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    May 14, 1885

    “The Uncertainty of Geological Science” The Signs of the Times 11, 19, p. 292.

    ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, LL. D., F. R. S., Professor of Geology, University of Edinburgh, spoken of by the New York Independent as “an author who is surpassed by none of his compeers in scientific attainment and hardly equaled by any of them for his gifts in the imparting of knowledge,” is the author of a “Text Book of Geology;” and also the author of the treatise on geology in the latest edition of the “Encyclopedia Britannica;” therefore we shall doubtless be justified in accepting his work as the latest, the ablest, and the best contribution in favor of geological science as it is at the present day. After reading and studying it through three times, the impression left by it upon my mind is that expressed by the title which I have placed at the head of this article.SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.1

    In this discussion we propose no comparison of geology and the Bible. We intend to examine geological science on its own merits. We want to know upon what it rests. We want to know what its merits are. We want to know whether indeed it has any merit that would justify a comparison with the Bible.SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.2

    Geology is defined as “the science which investigates the history of the earth.” “Its object,” as stated, “is to trace the progress of our planet from the earliest beginning of its separate existence, through its various stages of growth, down to the present condition of things.” “It seeks to determine the manner in which the evolution of the earth’s great surface features has been effected.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.3

    But it is only by a proper understanding of the present order of things, that the past can be made out. He says: “Only in proportion as we understand the present, where everything if open on all sides to the fullest investigation, can we expect to decipher the past, where so much is obscure, imperfectly preserved, or not preserved at all. A study of the existing economy of nature ought thus to be the foundation of the geologist’s training.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.4

    So, then, here we have properly, at the very beginning, laid down the foundation of geological deduction. And we may, properly enough, inquire, Is this foundation secure? is it a foundation upon which we can firmly stand and safely build? Let Mr. Geikie answer. In the very next paragraph he says:—SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.5

    “While, however, the present condition of things is thus employed, we must obviously be on our guard against the danger of unconsciously assuming that the phase of nature’s operations which we now witness has been the same in all past time, that geological changes have taken place in former ages in the manner and on the scale which we behold to-day, and that at the present time all the great geological processes, which have produced changes in the past eras of the earth’s history, are still extant and active. Of course we may assume this uniformity of action, and use the assumption as a working hypothesis. But it ought not to be allowed any firmer footing, nor on any account be suffered to blind us to the obvious truth that the few centuries wherein man has been observing nature, form much too brief an interval by which to measure, the intensity of geological action in all past time. For aught we can tell, the present is an era of quietude and slow change, compared with some of the eras which have preceded it. Nor can we be sure that, when we have explored every geological process now in progress, we have exhausted all the causes of change which even in comparatively recent times have been at work.” And in another place (No. 1, under the Age of the Earth) he says plainly that this assumption “may be entirely erroneous.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.6

    According to this, “the foundation of a geologist’s training” is an “assumption;” and this assumption must not be allowed a “firm footing” because it may blind us to an obvious truth,” amnd because it also may be “entirely erroneous.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.7

    And here, after having a—yes, the—foundation, he has as certainly destroyed it, and we might exclaim, not exactly with the psalmist, “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the” geologists “do”? If, therefore, the foundation be assumption, the superstructure can be nothing more, and this also is just as plainly stated as is the foregoing, as follows:—SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.8

    “In dealing with the Geological Record, as the accessible solid part of the globe is called, we cannot too vividly realize that at the best it forms but an imperfect chronicle. Geological history cannot be compiled from a full and continuous series of documents. From the very nature of its origin, the record is necessarily fragmentary, and it has been further mutilated and obscured by the revolutions of successive ages.” “Enormous gaps occur where no record has been preserve at all. It is as if whole chapters and books were missing from an historical work.”—See Part V., Gaps in the Geological Record; also in the Introduction.SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.9

    But what degree of reliability could be placed in the deductions of one who should presume to give the exact course of events in a certain history, when “whole chapters and books were missing” from the only extant historical record of the events? None whatever. For it is entirely by conjecture that the events of the missing parts must be made up. This is particularly so of the geologists’ deductions, for, as we have seen, there are not only “whole chapters and books missing,” but they are not sure that they have the correct interpretation of those which remain. Therefore they guess at the course of events in that part of the record which remains, and then supply the missing parts by other guesses; and so it is a guess all around.SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.10

    Geology reveals no beginningSITI May 14, 1885, page 292.11

    “It is still true that in the data with which they are accustomed to deal as comprising the sum of geological evidence, there can be found no trace of a beginning. The oldest rocks which have been discovered on any part of the globe have probably been derived from other rocks older than themselves. Geology, by itself, has not yet revealed, and is little likely ever to reveal, a trace of the first solid crust of our globe. If, then, geological history is to be compiled from direct evidence furnished by the rocks of the earth, it cannot begin at the beginning of things, but must be content to date its first chapter from the earliest period of which any record has been preserved among the rocks.”—Part I, Cosmical Aspects. If, then, it begins at an uncertain place, and follows an uncertain course, and sometimes no course at all, how can the ending be anything else but uncertain?SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.12

    In Part II., Geognosy, he discusses the Age of the Earth, and Measures of Geological Time from which we extract the following. He says that the age of the earth may be attacked from either the geological or the physical side. First the geological:—SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.13

    “This geological argument rests chiefly, upon the observed rates at which geological changes are being effected at the present time, and is open to the obvious preliminary objection that it assumes the existing rate of change as the measure of past revolutions,—an assumption which may be entirely erroneous, for the present may be a period when all geological events march forward more slowly than they used to do?” “If we assume that the land has been worn away, and that stratified deposits have been laid down nearly at the same rate as at present, then we must admit that the stratified portion of the crust of the earth must represent a very vast period of time. Dr. Crall puts this period at not less, but much more, than sixty million years.” “On any supposition it must be admitted that these vicissitudes in the organic world can only have been effected with the lapse of vast periods of time, though no reliable standard seems to be available whereby these periods are to be measured. The argument from geological evidence is strongly in favor of an interval of probably not less than one hundred million years since the earliest form of life appeared upon the earth, and the oldest stratified rocks began to be laid down.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.14

    Yes, no doubt, “if we assume” that such and such is one case, “probably” the balance will follow. But why are we called upon to “assume” an “erroneous assumption” only for the purpose of reaching an indefinite conclusion? This “argument from geological evidence,” is like the famous essay on “Snakes in Ireland,” viz., “There are no snakes in Ireland.” So likewise, there is no geological evidence, and he says so. Why may we not just as rightfully assume that these changes and revolutions have been wrought in short periods, or even suddenly! Many of them have certainly been made violently. A. T. J.SITI May 14, 1885, page 292.15

    (To be continued.)

    “Notes on the International Lesson. 1 Timothy 1:15-20; 2:1-6. The Faithful Saying” The Signs of the Times 11, 19, pp. 294, 295.

    “THIS is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It would seem that this expression had become a “saying,“—a kind of proverb among the Christians, and upon which they dwelt in great measure, and which Paul would now give his most emphatic endorsement. It is a saying “worthy of all acceptation.” That is his mission, that is his name. The term Christ Jesus, being Greek, and simply transferred into the English, and not translated, the full meaning, without a translation, is not discerned. But with a reference Bible the real meaning is easily obtained from the marginal readings.SITI May 14, 1885, page 294.1

    JESUS is a Greek word, and in English means Saviour. Matthew 1:21, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus [margin, Saviour], for he shall save his people from their sins.” In other words, Thou shalt call his name Saviour, because he shall save his people from their sins. The word Christ is also Greek, and in English means Anointed. John 1:41. “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ,” [margin, the Anointed]. These two terms, Christ and Jesus, being placed together, therefore, mean in English, The Anointed Saviour; and as he came to save sinners, the phrase Christ Jesus means, The Anointed Saviour of sinners. Bearing this in mind, it is wonderful what a depth of meaning is given to the Scriptures in our reading of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not simply a bare name, but a glorious title, which in its depth of meaning absorbs both words, all time, and eternity.SITI May 14, 1885, page 294.2

    AND he is able to save. All power in Heaven and in earth is given to him. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” “By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16, 17. He upholds “all things by the word of his power.” It was his voice that “spake, and it was done.” It was he who commanded, and it stood fast. It was by “his word,” and “by the breath of his mouth,” that “the heavens,” and “all the host of them” were made. And he, though Creator of all, was made flesh, for the suffering of death. And that he might bring many sons unto glory, he chose to be made the perfect Captain of salvation, through suffering. For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will declare they name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Hebrews 2:9-12.SITI May 14, 1885, page 294.3

    WHEN wonderingly the prophet cried, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?” the answer came, “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Isaiah 63:11. He is a mighty Creator; he is just as mighty a Saviour. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “Though ye have lain among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” Psalm 68:13. Paul knew of the power of this salvation, when Christ in his great mercy and long suffering, apprehended him, a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious, and turned him to himself, and counted him faithful. And thus, says Paul, in him Christ showed his long-suffering for a pattern to them who should afterward believe on the Saviour to life everlasting. That is, Paul would convey to all the assurance that, as Christ’s mercy reached him, so it is abundant to all who will believe in Jesus. And “I will put my trust in him.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 294.4

    “NOW UNTO the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor, and glory forever and ever. Amen.” This is the only place in the Bible where the word “immortal” is used. In the revised New Testament it is not used at all. But in our common version it is used this once, and, as all can see, it refers solely to the eternal King. In 1 Timothy 6:15, 16, immortality is used thus, “Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.” The word “immortality” is used again in 2 Timothy 1:10, where Paul says that Christ has brought it to light; and again in Romans 2:7, where it is spoken of as one of the things for which we must see; and again in 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54, where it is said that it will be put on at the resurrection of the righteous dead, and the change of the righteous living, at the last trump. The Bible story of immortality is very short, plain, and easily understood. Thus: God only has it; Christ brought it to light; men must seek for it; and those who do, will obtain it at the resurrection of the just. This is the Lord’s exposition of the subject, and therefore the only true one.SITI May 14, 1885, page 294.5

    “HOLDING faith and a good conscience.” Be careful of the conscience. Be sure you have a good one, and then be very careful to keep it good, and be sure that you do so. Try your conscience by the word of God; this points out the only way to get a good conscience; this is the only test by which we may know that we have a good conscience, by which it may be kept good. The following from the Sunday School Times is to the point: “Neither in the Bible nor in the practical experience of the race, is there anything to indicate that a man has within himself a safe and sure guide of duty. On the contrary, as we see it, a man must depend for teaching from outside of himself, in order to know the right from the wrong. God does give to every man an internal monitor which tells him that he ought to do right, but not an internal instructor which tells him what is right. In this sense, a man’s conscience is a monitor, but is not a teacher; a prompter, but not a guide. Conscience tells a man that he ought to do right. A man’s duty is to do right; not merely to do what he thinks to be right, but to do what is right. Hence ‘it is not always safe for a man to do what his conscience approves;’ ‘to do that which he thinks he ought to do.’ It is only safe for him to know what he ought to do and do that. It is not always safe for a man to do what he thinks he ought to do; but it safe for a man to do what he ought to do; and man must have a better guide than his conscience, in order to be always in the path of duty and of safety.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 294.6

    “WHO will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The will of God in this direction has been abundantly manifested. He has done all that he can do that men may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. In Isaiah 5:4, the Lord says, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” “He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” and if salvation is not obtained in him, it cannot be obtained at all. He is made to all men “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” and “whosoever” (any person whatever) believeth in him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life. But it must be a genuine belief,—a real faith.SITI May 14, 1885, page 295.1

    FAITH without works is dead, so every man’s faith must be manifested in works,—in doing. It will do no good to call him Lord, Lord, and do nothing. “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46. He that heareth the sayings of Christ and doeth them, has built his house upon the rock. He is become the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him. Hebrews 5:9. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 1:19, 20. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” This is the divine order in following the Saviour. First, deny self; next, take up the cross, and then follow him. But this is not the course that is followed to any great majority of professed Christians. But without these there is no such thing as following Christ.SITI May 14, 1885, page 295.2

    THE grace which brought this great salvation to all men teaches this very thing. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11-14. All this the grace of God teaches, and all this he would have us learn. But how few there are who learn it! There are a great many peculiar people in the world, but very few of the right kind of peculiar people. The kind of peculiarity of which God approves is that which is shown in zeal of good works.SITI May 14, 1885, page 295.3

    NOTE again the things which Paul says the grace of God teaches. It teaches us self-denial; it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly; and it teaches us to look for “that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” But how many who profess to be partakers of the grace of God, are taught by it to thus look for that glorious appearing of the Lord? Now as the grace of God which brings salvation, teaches men to look for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, if the amount of the grace of God among men is measured by the number of those who have learned to look for that glorious appearing, then how much of the grace of God is there in the professedly orthodox Christian world to-day? Reader, are you thus taught by the grace of God to look for the glorious appearing of the Lord? “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”SITI May 14, 1885, page 295.4

    A. T. J.

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