The New Catastrophism In Geology -- By: George M’Cready Price
BSac 80:318 (April 1923) p. 209
The New Catastrophism In Geology
In Harper’s Magazine, June, 1922, is an article by James Harvey Robinson, under the title, “Is Darwinism Dead?” This article is merely one more contribution to the animated controversy which is now going on through the magazines and newspapers. But it may be taken as a sample of many others. In answering his question, Mr. Robinson first separates the theory of Darwinism from the general doctrine of organic Evolution, which, of course, is not hard to do, as Darwinism properly speaking is merely a sub-theory under the general doctrine of organic development. After making this distinction, Mr. Robinson admits that the theory of natural selection and sexual selection, as formulated by Charles Darwin, has had to be given up, in so far as these theories were supposed to furnish us with the method by which one form of life could become transformed into another type of life. And he goes on to say that “in this sense ‘Darwinism’ is perhaps as dead as Mr. Bryan or Senator Rash of Kentucky would care to see it.”
Another subdivision of the general development doctrine which has been dead for a considerable time, is what is commonly known as the theory of the inheritance of acquired characters, this theory being also known as Lamarckism.
But Mr. Robinson goes on to express his confidence that the general doctrine of organic Evolution is still very much alive. For he says that in spite of our advancing knowledge having disproved these theories of Darwin and Lamarck, disproof of these theories does not mean that most modern scientists “have any doubts that mankind is a species of animal, sprung in some mysterious, and as yet unexplained, manner from extinct wild creatures from the forests and plains.”
He goes on to explain that “this they simply take for granted,”—an expression which sounds very much like
BSac 80:318 (April 1923) p. 210
that used by Dr. D. H. Scott before the Edinburgh meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, September 9, 1921, when he spoke of believing in Evolution “as an act of faith.” Dr. William Bateson also, in his notable address at Toronto, last December, spoke of believing this doctrine by faith,—”the foundation of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
However, Mr. Robinson proceeds to give some concrete arguments in support of the theory of man’s animal origin, which, of course, is the whole point in any theory of organic Evolution,—it would be mere academic pedantry to spend sixty years of time and write whole libraries of books as to whether or not the birds evolved from the reptiles and the latter from the am...
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