Early in this year, namely, on January 23rd, 1903, the Editor of a weekly newspaper called The Clarion, commenced an attack on religion generally and the Bible in particular. He attacks the truth and inspiration of the Bible on various grounds, but chiefly because of its cosmogony, the creation and order of the universe, as revealed therein. He bases these attacks on the assumption of the truth of the globular theory of the earth, and the theory of evolution which has sprung from it. He seems to think that which is written in the name of “Science” is infallible, and that the Bible, therefore, is in error wherever it is contradicted by the teachings of science: and there are contradictions. He complains that Christians accept the teachings of the Bible without submitting them to the light of reason; while he gives abundant evidence that he accepts the teachings of “Science” without having personally tested its claims. Gullibility is not confined to those who profess some religion. Men who are sceptical of Bible truth can swallow down unproven and extravagant cosmical theories when promulgated in the name of Science.
A man like Mr. Blatchford may deny that God made the world in six days; but he can believe it came into existence of itself, by merely “natural law” operating through millions of years! He can ridicule the belief of the early Christians who, as he affirms, thought “that the earth was flat like a plate”; but he cannot for the life of him give an unimpeachable proof that the earth on which he lives is a whirling globe flying through space faster than a cannon ball. It is often easier to ridicule than to reason; but sceptics who pride themselves on their ability to reason ought not to lay themselves open to this reproach.
In The Clarion for April 17th, 1903, about half of the front page is devoted to an article headed–
“THE UNIVERSE AND ITS CREATOR”
By R. BLATCHFORD
From this article we make the following quotations:
“The theory of the early Christian Church was that the earth was flat, like a plate, and the sky was a solid dome above it, like an inverted blue basin. The sun revolved round the earth to give light by day, the moon revolved round the earth to give light by night. The stars were auxiliary lights, and had all been specially, and at the same time, created for the good of man. God created the sun, moon, stars, and earth is six days. He created them by word, and lie created them out of nothing.
. . . To-day our ideas are very different. Hardly any educated man or woman in the world believes that the world is flat, or that the sun revolves round the earth, or that what we call the sky is a solid substance like a domed ceiling?”
Advanced thinkers, even amongst the Christians, believe that the world is round, that it is one of a series of planets revolving round the sun, that the sun is only one of many millions of other suns, that these suns were not created simultaneously, but at different periods, probably separated by millions or billions of years. Advanced thinkers, even amongst the Christians, have abandoned the fable of the six days’ creation, the story of Adam and Eve, and the fall. . . . All the advances in knowledge, and all the improvements in the Christian religion, are due to scientists and to sceptics, many of whom have been persecuted or murdered by the Church for their services to mankind.
There is no passage in the Bible which says the world was made “out of nothing.” But we acknowledge that the early Christians believed the earth to be a motionless and extended plane. We also acknowledge that the Old Testament Scriptures taught this doctrine hundreds of years before Christ’s time. Moreover, we Zetetic; in these days still believe this teaching. We think it is in harmony with facts and true to nature; and we challenge proof that it is otherwise. The world has never yet been proved to be globular; nor has it ever yet been proved to have axial or orbital motion. These doctrines are assumed. We know whereof we affirm. We have read some of the best books on modern astronomy: and have been surprised to find what a large amount of this so-called “Science” is based upon hypothesis or assumption. On two consecutive pages of a modern work on Astronomy we counted, as it lay open, a dozen terms like the following: —hypothesis, assumption, speculation, supposition, theory, etc., etc., now “Science” means knowledge, from the Latin Scio or Scientia; but hypothesis is supposition, or guesswork, not real knowledge. We Christians have too readily yielded the claims of modern theoretical astronomy. We should “prove all things,” and not accept science teaching on trust, because of great names; especially where that teaching contradicts the Bible.
Mr. Blatchford says that “Advanced thinkers even amongst Christians believe the world is round”—when he says “round” we suppose he means globular, for a penny is “round” and flat too. We should call such Christians very thoughtless, or even recreant Christians, if they, give up Bible teaching at the bidding of such speculative theories as now pass for Science. But the question is not what “advanced” Christians may “believe,” but “What is true” in itself: “Science,” so-called, or the Bible? We know it is fashionable and popular at the present day to believe in “science”; but it is a different thing to prove its ever-changing theories true. Let anyone try, for instance, to prove that the world is now rushing through “space,” as the astronomers affirm it is, about nineteen miles a second. We have asked Mr. Blatchford to try, but he declines! It is easier to flourish astronomical speculations and to flout their figures in the face of Bible cosmogony. Mr. Blatchford knows that at the present time they will be generally accepted as true. But he also knows that a theory which is not true may be generally accepted even by “educated men,” as he affirms of some religious opinions. Yet in the same article he complacently proceeds as follows:
We have seen the account of the universe and its creation, as given in the revealed Scriptures. Let us now take a hasty view of the universe and its creation, as revealed to us by science. What is the universe like, as far as our limited knowledge goes? Our sun is only one sun amongst many millions. Our planet is only one of eight which revolve around him. Our sun, with his planets and comets, comprises what is known as the solar system. There is no reason to suppose that this is the only solar system: there may be millions of solar systems. For aught we know, there may be millions of systems, each containing millions of solar systems. Let us deal first with the solar system of which we are a part. The sun is a globe of 866,200 miles diameter. His diameter is more than 108 times that of the earth. His volume is 1,305,000 times the volume of the earth. All the eight planets added together only make one-seven-hundredth part of his weight. His circumference is more than two and a half millions of miles. He revolves upon his axis in 25 days, or at a speed of nearly 4,000 miles an hour. This immense globe is supposed to be a solid mass, encased in an envelope of flaming gas. It affords light and heat to all the planets. Without the light and heat of the sun, no life would now be, or in the past have been, possible on this earth, or any other planet of the solar system.
The volume of Jupiter is 1,389 times, of Saturn 848 times, of Neptune 103 times, and of Uranus 59 times the volume of the earth. The mean distances from the sun are: Mercury, 36 million miles; Venus, 67 million miles; the Earth, 93 million miles; Mars, 141 million miles; Jupiter, 483 million miles; Saturn 886 million miles; Uranus, 1782 million miles; Neptune, 2792 million miles. To give an idea of the meaning of these distances I may say that a train travelling night and day at 60 miles an hour would take quite 176 years to come from the sun to the earth. The same train, at the same speed, would be 5,230 years in travelling from the sun to Neptune. Reckoning that Neptune is the outermost planet of the solar system, that system would have a diameter of 5,584 millions of miles.
But this distance is as nothing when we come to deal with the distances of the other stars from our sun. The distance from our sun to the nearest fixed (?) star is supposed to be about 20 millions of millions of miles. Our express train, which crosses the diameter of the solar system in, 10,560 years, would take, if it went 60 miles an hour day and night, about 35 million years to reach the nearest fixed star from the sun.
But these immense distances only relate to the nearest stars. Now, the nearest stars are about four “light years” distant from us. That is to say, that light, travelling at the rate of about 182,000 miles in one second, takes four years to come from the nearest fixed star to the earth. But I have seen the distance from the earth to the Great Nebula in Orion given as a thousand light years, or 250 times the distance of the fixed star above alluded to. To reach that nebula at 60 miles an hour, an express train would have to travel for 35 millions of years multiplied by 250-that is to say, for 8,750 million years. And yet there are millions of stars whose distances are even greater than the distance of the Great Nebula in Orion. How many stars are there? No one can even guess. But L. Struve estimates the number of those visible to the great telescopes at 20 millions. Twenty millions of suns! And as to the sizes of these suns, Sir Robert Ball says Sirius is ten times as large as our sun; and a well-known astronomer, writing in the “English Mechanic” about a week ago remarks that Alpha Orionis (Betelgeuze) has probably 700 times the light of our sun.
Can you suppose that such a creator would, after thousands of years of effort, have failed even now to make his repeated revelations comprehensible? Do you believe that He would be driven across the unimaginable gulfs of space, out of the transcendent glory of His myriad resplendent suns, to die on a cross, in order to win back to Him the love of the puny creatures on one puny planet in the marvellous universe His power had made? Well, next week I will contrast this idea of the universe with the idea given in the so-called Book of the Revelation of God, and I will contrast this idea of a creator with the pictures of the God presented to us in the Holy Bible.
And so our editor goes on with these extravagant and monstrous speculations. I have underlined the word “suppose” three times in the above brief quotations. On the basis of these supposition
he compares the “universe of science” with the universe of the Bible, and of course, very much to the disparagement of the latter. But thoughtful and faithful Christians will require proof that these speculations are justified before giving up the Bible and natural cosmogony. Proctor acknowledges that it is natural to think the earth is flat, because, as he says, it “looks flat.” And balloonists, who get a more extended view than others, acknowledge the same thing. And wherever an extent of still water has been carefully surveyed the surface has been found to be perfectly level or horizontal. By this means the Riddle of the Universe may be resolved, for a flat earth “knocks the bottom out of” evolution! For if the surface of standing water is horizontal, the earth generally must be a plane. Abundant proof of this fact has been given in The Earth, a monthly paper published in the interests of the zetetic cosmology. We have only space here for a short extract.