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that it shows man to be the offspring, not of an ape, but of the animated universe; the heir of its richest bounties; the consummate work of a matchless Artist, a figure of which all preceding forms were but sketches and studies. Admitting—though it is an extreme and questionable concession—that the theory has not yet fortified itself completely by demonstrations in detail of the connecting links between species, yet it has certainly shown such an immense balance of probabilities in its favour as to command the adhesion of the scientific world to a greater extent than the Newtonian theory of gravitation did within the same time after its discovery. It may be affirmed that there is now not a single great man of science in the world who does not maintain that in one way or another species were continuously evolve.
But what effect has this theory on religion or moral philosophy? We all know that it has awakened earnest controversies. There are several ways in which it has been regarded. One class of religious teachers, seeing that the verdict of the scientific world in its favour is beyond appeal, have been assuring us that it can have no effect upon religion whatever. Dean Stanley, too liberaland scholarly not to recognise the facts, recently admonished an audience that it mattered nothing at all to them whether it should turn out that man is descended from the animal world, or lower still, as the Bible said, from the inanimate dust of the earth, for right would still be right, and
wrong, wrong; and we should still feel that we individual souls. What he said was true, but the tone of his remark was that this is a question quite aside from the great religious problems of our time.
They who indulge this hope will very soon find it delusive, It has never been the case that a great scientific generalisation has failed to be reflected in the religious and moral convictions of mankind. The instinctive horror which priesthoods have of science has been developed by a long experience of the certainty with which theological changes have followed scientific discoveries. If any one will study the conditions of religious thought in this country before and after the discoveries of Newton, he will see that by those discoveries the whole controversy was shifted, theology was revolutionised; old questions died, new problems arose; nay, theology itself declined in England from that day. When I have had the pleasure of sitting in the historic Abbey of Westminster and listening to such rationalism from its Dean as would have sent a preacher in old times to the stake, I have reflected that beneath that floor lies the dust of Isaac Newton. And when England had advanced sufficiently to bury in the shrine of her best and greatest that scientific revolutioniser of thought, himself a Unitarian (Sir Charles Lyell), there was planted another of the seeds that have flowered into the rationalism which inspires her most venerable and powerful pulpit
The Dean himself is the best answer to his own suggestion, that religion can stand still while science
It cannot stand still. And the reason is plain :
that which represents religion in Europe is a set of dogmas based upon the Bible, and the Bible is not only a religious but a scientific book; it contains a system of theories as to the origin and the facts of nature. This system was the speculation of an ignorant tribe in an ignorant age of the world. Yet theology blended its religious dogmas with these scientific speculations; and as, in the progress of knowledge, these crude fancies of the infant world about nature are necessarily set aside by successive discoveries, the dogmas must go with them. Insensibly men feel that a tribe so mistaken about visible nature, must naturally have been mistaken about invisible nature. The people find that they have been deceived by their religious teachers,—deceived about the sky, about the earth, and their own origin,--and they imbibe a suspicion of those teachers. An atmosphere of suspicion settles around every church and priest. Universal scepticism prevails. It is that scepticism which in England has quenched the fires of Smithfield, abolished tithes, opened Universities to heresy, and which steadily severs Church from State,
On the other hand there are theologians who instead of indulging the dream that the Darwinian theory will leave religion just where it was before, announce that it is cutting the faith of man up by the roots. They declare that it abolishes God, destroys the hope of inmortality, and resolves morality itself into a mere mechanic force.
Such phantoms are familiar, but they become more thin with each reappearance. Our fathers heard that the pillars of the universe had fallen again and again, when it only turned out that somebody's little idol had collapsed. “The giving up of the sun's motion is giving up, the foundation of religion,” said they who burned the book of Copernicus and the body of Bruno. " The giving up of witchcraft is giving up the Bible,” said Sir Matthew Hale. We have grown accustomed to such alarms, and can consider such things with the assured calmness of long experience.
Unquestionably a revolution has occurred. No one can peruse the common literature of the day without recognising that the theory of Darwin has given the world new eyes with which to look at nearly everything. Each truth is a mother-truth, and brings forth a family of other truths. The faculties of man, too, are a fraternity, and what comes to one es to all the rest. If we examine the mental condition of the world before this theory was impressed upon it, we shall find even advanced and liberal men taking views of the nature of things which now seem antiquarian. Take the pre-Darwinite rationalist; what did he believe? He did not believe the miracles of the Bible, nor modern superstitions; but the supernaturalist could easily press him into a corner by compelling him to admit that the world began by a miracle, that man began by a miracle, and that each star in the sky, each animal on earth, was formed from nothing by the creative fiat of the deity. The theist repeated as often as the orthodox the words—"God said, Let there
be light, and there was light ;” “God made man in his own image.” Then the pre-Darwinite rationalist easily conceded that Milton's version was true,--and that the first man and woman sprang from the hand of God in all perfection of intelligence and beauty, and able to speak a perfect language. There were, of course, exceptions. Some did not believe in any God at all ; but the average rationalist of our memory, who still held to a God, thus conceived of him as an Almighty Mechanic and Contriver. Upon the moral world he looked with awe, seeing in it a chaos over which the principles—Good and Evil-perpetually struggled. His great problem was as to free will or necessity; his hope, that by the divine will good would finally triumph over evil.
Then Darwinism came and gave every department of inquiry a new point of departure, and a new theorem. It was found that even the blind elements had shaped themselves in accordance with principles of adaptation to necessary circumstances; that life had begun everywhere in the feeblest and lowest forms; that the first man and woman were savages but little raised above the brute ; that there was no evidence whatever of any such Creation as was represented in the old belief in an original vacuum ; but, on the contrary, every probability that the substance of things had always existed and would exist. The philologists proved that language, instead of being a miraculous gift, had grown up like-perhaps out of-the cries of animals. In a word, the idea of a Mighty Mechanic, a Supreme Wonder-worker, was driven out of the conception of the rationalist..