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his shell, there grows a hard thickening of horn and lime, known as the egg-tooth. When he is about ready to be hatched, he thrusts his beak into the air chamber that forms at the broad end of the egg; the air rushes down his nostrils and fills his lungs for the first time; in the exhilaration of this first breath the unhatched bird knocks vigorously at the shell, and steps out. What if this little egg-tooth were not there? Or not ready on time? But it always is. It is used just this once. He will never have occasion to use it again. In a few days it will disappear. Here is purpose, intelligence, the forward look, the getting ready for what is coming—all in an egg-shell. The universe is an egg-shell of precisely that kind. The tooth is always there. The shell always breaks in time. The new creature comes out into the life God has ready for it.
While it is correct to say that the new life looks backward to the old, it is equally true to say that the old continually looks forward to and labors to prepare the way and get its descendants ready for a better life than its own has been. Now when your mind gets thoroughly impregnated with the idea that this is the kind of universe we inhabit, that not merely man, but also nature, is always looking forward, preparing for better things, working years and generations and geologic ages patiently to achieve them, then you can never get much into the dumps about it. It is a universe that is evidently going somewhere, and knows where it is going. And you naturally and rightly conclude that you need not worry about it.
I go further and say evolution gives us a spiritual universe. There are plenty of dirt and water, gas and natural law and mechanism in it. But it is a spiritual universe. Back and forth, and up and down, and all
through, it is a spiritual universe. By the doctrine of evolution man is organic to the universe. He is no stranger in it. He belongs here. He was born here. He comes forth from the process of evolution, as naturally and necessarily as the peach on the tree or the rose on the bush. Any process of development must be explained by its latest, not by its earliest stages. The house explains the foundation, not the foundation the house. We get at the meaning of the peach tree not by examining the root but by eating the peach. The thing which comes of it shows what the whole tree is. It's not peach merely at the tip of the branch where the peach grows. It's peach all through—sap and bark and root and heart and all, all peach. That's the way man has grown on the universe. He's the flower of it. The whole process, beginning away back at the star-dust, has culminated in him. On the same principle the highest in man is the spiritual life, his faith, his hope, his love, his aspiration after a higher good, his divine discontent, his art, his literature, his religion. That highest product of his life shows what he is. The ultimate meaning, therefore of this whole process of evolution is spiritual life. Goodness, piety, love, are no human inventions, no late discovery, no frail drawing of a finite breath, no strangers in an alien world. They are the meaning of the whole
. great process. The essence of the universe is a purpose, a hope, a faith, a spiritual life. It is a spiritual uni
But the greater thing still that evolution does for religion is to give us a new and better idea of God. A new sense of the divine wisdom and power visits anyone who reads the story written in the rocks and planets and in the bodies and minds of all living creatures. When one duly considers that the same Power that "makes the solar system travel in space, that keeps our earth together and whirling round the sun, that sways the tides and rules the winds, that molds the dewdrop and builds the crystal” is at work in all of us now, His labor of creation never done and never ceasing for one moment, but still going on as evenly and irresistibly as in past ages, he acquires a vision of the power and majesty and wisdom of God that no smaller idea of creation can give.
Evolution throws a new light upon the patience of God. He takes half-a-million years to fashion a feather, and longer still to provide the horse his hoof. The duration of the human drama, thus far, is like a minute, at the end of a long forenoon that the earlier forms of life have spent here. We wonder sometimes that God can keep his patience with the human race,and some men are foolish enough to suppose that one of these days, maybe before long, He will lose it entirely, and make an end of this world. Shall He thus spend the whole forenoon of His cosmic day on His great experiment, and then lose patience with it because of anything the race of man has done in sixty seconds?
But primarily, evolution gives us a God living and working in his world; and not merely outside it. Many people even yet do not think so. They think God lives off somewhere by Himself, and acts upon us and our world from a distance. They think that He made the world, once upon a time, much as a jeweler makes a clock, and then lets it run itself, except for a little mending now and then.
Whatever He does is occasional, spasmodic, for He has no natural and necessary connection in their estimation with the world or with human life. He is to them, in fact, in the language of Carlyle and Sartor Resartus, an "absentee God,” who makes us an occasional, mostly unexpected visit.
Evolution has changed all that. It has abolished those breaks in the process where God was supposed to have stepped in. The process now is believed to be continuous. There are no breaks in it. And if there are no breaks in it where God can step in, then God is either not in the process as all-in which case we can know nothing about Him-or He is in the whole
process, from star-dust to man, and no part of it gets along without His presence and His power. “We live and move and have our being in Him;" so do all other things and creatures. And not only that, but God lives and moves and has some part of His being in us, and in all creatures and things. He is not the infinite carpenter, the infinite inventor or manufacturer. He does not stand off one side from nature and man, and order them around. He is the wisdom and the purpose and the forward-looking will which show everywhere in the whole creation. He is the reason and the meaning and the spirit of the whole. That is the idea of God fostered by the doctrine of evolution.
And since the day that Jesus Christ came to tell us of the love and the forgiveness of God and to seal His revelation with His life and death, I do not know of any expansion that has come to our idea of God, equal to that thus brought by evolution. For when you get God inside of His world, that means that God's forms of revelation are many; and that in addition to the Bible, no art, no science, no religion, no anything that has blessed and helped mankind, has ever come, except from and by the inspiration of this indwelling spirit of the infinite God, who lives and moves in all things. Nature is the garment of God, law is the voice of God, conscience is the word of God, man is the living temple of God. Do what we will, be what we will, we can never escape from the presence of God. He is with us and in us. We have our daily being in Him. The supreme contribution of evolution to human thought, is not the solution it offers of a few riddles of the physical world, and the light it throws on some dark spots in the history of the earth and man, but the way it makes us feel at home with God and makes Him real to us, and floods both the whole long past of the race and the depths of our own spirits with His presence.