Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


135 Years Later
E. B. Davis
4540 Gifford Rd., #16-G
Bloomington, Indiana 47401

From: JASA 34 (June 1982): 122-123.

The early American Congregationalist pastor Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was also the president of Amherst College and a first rate geologist who sought to harmonize Genesis with his science. He wrote several books of interest to ASA members; it was customary for him to handle the difficult questions of science/ theology issues with skill and candor. His Elementary Geology, which went through several editions as a standard nineteenth century textbook, devotes several pages to a discussion of the age of the earth. The following is lifted from pp. 292f of the eighth (1847) edition:

"Some maintain that the fossiliferous rocks were deposited by the deluge of Noah.

Refutation. 1. That deluge must have been for the most part violent and tumultuous in its action on the globe: for the ocean must have flowed over the land in strong currents; and when it retired, urged on as it was by a wind, similar currents must have prevailed. But a large proportion of the rocks were evidently deposited in quiet waters. 2. If deposited by that deluge, the materials and entombed organic remains of the rocks ought to be confused and mingled together; whereas in both these respects they are actually arranged with great regularity into groups. 3. The period occupied by the Noachian deluge was vastly too short for the disposition of rocks seven miles in thickness, and with a great number of entire and distinct changes in their nature and organic contents. 4. The organic remains in the rocks do not correspond to the animals and plants now living on the globe. But this deluge took place since the creation of the present races; and, therefore, by this hypothesis, they ought to be found in the rocks. Hence they were deposited before that event.

Rem [ark]. An apology is due to the geological reader, for introducing a formal refutation of an hypothesis, which, to him, appears so entirely absurd. The apology consists in the fact, that many intelligent men are still found maintaining this hypothesis."

Sad to say, they still are.