Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/424

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
410
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

be changed, and the looker-on fancies that the very body and soul are gone." This is the view of science. Religion, like other things, is progressive, and proceeds from stage to stage, successively molting its integuments with increasing expansion and a higher life, or, by the figure of Dr. Haven, shedding its worn-out clothing as occasion requires. It is a great point gained in this matter to discriminate between the living body and its accidental and temporary wrappings—between perennial truth and its obsolete accompaniments. The credal habiliments are not the vital thing they invest, and to cling to them as if they were is superstition. Dr. Haven's point of view enables us to appreciate the triviality of denominational cuts, fits, and styles; and illustrates the futility of venerating theological rags and tatters instead of the essential religious ideas which require ever to be clothed anew as men grow in grace. And what a pitiful spectacle, moreover, it is to see people so confused and perverted in their notions as to actually worship the heaps of old clothes that have been long ago worn out and cast off!

We are glad to observe that Bishop Haven does not recoil from the conception of creation as a continuous, ever-unfolding work. He wisely accepts the view of God, compelled by evolution, as that of an eternally-creating Spirit. He says, "Is there any reason what-ever to believe that God at any past period, large or small, had any more or less to do than now with this earth and all that it contains?" And again: "Had we all been educated in a theory of gradualism and constancy and improvement, and thoroughly saturated with it, and yet aroused into a profound belief in God, as is certainly conceivable on that theory, and then, should the theory of a Deity sometimes awake and sometimes asleep be suggested, it would shock some feeble minds into atheism." But would not strong minds also be thus shocked, and justly so; and would not the atheism be real? When evolution has become an established and familiar idea in the religious world, and the Creative Power is conceived—as far as such conception is possible to finite faculties—as the mighty, ever-energizing spirit of which the boundless universe is but the manifestation, a reversion to present current notions of the method of creation will assuredly be regarded as a lapse into atheistic paganism, analogous to a present backward plunge into fetichism.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Preadamites; or a Demonstration of the Existence op Man before Adam; together with a Study of their Condition, Antiquity, Racial Affinities, and Progressive Dispersion over the Earth. With Charts and other Illustrations. By Alexander Winchell, LL.D., Professor of Geology and Paleontology in the University of Michigan. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. Pp. 500. Price, $3.50.

The views of Dr. Winchell on the subject of preadamites, which he put forth some time ago in a modest pamphlet, to which we drew attention, he has now matured and brought out in a very handsome and richly illustrated volume. We have been more than pleased with a somewhat critical perusal of it. The work is popular in its best sense—attractive in style, clear in exposition, and eminently instructive in its subject matter. Though drawing its facts from wide sources, it is far from being a mere compilation; it is dominated by a large, original purpose, which is kept steadily in view throughout the whole course of its close and trenchant argument.

Dr. Winchell's book has a double interest which should not be overlooked. Though making no claims of this nature, it is yet a valuable exposition of ethnological science, treating instructively a wide range of questions in relation to the origin, distribution, characteristics, and natural history of the human races. These subjects are now of commanding interest. All modern knowl-