Creation; Or, The Biblical Cosmogony In The Light Of Modern Science -- By: James D. Dana

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 042:166 (Apr 1885)
Article: Creation; Or, The Biblical Cosmogony In The Light Of Modern Science
Author: James D. Dana


Creation; Or, The Biblical Cosmogony In The Light Of Modern Science1

James D. Dana

The grand history of creation with which the Bible opens is thrown into the region of myths or dreams by two classes of writers: the scientific, who know the many positive scientific errors in the accepted interpretation, and see no method of harmonizing the two diverse records; the exegetical, who hold that exegesis alone should determine the meaning of the chapter.

One such short-sighted exegete, for example, referring to Professor Guyot’s recent work, seeks to enforce his various objections by such remarks as the following: “Biblical interpretation is older far than geology”! “Skill and knowledge in the physical sciences by no means necessarily involve skill and knowledge in the science of interpretation.” “A man may have considerable knowledge about terminal moraines, and little or no such knowledge about the origin, history, and diction of

the New Testament books.” (We stop these illustrative citations to say that Professor Guyot has no mention of “terminal moraines” in his work; and, further, he is never discourteous in language or allusion.)

“The reconciliation which it proposes between Genesis and Geology is obtained at the price of a fair and scientific exegesis.” “All interpretations which depend upon reading the cosmogonic ideas of modern science into the ancient inspired record can have only the same and doubtful success.” “The apparent agreement of the biblical narrative even with the geologic scheme of the author is purchased at every one of these points [the six 24-hour days, and the other usually noted discrepancies] by setting aside the claims of hermeneutical science.” “No matter, therefore, how high our regard for the pious intent, the scientific attainments, and the fair, charitable spirit of the author, fidelity to the cause of biblical interpretation requires the conclusion that his attempt is a failure; and every similar attempt must end in failure.”

Thus Hermeneutics, while knowing little of physical science, and apparently unaware of the antiquity of its facts, is very positive, needlessly arrogant, and self-destructive.

If the writer from whom these sentences are quoted is right in his views (see, for a full account of them, the notice of Prof. Guyot’s work in the New Englander for July last), then “skill and knowledge in the physical sciences,” with the aid of interpretation by such an exegete, make the account of creation a record not worth the time or labor of an exegete. Accepting the results, science becomes positive in it...

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