The Theological And Scientific Theories Of The Origin Of Man -- By: Frank Cramer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 048:191 (Jul 1891)
Article: The Theological And Scientific Theories Of The Origin Of Man
Author: Frank Cramer

The Theological And Scientific Theories Of The Origin Of Man

Frank Cramer

The question of the origin of man has been so long under discussion that it is now possible to get a fair view of the comparative merits of the opposing theories of his creation. The charge that the theory of man’s physical relationship with the other primates is a reversion to the old savage belief in the brotherhood of men and beasts may be set aside now as having lost its force. When the theory first appeared, theology was already in the field with others concerning the age of the race, the method of its creation, and its original home. But while the scientific theory “was opposed by the whole Christian world because of the belief that the Bible teaches a contrary doctrine, the negative evidence opposed to it, and the positive evidence in favor of it, have made their proper impressions; and the value of the latter has come to depend not only on its amount, but in a marked degree on its nature. Meanwhile, the supposed evidence in favor of the opposing theories has been tried and found wanting.

Reiteration and association with sacred things often gives error the force of sacred truth. A remarkable example of this tendency is Usher’s chronology of the Bible. It is still quoted as final in the Sunday-schools, and is sometimes, even yet, made the basis of attack on scientific theory. But scholars are agreed in nothing with reference to it so much as they are in the opinion that it is far from perfect. Many years ago Adam Clarke made the pathetic confession that he ultimately fixed on the commonly received chronology because it seemed to be the least objectionable. More recently Lange made the remarkable confession that “the first imperfection [of biblical chronology] is the want of an unbroken series of dates by years, starting from some fixed point in history. The second is the absence of a reference of the dates in the history of Israel, to the contemporary dates of general history.”

In like manner, the Duke of Argyll, commenting on the great diversity of

the Old Testament texts and chronologies, says that no confidence can be felt in any of the results. Professor Charles Hodge also declared that “the Scriptures do not teach us how long men have existed on the earth.” And recently Professor William H. Green, after a thorough discussion of the Old Testament genealogies, concludes that “the Scriptures furnish no data for a chronological computation prior to the life of Abraham.” In the face of these admissions it is, to say the least, a misfortune that Bible houses and tract societies should continue to print Usher’s chronology in the Bible margin. Nor is it a good excuse for the retention of what...

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