Editor Popular Science, Monthly:
SIR: Two sentences in your Editor's Table of the January (1892) number excite my surprise. They are these: "Every man within certain limits is an evolutionist, and we have little hesitation in saying that the limits within which each man is an evolutionist are the real limits of his intelligence"; and "we believe—and when we say 'we' we mean all persons with any pretensions to education or intelligence—in evolution as applied to the physical history of our globe." Are these statements consistent with that judicial fairness which all seekers for truth, such as you certainly mean to be, should preserve?
There are many of us who have been diligent students of the works of evolutionists from the appearance of Herbert Spencer's First Principles in 1865. We have read Darwin's volumes carefully, and Huxley's and Tyndall's. We have followed Prof. Gray's beautiful essays. But we are as yet unconvinced "of evolution as applied to the physical history of our globe." There are gaps in the chain which, to our mind, are not filled, nor are in promise of being filled, in material evolution, as at the beginning of life. We accept the statement of the authors of The Unseen Universe: "It is against all true scientific experience that life can appear without the intervention of a living antecedent." Also at the appearance of new organs, as Prof. Samuel Harris says, after giving Prof. Tyndall's description of the development of the eye: "This certainly is not science; no fact sustains a single one of the assumptions. It is a figment of fancy." Then there is the gap between the brute and rational man, where we see no approach to a bridge.
Besides this, it seems to us there is much sophistical reasoning among evolutionists, as pointed out by Rudolph Schmid, by S. Wainwright, and especially by Prof. Samuel Harris, in his Scientific Basis of Theism.
There is, too, an initial difficulty in the getting the heterogeneous out of the homogeneous, without a force from without, impulsive and directive.
Clerk Maxwell states the difficulty in the way of evolution from molecular science: "No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules throughout all time, and throughout the whole region of the stellar universe, for evolution necessarily implies a continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of preservation or destruction. . . . Therefore, for the interaction of molecules, there must be a power from without impelling and directing." Maxwell adds words which we accept: "These molecules continue this day as they were created, perfect in number, measure, and weight; and from the ineffaceable characters impressed on them we may learn that those aspirations after truth in statement and justice in action, which we reckon among our noblest attributes as men, are ours because they are the essential constituents of the image of Him who, in the beginning, created not only the heaven and the earth, but the material of which the heaven and the earth consist."
We would not deny an evolution in the physical work which Prof. Harris calls "," but we would consider it with Prof. Leotze "as a gradual unfolding of a creative spiritual principle," and would recognize, with him and Ulrici, "in the evolution both a mechanical and a teleological process, implying both an energizing and a directing agency."
Now, if in not accepting evolution as ordinarily understood, in holding Darwinism non-proven, we show a limit of our intelligence and are excluded from the company of "all persons with any pretensions to education or intelligence," it positively is not from lack of study of what evolutionists have said, and certainly we have some very good company in our limitation and our exclusion; many of them are men who seem to be thoroughly conversant with all that has been said for evolution, and they seem to be able to grapple with the arguments.
Do not statements such as you make create a prejudice against evolution among many fair-minded men, and hinder their acceptance of its arguments?
Evolutionists repel with indignation the assertion that they are actuated by a desire to be rid of God and of moral obligation. Need they be surprised if men who have studied diligently what they say, and are yet unconvinced, do repel with equal indignation the assertion of their limitation of intelligence?
Is not the true way to grant each other the fair assumption of honesty and honorableness of motive and of intelligence? Is not this the only true way for those who would help one another in the search for the one supreme reality—Truth?
|John R. Thurston.|
|Whitinsville, Mass., December 22, 1891.|
Editor Popular Science Monthly:
Sir: In 1855, on the 11th of November, Japan was shaken by a terrible earthquake. At that time the center of the seismic disturbance was somewhere in the vicinity of