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§ 2. Anti-Scriptural Theories.
Heathen Doctrine of Spontaneous Generation.
The Scriptural doctrine is opposed to the doctrine held by many of the ancients, that man is a spontaneous production of the earth. Many of them claimed to be γηγενεῖς, αὐτόχθενες, terrigena. The earth was assumed to be pregnant with the germs of all living organisms, which were quickened into life under favourable circumstances; or it was regarded as instinct with a productive life to which is to be referred the origin of all the plants and animals living on its surface. To this primitive doctrine of antiquity, modern philosophy and science, in some of their forms, have returned. Those who deny the existence of a personal God, distinct from the world, must of course deny the doctrine of a creation ex nihilo and consequently of the creation of man. The theological view as to the origin of man, says Strauss, “rejects the standpoint of natural philosophy and of science in general. These do not admit of the immediate intervention of divine causation. God created man, not as such, or, ‘quatenus infinitus est, sed quatenus per elementa nascentis telluris explicatur.’ This is the view which the Greek and Roman philosophers, in a very crude form indeed, presented, and against which the fathers of the Christian Church earnestly contended, but which is now the unanimous judgment of natural science as well as of philosophy.”11Dogmatik, vol. i. p. 680. To the objection that the earth no longer spontaneously produces men and irrational animals, it is answered that many things happened formerly that do not happen in the present state of the world. To the still more obvious objection that an infant man must have perished without a mother’s care, it is answered that the infant floated in the ocean of its birth, enveloped in a covering, until it reached the development of a child two years old; or it is said that philosophy can only establish the general fact as to the way in which the human race originated, but cannot be required to explain all the details.5
Modern Doctrine of Spontaneous Generation.
Although Strauss greatly exaggerates when he says that men of science in our day are unanimous in supporting the doctrine of spontaneous generation, it is undoubtedly true that a large class of naturalists, especially on the continent of Europe, are in favour of that doctrine. Professor Huxley, in his discourse on the “Physical Basis of Life,” lends to it the whole weight of his authority. He does not indeed expressly teach that dead matter becomes active without being subject to the influence of previous living matter; but his whole paper is designed to show that life is the result of the peculiar arrangement of the molecules of matter. His doctrine is that “the matter of life is composed of ordinary matter, differing from it only in the manner in which its atoms are aggregated.”22Lay Sermons and Addresses, London, 1870, p. 144. “If the properties of water,” he says, “may be properly said to result from the nature and disposition of its component molecules, I can find no intelligible ground for refusing to say that the properties of protoplasm result from the nature and disposition of its molecules.”33Ibid. p. 151. In his address before the British Association, he says that if he could look back far enough into the past he should expect to see “the evolution of living protoplasm from not living matter.” And although that address is devoted to showing that spontaneous generation, or Abiogenesis, as it is called, has never been proved, he says, “I must carefully guard myself against the supposition that I intend to suggest that no such thing as Abiogenesis has ever taken place in the past or ever will take place in the future. With organic chemistry, molecular physics, and physiology yet in their infancy, and every day making prodigious strides, I think it would be the height of presumption for any man to say that the conditions under which matter assumes the properties we call ‘vital,’ may not some day be artificially brought together.”44Athenæum, September 17, 1870, p. 376. All this supposes that life is the product of physical causes; that all that is requisite for its production is “to bring together” the necessary conditions.
Mr. Mivart, while opposing Mr. Darwin’s theory, not only maintains that the doctrine of evolution is “far from any necessary opposition to the most orthodox theology,” but adds that “the same may be said of spontaneous generation.”55Genesis of Species, by St. George Mivart, F. R. S. p. 266. As chemists have 6succeeded in producing urea, which is an animal product, he thinks it not unreasonable that they may produce a fish.
But while there is a class of naturalists who maintain the doctrine of spontaneous generation, the great body even of those who are the most advanced admit that omne vivum ex vivo, so far as science yet knows, is an established law of nature. To demonstrate this is the object of Professor Huxley’s important address just referred to, delivered before the British Association in September, 1870. Two hundred years ago, he tells us, it was commonly taken for granted that the insects which made their appearance in decaying animal and vegetable substances were spontaneously produced. Redi, however, an Italian naturalist, about the middle of the seventeenth century, proved that if such decaying matter were protected by a piece of gauze admitting the air but excluding flies, no such insects made their appearance. “Thus, the hypothesis that living matter always arises by the agency of preëxisting living matter, took definite shape; and had henceforward a right to be considered and a claim to be refuted, in each particular case, before the production of living matter in any other way could be admitted by careful reasoners.”66Athenæum, September 17, 1870, p. 374. This conclusion has been more and more definitely settled by all the investigations and experiments which have been prosecuted from that day to this. It has been proved that even the infusorial animalcules, which the most powerful microscopes are necessary to detect, never make their appearance when all preëxisting living germs have been carefully excluded. These experiments, prosecuted on the very verge of nonentity, having for their subject-matter things so minute as to render it doubtful whether they were anything or nothing, and still more uncertain whether they were living or dead, are reviewed in chronological order by Professor Huxley, and the conclusion to which they lead fully established.77What Charlton Bastian, who contested the conclusions of Professor Huxley, took to be living organisms, turned out to be nothing but minute follicles of glass. This is confirmed by daily experience. Meat, vegetables, and fruits are preserved to the extent of hundreds of tons every year. “The matters to be preserved are well boiled in a tin case provided with a small hole, and this hole is soldered up when all the air in the case has been replaced by steam. By this method they may be kept for years, without putrefying, fermenting, or getting mouldy. Now this is not because oxygen is excluded, inasmuch as it is now proved that free oxygen is not necessary for either fermentation or putrefaction. It is not because 7the tins are exhausted of air, for Vibriones and Bacteria live, as Pasteur has shown, without air or free oxygen. It is not because the boiled meats or vegetables are not putrescible or fermentable, as those who have had the misfortune to be in a ship supplied with unskilfully closed tins well know. What is it, therefore, but the exclusion of germs? I think the Abiogenists are bound to answer this question before they ask us to consider new experiments of precisely the same order.”88Huxley’s Address, as reported in the London Athenæum, September 17, 1870, p. 376.
But admitting that life is always derived from life, the question still remains, Whether one kind of life may not give rise to life of a different kind? It was long supposed that parasites derived their life from the plant or animal in which they live. And what is more to the point, it is a matter of familiar experience “that mere pressure on the skin will give rise to a corn” which seems to have a life of its own; and that tumours are often developed in the body which acquire, as in the ease of cancer, the power of multiplication and reproduction. In the case of vaccination, also, a minute particle of matter is introduced under the skin. The result is a vesicle distended with vaccine matter “in quantity a hundred or a thousand-fold that which was originally inserted.” Whence did it come? Professor Huxley tells us that it has been proved that “the active element in the vaccine lymph is non-diffusible, and consists of minute particles not exceeding 1/20000 of an inch in diameter, which are made visible in the lymph by the microscope. Similar experiments have proved that two of the most destructive of epizootic diseases, sheep-pox and glanders, are also dependent for their existence and their propagation upon extremely small living solid particles, to which the title of microzymes is applied.” The question, he says, arises whether these particles are the result of Homogenesis, or of Xenogenesis, i.e., Are they produced by preëxisting living particles of the same kind? or, Are they a modification of the tissues of the bodies in which they are found? The decision of this question has proved to be a matter of vast practical importance. Some years since diseases attacked the grape-vine and the silk-worm in France, which threatened to destroy two of the most productive branches of industry in that country. The direct loss to France from the silk-worm disease alone, in the course of seventeen years, is estimated at two hundred and fifty millions of dollars. It was discovered that these diseases of the vine and worm, which were both infectious and contagious, were due to living organisms, by which they were propagated and extended. It 8became a matter of the last importance to determine whether these living particles propagated themselves, or whether they were produced by the morbid action of the plant or animal. M. Pasteur the eminent naturalist, sent by the French government to investigate the matter, after laborious research decided that they were independent organisms propagating themselves and multiplying with astonishing rapidity. “Guided by that theory, he has devised a method of extirpating the disease, which has proved to be completely successful wherever it has been properly carried out.”99London Athenæum, September 17, 1870, p. 378. In view of the facts stated in the text Professor Huxley asks, “How can we over-estimate the value of that knowledge of the nature of epidemic and epizootic diseases, and consequently, of the means of checking or eradicating them, the dawn of which has assuredly commenced? Looking back no further than ten years, it is possible to select three (1863, 1864, and 1869) in which the total number of deaths from scarlet fever alone amounted to ninety thousand. That is the return of killed, the maimed and disabled being left out of sight. . . . . The facts which I have placed before you must leave the least sanguine without a doubt that the nature and causes of this scourge will one day be as well understood as those of the Pébrine (the silk-worm disease) and that the long-suffered massacre of our innocents will come to an end.”
Professor Huxley closes his address by saying that he had invited his audience to follow him “in an attempt to trace the path which has been followed by a scientific idea, in its slow progress from the position of a probable hypothesis to that of an established law of nature.” Biogenesis, then, according to Huxley, is an established law of nature.1010In quoting Professor Huxley as an authority on both sides of the question of spontaneous generation, no injustice is done that distinguished naturalist. He wishes to believe that doctrine. His principles lead to that conclusion. But, as a question of scientific fact, he is constrained to admit that all the evidence is against it. He, therefore, does not believe it, although he thinks it may be true. Hence Mr. Mivart says that Professor Huxley and Tyndall, while they dissent from Dr. Bastian’s conclusions in favour of spontaneous generation, nevertheless, “agree with him in principle, though they limit the evolution of the organic world from the inorganic to a very remote period of the world’s history.” Genesis of Species, p. 266, note.
Professor Tyndall deals with this subject in his lecture delivered in September, 1870, on “The Scientific Uses of the Imagination.” He says that the question concerning the origin of life is, Whether it is due to a creative flat, ‘Let life be!’ or to a process of evolution. Was it potentially in matter from the beginning? or, Was it inserted at a later period? However the convictions here or there may be influenced, he says, “the process must be slow which commends the hypothesis of natural evolution to the public mind. For what are the core and essence of this hypothesis? Strip it naked, and you stand face to face with the notion that not alone the more ignoble forms of animalcular or animal life, not alone the nobler forms of the horse and lion, not alone the 9exquisite and wonderful mechanism of the human body, but that the human mind itself — emotion, intellect, will, and all their phenomena — were once latent in a fiery cloud. Surely the mere statement of such a notion is more than a refutation. I do not think that any holder of the evolution hypothesis would say that I overstate it or overstrain it in any way. I merely strip it of all vagueness, and bring before you, unclothed and unvarnished, the notions by which it must stand or fall. Surely these notions represent an absurdity too monstrous to be entertained by any sane mind.”1111Athenæum, September 24, 1870, p. 409. Professor Tyndall, however, as well as Professor Huxley, is on both sides of this question. Materialism, with its doctrine of spontaneous generation, is thus monstrous and absurd, only on the assumption that matter is matter. If you only spiritualize matter until it becomes mind, the absurdity disappears. And so do materialism, and spontaneous generation, and the whole array of scientific doctrines. If matter becomes mind, mind is God, and God is everything. Thus the monster Pantheism swallows up science and its votaries. We do not forget that the naturalist, after spending his life in studying matter, comes to the conclusion that “matter is nothing,” that the “Supreme Intelligence” is the universe.1212 Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, pp. 363-368. Mr. Wallace thinks that “the highest fact of science, the noblest truth of philosophy,” may be found expressed in his following words of an American poetess: — “God of the Granite and the Rose! Soul of the Sparrow and the Bee! The mighty tide of Being flows Through countless channels, Lord from thee It leaps to life in grass and flowers, Through every grade of being runs, While from Creation’s radiant towers Its glory flames in Stars and Suns.” Thus it is that those who overstep the limits of human knowledge, or reject the control of primary truths, fall into the abyss of outer darkness.
The way Professor Tyndall puts the matter is this:1313Athenæum, September 24, 1870, p. 409. “These evolution notions are absurd, monstrous, and fit only for the intellectual gibbet in relation to the ideas concerning matter which were drilled into us when young. Spirit and matter have ever been presented to us in the rudest contrast; the one as all-noble, the other as all-vile.” If instead of these perverted ideas of material and spirit, we come “to regard them as equally worthy and equally wonderful; to consider them, in fact, as two opposite faces of the same great mystery,” as different elements, of “what 10our mightiest spiritual teacher would call the Eternal Fact of the Universe,” then the case would be different. It would no longer be absurd, as Professor Tyndall seems to think, for mind to become matter or matter mind, or for the phenomena of the one to be produced by the forces of the other. The real distinction, in fact, between them would be done away. “Without this total revolution,” he says, “of the notions now prevalent, the evolution hypothesis must stand condemned; but in many profoundly thoughtful minds such a revolution has already occurred.” We have, then, the judgment of Professor Tyndall, one of the highest authorities in the scientific world, that if matter be what all the world believes it to be, materialism, spontaneous generation, and evolution, or development, are absurdities “too monstrous to be entertained by any sane mind.”
We can cite his high authority as to another point. Suppose we give up everything; admit that there is no real distinction between matter and mind; that all the phenomena of the universe, vital and mental included, may be referred to physical causes; that a free or spontaneous act is an absurdity; that there can be no intervention of a controlling mind or will in the affairs of men, no personal existence of man after death, — suppose we thus give up our morals and religion, all that ennobles man and dignifies his existence, what do we gain? According to Professor Tyndall, nothing.1414The London Athenæum, September 24, 1870, pp. 407-409. “The evolution hypothesis,” he tells us, “does not solve — it does not profess to solve — the ultimate mystery of this universe. It leaves that mystery untouched. At bottom, it does nothing more than ‘transpose the conception of life’s origin to an indefinitely distant past.’ Even granting the nebula and its potential life, the question, ‘Whence came they?’ would still remain to baffle and bewilder us.” If we must admit the agency of will, “caprice,” as Professor Tyndall calls it, billions of ages in the past, why should it be unphilosophical to admit it now?
It is very evident, therefore, that the admission of the primary truths of the reason — truths which, in point of fact, all men do admit — truths which concern even our sense perceptions, and involve the objective existence of the material world, necessitates the admission of mind, of God, of providence, and of immortality. Professor Tyndall being judge, materialism, spontaneous generation, the evolution of life, thought, feeling, and conscience out of matter, are absurdities “too monstrous to be entertained by any sane mind, unless matter be spiritualized into mind, — and then everything is God, and God is everything.11
Theories of Development.
Lamarck, a distinguished French naturalist, was the first of modern scientific men who adopted the theory that all vegetables and animals living on the earth, including man, are developed from certain original, simple germs. This doctrine was expounded in his “Zoölogie Philosophique,” published in 1809. Lamarck admitted the existence of God, to whom he referred the existence of the matter of which the universe is composed. But God having created matter with its properties, does nothing more. Life, organisms, and mind are all the product of unintelligent matter and its forces. All living matter is composed of cellular tissue, consisting of the aggregation of minute cells. These cells are not living in themselves, but are quickened into life by some ethereal fluid pervading space, such as heat and electricity. Life, therefore, according to this theory, originates in spontaneous generation.
Life, living cells or tissues, having thus originated, all the diversified forms of the vegetable and animal kingdoms have been produced by the operation of natural causes; the higher, even the highest, being formed from the lowest by a long-continued process of development.
The principles of Lamarck’s theory “are involved in the three following propositions: —
“1. That any considerable and permanent change in the circumstances in which a race of animals is placed, superinduces in them a real change in their wants and requirements.
“2. That this change in their wants necessitates new actions on their part to satisfy those Wants, and that finally new habits are thus engendered.
“3. that these new actions and habits necessitate a greater and more frequent use of particular organs already existing, which thus become strengthened and improved; or the development of new organs when new wants require them; or the neglect of the use of old organs, which may thus gradually decrease and finally disappear.”1515William Hopkins, F. R. S. Fraser’s Magazine, June 1860, 151.
Vestiges of Creation.
Some thirty years since a work appeared anonymously, entitled “The Vestiges of Creation,” in which the theory of Lamarck in essential features was reproduced. The writer agreed with his 12predecessor in admitting an original creation of matter; in referring the origin of life to physical causes; and in deriving all the general species and varieties of plants and animals by a process of natural development from a common source. These writers differ in the way in which they carry out their common views and as to the grounds which they urge in their support.
The author of the “Vestiges of Creation” assumes the truth of the nebular hypothesis, and argues from analogy that as the complicated and ordered systems of the heavenly bodies are the result of physical laws acting on the original matter pervading space, it is reasonable to infer that the different orders of plants and animals have arisen in the same way. He refers to the gradation observed in the vegetable and animal kingdoms; the simpler everywhere preceding the more complex, and the unity of plan being preserved throughout. He lays great stress also on the fœtal development of the higher orders of animals. The human fœtus, for example, assuming in succession the peculiarities of structure of the reptile, of the fish, of the bird, and of man. This is supposed to prove that man is only a more perfectly developed reptile; and that the orders of animals differ simply as to the stage they occupy in this unfolding series of life. As the same larva of the bee can be developed into a queen, a drone, or a worker, so the same living cell can be developed into a reptile, a fish, a bird, or a man. There are, however, the author admits, interruptions in the scale; species suddenly appearing without due preparation. This he illustrates by a reference to the calculating machine, which for a million of times will produce numbers in regular series, and then for once produce a number of a different order; thus the law of species that like shall beget like may hold good for an indefinite period, and then suddenly a new species be begotten. These theories and their authors have fallen into utter disrepute among scientific men, and have no other than a slight historical interest.
The new theory on this subject proposed by Mr. Charles Darwin, has, for the time being, a stronger hold on the public mind. He stands in the first rank of naturalists, and is on all sides respected not only for his knowledge and his skill in observation and description, but for his frankness and fairness. His theory, however, is substantially the same with those already mentioned, inasmuch as he also accounts for the origin of all the varieties of plants and animals by the gradual operation of natural causes. In his work 13on the “Origin of Species” he says: “I believe that animals are descended from at most only four or five progenitors; and plants from an equal or lesser number.” On the same page,1616The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, by Charles Darwin, M. A., F. R. S., etc., fifth edition (tenth thousand). London, 1869, p. 572. however, he goes much further, and says: “Analogy would lead me one step further, namely, to the belief that all animals and plants are descended from some one prototype;” and he adds that “all the organic beings, which have ever lived on this earth, may be descended from some one primordial form.”1717Ibid. p. 573. The point of most importance in which Darwin differs from his predecessors is, that he starts with life, they with dead matter. They undertake to account for the origin of life by physical causes; whereas he assumes the existence of living cells or germs. He does not go into the question of their origin. He assumes them to exist; which would seem of necessity to involve the assumption of a Creator. The second important point of difference between the theories in question is, that those before mentioned account for the diversity of species by the inward power of development, a vis a tergo as it were, i.e., a struggle after improvement; whereas Darwin refers the origin of species mainly to the laws of nature operating ab extra, killing off the weak or less perfect, and preserving the stronger or more perfect. The third point of difference, so far as the author of the “Vestiges of Creation” is concerned, is that the latter supposes new species to be formed suddenly; whereas Darwin holds that they arise by a slow process of very minute changes. They all agree, however, in the main point that all the infinite diversities and marvellous organisms of plants and animals, from the lowest to the highest, are due to the operation of unintelligent physical causes.
The Darwinian theory, therefore, includes the following principles: —
First, that like begets like; or the law of heredity, according to which throughout the vegetable and animal world, the offspring is like the parent.
Second, the law of variation; that is, that while in all that is essential the offspring is like the parent, it always differs more or less from its progenitor. These variations are sometimes deteriorations, sometimes indifferent, sometimes improvements; that is, such as enable the plant or animal more advantageously to exercise its functions.14
Third, that as plants and animals increase in a geometrical ratio, they tend to outrun enormously the means of support, and this of necessity gives rise to a continued and universal struggle for life.
Fourth, in this struggle the fittest survive; that is, those individuals which have an accidental variation of structure which renders them superior to their fellows in the struggle for existence, survive, and transmit that peculiarity to their offspring. This is “natural selection;” i.e., nature, without intelligence or purpose, selects the individuals best adapted to continue and to improve the race. It is by the operation of these few principles that in the course of countless ages all the diversified forms of vegetables and animals have been produced.
“It is interesting,” says Darwin, “to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”1818Origins of Species, p. 579.
Remarks on the Darwinian Theory.
First, it shocks the common sense of unsophisticated men to be told that the whale and the humming-bird, man and the mosquito, are derived from the same source. Not that the whale was developed out of the humming-bird, or man out of the mosquito, but that both are derived by a slow process of variations continued through countless millions of years. Such is the theory with its scientific feathers plucked off. No wonder that at its first promulgation it was received by the scientific world, not only with surprise, but also with indignation.1919See Proceedings of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool during the Fiftieth Session, 1860-61. This volume contains a paper on Darwin’s theory by the president of the society, the Rev. H. H. Higgins, in which he says that he considered the paper of M. Agassiz, inserted in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, against Darwin, “to be quite unworthy of so distinguished a naturalist” (p.42). On a subsequent page he gives a selection from Agassiz’s disparaging remarks. The same volume contains a paper from Dr. Collingwood in defence of Agassiz and his criticism. In the review of the argument he says he will pass over Agassiz’s “caustic remarks upon the confusion of ideas implied on the general terms, variability of species,” and also “his categorical contradictions of many of Darwin’s fundamental statements; but never was a theory more solely beset than is that of Darwin by the repeated assaults of such a giant in palæontology as Agassiz. Statement after statement, by which the whole theory hangs together, is assailed and impugned, — stone after stone of the Darwinian structure trembles before the battering-ram of the champion of species. Out of twelve such reiterated attacks, ten of which are purely palæntological, and stand unchallenged only one has called for remarks, and that one, perhaps, the least important” (p.87). Agassiz is not a theologian; he opposes the theory as a scientific man and on scientific grounds. The theory has, indeed, survived this 15attack. Its essential harmony with the spirit of the age, the real learning of its author and advocates, have secured for it an influence which is widespread, and, for the time, imposing.
A second remark is that the theory in question cannot be true, because it is founded on the assumption of an impossibility. It assumes that matter does the work of mind. This is an impossibility and an absurdity in the judgment of all men except materialists; and materialists are, ever have been, and ever must be, a mere handful among men, whether educated or uneducated. The doctrine of Darwin is, that a primordial germ, with no inherent intelligence, develops, under purely natural influences, into all the infinite variety of vegetable and animal organisms, with all their complicated relations to each other and to the world around them. He not only asserts that all this is due to natural causes; and, moreover, that the lower impulses of vegetable life pass, by insensible gradations, into the instinct of animals and the higher intelligence of man, but he argues against the intervention of mind anywhere in the process. God, says Lamarck, created matter; God, says Darwin, created the unintelligent living cell; both say that, after that first step, all else follows by natural law, without purpose and without design. No man can believe this, who cannot also believe that all the works of art, literature, and science in the world are the products of carbonic acid, water, and ammonia.
The Atheistic Character of the Theory.
Thirdly, the system is thoroughly atheistic, and therefore cannot possibly stand. God has revealed his existence and his government of the world so clearly and so authoritatively, that any philosophical or scientific speculations inconsistent with those truths are like cobwebs in the track of a tornado. They offer no sensible resistance. The mere naturalist, the man devoted so exclusively to the 16study of nature as to believe in nothing but natural causes, is not able to understand the strength with which moral and religious convictions take hold of the minds of men. These convictions, however, are the strongest, the most ennobling, and the most dangerous for any class of men to disregard or ignore.
In saying that this system is atheistic, it is not said that Mr. Darwin is an atheist. He expressly acknowledges the existence of God; and seems to feel the necessity of his existence to account for the origin of life. Nor is it meant that every one who adopts the theory does it in an atheistic sense. It has already been remarked that there is a theistic and an atheistic form of the nebular hypothesis as to the origin of the universe; so there may be a theistic interpretation of the Darwinian theory. Men who, as the Duke of Argyle, carry the reign of law into everything, affirming that even creation is by law, may hold, as he does, that God uses everywhere and constantly physical laws, to produce not only the ordinary operations of nature, but to give rise to things specifically new, and therefore to new species in the vegetable and animal worlds. Such species would thus be as truly due to the purpose and power of God as though they had been created by a word. Natural laws are said to be to God what the chisel and the brush are to the artist. Then God is as much the author of species as tile sculptor or painter is the author of the product of his skill. This is a theistic doctrine. That, however, is not Darwin’s doctrine. His theory is that hundreds or thousands of millions of years ago God called a living germ, or living germs, into existence, and that since that time God has no more to do with the universe than if He did not exist. This is atheism to all intents and purposes, because it leaves the soul as entirely without God, without a Father, Helper, or Ruler, as the doctrine of Epicurus or of Comte. Darwin, moreover, obliterates all the evidences of the being of God in the world. He refers to physical causes what all theists believe to be due to the operations of the Divine mind. There is no more effectual way of getting rid of a truth than by rejecting the proofs on which it rests. Professor Huxley says that when he first read Darwin’s book he regarded it as the death-blow of teleology, i.e., of the doctrine of design and purpose in nature.2020Criticisms on “The Origin of Species;” in his Lay Sermons and Addresses, p. 330. “The teleological argument,” he says, “runs thus: An organ or organism is precisely fitted to perform a function or purpose; therefore it was specially constructed to perform that function. In Paley’s famous illustration, the adaptation of all the parts of the watch to the function, or purpose, of showing the time, is held to be evidence that the watch was specially contrived to that end; on the ground that the only cause we know, competent to produce such an effect as a watch which shall keep time, is a contriving intelligence adapting the means directly to that ends.” Suppose, however, he goes on to say, it could be shown that the watch was the product of a structure which kept time poorly; and that of a structure which was no watch at all, and that of a mere revolving barrel, then “the force of Paley’s argument would be gone;” and it would be “demonstrated that an apparatus thoroughly well adapted to a particular purpose might be the result of a method of trial and error worked by unintelligent agents, as well as of the direct application of the means appropriate to that end, by an intelligent agent.” This is precisely what he understands Darwin to have accomplished. Büchner, to whom 17the atheistical character of a book is a recommendation, says that Darwin’s “theory is the most thoroughly naturalistic that can be imagined, and far more atheistic than that of his despised (verrufenen) predecessor Lamarck, who admitted at least a general law of progress and development; whereas, according to Darwin, the whole development is due to the gradual summation of innumerable minute and accidental natural operations.”2121Sechs Vorlesungen über die Darwin’sche Theorie, etc., by Ludwig Büchner, Zweite Auflage, Leipzig, 1868, p. 125.
Mr. Darwin argues against any divine intervention in the course of nature, and especially in the production of species. He says that the time is coming when the doctrine of special creation, that is, the doctrine that God made the plants and animals each after its kind, will be regarded as “a curious illustration of the blindness of preconceived opinion. These authors,” he adds, “seem no more startled at a miraculous act of creation than at an ordinary birth. But do they really believe that at innumerable periods in the earth’s history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues?” [This is precisely what Darwin professes to believe happened at the beginning. If it happened once, it is not absurd that it should happen often.] “Do they believe that at each supposed act of creation one individual or many were produced? Were all the infinitely numerous kinds of animals and plants created as eggs or seed, or as full grown? And in the case of mammals, were they created bearing the false marks of nourishment from the mothers womb?”2222Origin of Species, p. 571.
Mr. Wallace devotes the eighth chapter of his work on “Natural Selection”2323Wallace on Natural Selection, p. 264. to answering the objections urged by the Duke of Argyle to the Darwinian theory. He says, “The point on which the Duke lays most stress, is, that proofs of mind everywhere meet us in nature, and are more especially manifest wherever we find ‘contrivance’ or ‘beauty.’ He maintains that this indicates the constant supervision and direct interference of the Creator, and cannot possibly be explained by the unassisted action of any combination 18of laws. Now Mr. Darwin’s work has for its main object to show, that all the phenomena of living things — all their wonderful organs and complicated structures; their infinite variety of form, size, and colour; their intricate and involved relations to each other, — may have been produced by the action of a few general laws of the simplest kind, — laws which are in most cases mere statements of admitted facts.”2424Wallace on Natural Selection, p. 265. When a man speaks of the “actions of law,” he must mean by law a permanent, regularly acting force. Yet the laws to which Mr. Wallace refers in the above passages are not forces, but simply rules according to which an agent acts, or, a regular, established sequence of events. The laws intended are the law of multiplication in geometrical progression, the law of limited populations, the law of heredity, the law of variation, the law of unceasing change of physical conditions upon the surface of the earth, the equilibrium or harmony of nature. There is no objection to these being called laws. But there is the strongest objection to using the word law in different senses in the same argument. If law here means the rule according to which an agent (in this case God) acts, the Duke of Argyle could agree with every word Mr. Wallace says; if taken in the sense intended by the writer, the passage teaches the direct reverse, namely, that all the world is or contains is due to unintelligent physical forces. In opposition to the doctrine that God “applies general laws to produce effects which those laws are not in themselves capable of producing,” he says, “I believe, on the contrary, that the universe is so constituted as to be self-regulating; that as long as it contains life, the forms under which that life is manifested have an inherent power of adjustment to each other and to surrounding nature; and that this adjustment necessarily leads to the greatest amount of variety and beauty and enjoyment, because it does depend on general laws, and not on a continual supervision and rearrangement of details.”2525Ibid. p. 268. Mr. Russel Wallace says that he believes that all the wonders of animals and vegetable organisms and life can be accounted for by unintelligent, physical laws. The act, however, is, as we have already seen, that he belives no such thing. He does not believe that there is any such thing as matter or unintelligent forces; all force is mind force; and the only power operative in the universe is the will of the Supreme Intelligence.
Dr. Gray2626In the October number of the Atlantic Monthly for 1860. endeavours to vindicate Darwin’s theory from the charge of atheism. His arguments, however, only go to prove that the doctrine of development, or derivation of species, may be held in a form consistent with theism. This no one denies. They do not prove that Mr. Darwin presents it in that form. Dr. Gray himself admits all that those who regard the Darwinian theory as atheistic contend for.2727On page 409. He says, “The proposition that things and events in nature were not designed to be so, if logically carried out, is doubtless tantamount to atheism.” Again,2828On page 416. he says, “To us, a fortuitous Cosmos is simply inconceivable. The alternative is a designed Cosmos. . . . If Mr. Darwin believes that the events which he supposes to have occurred and the results we 19behold were undirected and undesigned, or if the physicist believes that the natural forces to which he refers phenomena are uncaused and undirected, no argument is needed to show that such belief is atheistic.” No argument, after what has been said above, can be needed to show that Mr. Darwin does teach that natural causes are “undirected,” and that they act without design or reference to an end. This is not only explicitly and repeatedly asserted, but argued for, and the opposite view ridiculed and rejected. His book was hailed as the death-blow of teleology.2929Three articles in the July, August, and October numbers of the Atlantic Monthly for the year 1860 were reprinted with the name of Dr. Asa Gray as their author. Darwin, therefore, does teach precisely what Dr. Gray pronounces atheism. A man, it seems, may believe in God, and yet teach atheism.
The anti-theistic and materialistic, character of this theory is still further shown by what Mr. Darwin says of our mental powers. “In the distant future,” he says, “I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”3030Origin of Species, p. 577. Of this prediction he has himself attempted the verification in his recent work on the “Descent of Man,” in which he endeavours to prove that man is a developed ape. The Bible says: Man was created in the image of God.
It is a mere Hypothesis.
A fourth remark on this theory is that it is a mere hypothesis, from its nature incapable of proof. It may take its place beside the nebular hypothesis as an ingenious method of explaining many of the phenomena of nature. We see around us, in the case of domestic animals, numerous varieties produced by the operations of natural causes. In the vegetable world this diversity is still greater. Mr. Darwin’s theory would account for all these facts. It accounts, moreover, for the unity of plan on which all animals of the same class or order are constructed; for the undeveloped organs and rudimentally in almost all classes of living creatures; for the different forms through which the embryo passes before it reaches maturity. These and many other phenomena may be accounted for on the assumption of the derivation of species. Admitting all this and much more, this does not amount to a proof of the hypothesis. These facts can be accounted for in other ways; while there are, as Darwin himself admits, many facts for which his theory will 20not account. Let it be borne in mind what the theory is. It is not that all the species of any extant genus of plants or animals have been derived from a common stock; that all genera and classes of organized beings now living have been thus derived; but that all organisms from the earliest geological periods have, by a process requiring some five hundred million years, been derived from one primordial germ.3131Sir William Thompson, of England, had objected to the theory that, according to his calculations, the sun cannot have existed in a solid state longer than five hundred millions of years. To this Mr. Wallace replies, that that period, he thinks long enough to satisfy the demands of the hypothesis. Mr. J. J. Murphy, however, is of a contrary opinion. He says that it is probable that it required at least five hundred years to produce a greyhound — Mr. Darwin’s ideal of symmetry — out of the original wolf-like dog, and that certainly it would require more than a million times longer to produce an elephant out of a Protozoon, or even a tadpole. Besides, Sir William Thompson allows in fact only one, and not five hundred millions of years for the existence of the earth. In the Transactions of Geological Society of Glasgow, vol. iii., he says: “When, finally, we consider under-ground temperature, we find ourselves driven to the conclusion that the existing state of things on the earth, life on the earth, all geological history showing continuity of life, must be limited within some such period of past time as one hundred million years.” See Habit and Intelligence, by J. J. Murphy, London, 1869, vol. i. p. 349. Nor is this all. It is not only that material organisms have thus been derived by a process of gradation, but also that instincts, mental and moral powers, have been derived and attained by the same process. Nor is even this all. We are called upon to believe that all this has been brought about by the action of unintelligent physical causes. To our apprehension, there is nothing in the Hindu mythology and cosmology more incredible than this.
It is hazarding little to say that such a hypothesis as this cannot be proved. Indeed its advocates do not pretend to give proof. Mr. Wallace, as we have seen, says, “Mr. Darwin’s work has for its main object, to show that all the phenomena of living things, — all their wonderful organs and complicated structures, their infinite variety of form, size, and colour, their intricate and involved relations to each other, — may have been produced by the action of a few general laws of the simplest kind.” May have been. There is no pretence that this account of the origin of species can be demonstrated. All that is claimed is that it is a possible solution. Christians must be very timid to be frightened by a mere “may have been.”
Mr. Huxley says, “After much consideration, and with assuredly no bias against Mr. Darwin’s views, it is our clear conviction that, as the evidence stands, it is not absolutely proven that a group of animals, having all the characters exhibited by species in Nature, 21has ever been originated by selection, whether artificial or natural.”3232Lay Sermons and Reviews, p. 323. It is admitted that varieties innumberable have been produced by natural causes, but Professor Huxley says it has not been proved that any one species has ever been thus formed. A fortiori, therefore, it has not been proved that all general and species, with all their attributes of instinct and intelligence have been thus formed.
In “Frasers Magazine” for June and July, 1860, are two papers on the Darwinian theory, written by William Hopkins F. R. S. In the number for July it is said, “If we allow full weight to all our author’s arguments in his chapter on hybridism, we only arrive at the conclusion that natural selection may possibly have produced changes of organization, which may have superinduced the sterility of species; and that, therefore, the above proposition may, be true, though not a single positive fact be adduced in proof of it. And it must be recollected that this is no proposition of secondary importance — a mere turret, as it were, in our author’s theoretical fabric, — but the chief corner-stone which supports it. We confess that all the respect which we entertain for the author of these views, has inspired us with no corresponding feeling towards this may be philosophy, which is content to substitute the merely possible for the probable, and which, ignoring the responsibility of any approximation to rigorous demonstration in the establishment of its own theories, complacently assumes them to be right till they are rigorously proved to be wrong. When Newton, in former times, put forth his theory of gravitation he did not call on philosophers to believe it, or else to show that it was wrong, but felt it incumbent on himself to prove that it was right.”3333Frazer’s Magazine, July, 1860, p. 80.
Mr. Hopkins’ review was written before Mr. Darwin had fully expressed his views as to the origin of man. He says, the great difficulty in any theory of development is “the transition in passing up to man from the animals next beneath him, not to man considered merely as a physical organism, but to man as an intellectual and moral being. Lamarck and the author of the ‘Vestiges’ have not hesitated to expose themselves to a charge of gross materialism in deriving mind from matter, and in making all its properties and operations depend on our physical organization. . . . . We believe that man has an immortal soul, and that the beasts of the field have not. If any one deny this, we can have no common ground of argument with him. Now we would ask, at what point of his progressive improvement did man acquire this spiritual part of his being, endowed with the awful attribute of 22immortality? Was it an ‘accidental variety,’ seized upon by the power of ‘natural selection,’ and made permanent? Is the step from the finite to the infinite to be regarded as one of the indefinitely small steps in man’s continuous progress of development, and effected by the operation of ordinary natural causes ?”3434Frazer’s Magazine, July 1860, p. 88.
The point now in hand, however, is that Mr. Darwin’s theory is incapable of proof. From the nature of the case, what concerns the origin of things cannot be known except by a supernatural revelation. All else must be speculation and conjecture. And no man under the guidance of reason will renounce the teachings of a well-authenticated revelation, in obedience to human speculation, however ingenious. The uncertainty attending all philosophical or scientific theories as to the origin of things, is sufficiently apparent from their number and inconsistencies. Science as soon as she gets past the actual and the extant, is in the region of speculation, and is merged into philosophy, and is subject to all its hallucinations.
Theories of the Universe.
Thus we have, —
1. The purely atheistic theory; which assumes that matter has existed forever, and that all the universe contains and reveals is due to material forces.
2. The theory which admits the creation of matter, but denies any further intervention of God in the world, and refers the origin of life to physical causes. This was the doctrine of Lamarck, and of the author of the “Vestiges of Creation,” and is the theory to which Professor Huxley, notwithstanding his denial of spontaneous generation in the existing state of things, seems strongly inclined in his address as President of the British Association for the Promotion of Science, delivered in September, 1870, he said: “Looking back through the prodigious vista of the past, I find no record of the commencement of life, and therefore I am devoid of any means of forming a definite conclusion as to the conditions of its appearance. Belief, in the scientific sense of the word, is a serious matter, and needs strong foundations. To say, therefore, in the admitted absence of evidence, that I have any belief as to the mode in which the existing forms of life have originated, would be using words in a wrong sense. But expectation is permissible, where belief is not; and if it were given me to look beyond the abyss of genealogically recorded time to the still more remote period when the earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions 23which it can no more see again than a man may recall his infancy, I should expect to be a witness of the evolution of living protoplasm from not living matter. I should expect to see it appear under forms of great simplicity, endowed, like existing fungi, with the power of determining the formation of new protoplasm from such matters as ammonium carbonates, oxalates and tartrates, alkaline and earthy phosphates, and water, without the aid of light.”3535Athenæum, London, September 17, 1870, p. 376. It had been well for the cause of truth, and well for hundreds who have been perverted by his writings, if Mr. Darwin had recognized this distinction between “scientific belief” needing “strong foundations,” and “expectation” founded, as Professor Huxley says in a following sentence, “on analogical reasoning.” In the paper already quoted in “Fraser’s Magazine,” the writer says in reference to Darwin: “We would also further remind him that the philosophical naturalist must not only train the eye to observe accurately, but the mind to think logically; and the latter will often be found the harder task of the two. With respect to all but the exact sciences, it may be said that the highest mental faculty which they call upon us to exert is that by which we separate and appreciate justly the possible, the probable, and the demonstrable.”3636July, 1860, p. 90.
3. The third speculative view is that of Mr. Darwin and his associates, who admit not only the creation of matter, but of living matter, in the form of one or a few primordial germs from which without any purpose or design, by the slow operation of unintelligent natural causes, and accidental variations, during untold ages, all the orders, classes, genera, species, and varieties of plants and animals, from the lowest to the highest, man included, have been formed. Teleology, and therefore, mind, or God, is expressly banished from the world. In arguing against the idea of God’s controlling with design the operation of second causes, Mr. Darwin asks, “Did He ordain that the crop and tail-feathers of the pigeon should vary, in order that the fancier might make his grotesque pouter and fan-tail breeds? Did He cause the frame and mental qualities of the dog to vary in order that a breed might be formed of indomitable ferocity, with jaws fitted to pin down the bull for man’s brutal sport? But, if we give up the principle in one case, — if we do not admit that the variations of the primeval dog were intentionally guided, in order that the greyhound, for instance, that perfect image of symmetry and vigour, might be formed 24— no shadow of reason can be assigned for the belief that variations, alike in nature and the result of the same general laws, which have been the groundwork through natural selection of the formation or the most perfectly adapted animals in the world, man included, were intentionally and specially guided. However much we may wish it, we can hardly follow Professor Asa Gray in his belief ‘that variation has been led along certain beneficial lines,’ like a stream ‘along definite and useful lines of irrigation.’”3737The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, edit. New York, 1868, vol. ii. pp. 515, 516. In this paragraph man is declared to be an unintended product of nature.
J. J. Murphy.
4. Others again, unable to believe that unintelligent causes can produce effects indicating foresight and design, insist that there must be intelligence engaged in the production of such effects, but they place this intelligence in nature and not in God. This, as remarked above, is a revival of the old idea of a Demiurgus or Anima mundi. Mr. J. J. Murphy, in his work on “Habit and Intelligence,” says, I believe “that there is something in organic progress which mere natural selection among spontaneous variations will not account for. Finally, I believe this something is that organizing intelligence which guides the action of the inorganic forces and forms structures which neither natural selection nor any other unintelligent agency could form.”3838Habit and Intelligence, in their connection with the Laws of Matter and Force. A series of Scientific Essays. By Joseph John Murphy. London, 1869, vol. i. p. 348. What he means by intelligence and where it resides we learn from the preface to the first volume of his book. “The word intelligence,” he says, “scarcely needs definition, as I use it in its familiar sense. It will not be questioned by any one that intelligence is found in none but living beings; but it is not so obvious that intelligence is an attribute of all living beings, and coextensive with life itself. When I speak of intelligence, however, I mean not only the conscious intelligence of the mind, but also the organizing intelligence which adapts the eye for seeing, the ear for hearing, and every other part of an organism for its work. The usual belief is, that the organizing intelligence and the mental intelligence are two distinct intelligences. I have stated the reasons for my belief that they are not distinct, but are two separate manifestations of the same intelligence, which is coextensive with life, though it is for the most part unconscious, and only becomes conscious of itself in the brain of man.”3939Ibid. vol. i. p. vi.25
5. Professor Owen, England’s great naturalist, agrees with Darwin in two points: first, in the derivation or gradual evolution of species; and secondly, that this derivation is determined by the operation of natural causes. “I have been led,” he says, “to recognize species as exemplifying the continuous operation of natural law, or secondary cause; and that, not only successively, but progressively; from the first embodiment of the vertebrate idea under its old ichthyic vestment until it became arrayed in the glorious garb of the human form.”4040American Journal of Science, 1869, p. 43. He differs from Darwin in that he does not refer the origin of species to natural selection, i.e., to the law of the survival of the fittest of accidental variations; but to inherent or innate tendencies. “Every species changes, in time, by virtue of inherent tendencies thereto.”4141Ibid. p. 52. And in the second place he does not regard these changes as accidental variations, but as designed and carried out in virtue of an original plan. “Species owe as little,” he says4242Ibid. p. 52. “to the accidental concurrence of environing circumstances as Kosmos depends on a fortuitous concourse of atoms. A purposive route of development and change, of correlation and interdependence, manifesting intelligent will, is as determinable in the succession of races as in the development and organization of the individual. Generations do not vary accidentally, in any and every direction; but in preordained, definite, and correlated courses.”4343See Prof. Owen’s work on the Anatomy of Vertebrates, the fortieth chapter which was reprinted in the American Journal of Sciences for January 1869.
The Reign of Law Theory.
6. Still another view is that which demands intelligence to account for the wonders of organic life, and finds that intelligence in God, but repudiates the idea of the supernatural. That is, it does not admit that God ever works except through second causes or by the laws of nature. Those who adopt this view are willing to admit the derivation of species; and to concede that extant species were formed by the modifications of those which preceded them; but maintain that they were thus formed according to the purpose, and by the continued agency, of God; an agency ever operative in guiding the operation of natural laws so that they accomplish the designs of God. The difference between this and Professor Owen’s theory is, that he does not seem to admit of this continued 26intelligent control of God in nature, but refers everything to the original, preordaining purpose or plan of the Divine Being.
7. Finally, without pretending to exhaust the speculations on this subject, we have what may be called the commonly received and Scriptural doctrine. That doctrine teaches, — (1.) That the universe and all it contains owe their existence to the will and power of God; that matter is not eternal, nor is life self-originating. (2.) God endowed matter with properties or forces, which He upholds, and in accordance with which He works in all the ordinary operations of his providence. That is, He uses them everywhere and constantly, as we use them in our narrow sphere. (3.) That in the beginning He created, or caused to be, every distinct kind of plant and animal: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” This is the Scriptural account of the origin of species. According to this account each species was specially created, not ex nihilo, nor without the intervention of secondary causes, but nevertheless originally, or not derived, evolved, or developed from preëxisting species. These distinct species, or kinds of plants and animals thus separately originated, are permanent. They never pass from one into the other. It is, however, to be remembered that species are of two kinds, as naturalists distinguish them, namely, natural and artificial. The former are those which have their foundation in nature; which had a distinct origin, and are capable of indefinite propagation. The latter are such distinctions as naturalists have made for their own convenience. Of course, it is not intended that every one of the so-called species of plants and animals is original and permanent, when the only distinction between one species and another may be the accidental shape of a leaf or colour of a feather. It is only of such species as have their foundation in nature that originality and permanence are asserted. Artificial species, as they are called, are simply varieties. Fertility of offspring is the recognized criterion of sameness of species. If what has been just said be granted, then, if at any time since the original creation, new species have appeared on the earth, they owe their existence to the immediate intervention of God.
Here then are at least seven different views as to the origin of species. How is it possible for science to decide between them? 27Science has to do with the facts and laws of nature. But here the question concerns the origin of such facts. “Here,” says Dr. Gray, “proofs, in the proper sense of the word, are not to be had. We are beyond the region of demonstration, and have only probabilities to consider.”4444Atlantic Monthly, August, 1860, p. 230. Christians have a right to protest against the arraying of probabilities against the clear teachings of Scripture. It is not easy to estimate the evil that is done by eminent men throwing the weight of their authority on the side of unbelief, influenced by a mere balance of probabilities in one department, to the neglect of the most convincing proofs of a different kind. They treat, for example, the question of the unity of the human race, exclusively as a zoölogical question, and ignore the testimony of history, of language, and of Scripture. Thus they often decide against the Bible on evidence that would not determine an intelligent jury in a suit for twenty shillings.
Admitted Difficulties in the Way of the Darwinian Theory
One of the great excellences of Mr. Darwin is his candor. He acknowledges that there are grave objections against the doctrine which he endeavours to establish. He admits that if one species is derived by slow gradations from another, it would be natural to expect the intermediate steps, or connecting links, to be everywhere visible. But he acknowledges that such are not to be found, that during the whole of the historical period, species have remained unchanged. They are now precisely what they were thousands of years ago. There is not the slightest indication of any one passing into another; or of a lower advancing towards a higher. This is admitted. The only answer to the difficulty thus presented is, that the change of species is so slow a process that no indications can be reasonably expected in the few thousand years embraced within the limits of history. When it is further objected that geology presents the same difficulty, that the genera and species of fossil animals are just as distinct as those now living; that new species appear at certain epochs entirely different from those which preceded; that the most perfect specimens of these species often appear at the beginning of a geologic period and not toward its close; the answer is that the records of geology are too imperfect, to give us full knowledge on this subject: that innumerable intermediate and transitional forms may have passed away and left no trace of their existence. All this amounts to an 28admission that all history and all geology are against the theory; that they not only do not furnish any facts in its support, but that they do furnish facts which, so far as our knowledge extends, contradict it. In reference to these objections from geology, Mr. Darwin says, “I can answer these questions and objections only on the supposition that the geological record is far more imperfect than most geologists believe. The number of specimens in all our museums is absolutely as nothing compared with the countless generations of countless species which have certainly existed.”4545Origin of Species, p. 550. Nevertheless the record, as far as it goes, is against the theory.
With regard to the more serious objection that the theory assumes that matter does the work of mind, that design is accomplished without any designer, Mr. Darwin is equally candid. “Nothing at first,” he says, “can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts have been perfected, not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor. Nevertheless, this difficulty, though appearing to our imagination insuperably great, cannot be considered real, if we admit the following propositions, namely, that all parts of the organization and instincts offer at least individual differences, — that there is a struggle for existence leading to the preservation of profitable deviations of structure or instinct, — and, lastly, that gradatians in the state of perfection of each organ may have existed, each good of its kind.”4646Ibid., p. 545.
Again, he says, “Although the belief that an organ so perfect as the eye could have been formed by natural selection, is more than enough to stagger any one; yet in the case of any organ, if we know of a long series of gradations in complexity, each good for its possessor; then, under changing conditions of life, there is no logical impossibility in the acquirement of any conceivable degree of perfection through natural selection.”4747Ibid., p. 251. Mr. Darwin refuses to be staggered by that which he says is enough to stagger any one. Give him a sufficient number of millions of years, and fortuitous complications may accomplish anything. If a rude piece of flint be found in deposits, it is declared to be the work of man, because it indicates design, while such an organ as the eye may be formed by natural selection acting blindly. This, Dr. Gray says in his apology, is, or would be, a strange contradiction.29
Sterility of Hybrids.
The immutability of species is stamped on the very face of nature What the letters of a book would be if all were thrown in confusion, the genera and species of plants and animals would be, if they were, as Darwin’s theory assumes, in a state of constant variation, and that in every possible direction. All line-marks would be obliterated, and the thoughts of God, as species have been called, would be obliterated from his works. To prevent this confusion of “kind,” it has been established as a law of nature that animals of different “kinds” cannot mingle and produce something different from either parent, to be again mingled and confused with other animals of a still different kind. In other words, it is a law of nature, and therefore a law of God, that hybrids should be sterile. This fact Mr. Darwin does not deny. Neither does he deny the weight of the argument derived from it against his theory. He only, as in the cases already mentioned, endeavours to account for the fact. Connecting links between species are missing; but they may have perished. Hybrids are sterile; but that may be accounted for in some other way without assuming that it was designed to secure the permanence of species. When a great fact in nature is found to secure a most important end in nature, it is fair to infer that it was designed to accomplish that end, and consequently that end is not to be overlooked or denied.
Mr. Darwin is equally candid in reference to another objection to his doctrine. “Turning to geographical distribution,” he says,4848Origin of Species, p. 547. “the difficulties encountered on the theory of descent with modification are serious enough. All the individuals of the same species, and all the species of the same genus, or even higher group, must save descended from common parents; and therefore, in however distant and isolated parts of the world they may now be found, they must in the course of successive generations have travelled from some one point to all the others.” When it is remembered that this is true of the mollusks and crustacea, animals whose power of locomotion is very limited, this almost universal distribution from one centre would seem to be an impossibility. Darwin’s answer to this is the same as to the difficulties already mentioned. He throws himself on the possibilities of unlimited duration. Nobody can tell what may have happened during the untold ages of the 30past. “Looking to geographical distribution,” he says, “if we admit that there has been through the long course of ages much migration from one part of the world to another, owing to former climatal and geographical changes and to the many occasional and unknown means of dispersal, then we can understand, on the theory of descent with modification, most of the great leading facts in distribution.”4949Origin of Species, p. 564. Every one must see how inconclusive is all such reasoning. If we admit that many unknown things may have happened in the boundless past, then we can understand most, but not all, of the facts which stand opposed to the theory of the derivation of species. The same remark may be made in reference to the constant appeal to the unknown effects of unlimited durations. “The chief cause,” says Mr. Darwin, “of our natural unwillingness to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the steps. . . . . The mind cannot possibly grasp the full meaning of the term of even ten million years; it cannot add up and perceive the full effects of many slight variations accumulated during an almost infinite number of generations.”5050Ibid., p. 570. If we say that the ape during the historic period extending over thousands of years has not made the slightest approximation towards becoming a man, we are told, Ah! but you do not know what he will do in ten millions of years. To which it is a sufficient reply to ask, How much is ten million times nothing?
Ordinary men reject this Darwinian theory with indignation as well as with decision, not only because it calls upon them to accept the possible as demonstrably true, but because it ascribes to blind, unintelligent causes the wonders of purpose and design which the world everywhere exhibits; and because it effectually banishes God from his works. To such men it is a satisfaction to know that the theory is rejected on scientific grounds by the great majority of scientific men. Mr. Darwin himself says, “The several difficulties here discussed, namely — that, though we find in our geological formations many links between the species which now exist and which formerly existed, we do not find infinitely numerous tine transitional forms closely joining them all together; the sudden manner in which several whole groups of species first appear in our European formations; the almost entire absence, as at present known, of formations rich in fossils beneath the Cambrian strata, — are all undoubtedly of the most serious nature. We see this in the fact that the most eminent palæontologists, namely, Cuvier, 31Agassiz, Barrande, Pictet, Falconer, E. Forbes, etc., and all our greatest geologists, as Lyell, Murchison, Sedgwick, etc., have unanimously, often vehemently, maintained the immutability of species.”5151Origin of Species, p. 383. In an earlier edition of his work he included Professor Owen’s name in this list, which he now omits, and he also withdraws that of Lyell; adding to the passage above quoted the words, “But Sir Charles Lyell now gives the support of his high authority to the opposite side.” Professor Owen, as shown above, although now admitting the mutability of species, is very far from adopting Mr. Darwin’s theory. The essential element of that theory is the denial of teleology; the assertion that species owe their origin to the unintelligent operation of natural causes. This Owen distinctly denies. “Assuming, then,” he says, “that Palæotherium did ultimately become Equus, I gain no conception of the operation of the effective force by personifying as ‘Nature’ the aggregate of beings which compose the universe, or the laws which govern these beings, by giving to my personification an attribute which can properly be predicated only of intelligence, and by saying, ‘Nature has selected the mid-hoof and rejected the others.’” American Journal of Science, second series, vol. xlvii. p. 41. As to Sir Charles Lyell, unless he has become a new man since the publication of the ninth edition of his Principles of Geology in 1853, he is as far as Professor Owen from adopting the Darwinian theory; although he may admit in a certain sense, the derivation of species.
In 1830 there was a prolonged discussion of this subject is the Académie des Sciences in Paris, Cuvier taking the side of the permanence of species, and of creation and organization governed by final purpose; while Geoffroy St. Hilaire took the side of the derivation and mutability of species, and “denied,” as Professor Owen says, “evidence of design, and protested against the deduction of a purpose.” The decision was almost unanimously in favour of Cuvier; and from 1830 to 1860 there was scarcely a voice raised in opposition to the doctrine which Cuvier advocated. This, as Büchner thinks, was the triumph of empiricism, appealing to facts, over philosophy guided by “Apriorische Speculationen.” Professor Agassiz, confessedly the first of living naturalists, thus closes his review of Darwin’s book: “Were the transmutation theory true, the geological record should exhibit an uninterrupted succession of types blending gradually into one another. The fact is that throughout all geological times each period is characterized by definite specific types, belonging to definite genera, and these to definite families, referable to definite orders, constituting definite classes and definite branches, built upon definite plans. Until the facts of nature are shown to have been mistaken by those who have collected them, and that they have a different meaning from that now generally assigned to them, I shall therefore consider the transmutation theory as a scientific mistake, untrue in its facts, unscientific in its method, and mischievous in its tendency.”5252American Journal, July, 1860, p. 154. If species, then, are immutable, their 32existence must be due to the agency of God, mediate or immediate, and in either case so exercised as to make them answer a thought and purpose in the divine mind. And, more especially, man does not owe his origin to the gradual development of a lower form of irrational life, but to the energy of his Maker in whose image he was created.
Mr. Darwin refers, in the “Origin of Species,”5353Page 196. to “the hypothesis of Pangenesis,” which, he says, he had developed in another work. As this hypothesis is made subservient to the one under consideration, it serves to illustrate its nature and gives an insight into the character of the writer’s mind. Mr. Mivart says that the hypothesis of Pangenesis may be stated as follows: “That each living organism is ultimately made up of an almost infinite number of minute particles, or organic atoms, termed ‘gemmules,’ each of which has the power of reproducing its kind. Moreover, that these particles circulate freely about the organism which is made up of them, and are derived from all parts of all the organs of the less remote ancestors of each such organism during all the states and stages of such several ancestors’ existence; and therefore of the several states of each of such ancestors’ organs. That such a complete collection of gemmules is aggregated in each ovum and spermatozoon in most animals, and each part capable of reproducing by gemmation (budding) in the lowest animals and plants. Therefore in many of such lower organisms such a congeries of ancestral grammules must exist in every part of their bodies since in them every part is capable of reproducing by gemmation. Mr. Darwin must evidently admit this, since he says, ‘It has often been said by naturalists that each cell of a plant has the actual or potential capacity of reproducing the whole plant; but it has this power only in virtue of containing gemmules derived from every part.’”5454Genesis of Species, by St. George Mivart, F. R. S. London, 1871, chap. x. p. 208. These gemmules are organic atoms; they are almost infinite in number; they are derived from all the organs of the less remote ancestors of the plant or animal; they are stored in every ovum or spermatozoon; they are capable of reproduction. But reproduction, as involving the control of physical causes to accomplish a purpose, is a work of intelligence. These inconceivably numerous and minute gemmules are, therefore, the seats of intelligence. Surely this is not science. Any theory which needs the support of such a hypothesis must soon be abandoned. It would 33be far easier to believe in fairies forming every plant, than in these gemmules.
Finally, it may be noticed that Mr. Wallace, although advocating the doctrine of “Natural Selection,” contends that it is not applicable to man; that it will not account for his original or present state; and that it is impossible, on Mr. Darwin’s theory, to account for man’s physical organization, for his mental powers, or for his moral nature. To this subject the tenth chapter of his work is devoted.
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