What is Darwinism?
by Charles Hodge
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG, & COMPANY, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.




DIFFERENT THEORIES AS TO THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, AND SPECIALLY OF VEGETABLE AND ANIMAL ORGANISMS. 1. The Scriptural Theory 3 2. The Pantheistic Theory 7 3. The Epicurean Theory 10 4. The Doctrine of Herbert Spencer 11 5. Hylozoic Theory 21 6. Unscriptural Forms of Theism 22







PROOF FROM THE EXPOSITIONS OF HIS THEORY BY ITS AVOWED ADVOCATES. Mr. Russell Wallace 64 Professor Huxley 72 Dr. Buechner 84 Carl Vogt 85 Prof. Haeckel 87 Strauss 147

PROOF FROM THE OBJECTIONS URGED BY THE OPPONENTS OF MR. DARWIN'S THEORY. Duke of Argyll 96 Agassiz 101 Professor Janet 105 M. Flourens 108 Rev. Walter Mitchell 111 Principal Dawson 119








This is a question which needs an answer. Great confusion and diversity of opinion prevail as to the real views of the man whose writings have agitated the whole world, scientific and religious. If a man says he is a Darwinian, many understand him to avow himself virtually an atheist; while another understands him as saying that he adopts some harmless form of the doctrine of evolution. This is a great evil.

It is obviously useless to discuss any theory until we are agreed as to what that theory is. The question, therefore, What is Darwinism? must take precedence of all discussion of its merits.

The great fact of experience is that the universe exists. The great problem which has ever pressed upon the human mind is to account for its existence. What was its origin? To what causes are the changes we witness around us to be referred? As we are a part of the universe, these questions concern ourselves. What are the origin, nature, and destiny of man? Professor Huxley is right in saying, "The question of questions for mankind—the problem which underlies all others, and is more interesting than any other—is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in nature and of his relation to the universe of things. Whence our race has come, what are the limits of our power over nature, and of nature's power over us, to what goal are we tending, are the problems which present themselves anew and with undiminished interest to every man born into the world."[1] Mr. Darwin undertakes to answer these questions. He proposes a solution of the problem which thus deeply concerns every living man. Darwinism is, therefore, a theory of the universe, at least so far as the living organisms on this earth are concerned. This being the case, it may be well to state, in few words, the other prevalent theories on this great subject, that the points of agreement and of difference between them and the views of Mr. Darwin may be the more clearly seen.

The Scriptural Solution of the Problem of the Universe.

That solution is stated in words equally simple and sublime: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." We have here, first, the idea of God. The word God has in the Bible a definite meaning. It does not stand for an abstraction, for mere force, for law or ordered sequence. God is a spirit, and as we are spirits, we know from consciousness that God is, (1.) A Substance; (2.) That He is a person; and, therefore, a self-conscious, intelligent, voluntary agent. He can say I; we can address Him as Thou; we can speak of Him as He or Him. This idea of God pervades the Scriptures. It lies at the foundation of natural religion. It is involved in our religious consciousness. It enters essentially into our sense of moral obligation. It is inscribed ineffaceably, in letters more or less legible, on the heart of every human being. The man who is trying to be an atheist is trying to free himself from the laws of his being. He might as well try to free himself from liability to hunger or thirst.

The God of the Bible, then, is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, and truth. As every theory must begin with some postulate, this is the grand postulate with which the Bible begins. This is the first point.

The second point concerns the origin of the universe. It is not eternal either as to matter or form. It is not independent of God. It is not an evolution of his being, or his existence form. He is extramundane as well as antemundane. The universe owes its existence to his will.

Thirdly, as to the nature of the universe; it is not a mere phenomenon. It is an entity, having real objective existence, or actuality. This implies that matter is a substance endowed with certain properties, in virtue of which it is capable of acting and of being acted upon. These properties being uniform and constant, are physical laws to which, as their proximate causes, all the phenomena of nature are to be referred.

Fourthly, although God is extramundane, He is nevertheless everywhere present. That presence is not only a presence of essence, but also of knowledge and power. He upholds all things. He controls all physical causes, working through them, with them, and without them, as He sees fit. As we, in our limited spheres, can use physical causes to accomplish our purposes, so God everywhere and always cooeperates with them to accomplish his infinitely wise and merciful designs.

Fifthly, man a part of the universe, is, according to the Scriptures, as concerns his body, of the earth. So far, he belongs to the animal kingdom. As to his soul, he is a child of God, who is declared to be the Father of the spirits of all men. God is a spirit, and we are spirits. We are, therefore, of the same nature with God. We are God-like; so that in knowing ourselves we know God. No man conscious of his manhood can be ignorant of his relationship to God as his Father.

The truth of this theory of the universe rests, in the first place, so far as it has been correctly stated, on the infallible authority of the Word of God. In the second place, it is a satisfactory solution of the problem to be solved,—(1.) It accounts for the origin of the universe. (2.) It accounts for all the universe contains, and gives a satisfactory explanation of the marvellous contrivances which abound in living organisms, of the adaptations of these organisms to conditions external to themselves, and for those provisions for the future, which on any other assumption are utterly inexplicable. (3.) It is in conflict with no truth of reason and with no fact of experience.[2] (4.) The Scriptural doctrine accounts for the spiritual nature of man, and meets all his spiritual necessities. It gives him an object of adoration, love, and confidence. It reveals the Being on whom his indestructible sense of responsibility terminates. The truth of this doctrine, therefore, rests not only on the authority of the Scriptures, but on the very constitution of our nature. The Bible has little charity for those who reject it. It pronounces them to be either derationalized or demoralized, or both.


[1] Evidences of Man's Place in Nature. London, 1864, p. 57.

[2] The two facts which are commonly urged as inconsistent with Theism, are the existence of misery in the world, and the occurrence of undeveloped or useless organs, as teeth in the jaws of the whale and mammae on the breast of a man. As to the former objection, sin, which is the only real evil, is accounted for by the voluntary apostasy of man; and as to undeveloped organs they are regarded as evidences of the great plan of structure which can be traced in the different orders of animals. These unused organs were—says Professor Joseph Le Conte, in his interesting volume on Religion and Science, New York, 1874, p. 54—regarded as blunders in nature, until it was discovered that use is not the only end of design. "By further patient study of nature," he says, "came the recognition of another law beside use,—a law of order underlying and conditioning the law of use. Organisms are, indeed, contrived for use, but according to a preordained plan of structure, which must not be violated." It is of little moment whether this explanation be considered satisfactory or not. It would certainly be irrational to refuse to believe that the eye was made for the purpose of vision, because we cannot tell why a man has mammae. A man might as well refuse to admit that there is any meaning in all the writings of Plato, because there is a sentence in them which he cannot understand.

The Pantheistic Theory.

This has been one of the most widely diffused and persistent forms of human thought on this whole subject. It has been for thousands of years not only the philosophy, but the religion of India, and, to a great extent, of China. It underlies all the forms of Greek philosophy. It crept into the Church, concealed under the disguise of Scriptural terminology, in the form of Neo-Platonism. It was constantly reappearing during the Middle Ages, sometimes in a philosophical, and sometimes a mystical form. It was revived by Spinoza in the seventeenth century, and subsequently became dominant in the philosophy and literature of Europe. It is coming up again. Some distinguished naturalists are swinging round from one pole to the opposite; from saying there is no God, to teaching that everything is God. Sometimes, one and the same book in one half teaches materialism, in the other half idealism: the one affirming that everything is matter, the other that matter is nothing, but that everything is mind, and mind is God.

The leading principles of the Pantheistic theory are,—(1.) That there is an Infinite and Absolute Being. Of this Being nothing can be affirmed but actuality. It is denied that it is conscious, intelligent, or voluntary. (2.) It is subject to the blind necessity of self-evolution or development. (3.) This development being necessary is constant; from everlasting to everlasting. According to the Braminical doctrine, indeed, there are successive cycles of activity and repose, each cycle being measured by countless milliards of centuries. According to the moderns, self-evolution being necessary, there can be no repose, so that Ohne Welt kein Gott. (4.) The Finite is, therefore, the existence form of the Infinite; all that is in the latter for the time being is in the former. All that is possible is actual. (5.) The Finite is the Infinite, or, to use theistic language, the World is God, in the sense that all the world is and contains is the form in which God, at each successive moment, exists. There is no power, save only the power manifested in the world; no consciousness, intelligence, or voluntary activity, but in finite things, and the aggregate of these is the power, consciousness, intelligence, and activity of God. What we call sin is as much a form of God's activity as what we call virtue. In other words, there is no such thing as free agency in man, no such thing as sin or responsibility. When a man dies he sinks into the abyss of being as a drop of water is lost in the ocean. (6.) Man is the highest form of God's existence. God is incarnate in the human race. Strauss says, that what the Church teaches of Christ is not true of any individual man, but is true of mankind. Or, as Feuerbach more concisely expresses it, "Man alone is our God." The blasphemy of some of the German philosophers on this subject is simply unutterable. In India we see the practical operation of this system when it takes hold on the people. There the personification of the Infinite as evil (the Goddess Kala) is the most popular object of worship.

Epicurean Theory.

Epicurus assumed the existence of matter, force and motion,—Stoff und Kraft. He held that all space was filled with molecules of matter in a state of rapid motion in every direction. These molecules were subject to gravity and endowed with properties or forces. One combination of molecules gave rise to unorganized matter, another to life, another to mind; and from the various combinations, guided by unintelligent physical laws, all the wonderful organisms of plants and animals have arisen. To these combinations also all the phenomena of life, instinct, and intelligence in the world are to be referred. This theory has been adopted in our day by a large class of scientific men, especially in Germany. The modern advocates of the theory are immeasurably superior to the ancient Epicureans in their knowledge of astronomy, botany, zooelogy, and biology; but in their theory of the universe, and in their mode of accounting for all the phenomena of life and intelligence, they are precisely on the same level. They have not added an idea to the system, which has ever been regarded as the opprobrium of human thought. Buechner, Moleschott, Vogt, hold that matter is eternal and indestructible; that matter and force are inseparable: the one cannot exist without the other. What, it is asked, is motion without something moving? What is electricity without an electrified body? What is attraction without molecules attracting each other? What is contractibility without muscular fibre, or secretion without a secreting gland? One combination of molecules exhibits the phenomena of life, another combination exhibits the phenomena of mind. All this was taught by the old heathen philosopher more than two thousand years ago. That this system denies the existence of God, of mind as a thinking substance distinct from matter, and of the possibility of the conscious existence of man after death, are not inferences drawn by opponents, but conclusions openly avowed by its advocates.

Herbert Spencer's New Philosophy.

Mr. Darwin calls Spencer our "great philosopher." His is the speculating mind of the new school of science. This gives to his opinions special interest, although no one but himself is to be held responsible for his peculiar views, except so far as others see fit to avow them. Mr. Spencer postulates neither mind nor matter. He begins with Force. Force, however, is itself perfectly inscrutable. All we know about it is, that it is, that it is indestructible, and that it is persistent.

As to the origin of the universe, he says there are three possible suppositions: 1st. That it is self-existent. 2d. That it is self-created. 3d. That it is created by an external agency.[3] All these he examines and rejects. The first is equivalent to Atheism, by which Spencer understands the doctrine which makes Space, Matter, and Force eternal and the causes of all phenomena. This, he says, assumes the idea of self-existence, which is unthinkable. The second theory he makes equivalent to Pantheism. "The precipitation of vapor," he says, "into cloud, aids us in forming a symbolic conception of a self-evolved universe;" but, he adds, "really to conceive self-creation, is to conceive potential existence passing into actual existence by some inherent necessity, which we cannot do." (p. 32). The Theistic theory, he says, is equally untenable. "Whoever agrees that the atheistic hypothesis is untenable because it involves the impossible idea of self-existence, must perforce admit that the theistic hypothesis is untenable if it contains the same impossible idea." (p. 38). The origin of the universe is, therefore, a fact which cannot be explained. It must have had a cause; and all we know is that its cause is unknowable and inscrutable.

When we turn to nature the result is the same. Everything is inscrutable. All we know is that there are certain appearances, and that where there is appearance there must be something that appears. But what that something is, what is the noumenon which underlies the phenomenon, it is impossible for us to know. In nature we find two orders of phenomena, or appearances; the one objective or external, the other subjective in our consciousness. There are an Ego and a non-Ego, a subject and object. These are not identical. "It is," he says, "rigorously impossible to conceive that our knowledge is a knowledge of appearances only, without at the same time conceiving a reality of which they are appearances, for appearance without reality is unthinkable." (p. 88). So far we can go. There is a reality which is the cause of phenomena. Further than that, in that direction, our ignorance is profound. He proves that space cannot be an entity, an attribute, or a category of thought, or a nonentity. The same is true of time, of motion, of matter, of electricity, light, magnetism, etc., etc. They all resolve themselves into appearances produced by an unknown cause.

As the question, What is matter? is a crucial one, he dwells upon it in various parts of his writings. Newton's theory of ultimate atoms; Leibnitz's doctrine of monads; and the dynamic theory of Boscovich, which makes matter mere centres of force, are all dismissed as unthinkable. It is not very clear in what sense that word is to be taken. Sometimes it seems to mean, meaningless; at others, self-contradictory or absurd; at others, inconceivable, i. e. that of which no conception or mental image can be formed; at any rate, it implies what is unknowable and untenable. The result is, so far as matter is concerned, that we know nothing about it. "Our conception of matter," he says, "reduced to its simplest shape, is that of coexistent positions that offer resistance, as contrasted with our conception of space in which the coexistent positions offer no resistance." (p. 166). Resistance, however, is a form of force; and, therefore, on the following page, Spencer says, "that forces standing in certain correlations, form the whole contents of our idea of matter."

When we turn from the objective to the subjective, from the external to the inward world, the result is still the same. He agrees with Hume in saying that the contents of our consciousness is a series of impressions and ideas. He dissents, however, from that philosopher, in saying that that series is all we know. He admits that impressions necessarily imply that there is something that is impressed. He starts the question, What is it that thinks? and answers, We do not know. (p. 63). He admits that the reality of individual personal minds, the conviction of personal existence is universal, and perhaps indestructible. Nevertheless that conviction cannot justify itself at the bar of reason; nay, reason is found to reject it. (p. 65). Dean Mansel says, that consciousness gives us a knowledge of self as a substance and not merely of its varying states. This, however, he says, "is absolutely negatived by the laws of thought. The fundamental condition to all consciousness, emphatically insisted upon by Mr. Mansel in common with Sir William Hamilton and others, is the antithesis of subject and object.... What is the corollary from this doctrine, as bearing on the consciousness of self? The mental act in which self is known implies, like every other mental act, a perceiving subject and a perceived object. If, then, the object perceived is self, what is the subject that perceives? Or if it is the true self which thinks, what other self can it be that is thought of? Clearly, a true cognition of self implies a state in which the knowing and the known are one—in which subject and object are identified; and this Mr. Mansel rightly holds to be the annihilation of both. So that the personality of which each is conscious, and of which the existence is to each a fact beyond all others the most certain, is yet a thing which cannot be known at all; knowledge of it is forbidden by the very nature of human thought." (pp. 65, 66).

Mr. Spencer does not seem to expect that any man will be shaken in his conviction by any such argument as that. When a man is conscious of pain, he is not to be puzzled by telling him that the pain is one thing (the object perceived) and the self another thing (the perceiving subject). He knows that the pain is a state of the self of which he is conscious. Consciousness is a form of knowledge; but knowledge of necessity supposes an intelligent reality which knows. A philosophy which cannot be received until men cease to believe in their own existence, must be in extremis.

Mr. Spencer's conclusion is, that the universe—nature, or the external world with all its marvels and perpetual changes,—the world of consciousness with its ever varying states, are impressions or phenomena, due to an inscrutable, persistent force.

As to the nature of this primal force or power, he quotes abundantly and approvingly from Sir William Hamilton and Mr. Mansel, to prove that it is unknowable, inconceivable, unthinkable. He, however, differs from those distinguished writers in two points. While admitting that we know no more of the first cause than we do of a geometrical figure which is at once a circle and a square, yet we do know that it is actual. For this conviction we are not dependent on faith. In the second place, Hamilton and Mansel taught that we know that the Infinite cannot be a person, self-conscious, intelligent, and voluntary; yet we are forced by our moral constitution to believe it to be an intelligent person. This Mr. Spencer denies. "Let those," he says, "who can, believe that there is eternal war between our intellectual faculties and our moral obligations. I, for one, admit of no such radical vice in the constitution of things." (p. 108). Religion has always erred, he asserts, in that while it teaches that the Infinite Being cannot be known, it insists on ascribing to it such and such attributes, which of course assumes that so far forth it is known. We have no right, he contends, to ascribe personality to the "Unknown Reality," or anything else, except that it is the cause of all that we perceive or experience. There may be a mode of being, as much transcending intelligence and will, as these transcend mechanical motion. To show the folly of referring to the Unknown the attributes of our own spirits, he makes "the grotesque supposition that the tickings and other movements of a watch constituted a kind of consciousness; and that a watch possessed of such a consciousness, insisted on regarding the watchmaker's actions as determined like its own by springs and escapements." (p. 111). The vast majority of men, instead of agreeing with Mr. Spencer in this matter, will doubtless heartily, each for himself, join the German philosopher Jacobi, in saying, "I confess to Anthropomorphism inseparable from the conviction that man bears the image of God; and maintain that besides this Anthropomorphism, which has always been called Theism, is nothing but Atheism or Fetichism."[4]

Mr. Spencer, therefore, in accounting for the origin of the universe and all its phenomena, physical, vital, and mental, rejects Theism, or the doctrine of a personal God, who is extramundane as well as antemundane, the creator and governor of all things; he rejects Pantheism, which makes the finite the existence-form of the Infinite; he rejects Atheism, which he understands to be the doctrine of the eternity and self-existence of matter and force. He contents himself with saying we must acknowledge the reality of an unknown something which is the cause of all things,—the noumenon of all phenomena. "If science and religion are to be reconciled, the basis of the reconciliation must be this deepest, widest, and most certain of all facts,—that the Power which the universe manifests is utterly inscrutable." (p. 46). "The ultimate of ultimates is Force." "Matter and motion, as we know them, are differently conditioned manifestations of force." "If, to use an algebraic illustration, we represent Matter, Motion, and Force, by the symbols x, y, z; then we may ascertain the values of x and y in terms of z, but the value of z can never be found; z is the unknown quantity, which must forever remain unknown, for the obvious reason that there is nothing in which its value can be expressed." (pp. 169, 170).

We have, then, no God but Force. Atheist is everywhere regarded as a term of reproach. Every man instinctively recoils from it. Even the philosophers of the time of the French Revolution repudiated the charge of atheism, because they believed in motion; and motion being inscrutable, they believed in an inscrutable something, i. e. in Force. We doubt not Mr. Spencer would indignantly reject the imputation of atheism; nevertheless, in the judgment of most men, the difference between Antitheist and Atheist is a mere matter of orthography.


[3] First Principles of a New System of Philosophy. By Herbert Spencer. Second edition. New York, 1869, p. 30.

[4] Von den goettlichen Dingen, Werke, III. pp. 422, 425. Leipzig, 1816.

Hylozoic Theory.

This theory assumes the universe to be eternal. There is nothing extra, or antemundane. There is but one substance, and that substance is matter. Matter, however, has an active and passive principle. Life and rationality are among its attributes or functions. The universe, therefore, is a living whole pervaded by a principle not only of life but of intelligence. This hylozoic doctrine, some modern scientific men, as Professor Tyndall, seem inclined to adopt. They tell us that matter is not the dead and degraded thing it is commonly regarded. It is active and transcendental. What that means, we do not know. The word transcendental is like a parabola, in that there is no knowing where its meaning ends. To say that matter is transcendental, is saying there is no telling what it is up to. This habit of using words which have no definite meaning is very convenient to writers, but very much the reverse for readers. Some of the ancient Stoics distinguished between the active and passive principles in the world, calling the one mind, the other, matter. These however were as intimately united as matter and life in a plant or animal.

Theism in Unscriptural Forms.

There are men who are constrained to admit the being of God, who depart from the Scriptural doctrine as to his relation to the world. According to some, God created matter and endowed it with certain properties, and then left it to itself to work out, without any interference or control on his part, all possible results. According to others, He created not only matter, but life, or living germs, one or more, from which without any divine intervention all living organisms have been developed. Others, again, refer not only matter and life, but mind also to the act of the Creator; but with creation his agency ceases. He has no more to do with the world, than a ship-builder has with the ship he has constructed, when it is launched and far off upon the ocean. According to all these views a creator is a mere Deus ex machina, an assumption to account for the origin of the universe.

Another general view of God's relation to the world goes to the opposite extreme. Instead of God doing nothing, He does everything. Second causes have no efficiency. The laws of nature are said to be the uniform modes of divine operation. Gravitation does not flow from the nature of matter, but is a mode of God's uniform efficiency. What are called chemical affinities are not due to anything in different kinds of matter, but God always acts in one way in connection with an acid, and in another way in connection with an alkali. If a man places a particle of salt or sugar on his tongue, the sensation which he experiences is not to be referred to the salt or sugar, but to God's agency. When this theory is extended, as it generally is by its advocates, from the external to the internal world, the universe of matter and mind, with all their phenomena, is a constant effect of the omnipresent activity of God. The minds of some men, as remarked above, are so constituted that they can pass from the theory that God does nothing, to the doctrine that He does everything, without seeing the difference. Mr. Russel Wallace, the companion and peer of Mr. Darwin, devotes a large part of his book on "Natural Selection," to prove that the organs of plants and animals are formed by blind physical causes. Toward the close of the volume he teaches that there are no such causes. He asks the question, What is Matter? and answers, Nothing. We know, he says, nothing but force; and as the only force of which we have any immediate knowledge is mind-force, the inference is "that the whole universe is not merely dependent on, but actually is, the will of higher intelligences, or of one Supreme Intelligence."[5] This is a transition from virtual materialism to idealistic pantheism. The effect of this admission on the part of Mr. Wallace on the theory of natural selection, is what an explosion of its boiler would be to a steamer in mid-ocean, which should blow out its deck, sides, and bottom. Nothing would remain above water.

The Duke of Argyll seems at times inclined to lapse into the same doctrine. "Science," he says, "in the modern doctrine of conservation of energy and the convertibility of forces, is already getting a firm hold of the idea, that all kinds of force are but forms of manifestations of one central force issuing from some one fountain-head of power. Sir John Herschel has not hesitated to say, 'that it is but reasonable to regard the force of gravitation as the direct or indirect result of a consciousness or will existing somewhere.' And even if we cannot certainly identify force in all its forms with the direct energies of the one Omnipresent and All-pervading Will, it is at least in the highest degree unphilosophical to assert the contrary,—to think or to speak, as if the forces of nature were either independent of, or even separate from the Creator's power."[6] The Duke, however, in the general tenor of his book, does not differ from the common doctrine, except in one point. He does not deny the efficiency of physical causes, or resolve them all into the efficiency of God; but he teaches that God, in this world at least, never acts except through those causes. He applies this doctrine even to miracles, which he regards as effects produced by second causes of which we are ignorant, that is, by some higher law of nature. The Scriptures, however, teach that God is not thus bound; that He operates through second causes, with them, or without them, as He sees fit. It is a purely arbitrary assumption, that when Christ raised the dead, healed the lepers, or gave sight to the blind, any second cause intervened between the effect and the efficiency of his will. What physical law, or uniformly acting force, operated to make the axe float at the command of the prophet? or, in that greatest of all miracles, the original creation of the world.


[5] The Theory of Natural Selection. By Alfred Russel Wallace. London, 1870, p. 368.

[6] Reign of Law. By the Duke of Argyle. Fifth edition, London, 1867, p. 123.

Mr. Darwin's Theory.

We have not forgotten Mr. Darwin. It seemed desirable, in order to understand his theory, to see its relation to other theories of the universe and its phenomena, with which it is more or less connected. His work on the "Origin of Species" does not purport to be philosophical. In this aspect it is very different from the cognate works of Mr. Spencer. Darwin does not speculate on the origin of the universe, on the nature of matter, or of force. He is simply a naturalist, a careful and laborious observer; skillful in his descriptions, and singularly candid in dealing with the difficulties in the way of his peculiar doctrine. He set before himself a single problem, namely, How are the fauna and flora of our earth to be accounted for? In the solution of this problem, he assumes:—

1. The existence of matter, although he says little on the subject. Its existence however, as a real entity, is everywhere taken for granted.

2. He assumes the efficiency of physical causes, showing no disposition to resolve them into mind-force, or into the efficiency of the First Cause.

3. He assumes also the existence of life in the form of one or more primordial germs. He does not adopt the theory of spontaneous generation. What life is he does not attempt to explain, further than to quote (p. 326), with approbation, the definition of Herbert Spencer, who says, "Life depends on, or consists in, the incessant action and reaction of various forces,"—which conveys no very definite idea.

4. To account for the existence of matter and life, Mr. Darwin admits a Creator. This is done explicitly and repeatedly. Nothing, however, is said of the nature of the Creator and of his relation to the world, further than is implied in the meaning of the word.

5. From the primordial germ or germs (Mr. Darwin seems to have settled down to the assumption of only one primordial germ), all living organisms, vegetable and animal, including man, on our globe, through all the stages of its history, have descended.

6. As growth, organization, and reproduction are the functions of physical life, as soon as the primordial germ began to live, it began to grow, to fashion organs however simple, for its nourishment and increase, and for the reproduction, in some way, of living forms like itself. How all living things on earth, including the endless variety of plants, and all the diversity of animals—insects, fishes, birds, the ichthyosaurus, the mastodon, the mammoth, and man—have descended from the primordial animalcule, he thinks, may be accounted for by the operation of the following natural laws, viz.:—

First, the law of Heredity, or that by which like begets like. The offspring are like the parent.

Second, the law of Variation, that is, while the offspring are, in all essential characteristics, like their immediate progenitor, they nevertheless vary more or less within narrow limits, from their parent and from each other. Some of these variations are indifferent, some deteriorations, some improvements, that is, they are such as enable the plant or animal to exercise its functions to greater advantage.

Third, the law of Over Production. All plants and animals tend to increase in a geometrical ratio; and therefore tend to overrun enormously the means of support. If all the seeds of a plant, all the spawn of a fish, were to arrive at maturity, in a very short time the world could not contain them. Hence of necessity arises a struggle for life. Only a few of the myriads born can possibly live.

Fourth, here comes in the law of Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest. That is, if any individual of a given species of plant or animal happens to have a slight deviation from the normal type, favorable to its success in the struggle for life, it will survive. This variation, by the law of heredity, will be transmitted to its offspring, and by them again to theirs. Soon these favored ones gain the ascendency, and the less favored perish; and the modification becomes established in the species. After a time another and another of such favorable variations occur, with like results. Thus very gradually, great changes of structure are introduced, and not only species, but genera, families, and orders in the vegetable and animal world, are produced. Mr. Darwin says he can set no limit to the changes of structure, habits, instincts, and intelligence, which these simple laws in the course of millions or milliards of centuries may bring into existence. He says, "we cannot comprehend what the figures 60,000,000 really imply, and during this, or perhaps a longer roll of years, the land and waters have everywhere teemed with living creatures, all exposed to the struggle for life, and undergoing change." (p. 354). "Mr. Croll," he tells us, "estimates that about sixty millions of years have elapsed since the Cambrian period, but this, judging from the small amount of organic change since the commencement of the glacial period, seems a very short time for the many and the great mutations of life, which have certainly occurred since the Cambrian formation; and the previous one hundred and forty million years can hardly be considered as sufficient for the development of the varied forms of life which certainly existed toward the close of the Cambrian period." (p. 379). Years in this connection have no meaning. We might as well try to give the distance of the fixed stars in inches. As astronomers are obliged to take the diameter of the earth's orbit as the unit of space, so Darwinians are obliged to take a geological cycle as their unit of duration.

Natural Selection.

As Natural Selection which works so slowly is a main element in Mr. Darwin's theory, it is necessary to understand distinctly what he means by it. On this point he leaves us no room for doubt. On p. 92, he says: "This preservation of favorable variations, and the destruction of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection, or, the Survival of the Fittest." "Owing to the struggle (for life) variations, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a species, in their infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to their physical conditions of life, will tend to the preservation of such individuals, and will generally be inherited by their offspring. The offspring also will thus have a better chance of surviving, for, of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive. I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection. But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the Fittest, is more accurate, and sometimes is equally convenient." (p. 72). "Slow though the progress of selection may be, if feeble man can do so much by artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the co-adaptations between all organic beings, one with another, and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by nature's power of selection, or the survival of the fittest." (p. 125). "It may be objected that if organic beings thus tend to rise in the scale, how is it that throughout the world a multitude of the lowest forms still exist; and how is it that in each great class some forms are far more highly developed than others?... On our theory the continuous existence of lowly forms offers no difficulty; for natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, does not necessarily include progressive development, it only takes advantage of such variations as arise and are beneficial to each creature under its complex relations of life.... Geology tells us that some of the lowest forms, the infusoria and rhizopods, have remained for an enormous period in nearly their present state." (p. 145). "The fact of little or no modification having been effected since the glacial period would be of some avail against those who believe in an innate and necessary law of development, but is powerless against the doctrine of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, which implies only that variations or individual differences of a favorable nature occasionally arise in a few species and are then preserved." (p. 149)

This process of improvement under the law of natural selection includes not only changes in the organic structure of animals, but also in their instincts and intelligence. On entering on this part of his subject, Mr. Darwin says, "I would premise that I have nothing to do with the origin of the primary mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself. We are concerned only with the diversities of instinct and of other mental qualities within the same class." (p. 255) He shows that even in a state of nature the instincts of animals of the same species do in some degree vary, and that they are transmitted by inheritance. A mastiff has imparted courage to a greyhound, and a greyhound has transmitted to a shepherd-dog a disposition to hunt hares. Among sporting dogs, the young of the pointer or retriever have been known to point or to retrieve without instruction. "If," he says, "it can be shown that instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in natural selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of instinct to any extent that was profitable. It is thus, as I believe, that all the most complex and wonderful instincts have arisen." (p. 257) He was rather unguarded in saying that he saw no difficulty in accounting for the most wonderful instincts of animals. He admits that he has found very great difficulty. He selects three cases which he found it specially hard to deal with: that of the cuckoo, that of the cell-building bee, and of the slave-making ant. He devotes much space and labor in endeavoring to show how the instinct of the bee, for example, in the construction of its cell, might have been gradually acquired. It is clear, however, that he was not able fully to satisfy even his own mind; for he admits that "it will be thought that I have an over-weening confidence in the principle of natural selection, when I do not admit that such wonderful and well established facts do not annihilate the theory." (p. 290) This remark was made with special reference to the instincts of the ant, which he finds very hard to account for. He adds, "No doubt many instincts of very difficult explanation could be opposed to the theory of natural selection: cases in which we cannot see how an instinct could possibly have originated; cases in which no intermediate gradations are known to exist; cases of instinct of such trifling importance that they could hardly have been acted upon by natural selection; cases of instincts almost identically the same in animals so remote in the scale of nature, that we cannot account for their similarity by inheritance from a common progenitor, and consequently cannot believe that they were independently acquired through natural selection. I will not here enter on those cases, but will confine myself to one special difficulty which at first appeared to me insuperable, and actually fatal to the whole theory. I allude to neuters, or sterile females in insect communities; for these neuters often differ widely in instinct and structure from both the males and the fertile females, and yet, from being sterile, they cannot propagate their kind." (p. 289) He is candid enough to say, in conclusion, "I do not pretend that the facts given in this chapter (on instinct) strengthen in any great degree my theory; but none of the cases of difficulty, to the best of my judgment, annihilate it." (p. 297) When it is remembered that his theory is, that slight variations occurring in an individual advantageous to it (not to its associates), in the struggle for life, is perpetuated by inheritance, it is no wonder that the case of sterile ants gave him so much trouble. Accidental sterility is not favorable to the individual, and its being made permanent by inheritance, is out of the question, for the sterile have no descendants. Yet these sterile females are not degenerations, they are in general larger and more robust than their associates.

We have thus seen that, according to Mr. Darwin, all the infinite variety of structure in plants and animals is due to the law of natural selection. "On the principle of natural selection with divergence of character," he says, "it does not seem incredible that, from some such low and intermediate form, both animals and plants have been developed, and if we admit this, we must likewise admit that all the organized beings which have ever lived on this earth may be descended from some one primordial form." (p. 573) We have seen also that he does not confine his theory to organic structure, but applies it to all the instincts and all the forms of intelligence manifested by irrational creatures. Nor does he stop there; he includes man within the sweep of the same law. "In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." (p. 577)

The "distant future" was near at hand. In his introduction to his work on the "Descent of Man," he says, he had determined not to publish on that subject, "as I thought that I should thus only add to the prejudices against my views. It seemed to me sufficient to indicate, in the first edition of my 'Origin of Species,' that by this work 'light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history;' and this implies that man must be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth. Now the case wears a wholly different aspect. When a naturalist like Carl Vogt (we shall see in what follows what kind of a witness he is) ventures to say in his address as President of the National Institution of Geneva (1869), 'Personne, en Europe au moins, n'ose plus soutenir la creation independante et de toutes pieces, des especes,'—it is manifest that at least a large number of naturalists must admit that species are the modified descendants of other species; and this especially holds good of the younger and rising naturalists.... Of the older and honored chiefs in natural science, many unfortunately are still opposed to evolution in every form." Carl Vogt would not write thus. To him no man is honored who does agree with him, and any man who believes in God he execrates.

In 1871, Mr. Darwin ventured on the publication of his "Descent of Man." In that work, he endeavors to show that the proximate progenitor of man is the ape. He says "there is less difference of structure between the two, than between the higher and lower forms of apes themselves." Not only so, but he attempts to show that the mental faculties of man are derived by slight variations, long continued, from the measure of intellect possessed by lower animals. He even says, that there is less difference in intelligence between man and the higher mammals, than there is between the intelligence of the ant and that of the coccus, insects of the same class.[7]

In like manner he teaches that man's moral nature has been evolved by slow degrees from the social instincts common to many animals. (pp. 68, 94) The moral element, thus derived, he admits might lead to very different lines of conduct. "If men," he says, "were reared under the same conditions as hives-bees, there can hardly be a doubt, that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill all their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering. (vol. i. p. 70)

"Lower animals, especially the dog, manifest love, reverence, fidelity, and obedience; and it is from these elements that the religious sentiment in man has been slowly evolved by a process of natural selection." (vol. i. p. 65)

The grand conclusion is, "man (body, soul, and spirit) is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World." (vol. ii. p. 372) Mr. Darwin adds: "He who denounces these views (as irreligious) is bound to explain why it is more irreligious to explain the origin of man as a distinct species by descent from some lower form, through the laws of variation and natural selection, than to explain the birth of the individual through the laws of ordinary reproduction." (vol. ii. p. 378)


[7] Descent of Man, etc. By Charles Darwin, M. A., F. R. S., etc. New York, 1871, vol. i. p. 179.

The Sense in which Mr. Darwin uses the Word "Natural."

We have not yet reached the heart of Mr. Darwin's theory. The main idea of his system lies in the word "natural." He uses that word in two senses: first, as antithetical to the word artificial. Men can produce very marked varieties as to structure and habits of animals. This is exemplified in the production of the different breeds of horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs; and specially, as Mr. Darwin seems to think, in the case of pigeons. Of these, he says, "The diversity of breeds is something astonishing." Some have long, and some very short bills; some have large feet, some small; some long necks, others long wings and tails, while others have singularly short tails; some have thirty, and even forty, tail-feathers, instead of the normal number of twelve or fourteen. They differ as much in instinct as they do in form. Some are carriers, some pouters, some tumblers, some trumpeters; and yet all are descendants of the Rock Pigeon which is still extant. If, then, he argues, man, in a comparatively short time, has by artificial selection produced all these varieties, what might be accomplished on the boundless scale of nature, during the measureless ages of the geologic periods.

Secondly, he uses the word natural as antithetical to supernatural. Natural selection is a selection made by natural laws, working without intention and design. It is, therefore, opposed not only to artificial selection, which is made by the wisdom and skill of man to accomplish a given purpose, but also to supernatural selection, which means either a selection originally intended by a power higher than nature; or which is carried out by such power. In using the expression Natural Selection, Mr. Darwin intends to exclude design, or final causes. All the changes in structure, instinct, or intelligence, in the plants or animals, including man, descended from the primordial germ, or animalcule, have been brought about by unintelligent physical causes. On this point he leaves us in no doubt. He defines nature to be "the aggregate action and product of natural laws; and laws are the sequence of events as ascertained by us." It had been objected that he often uses teleological language, speaking of purpose, intention, contrivance, adaptation, etc. In answer to this objection, he says: "It has been said, that I speak of natural selection as a power or deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planet?" He admits that in the literal sense of the words, natural selection is a false term; but "who ever objected to chemists, speaking of the elective affinities of various elements?—and yet an acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it in preference combines." (p. 93) We have here an affirmation and a negation. It is affirmed that natural selection is the operation of natural laws, analogous to the action of gravitation and of chemical affinities. It is denied that it is a process originally designed, or guided by intelligence, such as the activity which foresees an end and consciously selects and controls the means of its accomplishment. Artificial selection, then, is an intelligent process; natural selection is not.

There are in the animal and vegetable worlds innumerable instances of at least apparent contrivance, which have excited the admiration of men in all ages. There are three ways of accounting for them. The first is the Scriptural doctrine, namely, that God is a Spirit, a personal, self-conscious, intelligent agent; that He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being and perfections; that He is ever present; that this presence is a presence of knowledge and power. In the external world there is always and everywhere indisputable evidence of the activity of two kinds of force: the one physical, the other mental. The physical belongs to matter, and is due to the properties with which it has been endowed; the other is the everywhere present and ever acting mind of God. To the latter are to be referred all the manifestations of design in nature, and the ordering of events in Providence. This doctrine does not ignore the efficiency of second causes; it simply asserts that God over-rules and controls them. Thus the Psalmist says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made.... My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought (or embroidered) in the lower parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them." "He who fashioned the eye, shall not He see? He that formed the ear shall not He hear?" "God makes the grass to grow, and herbs for the children of men." He sends rain, frost, and snow. He controls the winds and the waves. He determines the casting of the lot, the flight of an arrow, and the falling of a sparrow. This universal and constant control of God is not only one of the most patent and pervading doctrines of the Bible, but it is one of the fundamental principles of even natural religion.

The second method of accounting for contrivances in nature admits that they were foreseen and purposed by God, and that He endowed matter with forces which He foresaw and intended should produce such results. But here his agency stops. He never interferes to guide the operation of physical causes. He does nothing to control the course of nature, or the events of history. On this theory it may be said, (1.) That it is utterly inconsistent with the Scriptures. (2.) It does not meet the religious and moral necessities of our nature. It renders prayer irrational and inoperative. It makes it vain for a man in any emergency to look to God for help. (3.) It is inconsistent with obvious facts. We see around us innumerable evidences of the constant activity of mind. This evidence of mind and of its operations, according to Lord Brougham and Dr. Whewell, is far more clear than that of the existence of matter and of its forces. If one or the other is to be denied, it is the latter rather than the former. Paley indeed says, that if the construction of a watch be an undeniable evidence of design it would be a still more wonderful manifestation of skill, if a watch could be made to produce other watches; and, it may be added, not only other watches, but all kinds of time-pieces in endless variety. So it has been asked, if man can make a telescope, why cannot God make a telescope which produces others like itself? This is simply asking, whether matter can be made to do the work of mind? The idea involves a contradiction. For a telescope to make a telescope, supposes it to select copper and zinc in due proportions and fuse them into brass; to fashion that brass into inter-entering tubes; to collect and combine the requisite materials for the different kinds of glass needed; to melt them, grind, fashion, and polish them; adjust their densities and focal distances, etc., etc. A man who can believe that brass can do all this, might as well believe in God. The most credulous men in the world are unbelievers. The great Napoleon could not believe in Providence; but he believed in his star, and in lucky and unlucky days.

This banishing God from the world is simply intolerable, and, blessed be his name, impossible. An absent God who does nothing is, to us, no God. Christ brings God constantly near to us. He said to his disciples, "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; which have neither store-house nor barn; and God feedeth them; how much better are ye than the fowls. And which of you by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? Consider the lilies how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith." "And seek ye not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after; and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." It may be said that Christ did not teach science. True, but He taught truth; and science, so called, when it comes in conflict with truth, is what man is when he comes in conflict with God.

The advocates of these extreme opinions protest against being considered irreligious. Herbert Spencer says, that his doctrine of an inscrutable, unintelligent, unknown force, as the cause of all things, is a much more religious doctrine than that of a personal, intelligent, and voluntary Being of infinite power and goodness. Matthew Arnold holds that an unconscious "power which makes for right," is a higher idea of God than the Jehovah of the Bible. Christ says, God is a Spirit. Holbach thought that he made a great advance on that definition, when he said, God is motion.

The third method of accounting for the contrivances manifested in the organs of plants and animals, is that which refers them to the blind operation of natural causes. They are not due to the continued cooeperation and control of the divine mind, nor to the original purpose of God in the constitution of the universe. This is the doctrine of the Materialists, and to this doctrine, we are sorry to say, Mr. Darwin, although himself a theist, has given in his adhesion. It is on this account the Materialists almost deify him.

From what has been said, it appears that Darwinism includes three distinct elements. First, evolution; or the assumption that all organic forms, vegetable and animal, have been evolved or developed from one, or a few, primordial living germs; second, that this evolution has been effected by natural selection, or the survival of the fittest; and third, and by far the most important and only distinctive element of his theory, that this natural selection is without design, being conducted by unintelligent physical causes. Neither the first nor the second of these elements constitute Darwinism; nor do the two combined. As to the first, namely, evolution, Mr. Darwin himself, in the historical sketch prefixed to the fifth edition of his "Origin of Species," says, that Lamarck, in 1811 and more fully in 1815, "taught that all species, including man, are descended from other species." He refers to some six or eight other scientists, as teaching the same doctrine. This idea of Evolution was prominently presented and elaborated in the "Vestiges of Creation," first published in 1844. Ulrici, Professor in the University of Halle, Germany, in his work "Gott und die Natur," says that the doctrine of evolution took no hold on the minds of scientific men, but was positively rejected by the most eminent physiologists, among whom he mentions J. Mueller, K. Wagner, Bischoff, Hoffmann, and others.[8] The Rev. George Henslow, Lecturer on Botany at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, himself a pronounced evolutionist, says the theories of Lamarck and of the "Vestiges of Creation" have given place to that of Mr. Darwin; "and there are not wanting many symptoms of decay in the acceptance even of his. Not only has he considerably modified his views in later editions of the 'Origin of Species,' distinctly expressing the opinion that he attributed too great influence to natural selection, but even men of science, Owen, Huxley,—and at least in its application to man, Wallace himself,—are either opposed to it in great measure, or else give it but a qualified assent. Thus, it has been the fate of all theories of the development of living things to lapse into oblivion. Evolution itself, however, will stand the same."[9] We find in the "Transactions of the Victoria Institute," a still more decided repudiation of Darwinism on the part of Mr. Henslow. He there says: "I do not believe in Darwin's theory; and have endeavored to refute it by showing its utter impossibility."[10] He defines Evolution by saying, "It supposes all animals and plants that exist now, or have ever existed, to have been produced through laws of generation from preexisting animals and plants respectively; that affinity amongst organic beings implies, or is due to community of descent; and that the degree of affinity between organisms is in proportion to their nearness of generation, or, at least, to the persistence of common characters, they being the products of originally the same parentage."[11] A man, therefore, may be an evolutionist, without being a Darwinian. It should be mentioned that Mr. Henslow expressly excludes man, both as to body and soul, from the law of evolution.

Nor is the theory of natural selection the vital principle of Mr. Darwin's theory, unless the word natural be taken in a sense antithetical to supernatural. In the historical sketch just referred to, Mr. Darwin not only says that he had been anticipated in teaching the doctrine of Evolution by Lamarck and the author of the "Vestiges of Creation;" but that the theory of natural selection, as the means of accounting for evolution, was not original with him. He tells us that as early as 1813, Dr. W. C. Wells "distinctly recognizes the principle of natural selection;" and that Mr. Patrick Matthew, in 1831, "gives precisely the same view of the origin of species as that propounded by Mr. Wallace and myself." Ideas are like seed: they are often cast forth, and not finding a congenial soil produce no fruit. To Mr. Darwin is undoubtedly due the elaboration and thoroughly scientific defence of the theory of natural selection, and to him is to be referred the deep and widespread interest which it has excited.


[8] Gott und die Natur. Von D. Hermann Ulrici. Zweite Auflage. Leipzig, 1866, p. 394.

[9] The Theory of Evolution of Living Things and the Application of the Principles of Evolution to Religion. By Rev. George Henslow, M. A., F. L. S., F. G. S. London, 1873, pp. 27, 28.

[10] Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain. Vol. iv. London, 1870, p. 278.

[11] Evolution and Religion, p. 29.

Darwinism excludes Teleology.

It is however neither evolution nor natural selection, which give Darwinism its peculiar character and importance. It is that Darwin rejects all teleology, or the doctrine of final causes. He denies design in any of the organisms in the vegetable or animal world. He teaches that the eye was formed without any purpose of producing an organ of vision.

Although evidence on this point has already been adduced, yet as it is often overlooked, at least in this country, so that many men speak favorably of Mr. Darwin's theory, who are no more Darwinians than they are Mussulmans; and as it is this feature of his system which brings it into conflict not only with Christianity, but with the fundamental principles of natural religion, it should be clearly established. The sources of proof on this point are,—1st. Mr. Darwin's own writings. 2d. The expositions of his theory given by its advocates. 3d. The character of the objections urged by its opponents.

The point to be proved is that it is the distinctive doctrine of Mr. Darwin, that species owe their origin, not to the original intention of the divine mind; not to special acts of creation calling new forms into existence at certain epochs; not to the constant and everywhere operative efficiency of God, guiding physical causes in the production of intended effects; but to the gradual accumulation of unintended variations of structure and instinct, securing some advantage to their subjects.

Darwin's own Testimony.

That such is Mr. Darwin's doctrine we prove from his own writings. And the first proof from that source is found in express declarations. When an idea pervades a book and constitutes its character, detached passages constitute a very small part of the evidence of its being inculcated. In the present case, however, such passages are sufficient to satisfy even those who have not had occasion to read Mr. Darwin's books. In referring to the similarity of structure in animals of the same class, he says, "Nothing can be more hopeless than to attempt to explain this similarity of pattern in members of the same class, by utility or the doctrine of final causes."[12]

On the last page of his work, he says: "It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being growth with reproduction; variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a ratio of increase so high as to lead to a struggle for life, and as a consequence to natural selection, entailing divergence of character and extinction of less improved forms. Thus from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, the production of the higher animals directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved." (p. 579)

In another of his works, he asks, "Did He (God) ordain that crop and tail-feathers of the pigeon should vary, in order that the fancier might make his grotesque pouter and fan-tail breeds? Did He cause the frame and mental qualities of the dog to vary, in order that a breed might be formed of indomitable ferocity, with jaws fitted to pin down the bull, for man's brutal sport? But if we give up the principle in one case; if we do not admit that the variations of the primeval dog were intentionally guided in order, for instance, that the greyhound, that perfect image of symmetry and vigor, might be formed; no shadow of reason can be assigned for the belief that variations, alike in nature and the results of the same general laws, which have been the groundwork through natural selection of the most perfectly adapted animals in the world, man included, were intentionally and specially guided. However much we may wish it, we can hardly follow Professor Asa Gray, in his belief 'that variations have been led along certain beneficial lines, as a stream is led along useful lines of irrigation.'"[13]

Variations, which by their gradual accumulation give rise to new species, genera, families, and orders, are themselves, step by step, accidental. Mr. Darwin sometimes says they happen by chance; sometimes he says they happen of necessity; at others he says, "We are profoundly ignorant of their causes." These are only different ways of saying that they are not intentional. When a man lets anything fall from his hands, and says it was accidental, he does not mean that it was causeless, he only means that it was not intentional. And that is precisely what Darwin means when he says that species arise out of accidental variations. His whole book is an argument against teleology. The whole question is, How are we to account for the innumerable varieties, kinds, and genera of plants and animals, including man? Were they intended? or, Did they arise from the gradual accumulations of unintentional variations? His answer to these questions is plain. On page 245, he says: "Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts have been perfected not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor. Nevertheless, this difficulty, though appearing to our imagination[14] insuperably great, cannot be considered real, if we admit the following propositions, namely, that all parts of the organizations and instincts offer, at least, individual differences; that there is a struggle for existence, which leads to the preservation of profitable deviations of structure or instinct; and, lastly, that gradations in the state of perfection of each organ may have existed, each good of its kind." He says, over and over, that if beauty or any variation of structure can be shown to be intended, it would "annihilate his theory." His doctrine is that such unintended variations, which happen to be useful in the struggle for life, are preserved, on the principle of the survival of the fittest. He urges the usual objections to teleology derived from undeveloped or useless organs, as web-feet in the upland goose and frigate-bird, which never swim.

What, however, perhaps more than anything, makes clear his rejection of design is the manner in which he deals with the complicated organs of plants and animals. Why don't he say, they are the product of the divine intelligence? If God made them, it makes no difference, so far as the question of design is concerned, how He made them: whether at once or by a process of evolution. But instead of referring them to the purpose of God, he laboriously endeavors to prove that they may be accounted for without any design or purpose whatever.

"To suppose," he says, "that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different degrees of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree." (p. 222) Nevertheless he attempts to explain the process. "It is scarcely possible," he says, "to avoid comparing the eye with the telescope. We know that this instrument has been perfected by the long continued efforts of the highest of human intellects; and we naturally infer that the eye has been formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference be presumptuous? Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man? If we must compare the eye to an optical instrument, we ought in imagination to take a thick layer of transparent tissue, with spaces filled with fluid, and with a nerve sensitive to light beneath, and then suppose every part of this layer to be continually changing slowly in density, so as to separate into layers of different densities and thicknesses, placed at different distances from each other, and with the surfaces of each layer slowly changing in form. Further, we must suppose that there is a power represented by natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, always intently watching each slight alteration in the transparent layers, and carefully preserving each, which, under varied circumstances, tends to produce a distinct image. We must suppose each new state of the instrument to be multiplied by the million; each to be preserved until a better is produced, and the old ones to be all destroyed. In living bodies, variations will cause the slight alterations, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement."[15] (p. 226) "Let this process," he says, "go on for millions of years," and we shall at last have a perfect eye.

It would be absurd to say anything disrespectful of such a man as Mr. Darwin, and scarcely less absurd to indulge in any mere extravagance of language; yet we are expressing our own experience, when we say that we regard Mr. Darwin's books the best refutation of Mr. Darwin's theory. He constantly shuts us up to the alternative of believing that the eye is a work of design or the product of the unintended action of blind physical causes. To any ordinarily constituted mind, it is absolutely impossible to believe that it is not a work of design. Darwin himself, it is evident, dear as his theory is, can hardly believe it. "It is indispensable," he says, "to arrive at a just conclusion as to the formation of the eye, that the reason should conquer the imagination; but I have felt the difficulty far too keenly to be surprised at any degree of hesitation in extending the principle of natural selection to so startling an extent." (p. 225)

It will be observed that every step in his account of the formation of the eye is an arbitrary assumption. We must first assume a thick layer of tissue; then that the tissue is transparent; then that it has cavities filled with fluid; that beneath the tissue is a nerve sensitive to light; then that the fluid is constantly varying in density and thickness; that its surfaces are constantly changing their contour; that its different portions are ever shifting their relative distances; that every favorable change is seized upon and rendered permanent,—thus after millions of years we may get an eye as perfect as that of an eagle. In like manner we may suppose a man to sit down to account for the origin and contents of the Bible, assuming as his "working hypothesis," that it is not the product of mind either human or divine, but that it was made by a type-setting machine worked by steam, and picking out type hap-hazard. In this way in a thousand years one sentence might be produced, in another thousand a second, and in ten thousand more, the two might get together in the right position. Thus in the course of "millions of years" the Bible might have been produced, with all its historical details, all its elevated truths, all its devout and sublime poetry, and above all with the delineation of the character of Christ, the [Greek: idea ton ideon], the ideal of majesty and loveliness, before which the whole world, believing and unbelieving, perforce bows down in reverence. And when reason has sufficiently subdued the imagination to admit all this, then by the same theory we may account for all the books in all languages in all the libraries in the world. Thus we should have Darwinism applied in the sphere of literature. This is the theory which we are told is to sweep away Christianity and the Church!

Mr. Darwin gives the same unsatisfactory account of the marvellous "contrivances" in the vegetable world. In one species of Orchids, the labellum or lower lip is hollowed into a great bucket continually filled with water, secreted from two horns which stand above it; when the bucket is sufficiently filled, the water flows out through a pipe or spout on one side. The bees, which crowd into the flower for sake of the nectar, jostle each other, so that some fall into the water; and their wings becoming wet they are unable to fly, and are obliged to crawl through the spout. In doing this they come in contact with the pollen, which, adhering to their backs, is carried off to other flowers. This complicated contrivance by which the female plants are fertilized has, according to the theory, been brought about by the slow process of natural selection or survival of the fittest.

Still more wonderful is the arrangement in another species of Orchids. When the bee begins to gnaw the labellum, he unavoidably touches a tapering projection, which, when touched, transmits a vibration which ruptures a membrane, which sets free a spring by which a mass of pollen is shot, with unerring aim, over the back of the bee, who then departs on his errand of fertilization.

A very large class of plants are fertilized by means of insects. These flowers are beautiful, not for the sake of beauty,—for that Mr. Darwin says would annihilate his theory,—but those which happen to be beautiful attract insects, and thus become fertilized and perpetuated, while the plainer ones are neglected and perish. So with regard to birds. The females are generally plain, because those of bright colors are so exposed during the period of incubation that they are destroyed by their enemies. In like manner male birds are usually adorned with brilliant plumage. This is accounted for on the ground that they are more attractive, and thus they propagate their race, while the plainer ones have few or no descendants. Thus all design is studiously and laboriously excluded from every department of nature.

The preceding pages contain only a small part of the evidence furnished by Mr. Darwin's own writings, that his doctrine involves the denial of all final causes. The whole drift of his books is to prove that all the organs of plants and animals, all their instincts and mental endowments, may be accounted for by the blind operation of natural causes, without any intention, purpose, or cooeperation of God. This is what Professor Huxley and others call "the creative idea," to which the widespread influence of his writings is to be referred.


[12] Origin of Species, p. 517.

[13] The Variations of Animals and Plants under Domestication. By Charles Darwin, F. R. S., etc. New York, 1868, vol. ii. pp. 515, 516.

[14] What can the word "imagination" mean in this sentence, if it does not mean "Common Sense?"

[15] Mr. Darwin's habit of personifying nature has given, as his friend Mr. Wallace says, his readers a good deal of trouble. He defines nature to be the aggregate of physical forces; and in the single passage quoted, he speaks of Natural Selection "as intently watching" "picking out with unerring skill," and "carefully preserving." It is true, he tells us this is all to be understood metaphorically.

Testimony of the Advocates of the Theory.

It is time to turn to the exposition of Darwinism by its avowed advocates, in proof of the assertion that it excludes all teleology.

The first of these witnesses is Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, himself a distinguished naturalist. Mr. Darwin informs his readers that as early as 1844, he had collected his material and worked out his theory, but had not published it to the world, although it had been communicated to some of his friends. In 1858 he received a memoir from Mr. Wallace, who was then studying the natural history of the Malay Archipelago. From that memoir he learnt that Mr. Wallace had "arrived at almost exactly the same conclusions as I (he himself) have on the origin of species." This led to the publishing his book on that subject contemporaneously with Mr. Wallace's memoir. There has been no jealousy or rivalry between these gentlemen. Mr. Wallace gracefully acknowledges the priority of Mr. Darwin's claim, and attributes to him the credit of having elaborated and sustained it in a way to secure for it universal attention. These facts are mentioned in order to show the competency of Mr. Wallace as a witness as to the true character of Darwinism.

Mr. Wallace, in "The Theory of Natural Selection," devotes a chapter to the consideration of the objections urged by the Duke of Argyll, in his work on the "Reign of Law," against that theory. Those objections are principally two: first, that design necessarily implies an intelligent designer; and second, that beauty not being an advantage to its possessor in the struggle for life, cannot be accounted for on the principle of the survival of the fittest. The Duke, he says, maintains that contrivance and beauty indicate "the constant supervision and interference of the Creator, and cannot possibly be explained by the unassisted action of any combination of laws. Now, Mr. Darwin's work," he adds, "has for its main object to show that all the phenomena of living things—all their wonderful organs and complicated structures, their infinite variety of form, size, and color, their intricate and involved relations to each other—may have been produced by the action of a few general laws of the simplest kind, laws which are in most cases mere statements of admitted facts." (p. 265) Those laws are those with which we are familiar: Heredity, Variations, Over Production, Struggle for Life, Survival of the Fittest. "It is probable," he says, "that these primary facts or laws are but results of the very nature of life, and of the essential properties of organized and unorganized matter. Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his 'First Principles' and in his 'Biology,' has, I think, made us able to understand how this may be; but at present we may accept these simple laws, without going further back, and the question then is, Whether the variety, the harmony, the contrivance, and the beauty we perceive, can have been produced by the action of these laws alone, or whether we are required to believe in the incessant interference and direct action of the mind and will of the Creator." (p. 267)[16] Mr. Wallace says, that the Duke of Argyll maintains that God "has personally applied general laws to produce effects which those laws are not in themselves capable of producing; that the universe alone with all its laws intact, would be a sort of chaos, without variety, without harmony, without design, without beauty; that there is not (and therefore we may presume that there could not be) any self-developing power in the universe. I believe, on the contrary, that the universe is so constituted as to be self-regulating; that as long it contains life, the forms under which that life is manifested have an inherent power of adjustment to each other and to their surroundings; and that this adjustment necessarily leads to the greatest amount of variety and beauty and enjoyment, because it does depend on general laws, and not on a continual supervision and rearrangement of details." (p. 268) "The strange springs and traps and pitfalls found in the flowers of Orchids, cannot," he says, "be necessary per se, since exactly the same end is gained in ten thousand other flowers which do not possess them. Is it not then an extraordinary idea, to imagine the Creator of the universe contriving the various complicated parts of these flowers, as a mechanic might contrive an ingenious toy or a difficult puzzle? Is it not a more worthy conception, that they are the results of those general laws which were so cooerdinated at the first introduction of life upon the earth as to result necessarily in the utmost possible development of varied forms." (p. 270) "I for one," he says, "cannot believe that the world would come to chaos if left to law alone.... If any modification of structure could be the result of law, why not all? If some self-adaptations should arise, why not others? If any varieties of color, why not all the varieties we see? No attempt is made to explain this except by reference to the fact that 'purpose' and 'contrivance' are everywhere visible, and by an illogical deduction they could only have arisen by the direct action of some mind, because the direct action of our minds produce similar 'contrivances;' but it is forgotten that adaptation, however produced, must have the appearance of design." (p. 280)[17] After referring to the fact that florists and breeders can produce varieties in plants and animals, so that, "whether they wanted a bull-dog to torture another animal, a greyhound to catch a hare, or a bloodhound to hunt down their oppressed fellow-creatures, the required variations have always appeared," he adds: "To be consistent, our opponents must maintain that every one of the variations that have rendered possible the changes produced by man, have been determined at the right time and place by the Creator. Every race produced by the florist or breeder, the dog or the pigeon fancier, the rat-catcher, the sporting man, or the slave-hunter, must have been provided for by varieties occurring when wanted; and as these variations were never withheld, it would prove that the sanction of an all-wise and all powerful Being has been given to that which the highest human minds consider to be trivial, mean, or debasing." (p. 290)[18]

The Nebular Hypothesis, as propounded by La Place, proposed to account for the origin of the universe, by a process of evolution under the control of mere physical forces. That hypothesis has, so far as evolution is concerned, been adopted by men who sincerely believe in God and in the Bible. But they hold not only that God created matter and endowed it with its properties, but that He designed the universe, and so controlled the operation of physical laws that they accomplished his purpose. So there are Christian men who believe in the evolution of one kind of plants and animals out of earlier and simpler forms; but they believe that everything was designed by God, and that it is due to his purpose and power that all the forms of vegetable and animal life are what they are. But this is not the question. What Darwin and the advocates of his theory deny, is all design. The organs, even the most complicated and wonderful, were not intended. They are said to be due to the undirected and unintended operation of physical laws. This is Mr. Wallace's argument. He endeavors to show that it is unworthy of God that He should be supposed to have contrived the mechanism of the orchids, as a mechanist contrives a curious puzzle.

We recently heard Prof. Joseph Henry, in a brief address, say substantially: "If I take brass, glass, and other materials, and fuse them, the product is a slag. This is what physical laws do. If I take those same materials, and form them into a telescope, that is what mind does." This is the whole question in a nutshell. That design implies an intelligent designer, is a self evident truth. Every man believes it; and no man can practically disbelieve it. Even those naturalists who theoretically deny it, if they find in a cave so simple a thing as a flint arrow-head, are as sure that it was made by a man as they are of their own existence. And yet they want us to believe that an eagle's eye is the product of blind natural causes. No combination of physical forces ever made a ship or a locomotive. It may, indeed, be said that they are dead matter, whereas plants and animals live. But what is life but one form of the organizing efficiency of God?

Mr. Wallace does not go as far as Mr. Darwin. He recoils from regarding man either as to body or soul as the product of mere natural causes. He insists that "a superior intelligence is necessary to account for man." (p. 359) This of course implies that the agency of no such higher intelligence is admitted in the production of plants or of animals lower than man.


[16] The question is not, as Mr. Wallace says, "How has the Creator worked?" but it is, as he himself states, whether the essential properties of matter have alone worked out all the wonders of creation; or, whether they are to be referred to the mind and will of God. It is worthy of remark how Messrs. Darwin and Wallace refer to Mr. Spencer as their philosopher. We have seen what Spencer's philosophy is.

[17] It is, therefore, clear that design is what Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace repudiate.

[18] That God permits men in the use of the laws of nature to distil alcohol and brew poisons, does not prove that He approves of drunkenness or murder.

Professor Huxley.

The second witness as to the character of Mr. Darwin's theory is Professor Huxley. We have some hesitation in including the name of this distinguished naturalist among the advocates of Darwinism.[19] On the one hand, in his Essay on the Origin of Species, printed in the "Westminster Review," in 1860, and reprinted in his "Lay Sermons," etc., in 1870, he says: "There is no fault to be found with Mr. Darwin's method, but it is another thing whether he has fulfilled all the conditions imposed by that method. Is it satisfactorily proved that species may[20] be originated by selection? that none of the phenomena exhibited by species are inconsistent with the origin of species in this way? If these questions can be answered in the affirmative, Mr. Darwin's view steps out of the rank of hypotheses into that of theories; but so long as the evidence at present adduced falls short of enforcing that affirmative, so long, to our minds, the new doctrine must be content to remain among the former,—an extremely valuable, and in the highest degree probable, doctrine; indeed, the only extant hypothesis which is worth anything in a scientific point of view; but still a hypothesis, and not yet a theory of species. After much consideration," he adds, "and assuredly with no bias against Mr. Darwin's views, it is our clear conviction that, as the evidence now stands, it is not absolutely proven that a group of animals, having all the characters exhibited by species in Nature, has ever been originated by selection, whether artificial or natural."[21]

Again, in his work on "Man's Place in Nature," he expresses himself much to the same effect: "A true physical cause is admitted to be such only on one condition, that it shall account for all the phenomena which come within the range of its operation. If it is inconsistent with any one phenomenon it must be rejected; if it fails to explain any one phenomenon it is so far to be suspected, though it may have a perfect right to provisional acceptance.... Our acceptance, therefore, of the Darwinian hypothesis must be provisional so long as one link in the chain of evidence is wanting; and so long as all the animals and plants certainly produced by selective breeding from a common stock are fertile, and their progeny are fertile one with another, that link will be wanting. For so long selective breeding will not be proved to be competent to all that is required if it produce natural species."[22] In immediate connection with the above passage, there is another which throws a clear light on Professor Huxley's cosmical views. "The whole analogy of natural operations furnish so complete and crushing an argument against the intervention of any but what are called secondary causes, in the production of all the phenomena of the universe; that, in view of the intimate relations of man and the rest of the living world, and between the forces exerted by the latter and all other forces, I can see no reason for doubting that all are cooerdinate terms of nature's great progression, from formless to formed, from the inorganic to the organic, from blind force to conscious intellect and will."[23]

Ought not this to settle the matter? Are we to give up the Bible and all our hopes for the sake of an hypothesis that all living things, including man, on the face of the earth, are descended from a primordial animalcule, by natural selection, when such a man as Huxley, who (as Voltaire said of the prophet Habbakuk) is capable de tout, says that it has not been proved that any one species has thus originated?

But on the other hand, while he honestly admits that Darwin's doctrine is a mere hypothesis and not a theory, he has nevertheless written at least three essays or reviews in its exposition and vindication. He is freely referred to on the continent of Europe, at least, as an ardent advocate of the doctrine; and he quotes without protest such designations of himself. At any rate, as he assures his readers that he has no bias against Mr. Darwin's views, as he has devoted much time and attention to the subject, and as he is one of the most prominent naturalists of the age, there can be no question as to his competency as a witness as to what Darwinism is.

His testimony that Mr. Darwin's doctrine excludes all teleology, or final causes, is explicit. In his review of the "Criticisms on the Origin of Species," he says, "that when he first read Mr. Darwin's book, that which struck him most forcibly was the conviction that teleology, as commonly understood, had received its death-blow at Mr. Darwin's hands. For the teleological argument runs thus: An organ is precisely fitted to perform a function or purpose; therefore, it was specially constructed to perform that function. In Paley's famous illustration, the adaptation of all the parts of a watch to the function or purpose of showing the time, is held to be evidence that the watch was specially contrived to that end; on the ground that the only cause we know of competent to produce such an effect as a watch which shall keep time, is a contriving intelligence adapting the means directly to that end."[24] This, Mr. Huxley tells us, is precisely what Darwin denies with reference to the organs of plants and animals. The eye was not formed for the purpose of seeing, or the ear for hearing. It so happened that a nerve became sensitive to light; then in course of time, it happened that a transparent tissue came over it; and thus in "millions of years" an eye, as we have seen above, happened to be formed. No such organ was ever intended or designed by God or man. "An apparatus," says Professor Huxley, "thoroughly adapted to a particular purpose, might be the result of a method of trial and error worked by unintelligent agents, as well as by the application of means appropriate to the end by an intelligent agent." "For the notion that every organism has been created as it is and launched straight at a purpose, Mr. Darwin substitutes the conception of something, which may fairly be termed a method of trial and error. Organisms vary incessantly; of these variations the few meet with surrounding conditions which suit them, and thrive; the many are unsuited, and become extinguished." "For the teleologist an organism exists, because it was made for the conditions in which it is found; for the Darwinian an organism exists, because, out of many of its kind, it is the only one which has been able to persist in the conditions in which it is found." "If we apprehend," Huxley further says, "the spirit of the 'Origin of Species' rightly, then, nothing can be more entirely and absolutely opposed to teleology, as it is commonly understood, than the Darwinian theory." (p. 303)

It has already been stated that Mr. Wallace does not apply the doctrine of evolution to man; neither does Mr. Mivart, a distinguished naturalist, who is a member of the Latin Church. The manner in which Professor Huxley speaks of these gentlemen shows how thoroughly, in his judgment, Mr. Darwin banishes God from his works: "Mr. Wallace and Mr. Mivart are as stout evolutionists as Mr. Darwin himself; but Mr. Wallace denies that man can have been evolved from a lower animal by that process of natural selection, which he, with Mr. Darwin, holds to be sufficient for the evolution of all animals below man; while Mr. Mivart, admitting that natural selection has been one of the conditions of the animals below man, maintains that natural selection must, even in their case, have been supplemented by some other cause,—of the nature of which, unfortunately, he does not give us any idea. Thus Mr. Mivart is less of a Darwinian than Mr. Wallace, for he has faith in the power of natural selection. But he is more of an evolutionist than Mr. Wallace, because Mr. Wallace thinks it necessary to call in an intelligent agent, a sort of supernatural Sir John Sebright, to produce even the animal frame of man; while Mr. Mivart requires no Divine assistance till he comes to man's soul."[25]

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