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was accepted by the scientific men of two hundred years ago. “Probably the entire scientific world,” says Schmucker in his “Meaning of Evolution," "is agreed that evolution in some form or other, is the undoubted solution of the mystery of creation. ... The idea of development has penetrated every science that has to do with animals or man. It is even beginning to influence such inorganic sciences as Physics and Chemistry." “That the animals of the present are the altered animals of the past, that the plants of today are the altered plants of yesterday, that civilized man of today is the savage of yesterday and the treedweller of the day before, are no longer debatable to the great mass of biologists."? Twenty-five years ago, Pres. George Harris of Amherst said, "Evolution is now adopted by all scientific authorities and accepted by the vast majority of educated men. . . . It is taught in the colleges, illustrated in the magazines, popularized on the platform, and recognized even in the pulpit." 8 "Evolution,” says Professor Thomson, “is the only known scientific way of answering the question: how has the present-day system of animate nature come into being? All the facts of botany and zoölogy may be used as evidences of evolution if we know enough about them.”. Almost thirty years ago Henry Drummond said, "Of those who are in the front rank, of those who by their knowledge have the right to speak, there are scarcely any who do not in some form employ it (the doctrine of evolution) in working and thinking. Authority may mean little. The
Moral Evolution, George Harris, p. 1.
world has often been mistaken. But when minds so different as those of Charles Darwin and T. H. Green, of Herbert Spencer and Robert Browning, build half the labors of their lives on this one law, it is impossible, especially in the absence of any other competing theory, to treat it as a baseless dream.” 10 “No living naturalist, so far as I know," says Henry Fairfield Osborn of Columbia, "differs as to the truth of evolution, in the sense of the ascent of all the extinct and existing forms of life, including man, from an original and single cellular state " 11 "Scientific investigators and productive scholars in every field,” says Conklin of Princeton, "have long since accepted evolution in the broadest sense as an established fact. There is probably not a single biological investigator in the world today who is not convinced of the truth of evolution." 12 "The largest and most overwhelming idea in all science,” says Thomson, “is the idea that the system of nature in all its complexity, intricacy, multitudinousness, and harmony, has come to be as it is from apparently simple beginnings.” 18
From this supposedly secure place of established and unquestioned acceptance, the doctrine of evolution has suddenly been dragged into the arena of public disputation. "No scientific investigator of ten years ago," says Conklin, "would have thought it possible that the truth or falsity of any scientific theory would ever again be decided by appeals to the Bible, or that an attempt would ever again be made to determine by legislation what might be considered orthodox or
10 The Ascent of Man, Henry Drummond, p. 8.
Quoted by Harry Emerson Fosdick, in Evolution and Mr. Bryan, "Evolution and the Bible, pp. 6, 23. ** System of Animate Nature, vol. II, p. 383.
heterodox science; and yet this has come to pass. An organization has been perfected .
.. for the purpose of banishing the doctrine of evolution from churches and schools. ... Bills have been introduced in certain state legislatures forbidding the teaching of evolution or Darwinism as applied to man. ...
We might call attention to the fact that among these new opponents of evolution there are no biologists, no zoölogists, no geologists, no botanists, no astronomers, no anthropologists, no scientific men of any sort and rest our case. All these—which means all those whose training puts them in the best position to know-hold as firmly to evolution as they did before; continue to teach it in every college and university of America, and build their work and their reputations upon it.
This form of defence, however, is not quite enough because the impression prevails that evolution is something for scientific men which the ordinary man must reject on prejudice or accept upon authority. Huxley once advised some disputants of his time to "get a little first-hand knowledge of biology." Conklin says that rightly to weigh the arguments for evolution "requires some first-hand knowledge of morphology, physiology, embryology, ecology, paleontology and genetics. .” It is quite obvious that most of us will never find or make the time to go into such subjects. Yet, in outline, the theory of evolution is perfectly simple, and there is no reason why any intelligent man should remain in ignorance about it.
The reason why scientific men believe in evolution, is that it explains so many groups of facts which nothing else does explain.
The Direction of Human Evolution, New Edition, Preface, p. v.
The first group of facts it explains, relates to the distribution of fossils in the geological strata of the earth. Simpler forms of life come first in time, more complicated forms after them. The embryo grows into the babe, not the babe into the embryo. First the wild rose, later the American Beauty, never the other way round. Higher forms of life come later. That testimony is uniform. . . . Long before men believed in evolution they had observed that only the skeletons of the lower forms of animal life, like the fishes, were to be found in the rocks that were laid down longest ago, while higher forms, like wolves and bears, were found only in rocks made later. In the oldest fossilbearing rocks are no fossils of dogs or horses, but plenty of fishes. A few million years later appear the fossils of the amphibians, like the crocodile and the lizard, creatures higher on the ladder of life, living partly in the water and partly out of it. Still later by a few million years appear the skeletons of great reptiles, much more highly developed than the amphibians. Advance yet a few million years more, and skeletons of birds appear—as far beyond the clumsy reptiles as the race horse is beyond the shetland pony. After the passing of a few million years more, appear the skeletons of the ape and the baboonand finally, something like one-hundred-fifty, or twohundred-fifty thousand years ago, the fossils of the men of the Old Stone Age. The story of the rocks is far from complete. Only now and then an animal would fall into the right soil to be preserved. Only a few of these would escape disintegration by later changes in the surface of the earth. But so far as this story goes, it goes all in the one direction. It never contradicts itself. Life has been rising on the
earth, from simple to complex, from low to high. Not one single form of life has ever been discovered out of its proper order in this ascending scale.
Special creation throws no light upon facts like these. If God made the fishes at one stroke with the reptiles; if He made the reptiles, not out of the amphibians, but at the same time; if He made the birds also, at one stroke with the reptiles and the fishes—there is no apparent reason why fossil fishes, reptiles, and birds should not all be found mixed together in the rocks of every age from the oldest up. He might have done it all in many other ways besides this one told by the rocks. The doctrine of evolution shows why He did it this way and in no other. The old explanation was that God made one kind of animal at a time, say the great reptiles, which had their day and were then destroyed by some great catastrophe; thereupon God would make a new kind, like the great birds, to take their place. The successors were, as a matter of fact, better than the kind that preceded—but there was no good reason why they should have been, it was simply the arbitrary act of God. The new explanation that the new and superior kind was developed out of the old, and then the old and inferior died out is a real explanation.
Another group of facts goes with these. The plants and animals found now in any part of the world are like those that existed in earlier geologic times in that same place. Call the younger the descendants of the older and that state of affairs is natural. But if the animals were made by special acts of creation, why are not those that live in Australia now like the ones that used to live in Asia, and those that now live in Hawaii like those that used to live around Cape