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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Bowdoin Prize Dissertation.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Last night in Sever 5, Mr. Hugh Tallant delivered a very able and thoughtful dissertation on the subject: "Have any essential modifications been wrought in our ethical and metaphysical ideas by the doctrine of evolution?" Mr. Tallant said that the essay was based almost entirely upon "Fiske's Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy," and that he had ventured to deduce a few conslusions of his own which he had not met with elsewhere.

The speaker began by defining the Darwinian doctrine of evolution as the theory that man is decended from the ape, and said that in tracing the influence of this theory upon our ideas of moral and human life, he would group his work under the following heads: 1, Man's place in Nature; 2, The evolution of morals, 3, The nature of God; 4, Life and immortality. Every great religion has asserted that the arrival of man marked the final and highest stage of creation. In fact, the promise of immortality held out by every creed depends directly upon this assumption; for unless man is of more importance than all other living creatures we have no reason for believing that he alone is destined to eternal life. The speaker then showed that there is imminent in the universe an infinite, immaterial Spirit. This Spirit, acting through evolution, has produced all creatures living upon this earth and last of all created mankind, a race of beings possessing immortal souls and a code of morals teaching them to live in harmony with one another. And, finally, since the same action of the same Spirit has created both the human soul and the moral sense, we have every reason to believe that the purpose of the universe is in some way bound up in the action of the soul under the dictates of conscience. If therefore, we would further this purpose, if we would put ourselves in harmony with the Almighty, we must live purely and seek righteousness in all things.

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