Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/158

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ment. We have on the one hand strong grounds for concluding that the earth was once a molten mass. We now find it not only swathed by an atmosphere, and covered by a sea, but also crowded with living things. The question is, How were they introduced? Certainty may be as unattainable here as Bishop Butler held it to be in matters of religion; but in the contemplation of probabilities the thoughtful mind is forced to take a side. The conclusion of Science, which recognizes unbroken causal connection between the past and the present, would undoubtedly be that the molten earth contained within it elements of life, which grouped themselves into their present forms as the planet cooled. The difficulty and reluctance encountered by this conception arise solely from the fact that the theologic conception obtained a prior footing in the human mind. Did the latter depend upon reasoning alone, it could not hold its ground for an hour against its rival. But it is warmed into life and strength by the emotions—by associated hopes, fears, and expectations—and not only by these, which are more or less mean, but by that loftiness of thought and feeling which lifts its possessor above the atmosphere of self, and which the theologic idea, in its nobler forms, has through ages engendered in noble minds.

Were not man's origin implicated, we should accept without a murmur the derivation of animal and vegetable life from what we call inorganic nature. The conclusion of pure intellect points this way and no other. But this purity is troubled by our interests in this life, and by our hopes and fears regarding the life to come. Reason is traversed by the emotions, anger rising in the weaker heads to the height of suggesting that the compendious shooting of the inquirer would be an act agreeable to God and serviceable to man. But this foolishness is more than neutralized by the sympathy of the wise; and in England at least, so long as the courtesy which befits an earnest theme is adhered to, such sympathy is ever ready for an honest man. None of us here need shrink from saying all that he has a right to say. We ought, however, to remember that it is not only a band of Jesuits, weaving their schemes of intellectual slavery, under the innocent guise of "education," that we are opposing. Our foes are to some extent they of our own household, including not only the ignorant and the passionate, but a minority of minds of high calibre and culture, lovers of freedom, moreover, who, though its objective pull be riddled by logic, still find the ethic life of their religion unimpaired. But while such considerations ought to influence the form of our argument, and prevent it from ever slipping out of the region of courtesy into that of scorn or abuse, its substance, I think, ought to be maintained and presented in unmitigated strength.

In the year 1855 the chair of Philosophy in the University of Munich happened to be filled by a Catholic priest of great critical penetration, great learning, and great courage, who bore the brunt of