Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/519

This page has been validated.



Of the success of his attempt there will be various estimates, but there can be but one opinion upon the point that he has greatly enriched the discussion by new and ingenious arguments for the removal of past antagonisms. We may add that, on its scientific side, the book abounds in clear and instructive statements of facts and laws that are now established, while the accompanying philosophical discussion brings them out in clearer light and more impressive aspects.

The Theory of Evolution of Living Things, and the Application of the Principles of Evolution to Religion. Considered as Illustrative of the "Wisdom and Beneficence of the Almighty." By the Rev. George Henslow, F. L. S. Macmillan & Co.

We noticed, last November, a book called the "Philosophy of Evolution," by B. Thompson Lowne, which we explained to be an Actonian Prize Essay. It was stated that Hannah Acton had left a lot of money to the Royal Institution, the income of which was to be spent as prizes for scientific essays, illustrating the wisdom and goodness of God. We stated that seven years ago the Solar Radiations were proposed for a prize, but that, no volume appearing to claim it, the money was left to accumulate, so that this year there were two prizes. But we were mistaken: the Solar Radiation man furnished his essay, and got his money. Nevertheless, such has been the good management of Widow Acton's funds, that there were two prizes this year; Lowne got one, and Henslow the other, for the book now before us. It is a volume of most excellent intentions, and not without some merit. It is, however, mainly significant from the evidence it affords that theologians are beginning to regard the situation calmly, and to adjust themselves to the new circumstances. Professor Henslow is not only a clergyman, but a man of science, a cultivated botanist, and son of the late eminent Professor of Botany in Cambridge. His opinions will, therefore, be entitled to weight from those of his own class. We published an interesting chapter from his book last month, under the title of "Genesis, Geology, and Evolution."

The Bible and the Doctrine of Evolution. Being a Complete Synthesis of their Truth, and giving a sure Scientific Basis for the Doctrine of Scripture. By William Woods Smythe. 390 pages. London: H. K. Lewis.

We have here another volume of the same scope as Prof. Henslow's, but a far abler book. The author's argument is close and searching, and the case he makes out is very strong. The point of view from which it is written is illustrated by the following passage from the Dean of Canterbury: "Possibly to our views of the nature of Christianity, and in our exegesis of Scripture, we have arrived only at partial truth; and do not distinguish with sufficient accuracy between what is certainly revealed and what is nothing more than a possible explanation of the divine word." The book exemplifies not only a thorough acquaintance with the doctrine of Evolution, and the extent and grounds of its proofs, but it exemplifies an equal mastery of biblical erudition. Nor is it offered as a mere ingenious attempt to ascertain the points of correspondence between Scripture statement and recent scientific speculations. The author is a profound believer in the principle of Evolution, which he maintains to be the fundamental law alike of Nature and Christianity, and he holds that "the plain and obvious interpretation of Scripture is the most congruous with the principles of Evolution." He recognizes his work as but the opening outline of an inquiry which must be carefully filled up, "the intention being to place stepping-stones, however unhewn, across a troublesome and heretofore impassable stream, which in the future may grow into a highway that the fool cannot err therein." The author acknowledges indebtedness for assistance and advice to a large number of clergymen whom he has consulted in the preparation of his work.

It is gratifying to observe that the author, who has thus far gone most thoroughly into the investigation he undertakes, shows also the most intelligent appreciation of the minds that have contributed to the working out of the great doctrine with which he is dealing. He says: "It does not seem to be sufficiently understood that Evolution owes much more to Mr. Spencer than to Mr. Darwin. The latter only de-