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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31

Water-Marks in the Story.*

page 13

Water-Marks in the Story.*

I would make, then, no attempt to reconcile Genesis with science on the supposition that in Genesis we have a matter-of-fact history. Such an attempt will succeed only by doing violence both to the writer and our common sense. The story is not a history, like the later portions of the Pentateuch; it is not a poem, like Paradise Lost; nor a collection of myths, like the Arthuriad; nor an allegory, like the Pilgrim's Progress. It is an idealised history, written within the intellectual range of a community of children.

Yet, because it is a history in any sense, the truth is there, and it is possible to indicate a remarkable series of coincidences between the Mosaic story and the results of science. This has already been partially done in an article by Mr. Fitzgerald in the 'New Zealand Magazine.' The egotism may perhaps be pardoned which leads me to say that in my teaching I had pointed out these correspondences before that article appeared. They are (1.) that creation was progressive; (2) that the last product was man; and (3) that man's early history was a progress involving the following changes (a) the birth of language—the first use of language being to give names to things; (b) the birth of conscience, or the attainment of the " knowledge of good and evil;" (c) the adoption of clothes; (d) the consciousness of wants which the earth did not spontaneously supply—the first step towards civilization; and (e) the increase of the pains of parturition, for which I believe there would be excellent physiological reason when the partial or occasional erect attitude was exchanged for the erect attitude constant and complete.

Now, these coincidences are remarkable upon any theory. Here is our oldest human document—forty centuries old, and inwrought in its very texture, like the water-marks we sometimes see woven into paper, are these main lines of correspondence with the page 14 results of modern science. I ask evolutionists who are eager to break with the Bible to consider this phenomenon, and explain it if they can. These are not features such as an inventor would be likely to hit upon, nor are they in the shape in which myths would spontaneously grow. There they are in the story, and you cannot get them out. I venture to believe that the time will come when they will be regarded as conclusive evidence of the super human origin of the book that contains them.

* * "There is no kind of evidence that is so convincing, or is received with so great satisfaction, as that which, after long and doubtful search, is suddenly discovered to have all the while been on hand, incorporated, though unobserved, in the very subject-matter of inquiry. Thus, for example, a suit upon a note at hand had long been pending in one of the courts of our commonwealth, payment of which was resisted on the ground that it was and must be a forgery, no such note having ever been given. But the difficulty was in the trial to make out any conclusive evidence of what the defending party knew to be the truth. His counsel was, in fact, despairing utterly of success; but it happened that, just as he was about closing his plea, having the note in his hand, and bringing it up, in the motion of his hand, so that the light struck through, his eye caught the glimpse of a mark in the paper. He stopped, held it up deliberately to the light, and behold the name, in water-mark, of a company that had begun the manufacture of paper after the date of the instrument! Here was evidence, without going far to seek it—evidence enough to turn the plaintiff forthwith into a felon, and consign him, as it did, to a felon's punishment."—Nature and the Supernatural.