As the two fairly enough represent the extremes of Christian thought upon the subject, it is convenient to review them in connection.
Theologians have a short and easy, if not wholly satisfactory, way of refuting scientific doctrines which they object to, by pitting the authority or opinion of one may enjoy the same advantage at the expense of the divines– we mean, of course, on the scientific arena; for the mutual refutation of conflicting theologians on their own ground is no novelty.
To ignore them is to imitate the foolish bird that seeks security by hiding its head in the sand.
Moreover, the naturalists did not force these questions upon the world; but the world they study forced them upon the naturalists.
The attitude of theologians toward doctrines of evolution, from the nebular hypothesis down to ‘Darwinism,’ is no less worthy of consideration, and hardly less diverse, than that of naturalists.
But the topic, if pursued far, leads to questions too wide and deep for our handling here, except incidentally, in the brief notice which it falls in our way to take of the Rev.Dawson), if it were still possible, would–to say the least–probably not at all help to reconcile science and religion.Therefore, it is not to be regretted that the diversities of view among accredited theologians and theological naturalists are about as wide and as equably distributed between the extremes (and we may add that the views themselves are quite as hypothetical) as those which prevail among the various naturalists and natural philosophers of the day. Henslow doubtless is not to be compared with the veteran professor at Princeton.By this doctrine of evolution he does not mean the Darwinian hypothesis, although he accepts and includes this, looking upon natural selection as playing an important though not an unlimited part.He would be an evolutionist with Mivart and Owen and Argyll, even if he had not the I would wish to state distinctly that I do not at present see any evidence for believing in a gradual development of man from the lower animals by ordinary natural laws; that is, without some special interference, or, if it be preferred, some exceptional conditions which have thereby separated him from all other creatures, and placed him decidedly in advance of them all.How these questions of derivation came naturally and inevitably to be revived, how the cumulative probability that the existing are derived from preexisting forms impressed itself upon the minds of many naturalists and thinkers, Mr.Henslow has briefly explained in the introduction and illustrated in the succeeding chapters of the first part of his book.Hodge’s exposition of ‘theories of the universe’ and kindred topics–and in no captious spirit– that whether right or wrong on particular points, he is not often right or wrong in the way of a man of science.Probably from the lack of familiarity with prevalent ideas and their history, the theologians are apt to suppose that scientific men of the present day are taking up theories of evolution in pure wantonness or mere superfluity of naughtiness; that it would have been quite possible, as well as more proper, to leave all such matters alone.In coupling with it a chapter of the second volume of Dr.Hodge’s ‘Systematic Theology (Part II, Anthropology),’ we call attention to a recent essay, by an able and veteran writer, on the other side of the question.