A series of lectures delivered at Yale University, being the first series of the Dwight H. Terry Lectures. In this series, delivered to the public, naturalist J. Arthur Thomson expounds on his unique but controversial view that the theory of evolution is not incompatible with religion. For the general reader with no scientific background, this book is interesting in its descriptions of the solar system, animals such as elephants, eels, ants and birds, and the numerous references to discoveries made across the world by past naturalists such as Darwin and Wallace. A brief explanation of the theory of evolution, including Darwin’s thesis, is also provided, along with theories on the evolution of man. There are some interesting drawings in the book, too, of dinosaurs, butterflies, lizards, and other creatures.
About the author (from Wikipedia):
Sir John Arthur Thomson FRSE LLD (8 July 1861 – 12 February 1933) was a Scottish naturalist who authored several notable books and was an expert on soft corals.
In his Gifford lectures and a number of books written with his friend Patrick Geddes he argued for a form of holistic biology in which the activity of the living organism could transcend the physical laws governing its component parts. Some had termed the work of Geddes and Thomson as neovitalist though the position presented in their books is more closer to panpsychism as Thomson had claimed that mind can not emerge from matter and that it has existed in nature all the time. Thomson had believed there was life at all levels, he wrote that “there is nothing inanimate”. He had however found the vitalist ideas of Henri Bergson inspirational.
According to Peter J. Bowler, Thomson was a popular science writer who had promoted a nonmaterialist interpretation of science though his interpretation was not accepted by all within the scientific community as some had claimed his views were neovitalist and thus outdated.
Thomson had also promoted the importance of symbiosis and cooperation in nature as opposed to the idea of struggle.