Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/89

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established species, and high degree of development which the thrushes have attained, denote their comparative antiquity as a group of birds. Time has been the important factor in establishing the species, and enabling them to live far and wide in harmony with diverse conditions of life. It would be difficult to ascertain the original center of their development—probably one of the great land-masses, as the Euro-Asiatic continent, whence the early forms have spread to other portions of the earth, there to break up into new varieties and species under the action of changing environments.

Where other forms have succumbed in the struggle for life these have lived on, until now, the almost perfect wing and foot; the vital strength that holds the plumage for a year before it is shed, and also enables the mating pair to rear three goodly broods each spring; the vocal development, the omnivorous diet, the abundance and world-wide distribution of species, tell the story of how the robin and his congeners have come to be what they are—a dominant group in the animal life of the earth.


IT was seen in the sketch previously given[2] that, after every struggle between theology and science, there has been a re-adjustment of some beliefs, a giving up of some notions which really had nothing to do with religion in a proper sense, but which had become so associated with religious belief as to be confounded with the latter—a giving up of some line of defense which ought never to have been held, because not with-in the rightful domain of theology at all. Until the present the whole difficulty has been the result of misconception, and Christianity has emerged from every struggle only strengthened and purified, by casting off an obstructing shell which hindered its growth. But the present struggle seems to many an entirely different and far more serious matter. To many it seems no longer a struggle of theology, but of essential religion itself—a deadly life-and-death struggle between religion and materialism. To many, both skeptics and Christians, evolution seems to be synonymous with blank materialism, and therefore cuts up by the roots every form of religion by denying the existence of God and the fact of immortality. That the enemies of religion, if

  1. From "Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought." By Professor Joseph Le Conte. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.
  2. "Popular Science Monthly" for January, 1888.