Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/157

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JUNE, 1886.



UNDER the title of "Evolution and Theology," Dr. Lyman Abbott, in the December number of the "Andover Review," undertakes to indicate certain doctrines to which the philosophy of evolution will have to adapt itself, under penalty of being brought to naught. These doctrines, he seems to consider, lend themselves in an especial manner to vigorous and effective pulpit treatment; and his advice to the clergy is to insist as powerfully as possible upon these, and to "leave severely alone doubtful interpretations of the third chapter of Genesis, and doubtful discussions respecting the origin of the race." In other words, the difficulties raised by science in regard to the Biblical account of creation are to be quietly ignored, while all possible use is to be made for purposes of edification of such doctrines as appeal most powerfully to the religious emotions. One may agree with the writer that it is not well to spend time upon "doubtful interpretations," and yet hold that it would not be useless to inquire whether a narrative accepted by thousands as historically true has any just claim to be so regarded. A certain passage in Homer might be considered by critics as hopelessly "corrupt"; but the fact of our giving up the effort to interpret it would not stand in the way of our forming an opinion as to whether the Homeric tale of Troy was to be accepted as sober history. What simple-minded people want to know, in regard to the early chapters of Genesis, is whether or not they are true, and this issue can not be evaded by any talk about "doubtful interpretations." What is meant, after all, by "doubtful interpretations"? Is it meant that it is impossible to put any certain interpretation upon the chapters in question? That difficulty was not felt in former times, when days counted as days, and the geological record was as yet un-