Karl Alois Kneller.

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reichischen Leo - Gesellschaft Nr. 4, Wien und Leipzig. Cf. Der
Katholik -XLV, Mainz 1865, 2, 641 651. Natur und Offenbarung X,
Minister 1864, 5691". For Hyrtl as scientist cf. Leopoldina XXXI,
Halle 1895, I 9 f 2I1 f -

2 Allgemeine Biicherei Nr. 4, p. 36 37.


definition of science. It is an inference, resting, not on clear
and irrefutable argument, but on boldness of assumption and
assertion, and on the dominant temper of the day which finds
such theories the more congenial, the more menacing they
are to the established order of things. The earth-born Titan
of materialism has not achieved a lasting victory over the
kingdom of science. No such victory will ever be achieved
so long as serious science refuses to abandon the fight, so
long as science draws its strength and inspiration from the
stable ground of fact, so long as it refuses to count its own
cause as lost, or to sacrifice to false gods.

"But if science is able, as it is able, to shake itself clear
of this proud rival, so many times defeated yet never slain,
then do not avert your eyes from the work of the true and
earnest investigator. He too is a priest of knowledge for,
to adopt the words of the poet prince :

Willst du zuletzt zum Unendlichen schreiten,

Dann geh vorerst im Endlichen nach alien Seiten."


Like Pasteur, but in a very different direction, the
German scientist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg
(f 1876), won his reputation in the sphere of the in-
finitely little 1 . Having published many papers of ori-
ginal research, he undertook in the years 1820 to 1825
a scientific expedition to the Nile Valley. He was ac-
companied by Hemprich, and the two colleagues brought
back with them to Berlin a large selection of Natural
history specimens. In 1829 Ehrenberg made a second
journey with A. Von Humboldt and G. Rose to the Ural
and Altai region. But his most important work was his

1 Max Laue, Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg. Ein Vertreter
deutscher Naturforschung im 19. Jahrhundert , Berlin 1895. J on -
Hanstein in Allgemeine deutsche Biographic V 701 711.


determination of the properties of the infusoria. These
had been brought wittfin the range of science by the
invention of the microscope, but before Ehrenberg's
researches very little was known about them, and that
little was interwoven with fables and delusions. It was
still believed that they were spontaneously generated
by decaying matter, and that the forms which they
assumed were due to mere chance and passed easily
into others. Ehrenberg put a very different complexion
on the matter 1 .

It was his discovery in the waters of one of Berlin's
supply-stations of a swarming population of these minute
organisms that first made Ehrenberg's name famous and
familiar. Kings and princes summoned him and his
microscope to their presence, and he was received with
honour in Paris and England. His reputation was further
increased by his demonstration of the important part
played in nature by the most minute forms of life. To
this section of his work belong his studies on marine
phosphorescence, on the blood-like blotches to be ob-
served on bread and other foods, on edible earths, on
blood-rain and dust-rain. Still more important was his
discovery that certain widely-diffused kinds of stone and
earth are composed of lime and pebbles formed from the
casings of primitive animals. "But Ehrenberg reached
the height of his reputation among his fellow-citizens
of Berlin when in 1841 he showed that the earth, on
which their city stood, was made up, to the extent
of one half or even two-thirds, of hard-shelled living
animalcules, busily swarming hither and thither, and

1 For further details v. R. Hertwig, Lehrbuch der Zoologie 5 ,
Jena 1900, 157.


constantly bringing forth new broods out of their tiny
green eggs." 1

Many of Ehrenberg's contentions are, it is true, no
longer admitted. Subsequent research has shown that
he was wrong in ascribing to the infusoria an organism
identical with that of the higher animals, in spite of its
microscopical dimensions. Many organisms too, which
he classified as infusoria have been removed from that
class and transferred to Botany, and others are now
ranked among various branches of the protozoa. But
none the less he stands as the pioneer of the modern
science of the protozoa, the first to fix the attention
of science on the ''infinitely little", and to show the
relations of this latter to the "infinitely great".

Ehrenberg was a resolute opponent of materialism.

"From his youth", says Hanstein 2 , "he held firmly to the
idealistic interpretation of nature and conceived it as ordered
by the reasonable, purposive laws of a conscious Creator.
But as a scientist he was the purest and most dispassionate

When "German science turned away from the sure method
of unprejudiced empirical study, to which Ehrenberg was ever
loyal, and gave itself up to airy and fantastic hypotheses, he
resolutely opposed the new tendency. He was in no way
hostile to sober consideration of the theory of descent as
guided by intelligible laws, although for his own part he
was content to put it aside for the time as an hypothesis
incapable of demonstration. But the speculative extra-
vagances which under the name of 'natural selection' were
at that time setting all heads in a whirl, the wild imagining
of transition-forms between plants and animals, the 'protist-
kingdom' as they were called, these and the like airy spe-

1 Laue ante 194.

2 Allgemeine deutsche Biographic V 705.

Kneller, Christianity. 22


dilations he banished with just contempt from the region
of inductive science to that of poetic fancy" *.

Ehrenberg spoke frequently and forcibly in criticism
of the materialism dominant in his day. Thus in a
speech in the Berlin Academy on October 17 th 1850.

"It is not out of place", he said, "to touch, though
but superficially, on certain hypotheses, which, after the
morbid manner of the day, have been widely represented
as results of scientific research, and which have made a deep
impression alike on learned societies and on the popular

"Men of great name and authority have, speaking as scien-
tists, put science in an attitude of hostility to religion not
merely to the dominant, but to every form of religion , and
maintained, that our conceptions of the present and the future
of man must be based on the conclusions of a science
which is supposed to lead inevitably to materialism and Epi-

Ehrenberg then goes on to deal in particular with two "con-
clusions" of science (i) "that religion, in the only sense and
significance which scientific research can allow it consists,
solely of a feeling of dependence in relation to nature" and
(2) that all vital processes are in essence nothing more than

With regard to the first of these "conclusions" he remarks
among other things : "It is quite true that the scientist realises
more keenly than anyone else the dependence, the paltriness
of man, whose weakness it is to be too puny for the in-
finity of space and too gross for the imperceptibly small,
which yet governs and moulds his life. But besides this
'dependence' he feels the sublime and beneficent order of
the universe and bows, in humility, admiration, and hope,
before it, and before its Creator. He feels himself in sym-
pathetic relation with the Maker and Orderer of all. It is
senseless to rail at the order of the world." 2

1 Allgemeine deutsche Biographic V 710.

2 Monatsberichte der Berliner Akademie 1850, 397 398.


The sophism that, inasmuch as electricity is present in
all vital processes, therefore, life is electricity, he criticises
in the following terms : "J ust as we know no life without
the presence of moisture, and no essential organ of a living
body which does not contain carbon, and yet do not say
that either water or carbon is life, so electricity, with its
varying currents, cannot be conceived as anything more than
an instrument, an accompaniment, a medium of which life
makes use in order to effect its ends." l

The rest of the speech is a criticism of the assertion
that the progress of science has shown the continued
existence of the soul after death to be impossible. We
do not reproduce Ehrenberg's arguments. It is sufficient
to draw attention to the spectacle of a great scientist
repelling as utterly invalid the so-called "proofs" of
materialism put forward in the name of science. As for
Ehrenberg's positive development of his views, this does
not possess the same interest, for there is no hand-
book of Christian philosophy but cuts deeper into the
heart of the subject.

Similar protests against the misuse of the sciences
might be multiplied out of every part of Ehrenberg's
writings. We quote, by way of example, some passages
from his micro-geological studies 2 .

The results of deep-sea research have, as we know,
been invoked in support of the theory of the sponta-
neous generation of life out of non-living matter. "Bathy-
bius", "a remarkably tough, chalklike, white substance
which has given rise to the conjecture that it is the

1 Ib. 398.

2 Ehrenberg, Mikrogeologische Studien iiber das kleinste Leben
der Meeres-Tiefgrtinde aller Zonen und dessen geologischen EinfluG,
in Abhandlungen der konigl. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin
aus dem Jahre 1872, physikalische Klasse, Berlin 1873, I 398.



primitive form of life from which the various forms of
life may probably have developed" is still fresh in our
memories *. On this question of deep-sea research, and
the conclusions to which its results lead , Ehrenberg
writes :

"It is very natural that the restless fancy of scientists
should have sought to employ the valuable empirical results,
attained in this sphere, to explain the earliest geological
formations, and to buttress up the theory of spontaneous
generation. But these cloudy speculations, under the pres-
sure of a more fundamental analysis, exhibit their limitations,
and are seen rather to afford imaginative entertainment than
sound scientific information." 2

With regard to the school "which believes itself war-
ranted to assume the mantle of plenary inspiration, and
to imagine a beginning of things, quite beyond the
reach of empirical investigation, in which the amoeba
reveals itself as the source and origin of life", Ehren-
berg remarks 3 :

"I can only say that I join with many others in deploring
the fashion in which an age which summons us to active
and earnest concrete studies is frittered away in fantastic
theories. It is painful to see so many of our most brilliant
young men much less interested in sound research than in
scientific romances, which alike in their theories of the origin
of life, and of 'natural selection' rely merely on chance and
a sham teleology, and not on any serious purposiveness."

The whole of Section XL 4 "Independent, Micro-
scopic Life, and the New Theories of Nature" is directed
against Darwinism.

1 Ehrenberg, Mikrogeologische Studien 362; cf. 376.

2 Ib. 347-348. 3 Ib. 338.
4 Ib. 376-384.


In the year of Ehrenberg's death (1876) there died,
also at Dorpat, the founder of Comparative Embryology,
Karl Ernst Von Baer 1 . Born in Esthland in 1792
he made his studies for the greater part in Germany,
especially at Wiirzburg, under Dollinger. He received
his first chair at Konigsberg, passing thence to St. Peters-
burg, and finally to Dorpat. His pioneer work in the
embryology of the vertebrates was done mainly at Konigs-
berg, the rest of his life being devoted to Geography,
Ethnography, and Anthropology.

Von Baer never wavered in his adherence to a teleo-
logical interpretation of nature. The development of a
chicken in the egg, e. g., proceeds, in his opinion, in
no mere casual fashion, the unforseen result of which
is an organism capable of independent existence. On
the contrary it is a purposive process dominated through-
out by the end which it is to accomplish. This ap-
pears plainly from certain characteristics of the life of
the chicken while still in the shell.

"On the end of the bill of the still immature chicken we
find a hard formation which divides into two sharp points,
pressed against the shell, making an opening through which
it is able to emerge. Such a formation is unknown in the
case of mammals whose eggs are not guarded by a hard
shell. Am I not justified in saying that the end and pur-
pose of this hard protuberance is to facilitate the breaking
of the shell? . . . Soon after the birth of the chicken the
casing of the bill comes off, being no longer of any utility." 2

Similarly in the egg, the yolk is so disposed that the
embryo which lies on the top of it, turns constantly

1 R. S 1 6 1 z 1 e , Karl Ernst v. Baer und seine Weltanschauung,
Regensburg 1897.

2 K. E. v. Baer, Studien aus dem Gebiete der Naturwissen-
schaften, St Petersburg 1876, 198 199.


upwards towards the body of the brooding hen; in a
word, the whole process of development is governed
and guided by the end to be obtained.

Naturally such a teleological conception implies a
belief in the existence of God. Von Baer draws that
conclusion and gives expression to it in many places.

"The harmonious working of the forces of nature", he
writes, 'leads us to the recognition of a common First Cause,
and this can be no other than the sublime Being to whom
the religious needs of man reach out." "None the less",
he adds, "a true knowledge of God is beyond the grasp
of science, and indeed of humanity." What he means, how-
ever, is a knowledge not of the existence of God but of
His essence ! .

Many expressions of Von Baer have a pantheistic ring,
although side by side with these we find a clear re-
cognition of the existence of a personal God. It was
not till a few weeks before his death that he expressly
abandoned pantheism and returned to theism. In 1876
he read the younger Fichte's ''Questions and Thoughts
on the Next Development of German Speculation", and
declared: "No book that I have read for years has made
so deep an impression on me. I date from it a new
movement in my thought." And he added later: "I
had long believed in the possibility of reaching, through
pantheism, a unifying conception of the universe. Fichte's
book taught me better. Pantheism won't do." 2

Three years before Von Baer, died (1873) Louis
Agassiz, much of whose work was done in the same

1 K. E. v. Baer, Studien 79. For Baer's position as regards
religion v. Stolzle, Karl Ernst v. Baer und seine Weltanschauung
419 ff.

2 Stolzle ante 438.


province as that of the Russian scientist. "Louis Agassiz"
writes Rutimeyer *, "holds a most distinguished place
amongst Swiss scientists, not merely because of the range
and penetration of his researches but of the recognition
which he secured for his science in America. Not merely
did he establish there a science of European, indeed of
German origin Comparative Anatomy and Embryo-
logy - - but by his brilliant intellectual endowments,
his genius for organization and his steady industry, he
induced the government of one of the richest com-
mercial nations of the modern world to endow the
study of zoological science with a munificence for a
parallel to which we must go back to Alexander or
the Ptolemies."

Rutimeyer has in mind in this passage the great
Museum of Natural History of Harvard College in Massa-
chusetts. The idea behind this institution, "that cer-
tainly did inspire Agassiz to the creation of it, was to
exhibit the animal kingdom as a manifestation of the
Supreme Intelligence. As religious enthusiasm once built
the Cathedral of Cologne and the Basilica of St. Peter,
so, thought Agassiz, it might be hoped from the intel-
lectual ardour of America, that that nation would build
a temple for the Revelation deposited in the material
universe. Such a temple could not be vast enough nor
costly enough, since it was to contain the sacred docu-
ments of inexhaustible Wisdom and infinite Power." 2

Agassiz gives frequent expression to such ideas in his
writings. Thus he writes at the beginning of his great
treatise on Zoology:

1 Kleine Schriften II, Basel 1898, 349350.

2 Ib. 362363.


"The animal kingdom merits our ardent study, not merely
because of its manifold beautiful forms, nor because of its
utility to man. It has a far higher significance than that.
It is the visible manifestation of the thought of God, as ex-
pressed in one part of that marvellous whole which we call
nature ; and from this point of view it is full of the weightiest

"Man is incited by both parts of his twofold being, spirit
and body, to the study of nature. Since his intellect has
been created in the image of God he can lift himself up
to the contemplation of the divine plan in creation. And
since by the possession of a material body he is, so far, in
the same plane of existence as the animals, he has a con-
stant impulse to investigate the mechanism of their organs
and the properties and functions of matter as well as the
influence which matter exercises on intellect throughout the
whole range of nature l .

"The same Being that, contemplating the moral weakness
of man, prophesied that the Son of the Virgin should
crush the head of the serpent, has also stored up for him
in the bowels of the earth huge masses of granite, marble,
coal, salt and various metals, the products of her different
revolutions." 2

On January 8 th 1894 there died at Louvain P. J. Van
Beneden, Professor of the University of that town 3 .
"His innumerable and important studies", said Carnoy,
"won him a postion of the first eminence in the world
of science. For us he represents in particular the union
of religion and science in the most intimate and happy
alliance. . . . Van Beneden found happiness in his belief.

1 Naturgeschichte des Tierreichs mit besonderer Riicksicht auf
Gewerbe, Kilnste und praktisches Leben. Allgemeine Zoologie von
Professor Dr L o u i s Agassiz und A. A. Gould , Stuttgart 185 5> 9-

2 Agassiz und Gould, Allgemeine Zoologie 202.

3 J. Carnoy, Eloge funebre, reprinted in the Revue des quest,
scient. XXXVII, Bruxelles 1895, 336348.


He practised his religion with the deepest sympathy
and conviction ; and in those hours of pleasure which the
scientist experiences at times on his difficult journey,
his heart breathed out many a sincere and ardent prayer.
Every enumeration of the facts unveiled by his researches,
of the manifold laws revealed in them, derived from
his faith a light and a help which enabled him the better
to fit them into the general scheme of creation, and
to understand the divine harmonies of the animal king-
dom." *

Most of Van Beneden's work has reference to a species
of being, which, while not so congenial to romantic poetry
as the nightingale or the robin red-breast, is nearer to the
rude realities of nature, and plays a role of the highest
importance in sea and stream, in land and water, in dead
and living bodies, in plants and animals he devoted
himself to an elaborate study of worms, especially para-
sitic worms. Before the time of Van Beneden this region
of science was a complete chaos, full of riddles and
contradictions; it was left to the Belgian scientist in
collaboration with Von Siebold and Leuckart to bring
light and order into it. In examining various small
fishes he discovered that the worms to be found in their
entrails all exhibited the same stage of development -
one at which they could not be described as either
male or female. It was obvious then that they must else-
where pass through a higher stage of development, and
as the smaller fishes examined by Van Beneden serve
as food to the larger, the conjecture suggested itself to
his mind that this process took place in the body of
the larger fish. This proved to be the case, and led

. 337 348.


to a demonstration of the fact that intestinal worms
attain their full growth only by passing through the
bodies of different animals. The Paris Institute in 1858
awarded Van Beneden its chief prize for this striking

Van Beneden turned next to the study of polyps
"the flowers of the sea which, for beauty and variety
of form and brilliance of colour, rank among the love-
liest of natural products", and in 1866 he published an
essay on the subject which also obtained a prize. As
early as 1842 he had conceived the idea of making a
complete study of the littoral fauna of Belgium. In
that year he founded a laboratory at Ostend at his own
personal cost, and laboured for thirty years at his sub-
ject, diverging as he went on into Palaeontology. Belgium
was under water during the tertiary period, as is proved
by the fossils found in its soil. The neighbourhood
of Antwerp is particularly rich in these remains. During
the reconstruction of the town's fortifications, such an
immense quantity of fossil bones was unearthed that a
special hall of 65 metres by n metres was found too
small to contain them. Van Beneden was the first to
publish a complete description of these fossils and his
study of the 40 different species of cetacea discovered
amongst them is of the first importance 1 . "If", says
Carnoy 2 , "we consider the vastness and variety of his
scientific labours, and simply calculate the time which

1 Van Beneden pent etre considere en paleontologie comme un
successeur du grand Cuvier; ses travaux et ses observations sur les
cetaces sont regardes par les naturalistes comme ayant la plus grande
valeur (La Nature n. 1079, 3 fevr. 1894, Paris, 150).

2 Eloge funebre, reprinted in the Rev. des quest, scient. XXXVII,
Bruxelles 1895, 34 6 -


at the very lowest estimate must have been required
for his anatomical researches and his marvellous notes,
we are plunged in amazement at the notion of a single
scientist having accomplished such a Herculean task."
Van Beneden's colleague at the Antwerp excavations
was Bernard Aime Leonard, Vicomte D u Bus D e
Gisgnies, Director of the Natural History Museum
at Brussels. His chief study was Ornithology, and the
collection of birds which he made is admirably represen-
tative and systematic. He died in 1874 "in sentiments
of faith and hope" J .

Bernard Altum 2 (f 1 900), President of the German
Ornithological Society established a wide and brilliant
reputation by his work, "The Bird and its Life". Altum
studied Theology from 1844 to 1848 in his native town
of Miinster, was ordained priest in 1849, subsequently
studied science in Miinster and Berlin, and in 1859
became a lecturer at the Academy of Miinster. The
publication of his book secured him, in 1869, a call to
the Chair of Zoology in the Academy of Woods and
Forests in Eberswalde, a position which he held till his
death. During his tenure of it he published a manual
of "Forest Zoology'*', which like his earlier volume ran
to several editions.

Altum's predecessor in the Presidency of the German
Ornithological society was Baron Ferdinand Vo n D r o s t e-
Hulshoff, a loyal and ardent son of the Catholic Church.

1 II est mort comme son pere , dans les sentiments de foi et
d'esperance (P.-J. van Beneden in the Annuaire of the Belgian
Academy XLIX, Bruxelles 1883, 264).

2 Obituary Notice of E. Wasmann S. J. in Natur und Offen-
barung XL VI, Miinster 1900, 193 204.


His chief work was an excellent study of bird life on
the island of Borkum (Miinster, I869) 1 .

The ornithology of China owns as its pioneers
E. Oustalet, and a Lazarist missionary Armand David
(f IQOO) 2 . The labours of the latter were not, how-
ever, confined to a single department of Zoology, nor
to Zoology in general. David entered the Lazarist Order
at the age of 22, and gave immediate token of his
passion and talent for science. When in 1852 he was
sent on the mission to Peking, he set about the esta-
blishment of a zoological museum in the mission-house.
"He pushed on the project with great enthusiasm and
ability, and showed himself a very genius in the work
of arranging and collecting. He made journeys through
the province ofTshili and the southern part of Mongolia,
varied with stoppages at the various mission-stations,
and in a short time had brought together at Peking a

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