The third objection, of course, ceases to have any force if the days of creation are no longer regarded as natural days. But the objection is in itself, apart from this condition, of no consequence whatever. For, in the first place, it is by no means certain, or even probable, that the stars referred to in the fourth day's work are the fixed stars. The Hebrew has no word for planets as distinguished from the fixed stars, although, as we know for certain, the difference between the planets and the fixed stars was recognized from a very early period. In every case, then, the context must determine the sense to be given to the word. In this case, the fact that these stars are mentioned in connexion with the sun and moon, combined with our knowledge that the planets, like the moon, are dependent upon the sun for their light, would lead us to infer that they are meant.
But even if the fixed stars were meant, the objection would be no longer tenable. It rests on certain estimates as to the supposed distances of the fixed stars and star clusters, which were formed by the late Sir W. Herschel from what he designated the "space- penetrating power" of his telescopes. Starting with the assumption that the stars were of tolerably uniform size and brilliancy, and that the difference in apparent brightness was the result, and therefore a measure of their distances, he proceeded to apply the same process to the star clusters, which, even in a fair telescope, present only the appearance of faint nebulous spots of light, but are resolved into clusters of stars by more powerful instruments. In many cases, he found that a certain proportion existed between the telescopic power by which a cluster was first rendered visible, and that required for its resolution, and by this means he formed what he considered a probable estimate of its distance. Other clusters there were which only became visible in his most powerful telescopes, and which, therefore, he could never succeed in resolving. These he placed at a still greater distance, and from this estimate he deduced the conclusion that their light must have been in some cases as much as 60,000 years in reaching the earth.
But the whole foundation on which this long chain of inference rested has now been shown to be evanescent. In the first place many of his irresolvable nebulae have been proved by the spectroscope to be true nebulae—masses of luminous gas, and not star clusters at all; and, in the next place, the actual distances of a few of the fixed stars have been approximately ascertained, and it is proved beyond all doubt that the different degree of brightness exhibited by different stars is no test at all of their distance. Of all the stars in our hemisphere whose distance has thus been measured, the nearest to us is one which can only just be discerned by a practised eye on a favourable night, 61 Cygni, whilst the most brilliant star visible in England, Sirius, is at a considerably greater distance. The most competent judges estimate the magnitude of Sirius as about one thousand times that of the sun [Footnote: Mr. Proctor in Good Words, February, 1872.]. In addition to this, many stars of very different magnitudes are found to be related to each other in such a way as to show that they are in actual, and not merely in optical proximity. The clusters which were formerly supposed to consist of large stars at enormous distances from us, are now, upon very solid grounds, believed to be formed of much smaller stars, at much more moderate distances, so that it is very improbable that there is any object visible in the heavens whose light has taken so much as 6000 years, instead of 60,000 years to reach us.
THE NEBULAR THEORY.
We come now to the consideration of the Nebular Theory of Laplace, in so far as it is opposed to the Mosaic account. It must be remembered that, after all, this is only a theory. Even if it could be satisfactorily established, it would only point out a way in which this world MIGHT have been formed. That it could not have been formed in any other way is an independent proposition, in support of which no single argument has ever yet been brought forward. There may be a greater or less probability that the earth was formed in this particular way, that probability depending on the extent to which the theory accounts for observed facts. This it does in many cases, and it has in consequence been accepted AS A WHOLE by many scientific men, as a substitute for the Scriptural account. As will be seen hereafter, there are strong reasons for admitting it as a supplement to the brief account given by Moses; but our business now is to ascertain, whether it has any just claim to be received instead of that account.
The theory seems to have been suggested by certain speculations of Sir W. Herschel. In his telescopic examination of the Nebulae and star clusters, he found that in a great number of cases, when a nebula was rendered visible by a certain amount of telescopic power, it would be resolved into separate stars by a telescope of a little higher power. But there were some nebulae, visible in very small telescopes, or even discernible with the naked eye, such as those in Orion and Andromeda, which could not be resolved even by his great four-foot reflector, the largest telescope that had then been constructed. And these nebulae exhibited a great variety of forms. Some of them were vast shapeless masses of faint light; others, which he designated "planetary" nebulae, exhibited a regular form—a circular disc more or less clearly defined, often brightest in the centre. Others seemed to be intermediate between these two classes. Hence he was led to the idea that these were worlds in the process of formation, and that their varying forms indicated varying stages of that process.
This suggestion was eagerly adopted by the members of the French Academy, who were at that time on the look-out for anything which they thought would help them to account for the existence of the world, while they refused to acknowledge a Creator. It was taken up by one of their number—Laplace—a man who stood in the very foremost rank as a mathematician and physical astronomer, and moulded into shape by him.[Footnote: There is a very full account of Laplace's hypothesis, extracted from the works of Pontecoulant, in Professor Nichol's System of the World, pp. 69—86.]
He assumed, that the Solar System existed at the very earliest period as a shapeless nebula, a vast undefined mass of "fire- mist;" that at some time or other the separate particles of this fire-mist began to move towards their centre of gravity, under the influence of their mutual attractions, and thus assumed a spherical shape; that by some means or other a motion of rotation was originated in this spherical mass, which increased in rapidity as the process of condensation advanced. The effect of this rotation would be a flattening of the sphere; the equatorial diameter would increase while the polar diameter, or axis of rotation, diminished; and when the centrifugal force thus produced had reached a certain point, a ring would detach itself from the equator, but would continue to revolve about the common centre. He supposed that a succession of rings were thus thrown off, which finally broke up and accumulated into one or more spherical masses, forming the planets and their satellites, while the remainder of the original sphere was condensed into the sun. The planets and their satellites would continue to revolve about the centre as the ring from which they were formed had done, while the different original velocities of the particles of which they were formed, some having been in the outer, some in the inner part of the ring, would cause them also to rotate on their axis. As the condensation advanced, the heat which had originally existed in the "fire-mist" would be condensed also, so that all the masses when formed would be in an incandescent state, but the planets and their satellites being comparatively small would soon cool down, while the sun, owing to its greatly superior bulk, still retains its heat.
There is no doubt much to be said in favour of this theory, which may be more advantageously considered hereafter, when we shall have to consider it as supplementary to the Mosaic account. At present we are only concerned with it as it claims to stand alone, and to be accepted as a substitute for that account. Viewed in this light, as a substitute for a Creator, as showing us how the universe might have come into existence spontaneously, it utterly breaks down in three points.
1. It gives us no account whatever of the origin of matter, but assumes that it was already in existence at the time from which the theory takes its point of departure. But some account of it must be given. Either it was created by some higher power, or it was eternal; for the idea of its being self-originated is manifestly untenable. If it was created, there is an end of the theory—the act of creation assumes the existence of a Creator; and the only question left is, whether that Creator did more or less. But the very object of the theory was to dispense with the existence of a Creator. This alternative, then, it must reject, and there is nothing left but to fall back upon the other, and to assume that it existed from all eternity. But it is certainly not less difficult to us to conceive the possibility of inert matter being self-existent and eternal, than it is to recognize the existence of an eternal and all-powerful Spirit. Our own consciousness helps us to realize the possibility of the existence of an Eternal Mind, and of the exercise of power by that mind; but we have nothing to help us to a conception of self-existent matter.
In addition to this, the idea of eternity precludes from its very nature the idea of possible change. If there is change there must be the distinction of before and after, and so of the succession of existence, which involves the idea of time. That which is subject to change, and this theory assumes a change in the condition of matter, cannot be eternal.
2. The next failing point is, that this theory assumes a change, of the origin of which it can give no account. The assumption is, that matter which had existed from all eternity, or for an indefinite time, in a state of perfect rest, suddenly began to move towards its centre of gravity. A body, or a system of particles, can remain at rest only under one of two conditions. Either it must be acted on by no force at all, or all the forces by which it is acted on must be in perfect equilibrium. If matter existed under the first of these conditions, whence did the force suddenly emanate? Force cannot be self-originated any more than matter. But if the other alternative be adopted, how was the equilibrium disturbed? It is a fundamental axiom of mechanics that "a body (or system of bodies) at rest will continue at rest till it be acted upon by some external force." But the theory supplies no such external force, for it could only originate in that which the theory ignores—the will and power of some intelligent Being.
3. The third defect is, that the theory does not give any satisfactory account of the origin of the motions of rotation and revolution. Laplace does not attempt this. He simply assumes that a motion of rotation was set up somehow; but many of his followers, perceiving that the theory broke down here—though they passed the other two defects unnoticed—have attempted to supply the deficiency in this point. Some have attempted to account for this motion by analogy. It has been suggested that it was of the same nature, and produced by the same causes, as the vortex which is formed when a vessel full of fluid is emptied through an orifice in its bottom. Pontecoulant, in his account of the theory, enters more into detail. He assumes that in the process of agglomeration large bodies of matter impinged obliquely on the already formed mass, and so imparted to it a motion of rotation.
A consideration of the mechanical conditions of the problem will show the unsoundness of Pontecoulant's views. It is of course assumed that the forces by which this rotation is said to have been produced are identical in their character with those with which we are familiar, for the introduction of any force peculiar to that time would be equivalent to an admission of a directing power. The following propositions then seem unquestionable:—
1. The nebula must be considered as a system of particles acted on by their mutual attractions, and by no other force.
2. When two particles of matter, a and b, attract each other, it is a fundamental principle of mechanics, (commonly known as the "Third Law of Motion") that whatever amount of momentum is produced in a, an equal and opposite momentum must be produced in b. Hence if the mutual action remain undisturbed, the two particles will approach each other and finally meet. On their union, the two momenta being equal and opposite will neutralize each other, and there will be no tendency to produce motion of any kind. 3. The same law will hold good with reference to any number of particles, and therefore with reference to the supposed nebula. Every single particle will produce a certain momentum in each of the other particles, and at the same time will have impressed upon it by each of the other particles an equal and opposite momentum. Hence when all the particles are collected into a single mass, each individual momentum will be balanced by an equal and opposite one, and there can be no resultant motion.
The analogy from fluids flowing through an orifice fails, because—
1. The particles of the fluid are acted on by forces other than their mutual attractions, and in many cases affecting them unequally, e. g., friction against the sides of the containing vessel and the orifice.
2. Because the orifice is not a point, but a finite area, and consequently the particles of the fluid are acted on by forces which do not pass through the same point.
Considered then as a substitute for the action of an intelligent Creator, Laplace's theory utterly breaks down in three points, which, as they will have to be referred to hereafter, it is well to recapitulate.
1. It does not account for the origin of matter.
2. It does not account for the emergence of the force of attraction.
3. It does not give a satisfactory account for the motion of rotation.
DIFFICULTIES IN PHYSIOLOGY.
The third science which is supposed to come into collision with the Mosaic Record is Physiology. Here, however, we meet with no objections which rest upon ascertained facts, as in the case of geology. We have only to do with theories. All that can be brought forward is merely matter of opinion or theory—such theory resting indeed on a foundation of ascertained facts—but being in itself a mere inference more or less probable from those facts. Even if it were proved to be a true account of the causation of those facts, it would be by no means certain that other facts, however similar, might not have had a totally different origin.
At one time it was very confidently asserted, by many eminent physiologists, that the differences between various branches of the human race were so great, that it was impossible that all should have descended from the same original stock. Probably this opinion is still maintained in some quarters, but of late years views of a diametrically opposite character have been brought forward, and very ably advocated. In proportion as these views are admitted to have in them an element of truth, the importance of the older objection is diminished. It will therefore be unnecessary to dwell upon it. This new view is, that not only all branches of the human race, but all living beings now existing, or that have ever existed on the face of the earth, are descended by the process of "evolution," carried on under what are designated as "natural laws" from some one variety, or small number of varieties of living creatures of the lowest type.
This theory, like that of Laplace, had its origin among the French Academicians, at the close of the last century. Its author was La Marck. According to his view the simplest form of animal life, the "monad," was spontaneously developed by some unknown process. From this monad higher forms of animal life were produced, and the course of development was continued till it finally culminated in man. But it does not appear that La Marck suggested any means by which the various stages of development were brought about, and the view attracted little attention. Some thirty years ago it was revived by an anonymous writer, in a work called "Vestiges of Creation." In this work the idea of spontaneous generation was repudiated. The original monad was supposed to have derived its existence from an act of Creative Power, and to have been then left to work out its own development, by virtue of powers originally implanted in it. All its variations and advances were supposed to be the result of the will and efforts of the creature acting through many generations. Thus the desire and attempt to walk ended in the development of legs, while wings were the final result of its efforts to fly. It was felt, however, that this was by no means a satisfactory account of the state of things, and so the work, though it produced a great sensation at the time, has now been almost entirely forgotten.
Latterly, however, the theory has found a far more able advocate in the person of Mr. Darwin, with whose name it has been popularly identified. By his indefatigable labours a vast variety of facts have been collected and skilfully arranged, to show that all the varieties of life may be satisfactorily accounted for by the continued action, through a long course of ages, of certain natural causes, with the results of which we are familiar, and of which intentional use is continually made by man. Mr. Darwin does not deny the existence of a Creator, but the tendency of his arguments is to prove that His interference was limited to the single act of original Creation; and that from the moment of its creation the world has been a sort of automatic machine, producing its results without any interference from any higher power.
The theory taken as a whole comes into contact with the Mosaic Record in three points:—
1. As it assumes the possibility that life may be self-originated.
2. As it indicates a mode of procedure different from that given by Moses.
3. As it requires unlimited time.
Of these the last is already disposed of, when the narrative is shown to be capable of an interpretation in accordance with it. The first requires only a brief notice; but the second must be carefully investigated, to separate ascertained truth from inferences which have no sufficient foundation.
The theory of spontaneous generation rests almost entirely upon assumptions. Its only semblance of support from facts is derived from certain experiments of a very unsatisfactory character, which are said to have resulted in the production of some of the lowest forms of animal life. These experiments have been by no means uniformly successful. One or two experimenters have thought that they have succeeded, but not uniformly, while the same process, repeated by men whose scientific and manipulative powers are universally recognized, has never once resulted in any seeming development of life. Even if, however, they had been uniformly successful, there would have been great reason to doubt whether the apparent success was not really a failure—a failure in the precautions necessary to exclude all germs of life from the matter experimented upon. For the lower forms of life are excessively minute; and their germs—eggs, seeds, or spores—must be far smaller. It is known that these are constantly floating in the atmosphere, though, owing to their extreme minuteness, the fact can only be ascertained by the most skilful investigation. And the lower forms of animalcules have a singular tenacity of life; they can pass unharmed through processes which would be fatal to creatures of higher organization. One variety is known to survive entire desiccation; another lives upon strychnine; others bear without injury great extremes of heat and cold; and if this is the case with the mature creatures, it is probable that the germ possesses still stronger powers of vitality. If one acarus can live upon strychnine, then it is not impossible that mineral acids should be harmless to others; the germs might be carried through sulphuric acid in air without coming into contact with the acid, as air would pass through in bubbles, in the centre of which they might be suspended; or if like the diatomaceae, they were coated with silex, they might come into contact with it and resist its action. Thus one of the precautions commonly taken is not certain in its action, and the same might be shown to be true of the others. The theory of spontaneous generation is, in fact, generally repudiated by Evolutionists, and cannot therefore be taken as a starting-point.
We come then to the theory of Evolution with which Mr. Darwin's name is associated. This theory asserts that all the varieties of animal life now existing on the earth, however widely they may differ from each other, are in reality derived from one, or a very few original types; and that in this general statement the human race is to be included. This theory rests upon the following admitted facts.
1. There are not, as was at one time commonly supposed, broad and distinct lines of demarcation between the different varieties of animals and plants. Our increasing knowledge of zoology has brought to light the fact that one species shades off into another by almost imperceptible gradations. As we go back in the fossil records of animal life in the past, we find that the species now existing, while they are closely allied to correspondent species of an earlier period, are scarcely ever identical with them, and that the few cases of identity which do occur, are limited to the most recent rocks. Either then the old species must have perished, and new ones, similar but not identical, must have been created to take their places, or there must have been a process of gradual change, by which the present species have been derived from their predecessors. In one or two cases fossils have been found which combine, to some extent, forms which are now found in distinct species, as if the process of variation had proceeded in distinct lines from a common source.
2. No two animals of any class are exactly alike in all points. Each has its individual peculiarities, and in some cases these peculiarities are strongly marked.
3. Man has been enabled, to a certain extent, to make use of these individual peculiarities, and by means of them to produce great varieties in the breeds of domesticated animals. This has been sometimes done unconsciously through a selection influenced by other motives, and then the process has been very slow; but latterly intentionally, with a view to the production of improved breeds, and whenever this has been the case, changes of considerable extent have been rapidly produced. By carefully selecting the animals to be paired, any desired modification can generally be produced in the course of a few generations. This is exemplified in the numerous and increasing varieties of the breeds of almost all domestic animals and birds.
The theory of Evolution then suggests that the same processes which are employed by the cattle-breeder have been in operation through untold ages. For the intention and care of the human agent, Mr. Darwin substitutes two principles; one designated as "Natural Selection," the other as "Sexual Selection." For their full development he claims unlimited time. The ground on which the Process of Natural Selection is maintained is as follows:—
It has been already noticed that no two individuals of the same kind are exactly alike in all respects; each individual has some peculiarities, generally very trifling, but sufficient to distinguish it from all other individuals. Some of these peculiarities will probably be such as to be of some service to the individual in the struggle of life; they will assist it in procuring food, or in resisting or escaping from its natural enemies, while on the other hand the peculiarities of other individuals will be prejudicial to them in these ways. The consequence will be that a larger proportion of those having favourable peculiarities will survive and propagate their kind; their offspring will inherit the peculiarities of their parents, and reproduce them in various degrees. The same process will then be repeated, and thus from generation to generation the peculiarity will be increased, till at last it is sufficient to mark out, first a new variety, then a new species, and so on. This process then, continued through a long course of ages, was at one time considered by Mr. Darwin sufficient to account for all the varieties of living creatures now existing, or that have existed in past ages. But he has more recently satisfied himself [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i p. 152.] that there are many phenomena which are not satisfactorily accounted for by this principle, since many of the specific differences of animals are found to exist in matters which, cannot directly promote their success in the struggle of life. Such, for instance, are the brilliant colours which are found, especially among the males, in many species of birds. These he proposes to explain by the supplementary theory of "Sexual Selection." His suggestion is that these peculiarities are in some way attractive to animals of the opposite sex, so that the individuals in which they are most strongly developed are more successful than others in obtaining mates, and that in this way the peculiarity is gradually fixed and increased.
By these two processes, then, Mr. Darwin supposes that all the differences now existing among animals have been produced and perpetuated; and not only that, but that man also is the result of similar processes, acting through a very long period; that the progeny of certain "anthropomorphous apes" have, by slow degrees, risen in the scale of being above their progenitors; that all our faculties, intellectual and moral as well as physical, differ from those possessed by lower animals in DEGREE only, and not in KIND, [Footnote: Descent of Man, chaps, ii.-v.] so that man has arrived at his present state by what may be termed purely natural processes, without the intervention of any external power.
In considering these theories, our attention must first be directed to some defects which appear to weaken the whole course of the argument; and then we may consider the peculiar difficulties in the way of the processes of natural and sexual selection; and the grounds for the belief that man is in possession of something entirely different in KIND from any faculty or power possessed by any lower animals, which could not therefore be derived by inheritance and improvement.
The first thing which strikes us in Mr. Darwin's works is that, from time to time, he betrays a sort of latent consciousness that his theory is insufficient; that the processes to which he ascribes such vast results are not quite adequate to the purpose, but that they need in some way to be supplemented. Every now and then recourse is had to some law—some unknown cause—which must co-operate in the production of the results he is considering. In spite of the apparent care which he has taken to guard against it, he is continually betrayed into a confusion between the two senses in which the word "law" is employed. In its proper significance, law is an expression of the will of an intelligent superior, enforced by adequate power. In this sense the law may be considered as an efficient cause. The combination of will and power is an adequate cause for any result whatever. But Mr. Darwin expressly excludes this sense of the word, in a sentence which seems to involve a self-contradiction. "I mean by nature only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by law only the ascertained sequence of events." [Footnote: Plants and Animals under Domestication, vol. i. p. 6.] Law, in this sense, then, is simply the statement of observed facts, and as such can have no action at all. It asserts that certain phenomena do uniformly follow each other in an ascertained order; but it gives us no information whatever as to the cause of those events, or the reason why they do thus succeed each other. But, taking law in this last sense, by his own definition, Mr. Darwin does, nevertheless, continually bring forward certain "laws" as accounting for certain results. Thus, we have the laws of "Correlation of Growth," [Footnote: Origin of Species, ed. 1872, p. 114.] "Inheritance limited to Males," [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. pp. 256, 257.] and a "Principle of Compensation." [Footnote: Origin of Species, p. 117.] When Mr. Darwin, therefore, brings forward these laws as efficient causes, he not only tacitly admits the inadequacy of his theory to account for the phenomena in question, but he also endeavours to supply the defect by another cause, which, by his own definition, is no cause at all. And further, Mr. Darwin calls in the action of "unknown agencies." [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 154.]
But it may be said, "Is not this the case with all sciences, at least in their earlier stages? Are there not frequently, or always, many phenomena which at first seem inexplicable, but which are gradually accounted for as knowledge increases? If, then, this is no objection in scientific pursuits generally, why should it be so here?" This reasoning would be perfectly valid if Darwinism were regarded simply as a scientific investigation. But it is under consideration now on very different rounds. Whatever Mr. Darwin's own views may be, the theory is brought forward by others, not as a mere interesting speculation, but as antagonistic to a record whose authority is attested by evidence of the very highest class. It claims to discredit that record, and to be received as a substitute for it. But that record, however it may be interpreted, does give us adequate causes for all that it professes to account for, in the will and operation of an Almighty Creator. The theory, therefore, which professes to supplant it, must at least stand upon an equal ground—it must give an adequate account of everything. There must be no unverified laws. To fall back upon such laws is in reality to fall back on the working of that very power whose operation is formally denied. [Footnote: See Foster's Essays, Essay i. Letter 5.]
The next point to be noticed is a great confusion between assumptions and proved facts. This is especially prominent in that part of his last work which is devoted to sexual selection. Thus, in one case it is taken for granted, that various characteristics of the males "serve only to allure or excite the female." [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 258.] "Hence" (because brilliant colours of insects have probably not been acquired FOR THE PURPOSE of protection), "I am led to suppose that the females generally prefer, or are most excited by the more brilliant males." [Footnote: Ibid. p. 399.] "Nevertheless, when we see many males pursuing the same female, we can hardly believe that the pairing is left to blind chance; that the female exerts no choice, and is not influenced by the gorgeous colours, or other ornaments with which the male alone is decorated" [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i p. 421.] Such sentences are of continual occurrence, and do duty in the argument as if they expressed ascertained facts. And not only this, but in the very part of the work which is devoted to establishing the adequacy of sexual selection to produce certain effects, that adequacy is assumed from the very beginning. Thus, we read, "That these characters are the result of sexual selection is clear," [Footnote: Ibid. p. 258.] before we have got six pages into an argument which occupies a volume and a half. This is surely a strong instance of what is commonly called "begging the question." Another instance of confusion of ideas is to be found in the assumption of design which occasionally occurs. Thus, we read, "In some other remarkable cases beauty has been gained for the sake of protection, through the imitation of other beautiful species." [Footnote: Ibid. p. 393.] "From these considerations Mr. Bates inferred, that the butterflies which imitate the protected species, had acquired their present marvellously deceptive appearance through variation and natural selection, in order to be mistaken for the protected kinds." [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 411.] In these cases there is an assumption of purpose and design, which, necessarily implies a designer, just as law, treated as an efficient cause, implies a law-giver. It may indeed be that this is only an inaccurate way of expressing something else; but then, such modes of expression are usually the result of a want of clear perception of the ideas to be expressed; and, in this case, such expressions must diminish the weight to be assigned to Mr. Darwin's judgment.
We come now to the consideration of the first of Mr. Darwin's supposed agencies—"Natural Selection," or, "Survival of the fittest." The results produced by this process must be ascribed to one of two causes: either they are the work of a Superintending Providence, watching over and directing every separate detail; or they are the result of pure chance and accident. There is nothing intermediate between these two causes. Natural law—apart from design and a designer—is, as we have seen, a nonentity—a mere expression of observed facts, for which it can give no account whatever. Mr. Darwin's argument is expressly directed to exclude the interference of a superintending Providence. Chance is the only cause which he can bring forward. The very first question, then, which arises is, What is there upon which chance may operate? What are the conditions from which the probabilities may be calculated? Mr. Darwin assumes, and no doubt correctly, that minute variations are continually taking place. But as these variations are the result of accident [Footnote: If they are not the result of accident, we again see design and need a designer.] they will take place in various directions; some of them will have a beneficial, some of them a noxious tendency. As, moreover, they are supposed to be very small at each step, the difference of advantage in the case of different individuals must be also very small, and will not be likely to produce any considerable difference in the chances of pairing. But in order that any variation may be perpetuated and increased, the pairing of similarly affected individuals is necessary. Parents, in which the variations took opposite directions, would probably have offspring of the normal type, the opposite variations neutralizing each other. And this must be repeated again and again; and with every repetition of the process required, the probabilities against it would rapidly increase. Thus, supposing that in the first generation the proportion of favourable conditions were such, that of those animals that paired there were four of each sex that had them to three that wanted them, the chances that any given pair were alike in possessing them would be represented by the product 4/7 x 4/7, or 16/49. Hence, the chances would be rather more than two to one against it. In the next generation it would be 256/2401, or more than eight to one, and so on. [Footnote: This is given merely as an illustration of the nature of the calculation. In any actual case the conditions would be infinitely more complex, but the calculation, if it could be made at all, must be made on this principle.]
But next, we have not to do with one series of changes only, but with a vast number of different series going on in different directions, if we are to have a large variety of animals produced from a common stock. All the probabilities against the separate variations must be combined, not by addition, but by multiplication, so that the probabilities against the production of all these separate forms become enormous.
Against all this improbability Mr. Darwin brings forward the supposed advantages which these variations give to their possessors. But here again a new element is introduced into the calculation. It is assumed, in the very statement of the question, that the process of adaptation has already taken place; the original stock must have been adapted to the circumstances under which they existed, or in their case the whole theory fails. If, then, a fresh adaptation is wanted, it must be because a change in external circumstances must have taken place. In order that a new variety may be established there must be a concurrence between the change of external circumstances and the change in the animals. Here we get a new, and a large factor for our multiplication.
This argument may be, perhaps, made clearer by an illustration. Mr. Darwin has written a very interesting book on the fertilization of orchids by means of insects. According to his view all insects are descended from one common type, and all orchids are also descended from one parent; but we meet with insects and orchids in pairs, each perfectly adapted to the other. We will suppose that a change takes place in a particular orchid, that the nectary recedes to a greater distance from the point to which the insect can penetrate, and so an advantage is given to those insects in which the haustellum is of a length above the average. This may have a slight tendency to increase the number of such insects; but then it will have an opposite tendency in the case of the orchid. It cannot, of course, be supposed that the variation, which is only partial in the insect, is universal in the plant. The unchanged insects will therefore be confined to the unchanged flowers, while the changed insects will be indifferent on the subject, as they will be able to reach the nectary in any case. Hence, an advantage will be given to the unchanged flower, which will be more likely to be fertilized, and the two lines of variation will move in opposite directions.
But next, the variation in the insects and the flowers must take place at the same time and the same place, or no result will follow to the insect, while the new variety of orchid must perish for want of an insect to fertilize it. It is this which makes the supposition of unlimited time almost useless, because just in proportion as the time is increased the probability of two independent events happening simultaneously is diminished.
But even supposing this difficulty out of the way, we meet with an immediate repetition of it. The insect derives an advantage from its increased haustellum, but what advantage does the plant derive from its retiring nectary? How does that help it in the "struggle of life?" But if it produces no beneficial result, the variation according to the theory must drop. Hence we should arrive at an insect suited for a new form of the flower, but no flower suited to the new form of the insect.
If, then, we reject the idea of superintendence and design, we have on the one hand an enormous antecedent improbability, while on the other hand we have only a very small power by which a direction may be given to the course of events, since by the hypothesis in any one generation the change, and consequently the superior advantage, is exceedingly small, and there is a strong tendency in related changes, as in the case of the orchid and insect, to move in opposite directions.
But next, in the varieties of animals with which we are acquainted, there is a certain connexion between the differences of independent organs, for which this theory does not help us to account. Thus, for instance, according to this theory the canine and the feline races are descended from a common ancestor. But there are several points of difference between a cat and a dog. There are the differences in the form of jaws, in the dentition; in the muscles by which the jaws are moved, and in the feet and claws. All animals of the cat tribe agree in all these respects, so do all animals of the dog tribe. We never find a cat's head combined with the feet of a dog. Why is this? Mr. Darwin attempts to account for it by his supposed law of "correlation of growth," but, as has been already shown, any such law, being by Mr. Darwin's definition the observed sequence of events and nothing more, is utterly useless, when it is brought forward as a cause for those events. On this point the theory completely breaks down.
3. The theory does not account for any changes which are not immediately beneficial. [Footnote: In the "Origin of Species" (Ed. 1872) Mr. Darwin makes an admission which is virtually a giving-up of his whole theory. He says, "In many other cases modifications are probably the direct result of the laws of variation or of growth, independently of any good having been thus gained; but even such structures have often, as we may feel assured, been subsequently taken advantage of," pp. 165, 166. Here, then, we have a preparation for future circumstances, which surely implies design.] If any rudimentary advance is made in the organism, if, for instance, the rudiments of a new bone, or joint, or organ of sense are developed, the nascent organ must, according to the hypothesis of minute changes, be useless in the first instance. Hence it would confer no advantage in the struggle of life; there would be no tendency towards its preservation and growth. This becomes a very important consideration, when certain important differences in animal structure and habits are to be accounted for. How, for instance, could the mammary glands be developed in oviparous creatures? Mr. Darwin regards them as originating in cutaneous glands, developed in the pouch of the marsupials. But his grounds for this statement are very meagre. To a great extent they rest on what an American Naturalist "believes he has seen;" and besides, the ornithorhyncus, which has no pouch, and which is lower in the scale of life than the marsupials, by Mr. Darwin's own admission (O. S., p. 190), possesses the glands. Mr. Mivart's question (Darwin, O. S., p. 189) is a very pertinent one.
Another point which this view fails to explain, is the determination of the line of development in particular directions at different periods. At one time it is most marked in fishes, at another in reptiles, at another in mammals. How is this to be accounted for?
4. The experience of cattle-breeders does not warrant the assumption that the principle of natural selection has more than a limited operation. No case has as yet been brought forward in which varieties have been produced which were not capable of interbreeding. Apart from their experience there is not a particle of evidence in favour of the assertion that races which cannot be made to breed together can be descended from a common stock. The unlimited application of this principle is therefore a pure assumption.
5. To this must be added the circumstance that no authenticated instance of variation by natural selection can be brought forward. It is true that this is not a very important argument, because our knowledge of those classes of animals in which natural selection could act is even now very incomplete; and our knowledge of their past history is still more limited, so that we are not in a condition to prove a negative. But in such a case as this the onus of proof should surely lie on the other side. It is for those who would assert the theory to bring forward positive proof of it. There is, however, one point in Mr. Darwin's view of domesticated animals which tells against his theory. The cat remains unchanged, because from its vagrant habits man has no control over its pairing [Footnote: Darwin's "Animals and Plants," vol. ii. p. 236.]. Now considering the variety of conditions under which cats exist, here is surely a great opening for natural selection. But it has produced no results.
We come now to the theory of Sexual Selection, which is to account for those peculiarities and distinctions which can have no beneficial effect in the struggle of life, and which are accounted for on the supposition that they render their possessors more agreeable to the opposite sex, and so facilitate pairing, so that those animals which possess them in a remarkable degree would have the greatest chance of continuing their race. The case on which Mr. Darwin mainly rests his argument is that of birds, in which the males are frequently distinguished by exquisite colours and very graceful markings, and in which also the proceedings of the sexes can, in many cases, be more easily watched.
It is in maintaining this theory that Mr. Darwin has such frequent recourse to what may be called the "argumentum ad ignorantiam." "If such and such organs or ornaments were not designed for this or that particular object, then we do not know of what use they are." [Footnote: For instance, Descent of Man, vol. ii. pp. 284. 399.] This maybe very true, but it proves nothing, unless we assume that we are or ought to be acquainted with, the use and object of everything in nature. And it involves another and a very wide question. There are certain tastes which seem to be inherent in our nature, and there are certain external objects which afford gratification to those tastes. Must we view this coincidence as merely accidental? or is it a part of the design of the world that it should minister not only to our needs, but also to our enjoyments? Mr. Darwin does not reject the idea of an Author and Designer of Nature, is he then prepared to assert that beauty did not form a part of the design as well as utility? [Footnote: In the "Origin of Species," p 159, Mr. Darwin does seem to assert this; but he says in conclusion, "How the sense of beauty in its simplest form—that is, the reception of a peculiar kind of pleasure from certain colours, forms, and sounds—was first developed in the mind of man and of the lower animals is a very obscure subject," p. 162. To Mr. Darwin, with his present views, it may well be obscure; but it presents no obscurity at all to those who believe that the universe in all its details was designed, and its formation superintended, by a loving Father, whose will was that it should not only supply the needs, but also minister to the enjoyment of all His creatures, nor to those who in every form of beauty, physical, intellectual, or moral, behold a far-off reflexion of the glory of the Invisible Creator.] If he is not prepared to assert this, he must admit the possibility that many things exist whose sole object is to minister to that sense of beauty which is probably possessed by other beings besides ourselves.
Mr. Darwin admits that many other causes, beside the supposed preference on the part of one sex for certain material adornments possessed by the other, influence the pairing of animals. In a very large number of cases the female is quite passive in the matter. The question is decided by a battle between the males, and the female seems, as a matter of course, to become the mate of the conqueror. In many other cases pairing seems to be the result of accident; the two sexes pair as they happen to meet each other. The great points on which Mr. Darwin rests his argument are that in some cases, on the approach of breeding-time, certain ornamental appendages become more highly developed or more brilliantly coloured, [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. ii. p. 80.] and that in many cases the males, when courting the females, are observed to display their ornaments before them. [Footnote: Ibid. vol. ii. p. 86, et seq.] but then there are other facts, which Mr. Darwin. also notices, which detract more than he seems willing to allow, from the relevancy of these facts. The development of ornaments at breeding-time sometimes takes place in both sexes, indicating some latent connexion with the reproductive organs; thus the comb of the domestic hen becomes a bright red, as well as that of the cock. It would appear then that the object of the change is not to render the cock more attractive to the hens, for how could it serve the hens (if the choice lies with them) to be made more attractive to the cocks? Then again an old hen who is past laying, often assumes, to a considerable extent, the plumage of the cock. When these ornaments are the exclusive possession of the male, they are often displayed for other purposes than the gratification of the female. The possessors seem to be conscious of their beauty, and to take a pleasure in displaying it to any spectators.
Very great beauty and brilliancy of colour is often found in cases in which it can have nothing whatever to do with the relation between the sexes. Thus, a vast number of caterpillars are remarkable for their beauty; but in their immature state it can have no relation to sexual selection; and if it may, or rather must, have a different object in one case, what ground have we for assuming that it may not have a different object in the other?
Again, we are not in a position to form any opinion as to the causes which really influence the pairing of animals when choice is exercised. We have no certain knowledge upon the important question whether the ideal of beauty, if possessed by the lower animals at all, is in all, or even in many cases, in accordance with our own. We, for instance, admire a male humming-bird; what certainty have we that he is equally beautiful in the eyes of his mate? In cases where we have reason to believe that deliberate selection has taken place, we do not know that that selection was influenced by only one condition—that of beauty. There may have been a thousand causes at work of which we know nothing. Mr. Darwin brings forward an instance in which the owner of a number of peahens wished them to breed with a peacock of a particular variety, while they showed a deliberate preference for another bird; and he supposes that their preference was decided by the plumage. But there might have been another cause—at least the circumstances as related by him seem to suggest it—which would give a very different turn to the affair. The favoured peacock, spoken of as "old," [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. ii. p. 119.] was probably an old friend of the hens, while his unsuccessful rival seems to have been a new introduction. The preference shown by the hens would in this case be fully accounted for, without supposing them to have exhibited any choice in the matter of plumage.
Then there are a vast number of peculiarities which are certainly not ornamental in our eyes, but which are confined to the male sex. They are, so far as we can tell, of no service whatever in the struggle of life. With reference to these Mr. Darwin's argument seems to be this,—"They can serve no other purpose with which we are acquainted, therefore they must be attractive to the female—therefore they must be acquired by sexual selection." Such arguments as these cannot carry much weight. [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol ii p 284.]
On the whole, we can hardly come to any other conclusion than that the theory of sexual selection is not proved. In many cases it is known that such selection is not the result of choice; in other cases, where choice seems probable, we have no ground for believing that external appearance is the sole ground of that choice. It may exercise some influence, but that is all. Even if admitted, there are many things which cannot be accounted for by it without very extravagant assumptions. It cannot then be admitted as covering the large classes of phenomena left unaccounted for by the theory of natural selection.
So far as the lower animals are concerned, the results to which an examination of Mr. Darwin's views has led us may be summed up in the following propositions:—
1. That the two causes, natural and sexual selection, have probably exercised some influence in the modification of animal forms; but that the laws of probability preclude our entertaining the belief that these causes can have had, by themselves, and apart from a superintending power, anything beyond a very limited operation.
2. That in cases where there have been related changes in different parts of the same organism, or in different organisms, the inadequacy of these two causes is virtually admitted by the introduction of certain supposed laws; and that these laws, being defined by Mr. Darwin to be no more than "the ascertained sequence of events," cannot be regarded as efficient causes, and so cannot supply the defect.
3. That there are particular points in the chain of life, in which the transition from one form to another is so great, and so incapable of graduation, that it is impossible to suppose that these two causes can have been adequate to produce it. Of this a notable instance is to be found in the transition from oviparous animals to the mammalia.
We come now to the consideration of the origin of man, which Mr. Darwin, in his last work, ascribes also to natural and sexual selection. His view is, that man is descended from some family of anthropomorphous apes, and that all those enormous differences which, as he admits, exist between the highest ape and the most degraded member of the human race, are differences of degree only, and not of kind; that all our intellectual wealth, and all our moral laws, are simply the development of faculties and ideas which were possessed in a ruder form by the creatures from whom man is descended.
So far as man's physical constitution is concerned, there is undoubtedly something to be said in favour of this view. For man's bodily frame is composed of the same elements, and moulded upon the same general plan as that of the higher apes, and, what is still more remarkable, it retains, in a rudimentary form, certain muscles and organs which are fully developed and answer important purposes in many of the quadrumana. Of these the tail is a remarkable instance. But when the differences between the physical peculiarities of man, and those of his supposed progenitors are examined, the theory of natural selection collapses entirely, for the development has taken the form which would be most disadvantageous in the struggle of life. This is very clearly put by the Duke of Argyll.[Footnote: "Recent Speculations on Primeval Man," in Good Words, April, 1868.]
"The unclothed and unprotected condition of the human body, its comparative slowness of foot; the absence of teeth adapted for prehension or for defence; the same want of power for similar purposes in the hands and fingers; the bluntness of the sense of smell, so as to render it useless for the detection of prey which is concealed;—all these are features which stand in fixed and harmonious relation to the mental powers of man. But, apart from these, they would place him at an immense disadvantage in the struggle for existence. This, therefore, is not the direction in which the blind forces of selection could ever work .... Man must have had human proportions of mind before he could afford to lose bestial proportions of body."
But it is in the intellectual and spiritual part of man's nature that the greatest difficulty in the way of the application of these theories arises. The strongest argument of all against them is one which is incapable of proof, since it arises not from facts around us, but from our own self-consciousness—our realization of our own powers—and so, to each individual man it must vary in apparent strength, in proportion as he realizes what he is, and what it is in his power to become. The very outcry that has been raised against Mr. Darwin's proposition is a proof of this. The theory of the descent of man, as he propounds it, was felt to be an outrage upon the universal instincts of humanity. But, because this objection rests upon such a foundation, it is incapable of being duly weighed and investigated as an argument, and we proceed therefore to such considerations as are within our reach.
First of all it is desirable to dispose of one of the stock arguments in favour of the theory. That argument is, that the difference between the lowest type of savage and the highest type of civilized man—between a Fuegian or an Australian on the one hand, and a Newton, a Shakspeare, or a Humboldt, on the other,—is quite as great as that between the higher forms of ape and the lowest forms of humanity. But in this argument there is a fatal confusion of ideas. The capacity for acquisition is confounded with the opportunity for acquisition. That the savage is in possession of but very few ideas does not prove that he is incapable of more; it may equally well arise from the fact that he had had no opportunity of acquiring more. The only way to test the question is by putting a savagoe from his earliest infancy, under the same favourable circumstances as the child of civilisation. Whenever this experiment has been tried, and our missionaries have had many opportunities of trying it, the difference has either not appeared at all, or has proved to be very trifling. Mr. Darwin himself seems to have been very much surprised at what he saw in some natives of Terra del Fuego, who were for a time his companions on board the "Beagle." "The Fuegians rank amongst the lowest barbarians, but I was continually struck with surprise how closely the three natives on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' who had lived some years in England, and could talk a little English, resembled us in disposition, and in most of our mental faculties." [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p 34] And these Fuegians had not been educated from their infancy, they had only come to England later in life, and were thus under an incalculable disadvantage. Had they been heirs to such an intellectual inheritance as fell to the lot of Mr. Darwin, there is nothing extravagant in the supposition that they might have proved themselves equal to him in the ability to make use of it. The comparison then proves to be quite illusory; but it draws our attention to a fact which is of very high importance in our investigation of the difference between man and all other animals. Man alone seems to be capable of laying up what may be termed an external store of intellectual wealth. Other animals in the state of nature make, so far as we know, no intellectual advances. The bee constructs its cell, the bird builds its nest precisely as its progenitors did in the earliest dawn of history. There is a possibility that some advance, though a very small one, may be made by animals brought under the control of man. It is said, for instance, that a young pointer dog will sometimes point at game without any training. But in this case the acquired knowledge is congenital, and is therefore to be regarded as a development brought about by superintended selection. But with man none of the acquired knowledge is innate. It is a treasure entirely external to himself until he has appropriated it by study of some kind or other. There is no reason to believe that any advance in intellectual power has been made by man, in his collective capacity, since his first appearance on earth. Various individuals have varying powers, but these differences are no result of development, since they may often be found among members of the same family, who have been subjected to the same discipline, and enjoyed the same educational advantages. It follows that the gulf between the ape and the lowest type of humanity is almost if not quite as great as between the ape and the highest type. The savage does not in any way help to bridge over that gulf.
But it is said that the moral and intellectual faculties which man possesses, and which he looks upon as the great badge of his superiority, are in truth only different in degree and not in kind from those possessed by the lower animals. But the grounds on which this assertion is based are wonderful in their tenuity. Dogs are possessed of self-consciousness because they sometimes emit sounds in their sleep from which it is concluded that they dream. [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 62.] "Can we feel sure that an old dog, with an excellent memory, and some power of imagination, as shown by his dreams, never reflects on his past pleasures in the chace? And this would be a form of self- consciousness." Our duty to our neighbour is entirely the result of "social instinct," [Footnote: Descent of Man, vol. i. pp. 70- 106.] and our duty to our God the development of a belief which has its origin in dreams. [Footnote: Ibid, p. 66.]
It is impossible for us satisfactorily to meet these assertions with a direct negative, [Footnote: There are some who think that this statement may be directly refuted. Their views will be found in the QUARTERLY REVEIW, July, 1871.] for this simple reason, that we have no means whatever of knowing what ideas are present in the minds of the lower animals, or even what communications pass between them. For anything we can tell to the contrary, the bark of a dog may be as articulate to his fellow-dogs as our speech is to our fellow-men, while on the other hand to the dog our speech may be as inarticulate as his bark is to us. But our total ignorance of the mental state of animals which have been the companions of man from the very earliest ages, our utter inability to hold any conversation with them, is in itself a proof of the wide gulf that separates them from us. Put two men of the most widely separated races on a desert isle together, and a very little time will elapse before they are able to hold some communication with each other. If then the difference between man and the lower animals were a difference of the same kind as that between the civilized man and the savage, though greater in degree, surely in so many thousand years something might have been done to open a way for intellectual communication; some development of the faculties of the lower creatures would have been perceived, some means of interchanging ideas would have been discovered. If Mr. Darwin had had for his companions on board the "Beagle," instead of three Fuegians, as many Gorillas or Chimpanzees, would he, at the end of the voyage, have been able to report any approximation, at all to European mental characteristics, or even to those of the lowest savage? But if the difference be only one of degree, some approximation ought to have taken place.
As then we can have no direct knowledge of the moral and intellectual powers of animals, we can only judge of them from their actions, and other external signs. One great mark of difference has already been noticed. Man has, other animals have not, the power of laying up an external treasure of intellectual acquirements. Then there are certain arts which seem to be indispensable to man in his lowest state—no savage is so low that he is utterly destitute of them—no animal makes any pretence to them. Such are the designing, construction, and use of tools. Mr. Darwin asserts that in certain cases—very rare ones—apes have been known to use stones to break open nuts; but the mere use of a stone is a very different thing from the conception and deliberate formation of a tool, however rude. Then there is the kindling of fire, and the use of it for the purpose of cooking; and lastly, the preparation and the wearing of clothes. The tools or the clothes may be of the rudest kind, the tools may be formed from a flint, and the clothes from bark or skin, but in the preparation of each there are signs of intellectual power, of which we find no indications whatever in the lower animals.
Another important difference between man and all other animals lies in the fact, that whatever an animal does it does perfectly from the first, but it makes no improvements. A bird's first nest is perfect. With man the case is the reverse, it is only by many trials, many failures, that he attains to skill in any operation, but then he goes forward. Arts improve from generation to generation. This seems to show that the faculties of man differ from those of animals in kind, and not in degree only.
The question also arises, if man has been produced from an anthropomorphous ape by a process of natural development, how is it that the same process has not gone on in other lines? The dog, the horse, and the elephant are at least equal in intelligence and sagacity to the highest known apes. Such a development from them cannot have proceeded through the line of the apes. If these different orders are at all connected it must be through some remote common ancestor. Why then has this development come to an abrupt termination in some cases and not in all? It may indeed be said that the dog and the horse are indebted for their intelligence to the inherited results of long intercourse with man, but this cannot be the case with the elephant, which is never known to breed in captivity. Nor is there any reason to believe that the present intelligence of the elephant is recently developed. Why then has it been arrested in its course?
Whether or not we assume the theory of development to be wholly or partially correct in reference to the lower animals, we must admit that it is true of man, but in a sense totally different from that which Mr. Darwin suggests. The development of which he is the advocate is a development of race, in which the advance made by each individual generation is exceedingly small, while the difference in remote generations, the accumulated advance of successive generations, is great. In man, on the contrary, there is no reason whatever to believe that there has been any advance at all in the race from the very earliest periods—that either in physical power or intellectual ability the present generation of men, taken as a whole, are in any way superior to their most remote ancestors. The development of which man is especially capable is the development of the individual, that development being not physical, but intellectual and moral, and being in a great degree dependent on the will and perseverance of the individual, and very little on external circumstances. The result of these individual developments has been the accumulation of a vast fund of wealth, useful arts, sciences, literature, which form the common possession of the whole race, but do not necessarily imply the slightest advance in any particular individual—that advance being dependent, not on the possession of those treasures, but on the use made of them. In the case of man then development does certainly exist, but it takes a line totally distinct from that which Mr. Darwin advocates, and thus forms another broad line of demarcation between man and the most advanced of the lower animals.
It appears then that the faculties of man differ generically from those of the animals. A new order of things seems to have commenced with the appearance of man on the earth—an order in which the highest place was to be maintained by intellectual instead of physical power. No mere process of evolution then will account for man's origin. His physical nature may have been formed in that way; but we cannot believe that his intellectual and moral nature were developed from any lower creatures. Only some special Creative interference can account for his existence.
So far then as it tends to negative the continued operation of the Creator, the theory of evolution is untenable. Like that of Laplace, it fails to give an adequate cause for existing phenomena. But it seems probable, as will be seen in the next chapter, that both theories have in them much of truth. They cannot point out the cause of the universe, but they may give us a more or less accurate view of the manner in which that cause operated. The facts brought forward by geologists have been shown not to be incompatible with interpretations which the Mosaic Record readily admits, though they conflict with existing notions upon certain points. In no one then of the three sciences which have been supposed to be specially antagonistic to that record, is there anything to be found which can be maintained as a reasonable ground for doubting that that record is, what it has always been held to be by the Church, a direct Revelation from the Creator.
SCIENCE A HELP TO INTERPRETATION.
It is now clear that there is nothing in the Mosaic Record itself, which is contradicted by any scientific discovery, and that all the alleged difficulties arise either from interpretations prematurely adopted, or from theories which, when carefully examined, are found to be defective, but which may nevertheless contain in them a large element of truth. But if scientific discoveries are available for the refutation of erroneous interpretations, the probability is that when rightly understood they will help us to arrive at the true meaning, since the Works of God are, beyond all other things, likely to throw light on that portion of His Word in which those Works are described. Nor are the theories to be passed over—the greater the amount of truth which they embody the greater will be the likelihood that they will receive help from, as well as throw light upon, such a record; and thus we shall have additional evidence that the Word, the Work, and the Intellect, which has scrutinized and interpreted the Work, are all derived from the same source. We proceed, therefore, to inquire whether these facts and theories do in any way elucidate the concise statements of Scripture, so that we may be enabled to arrive at a somewhat clearer idea of the meaning of this most ancient document, and be enabled to entertain somewhat more distinct views of the manner in which the Divine Architect saw fit to accomplish His Work.
In pursuing this investigation two points must be carefully kept in mind; the first is the distinction between theory and conjecture on the one hand, and well ascertained facts on the other. We shall have much to do with theory, and with conjectural interpretations of observed facts. These can never stand on the same footing as the facts themselves, but can only be regarded as invested with greater or less probability. If it is found that these theories do explain many observed facts, that they harmonize with, and as it were dovetail into any proposed interpretation of which the words of Moses are capable; and still more if that interpretation actually completes the defective points of the theories, and supplies an adequate cause for facts hitherto inexplicable—then the presumption is a very strong one that the interpretation thus supported is at all events an approximation to the true one.
The second point to be carefully kept in mind is the very imperfect state of scientific knowledge even at the present time. As far as the matter in hand is concerned, the facts which are ascertained beyond all possibility of doubt, are very few. New means of investigation have very recently been discovered, and as a consequence new sources of information have been pointed out, new fields of research have been laid open. Twenty years ago the spectroscope was a thing undreamt of—now astronomers reckon it as of equal value with the telescope, while chemists find it indispensable to their researches. Who shall say that the next twenty years may not witness some invention of equal importance, which shall throw upon us a fresh flood of light from some unexpected quarter? If then the principle which has hitherto been maintained is correct, that all our difficulties arise from interpretations based upon insufficient knowledge, but maintained as if of equal authority with the record itself, there is a great danger lest after a time the same difficulty should recur—that the discovery of fresh facts may discredit interpretations based upon our present knowledge. Any interpretation therefore to which we may be led by the scientific views at present entertained, must be regarded as only provisional and tentative, liable at any time to be either confirmed, amended, or rejected, as fresh discoveries may be made.
Before we enter upon a detailed examination of the records of the several days, there are two preliminary points to which attention must be directed. We shall have to make frequent reference to "law." It will be well that the sense in which the term is used should be made clear. The account of the First Day's Work will lead to the recent theory of the Correlation of Forces. As this is probably a new subject to many, some previous explanation of it will be necessary.
SECTION 1. OF LAW. [Footnote: This subject is fully treated in the Duke of Argyll's "Reign of Law."]
Law, in its original and proper sense, is the expression to an inferior of the will of a superior, which the inferior has it in his power to obey or to resist, but resistance to which entails a penalty more or less severe, in proportion to the moral turpitude, or the injurious consequences of the act of disobedience. In this its strict sense the law can only exist in connection with beings possessed of reason to understand it, of power to obey it, and of free will to determine whether they will obey it or not. When these three conditions are absent law can have no existence. But the result of perfect law, perfectly obeyed, would be perfect order. Hence the observation of perfect order leads, by a reversed process, to the supposition of some law of which that order is the result. Hence arose in the first instance the term "natural laws," or "laws of nature." Events were found to follow each other in a uniform way, and this uniformity was thus sought to be accounted for. Probably in the minds of those by whom the word was thus applied in the first instance Nature was not the mere abstraction it is now, but an unseen power—Deity or subordinate to Deity— working consciously and with design.
[Footnote: Mr. Darwin, especially in the "Origin of Species," seems continually to betray the existence of this feeling in his own mind. Though he from time to time reminds us that by Nature he means nothing but the aggregate of sequences of events, or laws, he yet frequently speaks of Nature in a way which is applicable only to an intelligent worker.]
But this feeling has disappeared, and now we are told that natural law is "the observed sequence of events." In this case, then, the true meaning of the word is entirely lost—it is no longer possible to speak of law as the cause of any event.
But the old sense in which the word was applied to natural phenomena had in it far more of truth than the modern one. It was the imperfect expression of the great truth that God is a God of order—that there is a uniform procedure in His works, because in Him there is no change, no caprice. And it is of great importance to us that we should realize this truth, because we are dependent upon the laws of nature every moment of our lives. Every conscious act is performed under the conviction that the natural forces which that act calls forth will operate in a certain prescribed manner. But this conviction, though it restricts us to the limits of the possible, does not further impede the freedom of our will. To a certain extent we can choose what action we will perform, what forces we will call forth for that purpose, and what direction we will give them. Sometimes we can arrange our forces so that they will continue to act for a considerable time without any intervention from us; in other cases continued interference is necessary. But in all these cases there is no interruption of the law by which the working of these forces is regulated. We have then a limited control over these forces, and yet they are unchangeable in themselves, and in their mode of action.
When, however, we strive to ascend from our own works to those of God, we can no longer regard these forces as absolutely unchangeable. If they are practically so, it is because it is His Will that they should be so. It is this Will then which has its expression in the so-called laws of nature. The term now assumes a sense akin to, though not identical with, its original ethical sense. It is no longer a rule imposed by a superior on an inferior, but the rule by which the Supreme Being sees fit to order His own Work. While however we admit the possibility of law of this kind being changed, we have no reason to believe that in the universe with which we have to do any such change has ever taken place. But this does not preclude the possibility of Divine interference in the processes either of Creation or of Providence. New forces may from time to time be supplied, new directions may be given to existing forces, without any variation in the laws by which the action of those forces is regulated.
And if we believe that Creation was a progressive act, it is rather probable than otherwise that such interferences should take place. For a long period perhaps the uniformity of the work might lead us to forget the Being who was working; but times would arrive when definite stages of the work were accomplished, when higher developments of being were rendered possible, and in the introduction of those higher developments a something would be seen which could not be the result of the processes with which we had already become acquainted. Such interference would not in any way justify the supposition that the designs of the Author of Nature were changed, or that His original plan had proved defective. The more natural inference would be that they were a part of the plan from the first, but that the time for them was not then come.
It will be seen in the sequel that in all probability many of the special acts of Creation, mentioned in the Mosaic Record, are interferences of this kind; that for long periods of time matters advanced in a uniform manner; that the sequence of events was such as our own experience would lead us to anticipate; but that these periods were separated from one another by the introduction of new forces and new results. Of the former we may speak then as carried on under the operation of natural laws; the other may be described as special interferences not antagonistic, but supplementary, to natural laws, and forming part of the original design.
SECTION 2. THE CORRELATION OF FORCES.
[Footnote: For fuller information on this subject, Grove's "Correlation of the Physical Forces," or Tyndall's "Lectures on Heat considered as a Mode of Motion," may be consulted.]
It has long been known that heat and light are closely connected together. The accumulation of a certain amount of heat is always accompanied by the appearance of light. But when it was found that the light could be separated from the heat by various means, it seemed possible that the two phenomena were simply associated. It is now, however, ascertained that light and heat are identical in their nature, and that a vast number of other phenomena— electricity, galvanism, magnetism, chemical action, and gravitation, as well as light and heat, are different manifestations of one and the same thing, which is called force or energy. In a great number of cases it is possible for us, by the use of appropriate means and apparatus, to transform these manifestations, so as to make the same force assume a variety of forms. Thus motion suddenly arrested becomes heat. A rifle-ball when it strikes the target becomes very hot. The heat produced by the concussion against an iron shield is found sufficient to ignite the powder in some of the newly invented projectiles. The best illustration, however, is to be obtained from galvanism. By means of the Voltaic battery we set free a certain amount of force, and we can employ it at pleasure to produce an intense light in the electric lamp, or to melt metals which resist the greatest heat of our furnaces; it will convert a bar of iron into a magnet, or decompose water into its constituents, oxygen and hydrogen, or separate a metal from its combination with oxygen. But in all these processes no new force is produced—the force set free is unchangeable in itself, and we cannot increase its amount. Owing to the imperfection of our instruments and our skill a part of it will always escape from our control, and be lost to us, but not destroyed. When, however, due allowance is made for this loss, the results produced are always in exact proportion to the amount of force originally set free. Thus, if we employ it to decompose water, the amount of water decomposed always bears an exact proportion to the amount of metal which has been oxidized in the cells of the battery.
This force pervades everything which comes within the cognizance of our senses. It exists in what are termed the elementary substances of which the crust of the earth is composed. A certain amount of it seems to be required to maintain them in the forms in which we know them; for in many cases, when two of them are made to combine, a certain amount of force is set free, which commonly makes its appearance as heat. This seems to indicate that a less amount of force suffices to maintain the compound body than was requisite for its separate elements. Thus, when oxygen and hydrogen are combined to form water intense heat is produced. If we wish to dissolve the union, and restore the oxygen and hydrogen to a gaseous state, we must restore the force which has been lost. This, however, must be done by means of electricity, as heat produces a different change—converting the water into vapour, but not dissolving the union between its elements.
Force, in the shape of heat, determines the condition in which all inorganic bodies exist. In most cases we can make any given element assume the form of a solid, a fluid, or a vapour, by the addition or subtraction of heat. Thus if a pound of ice at 32 degrees be exposed to heat, it will gradually melt—but the water produced will remain unchanged in temperature till the last particle of ice is melted—then it will begin to rise in temperature; and, if the supply of heat be uniform, it will reach a temperature of 172 degrees in exactly the same time as was occupied in melting the ice. Thus then the force which was applied to the ice as heat passes into some other form so long as the ice is being melted—it is no longer perceptible by the senses—we only see its effect in the change from the solid to the fluid form. And this result is brought about by a definite quantity of force. Each of the inorganic materials of which the crust of the earth is composed seems thus to require in its composition a definite amount of force.
The life of vegetables is developed in the formation of fresh compounds of inorganic matter and force. No vegetable can thrive without sunlight, either direct or diffused. This supplies the force which the plant combines with carbon, hydrogen, and other elements to form woody fibre, starch, oils, and other vegetable products. When we kindle a fire, we dissolve the union which has thus been formed—the carbon and hydrogen enter into simpler combinations which require less force to maintain them, and the superfluous force supplies us with light and heat.
The life of animals is developed by a process exactly the reverse of vegetable life. It is maintained by the destruction of the compounds which the vegetable had formed. These compounds are taken into the body as food, and after undergoing certain modifications and arrangements are finally decomposed. Of the force thus set free a part makes its appearance as heat, maintaining an even temperature in the body, and another part supplies the power by virtue of which the muscles, &c., act. No manifestation of animal life is possible except by force thus set free. It seems all but certain that we cannot think a single thought without the decomposition of an equivalent amount of the brain. It must not, however, be concluded that force and life are identical. Force seems to be only the instrument of which the higher principle of life makes use in its manifestations.
Force then pervades the whole universe so far as it is cognizable by our senses. But we cannot conceive of force as acting, without at the same time conceiving of something on which that force acts. That something, whatever it may be, we designate "matter." We have not the slightest idea of what matter really is—no man has ever yet succeeded in separating it from its combination with force. Even if success were possible, which seems very improbable, it is not likely that matter by itself would be discernible by any of our senses. We know that two of them, sight and hearing, enable us to perceive certain kinds of motion, i. e. manifestations of force, and this is in all probability the case with the rest of them. The existence of matter then is not known by scientific proof but by inference. Our belief in it arises from something in the constitution of our minds which makes it a necessary inference.
There is one more point in reference to force which must be noticed. It is indestructible, but it is capable of what is termed "degradation." It may exist in various intensities and quantities, and a small quantity of force of a higher intensity may be changed into a larger quantity of force at a lower intensity. In the instance above given of the union of oxygen and hydrogen, heat is given out, but heat does not suffice to dissolve that union. The force must be supplied in the more intense form of Voltaic Electricity. But to reverse this process seems impossible for us. As, however, this is clearly explained in a previous volume of this series, [Footnote: Can we Believe in Miracles? p. 152.] it is not necessary to dwell upon it at length.
We may conclude then that the whole material universe is built up of matter and force in various combinations, but we can form no conception of what these two things are in themselves; they are only known to us by the effects produced by their union in various proportions.
SECTION 3. THE BEGINNING.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
"And the earth was desolate and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep."
These words carry us back to a time indefinitely remote. Eternity and Infinity are ideas which we cannot grasp, and yet we cannot avoid them. If we stretch our imagination to conceive of the most distant possible period of time—the farthest point of space— still we feel that there must have been something before the one, that there must be something beyond the other; and yet we cannot conceive of that which has no beginning, or no boundaries. The first verse marks out for us as it were a definite portion of this limitless ocean. "In the beginning," is the point from which time begins to run—"the heavens and the earth," the visible universe beyond which our investigations cannot extend. Whether other manifestations of God have taken place in Eternity, or other systems of worlds now exist in infinity, we are not told.
The heavens and the earth then are to be considered as comprising the visible universe, sun, moon, and stars, and their concomitants, which the eye surveys, or which scientific research brings to our knowledge. All are comprehended in this one group by Moses, and recent spectroscopic investigations teach us that one general character pervades the whole. Every star whose light is powerful enough to be analyzed, is now known to comprehend in its materials a greater or less number of those elementary substances of which the earth and the sun are composed. Whether any of these worlds were called into perfect existence at once, or whether they all passed through various stages of development, we are not told, that in some of them the process of development is only commencing, while in others various stages of it are in progress, is, as will be seen presently, highly probable. But the narrative takes no farther notice of anything beyond our own group of worlds, and proceeds to describe the condition of the earth (probably including the whole solar system) at the time at which it commences. Its words imply such a state of things as corresponds to what has been said in the preceding section of matter, apart from force. No better words could probably have been chosen for the purpose. The only word which seems to convey any definite idea is in the following clause, where water is mentioned. Until force was in operation water could not exist. Probably St. Augustine's interpretation is the correct one—the confused mass is called alternately earth and water, because though it was as yet neither one thing nor the other, it contained the elements of both. And the word "water" expressed its plastic character. ("De Genesi ad Literam" Liber Imperfectus, Section 13, 14.)
One other important point in these words is, that they negative the eternal existence of matter. The second verse describes it as existing, because it had been called into existence at the bidding of an Almighty Creator, as described in the first verse.
SECTION 4. THE FIRST DAY.
"And the Spirit of God (was) brooding upon the face of the water.
"And God said, 'Let light be' and light was.
"And God saw the light that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.
"And there was evening and there was morning, one day."
The first clause seems to belong rather to the period of action than to the precedent indefinite period of chaos, and may therefore be taken as marking the transition from the "beginning" to the first day, better than as belonging to that beginning itself. The Jewish interpretation of the clause is untenable in the light of the doctrine of the Correlation of the Physical Forces. Till force was evolved there could be neither air nor motion, and so no wind. The words of course bear on their face an assertion of the action of the eternal Spirit in the work of Creation; but when we examine the position which they occupy, it seems highly probable that they have beyond this a much more definite signification. In them a sort of localized action is ascribed to the Spirit—a something very different from the idea conveyed by the often-repeated phrase, "And God said." What that something may be it is hard for us to conceive, harder still to express, but the following considerations may perhaps throw some glimmering of light upon the matter:—
1. There must be some point in which the Creator comes into contact, as it were, with His creature—a point at which His Will first clothes itself in the form of a physical fact—the point to which all second causes lead up, and at which they lose themselves in the one first cause, the Will of God. Now this is what all systems of philosophy require as their starting-point, but it is entirely out of their unaided reach. But these words supply that indispensable desideratum.
2. These words come in immediate connexion with the evolution of light. Light is throughout the Bible intimately connected with the Deity. It is His chosen emblem. "God is light." It is His abode. "He dwelleth in the light inaccessible." It is the symbol of His presence, and the means by which Creation is quickened. "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men."
3. Light, as we now know, is only one form of the force by which the universe is upheld. But the phenomena of light lead us to infer the existence of what we call Ether, which is supposed to be a perfectly elastic fluid, imponderable, and in fact exempt from almost all the conditions to which matter, as we know it, is subject, except that POSSIBLY it offers resistance to bodies moving in it. [Footnote: Encke's comet shows signs of retardation, as if moving in a resisting medium; but it is possible that that resistance may not arise from the ether, but from the nebulous envelope of the sun.] This fluid must pervade the whole universe, since it brings to us the light of the most distant star or nebula. As it is the medium through which light is conveyed, and as light is now known to be identified with force of all kinds, it seems by no means improbable that it is the medium through which all force acts.
These words, then, seem to suggest the idea that the brooding of the Spirit may have some connexion with the formation of that ether which is indispensable to the manifestation of light, and probably to the operations of all force; and that, if so, the ether may also be the point at which, and the medium through which, Spirit acts upon Matter. On the one hand, the facts that force, as used, is constantly in process of degradation, and that it is also constantly poured forth into space from the Sun and Planets in the shape of heat, and so lost to our system, seem to indicate that fresh supplies of it are continually needed; while, on the other hand, the supply of that need seems to be implied in the words, "By Him all things consist." "Upholding all things by the word of His Power."
If this be so, we have a point up to which natural laws may possibly be traced, but at which they merge in the action of the Will of God, which is beyond our investigation. Here, then, is a solution of that great difficulty, which those who are most familiar with the laws of nature have felt in reconciling the existence of those laws with a particular Providence and with the efficacy of Prayer, since we have here the point at which all forces and all laws begin to act, and at which, therefore, the amount of the force, and the direction of its action, are capable of unlimited modification, without any alteration of, or interference with, the laws by which that action is regulated, and consequently without the danger of introducing confusion into the Universe.
"And God said, 'Let light be' and light was." It has already been pointed out that these words differ from those used in describing any other creative act. They are the only ones which seem to imply an instantaneous fulfilment of the command. Another matter which has long since been observed, is their exact harmony with what science teaches us respecting the nature of light. Light is not a material substance, but a "mode of motion." It consists of very small undulations propagated with inconceivable velocity. Hence of it, and of it alone, it could not be correctly said that it was created. To say that God made light would be inexact. The words which are used exactly suit the circumstances of the case. But the discovery of the correlation of forces has given to these words a much more extended significance, while at the same time it furnishes a satisfactory reason for their occurrence at this particular point. So long as they were supposed to refer to light simply, they seemed out of place. Light was not apparently needed till there were organisms to whose existence it was essential. But we now know that to call forth light, was to call force in all its modifications into action. It has been seen that matter and force are the two elements out of which everything that is discernible by our senses is built up. The formation of matter has already been described in the original act of creation. But till force also was evolved, matter must of necessity remain in that chaotic state to which verse 2 refers. To matter is now added that which was required to enable the progressive work of Creation to be carried on. The first result of this would probably be that the force of gravitation would begin to act, while, from what the telescope reveals to us, we may conjecture, that at the same time the whole incoherent mass would be permeated with light and heat, and some, at all events, of those elementary substances with which chemistry makes us acquainted would be developed, and the whole mass, acted upon by the mutual attraction of its several particles, would begin to move towards, and accumulate about its centre of gravity.