The case stated.
The History of the Creation with which the Bible commences, is not a mere incidental appendage to God’s Revelation, but constitutes the foundation on which the whole of that Revelation is based. Setting forth as it does the relation in which man stands to God as his Maker, and to the world which God formed for his abode, it forms a necessary introduction to all that God has seen fit to reveal to us with reference to His dispensations of Providence and of Grace.
It is, however, not uncommonly asserted that this history cannot be reconciled with a vast number of facts which modern science has revealed to us, and with theories based on observed facts, and recommended by the unquestioned ability of the men by whom they have been brought forward. At first sight there does seem to be some ground for this assertion. Geology, for instance, makes us acquainted with strata of rock of various kinds, arranged in exact order, and of an aggregate thickness of many miles, which are filled with the remains of a wonderful series of plants and animals, these remains not being promiscuously collected, but arranged in an unvarying order. It seems impossible that all these plants and animals could have lived and died, and been imbedded in the rocks in this exact succession, in six of our ordinary days. Astronomy directs our attention to changes now going on in the starry heavens which occupy ages in their development, and points to traces in the constitution of our own world which seem to indicate that it was formed by analogous means. Physiology reveals to us the fact that the different varieties of plants and animals now in existence are not separated from each other by well defined lines of demarcation, but shade into each other by almost imperceptible gradations; and geological researches show that while the existing species of animals are the representatives of those which lived and died at a period in which we can find no traces of man, they are not identical with them, but that either the old species must have died out, and been replaced by a fresh creation, or a considerable change must have taken place in the course of ages. These facts are held to be incompatible with the account of creation given by Moses, and hence it is inferred that a record, which appears to be so widely at variance with admitted facts, cannot be entitled to the authority which is claimed for it, as a fundamental portion of a Revelation made by the Creator Himself.
This difficulty is sometimes met by the assertion that the Bible was not given to us to teach us Science, but to convey to us certain information which was essential to our moral welfare, and which we could not obtain by any other means; that these discrepancies do not in any way interfere with that portion of those truths which is involved in the History of Creation, but that, however the narrative may be viewed as far as regards its details, the facts that God is the Creator of all things visible and invisible, that He is a Being of infinite Wisdom, Power, and Love, and that He has placed man in a peculiar relation to Himself, remain unaffected. On this ground it is often urged that we may pass over scientific inaccuracies as matters of no great importance.