Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 8 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

sacred chronologists, he has been, in spite of lapses and
deteriorations, rising.

A brief review of this new growth of truth may be useful. As
early as 1835 Prof. Jaeger had brought out from a quantity of
Quaternary remains dug up long before at Cannstadt, near
Stuttgart, a portion of a human skull, apparently of very low
type. A battle raged about it for a time, but this finally
subsided, owing to uncertainties arising from the circumstances
of the discovery.

In 1856, in the Neanderthal, near Dusseldorf, among Quaternary
remains gathered on the floor of a grotto, another skull was
found bearing the same evidence of a low human type. As in the
case of the Cannstadt skull, this again was fiercely debated, and
finally the questions regarding it were allowed to remain in
suspense. But new discoveries were made: at Eguisheim, at Brux,
at Spy, and elsewhere, human skulls were found of a similarly low
type; and, while each of the earlier discoveries was open to
debate, and either, had no other been discovered, might have been
considered an abnormal specimen, the combination of all these
showed conclusively that not only had a race of men existed at
that remote period, but that it was of a type as low as the
lowest, perhaps below the lowest, now known.

Research was now redoubled, and, as a result, human skulls and
complete skeletons of various types began to be discovered in the
ancient deposits of many other parts of the world, and especially
in France, Belgium, Germany, the Caucasus, Africa, and North and
South America.

But soon began to emerge from all these discoveries a fact of
enormous importance. The skulls and bones found at Cro Magnon,
Solutre, Furfooz, Grenelle, and elsewhere, were compared, and it
was thus made certain that various races had already appeared and
lived in various grades of civilization, even in those
exceedingly remote epochs; that even then there were various
strata of humanity ranging from races of a very low to those of a
very high type; and that upon any theory--certainly upon the
theory of the origin of mankind from a single pair--two things
were evident: first, that long, slow processes during vast
periods of time must have been required for the differentiation
of these races, and for the evolution of man up to the point
where the better specimens show him, certainly in the early
Quaternary and perhaps in the Tertiary period; and, secondly,
that there had been from the first appearance of man, of which we
have any traces, an UPWARD tendency.[191]

[191] For Wesley's statement of the amazing consequences of the
entrance of death into the world by sin, see citations in his
sermon on The Fall of Man in the chapter on Geology. For Boucher
de Perthes, see his Life by Ledieu, especially chapters v and
xix; also letters in the appendix; also Les Antiquities Celtiques
et Antediluviennes, as cited in previous chapters of this work.
For an account of the Neanderthal man and other remains
mentioned, see Quatrefages, Human Species, chap. xxvi; also
Mortillet, Le Prehistorique, Paris, 1885, pp. 232 et seq.; also
other writers cited in this chapter. For the other discoveries
mentioned, see the same sources. For an engraving of the skull
and the restored human face of the Neanderthal man, see Reinach,
Antiquities Nationales, etc., vol. i, p. 138. For the vast
regions over which that early race spread, see Quatrefages as
above, p. 307. See also the same author, Histoire Generale des
Races Humaines, in the Bibliotheque Ethnologique, Paris, 1887, p.
4. In the vast mass of literature bearing on this subject, see
Quatrefages, Dupont, Reinach, Joly, Mortillet, Tylor, and
Lubbock, in works cited through these chapters.

This second conclusion, the upward tendency of man from low
beginnings, was made more and more clear by bringing into
relations with these remains of human bodies and of extinct
animals the remains of human handiwork. As stated in the last
chapter, the river drift and bone caves in Great Britain, France,
and other parts of the world, revealed a progression, even in the
various divisions of the earliest Stone period; for, beginning
at the very lowest strata of these remains, on the floors of the
caverns, associated mainly with the bones of extinct animals,
such as the cave bear, the hairy elephant, and the like, were the
rudest implements then, in strata above these, sealed in the
stalagmite of the cavern floors, lying with the bones of animals
extinct but more recent, stone implements were found, still rude,
but, as a rule, of an improved type; and, finally, in a still
higher stratum, associated with bones of animals like the
reindeer and bison, which, though not extinct, have departed to
other climates, were rude stone implements, on the whole of a
still better workmanship. Such was the foreshadowing, even at
that early rude Stone period, of the proofs that the tendency of
man has been from his earliest epoch and in all parts of the
world, as a rule, upward.

But this rule was to be much further exemplified. About 1850,
while the French and English geologists were working more
especially among the relics of the drift and cave periods, noted
archaeologists of the North--Forchammer, Steenstrup, and
Worsaae--were devoting themselves to the investigation of certain
remains upon the Danish Peninsula. These remains were of two
kinds: first, there were vast shell-heaps or accumulations of
shells and other refuse cast aside by rude tribes which at some
unknown age in the past lived on the shores of the Baltic,
principally on shellfish. That these shell-heaps were very
ancient was evident: the shells of oysters and the like found in
them were far larger than any now found on those coasts; their
size, so far from being like that of the corresponding varieties
which now exist in the brackish waters of the Baltic, was in
every case like that of those varieties which only thrive in the
waters of the open salt sea. Here was a clear indication that at
the time when man formed these shell-heaps those coasts were in
far more direct communication with the salt sea than at present,
and that sufficient time must have elapsed since that period to
have wrought enormous changes in sea and land throughout those

Scattered through these heaps were found indications of a grade
of civilization when man still used implements of stone, but
implements and weapons which, though still rude, showed a
progress from those of the drift and early cave period, some of
them being of polished stone.

With these were other evidences that civilization had progressed.
With implements rude enough to have survived from early periods,
other implements never known in the drift and bone caves began to
appear, and, though there were few if any bones of other domestic
animals, the remains of dogs were found; everything showed that
there had been a progress in civilization between the former
Stone epoch and this.

The second series of discoveries in Scandinavia was made in the
peat-beds: these were generally formed in hollows or bowls
varying in depth from ten to thirty feet, and a section of them,
like a section of the deposits in the bone caverns, showed a
gradual evolution of human culture. The lower strata in these
great bowls were found to be made up chiefly of mosses and
various plants matted together with the trunks of fallen trees,
sometimes of very large diameter; and the botanical examination
of the lowest layer of these trees and plants in the various
bowls revealed a most important fact: for this layer, the first
in point of time, was always of the Scotch fir--which now grows
nowhere in the Danish islands, and can not be made to grow
anywhere in them--and of plants which are now extinct in these
regions, but have retreated within the arctic circle. Coming up
from the bottom of these great bowls there was found above the
first layer a second, in which were matted together masses of oak
trees of different varieties; these, too, were relics of a
bygone epoch, since the oak has almost entirely disappeared from
Denmark. Above these came a third stratum made up of fallen
beech trees; and the beech is now, and has been since the
beginning of recorded history, the most common tree of the Danish

Now came a second fact of the utmost importance as connected with
the first. Scattered, as a rule, through the lower of these
deposits, that of the extinct fir trees and plants, were found
implements and weapons of smooth stone; in the layer of oak
trees were found implements of bronze; and among the layer of
beeches were found implements and weapons of iron.

The general result of these investigations in these two sources,
the shell mounds and the peat deposits, was the same: the first
civilization evidenced in them was marked by the use of stone
implements more or less smooth, showing a progress from the
earlier rude Stone period made known by the bone caves; then
came a later progress to a higher civilization, marked by the use
of bronze implements; and, finally, a still higher development
when iron began to be used.

The labours of the Danish archaeologists have resulted in the
formation of a great museum at Copenhagen, and on the specimens
they have found, coupled with those of the drift and bone caves,
is based the classification between the main periods or divisions
in the evolution of the human race above referred to.

It was not merely in Scandinavian lands that these results were
reached; substantially the same discoveries were made in Ireland
and France, in Sardinia and Portugal, in Japan and in Brazil, in
Cuba and in the United States; in fact, as a rule, in nearly
every part of the world which was thoroughly examined.[192]

[192] For the general subject, see Mortillet, Le Prehistorique,
p. 498, et passim. For examples of the rude stone implements,
improving as we go from earlier to later layers in the bone
caves, see Boyd Hawkins, Early Man in Britain, chap. vii, p. 186;
also Quatrefages, Human Species, New York, 1879, pp. 305 et seq.
An interesting gleam of light is thrown on the subject in De
Baye, Grottes Prehistoriques de la Marne, pp. 31 et seq.; also
Evans, as cited in the previous chapter. For the more recent
investigations in the Danish shell-heaps, see Boyd Dawkins, Early
Man in Britain, pp. 303, 304. For these evidences of advanced
civilization in the shell-heaps, see Mortillet, p. 498. He, like
Nilsson, says that only the bones of the dog were found; but
compare Dawkins, p. 305. For the very full list of these
discoveries, with their bearing on each other, see Mortillet, p.
499. As to those in Scandanavian countries, see Nilsson, The
Primitive Inhabitants of Scandanavia, third edition, with
Introduction by Lubbock, London, 1868; also the Pre-History of
the North, by Worsaae, English translation, London, 1886. For
shell-mounds and their contents in the Spanish Peninsula, see
Cartailhac's greater work already cited. For summary of such
discoveries throughout the world, see Mortillet, Le
Prehistorique, pp. 497 et seq.

But from another quarter came a yet more striking indication of
this same evolution. As far back as the year 1829 there were
discovered, in the Lake of Zurich, piles and other antiquities
indicating a former existence of human dwellings, standing in the
water at some distance from the shore; but the usual mixture of
thoughtlessness and dread of new ideas seems to have prevailed,
and nothing was done until about 1853, when new discoveries of
the same kind were followed up vigorously, and Rutimeyer, Keller,
Troyon, and others showed not only in the Lake of Zurich, but in
many other lakes in Switzerland, remains of former habitations,
and, in the midst of these, great numbers of relics, exhibiting
the grade of civilization which those lakedwellers had attained.

Here, too, were accumulated proofs of the upward tendency of the
human race. Implements of polished stone, bone, leather, pottery
of various grades, woven cloth, bones of several kinds of
domestic animals, various sorts of grain, bread which had been
preserved by charring, and a multitude of evidences of progress
never found among the earlier, ruder relics of civilization,
showed yet more strongly that man had arrived here at a still
higher stage than his predecessor of the drift, cave, and
shell-heap periods, and had gone on from better to better.

Very striking evidences of this upward tendency were found in
each class of implements. As by comparing the chipped flint
implements of the lower and earlier strata in the cave period
with those of the later and upper strata we saw progress, so, in
each of the periods of polished stone, bronze, and iron, we see,
by similar comparisons, a steady progress from rude to perfected
implements; and especially is this true in the remains of the
various lake-dwellings, for among these can be traced out
constant increase in the variety of animals domesticated, and
gradual improvements in means of subsistence and in ways of

Incidentally, too, a fact, at first sight of small account, but
on reflection exceedingly important, was revealed. The earlier
bronze implements were frequently found to imitate in various
minor respects implements of stone; in other words, forms were
at first given to bronze implements natural in working stone, but
not natural in working bronze. This showed the DIRECTION of the
development--that it was upward from stone to bronze, not
downward from bronze to stone; that it was progress rather than

These investigations were supplemented by similar researches
elsewhere. In many other parts of the world it was found that
lake-dwellers had existed in different grades of civilization,
but all within a certain range, intermediate between the
cave-dwellers and the historic period. To explain this epoch of
the lake-dwellers, history came in with the account given by
Herodotus of the lake-dwellings on Lake Prasias, which gave
protection from the armies of Persia. Still more important,
Comparative Ethnography showed that to-day, in various parts of
the world, especially in New Guinea and West Africa, races of men
are living in lake-dwellings built upon piles, and with a range
of implements and weapons strikingly like many of those
discovered in these ancient lake deposits of Switzerland.

In Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and
other countries, remains of a different sort were also found,
throwing light on this progress. The cromlechs, cranogs, mounds,
and the like, though some of them indicate the work of weaker
tribes pressed upon by stronger, show, as a rule, the same upward

At a very early period in the history of these discoveries,
various attempts were made--nominally in the interest of
religion, but really in the interest of sundry creeds and
catechisms framed when men knew little or nothing of natural
laws--to break the force of such evidences of the progress and
development of the human race from lower to higher. Out of all
the earlier efforts two may be taken as fairly typical, for they
exhibit the opposition to science as developed under two
different schools of theology, each working in its own way. The
first of these shows great ingenuity and learning, and is
presented by Mr. Southall in his book, published in 1875,
entitled The Recent Origin of the World. In this he grapples
first of all with the difficulties presented by the early date of
Egyptian civilization, and the keynote of his argument is the
statement made by an eminent Egyptologist, at a period before
modern archaeological discoveries were well understood, that
"Egypt laughs the idea of a rude Stone age, a polished Stone age,
a Bronze age, an Iron age, to scorn."

Mr. Southall's method was substantially that of the late
excellent Mr. Gosse in geology. Mr. Gosse, as the readers of
this work may remember, felt obliged, in the supposed interest of
Genesis, to urge that safety to men's souls might be found in
believing that, six thousand years ago, the Almighty, for some
inscrutable purpose, suddenly set Niagara pouring very near the
spot where it is pouring now; laid the various strata, and
sprinkled the fossils through them like plums through a pudding;
scratched the glacial grooves upon the rocks, and did a vast
multitude of things, subtle and cunning, little and great, in all
parts of the world, required to delude geologists of modern times
into the conviction that all these things were the result of a
steady progress through long epochs. On a similar plan, Mr.
Southall proposed, at the very beginning of his book, as a final
solution of the problem, the declaration that Egypt, with its
high civilization in the time of Mena, with its races, classes,
institutions, arrangements, language, monuments--all indicating
an evolution through a vast previous history--was a sudden
creation which came fully made from the hands of the Creator. To
use his own words, "The Egyptians had no Stone age, and were born

There is an old story that once on a time a certain jovial King
of France, making a progress through his kingdom, was received at
the gates of a provincial town by the mayor's deputy, who began
his speech on this wise: "May it please your Majesty, there are
just thirteen reasons why His Honour the Mayor can not be present
to welcome you this morning. The first of these reasons is that
he is dead." On this the king graciously declared that this
first reason was sufficient, and that he would not trouble the
mayor's deputy for the twelve others.

So with Mr. Southall's argument: one simple result of scientific
research out of many is all that it is needful to state, and this
is, that in these later years we have a new and convincing
evidence of the existence of prehistoric man in Egypt in his
earliest, rudest beginnings; the very same evidence which we
find in all other parts of the world which have been carefully
examined. This evidence consists of stone implements and weapons
which have been found in Egypt in such forms, at such points, and
in such positions that when studied in connection with those
found in all other parts of the world, from New Jersey to
California, from France to India, and from England to the Andaman
Islands, they force upon us the conviction that civilization in
Egypt, as in all other parts of the world, was developed by the
same slow process of evolution from the rudest beginnings.

It is true that men learned in Egyptology had discouraged the
idea of an earlier Stone age in Egypt, and that among these were
Lepsius and Brugsch; but these men were not trained in
prehistoric archaeology; their devotion to the study of the
monuments of Egyptian civilization had evidently drawn them away
from sympathy, and indeed from acquaintance, with the work of men
like Boucher de Perthes, Lartet, Nilsson, Troyon, and Dawkins.
But a new era was beginning. In 1867 Worsaae called attention to
the prehistoric implements found on the borders of Egypt; two
years later Arcelin discussed such stone implements found beneath
the soil of Sakkara and Gizeh, the very focus of the earliest
Egyptian civilization; in the same year Hamy and Lenormant found
such implements washed out from the depths higher up the Nile at
Thebes, near the tombs of the kings; and in the following year
they exhibited more flint implements found at various other
places. Coupled with these discoveries was the fact that Horner
and Linant found a copper knife at twenty-four feet, and pottery
at sixty feet, below the surface. In 1872 Dr. Reil, director of
the baths at Helouan, near Cairo, discovered implements of
chipped flint; and in 1877. Dr. Jukes Brown made similar
discoveries in that region. In 1878 Oscar Fraas, summing up the
question, showed that the stone implements were mainly such as
are found in the prehistoric deposits of other countries, and
that, Zittel having found them in the Libyan Desert, far from the
oases, there was reason to suppose that these implements were
used before the region became a desert and before Egypt was
civilized. Two years later Dr. Mook, of Wurzburg, published a
work giving the results of his investigations, with careful
drawings of the rude stone implements discovered by him in the
upper Nile Valley, and it was evident that, while some of these
implements differed slightly from those before known, the great
mass of them were of the character so common in the prehistoric
deposits of other parts of the world.

A yet more important contribution to this mass of facts was made
by Prof. Henry Haynes, of Boston, who in the winter of 1877 and
1878 began a very thorough investigation of the subject, and
discovered, a few miles east of Cairo, many flint implements.
The significance of Haynes's discoveries was twofold: First,
there were, among these, stone axes like those found in the
French drift beds of St. Acheul, showing that the men who made or
taught men how to make these in Egypt were passing through the
same phase of savagery as that of Quaternary France; secondly, he
found a workshop for making these implements, proving that these
flint implements were not brought into Egypt by invaders, but
were made to meet the necessities of the country. From this
first field Prof. Haynes went to Helouan, north of Cairo, and
there found, as Dr. Reil had done, various worked flints, some of
them like those discovered by M. Riviere in the caves of
southern France; thence he went up the Nile to Luxor, the site of
ancient Thebes, began a thorough search in the Tertiary limestone
hills, and found multitudes of chipped stone implements, some of
them, indeed, of original forms, but most of forms common in
other parts of the world under similar circumstances, some of the
chipped stone axes corresponding closely to those found in the
drift beds of northern France.

All this seemed to show conclusively that, long ages before the
earliest period of Egyptian civilization of which the monuments
of the first dynasties give us any trace, mankind in the Nile
Valley was going through the same slow progress from the period
when, standing just above the brutes, he defended himself with
implements of rudely chipped stone.

But in 1881 came discoveries which settled the question entirely.
In that year General Pitt-Rivers, a Fellow of the Royal Society
and President of the Anthropological Institute, and J. F.
Campbell, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of England,
found implements not only in alluvial deposits, associated with
the bones of the zebra, hyena, and other animals which have since
retreated farther south, but, at Djebel Assas, near Thebes, they
found implements of chipped flint in the hard, stratified gravel,
from six and a half to ten feet below the surface; relics
evidently, as Mr. Campbell says, "beyond calculation older than
the oldest Egyptian temples and tombs." They certainly proved
that Egyptian civilization had not issued in its completeness,
and all at once, from the hand of the Creator in the time of
Mena. Nor was this all. Investigators of the highest character
and ability--men like Hull and Flinders Petrie--revealed
geological changes in Egypt requiring enormous periods of time,
and traces of man's handiwork dating from a period when the
waters in the Nile Valley extended hundreds of feet above the
present level. Thus was ended the contention of Mr. Southall.

Still another attack upon the new scientific conclusions came
from France, when in 1883 the Abbe Hamard, Priest of the Oratory,
published his Age of Stone and Primitive Man. He had been
especially vexed at the arrangement of prehistoric implements by
periods at the Paris Exposition of 1878; he bitterly complains
of this as having an anti-Christian tendency, and rails at
science as "the idol of the day." He attacks Mortillet, one of
the leaders in French archaeology, with a great display of
contempt; speaks of the "venom" in books on prehistoric man
generally; complains that the Church is too mild and gentle with
such monstrous doctrines; bewails the concessions made to science
by some eminent preachers; and foretells his own martyrdom at the
hands of men of science.

Efforts like this accomplished little, and a more legitimate
attempt was made to resist the conclusions of archaeology by
showing that knives of stone were used in obedience to a sacred
ritual in Egypt for embalming, and in Judea for circumcision, and
that these flint knives might have had this later origin. But
the argument against the conclusions drawn from this view was
triple: First, as we have seen, not only stone knives, but axes
and other implements of stone similar to those of a prehistoric
period in western Europe were discovered; secondly, these
implements were discovered in the hard gravel drift of a period
evidently far earlier than that of Mena; and, thirdly, the use of
stone implements in Egyptian and Jewish sacred functions within
the historic period, so far from weakening the force of the
arguments for the long and slow development of Egyptian
civilization from the men who used rude flint implements to the
men who built and adorned the great temples of the early
dynasties, is really an argument in favour of that long
evolution. A study of comparative ethnology has made it clear
that the sacred stone knives and implements of the Egyptian and
Jewish priestly ritual were natural survivals of that previous
period. For sacrificial or ritual purposes, the knife of stone
was considered more sacred than the knife of bronze or iron,
simply because it was ancient; just as to-day, in India, Brahman
priests kindle the sacred fire not with matches or flint and
steel, but by a process found in the earliest, lowest stages of
human culture--by violently boring a pointed stick into another
piece of wood until a spark comes; and just as to-day, in Europe
and America, the architecture of the Middle Ages survives as a
special religious form in the erection of our most recent
churches, and to such an extent that thousands on thousands of us
feel that we can not worship fitly unless in the midst of
windows, decorations, vessels, implements, vestments, and
ornaments, no longer used for other purposes, but which have
survived in sundry branches of the Christian Church, and derived
a special sanctity from the fact that they are of ancient origin.

Taking, then, the whole mass of testimony together, even though a
plausible or very strong argument against single evidences may be
made here and there, the force of its combined mass remains, and
leaves both the vast antiquity of man and the evolution of
civilization from its lowest to its highest forms, as proved by
the prehistoric remains of Egypt and so many other countries in
all parts of the world, beyond a reasonable doubt. Most
important of all, the recent discoveries in Assyria have thrown a
new light upon the evolution of the dogma of "the fall of man."
Reverent scholars like George Smith, Sayce, Delitzsch, Jensen,
Schrader, and their compeers have found in the Ninevite records
the undoubted source of that form of the fall legend which was
adopted by the Hebrews and by them transmitted to

[193] For Mr. Southall's views, see his Recent Origin of Man, p.
20 and elsewhere. For Mr. Gosse'e views, see his Omphalos as
cited in the chapter on Geology in this work. For a summary of
the work of Arcelin, Hamy, Lenormant, Richard, Lubbock, Mook, and
Haynes, see Mortillet, Le Prehistorique, passim. As to Zittel's
discovery, see Oscar Fraas's Aus dem Orient, Stuttgart, 1878. As
to the striking similarties of the stone implements found in
Egypt with those found in the drift and bone caves, see Mook's
monograph, Wurzburg, 1880, cited in the next chapter, especially
Plates IX, XI, XII. For even more striking reproductions of
photographs showing this remarkable similarity between Egyptian
and European chipped stone remains, see H. W. Haynes,
Palaeolithic Implements in Upper Egypt, Boston, 1881. See also
Evans, Ancient Stone Implements, chap. i, pp. 8, 9, 44, 102, 316,
329. As to stone implements used by priests of Jehovah, priests
of Baal, priests of Moloch, priests of Odin, and Egyptian
priests, as religious survivals, see Cartailhac, as above, 6 and
7; also Lartet, in De Luynes, Expedition to the Dead Sea; also
Nilsson, Primitive Inhabitants of Scandanavia, pp. 96, 97; also
Sayce, Herodotus, p. 171, note. For the discoveries by Pitt-
Rivers, see the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great
Britain and Ireland for 1882, vol. xi, pp. 382 et seq.; and for
Campbell's decision regarding them, see ibid., pp. 396, 397. For
facts summed up in the words, "It is most probable that Egypt at
a remote period passed like many other countries through its
stone period," see Hilton Price, F. S. A., F. G. S., paper in the
Journal of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and
Ireland for 1884, p. 56. Specimens of Palaeolithic implements
from Egypt--knives, arrowheads, spearheads, flakes, and the like,
both of peculiar and ordinary forms--may be seen in various
museums, but especially in that of Prof. Haynes, of Boston. Some
interesting light is also thrown into the subject by the
specimens obtained by General Wilson and deposited in the
Smithsonian Institution at Washington. For Abbe Hamard's attack,
see his L'Age de la Pierre et L'Homme Primitif, Paris, 1883--
especially his preface. For the stone weapon found in the high
drift behind Esneh, see Flinders Petrie, History of Egypt, chap.
i. Of these discoveries by Pitt-Rivers and others, Maspero
appears to know nothing.



We have seen that, closely connected with the main lines of
investigation in archaeology and anthropology, there were other
researches throwing much light on the entire subject. In a
previous chapter we saw especially that Lafitau and Jussieu were
among the first to collect and compare facts bearing on the
natural history of man, gathered by travellers in various parts
of the earth, thus laying foundations for the science of
comparative ethnology. It was soon seen that ethnology had most
important bearings upon the question of the material,
intellectual, moral, and religious evolution of the human race;
in every civilized nation, therefore, appeared scholars who began
to study the characteristics of various groups of men as
ascertained from travellers, and to compare the results thus
gained with each other and with those obtained by archaeology.

Thus, more and more clear became the evidences that the tendency
of the race has been upward from low beginnings. It was found
that groups of men still existed possessing characteristics of
those in the early periods of development to whom the drift and
caves and shell-heaps and pile-dwellings bear witness; groups of
men using many of the same implements and weapons, building their
houses in the same way, seeking their food by the same means,
enjoying the same amusements, and going through the same general
stages of culture; some being in a condition corresponding to
the earlier, some to the later, of those early periods.

From all sides thus came evidence that we have still upon the
earth examples of all the main stages in the development of human
civilization; that from the period when man appears little above
the brutes, and with little if any religion in any accepted sense
of the word, these examples can be arranged in an ascending
series leading to the highest planes which humanity has reached;
that philosophic observers may among these examples study
existing beliefs, usages, and institutions back through earlier
and earlier forms, until, as a rule, the whole evolution can be
easily divined if not fully seen. Moreover, the basis of the
whole structure became more and more clear: the fact that "the
lines of intelligence have always been what they are, and have
always operated as they do now; that man has progressed from the
simple to the complex, from the particular to the general."

As this evidence from ethnology became more and more strong, its
significance to theology aroused attention, and naturally most
determined efforts were made to break its force. On the
Continent the two great champions of the Church in this field
were De Maistre and De Bonald; but the two attempts which may be
especially recalled as the most influential among
English-speaking peoples were those of Whately, Archbishop of
Dublin, and the Duke of Argyll.

First in the combat against these new deductions of science was
Whately. He was a strong man, whose breadth of thought and
liberality in practice deserve all honour; but these very
qualities drew upon him the distrust of his orthodox brethren;
and, while his writings were powerful in the first half of the
present century to break down many bulwarks of unreason, he seems
to have been constantly in fear of losing touch with the Church,
and therefore to have promptly attacked some scientific
reasonings, which, had he been a layman, not holding a brief for
the Church, he would probably have studied with more care and
less prejudice. He was not slow to see the deeper significance
of archaeology and ethnology in their relations to the
theological conception of "the Fall," and he set the battle in
array against them.

His contention was, to use his own words, that "no community ever
did or ever can emerge unassisted by external helps from a state
of utter barbarism into anything that can be called
civilization"; and that, in short, all imperfectly civilized,
barbarous, and savage races are but fallen descendants of races
more fully civilized. This view was urged with his usual
ingenuity and vigour, but the facts proved too strong for him:
they made it clear, first, that many races were without simple
possessions, instruments, and arts which never, probably, could
have been lost if once acquired--as, for example, pottery, the
bow for shooting, various domesticated animals, spinning, the
simplest principles of agriculture, household economy, and the
like; and, secondly, it was shown as a simple matter of fact
that various savage and barbarous tribes HAD raised themselves by
a development of means which no one from outside could have
taught them; as in the cultivation and improvement of various
indigenous plants, such as the potato and Indian corn among the
Indians of North America; in the domestication of various animals
peculiar to their own regions, such as the llama among the
Indians of south America; in the making of sundry fabrics out of
materials and by processes not found among other nations, such as
the bark cloth of the Polynesians; and in the development of
weapons peculiar to sundry localities, but known in no others,
such as the boomerang in Australia.

Most effective in bringing out the truth were such works as those
of Sir John Lubbock and Tylor; and so conclusive were they that
the arguments of Whately were given up as untenable by the other
of the two great champions above referred to, and an attempt was
made by him to form the diminishing number of thinking men
supporting the old theological view on a new line of defence.

This second champion, the Duke of Argyll, was a man of wide
knowledge and strong powers in debate, whose high moral sense was
amply shown in his adhesion to the side of the American Union in
the struggle against disunion and slavery, despite the
overwhelming majority against him in the high aristocracy to
which he belonged. As an honest man and close thinker, the duke
was obliged to give up completely the theological view of the
antiquity of man. The whole biblical chronology as held by the
universal Church, "always, everywhere, and by all," he
sacrificed, and gave all his powers in this field to support the
theory of "the Fall." Noblesse oblige: the duke and his
ancestors had been for centuries the chief pillars of the Church
of Scotland, and it was too much to expect that he could break
away from a tenet which forms really its "chief cornerstone."

Acknowledging the insufficiency of Archbishop Whately's argument,
the duke took the ground that the lower, barbarous, savage,
brutal races were the remains of civilized races which, in the
struggle for existence, had been pushed and driven off to remote
and inclement parts of the earth, where the conditions necessary
to a continuance in their early civilization were absent; that,
therefore, the descendants of primeval, civilized men degenerated
and sank in the scale of culture. To use his own words, the
weaker races were "driven by the stronger to the woods and
rocks," so that they became "mere outcasts of the human race."

In answer to this, while it was conceded, first, that there have
been examples of weaker tribes sinking in the scale of culture
after escaping from the stronger into regions unfavourable to
civilization, and, secondly, that many powerful nations have
declined and decayed, it was shown that the men in the most
remote and unfavourable regions have not always been the lowest
in the scale; that men have been frequently found "among the
woods and rocks" in a higher state of civilization than on the
fertile plains, such examples being cited as Mexico, Peru, and
even Scotland; and that, while there were many examples of
special and local decline, overwhelming masses of facts point to
progress as a rule.

The improbability, not to say impossibility, of many of the
conclusions arrived at by the duke appeared more and more
strongly as more became known of the lower tribes of mankind. It
was necessary on his theory to suppose many things which our
knowledge of the human race absolutely forbids us to believe:
for example, it was necessary to suppose that the Australians or
New Zealanders, having once possessed so simple and convenient an
art as that of the potter, had lost every trace of it; and that
the same tribes, having once had so simple a means of saving
labour as the spindle or small stick weighted at one end for
spinning, had given it up and gone back to twisting threads with
the hand. In fact, it was necessary to suppose that one of the
main occupations of man from "the beginning" had been the
forgetting of simple methods, processes, and implements which all
experience in the actual world teaches us are never entirely
forgotten by peoples who have once acquired them.

Some leading arguments of the duke were overthrown by simple
statements of fact. Thus, his instance of the Eskimo as pushed
to the verge of habitable America, and therefore living in the
lowest depths of savagery, which, even if it were true, by no
means proved a general rule, was deprived of its force by the
simple fact that the Eskimos are by no means the lowest race on
the American continent, and that various tribes far more
centrally and advantageously placed, as, for instance, those in
Brazil, are really inferior to them in the scale of culture.
Again, his statement that "in Africa there appear to be no traces
of any time when the natives were not acquainted with the use of
iron," is met by the fact that from the Nile Valley to the Cape
of Good Hope we find, wherever examination has been made, the
same early stone implements which in all other parts of the world
precede the use of iron, some of which would not have been made
had their makers possessed iron. The duke also tried to show
that there were no distinctive epochs of stone, bronze, and iron,
by adducing the fact that some stone implements are found even in
some high civilizations. This is indeed a fact. We find some
few European peasants to-day using stone mallet-heads; but this
proves simply that the old stone mallet-heads have survived as
implements cheap and effective.

The argument from Comparative Ethnology in support of the view
that the tendency of mankind is upward has received strength from
many sources. Comparative Philology shows that in the less
civilized, barbarous, and savage races childish forms of speech
prevail--frequent reduplications and the like, of which we have
survivals in the later and even in the most highly developed
languages. In various languages, too, we find relics of ancient
modes of thought in the simplest words and expressions used for
arithmetical calculations. Words and phrases for this purpose
are frequently found to be derived from the words for hands,
feet, fingers, and toes, just as clearly as in our own language
some of our simplest measures of length are shown by their names
to have been measures of parts of the human body, as the cubit,
the foot, and the like, and therefore to date from a time when
exactness was not required. To add another out of many examples,
it is found to-day that various rude nations go through the
simplest arithmetical processes by means of pebbles. Into our
own language, through the Latin, has come a word showing that our
distant progenitors reckoned in this way: the word CALCULATE
gives us an absolute proof of this. According to the theory of
the Duke of Argyll, men ages ago used pebbles (CALCULI) in
performing the simplest arithmetical calculations because we
to-day "CALCULATE." No reduction to absurdity could be more
thorough. The simple fact must be that we "calculate" because
our remote ancestors used pebbles in their arithmetic.

Comparative Literature and Folklore also show among peoples of a
low culture to-day childish modes of viewing nature, and childish
ways of expressing the relations of man to nature, such as
clearly survive from a remote ancestry; noteworthy among these
are the beliefs in witches and fairies, and multitudes of popular
and poetic expressions in the most civilized nations.

So,too, Comparative Ethnography, the basis of Ethnology, shows in
contemporary barbarians and savages a childish love of playthings
and games, of which we have many survivals.

All these facts, which were at first unobserved or observed as
matters of no significance, have been brought into connection
with a fact in biology acknowledged alike by all important
schools; by Agassiz on one hand and by Darwin on the
other--namely, as stated by Agassiz, that "the young states of
each species and group resemble older forms of the same group,"
or, as stated by Darwin, that "in two or more groups of animals,
however much they may at first differ from each other in
structure and habits, if they pass through closely similar
embryonic stages, we may feel almost assured that they have
descended from the same parent form, and are therefore closely

[194] For the stone forms given to early bronze axes, etc., see
Nilsson, Primitive Inhabitants of Scandanavia, London, 1868,
Lubbock's Introduction, p. 31; and for plates, see Lubbock's
Prehistoric Man, chap. ii; also Cartailhac, Les Ages
Prehistoriques de l'Espagne et du Portugal, p. 227. Also Keller,
Lake Dwellings; also Troyon, Habitations Lacustres; also Boyd
Dawkins, Early Man in Great Britain, p. 191; also Lubbock, p. 6;
also Lyell, Antiquity of Man,chap. ii. For the cranogs, etc., in
the north of Europe, see Munro, Ancient Scottish Lake Dwellings,
Edinburgh, 1882. For mounds and greater stone constructions in
the extreme south of Europe, see Cartailhac's work on Spain and
Portugal above cited, part iii, chap. iii. For the source of Mr.
Southall's contention, see Brugsch, Egypt of the Pharoahs. For
the two sides of the question whether in the lower grades of
savagery there is really any recognition of a superior power, or
anything which can be called, in any accepted sense, religion,
compare Quatrefages with Lubbock, in works already cited. For a
striking but rather ad captandum effort to show that there is a
moral and religious sense in the very lowest of Australian
tribes, see one of the discourses of Archbishop Vaughn on Science
and Religion, Baltimore, 1879. For one out of multitiudes of
striking and instructive resemblances in ancient stone implements
and those now in use among sundry savage tribes, see comparison
between old Scandanavian arrowheads and those recently brought
from Tierra del Fuego, in Nilsson, as above, especially in Plate
V. For a brief and admirable statement of the arguments on both
sides, see Sir J. Lubbock's Dundee paper, given in the appendix
to the American edition of his Origin of Civilization, etc. For
the general argument referred to between Whately and the Duke of
Argyll on one side, and Lubbock on the other, see Lubbock's
Dundee paper as above cited; Tylor, Early History of Mankind,
especially p. 193; and the Duke of Argyll, Primeval Man, part iv.
For difficulties of savages in arithmetic, see Lubbock, as above,
pp. 459 et seq. For a very temperate and judicial view of the
whole question, see Tylor as above, chaps. vii and xiii. For a
brief summary of the scientific position regarding the stagnation
and deterioration of races, resulting in the statement that such
deterioration "in no way contradicts the theory that civilization
itself is developed from low to high stages," see Tylor,
Anthropology, chap. i. For striking examples of the testimony of
language to upward progress, see Tylor, chap. xii.



The history of art, especially as shown by architecture, in the
noblest monuments of the most enlightened nations of antiquity;
gives abundant proofs of the upward tendency of man from the
rudest and simplest beginnings. Many columns of early Egyptian
temples or tombs are but bundles of Nile reeds slightly
conventionalized in stone; the temples of Greece, including not
only the earliest forms, but the Parthenon itself, while in parts
showing an evolution out of Egyptian and Assyrian architecture,
exhibit frequent reminiscences and even imitations of earlier
constructions in wood; the medieval cathedrals, while evolved
out of Roman and Byzantine structures, constantly show
unmistakable survivals of prehistoric construction. [195]

[195] As to evolution in architecture, and especially of Greek
forms and ornaments out of Egyptian and Assyrian, with survivals
in stone architecture of forms obtained in Egypt when reeds were
used, and in Greece when wood construction prevailed, see
Fergusson's Handbook of Architecture, vol. i, pp. 100, 228, 233,
and elsewhere; also Otfried Muller, Ancient Art and its Remains,
English translation, London, 1852, pp. 219, passim. For a very
brief but thorough statement, see A. Magnard's paper in the
Proceedings of the American Oriental Society, October, 1889,
entitled Reminiscences of Egypt in Doric Architecture. On the
general subject, see Hommel, Babylonien, ch. i, and Meyer,
Alterthum, i, S 199.

So, too, general history has come in, illustrating the unknown
from the known: the development of man in the prehistoric period
from his development within historic times. Nothing is more
evident from history than the fact that weaker bodies of men
driven out by stronger do not necessarily relapse into barbarism,
but frequently rise, even under the most unfavourable
circumstances, to a civilization equal or superior to that from
which they have been banished. Out of very many examples showing
this law of upward development, a few may be taken as typical.
The Slavs, who sank so low under the pressure of stronger races
that they gave the modern world a new word to express the most
hopeless servitude, have developed powerful civilizations
peculiar to themselves; the, barbarian tribes who ages ago took
refuge amid the sand-banks and morasses of Holland, have
developed one of the world's leading centres of civilization;
the wretched peasants who about the fifth century took refuge
from invading hordes among the lagoons and mud banks of Venetia,
developed a power in art, arms, and politics which is among the
wonders of human history; the Puritans, driven from the
civilization of Great Britain to the unfavourable climate, soil,
and circumstances of early New England,--the Huguenots, driven
from France, a country admirably fitted for the highest growth of
civilization, to various countries far less fitted for such
growth,--the Irish peasantry, driven in vast numbers from their
own island to other parts of the world on the whole less fitted
to them--all are proofs that, as a rule, bodies of men once
enlightened, when driven to unfavourable climates and brought
under the most depressing circumstances, not only retain what
enlightenment they have, but go on increasing it. Besides these,
we have such cases as those of criminals banished to various
penal colonies, from whose descendants has been developed a
better morality; and of pirates, like those of the Bounty, whose
descendants, in a remote Pacific island, became sober, steady
citizens. Thousands of examples show the prevalence of this same
rule--that men in masses do not forget the main gains of their
civilization, and that, in spite of deteriorations, their
tendency is upward.

Another class of historic facts also testifies in the most
striking manner to this same upward tendency: the decline and
destruction of various civilizations brilliant but hopelessly
vitiated. These catastrophes are seen more and more to be but
steps in, this development. The crumbling away of the great
ancient civilizations based upon despotism, whether the despotism
of monarch, priest, or mob--the decline and fall of Roman
civilization, for example, which, in his most remarkable
generalization, Guizot has shown to have been necessary to the
development of the richer civilization of modern Europe; the
terrible struggle and loss of the Crusades, which once appeared
to be a mere catastrophe, but are now seen to have brought in,
with the downfall of feudalism, the beginnings of the
centralizing, civilizing monarchical period; the French
Revolution, once thought a mere outburst of diabolic passion, but
now seen to be an unduly delayed transition from the monarchical
to the constitutional epoch: all show that even widespread
deterioration and decline--often, indeed, the greatest political
and moral catastrophes--so far from leading to a fall of mankind,
tend in the long run to raise humanity to higher planes.

Thus, then, Anthropology and its handmaids, Ethnology, Philology,
and History, have wrought out, beyond a doubt, proofs of the
upward evolution of humanity since the appearance of man upon our

Nor have these researches been confined to progress in man's
material condition. Far more important evidences have been found
of upward evolution in his family, social, moral, intellectual,
and religious relations. The light thrown on this subject by
such men as Lubbock, Tylor, Herbert Spencer, Buckle, Draper, Max
Muller, and a multitude of others, despite mistakes, haltings,
stumblings, and occasional following of delusive paths, is among
the greatest glories of the century now ending. From all these
investigators in their various fields, holding no brief for any
system sacred or secular, but seeking truth as truth, comes the
same general testimony of the evolution of higher out of lower.
The process has been indeed slow and painful, but this does not
prove that it may not become more rapid and less fruitful in
sorrow as humanity goes on.[196]

[196] As to the good effects of migration, see Waitz,
Introduction to Anthropology, London, 1863, p. 345.

While, then, it is not denied that many instances of
retrogression can be found, the consenting voice of unbiased
investigators in all lands has declared more and more that the
beginnings of our race must have been low and brutal, and that
the tendency has been upward. To combat this conclusion by
examples of decline and deterioration here and there has become
impossible: as well try to prove that, because in the
Mississippi there are eddies in which the currents flow
northward, there is no main stream flowing southward; or that,
because trees decay and fall, there is no law of upward growth
from germ to trunk, branches, foliage, and fruit.

A very striking evidence that the theological theory had become
untenable was seen when its main supporter in the scientific
field, Von Martius, in the full ripeness of his powers, publicly
declared his conversion to the scientific view.

Yet, while the tendency of enlightened human thought in recent
times is unmistakable, the struggle against the older view is not
yet ended. The bitterness of the Abbe Hamard in France has been
carried to similar and even greater extremes among sundry
Protestant bodies in Europe and America. The simple truth of
history mates it a necessity, unpleasant though it be, to
chronicle two typical examples in the United States.

In the year 1875 a leader in American industrial enterprise
endowed at the capital of a Southern State a university which
bore his name. It was given into the hands of one of the
religious sects most powerful in that region, and a bishop of
that sect became its president. To its chair of Geology was
called Alexander Winchell, a scholar who had already won eminence
as a teacher and writer in that field, a professor greatly
beloved and respected in the two universities with which he had
been connected, and a member of the sect which the institution of
learning above referred to represented.

But his relations to this Southern institution were destined to
be brief. That his lectures at the Vanderbilt University were
learned, attractive, and stimulating, even his enemies were
forced to admit; but he was soon found to believe that there had
been men earlier than the period as signed to Adam, and even that
all the human race are not descended from Adam. His desire was
to reconcile science and Scripture, and he was now treated by a
Methodist Episcopal Bishop in Tennessee just as, two centuries
before, La Peyrere had been treated, for a similar effort, by a
Roman Catholic vicar-general in Belgium. The publication of a
series of articles on the subject, contributed by the professor
to a Northern religious newspaper at its own request, brought
matters to a climax; for, the articles having fallen under the
notice of a leading Southwestern organ of the denomination
controlling the Vanderbilt University, the result was a most
bitter denunciation of Prof. Winchell and of his views. Shortly
afterward the professor was told by Bishop McTyeire that "our
people are of the opinion that such views are contrary to the
plan of redemption," and was requested by the bishop to quietly
resign his chair. To this the professor made the fitting reply:
"If the board of trustees have the manliness to dismiss me for
cause, and declare the cause, I prefer that they should do it.
No power on earth could persuade me to resign."

"We do not propose," said the bishop, with quite gratuitous
suggestiveness, "to treat you as the Inquisition treated

"But what you propose is the same thing," rejoined Dr. Winchell.
"It is ecclesiastical proscription for an opinion which must be
settled by scientific evidence."

Twenty-four hours later Dr. Winchell was informed that his chair
had been abolished, and its duties, with its salary, added to
those of a colleague; the public were given to understand that
the reasons were purely economic; the banished scholar was
heaped with official compliments, evidently in hope that he would
keep silence.

Such was not Dr. Winchell's view. In a frank letter to the
leading journal of the university town he stated the whole
matter. The intolerance-hating press of the country, religious
and secular, did not hold its peace. In vain the authorities of
the university waited for the storm to blow over. It was
evident, at last, that a defence must be made, and a local organ
of the sect, which under the editorship of a fellow-professor had
always treated Dr. Winchell's views with the luminous inaccuracy
which usually characterizes a professor's ideas of a rival's
teachings, assumed the task. In the articles which followed, the
usual scientific hypotheses as to the creation were declared to
be "absurd," "vague and unintelligible," "preposterous and
gratuitous." This new champion stated that "the objections drawn
from the fossiliferous strata and the like are met by reference
to the analogy of Adam and Eve, who presented the phenomena of
adults when they were but a day old, and by the Flood of Noah and
other cataclysms, which, with the constant change of Nature, are
sufficient to account for the phenomena in question"!

Under inspiration of this sort the Tennessee Conference of the
religious body in control of the university had already, in
October, 1878, given utterance to its opinion of unsanctified
science as follows: "This is an age in which scientific atheism,
having divested itself of the habiliments that most adorn and
dignify humanity, walks abroad in shameless denudation. The
arrogant and impertinent claims of this `science, falsely so
called,' have been so boisterous and persistent, that the
unthinking mass have been sadly deluded; but our university
alone has had the courage to lay its young but vigorous hand upon
the mane of untamed Speculation and say, `We will have no more of
this.'" It is a consolation to know how the result, thus devoutly
sought, has been achieved; for in the "ode" sung at the laying
of the corner-stone of a new theological building of the same
university, in May, 1880, we read:

"Science and Revelation here
In perfect harmony appear,
Guiding young feet along the road
Through grace and Nature up to God."

It is also pleasing to know that, while an institution calling
itself a university thus violated the fundamental principles on
which any institution worthy of the name must be based, another
institution which has the glory of being the first in the entire
North to begin something like a university organization--the
State University of Michigan--recalled Dr. Winchell at once to
his former professorship, and honoured itself by maintaining him
in that position, where, unhampered, he was thereafter able to
utter his views in the midst of the largest body of students on
the American Continent.

Disgraceful as this history was to the men who drove out Dr.
Winchell, they but succeeded, as various similar bodies of men
making similar efforts have done, in advancing their supposed
victim to higher position and more commanding influence.[197]

[197] For Dr. Winchell's original statements, see Adamites and
Pre-Adamites, Syracuse, N. Y., 1878. For the first important
denunciation of his views, see the St. Louis Christian Advocate,
May 22, 1878. For the conversation with Bishop McTyeire, see Dr.
Winchell's own account in the Nashville American of July 19,
1878. For the further course of the attack in the denominational
organ of Dr. Winchell's oppressors, see the Nashville Christian
Advocate, April 26, 1879. For the oratorical declaration of the
Tennessee Conference upon the matter, see the Nashville American,
October 15, 1878; and for the "ode" regarding the "harmony of
science and revelation" as supported at the university, see the
same journal for May 2, 1880

A few years after this suppression of earnest Christian thought
at an institution of learning in the western part of our Southern
States, there appeared a similar attempt in sundry seaboard
States of the South.

As far back as the year 1857 the Presbyterian Synod of
Mississippi passed the following resolution:

"WHEREAS, We live in an age in which the most insidious attacks
are made on revealed religion through the natural sciences, and
as it behooves the Church at all times to have men capable of
defending the faith once delivered to the saints;

"RESOLVED, That this presbytery recommend the endowment of a
professorship of Natural Science as connected with revealed
religion in one or more of our theological seminaries."

Pursuant to this resolution such a chair was established in the
theological seminary at Columbia, S.C., and James Woodrow was
appointed professor. Dr. Woodrow seems to have been admirably
fitted for the position--a devoted Christian man, accepting the
Presbyterian standards of faith in which he had been brought up,
and at the same time giving every effort to acquaint himself with
the methods and conclusions of science. To great natural
endowments he added constant labours to arrive at the truth in
this field. Visiting Europe, he made the acquaintance of many of
the foremost scientific investigators, became a student in
university lecture rooms and laboratories, an interested hearer
in scientific conventions, and a correspondent of leading men of
science at home and abroad. As a result, he came to the
conclusion that the hypothesis of evolution is the only one which
explains various leading facts in natural science. This he
taught, and he also taught that such a view is not incompatible
with a true view of the sacred Scriptures.

In 1882 and 1883 the board of directors of the theological
seminary, in fear that "scepticism in the world is using alleged
discoveries in science to impugn the Word of God," requested
Prof. Woodrow to state his views in regard to evolution. The
professor complied with this request in a very powerful address,
which was published and widely circulated, to such effect that
the board of directors shortly afterward passed resolutions
declaring the theory of evolution as defined by Prof. Woodrow
not inconsistent with perfect soundness in the faith.

In the year 1884 alarm regarding Dr. Woodrow's teachings began
to show itself in larger proportions, and a minority report was
introduced into the Synod of South Carolina declaring that "the
synod is called upon to decide not upon the question whether the
said views of Dr. Woodrow contradict the Bible in its highest
and absolute sense, but upon the question whether they contradict
the interpretation of the Bible by the Presbyterian Church in the
United States."

Perhaps a more self-condemnatory statement was never presented,
for it clearly recognized, as a basis for intolerance, at least a
possible difference between "the interpretation of the Bible by
the Presbyterian Church" and the teachings of "the Bible in its
highest and absolute sense."

This hostile movement became so strong that, in spite of the
favourable action of the directors of the seminary, and against
the efforts of a broad-minded minority in the representative
bodies having ultimate charge of the institution, the delegates
from the various synods raised a storm of orthodoxy and drove Dr.
Woodrow from his post. Happily, he was at the same time
professor in the University of South Carolina in the same city of
Columbia, and from his chair in that institution he continued to
teach natural science with the approval of the great majority of
thinking men in that region; hence, the only effect of the
attempt to crush him was, that his position was made higher,
respect for him deeper, and his reputation wider.

In spite of attempts by the more orthodox to prevent students of
the theological seminary from attending his lectures at the
university, they persisted in hearing him; indeed, the
reputation of heresy seemed to enhance his influence.

It should be borne in mind that the professor thus treated had
been one of the most respected and beloved university instructors
in the South during more than a quarter of a century, and that he
was turned out of his position with no opportunity for careful
defence, and, indeed, without even the formality of a trial.
Well did an eminent but thoughtful divine of the Southern
Presbyterian Church declare that "the method of procedure to
destroy evolution by the majority in the Church is vicious and
suicidal," and that "logical dynamite has been used to put out a
supposed fire in the upper stories of our house, and all the
family in the house at that." Wisely, too, did he refer to the
majority as "sowing in the fields of the Church the thorns of its
errors, and cumbering its path with the debris and ruin of its
own folly."

To these recent cases may be added the expulsion of Prof. Toy
from teaching under ecclesiastical control at Louisville, and his
election to a far more influential chair at Harvard University;
the driving out from the American College at Beyrout of the young
professors who accepted evolution as probable, and the rise of
one of them, Mr. Nimr, to a far more commanding position than
that which he left--the control of three leading journals at
Cairo; the driving out of Robertson Smith from his position at
Edinburgh, and his reception into the far more important and
influential professorship at the English University of Cambridge;
and multitudes of similar cases. From the days when Henry
Dunster, the first President of Harvard College, was driven from
his presidency, as Cotton Mather said, for "falling into the
briers of Antipedobaptism" until now, the same spirit is shown in
all such attempts. In each we have generally, on one side, a
body of older theologians, who since their youth have learned
nothing and forgotten nothing, sundry professors who do not wish
to rewrite their lectures, and a mass of unthinking
ecclesiastical persons of little or no importance save in making
up a retrograde majority in an ecclesiastical tribunal; on the
other side we have as generally the thinking, open-minded,
devoted men who have listened to the revelation of their own time
as well as of times past, and who are evidently thinking the
future thought of the world.

Here we have survivals of that same oppression of thought by
theology which has cost the modern world so dear; the system
which forced great numbers of professors, under penalty of
deprivation, to teach that the sun and planets revolve about the
earth; that comets are fire-balls flung by an angry God at a
wicked world; that insanity is diabolic possession; that
anatomical investigation of the human frame is sin against the
Holy Ghost; that chemistry leads to sorcery; that taking
interest for money is forbidden by Scripture; that geology must
conform to ancient Hebrew poetry. From the same source came in
Austria the rule of the "Immaculate Oath," under which university
professors, long before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
was defined by the Church, were obliged to swear to their belief
in that dogma before they were permitted to teach even arithmetic
or geometry; in England, the denunciation of inoculation against
smallpox; in Scotland, the protests against using chloroform in
childbirth as "vitiating the primal curse against woman"; in
France, the use in clerical schools of a historical text-book
from which Napoleon was left out; and, in America, the use of
Catholic manuals in which the Inquisition is declared to have
been a purely civil tribunal, or Protestant manuals in which the
Puritans are shown to have been all that we could now wish they
had been.

So, too, among multitudes of similar efforts abroad, we have
during centuries the fettering of professors at English and
Scotch universities by test oaths, subscriptions to articles, and
catechisms without number. In our own country we have had in a
vast multitude of denominational colleges, as the first
qualification for a professorship, not ability in the subject to
be taught, but fidelity to the particular shibboleth of the
denomination controlling the college or university.

Happily, in these days such attempts generally defeat themselves.
The supposed victim is generally made a man of mark by
persecution, and advanced to a higher and wider sphere of
usefulness. In withstanding the march of scientific truth, any
Conference, Synod, Board of Commissioners, Board of Trustees, or
Faculty, is but as a nest of field-mice in the path of a steam

The harm done to religion in these attempts is far greater than
that done to science; for thereby suspicions are widely spread,
especially among open-minded young men, that the accepted
Christian system demands a concealment of truth, with the
persecution of honest investigators, and therefore must be false.
Well was it said in substance by President McCosh, of Princeton,
that no more sure way of making unbelievers in Christianity among
young men could be devised than preaching to them that the
doctrines arrived at by the great scientific thinkers of this
period are opposed to religion.

Yet it is but justice here to say that more and more there is
evolving out of this past history of oppression a better spirit,
which is making itself manifest with power in the leading
religious bodies of the world. In the Church of Rome we have
to-day such utterances as those of St. George Mivart, declaring
that the Church must not attempt to interfere with science; that
the Almighty in the Galileo case gave her a distinct warning that
the priesthood of science must remain with the men of science.
In the Anglican Church and its American daughter we have the acts
and utterances of such men as Archbishop Tait, Bishop Temple,
Dean Stanley, Dean Farrar, and many others, proving that the
deepest religious thought is more and more tending to peace
rather than warfare with science; and in the other churches,
especially in America, while there is yet much to be desired, the
welcome extended in many of them to Alexander Winchell, and the
freedom given to views like his, augur well for a better state of
things in the future.

From the science of Anthropology, when rightly viewed as a whole,
has come the greatest aid to those who work to advance religion
rather than to promote any particular system of theology; for
Anthropology and its subsidiary sciences show more and more that
man, since coming upon the earth, has risen, from the period when
he had little, if any, idea of a great power above him, through
successive stages of fetichism, shamanism, and idolatry, toward
better forms of belief, making him more and more accessible to
nobler forms of religion. The same sciences show, too, within
the historic period, the same tendency, and especially within the
events covered by our sacred books, a progress from fetichism, of
which so many evidences crop out in the early Jewish worship as
shown in the Old Testament Scriptures, through polytheism, when
Jehovah was but "a god above all gods," through the period when
he was "a jealous God," capricious and cruel, until he is
revealed in such inspired utterances as those of the nobler
Psalms, the great passages in Isaiah, the sublime preaching of
Micah, and, above all, through the ideal given to the world by
Jesus of Nazareth.

Well indeed has an eminent divine of the Church of England in our
own time called on Christians to rejoice over this evolution,
"between the God of Samuel, who ordered infants to be
slaughtered, and the God of the Psalmist, whose tender mercies
are over all his works; between the God of the Patriarchs, who
was always repenting, and the God of the Apostles, who is the
same yesterday, to-day, and forever, with whom there is no
variableness nor shadow of turning, between the God of the Old
Testament, who walked in the garden in the cool of the day, and
the God of the New Testament, whom no man hath seen nor can see;
between the God of Leviticus, who was so particular about the
sacrificial furniture and utensils, and the God of the Acts, who
dwelleth not in temples made with hands; between the God who
hardened Pharaoh's heart, and the God who will have all men to be
saved; between the God of Exodus, who is merciful only to those
who love him, and the God of Christ--the heavenly Father--who is
kind unto the unthankful and the evil."

However overwhelming, then, the facts may be which Anthropology,
History, and their kindred sciences may, in the interest of
simple truth, establish against the theological doctrine of "the
Fall"; however completely they may fossilize various dogmas,
catechisms, creeds, confessions, "plans of salvation" and
"schemes of redemption," which have been evolved from the great
minds of the theological period: science, so far from making
inroads on religion, or even upon our Christian development of
it, will strengthen all that is essential in it, giving new and
nobler paths to man's highest aspirations. For the one great,
legitimate, scientific conclusion of anthropology is, that, more
and more, a better civilization of the world, despite all its
survivals of savagery and barbarism, is developing men and women
on whom the declarations of the nobler Psalms, of Isaiah, of
Micah, the Sermon on the Mount, the first great commandment, and
the second, which is like unto it, St. Paul's praise of charity
and St. James's definition of "pure religion and undefiled," can
take stronger hold for the more effective and more rapid
uplifting of our race.[198]

[198] For the resolution of the Presbyterian Synod of Mississippi
in 1857, see Prof. Woodrow's speech before the Synod of South
Carolina, October 27 and 28, 1884, p. 6. As to the action of the
Board of Directors of the Theological Seminary of Columbia, see
ibid. As to the minority report in the Synod of South Carolina,
see ibid., p. 24. For the pithy sentences regarding the conduct
of the majority in the synods toward Dr. Woodrow, see the Rev.
Mr. Flynn's article in the Southern Presbyterian Review for
April, 1885, p. 272, and elsewhere. For the restrictions
regarding the teaching of the Copernican theory and the true
doctrine of comets in German universities, see various histories
of astronomy, especially Madler. For the immaculate oath
(Immaculaten-Eid) as enforced upon the Austrian professors, see
Luftkandl, Die Josephinischen Ideen. For the effort of the
Church in France, after the restoration of the Bourbons, to teach
a history of that country from which the name of Napoleon should
be left out, see Father Loriquet's famous Histoire de France a
l'Usage de la Jeunesse, Lyon, 1820, vol. ii, see especially table
of contents at the end. The book bears on its title-page the
well known initials of the Jesuit motto, A. M. D. G. (Ad Majorem
Dei Gloriam). For examples in England and Scotland, see various
English histories, and especially Buckle's chapters on Scotland.
For a longer collection of examples showing the suppression of
anything like unfettered thought upon scientific subjects in
American universities, see Inaugural Address at the Opening of
Cornell University, by the author of these chapters. For the
citation regarding the evolution of better and nobler ideas of
God, see Church and Creed: Sermons preached in the Chapel of the
Foundling Hospital, London, by A. W. Momerie, M. A., LL. D.,
Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in King's College, London,
1890. For a very vigorous utterance on the other side, see a
recent charge of the Bishop of Gloucester.




The popular beliefs of classic antiquity regarding storms,
thunder, and lightning, took shape in myths representing Vulcan
as forging thunderbolts, Jupiter as flinging them at his enemies,
Aeolus intrusting the winds in a bag to Aeneas, and the like. An
attempt at their further theological development is seen in the
Pythagorean statement that lightnings are intended to terrify the
damned in Tartarus.

But at a very early period we see the beginning of a scientific
view. In Greece, the Ionic philosophers held that such phenomena
are obedient to law. Plato, Aristotle, and many lesser lights,
attempted to account for them on natural grounds; and their
explanations, though crude, were based upon observation and
thought. In Rome, Lucretius, Seneca, Pliny, and others,
inadequate as their statements were, implanted at least the germs
of a science. But, as the Christian Church rose to power, this
evolution was checked; the new leaders of thought found, in the
Scriptures recognized by them as sacred, the basis for a new
view, or rather for a modification of the old view.

This ending of a scientific evolution based upon observation and
reason, and this beginning of a sacred science based upon the
letter of Scripture and on theology, are seen in the utterances
of various fathers in the early Church. As to the general
features of this new development, Tertullian held that sundry
passages of Scripture prove lightning identical with hell-fire;
and this idea was transmitted from generation to generation of
later churchmen, who found an especial support of Tertullian's
view in the sulphurous smell experienced during thunderstorms.
St. Hilary thought the firmament very much lower than the
heavens, and that it was created not only for the support of the
upper waters, but also for the tempering of our atmosphere.[199]
St. Ambrose held that thunder is caused by the winds breaking
through the solid firmament, and cited from the prophet Amos the
sublime passage regarding "Him that establisheth the
thunders."[200] He shows, indeed, some conception of the true
source of rain; but his whole reasoning is limited by various
scriptural texts. He lays great stress upon the firmament as a
solid outer shell of the universe: the heavens he holds to be
not far outside this outer shell, and argues regarding their
character from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians and from the
one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm. As to "the waters which are
above the firmament," he takes up the objection of those who hold
that, this outside of the universe being spherical, the waters
must slide off it, especially if the firmament revolves; and he
points out that it is by no means certain that the OUTSIDE of the
firmament IS spherical, and insists that, if it does revolve, the
water is just what is needed to lubricate and cool its axis.

[199] For Tertullian, see the Apol. contra gentes, c. 47; also
Augustin de Angelis, Lectiones Meteorologicae, p. 64. For
Hilary, see In Psalm CXXXV. (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. ix, p. 773).

[200] "Firmans tonitrua" (Amos iv, 13); the phrase does not
appear in our version.

St. Jerome held that God at the Creation, having spread out the
firmament between heaven and earth, and having separated the
upper waters from the lower, caused the upper waters to be frozen
into ice, in order to keep all in place. A proof of this view
Jerome found in the words of Ezekiel regarding "the crystal
stretched above the cherubim."[201]

[201] For Ambrose, see the Hexaemeron, lib. ii, cap. 3,4; lib.
iii, cap. 5 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xiv, pp. 148-150, 153, 165).
The passage as to lubrication of the heavenly axis is as follows:
"Deinde cum ispi dicant volvi orbem coeli stellis ardentibus
refulgentem, nonne divina providentia necessario prospexit, ut
intra orbem coeli, et supra orbem redundaret aqua, quae illa
ferventis axis incendia temperaret?" For Jerome, see his
Epistola, lxix, cap. 6 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xxii, p.659).

The germinal principle in accordance with which all these
theories were evolved was most clearly proclaimed to the world by
St. Augustine in his famous utterance: "Nothing is to be
accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is
that authority than all the powers of the human mind."[202] No
treatise was safe thereafter which did not breathe the spirit and
conform to the letter of this maxim. Unfortunately, what was
generally understood by the "authority of Scripture" was the
tyranny of sacred books imperfectly transcribed, viewed through
distorting superstitions, and frequently interpreted by party

[202] "Major est quippe Scripturae hujas auctoritas, quam omnis
humani ingenii capacitas."--Augustine, De Genesi ad Lit., lib.
ii, cap. 5 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xxxiv, pp. 266, 267). Or, as
he is cited by Vincent of Beauvais (Spec. Nat., lib. iv, 98):
"Non est aliquid temere diffiniendum, sed quantum Scriptura dicit
accipiendum, cujus major est auctoritas quam omnis humani ingenii

Following this precept of St. Augustine there were developed, in
every field, theological views of science which have never led to
a single truth--which, without exception, have forced mankind
away from the truth, and have caused Christendom to stumble for
centuries into abysses of error and sorrow. In meteorology, as
in every other science with which he dealt, Augustine based
everything upon the letter of the sacred text; and it is
characteristic of the result that this man, so great when
untrammelled, thought it his duty to guard especially the whole
theory of the "waters above the heavens."

In the sixth century this theological reasoning was still further
developed, as we have seen, by Cosmas Indicopleustes. Finding a
sanction for the old Egyptian theory of the universe in the ninth
chapter of Hebrews, he insisted that the earth is a flat
parallelogram, and that from its outer edges rise immense walls
supporting the firmament; then, throwing together the reference
to the firmament in Genesis and the outburst of poetry in the
Psalms regarding the "waters that be above the heavens," he
insisted that over the terrestrial universe are solid arches
bearing a vault supporting a vast cistern "containing the
waters"; finally, taking from Genesis the expression regarding
the "windows of heaven," he insisted that these windows are
opened and closed by the angels whenever the Almighty wishes to
send rain upon the earth or to withhold it.

This was accepted by the universal Church as a vast contribution
to thought; for several centuries it was the orthodox doctrine,
and various leaders in theology devoted themselves to developing
and supplementing it.

About the beginning of the seventh century, Isidore, Bishop of
Seville, was the ablest prelate in Christendom, and was showing
those great qualities which led to his enrolment among the saints
of the Church. His theological view of science marks an epoch.
As to the "waters above the firmament," Isidore contends that
they must be lower than, the uppermost heaven, though higher than
the lower heaven, because in the one hundred and forty-eighth
Psalm they are mentioned AFTER the heavenly bodies and the
"heaven of heavens," but BEFORE the terrestrial elements. As to
their purpose, he hesitates between those who held that they were
stored up there by the prescience of God for the destruction of
the world at the Flood, as the words of Scripture that "the
windows of heaven were opened" seemed to indicate, and those who
held that they were kept there to moderate the heat of the
heavenly bodies. As to the firmament, he is in doubt whether it
envelops the earth "like an eggshell," or is merely spread over
it "like a curtain"; for he holds that the passage in the one
hundred and fourth Psalm may be used to support either view.

Having laid these scriptural foundations, Isidore shows
considerable power of thought; indeed, at times, when he
discusses the rainbow, rain, hail, snow, and frost, his theories
are rational, and give evidence that, if he could have broken
away from his adhesion to the letter of Scripture, he might have
given a strong impulse to the evolution of a true science.[203]

[203] For Cosmas, see his Topographia Christiana (in Montfaucon,
Collectio nova patrum, vol. ii), and the more complete account of
his theory given in the chapter on Geography in this work. For
Isidore, see the Etymologiae, lib. xiii, cap. 7-9, De ordine
creaturarum, cap. 3, 4, and De natura rerum, cap. 29, 30.
(Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. lxxxii, pp. 476, 477, vol. lxxxiii, pp.
920-922, 1001-1003).

About a century later appeared, at the other extremity of Europe,
the second in the trio of theological men of science in the early
Middle Ages--Bede the Venerable. The nucleus of his theory also
is to be found in the accepted view of the "firmament" and of the
"waters above the heavens," derived from Genesis. The firmament
he holds to be spherical, and of a nature subtile and fiery; the
upper heavens, he says, which contain the angels, God has
tempered with ice, lest they inflame the lower elements. As to
the waters placed above the firmament, lower than the spiritual
heavens, but higher than all corporeal creatures, he says, "Some
declare that they were stored there for the Deluge, but others,
more correctly, that they are intended to temper the fire of the
stars." He goes on with long discussions as to various elements
and forces in Nature, and dwells at length upon the air, of which
he says that the upper, serene air is over the heavens; while
the lower, which is coarse, with humid exhalations, is sent off
from the earth, and that in this are lightning, hail, snow, ice,
and tempests, finding proof of this in the one hundred and
forty-eighth Psalm, where these are commanded to "praise the Lord
from the earth."[204]

[204] See Bede, De natura rerum (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xc).

So great was Bede's authority, that nearly all the anonymous
speculations of the next following centuries upon these subjects
were eventually ascribed to him. In one of these spurious
treatises an attempt is made to get new light upon the sources of
the waters above the heavens, the main reliance being the sheet
containing the animals let down from heaven, in the vision of St.
Peter. Another of these treatises is still more curious, for it
endeavours to account for earthquakes and tides by means of the
leviathan mentioned in Scripture. This characteristic passage
runs as follows: "Some say that the earth contains the animal
leviathan, and that he holds his tail after a fashion of his own,
so that it is sometimes scorched by the sun, whereupon he strives
to get hold of the sun, and so the earth is shaken by the motion
of his indignation; he drinks in also, at times, such huge
masses of the waves that when he belches them forth all the seas
feel their effect." And this theological theory of the tides, as
caused by the alternate suction and belching of leviathan, went
far and wide.[205]

[205] See the treatise De mundi constitutione, in Bede's Opera
(Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xc, p. 884).

In the writings thus covered with the name of Bede there is much
showing a scientific spirit, which might have come to something
of permanent value had it not been hampered by the supposed
necessity of conforming to the letter of Scripture. It is as
startling as it is refreshing to hear one of these medieval
theorists burst out as follows against those who are content to
explain everything by the power of God: "What is more pitiable
than to say that a thing IS, because God is able to do it, and
not to show any reason why it is so, nor any purpose for which it
is so; just as if God did everything that he is able to do! You
talk like one who says that God is able to make a calf out of a
log. But DID he ever do it? Either, then, show a reason why a
thing is so, or a purpose wherefore it is so, or else cease to
declare it so."[206]

[206] For this remonstrance, see the Elementa philosophiae, in
Bede's Opera (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol.xc, p. 1139). This
treatise, which has also been printed, under the title of De
philosophia mundi, among the works of Honorius of Autun, is
believed by modern scholars (Haureau, Werner, Poole) to be the
production of William of Conches.

The most permanent contribution of Bede to scientific thought in
this field was his revival of the view that the firmament is made
of ice; and he supported this from the words in the twenty-sixth
chapter of Job, "He bindeth up the waters in his thick cloud, and
the cloud is not rent under them."

About the beginning of the ninth century appeared the third in
that triumvirate of churchmen who were the oracles of sacred
science throughout the early Middle Ages--Rabanus Maurus, Abbot
of Fulda and Archbishop of Mayence. Starting, like all his
predecessors, from the first chapter of Genesis, borrowing here
and there from the ancient philosophers, and excluding everything
that could conflict with the letter of Scripture, he follows, in
his work upon the universe, his two predecessors, Isidore and
Bede, developing especially St. Jerome's theory, drawn from
Ezekiel, that the firmament is strong enough to hold up the
"waters above the heavens," because it is made of ice.

For centuries the authority of these three great teachers was
unquestioned, and in countless manuals and catechisms their
doctrine was translated and diluted for the common mind. But
about the second quarter of the twelfth century a priest,
Honorius of Autun, produced several treatises which show that
thought on this subject had made some little progress. He
explained the rain rationally, and mainly in the modern manner;
with the thunder he is less successful, but insists that the
thunderbolt "is not stone, as some assert." His thinking is
vigorous and independent. Had theorists such as he been many, a
new science could have been rapidly evolved, but the theological
current was too strong. [207]

[207] For Rabanus Maurus, see the Comment. in Genesim and De
Universo (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. cvii, cxi). For a charmingly
naive example of the primers referred to, see the little Anglo-
Saxon manual of astronomy, sometimes attributed to Aelfric; it is
in the vernacular, but is translated in Wright's Popular
Treatises on Science during the Middle Ages. Bede is, of course,
its chief source. For Honorius, see De imagine mundi and
Hexaemeron (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. clxxii). The De philosophia
mundi, the most rational of all, is, however, believed by modern
scholars to be unjustly ascribed to him. See note above.

The strength of this current which overwhelmed the thought of
Honorius is seen again in the work of the Dominican monk, John of
San Geminiano, who in the thirteenth century gave forth his Summa
de Exemplis for the use of preachers in his order. Of its
thousand pages, over two hundred are devoted to illustrations
drawn from the heavens and the elements. A characteristic
specimen is his explanation of the Psalmist's phrase, "The arrows
of the thunder." These, he tells us, are forged out of a dry
vapour rising from the earth and kindled by the heat of the upper
air, which then, coming into contact with a cloud just turning
into rain, "is conglutinated like flour into dough," but, being
too hot to be extinguished, its particles become merely sharpened
at the lower end, and so blazing arrows, cleaving and burning
everything they touch.[208]

[208] See Joannes a S. Geminiano, Summa, c. 75.

But far more important, in the thirteenth century, was the fact
that the most eminent scientific authority of that age, Albert
the Great, Bishop of Ratisbon, attempted to reconcile the
speculations of Aristotle with theological views derived from the
fathers. In one very important respect he improved upon the
meteorological views of his great master. The thunderbolt, he
says, is no mere fire, but the product of black clouds containing
much mud, which, when it is baked by the intense heat, forms a
fiery black or red stone that falls from the sky, tearing beams
and crushing walls in its course: such he has seen with his own

[209] See Albertus Magnus, II Sent., Op., vol. xv, p. 137, a.
(cited by Heller, Gesch. d. Physik, vol. i, p. 184) and his Liber
Methaurorum, III, iv, 18 (of which I have used the edition of
Venice, 1488).

The monkish encyclopedists of the later Middle Ages added little
to these theories. As we glance over the pages of Vincent of
Beauvais, the monk Bartholomew, and William of Conches, we note
only a growing deference to the authority of Aristotle as
supplementing that of Isidore and Bede and explaining sacred
Scripture. Aristotle is treated like a Church father, but
extreme care is taken not to go beyond the great maxim of St.
Augustine; then, little by little, Bede and Isidore fall into the
background, Aristotle fills the whole horizon, and his utterances
are second in sacredness only to the text of Holy Writ.

A curious illustration of the difficulties these medieval
scholars had to meet in reconciling the scientific theories of
Aristotle with the letter of the Bible is seen in the case of the
rainbow. It is to the honour of Aristotle that his conclusions
regarding the rainbow, though slightly erroneous, were based upon
careful observation and evolved by reasoning alone; but his
Christian commentators, while anxious to follow him, had to bear
in mind the scriptural statement that God had created the rainbow
as a sign to Noah that there should never again be a Flood on the
earth. Even so bold a thinker as Cardinal d'Ailly, whose
speculations as to the geography of the earth did so much
afterward in stimulating Columbus, faltered before this
statement, acknowledging that God alone could explain it; but
suggested that possibly never before the Deluge had a cloud been
suffered to take such a position toward the sun as to cause a

The learned cardinal was also constrained to believe that certain
stars and constellations have something to do in causing the
rain, since these would best explain Noah's foreknowledge of the
Deluge. In connection with this scriptural doctrine of winds
came a scriptural doctrine of earthquakes: they were believed to
be caused by winds issuing from the earth, and this view was
based upon the passage in the one hundred and thirty-fifth Psalm,
"He bringeth the wind out of his treasuries."[210]

[210] For D'Ailly, see his Concordia astronomicae veritatis cum
theologia (Paris, 1483--in the Imago mundi--and Venice, 1490);
also Eck's commentary on Aristotle's Meteorologica (Ausburg,
1519), lib. ii, nota 2; also Reisch, Margarita philosophica, lib.
ix, c. 18.

Such were the main typical attempts during nearly fourteen
centuries to build up under theological guidance and within
scriptural limitations a sacred science of meteorology. But
these theories were mainly evolved in the effort to establish a
basis and general theory of phenomena: it still remained to
account for special manifestations, and here came a twofold
development of theological thought.

On one hand, these phenomena were attributed to the Almighty,
and, on the other, to Satan. As to the first of these theories,
we constantly find the Divine wrath mentioned by the earlier
fathers as the cause of lightning, hailstorms, hurricanes, and
the like.

In the early days of Christianity we see a curious struggle
between pagan and Christian belief upon this point. Near the
close of the second century the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in his
effort to save the empire, fought a hotly contested battle with
the Quadi, in what is now Hungary. While the issue of this great
battle was yet doubtful there came suddenly a blinding storm
beating into the faces of the Quadi, and this gave the Roman
troops the advantage, enabling Marcus Aurelius to win a decisive
victory. Votaries of each of the great religions claimed that
this storm was caused by the object of their own adoration. The
pagans insisted that Jupiter had sent the storm in obedience to
their prayers, and on the Antonine Column at Rome we may still
see the figure of Olympian Jove casting his thunderbolts and
pouring a storm of rain from the open heavens against the Quadi.
On the other hand, the Christians insisted that the storm had
been sent by Jehovah in obedience to THEIR prayers; and
Tertullian, Eusebius, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Jerome were
among those who insisted upon this meteorological miracle; the
first two, indeed, in the fervour of their arguments for its
reality, allowing themselves to be carried considerably beyond
exact historical truth.[211]

[211] For the authorities, pagan and Christian, see the note of
Merivale, in his History of the Romans under the Empire, chap.
lxviii. He refers for still fuller citations to Fynes Clinton's
Fasti Rom., p. 24.

As time went on, the fathers developed this view more and more
from various texts in the Jewish and Christian sacred books,
substituting for Jupiter flinging his thunderbolts the Almighty
wrapped in thunder and sending forth his lightnings. Through the
Middle Ages this was fostered until it came to be accepted as a
mere truism, entering into all medieval thinking, and was still
further developed by an attempt to specify the particular sins
which were thus punished. Thus even the rational Florentine
historian Villani ascribed floods and fires to the "too great
pride of the city of Florence and the ingratitude of the citizens
toward God," which, "of course," says a recent historian, "meant
their insufficient attention to the ceremonies of

[212] See Trollope, History of Florence, vol. i, p. 64.

In the thirteenth century the Cistercian monk, Caesarius of
Heisterbach, popularized the doctrine in central Europe. His
rich collection of anecdotes for the illustration of religious
truths was the favourite recreative reading in the convents for
three centuries, and exercised great influence over the thought
of the later Middle Ages. In this work he relates several
instances of the Divine use of lightning, both for rescue and for
punishment. Thus he tells us how the steward (cellerarius) of his
own monastery was saved from the clutch of a robber by a clap of
thunder which, in answer to his prayer, burst suddenly from the
sky and frightened the bandit from his purpose: how, in a Saxon
theatre, twenty men were struck down, while a priest escaped, not
because he was not a greater sinner than the rest, but because
the thunderbolt had respect for his profession! It is Cesarius,
too, who tells us the story of the priest of Treves, struck by
lightning in his own church, whither he had gone to ring the bell
against the storm, and whose sins were revealed by the course of
the lightning, for it tore his clothes from him and consumed
certain parts of his body, showing that the sins for which he was
punished were vanity and unchastity.[213]

[213] See Caesarius Heisterbacensis, Dialogus miraculorum, lib.
x, c. 28-30.

This mode of explaining the Divine interference more minutely is
developed century after century, and we find both Catholics and
Protestants assigning as causes of unpleasant meteorological
phenomena whatever appears to them wicked or even unorthodox.
Among the English Reformers, Tyndale quotes in this kind of
argument the thirteenth chapter of I. Samuel, showing that, when
God gave Israel a king, it thundered and rained. Archbishop
Whitgift, Bishop Bale, and Bishop Pilkington insisted on the same
view. In Protestant Germany, about the same period, Plieninger
took a dislike to the new Gregorian calendar and published a
volume of Brief Reflections, in which he insisted that the
elements had given utterance to God's anger against it, calling
attention to the fact that violent storms raged over almost all
Germany during the very ten days which the Pope had taken out for
the correction of the year, and that great floods began with the
first days of the corrected year.[214]

[214] For Tyndale, see his Doctrinal Treatises, p. 194, and for
Whitgift, see his Works, vol. ii, pp. 477-483; Bale, Works, pp.
244, 245; and Pilkington, Works, pp. 177, 536 (all in Parker
Society Publications). Bishop Bale cites especially Job xxxviii,
Ecclesiasticus xiii, and Revelation viii, as supporting the
theory. For Plieninger's words, see Janssen, Geschichte des
deutschen Volkes, vol. v, p. 350.

Early in the seventeenth century, Majoli, Bishop of Voltoraria,
in southern Italy, produced his huge work Dies Canicularii, or
Dog Days, which remained a favourite encyclopedia in Catholic
lands for over a hundred years. Treating of thunder and
lightning, he compares them to bombs against the wicked, and says
that the thunderbolt is "an exhalation condensed and cooked into
stone," and that "it is not to be doubted that, of all
instruments of God's vengeance, the thunderbolt is the chief";
that by means of it Sennacherib and his army were consumed; that
Luther was struck by lightning in his youth as a caution against
departing from the Catholic faith; that blasphemy and
Sabbath-breaking are the sins to which this punishment is
especially assigned, and he cites the case of Dathan and Abiram.
Fifty years later the Jesuit Stengel developed this line of
thought still further in four thick quarto volumes on the
judgments of God, adding an elaborate schedule for the use of
preachers in the sermons of an entire year. Three chapters were
devoted to thunder, lightning, and storms. That the author
teaches the agency in these of diabolical powers goes without
saying; but this can only act, he declares, by Divine
permission, and the thunderbolt is always the finger of God,
which rarely strikes a man save for his sins, and the nature of
the special sin thus punished may be inferred from the bodily
organs smitten. A few years later, in Protestant Swabia, Pastor
Georg Nuber issued a volume of "weather-sermons," in which he
discusses nearly every sort of elemental disturbances--storms,
floods, droughts, lightning, and hail. These, he says, come
direct from God for human sins, yet no doubt with discrimination,
for there are five sins which God especially punishes with
lightning and hail--namely, impenitence, incredulity, neglect of
the repair of churches, fraud in the payment of tithes to the
clergy, and oppression of subordinates, each of which points he
supports with a mass of scriptural texts.[215]

[215] For Majoli, see Dies Can., I, i; for Stengel, see the De
judiciis divinis, vol. ii, pp. 15-61, and especially the example
of the impurus et saltator sacerdos, fulmine castratus, pp. 26,
27. For Nuber, see his Conciones meteoricae, Ulm, 1661.

This doctrine having become especially precious both to Catholics
and to Protestants, there were issued handbooks of prayers
against bad weather: among these was the Spiritual Thunder and
Storm Booklet, produced in 1731 by a Protestant scholar,
Stoltzlin, whose three or four hundred pages of prayer and song,
"sighs for use when it lightens fearfully," and "cries of anguish
when the hailstorm is drawing on," show a wonderful adaptability
to all possible meteorological emergencies. The preface of this
volume is contributed by Prof. Dilherr, pastor of the great
church of St. Sebald at Nuremberg, who, in discussing the Divine
purposes of storms, adds to the three usually assigned--namely,
God's wish to manifest his power, to display his anger, and to
drive sinners to repentance--a fourth, which, he says, is that
God may show us "with what sort of a stormbell he will one day
ring in the last judgment."

About the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century we
find, in Switzerland, even the eminent and rational Professor of
Mathematics, Scheuchzer, publishing his Physica Sacra, with the
Bible as a basis, and forced to admit that the elements, in the
most literal sense, utter the voice of God. The same pressure
was felt in New England. Typical are the sermons of Increase
Mather on The Voice of God in Stormy Winds. He especially lays
stress on the voice of God speaking to Job out of the whirlwind,
and upon the text, "Stormy wind fulfilling his word." He
declares, "When there are great tempests, the angels oftentimes
have a hand therein,...yea, and sometimes evil angels." He gives
several cases of blasphemers struck by lightning, and says,
"Nothing can be more dangerous for mortals than to contemn
dreadful providences, and, in particular, dreadful tempests."

His distinguished son, Cotton Mather, disentangled himself
somewhat from the old view, as he had done in the interpretation
of comets. In his Christian Philosopher, his Thoughts for the
Day of Rain, and his Sermon preached at the Time of the Late
Storm (in 1723), he is evidently tending toward the modern view.
Yet, from time to time, the older view has reasserted itself, and
in France, as recently as the year 1870, we find the Bishop of
Verdun ascribing the drought afflicting his diocese to the sin of

[216] For Stoltzlin, see his Geistliches Donner- und Wetter-
Buchlein (Zurich, 1731). For Increase Mather, see his The Voice
of God, etc. (Boston, 1704). This rare volume is in the rich
collection of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester. For
Cotton Mather's view, see the chapter From Signs and Wonders to
Law, in this work. For the Bishop of Verdun, see the Semaine
relig. de Lorraine, 1879, p. 445 (cited by "Paul Parfait," in his
Dossier des Pelerinages, pp. 141-143).

This theory, which attributed injurious meteorological phenomena
mainly to the purposes of God, was a natural development, and
comparatively harmless; but at a very early period there was
evolved another theory, which, having been ripened into a
doctrine, cost the earth dear indeed. Never, perhaps, in the
modern world has there been a dogma more prolific of physical,
mental, and moral agony throughout whole nations and during whole
centuries. This theory, its development by theology, its fearful
results to mankind, and its destruction by scientific observation
and thought, will next be considered.


While the fathers and schoolmen were labouring to deduce a
science of meteorology from our sacred books, there oozed up in
European society a mass of traditions and observances which had
been lurking since the days of paganism; and, although here and
there appeared a churchman to oppose them, the theologians and
ecclesiastics ere long began to adopt them and to clothe them
with the authority of religion.

Both among the pagans of the Roman Empire and among the
barbarians of the North the Christian missionaries had found it
easier to prove the new God supreme than to prove the old gods
powerless. Faith in the miracles of the new religion seemed to
increase rather than to diminish faith in the miracles of the
old; and the Church at last began admitting the latter as facts,
but ascribing them to the devil. Jupiter and Odin sank into the
category of ministers of Satan, and transferred to that master
all their former powers. A renewed study of Scripture by
theologians elicited overwhelming proofs of the truth of this
doctrine. Stress was especially laid on the declaration of
Scripture, "The gods of the heathen are devils."[217] Supported
by this and other texts, it soon became a dogma. So strong was
the hold it took, under the influence of the Church, that not
until late in the seventeenth century did its substantial truth
begin to be questioned.

[217] For so the Vulgate and all the early versions rendered Ps.
xcvi, 5.

With no field of action had the sway of the ancient deities been
more identified than with that of atmospheric phenomena. The
Roman heard Jupiter, and the Teuton heard Thor, in the thunder.
Could it be doubted that these powerful beings would now take
occasion, unless hindered by the command of the Almighty, to vent
their spite against those who had deserted their altars? Might
not the Almighty himself be willing to employ the malice of these
powers of the air against those who had offended him?

It was, indeed, no great step, for those whose simple faith
accepted rain or sunshine as an answer to their prayers, to
suspect that the untimely storms or droughts, which baffled their
most earnest petitions, were the work of the archenemy, "the
prince of the power of the air."

The great fathers of the Church had easily found warrant for this
doctrine in Scripture. St. Jerome declared the air to be full
of devils, basing this belief upon various statements in the
prophecies of Isaiah and in the Epistle to the Ephesians. St.
Augustine held the same view as beyond controversy.[218]

[218] For St. Jerome, see his Com. in Ep. ad Ephesios (lib. iii,
cap.6): commenting on the text, "Our battle is not with flesh and
blood," he explains this as meaning the devils in the air, and
adds, "Nam et in alio loco de daemonibus quod in aere isto
vagentur, Apostolus ait: In quibus ambulastis aliquando juxta
Saeculum mundi istius, secundum principem potestatis aeris
spiritus, qui nunc operatur in filos diffidentiae (Eph, ii,2).
Haec autem omnium doctorum opinio est, quod aer iste qui coelum
et terram medius dividens, inane appellatur, plenus sit
contrariis fortitudinibus." See also his Com. in Isaiam, lib.
xiii, cap. 50 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xxiv, p. 477). For
Augustine, see the De Civitate Dei, passim.

During the Middle Ages this doctrine of the diabolical origin of
storms went on gathering strength. Bede had full faith in it,
and narrates various anecdotes in support of it. St. Thomas
Aquinas gave it his sanction, saying in his all authoritative
Summa, "Rains and winds, and whatsoever occurs by local impulse
alone, can be caused by demons." "It is," he says, "a dogma of
faith that the demons can produce wind, storms, and rain of fire
from heaven."

Albert the Great taught the same doctrine, and showed how a
certain salve thrown into a spring produced whirlwinds. The
great Franciscan--the "seraphic doctor"--St. Bonaventura, whose
services to theology earned him one of the highest places in the

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest