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Dawson), if it were still possible, would–to say the least–probably not at all help to reconcile science and religion.Therefore, it is not to be regretted that the diversities of view among accredited theologians and theological naturalists are about as wide and as equably distributed between the extremes (and we may add that the views themselves are quite as hypothetical) as those which prevail among the various naturalists and natural philosophers of the day. Henslow doubtless is not to be compared with the veteran professor at Princeton.George Henslow’s recent volume on ‘The Theory of Evolution of Living Things.’ This treatise is on the side of evolution, ‘considered as illustrative of the wisdom and beneficence of the Almighty.’ It was submitted for and received one of the Actonian prizes recently awarded by the Royal Institution of Great Britain.
is doubtless a wise rule upon such subjects, so long as it is fairly applicable.
But the time for its application in respect to questions of the origin and relations of existing species has gone by.
Although he admits ‘that there is a theistic and an atheistic form of the nebular hypothesis as to the origin of the universe, so there may be a theistic interpretation of the Darwinian theory,’ yet he contends that ‘the system is thoroughly atheistic,’ notwithstanding that the author ‘expressly acknowledges the existence of God.’ Curiously enough, the atheistic form of evolutionary hypotheses, or what he takes for such, is the only one which Dr. Even the ‘Reign of Law’ theory, Owen’s ‘purposive route of development and chance . The gist of the matter lies in the answer that should be rendered to the questions–1.
Do order and useful-working collocation, pervading a system throughout all its parts, prove design? Is such evidence negatived or invalidated by the probability that these particular collocations belong to lineal series of such in time, and diversified in the course of Nature–grown up, so to say, step by step?
As the two fairly enough represent the extremes of Christian thought upon the subject, it is convenient to review them in connection.
Theologians have a short and easy, if not wholly satisfactory, way of refuting scientific doctrines which they object to, by pitting the authority or opinion of one may enjoy the same advantage at the expense of the divines– we mean, of course, on the scientific arena; for the mutual refutation of conflicting theologians on their own ground is no novelty.Hodge allows may possibly be held in a theistic sense, and which, as we suppose, is so held or viewed by a great proportion of the naturalists of our day, Mr.Henslow maintains is fully compatible with dogmatic as well as natural theology; that it explains moral anomalies, and accounts for the mixture of good and evil in the world, as well as for the merely relative perfection of things; and, finally, that ‘the whole scheme which God has framed for man’s existence, from the first that was created to all eternity, collapses if the great law of evolution be suppressed.’ The second part of his book is occupied with a development of this line of argument.It is not by way of offset, however, that these divergent or contradictory views are here referred to, but only as an illustration of the fact that the divines are by no means all arrayed upon one side of the question in hand.And indeed, in the present transition period, until some one goes much deeper into the heart of the subject, as respects the relations of modern science to the foundations of religious belief, than either of these writers has done, it is as well that the weight of opinion should be distributed, even if only according to prepossessions, rather than that the whole stress should bear upon a single point, and that perhaps the authority of an interpretation of Scripture. Hodge’s ground, for instance (although better guarded than that of Dr.This, at least, we may say, that, under a system in which so much is done ‘by the establishment of general laws,’ it is legitimate for any one to prove, if he can, that any particular thing in the natural world is so done; and it is the proper business of scientific men to push their enquiries in this direction. Hodge to object that, ‘from the nature of the case, what concerns the origin of things cannot be known except by a supernatural revelation;’ that ‘science has to do with the facts and laws of Nature: here the question concerns the origin of such facts.’ For the very object of the evolutionists, and of Mr.Darwin in particular, is to remove these subjects from the category of origination, and to bring them under the domain of science by treating them as questions about how things go on, not how they began.On the other hand, he has the advantage of being a naturalist, and the son of a naturalist, as well as a clergyman: consequently he feels the full force of an array of facts in nature, and of the natural inferences from them, which the theological professor, from his Biblical standpoint, and on his implicit assumption that the Old Testament must needs teach true science, can hardly be expected to appreciate.Accordingly, a naturalist would be apt to say of Dr.Hodge’s exposition of ‘theories of the universe’ and kindred topics–and in no captious spirit– that whether right or wrong on particular points, he is not often right or wrong in the way of a man of science.Probably from the lack of familiarity with prevalent ideas and their history, the theologians are apt to suppose that scientific men of the present day are taking up theories of evolution in pure wantonness or mere superfluity of naughtiness; that it would have been quite possible, as well as more proper, to leave all such matters alone.