Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/285

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273
LITERARY NOTICES.

Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, for the Year 1881. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 837.

The scale and magnitude of the work accomplished by the Institution have been greatly increased in comparison with the work of previous years, while the expenditures have not been augmented. The building for the National Museum has been completed and occupied, and a large proportion of its material has been provisionally arranged for instructive display. Suitable accommodations have been provided within it for the chemical laboratory. A considerable number of original researches have been undertaken under the direction of the Institution, among the most important of which were, perhaps, those in Alaska. The twenty-third volume of the "Contributions to Knowledge" has been published, and contains six treatises; and the twentieth and twenty-first volumes of the "Miscellaneous Contributions" contain three parts or memoirs each. A valuable work has been done by the Ethnological Bureau, under the direction of Major Powell, particularly in the line of Mr. Cushing's investigations among the Zuñis, and Mr. James Stevenson's among other Pueblo tribes. Other scientific enterprises with which the Institution is allied are noticed; and the report-volume itself embodies the results of a considerable amount of research in meteorology and allied subjects, astronomy, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, and anthropology, with numerous special papers in the last-mentioned subject.

God and Creation. By Robert Reid Howison. Richmond, Virginia: West, Johnston & Co. Pp. 578.

The author of this work is a Presbyterian clergyman of Richmond, Virginia, who here deals with scientific as well as theological questions, bringing to aid him in his task the results of the thoughts and studies of years. Starting with the principle that belief in Eternal Being is a necessary result of human experience and of all thought on the origin of things, the question arises what is this Eternal Being? To the author it is not solely matter or solely spirit or mind, but and this is what it is the avowed purpose of the book to maintain it "consists in God, the Eternal Spirit, or Mind, immanent in and working upon eternal matter, and bringing out of it, in time, the best results that perfect wisdom, benevolence, and power can produce." This at once brings the doctrines of materialism into the discussion. "But as materialism necessarily denies the existence of a spiritual and personal God, and asserts itself as a rival and conflicting system of faith, of course its advocates can not be overthrown by appeal to the authority of Scripture. . . . If met at all, they must be met on the ground of unrevealed knowledge." A summary of the history of materialism and the materialists, from Democritus down, is given, and the conclusion is expressed that "Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, and Tyndall, have not advanced a step nearer to the construction of the universe without the aid of a spiritual intelligence than Lucretius did in his poem." The attempt is next made to show that the doctrine of creation out of nothing is not found in any of the canonical books of the Bible, nor in any authoritative Christian creed or confession of faith of a date older than A. D. 1500; and the idea of a creation in six days is dismissed as untenable. The atomic theory of the constitution of matter is reviewed, and declared not competent to account for the phenomena, and a counter-hypothesis is advanced, which is called the nomian theory, or the hypothesis of law, the substance of which is that "God is the Eternal Power, Force, and Cause, in the universe." The rest of the book is mainly theological, and the conclusion is reached, agreeably to the philosophies of Kant and Hamilton, that "a science of ontology in its full meaning is impossible to man," or that, though we know that spirit is, and that matter is, we do not know, and probably never will know, what is the essence either of spirit or of matter."

A New School Dictionary of the English Language: On the Basis of the Latest Edition of the Unabridged Dictionary of Joseph E. Worcester, LL. D. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Pp. 390. Price, 90 cents.

The former edition of Worcester's "Elementary Dictionary" was published in 1835, and was revised and enlarged in 1860. So