Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/690

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rible paradoxes of that generation are now the commonplaces of schoolboys. At present the locus of disturbance is to be found in the Biological Section, and more particularly in the anthropological department of that section. History repeats itself, and precisely the same terrible apprehensions which were expressed by the aborigines of the Geological Section, in long far-back time, is at present expressed by those who attend our deliberations. The world is coming to an end, the basis of morality is being shaken, and I don't know what is not to happen, if certain conclusions which appear probable are to be verified. Well, now, whoever may be here thirty years hence—I certainly cannot—but, depend upon it, whoever may be speaking at the meeting of this department of the British Association thirty years hence will find, exactly as the members of the Geological Section have found, on looking back thirty years, that the very paradoxes and conclusions, and other horrible things that are now thought to be going to shake the foundations of the world, will by that time have become parts of everyday knowledge and will be taught in our schools as accepted truth, and nobody will be one whit the worse.

The considerations which I think it desirable to put before you, in order to show the foundations of the conclusions at which I have very confidently arrived, are of two kinds. The first is a reason based entirely upon philosophical considerations, namely, this: that the region of pure physical science, and the region of those questions which specially interest ordinary humanity, are apart, and that the conclusions reached in the one have no direct effect in the other. If you acquaint yourself with the history of philosophy, and with the endless variations of human opinion therein recorded, you will find that there is not a single one of those speculative difficulties which at the present time torment many minds as being the direct product of scientific thought which is not as old as the times of Greek philosophy, and which did not then exist as strongly and as clearly as they do now, though they arose out of arguments based upon merely philosophical ideas. Whoever admits these two things—as everybody who looks about him must do—whoever takes into account the existence of evil in this world and the law of causation—has before him all the difficulties that can be raised by any form of scientific speculation. And these two difficulties have been occupying the minds of men ever since man began to think. The other consideration I have to put before you is that, whatever may be the results at which physical science as applied to man shall arrive, those results are inevitable—I mean that they arise out of the necessary progress of scientific thought as applied to man. You all, I hope, had the opportunity of hearing the excellent address which was given by our president yesterday, in which he traced out the marvelous progress of our knowledge of the higher animals which has been effected since the time of Linnæus. It is no exaggeration to say that at this present time the merest tyro knows a thousand times as