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present purpose how that contact is supposed to have come; whether from the stooping of God down to man, or from the lifting of man up to God. All that we are here concerned with is, the existence of the contact itself; and we maintain that, if God is to be an object of knowledge, the existence of such a contact is a first necessity. Now the question which we have here to consider is, whether the modern doctrine of evolution has rendered more doubtful the possibility of this contact. We are not writing a work on apologetics. We are not seeking to defend the doctrines of the old faith on their own ground. What we desire to do is, to see whether and to what extent the old ground has been attacked, and to register the result of our observation. Naturally, therefore, we begin with that doctrine which lies at the basis of all religion—the possibility of a contact between God and the human soul. We begin with inquiring whether the modern doctrine of evolution has to any extent interfered with our faith in the existence of a certain meeting-place between the Divine and the human. We want to know whether that ladder, on which communications were once supposed to ascend and descend, never existed anywhere else than in the dreams of Jacob and such as he; whether it has ceased to have a place within the possibilities of science, and must henceforth be relegated to the sphere of poetic fancy.
Now it is only fair to observe that, in the view of many eminent modern thinkers, the idea of a likeness between God and man had its root in an infantine stage of human development. Mr Herbert Spencer, for example, has not scrupled to contend that the first conception of God in the image of man owed its birth to individual fear. When a great chief passed away, he left behind him in the minds of his primitive subjects so great an impression of his power that they conceived his influence to be still invisibly abiding. While yet alive, he had ruled them with a rod of iron ; and now that he was dead, they were unable to realise that the rod had been removed. Accordingly, they transformed their memory of the past into a present reality, and persuaded themselves that the power which their chief had so long exercised on earth was still exercised by him in heaven. They conjured up the notion that he had a ghost or invisible presence, which, although emancipated from its material environment, was still potent in the exercise of the old authority, and still sedulous in the execution of the old laws.
Now the theologian is not concerned to deny that the first conception of a conformity of image between God and man may have had its birth in an infantine stage of humanity; he is only concerned to deny that it owed its birth to such a
Data of Ethics, p. 115 seq.
stage. That very innocence, which the theologian has been taught to attribute to the primitive man, is itself a stage of intellectual infancy. But what the theologian wants to know is, whether an impression, received at the dawn of human consciousness, is on that account necessarily a false impression. He wants to know whether the opening mind cannot form certain ideas of things which shall be endorsed by the experience and by the reflection of maturer years,—whether there may not be present at the dawn the same elements of light which shall be discernible in the setting sun. It is no condemnation of a theory merely to prove that it had its birth in an early stage of society. Even the earliest stage of society embodies within it some elements which survive its disappearance and live on to the latest times; and who is to tell that the particular theory in question may not itself be one of these? The simple question is, Has it, or has it not, been able to survive ? Conceding that man in his infancy declared himself to be in the image of God, we must then go on to ask what man says in his manhood. We must ask whether his latest utterance confirms or denies his earliest averment—whether his ripest experience endorses or rejects the presentiment of his opening years. If we shall find that the doctrine of modern science, be it false or true, is at variance with the sentiment which prompted the original conclusion, we shall then be compelled to admit that, whether rightly or wrongly, humanity has outgrown its creed. But if, on the other hand, we shall find that the latest speculations of modern science lend themselves naturally and easily to the doctrine of an analogy between the human and the Divinenay, that the speculations of Mr Spencer himself lead directly to the maintenance of such an analogy
-we shall not consider it any barrier to this conclusion to know that the same fact was affirmed in the days when, intellectually, man was only a child,
Now we have no hesitation in saying that the modern doctrine of evolution, and especially the modern doctrine as expanded by Mr Spencer, is more favourable to the existence of an analogy between the human and the Divine than any previous system of nature with which we are acquainted. We are not here inquiring whether the doctrine of evolution be false or true; we are assuming, for the sake of argument, that it is true, and considering what relation its truth would have to those religious doctrines which are most surely believed among us. Assuming, provisionally, the truth of evolution, we naturally ask, first, what effect its acceptance would have on the most fundamental of all religious doctrines, and the doctrine without which no religion would be possible—the belief that the nature of God is somewhere in contact with the nature of man? And starting from this basis, we say that the modern theory of evolution, whether false or true, is rather favourable than adverse to such a belief,—that, so far from throwing a barrier in its way, its acceptance would rather tend to demolish barriers which have been constructed by other and earlier systems of philosophy. We shall briefly state the grounds on which we have come to this conclusion.
The leading aim of the modern doctrine of evolution is, to establish the unity of species. It seeks, if possible, to abolish ultimately all plurality of existence, to reduce the many to the one. It is not only in the sphere of animal and vegetable life that the doctrine of evolution aims to find a single species out of which all other species have come ; its design reaches much further than that. Evolution seeks to start from the highest known form of creation, and thence to go back to the lowest,to begin at the top of the ladder and descend, step by step, until it reaches the ground on which the ladder rests. The question is, What is that ground, —what is the basis on which the summit of the ladder must ultimately repose? The summit of the ladder, so far as it has yet been climbed, is man. What, then, according to evolution, is the basis of man, the species from which he was originally evolved ? It is not difficult to see that he has something in common with the animal, both as