« PreviousContinue »
What gigantic primeval force has lifted those rocky heights and scooped those valleys? Rough Titans of power they were that there laid the foundations. of the earth and dropped those huge granite bowlders down the mountain slopes and over the hillsides. Nor man nor beast was there to see, nor had any tiniest form of life begun. But modern science has read for us the story, and told us that that primeval titanic energy is of Protean form; that the Power which lifted those mountain heights and shaped their sides to the line of beauty and impelled those granite bowlders to their lodgement is the same Power which, in other phase, clothed the mountains with forests and carpeted the valleys with grass, and brought in orderly sequence every kind of ascending life, the same Power which on that Sunday morning, when I worshipped on the mountain-top, was still all alive and active around me, making the very glory that held my vision, the same Power that was blossoming in the roadside. asters, striving to cover the wounds of mountain slides and chasms with verdure, sparkling in the waterfall, crowning Mount Washington with a silvery cloud, bordering my very footsteps with the charms of color and form in the lichens, mushrooms, and mosses.
This story of nature's creation and movement and life, from the time when the earth first solidified into continents up to the present moment, is a history; there is a regular sequence of events, activities, living things and creatures, an orderly
ascent of species with increasing capacities and functions, and throughout the whole history an advance in fitness of relationship, in symmetry of form, in harmony and beauty. Now, wherever there are fitness, order, method, harmony, beauty, cause joined to its own consequent, there are the marks of intelligence. These are the qualities that make the world an intelligible world, and render it inhabitable by intelligent beings. These are the qualities that attract the admiration and reverence of intelligent minds. I care little to prove that these qualities must be attributes of a supreme personal consciousness. It is the qualities themselves that win my trust and become my support and refuge. Somehow, because of the very orderliness of their working, I believe, they join in the unity of one Power. But it is not the power of a mere personal will more than mere material energy that I can rationally worship. I can only rationally worship those attributes that guide personal will to intelligible results. It is before the evidences of Intelligence presented in the universe that my own intelligence bends in homage.
But the doctrine of Evolution does not stop with a dual Deity. Power and Intelligence do not exhaust the attributes of the World-energy. The Evolution doctrine discloses to us a world which rises from power, through intelligence, to moral life. Power intelligibly proceeding to good ends, that is Evolution's motto for the world. I do not mean by this that it is legitimate to repeat
to-day the old argument of beneficent design in the realm of material nature. That argument dealt in petty details, and would now not always stand the test of facts. With regard to individuals, and even whole species, the beneficence of natural law is not always apparent. In the world of nature below man we need not look for any complete evidence of moral aim. The design in nature which science discloses is of a large style. It is adaptation, tendency, organic movement toward great and often distant ends. It means strivings, even though unconscious of any aim, that result in ascent and enrichment of life. It means finer species, nicer faculties, more delicate organs, increased facilities and better modes of living, truer intelligence, keener perceptions of the intelligible order of things, and more power to cope with and use nature's resources. After long ages of these upward struggles and strivings of material nature, man appeared as their resultant,-a being to a large extent self-governing, self-elevating, capable of improving upon his own nature both individually and in the species. In man the World-energy blossomed into moral consciousness; into perceptions of a right and a wrong, and into ability to choose and to do the right; into that voluntary rectitude and the love of it which is goodness; into pity for error and badness, and into effort to make the bad into good and the good ever into a better and best; into spiritual aspiration, which seeks ever to subordinate material means to intellectual
ends and selfish pleasures to universal good. All this part of man is the World-energy itself in its moral aspect. Whence, otherwise, could the moral consciousness and moral law have had their source?
"Out from the heart of nature rolled
From Power to Intelligence, from Intelligence to Goodness, so has the world-process revealed the world-purpose. Power, for its own conservation, necessitated an intelligent and intelligible order. A system, or rather medley, of chanceforces would be mutually destructive. And Intelligence, for the same reason, must rise to moral rectitude in order to hold the line for the best and permanent ascent of life. Intelligence itself, as soon as adequately developed, makes declaration of the principle of justice as the equation of rights between men, just as it declares the laws of beauty or the unalterable relations between numbers in mathematics. So came the Golden Rule, wherever and whenever intelligence rose high enough to perceive the moral equation, as in China, Persia, Palestine, and Greece; and so, too, the "Love thy neighbor as thyself," and all the recognized obligations, in religion and ethics, of fellowship and fraternity between man and man as the basis of society. Thus man himself is the proof that the universe, at least so far as concerns our existence, has a moral character and aim; and Goodness is to be added to Intelligence and Power, to complete
the Trinity of forces in the world-process which Evolution teaches.
But I may here be told that man himself is not good, that he is a violator of his own moral consciousness, that he continually breaks the commandments which his conscience declares, that a very large portion of mankind is sunk in wickedness and moral degradation. To this objection I reply that we are here talking of aims and aspirations, of the world-purpose and strivings; and we are not to confound these with any present accomplishment. It is enough to prove a moral character and purpose in the universe that out of its own heart it has given birth to a moral guide, and that it has set in the spiritual sky of humanity an ideal of moral perfection to be followed after. Creation is not finished with man. Man himself has not completed the pattern of manhood. In most of us survive still some relics of the brute and the clod. But the ages are patient, and the world-purpose is to be judged by man's gradual success in overcoming animalism and enthroning intelligence and rectitude over brute selfishness and force. Says our Emerson: "The age of the quadruped is to go out the age of the brain and of the heart is to come in. And, if one shall read the future of the race hinted in the organic effort of Nature to mount and meliorate, and the corresponding impulse to the Better in the human being, we shall dare affirm that there is nothing he will not overcome and convert, until at last culture shall absorb