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.

Of his closing remark, that, so far as he knows, the subject has never before been handled in the same way for the same purpose, we will only say that the handling strikes us as mainly sensible rather than as substantially novel.  He traverses the whole ground of evolution, from that of the solar system to “the origin of moral species.”  He is clearly a theistic Darwinian without misgiving, and the arguments for that hypothesis and for its religious aspects obtain from him their most favorable presentation, while he combats the dysteleology of Hackel, Buchner, etc., not, however, with any remarkable strength.

Dr. Winchell, chancellor of the new university at Syracuse, in his volume just issued upon the “Doctrine of Evolution,” adopts it in the abstract as “clearly as the law of universal intelligence under which complex results are brought into existence” (whatever that may mean), accepts it practically for the inorganic world as a geologist should, hesitates as to the organic world, and sums up the arguments for the origin of species by diversification unfavorably for the Darwinians, regarding it mainly from the geological side.  As some of our zoologists and palaeontologists may have somewhat to say upon this matter, we leave it for their consideration.  We are tempted to develop a point which Dr. Winchell incidentally refers to—­viz., how very modern the idea of the independent creation and fixity of species is, and how well the old divines got on without it.  Dr. Winchell reminds us that St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas were model evolutionists; and, where authority is deferred to, this should count for something.

Mr. Kingsley’s eloquent and suggestive “Westminster Sermons,” in which he touches here and there upon many of the topics which evolution brings up, has incorporated into the preface a paper which he read in 187i to a meeting of London clergy at Sion College, upon certain problems of natural theology as affected by modern theories in science.  We may hereafter have occasion to refer to this volume.  Meanwhile, perhaps we may usefully conclude this article with two or three short extracts from it: 

“The God who satisfies our conscience ought more or less to satisfy our reason also.  To teach that was Butler’s mission; and he fulfilled it well.  But it is a mission which has to be refulfilled again and again, as human thought changes, and human science develops, For if, in any age or country, the God who seems to be revealed by Nature seems also different from the God who is revealed by the then-popular religion, then that God and the religion which tells of that God will gradually cease to be believed in.

“For the demands of reason—­as none knew better than good Bishop Butler—­must be and ought to be satisfied.  And, therefore, when a popular war arises between the reason of any generation and its theology, then it behooves the ministers of religion to inquire, with all humility and godly fear, on whose side lies the fault; whether the theology which they expound is all that it should be, or whether the reason of those who impugn it is all that it should be.”

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