Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 75.djvu/361

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357
ZOOLOGY AND INTELLECTUAL PROGRESS

makes it one of the greatest acquisitions of human knowledge. There has been no point of intellectual vantage reached which is more inspiring. It is so comprehensive that it enters into all realms of thought. Weismann, as you all know one of its great representatives, expresses the opinion that "the theory of descent is the most progressive step that has been taken in the development of human knowledge "and he says further that this position "is justified, it seems to me, even by this fact alone: that the evolution idea is not merely a new light on the special region of the biological sciences, zoology and botany, but is of quite general importance. The conception of an evolution of life upon the earth reaches far beyond the bounds of any single science, and influences our whole realm of thought."

Its applications are helping man in the knowledge of himself and his destiny. Anything that throws light on man's history and his capabilities affects the question of his duty and his destiny. A prominent theologian (Bishop Creighton, of London) has said: "Religion means the knowledge of our destiny and the means of fulfilling it." I shall not attempt to qualify the statement, as I am not a theologian, but I will point out that progress in zoology has extended the knowledge of the history of man, and has thereby influenced our conception of his relation to the universe. I think these advances are helpful, and are supplying a safer and better basis for our education, our system of morals and our religion. For all these matters of so much importance must be brought into relation with the state of knowledge at different periods of the history of our race. This condition is necessary, it seems to me, to men who think, who read or who investigate.

There is still too often a disposition shown by platform and pulpit speakers to qualify, to antagonize and to belittle scientific advances. But let us open our hearts freely, without fear, to the extensions of truth and let us continue in the belief that the knowledge gained by investigation of nature will be helpful to all departments of human endeavor and aspiration. It is to be expected that the views first of the scholars and then of the great mass of humanity will be modified and will become harmonious with all present and all future advances in knowledge.

The present results of these advances will appeal differently to people according to their temperament and experience, but to many scientific men, like Darwin and Huxley, as well as to those of smaller place, the contemplation of it all is uplifting. We may well be drawn into sympathy with the great nature psalm and feel the beauty and force of those lines of poetry in which all nature is called upon to unite in praise of the Ruling Power that directs the forces of the universe. Inanimate nature, as well as all that is alive:

Mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowls; kings of the earth and all people; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens, old men and children.