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    Chapter 24
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    Those who have been at the pains to read the foregoing book will, perhaps, pardon me if I put before them a short account of the reception it has met with: I will not waste time by arguing with my critics at any length; it will be enough if I place some of their remarks upon my book under the same cover as the book itself, with here and there a word or two of comment.

    The only reviews which have come under my notice appeared in the 'Academy' and the 'Examiner,' both of May 17, 1879; the 'Edinburgh Daily Review,' May 23, 1879; 'City Press,' May 21, 1879; 'Field,' May 26, 1879; 'Saturday Review,' May 31, 1879; 'Daily Chronicle,' May 31, 1879; 'Graphic' and 'Nature,' both June 12, 1879; 'Pall Mall Gazette,' June 18, 1879; 'Literary World,' June 20, 1879; 'Scotsman,' June 24, 1879; 'British Journal of Homoeopathy' and 'Mind,' both July 1, 1879; 'Journal of Science,' July 18, 1879; 'Westminster Review,' July, 1879; 'Athenæum,' July 26, 1879; 'Daily News,' July 29, 1879; 'Manchester City News,' August 16, 1879; 'Nonconformist,' November 26, 1879; 'Popular Science Review,' Jan. 1, 1880; 'Morning Post,' Jan. 12, 1880.

    Some of the most hostile passages in the reviews above referred to are as follows:--

    "From beginning to end, our eccentric author treats us to a dazzling flood of epigram, invective, and what appears to be argument; and finally leaves us without a single clear idea as to what he has been driving at."

    "Mr. Butler comes forward, as it were, to proclaim himself a professional satirist, and a mystifier who will do his best to leave you utterly in the dark with regard to his system of juggling. Is he a teleological theologian making fun of evolution? Is he an evolutionist making fun of teleology? Is he a man of letters making fun of science? Or is he a master of pure irony making fun of all three, and of his audience as well? For our part we decline to commit ourselves, and prefer to observe, as Mr. Butler observes of Von Hartmann, that if his meaning is anything like what he says it is, we can only say that it has not been given us to form any definite conception whatever as to what that meaning may be."--'Academy,' May 17, 1879, Signed Grant Allen.

    * * * * * * *

    Here is another criticism of "Evolution, Old and New"--also, I believe I am warranted in saying, by Mr. Grant Allen. These two criticisms appeared on the same day; how many more Mr. Allen may have written later on I do not know.

    We find the writer who in the 'Academy' declares that he has been left without "a single clear idea" as to what 'Evolution, Old and New,' has been driving at saying on the same day in the 'Examiner' that 'Evolution, Old and New,' "has a more evident purpose than any of its predecessors." If so, I am afraid the predecessors must have puzzled Mr. Allen very unpleasantly. What the purpose of 'Evolution, Old and New,' is, he proceeds to explain:--

    "As to his (Mr. Butler's) main argument, it comes briefly to this: natural selection does not originate favourable varieties, it only passively permits them to exist; therefore it is the unknown cause which produced the variations, not the natural selection which spared them, that ought to count as the mainspring of evolution. That unknown cause Mr. Butler boldly declares to be the will of the organism itself. An intelligent ascidian wanted a pair of eyes,[376] so set to work and made itself a pair, exactly as a man makes a microscope; a talented fish conceived the idea of walking on dry land, so it developed legs, turned its swim bladder into a pair of lungs, and became an amphibian; an æsthetic guinea-fowl admired bright colours, so it bought a paint-box, studied Mr. Whistler's ornamental designs, and, painting itself a gilded and ocellated tail, was thenceforth a peacock. But how about plants? Mr. Butler does not shirk even this difficulty. The theory must be maintained at all hazards.... This is the sort of mystical nonsense from which we had hoped Mr. Darwin had for ever saved us."--'Examiner,' May 17, 1879.

    * * * * * * *

    In this last article, Mr. Allen has said that I am a man of genius, "with the unmistakable signet-mark upon my forehead." I have been subjected to a good deal of obloquy and misrepresentation at one time or another, but this passage by Mr. Allen is the only one I have seen that has made me seriously uneasy about the prospects of my literary reputation.

    I see Mr. Allen has been lately writing an article in the 'Fortnightly Review' on the decay of criticism. Looking over it somewhat hurriedly, my eye was arrested by the following:--

    "Nowadays any man can write, because there are papers enough to give employment to everybody. No reflection, no deliberation, no care; all is haste, fatal facility, stock phrases, commonplace ideas, and a ready pen that can turn itself to any task with equal ease, because supremely ignorant of all alike."

    "The writer takes to his craft nowadays, not because he has taste for literature, but because he has an incurable faculty for scribbling. He has no culture, and he soon loses the power of taking pains, if he ever possessed it. But he can talk with glib superficiality and imposing confidence about every conceivable subject, from a play or a picture to a sermon or a metaphysical essay. It is the utter indifference to subject-matter, joined with the vulgar unscrupulousness of pretentious ignorance, that strikes the keynote of our existing criticism. Men write without taking the trouble to read or think."[377]

    * * * * * * *

    The 'Saturday Review' attacked 'Evolution, Old and New,' I may almost say savagely. It wrote: "When Mr. Butler's 'Life and Habit' came before us, we doubted whether his ambiguously expressed speculations belonged to the regions of playful but possibly scientific imagination, or of unscientific fancies; and we gave him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, we strained a point or two to find a reasonable meaning for him. He has now settled the question against himself. Not professing to have any particular competence in biology, natural history, or the scientific study of evidence in any shape whatever, and, indeed, rather glorying in his freedom from any such superfluities, he undertakes to assure the overwhelming majority of men of science, and the educated public who have followed their lead, that, while they have done well to be converted to the doctrine of the evolution and transmutation of species, they have been converted on entirely wrong grounds."

    "When a writer who has not given as many weeks to the subject as Mr. Darwin has given years [as a matter of fact, it is now twenty years since I began to publish on the subject of Evolution] is not content to air his own crude, though clever, fallacies, but presumes to criticize Mr. Darwin with the superciliousness of a young schoolmaster looking over a boy's theme, it is difficult not to take him more seriously than he deserves or perhaps desires. One would think that Mr. Butler was the travelled and laborious observer of Nature, and Mr. Darwin the pert speculator, who takes all his facts at secondhand."

    "Let us once more consider how matters stood a year or two before the 'Origin of Species' first appeared. The continuous evolution of animated Nature had in its favour the difficulty of drawing fixed lines between species and even larger divisions, all the indications of comparative anatomy and embryology, and a good deal of general scientific presumption. Several well-known writers, and some eminent enough to command respect, had expressed their belief in it. One or two far-seeing thinkers, among whom the place of honour must be assigned to Mr. Herbert Spencer, had done more. They had used their philosophic insight, which, to science, is the eye of faith, to descry the promised land almost within reach; they knew and announced how rich and spacious the heritage would be, if once the entry could be made good. But on that 'if' everything hung. Nature was not bound to give up her secret, or was bound only in a mocking covenant with an impossible condition: Si cælum digito tetigeris; if only some fortunate hand could touch the inaccessible firmament, and bring down the golden chain to earth! But fruition seemed out of sight. Even those who were most willing to advance in this direction, could only regret that they saw no road clear. There was a tempting vision, but nothing proven--many would have said nothing provable. A few years passed, and all this was changed. The doubtful speculation had become a firm and connected theory. In the room of scattered foragers and scouts, there was an irresistibly advancing column. Nature had surrendered her stronghold, and was disarmed of her secret. And if we ask who were the men by whom this was done, the answer is notorious, and there is but one answer possible: the names that are for ever associated with this great triumph are those of Charles Darwin and Wallace."[378]

    I gave the lady or gentleman who wrote this an opportunity of acknowledging the authorship; but she or he preferred, not I think unnaturally, to remain anonymous.

    The only other criticism of 'Evolution, Old and New,' to which I would call attention, appeared in 'Nature,' in a review of 'Unconscious Memory,' by Mr. Romanes, and contained the following passages:--

    "But to be serious, if in charity we could deem Mr. Butler a lunatic, we should not be unprepared for any aberration of common sense that he might display.... A certain nobody writes a book ['Evolution, Old and New'] accusing the most illustrious man in his generation of burying the claims of certain illustrious predecessors out of the sight of all men. In the hope of gaining some notoriety by deserving, and perhaps receiving a contemptuous refutation from the eminent man in question, he publishes this book which, if it deserved serious consideration, would be not more of an insult to the particular man of science whom it accuses of conscious and wholesale plagiarism [there is no such accusation in 'Evolution, Old and New'] than it would be to men of science in general for requiring such elementary instruction on some of the most famous literature in science from an upstart ignoramus, who, until two or three years ago, considered himself a painter by profession."--'Nature,' Jan. 27, 1881.

    * * * * * * *

    In a subsequent letter to 'Nature,' Mr. Romanes said he had been "acting the part of policeman" by writing as he had done. Any unscrupulous reviewer may call himself a policeman if he likes, but he must not expect those whom he assails to recognize his pretensions. 'Evolution, Old and New,' was not written for the kind of people whom Mr. Romanes calls men of science; if "men of science" means men like Mr. Romanes, I trust they say well who maintain that I am not a man of science; I believe the men to whom Mr. Romanes refers to be men, not of that kind of science which desires to know, but of that kind whose aim is to thrust itself upon the public as actually knowing. 'Evolution, Old and New,' could be of no use to these; certainly, it was not intended as an insult to them, but if they are insulted by it, I do not know that I am sorry, for I value their antipathy and opposition as much as I should dislike their approbation: of one thing, however, I am certain--namely, that before 'Evolution, Old and New,' was written, Professors Huxley and Tyndall, for example, knew very little of the earlier history of Evolution. Professor Huxley, in his article on Evolution in the ninth edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica,' published in 1878, says of the two great pioneers of Evolution, that Buffon "contributed nothing to the general doctrine of Evolution,"[379] and that Erasmus Darwin "can hardly be said to have made any real advance on his predecessors."[380]

    Professor Haeckel evidently knew little of Erasmus Darwin, and still less, apparently, about Buffon.[381] Professor Tyndall,[382] in 1878, spoke of Evolution as "Darwin's theory"; and I have just read Mr. Grant Allen as saying that Evolutionism "is an almost exclusively English impulse."[383]

    Since 'Evolution, Old and New,' was published, I have observed several of the so-called men of science--among them Professor Huxley and Mr. Romanes--airing Buffon; but I never observed any of them do this till within the last three years. I maintain that "men of science" were, and still are, very ignorant concerning the history of Evolution; but, whether they were or were not, I did not write 'Evolution, Old and New,' for them; I wrote for the general public, who have been kind enough to testify their appreciation of it in a sufficiently practical manner.

    The way in which Mr. Charles Darwin met 'Evolution, Old and New,' has been so fully dealt with in my book, 'Unconscious Memory;' in the 'Athenæum,' Jan. 31, 1880; the 'St. James's Gazette,' Dec. 8, 1880; and 'Nature,' Feb. 3, 1881, that I need not return to it here, more especially as Mr. Darwin has, by his silence, admitted that he has no defence to make.

    I have quoted by no means the moat exceptionable parts of Mr. Romanes' article, and have given them a permanence they would not otherwise attain, inasmuch as nothing can better show the temper of the kind of men who are now--as I said in the body of the foregoing work--clamouring for endowment, and who would step into the Pope's shoes to-morrow if we would only let them.


    [376] See p. 44, and the whole of chap. v., where I say of this supposition, that "nothing could be conceived more foreign to experience and common sense."

    [377] 'Fortnightly Review,' March 1, 1882, pp. 344, 345.

    [378] 'Saturday Review,' May 31, 1879, pp. 682-3.

    [379] P. 748.

    [380] Ibid.

    [381] See pp. 71-73.

    [382] 'Nineteenth Century' for November, pp. 360, 361.

    [383] 'Fortnightly Review,' March, 1882.



    Evolution would after all be a poor doctrine if it did not affect human affairs at every touch and turn. I propose to devote the second chapter of this Appendix to the consideration of an aspect of Evolution which will always interest a very large number of people--the development of the relation that may exist between religion and science.

    If the Church of Rome would only develop some doctrine or, I know not how, provide some means by which men like myself, who cannot pretend to believe in the miraculous element of Christianity, could yet join her as a conservative stronghold, I, for one, should gladly do so. I believe the difference between her faith and that of all who can be called gentlemen to be one of words rather than things. Our practical working ideal is much the same as hers; when we use the word "gentleman" we mean the same thing that the Church of Rome does; so that, if we get down below the words that formulate her teaching, there are few points upon which we should not agree. But, alas! words are often so very important.

    How is it possible for myself, for example, to give people to understand that I believe in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception or in the Lourdes miracles? If the Pope could spare time to think about so insignificant a person, would he wish me to pretend such beliefs or think better of me if I did pretend them? I should be sorry to see him turn suddenly round and deny his own faith, and I am persuaded that, in like manner, he would have me continue to hold my own in peace; nevertheless, the duty of subordinating private judgment to the avoidance of schism is so obvious that, if we could see a practicable way of bridging the gulf between ourselves and Rome, we should be heartily glad to bridge it.

    I speak as though the Church of Rome was the only one we can look to. I do not see how it is easy to dispute this. Protestantism has been tried and failed; it has long ceased to grow, but it has by no means ceased to disintegrate. Note the manner in which it is torn asunder by dissensions, and the rancour which these dissensions engender--a rancour which finds its way into the political and social life of Europe, with incalculable damage to the health and well-being of the world. Who can doubt but that there will be a split even in the Church of England ere so many years are over? Protestantism is like one of those drops of glass which tend to split up into minuter and minuter fragments the moment the bond that united them has been removed. It is as though the force of gravity had lost its hold, and a universal power of repulsion taken the place of attraction. This may, perhaps, come about some day in the material as well as in the spiritual and political world, but the spirit of the age is as yet one of aggregation; the spirit of Protestantism is one of disintegration. I maintain, therefore, that it is not likely to be permanent.

    All the great powers of Europe have from numberless distinct tribes become first a few kingdoms or dukedoms, then two or three nations, and now homogeneous wholes, so that there is no chance of their further dismemberment through internal discontent; a process which has been going on for so many hundreds of years all over Europe is not likely to be arrested without ample warning. True, during the Roman Empire the world was practically bonded together, yet broke in pieces again; but this, I imagine, was because the bonding was prophetic and superficial rather than genuine. Nature very commonly makes one or two false starts, and misses her aim a time or two before she hits it. She nearly hit it in the time of Alexander the Great, but this was a short-lived success; in the case of the Roman Empire she succeeded better and for longer together. Where Nature has once or twice hit her mark as near as this she will commonly hit it outright eventually; the disruption of the Roman Empire, therefore, does not militate against the supposition that the normal condition of right-minded people is one which tends towards aggregation, or, in other words, towards compromise and the merging of much of one's own individuality for the sake of union and concerted action.

    See, again, how Rome herself, within the limits of Italy, was an aggregation, an aggregation which has now within these last few years come together again after centuries of disruption; all middle-aged men have seen many small countries come together in their own lifetime, while in America a gigantic attempt at disruption has completely failed. Success will, of course, sometimes attend disruption, but on the whole the balance inclines strongly in favour of aggregation and homogeneity; analogy points in the direction of supposing that the great civilized nations of Europe, as they are the coalition of subordinate provinces, so must coalesce themselves also to form a larger, but single empire. Wars will then cease, and surely anything that seems likely to tend towards so desirable an end deserves respectful consideration.

    The Church of Rome is essentially a unifier. It is a great thing that nations should have so much in common as the acknowledgment of the same tribunal for the settlement of spiritual and religious questions, and there is no head under which Christendom can unite with as little disturbance as under Rome. Nothing more tends to keep men apart than religious differences; this certainly ought not to be the case, but it no less certainly is, and therefore we should strain many points and subordinate our private judgment to a very considerable extent if called upon to do so. A man, under these circumstances, is right in saying he believes in much that he does not believe in. Nevertheless there are limits to this, and the Church of Rome requires more of us at present than we can by any means bring ourselves into assenting to.

    It may be asked, Why have a Church at all? Why not unite in community of negation rather than of assertion? When I wrote 'Evolution, Old and New,' three years ago, I thought, as now, that the only possible Church must be a development of the Church of Rome; and seeing no chance of agreement between avowed free-thinkers, like myself, and Rome (for I believed Rome immovable), I leaned towards absolute negation as the best chance for unity among civilized nations; but even then, I expressed myself as "having a strong feeling as though Professor Mivart's conclusion is true, that 'the material universe is always and everywhere sustained and directed by an infinite cause, for which to us the word mind is the least inadequate and misleading symbol.'"[384]

    I had hardly finished 'Evolution, Old and New,' before I began to deal with this question according to my lights, in a series of articles upon God[385] which appeared in the 'Examiner' during the summer of 1879, and I returned to the same matter more than once in 'Unconscious Memory,' my next succeeding work. The articles I intend recasting and rewriting, as they go upon a false assumption; but subsequent reflection has only confirmed me in the general result I arrived at--namely, the omnipresence of mind in the universe.

    I have therefore come to see that we can go farther than negation, and in this case--a positive expression of faith as regards an invisible universe of some sort being possible--a Church of some sort is also possible, which shall formulate and express the general convictions as regards man's position in respect of this faith. I think the instinct which has led so many countries towards a double legislative chamber, and ourselves, till at any rate quite recently, to a double system of jurisprudence, law and equity, was not arrived at without having passed through the stages of reason and reflection. There are a variety of delicate, almost intangible, questions which belong rather to conscience than to law, and for which a Church is a fitter tribunal--at any rate for many ages hence--than a parliament or law court. There is room, therefore, for both a State and a Church, each of which should be influenced by the action of the other.

    I do not say that I personally should like to see the Church of Rome as at present constituted in the position which I should be glad to see attained by an ideal Church. If it were in that position I would attack it to the utmost of my power; but I have little hesitation in thinking that the world with a very possible feasible Church, would be better than the world with no Church at all; and, if so, I have still less hesitation in concluding, for the reasons already given, that it is to Rome we must turn as the source from which the Church of the future is to be evolved, if it is to come at all.

    For the new, if it is to strike deep root and be permanent, must grow out of the old, without too violent a transition. Some violence there will always be, even in the kindliest birth; but the less the better, and a leap greater than the one from Judaism to Christianity is not desirable, even if it were possible. As a free-thinker, therefore, but also as one who wishes to take a practical view of the manner in which things will, and ought to go, I neither expect to see the religions of the world come once for all to an end with the belief in Christianity--which to me is tantamount to saying with Rome--nor am I at all sure that such a consummation is more desirable than likely to come about. The ultimate fight will, I believe, be between Rome and Pantheism; and the sooner the two contending parties can be ranged into their opposite camps by the extinction of all intermediate creeds, the sooner will an issue of some sort be arrived at. This will not happen in our time, but we should work towards it.

    When it arrives, what is to happen? Is Pantheism to absorb Rome, and, if so, what sort of a religious formula is to be the result? or is Rome so to modify her dogmas that the Pantheist can join her without doing too much violence to his convictions? We who are outside the Church's pale are in the habit of thinking that she will make little if any advances in our direction. The dream of a Pantheistic Rome seems so wild as hardly to be entertained seriously; nevertheless I am much mistaken if I do not detect at least one sign as though more were within the bounds of possibility than even the most sanguine of us could have hoped for a few years back. We do not expect the Church to go our whole length; it is the business of some to act as pioneers, but this is the last function a Church should assume. A Church should be as the fly-wheel of a steam-engine, which conserves, regulates and distributes energy, but does not originate it. In all cases it is more moral and safer to be a little behind the age than a little in front of it; a Church, therefore, ought to cling to an old-established belief, even though her leaders know it to be unfounded, so long as any considerable number of her members would be shocked at its abandonment. The question is whether there are any signs as though the Church of Rome thought the time had come when she might properly move a step forward, and I rejoice to think, as I have said above, that at any rate one such sign--and a very important one--has come under my notice.

    In his Encyclical of August 4, 1879, the Pope desires the Bishops and Clergy to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas, and to spread it far and wide. "Vos omnes," he writes, "Venerabiles Fratres, quam enixe hortamur ut ad Catholicæ fidei tutelam et decus, ad societatis bonum, ad scientiarum omnium incrementum auream Sancti Thomæ sapientiam restituatis, et quam latissime propagetis." He proceeds then with the following remarkable passage: "We say the wisdom of St. Thomas. For whatever has been worked out with too much subtleness by the doctors of the schools, or handed down inconsiderately, whatever is not consistent with the teachings of a later age, or finally, is in any way NOT PROBABLE, We in no wise intend to propose for acceptance in these days."[386]

    It would be almost possible to suppose that these words had been written inadvertently, so the Pope practically repeats them thus: "We willingly and gratefully declare that whatsoever can be excepted with advantage, is to be excepted, no matter by whom it has been invented."[387]

    The passage just quoted is so pregnant that a few words of comment may be very well excused. In the first place, I cannot but admire the latitude which the Pope not only tolerates, but enjoins: he defines nothing, but declares point blank that if we find anything in St. Thomas Aquinas "not consistent with the assured teachings of a later age, or finally IN ANY WAY NOT PROBABLE"--(what is not involved here?)--we are "in no wise to suppose" that it is being proposed for our acceptance. But it is a small step from allowing latitude in accepting or rejecting the parts of St. Thomas Aquinas which conflict with the assured result of later discoveries to allowing a similar latitude in respect, we will say, of St. Jude; and if of St. Jude, then of St. James the Less; and if of St. James the Less, then surely ere very long of St. James the Greater and St. John and St. Paul; nor will the matter stop there. How marvellously closely are the two extremes of doctrine approaching to one another! We, on the one hand, who begin with tabulæ rasæ having made a clean sweep of every shred of doctrine, lay hold of the first thing we can grasp with any firmness, and work back from it. We grope our way to evolution; through this to purposive evolution; through this to the omnipresence of mind and design throughout the universe; what is this but God? So that we can say with absolute freedom from équivoque that we are what we are through the will of God. The theologian, on the other hand, starts with God, and finds himself driven through this to evolution, as surely as we found ourselves driven through evolution to the omnipresence of God.

    Let us look a little more closely at the ground which the Church of Rome and the Evolutionist hold in common. St. Paul speaks of there being "one body and one spirit," and of one God as being "above all, and through all, and in you all."[388] Again, he tells us that we are members of God's body, "of his flesh and of his bones;"[389] in another place he writes that God has reconciled us to himself, "in the body of his flesh,"[390] and in yet another of the Spirit of God "dwelling in us."[391] St. Paul indeed is continually using language which implies the closest physical as well as spiritual union between God and those at any rate of mankind who were Christians. Then he speaks of our "being builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit,"[392] and of our being "filled with the fulness of God."[393] He calls Christian men's bodies "temples of the Holy Spirit,"[394] in fact it is not too much to say that he regarded Christian men's limbs as the actual living organs of God himself, for the expressions quoted above--and many others could be given--come to no less than this. It follows that since any man could unite himself to "the flesh and bones" of God by becoming a Christian, Paul had a perception of the unity at any rate of human life; and what Paul admitted I am persuaded the Church of Rome will not deny.

    Granted that Paul's notion of the unity of all mankind in one spirit animating, or potentially animating the whole was mystical, I submit that the main difference between him and the Evolutionist is that the first uses certain expressions more or less prophetically, and without perhaps a full perception of their import; while the second uses the same expressions literally, and with the ordinary signification attached to the words that compose them. It is not so much that we do not hold what Paul held, but that we hold it with the greater definiteness and comprehension which modern discovery has rendered possible. We not only accept his words, but we extend them, and not only accept them as articles of faith to be taken on the word of others, but as so profoundly entering into our views of the world around us that that world loses the greater part of its significance if we may not take such sayings as that "we are God's flesh and his bones" as meaning neither more nor less than what appears upon the face of them. We believe that what we call our life is part of the universal life of the Deity--which is literally and truly made manifest to us in flesh that can be seen and handled--ever changing, but the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.

    So much for the closeness with which we have come together on matters of fact, and now for the rapprochement between us in respect of how much conformity is required for the sake of avoiding schism. We find ourselves driven through considerations of great obviousness and simplicity to the conclusion that a man both may and should keep no small part of his opinions to himself, if they are too widely different from those of other people for the sake of union and the strength gained by concerted action; and we also find the Pope declaring of one of the brightest saints and luminaries of the Church that we need not follow him when it is plainly impossible for us to do so. Is it so very much to hope that ere many years are over the approximation will become closer still?

    I have sometimes imagined that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility may be the beginning of a way out of the difficulty, and that its promoters were so eager for it, rather for the facilities it afforded for the repealing of old dogmas than for the imposition of new ones. The Pope cannot, even now, under any circumstances, declare a dogma of the Church to be obsolete or untrue, but I should imagine he can, in council, ex cathedra, modify the interpretation to be put upon any dogma, if he should find the interpretation commonly received to be prejudicial to the good of the Church: and if so, the manner in which Rome can put herself more in harmony with the spirit of recent discoveries, without putting herself in an illogical position, is not likely to escape eyes so keen as those of the Catholic hierarchy. No sensible man will hesitate to admit that many an interpretation which was natural to and suitable for one age is unnatural to and unsuitable for another; as circumstances are always changing, so men's moods and the meanings they attach to words, and the state of their knowledge changes; and hence, also, the interpretation of the dogmas in which their conclusions are summarized. There is nothing to be ashamed of or that needs explaining away in this; nothing can remain changeless under changed conditions; and that institution is most likely to be permanent which contains provision for such changes as time may prove to be expedient, with the least disturbance. I can see nothing, therefore, illogical or that needs concealment in the fact of an infallible Pope putting a widely different interpretation upon a dogma now, to what a no less infallible Pope put upon the same dogma fifteen hundred, or even fifteen years ago; it is only right, reasonable, and natural that this should be so. The Church of England may have made no provision for the virtual pruning off of dogmas that have become rudimentary, but the Encyclical from which I have just quoted leads me to think that the Church of Rome has found one, and, in her own cautious way, is proceeding to make use of it. If so, she may possibly in the end get rid of Protestantism by putting herself more in harmony with the spirit of the age than Protestantism can do. In this case, the spiritual reunion of Christendom under Rome ceases to be impossible, or even, I should think improbable. I heartily wish that my conjecture concerning future possibilities is not unfounded.

    Scientists have been right in preaching evolution, but they have preached it in such a way as to make it almost as much of a stumbling-block as of an assistance. For though the fact that animals and plants are descended from a common stock is accepted by the greater and more reasonable part of mankind, these same people feel that the evidence in favour of design in the universe is no less strong than that in favour of evolution, and our scientists, for the most part, uphold a theory of evolution of which the cardinal doctrine is that design and evolution have nothing to do with one another; the jar they raise, therefore, is as bad as the jar they have allayed.

    It has been the object of the foregoing work to show that those who take this line are wrong, and that evolution not only tolerates design, but cannot get on without it. The unscrupulousness with which I have been attacked, together with the support given me by the general public, are sufficient proofs that I have not written in vain.


    [384] P. 371.

    [385] Published as "God the Known and God the Unknown" in 1909. (Fifield.)

    [386] "Sapientiam Sancti Thomæ dicimus: si quid enim est a doctoribus scholasticis vel nimia subtilitate quæsitum, vel parum considerate traditum, si quid cum exploratis posterioris ævi doctrinis minus cohærens, vel denique quoque modo non probabile, id nullo pacto in animo est ætate nostra ad imitandum proponi."

    [387] "Edicimus libenti gratoque animo excipiendum esse quidquid utiliter fuerit a quopiam inventum atque excogitatum."

    [388] Eph. iv. 3, 4, 5.

    [389] Eph. v. 30.

    [390] Col. i. 22.

    [391] Rom. viii. 2.

    [392] Eph. ii. 22.

    [393] Eph. iii. 19.

    [394] 1 Cor. vii. 19.

    THE END.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
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