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Professor Huxley’s Lectures
by [?]

Not the least interesting feature in the discussion about the theory of evolution is the prominent part taken in it by clergymen of various denominations. There is hardly one of them who, since Huxley’s lectures, has not preached a sermon bearing on the matter in some way, and several have made it the topic of special articles or lectures. In fact, we do not think we exaggerate when we say that three-fourths of all that has been recently said or written about the hypothesis in this country has been said or written by ministers. There is no denying that the theory, if true, does, in appearance at least, militate against the account of the creation given in the first chapter of Genesis, or, in other words, against the view of the origin of life on the globe which has been held by the Christian world for seventeen centuries. It would, therefore, be by no means surprising that ministers should meet it, either by showing that the Mosaic account of the creation was really inspired–was, in short, the account given by the Creator himself–or that the modern interpretations of it were incorrect, and that it was really, when perfectly understood, easily reconciled with the conclusions reached of late years by geologists and biologists. This is the way in which a great many ministers have hitherto met the evolutionists, and for this sort of work they are undoubtedly fitted by education and experience. If it can be done by anyone, they are the men to do it. If it be maintained that the biblical account is literally true, they are more familiar than any other class of men with the evidence and arguments accumulated by the Church in favor of the inspiration of the Scriptures; or if, on the other hand, it be desired to reconcile the Bible with evolution, they are more familiar than any other class of men with the exegetical process by which this reconciliation can be effected. They are specially trained in ecclesiastical history and tradition, in Greek and Hebrew religious literature, and in the methods of interpretation which have been for ages in use among theologians.

Of late, however, they have shown a decided inclination to abandon the purely ecclesiastical approach to the controversy altogether, and this is especially remarkable in the discussion now pending over Huxley. They do not seek to defend the biblical account of the creation, or to reconcile it with the theory of the evolutionists. Far from it, they have come down, in most of the recent cases, into the scientific arena, and are meeting the men of science with their own weapons. They tell Huxley and Darwin and Tyndall that their evidence is imperfect, and their reasoning from it faulty. Noticing their activity in this new field, and the marked contrast which this activity presents to the modesty or indifference of the other professions–the lawyers and doctors, for instance, who on general grounds have fully as much reason to be interested in evolution as the ministers, and have hitherto been at least as well fitted to discuss it–we asked ourselves whether it was possible that, without our knowledge, any change had of late years been made in the curriculum of the divinity schools or theological seminaries with the view of fitting ministers to take a prominent part in the solution of the increasingly important and startling problems raised by physical science. In order to satisfy ourselves, we lately turned over the catalogues of all the principal divinity schools in the country, to see if any chairs of natural science had been established, or if candidates for the ministry had to undergo any compulsory instruction in geology or physics, or the higher mathematics, or biology, or palaeontology, or astronomy, or had to become versed in the methods of scientific investigation in the laboratory or in the dissecting-room, or were subjected to any unusually severe discipline in the use of the inductive process. Not much to our surprise, we found nothing of the kind. We found that, to all appearance, not even the smallest smattering of natural science in any of its branches is considered necessary to a minister’s education; no astronomy, no chemistry, no biology, no geology, no higher mathematics, no comparative anatomy, and nothing severe in logic. In fact, of special preparation for the discussion of such a theme as the origin of life on the earth, there does not appear to be in the ordinary course of our divinity schools any trace.