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moral insensibility of the most fearful augury could lead him to wish to reject, to stake his life on human fancies, or the interested dreams of his own perverted heart !-it is amazing, yes, absolutely amazing to contemplate the folly of such a course!
And yet, there is, in this depth of fatuity, presumption and fool-daring guilt, an abyss, deeper, and darker, and guiltier still. It is fathomed by him who dares, after thus more than trifling with his own heaven-born, immortal-soul, TO PERSUADE OTHERS TO RISK THEIRS TOO! "O, my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united!”
ARTICLE V.-DOES SCIENCE TEND TO MATERIALISM?
An Essay on Classification ; by Louis Agassiz. Boston:
Little, Brown & Co. London: Longmans, Brown & Co. The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection. By
Charles Darwin, M. A. New York: D. Appleton & Co. The Evidences of Christianity; an Essay, by BADEN POWELL,
M. A., and The Mosaic Cosmogony; an Essay, by C. W. GOODWIN, M. A. Reprinted in Recent Inquiries in Theology. Boston: Walker, Wise & Co.
“SCIENCE,” says Professor Huxley, “prospers exactly in proportion as it is religious; and religion flourishes in exact proportion to the scientific depth and firmness of its basis. True Science and true Religion are twin sisters, and the separation of either from the other is sure to prove the deatlı of both.” Mr. Herbert Spencer, to whom we are indebted for this quotation, in endorsing its sentiment, adds, that “ doubtless in much of the science that is current, there is a pervading spirit of irreligion; but not in that true science which has passed beyond the superficial into the profound."* This distinction is well taken. The irreligious tone of a pretentious science, and the religious tendency of profounder scientific inquiry, are illustrated both in the theories of scientists, and in their personal bearing toward revealed religion. In science, as everywhere, an irreligious spirit is forward to assert itself; while true piety is modest and retiring. Hence, with superficial observers, the opinion has gained ground, that the study of the natural sciences, and the pursuit of professions based upon physical phenomena, tend to Materialism; the positive materialism of some men of science, and the
* Education; Intellectual, Moral, and Physical, p. 90.
religions indifferentism of others, giving prominence to the irreligious phase of scientific inquiry. Yet this is contradicted by the fact that many of the most eminent sons of science lave not only retained through life the integrity of their Christian faith, but have even confirmed and strengthened this by their study of Nature; and also by the fact, that the more profound our investigations of physical phenomena, the more do we perceive that their laws run back toward one intelligent and active center-like the manifold lines of telegraphic wire, which traverse the continent northward, southward, eastward, westward, crossing river and prairie, forest and mountain, as solitary and independent lines of life and thought, yet interlinked at intervals by the net-work of magnetic sympathy, and converging at last in one central office, whence the living, thinking, operator speaks through them all. And when men, grown familiar with the mysterious forces of nature, fancy these, if not of their creation, quite under their control, the flashes of auroral light will bring to remembrance a diviner magnetism, and invisible forces work the wires, beyond the comprehension or control of man.
In carrying out the distinction suggested by Mr. Spencer, it will be in order first to trace certain causes or influences in the pursuits of physical science, which tend to Materialism; and then pass to the true interpretation of Nature in her laws, which leads, by a logical necessity, to the acknowledgment of a personal God as the Creator and Governor of the universe.
The habit of tracing physical phenomena to discoverable laws, which belongs to the inductive sciences, may lead the mind to rest in these as causal powers, instead of regarding them as formal rules or modes of operation established by some higher invisible power. There is a fascination in reducing a wide range of physical phenomena to a simple law which defines and governs their relations. Indeed, a great
a orator has affirmed that the very luxury of such a discovery is a sufficient reward for the toil of the discoverer. “Fulton had his reward when, after twenty years of unsuccessful experiment and hope deferred, he made the passage to Albany by steam; as Franklin had his reward when he saw the fibers of the cord which held his kite stiffening with the electricity they had drawn from the thunder-cloud; as Galileo had his when he pointed his little tube to the heavens and discovered the Medicean stars; as Columbus had his when he beheld from the deck of his vessel a moving light on the shores of his newfound world. That one glowing, unutterable thrill of conscious success, is too exquisite to be alloyed with baser metal. The midnight vigils, the aching eyes, the fainting hopes turned at last into one bewildering ecstasy of triumph, cannot be repaid with gold."*
Now, this very fascination of the discovery of physical laws tends to invest those laws themselves with the reality of living powers. In its exhilaration at having found a proximate reason for a perplexing fact, the mind fancies that it has discovered the original and efficient cause of that fact. And since in every department of nature we can trace many laws of exquisite precision, beauty, and simplicity, there is a strong temptation to regard these formal reasons for phenomena as the original causes of these phenomena. · A mind much occupied in tracing particular laws, unless well trained in synthesis and generalization, is liable to rest in the particular law as the end of its inquiry. Instead of pressing on from point to point, with Newton's “why not?” and why not ?-“ if the apple falls, why should not the moon, the planets, the satellites, fall ?” —such a mind rests in the simple discovery of the law of accelerated motion by which the apple falls. The facility of tracing particular laws leads some scientists to conveive of the universe as a mere system of self-evolving laws. Thus Darwin closes his essay on “the origin of species by natural selection,” by grouping together various forms of life as the evolution of a few general laws, which he defines comprehensively as laws of Growth with Reproduction, Inheritance, and Variability, with a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection. “It is interesting to contemplate an entangled
* Edward Everett, at the inauguration of Mr. Webster's statue, at Boston.
bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing in the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that those elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. .... There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one ; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."*
This doctrine that the whole universe of matter and of life is a self-evolving system of laws, is really a materialistic pantheism. True, Darwin speaks of “the plan of creation,” and "the laws impressed on matter by the. Creator;" and his theory of development through the evolution of organic laws is not necessarily inconsistent with belief in a personal God. It is not just to charge him with atheism, nor wise to concede that his theory of the origin of species, if scientifically established, would dispense with an intelligent Creator. It would only remove the intelligent first Cause farther back in the series of cause and effect. But the fascination of the idea of progressive evolution by physical laws, leads Darwin to conceive of the Creator as filling some honorary office rather than as performing any efficient function in the universe. Thus, in treating of the structure of the eye, he says, “It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye to a telescope. We know that this instrument has been perfected by the long-continued efforts of the highest human intellect; and we naturally infer that the eye has been formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference be presumptuous. Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man?" He then supposes the formation of this delicate complex organ to be the result of "transitional grades," the process steadily advancing through “ numerous, successive, slight, modifications."
Origin of Species, American Edition, pp. 423, 424.