Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/806

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be by scientific not theological hands. It holds its ground now, because it is a help to thought and investigation; if it should ever become so beset with difficulties as to be no longer serviceable, it will be withdrawn from use, as many a theory has been before it, and as many a one will be in the days to come. Among contemporary men of science there is probably none who believes more strongly in the doctrine in question than the editor of "The Popular Science Monthly"; yet in a recent number of his magazine he has marked his attitude toward it in a manner which for our present purpose is very instructive. "It is undeniable," he writes, "that the difficulties in the way of the doctrine of evolution are many and formidable, and it will no doubt take a long time to clear them up; while the solution of still unresolved problems will very possibly result in important modifications of the theory as now entertained. But the establishment of the doctrine of evolution, as a comprehensive law of nature, is no longer dependent upon its freedom from embarrassments, or that absoluteness of proof which will only become possible with the future extension of knowledge. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, the evidence for it is so varied, so consistent, and so irresistible, as to compel its broad acceptance by men of science, who, while disagreeing upon many of its questions, find it indispensable as a guide to the most multifarious investigations."

We now come to the further question of the validity of the criticisms directed in the pamphlet before us against the doctrine of evolution, in discussing which the competency of the critic for his self-imposed task will necessarily come more or less under consideration. Let us first notice the quotations which his lordship brings forward, remembering that the doctrine of evolution in its present shape may be said to be the work of the last twenty years. Well, his lordship quotes three leading scientific authors—Owen, Agassiz, and Lyell; but it is noticeable that in no case does he give the date of his quotation, and in the case of the first two does not even mention the work in which the passage he refers to is to be found. The quotations are intended to show that these eminent authors rejected the doctrine of the "origin of species by natural selection." As regards Agassiz, who died ten years ago, every one knows that this was the case; and most are also aware that the great Swiss naturalist left behind him a son, a naturalist almost equally great, who supports the Darwinian theory as strongly as his father opposed it. Owen, though not a Darwinian in the full sense, held views which were clearly in the direction of natural selection. It is, however, when we come to Lyell that we have cause for astonishment. Here we have the most eminent of English geologists, whose adhesion to the Darwinian theory, announced for the first time in 1863—the date of the publication of the first edition of his "Antiquity of Man"—created such a sensation in the scientific world, quoted, at this time of day, as an anti-Darwinian! What are we to