The world was once agreed that the Drift was due to the Deluge. It abandoned this theory, and then became equally certain that it came from icebergs. This theory was, in turn, given up, and mankind were then positive that glaciers caused the Drift. But the glaciers were found to be inadequate for the emergency; and so the continents were lifted up fifteen hundred feet, and the ice-sheets were introduced. And now we wait to hear that the immense ice-masses of the Himalayas have forsaken their elevations and are moving bodily over the plains of India, grinding up the rocks into clay and gravel
as they go, before we accept a theory which declares that they once marched over the land in this fashion from Hudson’s Bay to Cape Horn, from Spitzbergen to Spain.
The universality of an error proves nothing, except that the error is universal. The voice of the people is only the voice of God in the last analysis. We can safely appeal from Caiaphas and Pilate to Time.
But, says another:
“We find deep grooves or striations under the glaciers of to-day; therefore the glaciers caused the grooves.”
But we find striations on level plains far remote from mountains, where the glaciers could not have been; therefore the glaciers did not cause the striations. “A short horse is soon curried.” Superposition is not paternity. A porcelain nest-egg found under a hen is no proof that the hen laid it.
But, says another
“The idea of a comet encountering the earth, and covering it with débris, is so stupendous, so out of the usual course of nature, I refuse to accept it.”
Ah, my friend, you forget that those Drift deposits, hundreds of feet in thickness, are there. They are out of the usual course of nature. It is admitted that they came suddenly from some source. If you reject my theory, you do not get clear of the phenomena. The facts are a good deal more stupendous than the theory. Go out and look at the first Drift deposit; dig into it a hundred feet or more; follow it for a few hundred miles or more; then come back, and scratch your head, and tell me where it came from! Calculate how many cart-loads there are of it, then multiply this by the area of your own continent, and multiply that again by the area of two or three more continents, and then again tell me where it came from!
Set aside my theory as absurd, and how much nearer are you to solving the problem? If neither waves, nor icebergs, nor glaciers, nor ice-sheets, nor comets, produced this world-cloak of débris, where did it come from?
Remember the essential, the incontrovertible elements of the problem:
1. Great heat.
2. A sudden catastrophe.
3. Great evaporation of the seas and waters.
4. Great clouds.
5. An age of floods and snows and ice and torrents.