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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 41

Ladies and Gentlemen,—

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Ladies and Gentlemen,—

When some few weeks ago, it happened that I was exhibiting and explaining to the Catholic Young Men's Society of this town a few matters connected with the microscope and microscopical study, it naturally came within the plan of my subject to refer to the modern theory of Evolution and the origin of man. Some of those present remarked to me how difficult they found it to come to a decision, not precisely upon the details of Evolution itself, but upon the broader question whether such a theory could be true or not. And when, in reply, I observed that, for myself, I had been led by my own reading, observation, and reasoning to the clear conclusion that the theory of Evolution is false, they requested me to take an opportunity if possible to put before them in a concrete shape some of the arguments upon which my conviction was based. It is for this purpose that I appear before you to-night. Since the time of which I speak the Catholic Young Men's Society has been dissolved, or rather merged in that larger society, the Catholic Literary Society, to which I am addressing these remarks; and before proceeding to the actual subject before me, permit me to express my earnest and confident hope that the work in which you have lately been engaged, the formation of the new association, may speedily produce its proper fruit, and that your society, flourishing like the green bay tree, may so grow and prosper as to furnish to the Catholics of Canterbury for many years to come healthy entertainment, true instruction, and a bond of perfect union.

In considering, however, how best to put before you the conclusions to which my acquaintance which the theory of Evolution has led me, I have found it necessary to go somewhat beyond that particular question. As you will find from the remarks which I am about to make, it is my belief that, in order to get at a satisfactory conclusion, it is necessary to begin at the beginning. Evolution is but one of the off-shoots of modern science; or rather it is but one of the consequences (in the abstract) to which the principles of modern science have led its votaries. And therefore, if I were to plunge at once into the theory of Evolution, and leave untouched the principles upon which, in its essence, it rests, I should be omitting the most necessary part of the whole business. Evolution, specious and plausible as most infidel doctrines are, may very easily (as indeed experience shows) deceive anybody who forgets to settle firmly the first principles upon which he is going to discuss it. And I propose, before touching upon Evolution itself, to examine what is the essence of that upon which the whole basis of Evolution rests.

I propose, then, to discuss in this lecture the question whether it is possible for anybody to believe the teaching of modern "science" and yet to retain his faith in Christianity. Doubtless there may be amongst those who are listening to me representatives of the different shades of opinion on this question. Some may think me presumptuous in daring to express my views in opposition to men whom they may consider shining lights of science, great and wise leaders of thought. To them I will only say that any man has a right to hold and to express an opinion; and that a good intention precludes presumption. Others again may think that there is no doubt at all on the matter; they may have made up their minds and consider everything satisfactorily settled. To them I will merely say that, whereas the long and lively controversy between those who consider Evolution and Christianity contradictory and those who would combine the two is still continuing, there is very evidently a large party amongst men who are yet undecided. And lastly, there may be many who do not think the question of grave importance and who may find fault with me for holding the opposite view. In answer to this I will only say that, as a matter of fact, the modern principles of science are accepted and revered in all the public educational institutions in New Zealand: that, from the highest to the lowest, from the Canterbury College and the Otago University down to the smallest village school, whatever instruction is given in science is based upon those principles and on text books drawn up from them: that Evolution is believed and publicly page 4 taught by the most eminent professors in the colony: that schoolmasters by dozens receive instruction from these professors: and that thus the whole educational force of the country is employed to instil into the minds of the children the modern theories and modern principles. Now, if these principles and the theories which men have deduced from them are in themselves, in their essence, false and anti-Christian, is it an unimportant matter that they should be so universally taught? I make no doubt that men of extreme views, followers of ultra-Secularist doctrines, indifferent if not absolutely hostile to religious teaching, will contend that, even so, no harm whatever is being done to the children in the schools. But I feel assured that no Catholic will so argue: and that all Catholics at least will agree with me as to the importance of the question which I am about to discuss.

It is with the view of putting the matter in as clear a light as possible, and of pointing out as far as my ability enables me the dangers with which modern science surrounds us, that I venture to appear before you to-night. You will understand that in the time at my disposal it will be impossible for me to enter into minute details. But I shall try to put before you my views in the most strictly logical way; and if, in this necessarily compressed argument, I may be obliged to put some points in what may seem to you to be too bald and abrupt a form, I trust that at least you may find therein food for after consideration, and sufficient indications of the mode of filling in the details wanted to complete the reasoning. If, on the other hand, you may be led to think my plan dry and uninteresting, I can only once more point to the extreme importance of the subject and beg of you to impute the shortcomings only to my want of ability to treat it in a more entertaining manner.

The fallacy, then, to which I want to direct your attention to-night is this—that it is possible to combine belief in the Christian Religion with belief in the theories of modern science, and I shall take as an illustration of those theories the Darwinian doctrine of Evolution. Before we proceed to investigate this question in its details it is necessary that we should lay down certain axioms, or first principles. As Cardinal Newman in one of his lectures points out, unless two disputants agree upon their first principles they can never hope to reach any satisfactory conclusion. Supposing, for example, that I were to ask you to discuss with me the comparative merits of gas and electric lighting: and that I were to find after some time that you denied the existence of an electric current. Clearly we should not ever be able to settle our dispute: we should have forgotten to agree on our first principle. And so, now, I must have certain first principles laid down before we can go further. I therefore assume as axioms the following propositions:—
1st—There is a God, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal and, if He so wills it, interfering with the course of temporal events.
2nd—The Christian Religion is true, and all theories, doctrines, arguments which are found to conflict with it are false.

You will see from the two simple axioms which I have given that it is no part of my plan to argue at all with anybody who is not a Christian. My object is by no means to prove to an ultra-Darwinian that he is wrong: nor am I arguing now with an infidel. If such were my purpose, it would be manifestly absurd for me to assume anything at all: I should have first of all to prove my two propositions. But I am speaking to persons who have a hankering after the combination of Christianity and modern science. If a man says to me—" I do not believe in a God," or "I am not sure whether Christianity is so true that everything else is false," or " I daresay Evolution does conflict with Christianity, but then so much the worse for Christianity," then I have nothing more to say to him. We are on different lines and we can never reach the same terminus. It is not the Deist, or the Infidel, or the Mohammedan, or the Pagan, to whom I address myself, but the Christian who, dazed by the glare of modern "science," wavers, doubting whether he may not adopt the new doctrine without giving up his faith. Therefore I say, let us set down as our first principles, page 5 agreed to by all of us, the two propositions which I have just stated: propositions which, I think, no Christian will dispute, but which ought to be clearly defined before we can go further.

Now, you must remember this very particularly, that any argument whatsoever which is found to lead to a false conclusion must be absolutely false. I can fancy somebody here simpering and saying with a smile of contempt—"Why, he is giving us only truisms: of course a false conclusion means a false argument: anybody can tell that." Pardon me, Mr. Critic, anybody cannot tell it. There is nothing more common than to find people arguing thoroughly to their own satisfaction, pluming themselves upon their scientific method and accuracy, and forgetting, in their eagerness to follow out every detail of their premisses, to look at the conclusion of their argument. When I say "conclusion" of course I mean here ultimate conclusion, because it often happens that men take for a conclusion what really is only a step towards one. Moreover it is by no means an uncommon thing to find the premisses of an argument apparently quite clear, definite and satisfactory, and yet to find the conclusion which logically conies from them absolutely false. Permit me to give you an illustration of this. A gentleman who is engaged in the business of scientific teaching in this town of Christchurch set himself some two or three years ago to work to establish a new theory of the origin of the Universe, the origin of the sun, earth, planets, stars, comets, and all bodies whatsoever. In this ambitious design he was not hampered by any feeling that simple creation might sufficiently account for everything, but he went on with great satisfaction to himself to elaborate a theory by which the whole material Universe was made the result of the collision of two pre-existing bodies, each of which I suppose must have been formed by previous collisions, and so on. I shall not stop now to discuss the details of this peculiar theory, but shall only say that, whatever might be the merits of the preliminary arguments or premisses, they led him to this conclusion:—that his theory "removed farther and farther from our conceptions all trace of a beginning or promise of an end." This conclusion, which I have given in his own words and which may perhaps not be at first sight perfectly definite, means when translated into plain, straightforward English, that there never was any creation and there never will be any annihilation of matter: in plain terms, according to this professor, heaven and earth will not pass away. Now here is an excellent example of that false argumentation of which I have been speaking to you. The conclusion drawn from the premisses, looked at from the Christian point of view, is absolutely false: the merits of the premisses, whatever those merits might have seemed to be, were simply fallacious. What I mean is that, the moment the conclusion just quoted presented itself to his mind, it should have been quite clear to him that there was something in his whole argument radically wrong. But the professor, one of our modern scientific teachers, did not stop to consider this. "So much the worse for Christianity" was, in point of fact, the meaning of his persistence in pursuing his theory after being aware of the conclusion to which it led him. You see therefore with me that what I stated just now, if really a truism, is one which is by no means always remembered: and you see that we must fully bear in mind that, whatever the premisses may be, the ultimate conclusion is that which must prove the truth or falseness of an argument.

I should remark, before proceeding to examine more closely the modern teaching, that in everything that I say it is very far from my purpose to make a personal attack upon the conscience of anybody. In asserting that the doctrines taught by modern scientists are anti-Christian I do not by any means wish to charge these gentlemen with knowingly teaching infidelity in all cases. You will see presently, when I come to quote to you the words and phrases of some of the leaders of modern thought, that many of them do, wilfully, intentionally, and with full knowledge of what they are doing, directly attack Christianity and preach infidelity and materialism. But I do really believe, myself, that the vast majority of the scientists of the present day do not understand the meaning of page 6 their own arguments. In the same way as the Professor to whom I have just referred has not calculated the effect of his conclusion, but has concentrated all his attention upon his premisses, so likewise scientists generally are dazzled by the apparent splendour thrown round their path by the natural phenomena which they observe, and they neglect or are unable to look forward to the ultimate end to which they are really travelling. And so, in actual fact, although they may disguise it even to themselves, they try to reconcile two irreconcilables. Some of them you will find attending their various churches: others, if they do not go themselves, send their wives and children. It may seem to you perhaps a hard saying, but in truth these men must be one of two things, wilfully or unintentionally blind. I would not call them hypocrites, charging them that is with supporting for the sake of outward respectability a religion which they believe in their hearts to be false. I prefer to consider them as unable or neglecting to appreciate the true conclusion of their own doctrines. At the same time I confess that for my own part I cannot conceive how any believer in Evolution, who pretends to have thoroughly studied his theory, can sit through a service in church without laughing in the clergyman's face.

Now, let us first contrast, in their essential simplicity, the modern "scientific" teaching and the Christian Religion: and even without the examples, illustrations and quotations which I propose to give you presently, I think you will be able to see that the two are directly at variance.

1. The essence of modern "scientific" teaching is this:—that all natural phenomena, all occurrences taking place in the material universe, are capable of some rational interpretation or explanation from purely natural causes, and conversely that no phenomenon, no occurrence, is to be accepted as a fact which cannot be so explained.

2. The essence of the Christian Religion is this:—that after the advent of the first man upon the earth that man committed an offence against God: that in order to redeem all men on earth from the consequences of such offence, God Himself became man, was born in a supernatural manner, performed during His lifetime on earth many supernatural acts, rose supernaturally from the grave after death and ascended supernaturally into heaven.

I think that even were I to stop here and leave the foregoing statement in its simplicity, it would be apparent to you that no two things could be more opposite and contradictory than a theory which absolutely excludes all supernatural occurrences whatsoever and a religion which absolutely rests on, and derives its whole being from, supernatural occurrences. But, as the modern' theory does appeal in very specious ways to human intellects, and as few people look to ultimate conclusions, whilst many are captivated and many more puzzled by the statements and reasoning used in support of that theory, it is necessary that we should look more closely into the details of which it is composed. There is, I think, no need to enquire concerning the second statement which I have made, as to the essential points of the Christian Religion; they are well known to all of you and will be disputed, I should say, by none. At least, if there be any one who is ignorant of them, or knowingly disputes them, this my argument is not addressed to him. I pass on to examine in detail the first statement, as to the essence of the modern teaching.

Is there anybody who believes that if, during a discussion amongst scientists of the present day, he were to attempt to draw an argument from miracle he would be listened to for a moment? Is there the remotest chance that zoologists, botanists, astronomers, in this year of grace 1881, would pay the least attention to any such reasoning? Not the very smallest, I should say. First, there would probably pass round the room looks of astonishment, then shrugs of contempt, then movements of impatience and inattention; and if any of the scientists present did by chance in reply allude to the strange argument brought forward, it would only be to call it "most unphilosophical," "unworthy of serious attention," "quite beside the mark," and so on. In one of his most amusing stories, a Christmas tale called "The Rose and the Ring" (a story page 7 well worth reading by all who love healthy fan), Thackeray introduces two characters, the young prince, his hero, and the wicked usurper, the villain of the piece, engaged in mortal combat. The young prince has received a present of a fairy sword and fairy armour: the one able to pierce anything, the other able to resist anything. Consequently the villainous usurper comes very speedily to grief, and in his rage and despair not unnaturally remarks—"Well, if you have got a fairy sword and fairy armour and I haven't, I don't see what is the use of my fighting with you," and he accordingly, with great wisdom, surrenders. So also in the case which I have supposed. What can a scientist, assailed by the argument from miracle, do but protest against the use of a weapon which he must know himself powerless to resist? And yet is that any reason why the possessor of such a weapon should not use it? Suppose the young prince just mentioned had said to his opponent—" Well, I acknowledge my superiority as long as I have this sword and armour: perhaps without them you will be far stronger than I; therefore I consent to throw them away and fight with you as best I can without them 1" Would he not have been a fool? And so also would a Christian be, to give up the very strength of his cause in order that his adversary may have full advantage of him. Yet this is what is done every day, in modern "scientific" argument, as I said just now. Remark, if you please, that I am not at all referring to those who, thoroughly infidel, reject all miracle. But let anybody try to refer to "miracle" in an assemblage of those scientists who, as I said just now, pretend still to remain Christians, and see what reception he is likely to receive from them.

Unphilosophical! Why so? Why, if we believe that miracles have taken place, is it "unphilosophical" to mention them? Why, if a would-be Christian scientist refuses to accept the first chapter of Genesis, or the account of the Flood, or the sun and moon standing still at the command of Josue, should it he called "unphilosophical" to say to him—" You believe in the Incarnation and the Resurrection: yet these two occurrences which you accept as facts are immeasurably more difficult of conception than the occurrences which you reject?" I want you to understand the curious inconsistency to which such a man necessarily reduces himself, and to see how, if you desire to remain Christians, you must retain the use of Christian arguments, how also, if you join yourself to the modern teaching, you must be prepared to give up the very essence of the Christian Faith. As a matter of fact nobody, as far as my intelligence shows me, can reject the statements of the Book of Genesis or the Book of Exodus and accept the statements of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

But, in order that you may judge for yourselves how far what I have laid down as the essence of modern "scientific" teaching is true, and how weak has been the conduct and short-sighted the policy of those who try to reconcile it with their faith in Christianity, let me give you in their own words, the views of some of the leaders of the new teaching. They, indeed, very often speak out and avow their hatred of Christianity, and it has always been a wonder to me how so many people have overlooked this, speak of them as "great intellects," and consent to take them as guides of opinion. To us an anti-Christian teacher is simply, in that respect, a fool: and when men like Mill, Spencer, Huxley, Clifford, Lewes, Tyndall and the rest of them, try to thrust their pretended axioms and deductions upon us we compare them with the ultimate tendencies of their system as a whole and judge them accordingly.

And now I will give you a few specimens from the writings of some modern scientists in order to establish fully my position so far; they will confirm my statement just now that modern science is founded solely on the physical explanation of physical phenomena, and refuses credence in anything higher.

Herbert Spencer says—" Science is simply a development of higher knowledge . . . a continuous disclosure . . . of the established order of the Universe. This disclosure it is the duty of every one to verify as far as in him lies; and, having verified, to receive with all humility."*

* First Principles, pages 18-20.

page 8

"Such dogmas as those of the Trinitarian . . . any such idea as that of propitiation . . . science cannot recognise . . . they he beyond its sphere."*

Professor Jevons says—" From the preceding reviews of the value of our scientific knowledge I draw one distinct conclusion that we cannot disprove the possibility of Divine interference in the course of nature."

Professor Huxley says—" The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. . . . The most ardent votary of science holds his firmest convictions, not because the men he most venerates hold them; not because their verity is testified by portents and wonders; but because . . . Nature will confirm them. The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith but by verification."

"Tell him [a child] that it is his duty to doubt until he is compelled, by the absolute authority of Nature, to believe that which is written in books."§

Professor W. U. Williamson says—" Science demands as a primary condition the absolute verification of the alleged facts with which it has to deal. The neglect of this demand by any aspirant to scientific rank inevitably jeopardises his chance of attaining to it. . . . Faith can have no place here."|

And according to Mr. Leslie Stephen "God is identified with the Unknowable, and Theology is a collection of meaningless words about unintelligible chimeras."

I ought perhaps to make an apology for quoting to you such expressions as these. Like some of those nauseous compounds in a chemical laboratory, they leave a nasty taste in the mouth and an unpleasant sensation on the brain. But it was necessary that I should substantiate my statement as to the essential foundation of modern "science:" and I have purposely chosen only a few quotations for this object. I think, however, that they are quite sufficient to enable you to see how, in its very marrow and essence, modern teaching is in absolute conflict with Christianity.

Let me, before passing on to examine some of those "scientific" theories which, by their specious character, induce so many people to neglect their ultimate infidel tendency, make one remark on the principles which, as I have just shown you, these new teachers take for their basis. Doubt, as you have seen, is their guiding star, verification their sheet anchor. Now what do you suppose would be thought, in "scientific" circles, of a man who should venture publicly to apply to these dogmatists their own highly-vaunted principle? I will take an extreme case: extreme, because in reality there is nothing which "scientists" adore so much as authority. "Huxley says this;" "Darwin states positively;" "Haeckel distinctly affirms;" and such like phrases, carry absolute weight, and are quite enough to frighten anybody from presuming to say the contrary. But, suppose that anybody were to summon up the courage in a public lecture-room, or at a meeting, say, of the Royal Society, when Professor Huxley sat down after a speech bristling with "facts," to say:—"Mr. President, I entirely deny every word which the Professor has just spoken, not only as regards his arguments and conclusions but as regards also his positive assertions. He says that he has seen such and such things occurring: I do not believe him. He says that he has performed such and such experiments: I do not believe him. Doubt is the essence of scientific education, and until he proves to absolute demonstration that he has seen and done these things I refuse to accept his authority. The things themselves may possibly have occurred: the experiments may be made by somebody else: but it is our duty to verify the statement of Professor Huxley that he has seen and made them himself." Nobody, I repeat, is likely

* First Principles, p. 23.

Principles of Science, vol. 2. p. 468. The italics are mine.

"On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge;" in Lay Sermons, &c., McMillan's edition 1871, p. 18.

§ "Scientific Education," in same work, p. 60.

| Contemporary Review, March, 1881: "On Pyrrhonism in Science," p. 456.

Quoted by F. Peek, in the Contemporary Review for April, 1881.

page 9 to take any such course as that which I have supposed: because nobody in the "scientific" world has the courage to attack these great authorities of science: and even if anybody did so act, the whole thing would be passed over as a joke. But, if logic means anything, and if these men believe their own theory, is not the conclusion drawn by my imaginary objector absolutely correct? Yet you cannot open a single book on Evolution or on any other of the modern theories which is not on every page full of such phrases as these:—" Mr. Wallace has seen" something or other in the Island of Java; or "Sir John Lubbock says" that ants do something very startling and peculiar; or "Darwin has made experiments" on pigeons, perhaps, and you are expected in the very teeth of the alleged necessity for "verification" to take it all as gospel.

Let me now try and see how the most famous of all the modern scientific speculations, the theory of Evolution, when compared with the fundamental principle of Christianity which I enunciated at the beginning of this lecture, will stand the test. It will be impossible for me, in the time at our disposal, to do more than touch upon the most salient points. Nor can I enter into discussions of minor points as to the evolution of plants and animals generally: I shall have to confine myself mainly to the evolution of Man. And, indeed, I may frankly say that, if it were not that there are great difficulties in inducing anybody to discuss this theory with reference to Man alone, discarding the brutes, I should be inclined to say that the evolution of plants and all animals except Man is a question of absolutely no importance whatever, from the Christian point of view. When a brute dies, he dies and there is an end of him. He has no soul to be lost or saved; he has never sinned and has never been redeemed; and whether he was originally created as a separate species or whether one single organism was originally created from which all others have been developed is a matter of such supreme indifference, in itself, apart from Man, that all the Darwins and Huxleys in the world might quarrel over it to their hearts' content without any practical result, good or bad. But the theory of Evolution extends to Man as to all other beings, and it must be judged according as it is found consonant with truth in the two cases combined. If it is true for the brutes it may be true for Man; if it is true for Man it must be true for brutes. Let us see then how far it can be accepted by a Christian as not conflicting with the Christian history of Man.

Put in its shortest and baldest form, I take the theory of Evolution to be this:—that there never was any separate creation of Man as distinct from all other animals; that all animals now existing on the earth are descended, by the processes of gradual development, natural selection and the survival of the fittest, from some one original, very simple organism existing countless ages ago; that, as other animals were, in the ordinary course of nature, so developed, so also Man was, at some past epoch, developed from some previously existing animal; and that all the bodily organs, all the intellectual faculties, all the moral feelings, in fact all the soul and body of Man, proceed simply and solely from this system of gradual development from the brute.

You will at once see that, if this theory be true, the statements made in the Book of Genesis as to the origin of man cannot be true. Indeed this appears to be thoroughly understood both by the Darwinists and by those who have opposed them.

Now, the first fallacy with which anybody who tries to oppose Darwinism, on the score of its conflict with Christianity, is met is this, that all the most eminent naturalists of the world, and very nearly all the naturalists of every degree, have adopted the theory: and he is asked if he wishes to put his feeble knowledge in the lists against theirs. I have myself on many occasions heard this argument used, and used with considerable effect upon unexperienced opponents. Yet how absurd it is! Let me advise you, whenever it may be brought against you, to meet it by the very simple answer that, even supposing that all the naturalists of the world were multiplied ten times over and their acquaintance with natural history magnified ten-fold, and if they all then with page 10 one voice proclaimed the absolute truth of Darwinism they would be perfectly incompetent to decide the question. This, again, may seem to you a hard saying: let me give you an illustration of my meaning. Suppose, for example, that in Her Majesty's High Court of Judicature, before a full bench of judges, a case is being argued involving very important and at the same time very intricate and delicate points of maritime law. Suppose that the advocate on one side were to bring as one of his arguments to the judges the fact that every captain in the merchant service, and all the captains and officers of Her Majesty's navy, were quite unanimous upon the question at issue, and suppose that he were to ask for a decision in his favour on that ground. Do you imagine that the judges would pay the least attention to the argument? I incline to the belief that they would say to him—" Your contention is absurd. We have the greatest respect for your ship captains, as seamen, and if they come here to give evidence as to matters of fact we shall be prepared to give them all credence: but as this is a matter of pure law their opinion is not worth listening to." In precisely the same way, a naturalist has simply no right whatever to be heard, as a naturalist, on a question of theology. If he has studied theology in addition to natural history, he may be able to give an opinion. But how many of them have done so? How many of them, on the contrary, are there who make it their boast that they utterly deride, neglect, detest theology, and yet they presume to give the most decided judgments on points intimately connected with theology! Professor Huxley coolly affirms that in every case where "science" and orthodoxy have come into conflict, "science" has been victorious. Upon what grounds has he, who absolutely despises all theology, the right to make such a statement? Yet he, forsooth, is one of the most trusted and revered leaders of modern thought!

You will often find, too, that the converse of this fallacy is asserted, and you will be told, if you quote any Christian argument, that theologians know nothing; that they are not naturalists, that they are bigotted, narrow-minded, illiberal, and so on; and your Darwinist will glibly apply to them a crowd of those opprobrious epithets the like of which he strenuously complains of if used to him. All the strong language, it appears, is to be for the exclusive use of advocates of Evolution: but let that pass for a moment. Now, to take my illustration again, suppose the lawyer in court to take exception to the decision of the judges because they were not sailors. "The chief justice" he might say "is absolutely ignorant of navigation; Judge Blank really does not know the difference between a sprit-sail-boom and the mizen-topgallant-sail; and the rest of the bench would be sea-sick in half an hour on board a ship." I am disposed to believe that in this case also the judges would decline to be influenced by such arguments, and would give their judgment upon the points of law quite regardless of their ignorance, if any, upon points of seamanship.

And so, you see, when brought into the light of common sense this very favourite and stock argument of the Darwinists, which has frightened so many unwary opponents of theirs, is found to be only a scare-crow after all. In spite of that boasted independence of thought which, as I showed you by my quotations just now, they arrogate to themselves, they are really the blindest followers of what they imagine to be authority: and they will constantly try to bring up what they call the overwhelming weight of the knowledge and wisdom of their pet leaders. I strongly advise you to be by no means frightened by the seeming strength of their artillery, and to receive the dicta of Darwin, Huxley and the rest of them, simply with contempt when they leave, as they are so fond of doing, their domain of natural history to wander into that of theology, whereof they know no more than you do.

Coming, then, to the theory of Evolution itself, what is the first thing noticeable? I think it is this, that the theory sets bounds to the omnipotence of the Creator by laying down the following axioms upon which it rests as on foundations.

First, it assumes that the more complex an organism is, the more it ap- page 11 proaches perfection: or, in other words, that simplicity of construction implies imperfection.

Secondly, it assumes that the more complex an organism is, the later it made its appearance on the earth: that is, that simplicity of construction implies priority of existence.

Now, in all the works upon evolution which I have read (and they are not few), I have never found these two fundamental assumptions of the Darwinists proved, or any attempt to prove them. And on the other hand it seems to me that the opponents of Darwinism have taken them for granted also, so that practically they have given up a great advantage. For myself, I by no means grant either of them: I deny them both.

What is there, in point of fact, to show us that because one animal has organs or powers which another has not it is therefore the more perfect of the two? Take, for example, a horse and an earthworm: what proof exists that the horse is the more perfect? True, he has many more organs, and in a certain sense more powers. You could never make an earthworm draw a cart or carry you on his back. But, on the other hand, if you bury a horse in the earth it is not unlikely that you will kill him in the process: and he could no more burrow in a hole than he could fly. And the instinct of the worm is, for its purposes, as far as we can possibly tell, just as perfect as the instinct of the horse. Take, again, a man and a fish. The man has organs and powers which the fish wants. But he would die in the water just as surely as the fish would die in the air. Indeed, I should say that, according to a Darwinist, a crocodile is a more perfect animal than either man or fish, for he can live equally well both in water and in air. Take again another example. There is, in the ponds and ditches hereabout, an extremely small animal, scarcely visible to the naked eye, called a hydra. In general form this little being resembles somewhat that huge octopus of the sea, having a trunk or body with several long elastic arms with which it catches its prey. Now this hydra belongs to what Darwinists call a very low order of animals; and, if you consider it under only one aspect, there seems reason for this. For the hydra has, beyond those arms I spoke of, no organs at all. It is nothing but a sort of simple bag, open at one end, receiving and absorbing, without any real stomach, whatever the arms put into it. It is really all mouth and all stomach, a very convenient and extremely simple arrangement. But take it under another aspect, and it becomes one of the most perfect of animals. For, you can cut it in half, or into twenty pieces, and each piece will grow into an entire animal: you can slice it down the middle, almost to the end, and you will get two hydras on one stem, a sort of Siamese twin: you can cut the heads off two hydras and join them to the wrong bodies, and they will grow on quite contentedly: and you can actually go beyond this (I believe it has been done), you can take a hydra and turn him inside out, and then what was formerly the skin will do duty as the stomach and what formerly was apparently the stomach will become the outside skin, and the little beast will continue to live as merrily as possible. Now can anything be more perfect than this? Yet which, according to the Darwinist, is the more perfect animal, the man or the hydra?

You will perceive then, that when a Darwinist argues, as they all do, from the assumption that simplicity means imperfection, he is trying to take an advantage to which he has no right: and you would do well, if ever engaged in a discussion on this matter, to have it thoroughly settled before you go farther what is meant by perfection or imperfection. You must remember this, that unless Darwinism, or Evolution, means the development of the more perfect from the less perfect it means nothing at all. But Darwinists are, I think, so much in the habit of taking things for granted that most of them would be astonished to find their favourite axioms disputed.

But, supposing that you have got over this difficulty, and that your Darwinist opponent has succeeded in satisfying you that complex organisms are necessarily the most perfect, you would still find yourself met by the second, page 12 equally false as I think, assumption that simplicity of construction implies priority of existence. Of course, development from a lower animal means that the lower animal existed first. Therefore it is always taken for granted by Darwinists that the animals which lived on the earth in former times, and whose remains we now find as fossils in the rocks, were less perfect than those now existing. Again it must be asked, where is the proof? I am quite aware that Evolutionists profess to rest greatly upon what is called the geological record. But, apart from the admitted defects of that record, we should still come back to the question of comparison between the old and the modern animals. It must be remembered that in no case have we anything but the skeleton of a fossil to judge by. We know nothing of the rest of the body of these animals except from analogy which, as Darwin himself admits, is often misleading. But taking, say, a fossil butterfly, or a fossil saurian, or a fossil bear, there is absolutely nothing whatever to prove to us that they were in any way inferior to the butterflies, the crocodiles or the bears of the present day. Indeed, if size goes for anything, I should say that they were superior. Nothing now existing is to be compared in size to the gigantic animals found now only as fossils.

If Evolution has any meaning it means that the present animals, having been "developed," are more perfect than the earlier ones, and also it means that none of the earlier animals can be found as perfect as the present ones. But the crocodile is not more perfect than the saurian, the elephant than the mammoth, the oyster than the ammonite, the house fly than the fossil fly. And although, undoubtedly, as the different ages of the earth rolled on different animals made their appearance and the old ones vanished, I want to make it clear to you that in order to establish the truth of Evolution, or "development," it is absolutely necessary that these new arrivals should have been, so to speak, an improvement upon the former ones. Plainly put, the assumption of the Darwinists is this:—when they find an animal of simple construction and on that account, according to them, inferior to another, they give their verdict that the simple animal is the older of the two: and this is unproved and unproveable. If what I have stated be not one of the axioms of Darwinism, then Darwinism becomes nothing more than a logical impossibility.

And, if you take up one of those books, unfortunately too common, in which the author, too careless or too illogical to begin with first principles, tries to prove that Darwinism can be reconciled with Christianity, you-will find that, meeting these two assumptions of which I have spoken, and not daring to examine them closely, he is driven to that peculiar statement upon which so many persons try to rest their belief. I mean the assertion that God never acts in this world except by law. This is not a purely Darwinian statement, because the Darwinist pure and simple commonly troubles himself not at all about God and His action: but it has so specious an appearance about it that numbers of well-meaning men are deceived by it. If they would only stop to enquire closely into its ultimate meaning they could not help seeing that, in so many words, it directly detracts from the omnipotence, omnipresence and interference of God in nature, which, as I said in the beginning of this lecture, is one of the essential doctrines of Christianity. And the practical result of belief in this assertion will show you how dangerous it is. For it not only pretends in itself to affirm what no mortal intelligence can affirm, but it leads men on to define, next, what law it is by which God is presumed to limit His own power. And so, little by little, the assumptions of the Darwinists are somehow overlooked, or granted; the deductions which they draw therefrom are gradually allowed; and at last the original waverer gives full credence to Darwinism and, in a shorter or a longer time, falls in with the principles of modern "science." Once more I say, you will do well never to take for granted any of these Darwinist assertions: if any one affirms that God is in any way governed by what is called "law," see that the statement is fully proved before you go farther.

And now, confining ourselves for the present to Evolution as it concerns Man, let us see whether it agrees with the essence of Christianity. I said in page 13 beginning my lecture that Christianity affirms that the Redemption accomplished eighteen centuries ago was applicable to all men on earth; that is, without exception, past, present and future. The Redemption was rendered necessary by the fault of the first man. But, if Darwinism were true, this could not be so. I suppose that no Darwinist will deny that whatever has, in the ordinary course of nature, happened once, may in the ordinary course of nature happen again. No scientist, as far as I know, has ever attempted to assert that the development of man from a lower animal, having once occurred, could never under any cirumstances occur a second time. Indeed, if it were so, the theory of Evolution would at once fall to pieces of itself. And there is nothing in it, in my belief, to show that two men might not have been developed at the same time in two different parts of the earth. But, supposing two such simultaneous developments, or supposing two races of men, one developed 10,000 years ago, the other developed 5,000 years ago, in what manner can we possibly conceive that the Redemption can have been applicable to both these races? In what manner can a man of the second race be responsible in any shape for a fault committed by the ancestor of the first race, of which he is utterly independent? In plain terms, how could he have been "redeemed"? Once you admit the possibility of more than one race of men on the earth, you absolutely and irretrievably destroy the very essence of the Christian doctrine, the universal application of the Redemption.

There are persons, I am sorry to say who, desirous to reconcile two contradictory doctrines, are willing to admit the existence of several independent races of men.* They confine themselves usually to discussions about the creation, the first chapter of Genesis, the universality of the Flood, the differences between the white man and the negro, and such like points, every one of which is beside the main question, and they neglect the plain story of the Fall and the Redemption, the very keystone of Christianity. In truth, the Darwinist is reduced to three alternatives. Either he must absolutely deny the possibility that any natural occurrence can take place twice, which he cannot do without manifest absurdity; or he must prove the application of the Redemption to more than one race of men, which no logic can show: or, lastly he must acknowledge the positive opposition of the Evolution of Man to the essence and foundation of Christianity. This last alternative, whether the Darwinist be willing or unwilling to accept it, is that which, after the study which I have been able to make of Evolution, is the one which I really believe to be the true one.

You will, I think, by this time see that when I said that modern "science" was directly antagonistic to Christianity the statement was not at all too sweeping. We have considered the new teaching in its very core and essence, and we have tested our conclusions by an examination of its latest and most favoured theory, the Evolution of Man, and we have found it to be anti-Christian in every way. There are many points upon which it has only been possible for me to touch lightly and to indicate to you directions for more close reasoning. A fuller enquiry would be quite feasible, but would entail too great a tax upon your patience. There are, however, two points on which it is necessary that I should yet say a little, before I conclude.

The first of these points is the curious cowardice of the modern scientists. Nothing seems to be more repugnant to the tastes of these gentlemen than being held strictly to one point and made to speak out plainly what they mean in common, straightforward English. We, as you know, have nothing whatever to lose by plain speaking, nothing whatever to gain by circumlocution. But the

* For instance, a Dr. McCausland, of Dublin, attempts to prove this in a book entitled "Adam and the Adamite." This author appears to consider temporal death as the sole, or at least the chief, consequence of Adam's fault: but, apart from this, he says, p. 298, "The redemption of Adam's race,-who have incurred the penalty of his disobedience, does not prevent the redemption of those who have passed through the valley of the shadow of death unaffected by the transgression of Adam": and, p. 299, "Redemption is no more dependent upon the lineal descent of all mankind from Adam, than it is dependent upon their lineal descent from Abraham." Had he only stopped for a moment to consider the simple meaning of the English word "Redemption," viz.," a buying back" of something previously sold or pledged, he could not have written such egregious nonsense. Yet his book appears to have gone through three editions!

page 14 Evolutionist hates to use one word when he can, by using half-a-dozen, wrap up his meaning so as to ensnare the unwary. And thus it is that, if you take up at random any book, say, of Spencer's, or Darwin's, or Huxley's, or of their later disciples, you will find them twisting and turning phrases, and repeating vague generalities, knowing probably quite well themselves what they intend, but afraid to say it out in a manly way. They never mention God: they speak of "The Great First Cause," the "Creative Principle," "the Unknowable," "Nature," "Law," and so on. They never dare to tell their readers that Christianity is a he; but they wander about vaguely in such terms as "old fashioned superstitions," "exploded beliefs," "dogmas of priest-craft" and the like. Tackle an Evolutionist closely, press him to tell you, straight out, whether he believes implicitly in Christianity or not, and you will find that he will shuffle and wriggle, seeking every means to throw a mist around him and his views. Of course, as you know, I am speaking here of your thorough Evolutionist, not of those who, weakly as I think, try to join a little Christianity to a good deal of materialism.
Let me, by one quotation from Professor Huxley, give you an example of what I mean. It is not the best that I could give you, but it happens to be at my hand and will serve my purpose. This acknowledged leader of modern "scientific thought" is found in one of his "Lay Sermons," quoting the following passage from David Hume:—

"If we take in hand any volume of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity and number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."

And Professor Huxley says, on this:—" Permit me to enforce this most wise advice. Why trouble ourselves about matters of which, however important they may be, we do know nothing and can know nothing?"* Translated into simple, straightforward English, Huxley's roundabout phrase means nothing more or less than this, that Christianity which teaches absolutely nothing about quantity, number or experiment, is "sophistry and illusion," unworthy of our attention, pure rubbish. But he is afraid to say so plainly: and hundreds of men who would be startled to see the real nature of his teaching are ensnared by his shuffling and his vagueness. I do not mean to say that Huxley and others have not elsewhere been forced to speak much more clearly; I only give you this as an instance of the way in which these gentry cover up the pill which they want to make men swallow; and to warn you how, if you want to get at the truth, you must not be satisfied unless the modern "scientist" makes quite clear to you his exact and plain meaning.

The second point is this. All Evolutionists, and I am sorry to say almost all their opponents, confine themselves in arguing the question almost entirely, if not altogether, to discussions upon the Old Testament, and chiefly upon the Book of Genesis. In point of fact there seems to have been made generally an agreement on both sides that the New Testament shall not be taken into consideration at all. There are exceptions, of course, but this seems to be the rule. Now, I think this to be a grave error. That an Evolutionist should so argue I can understand: that a Christian should so argue I can not understand. If the history of the Creation and the Fall of Man given in the Book of Genesis be not true, then the Gospel is also not true. The one rests absolutely on the other. If the Fall did not take place the Redemption did not take place. You cannot escape from this position. And the result of this has been that the opponents of Darwinism, confining themselves of their own free will to the ground which their antagonists have chosen, have been driven to that extraordinary and unfortunate conclusion which is nowadays much too often accepted. They are driven, with the very best intentions, to agree that some part of the Book of Genesis may be true and the rest false, or mythical. And, as it seems

* "Essays selected from Lay Sermons, &c., Macmillan, 1871, p. 90.

page 15 to me, anyone who tries to reconcile Evolution and Christianity must of necessity come to this conclusion. But what a conclusion it is! To take, at haphazard, certain verses or certain chapters, and affirm that those are true, but that others intimately connected with them are false, simply because Darwin's theory is opposed to them! There is no proof attempted, but the reasoner says—Chapter I. does not fit in with Darwinism: therefore it must be mythical: Chapter III. does not affect Darwinism, therefore it may be true! Once more let us put this into plain English and it means that if modern "science" says one thing and Scripture another, Scripture is wrong*.

Here again, let me advise you, in meeting an Evolutionist on this point, to go straight back to first principles. Ask him, distinctly (and do not be frightened by his bluster or diverted from your purpose by his shuffling), first, if any part whatever of the Bible is to be believed, and if so what part. If he denies the first chapter of Genesis ask him if he believes the third. If he denies the universality of the Flood, ask him if he believes the history of the exodus from Egypt. If he denies that the sun and moon stood still at the command of Josue, ask him if he believes the history of the Incarnation, or the Resurrection, or the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Any one of the miracles of the New Testament is more wonderful than the miracles of the Old Testament, and you will at once see the illogical character of your opponent's reasoning, for he can have absolutely no other argument to offer against the parts which he denies than their apparent impossibility or contradiction to some law, as he will call it, of nature.

And now I draw to a conclusion. If I have not, in what I have said, exhausted your patience, or demanded of you more attention than you feel inclined to give, or failed to invest my subject with sufficient interest to keep your minds closely to my arguments, you will have seen, I think, that throughout I have pursued a line of reasoning very different from that usually employed. Many wise and earnest men hold the opinion that Evolutionists are to be met and combatted chiefly with arguments drawn from natural history itself. And, as far as Evolutionists themselves, pure and simple, are concerned, I fully admit the force of this. As for the thorough Darwinist, as he can have no faith left, it would be a waste of time to try to argue with him upon any theological grounds. The most that could be done would be to devote time to investigating such physical phenomena as might be suggested, a proceeding which, as experience shows, must end either in no satisfaction to either side or in the triumph of the Darwinist. But, in the present instance, I have not been arguing with any Darwinist or with any infidel: but simply trying to show to you Catholics what is, in its ultimate tendency, in its core and essence, the modern scientific teaching. And, summing up now what has been said in this lecture, I find it to be this, that whereas Christianity distinctly affirms and rests on the constant interference of God in nature, modern "science" distinctly denies it and demands belief only in that which the senses can experimentally verify; that whereas Christianity distinctly affirms and rests on the universal application of the Redemption to all men on earth without exception, Darwinism distinctly contemplates races of men independent of the Redemption; and that therefore modern "science" in its essence and Darwinism in particular are directly contrary to the essence of Christianity.

So much for my argument: I leave you to make your choice between the two. Many men will say—" Let it be so:—so much the worse for Christianity." I would not believe for a moment that any such are to be found in this Catholic Society to which I am to-night particularly addressing myself.

Let me not be misunderstood. Do I for an instant wish to discourage amongst you the pursuit of science, in itself? Do I wish to suggest that zoology, geology, all the other "sciences" are not to be studied, and studied as closely as can be done? By no means: none but a fool would say any such

* For instance, when about four years ago a periodical was started in this country called the "New Zealand Magazine," one of the first articles in it was one by Mr. J. E. FitzGerald, expressly intended to divide the Book of Genesis into parts, some supposed to be mythical, others perhaps historical.

page 16 thing. And, for my own part, almost all the spare time at my disposal is devoted to such research as I am able to make, by means of the microscope, into the facts of natural history. Lot those who have the inclination, the leisure, the intelligence, study the phenomena of the physical universe to the utmost of their power. Nay more, let this study be inculcated as far as possible in all schools: let every child if possible be made acquainted with the works of God in nature. But what I want you to do is to be content with facts, and facts alone: or, if deductions from those facts come in your way, never give credence to any deduction which is not consonant with the essence of your faith. When king Solomon was building his temple, as the old legends of the Rabbins tell us, he obtained possession of a little worm, called in Hebrew "schamir." This little worm had the remarkable power of rending in pieces anything which it touched: and Solomon by its means hewed out with the greatest ease masses of masonry from the hardest rocks. In this lecture I have tried to indicate to you a "schamir" of similar power. Touch with this talisman the doctrines of these pretended leaders of thought of the present day. Do not be frightened by their arrogance, which is enormous; do not be puzzled by the roundabout phrases which are such favourite weapons of theirs. Translate their long sentences and vague definitions into plain straightforward English. Touch with the schamir of Christianity every conclusion to which they lead you and form your belief accordingly. You may be perfectly sure of this that, if their conclusion be in discord with Christian faith, all the alleged "facts," all the phenomena, all the experiments, all the learning, reasoning, authorities with which the preliminary arguments are supported, however plain, precise and forcible they may apparently be, are nothing else but misleading. Somewhere or other, though perhaps you may not be able to find it at first, there is a fatal flaw in the argument, a fatal defect in the syllogism. Judge only by the ultimate conclusion, and using the word "truth," not in the sense which the Darwins and Huxleys and Spencers attach to it but in its Christian sense, you may rest quite assured that "Magna est Veritas et prœvalebit": great is truth and she will prevail.

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