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cular systems through mere material. But how can personality in environment act on personality in man except by personal contact or by symbols easy of. comprehension according to its own laws? Some method of attaining acquaintance at least we should certainly expect.
But some of you may ask, How can any theory of evolution guarantee that anything of the present shall survive in the future? It is continually changing and destroying former types. The old order of everything changes and passes away, giving place to the new. But is this the whole truth? Evolution is a radical process, but we must never forget that it is also, and at the same time, exceedingly conservative. The cell was the first invention of the animal kingdom, and all higher animals are and must be cellular in structure. Our tissues were formed ages on ages ago; they have all persisted. Most of our organs are as old as worms. All these are very old, older than the mountains, and yet I cannot doubt that they must last as long as man exists. Indeed, while Nature is wonderfully inventive of new structures, her conservatism in holding on to old ones is still more remarkable. In the ascending line of development she tries an experiment once exceedingly thorough, and then the question is solved for all time. For she always takes time enough to try the experiment exhaustively. It took ages to find how to build a spinal column or brain, but when the experiment was finished she had reason to be, and was, satisfied. And if this is true of bodily organs we should expect that the same law would hold good when the animal development gradually passes over into the spiritual. And what is human history but
the record of moral and religious experiments, and their success or failure according as the experimenters conformed to the laws of the spiritual forces with which they had to do?
We need not fear that our old fundamental beliefs will be lost. Their very age shows that they have been thoroughly tested in the great experiment of human history and found sure. Modified they may be; they will be used for higher purposes and the building of better characters than ours. They will not be lost or discarded. We too often think of nature as building like man, with huge scaffoldings, which must later be torn down and destroyed. But in the forest the only scaffolding is the heart of oak.
We have seen that the sequence of functions in animal development has culminated in man's rational, moral nature. He alone has the clear perception of the reality of right, truth, and duty. The pursuit of these has made him what he is. His advance, if there is any continuity in history, depends upon his making these the ruling motives and aims of his life. He must continually grow in righteousness and unselfishness, if he is not to degenerate and give place to some other product of evolution. Moreover, as these moral faculties are capable of indefinite, if not infinite, development, they must dominate his life through a future of indefinite duration. For the length of the period of dominance of a function has always been proportional to the capacity of that function for future development. These can never, so far as we can see, be superseded, for no rival to them can be discovered. We have found in them the culmination of the sequence of functions.
We have attempted to show in this lecture that reversal of this grand sequence has always led to degeneration, or, in higher forms, far more frequently, to extinction. As we ascend, natural selection works more, rather than less, unsparingly. And as advance depends upon conformity to environment, and as the highest forms must be regarded as therefore most completely conformed, we gain our most adequate knowledge of environment when we study it as working especially for these. For these have been from the very beginning its far-off, chief aim and goal. Viewed from this standpoint, environment proves to be a host of interacting forces uniting in a resultant "power, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness," and unselfishness.
Inasmuch as man's rational moral nature, his personality, is the result of the last and longest step toward and in conformity to environment, these powers correspond to that which is at the same time highest, and deepest, and most fundamental in that environment. This power which makes for righteousness is therefore to be regarded as personal and spiritual rather than material. It is God immanent in nature. And it is mainly to this personal and spiritual element in his environment that man is in the future to more completely conform. Conformity to this element in man's environment does not so much result in life as it is life; failure to conform is death. And the pressure of environment upon man, compelling him to choose between life through conformity and non-conformity with death, can be most naturally and adequately explained as the expression of his will. We know what he requires of us.
Our knowledge of him is very incomplete, but may be valid as far as it extends. And it would seem to be valid, for it has been tested by ages of experiment. The results of this grand experiment have been summed up in man's fundamental religious beliefs. And farther knowledge will be gained by more complete obedience to the requirements already known. The evidence, that these fundamental religious beliefs will persist, is of the same character as that upon which rests our belief in the persistence of cells and tissues. The one is rooted in the structure of our minds; the other, in the structure of our bodies. But, after all, only will can act upon will, and personality upon personality. It remains for us to examine how man was compelled by his very structure to develop a new element in his environment, conformed indeed to the laws of his old environment, but better fitted to draw out the moral and spiritual side of his nature. And in connection with this study we may hope to gain some new light on the laws of conformity.
CONFORMITY TO ENVIRONMENT
WE are too prone to think that soil and climate, hillside or plain, mountain and shore, temperature and rainfall, constitute the sole or the most important elements in human environment. Every one of these elements is doubtless important. Frost, drought, or barrenness of soil may make a region a desert, or dwarf the development of its inhabitants. Mountaineer, and the dweller on the plain, and the fisherman on the shore of the ocean develop different traits through the influence of their surroundings. In too warm a climate the human race loses its mental and moral vigor and degenerates. This is undeniable.
But, though one soil and climate and set of physical surroundings may be more conducive than another to the development of heroism, truthfulness, unselfishness, and righteousness, no one is essential to their production or sure to give rise to them. Moral and religious character is a feature of man's personality, and our personality is moulded mainly by the men and women with whom we associate. A man is not only "known by the company which he keeps;" he is usually fashioned by and conforms to it. As President Seelye has well said, "The only motive which can move a will is either a will itself, or something into which a will enters. It is not a thought, but only a