Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/30
22 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
holding of all that can be kept, which constitute the essence of the struggle for existence, have answered. For his successful progress, as far as the savage state, man has been largely indebted to those qualities which he shares with the ape and the tiger : his exceptional physical organization ; his cunning, his sociability, his curiosity and his imitativeness ; his ruthless and ferocious de- structiveness when his anger is roused by opposition.
But, in proportion as men have passed from anarchy to social organization and in proportion as civilization has grown in worth, these deeply ingrained serviceable qualities have become defects. After the manner of successful persons, civilized man would gladly kick down the ladder by which he has climbed. He would be only too pleased to see " the ape and the tiger die." But they decline to suit his convenience ; and the unwelcome intrusion of these boon companions of his hot youth into the ranged existence of civil life adds pains and griefs, innumerable and immeasurably great, to those which the cosmic process necessarily brings on the mere animal. In fact, civilized man brands all these ape and tiger promptings with the name of sins ; he punishes many of the acts which flow from them as crimes ; and, in extreme cases, he does his best to put an end to the survival of the fittest of former days by axe and rope.
I have said that civilized man has reached this point ; the as- sertion is perhaps too broad and general ; I had better put it that ethical man has attained thereto. The science of ethics professes to furnish us with a reasoned rule of life ; to tell us what is right action and why it is so. Whatever difference of opinion may exist among experts, there is a general consensus that the ape and tiger methods of the struggle for existence are not reconcilable with sound ethical principles.
The hero of our story descended the bean-stalk, and came back to the common world, where fare and work were alike hard ; where ugly competitors were much commoner than beautiful princesses ; and where the everlasting battle with self was much less sure to be crowned with victory than a turn-to with a giant. We have done the like. Thousands upon thousands of our fellows, thou- sands of years ago, have preceded us in finding themselves face to face with the same dread problem of evil. They also have seen that the cosmic process is evolution ; that it is full of wonder, full of beauty, and, at the same time, full of pain. They have sought to discover the bearing of these great facts on ethics ; to find out whether there is, or is not, a sanction for morality in the ways of the cosmos.
Theories of the universe, in which the conception of evolution plays a leading part, were extant at least six centuries before our