If the views now advanced are correct, many, perhaps most, of our existing savages are the successors of higher races; and their arts, often showing a wonderful similarity in distant continents, may have been derived from a common source among more civilized peoples.
I must now conclude this very imperfect sketch of a few of the offshoots from the great tree of biological study. It will, perhaps, be thought by some that my remarks have tended to the depreciation of our science, by hinting at imperfections in our knowledge and errors in our theories, where more enthusiastic students see nothing but established truths. But I trust that I may have conveyed to many of my hearers a different impression. I have endeavored to show that even in what are usually considered the more trivial and superficial characters presented by natural objects, a whole field of new inquiry is opened up to us by the study of distribution and local conditions. And as regards man, I have endeavored to fix your attention on a class of facts which indicate that the course of his development has been far less direct and simple than has hitherto been supposed; and that, instead of resembling a single tide with its advancing and receding ripples, it must rather be compared to the progress from neap to spring tides, both the rise and the depression being comparatively greater as the waters of true civilization slowly advance toward the highest level they can reach.
And if we are thus led to believe that our present knowledge of Nature is somewhat less complete than we have been accustomed to consider it, this is only what we might expect; for, however great may have been the intellectual triumphs of the nineteenth century, we can hardly think so highly of its achievements as to imagine that, in somewhat less than twenty years, we have passed from complete ignorance to almost perfect knowledge on two such vast and complex subjects as the origin of species and the antiquity of man.
|THE SO-CALLED "CONFLICT OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION.|
IT may be objected that, by the introduction of a cosmogony, the Bible exposes itself to a conflict with science, and that thereby injury results both to science and to religion. This is a grave charge, and one that evidently has had much weight with many minds, since it has been the subject of entire treatises designed to illustrate the history of this conflict or to explain its nature. The revelation of
- Extract from a work preparing for publication.