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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/808

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

light of the facts adduced by Darwin and of his own maturer reasonings, were totally opposed to those quoted in the bishop's pamphlet. Is it not remarkable, such being the case, that not one member of the reverend and learned clergy of the diocese of Kingston, by whose special request this document was given to the world, should have suggested a correction on this point? Was there not a lay delegate who could have done it; or were they all bishop, clergy, and laymen equally in the dark? It would really seem so. Who can wonder that the doctrine of evolution does not make much progress in certain quarters?

Sir Charles Lyell unfortunately is not the only author misrepresented. Huxley is said to "discredit" the origin of life from non-living matter. Huxley does nothing of the kind; he simply says that the experiments heretofore made to show that life can be so developed have not been successful. On the page of the pamphlet immediately preceding that on which this statement is made in regard to Huxley, we are informed, correctly, that the same great naturalist professes "a philosophic faith in the probability of spontaneous generation." Surely his lordship could not have understood the force of these words, or he would not have said, almost immediately after, that "the origin of life on earth . . . is not only discredited[1] by Huxley but by many other great scientists." A writer who finds such comparatively simple language beyond his comprehension is not, one would judge, very well fitted to enter the lists against the leading thinkers of the day, except perhaps for strictly diocesan purposes.

That his lordship is really hopelessly at sea in discussing this question is evident by many signs. Such sentences as the following speak volumes for the mental confusion of their author: "Agnosticism takes refuge in evolution in order to get rid of the idea of God as unthinkable and unknowable." Here, again, inaccuracies of language. An idea may be unthinkable in the sense of not admitting of being thought out, but can an idea be said to be "unknowable"? What is an unknowable idea? An idea must be known in order to be an idea at all. But this mere verbal inaccuracy is not the worst. We had been told that agnosticism was a form of opinion according to which nothing could be known of God. Now, it seems that agnosticism has to fall back on evolution, "in order to get rid of the idea of God as unthinkable and unknowable." Now, the so-called agnosticism could not have been agnosticism in reality, otherwise it would not have required the help of evolution in such a matter. If we ask how evolution helps agnosticism to regard "the idea of God as unthinkable and unknowable," we shall only find the confusion growing worse confounded.

  1. His lordship means "discredited not only by Huxley, but by etc." The inaccuracy of expression observable here is paralleled in many other passages of the pamphlet. For example, his lordship says, page 5, "They are not content to speak for themselves, but for all the world besides." A bishop should write better English than this.