Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/838

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing the scriptural record, for it was, as is well known, the view accepted by some of the most illustrious of the Greek and Latin Fathers. The Alexandrine school was almost a unit in favor of allegorism as against literalism.[1] All are familiar with the contention of the late Bishop Clifford, who regarded the first thirty-four verses of Genesis as a ritual hymn, and as nothing more than a prelude to what follows. Even some of the most conservative of our modern commentators of Scripture freely admit that the history of creation, as unfolded in Genesis, may be understood in an allegorical as well as in a literal sense. From this is manifest how weak is the argument in favor of creationism which is based solely on the Genesiac narrative.

The argument founded on the doctrine of the fathers is of no more weight than that based on Scripture, while that which may be adduced from the teachings of modern biblical research is practically nil. Creationism, then, I repeat, is possible, but there is nothing in a reasonable interpretation of Genesis which makes it at all probable, while all the conclusions of contemporary science render it not only in the highest degree improbable, but also exhibit it as completely discredited and as unworthy of the slightest consideration as a working hypothesis to guide the investigator in the study of Nature and Nature's laws.

But this en passant. My theme is not evolution, but rather the bearing of evolution on teleology, or the doctrine of the final causes of things. Paley, Chalmers, and the authors of the Bridgewater Treatises laid special stress on the argument from design, and, indeed, the chief object they had in view in writing their books, which were classics in their day, was to exhibit the purposiveness of Nature, to prove that from the evidence of design, which is everywhere manifest in the visible universe, we must necessarily infer the existence of a designer. And so conclusive was the argument, as then framed, that even the most skeptical and those most opposed to revealed truth were forced to admit that the facts of Nature bear witness to the existence and controlling influence of mind in the universe. Voltaire declared, "Rien n'ébranle en moi cet axiome, tout ouvrage dé montre un ouvrier"; and Hume, in words no less positive, affirmed that "the whole frame of Nature bespeaks an intelligent maker."

With the appearance, however, of Charles Darwin's epoch-making Origin of Species it was at once recognized on all hands that the design argument had to be materially modified if it were any longer to have the slightest validity. As for the exponents of the mechanical school of philosophy, especially those who rejoice in the new-


  1. See the writer's work, Bible, Science, and Faith, Part I.