Serial, Miscellaneous; Extract
Geology, Design, Providence, Anthropocentrism, Palaeontology, Steam-power, Machinery, Invertebrate Zoology, Vulcanology, Theodicy, Natural Theology, Biblical Authority, Functionalism, Progress, Miracle, Natural Law, Plenitude
Gideon A Mantell
Consists of further lengthy extracts from Hitchcock 1835, although the erratic use of quotation marks makes it difficult to determine whether there are any editorial interpolations. Numbered headings continue the theme of the preceding part of the serial (, YM3/10/6/1), that geology furnishes illustrations of divine benevolence. Provides evidence of the prescient providence of God in providing 'accumulations of rock-salt, gypsum, limestone and coal in the earth in past ages' (228). Describes the gradual generation of these substances. Refers to anthracite as being 'at once the main agent in the making, and when made the pabulum of some of the wonder-working machinery of the nineteenth century', and quotes (without citation) from William C Bryant's poetical 'Meditation on Rhode-Island Coal' (229). Discusses the origin of limestone, and describes the process of reef-formation using an extract from James Montgomery's poem The Pelican Island. Suggests that volcanoes provide evidence of divine benevolence, since they constitute 'safety valves' for the central heat now generally admitted to exist in the earth, and thus prevent earthquakes (231). Considers that the existence of physical evil is 'too deep for the human understanding' but argues that 'in every case where any contrivance is adapted to produce more good than evil, we reasonably infer the benevolence of the design'. Describes divine benevolence in 'adapting creatures to their stations and circumstances'. Argues that geology 'opens to us a new field of natural theology', but states: 'We are no advocates for attempts to deduce adequate ideas of the power, wisdom, and goodness of God from the visible creation alone', and makes the Bible and the Holy Spirit primary. (232) Describes the functional adaptation of fossil saurians, while noting that geologists have 'ventured to describe' the conditions of the earth during the 'age of reptiles, with more, perhaps, of ingenuity than of truth' (233). Argues, from the fact of species having been conserved during the Noachian deluge, for the probability that the ancient saurians lived between the epochs described in the first and second verses of the Bible. Describes further the functional design apparent in fossil saurians, using illustrations. Concludes that, through long ages, the Deity was 'fitting up this world for the future residence of intellectual and moral beings; and he chose to do it, not by a miracle, but by the sole agency of natural causes' (235). Argues that it would have been inconsistent with divine benevolence to allow the earth to remain uninhabited during this period.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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