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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31

To which I replied:— — Evolution

To which I replied:—


Sir,—You complain in your leader of the 26th, that "no light has been thrown on the evolution theory, either by the traditional teachings of the church, or by that strange mixture of materialism and magic which seems to be Mr. Richter's creed." Well, Sir, you cannot deny that all animal creatures, man included, are material in their physical organization, and the life they, possess, you may please to call magic, but I. maintain that they have it by the spirit or breath of God, which gives them their life (souls) but that does not constitute them immortal. A. traditional dogma holds that men's souls are immortal; you go farther and think it no absurdity that the lower animals should be incapable of the same immortality. And you refer us for an authority to Bishop Butler's "Analogy." But I do not accept the learned Bishop of Durham as infallible; no more than you do the Pope. More than half a dozen as learned theologians as Butler himself have proved to satisfaction that his "Analogy" is not infallible; for instance, "his flaws and inconsistencies on the miracles," "his eternal hell fire punishment, as the natural effect and consequences of sin," and "his eternal duration of hell fire," a page 16 total failure. And "man's imperishable substance," a delusion and a fable. So that his "Analogy" is of no more value than a rope of sand. Another wrong inference of yours is "that I have arrived at the conclusion that the doctrine of immortality was unknown to the Hebrew writers of the Bible." Just the contrary, for as the Hebrews from the time of Abraham lived surrounded by Pagans, and 400 years in Egypt, where Moses was brought up in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, it could not fail but they must have known about it, but what I mean is, they did not accept it, nor believe a word of it; if they had, we would certainly find something of it in the Old Testament. I allow that these fables were to some extent accepted by the learned Pharisees in the time of our Lord, which he called "traditions," and Paul calls them cunningly devised fables. But nowhere do we find it as a doctrine in the Bible. Having imagined one thing I never said, you draw from it a still more astonishing conclusion, namely, that "as this fiction of Plato's could not be true, and that consequently a miracle was required to make it true." Do you really think I ever wrote such nonsense? You must surely have dreamt it. A miracle anted for what? To make Plato's fiction true! But a miracle, and more than a miracle is required to raise man from the dead, clothe him with immortality, and give him an immortal spirit body with palpable flesh and bones as in the case of Jesus. There is more than a miracle wanted, for it requires the power of God to do it, and he did so, in order to give a proof to the believer that the promised prospective immortality was as sure to him as he saw it in Jesus. How this can be "the strangest jumble of quasi-reasoning and erroneous premises" with which you tax me, I leave it to the reader to judge.

Your analogy, by which you endeavor to answer my proposition, namely, "that man, if we consider him lineally descended from the lower animals, cannot attain his moral capacity or immortality by evolution," becomes in fact an anomaly, when you adduce the "tadpole becoming a frog, and the unsightly chrysalis a beautiful butterfly." Does that give them moral capacity or immortality? No, indeed, they only become the beings of the day, week, or the year, and then perish for ever. They are like the blossom of the bean, and the pod, which are both required for the production of the kernel. If the Creator works in the production of the animal creation by fixed laws of evolution, how then is it that these laws, like the rest of the immutable laws of the universe, are not normal P If the law by which evolution is said to work was like the others, it would show its results by the uniform progress in the reasoning faculties, (and as you assert in the moral capacity) progressing from the lower to the higher animal, to man. But experience shows just the contrary. The dog, the cow, the horse, &c., all exhibit to a certain extent reasoning faculties, but the ape, the last connecting link between them and man, is totally devoid of reason. Concerning your assumption that the lower animals might be, for all we know, possessed with immortality, you have to settle that with Messrs Stobo and Co., Bishop Butler, &c. I would beforehand only give you a little advice, to take care not to buy a baulky ghost horse when you get to ghost land, else you might break your ghost limbs, and would have to send for a ghost doctor to get them set.

—Yours, &c.

J. A. Richter.