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empires in their heyday of strength three or four thou-
sand years ago could miraculously be brought back to
life to-day, whether he would consider that the game
had been worth the candle. His empires have long
since vanished from the earth; his people are scattered
never to be reunited. What is there to show for the
heroic sacrifice which he made of his brave young
life ? Apparently, absolutely nothing. And yet, did
such a thought as this deter our own brave American
youth both North and South when the great Civil War
issued its dread summons ? Will it indeed ever deter
brave, self-sacrificing idealists, at least until they have
grown beyond the more limited horizon of mental sym-
pathy known as patriotism? Not until that horizon
widens, you may be sure, will their idea of morality
change in this respect, or rather, become enlarged so
as to entertain the wider, more profound ideal of race

So-Called Races 83

So-Called Races

There are symptoms to-day that this horizon is be-
coming enlarged. For instance, a favorite doctrine of
old international law was that a subject could not cast
off his allegiance to the land of his birth without the
consent of his sovereign. The United States, one of
the youngest in the family of nations, has always in-
sisted on expatriation as a fundamental right of man.
It is an exclusively American doctrine, but we would
seem to be succeeding measurably in our novel conten-
tion. I think it will hardly be questioned that patriotic
sentiment is steadily, not declining, but being overlaid
by a wider race sentiment. Men have a vague sort of
idea that it is somehow too narrow for the field of human
sympathy that a mere accident of birth in a certain
locality should be allowed to circumscribe their feelings
of humanity. To go forth and shoot fellow human
beings for no other reason than that they happen to
belong to a nation at war with one's own nation — a
war in all probability brought on through the folly or
venality of ruling powers — becomes increasingly dis-
tasteful and repulsive to thinking men as their horizon
of sympathy widens. The danger now is lest we con-
tent ourselves with but a single step in advance and
stop short at a so-called "race" loyalty. Recent
events, particularly the war in the East, have opened
men's eyes to the apparently impending struggle in the
marts of trade between the so-called yellow and white
races. To what lengths the coming strife for the

84 Evolution and Religion

markets of the world will lead, no one can safely say.
Thinkers who have noted the marvelous tenacity of
life displayed by the so-called yellow race under the
most unfavorable climatic conditions, have come to
the improbable though perhaps not unnatural con-
clusion that the future belongs to them. Their ca-
pacity for work, their enormous numbers, their ability
to live on the simplest of food and consequently for
wages which would mean starvation to any other race,
their adaptive genius for making use of the inventions
of their Western brethren, whether warlike or indus-
trial, certainly seem to render them formidable an-
tagonists and competitors for the future. The feeling
between the black and the white races, also, is already
notorious and deep-rooted. It crops out in many lands
to-day where the two races come into contact; in Cen-
tral Africa, in South Africa, with the Belgians, English,
Germans, and Portuguese. Who that read of the
many ambushes of the white race by the yellow during
the recent war between Russia and Japan, when the
whites with still whiter faces ran wildly hither and
thither seeking cover, could fail to recall to mind
similar wholesale slaughters of blacks by whites in the
Dark Continent ? There was apparently the same cold-
blooded rounding up of the quarry as so much game,
the same cynical, heartless indifference, the same racial
contempt and forgetf ulness of the fact of human kinship.
In our own country, the feeling between the blacks and
the whites shows itself in abominable crimes, in un-
speakable offenses on the one hand, in savage out-

One Race 85

bursts of fierce retaliatory passion on the other. Our
relations, too, with the so-called brown race in our
island possessions can hardly be termed cordial. Those
of the French with the similar or related race in Mada-
gascar do not seem to be much better. Nay, more,
this feeling of antagonism is not even confined to the
larger divisions of mankind, the so-called white, yellow,
black, or brown races. You may see it in the prejudice
between the so-called Slav, Latin, Teutonic, and Anglo-
Saxon races, absurd as it seems to speak of these varying
nationalities as races. You may see it in the wide-
spread feeling against the so-called Semitic race.

One Race

And yet, as a matter of scientific fact, these racial
distinctions would appear to be largely fictitious.
In support of this assertion, I invite any one to tell
me the exact number of races, so called, which exist in
the world to-day. Some naturalists in the past would
have answered sixty-three, sixty, twenty-two, sixteen,
fifteen, eleven, eight, seven, six, five. To-day some
will answer four, three, even two; the number being
steadily narrowed as man's knowledge of himself in-
creases. 1 Some will attempt to distinguish them by
the color of their skin. Others, deeming this unscien-
tific, will attempt to distinguish them by the length or
shortness of their skulls; others, by their facial angle.
Still others again, rejecting all these methods as un-
trustworthy, will attempt to distinguish them by the
1 Darwin, Descent of Man, vol. I. p. 218.

86 Evolution and Religion

character of their hair; when, as a matter of fact, there
seems to be no safe criterion, no clearly defined dividing
line. All the so-called races, even the highest with
the lowest, can interbreed and yet their offspring is
fertile ; something we should hardly expect if the parents
were of different species. Says a recent writer on
anthropology : * " The drift of the evolutionary theory
is towards unity of origin. Darwin says, 'When
naturalists observe a close agreement in numerous
small habits, tastes and dispositions, between two or
more domestic races, or between nearly allied forms,
they use the fact as an argument that all are descended
from a common progenitor, who was thus endowed;
and consequently that all should be classed under the
same species. The same argument may be applied
with much force to the races of men.' 2 The experience
of the last few years countenances Mr. Darwin's
prophecy, that before long the dispute between those
who hold that all men come from one pair and those
who hold to diverse originals, will die a silent and un-
noticed death."

Race Love

The belief to which Darwin apparently inclined
seems to be becoming tacitly accepted more and more.
The term "races" is a convenience, but it hardly ex-
presses a scientific fact. Essential race unity as one
great human family, appears to approach more closely
to the strictly scientific statement which will satisfy

1 Int. Cyc. vol. I. p. 514. 2 Descent of Man, vol. I. p. 225.

Race Love 87

all the facts of the case. But the evolutionary ideals
of at least three of the great world-religions would seem
to have forestalled by from two to three thousand years
this latest discovery of science. In other words, man's
emotional intuitions in this all-important question
appear to have been just three cycles ahead of his in-
tellectual perceptions. The prophets of Israel, Gau-
tama, and Jesus were the first of all the sons of men to
look beyond the narrower horizon of national and so-
called race prejudice (at a period, too, in the world's
history when man's reason regarded almost every
separate nationality, tribe, people, caste, or even in-
habitants of a city, as constituting a separate race), and
catch a glimpse of the larger vision of the essential unity
of mankind. All through the intervening ages since
they taught, whilst man has been blindly groping his
intellectual way upwards, now basing his moral ideas
on the inherent antagonism between survival of self
and survival of family, survival of tribe, survival of
town, survival of nation, survival of so-called races,
they have held steadily forth before the view of man-
kind their ideal of race unity. This ideal of itself
rendered not only violence and war, but murder,
adultery, fraud, revenge, hatred, envy, and selfishness,
sins which militated against race survival. The only
principle that will drive out these primordial passions
of the human heart appears to be family love. Love
does it already, more or less imperfectly, in our present
family life. Love does it already, more or less imper-
fectly, in our national life. Love will do it, more or

88 Evolution and Religion

less imperfectly at first, in our race life. But as love
grows, so will these purely selfish passions die which
militate against man's general well-being; so will be
substituted in their place a love as wide and boundless
as the universe, knowing no separate castes or creeds,
no divided nationalities, no differing races, but em-
bracing all mankind ; a sympathy for and with all men,
and the acts which naturally flow from such an honest
sympathy. Had the mental horizon of the peoples to
whom this ideal was addressed widened sufficiently yet
to enable them to entertain so enlarged and profound
a moral idea ? Not in the least. But the evolutionary
ideal was set before the race, and some day the race,
somewhere, somehow, would slowly grow up to it in a
people which should bring forth the fruits thereof.

Love Without Reason

But you must always apparently be on your guard
against one danger. It is just as easy to exaggerate
unduly the emotional side of man's nature as it is the
intellectual side; easier, perhaps. In this wider view
of the race as one great human family, we must equally
guard against the evils which an exaggerated love,
untempered by reason, produces in our present family
life. In other words, love must always be guided by
intelligence. Listen to the following suggestive pas-
sage taken from a writer on the family life in Africa
to-day, and tell me whether the phenomenon is con-
fined to the Dark Continent alone. 1 "In most tribes
1 Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa, p. 156.

The Golden Mean 89

of the Bantu the unit in the constitution of the com-
munity is the family, not the individual. However
successful a man may be in trade, hunting, or any other
means of gaining wealth, he cannot, even if he would,
keep it all to himself. He must share with the family,
whose indolent members thus are supported by the
more energetic or industrious. I often urged my civi-
lized employees not to spend so promptly, almost on
pay-day itself, their wages in the purchase of things
they really did not need. I represented that they
should lay by 'for a rainy day.' But they said that if
it was known that they had money laid up, their rela-
tions would give them no peace until they had com-
pelled them to draw it and divide it with them. They
all yielded to this, — ■ the strong, the intelligent, the
diligent, submitting to their family, though they knew
that their hard-earned pay was going to support weak-
ness, heathenism, and thriftlessness."

The Golden Mean

We have the same indolent members both in our
family life and in the larger world community to-day,
those who would like to be supported by the more
energetic and industrious. Man's instinct of gener-
osity as well as man's needs, are diligently exploited
by the spoilers of the race. It would seem to be a
strict middle course that we must steer in dealing with
this fundamental, but intricate, delicate problem. For
man's head impels him to selfishness; man's heart
urges him toward generosity; either quality may be

90 Evolution and Religion

easily exaggerated. As usual, the golden mean appears
to lie between. In the evolutionary ideal of the right
use of property, for instance (one of the fundamental
bases of all human progress), the theories of a Robert
Owen or an Edward Bellamy, who allow the emotional
side of their nature to get the upper hand of them,
seem to err on the side of undue emotionalism quite as
profoundly as the theories of a Ricardo or a John
Stuart Mill, who exaggerate the intellectual side of
their nature, err on the side of over-intellectualism.
Remember that man is complex. One-sided theories
will not settle the question. It is a biological problem;
and the biological conditions of life, the evolutionary
struggle between the two ideas, survival of race and
survival of self, appear to be the only thing that can
satisfactorily settle it. The middle line of conduct,
which shall produce race perfection or the development
of the highest type of man, is apparently the only safe
line to follow; and that will be found, I think, in giving
free play to intelligence tempered by emotion; in other
words, to individual self-interest controlled by the
ever-growing restraint imposed on the individual
through this ideal of an enlarged family affection for
the race.


There are. those to-day who apparently believe only
in salvation by law. This is our modern pet heresy.
But law, I think you will find, where it touches the
subject of man's conduct, is only man's ideals crystal-

Law 91

lized more or less imperfectly into concrete form. It is
what we call applied justice. Unless, therefore, those
ideals have become accepted by a decisive majority in
a given community, the laws which attempt to crystal-
lize them prematurely will be of worse than no effect.
They will remain a dead letter. They will not be
enforced. And this will ultimately exert a deadening
influence on public sentiment, accustoming it, as it
does, to seeing the law broken with impunity. Ac-
cordingly it seems hardly wise to attempt by law to
force an ideal upon a community before its time.
Probably one of the hardest things in life for generous-
minded spirits who have caught the vision of a higher
ideal, is to possess their souls in patience until their
ideal has come to be generally accepted. And yet
there would seem to be no salvation in law per se.
Salvation apparently cannot come from without; it
must come from within. Ideals must by the very
nature of the case precede the law, which is only crys-
tallized ideals. Thus, Christianity is said to have abol-
ished slavery among the nations of Christendom; but
the ideal of man's equality in the sight of God, and
hence before the law, had to come first and be gener-
ally accepted, before it could become crystallized suc-
cessfully into human law. In like manner, we have
already in our law to-day the crystallized ideal that
no one shall use his property so as to injure another;
and that the social organism is justified in thus pro-
tecting itself against the abuse of private property
rights, goes without saying. But this, like Confucius'

92 Evolution and Religion

rendering of the golden rule, is after all only the nega-
tive side of man's ideal of right conduct as regards the
use of property. When you come, however, to the
positive side of the ideal, viz., that a man shall use
his property for the benefit of others as well, then it
seems to me that you are, in the present day at least,
traveling out of the domain of law into what is as yet
only the realm of ideals, and not a generally accepted
ideal at that. In homely English, you would be trying
to put the cart before the horse, to establish the law
before the ideal had become generally accepted among
men. Law, by the very nature of it, must deal mainly
with the negative side of the ideal, the "Thou shalt
nots" of human conduct. As commonly expressed,
you cannot by legislation make a people moral. The
best that you can do, by law, is apparently to prevent
men from too flagrantly sinning against the crystallized
ideals of their race. But when you would have law
invade the positive side of the ideal as well, the " Thou
shalts " of human conduct, then it seems to me that you
are treading on very delicate ground. For how is it
with the family life to-day, of which human society
under our new thought is to become only an enlarge-
ment ? Can a father forcibly impose upon any one
of his sons, who, through native ability, foresight,
shrewdness or self-denial, happens to be better off
than the rest of his brothers, the duty of devoting his
property, as clothed with a family interest, to the gen-
eral family use? Not in the least. The regulation
of such matters is left, and left wisely in my opinion,

Law 93

either to the principle of competition or to the ideal
of family love. Even Roman law — in which paternal
power over children seems to have been well-nigh abso-
lute ; in some of whose modern descendants, on the other
hand, a father is forbidden to absolutely disinherit a
wayward, degenerate child; which looked at property
in land as coming from the state, as opposed to our
feudal idea that the owner of land is the conqueror of
the land, and hence holds the rights of a conqueror
— even Roman law would hardly go so far as to
attempt to enforce the positive side of the ideal; far
less our Anglo-Saxon law with its broader spirit of
liberty, its tendency to refrain from all unwarrantable
interference with the rights of the individual. Let
us beware lest we are led into the fatal mistake of
attempting to demand from individual members of the
state a higher standard of community morality than we
are willing to live up to ourselves as individual mem-
bers of the family. The ideal of love must prevail
equally on both sides, the community's, the majority's
side, as well as the individual's side. Mob tyranny is
not one whit better than individual tyranny; if anything,
it is worse. Extend the ideal of the family standard as
far as you please until you have included the entire
race. But do not try too soon to raise that standard to
an impossible height, by law, before the ideal has first
preceded it and become generally accepted. Other-
wise, I cannot help thinking that by using force pre-
maturely, you will only succeed in arousing men's
antagonism to the ideal, and so defeat your own ends.

94 Evolution and Religion


There are those on the other hand to-day who
would bring about the reign of equity on earth by
violence. Foolish attempt. So long as men will to
live under the law of the jungle, the strong must pre-
vail over the weak. The clever, the crafty, the un-
scrupulous will continue to exploit and prey upon the
slow-witted, the single-minded, the honest. Violence,
apparently, can never cure these evils. Attempts to
wrest away superfluous wealth by violent means will,
as in the case of law, only rouse men's latent antagonism,
and make them all the harsher in their use and abuse
of wealth. Men are born with unequal talents. There
is no use evading the fact. It is patent to any one who
will open his eyes and look about him. When our
Declaration of Independence asserts that all men are
created equal, it refers to the equality of every human
being before the law, equality of political and civil
rights. Even in this restricted meaning of equality
it expressed an ideal rather than a fact, seeing that the
document was penned by a slave-holder. But it cer-
tainly never meant that men are born with equal
talents. The clever will always rule in the end. This
is what would seem to explain in part the failures of
the long line of communistic and socialistic communi-
ties which have endeavored to realize the ideal of equal
opportunity, of a commonwealth; inasmuch as com-
munism, by the very nature of it, cannot outlast more
than one or two generations of mankind because (unless

Selection 95

the principle of selection seizes upon it because it finds
that it aids in the struggle for existence), there is nothing
to insure its acceptance by the oncoming generations.
In the long run it runs up against human nature,
i.e., the basic passion of covetousness, which proves too
strong for its fine-spun theories of equal rights. Not
until a change is made in the ideals of the individual
men who go to make up a community can you look
for even the remote possibility of success in realizing
man's evolutionary ideal of justice. It would seem to
be iEsop's fable of the wind, the sun, and the traveler,
over again. The blustering wind of violence cannot
induce the traveler to remove his cloak. He will only
button it up the more closely about him. But the sun
of love, genial in its warmth and kindliness, will con-
strain him of itself to lay aside his cloak as something
superfluous and excessive, as something which he
really does not need.


But, it may be finally objected, What is to become of
the principle of selection once this ideal of a common
humanity is attained? If the law of universal love,
guided by reason, is to prevail, what will become of the
struggle for existence which seems indispensable to
produce the best and highest type of race perfection?
You need never fear, even when man has attained his
highest ideal, that he will ever escape from the law of
the struggle for existence. Most of man's enemies will
apparently always be with him. Advancing knowledge

96 Evolution and Religion

may indeed mitigate the power of some of them, for as
man's ignorance of the phenomena of life diminishes
so his control over these natural enemies increases.
The wild beasts to-day are practically vanquished, out-
side of the tropics and the polar regions. Disease
germs are being attacked more successfully day by day.
Famines are growing rarer through scientific investi-
gation of obscure blights on crops, and through in-
creased transportation. Suffering from fierce heats
can be relieved somewhat by growing facilities for
escaping temporarily at least from the plague spots
and pest holes of city life; intense cold can be alle-
viated by the use of newly discovered fuels and im-
proved methods of heating. Thunderstorms, floods,
too, can be guarded against in a measure. Even con-
flagrations may be avoided or mitigated, in some cases,
through watchfulness and better facilities for controlling
or fighting fire. But the struggle to overcome life's
enemies will, apparently, never wholly pass away as
long as the evolutionary conditions of man's life remain
unchanged. The main thing for our race to do would
seem to be to present a united front to all these enemies
of life alike — not forgetting to extirpate the traitors
in its own ranks, the wild beasts of selfish passion in
man's own heart, which by preying on the needs or
weaknesses of his fellowman render it more difficult to
overcome the natural enemies of life.

Intellectual Knowledge 97

Intellectual Knowledge

There are many to-day who regard intellectual
ignorance as the sole enemy of mankind. Educate the
people, they say, to an increased perception of the true
meaning of the physical phenomena of life, and all will
be well. These would appear to be persons of only
one idea. That man's control over the physical
enemies of his life has increased, as advance in intel-
lectual knowledge has lessened his fears of the unknown,
goes without saying. But man has to deal with more
than physical enemies alone. The most powerful and
insidious enemies of his life are yet before him to be
met, combated, and overcome. Intellectual educa-
tion alone will not overcome them. On the contrary,
intellectual education by itself, without some restrain-
ing influence that shall really restrain, only goes to
render these enemies more formidable to the general
well-being. The advance in physical knowledge to-day
with its discoveries of exciting stimulants, powerful
drugs, and high explosives, puts it in the power of
educated demons to work havoc amongst large num-
bers of their fellowmen. Unless some adequate moral
and self-restraining influence be found, society will
find itself ultimately compelled to exterminate these
assailers of the social organism. The true enemies of
the future to be overcome, therefore, are not alone the
physical enemies of life, not alone intellectual ignorance,
but the selfish passions in each individual man's heart,
enemies like anger, lust, lying, revenge, hatred, envy,

98 Evolution and Religion

and covetousness. They are not physical or intellec-
tual enemies, but moral and spiritual enemies. They
have to be overcome by moral and spiritual means.
All the knowledge in the world concerning the physical
phenomena of life will not serve to expel them. On

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Online LibraryWilliam TrumbullEvolution and religion; a parent's talks with his children concerning the moral side of evolution → online text (page 6 of 7)