Commentary of the author about the Biblical Account of the Creation in spirit philosophy.
“The different nations of the earth have formed to them-selves widely divergent ideas of the creation; ideas always in harmony with their degree of scientific advancement. Reason and science concur in admitting the fantastic character of certain theories. The explanation of the subject now given through spirit communication is confirmatory of the opinion which has long been adopted by the most enlightened exponents of modern science.
This explanation will no doubt be objected to, on the ground that it is in contradiction with the statements of the Bible; but a careful examination of those statements shows us that this contradiction is more apparent than real, and that it results from the interpretation which has been given to expressions whose meaning is allegorical rather than historical.
The question of the personality of Adam, regarded as the first man, and sole progenitor of the human race, is not the only one in regard to which the religious convictions of the world have necessarily undergone modification. The hypothesis of the rotation of the earth round the sun appeared, at one time, to be in such utter opposition to the letter of the Bible, that every species of persecution was directed against it, and against those who advocated it. Yet the earth continued to move on in its orbit in defiance of anathemas; and no one, at the present day, could contest the fact of its movement without doing violence to his own powers of reasoning.
The Bible also tells us that the world was created in six days, and fixes the epoch of this creation at about 4000 years before the Christian era. Previously to that period the earth did riot exist. At that period it was produced out of nothing. Such is the formal declaration of the sacred text, yet science, positive, inexorable steps in with proof to the contrary. The history of the formation of the globe is written in indestructible characters in the worlds of fossils, proving beyond the possibility of denial that the six lays of the creation arc successive periods, each of which may have been of millions of ages. This is not a mere matter of statement or of opinion. It is a fact as incontestably certain as is the motion of the earth, and one that theology itself can no longer refuse to admit, although this admission furnishes another example of the errors into which we are led by attributing literal truth to language which is often of a figurative nature. Are we therefore to conclude that the Bible is a mere tissue of errors ? No; but we must admit that men have erred in their method of interpreting it.
Geology, in its study of the archives written in the structure of the globe itself, has ascertained the order of succession in which the different species of living beings have appeared on its surface, and this order is found to be in accordance with the sequence indicated in the book of Genesis, with this difference, viz., that the earth, instead of issuing miraculously from the hand of God in the course of a few days, accomplished its formation under the impulsion of the Divine will, but according to the laws and through the action of the forces of nature, in the course of periods incalculable by us.
Does God appear less great and less powerful for having accomplished the work of creation through the action of forces, and according to laws, of His own ordaining? And is the result of the creative energy less sublime for not having been accomplished instantaneously? Evidently not; and puerile indeed must he the mind that does not recognise the grandeur of the Almighty Power implied in this evolution of the worlds of the universe through the action of eternal laws. Science, so far from diminishing the glory of the Divine action, displays that action under an aspect still more sublime, and more consonant with our intuitive sense of the power and majesty of God, by showing that it has been accomplished without derogation from the. laws which are the expression of the Divine will in the realm of nature.
Modern science, in accordance with the Mosaic record, proves that man was the last in the order of creation of living beings. But Moses puts the universal deluge at the year of the world 1654, while geology seems to show that the great diluvian cataclysm occurred before the appearance of man, because, up to the present time, the primitive strata contain no traces of his presence, nor of that of the animals contemporaneous with him. But this point is far from being decided. Various recent discoveries suggest the possibility of our being destined to ascertain that the antiquity of the human race is much greater than has been hitherto supposed; and should this greater antiquity become a matter of certainty, it would prove that the letter of the Bible, in regard to the date assigned by it to the creation of man, as in regard to so many other matters, can only be understood in an allegorical sense. That the geological deluge is not that of Noah is evident from the lapse of time required for the formation of the fossiliferous strata; and, if traces should eventually be discovered of the existence of the human race before the geological deluge, it would be evident either that Adam was not the first man, or that his creation dates back from a period indefinitely remote. There is no arguing against fact; and the antiquity of the human race, if proved by geological discovery, would have to be admitted, just as has been done in regard to the movement of the earth and the six days of the creation.
The existence of the human race before the geological deluge, it may be objected, is still doubtful. But the same objection cannot be urged against the following considerations – Admitting that man first appeared upon the earth 4000 years before Christ, if the whole of the human race, with the exception of a single family, were destroyed 1650 years afterwards, it follows that the peopling of the earth dates only from the time of Noah-that is to say, only
2500 years before Christ. But when the Hebrews emigrated to Egypt in the eighteenth century before Christ, they found that country densely populated, and already in possession of an advanced civilization. History also shows that, at the same period, India and various other countries were equally populous and flourishing, to say nothing of the chronological tables of other nations, which claim to go back to periods yet more remote. We must, therefore, suppose that, from the twenty- fourth to the eighteenth century before Christ-that is to say, in the space of 600 years-the posterity of a single individual was able to people all the immense countries which had then been discovered, not to speak of those which were then unknown, but which we have no reason to conclude were destitute of inhabitants; and we must suppose, still further, that the human race, during this brief period, was able to raise itself from the crass ignorance of the primitive savage state to the highest degree of intellectual development-sup-positions utterly irreconcilable with anthropological laws.
The diversity of the various human races confirms this view of the subject. Climate and modes of life undoubtedly modify the physical characteristics of mankind, but we know the extent to which these modifications can be carried, and physiological examination conclusively proves that there are between the different races of men constitutional differences too profound to have been produced merely by differences of climate. The crossing of races produces intermediary types; it tends to efface the extremes of characteristic peculiarities; but it does not produce these peculiarities, and, there. fore, creates only new varieties. But the crossing of races presupposes the existence of races distinct from each other; and how is the existence of these to be explained if we attribute their origin to a common stock especially if we restrict the production of these various races to so brief a period? How is it possible to suppose, for example, that the descendants of Noah could have been, in so short a time, transformed into Ethiopians? Such a metamorphosis would be as inadmissible as that of a wolf into a sheep, of a beetle into an elephant, of a bird into a fish.
No preconceived opinion can withstand, in the long run, the evidence of opposing facts. But, on the contrary, all difficulty disappears if we assume that man existed at a period anterior to that which has hitherto been commonly assigned to his creation; that Adam commenced, some 6000 years ago, the peopling of a country until then uninhabited; that the deluge of Noah was a local catastrophe, erroneously confounded with the great geological cataclysm; and, finally, if we make due allowance for the allegorical form of expression characteristic of the Oriental style, and common to the sacred books of every people.
It is unwise to insist upon a literal interpretation of figurative statements of which the inaccuracy may, at any moment, be rendered evident by the progress of scientific discovery; but the fundamental propositions of religion, so far from having anything to fear from the discoveries of science, are strengthened and ennobled by being brought into harmony with those discoveries. And it is only when the religious sentiment shall have been en lightened by its union with scientific truth that religious belief thus rendered invulnerable to the attacks of skepticism, will take the place of skepticism in the minds and hearts of men.”
This closes the Chapter III – Creation.
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