II. That the first appearance of animal life was on the fifth of those six days. Geologists have discovered that animal life was in existence at the very earliest period to which they have as yet been able to extend their investigations.
III. That all living creatures are divided into two classes, and that the first of these classes was created on the fifth, the second on the sixth day; and that each class, in all its divisions, with the exception of man, came into existence simultaneously. Geologists trace the rise and increase of each class through a long course of ages.
IV. That death entered into the world through the sin of man. The very existence of fossils implies that it was the law of all animal life from the first.
V. That till the fall all creatures lived exclusively on vegetable food. Geologists have ascertained the existence of carnivorous creatures from a very remote period.
Besides these, there are some other supposed difficulties and inaccuracies of a less important character, which may be noticed, in passing, when the true meaning of the record is under discussion.
Section 1. The days.
The question of the days is beyond all doubt the most important of those which have to be discussed. On the one hand, the impression naturally left upon the reader of the first chapter of Genesis is that natural days are meant, and this impression is not removed by a cursory inspection of the original. On the other hand, if there is any one scientific belief which rests on peculiarly solid ground, it is the belief that the formation of the world occupied a period which is beyond the grasp of the most powerful imagination.
There is, indeed, some reason to think that the time claimed by geologists is somewhat exaggerated. Their views are in many cases based on the assumption that change is now going on, on the surface of the earth, as it did in all past time—that it is the same in character, in intensity, and in rate. But there are good reasons for supposing that almost all the causes which lead to change are gradually decreasing in intensity. The chief causes by which changes are brought about are the upheaval and subsidence of the earth’s surface; the destructive agencies of wind, storms at sea, rain and frost; and the action of the tides. Of these, all but the last are directly dependent on the action of heat, and there is every reason to believe that the heat of the earth is in process of gradual dissipation. If this be the case, all those agencies which are dependent on it must