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THE geological theory of Modern Causes was presented to the world in a manner so attractive by the gifted author of The Principles, and his explanations of some of the most profound cosmical phenomena appeared to his readers so easily intelligible, that they have taken root almost without being questioned. Many persons, however, including the writer of the following chapters, while rejoicing in the real gains and conquests of science, have from the first felt the want of that scientific proof of this theory which philosophy assures us is alone capable of producing rational belief. There seems no reason why Geology should be exempt from the tests demanded from other sciences and beliefs. It is easy to attribute to the action of the elements and of earthquakes phenomena not easily accounted for. Is it not possible that, in the reliance placed by the promoters of this theory on such feeble agencies, they have been misled by plausible but mistaken analogies, which can never counterbalance

the entire absence of any positive proof of what they assert? At all events, there can be no presumption in asking that their facts and instances should be passed in careful review and scrutinised. The assumptions of modern geology have filled some minds with alarm. Let us, in the cause of truth, try to ascertain whether her own foundations are secure. A theory is but a scaffolding by which we approach the colossus Nature, in the attempt to develope some new feature; and that end being served, the scaffold drops away. The theory of Modern Causes has done some service in advancing and popularising geological study; and, unlike "new facts" in some other ologies," whose average vitality is said not to exceed three years, it has had a long and prosperous


Already, however, have some heavy blows been dealt to it, perhaps unintentionally, by its own friends and supporters. Thus, Professor Huxley acknowledges "a very remote period when the earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions which it can no more see again than a man can recall his infancy." Darwin, Lyell, and others, who proclaim a term of 300 millions of years insufficient for some of the operations of geology, are 1 Critiques and Addresses, p. 239.

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