Karl Alois Kneller.

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A pupil of Quenstedt's, the Protestant pastor of Laufen,
Oskar Fraas (f 1897), writes on the question of the
origin of the world 3 :

"Of speculations on the beginning of things there is na-
turally no lack ; we find them recorded wherever men have
been able to express their thoughts in language. What
strikes one most in reading them is that humanity has not
advanced by so much as a hair's breadth since the time of
the Seven Sages of Greece. . . . Science can throw as little
light on the problem as man can throw on the story of his
own birth. Science finds nothing else, at all events nothing
better, to say than what was said so long ago: In the be-
ginning God created heaven and earth."

Hans Bruno Geinitz (f 1900), whose appreciation
of Barrande we have cited, was himself one of the first
geologists of his day 4 . "He was one of the last, if
not the very last, of that older school of geologists,
who were at once thoroughly versed in the special
literature of all branches of their science, and masters

1 v. G umbel in Allgemeine deutsche Biographic XXV 581.

2 Leopoldina XXIV (Halle 1888) 216.

3 Vor der Siindflut. Eine Geschichte der Urwelt, Stuttgart 1866, vm.

4 Biographical Sketch by his son in Leopoldina XXXVI, Halle
1900, 59 70 85 89 98 104.


of a general, synthetic view of it." * In his "Auto-
biography" Geinitz writes 2 : "It is not vanity that moves
me to set down here a retrospect of a long life, so
abundantly blessed by God." "Always blest with good
health, I was able with God's help to overcome all the
many obstacles which I encountered during my career
as a scientist." 3 "With the most heartfelt thanks to
God . . . and with inexpressible gratitude to the many
thousands of friendly helpers" whom he had met during
his life he concludes his personal reminiscences (f 1 898) 4 .

Karl Von Raumer (f 1865) is of an earlier period.
An enthusiastic disciple of A. G. Werner , he was
none the less among the first to oppose, on empirical
grounds, the theories of his master. In his "Geognostic
Sketches" we find the first attempt made by a German
scientist to apply to Germany the ideas of French and
English investigators. Raumer was u a gifted and many-
sided man, of great religious fervour, and a rectitude
of character which led him to take sides very often at
the sacrifice of his own interests". He held that edu-
cation should have "a strong religious tendency". During
his Professorate in Erlangen he had to endure much
unpleasantness and many attacks "because of his open
and practical confession of Christian belief" 5 .

The first Professor of Geology appointed (1843) to a
German University (Munich) was K. F. E. Von Schaf-
hautl. He explored the Bavarian Alps, until then all

1 Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau XV, Braunschweig 1900, 131.

2 Leopoldina XXXVI 59.

3 Ib. 62. 4 Ib. 102.

5 Allgemeine deutsche Biographic XXVII 420 f. Cf. Karl v. Raumers
Leben von ihm selbst erzahlt. Stuttgart 1866.


but unknown to Geology; discovered nitrogen in iron,
and was the first to produce, by the aqueous method,
artificial crystals of quartz.

Schafhautl was an ardent Catholic; during the Dol-
linger trouble he, with Lament and Kaiser, remained
unwaveringly loyal to the Church 1 .

"An amazingly active and fruitful mind in Palaeonto-
logy" is the etimate given of Oswald Heer 2 ...
He was a Swiss, born at Niederutzweil in 1809, became
a teacher of Entomology and Botany in Zurich High
School in 1834, and died in 1883. His first great work
on the fossil insects of Oeningen contains descriptions
of about a thousand species. "It is" says Probst, "the
pioneer book of this branch of Palaeontology, and will
long remain the chief source of our knowledge of these
organisms". It was followed by work of even great
importance. "Between 1855 and 1859 appeared his
masterpiece, the great Flora Tertiaria Helvetiae . . .
in which no less than 900 species, for the most part
new, are described. Heer's specialized knowledge of
his subject gave him a wonderful power of reconstructing
tertiary flora, and of comparing them with the other
tertiary remains, and also with those of our present
age. By this means he was able to determine with
amazing penetration the climatic and other conditions
of the early world. The results of his labours were

1 Allgemeine Zeitung, Augsburg 1871, Nr. 113, 1981.

2 Nekrolog of J. Probst in Neues Jahrbuch fur Mineralogie,
Geologic und Palaontologie 1884 I, Stuttgart 1884. v. Zittel,
Gesch. der Geologie und Palaontologie 783 ff. de S ap or t a in the
Revue des deux mondes , I. juill. and 15 aout 1884, 182 f i84f.
Notice of Heer's works in Schriften der physikalisch-okonomischen
Gesellschaft in Konigsberg i. Pr. XXV i, Konigsberg 1884, J 6 26.


embodied in a popular manual 'Primitive Switzerland'
(1864), and thus made accessible to a wider audience." 1
Heer was nearly seventy when he began the most elabo-
rate of his works, the Flora Fossilis Arctica. This
ran to seven quarto volumes, with more than four hundred
illustrative tables. He described in it the fossil plant-
remains which have been discovered in the highest
latitudes, and showed that at the time of their growth
the climate of those regions must have been conside-
rably milder than it is now. Heer had at the outset
intended to devote only a single volume to the under-
taking. But fresh data continually accumulated on his
hands, and demanded ampler treatment. During the
greater part of the work Heer was constantly ailing,
and had to keep his bed.

"I shall never forget", writes Probst 2 , "the sight that met
me when I called to see Heer at the beginning of his se-
ventieth year, when he was busy on the third volume of
his Polar Flora. He lay in bed with a kind of writing-table
fixed up in front of him, crowded with the specimens which
he had to examine, identify, and describe. He could not
thank God enough, he said, for giving him strength to con-
tinue his work."

The cheerful piety, which these words reveal, finds
frequent expression in his writings, especially in the
conclusion of "Primitive Switzerland".

A retrospect of the plant and animal kingdoms of the
various periods opens out to us, he says, "a succession of
beautiful phenomena phenomena which do not allow of a
doubt that nature in the process of her evolution forms an
infinitely beautiful and harmonious whole, inspired by a

v. Zittel, Gesch. der Geologic und Palaontologie 783 ff.
Ante 5.

O. HEER. 287

systematic plan and purpose. Of this great fabric we know
only the ground-piles, but the more we come to understand
of the early world the richer and royaller the fabric seems ;
the gaps which the world, as we know it, presents, are
filled up and vanish in the harmony of a minutely articulated
whole. But the greatness and beauty of creation exist only
for him whose spiritual eye is open to it. An image will
make this clear. A page written over with the score of a
symphony of Beethoven has meaning only for a musician.
For him every note has its significance, and as he trans-
lates sign into sound there streams through his imagination
a very world of harmony. So it is with nature. Individual
phenomena, like the individual notes, reveal their significance
only when taken in the unity of the context. Then they
coalesce in a great articulate whole, and there arises in our
soul a vast harmony, which like a musical symphony, lifts
us above the world of sense and grants us a glimpse of a
divine order. We should regard a man as very naive, in-
deed, who maintained that the notes of the symphony sprang
from dots fallen by chance on the paper. But it seems to
me that it is just as blind and unintelligent to maintain that
the infinite and far more marvellous harmony of nature is
the outcome of chance. The deeper we pierce into the se-
crets of nature, the more earnest and intimate becomes our
conviction that nothing save a belief in an omnipotent and
omniscient Creator, Who has created Heaven and earth after
a definite and deliberate plan, will suffice to explain the
twin riddles of the physical world and the human mind.
Not only the heart of man, but nature itself, bears witness
to God, and when we consider from this standpoint the
wonderful story of the earth and of its plants and animals
it seems to us for the first time to surrender its real meaning,
and to stir us with all its ecstatic thrill." *

"In all his works", writes a biographer, "we find the same
thought dominant, the same motive operative, and that is
the desire to add something to our knowledge of the 'har-

1 O. Heer, Die Urwelt der Schweiz. 2. Subskriptions-Ausgabe
der 2. Aufl., Zurich 1883, 690 691.


mony of Creation', and of the glories of its Creator. For
Heer was fundamentally religious; his piety had the character
of a childlike surrender of himself to God. . . . He never
began the work of the day without oblation to his Heavenly
Father; he never brought an enterprise to a close without
a fervent prayer of thanksgiving. And in his last days he held
fast to his belief in the life eternal. And whatever we may
think of this belief (!) we must recognise that to him it was
the deepest of all realities; his personality was saturated in
it. He would have no 'double-bookkeeping', but an absolute
harmony between his scientific and his religious convictions.
This was the source from which the old savant drew that
peaceful, joyous courage of his, that childlike heart." l

Swiss scientists have always played an important
part in the development of Geology, and its more recent
progress is very closely associated with the name of
Bernhard Studer. Studer (1794 1887) opened his
career with a work published in 1825, "marked by his
characteristic stamp of industry, accuracy, and insight".
His main achievement was the "monumental work",
"The Geology of Switzerland" (1851 1853), and a
geological chart of the country, prepared in collaboration
with A. Escher. "When we consider the enormous topo-
graphical, tectonic, and stratigraphic difficulties which
had to be faced in the accomplishment of this enter-
prise, we readily concede to this chart a place among
the master-pieces of Geology in the nineteenth century."

This judgment comes from the pen of Von Zittel 2 .
He then goes on to the question which before all
occupies our attention in this volume. Studer formally

1 Vierteljahrschrift der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Zurich
XXVIII, Zurich 1883, 306307.

2 Gesch. der Geologic und Palaontologie 536. Cf. L. Riiti-
meyer, Gesammelte kleine Schriften II, Basel 1898, 415 440.


defined his attitude towards religion in a lecture of
which R. Wolf writes as follows:

"The lecture on 'Science and Religion' (Bern 1856), de-
livered by Studer before a popular audience, is designed to
show that, to use the words of Secchi, there is no conflict
between science and religion, and that if there seems for
the moment to be such a conflict, it is because the represen-
tatives of these two human activities step outside their proper
provinces. It is to my mind a very remarkable pronounce-
ment, from which, even now, much may be learned. It is,
moreover, thoroughly characteristic of its author, and ex-
hibits his sound, clear intellect at its best." 1

To Studer and Escher we must add a third Swiss geo-
logist, Peter Merian, Councillor of Basle (f 1883). Riiti-
meyer 2 writes of him in the following terms :

"Merian exercised great reticence with regard to his reli-
gious opinions. But two things are quite clear from his oc-
casional utterances. Nothing was more alien to his mind than
scepticism; he certainly did not feel himself called to be
an indifferent or heedless witness to the course of the phy-
sical world. On the contrary, his whole being was fired
with the conviction that the relationship between our human
existence and the unknown totality of things is matter not
for melancholy but for living faith; he believed that, as
bearing on the meaning and destiny of man, the voice of
conscience should assuredly have no less regard paid it
than the testimony of the senses. So also we find expres-
sions to the effect that to know the time and hour for the
attainment of our goal is reserved to God alone.

"Such a life then, we may be certain, has not fallen back
into the gulf of nature. ..."

Merian was a believer in immortality. So much can be
gathered from Rtitimeyer's article. Riitimeyer himself
(1895) "a scientist of the first rank, and a leading authority

1 R. Wolf in Vierteljahrschrift der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft
in Zurich XXXII, Zurich 1887, 102.

2 Ante 411.

Kneller, Christianity. 19


on mammals" l , shared the belief of his friend. Emmanuel
Ludwig Gruner (f 1883 at Beaucaire) also holds a
distinguished place in the line of Swiss geologists. He was
an ardent Protestant, and laboured much for the re-establish-
ment of the Sabbath, as a day of rest, in Paris, for the pro-
pagation of various Missions etc. In his Discourse "Dieu
et la Creation re'veles par la Geologic" he arrayed the facts
of science in criticism at once of pantheism after the manner
of Renan, and of evolution after the manner of Darwin 2 .

We have to add but two more names, both German,
to our list of great geologists, Karl August Lessen
(f 1893) and Wilhelm Waagen (f 1900).

"It is but rarely", runs an obituary of the former 3 ,
"that the death of a colleague excites such deep and uni-
versal sorrow as that of Lossen. Every one who knew him
had the sense of a great personal loss and even at this
moment, six months after his death, we can hardly realise
that he is gone from us for ever."

Lossen had left this impression on his friends as
well by the extreme lovableness of his character as by
his scientific attainments.

Born at Kreuznach on January 6 th 1841, he had by
1866 entered on his career of geological research. "In
the summer of that year he began his chart of that
mountain-range with which his name will be for ever
linked, the Harz." In 1867 and 1868 he published the

1 v. Zittel, Gesch. der Geologic und Palaontologie 836.

2 Vierteljahrschrift der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Ziirich
XXVIII, Zurich 1883, 297.

3 E. Kayser in Neues Jahrbuch fur Mineralogie , Geologic
und Palaontologie 1893 H> Stuttgart 1893. ~" Cf. also for Lossen
Berendt in the Jahrbuch der k. preuCischen geologischen Landes-
anstalt und Bergakademie zu Berlin fur das Jahr 1893 X IV, Berlin
1894, LXVII LXXX; v. Hertling in the Jahresbericht der Gorres-
gesellschaft fiir das Jahr 1895, Koln 1896, 13 18.


first fruits of his labours. The paper on the formation
of the older strata of the Eastern Harz "contains in
germ the whole of his subsequent studies of that region",
and "holds a place of prominence in his works". In
1877 he published the "magnificent" chart of the Harz,
"a brilliant testimony to his genius and industry".

In 1870 Lessen became lecturer on Petrography in
the Academy of Mines, and sometime later secured
a similar position at the University of Berlin. In 1879
he completed one of his most laborious undertakings,
an exhaustive study of the geological formation of the
Berlin area. When the Prussian Geological Institute was
formed in 1873 tne e y es f tne directors turned to
Lessen as "one of the leaders" of this science. He
did not obtain a Professorate until 1886, and never in
fact became an Ordinary Professor, but this was cer-
tainly not for lack of scientific merit. "He enjoyed a
European reputation, as is instanced by the fact that
he was one of the authorities requested by the Com-
mittee of the International Geological Congress held at
London, to put in writing their views as to the origin
of crystalline slates."

As to his personality we may avail ourselves of the
words of one his oldest and dearest friends, E. Kayser :

"Powerfully built and extremely attractive in appearance
he had a mind to match. He combined in the rarest manner
immense strength and seriousness with true Rhenish humour
and enthusiasm for the goodness and beauty of life, intellec-
tual greatness with the simplicity of a child. He was charac-
terised above all by fidelity to duty, and inexhaustible good-
ness of heart. Religion lay at the very basis and intimate
source of his life. He was all his life a strong and fervent
Catholic, for whom obedience to the ordinances of his Church
was no mere thing of custom but a service of the heart.



How often I have seen him during our wanderings together,
when we slept in the same room, get out of bed again after
the lights had been blown out and throw himself on his
knees in prayer! How I used privately to growl at him in
the Harz when instead of spending the Sundays with me
resting after the week, he would set off to find a Catholic
Church and attend Mass, journeying sometimes miles away from
the mountains I His wonderful strength and cheery courage
enabled him to bear without the least bitterness an afflic-
tion which sours so many lives: I mean his deafness. As
a boy, he often told me, he had the keenest delight in the
song of the lark ; at thirty he could scarcely hear a thunder-
clap. As years went by, his affliction increased; even with
the help of an ear-trumpet he found it very difficult to hear
what was said. In the social meetings of which he was so
fond his deafness was the source of endless misunderstand-
ings, and of infinite merriment. Notified by our laughter
that he had made a blunder he would say smilingly that he
had no right to be angry, for a man must suffer for his
afflictions 1 Deafness did not, as is often the case, bring
with it a monotonous ; expressionless voice; his lectures, on
the contrary, were as remarkable in delivery as in matter,
and whoever had the chance of hearing him propose a toast
in his rich, imaginative style will admit that a more effec-
tive speaker could not have been found.

"These few commemorative words will help to show what
a dear and richly-endowed colleague we lost in Lessen.
His death leaves a gap, never to be filled, in our circle,
and in the institution with which he has been so long asso-
ciated, in the history of which his name will hold a place
of honour. ..."

To complete the picture we add the verdict of another
friend of his J :

"A thorough Conservative, he was also a faithful son of
the Catholic Church, to which he clung with the piety of

1 Berendt in the Jahrbuch der k. preuB. geolog. Landesanstalt


a child till the end, till his eyes were fixed for the last time
on the crucifix which hung above his death-bed. Curtius
speaks of this trait of Lossen's character, so freely ridiculed
by those who had never met him in argument, as 'the beauti-
ful outcome of a belief unshaken by science'. But we should
say not merely unshaken, but diffused through his whole life
and being, and blended into one great harmony with his
scientific conceptions. He was a man before whom one
bowed the head in respect, a pure and stainless soul."

Wilhelm Waagen 1 was born in the same year
as Lessen, June 23 th 1841. He showed at a very early
age great enthusiasm and aptitude for science. In the
year 1866 five German geologists, of whom he was one,
published a series of studies "which had a most im-
portant influence on the subsequent development of
German science. There can be no doubt that of the
five contributors Waagen was the most powerful and
original mind". In the same year he obtained an ap-
pointment in the University of his native city, Munich,
and taught there with brilliant success 2 .

"While a Prwatdozenf , says Uhlig, "Waagen delivered
no lectures but gave practical demonstrations, at which men
like Neumayr, Von Willemons-Suhm, and Kowalevsky assisted.
Thus he established in a very short time a distinguished
reputation, but unfortunately no material recognition of it
followed. At last he obtained in 1870 ... a place on the
'Geological Survey of India'."

The explanation of Waagen's ill-success can be easily
given :

1 For Waagen cf. V. Uhlig in the Centralblatt fiir Minera-
logie , Geologic und Palaontologie 1900, Stuttgart 1900, 380 392.
Obituary notice in Beilage zur Augsburger Postzeitung Nr. 20, 7. April
1900, 133134.

2 Uhlig ante 383.


"He knew very well, and there was no lack of experienced
and friendly colleagues to assure him, that, as things stood
in Bavaria, a practising Catholic would have a hard time of
it, and could not hope for position, reputation, or emolu-
ment. But the young scientist, full of courage and belief
in himself, refused to abandon either his faith or his career,
and determined to break down by zeal and industry the
ban under which the Catholics of Bavaria had hitherto
lain." l

In India Waagen collected an immense mass of material,
but his health was unequal to the climate. He was
prostrated by catarrh, and on his recovery attempted to
resume his work. But he fell ill again, and was com-
pelled to return to Europe in 1872. In 1875 he made
a fresh attempt at a thorough exploration of India, but
with the same result. He was once more driven out
of the country, and on the voyage home a still greater
calamity befell him; the vessel to which all his collec-
tions, books, and papers, had been committed was
wrecked off Ceylon and sank with all her cargo. It was
impossible to obtain a position of any kind in Bavaria,
and Waagen emigrated to Vienna. "The most distin-
guished audience", writes Uhlig, "that ever a Privat-
dozent\&&, assembled to hear his first lecture (1878 1879)
on the geology of India. There were to be found in
it Hermann Abich, the Nestor of Viennese geologists,
Suess, Hauer, Neumayr . . . and all the younger men."
Soon after Waagen became Professor at the German
High School in Prague, and in 1883 he published a
supplement to Barrande's great work. He received a
call to the Academy of Mines of Prussia in 1886, but
refused it out of gratitude to his adopted country, and

1 Beilage zur Augsburger Postzeitung Nr. 20, 7. April 1900, 133.


in 1890 he was raised to a Professorate in Vienna.
"So rich was his Indian material that the classification
of it absorbed almost his entire scientific activity at
Prague and Vienna. The work in which he published
his results is among the most noteworthy achievements
of recent Palaeontology." His laborious life came to a
close on March 24 th 1900. "His name", says Uhlig,
"is inseparably bound up with Indian geological re-

"In Catholic circles in the Bavarian capital Waagen
was, before his exile, a familiar figure. He took part in
every phase of the Catholic revival which began there
in the sixties 1 . "Among his writings we find a special
paper in which he brings the Mosaic account of creation
into comparison with the conclusions of Geology, and
shows the complete agreement between them."


"When Newton was setting about his study of the
laws governing the movements of the heavenly bodies
he is said to have exclaimed: 'O Physics, I appeal to
you to preserve me from Metaphysics!' Whoever now-
adays sets out to investigate the functions and pro-
perties of the human mind may well invoke the pro-
tection of philosophy against physiology. Neverthe-
less it is not science that leads to materialism, but the
misdirection and misuse of science. True science is
no more responsible for the misuse, than a knife is for
the death of a man who is stabbed with it."

1 Das Schopfungsproblem , in Natur und Offenbarung XL1V,
Miinster 1898, 641660 720735.


This passage is taken from an address delivered by
the great Austrian scientist, Andreas Von Baumgartner
(f 1865), in the Imperial Academy of Sciences 1 . The
dangers, which he signalises as arising from the study
of Physiology, are not however to be ascribed to the
actual facts brought to light by that science, but to the
minds of certain observers who fail to construe these
facts in their right relations. If an Ehrenberg, when
questioned as to the impression made on his mind by
the temples of Egypt, could reply that he had not
noticed the temples, that he had gone into them simply
to study bats, and had not bothered about anything
else ; if a Roberval could ask disgustedly at a tragedy,
"What does that prove?" these are but naive ex-
pressions of that concentration and narrowness which
we so often find in specialists. A mathematician comes

Online LibraryKarl Alois KnellerChristianity and the leaders of modern science; a contribution to the history of culture in the nineteenth century → online text (page 23 of 32)