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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/382

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368
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that it is not scientific—that it lias no proper place in the scheme of our acquired and organized knowledge. If a scientific opinion is not established, if it is not demonstrated beyond all possibility of cavil, why concern one's self about it, except to invalidate the claims that may have been wrongly put forward on its behalf? To discuss its bearing on religion is merely to suggest that it is true, but that "pity 'tis 'tis true," and to offer a premium to weak souls to try to persuade themselves that it is not true. If a doctrine is true, and yet inconsistent with a certain theological scheme, what is going to be done about it? Will whole books of lamentations nullify it? Will it be disproved by the most diffuse argumentation designed to show that, if it holds its ground, something else will have to give way? Of course it will hold its ground if it is true; and of course whatever is inconsistent with it must give way, and the world must adapt itself as best it can to the change.

But let us consider in detail some of the accusations brought against modern science and its professors by the critics whose names we have mentioned. "Darwinism," says M. de Laveleye, "applied to social sciences, sets aside all notions of equality, and simply glorifies the triumph of the strongest and the cleverest." Darwinism is properly a form or phase of biological doctrine, and as such does not glorify anything particularly. Even in the realm to which it strictly applies there is no glorification of natural selection, merely a recognition of the fact that natural selection is an active agency in the production of results that come under our observation. The only possible application of Darwinism to "social sciences "would lie in a close examination of social phenomena, in order to see whether there also a principle of natural selection might be found to be at work. In this sense Darwinism may be said to have been applied to the social sciences, and with good results so far as our comprehension of social phenomena is concerned. But is it a sin to understand social phenomena? In all other departments of observation we esteem it a great advantage to get on the track of Nature's operations, to be able to follow her secret processes; and it is really difficult to see why we should debar ourselves from understanding, as far as it may be given to us to do so, the course of things in the social order. The true Darwinian does not seek to impose a law on things—he leaves that to his theological censors; he is content to discover law in things. There is simply no sense, therefore, in talking of the Darwinian exulting in force, or glorifying "the triumph of the strongest and the cleverest." At the same time it may be remarked that it is hard to understand how, except by some very special and extraordinary interposition of Providence, "the strongest and the cleverest" are to be prevented from triumphing; and upon the