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WAS LIFE IN THE STAR DUST.
of all vagueness, and bring it before you, unclothed and unvarnished, the notions by which it must stand or fall. Surely these notions represent an absurdity too monstrous to be entertained by any sane mind.” The difficulty in the way of carrying out the hypothesis, that all things — mind and body and all their properties — are derived by development from star dust is powerfully put, and should lay an arrest on those who speak so dogmatically of the possibility of accounting for all things by natural law. After having made this strong and apparently satisfactory statement, he tries to lessen the effect of it, by hinting that the difficulties may be lessened, if not removed, by falling back upon a philosophic law, — that of Relativity, which has been adopted by the school to which he belongs; and by hinting that the perplexities may arise from erroneous traditional views about mind and matter. * It will be necessary thoroughly to examine tnat
“Why are these notions absurd? and why should sanity reject them? The law of relativity, which plays so important a part in modern philosophy, may find its application here. These evolution notions are absurd, monstrous, and fit only for the intellectual gibbet, in relation to the ideas concerning matter which were drilled into us when young. Spirit and matter have ever been presented to us in the rudest contrast; the one as all noble, the other as all vile. But is this correct?” Speaking of certain supposed enlightened minds, with which he evidently concurs: “They have as little fellowship with the atheist who says there is no God, as with the theist who professes to know the mind of God.” This language points to some seemingly very profound truth, which it will be necessary to examine, when it will be found to look so large because of the mist in which we see it.
general doctrine, and the application of it to mind and body, which are alleged to be one and the same; so that, in certain conditions, mind might come out of matter. This will be undertaken in the second series of these Lectures. But, before doing this, we must take up this whole subject of Development, and the Origin of Species, and the Law of Natural Selection, in their relation to the lower animals, to man, and to human history. I am satisfied if in this Lecture I have succeeded in showing that the argument from design is not undermined by modern discoveries; and that, through the process by which the universe has reached its present condition, there runs an evidence of pre-arrangement, skill, and purpose, quite as much so as in the formation of threads into a web in the loom; as in the types taking their proper places so as to print a volume; as in the dispositions of the soldiers in the campaigns of Hannibal, of Washington, or of Moltke.
NATURAL SELECTION. ORIGIN OF MAN. - HISTORICAL
DEVELOPMENT. - CHRIST AND THE MORAL POWER.
from design in its application to the subjects discussed in modern science. In the last lecture, I have shown that we have numerous examples of adaptation and purpose in the production of plants and animals. We have seen that no known natural power can produce organized out of unorganized matter, can produce protoplasm out of protein, can generate a cell without a parent cell, or a plant or an animal without a seed or germ, or a sentient animal from insentient matter. But the question has often occurred to me, Is religion essentially bound up with the settlement, one way or other, of these scientific questions?
Suppose it proven that there is such a thing as spontaneous generation : would religion thereby be overthrown, either in its evidences, its doctrines, or its precepts? I have doubts if it would. The great body of thinkers in ancient times - even those most inclined to theism seem to have believed that lower creatures sprang out of the dust of the
earth, without the need of a previous germ. Some of the profoundest theologians and ablest defenders of religion in the early church were believers in the doctrine of spontaneous generation, — which may be consistently held in modern times by believers in natural and revealed religion. The establishment of the need of a germ, in order to the production of life, does not carry us back three centuries. There is really no ground for the fears of the timid, on the one hand, nor, on the other hand, for the arrogant expectation of the atheist, that he will thereby be able to drive God from his works. Spontaneous generation is not to be understood as a generation out of nothing, an event without a cause, an affair of caprice or chance. It is a production out of preexisting materials by means of powers in the materials, powers very much unknown, working only in certain circumstances, and requiring, in order to their operation, favorable conditions, assorted (so all religious people think) by Divine wisdom. Spontaneous generation, supposing it to exist, cannot be a simple, it must be a very complex process; involving properties possessed by matter, and a concourse of circumstances working to the production of an intended end.
Plants and animals (let me suppose) are now formed out of germs, or, if you can show it to be so, out of wisely endowed and carefully prepared matter. But, How are they propagated ? is the next question. By special acts of creation? or by development? I do not know that religion, natural or
revealed, has any interest in holding by any particular view on this subject, any more than it has in maintaining any special theory as to the formation of strata of stone on the earth's surface. It is now admitted that Christians may hold, in perfect consistency with religion and Genesis, that certain layers of rock were formed, not at once by a fiat of God, but mediately by water and fire as the agents of God. And are they not at liberty to hold, always if evidence be produced, that higher plants have been developed from lower, and higher brutes from lower, according to certain laws of descent, known or unknown, working in favorable circumstances? There is nothing irreligious in the idea of development, properly understood. We have constant experience of development, of the development of individual plants and animals from parent plants and animals. And why, if proof be produced, should we not be allowed to believe in the development of a new species from the crossing of two species in favorable circumstances?
Development, if we only carefully inquire into its nature, will not be seen to be so simple an operation as some imagine. The development of an individual plant or animal from its parentage is a very complex process, implying an immense body of agencies, mechanical, chemical, probably electric and magnetic: some would say that it requires, in addition, an independent vital power. But, put the supposition that no distinct vital power is required, - that a certain coincidence of chemical and me