IV. THE FINAL EFFORT OF THEOLOGY.

DARWIN'S _Origin of Species_ had come into the theological world like a plough into an ant-hill. Everywhere those thus rudely awakened from their old comfort and repose had swarmed forth angry and confused. Reviews, sermons, books light and heavy, came flying at the new thinker from all sides.

The keynote was struck at once in the _Quarterly Review_ by Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He declared that Darwin was guilty of "a tendency to limit God's glory in creation"; that "the principle of natural selection is absolutely incompatible with the word of God"; that it "contradicts the revealed relations of creation to its Creator"; that it is "inconsistent with the fulness of his glory"; that it is "a dishonouring view of Nature"; and that there is "a simpler explanation of the presence of these strange forms among the works of God": that explanation being--"the fall of Adam." Nor did the bishop's efforts end here; at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science he again disported himself in the tide of popular applause. Referring to the ideas of Darwin, who was absent on account of illness, he congratulated himself in a public speech that he was not descended from a monkey. The reply came from Huxley, who said in substance: "If I had to choose, I would prefer to be a descendant of a humble monkey rather than of a man who employs his knowledge and eloquence in misrepresenting those who are wearing out their lives in the search for truth."

This shot reverberated through England, and indeed through other countries.

The utterances of this the most brilliant prelate of the Anglican Church received a sort of antiphonal response from the leaders of the English Catholics. In an address before the "Academia," which had been organized to combat "science falsely so called," Cardinal Manning declared his abhorrence of the new view of Nature, and described it as "a brutal philosophy--to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam."

These attacks from such eminent sources set the clerical fashion for several years. One distinguished clerical reviewer, in spite of Darwin's thirty years of quiet labour, and in spite of the powerful summing up of his book, prefaced a diatribe by saying that Darwin "might have been more modest had he given some slight reason for dissenting from the views generally entertained." Another distinguished clergyman, vice-president of a Protestant institute to combat "dangerous" science, declared Darwinism "an attempt to dethrone God." Another critic spoke of persons accepting the Darwinian views as "under the frenzied inspiration of the inhaler of mephitic gas," and of Darwin's argument as "a jungle of fanciful assumption." Another spoke of Darwin's views as suggesting that "God is dead," and declared that Darwin's work "does open violence to everything which the Creator himself has told us in the Scriptures of the methods and results of his work." Still another theological authority asserted: "If the Darwinian theory is true, Genesis is a lie, the whole framework of the book of life falls to pieces, and the revelation of God to man, as we Christians know it, is a delusion and a snare." Another, who had shown excellent qualities as an observing naturalist, declared the Darwinian view "a huge imposture from the beginning."

Echoes came from America. One review, the organ of the most widespread of American religious sects, declared that Darwin was "attempting to befog and to pettifog the whole question"; another denounced Darwin's views as "infidelity"; another, representing the American branch of the Anglican Church, poured contempt over Darwin as "sophistical and illogical," and then plunged into an exceedingly dangerous line of argument in the following words: "If this hypothesis be true, then is the Bible an unbearable fiction;... then have Christians for nearly two thousand years been duped by a monstrous lie.... Darwin requires us to disbelieve the authoritative word of the Creator" A leading journal representing the same church took pains to show the evolution theory to be as contrary to the explicit declarations of the New Testament as to those of the Old, and said: "If we have all, men and monkeys, oysters and eagles, developed from an original germ, then is St. Paul's grand deliverance--`All flesh is not the same flesh; there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds'--untrue."

Another echo came from Australia, where Dr. Perry, Lord Bishop of Melbourne, in a most bitter book on _Science and the Bible_, declared that the obvious object of Chambers, Darwin, and Huxley is "to produce in their readers a disbelief of the Bible."

Nor was the older branch of the Church to be left behind in this chorus. Bayma, in the _Catholic World_, declared, "Mr. Darwin is, we have reason to believe, the mouthpiece or chief trumpeter of that infidel clique whose well-known object is to do away with all idea of a God."

Worthy of especial note as showing the determination of the theological side at that period was the foundation of sacro-scientific organizations to combat the new ideas. First to be noted is the "Academia," planned by Cardinal Wiseman. In a circular letter the cardinal, usually so moderate and just, sounded an alarm and summed up by saying, "Now it is for the Church, which alone possesses divine certainty and divine discernment, to place itself at once in the front of a movement which threatens even the fragmentary remains of Christian belief in England." The necessary permission was obtained from Rome, the Academia was founded, and the "divine discernment" of the Church was seen in the utterances which came from it, such as those of Cardinal Manning, which every thoughtful Catholic would now desire to recall, and in the diatribes of Dr. Laing, which only aroused laughter on all sides. A similar effort was seen in Protestant quarters; the "Victoria institute" was created, and perhaps the most noted utterance which ever came from it was the declaration of its vice-president, the Rev. Walter Mitchell, that "Darwinism endeavours to dethrone God."[73]

In France the attack was even more violent. Fabre d'Envieu brought out the heavy artillery of theology, and in a long series of elaborate propositions demonstrated that any other doctrine than that of the fixity and persistence of species is absolutely contrary to Scripture. The Abbe Desorges, a former Professor of Theology, stigmatized Darwin as a "pedant," and evolution as "gloomy". Monseigneur Segur, referring to Darwin and his followers, went into hysterics and shrieked: "These infamous doctrines have for their only support the most abject passions. Their father is pride, their mother impurity, their offspring revolutions. They come from hell and return thither, taking with them the gross creatures who blush not to proclaim and accept them."

In Germany the attack, if less declamatory, was no less severe. Catholic theologians vied with Protestants in bitterness. Prof. Michelis declared Darwin's theory "a caricature of creation." Dr. Hagermann asserted that it "turned the Creator out of doors." Dr. Schund insisted that "every idea of the Holy Scriptures, from the first to the last page, stands in diametrical opposition to the Darwinian theory"; and, "if Darwin be right in his view of the development of man out of a brutal condition, then the Bible teaching in regard to man is utterly annihilated." Rougemont in Switzerland called for a crusade against the obnoxious doctrine. Luthardt, Professor of Theology at Leipsic, declared: "The idea of creation belongs to religion and not to natural science; the whole superstructure of personal religion is built upon the doctrine of creation"; and he showed the evolution theory to be in direct contradiction to Holy Writ.

But in 1863 came an event which brought serious confusion to the theological camp: Sir Charles Lyell, the most eminent of living geologists, a man of deeply Christian feeling and of exceedingly cautious temper, who had opposed the evolution theory of Lamarck and declared his adherence to the idea of successive creations, then published his work on the _Antiquity of Man_, and in this and other utterances showed himself a complete though unwilling convert to the fundamental ideas of Darwin. The blow was serious in many ways, and especially so in two--first, as withdrawing all foundation in fact from the scriptural chronology, and secondly, as discrediting the creation theory. The blow was not unexpected; in various review articles against the Darwinian theory there had been appeals to Lyell, at times almost piteous, "not to flinch from the truths he had formerly proclaimed." But Lyell, like the honest man he was, yielded unreservedly to the mass of new proofs arrayed on the side of evolution against that of creation.

At the same time came Huxley's _Man's Place in Nature_, giving new and most cogent arguments in favour of evolution by natural selection.

In 1871 was published Darwin's _Descent of Man_. Its doctrine had been anticipated by critics of his previous books, but it made, none the less, a great stir; again the opposing army trooped forth, though evidently with much less heart than before. A few were very violent. _The Dublin University Magazine_, after the traditional Hibernian fashion, charged Mr. Darwin with seeking "to displace God by the unerring action of vagary," and with being "resolved to hunt God out of the world." But most notable from the side of the older Church was the elaborate answer to Darwin's book by the eminent French Catholic physician, Dr. Constantin James. In his work, _On Darwinism, or the Man-Ape_, published at Paris in 1877, Dr. James not only refuted Darwin scientifically but poured contempt on his book, calling it "a fairy tale," and insisted that a work "so fantastic and so burlesque" was, doubtless, only a huge joke, like Erasmus's _Praise of Folly_, or Montesquieu's _Persian Letters_. The princes of the Church were delighted. The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris assured the author that the book had become his "spiritual reading," and begged him to send a copy to the Pope himself. His Holiness, Pope Pius IX, acknowledged the gift in a remarkable letter. He thanked his dear son, the writer, for the book in which he "refutes so well the aberrations of Darwinism." "A system," His Holiness adds, "which is repugnant at once to history, to the tradition of all peoples, to exact science, to observed facts, and even to Reason herself, would seem to need no refutation, did not alienation from God and the leaning toward materialism, due to depravity, eagerly seek a support in all this tissue of fables.... And, in fact, pride, after rejecting the Creator of all things and proclaiming man independent, wishing him to be his own king, his own priest, and his own God--pride goes so far as to degrade man himself to the level of the unreasoning brutes, perhaps even of lifeless matter, thus unconsciously confirming the Divine declaration, _When pride cometh, then cometh shame_. But the corruption of this age, the machinations of the perverse, the danger of the simple, demand that such fancies, altogether absurd though they are, should--since they borrow the mask of science--be refuted by true science." Wherefore the Pope thanked Dr. James for his book, "so opportune and so perfectly appropriate to the exigencies of our time," and bestowed on him the apostolic benediction. Nor was this brief all. With it there came a second, creating the author an officer of the Papal Order of St. Sylvester. The cardinal archbishop assured the delighted physician that such a double honour of brief and brevet was perhaps unprecedented, and suggested only that in a new edition of his book he should "insist a little more on the relation existing between the narratives of Genesis and the discoveries of modern science, in such fashion as to convince the most incredulous of their perfect agreement." The prelate urged also a more dignified title. The proofs of this new edition were accordingly all submitted to His Eminence, and in 1882 it appeared as _Moses and Darwin: the Man of Genesis compared with the Man-Ape, or Religious Education opposed to Atheistic_. No wonder the cardinal embraced the author, thanking him in the name of science and religion. " We have at last," he declared, "a handbook which we can safely put into the hands of youth."

Scarcely less vigorous were the champions of English Protestant orthodoxy. In an address at Liverpool, Mr. Gladstone remarked: "Upon the grounds of what is termed evolution God is relieved of the labour of creation; in the name of unchangeable laws he is discharged from governing the world"; and, when Herbert Spencer called his attention to the fact that Newton with the doctrine of gravitation and with the science of physical astronomy is open to the same charge, Mr. Gladstone retreated in the _Contemporary Review_ under one of his characteristic clouds of words. The Rev. Dr. Coles, in the _British and Foreign Evangelical Review_, declared that the God of evolution is not the Christian's God. Burgon, Dean of Chichester, in a sermon preached before the University of Oxford, pathetically warned the students that "those who refuse to accept the history of the creation of our first parents according to its obvious literal intention, and are for substituting the modern dream of evolution in its place, cause the entire scheme of man's salvation to collapse." Dr. Pusey also came into the fray with most earnest appeals against the new doctrine, and the Rev. Gavin Carlyle was perfervid on the same side. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge published a book by the Rev. Mr. Birks, in which the evolution doctrine was declared to be "flatly opposed to the fundamental doctrine of creation." Even the _London Times_ admitted a review stigmatizing Darwin's _Descent of Man_ as an "utterly unsupported hypothesis," full of "unsubstantiated premises, cursory investigations, and disintegrating speculations," and Darwin himself as "reckless and unscientific."[77]

But it was noted that this second series of attacks, on the _Descent of Man_, differed in one remarkable respect--so far as England was concerned--from those which had been made over ten years before on the _Origin of Species_. While everything was done to discredit Darwin, to pour contempt upon him, and even, of all things in the world, to make him--the gentlest of mankind, only occupied with the scientific side of the problem--"a persecutor of Christianity," while his followers were represented more and more as charlatans or dupes, there began to be in the most influential quarters careful avoidance of the old argument that evolution--even by natural selection--contradicts Scripture. It began to be felt that this was dangerous ground. The defection of Lyell had, perhaps, more than anything else, started the question among theologians who had preserved some equanimity, "_What if, after all, the Darwinian theory should prove to be true?_" Recollections of the position in which the Roman Church found itself after the establishment of the doctrines of Copernicus and Galileo naturally came into the minds of the more thoughtful. In Germany this consideration does not seem to have occurred at quite so early a day. One eminent Lutheran clergyman at Magdeburg called on his hearers to choose between Darwin and religion; Delitszch, in his new commentary on Genesis, attempted to bring science back to recognise human sin as an important factor in creation; Prof. Heinrich Ewald, while carefully avoiding any sharp conflict between the scriptural doctrine and evolution, comforted himself by covering Darwin and his followers with contempt; Christlieb, in his address before the Evangelical Alliance at New York in 1873, simply took the view that the tendencies of the Darwinian theory were "toward infidelity," but declined to make any serious battle on biblical grounds; the Jesuit, Father Pesch, in Holland, drew up in Latin, after the old scholastic manner, a sort of general indictment of evolution, of which one may say that it was interesting--as interesting as the display of a troop in chain armour and with cross-bows on a nineteenth-century battlefield.

From America there came new echoes. Among the myriad attacks on the Darwinian theory by Protestants and Catholics two should be especially mentioned. The first of these was by Dr. Noah Porter, President of Yale College, an excellent scholar, an interesting writer, a noble man, broadly tolerant, combining in his thinking a curious mixture of radicalism and conservatism. While giving great latitude to the evolutionary teaching in the university under his care, he felt it his duty upon one occasion to avow his disbelief in it; but he was too wise a man to suggest any necessary antagonism between it and the Scriptures. He confined himself mainly to pointing out the tendency of the evolution doctrine in this form toward agnosticism and pantheism. To those who knew and loved him, and had noted the genial way in which by wise neglect he had allowed scientific studies to flourish at Yale, there was an amusing side to all this. Within a stone's throw of his college rooms was the Museum of Paleontology, in which Prof. Marsh had laid side by side, among other evidences of the new truth, that wonderful series of specimens showing the evolution of the horse from the earliest form of the animal, "not larger than a fox, with five toes," through the whole series up to his present form and size--that series which Huxley declared an absolute proof of the existence of natural selection as an agent in evolution. In spite of the veneration and love which all Yale men felt for President Porter, it was hardly to be expected that these particular arguments of his would have much permanent effect upon them when there was constantly before their eyes so convincing a refutation.

But a far more determined opponent was the Rev. Dr. Hodge, of Princeton; his anger toward the evolution doctrine was bitter: he denounced it as thoroughly "atheistic"; he insisted that Christians "have a right to protest against the arraying of probabilities against the clear evidence of the Scriptures"; he even censured so orthodox a writer as the Duke of Argyll, and declared that the Darwinian theory of natural selection is "utterly inconsistent with the Scriptures," and that "an absent God, who does nothing, is to us no God"; that "to ignore design as manifested in God's creation is to dethrone God"; that "a denial of design in Nature is virtually a denial of God"; and that "no teleologist can be a Darwinian." Even more uncompromising was another of the leading authorities at the same university--the Rev. Dr. Duffield. He declared war not only against Darwin but even against men like Asa Gray, Le Conte, and others, who had attempted to reconcile the new theory with the Bible: he insisted that "evolutionism and the scriptural account of the origin of man are irreconcilable"--that the Darwinian theory is "in direct conflict with the teaching of the apostle, `All scripture is given by inspiration of God'"; he pointed out, in his opposition to Darwin's _Descent of Man_ and Lyell's _Antiquity of Man_, that in the Bible "the genealogical links which connect the Israelites in Egypt with Adam and Eve in Eden are explicitly given." These utterances of Prof. Duffield culminated in a declaration which deserves to be cited as showing that a Presbyterian minister can "deal damnation round the land" _ex cathedra_ in a fashion quite equal to that of popes and bishops. It is as follows: "If the development theory of the origin of man," wrote Dr. Duffield in the _Princeton Review_, "shall in a little while take its place--as doubtless it will--with other exploded scientific speculations, then they who accept it with its proper logical consequences will in the life to come have their portion with those who in this life `know not God and obey not the gospel of his Son.'"

Fortunately, at about the time when Darwin's _Descent of Man_ was published, there had come into Princeton University "_deus ex machina_" in the person of Dr. James McCosh. Called to the presidency, he at once took his stand against teachings so dangerous to Christianity as those of Drs. Hodge, Duffield, and their associates. In one of his personal confidences he has let us into the secret of this matter. With that hard Scotch sense which Thackeray had applauded in his well-known verses, he saw that the most dangerous thing which could be done to Christianity at Princeton was to reiterate in the university pulpit, week after week, solemn declarations that if evolution by natural selection, or indeed evolution at all, be true, the Scriptures are false. He tells us that he saw that this was the certain way to make the students unbelievers; he therefore not only checked this dangerous preaching but preached an opposite doctrine. With him began the inevitable compromise, and, in spite of mutterings against him as a Darwinian, he carried the day. Whatever may be thought of his general system of philosophy, no one can deny his great service in neutralizing the teachings of his predecessors and colleagues--so dangerous to all that is essential in Christianity.

Other divines of strong sense in other parts of the country began to take similar ground--namely, that men could be Christians and at the same time Darwinians. There appeared, indeed, here and there, curious discrepancies: thus in 1873 the _Monthly Religious Magazine_ of Boston congratulated its readers that the Rev. Mr. Burr had "demolished the evolution theory, knocking the breath of life out of it and throwing it to the dogs." This amazing performance by the Rev. Mr. Burr was repeated in a very striking way by Bishop Keener before the OEcumenical Council of Methodism at Washington in 1891. In what the newspapers described as an "admirable speech," he refuted evolution doctrines by saying that evolutionists had "only to make a journey of twelve hours from the place where he was then standing to find together the bones of the muskrat, the opossum, the coprolite, and the ichthyosaurus." He asserted that Agassiz--whom the good bishop, like so many others, seemed to think an evolutionist--when he visited these beds near Charleston, declared: "These old beds have set me crazy; they have destroyed the work of a lifetime." And the Methodist prelate ended by saying: "Now, gentlemen, brethren, take these facts home with you; get down and look at them. This is the watch that was under the steam hammer--the doctrine of evolution; and this steam hammer is the wonderful deposit of the Ashley beds." Exhibitions like these availed little. While the good bishop amid vociferous applause thus made comically evident his belief that Agassiz was a Darwinian and a coprolite an animal, scientific men were recording in all parts of the world facts confirming the dreaded theory of an evolution by natural selection. While the Rev. Mr. Burr was so loudly praised for "throwing Darwinism to the dogs," Marsh was completing his series leading from the five-toed ungulates to the horse. While Dr. Tayler Lewis at Union, and Drs. Hodge and Duffield at Princeton, were showing that if evolution be true the biblical accounts must be false, the indefatigable Yale professor was showing his cretaceous birds, and among them _Hesperornis_ and _Ichthyornis_ with teeth. While in Germany Luthardt, Schund, and their compeers were demonstrating that Scripture requires a belief in special and separate creations, the Archaepteryx, showing a most remarkable connection between birds and reptiles, was discovered. While in France Monseigneur Segur and others were indulging in diatribes against "a certain Darwin," Gaudry and Filhol were discovering a striking series of "missing links" among the carnivora.

In view of the proofs accumulating in favour of the new evolutionary hypothesis, the change in the tone of controlling theologians was now rapid. From all sides came evidences of desire to compromise with the theory. Strict adherents of the biblical text pointed significantly to the verses in Genesis in which the earth and sea were made to bring forth birds and fishes, and man was created out of the dust of the ground. Men of larger mind like Kingsley and Farrar, with English and American broad churchmen generally, took ground directly in Darwin's favour. Even Whewell took pains to show that there might be such a thing as a Darwinian argument for design in Nature; and the Rev. Samuel Houghton, of the Royal Society, gave interesting suggestions of a divine design in evolution.

Both the great English universities received the new teaching as a leaven: at Oxford, in the very front of the High Church party at Keble College, was elaborated a statement that the evolution doctrine is "an advance in our theological thinking." And Temple, Bishop of London, perhaps the most influential thinker then in the Anglican episcopate, accepted the new revelation in the following words: "It seems something more majestic, more befitting him to whom a thousand years are as one day, thus to impress his will once for all on his creation, and provide for all the countless varieties by this one original impress, than by special acts of creation to be perpetually modifying what he had previously made."

In Scotland the Duke of Argyll, head and front of the orthodox party, dissenting in many respects from Darwin's full conclusions, made concessions which badly shook the old position.

Curiously enough, from the Roman Catholic Church, bitter as some of its writers had been, now came argument to prove that the Catholic faith does not prevent any one from holding the Darwinian theory, and especially a declaration from an authority eminent among American Catholics--a declaration which has a very curious sound, but which it would be ungracious to find fault with--that "the doctrine of evolution is no more in opposition to the doctrine of the Catholic Church than is the Copernican theory or that of Galileo."

Here and there, indeed, men of science like Dawson, Mivart, and Wigand, in view of theological considerations, sought to make conditions; but the current was too strong, and eminent theologians in every country accepted natural selection as at least a very important part in the mechanism of evolution.

At the death of Darwin it was felt that there was but one place in England where his body should be laid, and that this place was next the grave of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. The noble address of Canon Farrar at his funeral was echoed from many pulpits in Europe and America, and theological opposition as such was ended. Occasionally appeared, it is true, a survival of the old feeling: the Rev. Dr. Laing referred to the burial of Darwin in Westminster Abbey as "a proof that England is no longer a Christian country," and added that this burial was a desecration--that this honour was given him because he had been "the chief promoter of the mock doctrrne of evolution of the species and the ape descent of man."

Still another of these belated prophets was, of all men, Thomas Carlyle. Soured and embittered, in the same spirit which led him to find more heroism in a marauding Viking or in one of Frederick the Great's generals than in Washington, or Lincoln, or Grant, and which caused him to see in the American civil war only the burning out of a foul chimney, he, with the petulance natural to a dyspeptic eunuch, railed at Darwin as an "apostle of dirt worship."

The last echoes of these utterances reverberated between Scotland and America. In the former country, in 1885, the Rev. Dr. Lee issued a volume declaring that, if the Darwinian view be true, "there is no place for God"; that "by no method of interpretation can the language of Holy Scripture be made wide enough to re-echo the orang-outang theory of man's natural history"; that "Darwinism reverses the revelation of God" and "implies utter blasphemy against the divine and human character of our Incarnate Lord"; and he was pleased to call Darwin and his followers "gospellers of the gutter." In one of the intellectual centres of America the editor of a periodical called _The Christian_ urged frantically that "the battle be set in array, and that men find out who is on the Lord's side and who is on the side of the devil and the monkeys."

To the honour of the Church of England it should be recorded that a considerable number of her truest men opposed such utterances as these, and that one of them--Farrar, Archdeacon of Westminster--made a protest worthy to be held in perpetual remembrance. While confessing his own inability to accept fully the new scientific belief, he said: "We should consider it disgraceful and humiliating to try to shake it by an _ad captandum_ argument, or by a clap-trap platform appeal to the unfathomable ignorance and unlimited arrogance of a prejudiced assembly. We should blush to meet it with an anathema or a sneer."

All opposition had availed nothing; Darwin's work and fame were secure. As men looked back over his beautiful life--simple, honest, tolerant, kindly--and thought upon his great labours in the search for truth, all the attacks faded into nothingness.

There were indeed some dark spots, which as time goes on appear darker. At Trinity College, Cambridge, Whewell, the "omniscient," author of the _History of the Inductive Sciences_, refused to allow a copy of the _Origin of Species_ to be placed in the library. At multitudes of institutions under theological control--Protestant as well as Catholic--attempts were made to stamp out or to stifle evolutionary teaching. Especially was this true for a time in America, and the case of the American College at Beyrout, where nearly all the younger professors were dismissed for adhering to Darwin's views, is worthy of remembrance. The treatment of Dr. Winchell at the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee showed the same spirit; one of the truest of men, devoted to science but of deeply Christian feeling, he was driven forth for views which centred in the Darwinian theory.

Still more striking was the case of Dr. Woodrow. He had, about 1857, been appointed to a professorship of Natural Science as connected with Revealed Religion, in the Presbyterian Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina. He was a devoted Christian man, and his training had led him to accept the Presbyterian standards of faith. With great gifts for scientific study he visited Europe, made a most conscientious examination of the main questions under discussion, and adopted the chief points in the doctrine of evolution by natural selection. A struggle soon began. A movement hostile to him grew more and more determined, and at last, in spite of the efforts made in his behalf by the directors of the seminary and by a large and broad-minded minority in the representative bodies controlling it, an orthodox storm, raised by the delegates from various Presbyterian bodies, drove him from his post. Fortunately, he was received into a professorship at the University of South Carolina, where he has since taught with more power than ever before.

This testimony to the faith by American provincial Protestantism was very properly echoed from Spanish provincial Catholicism. In the year 1878 a Spanish colonial man of science, Dr. Chil y Marango, published a work on the Canary Islands. But Dr. Chil had the imprudence to sketch, in his introduction, the modern hypothesis of evolution, and to exhibit some proofs, found in the Canary Islands, of the barbarism of primitive man. The ecclesiastical authorities, under the lead of Bishop Urquinaona y Bidot, at once grappled with this new idea. By a solemn act they declared it "_falsa, impia, scandalosa_"; all persons possessing copies of the work were ordered to surrender them at once to the proper ecclesiastics, and the author was placed under the major excommunication.

But all this opposition may be reckoned among the last expiring convulsions of the old theologic theory. Even from the new Catholic University at Washington has come an utterance in favour of the new doctrine, and in other universities in the Old World and in the New the doctrine of evolution by natural selection has asserted its right to full and honest consideration. More than this, it is clearly evident that the stronger men in the Church have, in these latter days, not only relinquished the struggle against science in this field, but have determined frankly and manfully to make an alliance with it. In two very remarkable lectures given in 1892 at the parish church of Rochdale, Wilson, Archdeacon of Manchester, not only accepted Darwinism as true, but wrought it with great argumentative power into a higher view of Christianity; and what is of great significance, these sermons were published by the same Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge which only a few years before had published the most bitter attacks against the Darwinian theory. So, too, during the year 1893, Prof. Henry Drummond, whose praise is in all the dissenting churches, developed a similar view most brilliantly in a series of lectures delivered before the American Chautauqua schools, and published in one of the most widespread of English orthodox newspapers.

Whatever additional factors may be added to natural selection--and Darwin himself fully admitted that there might be others--the theory of an evolution process in the formation of the universe and of animated nature is established, and the old theory of direct creation is gone forever. In place of it science has given us conceptions far more noble, and opened the way to an argument for design infinitely more beautiful than any ever developed by theology.[86]


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.