REVIEW of REVIEWS

Sins of Our Fathers—No Threat

Criminologist Emphasizes the Second Commandment is Merely a Statement of Scientific Fact, Borne Out by Investigations

FRENCH STROTHER January 1 1925
REVIEW of REVIEWS

Sins of Our Fathers—No Threat

Criminologist Emphasizes the Second Commandment is Merely a Statement of Scientific Fact, Borne Out by Investigations

FRENCH STROTHER January 1 1925

Sins of Our Fathers—No Threat

Criminologist Emphasizes the Second Commandment is Merely a Statement of Scientific Fact, Borne Out by Investigations

FRENCH STROTHER

SCIENTIFIC students of human society are finding more and more reasons for believing that the second commandment contains sound science as well as theology,” says French Strother writing for the World’s Work. The “visiting of the iniquity of the fathers upon the children,” he continues, usually has been read as a threat. He does not think it was intended as a threat but as a statement of fact. By the very nature of this commandment, he contends, it is “also a warning, but not a threat.”

Mr. Strother proceeds to supply what he calls scientific proof that children will resemble their parents in the matter of characteristics “unto the _ third and fourth generations.” Scientific study of the germ plasm has convinced investigators that through the plasm characteristics of descendants are transmitted to them from their forbears. The vigor and proportions of some twenty-four elements of the plasm, known as “beads” determine what the man shall be when he develops from the germ. From this basis he builds up his theory as follows:—

Weismann conceived the idea that every plant and every animal carries within itself, distinct from the cells that build the body, a small group of cells that carry on the fire of life itself. These Cells have not the power to flame themselves, but they continue to burn and they have power to put flame into fresh torches, which in turn burn to coals having like imitations and like power.

Practising biologists have found by experiment that Weismann’s conception fits in with all the ascertained facts of bodily structure, bodily growth, and bodily perpetuation of life. Every plant and every animal is made up of body cells that are different in one important respect from the life cells. These body cells multiply themselves by the simple process of doubling in size and dividing themselves in two, each cell thereby becoming two cells. This process starts from the meeting of two life cells, which unite and form the one body cell which then proceeds to divide into two cells which divide into four cells and so on until the plant or animal is complete. But, instantly this process starts, a few of the dividing cells are made containers of the elements of

future life; and these life-contaming cells do not divide but are stored away in the body till they, in turn, are called upon to join with other life cells in starting anew the endless process.

Life cells and body cells are alike in one respect, namely, they are made up chiefly of a fluid, in which is a nucleus of more solid matter called chromosomes.

Life cells, to repeat, have been observed by human eyes to have only half the number of chromosomes that body cells have. Therefore, when two life cells meet and unite, becoming one body cell for the purpose of starting a new individual (by the process of repeated division), that one new cell starts life with one complete set of chromosomes, one half from the one life cell and the other half from the other life cell. And that one new cell is the whole new individual. All that happens to it thenceforward is that it grows by division of itself. Nothing new is added to it. Nothing is taken from it.

In other words, every essential characteristic that is to mark the mature adult has got to be present in that single cell when it starts growing, by division of itself, to make that adult. There must be present in that single cell actual physical objects that decree how its multiplying divisions shall arrange themselves to form the completed physical structure of man or beast or flower.

This discovery, of this single-cell bridge between parents and child, is probably the most stupendously important discovery yet made by man. The discoveries of Archimedes made mechanical engineering a science. The discoveries of Copernicus and Newton made navigation a science. The discoveries of Franklin and Faraday made electrical engineering a science.

The discovery of the single-cell bridges between human generations has made possible a science of human heredity, by which man can already control many aspects of future human life and may reasonably hope eventually to learn how to build a human race free from crime, free from poverty, free from idiocy and imbecility and feeble-mindedness; a race of stronger and wiser men, of more beautiful and wiser women, and of happier and more promising children.