Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism.

There are some sentences which might lead one to suppose that Dr. Dawson himself admitted of an evolution “with a creator somewhere behind it.”  He offers it (page 320) as a permissible alternative that even man “has been created mediately by the operation of forces also concerned in the production of other animals;” concedes that a just theory “does not even exclude evolution or derivation, to a certain extent” (page 341); and that “a modern man of science” may safely hold “that all things have been produced by the Supreme Creative Will, acting either directly or through the agency of the forces and materials of his own production.”  Well, if this be so, why denounce the modern man of science so severely upon the other page merely for accepting the permission?  At first sight, it might be thought that our author is exposing himself in one paragraph to a share of the condemnation which he deals out in the other.  But the permitted views are nowhere adopted as his own; the evolution is elsewhere restricted within specific limits; and as to “mediate creation,” although we cannot divine what is here meant by the term, there is reason to think it does not imply that the several species of a genus were mediately created, in a natural way, through the supernatural creation of a remote common ancestor.  So that his own judgment in the matter is probably more correctly gathered from the extract above referred to and other similar deliverances, such as that in which he warns those who “endeavor to steer a middle course, and to maintain that the Creator has proceeded by way of evolution,” that “the bare, hard logic of Spencer, the greatest English authority on evolution, leaves no place for this compromise, and shows that the theory, carried out to its legitimate consequences, excludes the knowledge of a Creator and the possibility of his work.”

Now, this is a dangerous line to take.  Those defenders of the faith are more zealous than wise who must needs fire away in their catapults the very bastions of the citadel, in the defense of outposts that have become untenable.  It has been and always will be possible to take an atheistic view of Nature, but far more reasonable from science and philosophy only to take a theistic view.  Voltaire’s saying here holds true:  that if there were no God known, it would be necessary to invent one.  It is the best, if not the only, hypothesis for the explanation of the facts.  Whether the philosophy of Herbert Spencer (which is not to our liking) is here fairly presented, we have little occasion and no time to consider.  In this regard, the close of his article No. 12 in the Contemporary Review shows, at least, his expectation of the entire permanence of our ideas of cause, origin, and religion, and predicts the futility of the expectation that the “religion of humanity” will be the religion of the future, or “can ever more than temporarily shut out the thought of a Power, of which humanity is but a small and fugitive product, which was in its course

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Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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