there have been no oscillations, but only a gradual amelioration of climate."
The world, like Milton’s lion, is still trying to disengage its binder limbs from the superincumbent weight of the Drift. Every snow-storm, every chilling blast that blows out from the frozen lips of the icy North, is but a reminiscence of Ragnarok.
But the great cosmical catastrophe was substantially over with the close of the sixth day. We are now in the seventh day. The darkness has gone; the sun has come back; the waters have returned to their bounds; vegetation has resumed its place; the fish, the birds, the animals, men, are once more populous in ocean, air, and on the land; the comet is gone, and the orderly processes of nature are around us, and God is “resting” from the great task of restoring his afflicted world.
The necessity for some such interpretation as this was apparent to the early fathers of the Christian Church, although they possessed no theory of a. comet. St. Basil, St. Cæsarius, and Origen, long before any such theory was dreamed of, argued that the sun, moon, and stars existed from the beginning, but that they did not appear until the fourth day. “Who,” says Origen, “that has sense, can think that the first, second, and third days were without sun, moon, or stars?”
But where were they? Why did they not appear? What obscured them?
What could obscure them but dense clouds? Where did the clouds come from? They were vaporized water. What vaporized the water and caused this darkness on the face of the deep, so dense that the sun, moon, and stars did not appear until the world had clothed itself
[1. “The Great Ice Age,” p. 438.]
again in vegetation? Tremendous heat. Where did the heat come from? If it was not caused by contact with a comet, what was it? And if it was not caused by contact with a comet, how do you explain the blazing sword at the gate of Eden; the fire falling from heaven on “the cities of the plain”; and the fire that fell on Job’s sheep and camels and consumed them; and that drove Job to clamber by ropes down into the narrow-mouthed bottomless cave; where he tells us of the leviathan, the twisted, the undulating one, that cast down stones in the mire, and made the angels in heaven to tremble, and the deep to boil like a pot? And is it not more reasonable to suppose that this sublime religious poem, called the Book of Job, represents the exaltation of the human soul under the stress of the greatest calamity our race has ever endured, than to believe that it is simply a record of the sufferings of some obscure Arab chief from a loathsome disease? Surely inspiration should reach us through a different channel; and there should be some proportion between the grandeur of the thoughts and the dignity of the events which produced them.
And if Origen is right, and it is absurd to suppose that the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the third day, then the sacred text is dislocated, transposed; and the second chapter narrates events which really occurred before those mentioned in the first chapter; and the “darkness” is something which came millions of years after that “Beginning,” in which God made the earth, and the heavens, and all the host of them.