i"?Life: Its True Genesis
By R. W. Wright
[Masoretic Hebrew.]—xOe squaredxx(C)OeOe1/2x" x-Oe.x"Oe deg.xcxx"Oe3/4x'Oexoe xcOe.xoeOe3/4x"OexOeOe'x"Oexcxf.—
IYa1/2 I"a1/2 IfIEuroa1/2 cubedII1/4I- I-a1/2I"I?a? a1/4I1/2 I-a1/2I"a?. II-I"a1/2 deg. I cubeda1/2 cubedI1/2I?I, a1/4IEuroa1/2 I"a?I, I cubeda?I,. [Septuagint.]
"Whose general principle of life, each in itself after its own kind, is upon the earth." [Correct Translation.]
RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED TO ARTHUR E. HOTCHKISS, ESQ. OF CHESHIRE, CONN.
Chapter I. Introductory. Chapter II. Life—Its True Genesis. Chapter III. Alternations of Forest Growths. Chapter IV. The Distribution and Vitality of Seeds. Chapter V. Plant Migration and Interglacial Periods. Chapter VI. Distribution and Permanence of Species. Chapter VII. What Is Life? Its Various Theories. Chapter VIII. Materialistic Theories of Life Refuted. Chapter IX. Force-Correlation, Differentiation and Other Life Theories. Chapter X. Darwinism Considered from a Vitalistic Stand-point.
Preface to Second Edition.
Here is the law of life, as laid down by the eagle-eyed prophet Isaiah, in that remarkable chapter commencing, "Ho, every one that thirsteth"—whether it be after knowledge, or any other earthly or spiritual good—come unto me and I will give you that which you seek. This is the spirit of the text, and these are the words at the commencement of the tenth verse:
"As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it (the earth) bring forth and bud (not first bud, bear seed, and then bring forth), that it (the earth) may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater (man being the only sower of seed and eater of bread): so shall my Word be (the Word of Life) that goeth forth out of my mouth (the mouth of the Lord); it shall not return unto me void (i.e., lifeless), but it shall accomplish that which I (the Lord Jehovah) please, and it (the living Word) shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
This formula of life is as true now as it was over two thousand six hundred years ago, when it was penned by the divinely inspired prophet, and it is as true now as it was then, that "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." That is, as the rains descend and the floods come and change the face of the earth, a law, equivalent to the divine command, "Let the earth bring forth," is forever operative, changing the face of nature and causing it to give expression to new forms of life as the conditions thereof are changed, and these forms are spoken into existence by the divine fiat.
In all the alternations of forest growths that are taking place to-day, on this continent or elsewhere, this one vital law is traceable everywhere. In the course of the next year, it will be as palpable in the Island of Java, recently desolated by the most disastrous earthquake recorded in history, as in any other portion of the earth, however free from such volcanic action. On the very spot where mountain ranges disappeared in a flaming sea of fire, and other ranges were thrown up in parallel lines but on different bases, and where it was evident that every seed, plant, tree, and thing of life perished in one common vortex of ruin, animal as well as vegetable life will make its appearance in obedience to this law, as soon as the rains shall again descend, cool the basaltic and other rocks, and the life-giving power referred to by Isaiah once more become operative. There is no more doubt of this in the mind of the learned naturalist, than in that of the most devout believer of the Bible, from which this most remarkable formula is taken.
We have no disposition to arraign the American and European "Agnostics," as they are pleased to call themselves, for using the term "Nature" instead of God, in their philosophical writings.
As long as they are evidently earnest seekers after Truth as it is to be found in nature—the work of God—they are most welcome into the temple of science, and their theories deserve our thoughtful consideration. It is only when they become dogmatic, and assert propositions that have no foundation in truth, as we sincerely believe, that we propose to break a lance at their expense, and lay bare their fallacies. We claim nothing more for ourself, as a scientific writer, than we are willing and ready to accord to them. Indeed, we would champion their right to be heard sooner than we would our own, on the principle that it is our duty to be just to others before we are generous to ourselves, or those of our own following. But our Agnostic friends should remember that when they charge us with being "dogmatic in science," the charge should be made good from a scientific stand-point, and not merely by the bandying of words.
When they tell us, for instance, that a toad has hibernated for a million years in any one of the stratified rocks near the surface of the ground, we interpose the objection that none of these batrachian forms can exist for a period of more than twelve months without air and food. And yet they have been blasted out of cavities in the surface rocks of the earth, where they have apparently lain for the period named by our scientific friends referred to. The fault is not ours, but theirs, that they are in error. Had they determined to study the subject of life, as we have done, from the Bible as well as from nature, they would have commenced at these toad-producing rocks, and worked their way upward to the source of all life, and not downward to the vanishing point—that where animal life ceases in the azoic rocks. The batrachians are low down in the scale of nature, but they have a determinate period of existence, as do all other forms of life. Try your experiments with them; see how long they will live without light, air, and food. This you can do as well as ourself. Conform to all the conditions required—the absolute exclusion of light, air, and food—and you will find that the toughest specimen experimented with is a dead batrachian inside of one year.
This experimental test should settle the question of lengthened vitality between us. There is no miracle about this matter at all, and science finds no stumbling-block in the way of a complete explication of this riddle, if, in the light of nature, there be any such riddle. We claim there is not, when we interpret nature in the light of nature's God. Let the earth, or rather its silicious and other decaying rocks, bring forth these batrachian forms. The command is imperative and not dependent upon any "seed" previously scattered or sown in the earth itself.
The father of the writer was Superintendent of the Green Mountain Turnpike Company, extending from Bellows Falls to Rutland, Vt., from 1812 to 1832, and worked every rod of that road many times over. From our earliest boyhood we accompanied him on these working trips, attended by a large force of laboring men, and our attention was early called to the characteristics of these toad-producing rocks. The rotting slates, shales, sandstones, shists, and rocks of various kinds, were often ploughed up by the road-sides, and the dA(C)bris scraped into the centre of the road-beds; the heaviest ploughs of that day being used to cut through these wayside rocks, and often requiring as many as six or eight yoke of oxen to break the necessary furrow. In many of these decaying slates, shists, sandstones etc., hundreds of young toads, many of them not more than half an inch in length, were turned out at different seasons of the year, showing that they were produced independently of any parent batrachian, there being no trace of a mother toad in connection with them.
The parent toads bury themselves in the gardens and ploughed fields in the early autumn, and if they survive the severity of the winter months, may propagate their kind the second year, and probably for several years. But they require remarkably favorable conditions to continue their life for any considerable number of years in open-field propagation, while under no circumstances whatever can they make their way into these decaying rocks in order to propagate their species. The reason why such fresh specimens appear under these circumstances, and in the cavities of the rocks named, is conclusively that indicated by the prophet Isaiah, in the text quoted by us; and when Professor Agassiz was forced to admit that trout must have made their appearance in the fresh-water streams emptying into Lake Superior, instead of originating elsewhere, it is to be regretted, for the sake of science, that he did not boldly enunciate the formula of life as taught by the eagle-eyed prophet of the Bible, and not as proclaimed by the owl-eyed professors of the London University College.
What is true of the trout in these Lake Superior streams, is true of them almost everywhere, even right in the town of Cheshire, Conn., where we are inditing this preface, the 10th day of October, 1883. We recently visited the Rev. David D. Bishop, in the northeastern portion of this township, where that cultured gentleman was constructing an artificial trout-pond. It was at a season of the greatest drought known for years in that portion of the town.
The point selected for this trout-pond was at the farthest eastern source of what is known as "Honey Pot" brook in Cheshire, a famous one for trout in former years. Mr. Bishop proposed to stock his pond with the best spawn he could procure. We remarked to him that there was no need of that expense, as no stream ever produced better trout than the "Honey Pot"; and on closely examining one of the six or eight cold springs developed in his enclosure, to his surprise, not ours, we discovered several small trout, not more than six weeks old, as lively as they could well be under the blasting operations then going on there; while his children were fishing out from the rocks any number of young frogs (of the common Rana family), abounding wherever rocks and water make their appearance in similar localities. This incident was all the more remarkable for the reason that this small stream, or rather source of one, had been apparently dry for months, as had been many of the best wells in the town.
Our well, in the western part of the town, had been dug some six feet into the solid rock and an inexhaustible supply of the coldest water secured. We invited our neighbors, those living on both sides of us, as well as at some distance from us, to come and draw all the water they wanted, remarking that they might now and then draw up a small frog, originating therein, but that, by fishing him out of the pail, he would make his way to the neighboring streams not dry, and would flourish well enough as one of the Rana family. It was only to our more intelligent neighbors (such as Mr. Bishop) who had read our work on "Life," that we stopped to explain this phenomenal fact. And so of all life, wherever it appears, whether vegetable or animal. Our experiments with mosquitoes are equally conclusive. Three years ago we took two barrels of rain-water from our cistern, tightly covered; one barrel we left open to the warm sun and air, and the other we covered with the finest mosquito netting. The barrel left open was soon thronged with mosquitoes, constructing their little rafts of eggs and paving their way for the swarms of young wigglers that in the course of a week or two made their appearance in the open barrel in immense numbers. The process by which these wigglers hatch out into mosquitoes is an interesting one, and will bear the closest study, as well as scientifically pay for watching the operation. At the proper time they come to the surface of the water, undergo a palpable modification in their structure, and beautifully burgeon forth into the tormenting little insects that they are during the summer and autumn months in our Northern climate. The object of the covered barrel was to ascertain whether we could reach the conditions favorable for the development of this little pest of the Culex family, independently of the eggs of the insect itself. This required some patience and not a little care. We knew that an egg dropped through the interstices of the netting would sink to the bottom of the water and fail to germinate, as every scientist understanding the process well knows. It must be floated on the water at first, or until it reaches the point of development into a wiggler. The first step in the process of its life is as cunningly devised as the second, and the second as the third, until the full-fledged mosquito is reached.
All precautions must be taken against any mistake or error in the experiment named. But we persevered and found nature responsive to our demands. Wigglers after awhile made their appearance sparsely in the covered barrel, but the mosquitoes developed from them proved innocuous of harm, as we kept the barrel covered, and they were soon drowned in the water, not having sufficient area of flight to answer the conditions of their life. We might instance some remarkable discoveries in the vegetable world, showing conclusively that plants and trees come without seed, and we feel the more pride in this discovery because we have been assured by Prof. Othniel C. Marsh, of Yale College, a gentleman highly distinguished in his specialties, that if we would show that an oak tree came without an acorn, he would abandon Evolution and accept the exposition given by us of the Bible genesis; but we have no special ambition to make so eminent a convert from Herbert Spencer's ranks. He is a much younger man than ourself, but the great English Evolutionist or Involutionist, whichever he may ultimately decide to call himself, is about the writer's own age, and, for special reasons, he would prefer to win him to the vital side of this question, that he may act with Professor Beale in the great controversy now waging in England on this subject, and we will assure both Prof. Marsh, and his friend, Herbert Spencer, that if either of them will show that an acorn comes without an oak tree, we will abandon any position we have taken on this subject, and accept theirs, however absurdly (to our mind) it may have been taken in the past. We know that "tall oaks from little acorns grow;" but that is when man becomes the sower of seed, and knows the origin of each specific tree that is brought forth. When we talk about the squirrel, or the birds becoming the "sowers of seeds," especially the acorns, we are talking at random, and without any certain knowledge. This we say with all due deference and respect to our learned Agnostic friends, and wish they would treat their vitalistic brothers with the same becoming courtesy.
In a work which we have now in preparation for the press, to be entitled "Biodynamics; or, The Laws of Life," we shall give this "seed question" a more exhaustive inquiry than we have yet done.
Our proofs in regard to one form of life are equally applicable to any other plant, insect, or animal, and there is no greater or less mystery in the life of a blade of grass than in the cedar of Lebanon figuring so conspicuously in the historic page.
When the Nile overflowed its banks in ancient times, and caused the young frogs to swarm up as a pest upon the Egyptians, the same law of life was operative in that land, as when warm thunder-showers pelt the earth with us in the summer season, causing hundreds and thousands of these batrachians to come out of the gritty waysides, and swarm along our highways and by-ways, leading ignorant and thoughtless people to suppose that they have rained down from the sky. The simple fact is, that the earth was commanded to bring them forth, and that great mother of all vegetable and animal life is obeying the command to-day, just as she did in the beginning.
One of the greatest errors that science has yet committed, or rather that scientific men have stumbled upon, is the theory that all living forms have appeared but once in time and place, and that they have thence diffused themselves, in pairs, throughout the globe, as from specific centres of origin. In the primeval oceans, whenever and wherever the environing conditions of matter were the same or identical, the like living forms made their appearance and flourished for hundreds and thousands of years, and finally disappeared, in a fossilized state, as their environing conditions were changed. They came not genetically—as in pairs—but thronged the seas in thousands and millions as the divine edict went forth.
As another conclusive proof, to our mind, of the existence of this law of life, we instance the case of the mango-tree growing in the West India Islands, especially along the sea-shore, where it becomes the natural habitat of the oyster. It is the belief of some ignorant persons that the oyster climbs these trees and deposits its spawn or "spat" upon the extreme limbs of the same as they bend down toward the water. This is manifestly an error, and belongs to the same class of fallacies as the common impression that toads rain down from the sky. The smaller mango-trees growing about the bays and inlets of these islands, furnish, as we have said, a natural habitat for the oyster, and as the salt sea-spray washes their roots and the bark of their trunks, the long thin-shelled oysters of that region make their appearance thereon without the presence of spawn, just as they do when old oyster-shells are dumped along our sand-banks in New England. On these dumped shells oysters will be produced abundantly, simply because the conditions are favorable, and not in consequence of the presence of "spat." Oysters have little, if any, locomotive power, and can no more climb the mango-tree than they can scale the cliffs of the Azores. The reason why they hang in pendent clusters from the extreme boughs of the mango in the West India Islands is, that these boughs are sprayed upon by the rippling waters, and the environing conditions being favorable, the indifferent oyster of that region makes its appearance.
There has been no migration of the oyster from one centre of origin to another, any more than there has been a transference of the white whale from the arctic seas to the fiery equator. Every thing has its place in nature, and comes with or without seed as natural laws determine. During the last year I have gathered cedar trees that did not make their appearance till late in August and September, long after the seed of the previous year had entirely disappeared, and there was no more life in them than there is in acorns that have crossed the Atlantic a dozen times in bulk. And the late Henry D. Thoreau, in his "Excursions," says that they will not stand one such shipment to Europe, and that every acorn that does not sprout by the end of November of the year it matures, is hopelessly a dead acorn. This is in harmony with our experience, and we have no doubt of the correctness of his observations. How absurd, then, to suppose that acorns can retain their vitality so as to germinate after years of out-door or other exposure. The seeds of forest-trees that mature in May and June, or the majority of them at least, have to be planted in those months, as all persons engaged in forest culture well know. This is specially true of cedars and oaks, as well as of elms and maples.
Study the paleontological facts as given by Prof. Frederick McCoy, of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, a gentleman highly distinguished for his learning and research. He has explored portions of that continent as far down as the azoic rocks, and made many important discoveries as to the past life of the globe. His researches have been especially rich in the Cambrian or Lower Silurian epochs, and have led to many modifications in the classification of the various forms of life pervading those earlier periods, and we may say that the facts he has brought to light tend strongly to show the correctness of our theory as taken from the biblical text; as, for instance, the Trilobites, occurring so abundantly in what is known as the Utica slates. Wherever the slates make their appearance, whether in Australia, America, or any portion of Europe, this fossil, characteristic of the Silurian and Devonian systems, appeared, not so much in time and place as in extended localities and conditions—indicating the presence of a law of life such as we have enunciated. We once inquired of the elder Prof. Silliman how long it took for the formation of one of these periods or systems? His reply was curt and pertinent: "It took long enough, young man!" That satisfied us at the time, and we have never asked the question since. It is prying beyond scientific depth, and the ablest scholars in the world will so regard it in the end.
All fossils follow the same developmental law, and seem to have been governed by corresponding conditions everywhere. The doctrine of "similia similibus gignuntur"—similar conditions producing similar forms—obtains universally. The Graptolites, occurring in the bituminous shales of the Silurian sandstone period, afford only another instance of the same law to which we have called the attention of our readers. In fact, the annals of natural history abound in the most conclusive proofs, as well in the fossilized as the living world, of what the paramount text of the Bible teaches us.
When Professor Ehrenberg, one of the most distinguished classifiers of minute forms of life in the world, declared, as he recently did before the Royal Geographical Society of London, that there was "a great invisible rock-and earth-forming life in nature," he came pretty near enunciating a great truth in science; and had he connected his language with the induction of "environing conditions" and the sequence of life therefrom, he would have accomplished what we undertook to do in our work begun several years ago, but not completed and published until 1880. For it will be seen that we had been gathering the material for "Life: Its True Genesis" for many years before we sat down to the task of writing it.
When we said to one of our most intimate college friends that we were less than six months preparing it for the press, we stated what was literally true; but we had no intention of giving him to understand that we had spent only that time in gathering the vast amount of material at our command twenty times as much as we could possibly use in the preparation of such a volume for the press. The long months and even years of toil and study spent by us in the needful preparation, were a part of the labor, as every author, writing intelligently on any subject, knows. The immense amount of care and labor that enabled Hermann von Meyer to prepare his paper on the ArchA opterix, rescued from the lithographic slate, is a case in point, as showing how small apparently the labor of accomplishing a great work for science. The time devoted to preparing the paper was trifling as compared with the result of his achievement. And so with every one who enters the temple of science with a devout wish to attain success.
It will be apparent to the religious mind of this country and England, if not to that of Mr. Tyndall himself, that, if the exegetical rendering we have extended to the Bible be correct, there is no necessity whatever for the vast uncomputed periods of time intervening the different geological strata, to which that scientific gentleman refers in his fanciful musings upon the Matterhorn!
Nor is there any such necessity for it, if what Professor Ehrenberg says be true in regard to the basaltic rocks thrown up by volcanic action in the Island of St. Paul. For if these rocks possess this mysterious power of life, He who made them manifestly imparted it. One thing is certain, at least, the rocks did not make themselves; nor did they impart to themselves any life-originating power after they were made. The same power that originated them originated all their characteristic properties, and the same may be said of Professor Tyndall's "sky-mist" or any other mistier name suggested by scientific men. We have only to take the "Thesaurus" of the Silurian period, and connect it with the induction of the biblical text, and we shall see that the forms characteristic of that period appeared not only synchronously in time and space, but also in physical conditions, and consequently, that no immense epochs were expended in the propagation, of species on the "two-pair" theory of our materialistic friends. They simply flourished over vast areas for a while, and were then locked up as fossils where they are now found. How long it took for this transformation to take place is manifestly beyond any data we may now have for determining. In the case of some artificial baths in which crystalline forms appear, we know that it takes only a few weeks at least, and why should natural processes be any more delinquent or defective in their operation than those that are purely artificial? Remember that we are not "musing on the Matterhorn" as was the gifted English naturalist, but upon the text of the equally gifted Isaiah, and pondering the works of God as seen by the devout prophet in his day. When Mr. Tyndall can tell us how long it took God to lift the towering Matterhorn from its base, he will be in a frame of mind to answer the other problems involved in the controversy between us. In an instant—the twinkling of an eye—some of these phenomena have occurred, and recent events, such as wide volcanic disturbances, show how idle it is for man to place a limit to the power of the Most High. Even the "red snow," unmistakably a vegetal formation, appearing at times on the loftier Alps, is as much a proof of God's power as the ragged mountain peaks on which it appears—covering vast areas within a few hours' time.
When such men as the late Professor Silliman, and Professor Dana, Sen'r, of Yale College, take up the Bible genesis, and speak in high commendation of its value to science, it is idle for the Agnostics of that or any other institution of learning to speak sneeringly of their efforts. They both know (for the elder Benjamin Silliman "still lives") that the first command of this genesis was, for the earth to bring forth its vegetation, not from "seed" distinctively so-called, but from the germinal principles of life therein; what Ehrenberg calls the "rock-and earth-forming life" or power of life in matter.
That the second command was, for the waters of the earth to bring forth their specific forms of life, including the birds; just where science now asserts they originally came from.
And that the third command was, for the earth to bring forth the beasts thereof, and every creeping thing thereon. Here the "rock-and earth-forming" power of life ceased, and the language of the genesis changes. It is no longer "Let the earth bring forth," but let the Divine energy intervene!
"Let us (the divine Trinity in Unity) make man in our own image"—after our own conception of what he should be—the being of two worlds, the material and spiritual; and man was made accordingly. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a "living soul." This is the record—brief, grand, historic. No "evolution," no "involution," no word without sense or meaning. He who was to have dominion, in his limited sphere, over all the earth, thus came in due time for a wiser and grander purpose than man has yet seen; but which, in the providence of God and the light of His word, he will yet come to see, as scientific truth advances with the march of religious knowledge. Heaven speed the day when this millennium of truth shall dawn upon us here!
In this remarkable genesis we have a bridge that spans the chasm between the man and the anthropoid ape as no other bridge spans it. It is a bridge over which is flung the living garment of God, and angelic hosts may pass it to and fro, as well as the master-minds of our own and future ages. It takes man out of the category of a "beast of the earth," and places him where all soul-aspiration lifts us—lifts even Robert G. Ingersoll, in his higher inspirational moods, or will lift him when his extreme material dogmatisms and false teachings desert him, as we trust they some day will. Let him read the "Student," by Bulwer, and he will learn how narrowly Voltaire escaped becoming a "Reformer" in the Church of England, instead of the violent antagonist he was of the corrupt Church of Rome in France. We do not make ourselves; it is the environing circumstances and conditions in which we are placed which oftentimes determine our career for good or for evil.
We had proposed embodying in this Preface one or two caustic reviews of our late work, from an Agnostic source, but have been deterred from so doing, for the reason that we deem it in bad taste as well as irrelevant at this late day. We shall be pardoned, however, in alluding to The National Quarterly Review, for the captious manner in which it treated us after we had courteously replied to several inquiries made of us in its two- or three-page review. After complaining that we had been "hailed, by a class of callow religious critics, as a 'Savior' from scientific error and enormities," it charged us with certain unscrupulous methods of criticism,—such as putting language into Mr. Darwin's mouth that he never thought of uttering, etc., etc. And as this pretentious Quarterly put several questions to us, such as "When and where the great Evolutionist had taught any such doctrine as this?" we ventured to reply as courteously as we knew how. We endeavored to treat our reviewer fairly, as he had handsomely accorded to us the credit of "searching the fields of natural science, lance in hand, to deal hard thrusts at impious skeptics, materialists, and evolutionists—of which Mr. Darwin and Mr. Bastian fare the most severely." But we had no thought of using these offensive adjectives toward either of the distinguished gentlemen named, and did not so use them; however "unscrupulous" our methods may have been in other respects. Our reply was unnoticed by the bulky Quarterly, and we were content with knowing that it was received by its editor, and shared the fate of all intrusive communications which it is easier to throw into the waste-basket, especially in hot weather, than to answer in the interests of science, when such answers are difficult to be made. This was the first and only discussion we attempted to provoke with our "exhaustive Reviewers," and it will, in all probability, be the last. Little is gained by these polemical controversies, when conducted in the spirit of unfairness, or with greater asperity than the true interests of journalism demand. The beauty of its kindly advice to us, as a "scientific critic," was that every word of it came back, as a cruel boomerang, into the writer's own face.
But this is enough. For the last three years we have been mostly engaged in writing another book, the character of which is already sufficiently indicated in this Preface. The reasons why we have been led to adhere to our original purpose of making this a "Bible Genesis," as The National Quarterly Review speaks of it, are best known to our more intimate friends, and we do not propose to disappoint them in their expectations.
If we have failed to make our theory understood by others, we regret it; if others fail to understand the inspired text, it is manifestly a matter for them to regret, and for us to deplore.
To those who have spoken kindly of "Life: Its True Genesis," we return our thanks: to those who have extended to it their sharpest criticisms, in what they believe the true interests of science, we also return our thanks. We have no fear that Truth will be crushed in this contest:
"Truth crushed to earth shall heavenward rise again, Like wayside flowers that lift their heads, aglow With a far sweeter fragrance when they've been All rudely trampled on by hostile foe, Than when in Flora's gentle arms they've lain The long night through, and wake at early dawn To greet Aurora—jewelled queen of morn!"
R. W. Wright.
West Cheshier, Conn., Oct. 12, 1883.
The office of a preface is twofold; first, to introduce the author to the public; second, to introduce his work. As the writer seeks no personal introduction, beyond what a favorable or unfavorable reception of his work may give him, he leaves the more formal, if not formidable branch of salutation untouched.
The work has cost him some labor, as the reader will see. The field he has traversed is vast and varied, and the facts he has gathered are numerous and from many and diversified sources—all bearing more or less conclusively on the one vital point he seeks to establish, viz: That the primordial germs (meaning germinal principles of life) of all living things, man alone excepted, are in themselves upon the earth, and that they severally make their appearance, each after its kind, whenever and wherever the necessary environing conditions exist.
The foundation of this emphatic formula we find in the Bible Genesis, in the words given on our title-page, which are more accurately translated in the Septuagint, than in our common English version of the Old Testament. The words are to be found in the 11th verse of the first chapter of Genesis, and the writer confidently believes that they contain the true Genesis of Life, although entirely overlooked, heretofore, by both the biblical and scientific scholar.
In the work which he here gives to the public, he will endeavor to show that all the vital phenomena of our globe, with the single exception named, find their complete explication in this Genesis of Life; and that we have only to take the scientific Genesis out of some of its more imposing categories, to make the two either entirely harmonize, or fall into the same lines of incidence in human thought.
Science has long taught that the absence of necessary physiological conditions results everywhere in the disappearance of vital phenomena; by reversing its logical methods, it will also find that the presence of these necessary conditions results everywhere in the appearance of vital phenomena. Take, for instance, the vegetation of Northern Europe, where it is known that the oak succeeded the pine, and the beech the oak, after each had held possession of the soil for we know not how many thousand years. In bringing about the necessary conditions of soil, the pine paved the way for the oak, and that in turn paved the way for the beech. Neither sprang from the other, nor did the "selection of the fittest" have anything to do with the appearance or disappearance of either. Each yielded fruit "after his kind," whose "seed" (germinal principle of life) was in itself, i.e., after its own kind, upon the earth, and made its appearance spontaneously,—that is, without the presence of natural seed,—whenever the necessary environing conditions favored.
And the same law of vegetal propagation is everywhere operative to-day, in the alternations of forest growths, the spontaneous appearance of oak forests where pine have been cleared away, and vice versa, in some parts of the country, where heavy forests of oak timber have been felled. So with the new growths of timber springing up in the paths of tornadoes, over large burnt districts, in soils brought up from below the last glacial drift, and in hundreds of other instances which the reader will find conclusively verified in these pages,—all making their appearance without the possible intervention of natural seeds.
The great value of the Septuagint, as compared with other versions of the Hebrew Bible, will appear from the fact that it is older by many hundred years than any manuscript copy of the Hebrew text now extant. It was undoubtedly translated at Alexandria, in Egypt, as early as the third century before Christ, while the oldest known Hebrew MS. is a Pentateuch roll dating no further back than A. D. 580. Its translators had before them much older and more perfect MSS. than any that survived to the time of the masoretic recension, when an attempt was made to give uniformity to the readings and renderings of the Hebrew text by means of the vowel points, diacritical signs, terminal letters, etc., all of which are now subject to rejection by the best Oriental scholarship.
According to IrenA us, this Greek version was rendered at the request of Ptolemy Lagi, in order to add to the treasures of the Alexandrian library, and it no doubt derived its name from the number of Hebrew and Hellenistic scholars, probably the most eminent to be found in that day, employed upon the work. The version comes, therefore, with paramount authority to our own times; and we accept its Greek rendering as the highest and most conclusive evidence of the authenticity of the text, and the "new genesis of life" we derive therefrom.
ILIEuroI-II1/4I- (as contained in the Septuagint) has almost an identical signification with the Hebrew word ZRA. It means the "germ of anything," or the "germinal principle of life," as contained in anything that lives or grows. No one will claim that it is used in its literal sense of "seed," in the text. For, when the divine command was issued, there was no plant or tree, and, presumably, had been none upon the earth from which seed could have been derived. The word was used in its larger and more comprehensive (that is, metaphorical) sense, as the "germinal principle of life in matter," or precisely in the sense in which the Greek stoics used it in their philosophy. Both Theophrastus and Diogenes use the terms IfIEuroI muII1/4I-I"a?1/2II?a1/2 I cubedIOEI cubedI?I expressing "the laws of generation contained in matter"—precisely the meaning we attach to it in its textual connection. The eleventh verse should read, therefore, as follows: "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose germinal principle of life, each in itself after its kind, is upon the earth"
We accept this rendering of "the seventy," because they had the most complete and perfect Hebrew MSS. before them, and were no doubt better scholars, and far more competent renderers of the original text than the Masorites who came some seven or eight hundred years after them.
But this is not the most important point of inquiry in this connection. The materialistic objector may say: "Admit all this; grant that the true rendering is here given; grant even that the true law of vegetal development and growth is here enunciated; what has 'star-eyed science' to do with the 'odium theologicum?'" We answer, nothing. We would bury both theological rancor and atheistical pretension in the same barrow, and agree never to "peep and botanize" over their common grave. But if a great scientific principle—one that fits into all the phenomenal facts of nature—explains them all, and is, in turn, explained by them—be found in the Hebrew Hagiographa, of what less value is it to science than if it had been originally enunciated by Aristotle or Plato? Or—to make the inquiry still sharper and more emphatic—of what less value is it to science than if it had originally come from Professor Tyndall or Mr. Herbert Spencer?
Take the "biblical genesis" as we have enunciated and explained it—with all the facts crowded into these explanatory pages—and science has no longer any genetic mystery to brood over, further than that every operation of nature is a mystery into which it is useless for scientific speculation to pry. We know what nature does, or may know it by the proper scrutiny, but we shall never know the causes of things, any more than we shall find God at the bottom of Herbert Spencer's crucible, or at the top of his ladder of synthesis. In the light of the Bible genesis, science can account for the origin of the stalwart oak or the lordly pine, without going back to any mycological or cryptogamic forms, to follow down an ever-changing vital plexus that is as likely to land in a buttonwood tree as an oak, or in a hemlock as a pine,—in fact, quite as likely to land in a carnivorous animal as in an insectivorous plant. "Let the earth bring forth," is still the eternal fiat,—just as implicitly obeyed to-day as it was in the world's primeval history, when an exuberance of endogenous vegetation laid the foundation of the coal measures. It requires no greater effort on the part of nature to produce the pine, the oak, the beech, the hickory—all of which we see springing directly from primordial germs to-day—than it did to produce the lowest vegetal organism, from an invisible, indestructible "vital unit," or Darwinian gemmule, thousands of years ago.
He who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and in whose sight a thousand years are but as yesterday, knows no such "law of variability" as our materialistic friends have been spinning for us in their unverified theories of evolution, natural selection, selection of the fittest, rejection of the unfit force-correlations, molecular machinery, transmutation of physical forces, differentiation, dynamical aggregates, molA(C)cules organiques, potentiated sky-mist, undifferentiated "life-stuff," and other hylotheistic and purely hypothetical formulA , with which the average mind has been well-nigh crazed for the last fifteen or twenty years.
Believing that the time has come to call for "a halt" in scientific speculations, and a return to the phenomenal facts of nature as the true and only basis on which to formulate the immutable laws of life, matter, motion, etc., the writer submits this volume with trustful confidence to the public. 
R. W. Wright.
West Cheshire, Conn.
It is undeniably true that the progress of scientific thought and speculative inquiry, both in this country and in Europe, is rapidly tending towards a purely materialistic view of the universe, or one that utterly excludes the ancient and long-predominating metaphysical conceptions of Life, to say nothing of the more regnant and universally prevailing conception of a God. And it is quite as undeniable that the current of experimental research and investigation is setting, with equal rapidity, in the same direction. According to the views of many of our more advanced chemists, physiologists, and other scientific and speculative writers and thinkers—those whose experimental investigations have, it is claimed, reached the ultimate implications of all material substance—there are but two immutable, indestructible, and thoroughly persistent elements in the universe—Matter and Motion. Everything else, they confidently assert, is either purely phenomenal, or else essentially mutable, ephemeral, transitory. Force, according to their theory, is only another name for motion or its correlates, and, hence, the two terms are interchangeably used by them in predicating their ultimate conclusions respecting matter.
Light, heat, electricity, magnetism, chemical affinity, molecular force, and even life itself, are only so many manifestations or expressions, they claim, of one and the same force in the universe—Motion, With the exception of matter, it is the only self-persistent, permanently enduring, ever active and reactive agency.
Light, they say, is dependent, heat conditional, electricity and magnetism more or less phenomenal, chemical affinity and molecular force mere modes or correlated forms of motion, and all-pervading life itself a mere postulate of the schools, or at best only the result of the dynamic force of molecules.
Deem not this collocation simply a burlesque on Scientific categories. Professor Bastian, in his great work on the "Beginnings of Life," has unhesitatingly said: "The 'vitalists' must give up their last stronghold—we cannot even grant them a right to assume the existence of a special 'vital force' whose peculiar office it is to effect the transformation of physical forces. The notion that such a force does exist, is based on no evidence; it is a mere postulate. The assumption of its existence carries with it nothing but confusion and contradiction, because the very supposition that it exists, and does so act, is totally averse to the general doctrine of the correlation of forces."
And this defiant challenger of the "vitalists," who thus half-sneeringly speaks of those who believe that the vital forces of the universe are among the highest potential factors expressed therein, is one who, for the last decade and a half, has mostly lived in the ephemeromorphic world, and who, in diving into the "beginnings of life," has so far lost his way that the all-glorious end of it is as much an inexplicable mystery to him now, as when he was more successfully expounding pathological anatomy and ruthlessly hacking away at anatomical subjects over the dissecting-slab of the London University College. Had he spent less time over this dissecting-slab, and more in studying the marvellous manifestations of life in its outspoken beauty of leaf, bud, flower, fruit—things of not mere guess and fancy—he would undoubtedly have had a higher appreciation of what is most vital in nature, and less of what is simply material in a non-functional sense. With Mr. Herbert Spencer, he gratuitously sneers at the "old specific-creation hypothesis," or the divine fiat in the beginning; but without that fiat, where would he find his ephemeromorphs? or even the dead tissues used in his organic infusions for the vainest of all human endeavors—that of producing life, or seeking to produce it, de novo? He is so immeasurably disgusted with the vitalists that he hardly allows himself to speak of "life" or even use the term "vital" as applied to its simplest manifestations, without quotationizing them as terms to provoke both incredulity and derision.
The world may, however, overlook much of this in him, in view of his past professional pursuits, as well as in consideration of his eminent services as a specialist in science. The dissecting-room of a university is not the most desirable place in the world for profoundly studying the vital forces of nature. It is too grim and ghastly a repository of dead men's skulls, and "holes where eyes did once inhabit," in which to regard "life's enchanting cup" as one sparkling to the brim. Detaching a muscle here, and laying bare another there; taking out a sightless eye in one subject, and putting the dissecting-knife deep into the pulseless heart of another; cutting the fragments of a human body into shreds and tatters over one dissecting-slab, and loading down another with splintered bones and mangled hands and limbs, is not exactly the sort of occupation to enkindle the highest enthusiasm for "life," in any of its more manifold phases in nature. Too many lifeless notions get crammed into the head—to say nothing of baffled endeavor in the pursuit—to admit of the more conclusive and satisfactory inductions respecting living organisms.
But why should an assumption of the existence of life carry with it any greater "confusion and contradiction," than a like assumption respecting either matter or motion? Simply because the materialists insist, in their logical inductions, upon so distributing the terms of their syllogism that only a negative conclusion shall follow.
"Matter and motion," they say, are alone indestructible.
Life is neither matter nor motion,
Therefore: Life is not indestructible.
This syllogism is manifestly unanswerable, if there be no fallacy in the distribution of its major and minor terms. But wherein lies the incompatibility of reversing the order of its terms, so as to prove that neither matter nor motion is indestructible? And would such a judgment, thus derived, be any more spurious, the process of reasoning any more illicit, or the conclusion any less unanswerable? We might as well say that neither matter nor motion is an absolute entity in the universe, without some apprehensive intelligence, or rational intuition therein, to embrace them as distinct concepts or objects of thought; nor can either have the least conceivable attribute without some co-existing intelligence to ascribe it. For to ascribe an attribute, is to conceive or think of such attribute. And as our general conceptions are conceded to be realities, even by the materialists themselves, it necessarily follows that this conscious ego—this thing that conceives, thinks, ascribes attributes—is either co-existent with matter, or else antedates it in the order of existence. And here—at this identical point in the argument—we are irresistibly forced back, in our inductive processes, to the theological conception of a God—the one supreme Ego of the universe—from whom alone all our intuitions of consciousness, as well as apprehensive intelligence, is derived.
We can no more get rid of these inductive processes than we can change the order of nature or reverse the inevitable laws of thought. Hence, we are constantly driven to formulate the following, or some equivalent inductions:—
1. Cause must exist before effect.
2. Without some vital principle, therefore, preA"xisting as a cause, there can be no life-manifestation.
3. But there can be no life-manifestation without organic structure.
4. The reverse of this proposition is also true.
5. Which, therefore, precedes the other as a cause, and which follows as an effect?
6. Nothing can organize itself. To do so, it must contain within itself both the operating cause and the resulting effect, which is at once an incongruent and conflictive judgment.
7. But the thing that organizes must exist before the thing organized, whether it be a vital principle or an intelligent agency.
8. Hence Life, either as a preA"xisting cause or vital agency, must precede both animal and vegetal organism.
9. Cause is that which operates to produce an effect, as effect is that which is produced by an operating cause.
10. But whatever operates to produce a life-manifestation must precede it as an operating cause.
11. Life, therefore, whether as a blind or intelligent force or agency, must precede its own manifestation; that is, must exist as an operating cause before there is any produced effect.
12. And this is true both as regards physical and moral effects.
13. Our intuitions, as the final arbiters of judgment, demand this or some equivalent order as the only one embraced in a logical praxis.
And since there can be no sound without an ear to appreciate it, so there be can no matter without an existing ego, in some state of consciousness in the universe, to apprehend it—to ascribe to it attributes. On what, therefore, are we to predicate the existence of either matter or motion, except it be these intuitions of consciousness whose validity, so far as we have any knowledge whatever on the subject, rests exclusively on that "breath of life," which was breathed into man when he became a living soul? But if our intuitions are not realities, then nothing is a reality. All is as unsubstantial, as vague and shadowy, as Coleridge's "image of a rock," or Bishop Berkeley's "ghost of a departed quantity," as he once defined a fluxion. We may, therefore, retort upon Professor Bastian:—The "materialists," must give up their last stronghold—we cannot even grant them a right to assume the existence of either matter or motion, since both manifestly depend, for their slightest manifestation, upon the more potent agency of "vital force," as expressed in thought, volition, and consciousness—that triumvirate of the intellectual faculties without which neither matter nor motion could have so much as a hypothetical existence.
The great trouble with Professor Bastian, as with Mr. Herbert Spencer, is that he advances a purely materialistic hypothesis, and then goes to work, with his quantitative and conditional restrictions, to eliminate all vital force from the universe. As he has been no more successful in finding God—the Infinite source of all life—at the point of his dissecting-knife, than has the speculative chemist at the bottom of his crucible, or Mr. Spencer at the top of his ladder of synthesis, he resolutely grapples with logic, as a last resort, and as remorselessly syllogizes God out of the universe as he would a mythological demon infecting the atmosphere of his dissecting-room. In the same way, he successfully syllogizes all life out of existence: although, in the very act of constructing his syllogism, he demonstrates its existence as conclusively as that matter and motion are objective realities in the world of mind and matter which is about him. He fails to see, however, that the thing which demonstrates must necessarily precede the thing demonstrated, as life must necessarily precede its manifestation. In admitting the existence of "vital manifestation," therefore, he virtually admits an antecedent vital principle, lying back of an effect as a cause, which must exclude anything like a contradictory judgment, so long as the laws of the human mind, in respect to logical antecedents and consequents, remain as they are.
Whatever may be the alleged inaccuracies of the Bible Genesis or the disputes heretofore indulged in respecting the Hagiographa, or "sacred writings" of the Jews, it will hardly be denied by the Biblical scholar that some of the most important discoveries in modern science, especially in the direction of astronomy, as well as in geological research and inquiry, confirm rather than throw doubt upon their more explicit utterances. This has been so marked a feature in the controversy, that whenever scientific speculation has thrown down any fresh gage of battle, as against the validity of these "sacred writings," the advocates of the latter have only had to take it up to dispel the mists of controversy and achieve a more conclusive triumph than ever. For the truth of this statement it is only necessary for us to instance a few of the more important facts contained in the Bible Genesis. And should it be found that the writer of this volume has discovered, in a long overlooked, much neglected, and inaccurately translated passage of this Genesis, a key that unlocks the whole "mystery of life," as the great battle is now waging between the materialists and vitalists of this country and Europe, it will most conclusively establish the point we shall here make—that in no equally limited compass, in ancient or modern manuscript or published volume, since the first dawn of letters to the present time, are there to be found so many conclusively established facts of genuine scientific value as in the first chapter of Genesis.
In dispelling the mists of prejudice, and possibly of doubtful translation, let us look this "genesis" squarely in the face:—
1. Take the statement that "in the beginning" the earth was without form and void, and darkness rested upon the face of the depths. Here is not only no conflict with science, but the great suggestive fact which led Laplace to construct his "Nebular Hypothesis," or that magnificent system of world-structures which regards the universe as originally consisting of uniformly diffused matter filling all space, and hence "without form and void," but which subsequently became aggregated by gravitation into an infinite number of sun-systems, occupying inconceivably vast areas in space.
2. Nor can science well afford to cavil at that other most important suggestive statement that "the spirit of God"—the great formative force of the universe—moved upon the face of the depths, after which the evening and the morning were the first day, that is, the first distinctive epoch in the order of creation. When materialistic science shall define "gravitation"—the supposed aggregating force of infinitely diffused matter in space—so as to make it a distinct and separate factor in the universe from "the spirit of God,"—that spirit which was breathed into man when he became a living soul, and which, we are told, "upholds the order of the heavens," then its devotees may sneer at the Bible Genesis, and the logical deductions to be drawn therefrom.
3. Again, science can have no conflict with the Bible Genesis, except in the most hypercritical way, in the affirmative statement that God set two great lights in the firmament, the one to rule the day and the other to rule the night; and that "he made the stars also." For it is nowhere stated that the "greater light" was not made to perform a similar office for each of the other planets of our system, or that it was not set in the firmament to adorn the skies of other and far-distant worlds, as "bright Arcturus, fairest of the stars," adorns our own.
4. Nor can materialistic science dispute the more explicitly revealed fact, that the order of creation, so far at least as animal and vegetable life are concerned, is precisely that to be found in geological distribution, or as unerringly recorded in the lithographic pages of nature. And yet nothing was known of these pages—not a leaf had been turned back—at the time the Bible Genesis was written. So that, whoever was its author, this precise order of distribution could only have been "guessed at," setting aside its inspirational claims, by the writer of this most remarkable genesis.
5. And again, science can have no successful conflict—certainly none in which she will ultimately come off victor—in reference to the equally explicit statement that every living thing, and every living creature, either yields seed, bears fruit, or brings forth issue, "after his kind," and distinctively none other. For this would seem to be the one inflexible law governing all living organisms, from which there can be no divergence in any such sense as the "scientific genesis," pretentiously so called, would authoritatively indicate. No "increase in variety," which Mr. Spencer regards as the "essential characteristic of all progress," will ever enable us "to gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles."
6. Nor will materialistic science ever succeed in overthrowing the Bible theory herein advanced, that "the germs of all living things, man only excepted, are in themselves (that is, each after its kind) upon the earth," and that they severally make their appearance whenever the necessary environing conditions occur. This most remarkable statement of the Bible genesis will be found to fit into all the vital phenomena occurring upon our globe, explaining the appearance of infusoria, all mycological and cryptogamic forms, as well as all vegetal and animal organisms. All these come from "the earth wherein there is life," and hence the divine command for the earth "to bring forth" every living thing (except man) "after his kind."
But let us embrace, in the proper antithetical summary of statements, some of the more distinctive points of antagonism between the Bible genesis and that of materialistic science:—
THE BIBLE GENESIS.
1. The Bible Genesis presents the theological conception of a God, or an Infinite Intelligence in the universe, with whom, as personified, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
2. The Bible Genesis represents every living thing as perfect of its kind, which the earth was commanded to bring forth from seed or "germs," declared to be in themselves upon the earth.
3. The Bible Genesis represents God as causing to grow, out of the ground, every tree that is "pleasant to the sight and good for food," also every plant of the field "before it was in the earth," and every herb of the field "before it grew."
4. The Bible Genesis represents God as causing the waters of the earth to bring forth abundantly great whales and every living creature that moveth therein, and every winged fowl that flieth above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
5. The Bible Genesis represents God as causing the earth to bring forth every living creature "after his kind," enumerating them in the order in which they appear in geological distribution.
6. The Bible Genesis represents God as making man in his own image, after he had commanded the waters and the earth to bring forth abundantly of every other living creature.
7. The Bible Genesis represents God as breathing into man "the breath of life," and he became a "living soul,"
8. The Bible Genesis represents God as creating the earth for the abode of man—giving him dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the beasts of the earth, and of every living thing that creepeth upon the face of the earth.
9. The Bible genesis represents God as exercising a moral government over man, to the exclusion of every other living creature.
10. In fine, the Bible Genesis represents man as only "a little lower than the angels."
THE SCIENTIFIC GENESIS.
1. The Scientific genesis virtually eliminates the idea of a God from the universe, by assigning to natural causes all the diversified and myriad-formed phases and changes that have taken place therein, extending through an infinite duration of past time, and constantly confronted by an infinite duration of time to come.
2. The Scientific Genesis represents every living thing as more or less imperfect of its kind, but advancing towards perfection by some underlying law of variability or selection of the fittest, or by gradual development from lower into higher organisms.
3. The Scientific Genesis emphatically repudiates the idea of any divine agency in the growth of plants and trees, and insists that "life," in all its manifold phases, is only "an undiscovered correlative of motion," or, at best, only a sort of tertium quid between matter and motion.
4. The Scientific Genesis represents all fishes, amphibia, reptiles, birds, etc., as travelling along their respective lines of developmental progress and differentiation, from points far back in geologic time, and constantly working their way up from cold and flabby creatures into those of higher cerebral activity, and brighter and more varied life, until gigantic winged reptiles mounted into the air and became birds.
5. The Scientific Genesis attributes the appearance of every living creature upon the earth to a law of "evolution," by which one thing constantly overlaps another, forming a sort of stairway for lower organisms to climb into higher, without regard to "kind," or even orders, genera, or species.
6. The Scientific Genesis distinctly takes issue with that of the Bible respecting the divine origin of man, and insists that he has been climbing up from protoplasmic matter, through a thousand other and lower organisms, until he finally leaped from an anthropoid ape into man.
7. The Scientific Genesis emphatically repudiates the idea of a soul as thus derived, and even insists that "conscience," the highest known moral factor in the universe, is only a modified expression of the social instincts of the lower animals—the difference being in degree only, not in kind.
8. The Scientific Genesis promptly takes issue with this creative plan and purpose—insisting, in the dazzling speculations and fancies of its adherents, that well known physical and physiological laws have worked out all these phenomenal aspects and changes, and that these laws are wholly indifferent as to whether man shall have dominion over the shark and the tiger, or they dominion over him.
9. The Scientific Genesis illogically insists that "natural laws,"—those expressing no sovereign will, and having "no seat in the bosom of God"—are fully adequate for the government of man, he exercising to that end all the higher powers with which, by evolutional changes, he has become endowed.
10. While the Scientific Genesis represents him as only a little higher than the apes!
And yet no scientific authority has ever been claimed for these sacred Hebrew writings. They were simply designed as a rule of human faith and conduct, ostensibly having the divine sanction, and containing historical, devotional, didactic, and prophetical writings, to be read through, at least once a year, in the Jewish synagogues.
But the most important of these antithetical statements, so far at least as modern scientific research and inquiry are concerned, is that which represents the germs of all living things—man alone excepted—as being implanted in the earth itself. We take the definition of the Hebrew word ZRA, translated "seed" in the 11th verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis, from Professor Edward Leigh, of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in his "Critica Sacra," first published in 1662:—"Sparsit, asparsit, cum aspersione fudit, diffudit," etc, that is, "something sown, scattered, universally diffused, everywhere implanted," as a germ in the earth. That the Hebrew word ZRA. does not mean, in this connection, the seed of a plant or tree, is manifest from the fact that the first plant or tree, from which "seed" could have been derived, had not yet appeared upon the earth.
The exact translation is, "whose primordial germs are in themselves (that is, each after its kind) upon the earth," implanted therein, as the "diversa diversorum viventium primordia" of Dr. William Harvey, were originally implanted in the earth. This illustrious physician and biologist, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, not only taught the doctrine expressed in his phrase "omne vivum ex ovo," but that of "primordial germs"—living indestructible "principles of life"—existing in the earth itself. For it is evident that he uses the word "egg," in its more general sense, as designating any material substance capable of receiving his "primordium" (first principle of life) and developing itself into a living organism.
The whole controversy, as at present conducted by the materialists and vitalists, resolves itself into this one question:—Whether life springs from what Dr. Harvey calls a "primordium,"—a pre-existing vital germ or unit—or whether it originates de novo, as the materialists assert, from infusions contained in their experimental flasks, or from plastide particles contained in protoplasmic matter, or from the still more daring hypothesis of "molecular machinery" as worked by molecular force? It is certain that the materialistic theory is quite as inexplicable, on the basis of analogical reasoning and microscopical investigation, as that indicated in the Bible Genesis; while the vitalistic theory would seem to be more in harmony with vital phenomena, and hence the more rational hypothesis of the two. Besides, the Bible Genesis answers to the logical necessity of predicating a determinate cause for each and every vital effect, or each living organism apparently springing from plasmic conditions or mere structureless matter. Whenever the seeds of plants or trees are actually planted or sown in the earth, this logical necessity rests on an induction impregnably laid in cause and effect; while the materialistic dogma, nihil ex nihilo, would necessitate a like induction wherever seed is not sown. In either case the change that ensues is manifestly due to vital properties, whether the same be inhering in the seed, or in necessary environing conditions. And the vital processes are the same, with the single difference as to actual environment.
The germ in the seed is capable of assimilating, by well-determined and thoroughly specialized processes, the nutrient matter contained in its environment, precisely as the "primordial germ" develops under its environing conditions. From the moment they strike their rootlets into the ground, the processes of development and growth are the same. The only point, however, necessary to make in this connection, is, that when we go back to the first living organism of a species—its primordially developed form—we necessarily reach environing conditions within which there is no such thing as a germ-cell with an exterior environment corresponding to the testa of seeds, or to any conceivable notion we may have of seeds themselves.
At this point—one not merely theoretical, or speculatively possible only, but absolutely fixed and determinable in our backward survey of the vital forces of nature—we find individual parentage lost in a natural matrix, or in the vital principle implanted as a "primordium," in the earth itself. To this inevitable induction of Dr. Harvey we are all driven in the end, by those intuitive processes of reasoning which are hardly less conclusive than mathematical induction itself. We may call these "primordia viventium" plastide particles, bioplasts, vital units, or whatsoever we will,—the name is nothing, the working process is everything. Scientific speculation accomplishes nothing, therefore, by its new terminology, except it be to confound the ignorant and astonish the wise. To call the homogeneous basis of an egg "blastima," and its germinal point a "blastid," is all well enough in its way; but it adds no new knowledge, nor additional wealth of language, wherewith to predicate vital theories, whether they relate to the progeny of a hen-coop or the lair of a tiger in an Indian jungle.
Teach us to know what nature does, not what she is; and whatever of "divine revelation" is vouchsafed us, whether it be found in the majestic "Poem of the Dawn," attributed to the inspired pen of Moses, in the "myriad-minded Shakespeare," or the irradiated and deeply-prophetic soul of a Shelley, let us accept it with thanks, if not to the inspired authors themselves, at least to "the great Giver of life" who imparted their inspiration.
We accept the theory of "primordial germs," not simply because it is contained in the Bible Genesis, nor because it was conceived by the great and gifted Harvey as a possible solution of the whole difficulty, but because it presents, as we have before said, a satisfactory explanation of all the phenomenal facts of life with which we are acquainted. If Mr. Herbert Spencer will descend from his stilted theory of "molecular machinery worked by molecular force," and tell us what it all means; and, at the same time, turn us out a single plastide particle, or fungus spore, by any generating process referable to "the machinery" in question, we will as devoutly worship Matter and Motion as ever ancient Egyptian did the god Osiris. But until he does this, we prefer to accept the positive assurance of Professor Lionel S. Beale, a far more competent authority to speak of hypothetical molecules, that none of the "forces possessed by the molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of the universe was composed" ever produced a vital manifestation, or succeeded in "making life a slave to force." We shall consider this question of "molecular force" in its proper place, and with reference to the different theories of life advanced by the materialists, without pursuing it further in this connection.
The evidence we shall present in reference to the alternations of forest growths, and the impossibility of accounting for them on any theory of seed-distribution—alternations covering, in many instances, independent forests springing up on a vast scale—and the still wider dispersion of domestic weeds, grasses, forage plants, etc. in localities where they were never known before, will be conclusive, we think, of the correctness of our position, that the Bible Genesis contains the true key to the mystery of life. Bear in mind that the true theory of life, whenever it shall be reached in human conception and formulated into definitely-known processes of action, must satisfactorily explain all life-manifestations, as Newton's theory of gravitation accounts for the movements of all celestial bodies. And the simpler the theory when once formulated—the more perfectly it falls into the grooves of definitely-expressed thought, and the more harmoniously it adapts itself to all vital manifestations—the more conclusive must be the induction on which it rests. The emphatic statement that the "primordial germs" of all living things are in the earth, from the lowest infusorial form to the highest vital organism below "specifically-created" man, when supplemented by the scientific statement that "vital units" make their appearance whenever environing conditions favor, is conclusively a theory which accounts for all the life-manifestations heretofore occurring upon our globe.
And this theory falls at once into the necessary categories of human thought. Life, as generally defined, is a state of organized being wherein there is functional activity; while a state, or status, is an incidence determined by environing conditions. But back of each of these—life and its status—there must lie some efficient cause, producing, in the first instance, the environing conditions, and then the functional activity dependent on organization. To assume that this efficient cause is simply the effect or result of organization—one of its dependent conditions—is begging the whole question, and, at the same time, discarding a very important element in the problem—that of conditional environment. What this efficient cause is, is a question that awakens no responsive inquiry. It strikes its roots too deeply into the intuitions of consciousness for the soul to give back an intelligible reply. Certain it is that neither metaphysical speculation, nor scientific inquiry, will ever enable us to reach the roots of this question, or extract from them the first quantitive essence of life itself.
We shall also consider, in their proper place, the various theories of life which have been advanced from time to time by the materialists, in their avowed hostility to current religious beliefs, and especially those founded on the sacred Hebrew writings, and the supplementary teachings of the New Testament. And to show the extent of this hostility, and the real animus of those waging it, it is only necessary to refer to the great central doctrine of the Sacred Scriptures, that Life—natural, spiritual, eternal—is "the gift of God." And this is the grand corner-stone of all religious edifices—those erected by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and even the inhabitants of farther India. Materialistic science must, therefore, deal its first and most effective blows at "Life," either as a theory to be resolutely assailed and overthrown, or else thoroughly ignored and set aside, in the more imposing and august temple of Science. Hence, the reader will find, in none of the great encyclopedias prepared under the supervision of scientific men, the slightest mention whatever of "Life" as a subject worthy of consideration at their hands. It finds, of course, its meagre definitional place in the dictionaries, but the bulky and more exhaustive encyclopedias have no room for it, except as it may be defined, under some correlate of motion, as "the latent possibility of a nebula," or of "undifferentiated primeval mist," originally pervading the interplanetary spaces.
We have no disposition to charge such materialists as Professors Tyndall, Bastian, Haeckel, Virchow, and Mr. Herbert Spencer, with directing their experimental batteries against the phenomenal facts of "life" for the purpose of overthrowing the foundations of religious faith and belief in the world. They are all eminent scientists, and apparently earnest seekers after truth in the several directions in which their respective paths of investigation have been pursued. But they manifestly array their opinions against the vitalists on the assumption that there is no scientific value whatever in the many and singularly diversified statements respecting "life" in both the Old and New Testaments. And this, it may be claimed, is necessitated by the generally accepted dogma, that science and religion are more or less hostile, the former resting on the inexorable logic of facts only, and the latter entirely on preconceived and prejudicial notions respecting faith and belief. To this position of theirs we have no objection to make, so long as they subject their scientific statements to the one rigid ordeal of positively ascertained facts. But when they set themselves to spinning their theories of life on the strength of "nebular potentialities," and the possibilities of "undifferentiated sky mist," we must insist that they are infinitely wider of the mark than the theologians who claim that the great formative power of the universe is God, and that his "spirit," and not gravitation, "upholds the order of the heavens:"—certainly much wider of the mark than was Pope, when he wrote of the universe:—
"All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body nature is, and God the soul."
The truth is, that religion is quite as much the handmaid of science as science can be said to be the handmaid of religion. She breathes far more household laws for her devotees, if she does not veil her "sacred fires" more modestly from the sight of men. She is certainly less dogmatic, less dictatorial, less abounding in positive assertion, than what now passes for "science," in the popular estimation. Perhaps Mr. Herbert Spencer represents the scientific side of a greater number of questions agitating the public mind to-day, than any other one man, and he is still industriously engaged in solving, or endeavoring to solve, a greater number of social problems. And yet the most enthusiastic admirer of this gentleman will be forced to admit, when driven to the wall of actual controversy, that one-half, if not two-thirds, of his more formidable statements, put forth in the name of science, remain undemonstrated as scientific truths. We are thankful enough, however, for the one-third he has vouchsafed us to let the other two-thirds pass as the dogmatic achievements of his wonderfully gifted pen.
Professor Beale asks the question, whether "a man who has the gift of science must ever be wanting in the gift of faith?" It is certain that this inquiry sharply emphasizes the antagonism at present existing between materialistic science and religious faith. But there is only one reason why this antagonism should be continued, and that is, the persistent claim of science to superior recognition in all cases where there is the slightest apparent conflict between the two. Certainly no man ever did more to popularize the genuine truths of science in this country than Professor Agassiz, or worked more successfully to that end. He was willing to place the decorative wreath on the starry forehead of science, but refused to pluck from the soul "the starry eyes of faith and hope," that man might be dwarfed down to the "nearest of kin" to the anthropoid ape.
When we come to this assumed relationship in genetic types, we have not so much as laid the first abutment of the bridge by which these revivers of Lucretian materialism would span the chasm between mind and matter, between the spiritual and physical side of man, between dark brute sense and "a soul as white as heaven." For going back to undifferentiated primeval mist, and following down the whole line of vital phenomena, from whatever subtle molecular combinations their first manifestation may have arisen, until we reach the highest differentiated organism below man, we shall find the chasm between the physical and the psychical not a thousandth part spanned. And even if man, with the assistance of all the maleficent spirits that "walk the air both when we wake and sleep," could span this chasm, it would be only by another bridge of Mirza across which no daring mortal could ever pass.
Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his "Principles," thinks he has mastered the necessary psychological, if not mechanical, engineering for the successful construction of this bridge. In that branch of his work entitled the "Principles of Psychology," he so far abandons the exact scientific method as to take up psychical phenomena, and deal with them genetically, as he would with the phenomenal manifestations of organic life, in the continuous chain of ideas every where presented as consecutive thoughts in the universe. He finds, or claims to find, in these psychical manifestations, a constant tendency towards differentiation—towards advanced and continuously advancing differences, varieties, and new modes of thought—the same as, or similar to, those taking place in living organisms. He accordingly assumes, for the science of mind, as complete a foundation on which to base the doctrine of "evolution," as in the case of either physical or physiological science. But he is no less troubled, in this psychological realm, with divergent varieties, and exceptional variations and changes, than when he plants himself on the more solid substratum of life in the abounding realm of nature. His psychological differentiations present too many and constantly-shifting divergencies and re-divergences—exceptional branchings in one direction, and still more exceptional in another—to admit of any sufficiently potentiated potentiality for bridge timber. The arch to such a bridge would have to abut, according to Professor Tyndall, on a vital foundation at one end, and spring from undifferentiated sky-mist at the other.
The bridge will never be built.
Life—Its True Genesis.
The profound Newton did not attempt to show what the gravitative force of the universe was. He bore himself more modestly, only endeavoring to show that such a force existed, and that it accounted for all the movements of celestial bodies, even to their slightest perturbations. He frankly admitted his inability to determine what this force was, but by observations and calculations made with the greatest care, he ascertained that its action upon matter was proportional to its mass directly, and to the square of its distance inversely; and, with the requisite data and the principles of pure geometry, he demonstrated that this mysterious force—utterly inapproachable by human conception in its mystery—not only governs and controls the movements of all the mighty masses of matter rolling in space, but transmits its influence—not successively, but instantly and without diminution—to the smallest conceivable molecule on the outlying boundaries of the universe. In the same calm and comprehensive spirit, if it be possible for us to reach it, let us look upon this mysterious force called "life," not to show that it is simply a "correlate" of this or that motion (a thing utterly impossible of demonstration, if it actually exists), but to ascertain how and in what way it acts, and by what known law, if any, it is governed.
In all the vast realm of Reality there is no more conclusive and palpable fact than that "life" exists—appearing wherever the bright light flashes, the loving raindrop falls, the dancing brook ripples, the sparkling streamlet murmurs, and the broad river flows to mingle with the sea. All along this bright pathway of sunlight and cool translucent wave, this wonderful principle of vitality manifests itself in all-glorious life—filling the air with balmy odors; making perennial bud, leaf and flower, speeding from sire to son, from heart to heart, from spirit to spirit, from age to age, from time into eternity. For like all living principles, in this realm of Reality, it cannot die. It is immortal in its primal source, immortal all along its bright pathway, immortal as it flows onward to eternity, immortal in its return to the bosom of God. It is no postulate, no corollary, no mere hypothetical judgment; no "undiscovered correlative of motion," no "baseless fabric of a vision"—but the one grand comprehensive Datum on which all the objective, as well as subjective, data of the universe rest. It is the same "spirit that moved upon the face of the depths," in that majestic Dawn of Creation when the "evening and the morning were the first day;" the same spirit that "upholds the order of the heavens;" that pervades the vast realm of Reality, that flashes in the bright sunlight, descends in the loving raindrop, ripples in the dancing brook, sparkles in the murmuring stream, and forever flows onward bearing its primal fulness to the sea.