Darwin's Jews: Online Reader

Joseph Krauskopf



  1. Introduction
  2. Primary Source: "Darwinism" in Evolution and Judaism
  3. Excerpts from Evolution and Judaism
  4. Select bibliography
  5. Discussion forum


1. Introduction ⇧ top

Joseph Krauskopf (1858-1923),  who was born in Ostrowo, Prussian-Posen, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1872, was a graduate of the first class of candidates for the rabbinate at Hebrew Union College in 1883 when he was ordained by Isaac Mayer Wise, and received a doctoral degree, also from Hebrew Union College, in 1885. He became one of the most influential communal rabbis of his day, co-founding in 1888 the inter-denominational Jewish publishing house known as the Jewish Publication Society, serving two terms as president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and eventually being offered the presidency of HUC but rejecting it due to his other commitments relating to labour and environmental issues. In terms of his religious worldview, Krauskopf was very much a radical; even among Reform Jews at that time, he was unusually explicit about his hope for a reconciliation of Jew and Christian in a shared religion of the future, for example. He was vice-president and chairman of the committee for the radical Pittsburgh Platform in 1885 and, as rabbi of Temple Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia (from 1887), he almost immediately initiated its reforms, including Sunday services. Throughout his life, Krauskopf was interested in teasing out the implications of modern science for religious thought.

Krauskopf’s series of sermons on Evolution and Judaism, given in the winter of 1886 and collated and published in 1887, has been described accurately as an attempt ‘to reconcile religion with science rather than religion and science.’ It was the most lengthy and comprehensive of the Reform Jewish treatments of the subject, with sermons addressing the theory in a variety of contexts including the Bible, the history of religion, modern cosmology, paleontology, the implications for understanding man’s intellect, society, religion and morality, and in the context of worship. It was written for a Jewish congregational audience, but with a Christian readership in mind, too, citing many Christian theologians in the index and the footnotes, and with almost as many references to Christian thought and practice as to Jewish ones. In terms of a programmatic agenda, Krauskopf’s study shared with earlier Reform writings on evolution an explicit concern to counter the inroads made by materialism. Specifically, Krauskopf’s lecture series was intended to refute the claim of the materialists that Darwin’s teachings had a central role in the growing popularity of atheism, as if such teachings should by necessity ‘drive God out of nature, and lead to infidelity’. More subtly, it attempted to win over its Jewish audience with its frequent allusions to the anti-rational, anti-evolutionary stance of popular Christianity, or to Christian ministers’ unfair treatment of evolutionists such as Thomas Huxley. On the other hand, he was quick to point to Christian evolutionary theists if he believed it would strengthen his case, confident that his Jewish readers would identify closely with the views of liberal Christians, perhaps even more so than with the views of their Orthodox co-religionists. His style was characterized by grandly sweeping and often provocative statements, and by frequent reference to non-Jewish poetry and literature; he did not tend to refer to the corpus of Jewish religious literature without criticizing some aspect of tradition. A consequence of its flamboyant style and lengthy composition over many months, the collection was occasionally incoherent in some of its theological claims.


2. Primary source ⇧ top

Joseph Krauskopf, Chapter VI: Darwinismin Evolution and Judaism, 99-117. Kansas City: Berkowitz, 1887.

Order proves presence and existence of intelligence. Supreme order is the manifestation of supreme intelligence. If I had no other proof for my belief in the existence and sovereignty of an Intelligent Final Cause, I would derive it from my recognition of the fact that supreme order, uninterrupted harmony, eternal and immutable law, control all nature, heaven and earth, all inorganic and organic existence. Gravity is under law, and eternally acts with and upon matter, be it organic or inorganic, in but one way, and in no other. It has no choice. It is under compulsion. It must be constant, uniform, invariable. The earth must draw, to day, matter towards its center, as she did when she first appeared, and as she will [100] until she shall cease to be. Liquids are under law to seek their level and will ever be. The diamond must and ever will refract light. Iron must become incandescent under the action of heat, and electricity must manifest itself in the presence of zinc, copper, sulphuric acid and water.

And so, too, in the organic world. An animal or plant will ever be under law to have a definite form of birth, of growth, of struggle for existence, of development, of maturing and of decay. The plant will ever germinate, grow, feed, blossom, bear fruit, wither and decay, in obedience to forces that are under eternal and immutable law to be ever uniform, ever constant, ever present and ever active. The animal, man and beast, will ever be born, nourished, will produce offspring, will reach maturity, will retrograde and die, in obedience to law that is subject to no variation. The individuals will ever perish, the species will ever remain. The individuals will ever be under law to be essentially alike unto their parents; the species will ever be under law to slowly unfold latent capacities, to gradually develop. to rise with the slow progression of geological time from the lower to the higher, from the simple to the complex. This law is fixed, and as uniform and as constant and as immutable among the forces that determine the movements of atoms, or that direct the stellar worlds, or that unfold the oak from the seed and reduce it again to primary elements, or that build up the marvelous system of organic life and reduce it again to unorganized inorganic matter, or that develop the most [101] complex life from the simplest, and after decay and death reduce it again to the simplest, ever as invariable, as night follows upon day, and spring upon winter, as seed time upon harvest.

This, and all this, is meant when scientists speak of “the reign of natural law.” It is the most blessed boon we possess. In it all knowledge is rooted. Through it all science has become possible. From it all existence, all life, all civilization has proceeded. The scientist accepts ascertained cause and effect as ultimate truth, and relying upon the uniformity, and constancy, and immutability of the laws that govern matter and force, he rises from one invention to another, from one amazing discovery to one still more startling. Relying upon the ever present and never changing capacity of water for transforming itself into steam, upon the constant capacity of burning coal for raising the temperature of the water, upon the never-failing capacity of the phosphorus for igniting the coal, and upon the uniform capacity of oxygen for sustaining the fire, and relying upon the invariable capacities for duration and resistance of iron and timber and stone, the scientist plans and builds his locomotive or his steam vessel, spans the rivers and unites the ends of the continents with each other. Relying upon the ever present and never changing properties of matter and force, upon the never failing sequence of cause and effect, a Kepler discovers his three laws, a Morse the telegraph, a Fulton steam navigation. Relying upon the uniformity of like effects arising from like causes, the physician prescribes his [102] medicines or performs his surgical operations, and the legislator enacts his laws. Remove man’s abiding trust in the immutability of law, let matter and force rebel and become insubordinate, give the reins of government to chance or accident, let like causes fail to produce like effects, and man must perish and the heavens must fall, and the earth must pass away. 

Again, I see this “natural law” shape matter with and direct force with a purpose, and design and purpose presuppose intelligence. Throughout the vegetable and animal kingdom I see everywhere organs most wonderfully adapted to environments, and ultimately adaptable to gradually changing surroundings. Even in the minutest animalculae I see most wonderfully appropriate organs for the prehension and digestion of food, fur the defense against or attack of enemies. Everywhere I see most perfect and most intricately complicated machinery, evincing incontrovertible design and purpose. Human ingenuity has never invented a more perfect electric battery than that which is stored away within the electric fish, called torpedo, consisting of 940 hexagonal columns, with a voltaic pile within each. Human ingenuity has never invented a machinery as complicated and as wonderful as the human heart for circulation of blood, the lungs for respiration, the digestive system for sustaining life, the eye for seeing, the ear for hearing, the arm for lifting weights or the wing of the bird for flying.

This, then, is an ultimate truth, that nature is under the power of government under the [103] control of supreme order and uninterrupted harmony, under the reign of ever-present, ever active, never-changing law which shapes all matter, organic and inorganic, according to design, and directs all force, physical and vital, according to purpose, and compels both to be eternally the same in their manifestations. This universally admitted supreme governing power, this universally acknowledged eternally invariable law, which presuppose eternal and immutable supreme will—for law is but an expression of will enforced by power this universally admitted ever present design and purpose, order and harmony, which presuppose supreme intelligence, this sum of Supreme Governing Power, Supreme Will, Supreme Intelligence is named by evolutionists “Natural Law;” by theologians it is called “God.” The difference between the two is only in the name applied to the same power, but not in essence. Both are forced upon rational ground to the same conclusion, to the acceptance of the same ultimate; differing but in name, both ascribe the same attribute to the same mysterious and inscrutable Final Cause.

With this conception of the nature of God every difference between science and religion disappears. With this perfect agreement with the scientific accounts of the Final Cause, I am prepared to accept every rational induction, every intelligible inference, every plausible theory that science may have to offer. With this conception of God, as manifested in nature, I am prepared to accept even Darwinism, if investigation prove [104] that as a theory it satisfies the requirements of truth.
This statement may sound heretical, but it is far from even a semblance of heresy. Darwinism, though disagreeing with the Biblical account of creation, is with religion, not against it, I know that a century ago my life might have been in danger for daring to announce from the pulpit a belief in a theory that accounts for the origin of species, not by direct special creation, but by the law of gradual evolution from the simple to the complex, that derives man from the link that is supposed to have once been the bond of union between the highest type of ape and the lowest type of man, and not from the clay of the Garden of Eden. Thanks be to God that that age is past! Thanks be to God for his dispensation of light and for his dispelling of darkness! Thanks, too, be to those great seekers and searchers of blessed memory, who by their toils have hastened the approach of the age of freedom of research and freedom of speech, who have toiled and suffered who sacrificed the good of self for the good of others, who sowed that we might reap and who suffered that we might enjoy.

And few are the illustrious names to whom more grateful thanks are due than to Charles Darwin. The galaxy of the world’s great lights holds no brighter star. God has had no better interpreter of the greatness and magnificence of His handiwork, Science utters no name with greater veneration. Progress has had no worthier disciple. A more eager student never sat [105] within the chambers of Nature’s arcana, listening at the feet of countless myriads of past generations, with hushed lips and bated breath, to the wondrous truths they did impart. Greater powers of close observation, and in the main, trustworthy generalizations, have never existed within one man. No man has given to research a greater impetus. No one man has filled men with more knowledge, or created within them a more burning thirst after more. He has given to the human mind a direction which it will retain unto the distant ages. His remains mingle now with those of the past generations, which he had studied so closely, but his name lives, his fame will endure as long as knowledge will be honored and research will be prized and scientific truths will have value among the children of men. 

Darwin is opposed to the Biblical account of the special creation of vegetable and animal life. He is opposed to the belief that the multitudinous species of organisms that now exist, and the still more multitudinous species that have existed during past geological eras, have been from time to time separately created. He is opposed to the belief that the untold millions of organic molecules, of which an adult mammal is composed all rushed together at some appointed instance from divers quarters of the compass, and [106] spontaneously, or in virtue of some inexplicable divine act, grouped themselves into the form of an adult. some of them arranging themselves into infinitely: complicated nerve fibers and ganglionic cells, others into the wonderful complex contractile tissue of muscles, while others again were massed in various convoluted shapes as lungs, intestines, blood vessels and secreting glands. He is opposed to the belief that God took a clay and moulded a man as a potter might mould a vessel. He is opposed to these beliefs, because modern research proves the Biblical account of creation imperfect, because the fossilized remains of ancient life bring evidences of connecting links between divers species, because thorough-going differences between different species do not exist at all; they are so interrelated that man can tell where one species reaches its culmination point and where the next higher begins. He is opposed to all these beliefs as being gratuitous and unnecessary, as lowering the conception of the grandeur of God’s handiwork rather than elevating it.

He offers a theory which attempts to show the path which nature struck out in order to produce her endless variety of animal forms, and the means she employed in her task. He believes that living matter has been endowed by natural law with the eternally present and the eternally active faculty for gradual development from the lower to the higher. He believes that the more complex plants and animals are the slowly modified descendants of less complex plants and animals, [107] and these in turn were the slowly modified descendants of still less complex plants and animals, and that, if the records of extinct life were fully restored, we would recognize the whole succession as a nicely graduated series, with numerous diverging branches, also nicely graduated, all converging toward, and meeting in, that primordial organism, which is not definable either as animal or as vegetable, viz., the God-created protoplasm, i.e., the man and the oak, which present perhaps the widest possible amount of divergence between organisms, traced backward, would meet in the “amoeba” or in the “prococcus,” which cannot be classified as either animal, or vegetal, because they are as much one as the other. In these beliefs he appeals to agencies that are known to be in operation, to the faculty inherent in living organism, and he assumes nothing which he believes will not sooner or later admit of a crucial test. He bases his theory upon a law which he calls
correctly called by Spencer the ‘‘survival of the fittest.” This law, briefly told, is as follows: He shows and abundantly proves that animals have a tendency to vary. Child, though essentially like unto parent, nevertheless always presents some points of difference. He then proves that animals and plaints multiply with much greater rapidity than the food upon which they live. Many more animals are born than can possibly succeed in reaching maturity. A single codfish, for instance, produces some 9,000,000 eggs in a season; and if all reached the adult state, and [108] reproduced in like manner, a very short time would serve to fill the oceans completely with codfish. A vast majority of the animals, which are brought into the world must therefore be killed before reaching the adult stage. Owing to this over-production of young - in every species, all animals are in a contest with each other, either directly or indirectly, for the food which is to be had. Every individual is, therefore, constantly engaged in a struggle for existence,” and if he be weak and unable to contend with others he will perish in the struggle. This “struggle for existence” is constantly affecting all animals from the highest to the lowest, and it is evident that it is only the stronger individuals, or those especially favored by some advantage, which will come off victors in the struggle. Only the “fittest” survive, reach maturity and have offspring.

Now is it an unquestioned law that animals transmit to their offsprings their own characteristics and, therefore, the individuals, naturally selected by means of these favorable variations, will transmit these same variations, and, as a result, nearly all of the next generation possess the advantages of their parents. During the succeeding generation, the same selection will be enforced, so that shortly all unfavored individuals will disappear. As this process of selection goes on, the peculiarities which give advantage will become more and more prominent, and thus a new variety of the old species will arise, which, still later, will become more marked, and finally will be a new species.

[109] In order to explain the differences which are frequently found in the two sexes, Darwin supplements natural selection with another principle which he calls sexual selection. He shows that among many animals there is a contest (luring the breeding season among the males for the possession of the females, a contest sometimes by actual combats, and sometimes by an attempt to attract the favor of the females, by the display of brilliant plumage, or by singing. In all these cases the victor in the contest mates with the more vigorous females, and will consequently be likely to leave numerous offspring. The off- spring will all have a tendency to inherit the same highly developed weapons or plumage.

This process being repeated among the progeny, the males eventually develop organs like the majestic mane of the lion, the antlers of the male deer, or the beauty of the male birds. Occasionally also these features are acquired in a less marked degree by the females also, since each sex has a certain tendency to inherit from the other sex.

By means of these two principles Darwin has attempted to account for the origin of new species from the old upon purely physical laws, easily understood, for evidently if peculiarities can thus be accumulated and increased, generation after generation, the final result will be new animals very different from the old ones.

To prove the truth of his conclusions he brings [110] among others two powerful, fairly demonstrable arguments of all absorbing interest. The one is derived from the teaching of comparative anatomy, the other is from the teachings of comparative embryology. The first teaches and proves that the anatomical structural differences between adjoining species of animals are very slight, but between man and his nearest allies, the likeness is startlingly close, the structure of the body being very similar, except in small details, that the same likeness prevails between the ape and the dog, between the dog and the reptile, and so on in the descending series. It teaches and proves that no rigid lines can be drawn between differing species, not even between sub kingdoms. It teaches and proves the arms of men and apes, the forelegs of quadrupeds, the paddles of the whale, the wings of birds, and the breast fins of fishes are structurally identical, being developed from the same embryonal rudiments. It shows the presence [111] of rudimentary and aborted organs, such as the rudimentary tail remains, visible at the base of the spinal column in the human skeleton, the splint bones of the horse’s feet, which show the remains of lost fingers or lost toes, the rudimentary legs of the boa constrictor, the rudimentary teeth in the whale, the gill slits in the embryo chick; all these faintly point to the origin of their descent, to a time when these aborted organs were functional in the history of their ancestors, and which is not unfrequently corroborated by the discovery of corresponding fossil remains. It shows, too, the presence of nascent or “prophetic” organs. as Agassiz named them, organs that are prophetic of the future organism of the animal, such as the air bladder, of little use to the fish, but it is there to form eventually the lung of the future higher animal.

The second argument, that of comparative [112] embryology, teaches and proves that all animal
life starts from a germ cell alike in structure, and
so far as human eye can detect, alike in composition. It teaches and proves that during embryonic development each animal passes through
all the gradations of the lower genera and species
up to the point where it becomes adult; the
human being, for instance, passes through, in its
progress of embryonic development, all the gradations presented in the classification of the animal
kingdom beginning with the amoeba state, and passing through consecutively the states of life resembling that of a mollusc, a worm, a lancelet,
a shark and a quadruped. This is a remarkable
teaching—one of the most marvellous discoveries
ever made. It is verified by modern research,
and forms the strongest direct evidence in favor
of organic evolution and against special creation
of species. Here is the panoramic succession of the past history and the past development of the animal kingdom. It is the key to the problem of the origin and the development of the animal kingdom as it exists to-day.

This, then is, in brief, the theory of organic evolution, as taught by Darwin. It is supported by the fossilized remains which present traces of a [113] gradual succession of extinct animal life, from the simplest of the highest, often showing the nexus between the rising order of species. It is supported by the succession of living animals, rising from lower to higher, which merge into each other, which possess organisms structurally alike, those of the lowest species being rudimentary for that of the next higher order. It is supported by the embryonic evidence, each animal passing through the progress of its development, all the stages traversed in the remote past by its ancestors. 

If asked even at this juncture, to choose between the special creation theory, which has no scientific evidence, nor philosophic support, which must be accepted purely on faith, and the theory of organic development according to natural law, which is supported by fairly demonstrable scientific evidence, and evidence which must grow stronger with continuous study and research, it is not very difficult for us to decide whether we are for organic evolution or for special creation.

Darwinism has inseparable difficulties in its way, that even its very weakness proves to me the invincible strength of the law of organic development. When Darwin's incomplete explanation of the causes which affect organic evolution, can so spontaneously win our preference for it over the Biblical theory of special creation, there must be truth beneath it, which when ultimately cleansed from all error and fully unfolded, must prove itself axiomatic and abiding. It is now but a little over a quarter of a century since the [114] publication of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” opened to the world a new line of thought. Much advance has since been made. It is impossible that twenty-five years of scientific re- search could have passed without adding much to the evidence, both in favor and against his views. The Darwinian theory of “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest” offered as an explanation for organic development has in the light of recent researches lost much of its former prestige. Some of its claims have been substantiated, and some abandoned as insufficient. Darwin himself recognized in his later writings the difficulties and insufficiencies of his theory, placing less credence upon it than did some of his followers. With his characteristic frankness he acknowledged that he had overrated its effect. To-day the theory of the “survival of the fittest” is regarded by almost all prominent naturalists as an excellent coadjutor to an explanation, but not as the explanation, as a most potent factor in the progression of organic evolution, but not as the final expletive fact. Yet, though the term “Darwinism” is doomed to a final banishment from scientific nomenclature, the law of organic evolu-tion which Darwin has been the first to unfold on a scientific basis, will remain an incontrovertible truth.

Avaunt! and avaunt forever with the hue and cry that the theory of organic evolution is antagonistic to religion, that it reasons God out of the universe! The orthodox clergy of all denominations have revelled long enough in weak ridicule, [115] and still weaker parodies, and in the weakest possible reasoning to disprove a theory which the world’s combined best scientific scholarship is now establishing as an eternal truth. They have fought it because they felt within them a divine call to defend their pedigree, and to save the reputation of the Creator. They preferred to be moulded out of unorganized paradisian clay instead of being derived from a highly organized and most wondrously complex order of species. They preferred to be fashioned by the hand of God, implying thereby a belief that the ape created himself and is not a link in God’s creation and in God’s unfolding and development of animal life. Most of them have condemned long enough that which, it is to be suspected, they have never read, and if they did never under- stood. Let them forget for a while the burning insult of being accused of having “descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears probably arboreal in its habits,” under which they still chafe, and let them penetrate into the deep mines of scientific research, and, equipped with a desire for knowledge, and armed with scientific instruments, let them traverse the paths these evolutionists are forced to travel, let them spend an equal number of years of painful labor and research and disappointments, and strain and worry, and then let them tell us, openly and frankly, in the name of truth and for the cause of truth, their own honest conclusions. Let them tell us, after spending years of toilful, scientific research, whether the special creation [116] theory of the Bible has any scientific basis, whether the law of organic evolution is a chimera, and whether theistic evolutionists attempt to drive God out of the universe and religion out of the heart of man. Judaism and every progressive religion with a conception of God as outlined in the opening remarks of this lecture, can freely and conscientiously accept the theory of organic evolution. It is wiser to anticipate and welcome a truth that it is destined perhaps to be fully demonstrated even in our own days, than to turn our backs on it when we see it looming in sight. We must accept it to be consistent with Israel’s motto: “Let there be light.” We must accept it to be in harmony with modern records and modern ascertained truth. We must accept it, if we accept the belief that the universe is under the reign of immutable law, divine government, which shapes all matter, inorganic and organic, and directs all force, physical and vital, and endows both with laws according to which they must uniformally and eternally act. We must accept it, if we accept the belief that all knowledge, all language, all society, all industry, all government, all morality, all art, all culture, all science, has evolved from the low and simple to the high and complex.

And, accepting it we see greater evidence of the marvels of God’s handiwork than ever we could glean from a belief in special creation. Accepting it we see God constantly creating. Accepting it we see all nature reveal the ever [117] present and constantly active final cause. Accepting it we see all existences prove that—

“All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the soul.” —Pope.

Accepting it, we see the whole theory of organic evolution prove that when—

“It lays the breast of Nature bare,
Discerns God’s fingers working everywhere;
In the vast sweep of all embracing laws
Finds him the veal and the only cause;
And, in the light of clearest evidence,
Perceives him acting in the present tense —
Not, as some claim, once acting, but now not,
The glorious product of his hands forgot—
Having wound up the grand automaton
Leaving it henceforth to itself to run.” —Abraham Coles.

Accepting it we are forced to an admission of the existence of God, for evolution is an effect, and no effect is self-sufficient. No effect can explain itself. It points to a cause outside of it adequate to produce it, and adequate to constantly shape it, and direct it. It proves that it is governed by immutable supreme law, and supreme law is the expression of supreme will enforced by supreme power. It manifests supreme order, supreme harmony, supreme design, supreme purpose and all these are the revelations of supreme intelligence. This sum of Supreme Will, Supreme Power, Supreme Intelligence, evolutionists name “The Reign of Natural Law,” the theologians call it “God.”


3. Excerpts ⇧ top

Krauskopf, Joseph. Evolution and Judaism. Kansas City: Berkowitz, 1887.


Science exists to explain natural phenomena, religion exists to teach us our duties towards God and man, and only the erratic mind of the fanatic can conclude, that the acceptance of the teachings of the former must inevitably lead to the rejection of the latter. [pp.272-273] 

[P]eople constituting this age are permeated by the spirit of science, and as those who have entered deepest into the realm of science possess the devoutest souls and are the truest ministers of religion, so, too, are the science-permeated masses in a state of mind most favorable towards religion, if the religion of our day were but made to harmonize with the reason, which the science of our day has matured. The depth into which the true scientists have entered, has made them not only deeply religious, but has also prepared them for finding full scope and expression for their religious cravings, independent of any church or any religious community. [pp.277-278]

[The clergyman of today] must have less protracted prayer meetings and more of geologizing and botanizing, and observatory expeditions with his people, not kitchen and dining-room and parlor attachments to his church, but instead a well equipped laboratory, not money collections for the conversion of the Hottentots, but for building up good libraries, good observatories... [p.286]

That religion that will carry the flag of science in the van of a progressive people, that will vanquish forever every antagonism between it and science, that will boast of good deeds accomplished more than of the excellency of its creed, is the religion of the future… I have not endeavored to formulate new creeds in these lectures, not to establish a new faith. I have but sought to reconcile Judaism with science. [p.330]


[N]ature is under the power of government under the control of supreme order and uninterrupted harmony, under the reign of ever-present, ever active, never-changing law which shapes all matter, organic and inorganic, according to design, and directs all force, physical and vital, according to purpose, and compels both to be eternally the same in their manifestations. This universally acknowledged supreme governing power, this universally acknowledged eternally invariable law,… this universally admitted ever present design and purpose and order and harmony,… is named by evolutionists ‘Natural Law;’ by theologians it is called ‘God.’ The difference between the two is only in the name applied to the same power, but not in essence. Both are forced upon rational ground to the same conclusion, to the acceptance of the same ultimate; differing but in name, both ascribe the same attribute to the same mysterious and inscrutable Final Cause. With this conception of the nature of God every difference between science and religion disappears. With this perfect agreement with the scientific accounts of the Final Cause, I am prepared to accept every rational induction, every intelligible inference, every plausible theory that science may have to offer. With the conception of God, as manifested in nature, I am prepared to accept even Darwinism, if investigation prove that as a theory it satisfies the requirements of truth. [pp.102-104]

According to our definition, God is the finitely, conceivable Ultimate, the Cause of all and the Cause in all, the Universal Life, the All-Pervading, All-Controlling, All-Directing Power Supreme, the Creator of the universe and the Governor of the same according to eternal and immutable laws by Him created. All existence is part of His existence, all life is part of His life, all intelligence is part of His intelligence, all evolution, all progress is part of His plan. [pp.279-280]

Here I could see Him as the Eternal and Immutable Law, directing all matter, organic and inorganic, all force, physical and vital, and gradually developing all life from the simplest to the more and more complex, from the crudest to the more and more perfect, from the not living to life... Here was no metaphysical God, thinkable only in negative attributes. Here were positive effects, all flowing from a positive First Cause. Here I could see Him constantly active and eternally creating, the Cause of all Life, the Life of all Cause, and I named Him ‘the Universal Life.’… I beheld the whole universe as a living and growing organism, thrilled in its every fiber with ‘the Universal Life,’ and my reason was humbled by the sublimity of this conception, and my heart was moved to adore the Creator of it all, as the ‘Cause of All’ and as the ‘Cause in All.’ [pp.244-245]

The same life-principle that throbs in us to-day throbbed in us when we were yet a protoplasm and will throb in us when we shall become even as our God. If matter is indestructible, if force is persistent, who dare claim that life alone is perishable? Life is a spark of ‘the universal Life,’ and ‘the universal lifeis God… At the dawn of time into each of us a spark of ‘the universal life’ was breathed, with the divine necessity to carry it forward, to develop and unfold it until the ultimate goal is reached. That spark has been clothed in many a garb, and has assumed many a shape. It has advanced through every stage of the lower species, and will advance through every higher state to come, until the God-like will be reached. When developing time comes, the unfolding life-principle forces the petals outward, they break and wither, but the seed lives. When developing time comes the caterpillar-crysalis [sic] shuffles off its old and uncouth coil and becomes the golden winged butterfly. So, too, when developing time comes in the slow unfolding of or spark of life, the mortal coil is returned to its primal earthly elements, is wept for and mourned over, while the spark of live lives and passes on to a higher and better state. [pp.264-265]

that all intellect begins at the base of the column of animal life, and ever widens in its gradual rise towards the top, reaching its widest sweep in man; that as intellect manifests itself as Revelation of God at the top, it is the same revelation beneath, that remembering the vast difference between man and the lower animal in limitations of vital force and physical functions and anatomical structure, the animal low in the scale possesses, qualitatively as much of the essence of God, as does man; that intellect advances in its rise along the column, in a fixed series of geometrical progression, increasing with every increase of structural complexity or with the increasing obstacles in the struggle for existence. [pp.152-153]


When Evolution advanced animal life to the state of primeval man, three dominant instincts innate in all higher animal nature, ‘sexual love,’ ‘parental affection,’ ‘social impulse,’ advanced and developed with it, and where these three innate cravings are unfolding, especially under the influence of intellectual and social and religious evolution, morality follows as a necessity… The crudest form of family life implies some sacrifice of private interest for the good of others, some affection and some sympathy… [T]here, too, exist the germs of the fundamental principles of all morality: ‘Honor parents,’ ‘Murder not,’ ‘Commit not adultery,’ ‘Steal not.

            In this view of the origin of moral sense, which, so far as I know, has never yet been noticed by any of the able writers who have dealt with the origin of the moral faculty in man, it seems to me that we have the clue to the solution of the entire problem. [pp.220-221]

Our theory is in the strictest harmony with the Law of Evolution. Starting with the three innate animal instincts, mankind was under the logical necessity of gradually unfolding, with the aid of intellectual and social and religious development, a moral nature, according to the ‘utilitarian’ plan first, according to the ‘intuitional’ plan next. Pleasure and pain constituted the guide for right and wrong action, until the experience acquired for many ages, as to what groups of action are followed by agreeable consequences, and what groups by painful ones, establish fixed habits, which, by continuous transmissions, produced corresponding psychical modifications, and gradually developed a Conscience that responded instinctively to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ without any reference to utility. [p.224]

The Law of moral evolution is fixed. It is God’s law. It will brook no opposition and suffer no deterioration… [M]oral evolution has reached that stage in which it furnishes man with a self-directing and self-convicting conscience… The age of our fathers, better than that of our grandfathers, gave birth to us, and we, morally, intellectually, socially and religiously their superiors, shall give birth to a race superior to our own. [p.227]


We must accept it [i.e. the theory of organic evolution], if we accept the belief that all knowledge, all language, all society, all industry, all government, all art, all culture, all science, has evolved from the low and simple to the high and complex. [p.116]

We are still but one remove from the animal, and countless generations will yet be necessary, before the God-like will have annihilated all the animal within us. But there are innate with us to-day, latent capacities, which are prophetic of that future, but not attainable in out present state. And this prophecy in organic life never deceives. The paddles of the whale prophecied the human hand and the human hand became a fact. Aquatic animals prophecied lungs and lungs appeared. Our prophetic conception of perfection of character yet to be attained, our progress towards it, our aspiration after it, finds in these facts, warrant for our anticipating that the future must afford scope for the realization of the possibilities after which we aspire. That the attaining of this ultimate perfection is the striving impulse of all evolution, we know. We also know that we are doing something towards its realization. So, too, did our fathers before us. [p.263]

It is in our power to work with God and to aid Him in the final establishment of that end for which all evolution, inorganic and organic, and intellectual, is the meaning... It is in our power to so live, physically, morally and mentally, that we may bequeath unto our descendants an heirloom that will make their life more blessed than ours. This must be our categorical imperative, so to live, physically, mentally and morally, that our descendants, even in the most distant generations, may bless us for having transmitted to them mind and body, which has enabled them more and more to triumph over their lower animal nature and to approach nearer and nearer to the God-like, to the spiritual realm of God. [pp.161-162]

[L]et us go the whole way, and not twist the Hebrew word ‘Barah’ (to create) into meaning ‘gradual unfolding.’ It means what it was intended to mean, ‘Creatio ex nihilo’… [Let us] not try to patch up the Bible into teaching universal solar systems, when it plainly means that the earth is the All… and [let us] not try to account for discrepancies and errors by arguing that God had to use an unscientific method, for the primitive Hebrews were not sufficiently advanced... [pp.55-57]

The one [i.e. the biblical literalist] supports all his beliefs by the authority of a collection of ancient books, which he believes to be inspired, not on any scientific basis, but on the basis of simple, unquestioning faith. The other [i.e. the evolutionary theist] supports his claims by the teachings of a sacred volume, too, very old, as old as time and as voluminous as space, whose countless pages unfold the records of all the ages that have ever been, and show faithful illustrations of all the life that has ever existed, their joys and sorrows, their trials and tribulations, their rise and their fall, their appearance and disappearance, their struggle and their final triumph. The name of this volume is inscribed upon the title page in God’s own handwriting. It reads: ‘Nature.’ [p.131]


4. Select bibliography ⇧ top

Blau, Joseph. "An American-Jewish View of the Evolution Controversy." Hebrew Union College Annual XX (1947): 617-34.

Blood, William W. Apostle of Reason: A Biography of Joseph Krauskopf.  Philadelphia: Dorrance & Co., 1973.

Krauskopf, Joseph. "After Death - What?". In Miscellaneous Sunday Lectures, 1-12. Philadelphia: Oscar Klonower?, 1890.

Krauskopf, Joseph. Evolution and Judaism.  Kansas City: Berkowitz, 1887.

Krauskopf, Joseph. "Heredity." In Miscellaneous Sunday Lectures, 1-11. Philadelphia: Oscar Klonower?, 1890.

Krauskopf, Joseph. "The Law of Environment." In Miscellaneous Sunday Lectures, 1-12. Philadelphia: Oscar Klonower?, 1890.

Krauskopf, Joseph. "Ninetieth Birthday of Lincoln and Darwin." In Sunday Lectures, 1-8. Philadelphia: Oscar Klonower, 1899.

Swetlitz, Marc. "American Jewish Responses to Darwin and Evolutionary Theory, 1860-1890." In Disseminating Darwinism : The Role of Place, Race, Religion, and Gender, edited by Ronald L. Numbers and John Stenhouse, xi, 300 p. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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