Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/781

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EVOLUTION IN A THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.

sight of facts. His books furnish the best examples of careful induction the world has seen, and it is, of course, for that reason that they have had such immense influence, and that he gave an indestructible life to that cautious working theory of evolution which is to-day the presupposition of all the best work in natural science.

But Prof. Shedd leaves all this out of the account, and knows of no evolution which does not mean the change of a mineral into a vegetable, and of a vegetable into an animal. "Evolution," he says, "is not a mere change of form but of matter." It is true he recurs frequently to Darwin and his specific views, but you can never be sure that he will not fly off to his favorite Haeckel even when apparently farthest from him. This process of mixing up distinct things makes it easy for a disputant, when persecuted in one city, to flee into another, but does not much help one who is after the facts.

This confusion can be forgiven, however, for the sake of the doctor's great lucidity when he comes to state the objections to evolution. Here you always know what he means. We can not follow him all through his enumeration of the difficulties which the theory has to encounter, but will allude to those which are the most novel. The first gun he fires off is formidable enough: "The first objection to the theory of pseudo-evolution is that it is contradicted by the whole course of scientific observation and experiment. It is a theory in the face of facts." That is certainly a serious objection, and one wonders that it had never occurred to any of the scientists who have looked into this matter. It is but another instance of the value of a new point of view. In fact, the thing appears to be mostly intuitive with Prof. Shedd (and, of course, for that reason all the more certain; he stands by the intuitive philosophy), for he advances slight evidence for the statement we have quoted; the gist of what he says being that he never heard of a pigeon being developed out of a cabbage or a piece of quartz, nor of its developing, on the other hand, into a horse. It would be a brazen theory that could hold up its head after such an objection, but the professor seems to fear that evolution needs to be slain at least twice, and so he fires a second fatal shot: "This objection is proved to be true by the failure of the theory to obtain general currency." He means Darwinism now, for all the testimony which he cites bears on that theory. Agassiz is his main tower of strength. The views of a man who died sixteen years ago may be thought to have little to do with what is now "general currency," but that is nothing beside the witness of Haeckel himself. Out of its own mouth Dr. Shedd will judge evolution. He cites a passage from "Creation" in which the German rails at the French for not accepting Darwinism, and