« AnteriorContinuar »
EVOLUTION OF MAN:
HIS RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS, AND ETHICS.
“Whoever hesitates to utter that which he thinks the
impersonal point of view. Let him duly realise the fact that
I nomad verameno prome
We may safely say, without fear of contradiction, that one of the most remarkable discoveries of the nineteenth century has been the “law of evolution," so satisfactorily demonstrated, and now universally accepted as true by the scientific world—i.e., by all who have taken the trouble and are able to investigate the subject, unbiassed by preconceived opinion or prejudice. Not only for this will the century be celebrated, but also for the extraordinary development of science ; for the progress of education and knowledge generally; and for the emancipation of science from the slavery of the Church, by which it has itself become an independent power and a source of knowledge to the people.
During the greater part of fifteen centuries science was held in bondage by ecclesiasticism, and its development prevented. It was compelled to teach certain ideas of the universe and its order, because in accordance with those found in the Bible—a compilation of anonymous writings, held as true, not on indisputable evidence, but simply on faith. These ideas, which so long prevailed—and for attempts to deny which men suffered and died-are now recognised as legendary and false. Faith and ecclesiastical authority, supported by the Inquisition, were the sole sources of knowledge to the people till
disturbed by the new speculations and theories of the two men of science-Roger Bacon and Vitellio, who, in the thirteenth century, discovered and explained the true phenomenon of the rainbow. But this disturbance was nothing compared with that which, in the fifteenth century, put an end to the Dark Ages and produced what may be considered the dawn of enlightenment. We refer to the invention of printing by Gutenberg, and to the discoveries of America by Columbus, and of the southern stars by Di Gama when he circumnavigated the Cape. This dawn burst forth into a perfect flood of scientific light in the next century by the labours and discoveries of Copernicus, Tycho Brahé, Galileo, Kepler, and Bruno, who dared to think for themselves and form opinions contrary to the accepted teaching of the Church.
This independence of thought and breaking away from orthodoxy resulted, in the seventeenth century, in the discovery of the barometer and of the thermometer. Almost concurrently came the still more wonderful and important discovery of electricity, and the proof of its identity with lightning by Franklin in the succeeding century. In 1682 Halley demonstrated a method of measuring the sun's distance by the transit of Venus, which was successfully effected in 1761 by Bradley and Delisle. It was in this century that the two philosophers, Francis (Lord) Bacon, in England, and René Descartes, in France, expressed opinions differing from Orthodoxy—the former teaching that any true theory must be built up on facts and careful experiments; the latter, that it is more honest to acknowledge we are ignorant than to say that we know that which we have only heard from another, or that is not clearly proved. In 1666 Newton discovered the doctrine