secondly, The sun by a miracle stood still in the time of Joshua; and by a miracle it went back in the time of Hezekiah.... Thirdly, The earth is said to be fixed immoveably.... Fourthly, Neither could birds, which often fly off be able to return to their nests. Fifthly, Whatever flies or is suspended in the air ought (by this theory) to move from west to east; but this is proved not to be true.

p334 (citing Turretine) "[God is not] to be corrected on the pretence of our blind reason."...[This] learned theologian, had he applied himself to astronomical science, could have found at the time very enlightened teachers; but falling into exactly the mistake of the sailor in my illustration...he set himself, instead, to contend with the astronomers... His mistake, I repeat, was exactly that of the sailor.

p335 "In the first place, we may safely hold that the texts of Scripture quoted by so able a theologian are those which have most the appearance of being revelations to men respecting the motions of the heavely bodies. We may conclusively infer, that if they do not reveal the character of those motions, then nowhere in Scripture is their character revealed. In the second place, it is obvious that the cited texts do not reveal the nature of the motions. It would be as rational to hold that our best almanacs reveal the Ptolemaic astronomy. In the scientific portions of our almanacs there occur many phrases which are perfectly well understood, and indicate very definitely what the writer really intends to express by them, that yet, taken literally, are not scientifically true. The words "Sun rises," and "Sun sets," and "Moon rises," and "Moon sets," occur on every page: there are two pages--those devoted to the months of Marcha and September--in which the phrase occurs, "Sun crosses the equinoctial line;" and further, in the other pages, such phrases as "Sun enters Aries,"....And these phrases, interpreted after the manner of Turretine, and according to their strict grammatical meaning, would of course imply that the sun has a motion around our planet...And yet we know that none of these ideas are in the mind of the writer who, in compiling the almanac, employs the phrases. He employs them to indicate, not the nature of the heavenly motions, but the exact time when, from the several motions of the earth, the sun and moon, are brought into certain apparent positions....The Scriptural phrases are in no degree more express respecting the motion of the sun and the other heavenly bodies than those of the almanac, which, we know, do not refer to motion at all, but to time. Nor are we less justified in holding that the cited Scriptures do not refer to motion, but to authorship. ... the appeal lies, not to Scripture, but to the astronomic science.

p337 "[T]he reasonings of Turretine, when, quitting his own proper walk, he discourses, not as a theologian, but as a natural philosopher, are such as to read a lesson not wholly unneeded in the present day. They show how, in a department in which it demanded the united life-long labours of a Kepler, Galileo, and Newton to elicit the truth, the hasty guesses of a great theologian, rashly ventured in a polemic spirit, gave form and body to but ludicrous error....

Let me remark in the passing, that while Turretine, one of the greatest of theologians, failed, as we have seen, to find in Scripture the fact of astronomic construction, LaPlace, one of the greatest of the astronomers, failed in a manner equally signal to find in his science the fact of astronomic authorship.

But how deal, I next ask, with the theologian who holds that geologic fact has been revealed to him? [They are] phantastical in their philosophy and heretical in their religion. I say heretical in their religion.

p343 "Geology rests on a broad, ever-extending basis of evidence, wholly independent of the revelation on which [some theologians] profess, very intelligently in all the instances I have yet known, to found their objections. [The anti-geologists promise themselves to] defeat those attempts to reconcile the two records which are made by geologists who respect and believe the Scripture testimony ... they declare war against the Christian geologist.

p344 There are three different parties in the field, either directly opposed, or at least little friendly, to the men who honestly attempt reconciling the Mosaic with the geologic record. First there are the anti-geologists,--men who hold that geological questions are to be settled now as the Franciscans contemporary with Galileo held that astronomical questions were to be settled... They beileve that geology, as interpreted by the geologists, is entirely false, because, they think, irreconcileable with Scripture; further, that our planet had no existence some seven or eight thousand years ago,--that the apparent antiquity of the various sedimentary systems and organic groupes of the earth's crust is wholly illusive,--and that the very oldest of them cannot be more than a few days older than the human period. Next, there is a class, more largely represented in society than  in literature, who, looking at the general bearings of the question, the character and standing of the geologists, and the sublime nature of their discoveries, believe that geology ranks as certainly among the sciences as astronomy itself; but who, little in earnest in their religion, are quite ready enough, when they find theologians asserting the irreconcileability of the geologic doctrines with those of Scripture, to believe them; nay, not only so, but to repeat the assertion. It is not fashionable in the present age openly to avow infidelity, save mayhap in some modified rationalistic or pantheistic form; but in no age did the thing itself exist more extensively, and the number of individuals is very great who, while they profess an outward respect for Revelation, have no serious quarrel with the class who, in their blind zeal in its behalf, are in reality undermining its foundations. Nor are there avowed infidels awanting who also make common cause with the party so far as to assert that the results of geologic discovery conflict irreconcileably with the Mosaic account of creation. But there is yet another class, composed of respectable and able men, who, from the natural influence of their acquirements and talents, are perhaps more dangerous allies still, and whom we find represented by writers such as Mr. Babbage and the Rev. Baden Powell. It is held by both of these accomplished men, that it is in vain to attempt reconciling the Mosaic writings with the geologic discoveries: both are intimately acquainted with the evidence adduced by the geologist, and entertain no doubt whatever regarding what it establishes; but though in the main friendly to at least the moral sanctions of the New Testament, both virtually set aside the Mosaic cosmogony; the one (Mr. Babbage) on the professed grounds that we really cannot arrive with any certainty at the meaning of that old Hebrew introduction to the Scriptures in which the genesis of things is described; and the other (Mr. Powell) on the assumption that that introduction is but a mere picturesque myth or parable, and as little scientifically true as the parables of our Savour or of Nathan the seer are historically so. Now, I cannot think that the anti-geologists are quite in the place in which they either ought or intend to be when engaged virtually in making common cause with either of these latter classes.

>ancient cosmogonies: Buddhism, Brahminism, Parseeism, Hinduism, Ymir, Odin, Yggdrasill, Midgard, Thor, Edda, Turretine, creation days,
Moasic Geologists -- Granville Penn, Moses Stewart, Eleazar Lord, Dean Cockburn, Peter Macfarlane

Lecture 10:  The Geology of the Anti-Geologists  348 
348  349  350  351  352  353  354  355  356  357  358  359  360  361  362  363  364  365  366  367  368  369  370  371  372  373  374  375  376  377  378  379  380  381  382

p352 I was not a little struck lately by finding, in a religious periodical of the United States, a worthy Episcopalian clergyman bitterly complaining from his pulpit the gross infidelity of modern geology, he would see an unbelieving grin arising on the faces of not a few of his congregation. Alas! who can doubt that such ecclesiastics as this good clergyman must virtually be powerful preachers on the sceptical side, to all among their people who, with intelligence enough to appreciate the geologic evidence, are still unsettled in their minds respecting that of the Christian faith.

p371 In truth, the extreme absurdity of our later anti-geologists in virtually contending, in the controversy, that their ignorance of an interesting science, founded on millions of determined facts, ought to be permitted to weigh against the knowledge of the men who have studied it most thoroughly, forms their best defence. It secures them against all save neglect.

Lecture 11:  On the Less Known Fossil Floras of Scotland, Part I  383 
383  384  385  386  387  388  389  390  391  392  393  394  395  396  397  398  399  400  401  402  403  404  405  406  407  408  409  410  411  412  413  414  415

Lecture 12: On the Less Known Fossil Floras of Scotland, Part II  416-454 
416  417  418  419  420  421  422  423  424  425  426  427  428  429  430  431  432  433  434  435  436  437  438  439  440  441  442  443  444  445  446  447  448  449  450  451  452  453  454