Francis J. (Francis Joseph) Hall.

Evolution and the fall online

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Hall, Francis J. 1857-1932.
Evolution and the fall




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Introduction to Dogmatic Theology: crown

Authority, Ecclesiastical and Biblical: crown

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The Kenotic Theory: Considered with particular
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In the summer of the year 1880, George A. Jarvis,
of Brooklyn, New York, moved by his sense of the
great good which might thereby accrue to the cause
of Christ, and to the Church of which he was an ever-
grateful member, gave to the General Theological
Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church certain
securities, exceeding in value eleven thousand dollars,
for the foundation and maintenance of a lectureship
in said seminary.

Out of love to a former pastor and enduring friend,
the Right Reverend Benjamin Henry Paddock, D.D.,
Bishop of Massachusetts, he named the foundation
''The Bishop Paddock Lectureship."

The deed of trust declares that —

" The subjects of the lectures shall be such as appertain to
the defence of the religion of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the
Holy Bible, and illustrated in the Book of Common Prayer j
against the varying errors of the day, whether materialistic,
rationalistic, or professedly religious, and also to its defence
and confirmation in respect of such central truths as the
Trinity, the Atonement, Justification, and the Inspiration of
the Word of God ; and of such central facts as the Church's
Divine Order and Sacraments, her historical Reformation, and
her rights and powers as a pure and national Church. And
other subjects may be chosen if unanimously approved by the
Board of Appointment as being both timely and also within
the true intent of this Lectureship."



Under the appointment of the Board created by the
Trust, the Reverend Francis J. Hall, D.D., Professor
of Dogmatic Theology in the Western Theological
Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, delivered the lectures
for the year 1 909-1 910, contained in this volume.


In common with a large and increasing number of
theological writers who firmly maintain the cathoHc
faith, the author of these lectures beHeves that, at the
present stage of advance in natural science, the evo-
lutionary theory affords the best available working
hypothesis of the origin of species; and that this
hypothesis is apphcable to the human species in its
physical aspects. Whether the evolutionary theory can
sustain the test of further scientific investigation and
of wider induction — that is, whether it constitutes
the final word of science, the lecturer does not pretend
to judge. But in the present state of knowledge, it
seems presumptuous and futile for one who is not an
expert in natural science to join issue with scientists
on the subject.

What we are saying has exclusive reference to the
general scientific doctrine that the origin of existing
species is to be described on its physical side by natural
variations in primitive forms of organic life, by inheri-
tance of such variations, and by the persistence of those
forms that are best fitted to survive in the struggle for
existence. We do not acknowledge that the more
specific explanations of evolution, and of its factors,
whether Darwinian or other, have attained to the same
scientific rank. No one of them can claim general



acceptance among competent investigators. Nor do
we acknowledge that the naturalistic philosophy, which
is often associated w^ith the evolutionary hypothesis,
and which determines the theological implications
which many detect in the evolutionary theory, has any
scientific validity. It is purely speculative and to be

The impression prevails among many natural scien-
tists and theological writers that belief in the natural
evolution of man's physical organism is fatal to a con-
tinued maintenance of the ancient Christian doctrine
of the origin of sin. An attempt has been made in
these lectures to show that this impression is erroneous
— at least so far as the catholic doctrine is concerned.
To show this it has been necessary to distinguish
between truly ecumenical doctrine and certain specu-
lative accretions that are often confused therewith —
especially those discoverable in Augustinian and Cal-
vinistic literature.

The lecturer has endeavoured to avoid unnecessary
polemical references to the arguments of individual
theological writers; but he has felt constrained to notice
some of the more important arguments of Dr. F. R.
Tennant, contained in his Origin of Sin, and in his
Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin.
These works contain the most important argument on
the theological side for the position which is here re-
jected — that the evolutionary origin of man requires
an abandonment of the ancient doctrines of man's
primitive state and of original sin. It has seemed


necessary, therefore, to refer to some of that writer's
arguments, and to give reasons for regarding them as
inconclusive. No attempt is made, however, to give
a formal or exhaustive criticism of the two works to
which we refer. Dissenting as we do from the position
therein maintained, and rejecting the sufficiency of the
arguments by which it is supported, we gladly acknowl-
edge that Dr. Tennant has presented valuable data,
and has thrown needed light upon certain aspects of
the problem of sin.

Owing to the brevity with which he has been com-
pelled to treat of certain points, and to the fact that
his method of treatment is in some respects peculiar,
the writer has ventured to give a number of references
to his own previous works, in which these matters are
more fully discussed.

Some repetitions will be found in these pages. They
are to be explained by the fact that the form and
sequence of argument were controlled by the exigen-
cies of prospective oral delivery.





Difficulties of faith, now wide-spread, are inevitable ... i
The subject and plan of these lectures 6

I. Causes of Modern Difficulties

(a) Enlargement of knowledge 8

(b) Development of criticism and of the critical temper . . 9

(c) Doctrinal conflicts between "the Churches" .... 10
To surrender particular doctrines, really catholic, in order to

save the rest, is unnecessary, futile, and perilous ... 10

II. Forms of Attack

(a) Rationalism in biblical criticism 12

(6) Pantheism 16

The supernatural 19

(c) Naturalism 21

Agnosticism connected therewith 22

III. The Function, Methods, and Limitations of Sciences

The nature and range of sciences 26

Intersecting specialties of particular sciences, and the necessity

of co-ordinating their conclusions 28

Sciences are progressive, their hypotheses provisional ... 32

The proper attitude of theologians towards physical hypotheses 34



Resume and introduction 37



I. General Definition


A theory of natural descent of existing species from earlier forms

of organic life 38

To be distinguished from monistic theories, especially of the

materialistic type 40

II. Early Views

Previous to the time of Lamarck 45

Lamarck's theory 47

Darwin's success made possible by Lyell, Malthus, and others 50

III. Darwin's Theory

Its revolutionary effect 52

Its reception 54

Its nature and basis 55

IV. Subsequent Discussions and Views

Objections advanced against Darwin's theory by evolutionists 60
Weismann's argument against the transmission of acquired

characters 65

His germ-plasm theory 67

Mendel's law 68

The mutations theory 69

Minor theories and outlook 72



What evidence ought to be required 75

I. Summary of Evidence

Its general nature 76

1. Variation and heredity 77

2. Homologous structures 78

3. Gradation of organisms 79

4. Embryology 80



5. Rudimentary organs 80

6. Paleontology 81

7. Geographical distribution 83

These evidences indirect. Much direct evidence not to be

hoped for 84

8. Artificial selection 85

9. Natural mutations 87

The evidence as a whole very convincing 88

II. Limitations

The physical cannot of itself explain the superphysical . . 89
Nor can purely physical evolution account for life, reason, and

moral sense. Involution necessary 90

Acknowledged unknown factors of directive nature are best

explained by theistic teleology 93

III. The Evolution of Man

The position here taken. The state of opinion 95

The general basis of argument 97

The principle of continuity thought to be involved .... 99

1. Certain human faculties useless for natural selection . . 100

2. Excessive variations between human individuals . . . 100
Wallace's three stages of evolution loi

3. The differences between human and brute intelligence . 102

4. No intelligence describable in physical terms .... 103

5. The body, apart from mind, a closed circle of energy . . 105

6. Disparity between physical and mental variations in the

evolution of man 106

Conclusion 107



Resume of conclusions 109

Dogmas and speculative opinions no


I. Implications at Large


(a) Christian theism 112

(6) Creation 116

(c) Biblical infallibility 119

II. The Doctrine of Man's Primitive State

The rule of faith involved 123

What is distinctive in the Christian doctrine of sin . . . . 126

The catholic doctrine of the primitive state defined. . . . 127

Speculative accretions 130

Biblical induction 132

III. The Doctrine of the Fall

The catholic doctrine defined 133

Speculative accretions 138

Biblical induction 139

Augustinianism 146

General view of the ancients 147


man's primitive state

Truth and counter-truth 150

Propositions to be reconciled and the premise adopted. . . 155

I. Conclusions of Evolutionary Science

1. Primitive man, physically speaking, a product of natural

evolution 157

2. Such evolution accounts for his existing propensities, so far

as their natural causation is concerned 157

3. His moral depravity is proportionate in its degree to his an-

tiquity 158

4. Natural investigation affords no evidence that the continuity

of animal development has been interrupted in man's case 160
The effect of these conclusions upon men's attitude towards our

doctrine 160


II. The Principle of Contimdty

That all events are connected in causal and rational sequence

is postulated by both natural and theological science . 162
In practical application, unless the divine plan and its super-
natural factors are reckoned with, gaps appear . . . 164
The issue lies between the naturalistic and the theistic views of

world-history 166

III. Application to Man's Primitive State

The supernatural defined. How it is involved 167

The difficulty of belief therein is not scientific but philosoph-
ical 168

Divine righteousness involved in the belief that man's primitive

state was partly supernatural 170

A denial of an original righteousness, made possible by grace,
makes evolution miss the mark at its highest stage, and
involves a breach of continuity 175

A similar argument with reference to primitive immortality . 177

IV. Evolutionary Science not in Conflict with Catholic

1. As to the evolutionary theory at large 180

2. As to our existing state being in line with natural evolution 181

3. As to man's development from ancient savagery . . . 182

4. As to the continuity of history 183

Practical importance of the catholic doctrine 184



The question to be considered 187

I. Side Issues Eliminated

Speculative accretions need not be regarded 191

1. Theories of predestination and irresistible grace . . - 192

2. Transmitted guilt ^94



3. Total depravity 198

4. That all the unregenerate lie under divine anger and are

everlastingly to be punished 199

Meanings of deserve 201

II. Transmission of Acquired Characters

Weismann's theory and argument 204

It is not established but may not be disregarded .... 207
The transmission of disease makes for a transmission of the

natural effects of x\dam's sin 207

But original sin is not an acquired character 211

Catholic doctrine permits us to combine the evolutionary and

the theological explanation of sin 212

III. Concluding Matters

Traducianism and creationism 213

Theological necessity of the catholic doctrine of sin resumed . 218

Its necessity for theodicy 219

And for an adequate estimate of sin 222



It is indisputable that difficulties of faith are very
widely felt to-day; and multitudes are ceasing to regard
the contents of Christian doctrine either as capable of
proof or as coming within the range of that kind of
certainty which is ordinarily termed knowledge.

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that
difficulties of faith are peculiarly modern. No doubt
they are more widely felt in our day than in previous
ages of Christian history; but this is largely because
education is more general than ever before, and the
problems which try the souls of advanced thinkers
are being ventilated and discussed everywhere, instead
of being, as in earlier centuries, considered only by
scholars and philosophers. It is an age in which almost
every one knows, or thinks that he knows, a little about
everything; and a little knowledge is a dangerous
thing, since it raises problems without enabling men
either to solve them or to realize that their inability to
solve them is not necessarily a reason for unbelief.

But every age has its own difficulties of faith; and
it is not invariably a proof of insincerity that professing


Christians should feel these difficulties, and should fail
to attain to that certainty touching Christian doctrine
which characterizes faith in its perfection. Faith may
be very genuine, and yet be attended by tormenting
doubts. One may cry, ''I believe; help Thou mine
unbelief," ^ without misrepresenting himself in either
half of the cry. Belief has many stages, reaching all
the way from hesitating opinion up to the full assurance
of knowledge; and if its goal is freedom from doubt,
that goal is won, in countless instances among sincere
believers, only by long continued struggle with diffi-
culties of faith.

Obvious reasons for this exist. The truths of religion
are exceedingly mysterious. They may indeed be re-
vealed in very definite and intelligible terms — terms
which are true so far as they go, and which will never
cease to be true. But the realities with which these
terms are concerned transcend any capacity of ours
adequately to grasp them. And while it is possible
for us to gain true knowledge concerning them, this
knowledge is exceedingly fragmentary — so fragmen-
tary that the darkness of our ignorance often threatens
to swallow up and hide from view the light of the
knowledge which is actually available.

The result is that the language of dogma and of
theology is to some degree symbolical. That does not
mean that it is untrue, or that we err in insisting that
it will never cease to be true. It really means that the
conception of truth which theological language conveys

1 St. Mark ix. 24.


to our minds is incipient rather than full formed, inade-
quate, and certain to be misleading, if we treat it as
complete, or as sufficient to justify the hope of being
able to construct a complete and final system of the-
ology.^ Theology is as truly a progressive science as is
any physical science, and not less truly so because its
most significant data are divinely revealed. The best
man-made systems of doctrine contain speculative
elements, and therefore each development of human
thought necessitates their modification. Theological
reconstruction has to be undertaken repeatedly, and
no conservative influences are strong enough to pre-
vent an unceasing development of doctrine.^ This
being the case, v^e ought to feel no surprise when we
find that many thoughtful men are more impressed
with the non-finality of theological systems than with
the reasons for believing that their primary data have
been divinely revealed, and can be rationally accepted
with the certainty which is usually described by the
word knowledge.

Again, the scriptural assertion that spiritual things
are "spiritually examined" ^ is a strictly scientific
proposition. Every science has its own methods of
investigation, and these methods are determined by
the nature of what is investigated. Mental phenomena
cannot be successfully examined or interpreted by the

J See J. B. Mozley, Predestination, ch. ii, init. We return to the
subject in Lee. v, init.

2 On the development of doctrine see the author's Authority,
Eccles. and Biblical, ch. ix, where numerous references are given.

3 I Cor. ii. 14.


methods of astronomy, nor can spiritual realities be
discovered or understood by the methods of the labora-
tory. To understand spiritual things requires the em-
ployment of a spiritual faculty, just as the perception of
beauty calls into exercise an aesthetic faculty. It also
requires a certain moral attitude — a predisposition
towards the consideration of divine things, and a readi-
ness to accept truths which can be seen to involve in
their acceptance an enlargement of responsibihties from
which carnally minded men recoil. The development
of this spiritual faculty and disposition depends upon
supernatural assistance by the Holy Spirit as well as
upon self-discipline. The sum of the matter is that
conditions have to be fulfilled, and methods have to
be employed, in the investigation of spiritual realities
which differ widely from the conditions and methods to
which most men are habituated and which they are
naturally disposed to appropriate. Theology appears
very unlike anything that the majority of modern
scientists are accustomed to regard as scientific, or as
concerned wdth true knowledge of reality. This
unlikeness is apt to suggest the conclusion that faith
and spiritual knowledge lie outside the domain of
reason altogether. Christian believers are able to see
that belief and knowledge do not cease to be rational
when concerned with spiritual things, and that divine
grace is not a substitute for sound reason but its
spiritual telescope, so to speak, and its equipment for
a spiritual line of activity. They can also see that
the reason which is employed in faith is the reason


upon which we depend in every sphere of rational
thinking. There is but one human reason, and to
abandon its use in any field is to become irrational.
An irrational faith can never hold its own among
rational men. But, and this is the point, no man can
see all this until he has had some experience in spiritual
knowledge, and the natural man needs to be moved
by higher than merely natural considerations before
he will set himself to acquire spiritual experience.

Nor is this all; the faculties of the mind which are
called into exercise in the investigation and assimila-
tion of spiritual verities are very subtle, and are more
easily deranged than any others — especially by moral
causes. Faith is not only a mental act, but also, by
reason of the conditions of its successful exercise, a
virtue. I do not mean that it is impossible to possess
a genuine faith without having perfect character. The
capacity to believe and to exercise the reason success-
fully in spiritual things lies within the reach of all
who will submit to the conditions of spiritual knowl-
edge. But perfect faith and complete emancipation
from doubt, like perfect virtue, is the goal, rather than
an early stage of spiritual growth. The beginner, if
he is sincere in his efforts to lay hold upon divine truth,
can acquire a very genuine faith — one which is the
earnest of a final acquisition of the certainty which is
called knowledge. But at every stage of its growth
the capacity to assimilate divine truth depends upon a
combination of conditions which may easily be dis-
turbed; and when they are disturbed doubt obtrudes


itself, and every argument for unbelief and for denial
of the possibility of spiritual knowledge then becomes

The conclusion of the matter is that difficulties of
faith must always be felt even among sincere truth-
seekers, and the fact that they are felt to-day does not
afford sufficient reason either for undiscriminating con-
demnation of doubters or for a pessimistic estimate of
the state of behef in this age. Much doubt is in evi-
dence, and there has never been a more urgent need of
efforts to succour distressed faith. But there is an-
other and more encouraging aspect of the situation.
There have never been more truth-seekers than at this
moment. Multitudes are turning their faces earnestly
towards the light; and if their faith is attended by the
torment of doubt, it is, in very many instances, their
faith rather than their doubts w^hich determines their
ideals of life. This fact affords abundant reason for
the hope and conviction that the faith which is now
struggling with doubt will in due season win the vic-
tory. At all events a true apologetic should be both
sympathetic and hopeful.

My subject in these lectures is Evohition and the
Fall, and I have chosen such a topic for several reasons.
In the first place the doctrine of the fall has been thought
by many to be peculiarly difficult to maintain under the
conditions of modern thought; and this is largely due

^ The author has more fully discussed the subject of the part of
reason in faith and spiritual knowledge in his Introd. to Dog. TheoL,
chh. iv, V.


to a supposed impossibility of reconciling its contents
with the evolutionary hypothesis. I beHeve that an im-
portant reason for this appearance of contradiction is a
mistaken conception of the doctrine in question, and I
am moved to do what I can to correct this conception.

Again, as you no doubt are aware, the scientific
world has this year been celebrating the centennial of
the birth of Charles Darwin and the fiftieth anniversary
of the publication of his Origin of Species, the book
which first secured for the evolutionary hypothesis a
recognized place in scientific thought. It appears,
therefore, a suitable time to reconsider this theory and
its bearings, so far as it has any, on Christian doctrine.
There is the more reason for undertaking such recon-
sideration in view of a rather important modification
of the Darwinian hypothesis which has been thought
by some scientists to be required by the results of
recent biological investigation.*

After a brief survey of the chief causes and forms of
opposition to Christian doctrine that are in evidence
at the present time, I shall devote the rest of this lecture
to a consideration of the aims, methods, and limita-
tions of sciences in general, and of physical sciences in
particular, and to an effort to define the attitude to-
wards scientific conclusions which Christian believers
and theologians ought to adopt. The next two lec-
tures will be concerned with the evolutionary theory —

1 The allusion is to the investigations of de Vries and others, and
to the mutations theory which is based upon them. See Lee. ii,
Pt. IV, below.


its historical forms, and the arguments by which it is

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Online LibraryFrancis J. (Francis Joseph) HallEvolution and the fall → online text (page 1 of 17)