The Hebrew Cosmogony -- By: Charles B. Warring

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 053:209 (Jan 1896)
Article: The Hebrew Cosmogony
Author: Charles B. Warring


The Hebrew Cosmogony

Charles B. Warring

Within the last few decades, scientists have made great advances in the knowledge of the earth’s history during that immeasurably long period which preceded the creation of Adam. They have destroyed the illusion, once universal outside of Judaea, that the earth was eternal, as well as the opposite belief, prevalent till recently through all Christendom, that the whole universe came into being only six thousand years ago, completely finished and peopled, as now, in six common consecutive days. They have discovered a number of important facts as to the earth’s primal condition, the origin and nature of light, its poor quality at first, its progress from poverty to present richness and power, the beginning of day and night, the once vaporous state of the waters now in the seas, their deposition, the then condition of the atmosphere, the once universal ocean, the emergence of the land, the order in which life began, and that in which, millions of years later, plants, and water, air, and land animals reached their final development and culmination in present living species, man’s contemporaries.

The Hebrew Cosmogony also purports to tell of occurrences and conditions before Adam, and makes many statements about the very matters in reference to which scientists have been making their discoveries. So far as these are concerned, it falls within the domain of science, and thus, for the first time since the story was written, it becomes possible

to determine its character by other testimony than its own. With this in view, I propose to compare its physical statements, one by one, with what scientists have told us. It has, it is true, another and very important side,—the theological, —but with that the present paper has nothing to do. The reader will see that this discussion extends only to the creation of Adam. The first chapter is complete in itself, has a style and character of its own, and is true or not, independently of all that comes after it.

It goes without saying, that to reach permanent results, and no others will be satisfactory, the account must be taken just as it reads,1 without forcing the meaning of words, or changing the order of what it says, or interpolating into it anything not already there. There are many things believed to be the teachings of this story, which have no place in it. These in fairness should all be ruled out, relegated to Milton’s “Creation,” the great omnium-gatherum of mediaeval errors as to how and when our world was made.2 I propose to take it with the utmost literalness, neit...

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