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Evolution and a Personal Creator.

Evolution and a Personal Creator.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY JOHN COTTON SMITH, D.D.,

The subject assigned to me in this Course of
Lectures, is " Evolution and a Personal Creator."
It presents perhaps the most important aspect of
the great controversy which is carried on, in this
age, between Science and Religion.
BY JOHN COTTON SMITH, D.D.,

The subject assigned to me in this Course of
Lectures, is " Evolution and a Personal Creator."
It presents perhaps the most important aspect of
the great controversy which is carried on, in this
age, between Science and Religion.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 09, 2014
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EVOLUTIO AD A PERSOAL CREATOR. BY JOH COTTO SMITH, D.D., The subject assigned to me in this Course of Lectures, is " Evolution and a Personal Creator." It presents perhaps the most important aspect of the great controversy which is carried on, in this age, between Science and Religion. The conflict which, in former years, was waged upon the battle- fields of Astronomy and Geology, now waxes most fierce upon the long lines of vegetable and animal development. On the one side are those who claim to be the discoverers of certain facts and laws, in nature, as to the history of life on om* globe, and the circimastances under which its various species have appeared. On the other are the advocates of a fundamental religious truth which they claim is seriously compromised by these alleged facts and laws. It will be my purpose, in this Lecture, to take into consideration the present aspect of the contro- versy, so as to ascertain, if possible, what is likely to be its result in regard to the interests of Reli- gion, both natural and revealed. 190 EYOLUTIOX AD A PERSOAL CREATOR. I cannot claim to come to the consideration of this subject without bias, or in fact without posi- tive convictions. It is a profound saying of Goethe, " I can promise to be upright, but not to be without bias." It would be impossible for me to put my- self in the attitude of indifference in regard to any question involving the existence of a Personal God. But I think I can claim to be earnestly de- sirous to consider dispassionately and candidly what-
 
ever theory may be urged as to natural phenomena, and the laws by which they are governed. I can certainly claim to have large sympathy with scien- tific investigation, and with the spirit, on the whole, in which it is prosecuted. In regard to the aspect of the general subject now before us, I would say, at the outset, that it is no part of my purpose to attempt to refute the theory of Evolution. I wish to hold, for the present, the position which Mr. Gladstone has recently assumed in regard to it, that of a suspense of judgment. I would say, however, that the direction of scientific disco- very, for the last few years, seems to me to ren- der it not improbable that, before this generation has passed away, some theory of Evolution will be generally accepted as the most rational explanation of the phenomena of nature. With this conviction I shall make it my special object to show that, even EVOLUTIO AD A PERSOAL CREATOR. 191 if some theory of Evolution should come to be es- tablished as a scientific truth, it would not militate against any interest peculiar to Christianity, or in any way compromise the fundamental principle of religion — the personality of God. It will be necessary, as our first step, to define the terms in which our subject is stated. This can be done only generally, and with approximate cor- rectness ; for fuller definitions would shut us up to some one of the various forms in which, on the one hand, the theory of Evolution, or, on the other, the truth of the personality of God, is held. To begin with Evolution. Some idea of the difficulty of an accurate definition of Evolution may be derived from the fact that Mr. Herbert Spencer,
 
a writer not usually wanting in clearness of state- ment, defines it as follows : " Evolution is an inte- gration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion J during which the matter passes fvo7n an indefinite^ incoherent homogeneity, to a definite^ co- herent heterogeneity / and during lohich the retained motion %indergoes a parallel transformation P Sci- entific as such a definition is, it is evidently imfit for popular use. We must seek for some other, which, while it will have less of scientific accuracy and completeness, will better answer the purpose we have in view. When we speak in this discus- 192 EVOLUTIO AD A PEKSOAL CKEATOK. sion of Evolution, Ave mean the theory according to which all life on our globe is derived in a continu- ous and unbroken series, by natural generation, from original organisms. In extending the theory to its most general form, it embraces all phenomena, inor- ganic as well as organic, and affirms that all phe- nomena are linked with and proceed from preced- ing phenomena, by a process of development, in ac- cordance with universal laws, from the most simple to the most complex forms. The doctrine of a Personal Creator affirms the existence of a Being from whom all the phenomena of the Universe proceed, and by Avhom the laws, by which they are governed, were established. This Being, the doctrine also affirms, is self-conscious, and has those attributes without which personality is unknown to us, reason, affections, and will. The idea of the absolute continuity of this pro- cess of Evolution necessarily excludes the idea of the exercise, since the beginning of the process, of what has usually been understood as creative

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