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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/387

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SCIENCE AND ITS ACCUSERS.

poor, and that it will continue to be so until a new element is introduced into it from the scientific study of nature, the element of intellectual honesty. It is easy to make such statements as that, "if all religious feeling were to melt away, a return to primitive barbarism would be inevitable," but to prove them might not be so easy. It may be remarked that primitive barbarism has always been marked by strong religious feeling as well as by comprehensive ignorance; and, therefore, if we succeeded in getting back to primitive barbarism, we should have reached a fine starting-point for another religious evolution. M. de Laveleye, however, does not expect that things will get to this pass; his idea is that our future civilization will be presided over by a purified form of Christianity based upon the most elevated teachings of its Founder. What the future of Darwinism will be he does not tell us—whether it will vanish from the earth like an exhalation, or mingle with and perchance support the new creed. If the former is to be its destiny, we should have some hint as to the probable manner of its going; if the latter, it is hard to see why it should have been made an object of attack.

Miss Cobbe, who discusses "The Scientific Spirit of the Age," admits that she does it "from an adverse point of view." The "epoch-making biography of Mr. Darwin," containing his "admirably candid avowal of the gradual extinction in his mind of the æsthetic and religious elements," has, she thinks, "arrested not a few science-worshipers with the query. What shall it profit a man if he find the origin of species and know exactly how earthworms and sun-dews conduct themselves, if all the while he grow blind to the loveliness of nature, deaf to music, insensible to poetry, and as unable to lift his soul to the divine and eternal as were the primeval apes from whom he has descended?" Miss Cobbe hastens to show that, for her own part, she has not sacrificed everything to science, by making a few remarks in a very unscientific spirit on the effects of scientific study. It promotes, she tells us, practical materialism. The student of science will—we quote the actual words of this once highly rational and thoroughly liberal-minded writer—"view his mother's tears not as expressions of her sorrow, but as solutions of muriates and carbonates of soda, and of phosphates of lime; and he will reflect that they were caused, not by his heartlessness, but by cerebral pressure on her lachrymal glands. When she dies, he will 'peep and botanize' on her grave, not with the poet's sense of the sacrilegiousness of such ill-placed curiosity, but with the serene conviction of the meritoriousness of accurate observation of the flora of a cemetery." What are we to say of this if not that it is unmitigated trash? Is it known that home affections are less powerful