Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Titus 2:13

< Previous : Next >

 

 

CHAPTER X.

THE FIFTH DAY—AQUATIC

AND

WINGED LIFE.

Gen. 1: 20-23

 

THE TWO PRODUCTS OF THE FIFTH DAY. CETACEANS. FISH. CRUSTACEANS. MOLLUSCA. ANIMALCULES. THE AQUATIC WORLD. THE WORLD OF FOWL. THE INSECT WORLD.

 

OUR discussion of God's creative works now brings us to the work of the fifth day, which was the bringing of aquatic and winged life into existence. The creative work had advanced, so far as our earth is concerned, through the stages of making light shine on the earth, of making an atmosphere, of separating land and sea, of producing grass, plants and trees, and of causing the light of the sun, moon and stars to shine with much increased light upon the earth. The next stage of the creative process was the production of aquatic life in the oceans, seas, bays, lakes and streams of water. The wording of the creative act shows that such life would be most abundant, as can be recognized in the rendering of the A.V.—"Let the waters bring forth abundantly." More literally, as Dr. Young gives it: "Let the waters teem with the teeming living creature [nephesh, soul]." This was a command given by God to the Logos, God's Executive in creation (John 1: 3; Col. 1: 16, 17); and the Logos with the assistance of the cooperating angels executed it. In vs. 20-23 the creation of animal life, using the word animal in its widest significance, is given in its start, the tiny shell fish of preceding periods being here ignored. In every case we find that blood [or its equivalent], whether cold, as in the case of most reptiles, or warm, is the medium through which the life-principle is connected with the body and thereby is produced sentient being,

 

420

soul. It is quite logical that water should be the first sphere of sentient beings, since the absence of the poisonous gases that yet abounded in the atmosphere made water a fit abode for its denizens, while the gaseous air was yet unfit for the usual breathing animals. Moreover, fossil remains prove that the waters were the abode of the first animal life. Thus we see that the Mosaic record properly locates the production of water life in the creative work. Later in the same day as came the charge to create water-souls came the charge to create fowl-souls (v. 20), whose sphere of life was the earth and air, the latter in the meantime becoming free enough from gases to allow of their existence.

 

In v. 21 the A. V. states that God created great whales. The Hebrew word tanninim, here translated whales, is a broader term yet than the Hebrew word for whales. It should have been rendered sea-monsters. It includes the cetaceans (the whale, dolphin, porpoise, grampus, norwhale, etc.), and saurians (lizards, crocodiles, alligators, huge turtles, which yet persist, and the extinct pterosauria [flying lizards with wing stretch of 20 feet]), plestosauria [of fish-like body, very long neck and small head], and ichthyosauria [fish-lizards, with enormous fish-like body, short neck and long head], aquatic dinosauria, etc., etc. It is such creatures that are meant by the term tanninim, which word occurs in the following passages: Ex. 7: 9; Deut. 32: 33; Job 7: 12; Ps. 74: 14; 91: 13; 148: 7; Is. 27: 1; 51: 9; Jer. 51: 34; Ezek. 29: 3. The word bara is the word properly translated create in v. 21. The living creeping (mistranslated moveth) souls of v. 21 doubtless are the crustaceans, including crabs, lobsters and the like. Their great numbers are indicated in the words brought forth abundantly, literally teemed. The fixedness of their species is indicated in the words after his kind. The mention of fowl last each time this day's product is described proves what geology corroborates: that

 

421

fowl were brought into existence at the end of the fifth creative day. Certainly, if of the inanimate and vegetable world the Lord could say it was good, it can truthfully be said of the creation of the aquatic world that it was good. God's blessing these (v. 22) shows that existence even to the lower orders of creation is a blessing. Of the previous creations God spoke, but did not speak to them. It is only to the animal creation that God is said to speak (v. 22), saying to the aquatic animals, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas," and to the birds, "Let fowl multiply in the earth." Thus there was an evening and there was a morning of the fifth day, wherein God made aquatic and aerial souls. It will be noted that the A. V. suggests (v. 20) that the creations of this day were made out of water. This notion is imported into the text by the mistranslation of the word that Dr. Young very properly renders by the word teem, though we believe that water did furnish a part of their bodies' constituents. The Bible says nothing one way or the other on the water bringing these forth. It will be noted that, except the cetaceans, all of the creatures of this day were oviparious, hatched from eggs.

 

So far we have given generalities on the fifth day's creations. We will now proceed to particulars on certain of the creations of this day, and will begin with the cetaceans—whales, grampuses, dolphins, porpoises, norwhales, etc. These stand midway between fish and land animals, being a connecting link between them. They are like fish in bodily form, place of abode, manner of movement and habits. Unlike them, but like beasts, they have lungs, hearts with partitions driving warm and red blood through the body. They breathe the air, carry the fetus and suckle the young, like most land animals, i.e., mammals. Let us now limit our attention to the greatest of the cetaceans—whales. At present they are the largest of earth's inhabitants, some examples of the sperm whale having been found to be

 

422

60 to 70 feet long, while some common whales have been found to measure over 100 feet. Their spinal column is the size of the trunk of a large tree. Their main artery is the size of a pipe into which a man can crawl; their enormous heart throws out 15 gallons of blood at each pulsation. A whale's mouth has contained a boat with its whole crew; its tongue is many feet long and broad; its tail has the surface of a hundred square feet and has more than once dashed a large boat into fragments and scattered as so many flies its sailor occupants. It moves powerfully and rapidly, churning shallow water into foam, and when wounded it plunges with one leap 5,000 feet deep, where it endures the pressure of 200,000 tons. It plays with the storm tossed waves as negligible forces. Its hide and the oil encased in it, covering it to a depth of three feet, keeps it warm in coldest arctic weather. This blubber helps it to swim, enables it to float while asleep and protects it against the great pressure of deep water. Whales sometimes live in pairs, sometimes in schools; some are herbivorous, feeding on seaweeds; others are carnivorous, feeding on fish, of which sometimes they swallow a whole school at one gulp and still desire more.

 

Whales have the same senses as land animals. Their smelling and hearing are acute, even when deeply submerged. Their eyes are so located that they can see ahead, above and behind, and that at great distances. As indicated above, they sleep and they often indulge in play, showing great pleasure therein. They mate for life and are remarkable for their conjugal fidelity and affection for their mates. They are equally marked with parental love. The mother whale is tenderly affectioned toward her young; and they are often seen playing together with great zest. When danger threatens, the mother whale bears her young to a place of safety; and when this cannot be done, she defends her young with utmost perseverance, bravery and self-denial.

 

423

She prefers to perish with her young rather than give it up undefended to unconquerable enemies. In playfulness and fidelity to mate and offspring the porpoise is like the whale. We recall an experience that we had with them near Galveston, Tex. We were in a small boat with a number of friends; and surrounding us on all sides, some less than, others not much over 100 feet away, were numerous porpoises playing and seeming not to mind our presence at all. Rather they seemed to be putting on a show for our entertainment! Whales have many enemies, chiefly humans, who seek to catch them to get their blubber, whale bone, etc. Surely it is a pathetic sight to see one of these giants of the sea wounded and dying at the hands of whalers. Their main enemies in the fish world are sharks and swordfish. Frequently, a hungry shark and a swordfish as companion marauders pursue a whale, and on overtaking it attack it, one on one side and the other on the other side, attempting to force its mouth open in order to eat its tongue. The fight lasts for hours and almost always ends in the overpowering of the whale, which in the fight suffers much from the thrusts of the sword of the swordfish. When the whale is weakened unto non-resistance, its mouth is forced open and its tongue eaten before it is yet dead. Then the shark and the swordfish leave it to death, which finally overtakes it. The sight of a whale from the decks of a ship is one of the most coveted opportunities of ocean travel and one frequently boasted of.

 

We now take up a brief discussion of fish, another product of the fifth creative epoch. There are several hundred thousand species of these that have already been classified and who knows how many of such are yet undiscovered; for new species of them are of frequent discovery. They range from the huge white shark, examples of which have been found that are 70 feet long and 10,000 pounds heavy, down to the little minnow. Their shapes and structure are much varied.

 

424

Admittedly, fish are more varied, monstrous and grotesque than land animals. On the other hand, some of them are most beautiful in color and graceful in form. Some of them are silvery, some golden and some reflect all the colors of the rainbow. Moreover, they are in form and structure admirably adapted to the localities that they inhabit. All about them, their form, structure, color, size, characteristics, conspire to give them a happy existence. Their not having much of a nervous system spares them suffering when they fall into the power of those preying upon them. If we knew only of land and aerial life, we would be tempted to think water to be an impossible sphere of life. But the multiform wisdom and power of God has so ordered the constitution of fish that they are well adapted to their aqueous environment. Some details as to fish which we will now set forth, will show this.

 

Their form is well adapted to their needs. In most cases the head is a sharp oval, the flanks gradually broader to their middle, and from there on to the tail there is a gradual tapering of the girth of the fish. This form has been mathematically proven to be best adapted to swift and easy movement in water. Their fins, air bladder and tails enable them easily to rise, sink, float, swim quickly or slowly as they may wish, or as need dictates. The covering of fish is also well adapted to their needs. The covering of land animals, hair, feathers, bristles, wool, etc., however well adapted to their needs, would be unsuitable to water animals. Instead, horny scales or heavy skins give the fish excellent coverings. Their scales, if joined at the edges, look like the finest mosaic work; if the edges cover one another like tiles on a roof and have a slimy surface, they present the appearance of the finest coat of mail, enabling them to move with least obstruction through the waters. This covering keeps them from becoming wet to the skin or cold through the skin. Thus their covering is well adapted to their needs. How wonderful

 

425

their provision for breathing! Gills serve them instead of lungs, their tissue being many blood vessels. By these gills they extract the oxygen from the water as easily as we extract it from the air. Sometimes fish are caught and drawn so rapidly through the water by a fast launch as to prevent their extracting the oxygen from the water. The result is their death by drowning! Thus fish can and sometimes do drown. But their natural endowment prevents their voluntarily swimming so rapidly as to drown. Their eyes are another marvelous example of adaptation to surroundings. They are so constituted that contact with water, even of the saltiest kind, is no more troublesome to them than contact with air is to our eyes. Those of us who swim under water with open eyes know how our vision is by the water dimmed. But convex spectacles enable one to see clearly under water. God has given just such a form to the fishes' eyes, whereby they see clearly under water. Usually fish eyes have no lids, but such of them as bury their heads in the mud, like mud-fish, eels, etc., have a Divinely provided covering over their eyes that shield them better than eyelids would do. The analeps fish of Eastern Asiatic rivers has a most remarkable eye, divided horizontally into two hemispheres by a band of membrane, each half being an eye, the lower halves being near-sighted and the upper halves being far-sighted, the former enabling it to see the nearby worms on which it feeds, and the latter the far-off approaching enemies. The lens in the eye of a cod-fish has been found to consist of 5,000,000 fibers, united by 62,000,000,000 teeth.

 

Fish have the five senses of land animals, though those of touch and taste are supposed to be weak in most of them. Some have flexible feelers or organs of touch. Acute are their smelling and hearing, which have no external organs as in the case of land animals, doubtless because of the ruinous effect of water on such organs; yet they have pertinent large membrane

 

426

and nerves especially for smelling, e.g., they cover 12 to 13 square feet in a large shark. Thus fish can discover their prey or enemies at a great distance, despite turbulent water or darkness. Such sense perception gives them some wisdom; they can be trained to come at call of voice or bell and answer to their names. They are long lived. Carp have been known to live over 100 years. A pike was caught at Kaiserslauten in 1754 which had a ring fastened to its gill covers marked as put into the pond of that castle by order of Frederick II in 1487—267 years before. Fish are very strong, not wearying from much swimming. The shark can travel farther and longer than an eagle. The salmon can swim faster than the swallow can fly. Sharks are known to follow a fast steamer across the ocean, often encircling it as a comparatively slow traveler. They have been known, when harpooned, to draw a heavy vessel at high speed against wind and tide. Some of them are carnivorous. At Dublin, Ireland, the skeleton of a frog fish two and one-half feet long was exhibited, having a cod-fish skeleton two feet long in its stomach. Within the cod were two whitings of ordinary size, while in the stomachs of the whitings were numerous partly digested fish too broken to be recognized.

 

Some fish can utter sound, e.g., the gurnards when drawn out of the water croak peculiarly. Some, the flying-fish, can fly several hundred yards through the air, their fins acting like wings and sails. Others are very tenuous of life, like the carp, which can be kept alive several weeks in wet moss. Some, like eels, leave the water and wander about the land in search of worms. In China there is a fish that crosses meadows a quarter of a mile to another stream. The flat-head hassar, an Essequibo fish, when their pools dry up, march in droves over dry land in search of others, traveling as fast as man walks and taking a direct course to the nearest water, even if it be out of sight. A fish found in Tranquebar climbs the fair-palm, seeking

 

427

insect food thereon. These facts prove that God gave those the instincts that impel them to self-preservation in their environment. The fruitfulness of fish as indicated in v. 22 is most marvelous. The blessing of the verse implies the implantation of the necessary powers to the fish. The number of the eggs in the roes of various fish gives a faint idea of the great fecundity of fish. The following are the number given by standard authorities: The roe of the cod contains 3,686,000 eggs; of the flounder, 225,000; of the carp, 203,000; of the roach, 100,000; of the mackerel, 500,000; of the sole, almost 100,000; of the tench, 350,000; of the herring, 30,000; of the pike, 50,000; of the perch, 25,000; of the smelt, 20,000. These are only samples of other kinds equally prolific. It is fortunate that many fish roes are destroyed unhatched by other fish, birds, reptiles, etc., for food, and that untold billions of those hatched are devoured by other fish—otherwise the seas would be packed solid with fish and would become one mass of corruption and disease. But the number that mature is enormous, as can be fairly inferred from the immense numbers of those that are migratory.

 

It is a familiar fact that many of them migrate in great numbers in search of safe places for reproducing their kind. These occur often from the ocean up rivers. The salmon is a familiar example. Almost all salmon that are caught are caught in traps, tons of them in each trap, over night in rivers as they migrate up stream. When they leave the sea their flesh is blood-red; but it rapidly corrupts after they come into fresh water. When the corruption is about half complete their flesh has turned pink, and when it is complete it is an ugly white. People ought not to eat the white canned salmon; for it is literally rotten and is often treated with chemicals to destroy the stench of corruption. Nor ought they to eat the pink salmon. This explains why the red salmon is the dearest, the pink a

 

428

medium price and the white the cheapest. The cod is another migratory fish that for spawning travels northward to ocean shallows. The haddock does the same. Shoals of them at spawning time are known to have been 20 miles long and 3 miles broad, and nobody knows how deep. The mackerel at spawning time (spring) leaves the Arctic and the Antarctic oceans for warmer waters in innumerable millions. The same remark applies to the tunny. The herring is the most remarkable of all in this respect. In summer they travel from northern seas at different times to warmer waters for food and spawning. Years ago when the fishing business was less well organized than now, no less than 20,000,000 of them were captured in a single night's fishing off the coast of Norway, and the average catch for the season was more than 400,000,000. At Goteburg, Sweden, the season's catch aggregated 700,000,000 annually. These are but a fraction of the numbers caught by the English, Dutch, Belgians, French, Spanish, etc., combined. Despite these numbers, the ocean literally teems with them. One authority says that tens of billions of them in a constant stream, many leagues in width, many fathoms deep and so dense as to crowd one another, pass by a given point nearly all summer long. But these are only a few samples among many fish, whose total number the mind of man is unable to grasp, proving that the sea is inhabited by a million to one creature that inhabits the land, and that fish have been fruitful.

 

To prevent the extermination of fish species by one another, the Lord has provided them with means of defense, usually in the form of great speed, sometimes with the ability to fly, sometimes with the ability to hide themselves, either by burying themselves in the mud, diving much deeper than their enemies can go, or by emitting black or blue offensive fluids from their bodies, thus darkening and bestenching the water about

 

429

them. Again, to prevent their becoming too numerous, God has given others weapons of assault by which they destroy and devour many fish. Some of these attackers use remarkable stratagems to decoy their intended victims, e.g., the sea-devil, not gifted with strength or speed, covers itself with seaweeds, etc., the extremities of the filaments that fringe its body being the only parts not concealed, which, agitated to make them look like worms, attract little fish which are then devoured. The norwhale and the swordfish are armed with terrible weapons of aggression. They are the special enemies of the whale; and sometimes supposing the hulls of ships to be whales they attack them with tremendous blows. A case is on record according to which a swordfish, mistaking a ship's hull for a whale, attacked it with such force as to drive its sword completely through the bottom of the vessel, which would doubtless have sunk had not the fatal struggles of the fish to loosen itself broken its sword, leaving it embedded in the hull, thus stopping up the hole that it made. A fragment of this ship with the sword still embedded in it is in the British Museum. The hag fastens itself by vacuums created by its lips to the sides of other fish, sucking their juices and blood, like a leech, until they die, while when it is attacked it hides itself by darkening the waters about it, as described above. Numerous fish emit a bright light, which when they travel in companies hides them from attackers and the attacked. Another species, armed with snouts like a gun, shoot a deadly liquid at their prey, seldom missing it. Several species called the torpedo are armed with an electrical battery, by which they strike deadly blows. Another, the electric eel, strikes with tenfold more force, killing even horses and mules adventuring into their waters. Surely, when we consider these features in the fish world, we are struck with wonder at the Creator's power, justice, wisdom and love, exemplified from various standpoints in the world of fish.

 

430

In our study of the inhabitants of the waters we now come to the crustaceans, which mainly inhabit the "great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable" (Ps. 104: 25). By the term crustaceans naturalists embrace sea animals encased in hard jointed shells, e.g., lobsters, crabs, prawns, shrimps, sea-spiders, etc. There are thousands of species of these, into which, of course, we cannot go in detail. Their forms are peculiar; their structure is remarkable; their covering is neither skin nor scale, but a hard crust. They have three or four pairs of legs curiously jointed and hinged. Some of them have powerful claws for seizing and bringing food to their mouths. Many have long, slender feelers keen to feel, smell and see; and almost all of them are pop-eyed. Remarkable is their system of nerves, breathing, circulation and digestion. The lobster is the most marked example of these species under study. His hind legs have small claws at their ends. His two front claws are large and powerful and never relax their hold in a fight unless they are broken. Its antennae or feelers are as long as its body and are slender and remarkably jointed. He can swim better than he can walk. His tail by folding and unfolding propels as well as pilots him, but always backwards. One stroke often suffices to carry it 30 feet. It often lives for 20 years. It produces no less than 12,000 eggs, which it conceals under its broad tail. These are hatched in midsummer about the size of an ant, clinging to the mother's fibres until all the eggs are hatched. Detached they cling to the marine plants on which they feed until developed enough to betake themselves to the waves. The case of the lobster does not allow it to grow much; but when its growth crowds the shell it is shed, and a larger one grows in its place. Its struggles for more room burst the shell and it must do much struggling until it is entirely relieved of it, the process beginning with drawing its claws out of their case, then its feet. The head and antennae next rid

 

431

themselves of their cases, then the eyes, then the jaws and finally the tail. After the shell is cast off the lobster expands suddenly to about a fifth larger than before. It is very weak, but crawls to some retreat. While, and before shedding it has been secreting materials which in three days it converts into a hard and perfect shell like, but larger than, its former one, all of which shows the Creator's care for even so lowly a creature as the lobster.

 

As the final set of animals that we will consider in this connection, we will study the Mollusca. This word is derived from the Latin word mollis, soft; and the Mollusca consist to a great number of soft bodied animals encased in hard shells. These are some of the things with which the water was made to teem during the fifth creative period. There have been classified probably 50,000 species of these. Doubtless there are many more than these, because the bottom of the ocean is literally covered with them; and to its depths no man can come. They are of most diverse sizes and forms, all displaying God's manifold wisdom, power, justice and love. Marvelous are their shells in size, forms, colors, structure, variety and embellishment, often rivaling in beauty the products of the vegetable world. Some of them look like works of art; and some of them have the five lines and dotted notes, and they constantly sound forth accordant music. They sometimes are formed as cups or tubes, sometimes as cones, spires and columns. Others have graceful convolutions and complicated joints. These shell fish are called univalve, bivalve and multivalve, dependent on the number of pieces that constitute their shells. In some species the shell contains male or female, in others both sexes are in one shell, and in others both sexes are united in one individual. Some hatch; others bear. Some are herbivorous, others carnivorous. Some have locomotion; others are stationary. The univalves are the most numerous of shell fish and have the most diverse

 

432

forms, usually spiral. The murex was the source of the ancient's purple dye. Some of these, the cowries, have been used in many parts of Africa and Asiatic Islands as money. The carinaria vitrea is the most beautiful and rarest of these fish, and is very fragile. Its inhabitant is a sailor often skimming along the ocean's surface. Other species, e.g., the violet snails and the hyaloea also skim as boats sailing on the ocean's surface. They have sails which they expand to the breeze. The most celebrated in this respect is the nautilus. The shell of this animal is lined with a pearly gloss, and in the East is often used as a drinking cup. The nautilus (little sailor, in Latin) has eight arms. Two of these have a thin oval membrane, which it holds up to the wind as sails, and the other six it uses as oars. When sailing it looks like a sailing vessel in the distance. Let danger come, down come its sails, in come its oars and, turning its mouth to the water, it catches enough of it to make it sink deep below the surface out of the reach of harm.

 

Bivalves are headless, lack sight, hearing and smell, but have gills, heart and nerves. They have a soft fleshy foot by which they perform their external tasks. The most beautiful of bivalves are escallop shells. The best known and used are the oyster and the clam, widely dispersed among earth's six continents. Oysters are very prolific, a single one containing 1,200,000 eggs. The pearl oyster is the most prized of all, and it reaches its greatest perfection along the coasts of Ceylon and the Gulf of Persia. Its pearls, of course, are highly valued. They are produced by the oyster seeking relief from discomfort by exuding a substance about a grain of sand that has lodged as an unwelcome, irritating guest within its shell. Sometimes these pearls are so numerous as to prevent the closing of the shells, which results in the oyster's death. The internal lining of the shells is beautiful and is called mother-of-pearl. The singing mussel is also a bivalve. Its music is

 

433

melancholy and soft, later becoming sweet and louder, then dies down. This is repeated over and over again, and doubtless gave rise to the thought of the existence of the mythological sea nymphs. In size bivalves vary from the giant clam shell of 500 pounds, containing a full meal for 125 men, to those too small for ocular inspection. One of the remarkable features about the shells of univalves, bivalves and multivalves is the sizes and distances of the whorls. These "follow a geometrical progression and the spiral formed is logarithmic, of which it is a property that it has everywhere the same geometric curvature and is the only curve, except the circle, that has this property." Whence came this mathematical precision, if not from God, the Master Mathematician? It builds its shell in a uniform direction about its axis, in a geometric curve.

 

With the Mollusca are usually classed the loligo, cuttle-fish, octopus, squid, etc., whose appearance is as remarkable as it is ugly. The cuttle-fish and the octopus are marvelous works of God. They have perfect breathing organs, faculties for sight, sound and smell, parrot-like jaws and a triturating gizzard. Their circulation is produced by three hearts, not one. Their mouths are surrounded by eight arms, bending strongly in every direction, having suckers by which they can fix themselves firmly to any object desired, thus overpowering their prey. Their jaws are of great power. Their eyes are large and fierce. In Indian waters the natives rarely betake themselves to the sea, unless armed with axes with which they can chop off the arms of these monsters, which there grow to great sizes.

 

In the preceding part of this chapter we have treated on only part of the product of the fifth creative epoch, whales, fishes, crustaceans and molluscans, leaving for further discussion other interesting features of that period's work— animalcules, birds and insects. We will

 

434

consider these three classes of that epoch's work in the order just cited. Our discussion of them can be merely fragmentary, inasmuch as many volumes have been written on each one of them. As previous to the invention of the telescope men thought that the only planets, moons and stars in existence were those visible to the naked eye, so previous to the invention of the microscope the only denizens of earth's waters were supposed to be those visible to the eye. But as the invention and use of the telescope came, new stars were brought to man's knowledge, and as these telescopes became very large, even new universes were brought to man's ken; so with the invention and use of the microscope the existence of new denizens in earth's waters came to man's view. Thus there opened up to man the world of animalcules, tiny creatures too minute for even the best of human eyes to see. They have been found in waters, in the air and in earth, yea, even in the bodies of larger beings, as they have been found to be one of the main causes of disease in man and beast. They confront us in all sorts of shapes—some ribbon shaped, some circular, some globular, some like wheels turning on axes, some double-headed, some hairlike, some cylindrical, some wormlike, etc. Some of them are almost large enough to be visible to human sight and some are so small that millions of them are contained in a drop of water.

 

One of the species of animalcules, called the polypi, lives at the bottom of the oceans in certain, especially tropical, localities, where through the millennia of their existence they have built reefs, promontories and islands, not a few of the last named being now inhabited by man. Often the waters of the Arctic Ocean are discolored by the presence of animalcules called medusae, which are usually found to the number of 100,000 in a cubic foot of water taken up at random. And the minutest, as well as the largest, of the animalcules have vital organs similar to those of larger water

 

435

animals. They give evidence of feeling, will, intelligence, love, hatred, fear, suffering and pleasure. The species called the proteus, as their name indicates, can assume at will different forms—extension like a long hair, contraction to a minute point, expansion to a sphere, flattening into a pancake shape and roughening its surface as with horns. Examples of the species called rotifers have been taken from their native habitat, the water, and have been put in a dry place, where for six months they have lain all dried up but when placed into water have revived and lived on, as though they had always remained in the water. The freshwater species called the hydra seem to be nothing but stomachs with hairlike tentacles with which they seize their food, and true to their form they live almost only to eat, which they do most voraciously, and yet they can fast for several months without starving. Turned inside out they go right on functioning as though nothing had happened to them. Cut lengthwise into several strips each strip within 24 hours lives on as a separate individual, as though it had not been violently divided. Many of them have together been cut up into many parts, which then have been mingled together, and presently new ones develop through the union of parts that were once in different hydras. The hairlike animalcules form armies, marching sometimes in solid bodies, sometimes as different bodies, officered and keeping perfect order. One of the smallest of the animalcules are the infusoria, which a scientist has studied and found to be of over 1,000 varieties, which he claims are 1/40,000th of an inch in diameter, and which he found to be so small as to be present in a drop of water 500,000,000 in number. Some animalcules are herbivorous; others are carnivorous; some are shelled; others not. Yet as minute as they are, they have mouths, teeth, stomachs, muscles, nerves, veins, glands, eyes, etc. Their membrane is 1/50,000,000th of an inch thick.

 

436

They are for their size very lively; their motions are various: some move like serpents, some dart, some move rotarily, some have seemingly a wheel on each side, moving like a side-wheel steamer, and some drag their bodies onward. And the blessing of fruitfulness that God pronounced on all animal life these enjoy in great fulness. A member of the species hydantina septa is said to increase at the rate of 1,000,000 in ten days, 4,000,000 in eleven days and 16,000,000 in twelve days. Great as these figures seem to be, a member of another species is claimed to be capable of increasing in four days to 170,000,000,000. Some of them multiply by eggs and spawning; some develop on their surface buds which grow into the form of the parent and then separate from it as independent souls; some divide into two, four, six, eight, or sixteen parts, each of which then leads an independent existence, making it impossible to distinguish between parent and offspring; some gradually distend, then burst, but as they thus perish as an individual, thousands of infant animalcules crawl out of them; some individuals reproduce in different from the above-mentioned ways. When the animalcules are thus seen to exist and do, we wonder at the wisdom and power of the Creator. It is truly wonderful to think of the visible organisms that He has made in whale, fish, crustacean, moluscan, insects, birds, reptiles, wild beasts, domestic animals and man, with all their marvelous mechanism, functions, characteristics and abilities, but in certain respects, especially in that of size, number and modes of reproduction, the wisdom and power of the Creator shine out in the world of animalcules even more astonishingly than in His larger creations in the animal world. To illustrate the wonders that the telescope and microscope have brought to our knowledge we will quote the following:

 

"The one led me to see a system in every star; the other leads me to see a world in every atom. The one taught me that this mighty globe, with the whole burden

 

437

of its people and countries, is but a grain of sand on the high field of immensity; the other teaches me that every grain of sand may harbor within it the tribes and families of a busy population. The one told me the insignificance of the world I tread upon; the other redeems it from all its insignificance, for it tells me that in the leaves of every forest, and in the flowers of every garden, and in the waters of every rivulet, there are worlds teeming with life, and numberless as are the glories of the firmament. The one has suggested to me that above and beyond and all that is visible to man there may be fields of creation which sweep immeasurably along, and carry the impress of the Creator's hand to the remotest scenes of the universe; the other suggests to me that within and beyond all that minuteness which the aided eye of man has been able to explore, there may be a region of invisibles, and that could we draw aside the mysterious curtain which shrouds it from our senses, we might there see a theatre of as many wonders as astronomy has unfolded, a universe within the compass of a point so small as to elude all the powers of the microscope, but where the wonder-working God finds room for the exercise of all His attributes, where He can raise another mechanism of worlds, and fill and animate them with the evidence of His glory."

 

While treating of the inhabitants of the aquatic world, we must not overlook the wonders of the world that they inhabit. There are beauties under the waters of our earth that well rival those of the dry land. There are there mountains and hills that in beauty, height and grandeur compare well with such as rear their heads at varying heights above the earth. There we find sunken gardens like those off Santa Catalina Island, whose flowery bowers, secret retreats and gorgeous vegetation, where gambol playful fish and other denizens of the deep, are more marvelous than any garden that can be seen on the dry land. There are valleys there that

 

438

show us sights that well compare with the beauties of Yosemite. There are present in its wide spaces canyons that in height and depth, length and breadth, in variety of colors and different rocks, may well make the sublime Grand Canyon of Arizona look with envious eye toward them. There are in its great expanse plains and plateaus richly bejeweled with the beautiful shells of the seas. Surely the aquatic world beneath its surface has scenic beauties and sublimities at least equal to those of the dry land. And these as well as those of the dry land, join in ascriptions of praise to the wisdom and power of the great Creator.

 

The fifth creative day brought into existence beings other than these of the aquatic world, viz., the winged creatures consisting of fowl and insect (Gen. 1: 20-23). On the basis of a mistranslation some have thought that the creations of the fifth day had their bodies made of the highly chemicalized and mineralized waters of that period. In this they include all the creations of that creative epoch. The A. V. of Gen. 1: 20, 21 suggests the thought that the bodies of the aquatic and the fowl and insect worlds were formed out of water. While such may have been the case, the Hebrew of Gen. 1: 20, 21 does not contain that thought. The literal translation of Gen. 1: 20, 21, as Dr. Young gives it on the pertinent subject, is as follows: "Let the waters teem with the teeming living creature; and let fowl fly on the earth and on the face of the expanse of the heavens … every living creature … which the waters have teemed with." Since the Bible does not teach that the creations of the fifth day were made of the substances of and in the water, we should not teach it as a matter of revelation. It is one of the secret things that are unrevealed, on which therefore we will do well not to speculate as a matter of doctrine; but the fact that the aquatic fowl and insect worlds derive their sustenance and replace their depleted cells from both water and earth elements may well satisfy us that

 

 

< Previous : Next >