Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/119

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tolerated upon pain of eternal retribution. Science, on the contrary, begins with questioning, and, by insisting upon evidence, has restricted the sphere of speculation, and made belief more a matter of reason, and in this way it has done much to destroy the dogmatic spirit. Yet this tendency to dogmatism is so deep and strong in human nature, as at present trained, that even scientific men often yield to it, and put their baseless speculations in place of science, and here is a German savant of great authority who says so." This is probably what Prof. Gray meant if he had explained himself more fully, for surely one cannot suppose he intended to encourage the bad habits of one class by telling them how bad are those of another.

Let us now glance for a moment at Virchow's test of what ought to go into the schools. Prof. Gray quotes the following passage: "From the moment when we had become convinced that the evolution theory was a perfectly established doctrine—so certain that we could pledge our oath to it—from that moment we could not dare to feel any scruple about introducing it into our actual life, and not only communicating it to every educated man, but imparting it to every child, . . . and basing upon it our whole system of education." To this the reply is, first, that the standard taken is impracticable, and, if adopted, would abolish education altogether; and, second, if it is lowered, as it must be, evolution cannot be kept out of the schools.

It is important to remember here that Virchow is an evolutionist—not, perhaps, an "advanced" evolutionist, but, as Prof. Gray recognizes, a "pronounced evolutionist," like himself, we suppose. And, if so, it must be because there is a certain amount of truth in the doctrine. But, for the purpose here contemplated, the question is not whether evolution is completely proved—it is simply whether there is sufficient truth and value in it to make its introduction into the schools an improvement upon their existing practice. Now, if evolution is true at all, as admitted by Virchow and Gray, and by the leading thinkers of the time, it must, by the very nature of the idea, be a verity in regard to the great method of things around us—how they come, and how they go, and how they are related to each other in the genetical order. Evolution must embody a truth to this extent, from the very necessity of the case, or it contains no truth at all. It is, by its definition, an unfolding in the course of Nature. That there are numerous imperfections in it, matters nothing, for no science is perfect. Astronomy, based upon physics and mathematics, has ranked as the most perfect of the sciences; but, if any one wishes to understand how imperfect it really is, let him read Prof. Newcomb's new book upon the subject. Chemistry is in a state of revolution, and physics is full of unsettled theories. What, in fact, is science but imperfect sciences getting rid of their errors and limitations?

As to evolution, it is enough that it is a mental view which answers to a great reality. Whether it is to be recognized, is not an open question; it is already in the field as a power that is modifying almost every branch of knowledge. It is guiding investigations in the pathway of successful research; it is the broadest principle of unification in Nature that the human mind has yet reached. Can so comprehensive and all-harmonizing a truth be without value as a means of mental culture? Whether Haeckel was wise or not in demanding its formal introduction into the schools, it is certain that the powers which control the German Empire cannot keep it out of the schools. Nothing would be more futile than to demand the teaching of the development theory in the schools of this country, except, perhaps, the