Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/868

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and eternal matter an adequate explanation of all the problems of the existing universe." The man who finds in any scientific conception or hypothesis an adequate explanation of all the phenomena of the universe must be a somewhat fatuous being. Certainly this is net the usual attitude of the scientific mind. Mr. Spencer in particular, referred to by our contributor as "the great coryphæus of agnosticism," takes much pains to show that no adequate explanation of the phenomena of the universe is obtainable. What he has labored to do, for his own part, is to formulate the most general laws of world action which it is in his power to discover, and to show how more special methods of action are deducible therefrom. At the very basis of his system lies an unknowable power which does not admit of formulation. If we take the late Professor Huxley as one of the representative minds of the modern scientific world, we shall certainly not find him talking of having discovered an adequate explanation of all existing phenomena. It is one thing to decline the ready-made explanations of others, and quite another to claim to be in possession of a satisfactory explanation of your own. The mission of the man of science is not to explain the world in its totality, but to give those partial explanations of phenomena and their sequence which are needed to safeguard human life and fructify human effort. The man of science watches over the integrity of his own intellect, and refuses to allow it to be entangled in any yoke of bondage, knowing that he holds his faculty for truth in trust for the world. When he is asked to acknowledge "design" in this or that organism, he says: "I recognize the relations which this thing sustains to its environing conditions, and I have some limited knowledge of its previous course of development; but I do not know that it has become what it is through the application to it, or to the conditions under which it was produced, of any stress or influence proceeding from a conscious will such as alone furnishes to my mind the type of purposive action. A conscious will may well underlie this universal frame of things, but I can not, upon grounds of scientific observation, profess to be able to discern the presence or absence of its action at any particular point." This we conceive to be in substance the answer of Science to the question at issue; and it is one with which Theology would do well to be content, for Science will never knowingly make an affirmation which there are not facts to sustain.

Scientific Literature.


In no way can one appreciate more clearly the remarkable advance in ethnographic studies than by comparing the great work of Professor Ratzel[1] on The History of Mankind with the early works of Pritchard and Wood. The illustrated work of the Rev. J. G. Wood on the Natural History of Man represented the state of our knowledge on the subject at the time it was compiled, in a popular way to be sure, but nevertheless the

  1. The History of Mankind. By Prof. Friedrich Ratzel. Translated by A. J. Butler, M. A. New York: The Macmillan Company. 1897. Two volumes, pp. 483 and pp. 502. Price, $8.