Through Nature to God
by John Fiske

A religious response to Darwin's theory of biological evolution that embraces it and tries to show that it leads logically to a deeper appreciation of God (not the Biblical one or the Latin one that stands outside of Nature, but a more animistic or Greek type of god that works through nature).
Conscience is generated to play a part analogous to that played by the sense of pain in the lower stages of life, and to keep us from wrong doing. p. 52

The principle of natural selection is in one respect intensely Calvinistic: it elects the one and damns the ninety and nine. In these processes of Nature there is nothing that savours of communistic equality; but "to him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." p.6566

Instead of making the desirable object once for all, the method of Nature is to make something else and reject it, and so on through countless ages, till by slow approximations the creative thought is realized. Nature is often called thrifty, yet could anything be more prodigal or more cynical than the waste of individual lives? p. 70

The Cosmic Process appears in a high degree unintelligent, not to say immoral. p. 71

It indicates a Blind Force rather than a Beneficent Wisdom at the source of things. p. 74

... while for zoological man you can hardly erect a distinct family from that of the chimpanzee and orang, on the other hand, for psychological man you must erect a distinct kingdom; nay, you must even dichotomize the universe, putting Man on one side and all things else on the other. p. 82

Along this human line of ascent is no occasion for further genesis of species, all future progress must continue to be not zoological, but psychological, organic evolution gives place to civilization. p. 8485

The pianist has registered in the intimate structure of his nervous system a world of experiences entirely foreign to persons unfamiliar with the piano; and upon this registration his capacity depends. p. 89

This invention of spoken language, the first invention of nascent humanity, remains to this day its most fruitful invention. Henceforth ancestral experience could not simply be transmitted through its inheritable impress upon the nervous system, but its facts and lessons could become external materials and instruments of education. p. 97

With the lengthening of infancy the period of maternal help and watchfulness must have lengthened in correspondence. Natural selection must keep those two things nicely balanced, or the species would soon become extinct. p. 98

The wolf does not eat the lamb because he regards a flesh diet as necessary to his health and activity, but because he is hungry, and, like Mr. Harold Skimpole, he likes lamb. It was no intellectual perception of needs and consequences that lengthened the maternal instinct with primeval mothers as the period of infancy lengthened. Nor was it any such intellectual perception that began to enthrone "I ought" in place of "I wish." If in the world's recurrent crises Nature had waited to be served by the flickering lamp of reason, the story would not have been what it is." p 107

Now we have seen that this increase of intelligence itself, by entailing upon Man the helplessness of infancy. led directly to the production of those social conditions that called the ethical process into play and set it actively to work. Thus we see the absurdity of trying to separate the moral nature of Man from the rest of his nature, and to assign for it a separate and independent history. p. 112

... the relation between mother and child must have furnished the first occasion for the sustained and regular development of the altruistic feelings. The capacity for unselfish devotion called forth in that relation could afterward be utilized in the conduct of individuals not thus related to one another. p. 121

... when we speak of personality that is not circumscribed by limits (God), are we not using language from which all the meaning has evaporated? p. 158

Year Read: 1997


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