THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
|EVOLUTION AS TAUGHT IN A THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.|
By ROLLO OGDEN.
AT the time of the last hearing of the case of Prof. Woodrow before the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church, at Baltimore, many of the Johns Hopkins students embraced the opportunity of a lifetime to listen to the expositions of the doctrine of evolution made by so many of the divines of that gathering. It is said that inextinguishable laughter was excited among these young men by their learning how greatly their incompetent professors had misled them as to what evolution really was and meant. It is not often that a theologian can stop to afford such enlightenment to the inquirer in science; and, when he does, it is an obvious duty for one finding such priceless light hidden under a bushel to discover it to the world.
The bushel, in the case in hand, is the two volumes of "Dogmatic Theology," recently published by Prof. Shedd, of Union Theological Seminary, embodying the lectures which he gives in that institution; and the little candle which would surely cast its beams far in this naughty world if really given a chance to shine, is the exposition and annihilation of the doctrine of evolution as given in the chapter on "Creation," vol. i, pp. 499-515. The professor opens the discussion by admitting that there is a "true evolution." This whets curiosity, until it is explained to be the individual development of an organism from its embryo. This being the only "true" evolution, all other kinds are, of course, false, and accordingly are labeled forthwith "pseudo-evolution," under the burden of which eminently calm and philosophical epithet they have to stagger all through the subsequent pages. A better name, however, could not be devised to fit that caricature of the theory which Dr. Shedd sets himself to explain before refuting. It is probably unwitting caricature; the professor is an unconscious humorist. It is, at any rate, charitable to suppose that he jumbles up several different theories into one through ignorance. It would be hard to excuse, on any other ground, his identifying the views of Darwin with those of Spencer and Haeckel. Chauncey Wright long ago pointed out the great differences between these writers. Whatever may be thought of the general theorizings of the last two, it is clear that their method is not the patiently inductive one of Darwin. They are wide-ranging philosophers and rigid systematizers. Darwin was the most matter-of-fact and plodding naturalist, who dreaded of all things getting his feet off the earth. He felt himself lost once out of