Immagini della pagina

was the ancestor of man. And a biologist who can tell us nothing about man is neglecting his fairest field. Conversely history and social science will rest on a firmer basis when their students recognize that many human laws and institutions are heirlooms, the attainments, or direct results of attainments, of animals far below man. We are just beginning to recognize that the study of zoology is an essential prerequisite to, and firm foundation for, that of history, social science, philosophy, and theology, just as really as for medicine. An adequate knowledge of any history demands more than the study of its last page. The zoologist has been remiss in not claiming his birthright, and in this respect has sadly failed to follow the path pointed out by Mr. Darwin.

For paleontology, zoölogy, history, social and political science, and philosophy are really only parts of one great science, of biology in the widest sense, in distinction from the narrower sense in which it is now used to include zoology and botany. They form an organic unity in which no one part can be adequately understood without reference to the others. You know nothing of even a constellation, if you have studied only one of its stars. Much less can the study of a single organ or function give an adequate idea of the human body.

Only when we have attained a biological history can we have any satisfactory conception of environment. As we look about us in the world, environment often seems to us to be a chaos of forces aiding or destroying good and bad, fit and unfit, alike.

But our history of animal and human progress shows us successive stages, each a little higher than the pre

ceding, and surviving, for a time at least, because more completely conformed to environment. If this be true, and it must be true unless our theory of evolution be false, higher forms are more completely conformed to their environment than lower; and man has attained. the most complete conformity of all. Our biological history is therefore a record of the results of successive efforts, each attaining a little more complete conformity than the preceding. From such a history we ought to be able to draw certain valid deductions concerning the general character and laws of our environment, to discover the direction in which its forces are urging us, and how man can more completely conform to it.

If man is a product of evolution, his mental and moral, just as really as his physical, development must be the result of such a conformity. The study of environment from this standpoint should throw some light on the validity of our moral and religious creeds and theories. It would seem, therefore, not only justifiable, but imperative to attempt such a study.

Our argument is not directly concerned with modern theories of heredity, or variation, or with the "omnipotence" or secondary importance of natural selection. And yet Nägeli, and especially Weismann, have had so marked an influence on modern thought that we cannot afford to neglect their theories. We will briefly notice these in the closing chapter.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THE story of a human life can be told in very few words. A youth of golden dreams and visions; a few years of struggle or of neglected opportunities; then retrospect and the end.

"We come like water, and like wind we go."

But how few of the visions are realized. Faust sums up the whole of life in the twice-repeated word versagen, renounce, and history tells a similar story. Terah died in Haran; Abraham obtained but a grave in the land promised him and his children; Jacob, cheated in marriage, bitterly disappointed in his children, died in exile, leaving his descendants to become slaves in the land of Egypt; and Moses, their heroic deliverer, died in the mountains of Moab in sight of the land which he was forbidden to enter. You may answer that it is no injury that the promise is too large, the vision too grand, to be fulfilled in the span of a single life, but must become the heritage of a race. But what has been the history of Abraham's descendants? A death-grapple for existence, captivity, and dispersion. Their national existence has long been lost.

Was there ever a nation of grander promise than Greece or Rome? But Greece died of premature old

age, and Rome of rottenness begotten of sin. But each of them, you will say, left a priceless heritage to the immortal race. But if Greece and Rome and a host of older nations, of which History has often forgotten the very name, have failed and died, can anything but ultimate failure await the race? Is human history to prove a story told by an idiot, or does it signify" something? Is the great march of humanity, which Carlyle so vividly depicts, "from the inane to the inane, or from God to God?"


This is the sphinx question put to every thinking man, and on his answer hangs his life. For according to that answer, he will either flinch and turn back, or expend every drop of blood and grain of power in urging on the march.

To this question the Bible gives a clear and emphatic answer. "God created man in his own image," and then, as if men might refuse to believe so astounding a statement, it is repeated, "in the image of God created he him." When, and by what mode or process, man was created we are not told. His origin is condensed almost into a line, his present and future occupy all the rest of the book. Whence we came is important only in so far as it teaches us humility and yet assures us that we may be Godlike because we are His handiwork and children, "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ of a heavenly inheritance."

Now has Science any answer to this vital question? Perhaps. But this much is certain; it can foretell the future only from the past. Its answer to the question whither must be an inference from its knowledge as to whence we have come. The Bible looks mainly at the present and future; Science must at least begin with

« IndietroContinua »