Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/383

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

whole it seems a more natural, and indeed beneficial arrangement, that the "strong and clever" should dominate the weak and stupid, than that the weak and stupid should dominate the strong and clever. We doubt whether Nature will wait for the approval of the Darwinian or of any one else before giving, as a general thing, the race to the swift, the battle to the strong, and wages to the man who can earn them.

The Darwinian is accused by the Belgian philosopher of holding that "charity and pretended justice interfere very wrongly" when they seek to prevent stronger races and individuals from usurping the place of weaker ones. The Darwinian takes up no such absurd position. He is an observer of nature, we can not too often repeat, and not a lawgiver. As an observer of nature he perceives that physical strength divorced from intellectual strength is ineffectual, and, in the struggle for life, hardly to be distinguished from weakness. He observes further that intellectual acuteness divorced from moral sentiment overreaches itself, and becomes a kind of stupidity. From multiplied observations of this nature he forms a truer idea, probably, than any mere a priori reasoner as to the forces which rule the world now, and as to those which will be chiefly dominant in the future. He is not opposed to any charity that, in his judgment, tends to make men better; but he could not be a man of any sense if he were not opposed to much that calls itself charity. As to justice, he sees in it the expression of a social force, which has its origin in the fact that society is an organism, the general life of which reacts upon any abnormal manifestations in special members or organs. Far from its being true that justice "stands in the way of the application of natural laws," justice may be said to be a striking illustration of the great natural law or axiom that the whole is greater than the part. To abandon justice would be to place all social order at the mercy of individual caprice; in other words, it would be the suicide of society.

We are next treated to an imaginative sketch of what the world would be like in the absence of all religion: "There is no God and no immutable type of truth and justice." Just how the persuasion that there is no God is going to take possession of mankind is not explained, whether through the utter breaking down of the evidence upon which the doctrine of a Divine Being has heretofore been believed in, or through some further progress of philosophical speculation. One is tempted to ask, however, what the critic really wants. Are there certain doctrines which he wishes to shield from criticism? If so, why not say so distinctly? Why not say in plain terms that mankind has, in some way difficult to explain, got possession of certain opinions or convictions of inestimable value, but which can no more bear exami-