In order to fully exhaust the question how far natural selection is capable of accounting for everything, it would be necessary to take a very wide view of natural history and botany, which it is quite impossible for us to attempt. But this is not necessary for our purpose. We are perfectly justified in selecting certain topics which must arise in the discussion. If, in studying these points, we find that there at least the intervention of a Controlling Power becomes necessary, and the absence of it leaves things without any reasonable explanation, then we shall have good and logical ground for holding to our faith in the universal presence of such a Power. No chain is stronger than its weakest link. If secondary causes cannot succeed at any one part of the chain, it is obvious that they fail as a universal explanation.
This part of the work has already been done far better than I could do it. In the first eight chapters of Mivart's "Genesis of Species"  the argument has been ably and clearly put, and whatever answer is possible has been given by Darwin and others; so that the world may judge. All that can here be usefully attempted, is, by way of reminder, to reproduce some main topics on which no real answer has been given. These are selected, partly because they are less abstruse and difficult to follow than some which might be dealt with, partly because they are calculated to awaken our interest, and partly because the conclusion in favour of a continual Providence; working through organized law and system, appears to follow most clearly from them.
[Footnote 1: Second Edition, 1871.]
The points I would call attention to are the following:—
(I) That as natural selection will only maintain changes that have been beneficial to the creature, it is contrary to such a law, if acting entirely by itself, that that there should be developments (not being mere accidental deformities, &c.) disadvantageous to the creature. And yet the world is full of such.
(2) That there are forms which cannot be accounted for on the evolutionist supposition, that they were gradually obtained by a series of small changes slowly progressing towards a perfect structure. They would be of no use at all unless produced at once and complete.
(3) That natural selection, as apart from a Divine Designer, altogether fails to account for beauty, as distinguished from mere brilliancy or conspicuousness, in nature. Whereas, if we suppose the existence of a beneficent Creator, who has moral objects in view, and cares for the delight and the improvement of His creatures, and looking to the known effects on the mind of beauty in art and in nature, the existence is at once and beyond all cavil explained.
[Footnote 1: "He hath made everything beautiful in his time" (Eccles. iii. II).]
(4) That we have positive evidence against uncontrolled evolution (uncontrolled by set plan and design i.e.) and a strong presumption in favour of the existence of created types; so that evolution proceeds towards these types by aid of natural laws and forces working together (in a way that our limited faculties necessarily fail to grasp adequately); and so that, the type once reached, a certain degree of variation, but never transgression of the type, is possible. Further, that on this supposition we are able to account for some of the unexplained facts in evolutionary history, such as reversion and the sterility of hybrids; and to see why there are gaps which cannot be bridged over, and which by extreme theorists are only feebly accounted for on the supposition that as discovery progresses they will be bridged over some day.
[Footnote 1: "Also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Eccles. iii II).]
(5) Lastly, that there is no possibility of giving time enough on any possible theory of the world's existence, for the evolution of all species, unless some reasonable theory of creative arrangement and design be admitted.
The great objection—the descent of man and the introduction of reason, consciousness, and so forth, into the world, will then form two separate chapters, concluding the first division of my subject.
There is one point which the reader may be surprised to see omitted. It is, that if these slow changes were always going on, why is not the present world full of, and the fossil-bearing rocks also abounding in, intermediate forms, creatures which are on their way to being something else? But there are reasons to be given on this ground which make the subject a less definite one for treatment. It is said, for example, that in the fossil rocks we have only such scanty and fragmentary records, that it is not possible to draw a complete inference, and that there is always the possibility of fresh discoveries being made. Such discoveries have, it is asserted, already been made in the miocene and again in later rocks; different species of an early form of horse which are (and this we may admit) the ancestral or intermediate forms of our own horse, have been found. I therefore would not press the difficulty, great as it is, because of the escape which the hope of future discovery always affords. I will take this opportunity to repeat that in this chapter I say nothing about the difficulty which arises from the introduction of elementary reason or instinct, and of consciousness, into the scale of organic being; that will more appropriately fall in with the consideration of the development of man, where naturally the difficulty occurs with its greatest force.
(1) I come at once to the great difficulty that, if all existing forms are due to the occurrence of changes that helped the creature in the struggle for existence, how is it possible now to account for forms which are not advantageous? yet such forms are numerous. Of this objection, the existence of imperfect or neuter bees and ants is an instance. The modification in form which these creatures exhibit is of no advantage to them. It is a great advantage, no doubt, to the other bees; but then this introduces a view of some power making one thing for the benefit of another, not a change in the form itself adapted of course to its own advantage—since natural laws, forces, and conditions of environment could not conceivably design the advantage of another form, and cause one to change for the benefit of that other.
Why is it, again, that crabs and crayfish can only grow by casting off their shells, during which process they often die, as well as remain exposed defenceless to the attacks of enemies? Why should stags shed their horns also, leaving them defenceless for a time? Other animals do not do so, and there is nothing in the nature of the horn which requires it.
This brief allusion is here sufficient. Mr. Mivart's work gives it at large.
(2) Passing next to the question of the advantage of incomplete stages—portions of a mechanism only useful when complete, the most striking examples may be found in the Vegetable kingdom. The fertilization of flowering plants is effected by the pollen, a yellow dust formed in the anthers, which is carried from flower to flower. In the pines and oaks, this is done by the wind. But in other cases insects visit a flower to get the honey, and in so doing get covered with pollen, which they carry away and leave in the next flower visited. Now one of our commonest and most useful plants, the red clover, is so constructed that it can only be fertilized by humble bees. If this bee became extinct, the plant would die out; how can such a development be advantageous to it?
But the contrivances by which this process of fertilization is secured are so marvellous, that I confess I am completely staggered by the idea that these contrivances have been caused by the self-growth and adaptation of the plant without guidance. There is a plant called Salvia glutinosa—easily recognized by its sticky calyx and pale yellow flowers. The anthers that bear the pollen are hidden far back in the hood of the flower, so that the pollen can neither fall nor can the wind carry it away; but the two anthers are supported on a sort of spring, and directly a bee goes to the flower and pushes in his head to get the honey, the spring is depressed and both anthers start forward, of course depositing their pollen on the hairy back of the bee, which carries it to the stigma of the next flower. This process can be tested without waiting for a bee, by pushing a bit of stick into the flower, when the curious action described will be observed. It is very easy to say that this admirable mechanical contrivance is of great use to the plant in its complete form; but try and imagine what use an intermediate form would have been! If development at once proceeded to the complete form, surely this marks design; if not, no partial step towards it would have been of any use, and therefore would not have been inherited and perpetuated so as to prepare for further completion. But many other plants have a structure so marvellous that this objection is continually applicable. Let me only recall one other case, that of the orchid, called Coryanthes macrantha. In this flower there are two little horns, which secrete a pure water, or rather water mixed with honey. The lower part of the flower consists of a long lip, the end of which is bent into the form of a bucket hanging below the horns. This bucket catches the nectar as it drops, and is furnished with a spout over which the liquid trickles when it is too full. But the mouth of the bucket is guarded by a curiously ridged cover with two openings, one on each side. The most ingenious man, says Mr. Darwin, would never by himself make out what this elaborate arrangement was intended for. It was at last discovered. Large humble bees were seen visiting the flower; by way of getting at the honey, they set to work to gnaw off the ridges of the lid above alluded to; in doing this they pushed one another into the bucket, and had to crawl out by the spout. As they passed out by this narrow aperture, they had to rub against the anthers and so carried off the pollen. When a bee so charged gets into another bucket, or into the same bucket a second time, and has to crawl out, he brushes against the stigma, and leaves the pollen on it. I might well have adduced this plant as another instance of the first objection, since it may well be asked, How could such a development, resulting in a structure which presents the greatest difficulty in the way of fertilization, be beneficial to the plant? But here the point is that, even if any one could assert the utility of such an elaborate and complicated development, and suppose it self-caused by accident or effect of environment, it certainly goes against the idea that all forms are due to an accumulation of small changes. For these curious contrivances in the case of Salvia, Coryanthes, and other plants, would in any case have been no use to the plant till the whole machinery was complete. Now, on the theory of slow changes gradually accumulating till the complete result was attained, there must have been generation after generation of plants, in which the machinery was as yet imperfect and only partly built up. But in such incomplete stages, fertilization would have been impossible, and therefore the plant must have died out. Just the same with the curious fly-trap in Dionoea. Whatever may be its benefit to the plant, till the whole apparatus as it now is, was complete, it would have been of no use. In the animal kingdom also, instances might be given: the giraffe has a long neck which is an advantage in getting food that other animals cannot reach; but what would have been the use of a neck which was becoming—and had not yet become—long? here intermediate stages would not have been useful, and therefore could not have been preserved. In flat fishes it is curious that, though they are born with eyes on different sides of the head, the lower eye gradually grows round to the upper-side. As remarked by Mr. Mivart, natural selection could not have produced this change, since the first steps towards it could have been of no possible use, and could not therefore have occurred, at least not without direction and guidance from without. Mr. Darwin's explanation of the case does not touch this difficulty.
[Footnote 1: This species was instanced because the lectures which form the basis of the book were originally delivered at Simla, in the N.W. Himalaya, where, at certain seasons, the plant is a common wayside weed. Mr. Darwin notices a similar and, if possible, more curious structure in a species of Catasetum.]
[Footnote 2: See this fully explained by Mivart, "Genesis of Species," pp. 29, 30 (2nd edition).]
(3) The third point, the occurrence of so much beauty in organic life, is perhaps one of the most conclusive arguments for design in nature.
Here, if possible, more clearly than elsewhere, I see a total failure of "natural causes." We are told that the beauty of birds (for instance) is easily accounted for by the fact, that the ornamented and beautiful males are preferred by the other sex; and that this is an advantage, so the beauty has been perpetuated; and the same with butterflies and beetles.
We are told also that bright-coloured fruits attract birds, who eat the soft parts of the fruit and swallow the hard stone or seed which is thus prepared for germination, and carried about and dispersed over the earth's surface. Again, showy coloured flowers attract insects, which carry away pollen and fertilize other flowers.
All this is perfectly true; but it entirely fails to go far enough to meet the difficulty.
Now passing over such difficulties as the fact that bright colours in flowers do not attract insects in many cases, but much more inconspicuous flowers if they have a scent (mignonette, for example) do; passing over such a fact as that afforded by the violet, which (as some may not be aware) has two kinds of flower, one scented and of a beautiful colour, the other green and inconspicuous, and it is the latter, not the former which is usually fertile;—passing over all detailed difficulties of this kind, I allude only to the one great one, that in all these cases, besides mere bright colour, conspicuousness or showiness, there is a great and wonderful beauty of pattern, design, or colour arrangement, in nature. Now there is not a particle of evidence to show that any animal has, to the smallest extent, a sense of beauty. On the contrary it is most improbable. The sense of artistic beauty is not only peculiar to man, but only exists in him when civilized and cultivated. Uneducated people among ourselves have no sense of landscape and other beauty. How then can it exist in animals?
If there was nothing to explain but a uniform bright and showy colour, natural selection might be sufficient to account for it. How is it, then, that this is not the case? We have not only colour, but colour diversified in the most elaborate and charming manner. Look at the exquisite patterns on a butterfly's wing! look at the various delicate arrangements of colour and pattern in flowers; or look again at the arrangement of colour on a humming-bird—sometimes the tail, sometimes the breast is ornamented, sometimes a splendid crest covers the head, sometimes a jewelled gorget or ruff surrounds the throat; and these are not uniformly coloured, but exhibit metallic and other changes of lustre not to be imitated by the highest art. But to fully realize this, I had best refer to a more familiar instance. Let any one examine—as an object very easily procurable in these days—a peacock's feather. No doubt the whole tail when expanded is very brilliant; but look closely at the structure of a single feather; is all this arrangement needed only to make the tail bright or conspicuous? Observe how wonderfully the outer parts are varied; part has a metallic lustre of copper, part has this also shot with green: then there is a delicate ring of violet with a double yellowish border, all quite distinct from the inmost gorgeous "eye" of green, blue, and black, and all arranged on the same feather!
Take, again, the so-called diamond beetle of Brazil; here the wing case is black studded all over with little pits or specks, which as a whole only give it a powdery pale-green colour; but place it in the sunlight and look at it with a magnifying glass—each little speck is seen to be furnished with a set of minute metallic scales showing green and red flashes like so many diamonds. How does such a delicate ornament answer the demands of mere conspicuousness?
But there is a stronger case than this. I before alluded to the exquisite symmetry of the silicious and crystalline coverings of some of the simplest forms of marine animalcules; and also I may here add the beautiful colouring of shells sometimes on the inside. In what possible way would this beauty serve for any purely useful purpose?
[Footnote 1: See Mivart, p. 61.]
Lastly, how are we to account for the beauty of autumnal tints in woods, or coloured leaves in plants such as the Caladium? The beauty is of no conceivable use to the plant.
"In Canada the colours of the autumn forest are notorious. Even on cloudy days the hue of the foliage is of so intense a yellow that the light thrown from the trees creates the impression of bright sunshine, each leaf presents a point of sparkling gold. But the colours of the leafy landscape change and intermingle from day to day, until pink, lilac, vermilion, purple, deep indigo and brown, present a combination of beauty that must be seen to be realized; for no artist has yet been able to represent, nor can the imagination picture to itself, the gorgeous spectacle."
Have we not here an exhibition which cannot be accounted for on any principle of natural utility?
[Footnote 1: "Quarterly Review," 1861, p. 20.]
(4) The fourth point, as previously stated, will be best treated by stating beforehand what is the conclusion come to, and then justifying it. My suggestion is that if we suppose a continuous evolution without a series of designs prescribed before life began to develop, and without any external guidance, then we are lost in difficulties. We cannot account for why variation should set in in the very different ways it does, nor why such a vast variety of divergent results should be produced. We cannot account for the tendency to reversion to a previous type, when artificial or accidental variation is not continually maintained, nor for the sterility of hybrids; nor, above all, for evolution performing such freaks (if I may so say) as the origination of our small finches and the tropical humming-birds from earlier vertebrates through the Mesozoic reptiles, the pterodactyles, Odontornithes and subsequent forms. Supposing that the Almighty Designer created a complete cosmos of (1) the starry heavens and the planetary system, (2) then a scheme whereby earth and water were to be duly distributed over our planet; (3) established the relations by which the external heavenly bodies were to regulate our seasons, tides, and times (as we know they do). (4) Suppose, further, that the Designer did not make "out of nothing" the series of finally developed animals as we now have them, but "made the animals make themselves"—that is to say, created the type, the ideal form, and adapted the laws and forces which constitute environment, so that development of form should go on regularly towards the appointed end, but in separate and appropriate channels, each terminating when its object had been attained. Suppose these conditions (which, as we shall afterwards see, are what Revelation, fairly interpreted, declares) to exist; all the known facts, and also the fairly certain inferences of Evolution, are then accounted for.
[Footnote 1: Pigeon fanciers know that when they have once obtained, by crossbreeding and selection, a particular form or feather, the utmost care is needed to preserve it. If the parents are not selected the progeny wilt gradually revert towards the original wild pigeon type.]
We have neither by revelation nor physical discovery an exact scheme of all the types, nor which of the elementary forms were destined to remain unchanged throughout. But some scheme of created types we surely have. Whether what we call species are all types or not, we cannot say; probably not. All we can be sure of is that there are definite lines somewhere. We see the sterility of some hybrids, for instance, which would seem to indicate that while some forms can conjugate and their offspring remain fertile, others (approaching, as it were, the verge of separation) give rise to hybrids which are or not absolutely sterile, according as they approach, or are more remote from, the designed barrier-line. And at that point the separation is insuperable. Certain forms of Carnivora and Ungulata seem to be for ever apart—not only the two great orders, but even subdivisions within them. Reptiles and birds, on the other hand, unlike as they at first sight seem, have no type line drawn to separate them; that, at least, is one of the more recent conclusions of biological science.
[Footnote 1: It should be borne in mind that what we call a species as distinct from a mere variety, is a more or less arbitrary or provisional thing dependent on the state of science for the time. Species are constantly being lumped together by some and separated by others. It follows most probably, that while some species are really types—i.e., one can never pass into the other and lose its essentials, unless it is destined to disappear (like the pterodactyle), not being wanted in the whole scheme—other species are really only varieties, and maybe lost or modified without limit.]
[Footnote 2: We may well regard the mule as a peculiar form just such as the evolutionist would rejoice to see: here is a modified species, which has qualities different from those of either of the parent stock, and well fitted "to struggle for existence." Yet this modified race would, if left to itself, die out.]
In other cases where variation has occurred, and especially when it is artificially—i.e., by the aid of selective breeding—caused or favoured, there is the constant tendency to revert, which is at once intelligible if there is a type scheme to be maintained.
If there were a series of created types, there may naturally have been what I may call sub-types; which would be certain well-marked stages on the way to the final form. Such sub-type forms would naturally occur at different ages, and being marked would show their place in the scale, and their connection with the ultimate perfect form. Such a possibility would exactly account for the series of Eohippus, Hipparion, and horse, which we have already instanced; and still more so for the rise and disappearance of the great Mesozoic Saurians when their object was fulfilled. Deny guidance and type, and everything becomes confused. Why should variation take certain directions? how comes it that natural forces and conditions of life so occur and co-operate as to produce the variety of changes needed?
And there is also one other general objection which I desire to state.
Why should development have gone in different directions towards the same object? I grant that different circumstances would produce different changes, but not for the same purpose. For example take eye-sight. The world shows several types of eye. The insect eye quite unlike any other; the crustacean eye also distinct; and birds, fishes, and animals having an eye which is generally similar and is somewhat imitated by the eye of the cuttle fish (which is not a fish, but a cephalopod).
Again, granted that poison is a useful defence to creatures: how is it given so differently?—to a serpent in the tooth; to a bee or a scorpion in the tail; to a spider in a specially adapted antenna, and to the centipede in a pair of modified legs on the thorax.
One would have supposed that natural causes tending to produce poison weapons would have all gone on the same lines. And, curiously, in some few cases, we have a sameness of line. About twelve species—all fish—have an electric apparatus, familiar to most of us in the flat sea-fish called Torpedo and in the fresh-water eel called Gymnotus. The only answer the anti-creationist can give to this dissimilarity of development is that there are many vacant places in the polity of nature, and that development takes place in that direction which fits the creature to occupy a vacant place, and is, therefore, diverse.
It seems to me that this—the only answer that can he given—is necessarily a modified form or mode of creation. How can natural causes know anything about a polity of nature and a vacant place, here and there, so that the creature must develop in one way or another to fill it?
Another set of cases is the production of similar functional results by most diverse means, as in the case of flying animals, birds, pterodactyles, and bats; here there is a widely different modification of the fore-arm and other bones, all for the same purpose. The reader will do well to refer to Mr. Mivart's book on this subject.
Again, the question of types seems to be pointed to in the curious fact of what I may call the double development of birds from reptiles. Mr. Mivart says, "If one set of birds sprang from one set of reptiles and another set from another set of reptiles, the two sets could never by 'natural selection' only have grown into such perfect similarity." Yet we can trace the Struthious birds (those that, like ostriches, do not fly) through the Dinosaurs and Dinornis, and the flying Carinate birds though pterodactyles, Archaeopteryx, and Icthyornis, &c.
It might well be added to this part of the subject, that granted that developmental changes were often small, that progress was attained little by little, this does not appear to have been always the case.
The discoveries of the fossil species of horse, Eohippus, Hipparion, and so forth, clearly establish a developmental series, and the ancient forms are claimed as the ancestor of the modern horse; but these (Professor Owen tells us) differed more from one another than the ass and the zebra (for instance) differ from the horse. Still, of course it may be that there are still undiscovered intermediate forms; and in any case there need be no desire to detract from the value of the series, as really pointing towards a gradual perfection of the horse from a ruder ancestor up to the latest type. But having reached the type, and though that type exhibits such (considerable) variations as occur between the Shetland pony, the Arab, and the dray-horse, we have still no difficulty in recognizing the essential identity; nor is there any evidence or any probability that the horse will ever change into anything essentially different. All the fossil bats, again, were true bats: and so with the rhinoceroses and the elephants. Granting the fullest use that may be made of the imperfection of the geological record, it is difficult to account for this, and still more for the absence of intermediate forms (particularly suitable for preservation) of the Cetaceae. The Zeuglodons from Eocene down to Pliocene, the Dolphins in the Pliocene, and the Ziphoids Catodontidae, and Balaenidae in the Pliocene, are all fully developed forms, with no intermediate species.
[Footnote 1: The series is thus (Nicholson, p. 702):—1. Eohippus—Lower Eocene of America; fore-feet have four toes and a rudimentary thumb or pollex. 2. Orohippus (about the size of a fox)—Eocene. 3. Anchitherium—Eocene and Lower Miocene; three toes, but 2 and 4 are diminutive. 4. Hipparion—Upper Miocene and Pliocene; still three toes, but 3 more like the modern horse and 2 and 4 still further diminished. 5. Pliohippus—later Pliocene, very like Equus. 6. Equus—Post-Pliocene.]
Mr. Mivart remarks, "There are abundant instances to prove that considerable modifications may suddenly develop themselves, either due to external conditions or to obscure internal causes in the organisms which exhibit them." If it is not so, granted to the full the imperfection of the Geologic record, but remembering the cases where we do find intermediate forms; we ask why should they not be preserved in other cases? If they ever existed we should surely see more changing forms; not only such as are more or less uncertainly divided species, but whole orders running one into another. No evidence exists to show that any bird has gradually passed into an animal, nor a carnivorous beast become ruminant, or vice versa.
[Footnote 1: P. 112] [Transcriber's note: Chapter VIII]
The analogy of changes that are known will not bear extension enough to prove, even probably, any such change.
Surely if our conclusion in favour of a Divine Design to be attained, and a Providential Intelligence directing the laws of development, is no more than a belief, it is a probable and reasonable belief: it certainly meets facts and allows place for difficulties in a way far more satisfactory than the opposite belief which rejects all but "secondary" and purely "natural" causes.
So clear does this seem to me, that I cannot help surmising that we should never have heard of any objection to Divine creation and providential direction, if it had not been for a prevalent fixed idea, that by "creation" must be meant a final, one-act production (per saltum) of a completely developed form, where previously there had been nothing. Such a "creation" would of course militate against any evolution, however cautiously stated or clearly established. And no doubt such an idea of "creation" was and still is prevalent, and would naturally and almost inevitably arise, while nothing to the contrary in the modus operandi of Creative Power was known. What is more strange is that the current objection should not now be, "Your idea of creation is all wrong," rather than the one which has been strongly put forward (and against which I am contending), "There is no place for a Creator."
(5) This is the only other general point that remains to be taken up in connection with the theory that all living forms are due to the gradual accumulation of small favourable changes without creative intervention. The objection is that we cannot obtain the inconceivably long time required for the process of uncontrolled and unaided evolution.
I am not here concerned to argue generally for the shortness or longness of the periods of geological time; let us, for the purposes of argument, admit a very wide margin of centuries and ages; but some limit there must be. The sun's light and heat, for one thing, are necessary, and though the bulk of combustible material in the sun is enormous, there must be some end to it. Sir William Thomson has calculated (and his calculations have never been answered) that on purely physical grounds, the existence of life on the earth must be limited to some such period as 100 millions of years; and this is far too short for uncontrolled evolution.
We know from fossils, that species have remained entirely unaltered since the glacial epochs began, and how many generations are included even in that! If no change is visible in all that time, how many more ages must have elapsed before a primitive Amoeba could have developed into a bird or a Mammal?
In Florida Mr. Agassiz has shown that coral insects exist unchanged, and must have been so for 30,000 years.
When we remember also the enormous destruction of life that takes place, supposing that in a given form a few creatures underwent accidental changes which were beneficial and likely to aid them—still what chances were there that the creatures which began to exhibit the right sort of change should have died before they left offspring! the chances against them are enormous: and the chances have to be repeated at every successive change before the finally perfected or advanced creature took its place in the polity of nature. Moreover, there is the chance of small changes being lost by intercrossing: our own cattle-breeders have most carefully to select the parents, or else the favourable variety soon disappears.
How then, seeing the power of stability which at least some forms are found to exhibit—seeing too the enormous chances against the survival of the particular specimens that begin to vary, and the further chances of the loss of variety by intercrossing; how can we get the millions of millions of years necessary to produce the present extreme divergence of species? The fact is that the force of this objection is likely to be undervalued, from the mere difficulty of bringing home to the mind the immeasurable time really demanded by uncontrolled evolution.
Nor is the question of time left absolutely to be matter of belief or speculation. For here and there in the geological records of the rocks, we have certain intermediate forms—or forms which we may fairly argue to be such. But looking at the very considerable differences between the earlier and the later of these forms—differences greater than those which now separate well-defined species, it seems questionable whether any of the divisions of Tertiary time, taking all the circumstances into consideration, could be lengthened out sufficiently to accomplish the change.
At any rate, if any particular example be disallowed, the general objection must be admitted to be weighty.
Now the intervention of any system of created designs of animal form—however little its details be understood—and the production of variations under divine guidance which would lead more directly to the accomplishment of such forms as the complicated flowers of orchids above described, would unquestionably tend to shorten the requisite time. There would, by a process of reasoning easily followed, be an immediate reduction of the ages required, within practicable limits, though the time must still remain long. More than that is not necessary. The Ussherian chronology is not of Divine revelation, though some persons speak of it as if it was. There is not the shadow of a reason to be gleaned from the Bible, nor from any other source, that the commencement of orderly development, the separation of land and water, earth and sky, and the subsequent provision of designs for organic forms of life and the first steps that followed the issue of the design, began six thousand years ago, or anything like it. It can be shown, indeed, that historical man, or the specific origin of the man spoken of as Adam, dates back but a limited time; and it is calculable with some degree of probability how far; but that is all. We are therefore in no difficulty when ample time is demanded; but we are in the greatest straits when the illimitable demands of a slowly and minutely stepping development, perpetually liable to be checked, turned back, and even obliterated, have to be confronted with other weighty probabilities and calculations regarding the sun's light and heat, and the duration of particular geologic eras.
THE DESCENT OF MAN.
We now approach a special objection which always, has been (and I shall be pardoned, perhaps, for saying always will be) the crux of the theory of unaided, uncreated evolution—the advent of reasoning, and not only reasoning, but self-conscious and God-conscious MAN.
Here again the lines of argument are so numerous, and the details into which we might go so varied, that a rigid and perhaps bald selection of a few topics is all that can be attempted.
But I may remark that naturalists are far from being agreed on this part of the subject. Agassiz rejects the evolution of man altogether. Mr. St. G. Mivart, while partly admitting, as every one else now does, the doctrine of evolution, denies the descent of man. Mr. Wallace, the great apostle of evolution, opposes Darwin, and will have none of his views on the descent of man; and Professor Huxley himself says that, while the resemblance of structure is such that if any "process of physical causation can be discovered by which the genera and families of ordinary animals have been produced, the process of causation is amply sufficient to account for the origin of man," still he admits that the gulf is vast between civilized man and brutes, and he is certain that "whether from them or not, man is assuredly not of them."
The first difficulty I shall mention is, however, a structural one. Supposing that an ape-like ancestor developed into man, on the principles of natural selection; then his development has taken place in a manner directly contrary to the acknowledged law of natural selection. He has developed backwards; his frame is in every way weaker; he is wanting in agility; he has lost the prehensile feet; he has lost teeth fitted for fighting or crushing or tearing; he has but little sense of smell; he has lost the hairy covering, and is obliged to help himself by clothes. If this loss was ornamental it is quite unlike any other development in this respect, since no other creature has the same; for ornamental purposes the fur becomes coloured, spotted, and striped, but not lost. It is easy to reply that man being intelligent, his brain power enables him to invent clothes, arms, implements, and so forth, which not only supply all deficiencies of structure, but give him a great superiority over all creatures. But how did he get that intelligence? By what natural process of causation (without intelligent direction) is it conceivable that, given a species of monkey, all at once and at a certain stage, structural development should have been retarded and actually reversed, and a development of brain structure alone set in? Nor, be it observed, has any trace of man with a rudimentary brain ever been discovered. Savages have brains far in excess of their requirements, and can consequently be educated and improved. The skull of a prehistoric man found in the Neanderthal near Dusseldorf is of average brain capacity, showing that in those remote ages man was very much in capacity what he is at present.
[Footnote 1: It is remarkable that the loss of the hairy covering is most complete when it is most wanted: the back, the spine, and the shoulders are in nearly all races unprotected; and yet the want of a covering from the heat or cold is such that the rudest savages have invented some kind of cloak for the back.]
It must, however, be admitted that the special difficulties of the origin of man are not purely structural. We do not know enough of the Divine plan to be able to understand why it is that there is a certain undeniable unity of form, in the two eyes, ears, mouth, limbs and organs generally of the animal and man. Moreover, much is made of the fact, as stated by a recent "Edinburgh Reviewer," that "the physical difference between man and the lowest ape is trifling compared with that which exists between the lowest ape and any brute animal that is not an ape." This fact no doubt negatives the idea put forward by Bishop Temple and others, that if there was an evolution of man, it must have been in a special branch which was foreseen and commenced very far back in the scale of organic being. For the structural difference might not require such a separate origin; while the mental difference, affording objections of a different class, will not allow of any such evolution at all. That there is some connection between man and the animal cannot be denied, and consequently, in the absence of fuller information, very little would be gained by insisting on the purely physical development question. The Bible states positively that the man Adam (as the progenitor of a particular race, at any rate) was a separate and actual production, on a given part of the earth's surface. All that we need conclude regarding that is that there is nothing known which entitles us to say, "This is not a fact, and therefore is not genuine revelation."
[Footnote 1: No. 331, July, 1885, p. 223.]
Moreover, as to the question of the possibility of human development generally, there are certain considerations which directly support our belief. For example, directly we look to the characteristic point, the gift of intellect, we can reasonably argue that the action of a Creator is indispensable. The entrance of consciousness and of reason, however elementary, marks something out of all analogy with the development of physical structure, just as much as the entrance of Life marked a new departure in no analogy with the "properties" of inorganic matter.
From the first dawn of what looks like will and choice between two things, and something like a reason which directs the course of the organism in a particular way for a particular object, we have an altogether new departure. The difficulty commences at the outset, and even in the animal creation; it is merely continued and rendered more striking when we take into consideration the higher development of intellect into power of abstract reasoning, self-consciousness and God-consciousness.
It is perfectly true that the difference between the "instinct" of animals and the reason and mind of man, is one of degree rather than kind. As Christians, we have no objection whatever to a development of reason from the lowest reason solely concerned with earthly and bodily affairs to the highest powers searching into deep and spiritual truths. But such a development, though it is parallel to a physical development—as spiritual law appears to be always parallel (as far as the nature of things permits) to physical laws—still is a development which cannot under any possible circumstances dispense with an external spiritual order of existence, and one which cannot be physically caused. Nor is it conceivable that man should develop a consciousness of God, when no God really exists externally to the consciousness.
[Footnote 1: For our consciousness of God is obviously very different from a figment of the imagination, or the sort of reality experienced in a dream. This is not the place to develop such an argument, but it seems to me more than doubtful whether we can even imagine something absolutely non-existent in nature. When the artist's imagination would construct, e.g., a winged dragon, the concept is always made up of parts which are real—eyes like an alligator, bat-wings, scales of a fish or crocodile, and so forth. All the members or parts are real, put together to form the unreal. I do not believe that any instance of a human conception can be brought forward which on analysis will not conform to this rule.]
The main objection, then, that I would press is, that admitting any possibility of the development of man from a purely physical and structural point of view, admitting any inference that may be drawn fairly from the undoubted connection (increasingly great as it is as we go upwards from the lower animal to the ape) between animals and man, that inference never can touch the descent of man as a whole; because no similarity of bodily structure can get over the difficulty of the mental power of man. We have to deal not with a part of man, but with the whole. The difficulty cannot be got over by denying mind as a thing per se; for all attempts to represent mind as the mere product of a physical structure, the brain, utterly fail.
Nobody wishes to deny what Dr. H. Maudsley and others have made so plain to us, that mind has (in one aspect, at any rate) a physical basis—that is, that no thought, imagination, or combination of thought, is known to us apart from change and expenditure of energy in the brain. Nor can we, by any process of introspection or observation of other subjects, separate the mind from the brain and ascertain the existence of "pure mind," or soul, experimentally. But still, there is no possibility of getting the operations of mind out of mere cell structure, unless an external Power has added the mind power, as a faculty of His endowing; then He may be allowed to have connected that faculty ever so mysteriously with physical structure; we are content. And I must insist on the total failure of all analogy between the development of bones or muscles and the development of mind; and even if we grant a certain stage of instinct to have arisen, we are still in the dark as to how that could develop into intellect such as man possesses, including a belief in God. On this subject let us hear Professor Allman. Between a development of material structure and a development of intellectual and moral features, the Professor says, "there is no conceivable analogy; and the obvious and continuous path, which we have hitherto followed up, in our reasonings from the phenomena of lifeless matter to those of living form, here comes suddenly to an end. The chasm between unconscious life and thought is deep and impassable, and no transitional phenomena are to be found by which, as by a bridge, we can span it over."
There can be life or function without consciousness or thought; therefore, even if we go so far as to admit that life is only a property of protoplasm, there can be no ground for saying that thought is only a property of protoplasm.
[Footnote 1: British Association Address.]
"If," says Professor Allman, "we were to admit that every living cell were a conscious and thinking thing, are we therefore justified in asserting that its consciousness with its irritability is a property of the matter of which it is composed? The sole argument on which this view is made to rest is analogy. It is argued that because the life phenomena, which are invariably found in the cell, must be regarded as a property of the cell, the phenomena of consciousness by which they are accompanied must also be so regarded. The weak point in the argument is the absence of all analogy between the things compared: and as the conclusion rests solely on the argument from analogy, the two must fall to the ground together."
Try and assign to matter all the properties you can think of, its impenetrability, extension, weight, inertia, elasticity, and so forth, by no process of thought (as Mr. Justice Fry observes in an article in "The Contemporary Review ") can you get out of them an adequate account of the phenomena of mind or spirit. We just now observed that consciousness, thought, and so forth, are never exhibited apart from the action of the brain; some change in the brain accompanies them all. We do not deny that. But it is obvious that thought being manifested in the presence of cerebral matter or something like it, is a very different thing from thought being a property of such matter, in the sense in which polarity is the property of a magnet, or irritability of living protoplasm.
[Footnote 1: October, 1880, p. 587.]
To all this I have seen no answer. The way in which the opponents of Christian beliefs meet such considerations appears to be to ignore or minimize them, so as to pass over to what seems to them a satisfactory if not an easy series of transitions. If Life is after all only a "property" of matter, then given life, a brain may be produced; and as mind is always manifested in the presence of (and apparently indissolubly united with) brain structure, it is not a much greater leap to accept life as a property of matter than it is to take thought as a property of a certain specialized physical structure. It is true that the distance is great between the instinct of an animal and the abstract reasoning power of a Newton or a Herbert Spencer; but (as we are so often told) the difference is of degree not of kind, and as the brain structure develops, so does the power and degree of reason. As to the difference in man, that he is the only "religious" animal—the one creature that has the idea of God—that is a mere development of the emotions in connection with abstract reasoning as to the cause of things. No part of our mental nature is more common to the animal and the man than the emotional; and if in the one it is mere love and hatred, joy and grief, confidence and fear, in the other the emotions are developed into the poetic sense of beauty, or the awe felt for what is grand and noble; and this insensibly passes into worship, the root of the whole being fear of the unknown and the mysterious. That is the general line of argument taken up.
Even accepting the solution (if such it maybe called) of the two first difficulties—life added spontaneously or aboriginally to matter, and thought and consciousness added to organism—still the rest of the path is by no means so easy as might at the first glance appear. Development in brain structure certainly does not always proceed pari passu with a higher and more complex reasoning. In actual fact we find high "reasoning" power, quite unexpectedly here and there, up and down the animal kingdom. Some insects, with very little that can be called a brain at all, exhibit high intelligence; and some animals with smaller brains are more docile and intelligent than others with a much larger development. The ape, in spite of his close physical approach to the structure of man, and his still greater relative distance from the other animal creation, is not superior (if he is not decidedly inferior) in reason or intelligence to several animals lower down in the scale.
Savages, again, have a brain greatly in excess of their actual requirements (so to speak). Hence the mere existence of brain, however complex, does not indicate the possession of mental power.
There is reason to believe that all thought and exercise of the mind—in fact, every step in the process of "Education," whereby an ignorant person is brought at last to apprehend the most abstract propositions—is accompanied by some molecular (or other) change. So that a person who has been carefully educated has the brain in a different state from that of an exactly similarly constituted person whose brain has been subjected to no such exercise. But even if this action could be formulated and explained, it would not follow that thought is the product of the molecular change; or that, vice versa, if we could artificially produce certain changes, in the brain, certain thoughts and perceptions would thereon coexist with the changes, and arise in the mind of the subject forthwith. And if not, then no process of physical development accounts for grades of intellect; we have only mind developing as mind. But the theory of evolution will have nothing to do with any development but physical; or at any rate with mental development except as the result of physical: it knows nothing of pure mind, or spiritual existence, or anything of the sort.
In the nature of things we can have neither observation nor experiment in this stage. We cannot by any process develop the lower mind of an animal into the higher mind of man, and prove the steps of the evolution. It is important to remember that the power of directing the attention by a voluntary process of abstraction, is one that distinctively belongs to man. It is an effort of will, of a kind that no animal has any capacity for. By it alone have we any power of abstract reasoning, and it is intimately concerned with our self-consciousness and memory, and with our language. I am quite aware that animals possess something analogous to a language of their own; they can indicate certain emotions and give warning, and so forth, to their fellows. But that language could never develop into human language, or the animal will (such as it is) ever rise to a human will, or animals become endowed with self-consciousness, unless they could acquire the power of voluntarily abstracting the mind from one subject or part of a subject and fixing the attention on another. We cannot formulate any process of change whereby the lower state could pass on to or attain to the higher in this respect.
[Footnote 1: We can of course follow the sort of mental development which is traceable when we consider the origin of our own sagacious and faithful dogs in the wild prairie dog: but this development is always in contact with the mind of man, and is, as it were, the result of man's action, as man's development in mind and soul is the result of God's action.]
Therefore again we conclude that the higher reason is a gift ab externo.
If we take a step further to the "spiritual" or "moral" faculties of man, we have the same difficulty intensified, if indeed it does take a new departure. To examine the question adequately would require us to go into the deep waters of psychology; and here we should encounter many matters regarding which there may be legitimate doubt and difference of opinion, which would obscure and lead us away from our main line of thought.
This I would willingly avoid. But it is quite intelligible, and touches on no dangerous ground, when we assert that there is a distinct ascent—an interval again raising developmental difficulties, directly we pass from the intellectual to the moral. We may wonder at the high degree of intelligence possessed by some animals; but we are unable to conceive any animal possessing a power of abstract reasoning, having ideas of beauty (as such), or of manifesting what we call the poetic feeling. And still more is this so when we look at the further interval that lies between any perception of physical phenomena, any reasoning in the abstract, or investigation of mathematical truth, and the overmastering sense of obligation to the "moral law," or the action of the soul in its instinctive possession of the conception of a Divine Existence external to itself. It is because of this felt difference that we talk of the "spiritual" as something beyond and above the "mental."
The distinction is real, though we must not allow ourselves to be led too far in attempting to scan the close union that, from another point of view, exists between the one and the other.
In a recent number of "The Edinburgh Review," the author complains of Bishop Temple thus: "He uses the word spiritual in such a way that he might be taken to imply that we had some other faculty for the perception of moral truths, in addition to, and distinct from, our reason." And the writer goes on to make an "uncompromising assertion of reason as the one supreme faculty of man. To depreciate reason (he says) to the profit of some supposed 'moral' illative sense, would be to open the door to the most desolating of all scepticisms, and to subordinate the basis of our highest intellectual power to some mere figment of the imagination."
[Footnote 1: July, 1885, p. 211, in the course of the article to which I have already alluded.]
On the other hand, some writers (claiming to derive their argument from the Scriptures) have supposed they could assert three distinct natures in man—a spiritual, a mental (or psychic), and a bodily. Now there is no doubt that, rightly or wrongly (I am not now concerned with that), the Bible does distinctly assert that a "breath of lives"  was specially put into the bodily form of man, and adds that thereby "man became a living soul." But it is also stated of the animal creation that the breath of life was given to them, and animals are said to have a "soul" (nephesh). So that neither in the one case nor the other have we more than the two elements: a body, and a life put into it; though of course the man's "life" (as the plural indicates, and other texts explain) was higher in kind than that of the animal.
[Footnote 1: The plural of excellence appears to mark something superior in the spirit of man over that of the animals. Also compare Job xxxiii. 4, "The breath of the Almighty hath given me life," with Isa. xlii. 5 and Zech. xii. 1.]
[Footnote 2: Though not in the plural of excellence. See Gen. vi 17, vii. 22, &c.]
[Footnote 3: Gen. i. 20, margin of A.V.]
St. Paul, it is true, speaks of the "whole spirit, and soul, and body." But our Lord Himself, in a very solemn passage (where it would be most natural to expect the distinction, if it were absolute and structural, to be noticed), speaks of the "soul and body" only.
The fact is that we are only able to argue conclusively that, besides the physical form, we have a non-material soul, or a self. And our Lord, whose teaching was always eminently practical, went no further. We are conscious of a "self"—something that remains, while the body continually grows and changes.
There was in Punch, some time ago, a picture of an old grandfather, with a little child looking at a marble bust representing a child. "Who is that?" asks the little one; and the old man replies, "That is grandfather when he was a little boy." "And who is it now?" rejoins the child. One smiles at the picture, but in reality it conceals a very important and a very pathetic truth. Nothing could well be greater than the outward difference between the grey hairs and bowed figure and the little cherub face; and yet there was a "self"—a soul, that remained the same throughout. In Platonic language, while the [Greek: eidolon] perpetually changes, the [Greek: eidos] remains. We have, therefore, evidence as positive as the nature of the subject admits that we are right in speaking of the body and the soul, or self. And as we cannot connect the higher reasoning, and, above all, conscience and the religious belief, as a "property" of physical structure, we conclude that the Scripture only asserts facts when it attributes both to the soul, as a spiritual element or nature belonging to the body. Man is essentially one; but there is both a material and a non-material, a physical and a spiritual element, in the one nature. But, being a spiritual element, that part of our nature necessarily has two sides (so to speak). It has its point of contact with self and the world of sense, and its point of contact with the world of spirit and with the Great Spirit of all, from whom it came. Because of that higher "breath of lives" given by the Most High, man possesses the faculty of consciousness of God (i.e., the higher spiritual faculties), besides the consciousness of self, or merely intellectual power regarding self and the external world. Therefore, when an Apostle desires to speak very forcibly of something that is to affect a man through and through, in every part and in every aspect of his nature, he speaks of the "whole spirit, soul, and body." To sum up: all that we know from the Bible is that God gave a "soul" (nephesh) to the animals, in consequence of which (when united to the physical structure) the functions of life and the phenomena of intelligence are manifested. So God gave a non-material, and therefore "spiritual," element to human nature; and this being of a higher grade and capacity to that of the animal world, not only in its union with physical structure, makes the man a "living soul"—gives him an intelligence and a certain reason such as the animals have, but also gives him, as a special and unique endowment; the consciousness of self (involving—which is very noteworthy—a consciousness of its own limitations) and the consciousness of God. Hence man's power of improvement. If the man cultivates only the self-consciousness and the reason that is with it, the Scriptures speak of him as the "natural or psychic man;" if he is enabled by Divine grace to develop the higher moral and spiritual part of his nature, and to walk after the Spirit, not after the flesh, he is a "spiritual man."
[Footnote 1: 1 Thess. v. 23.]
[Footnote 2: Matt. x. 28.]
[Footnote 3: The well-known argument of St. Paul regarding the resurrection in 1 Cor. xv. (ver. 45, &c.) is well worthy of consideration in this connection. He deals with man as one whole; nothing is said about a man being (or having) a spirit separate from his soul and his body, and that spirit being given a higher body than it had upon earth; but of the whole man, soul and body, being raised and changed into a man, also one whole, with a more perfect body—a body more highly developed in the ascending scale of perfection. I do not forget the passage where the same Apostle (2 Cor. v. 6) speaks of being in the body, and absent from the Lord; and of being "clothed upon;" but this does not in any way detract from the importance of the treatment of the subject in the First Epistle.]
It is idle to speculate whether the "nephesh" of the animals, or the "living self" of the man, is an entity separate from the body, and capable of existing per se—of its own inherent nature—apart from it. We do not know that animal forms are the clothing of a lower-graded but separate spiritual form, or that such an animal soul or spirit can exist separately from the body; and we do not know (from the Bible)—whatever may be the current language on the subject—that man's spirit is in its nature capable of anything like permanent separate existence. Man is essentially one; and when the physical change called death passes over him, it does not utterly obliterate the whole being. The non-material element is not affected any more than it is by the sleep of every night; and the man will be ultimately raised, not a spiritual or immaterial form, but provided, as before, with a body, only one of a higher capacity and better adapted to its higher environments—the "spiritual body" of St. Paul, in a word. The original union of mind and matter is, on any possible theory, mysterious; and the separation of them for a time is neither less so, nor more. All this is perfectly true, whether the non-material element in man's nature is necessarily, inherently and by nature, immortal or not—a question which I do not desire to enter on.
Hence it is that a certain element of truth is recognized in the protest of the Edinburgh Reviewer. On the other hand, as we have not only intelligence, emotions (which are possessed in lower degree by animals), self-consciousness, the power of abstract reasoning, and the higher faculties of the imagination, but also the consciousness of God and the commanding sense of right and wrong; and seeing that the last-named are different in kind from the former, we give them a separate name, and speak of the moral or spiritual nature or capacity of man, as well as the intellectual or mental. Some (by the way) choose "moral" to include both, holding that ethical perceptions arise out of (or are intimately connected with) our sense of God. Others would make a further distinction, and confine "moral" to the (supposed) bare ethical perception of duty or of right and wrong, and add "spiritual" to distinguish the highest faculty of all, whereby man holds communion with his Maker and recognizes his relation to Him.
[Footnote 1: This remark does not, of course, in any way touch the question whether the spiritual part of a man is conscious in the interval between death and resurrection, or whether it can be made sensible in any way whatever to living persons.]
[Footnote 2: The poetic sense, the perception of the beautiful, &c.]
Whether this further distinction is justified or not, there is a distinction between the moral and the purely intellectual; and we are justified in using different terms for things that are practically different. This the Edinburgh Reviewer seems to have forgotten.
It was necessary to my argument to enter on this somewhat lengthy examination of the spiritual nature of man, because, while we acknowledge the unity of man, we are compelled to recognize in his religious sense and aspirations and capacities something quite disparate—something that we could not get by a natural process of growth from such beginnings of reason as are observed in the lower animals.
I am aware that Dr. Darwin conceived that the religious feeling of man might have grown out of the natural emotions of fear, love, gratitude, &c., when once men began to question as to the explanation of the phenomena of life, and to ascribe the forces of nature to the possession of a spirit such as he himself was conscious of: and with much more positive intent, Mr. H. Spencer has also, after most painstaking inquiries, formulated what he conceives to be the origin of religious belief in man. He refers us to the early belief in a "double" of self, which double could be projected out of self, and remained in some way after death, so as to become the object of fear, and ultimately of worship. When this ancestor-worship resulted in the worship of a multitude of "genii" (whose individuality, as regards their former earthly connection, is more or less forgotten), then the idea of attaching the numerous divinities or ancestor-souls to the ocean, the sky, the sun, the mountains, and the powers of nature, arises; whence the poetic systems of ancient polytheistic mythology. Gradually men began to reason and to think, and they refined the polytheism into the "higher" idea of one great, central, immaterial all-pervading power, which they called God.
[Footnote: 1 See the "Descent of Man," vol. i. p. 68 (original edition). But it is right to state that the subject is not treated in any way whatever so as to argue that the religious belief is a fancy, or development of fancy, with no God and no facts about God behind it.]
Mr. Spencer, in effect, concludes that this "God" is only man's own idea of filling up a blank, of explaining the fact that there must be an ultimate first cause of whatever exists, and there is also a great source of power of some kind external to ourselves.
I am not going here to enter on any special argument as to the validity of these theories in their relation to the direct question of the nature and existence of God. What we are here concerned with is, whether they enable us to exclude the idea of a gift and a giver of spiritual or mental (we will not quarrel about terms) nature to man, and whether, by any fair reasoning from analogy, we can suppose man's reason and his "sensus numinis" to arise by the mere stages of natural growth and development. Dr. Darwin's supposition takes no notice of the moral law and its influence; indeed he adopts the view that conscience is no sense of right and wrong, but only the stored up and inherited social instinct, a sense of convenience and inconvenience to the tribe and to the individual, which at last acts so spontaneously and rapidly in giving its verdict on anything, that we regard it as a special sense. It would of course be possible to expend much time and many words in argument on this subject. There is not, and never will be, any direct evidence as to the origin of conscience; and as that sense (like any other power of our mental nature) is capable of being educated, evoked, enlightened, and strengthened, and may also by neglect and contradiction deteriorate and wither away, there is ample room for allowing a certain part of the theory. But many people who examine their own conscience will feel that the description certainly does not suit them; there are many things which conscience disapproves, of which no great evil consequences to themselves or any one else are felt. Conscience is constantly condemning "the way that seemeth good unto a man." Ultimately no doubt, there is real evil at the end of everything that conscience warns a man against; but not such as "inherited experience" is likely to recognize. Is it, for instance, the experience of the mass of men, as men, that the "fleshly mind is death, but the spiritual mind is life and peace"? Is not rather the world at large habitually putting money-making, position-making, and the care of the things of the body, of time, and of sense, in the first place; and is not the moral law perpetually warning us that the fashion of the world passes away, and that what seems gold is in reality tinsel? As far as the condemnation that conscience passes on the broad evils which affect society—"thou shalt not steal," "thou shalt not lie," or so forth—no doubt it is supported by the transmitted sense of inconvenience; but who has told it of the evil of things that do not affect our social state? and who has changed the inconvenient, the painful, into the wrong? It is one thing to instinctively avoid a theft or a falsehood, even if the first origin of such instinct were the fear of consequences or the love of approbation; it is quite another—the inward condemnation of something which "the deceitfulness of sin" is able to excuse, and which the world at large would regard as permissible or at least venial. Even if inherited use has its full play, there is still a something wanted before the one can be got into (or out of) the other. Why, again, are savages prone to imagine natural phenomena to be caused or actuated by "spirits"? Surely it is because there is consciously a spirit in man, and a Higher Power, even God, outside, who exists, though man in his ignorance has many false ideas regarding Him.
[Footnote 1: It is not necessary to my immediate argument, and therefore I do not press it into the text (though I should be sorry to seem to forget it for a moment), to urge that St. Paul draws a clear distinction between the intellectual faculties and the higher spiritual ones, when he assures us that the clearest intellect alone cannot assimilate the truths of religion. For the spiritual faculties have been in man grievously deadened and distorted (to say the least of it), so that his intellectual faculties, bright and highly developed as they may be, will always prove insufficient for the highest life in the absence of the "grace of God." It is exactly analogous to the case of a man whom we might suppose to have his sense of sight, touch, &c., distorted, and he himself unable to correct them by aid of the senses of others. However acutely he might exercise his reason, he would be continually wrong in his conclusions. See 1 Cor. ii., the whole, but specially vers. 14, 15.]
[Footnote 2: "Descent of Man," vol. i. p, 70.]
[Footnote 3: The attempt (already alluded to) to separate moral and spiritual, to imagine something that is ethical, apart from the religious idea, has lent some strength to these ideas of the moral sense; but in fact, the moral sense is inseparably connected with the idea of God, and His approval and disapproval. The idea of God may be obscured and lost, but conscience is the surviving trace of it; the circumference that accounts for the broken arc.]
It is an objection of the same order that applies to the other theory (Mr. Spencer's). There can be little doubt that in many respects it is true: as an account of all human systems of religion it is adequate and natural; but it breaks down hopelessly when we try to use it to explain how the conception of God originated in the mind. Just as there is a felt difference—not of degree or in form, but essential and radical in its nature—between the undesirable and the wrong, so there is a difference between the idea of a mysterious thing towards which apprehension or awe is felt, and the conception of God. Granted that man believed in his own spirit or double, and attributed similar immaterial motor powers as a cause for the wind and waves, and so forth; granted that he at last "refined" this into the belief in one Spirit whose power was necessarily great and varied—the origin is still unexplained. How did man get the idea of a personal spirit or double—no such thing, ex hypothesi existing? How did he get to formulate the idea of a God when he had simplified his group of many spirits into one?
If man is created with a consciousness of his own inner-self, as a self, he is able naturally to imagine a like self in other beings; if he has an idea of God innate in him, he can assimilate the truth when it is at last presented to his mind; and that is why he feels that it is a refinement; a rising from the lower to the higher (because from falsehood to truth), to let the many gods give place to the One God. If the idea of God has been obscured, and the power of its apprehension deadened, the man can only grope about helplessly, fashioning this explanation of nature and that—all more or less false, but all dimly bearing witness to the two absolute facts, that there is an inner non-material self, and an external non-material God.
If then there are insuperable difficulties in connecting thought with matter by any process of unaided development, there are also great difficulties, even when thought in a rudimentary form is given, in conceiving it developed into man's reason, or man's religious belief, by any known process of "natural" causation.
FURTHER DIFFICULTIES REGARDING THE HISTORY OF MAN.
There are, however, some other matters connected with the history of man on the globe, unconnected with psychological development, but which demand notice, as making the argument against an undesigned, unaided development of man a cumulative one. It is urged that whatever may be thought of the connection of man with the animal creation, at any rate the received Christian belief regarding the origin of man—especially his late appearance on the scene—is contrary to known facts, and that we have to mount up to a vast geologic antiquity to account for what is known from exhumed remains in caves and lake dwellings, and the like.
Now no one pretends that the history of man is free from doubt and difficulty, but the doubt and difficulty are not confined to the "orthodox." For the inferences to be drawn from the exhumed remains are equally doubtful whatever views be adopted.
I shall not go into great length on this subject, partly because some recent popular tracts of Canon Rawlinson, Mr. R.S. Pattison, and others, have already made the ordinary reader familiar with the main outlines of the subject; and still more because, be the views of archaeologists what they may, it is impossible for any rational person to contend either that they can be reduced to anything like unity among themselves, or that they lead to any conclusion favourable to the belief in the self-caused and undesigned evolution of man.
It may be regarded as known, that at the dawn of history, mankind was passing through what may be called a Bronze age, in which weapons of bronze were used before tools of iron were invented. But this age was preceded by one in which even bronze was unknown. Stone implements, and some of bone and horn, were alone used. It is also well ascertained that there were two widely divided stone ages. The latter, distinguished by the polishing of the stones, is described as the neolithic; the former, in which flint and other hard stone fragments were merely chipped or flaked to an edge, is called the palaeolithic.
It is hardly contended that the neolithic age could have been more than four or five thousand years ago. There is always the greatest difficulty in fixing any dates because from the nature of the case written records are absent, and the stages of growth in the history of peoples overlap so.
We know that sharp flakes of stone were still used for knives in the time of Moses and Joshua. We are not out of the stone age yet, as regards some portions of the globe; and it is quite possible that parts of the earth, not so very remote, may have been still in the midst of a stone age when Assyria, Chaldaea, and Egypt were comparatively highly civilized.
It is also fairly certain that between the neolithic or smooth-stone age, and the palaeolithic, certain important geological changes took place, though those changes were not such as to have demanded any very great length of time for their accomplishment.
The palaeolithic stone implements are found in river gravels and clays, along the higher levels of our own Thames Valley, that of the Somme in France, and in other places. They are also found at the bottom of various natural caverns.
No human bones have been found as yet with the implements, but the bones of large numbers of animals have. And it seems certain that the men who made the implements were contemporaries of the animals, because in the later part of the age, at any rate, they drew or scratched likenesses of the animals on bone. Among these representations are figures of the mammoth an extinct form well known to the reader by description and museum specimens of remains.
The animals contemporary with these primeval men were the mammoth, species of rhinoceros and hippopotamus, the "sabre-toothed" lion, the cave-bear, the reindeer, besides oxen, horses, and other still surviving forms.
In his address to the British Association in 1881 Sir John Lubbock called attention to the fact that these animals appear to indicate both a hot and a cold climate, and he referred to the fact (known to astronomers) that the earth passes through periods of slow change in the eccentricity of its orbit, and in the obliquity of the ecliptic. The result of the latter condition is, to produce periods of about 21,000 years each, during one-half of which the Northern hemisphere will be hotter, and in the other the Southern. At present we are in the former phase.
But the obliquity of the ecliptic does not act alone; the eccentricity of the orbit produces another effect, namely, that when it is at a minimum the difference between the temperatures of the two hemispheres is small, and as the eccentricity increases, so does the difference. At the present time the eccentricity is represented by the fraction .016. But about 300,000 years ago the eccentricity would have been as great as .26 to .57. The result, it is explained, would have been not a uniform heat or cold, but extremes of both; there would probably have been short but very hot summers, and long and intensely cold winters.
This, Sir John Lubbock thought, might account for the co-existence of both hot and arctic species, like the hippopotamus and rhinoceros on the one hand, and the musk-ox and the reindeer on the other.
But such considerations really help us little. In the first place, it is only an assumption that the fossil hippopotamus was an animal of a hot climate—it does not in any way follow from the fact that the now existing species is such; nor if we make the assumption, does it explain how, if the hot summer sufficed for the tropical hippopotamus, it managed to survive the long and cold winters which suited the arctic species.
Moreover, no such calculations can really be made with accuracy: we do not know what other astronomical facts may have to be taken into consideration, nor can we say when such "periods" as those which are so graphically described, began or ended.
In this very instance, we know that the mammoth only became extinct in comparatively recent times, since specimens have been found in Siberia, with the hair, skin, and even flesh, entirely preserved. Granted that the intense cold of the Siberian ice effected this, it is impossible to admit more than a limited time for the preservation—not hundreds of thousands of years. Professor Boyd Dawkins is surely right in stating that the calculations of astronomy afford us no certain aid at present in this inquiry.
As regards the geological indications of age, the best authority seems to point to the first appearance of man in the post-glacial times: that is to say, that the gravels in which the palaeolithic implements are found were deposited by the action of fresh water after the great glacial period, when, at any rate, Northern Europe, a great part of Russia, all Scandinavia, and part of North America were covered with icefields, the great glaciers of which left their mark in the numerous scoopings out of ravines and lake beds and in the raising of banks and mounds, the deposit of boulders, and the striation of rocks in situ, which so many districts exhibit.
The few instances in which attempts have been made, in Italy or elsewhere, to argue for a pliocene man (i.e. in the uppermost group of the tertiary) have ended in failure, at least in the minds of most naturalists competent to judge.
One of the most typical instances of the position of the implement age has been discovered by Fraas at Shuessenried in Suabia; here the remains of tools and the bones of animals (probably killed for food) were found in holes made in the glacial debris.
But here, again, it is impossible to say when this glacial age terminated, and whether man might not have been living in other more favoured parts while it was wholly or partially continuing.
In Scandinavia no palaeolithic stone implements have been found, from which it may be inferred that the glacial period continued there during the ages when palaeolithic man hunted and dwelt in caves in the other countries where his remains occur.
The best authorities do not suppose that the men originated in the localities where the tools are found; and there is so little known about the geology of Central Asia (for example) that it is impossible to say whether tribes may not have wandered from some other places not affected by the glaciation we have spoken of.
Again, the gravels and brick earths containing the tools are just of the kind which defy attempts to say how long it took to deposit and arrange them.
It may be taken as certain, that after the one age ceased and the first men appeared, the beds in which their relics occur have been raised violently, and again depressed and subjected to great flushes and floods of water. The caves have been upheaved, and the gravels are found chiefly along the valleys of our present rivers, but at a much higher level, showing that there was both a higher level of the soil itself and a much greater volume of water.
The Straits of Dover were formed during this period.
But none of these changes required a very long time; and if we can trace back the later stone age, which shows remains of pottery and other proofs of greater civilization, to the dawn of the historic period not more than 4000 or 5000 years ago, there is nothing in the nature of the changes which, as we have stated, intervened between the palaeolithic and neolithic periods, that need have occupied more than a thousand or two of years. Upheavals of strata and disruptions may be the work of but a short time, or they may be more gradual. And as to the effect of water, that depends on its volume and velocity; no certain rule can be given. Our own direct experience shows that very great changes may take place in a few hundred years.
"The estuaries," remarks Mr. Pattison, "around our south-eastern coast, which have been filled up in historical times, some within the last seven hundred years to a height of thirty feet from their sea-level, by the gradual accumulation of soil, now look like solid earth in no way differing from the far older land adjoining. The harbours out of which our Plantagenet kings sailed are now firm, well-timbered land. The sea-channel through which the Romans sailed on their course to the Thames, at Thanet, is now a puny fresh-water ditch, with banks apparently as old as the hills. In Bede's days, in the ninth century, it was a sea-channel three furlongs wide."
[Footnote 1: "Age and Origin of Man"—Present-Day Tract Series.]
Thus we are in complete uncertainty as to the date of the palaeolithic man, or as to the time necessary to effect the changes in the surface of the earth which intervened between it and the later stone ages. But there is nothing which conflicts with the possibility that the whole may have occurred within some 8,000 years.
For the supposition of Mons. Gabriel Mortillet that man has existed for 230,000 years, there is neither evidence nor probability. His theory is derived from an assumption that the geologic changes alluded to occupied an immense time; and the further assumption (if possible still more unwarranted) that the old race which used the chipped stone tools remained stationary for a very long period, and very gradually improved its tools and ultimately passed into the neolithic stage when the art of pottery became known, however rudely.
But, in point of fact, we are not required by our belief in Scripture to find any date for the origin of man, at least not within any moderate limits (not extending to scores of thousands of years). The Bible was not intended to enable us to construct a complete science of geology or anthropology, and the utmost that can be got out of the text is that a date can be suggested (not proved) for one particular family (that of Adam) by counting up the generations alluded to in Holy Writ before the time of Abraham. But these are manifestly recorded in a brief and epitomized form; nor do all the versions agree. We may well believe that a watchful Providence has taken care of the record of inspiration, but we know it has been done by human and ordinary agency. The Bible is God's gift to his Church, and the Church has been made in all ages the keeper of it. Now in the matter of early dates and numbers, an unanimous version has not been kept. According to the construction adopted in the Septuagint, the creation of Adam would go back 7,517 years, while the Vulgate gives 6,067 years. Dr. Hale's computation makes 7,294 years, and the Ussherian 5,967; the Samaritan version is, I believe, further different from either.
As it is, the facts show nothing inconsistent with an approximation to these several periods.
As to any absolute date for the appearance of man as a species, no calculation is possible, because of a certain doubt, which no one can pretend to resolve, as to whether the Scriptures do assert the creation of all mankind at any one period. If, owing to more positive discoveries in the future compelling us to put further back the date of man's first appearance upon earth, we have to suppose a beginning before the time of Adam, we are reminded that there is an allusion in the sixth chapter of the book called Genesis to "the sons of God" and the "daughters of men." Now this passage cannot conceivably refer to angels; nor can we ignore its existence, however doubtful we may feel as to its meaning.
[Footnote 1: I take these figures from Mr. R.S. Pattison.]
[Footnote 2: The text which speaks of God making "of one blood all nations for to dwell on the face of the earth," would naturally apply to the races existing when the speaker uttered the words: it would be as unreasonable to press such a text into the service of any theory of the creation of man, as it was absurd for the Inquisition to suppose that the Psalmist, when asserting that God had made the "round world so fast that it could not be moved," was contradicting the fact of the earth's revolution round the sun.]
It can hardly be denied that such a text opens out the possibility of an earlier race than that of Adam; in that case the creation of Adam would be detailed as the creation of the direct progenitor of Noah, whose three sons still give names (in ethnological language) to the main great races of the earth, with whom exclusively the Bible history is concerned, and especially as the direct progenitor of that race of whom came the Israelites, and in due time the promised seed—the Messiah. I do not say this is so, nor even that I accept the view for my own part; I only allude to the possibility, without ignoring any of the difficulties—none of which, however, are insuperable—which gather round it.
It is certainly a very remarkable fact that all about this region in which the Semitic race originated, traditions of Creation somewhat resembling the account in Genesis, the institution of a week of seven days, and a Sabbath or day of rest from labour, existed from very early times; and with these traditions, a belief in distinct races, one of which owned a special connection with, or relation to, the Creator. Here I may appeal to the work of Mr. George Smith and his discoveries of tablets from the ancient libraries of Assyria. Originally, the country to which I have alluded consisted of Assyria in the centre and Babylonia to the south; while to the east of Assyria was a country partly plain and partly hill, which formed the "plain of Shinar" and the hills beyond occupied by Accadian tribes, from whose chief city, Ur, Abraham, the forefather of the Jews, emigrated. The Assyrian documents are copies of Babylonian originals, but the Babylonian kingdom itself was a Semitic one founded on the ruins of an earlier population, the inhabitants of the plain of Shinar and the mountains beyond. Some time between 3000 and 2000 B.C. the Semitic conquerors of Babylonia took possession of the plains, and some time later conquered also the Accadian mountaineers. The Babylonians possessed and translated the old Accadian records: the Assyrian tablets are mostly, but not all, copies, again, of the Babylonian transcripts. The celebrated "Creation tablets," which contain an account closely corresponding to Genesis, are among those which were not copied from Accadian originals; and they do not date further back than the reign of Assur-bani-pal, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks; who reigned in the seventh century B.C. They may therefore be derived from the Bible, not the Bible from them. It would seem from some earlier (Accadian) tablets, that a different account of the Creation existed among them. But though it is doubtful how far the Accadians had preserved this account, or at least had others along with it, they had a seven days week and a Sabbath. All this points to one original tradition, which specified days of creation and a Sabbath, though it got altered and distorted, so that the true account was preserved as one among many local variations. This goes to prove the immense antiquity of the story, which is not affected by the fact that the actual inscription of it which we at present have, dates only about 670 B.C. The point here, however, interesting in the legends, is that they contained the idea of a special connection of one particular race with the Creator, and of other races, or of one other race, besides.
As far as the possibility of bringing forward the history of mankind as any aid to the theory of Evolution is concerned, I might have very well let the subject alone, or even noticed it more briefly than I have done. For, in truth, there is no evidence whatsoever, and all that the denier of creation can resort to is a supposed analogy and a probability that the peculiarities of man could be accounted for in this way or in that. But the main purpose of my brief allusion is to introduce the fact that, as far as any evidence to the contrary goes, we have an absolutely sudden appearance of man on the scene, and no kind of transitional form. Not only so, but there is no trace of any gradual development of man when he did appear. There was the first palaeolithic man; then a considerable geologic perturbation of the earth's surface, resulting in the upheaval of the cliffs in which the caves of remains occur, and in the alteration of the gravel beds in which the human remains are found; and then the neolithic age, with its evidently greater civilization (as evidenced by pottery, &c.) connected with early and traditional, but still with recent, history; but no trace of any development of one race into the other.
The absence of all progressive change is forcibly indicated by the measurements of ancient skulls, which, though not found along with the flint tools, have been found elsewhere. It has been fully shown that they differ in no respect from the skulls of men at the present day; while the skulls of the apes most nearly anthropoid, or allied to the human form, remain as widely separated in brain-capacity as ever.
Thus the fact remains, that no intermediate form between the ape and the lowest man has been discovered, and that there is nothing like any progressive development in the races of man. These facts, taken together with what has been brought forward in the last chapter, show how completely the theory of the descent of man breaks down; how utterly unproved and untenable is the idea that he should have been evolved by natural causes and by slow steps from any lower form of animal life.
[Footnote 1: The gorilla has a brain size of 30.51 cubic inches; the chimpanzee and ourang-outang (in the males) from 25.45 to 27.34 inches. According to Dr. J. Barnard Davis the average of the largest class of European skulls is 111.99, that of the Australian 99.35 cubic inches.]
It will naturally be asked, "If there is all this objection to some parts of the theory of Evolution, or to that theory in an extreme or absolute form, how is it that it has been so eagerly accepted in the ranks of scientific men?"
The answer is, in the first place, because the theory of Evolution is to a great extent true. When men speak of controversy with the Evolutionist and so forth, they of course mean such as insist on carrying the doctrine to a total and even virulent denial of any Divine control at all. And it must, I think, be admitted that much of the theological opposition offered to the doctrine was aimed at this aspect of it. At first, men zealous for what they believed to be Divine truth, did not discriminate; they saw that the then new idea of evolution was, in many branches of its application, still very poorly proved, and they conceived that it could not be accepted apart from a total denial of religion. We have grown wiser in the course of time: misconceptions have been swept away; and everybody may be content with the assurance that there is no necessary connection even, far less any antagonism, between evolution and the Christian faith at all. We may admit all that is known of the one without denying the other. Where the controversy has to be maintained is, that some will insist (like Professor Haeckel) in carrying evolution beyond what evidence will warrant; and not only so, but will insist on polemically putting down all religion on the strength of their improved theories. If "Evolutionists" complain of the treatment they have received at the hands of "Theologians," they will at least, in fairness, admit that there has been some misconception, some error on both sides. What we maintain is, that evolution (i.e., here, as always, unlimited, uncontrolled evolution) still fails to account for many facts in nature; that we are still far from holding anything like a complete scheme in our hands; there may be limits to the wide circle of progressive changes, to the results of development, of which we are ignorant; and there is, above all, in that most important of all questions—the descent of man—an absolute want of proof of animal descent (i.e., in any sense which includes the "soul" or spiritual faculties of man). Hence that evolution in no way clashes with an intelligent Christian belief. In saying this, I would carefully avoid undervaluing the services which the evolution theory has rendered, and is rendering, to science. Even in its first form as a mere hypothesis, it was an eminently suggestive one; there was from the first quite truth enough in it to make it fruitful, and many working hypotheses have been immensely useful in science, which have in the end been very largely modified. Before Darwin's wonderfully accurate mind and marvellous skill in collecting and making use of facts, turned the current of natural science into this new channel, men seemed to be without an aim for their naturalist's work. The savant, for example, procured an animal evidently of the cat tribe, and another species like a polecat. He knew as a fact that the feline teeth had a certain structure, and that the dental formula of the viverrine animals is different. Here, then, he could distinguish and perhaps name the species; but what more was to be done? All natural history as a study seemed to end in classifying and giving long names to plants and animals. The Evolution theory at once gave it a new object. Why is the dental formula of the viverrinae different? What purpose has the long spur in the flower of Angraecum, or the marvellous bucket of Coryanthes, the flytrap of Dionaea, the pitcher of Nepenthes? What is the cause, what is the purpose, what is the plan in the scheme of nature, of these structures? Under the stimulus of such questions naturalists woke up to new views of classification, to new experiments, inquiries, and to research for facts and the explanation of facts, in all quarters of the globe. No wonder that science rose, under such an impulse, as a butterfly from its chrysalis. But some will not be satisfied with any scheme the parts of which are separated, or which admits of anything unknown or unexplainable. They want to unite all into one grand and simple whole, which glorifies their own intelligence, and does not force them to humble patience and waiting for more light. And then the fatal enmity of the human heart—which is a plain fact, an undeniable tendency—delights to get rid of the idea of God's Sovereignty, the humbling sense that everything is at His absolute disposal, and nothing could be but as He wills it. It seems so satisfactory to eliminate all external mysterious power, to make the whole "totus teres atque rotundus"—having started the great machine of being somehow to see it all expand and unroll of itself and advance to the end.