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THE problem which of late years has most deeply stirred the philosophic mind of Europe is the problem of creation. No doubt that problem is as old as the world, or at least as old as the first questionings of the human mind; and the solutions which it has received, both from poets and philosophers, are innumerable. Out of many solutions one, which best satisfies the enquiring intellect of the time, generally prevails. In ancient times one or the other solution has even been invested with a kind of sacred authority; and, as the subject is one on which real knowledge is impossible, it is hardly to be wondered at, that, with us too, the prevailing conception of creation should have continued, up to the nineteenth century, very much the same as what it was at the time of Moses.
New SERIES.—Vol. XVIII., No. 3
Owing to the great development, however, of the study of nature in this century, and the wide diffusion of physical knowledge among all classes of society, the problem of creation has lately risen to the surface again. New facts challenge new thoughts, and the mass of new facts, throwing light on the earliest history of the world, has become so large that we need not wonder if philosophers felt inspired with fresh courage, and by elaborating a new theory of creation, which should not outrage the convictions of men of science and friends of truth, tried to wrest a new province from the land of the Unknowable.
The approaches were made from three points. First of all, there were the ancient vestiges of creation discovered in the strata of the earth; secondly, there was