Popular Science Monthly/Volume 59/September 1901/Discussion and Correspondence



To the Editor:—The August number of The Popular Science Monthly contains a letter signed 'X. Plain' which asks Prof. G. Frederick Wright certain questions in regard to his recent article in 'McClure's Magazine' entitled 'Geology and the Deluge.' Is this quite a fair procedure on the part of X. Plain? He knows that Prof. Wright holds the chair of the harmony of science and religion in Oberlin College, and that he is filling the position in a manner satisfactory to his constituents. Then is it fair, I ask, for X. Plain, whoever he may be, to stand behind the door and, thus protected by an assumed name, take Professor Wright to task for doing his legitimate business in an acceptable, even masterly manner? X. Plain evidently does not dare to say what he thinks upon biblical matters. Nobody in this country does. Ingersoll said a few things, and I have heard good Christians say that he should have been burnt alive for saying them. Other very good Christians whom I know will not permit his works in their homes. Elbert Hubbard rather puts a damper upon the supposed harmony of science and biblical history by saying a few things every little while. Ingersoll was not afraid, and Hubbard is not afraid, but the rest of us are, X. Plain included. We do not dare to put in words our estimate of the Bible if we wish to retain our positions, either professionally or socially. The professor of biology today must teach evolution. The tide of evidence is so overpowering that he is carried nolens volens along with it. The church has been forced to accept the 'theory' of evolution. It has 'harmonized' apparent discrepancies, and has comforted trembling souls as mothers do their little ones: "There, there, there, Evolution shall not hurt you." But a professor of any one of the natural sciences is obliged to be a very juggler with words, in order to teach the truths of evolution to those who are able to comprehend them, and at the same time not disturb the faith of those who wish to keep intact the religion, or rather theology, which they have inherited. Because of that imperative law of evolution, self-preservation, we must earn our bread and butter. Therefore the myths of Genesis are 'reconciled' with science. Hence we fall meekly into line, and, as we dare not express our thoughts freely, we maintain a careful silence. In melancholy proof of which, I too must use the shield of anonymity.

Y. Obscure.