The Meaning of Evolution

The Meaning of Evolution

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A FOREWORD

Before my window lies an enchanting landscape. It embraces a stretch of open rolling country, beautiful as the eye could wish to rest upon. The sun with its slanting rays is not giving it heat enough in these winter months to make it blossom in its radiant beauty, but the mind goes easily back through the few brown months to the time when the field not far away was waving with its rich yellow grain so soon to be food for those who planted it. Beyond this field lies an orchard where, in regular and orderly rows, stand the apple trees whose bright blossoms in the spring make the landscape so beautiful and whose fruit in the fall serves so richly for our enjoyment. A little farther on, a pasture is filled with sleek-coated cows, feeding quietly and patiently until the evening when they will return to their stalls to yield their rich milk. Still farther on lies a tract of forest. The varied shades of the beeches, the tulip poplars and the chestnuts make an exquisite contrast and give to the landscape its attractive background framed in by a distant hill. Behind this hill flows a mighty river carrying on its breast the ships by which we share the over-abundance of our own blessings with our brothers on the other side of the sea, from whom in turn we receive of their overplus. Beyond this teeming river lies a level stretch of fertile land and then the mighty ocean. On one side of the scene runs a busy highway. Along this men pass and repass, some on foot, others drawn by their patient and submissive horses. Still others are carried by the new-found power of the sunshine imprisoned beneath the rocks in the oil that has been forming ever since the sun shone down upon the great forests of the far distant past.

In a pathway to one side, some children are playing. One of them has laid upon the ground a rectangle of stones divided into four and her little mind sees before her the house which is teaching her to get ready for the work that shall come to her in later life. Meanwhile her short-haired companion is prancing around astride a stick; he too, little as he suspects it, is getting ready for life.

It needs little reflection to realize that the scene has not always been what it is. The underlying ground has surely been there longest, its age vying only with that of the bounding ocean that beats upon the shore and works the sand into fantastic stretches. The forest has been there long and so has the stream; the road perhaps ranks next in age; then come the orchard trees, and most recent of all the waving grain. People come and go but form no stable part of this landscape. We know how the grain came to be there, and we understand the orderly arrangement of the orchard trees; the road too we can explain. How came the stream there, and how the forest trees? Have they always been there, or did they too have a beginning? Was there a time when there was no ocean? When was this time? How came they there?

When the lisping lips of my young child asked me, "Papa, who made me?" I told him "God," and he knew enough and was content with his knowledge....