Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/784

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Sturtevant, of Illinois College, narrate an experience of his own with Prof. Shedd, which, as the story was told in general company, may be referred to without any violation of confidence. It was many years ago that he and Prof. Shedd went in company from Andover to Boston, each intending to preach in a Boston pulpit on the following Sunday. They returned on the same train, Monday morning.

"I don't know how it was with you, professor," said President Sturtevant, "but, for myself, I certainly felt like laying unusual stress on evangelical doctrine yesterday, preaching in Boston where so many loose theories are afloat." And Prof, Shedd replied: "I really don't know anything about that. I never read books of that class. All these infidel arguments were so much better put by the writers of the seventeenth century." To have pierced through such an armor is a great achievement, and the counterattack of the professor is in reality, as has been said, a supreme proof of the immense influence now gained by evolutionary doctrine—a sort of rueful cry, "Thou hast conquered, O Evolution!"

Such complete failure to understand the great contribution to knowledge and speculation made by the theory of evolution can not but have a most deplorable influence when found in one occupying so prominent a chair of instruction in so prominent an institution. A fair proportion of Prof. Shedd's students come from colleges where they have been taught to regard evolution as one of the settled things. They must come out from their lectures in Union Seminary either dazed or indignant. Others, of course, who have either taken a short cut to the ministry, or have had their only education in some ecclesiastically controlled school where they have met no competent teacher of natural science, take in all that they are told on this, as on other subjects, and go out to swell the number of ministers who know nothing of the revolution wrought in human thought in the past thirty years. They are the men who do all they can (of course unwittingly) to make Christian belief an impossibility to a large class of intelligent and educated, young men. One of that class came to his pastor, not long ago, and said: "I was at the meeting of the Benighted Presbytery last week, and they were talking about evolution as a very dangerous thing, and finally passed a resolution condemning it. I thought that everybody accepted evolution." That young Presbyterian was a graduate of Harvard, and learned of Prof. Gray (who, by the way, is a Balaam whom Prof. Shedd in delightful innocence summons to curse evolution) to reconcile evolution with theistic and even Christian belief, and was not unnaturally surprised at running up against a chunk of the last century.

It would be wholly unfair to give the impression that such