Imatges de pÓgina
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but only the mode of creation, it is hard to conceive of the adaptation of such a process for the production of such a result-a result standing apart from the means by such a total difference in both their nature and direction. Even Prof. Huxley, in one of his latest utterances, felt constrained to say: "The practice of what is ethically best, what we call goodness or virtue, involves a course of conduct which, in all respects, is opposed to that which leads to success in the cosmic struggle for existence. In place of ruthless self-assertion, it demands self-restraint; in place of thrusting aside or treading down all competitors, it requires that the individual shall not merely respect, but help his fellows; its influence is directed, not so much to the survival of the fittest, as to the fitting as many as possible to survive." The millions of years of the battle of might with feebleness, nature "red in tooth and talon," is not the creator of the law of love, kindness, and generous helpfulness.

(1) Nor can it account for freedom in man, out of unfree causation. That the advance of physical life from protozoa, through ages, under reign of the law of cause and effect, in a chain of variations and survivals, all the links being locked up in necessary antecedence and consequence, should issue at length in the production of the opposite principle of freedom, and set man forth a free self-determining being acting in liberty, seems to require us to believe that "the effect" shall not be as the cause, but the reverse. How shall necessity give birth to freedom? How shall that which has no freewill confer it? How can the reign of fixed law, dominating every change or advance from protoplasm through the animal series, be conceived of as even the carrier

1 1 Lectures at Oxford on "Ethics and Evolution."

of freedom up to the point of its human manifestation? Yet in accepting the hypothesis we should have to accept this contradiction-that causes acting in necessity establish the higher and contrary reality of free choice. For it is to be borne in mind that the hypothesis is, from beginning to end, a protest against admission of supernatural intervention or direct creation-except with such advocates of it as exclude the origin of Man from it save, perhaps, as to his physical organism, and confidently postulate a direct or supernatural divine act for the increment that appears in his endowment of rational soul and personal freedom. This exception, with its postulate, becomes in fact an abandonment of the evolutionary creation of man.

These few considerations are recalled in evidence that the current theory of evolution is yet an unproved hypothesis-by no means established. We are not, however, to maintain that there is not a deep, far-reaching principle of evolution divinely embodied in nature and its movement. All geology, in its rocks and fossils, is a history of it. The Christian theologian finds a progressive movement, whatever it may have been, reflected from the Biblical creational progress and ascent from chaos up to material order, into forms of plant life and animal life. It is a question of true or misleading interpretation. It is to be observed, too, that the Bible simply ascribes creation to God without defining the mode of it. And should science ever be able really to show it to have been by a process of evolutionary action, the essential truth would still abide-that God created man, gave him his nature and position, his high endowments of moral personality and responsibility, supplying, by direct creative power, the increment of

rational soul at the point of transition, as making Man in His image for fellowship with Him and dominion over the earth. Christianity would not be proved false by a scientific demonstration of any Theistic form of evolution. But because of the rush of the foes of Christianity to shape and use the hypothesis for unbelief, and the uncalled-for precipitancy of many theologians in falsifying and destructive modifications of it, it is needful that the unproved status of the theory should be borne in mind. Within the animal kingdom there is no evidence whatever of an evolution across the wide differences that separate the families or the genera from one another. Whether across the smaller intervals between different species, is yet very doubtful. For the inclusion of man in the genetic evolution, there is positively no proof. And this is manifestly the reason of the fact that so many of the most eminent, soberminded, and careful scientists, while admitting and asserting a real evolutionary principle in nature, see its limits, and refuse its application to the origin of man—as A. R. Wallace, St. George Mivart, Principal J. W. Dawson, Quatrefages, the Duke of Argyll, Prof. James D. Dana, and others. We are not without warrant in taking it as good scientific thinking when we find Sir William Thompson writing: "That man could be evolved out of inferior animals is the wildest dream of materialism, a pure assumption which offends me alike by its folly and by its arrogance;" or when we read from Prof. James Dwight Dana : "The present teaching of geology very strongly confirms the belief that Man is not of Nature's making. Independently of such evidence, Man's high reason, his unsatisfied aspirations, his free-will, all afford the fullest assurance that he owes his existence to the

special act of the Infinite Being whose image he bears."1

A further consideration of force in closing this sketch of the problem of evolution, is the unseemly, incongruous relation in which even theistic evolutionism necessarily places all primal creation in respect to God as Creator. It puts the widest conceivable chasm between the Creator as the Absolute Personal Reason and the initial form or rank of all created beings. It teaches that God, the Absolute Personality, the supreme perfection of Being, creates the universe only through the method of unfolding from the initial or homogeneous form to the heterogeneous, from the lowest and crudest beginnings of things to the final completion in the highest and best. Life, at the start, is only indeterminate, undifferentiated bioplasm, and is thence evolved through countless ages into all the successive actualized forms up to man. Immense periods of working were required to reach the creation of any lofty or noble type of being. "The lower order of being exists only in the process of evolution into the higher. It exists only in transitu, and its individuality is fleeting." "When the animal progresses beyond recollection and fancy to generalization, he becomes immortal as an individual." But see in what relation all this puts all initial forms or orders of living beings with respect to God. For long æons nothing intrinsically great or lofty appears-nothing suggestive of His "image or likeness." An infinite chasm yawns between Creator and creation. Things are only started with a view-if there was a view-to a realization of a justifying cosmos after millenniums of ages. How utterly incongruous,

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1 "The Geological Story" (1895), p. 290.

'Dr. W. T. Harris, "Introduction to Study of Philosophy," p. 160.

that in the creation that starts closest to God, the most immediate to the productive impact of the Absolute Intelligent Personality, there should be found only what is most unlike Him; what is, indeed, the utmost antithesis to that which created it; what is able to reach "personality" only after untold æons of evolutionary working. This might fit Brahminism, in which Brahma, or the Divine, is only abstract unity, void of form or predicates. In it the idea of the prime existence is the negation of all intelligent personality and freedom. But it will not fit the Christian conception of God as the absolute and free Personality.

And it is a significant phenomenon that under the tendencies and affinities of the acceptance of the evolutionist origin of man, we are having numerous writers, both philosophical and theological, who are abandoning Christian theism and urging monistic conceptions of the universe as being the necessary forms and parts in the evolution of the Absolute. The Divine and the human, God and nature, are one, and Christian theism is being confused and lost behind an ideal pantheism.

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