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History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White

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conceived than the theory, seriously proposed, that the first
human being was born of a mermaid.

Hence it was that, between these two extremes of theology, De
Maillet received no recognition until, very recently, the
greatest men of science in England and France have united in
giving him his due. But his work was not lost, even in his own
day; Robinet and Bonnet pushed forward victoriously on helpful

In the second half of the eighteenth century a great barrier was
thrown across this current--the authority of Linnaeus. He was
the most eminent naturalist of his time, a wide observer, a close
thinker; but the atmosphere in which he lived and moved and had
his being was saturated with biblical theology, and this
permeated all his thinking.

He who visits the tomb of Linnaeus to-day, entering the beautiful
cathedral of Upsala by its southern porch, sees above it, wrought
in stone, the Hebrew legend of creation. In a series of
medallions, the Almighty--in human form--accomplishes the work of
each creative day. In due order he puts in place the solid
firmament with the waters above it, the sun, moon, and stars
within it, the beasts, birds, and plants below it, and finishes
his task by taking man out of a little hillock of "the earth
beneath," and woman out of man's side. Doubtless Linnaeus, as he
went to his devotions, often smiled at this childlike portrayal.
Yet he was never able to break away from the idea it embodied.
At times, in face of the difficulties which beset the orthodox
theory, he ventured to favour some slight concessions. Toward
the end of his life he timidly advanced the hypothesis that all
the species of one genus constituted at the creation one species;
and from the last edition of his Systema Naturae he quietly left
out the strongly orthodox statement of the fixity of each
species, which he had insisted upon in his earlier works. But he
made no adequate declaration. What he might expect if he openly
and decidedly sanctioned a newer view he learned to his cost;
warnings came speedily both from the Catholic and Protestant

At a time when eminent prelates of the older Church were
eulogizing debauched princes like Louis XV, and using the
unspeakably obscene casuistry of the Jesuit Sanchez in the
education of the priesthood as to the relations of men to women,
the modesty of the Church authorities was so shocked by
Linnaeus's proofs of a sexual system in plants that for many
years his writings were prohibited in the Papal States and in
various other parts of Europe where clerical authority was strong
enough to resist the new scientific current. Not until 1773 did
one of the more broad-minded cardinals--Zelanda--succeed in
gaining permission that Prof. Minasi should discuss the Linnaean
system at Rome.

And Protestantism was quite as oppressive. In a letter to
Eloius, Linnaeus tells of the rebuke given to science by one of
the great Lutheran prelates of Sweden, Bishop Svedberg. From
various parts of Europe detailed statements had been sent to the
Royal Academy of Science that water had been turned into blood,
and well-meaning ecclesiastics had seen in this an indication of
the wrath of God, certainly against the regions in which these
miracles had occurred and possibly against the whole world. A
miracle of this sort appearing in Sweden, Linnaeus looked into it
carefully and found that the reddening of the water was caused by
dense masses of minute insects. News of this explanation having
reached the bishop, he took the field against it; he denounced
this scientific discovery as "a Satanic abyss" (abyssum
Satanae), and declared "The reddening of the water is NOT
natural," and "when God allows such a miracle to take place Satan
endeavours, and so do his ungodly, self-reliant, self-sufficient,
and worldly tools, to make it signify nothing." In face of this
onslaught Linnaeus retreated; he tells his correspondent that
"it is difficult to say anything in this matter," and shields
himself under the statement "It is certainly a miracle that so
many millions of creatures can be so suddenly propagated," and
"it shows undoubtedly the all-wise power of the Infinite."

The great naturalist, grown old and worn with labours for
science, could no longer resist the contemporary theology; he
settled into obedience to it, and while the modification of his
early orthodox view was, as we have seen, quietly imbedded in the
final edition of his great work, he made no special effort to
impress it upon the world. To all appearance he continued to
adhere to the doctrine that all existing species had been created
by the Almighty "in the beginning," and that since "the
beginning" no new species had appeared.

Yet even his great authority could not arrest the swelling tide;
more and more vast became the number of species, more and more
incomprehensible under the old theory became the newly
ascertained facts in geographical distribution, more and more it
was felt that the universe and animated beings had come into
existence by some process other than a special creation "in the
beginning," and the question was constantly pressing, "By WHAT

Throughout the whole of the eighteenth century one man was at
work on natural history who might have contributed much toward an
answer to this question: this man was Buffon. His powers of
research and thought were remarkable, and his gift in presenting
results of research and thought showed genius. He had caught the
idea of an evolution in Nature by the variation of species, and
was likely to make a great advance with it; but he, too, was
made to feel the power of theology.

As long as he gave pleasing descriptions of animals the Church
petted him, but when he began to deduce truths of philosophical
import the batteries of the Sorbonne were opened upon him; he
was made to know that "the sacred deposit of truth committed to
the Church" was, that "in the beginning God made the heavens and
the earth" and that "all things were made at the beginning of the
world." For his simple statement of truths in natural science
which are to-day truisms, he was, as we have seen, dragged forth
by the theological faculty, forced to recant publicly, and to
print his recantation. In this he announced, "I abandon
everything in my book respecting the formation of the earth, and
generally all which may be contrary to the narrative of

[21] For Descartes and his relation to the Copernican theory, see
Saisset, Descartes et ses Precurseurs; also Fouillee, Descartes,
Paris, 1893, chaps. ii and iii; also other authorities cited in
my chapter on Astronomy; for his relation to the theory of
evolution, see the Principes de Philosophie, 3eme partie, S 45.
For de Maillet, see Quatrefages, Darwin et ses Precurseurs
francais, chap i, citing D'Archiac, Paleontologie, Stratigraphie,
vol. i; also, Perrier, La Philosophie zoologique avant Darwin,
chap. vi; also the admirable article Evolution, by Huxley, in
Ency. Brit. The title of De Maillet's book is Telliamed, ou
Entretiens d'un Philosophe indien avec un Missionaire francais
sur la Diminution de la Mer, 1748, 1756. For Buffon, see the
authorities previously given, also the chapter on Geology in this
work. For the resistance of both Catholic and Protestant
authorities to the Linnaean system and ideas, see Alberg, Life of
Linnaeus, London, 1888, pp. 143-147, and 237. As to the creation
medallions at the Cathedral of Upsala, it is a somewhat curious
coincidence that the present writer came upon them while visiting
that edifice during the preparation of this chapter.

But all this triumph of the Chaldeo-Babylonian creation legends
which the Church had inherited availed but little.

For about the end of the eighteenth century fruitful suggestions
and even clear presentations of this or that part of a large
evolutionary doctrine came thick and fast, and from the most
divergent quarters. Especially remarkable were those which came
from Erasmus Darwin in England, from Maupertuis in France, from
Oken in Switzerland, and from Herder, and, most brilliantly of
all, from Goethe in Germany.

Two men among these thinkers must be especially
mentioned--Treviranus in Germany and Lamarck in France; each
independently of the other drew the world more completely than
ever before in this direction.

From Treviranus came, in 1802, his work on biology, and in this
he gave forth the idea that from forms of life originally simple
had arisen all higher organizations by gradual development; that
every living feature has a capacity for receiving modifications
of its structure from external influences; and that no species
had become really extinct, but that each had passed into some
other species. From Lamarck came about the same time his
Researches, and a little later his Zoological Philosophy, which
introduced a new factor into the process of evolution--the action
of the animal itself in its efforts toward a development to suit
new needs--and he gave as his principal conclusions the

1. Life tends to increase the volume of each living body and of
all its parts up to a limit determined by its own necessities.

2. New wants in animals give rise to new organs.

3. The development of these organs is in proportion to their

4. New developments may be transmitted to offspring.

His well-known examples to illustrate these views, such as that
of successive generations of giraffes lengthening their necks by
stretching them to gather high-growing foliage, and of successive
generations of kangaroos lengthening and strengthening their hind
legs by the necessity of keeping themselves erect while jumping,
provoked laughter, but the very comicality of these illustrations
aided to fasten his main conclusion in men's memories.

In both these statements, imperfect as they were, great truths
were embodied--truths which were sure to grow.

Lamarck's declaration, especially, that the development of organs
is in ratio to their employment, and his indications of the
reproduction in progeny of what is gained or lost in parents by
the influence of circumstances, entered as a most effective force
into the development of the evolution theory.

The next great successor in the apostolate of this idea of the
universe was Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. As early as 1795 he had
begun to form a theory that species are various modifications of
the same type, and this theory he developed, testing it at
various stages as Nature was more and more displayed to him. It
fell to his lot to bear the brunt in a struggle against heavy
odds which lasted many years.

For the man who now took up the warfare, avowedly for science but
unconsciously for theology, was the foremost naturalist then
living--Cuvier. His scientific eminence was deserved; the
highest honours of his own and other countries were given him,
and he bore them worthily. An Imperial Councillor under
Napoleon; President of the Council of Public Instruction and
Chancellor of the University under the restored Bourbons; Grand
Officer of the Legion of Honour, a Peer of France, Minister of
the Interior, and President of the Council of State under Louis
Philippe; he was eminent in all these capacities, and yet the
dignity given by such high administrative positions was as
nothing compared to his leadership in natural science. Science
throughout the world acknowledged in him its chief contemporary
ornament, and to this hour his fame rightly continues. But there
was in him, as in Linnaeus, a survival of certain theological
ways of looking at the universe and certain theological
conceptions of a plan of creation; it must be said, too, that
while his temperament made him distrust new hypotheses, of which
he had seen so many born and die, his environment as a great
functionary of state, honoured, admired, almost adored by the
greatest, not only in the state but in the Church, his solicitude
lest science should receive some detriment by openly resisting
the Church, which had recaptured Europe after the French
Revolution, and had made of its enemies its footstool--all these
considerations led him to oppose the new theory. Amid the
plaudits, then, of the foremost church-men he threw across the
path of the evolution doctrines the whole mass of his authority
in favour of the old theory of catastrophic changes and special

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire stoutly withstood him, braving
non-recognition, ill-treatment, and ridicule. Treviranus, afar
off in his mathematical lecture-room at Bremen, seemed simply

But the current of evolutionary thought could not thus be
checked: dammed up for a time, it broke out in new channels and
in ways and places least expected; turned away from France, it
appeared especially in England, where great paleontologists and
geologists arose whose work culminated in that of Lyell.
Specialists throughout all the world now became more vigorous
than ever, gathering facts and thinking upon them in a way which
caused the special creation theory to shrink more and more.
Broader and more full became these various rivulets, soon to
unite in one great stream of thought.

In 1813 Dr. Wells developed a theory of evolution by natural
selection to account for varieties in the human race. About 182O
Dean Herbert, eminent as an authority in horticulture, avowed his
conviction that species are but fixed varieties. In 1831 Patrick
Matthews stumbled upon and stated the main doctrine of natural
selection in evolution; and others here and there, in Europe and
America, caught an inkling of it.

But no one outside of a circle apparently uninfluential cared for
these things: the Church was serene: on the Continent it had
obtained reactionary control of courts, cabinets, and
universities; in England, Dean Cockburn was denouncing Mary
Somerville and the geologists to the delight of churchmen; and
the Rev. Mellor Brown was doing the same thing for the
edification of dissenters.

In America the mild suggestions of Silliman and his compeers were
met by the protestations of the Andover theologians headed by
Moses Stuart. Neither of the great English universities, as a
rule, took any notice of the innovators save by sneers.

To this current of thought there was joined a new element when,
in 1844, Robert Chambers published his Vestiges of Creation.
The book was attractive and was widely read. In Chambers's view
the several series of animated beings, from the simplest and
oldest up to the highest and most recent, were the result of two
distinct impulses, each given once and for all time by the
Creator. The first of these was an impulse imparted to forms of
life, lifting them gradually through higher grades; the second
was an impulse tending to modify organic substances in accordance
with external circumstances; in fact, the doctrine of the book
was evolution tempered by miracle--a stretching out of the
creative act through all time--a pious version of Lamarck.

Two results followed, one mirth-provoking, the other leading to
serious thought. The amusing result was that the theologians
were greatly alarmed by the book: it was loudly insisted that it
promoted atheism. Looking back along the line of thought which
has since been developed, one feels that the older theologians
ought to have put up thanksgivings for Chambers's theory, and
prayers that it might prove true. The more serious result was
that it accustomed men's minds to a belief in evolution as in
some form possible or even probable. In this way it was
provisionally of service.

Eight years later Herbert Spencer published an essay contrasting
the theories of creation and evolution--reasoning with great
force in favour of the latter, showing that species had
undoubtedly been modified by circumstances; but still only few
and chosen men saw the significance of all these lines of
reasoning which had been converging during so many years toward
one conclusion.

On July 1, 1858, there were read before the Linnaean Society at
London two papers--one presented by Charles Darwin, the other by
Alfred Russel Wallace--and with the reading of these papers the
doctrine of evolution by natural selection was born. Then and
there a fatal breach was made in the great theological barrier of
the continued fixity of species since the creation.

The story of these papers the scientific world knows by heart:
how Charles Darwin, having been sent to the University of
Cambridge to fit him for the Anglican priesthood, left it in 1831
to go upon the scientific expedition of the Beagle; how for five
years he studied with wonderful vigour and acuteness the problems
of life as revealed on land and at sea--among volcanoes and coral
reefs, in forests and on the sands, from the tropics to the
arctic regions; how, in the Cape Verde and the Galapagos
Islands, and in Brazil, Patagonia, and Australia he interrogated
Nature with matchless persistency and skill; how he returned
unheralded, quietly settled down to his work, and soon set the
world thinking over its first published results, such as his book
on Coral Reefs, and the monograph on the Cirripedia; and,
finally, how he presented his paper, and followed it up with
treatises which made him one of the great leaders in the history
of human thought.

The scientific world realizes, too, more and more, the power of
character shown by Darwin in all this great career; the faculty
of silence, the reserve of strength seen in keeping his great
thought--his idea of evolution by natural selection--under silent
study and meditation for nearly twenty years, giving no hint of
it to the world at large, but working in every field to secure
proofs or disproofs, and accumulating masses of precious material
for the solution of the questions involved.

To one man only did he reveal his thought--to Dr. Joseph Hooker,
to whom in 1844, under the seal of secrecy, he gave a summary of
his conclusions. Not until fourteen years later occurred the
event which showed him that the fulness of time had come--the
letter from Alfred Russel Wallace, to whom, in brilliant
researches during the decade from 1848 to 1858, in Brazil and in
the Malay Archipelago, the same truth of evolution by natural
selection had been revealed. Among the proofs that scientific
study does no injury to the more delicate shades of sentiment is
the well-known story of this letter. With it Wallace sent Darwin
a memoir, asking him to present it to the Linnaean Society: on
examining it, Darwin found that Wallace had independently arrived
at conclusions similar to his own--possibly had deprived him of
fame; but Darwin was loyal to his friend, and his friend
remained ever loyal to him. He publicly presented the paper from
Wallace, with his own conclusions; and the date of this
presentation--July 1, 1858--separates two epochs in the history,
not merely of natural science, but of human thought.

In the following year, 1859, came the first instalment of his
work in its fuller development--his book on The Origin of
Species. In this book one at least of the main secrets at the
heart of the evolutionary process, which had baffled the long
line of investigators and philosophers from the days of
Aristotle, was more broadly revealed. The effective mechanism of
evolution was shown at work in three ascertained facts: in the
struggle for existence among organized beings; in the survival
of the fittest; and in heredity. These facts were presented
with such minute research, wide observation, patient collation,
transparent honesty, and judicial fairness, that they at once
commanded the world's attention. It was the outcome of thirty
years' work and thought by a worker and thinker of genius, but it
was yet more than that--it was the outcome, also, of the work and
thought of another man of genius fifty years before. The book of
Malthus on the Principle of Population, mainly founded on the
fact that animals increase in a geometrical ratio, and therefore,
if unchecked, must encumber the earth, had been generally
forgotten, and was only recalled with a sneer. But the genius of
Darwin recognised in it a deeper meaning, and now the thought of
Malthus was joined to the new current. Meditating upon it in
connection with his own observations of the luxuriance of Nature,
Darwin had arrived at his doctrine of natural selection and
survival of the fittest.

As the great dogmatic barrier between the old and new views of
the universe was broken down, the flood of new thought pouring
over the world stimulated and nourished strong growths in every
field of research and reasoning: edition after edition of the
book was called for; it was translated even into Japanese and
Hindustani; the stagnation of scientific thought, which Buckle,
only a few years before, had so deeply lamented, gave place to a
widespread and fruitful activity; masses of accumulated
observations, which had seemed stale and unprofitable, were made
alive; facts formerly without meaning now found their
interpretation. Under this new influence an army of young men
took up every promising line of scientific investigation in every
land. Epoch-making books appeared in all the great nations.
Spencer, Wallace, Huxley, Galton, Tyndall, Tylor, Lubbock,
Bagehot, Lewes, in England, and a phalanx of strong men in
Germany, Italy, France, and America gave forth works which became
authoritative in every department of biology. If some of the
older men in France held back, overawed perhaps by the authority
of Cuvier, the younger and more vigorous pressed on.

One source of opposition deserves to be especially
mentioned--Louis Agassiz.

A great investigator, an inspired and inspiring teacher, a noble
man, he had received and elaborated a theory of animated creation
which he could not readily change. In his heart and mind still
prevailed the atmosphere of the little Swiss parsonage in which
he was born, and his religious and moral nature, so beautiful to
all who knew him, was especially repelled by sundry
evolutionists, who, in their zeal as neophytes, made
proclamations seeming to have a decidedly irreligious if not
immoral bearing. In addition to this was the direction his
thinking had received from Cuvier. Both these influences
combined to prevent his acceptance of the new view.

He was the third great man who had thrown his influence as a
barrier across the current of evolutionary thought. Linnaeus in
the second half of the eighteenth century, Cuvier in the first
half, and Agassiz in the second half of the nineteenth--all made
the same effort. Each remains great; but not all of them
together could arrest the current. Agassiz's strong efforts
throughout the United States, and indeed throughout Europe, to
check it, really promoted it. From the great museum he had
founded at Cambridge, from his summer school at Penikese, from
his lecture rooms at Harvard and Cornell, his disciples went
forth full of love and admiration for him, full of enthusiasm
which he had stirred and into fields which he had indicated; but
their powers, which he had aroused and strengthened, were devoted
to developing the truth he failed to recognise; Shaler, Verrill,
Packard, Hartt, Wilder, Jordan, with a multitude of others, and
especially the son who bore his honoured name, did justice to his
memory by applying what they had received from him to research
under inspiration of the new revelation.

Still another man deserves especial gratitude and honour in this
progress--Edward Livingston Youmans. He was perhaps the first in
America to recognise the vast bearings of the truths presented by
Darwin, Wallace, and Spencer. He became the apostle of these
truths, sacrificing the brilliant career on which he had entered
as a public lecturer, subordinating himself to the three leaders,
and giving himself to editorial drudgery in the stimulation of
research and the announcement of results.

In support of the new doctrine came a world of new proofs; those
which Darwin himself added in regard to the cross-fertilization
of plants, and which he had adopted from embryology, led the way,
and these were followed by the discoveries of Wallace, Bates,
Huxley, Marsh, Cope, Leidy, Haeckel, Muller, Gaudry, and a
multitude of others in all lands.[22]

[22] For Agassiz's opposition to evolution, see the Essay on
Classification, vol. i, 1857, as regards Lamark, and vol. iii, as
regards Darwin; also Silliman's Journal, July 1860; also the
Atlantic Monthly, January 1874; also his Life and Correspondence,
vol. ii, p. 647; also Asa Gray, Scientific Papers, vol. ii, p.
484. A reminiscence of my own enables me to appreciate his deep
ethical and religious feeling. I was passing the day with him at
Nahant in 1868, consulting him regarding candidates for various
scientific chairs at the newly established Cornell University, in
which he took a deep interest. As we discussed one after another
of the candidates, he suddenly said: "Who is to be your Professor
of Moral Philosophy? That is a far more important position than
all the others."


Darwin's Origin of Species had come into the theological world
like a plough into an ant-hill. Everywhere those thus rudely
awakened from their old comfort and repose had swarmed forth
angry and confused. Reviews, sermons, books light and heavy,
came flying at the new thinker from all sides.

The keynote was struck at once in the Quarterly Review by
Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He declared that Darwin was
guilty of "a tendency to limit God's glory in creation"; that
"the principle of natural selection is absolutely incompatible
with the word of God"; that it "contradicts the revealed
relations of creation to its Creator"; that it is "inconsistent
with the fulness of his glory"; that it is "a dishonouring view
of Nature"; and that there is "a simpler explanation of the
presence of these strange forms among the works of God": that
explanation being--"the fall of Adam." Nor did the bishop's
efforts end here; at the meeting of the British Association for
the Advancement of Science he again disported himself in the tide
of popular applause. Referring to the ideas of Darwin, who was
absent on account of illness, he congratulated himself in a
public speech that he was not descended from a monkey. The reply
came from Huxley, who said in substance: "If I had to choose, I
would prefer to be a descendant of a humble monkey rather than of
a man who employs his knowledge and eloquence in misrepresenting
those who are wearing out their lives in the search for truth."

This shot reverberated through England, and indeed through other

The utterances of this the most brilliant prelate of the Anglican
Church received a sort of antiphonal response from the leaders of
the English Catholics. In an address before the "Academia,"
which had been organized to combat "science falsely so called,"
Cardinal Manning declared his abhorrence of the new view of
Nature, and described it as "a brutal philosophy--to wit, there
is no God, and the ape is our Adam."

These attacks from such eminent sources set the clerical fashion
for several years. One distinguished clerical reviewer, in spite
of Darwin's thirty years of quiet labour, and in spite of the
powerful summing up of his book, prefaced a diatribe by saying
that Darwin "might have been more modest had he given some slight
reason for dissenting from the views generally entertained."
Another distinguished clergyman, vice-president of a Protestant
institute to combat "dangerous" science, declared Darwinism "an
attempt to dethrone God." Another critic spoke of persons
accepting the Darwinian views as "under the frenzied inspiration
of the inhaler of mephitic gas," and of Darwin's argument as "a
jungle of fanciful assumption." Another spoke of Darwin's views
as suggesting that "God is dead," and declared that Darwin's work
"does open violence to everything which the Creator himself has
told us in the Scriptures of the methods and results of his
work." Still another theological authority asserted: "If the
Darwinian theory is true, Genesis is a lie, the whole framework
of the book of life falls to pieces, and the revelation of God to
man, as we Christians know it, is a delusion and a snare."
Another, who had shown excellent qualities as an observing
naturalist, declared the Darwinian view "a huge imposture from
the beginning."

Echoes came from America. One review, the organ of the most
widespread of American religious sects, declared that Darwin was
"attempting to befog and to pettifog the whole question";
another denounced Darwin's views as "infidelity"; another,
representing the American branch of the Anglican Church, poured
contempt over Darwin as "sophistical and illogical," and then
plunged into an exceedingly dangerous line of argument in the
following words: "If this hypothesis be true, then is the Bible
an unbearable fiction;...then have Christians for nearly two
thousand years been duped by a monstrous lie....Darwin requires
us to disbelieve the authoritative word of the Creator." A
leading journal representing the same church took pains to show
the evolution theory to be as contrary to the explicit
declarations of the New Testament as to those of the Old, and
said: "If we have all, men and monkeys, oysters and eagles,
developed from an original germ, then is St. Paul's grand
deliverance--`All flesh is not the same flesh; there is one kind
of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and
another of birds'--untrue."

Another echo came from Australia, where Dr. Perry, Lord Bishop
of Melbourne, in a most bitter book on Science and the Bible,
declared that the obvious object of Chambers, Darwin, and Huxley
is "to produce in their readers a disbelief of the Bible."

Nor was the older branch of the Church to be left behind in this
chorus. Bayma, in the Catholic World, declared, "Mr. Darwin is,
we have reason to believe, the mouthpiece or chief trumpeter
of that infidel clique whose well-known object is to do away with
all idea of a God."

Worthy of especial note as showing the determination of the
theological side at that period was the foundation of
sacro-scientific organizations to combat the new ideas. First to
be noted is the "Academia," planned by Cardinal Wiseman. In a
circular letter the cardinal, usually so moderate and just,
sounded an alarm and summed up by saying, "Now it is for the
Church, which alone possesses divine certainty and divine
discernment, to place itself at once in the front of a movement
which threatens even the fragmentary remains of Christian belief
in England." The necessary permission was obtained from Rome,
the Academia was founded, and the "divine discernment" of the
Church was seen in the utterances which came from it, such as
those of Cardinal Manning, which every thoughtful Catholic would
now desire to recall, and in the diatribes of Dr. Laing, which
only aroused laughter on all sides. A similar effort was seen in
Protestant quarters; the "Victoria institute" was created, and
perhaps the most noted utterance which ever came from it was the
declaration of its vice-president, the Rev. Walter Mitchell,
that "Darwinism endeavours to dethrone God."[23]

[23] For Wilberforce's article, see Quarterly Review, July, 1860.
For the reply of Huxley to the bishop's speech I have relied on
the account given in Quatrefages, who had it from Carpenter; a
somewhat different version is given in the Life and Letters of
Darwin. For Cardinal Manning's attack, see Essays on Religion
and Literature, London, 1865. For the review articles, see the
Quarterly already cited, and that for July, 1874; also the North
British Review, May 1860; also, F. O. Morris's letter in the
Record, reprinted at Glasgow, 1870; also the Addresses of Rev.
Walter Mitchell before the Victoria Institute, London, 1867; also
Rev. B. G. Johns, Moses not Darwin, a Sermon, March 31, 1871.
For the earlier American attacks, see Methodist Quarterly Review,
April 1871; The American Church Review, July and October, 1865,
and January, 1866. For the Australian attack, see Science and
the Bible, by the Right Reverand Charles Perry, D. D., Bishop of
Melbourne, London, 1869. For Bayma, see the Catholic World, vol.
xxvi, p.782. For the Academia, see Essays edited by Cardinal
Manning, above cited; and for the Victoria Institute, see
Scientia Scientarum, by a member of the Victoria Institute,
London, 1865.

In France the attack was even more violent. Fabre d'Envieu
brought out the heavy artillery of theology, and in a long series
of elaborate propositions demonstrated that any other doctrine
than that of the fixity and persistence of species is absolutely
contrary to Scripture. The Abbe Desorges, a former Professor of
Theology, stigmatized Darwin as a "pedant," and evolution as
"gloomy". Monseigneur Segur, referring to Darwin and his
followers, went into hysterics and shrieked: "These infamous
doctrines have for their only support the most abject passions.
Their father is pride, their mother impurity, their offspring
revolutions. They come from hell and return thither, taking with
them the gross creatures who blush not to proclaim and accept

In Germany the attack, if less declamatory, was no less severe.
Catholic theologians vied with Protestants in bitterness. Prof.
Michelis declared Darwin's theory "a caricature of creation."
Dr. Hagermann asserted that it "turned the Creator out of doors."

Dr. Schund insisted that "every idea of the Holy Scriptures, from
the first to the last page, stands in diametrical opposition to
the Darwinian theory"; and, "if Darwin be right in his view of
the development of man out of a brutal condition, then the Bible
teaching in regard to man is utterly annihilated." Rougemont in
Switzerland called for a crusade against the obnoxious doctrine.
Luthardt, Professor of Theology at Leipsic, declared: "The idea
of creation belongs to religion and not to natural science; the
whole superstructure of personal religion is built upon the
doctrine of creation"; and he showed the evolution theory to be
in direct contradiction to Holy Writ.

But in 1863 came an event which brought serious confusion to the
theological camp: Sir Charles Lyell, the most eminent of living
geologists, a man of deeply Christian feeling and of exceedingly
cautious temper, who had opposed the evolution theory of Lamarck
and declared his adherence to the idea of successive creations,
then published his work on the Antiquity of Man, and in this and
other utterances showed himself a complete though unwilling
convert to the fundamental ideas of Darwin. The blow was serious
in many ways, and especially so in two--first, as withdrawing all
foundation in fact from the scriptural chronology, and secondly,
as discrediting the creation theory. The blow was not
unexpected; in various review articles against the Darwinian
theory there had been appeals to Lyell, at times almost piteous,
"not to flinch from the truths he had formerly proclaimed." But
Lyell, like the honest man he was, yielded unreservedly to the
mass of new proofs arrayed on the side of evolution against that
of creation.

At the same time came Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, giving new
and most cogent arguments in favour of evolution by natural

In 1871 was published Darwin's Descent of Man. Its doctrine had
been anticipated by critics of his previous books, but it made,
none the less, a great stir; again the opposing army trooped
forth, though evidently with much less heart than before. A few
were very violent. The Dublin University Magazine, after the
traditional Hibernian fashion, charged Mr. Darwin with seeking
"to displace God by the unerring action of vagary," and with
being "resolved to hunt God out of the world." But most notable
from the side of the older Church was the elaborate answer to
Darwin's book by the eminent French Catholic physician, Dr.
Constantin James. In his work, On Darwinism, or the Man-Ape,
published at Paris in 1877, Dr. James not only refuted Darwin
scientifically but poured contempt on his book, calling it "a
fairy tale," and insisted that a work "so fantastic and so
burlesque" was, doubtless, only a huge joke, like Erasmus's
Praise of Folly, or Montesquieu's Persian Letters. The princes
of the Church were delighted. The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris
assured the author that the book had become his "spiritual
reading," and begged him to send a copy to the Pope himself. His
Holiness, Pope Pius IX, acknowledged the gift in a remarkable
letter. He thanked his dear son, the writer, for the book in
which he "refutes so well the aberrations of Darwinism." "A
system," His Holiness adds, "which is repugnant at once to
history, to the tradition of all peoples, to exact science, to
observed facts, and even to Reason herself, would seem to need no
refutation, did not alienation from God and the leaning toward
materialism, due to depravity, eagerly seek a support in all this
tissue of fables....And, in fact, pride, after rejecting the
Creator of all things and proclaiming man independent, wishing
him to be his own king, his own priest, and his own God--pride
goes so far as to degrade man himself to the level of the
unreasoning brutes, perhaps even of lifeless matter, thus
unconsciously confirming the Divine declaration, WHEN PRIDE
COMETH, THEN COMETH SHAME. But the corruption of this age, the
machinations of the perverse, the danger of the simple, demand
that such fancies, altogether absurd though they are,
should--since they borrow the mask of science--be refuted by true
science." Wherefore the Pope thanked Dr. James for his book, "so
opportune and so perfectly appropriate to the exigencies of our
time," and bestowed on him the apostolic benediction. Nor was
this brief all. With it there came a second, creating the author
an officer of the Papal Order of St. Sylvester. The cardinal
archbishop assured the delighted physician that such a double
honour of brief and brevet was perhaps unprecedented, and
suggested only that in a new edition of his book he should
"insist a little more on the relation existing between the
narratives of Genesis and the discoveries of modern science, in
such fashion as to convince the most incredulous of their perfect
agreement." The prelate urged also a more dignified title. The
proofs of this new edition were accordingly all submitted to His
Eminence, and in 1882 it appeared as Moses and Darwin: the Man
of Genesis compared with the Man-Ape, or Religious Education
opposed to Atheistic. No wonder the cardinal embraced the
author, thanking him in the name of science and religion. "We
have at last," he declared, "a handbook which we can safely put
into the hands of youth."

Scarcely less vigorous were the champions of English Protestant
orthodoxy. In an address at Liverpool, Mr. Gladstone remarked:
"Upon the grounds of what is termed evolution God is relieved of
the labour of creation; in the name of unchangeable laws he is
discharged from governing the world"; and, when Herbert Spencer
called his attention to the fact that Newton with the doctrine of
gravitation and with the science of physical astronomy is open to
the same charge, Mr. Gladstone retreated in the Contemporary
Review under one of his characteristic clouds of words. The
Rev. Dr. Coles, in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review,
declared that the God of evolution is not the Christian's God.
Burgon, Dean of Chichester, in a sermon preached before the
University of Oxford, pathetically warned the students that
"those who refuse to accept the history of the creation of our
first parents according to its obvious literal intention, and are
for substituting the modern dream of evolution in its place,
cause the entire scheme of man's salvation to collapse." Dr.
Pusey also came into the fray with most earnest appeals against
the new doctrine, and the Rev. Gavin Carlyle was perfervid on
the same side. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
published a book by the Rev. Mr. Birks, in which the evolution
doctrine was declared to be "flatly opposed to the fundamental
doctrine of creation." Even the London Times admitted a review
stigmatizing Darwin's Descent of Man as an "utterly unsupported
hypothesis," full of "unsubstantiated premises, cursory
investigations, and disintegrating speculations," and Darwin
himself as "reckless and unscientific."[24]

[24] For the French theological oppostition to the Darwinian
theory, see Pozzy, La Terre at le Recit Biblique de la Creation,
1874, especially pp. 353, 363; also Felix Ducane, Etudes sur la
Transformisme, 1876, especially pp. 107 to 119. As to Fabre
d'Envieu, see especially his Proposition xliii. For the Abbe
Desogres, "former Professor of Philosophy and Theology," see his
Erreurs Modernes, Paris, 1878, pp. 677 and 595 to 598. For
Monseigneur Segur, see his La Foi devant la Science Moderne,
sixth ed., Paris, 1874, pp. 23, 34, etc. For Herbert Spencer's
reply to Mr. Gladstone, see his study of Sociology; for the
passage in the Dublin Review, see the issue for July, 1871. For
the Review in the London Times, see Nature for April 20, 1871.
For Gavin Carlyle, see The Battle of Unbelief, 1870, pp. 86 and
171. For the attacks by Michelis and Hagermann, see Natur und
Offenbarung, Munster, 1861 to 1869. For Schund, see his Darwin's
Hypothese und ihr Verhaaltniss zu Religion und Moral, Stuttgart,
1869. For Luthardt, see Fundamental Truths of Christianity,
translated by Sophia Taylor, second ed., Edinburgh, 1869. For
Rougemont, see his L'Homme et le Singe, Neuchatel, 1863 (also in
German trans.). For Constantin James, see his Mes Entretiens
avec l'Empereur Don Pedro sur la Darwinisme, Paris, 1888, where
the papal briefs are printed in full. For the English attacks on
Darwin's Descent of Man, see the Edinburgh Review July, 1871 and
elsewhere; the Dublin Review, July, 1871; the British and Foreign
Evangelical Review, April, 1886. See also The Scripture Doctrine
of Creation, by the Rev. T. R. Birks, London, 1873, published by
the S. P. C. K. For Dr. Pusey's attack, see his Unscience, not
Science, adverse to Faith, 1878; also Darwin's Life and Letters,
vol. ii, pp. 411, 412.

But it was noted that this second series of attacks, on the
Descent of Man, differed in one remarkable respect--so far as
England was concerned--from those which had been made over ten
years before on the Origin of Species. While everything was
done to discredit Darwin, to pour contempt upon him, and even, of
all things in the world, to make him--the gentlest of mankind,
only occupied with the scientific side of the problem--"a
persecutor of Christianity," while his followers were represented
more and more as charlatans or dupes, there began to be in the
most influential quarters careful avoidance of the old argument
that evolution--even by natural selection--contradicts Scripture.

It began to be felt that this was dangerous ground. The
defection of Lyell had, perhaps, more than anything else, started
the question among theologians who had preserved some equanimity,
TRUE?" Recollections of the position in which the Roman Church
found itself after the establishment of the doctrines of
Copernicus and Galileo naturally came into the minds of the more
thoughtful. In Germany this consideration does not seem to have
occurred at quite so early a day. One eminent Lutheran clergyman
at Magdeburg called on his hearers to choose between Darwin and
religion; Delitszch, in his new commentary on Genesis, attempted
to bring science back to recognise human sin as an important
factor in creation; Prof. Heinrich Ewald, while carefully
avoiding any sharp conflict between the scriptural doctrine and
evolution, comforted himself by covering Darwin and his followers
with contempt; Christlieb, in his address before the Evangelical
Alliance at New York in 1873, simply took the view that the
tendencies of the Darwinian theory were "toward infidelity," but
declined to make any serious battle on biblical grounds; the
Jesuit, Father Pesch, in Holland, drew up in Latin, after the old
scholastic manner, a sort of general indictment of evolution, of
which one may say that it was interesting--as interesting as the
display of a troop in chain armour and with cross-bows on a
nineteenth-century battlefield.

From America there came new echoes. Among the myriad attacks on
the Darwinian theory by Protestants and Catholics two should be
especially mentioned. The first of these was by Dr. Noah
Porter, President of Yale College, an excellent scholar, an
interesting writer, a noble man, broadly tolerant, combining in
his thinking a curious mixture of radicalism and conservatism.
While giving great latitude to the evolutionary teaching in the
university under his care, he felt it his duty upon one occasion
to avow his disbelief in it; but he was too wise a man to suggest
any necessary antagonism between it and the Scriptures. He
confined himself mainly to pointing out the tendency of the
evolution doctrine in this form toward agnosticism and pantheism.

To those who knew and loved him, and had noted the genial way in
which by wise neglect he had allowed scientific studies to
flourish at Yale, there was an amusing side to all this. Within
a stone's throw of his college rooms was the Museum of
Paleontology, in which Prof. Marsh had laid side by side, among
other evidences of the new truth, that wonderful series of
specimens showing the evolution of the horse from the earliest
form of the animal, "not larger than a fox, with five toes,"
through the whole series up to his present form and size--that
series which Huxley declared an absolute proof of the existence
of natural selection as an agent in evolution. In spite of the
veneration and love which all Yale men felt for President Porter,
it was hardly to be expected that these particular arguments of
his would have much permanent effect upon them when there was
constantly before their eyes so convincing a refutation.

But a far more determined opponent was the Rev. Dr. Hodge, of
Princeton; his anger toward the evolution doctrine was bitter:
he denounced it as thoroughly "atheistic"; he insisted that
Christians "have a right to protest against the arraying of
probabilities against the clear evidence of the Scriptures"; he
even censured so orthodox a writer as the Duke of Argyll, and
declared that the Darwinian theory of natural selection is
"utterly inconsistent with the Scriptures," and that "an absent
God, who does nothing, is to us no God"; that "to ignore design
as manifested in God's creation is to dethrone God"; that "a
denial of design in Nature is virtually a denial of God"; and
that "no teleologist can be a Darwinian." Even more
uncompromising was another of the leading authorities at the same
university--the Rev. Dr. Duffield. He declared war not only
against Darwin but even against men like Asa Gray, Le Conte, and
others, who had attempted to reconcile the new theory with the
Bible: he insisted that "evolutionism and the scriptural account
of the origin of man are irreconcilable"--that the Darwinian
theory is "in direct conflict with the teaching of the apostle,
`All scripture is given by inspiration of God'"; he pointed out,
in his opposition to Darwin's Descent of Man and Lyell's
Antiquity of Man, that in the Bible "the genealogical links
which connect the Israelites in Egypt with Adam and Eve in Eden
are explicitly given." These utterances of Prof. Duffield
culminated in a declaration which deserves to be cited as showing
that a Presbyterian minister can "deal damnation round the land"
ex cathedra in a fashion quite equal to that of popes and
bishops. It is as follows: "If the development theory of the
origin of man," wrote Dr. Duffield in the Princeton Review,
"shall in a little while take its place--as doubtless it
will--with other exploded scientific speculations, then they who
accept it with its proper logical consequences will in the life
to come have their portion with those who in this life `know not
God and obey not the gospel of his Son.'"

Fortunately, at about the time when Darwin's Descent of Man was
published, there had come into Princeton University "deus ex
machina" in the person of Dr. James McCosh. Called to the
presidency, he at once took his stand against teachings so
dangerous to Christianity as those of Drs. Hodge, Duffield, and
their associates. In one of his personal confidences he has let
us into the secret of this matter. With that hard Scotch sense
which Thackeray had applauded in his well-known verses, he saw
that the most dangerous thing which could be done to Christianity
at Princeton was to reiterate in the university pulpit, week
after week, solemn declarations that if evolution by natural
selection, or indeed evolution at all, be true, the Scriptures
are false. He tells us that he saw that this was the certain way
to make the students unbelievers; he therefore not only checked
this dangerous preaching but preached an opposite doctrine. With
him began the inevitable compromise, and, in spite of mutterings
against him as a Darwinian, he carried the day. Whatever may be
thought of his general system of philosophy, no one can deny his
great service in neutralizing the teachings of his predecessors
and colleagues--so dangerous to all that is essential in

Other divines of strong sense in other parts of the country began
to take similar ground--namely, that men could be Christians and
at the same time Darwinians. There appeared, indeed, here and
there, curious discrepancies: thus in 1873 the Monthly Religious
Magazine of Boston congratulated its readers that the Rev. Mr.
Burr had "demolished the evolution theory, knocking the breath of
life out of it and throwing it to the dogs." This amazing
performance by the Rev. Mr. Burr was repeated in a very
striking way by Bishop Keener before the Oecumenical Council of
Methodism at Washington in 1891. In what the newspapers
described as an "admirable speech," he refuted evolution
doctrines by saying that evolutionists had "only to make a
journey of twelve hours from the place where he was then standing
to find together the bones of the muskrat, the opossum, the
coprolite, and the ichthyosaurus." He asserted that
Agassiz--whom the good bishop, like so many others, seemed to
think an evolutionist--when he visited these beds near
Charleston, declared: "These old beds have set me crazy; they
have destroyed the work of a lifetime." And the Methodist
prelate ended by saying: "Now, gentlemen, brethren, take these
facts home with you; get down and look at them. This is the
watch that was under the steam hammer--the doctrine of evolution;
and this steam hammer is the wonderful deposit of the Ashley
beds." Exhibitions like these availed little. While the good
bishop amid vociferous applause thus made comically evident his
belief that Agassiz was a Darwinian and a coprolite an animal,
scientific men were recording in all parts of the world facts
confirming the dreaded theory of an evolution by natural
selection. While the Rev. Mr. Burr was so loudly praised for
"throwing Darwinism to the dogs," Marsh was completing his series
leading from the five-toed ungulates to the horse. While Dr.
Tayler Lewis at Union, and Drs. Hodge and Duffield at Princeton,
were showing that if evolution be true the biblical accounts must
be false, the indefatigable Yale professor was showing his
cretaceous birds, and among them Hesperornis and Ichthyornis with
teeth. While in Germany Luthardt, Schund, and their compeers
were demonstrating that Scripture requires a belief in special
and separate creations, the Archaeopteryx, showing a most
remarkable connection between birds and reptiles, was discovered.

While in France Monseigneur Segur and others were indulging in
diatribes against "a certain Darwin," Gaudry and Filhol were
discovering a striking series of "missing links" among the
carnivora. In view of the proofs accumulating in favour of the
new evolutionary hypothesis, the change in the tone of
controlling theologians was now rapid. From all sides came
evidences of desire to compromise with the theory. Strict
adherents of the biblical text pointed significantly to the
verses in Genesis in which the earth and sea were made to bring
forth birds and fishes, and man was created out of the dust of
the ground. Men of larger mind like Kingsley and Farrar, with
English and American broad churchmen generally, took ground
directly in Darwin's favour. Even Whewell took pains to show
that there might be such a thing as a Darwinian argument for
design in Nature; and the Rev. Samuel Houghton, of the Royal
Society, gave interesting suggestions of a divine design in

Both the great English universities received the new teaching as
a leaven: at Oxford, in the very front of the High Church party
at Keble College, was elaborated a statement that the evolution
doctrine is "an advance in our theological thinking." And
Temple, Bishop of London, perhaps the most influential thinker
then in the Anglican episcopate, accepted the new revelation in
the following words: "It seems something more majestic, more
befitting him to whom a thousand years are as one day, thus to
impress his will once for all on his creation, and provide for
all the countless varieties by this one original impress, than by
special acts of creation to be perpetually modifying what he had
previously made."

In Scotland the Duke of Argyll, head and front of the orthodox
party, dissenting in many respects from Darwin's full
conclusions, made concessions which badly shook the old position.

Curiously enough, from the Roman Catholic Church, bitter as some
of its writers had been, now came argument to prove that the
Catholic faith does not prevent any one from holding the
Darwinian theory, and especially a declaration from an authority
eminent among American Catholics--a declaration which has a very
curious sound, but which it would be ungracious to find fault
with--that "the doctrine of evolution is no more in opposition to
the doctrine of the Catholic Church than is the Copernican theory
or that of Galileo."

Here and there, indeed, men of science like Dawson, Mivart, and
Wigand, in view of theological considerations, sought to make
conditions; but the current was too strong, and eminent
theologians in every country accepted natural selection as at
least a very important part in the mechanism of evolution.

At the death of Darwin it was felt that there was but one place
in England where his body should be laid, and that this place was
next the grave of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. The
noble address of Canon Farrar at his funeral was echoed from many
pulpits in Europe and America, and theological opposition as such
was ended. Occasionally appeared, it is true, a survival of the
old feeling: the Rev. Dr. Laing referred to the burial of
Darwin in Westminster Abbey as "a proof that England is no longer
a Christian country," and added that this burial was a
desecration--that this honour was given him because he had been
"the chief promoter of the mock doctrine of evolution of the
species and the ape descent of man."

Still another of these belated prophets was, of all men, Thomas
Carlyle. Soured and embittered, in the same spirit which led him
to find more heroism in a marauding Viking or in one of Frederick
the Great's generals than in Washington, or Lincoln, or Grant,
and which caused him to see in the American civil war only the
burning out of a foul chimney, he, with the petulance natural to
a dyspeptic eunuch, railed at Darwin as an "apostle of dirt

The last echoes of these utterances reverberated between Scotland
and America. In the former country, in 1885, the Rev. Dr. Lee
issued a volume declaring that, if the Darwinian view be true,
"there is no place for God"; that "by no method of
interpretation can the language of Holy Scripture be made wide
enough to re-echo the orang-outang theory of man's natural
history"; that "Darwinism reverses the revelation of God" and
"implies utter blasphemy against the divine and human character
of our Incarnate Lord"; and he was pleased to call Darwin and his
followers "gospellers of the gutter." In one of the intellectual
centres of America the editor of a periodical called The
Christian urged frantically that "the battle be set in array, and
that men find out who is on the Lord's side and who is on the
side of the devil and the monkeys."

To the honour of the Church of England it should be recorded that
a considerable number of her truest men opposed such utterances
as these, and that one of them--Farrar, Archdeacon of
Westminster--made a protest worthy to be held in perpetual
remembrance. While confessing his own inability to accept fully
the new scientific belief, he said: "We should consider it
disgraceful and humiliating to try to shake it by an ad
captandum argument, or by a clap-trap platform appeal to the
unfathomable ignorance and unlimited arrogance of a prejudiced
assembly. We should blush to meet it with an anathema or a

All opposition had availed nothing; Darwin's work and fame were
secure. As men looked back over his beautiful life--simple,
honest, tolerant, kindly--and thought upon his great labours in
the search for truth, all the attacks faded into nothingness.

There were indeed some dark spots, which as time goes on appear
darker. At Trinity College, Cambridge, Whewell, the
"omniscient," author of the History of the Inductive Sciences,
refused to allow a copy of the Origin of Species to be placed in
the library. At multitudes of institutions under theological
control--Protestant as well as Catholic--attempts were made to
stamp out or to stifle evolutionary teaching. Especially was
this true for a time in America, and the case of the American
College at Beyrout, where nearly all the younger professors were
dismissed for adhering to Darwin's views, is worthy of
remembrance. The treatment of Dr. Winchell at the Vanderbilt
University in Tennessee showed the same spirit; one of the
truest of men, devoted to science but of deeply Christian
feeling, he was driven forth for views which centred in the
Darwinian theory.

Still more striking was the case of Dr. Woodrow. He had, about
1857, been appointed to a professorship of Natural Science as
connected with Revealed Religion, in the Presbyterian Seminary at
Columbia, South Carolina. He was a devoted Christian man, and
his training had led him to accept the Presbyterian standards of
faith. With great gifts for scientific study he visited Europe,
made a most conscientious examination of the main questions under
discussion, and adopted the chief points in the doctrine of
evolution by natural selection. A struggle soon began. A
movement hostile to him grew more and more determined, and at
last, in spite of the efforts made in his behalf by the directors
of the seminary and by a large and broad-minded minority in the
representative bodies controlling it, an orthodox storm, raised
by the delegates from various Presbyterian bodies, drove him from
his post. Fortunately, he was received into a professorship at
the University of South Carolina, where he has since taught with
more power than ever before.

This testimony to the faith by American provincial Protestantism
was very properly echoed from Spanish provincial Catholicism. In
the year 1878 a Spanish colonial man of science, Dr. Chil y
Marango, published a work on the Canary Islands. But Dr. Chil
had the imprudence to sketch, in his introduction, the modern
hypothesis of evolution, and to exhibit some proofs, found in the
Canary Islands, of the barbarism of primitive man. The
ecclesiastical authorities, under the lead of Bishop Urquinaona y
Bidot, at once grappled with this new idea. By a solemn act they
declared it "falsa, impia, scandalosa"; all persons possessing
copies of the work were ordered to surrender them at once to the
proper ecclesiastics, and the author was placed under the major

But all this opposition may be reckoned among the last expiring
convulsions of the old theologic theory. Even from the new
Catholic University at Washington has come an utterance in favour
of the new doctrine, and in other universities in the Old World
and in the New the doctrine of evolution by natural selection has
asserted its right to full and honest consideration. More than
this, it is clearly evident that the stronger men in the Church
have, in these latter days, not only relinquished the struggle
against science in this field, but have determined frankly and
manfully to make an alliance with it. In two very remarkable
lectures given in 1892 at the parish church of Rochdale, Wilson,
Archdeacon of Manchester, not only accepted Darwinism as true,
but wrought it with great argumentative power into a higher view
of Christianity; and what is of great significance, these
sermons were published by the same Society for the Promotion of
Christian Knowledge which only a few years before had published
the most bitter attacks against the Darwinian theory. So, too,
during the year 1893, Prof. Henry Drummond, whose praise is in
all the dissenting churches, developed a similar view most
brilliantly in a series of lectures delivered before the American
Chautauqua schools, and published in one of the most widespread
of English orthodox newspapers.

Whatever additional factors may be added to natural
selection--and Darwin himself fully admitted that there might be
others--the theory of an evolution process in the formation of
the universe and of animated nature is established, and the old
theory of direct creation is gone forever. In place of it
science has given us conceptions far more noble, and opened the
way to an argument for design infinitely more beautiful than any
ever developed by theology.[24]

[24] For the causes of bitterness shown regarding the Darwinian
hypothesis, see Reusch, Bibel und Natur, vol. ii, pp. 46 et seq.
For hostility in the United States regarding the Darwinian
theory, see, among a multitude of writers, the following: Dr.
Charles Hodge, of Princeton, monograph, What is Darwinism? New
York, 1874; also his Systematic Theology, New York, 1872,vol. ii,
part 2, Anthropology; also The Light by which we see Light, or
Nature and the Scriptures, Vedder Lectures, 1875, Rutgers
College, New York, 1875; also Positivism and Evolutionism, in the
American Catholic Quarterly, October 1877, pp. 607, 619; and in
the same number, Professor Huxley and Evolution, by Rev. A. M.
Kirsch, pp. 662, 664; The Logic of Evolution, by Prof. Edward F.
X. McSweeney, D. D., July, 1879, p. 561; Das Hexaemeron und die
Geologie, von P. Eirich, Pastor in Albany, N. Y., Lutherischer
Concordia-Verlag, St. Louis, Mo., 1878, pp. 81, 82, 84, 92-94;
Evolutionism respecting Man and the Bible, by John T. Duffield,
of Princeton, January, 1878, Princeton Review, pp. 151, 153, 154,
158, 159, 160, 188; a Lecture on Evolution , before the
Nineteenth Century Club of New York, May 25, 1886, by ex-
President Noah Porter, pp. 4, 26-29. For the laudatory notice of
the Rev. E. F. Burr's demolition of evolution in his book Pater
Mundi, see Monthly Religious Magazine, Boston, May, 1873, p. 492.
Concerning the removal of Dr. James Woodrow, Professor of Natural
Science in the Columbia Theological Seminary, see Evolution or
Not, in the New York Weekly Sun, October 24, 1888. For the
dealings of Spanish ecclesiastics with Dr. Chil and his Darwinian
exposition, see the Revue d'Anthropologie, cited in the Academy
for April 6, 1878; see also the Catholic World, xix, 433, A
Discussion with an Infidel, directed against Dr. Louis Buchner
and his Kraft und Stoff; also Mind and Matter, by Rev. james
Tait, of Canada, p. 66 (in the third edition the author bemoans
the "horrible plaudits" that "have accompanied every effort to
establish man's brutal descent"); also The Church Journal, New
York, May 28, 1874. For the effort in favour of a teleological
evolution, see Rev. Samuel Houghton, F. R. S., Principles of
Animal Mechanics, London, 1873, preface and p. 156 and elsewhere.
For the details of the persecutions of Drs. Winchell and Woodrow,
and of the Beyrout professors, with authorities cited, see my
chapter on The Fall of Man and Anthropology. For more liberal
views among religious thinkers regarding the Darwinian theory,
and for efforts to mitigate and adapt it to theological views,
see, among the great mass of utterances, the following: Charles
Kingsley's letters to Darwin, November 18, 1859, in Darwin's
Life and Letters, vol. ii, p. 82; Adam Sedgwick to Charles
Darwin, December 24, 1859, see ibid., vol. ii, pp. 356-359; the
same to Miss Gerard, January 2, 1860, see Sedgewick's Life and
Letters, vol. ii, pp. 359, 360; the same in The Spectator,
London, March 24, 1860; The Rambler, March 1860, cited by Mivart,
Genesis of Species, p. 30; The Dublin Review, May, 1860; The
Christian Examiner, May, 1860; Charles Kingsley to F. D. Maurice
in 1863, in Kingsley's Life, vol. ii, p. 171; Adam Sedgwick to
Livingstone (the explorer), March 16, 1865, in Life and Letters
of Sedgwick, vol. ii, pp. 410-412; the Duke of Argyll, The Reign
of Law, New York, pp. 16, 18, 31, 116, 117, 120, 159; Joseph P.
Thompson, D. D., LL.D., Man in Genesis and Geology, New York,
1870, pp. 48, 49, 82; Canon H. P. Liddon, Sermons preached before
the University of Oxford, 1871, Sermon III; St. George Mivart,
Evolution and its Consequences, Contemporary Review, Jan. 1872;
British and Foreign Evangelical Review, 1872, article on The
Theory of Evolution; The Lutheran Quarterly, Gettysburg, Pa.,
April, 1872, article by Rev. Cyrus Thomas, Assistant United
States Geological Survey on The Descent of Man, pp. 214, 239,
372-376; The Lutheran Quarterly, July, 1873, article on Some
Assumptions against Christianity, by Rev. C. A. Stork, Baltimore,
Md., pp. 325, 326; also, in the same number, see a review of Dr.
Burr's Pater Mundi, pp. 474, 475, and contrast with the review in
the Andover Review of that period; an article in the Religious
Magazine and Monthly Review, Boston, on Religion and Evolution,
by Rev. S. R. Calthrop, September, 1873, p. 200; The Popular
Science Monthly, January, 1874, article Genesis, Geology, and
Evolution; article by Asa Gray, Nature, London, June 4, 1874;
Materialism, by Rev. W. Streissguth, Lutheran Quarterly, July,
1875, originally written in German, and translated by J. G.
Morris, D. D., pp. 406, 408; Darwinismus und Christenthum, von R.
Steck, Ref. Pfarrer in Dresden, Berlin, 1875, pp. 5,6,and 26,
reprinted from the Protestantische Kirchenzeitung, and issued as
a tract by the Protestantenverein; Rev. W. E. Adams, article in
the Lutheran Quarterly, April, 1879, on Evolution: Shall it be
Atheistic? John Wood, Bible Anticipations of Modern Science,
1880, pp. 18, 19, 22; Lutheran Quarterly, January, 1881, Some
Postulates of the New Ethics, by Rev. C. A. Stork, D. D.;
Lutheran Quarterly, January, 1882, The Religion of Evolution as
against the Religion of Jesus, by Prof. W. H. Wynn, Iowa State
Agricultural College--this article was republished as a pamphlet;
Canon Liddon, prefatory note to sermon on The Recovery of St.
Thomas, pp. 4, 11, 12, 13, and 26, preached in St. Paul's
Cathedral, April 23, 1882; Lutheran Quarterly, January 1882,
Evolution and the Scripture, by Rev. John A. Earnest, pp. 101,
105; Glimpses in the Twilight, by Rev. F. G. Lee, D. D.,
Edinburgh, 1885, especially pp. 18 and 19; the Hibbert Lectures
for 1883, by Rev. Charles Beard, pp. 392, 393, et seq.; F. W.
Farrar, D. D., Canon of Westminster, The History of
Interpretation, being the Bampton Lectures for 1885, pp. 426,
427; Bishop Temple, Bampton Lectures, pp. 184-186; article
Evolution in the Dictionary of Religion, edited by Rev. William
Benham, 1887; Prof. Huxley, An Episcopal Trilogy, Nineteenth
Century, November, 1887--this article discusses three sermons
delivered by the bishops of Carlisle, Bedford, and Manchester, in
Manchester Cathedral, during the meeting of the British
Association, September, 1887--these sermons were afterward
published in pamphlet form under the title The Advance of
Science; John Fiske, Darwinism, and Other Essays, Boston, 1888;
Harriet Mackenzie, Evolution illuminating the Bible, London,
1891, dedicated to Prof. Huxley; H. E. Rye, Hulsean Professor of
Divinity at Cambridge, The Early Narratives of Genesis, London,
1892, preface, pp. vii-ix, pp. 7, 9, 11; Rev. G. M. Searle, of
the Catholic University, Washington, article in the Catholic
World, November, 1892, pp. 223, 227, 229, 231; for the statement
from Keble College, see Rev. Mr. Illingworth, in Lux Mundi. For
Bishop Temple, see citation in Laing. For a complete and
admirable acceptance of the evolutionary theory as lifting
Christian doctrine and practice to a higher plane, with
suggestions for a new theology, see two Sermons by Archdeacon
Wilson, of Manchester, S. P. C. K.. London, and Young & Co., New
York, 1893; and for a characteristically lucid statement of the
most recent development of evolution doctrines, and the relations
of Spencer, Weismann, Galton, and others to them, see Lester F.
Ward's Address as President of the Biological Society,
Washington, 1891; also, recent articles in the leading English
reviews. For a brilliant glorification of evolution by natural
selection as a doctrine necessary to thenhighest and truest view
of Christianity, see Prof. Drummond's Chautaqua Lectures,
published in the British Weekly, London, from April 20 to May 11,




Among various rude tribes we find survivals of a primitive idea
that the earth is a flat table or disk, ceiled, domed, or
canopied by the sky, and that the sky rests upon the mountains as
pillars. Such a belief is entirely natural; it conforms to the
appearance of things, and hence at a very early period entered
into various theologies.

In the civilizations of Chaldea and Egypt it was very fully
developed. The Assyrian inscriptions deciphered in these latter
years represent the god Marduk as in the beginning creating the
heavens and the earth: the earth rests upon the waters; within
it is the realm of the dead; above it is spread "the
firmament"--a solid dome coming down to the horizon on all sides
and resting upon foundations laid in the "great waters" which
extend around the earth.

On the east and west sides of this domed firmament are doors,
through which the sun enters in the morning and departs at night;
above it extends another ocean, which goes down to the ocean
surrounding the earth at the horizon on all sides, and which is
supported and kept away from the earth by the firmament. Above
the firmament and the upper ocean which it supports is the
interior of heaven.

The Egyptians considered the earth as a table, flat and oblong,
the sky being its ceiling--a huge "firmament" of metal. At the
four corners of the earth were the pillars supporting this
firmament, and on this solid sky were the "waters above the
heavens." They believed that, when chaos was taking form, one of
the gods by main force raised the waters on high and spread them
out over the firmament; that on the under side of this solid
vault, or ceiling, or firmament, the stars were suspended to
light the earth, and that the rains were caused by the letting
down of the waters through its windows. This idea and others
connected with it seem to have taken strong hold of the Egyptian
priestly caste, entering into their theology and sacred science:
ceilings of great temples, with stars, constellations, planets,
and signs of the zodiac figured upon them, remain to-day as
striking evidences of this.

In Persia we have theories of geography based upon similar
conceptions and embalmed in sacred texts.

From these and doubtless from earlier sources common to them all
came geographical legacies to the Hebrews. Various passages in
their sacred books, many of them noble in conception and
beautiful in form, regarding "the foundation of the earth upon
the waters," "the fountains of the great deep," "the compass upon
the face of the depth," the "firmament," the "corners of the
earth," the "pillars of heaven," the "waters above the
firmament," the "windows of heaven," and "doors of heaven," point
us back to both these ancient springs of thought.[25]

[25] For survivals of the early idea, among the Eskimos, of the
sky as supported by mountains, and, among sundry Pacific
islanders, of the sky as a firmament or vault of stone, see
Tylor, Early History of Mankind, second edition, London, 1870,
chap. xi; Spencer, Sociology, vol. i, chap vii, also Andrew Lang,
La Mythologie, Paris, 1886, pp. 68-73. For the Babylonian
theories, see George Smith's Chaldean Genesis, and especially the
German translation by Delitzsch, Leipsic, 1876; also, Jensen, Die
Kosmogonien der Babylonier, Strasburg, 1890; see especially in
the appendices, pp. 9 and 10, a drawing representing the whole
Babylonian scheme so closely followed in the Hebrew book Genesis.
See also Lukas, Die Grundbegriffe in den Kosmogonien der alten
Volker, Leipsic, 1893, for a most thorough summing up of the
whole subject, with texts showing the development of Hebrew out
of Chaldean and Egyptian conceptions, pp. 44, etc.; also pp. 127
et seq. For the early view in India and Persia, see citations
from the Vedas and the Zend-Avesta in Lethaby, Architecture,
Mysticism, and Myth, chap. i. For the Egyptian view, see
Champollion; also Lenormant, Histoire Ancienne, Maspero, and
others. As to the figures of the heavens upon the ceilings of
Egyptian temples, see Maspero, Archeologie Egyptienne, Paris,
1890; and for engravings of them, see Lepsius, Denkmaler, vol. i,
Bl. 41, and vol. ix, Abth. iv, Bl. 35; also the Description de
l'Egypte, published by order of Napoleon, tome ii, Pl. 14; also
Prisse d'Avennes, Art Egyptien, Atlas, tome i, Pl. 35; and
especially for a survival at the Temple of Denderah, see Denon,
Voyage en Egypte, Planches 129, 130. For the Egyptian idea of
"pillars of heaven," as alluded to on the stele of victory of
Thotmes III,in the Cairo Museum, see Ebers, Uarda, vol. ii,p.
175, note, Leipsic, 1877. For a similar Babylonian belief, see
Sayce's Herodotus, Appendix, p. 403. For the belief of Hebrew
scriptural writers in a solid "firmament," see especially Job,
xxxviii, 18; also Smith's Bible Dictionary. For engravings
showing the earth and heaven above it as conceived by Egyptians
and Chaldeans, with "pillars of heaven" and "firmament," see
Maspero and Sayce, Dawn of Civilization, London, 1894, pp. 17 and

But, as civilization was developed, there were evolved,
especially among the Greeks, ideas of the earth's sphericity.
The Pythagoreans, Plato, and Aristotle especially cherished them.
These ideas were vague, they were mixed with absurdities, but
they were germ ideas, and even amid the luxuriant growth of
theology in the early Christian Church these germs began
struggling into life in the minds of a few thinking men, and
these men renewed the suggestion that the earth is a globe.[26]

[26] The agency of the Pythagoreans in first spreading the
doctrine of the earth's sphericity is generally acknowledged, but
the first full and clear utterance of it to the world was by
Aristotle. Very fruitful, too, was the statement of the new
theory given by Plato in the Timaeus; see Jowett's translation,
62, c. Also the Phaedo, pp.449 et seq. See also Grote on
Plato's doctrine on the sphericity of the earth; also Sir G. C.
Lewis's Astronomy of the Ancients, London, 1862, chap. iii,
section i, and note. Cicero's mention of the antipodes, and his
reference to the passage in the Timaeus, are even more remarkable
than the latter, in that they much more clearly foreshadow the
modern doctrine. See his Academic Questions, ii; also Tusc.
Quest., i and v, 24. For a very full summary of the views of the
ancients on the sphericity of the earth, see Kretschmer, Die
physische Erkunde im christlichen Mittelalter, Wien, 1889, pp. 35
et seq.; also Eiken, Geschichte der mittelalterlichen
Weltanschauung, Stuttgart, 1887, Dritter Theil, chap. vi. For
citations and summaries, see Whewell, Hist. Induct. Sciences,
vol. i, p. 189, and St. Martin, Hist. de la Geog., Paris, 1873,
p. 96; also Leopardi, Saggio sopra gli errori popolari degli
antichi, Firenze, 1851, chap. xii, pp. 184 et seq.

A few of the larger-minded fathers of the Church, influenced
possibly by Pythagorean traditions, but certainly by Aristotle
and Plato, were willing to accept this view, but the majority of
them took fright at once. To them it seemed fraught with dangers
to Scripture, by which, of course, they meant their
interpretation of Scripture. Among the first who took up arms
against it was Eusebius. In view of the New Testament texts
indicating the immediately approaching, end of the world, he
endeavoured to turn off this idea by bringing scientific studies
into contempt. Speaking of investigators, he said, "It is not
through ignorance of the things admired by them, but through
contempt of their useless labour, that we think little of these
matters, turning our souls to better things." Basil of Caesarea
declared it "a matter of no interest to us whether the earth is a
sphere or a cylinder or a disk, or concave in the middle like a
fan." Lactantius referred to the ideas of those studying
astronomy as "bad and senseless," and opposed the doctrine of the
earth's sphericity both from Scripture and reason. St. John
Chrysostom also exerted his influence against this scientific
belief; and Ephraem Syrus, the greatest man of the old Syrian
Church, widely known as the "lute of the Holy Ghost," opposed it
no less earnestly.

But the strictly biblical men of science, such eminent fathers
and bishops as Theophilus of Antioch in the second century, and
Clement of Alexandria in the third, with others in centuries
following, were not content with merely opposing what they
stigmatized as an old heathen theory; they drew from their
Bibles a new Christian theory, to which one Church authority
added one idea and another, until it was fully developed. Taking
the survival of various early traditions, given in the seventh
verse of the first chapter of Genesis, they insisted on the clear
declarations of Scripture that the earth was, at creation, arched
over with a solid vault, "a firmament," and to this they added
the passages from Isaiah and the Psalms, in which it declared
that the heavens are stretched out "like a curtain," and again
"like a tent to dwell in." The universe, then, is like a house:
the earth is its ground floor, the firmament its ceiling, under
which the Almighty hangs out the sun to rule the day and the moon
and stars to rule the night. This ceiling is also the floor of
the apartment above, and in this is a cistern, shaped, as one of
the authorities says, "like a bathing-tank," and containing "the
waters which are above the firmament." These waters are let down
upon the earth by the Almighty and his angels through the
"windows of heaven." As to the movement of the sun, there was a
citation of various passages in Genesis, mixed with metaphysics
in various proportions, and this was thought to give ample proofs
from the Bible that the earth could not be a sphere.[27]

[27] For Eusebius, see the Proep. Ev., xv, 61. For Basil, see
the Hexaemeron, Hom. ix. For Lactantius, see his Inst. Div.,
lib. iii, cap. 3; also citations in Whewell, Hist. Induct.
Sciences, London, 1857, vol. i, p. 194, and in St. Martin,
Histoire de la Geographie, pp. 216, 217. For the views of St.
John Chrysostom, Ephraem Syrus, and other great churchmen, see
Kretschmer as above, chap i.

In the sixth century this development culminated in what was
nothing less than a complete and detailed system of the universe,
claiming to be based upon Scripture, its author being the
Egyptian monk Cosmas Indicopleustes. Egypt was a great
treasure-house of theologic thought to various religions of
antiquity, and Cosmas appears to have urged upon the early Church
this Egyptian idea of the construction of the world, just as
another Egyptian ecclesiastic, Athanasius, urged upon the Church
the Egyptian idea of a triune deity ruling the world. According
to Cosmas, the earth is a parallelogram, flat, and surrounded by
four seas. It is four hundred days' journey long and two hundred
broad. At the outer edges of these four seas arise massive walls
closing in the whole structure and supporting the firmament or
vault of the heavens, whose edges are cemented to the walls.
These walls inclose the earth and all the heavenly bodies.

The whole of this theologico-scientific structure was built most
carefully and, as was then thought, most scripturally. Starting
with the expression applied in the ninth chapter of Hebrews to
the tabernacle in the desert, Cosmas insists, with other
interpreters of his time, that it gives the key to the whole
construction of the world. The universe is, therefore, made on
the plan of the Jewish tabernacle--boxlike and oblong. Going
into details, he quotes the sublime words of Isaiah: "It is He
that sitteth upon the circle of the earth;...that stretcheth out
the heavens like a curtain, and spreadeth them out like a tent to
dwell in"; and the passage in Job which speaks of the "pillars of
heaven." He works all this into his system, and reveals, as he
thinks, treasures of science.

This vast box is divided into two compartments, one above the
other. In the first of these, men live and stars move; and it
extends up to the first solid vault, or firmament, above which
live the angels, a main part of whose business it is to push and
pull the sun and planets to and fro. Next, he takes the text,
"Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it
divide the waters from the waters," and other texts from Genesis;
to these he adds the text from the Psalms, "Praise him, ye heaven
of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens" then casts
all, and these growths of thought into his crucible together,
finally brings out the theory that over this first vault is a
vast cistern containing "the waters." He then takes the
expression in Genesis regarding the "windows of heaven" and
establishes a doctrine regarding the regulation of the rain, to
the effect that the angels not only push and pull the heavenly
bodies to light the earth, but also open and close the heavenly
windows to water it.

To understand the surface of the earth, Cosmas, following the
methods of interpretation which Origen and other early fathers of
the Church had established, studies the table of shew-bread in
the Jewish tabernacle. The surface of this table proves to him
that the earth is flat, and its dimensions prove that the earth
is twice as long as broad; its four corners symbolize the four
seasons; the twelve loaves of bread, the twelve months; the
hollow about the table proves that the ocean surrounds the earth.
To account for the movement of the sun, Cosmas suggests that at
the north of the earth is a great mountain, and that at night the
sun is carried behind this; but some of the commentators
ventured to express a doubt here: they thought that the sun was
pushed into a pit at night and pulled out in the morning.

Nothing can be more touching in its simplicity than Cosmas's
summing up of his great argument, He declares, "We say therefore
with Isaiah that the heaven embracing the universe is a vault,
with Job that it is joined to the earth, and with Moses that the
length of the earth is greater than its breadth." The treatise
closes with rapturous assertions that not only Moses and the
prophets, but also angels and apostles, agree to the truth of his
doctrine, and that at the last day God will condemn all who do
not accept it.

Although this theory was drawn from Scripture, it was also, as we
have seen, the result of an evolution of theological thought
begun long before the scriptural texts on which it rested were
written. It was not at all strange that Cosmas, Egyptian as he
was, should have received this old Nile-born doctrine, as we see
it indicated to-day in the structure of Egyptian temples, and
that he should have developed it by the aid of the Jewish
Scriptures; but the theological world knew nothing of this more
remote evolution from pagan germs; it was received as virtually
inspired, and was soon regarded as a fortress of scriptural
truth. Some of the foremost men in the Church devoted themselves
to buttressing it with new texts and throwing about it new
outworks of theological reasoning; the great body of the
faithful considered it a direct gift from the Almighty. Even in
the later centuries of the Middle Ages John of San Geminiano made
a desperate attempt to save it. Like Cosmas, he takes the Jewish
tabernacle as his starting-point, and shows how all the newer
ideas can be reconciled with the biblical accounts of its shape,
dimensions, and furniture.[28]

[28] For a notice of the views of Cosmas in connection with those
of Lactantius, Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and others, see
Schoell, Histoire de la Litterature Grecque, vol. vii, p. 37.
The main scriptural passages referred to are as follows: (1)
Isaiah xi, 22; (2) Genesis i, 6; (3) Genesis vii, 11; (4) Exodus
xxiv, 10; (5) Job xxvi, 11, and xxxvii, 18 (6) Psalm cxlviii, 4,
and civ, 9; (7) Ezekiel i, 22-26. For Cosmas's theory, see
Montfaucon, Collectio Nova Patrum, Paris, 1706, vol. ii, p.188;
also pp. 298, 299. The text is illustrated with engravings
showing walls and solid vault (firmament), with the whole
apparatus of "fountains of the great deep," "windows of heaven,"
angels, and the mountain behind which the sun is drawn. For
reduction of one of them, see Peschel, Gesschichte der Erdkunds,
p. 98; also article Maps, in Knight's Dictionary of Mechanics,
New York, 1875. For curious drawings showing Cosmas's scheme in
a different way from that given by Montfaucon, see extracts from a
Vatican codex of the ninth century in Garucci, Storia de l'Arte
Christiana, vol. iii, pp. 70 et seq. For a good discussion of
Cosmas's ideas, see Santarem, Hist. de la Cosmographie, vol. ii,
pp. 8 et seq., and for a very thorough discussion of its details,
Kretschmer, as above. For still another theory, very droll, and
thought out on similar principles, see Mungo Park, cited in De
Morgan, Paradoxes, p. 309. For Cosmas's joyful summing up, see
Montfaucon, Collectio Nova Patrum, vol. ii, p. 255. For the
curious survival in the thirteenth century of the old idea of the
"waters above the heavens," see the story in Gervase of Tilbury,
how in his time some people coming out of church in England found
an anchor let down by a rope out of the heavens, how there came
voices from sailors above trying to loose the anchor, and,
finally, how a sailor came down the rope, who, on reaching the
earth, died as if drowned in water. See Gervase of Tilbury, Otia
Imperialia, edit. Liebrecht, Hanover, 1856, Prima Decisio, cap.
xiii. The work was written about 1211. For John of San
Germiniano, see his Summa de Exemplis, lib. ix, cap. 43. For the
Egyptian Trinitarian views, see Sharpe, History of Egypt, vol. i,
pp. 94, 102.

From this old conception of the universe as a sort of house, with
heaven as its upper story and the earth as its ground floor,
flowed important theological ideas into heathen, Jewish, and
Christian mythologies. Common to them all are legends regarding
attempts of mortals to invade the upper apartment from the lower.
Of such are the Greek legends of the Aloidae, who sought to reach
heaven by piling up mountains, and were cast down; the Chaldean
and Hebrew legends of the wicked who at Babel sought to build "a
tower whose top may reach heaven," which Jehovah went down from
heaven to see, and which he brought to naught by the "confusion
of tongues"; the Hindu legend of the tree which sought to grow
into heaven and which Brahma blasted; and the Mexican legend of
the giants who sought to reach heaven by building the Pyramid of
Cholula, and who were overthrown by fire from above.

Myths having this geographical idea as their germ developed in
luxuriance through thousands of years. Ascensions to heaven and
descents from it, "translations," "assumptions," "annunciations,"
mortals "caught up" into it and returning, angels flying between
it and the earth, thunderbolts hurled down from it, mighty winds
issuing from its corners, voices speaking from the upper floor to
men on the lower, temporary openings of the floor of heaven to
reveal the blessedness of the good, "signs and wonders" hung out
from it to warn the wicked, interventions of every kind--from the
heathen gods coming down on every sort of errand, and Jehovah
coming down to walk in Eden in the cool of the day, to St. Mark
swooping down into the market-place of Venice to break the
shackles of a slave--all these are but features in a vast
evolution of myths arising largely from this geographical germ.

Nor did this evolution end here. Naturally, in this view of
things, if heaven was a loft, hell was a cellar; and if there
were ascensions into one, there were descents into the other.
Hell being so near, interferences by its occupants with the
dwellers of the earth just above were constant, and form a vast
chapter in medieval literature. Dante made this conception of
the location of hell still more vivid, and we find some forms of
it serious barriers to geographical investigation. Many a bold
navigator, who was quite ready to brave pirates and tempests,
trembled at the thought of tumbling with his ship into one of the
openings into hell which a widespread belief placed in the
Atlantic at some unknown distance from Europe. This terror among
sailors was one of the main obstacles in the great voyage of
Columbus. In a medieval text-book, giving science the form of a
dialogue, occur the following question and answer: "Why is the
sun so red in the evening?" "Because he looketh down upon hell."

But the ancient germ of scientific truth in geography--the idea
of the earth's sphericity--still lived. Although the great
majority of the early fathers of the Church, and especially
Lactantius, had sought to crush it beneath the utterances
attributed to Isaiah, David, and St. Paul, the better opinion of
Eudoxus and Aristotle could not be forgotten. Clement of
Alexandria and Origen had even supported it. Ambrose and
Augustine had tolerated it, and, after Cosmas had held sway a
hundred years, it received new life from a great churchman of
southern Europe, Isidore of Seville, who, however fettered by the
dominant theology in many other things, braved it in this. In
the eighth century a similar declaration was made in the north of
Europe by another great Church authority, Bede. Against the new
life thus given to the old truth, the sacred theory struggled
long and vigorously but in vain. Eminent authorities in later
ages, like Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante, and
Vincent of Beauvais, felt obliged to accept the doctrine of the
earth's sphericity, and as we approach the modern period we find
its truth acknowledged by the vast majority of thinking men. The
Reformation did not at first yield fully to this better theory.
Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin were very strict in their
adherence to the exact letter of Scripture. Even Zwingli, broad
as his views generally were, was closely bound down in this
matter, and held to the opinion of the fathers that a great
firmament, or floor, separated the heavens from the earth; that
above it were the waters and angels, and below it the earth and

The main scope given to independent thought on this general
subject among the Reformers was in a few minor speculations
regarding the universe which encompassed Eden, the exact
character of the conversation of the serpent with Eve, and the

In the times immediately following the Reformation matters were
even worse. The interpretations of Scripture by Luther and
Calvin became as sacred to their followers as the Scripture
itself. When Calixt ventured, in interpreting the Psalms, to
question the accepted belief that "the waters above the heavens"
were contained in a vast receptacle upheld by a solid vault, he
was bitterly denounced as heretical.

In the latter part of the sixteenth century Musaeus interpreted
the accounts in Genesis to mean that first God made the heavens
for the roof or vault, and left it there on high swinging until
three days later he put the earth under it. But the new
scientific thought as to the earth's form had gained the day.
The most sturdy believers were obliged to adjust their, biblical
theories to it as best they could.[29]

[29] For a discussion of the geographical views of Isidore and
Bede, see Santarem, Cosmographie, vol i, pp. 22-24. For the
gradual acceptance of the idea of the earth's sphericity after
the eighth century, see Kretschmer, pp. 51 et seq., where
citations from a multitude of authors are given. For the views
of the Reformers, see Zockler, vol. i, pp. 679 and 693. For
Calixt, Musaeus, and others, ibid., pp. 673-677 and 761.


Every great people of antiquity, as a rule, regarded its own
central city or most holy place as necessarily the centre of the

The Chaldeans held that their "holy house of the gods" was the
centre. The Egyptians sketched the world under the form of a
human figure, in which Egypt was the heart, and the centre of it
Thebes. For the Assyrians, it was Babylon; for the Hindus, it
was Mount Meru; for the Greeks, so far as the civilized world was
concerned, Olympus or the temple at Delphi; for the modern
Mohammedans, it is Mecca and its sacred stone; the Chinese, to
this day, speak of their empire as the "middle kingdom." It was
in accordance, then, with a simple tendency of human thought that
the Jews believed the centre of the world to be Jerusalem.

The book of Ezekiel speaks of Jerusalem as in the middle of the
earth, and all other parts of the world as set around the holy
city. Throughout the "ages of faith" this was very generally
accepted as a direct revelation from the Almighty regarding the
earth's form. St. Jerome, the greatest authority of the early
Church upon the Bible, declared, on the strength of this
utterance of the prophet, that Jerusalem could be nowhere but at
the earth's centre; in the ninth century Archbishop Rabanus
Maurus reiterated the same argument; in the eleventh century
Hugh of St. Victor gave to the doctrine another scriptural
demonstration; and Pope Urban, in his great sermon at Clermont
urging the Franks to the crusade, declared, "Jerusalem is the
middle point of the earth"; in the thirteenth century an
ecclesiastical writer much in vogue, the monk Caesarius of
Heisterbach, declared, "As the heart in the midst of the body, so
is Jerusalem situated in the midst of our inhabited earth,"--"so
it was that Christ was crucified at the centre of the earth."
Dante accepted this view of Jerusalem as a certainty, wedding it
to immortal verse; and in the pious book of travels ascribed to
Sir John Mandeville, so widely read in the Middle Ages, it is
declared that Jerusalem is at the centre of the world, and that a
spear standing erect at the Holy Sepulchre casts no shadow at the

Ezekiel's statement thus became the standard of orthodoxy to
early map-makers. The map of the world at Hereford Cathedral,
the maps of Andrea Bianco, Marino Sanuto, and a multitude of
others fixed this view in men's minds, and doubtless discouraged
during many generations any scientific statements tending to
unbalance this geographical centre revealed in Scripture.[30]

[30] For beliefs of various nations of antiquity that the earth's
center was in their most sacred place, see citations from
Maspero, Charton, Sayce, and others in Lethaby, Architecture,
Mysticism, and Myth, chap. iv. As to the Greeks, we have typical
statements in the Eumenides of Aeschylus, where the stone in the
altar at Delphi is repeatedly called "the earth's navel"--which
is precisely the expression used regarding Jerusalem in the
Septuagint translation of Ezekiel (see below). The proof texts
on which the mediaeval geographers mainly relied as to the form
of the earth were Ezekiel v, 5, and xxxviii, 12. The progress of
geographical knowledge evidently caused them to be softened down
somewhat in our King James's version; but the first of them
reads, in the Vulgate, "Ista est Hierusalem, in medio gentium
posui eam et in circuitu ejus terrae"; and the second reads, in
the Vulgate, "in medio terrae," and in the Septuagint, .
That the literal centre of the earth was understood, see proof in
St. Jerome, Commentat. in Ezekiel, lib. ii; and for general
proof, see Leopardi, Saggio sopra gli errori popolari degli
antichi, pp. 207, 208. For Rabanus Maurus, see his De Universo,
lib. xii, cap. 4, in Migne, tome cxi, p. 339. For Hugh of St.
Victor, se his De Situ Terrarum, cap. ii. For Dante's belief,
see Inferno, canto xxxiv, 112-115:

"E se' or sotto l'emisperio giunto,
Ch' e opposito a quel che la gran secca
Coverchia, e sotto il cui colmo consunto
Fu l'uom che nacque e visse senza pecca."

For orthodox geography in the Middle Ages, see Wright's Essays on
Archaeology, vol. ii, chapter on the map of the world in Hereford
Cathedral; also the rude maps in Cardinal d'Ailly's Ymago Mundi;
also copies of maps of Marino Sanuto and others in Peschel,
Erdkunde, p. 210; also Munster, Fac Simile dell' Atlante di
Andrea Bianco, Venezia, 1869. And for discussions of the whole
subject, see Satarem, vol. ii, p. 295, vol. iii, pp. 71, 183,
184, and elsewhere. For a brief summary with citations, see
Eiken, Geschichte, etc., pp. 622, 623.

Nor did medieval thinkers rest with this conception. In
accordance with the dominant view that physical truth must be
sought by theological reasoning, the doctrine was evolved that
not only the site of the cross on Calvary marked the geographical
centre of the world, but that on this very spot had stood the
tree which bore the forbidden fruit in Eden. Thus was geography
made to reconcile all parts of the great theologic plan. This
doctrine was hailed with joy by multitudes; and we find in the
works of medieval pilgrims to Palestine, again and again,
evidence that this had become precious truth to them, both in
theology and geography. Even as late as 1664 the eminent French
priest Eugene Roger, in his published travels in Palestine, dwelt
upon the thirty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel, coupled with a text
from Isaiah, to prove that the exact centre of the earth is a
spot marked on the pavement of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
and that on this spot once stood the tree which bore the
forbidden fruit and the cross of Christ.[31]

[31] For the site of the cross on Calvary, as the point where
stood "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" in Eden, at
the centre of the earth, see various Eastern travellers cited in
Tobler; but especially the travels of Bishop Arculf in the Holy
Land, in Wright's Early Travels in Palestine, p. 8; also Travels
of Saewulf, ibid, p. 38; also Sir John Mandeville, ibid., pp.
166, 167. For Roger, see his La Terre Saincte, Paris, 1664, pp.
89-217, etc.; see also Quaresmio, Terrae Sanctae Elucidatio,
1639, for similar view; and, for one narrative in which the idea
was developed into an amazing mass of pious myths, see Pilgrimage
of the Russian Abbot Daniel, edited by Sir C. W. Wilson, London,
1885, p. 14. (The passage deserves to be quoted as an example of
myth-making; it is as follows: "At the time of our Lord's
crucifixion, when he gave up the ghost on the cross, the veil of
the temple was rent, and the rock above Adam's skull opened, and
the blood and water which flowed from Christ's side ran down
through the fissure upon the skull, thus washing away the sins of

Nor was this the only misconception which forced its way from our
sacred writings into medieval map-making: two others were almost
as marked. First of these was the vague terror inspired by Gog
and Magog. Few passages in the Old Testament are more sublime
than the denunciation of these great enemies by Ezekiel; and the
well-known statement in the Apocalypse fastened the Hebrew
feeling regarding them with a new meaning into the mind of the
early Church: hence it was that the medieval map-makers took
great pains to delineate these monsters and their habitations on
the maps. For centuries no map was considered orthodox which did
not show them.

The second conception was derived from the mention in our sacred
books of the "four winds." Hence came a vivid belief in their
real existence, and their delineation on the maps, generally as
colossal heads with distended cheeks, blowing vigorously toward

After these conceptions had mainly disappeared we find here and
there evidences of the difficulty men found in giving up the
scriptural idea of direct personal interference by agents of
Heaven in the ordinary phenomena of Nature: thus, in a noted map
of the sixteenth century representing the earth as a sphere,
there is at each pole a crank, with an angel laboriously turning
the earth by means of it; and, in another map, the hand of the
Almighty, thrust forth from the clouds, holds the earth suspended
by a rope and spins it with his thumb and fingers. Even as late
as the middle of the seventeenth century Heylin, the most
authoritative English geographer of the time, shows a like
tendency to mix science and theology. He warps each to help the
other, as follows: "Water, making but one globe with the earth,
is yet higher than it. This appears, first, because it is a body
not so heavy; secondly, it is observed by sailors that their
ships move faster to the shore than from it, whereof no reason
can be given but the height of the water above the land;
thirdly, to such as stand on the shore the sea seems to swell
into the form of a round hill till it puts a bound upon our
sight. Now that the sea, hovering thus over and above the earth,
doth not overwhelm it, can be ascribed only to his Providence who
`hath made the waters to stand on an heap that they turn not
again to cover the earth.'"[32]

[32] For Gog and Magog, see Ezekiel xxxviii and xxxix, and Rev.
xx, 8; and for the general subject, Toy, Judaism and
Christianity, Boston, 1891, pp. 373, 374. For maps showing these
two great terrors, and for geographical discussion regarding
them, see Lelewel, Geog. du Moyen Age, Bruxelles, 1850, Atlas;
also Ruge, Gesch. des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, Berlin, 1881,
pp. 78, 79; also Peschel's Abhandlungen, pp.28-35, and Gesch. der
Erdkunde, p. 210. For representations on maps of the "Four
Winds," see Charton, Voyageurs, tome ii, p. 11; also Ruge, as
above, pp. 324, 325; also for a curious mixture of the scriptural
winds issuing from the bags of Aeolus, see a map of the twelfth
century in Leon Gautier, La Chevalerie, p. 153; and for maps
showing additional winds, see various editions of Ptolemy. For a
map with angels turning the earth by means of cranks at the
poles, see Grynaeus, Novus Orbis, Basileae, 1537. For the globe
kept spinning by the Almighty, see J. Hondius's map, 1589; and
for Heylin, his first folio, 1652, p. 27.


Even while the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth was
undecided, another question had been suggested which theologians
finally came to consider of far greater importance. The doctrine
of the sphericity of the earth naturally led to thought regarding
its inhabitants, and another ancient germ was warmed into
life--the idea of antipodes: of human beings on the earth's
opposite sides.

In the Greek and Roman world this idea had found supporters and
opponents, Cicero and Pliny being among the former, and Epicurus,
Lucretius, and Plutarch among the latter. Thus the problem came
into the early Church unsolved.

Among the first churchmen to take it up was, in the East, St.
Gregory Nazianzen, who showed that to sail beyond Gibraltar was
impossible; and, in the West, Lactantius, who asked: "Is there
any one so senseless as to believe that there are men whose
footsteps are higher than their heads?. . . that the crops and
trees grow downward?. . . that the rains and snow and hail
fall upward toward the earth?. . . I am at a loss what to say
of those who, when they have once erred, steadily persevere in
their folly and defend one vain thing by another."

In all this contention by Gregory and Lactantius there was
nothing to be especially regretted, for, whatever their motive,
they simply supported their inherited belief on grounds of
natural law and probability.

Unfortunately, the discussion was not long allowed to rest on
these scientific and philosophical grounds; other Christian
thinkers followed, who in their ardour adduced texts of
Scripture, and soon the question had become theological;
hostility to the belief in antipodes became dogmatic. The
universal Church was arrayed against it, and in front of the vast
phalanx stood, to a man, the fathers.

To all of them this idea seemed dangerous; to most of them it
seemed damnable. St. Basil and St. Ambrose were tolerant
enough to allow that a man might be saved who thought the earth
inhabited on its opposite sides; but the great majority of the
fathers doubted the possibility of salvation to such
misbelievers. The great champion of the orthodox view was St.
Augustine. Though he seemed inclined to yield a little in regard
to the sphericity of the earth, he fought the idea that men exist
on the other side of it, saying that "Scripture speaks of no such
descendants of Adam," he insists that men could not be allowed
by the Almighty to live there, since if they did they could not
see Christ at His second coming descending through the air. But
his most cogent appeal, one which we find echoed from theologian
to theologian during a thousand years afterward, is to the
nineteenth Psalm, and to its confirmation in the Epistle to the
Romans; to the words, "Their line is gone out through all the
earth, and their words to the end of the world." He dwells with
great force on the fact that St. Paul based one of his most
powerful arguments upon this declaration regarding the preachers
of the gospel, and that he declared even more explicitly that
"Verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words
unto the ends of the world." Thenceforth we find it constantly
declared that, as those preachers did not go to the antipodes, no
antipodes can exist; and hence that the supporters of this
geographical doctrine "give the lie direct to King David and to
St. Paul, and therefore to the Holy Ghost." Thus the great
Bishop of Hippo taught the whole world for over a thousand years
that, as there was no preaching of the gospel on the opposite
side of the earth, there could be no human beings there.

The great authority of Augustine, and the cogency of his
scriptural argument, held the Church firmly against the doctrine
of the antipodes; all schools of interpretation were now
agreed--the followers of the allegorical tendencies of
Alexandria, the strictly literal exegetes of Syria, the more
eclectic theologians of the West. For over a thousand years it
was held in the Church, "always, everywhere, and by all," that
there could not be human beings on the opposite sides of the
earth, even if the earth had opposite sides; and, when attacked
by gainsayers, the great mass of true believers, from the fourth
century to the fifteenth, simply used that opiate which had so
soothing an effect on John Henry Newman in the nineteenth
century--securus judicat orbis terrarum.

Yet gainsayers still appeared. That the doctrine of the
antipodes continued to have life, is shown by the fact that in
the sixth century Procopius of Gaza attacks it with a tremendous
argument. He declares that, if there be men on the other side of
the earth, Christ must have gone there and suffered a second time
to save them; and, therefore, that there must have been there, as
necessary preliminaries to his coming, a duplicate Eden, Adam,
serpent, and deluge.

Cosmas Indicopleustes also attacked the doctrine with especial
bitterness, citing a passage from St. Luke to prove that
antipodes are theologically impossible.

At the end of the sixth century came a man from whom much might
be expected--St. Isidore of Seville. He had pondered over
ancient thought in science, and, as we have seen, had dared
proclaim his belief in the sphericity of the earth; but with that
he stopped. As to the antipodes, the authority of the Psalmist,
St. Paul, and St. Augustine silences him; he shuns the whole
question as unlawful, subjects reason to faith, and declares that
men can not and ought not to exist on opposite sides of the

[33]For the opinions of Basil, Ambrose, and others, see Lecky,
History of Rationalism in Europe, New York, 1872, vol. i, p. 279.
Also Letronne, in Revue des Deux Mondes, March, 1834. For
Lactantius, see citations already given. For St. Augustine's
opinion, see the De Civitate Dei, xvi, 9, where this great father
of the church shows that the antipodes "nulla ratione credendum
est." For the unanimity of the fathers against the antipodes,
see Zockler, vol. 1, p. 127. For a very naive summary, see
Joseph Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, Grimston's
translation, republished by the Hakluyt Soc., chaps. vii and
viii; also citations in Buckle's Posthumous Works, vol. ii, p.
645. For Procopius of Gaza, see Kretschmer, p. 55. See also, on
the general subject, Peschel, Geschichte der Erdkunde, pp. 96-97.
For Isidore, see citations already given. To understand the
embarrassment caused by these utterances of the fathers to
scientific men of a later period, see letter of Agricola to
Joachim Vadianus in 1514. Agricola asks Vadianus to give his
views regarding the antipodes, saying that he himself does not
know what to do, between the fathers on the one side and the
learned men of modern times on the other. On the other hand, for
the embarrassment caused to the Church by this mistaken zeal of
the fathers, see Kepler's references and Fromund's replies; also
De Morgan, Paradoxes, p. 58. Kepler appears to have taken great
delight in throwing the views of Lactantius into the teeth of his

Under such pressure this scientific truth seems to have
disappeared for nearly two hundred years; but by the eighth
century the sphericity of the earth had come to be generally
accepted among the leaders of thought, and now the doctrine of
the antipodes was again asserted by a bishop, Virgil of Salzburg.

There then stood in Germany, in those first years of the eighth
century, one of the greatest and noblest of men--St. Boniface.
His learning was of the best then known. In labours he was a

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