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mals ; but, for all this, there is in man what there is not in the
lower aninials, and we can sec no possibility of its development
cut of anything in tlieni, i.e. raiionality and frecdoi:i, which

* Ultimate Conccpticns of Faith, p. 77.

= Life and Letters, ii. CO.



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Thought, 271

are the conditions of moral character, and which take him for-
ever out of the category of nature.

Rationality g^ves the capacity to discern the absolute obliga-
tion of right. An example will best show what is meant by this
"absolute obligation of right." A gentleman approached a
friend of tlie writer, who was the owner of vessels, many years
ago, and sought to induce him to use them in the African trade,
to which he said they were well adapted. He set forth the
great profits of the trade, but he at last said, " I ought to men-
tion one thing, the cargo is mainly New England rum." The
gentleman approached said at once, " That is enough. You
need say no more." Niow had he said, " But the vessels shall
come home loaded with full cargoes of ivory, all they can carry ;
yes, with gold ; yes, with diamonds," the reply to each would
have been, " That makes no difference." And the peculiarity
of the case is, that, in adding manifold to the gain, there is no
approach to removing or lessening the obligation not to do it,
which cannot be affected by any increase of gain in doing the
wrong, or of loss in doing the right.

Joseph saw this absolute obligation when he said, " How can
I do this wickedness and sin against God ?" and the young men,
when they looked into the burning fiery furnace, and said to
the king, " O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer
thee in this matter " ; so Peter and John, when they said to
the authorities, " Whether it be right in the sight of God, to
hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye, for we can-
not but speak the things which we have seen and heard " ; and
this is the meaning of the " must be " that our Lord so often
uses of his action, and especially of his death.

Man has a second capacity of choosing to act under the di-
rection-of the absolute obligation of the right. Doing this, he
becomes a free man. The capacity to see the absoluteness of



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272 Evolution and Religious Thought. [April,

the obligation of right, and to choose it, gives him " formal
freedom," the capacity of freedom ; the choice of it as suprenie
gives him real freedom. Without this seeing of the absolute
obligation, and choice of it, he is just as much under the con-
trol of " motives " as the ball on the billiard-table, which will
always, and must always, move in the direction of the strongest
motive or force. Without this, there is no escape from Jon-
athan Edwards's argument, that the human will always moves
in the direction of the strongest motive, or from that of John
Fiske for " determinism."

But, seeing and choosing this, man is free to act against
every motive to evil, for be has an absolute consideration for
the right, that knows neither more nor less ; and all considera-
tions of more or less of gain, or pleasure, for anything wrong,
are of no weight against this absolute consideration. Now
this capacity of seeing the absolute obligation, and of choosing
it, makes man a free spirit, and takes him forever out of the
realm of " nature," which is the realm of necessitated and ne-
cessitating causation.

Prove the evolutionary theory, and we do not get out of the
realm of nature. But man, a free spirit, cannot be the outcome
of an evolution which is only in nature. When' we come to
consider religion, we are in the sphere of free spirit, and not
in that of evolution, with its necessitating causation. As John
Fiske, the great expounder of Herbert Spencer, says, " No the-
ological system or philosophy can be called cosfnic [i. e. evo-
lutionary] while admitting miracle, special creation, or any
other denial of the persistence of force " ; and no ontological
system can be called " cosmic " while professing to deal with
existence not included within the phenomenal world." ^ Yet,
'Cosmic Philosophy, Preface, p. 11.



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Thought. 273

strangely enough, as Professor Royce tells us,* Fiske to the
end held that " the gulf between the phenomena of conscious-
ness and all other phenomena is an impassable gulf.'' Remem-
bering this spiritual nature of man will help us, in our religious
thinking, to keep clear of this reahn of force and phenomena.

But now, while we hold that evolution has no legitimate
place in religions thought, yet we must see that it has come
into this highest realm of our interests, and many are seeking
to adjust their religious thinking to what they feel obliged
to accept as a system of fact, revealed by science, which gives
a law as inflexible as that of gravitation. Let us, then, ask
what its tendencies are, and how it is affecting religious
thoug^ht and belief.

1. It has a powerful tendency to vacate the supernatural
element in man. — By the " supernatural " in man is not meant
the miraculous. This is the divine supernatural. As Nico-
demus said to our Lord, " No one can do these signs that thou
doest, except God be with him." But there is a supernatural
in man, just as really as in God, and it is the essential condi-
tion of his freedom, and of his capacity of character. It is in
this that he and his acts are not in the chain of necessitated
and necessitating causation, as is all of nature. He is, in his
spirit, aboz*e natm-e, as in his body he is of nature, and he acts
on and through nature by a direct power of his will over it, —
not in contravention of her laws, but always and only in ac-
cordance with them.

Now there is a strong tendency, from the theory of evolu-
tion, to minimize, and even vacate, this essential element in
man, and to lessen his sense of responsibility for his character
and destiny. So much is attributed to heredity and environ-
ment, that little is left to the human spirit for its self-control
'Introduction to his Cosmic Philosophy, p. 59.



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274 Evolution and Religious Thought. [April,

and self-formation. As Mr. Huxley says, " The actions we
call sinful are as much the consequence of the order of nature,
as those we call virtuous. They are part and parcel of the
struggle for existence through which all living things have
passed, and they have become sins, because man alone seeks
a higher life in voluntary association." ^ How much room is
left here for human responsibility and character, with both sin-
ful and virtuous actions equally " the consequence of the order
of nature," and becoming sinful or virtuous because " man
seeks a higher life " ?

It is true that man's consciousness of his responsibility, and
the necessity, for the very existence of society, of holding men
responsible and treating them as so, prevents the application
of the implications of the theory ; but still its influence is pow-
erful and harmful. It is one of the causes which have con-
tributed to the strong tendency to Universalism, especially
among our teachers of religion.

2. The theory of evolution would vacate the divine super-
natural agency in human history, i.e. the miraculous. — We
have already quoted Mr. Fiske's declaration that " the miracle,
special creation, or any other denial of the persistence of
force," must be excluded. All evolutionists do not go as far
as this (although it is difficult to see how they can avoid it).
As Mr. Huxley says, " In arguing about the miraculous, the
assumption that they [miracles] are impossible, is illegitimate,
because it involves the whole point in dispute." " Improbable
they certainly are, and therefore they require specially strong
evidence. Rut this is precisely what they lack; the evidence
to them turns out to be of doubtful value." ^ And I believe he
never admitted that any miracle ever occurred.

»Life and Letters, ii. 299.
^Ilid., p. 207.



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Thought, 275

Here an important word as to the definition of miracle should
be said. It is frequently spoken of as an interference with, a
suspension or infraction of, the laws of nature. This is un-
fortunate, especially now that the new conception of "the
reign of law " has taught us all, and rightly too, that the laws
of nature (or better, God's laws in his action in nature) are
unchanging, and that their uniformity is essential for the con-
duct of life. There is in a miracle no infraction or suspension
of any natural law any more than in our non-miraculous ac-
tion in and with nature. Her law is, that every force shall act
in a certain uniform way and to its full extent ; and it does so
in the case of the miracle.

But in the miracle another force, a new one, comes in from
without, from a spiritual source, and counteracts the natural
force, not the natural law. And there is no more an infraction
of law than there is when the upward force of the hand, in
obedience to the unll of the person who lifts a book, counter-
acts the natural force of gravitation, which, uncounteracted,
would have kept the book down ; but it is counteracted, and the
book rises. The pull dozimzmrd is just as strong, however,
while it rises and is held up, as it would have been had it re-
mained down, i. e. the force of gravitation acts to its full extent
when the book rises or falls. The rising of the book does not
affect the operation of the lazi^ of gravitation : it only shows that
another force under the control of the will of a person is
strong enough to counteract it.

In the miracle, this new force comes from the divine super-
natural action direct, and without the intervention of secondary
causes, as means ; as in healing the sick, raising the dead, mul-
tiplying the loaves, by the direct power of God, in accordance
with Ixis will. In every case, natural forces operated in accord-
ance with their laws and to their full extent, but the power of



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276 Evolution and Religious Thought [April,

God counteracted forces of disease and decay, and brought
health and life ; or of the winds, and brought calm ; or it pro-
duced directly what the forces of nature would not have pro-
duced, as in multiplying the loaves.

It may be asked if we do not ascribe a supernatural power
to the human will, like that in God. Yes, but with two differ-
ences: (1) that the power of the human will is limited to the
direct control of the physical forces of the body in which it
dwells; and (2) that it can affect physical forces outside the
body only as they can be affected by the physical forces of the
body under its control, i. e. by secondary causes or means. In
the divine supernatural, or miracle, we see no limitation in the
extent of its action, as in our case to the control of the forces of
our body, and no limitation to the use of physical means. It
is direct in action and unlimited in extent.

Now the assumption of evolution is that no forces ever come
into the course of nature and history from without. In evolu-
tion we have only the outworking of forces resident in nature
from the beginning: no force is lost, no force is added. This
is the real question of miracle. Has any spiritual divine force
come into the course of history since the beginning? We see
how a right definition relieves it from all prejudice from the
objection to admitting the infraction of law. It is simply a
question of evidence. We see how, with this exclusion of all
forces from without, the theory of evolution vacates miracle
in human history ; and, most of all, it vacates the supreme mir-
acle of all history, on which our hopes depend, that which is
the very substance of our gospel, — the coming of the divine
into our world and its life, in the person of the only-begottsen
Son of God, Jesus Christ.

No one can have observed the currents of thought the past
few years, without having seen a strong tendency to deny the



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Thought. 277

divine supernatural element in the person and work of Christ.
He is but a human person, to be accounted for as other per-
sons are. And this tendency has been manifest among some
of our teachers of religion. Take such cases as that of Pro-
fessors Gilbert and Paine. The latter says/ *'The inductive
historical method brings Christ back to us a true member of
the human race, and turns Christology into anthropology";
and such men find many defenders.

It is true we are told that we do not need the miracle to
attest any teaching as of authority from God. Indeed, some
say that the miracle is rather a hindrance to faith, for the
ever-present and orderly working of God in nature and his-
tory is a more impressive witness for him, than the occasional
and special working from without. Note in this the strange
failure to see that the object of the miracle is not as a sign
and proof of God's being and action in nature or history, but
a witness of his intervention for man's help, a sign that the
Son of Mar)^ is also the Son of God. As John wrote, " These
[signs] are written that ye might believe that Jesus [the name
f^ven to the Son of Mary] is the Christ, the Son of God."
God's manifest and usual work in nature and history does not
touch this. Only the miracle is the sufficient sign of this.

They delight to tell of the immanence of God in the world.
And this is sometimes spoken of as if it were a new discovery ;
whereas, it is as old as the Psalms, which have the finest ex-
pressions of it possible. It is God ever working in all the op-
erations of nature, and the events of history. But the great
difficulty with this emphasis on the immanence of God, is its
strong tendency to pantheism, threatening the personality of
God himself. The great objection to the slighting of the value
of the miracle as a sign of God's intervention is that it is in
' Evolutioa of Trinitarianism, p. 281.



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278 Evolution and Religious Thought. [April,

such plain contradiction to the plain teaching of our Lord.

3. This vacating the divine supernatural is especially seen
in the influence of the theory of evolution in shaping the new
views of the Bible, — There are three assumptions growing out
of the theory of evolution, which have confessedly dominated
" the higher criticism " so-called, or unconsciously influenced
it. Any one familiar with the literature of this subject sees
this on almost every page.

(1) It is assumed that man has come up slowly from the
brute, through a long series of slow improvements, to his pres-
ent civilized condition. His brutal nature clings to him, and
only slowly does he divest himself of it. Indeed, what we call
his lower nature,' or, in Scripture phrase, " the flesh/' which
seems to be the seat of so much evil, is simply the brute nature
from which he has not yet gotten free. " The only fall of man
has been a fall upward," as the writer once heard Emerson say.

Now there is a fatal objection to this assumption. It is, that
it is in complete contradiction to the law of the introduction
of new species. It should be remembered here, that the theory
of development, which we have argued is " not proven*' does
not touch the fact of the appearance of new species, nor of
their condition when they appear. These are facts which all
see. The theory only affects the genesis of the new species,
claiming that it is developed out of a previous species. There
is, thus, an observed condition of every new species wh^ it
appears, and this is so constant that we may rightly call it the
law of introduction of new species. Now this assumption as
to the condition of man when he appeared, is in direct conflict
with this law.

This conflict is best stated by Professor D. W. Simon, of the
United College, Bradford, England, in a volume " Some Bible
Problems," and will be stated largely in his words. It is point-



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Thought, 279

ed out that every species appears with its normal habits, and
suited to its environments. There is no slow and painful ac-
quisition of its normal habits, nor slow adaptation to its en-
vironments. It is a bird or fish, as normal and as adapted to
its conditions, in the beginning, as it ever was. Now how is it
with man? We should expect the same normality in his hab-
its, and adaptation to his circumstances, and no long struggle
up to normal manhood.

What is the case with man ? Let Mr. Huxley tell us : "I
know of no study which is so unutterably saddening as that
of the evolution of humanity, as it is set forth in the annals of
history. Out of the darkness of prehistoric ages, man emerges
with the marks of his lowly origin strongly upon him. He is
a brute, only more intelligent than other brutes ; a blind prey
to impulses, which as often as not lead him to destruction; a
victim of endless illusions, which make his mental existence a
terror and a burthen, and fill his physical life with barren toil
and battle. He attains a certain degree of comfort and devel-
ops a more or less workable theory of life, in such favored sit-
uations as the plains of Mesopotamia or oi Egypt, and then
for thousands and thousand of years struggles with varjdng
fortunes, attended by infinite wickedness, bloodshed, and mis-
ery, to maintain himself at this point against the greed and the
ambition of his fellowi men." ^

This is indeed a sad picture ; and the thing to be remembered
is, that the like cannot be said of any other species of all the
thousands whose history is open to us. It is the one awful
exception " to the law of the introduction of new species.'*
As Professor Simon asks, " If this is not a break in the pro-
cess of evolution, what is a break? Why should the flower of
the process be in some respects the least perfect of its produc-
> Some Bible Problems, p. 210.



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280 Ei'olution and Religious Thought. [April,

tions? Why has not man lived from the very first a life as
normal for him as the life lived by the races which preceded
him was normal for them; or that lived by contemporaneous
species of living creatures is normal for them? Had the great
demiurge groiwv weary, or exhausted his skill f Or zvere the
fnaterials on which he worked no longer as plastic (W of yore?
•'Or what can be the reason why hundreds of centuries
must elapse before man began to liz*e a man, ere he beg^n to
live, as normally as the brutes in their kind. . . . The brutes in-
deed are not brutes in the reproachful sense in which it is ap-
plied to man, and one would be almost justified in parod)ring
Burns' well-known line —

" * Her prentice hand she tried on man,
And then she made the beastles, O! ' "

Can we believe that man alone, of all the species almost count-
less, began his career without the endowments and adaptations
to his surrounding necessary to a normal life? Can we believe
that he began as "a brute, only more intelligent than other
brutes,'' in the phrase of Mr. Huxley?

No; we must believe he was normal man in faculty and in
adaptation to environment in the beginning. This does not
mean that the arts of life were his, for these are not instinctive,
but acquired. But there may have been speech and all knowl-
edge needed for continuing life. As the Lord in repeated in-
stances gave not only the organs of speech, but the knowledge
of language and the power to use it, and the knowing how to
walk, as well as perfect limbs, so we may believe man had
given to him all the power and knowledge needed for the sim-
ple life of the beginning, that he began, not as a babe, but as a
full-grown and adequately endowed man. Is it not true, also,
that in all discoveries of early man in the region where, by

common consent, he began hds career, we find him not a half
' Some Bible Problems, pp. 213, 214.



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Tfwught, 281

brute, but normal man in capacity and physical comforts, and
that the relics of a barbarous condition are found far away
from this common center of the race at the first ? He has lost
what was in the beginning. And, most o( all, is there not evi-
dence of a moral lapse, in every part of the race, which is best
set forth in Genesis? Shall we not best account for man's
low condition and slow ascent, by accepting the Fall there de-
scribed ? Now this contradiction to the law of the introduction
of species in the case of man, which the theory of evolution as-
sumes, has been strangely overlooked, and it warrants our re-
jecting the assumption, and our refusal to take it with us as a
regulating axiom in our religious thought.

(2) Another assumption coming from the theory of evolu-
tion is, that man has come up slowly from the lowest and most
unworthy conception of religion, and the most rudimentary
forms of religious expression, to his present knowledge and
worship. That is, he has developed in religion, as in the arts,
by his own discoveries and inventions. Beginning fh fetish-
ism, he has risen, through animism, nature worship, polythe-
ism with its idolatry, -henotheism, until at last he reached mono-
theism, and an elaborate ritual. This is a natural inference
from the doctrine of his coming up slowly from bruteism.

Now it is easy to see what influence this must have on the
interpretation of the Bible. We must find there a slow and
gradual development of religious knowledge and ritual; and,
if we do not find it in the Bible as it has come to us from the
past, we must rearrange it until it shall conform to our axiom ;
as, when we find a clear statement of monotheism in the Pen-
tateuch, it shows it must have been written late in Jewish his-
tory, for such advanced conceptions of God could not have
existed at the date formerly held as that of the writing of
these books. This, too, is one great argument for the late date
Vol. LXII. No. 246. 6



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282 Evolution and Religious Thought. [April,

of the great majority of \he Psalms.^ So as to ritual the same
development is to be found. This gives color to the theory'
that the history in which the ritual law is set is largely ficti-
tious, made as a settmg for the ritual, which did not come to
its fulness, as given in the Pentateuch, until during and after
the exile.

Now there are great difficulties in accepting this assump-
tion, and its consequences, in dealing with the Old Testament,
some of which are intellectual, and some moral. But of these
we will not speak, as they do not grow out of the theory we
are considering. There is difficulty, however, in the evidence
from the comparative history of religions, which goes counter
to this assumption, which should be noticed here. Professor
Moffat, of Princeton, has taught us that the farther we get
back in our study of the Gentile religions which have a litera-
ture, the purer and truer are the conceptions of God. The
earliest books of the Hindus, for example, are far in advance
of the later ; so that the awakened Hindus are seeking to resist
the advances of Christianity by reviving the older teachings,
which are so much superior to the later. We come nearer to
monotheism the further we go back. It thus looks very much
as if monotheism was the first religious doctrine, from which
men have sunk to polytheism, and as if they had not reached
it by slow ascent. The evidence from Egypt and China is in
the same direction.

But the force of this now well-known fact, as to religions
with a literature accessible to us, has been weakened in^many
minds by the fact that, among uncivilized and barbarous peo-
ples, we do now find these lower and seemingly rudimentary
forms of religious faith and ritual. This has seemed to many
to prove that this is the natural history of religion, that all have
^ See Cheyne's Bampton Lectures.



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1905.] Evolution and Religious Thought. 283

begun here, and have come from these rude beginnings up to
monotheism, which we are told was reached only in the days
of the prophets. But recently Andrew Lang,* after great re-
search of the religious ideas and rituals among savage and
barbarous people of to-day, shows that their earlier concep-
tions of God, of his character and government, and of man,
were purer and higher than their present ones; all showing
not progress, but decline. As he concludes, " There are two
chief sources of religion. First and earliest, the belief [how
obtained we know not] (the hypothesis of Paul (Rom. i. 18-
22) seems not the most unsatisfactory) in a powerful, moral,



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