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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/413

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By Professor FRANK THILLY,


IN 1892 Ernst Haeckel, the celebrated biologist, delivered an address before a society of naturalists, in which he outlined his creed, his 'Glaubensbekenntniss eines Naturforschers.' This address was printed under the title 'Monism as a Bond between Religion and Science' and is now in its tenth edition. In 1899 a more elaborate account of Haeckel's philosophy was given to the world in a book called 'The World Riddles.' Within a few weeks after the appearance of this work 10,000 copies has been sold. It was at once translated into English and figured prominently in the lists of the most popular books of the day in our country. The magazines and even daily papers have published review after review of the 'World Riddles'; pamphlets and books have been written about it, and the interest still continues.[2] The Academy of Turin, Italy, has declared the 'World Riddles,' to be the best book written during the last four years of the nineteenth century, and has awarded to its author the Bressa prize of 10,000 lire. The work has raised the feelings of many usually tranquil persons to a higher pitch of excitement, provoking extravagant expressions of admiration from some, and words of passionate indignation from others. There is joy in the camp of the Haeckelites, where the author is glorified as the greatest philosopher of the age, while in the ranks of the opponents there is angry contempt for a man who, so it is said, is an absolute ignoramus in matters of philosophy and in everything outside of his own Fach, and some critics are even willing to call in question his standing as a biologist. The turmoil is increasing, the angry voices are growing louder, and we hear words of reproach and insult on both sides, which we are not accustomed to hear from the lips of men of science. Some of the attacks which have been made upon Haeckel have passed the bounds of the respectable. One fire-eater, a Christian theologian, has taken the matter so to heart as to make an entirely personal affair of it. 'My remarks,' he says, 'are an attack upon Haeckel's honor, and are intended as such.'[3] The conflicts between the realists and

  1. Lecture delivered at Cornell University under the auspices of the Sage School Philosophical Club.
  2. Schmidt, 'Der Kampf um die Weltraethsel' mentions 72 German titles, to which may be added at least two more, making with his own work 75.
  3. Loofs, 'Anti-Haeckel.'