12. For uncultured minds, without any apprehension of universal laws, incapable of embracing the whole and of conceiving of the infinite, this miraculous and instantaneous creation was essentially calculated to take hold of the imagination. The picture of the universe created out of nothingness, in a few days, by a single act of creative will, was to them the most magnificent portrayal of the power of God. What painting, in fact, could be more sublime and more poetic than these words, illustrative of the divine power, God said: “Let there be light, and there was light!” Had they been told that God accomplished the creation of the universe by the gradual and slow working of universal laws, he would have appeared to them far less glorious and powerful. It was necessary to them that these things should appear marvelous, instead of being brought about in ordinary ways: otherwise they would have said that God was no more skillful than men. A scientific and rational theory would have been received by them with coldness and indifference.
Let us not reject the biblical Genesis; on the contrary, let us study it as an instructive history of infancy of people. It is an epic rich in allegories, in which we may find hidden wisdom; it must be commented upon with the aid of such light as reason and science can supply. Let us prize all its poetic beauties and the spiritual instructions veiled under its allegoric forms. It must be shown boldly wherein its errors lie in the interest of religion itself. We can respect it far more when its errors are no longer imposed upon our belief as truths; and God will but appear grander and more powerful when his name shall be no longer attached to misleading documents.