Benjamin Kidd in his Social Evolution, 1895, has reverted again to extreme Darwinism in morals and sociology. The law is that of unceasing struggle. Reason does not teach us to moderate the struggle. It but sharpens the conflict. All religions are praeter-rational, Christianity most of all, in being the most altruistic. Kidd, not without reason, comments bitterly upon Spencer’s Utopia, the passage of militarism into industrialism. The struggle in industrialism is fiercer than ever. Reason affects the animal nature of man for the worse. Clearly conscious of what he is doing, man objects to sacrificing himself for his family or tribe. Instinct might lead an ape to do that. Intelligence warns a man against it. Reason is cruel beyond anything dreamed of in the beast. That portion of the community which loves to hear the abuse of reason, rejoiced to hear this phrase. They rejoiced when they heard that religion was the only remedy, and that religion was ultra-rational, contra-rational, supernatural, in this new sense. How one comes by it, or how one can rationally justify the yielding of allegiance to it, is not clear. One must indeed have the will to believe if one believes on these terms.
These again are but examples. They convey but a superficial impression of the effort to apply the conception of evolution to the moral and religious life of man. All this has taken place, of course, in a far larger setting that of the endeavour to elaborate the evolutionary view of politics and of the state, of economics and of trade, of social life and institutions, of culture and civilisation in every aspect. This elaboration and reiteration of the doctrine of evolution sometimes wearies us. It is but the unwearied following of the main clue to the riddle of the universe which the age has given us. It is nothing more and nothing less than the endeavour to apprehend the ideal life, no longer as something held out to us, set up before us, but also as something working within us, realising itself through us and among us. To deny the affinity of this with religion would be fatuous and also futile. Temporarily, at least, and to many interests of religion, it would be fatal.
It must be evident that the total view of the universe which the acceptance of the doctrine of evolution implies, has had effect in the diminution of the acuteness of the question concerning miracles. It certainly gives to that question a new form. A philosophy which asserts the constant presence of God in nature and the whole life of the world, a criticism which has given us a truer notion of the documents which record the biblical miracles, the reverent sense of ignorance which our increasing knowledge affords, have tended to diminish the dogmatism of men on either side of the debate. The contention on behalf of the miracle, in the traditional sense of the word, once seemed the bulwark of positive religion, the