Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/595

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

SEPTEMBER, 1886.


 

EX-PRESIDENT PORTER ON EVOLUTION.[1]
By W. D. LE SUEUR, B. A.

THE great intellectual issue of the present day, however some may try to disguise it, is that between dogma on the one hand and the free spirit of scientific inquiry on the other. In using the word dogma, we have no wish to employ the argument ad invidiam—to take advantage, that is to say, of the popular prejudice no doubt attaching to recognized dogmatism. No, we frankly confess at the outset that a man may argue for dogma without betraying any dogmatic spirit; and that there would therefore be no fairness in embracing dogma and dogmatism in a common condemnation. None the less do we maintain that dogma is opposed to the free scientific spirit; and that the world is now being summoned to decide which of the two it will take for its guide. A definition of dogma, as we understand it, is. therefore in order. By dogma we mean a traditional opinion held and defended on account of its assumed practical value, rather than on account of its truth an opinion that is felt to require defending; that, like our "infant industries," needs protection; and round which its supporters rally accordingly. When great and special efforts are being made to place and keep a certain opinion on its legs, so to speak, be sure that it is a dogma that is concerned, and not any product of the free intellectual activity of mankind.

The last writer of eminence who has "come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty," or, in other words, to the help of orthodoxy against evolution, is Dr. Noah Porter, ex-President o Yale. Dr. Porter is a man who has lived for many years in an atmosphere of philosophical discussion, as well as of high literary cultivation; and

  1. Evolution. A Lecture read before the Nineteenth Century Club, May 25, 1886. By Noah Porter, D.D., LL.D., ex-President of Yale College. Herbert L. Bridgman, 55 Park Place, New York. 1886. Pp. 33.