Зображення сторінки

unfortunate that he should not have shown any appreciation of a position opposed to his own other than that gross and crude one which he combats so superfluously—that he should appear, even for a moment, to be one of those, of whom there are far too many, who first misrepresent their adversary's view, and then elaborately refute it; who, in fact, erect a doll utterly incapable of self-defence, and then, with a flourish of trumpets and many vigorous strokes, overthrow the helpless dummy they have previously raised.

This is what many do who more or less distinctly oppose theism in the interests, as they believe, of physical science; and they often represent, amongst other things, a gross and narrow anthropomorphism as the necessary consequence of views opposed to those which they themselves advocate. Mr. Darwin and others may perhaps be excused if they have not devoted much time to the study of Christian philosophy; but they have no right to assume or accept without careful examination, as an unquestioned fact, that in that philosophy there is a necessary antagonism between the two ideas, “creation" and "evolution," as applied to organic forms.

It is notorious and patent to all who choose to seek, that many distinguished Christian thinkers have accepted and do accept both ideas, i.e. both “creation” and “evolution.”

As much as ten years ago, an eminently Christian writer observed : “The creationist theory does not necessitate the perpetual search after manifestations of miraculous powers and perpetual catastrophes.' Creation is not a miraculous interference with the laws of nature, but the very institution of those laws. Law and regularity, not arbitrary intervention, was the patristic ideal of creation. With

this notion, they admitted without difficulty the most surprising origin of living creatures, provided it took place by law. They held that when God said, 'Let the waters produce,''Let the earth produce, He conferred forces on the elements of earth and water, which enabled them naturally to produce the various species of organic beings. This power, they thought, remains attached to the elements throughout all time.”] The same writer quotes St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to the effect that, “ in the institution of nature, we do not look for miracles, but for the laws of nature.”2 And, again, St. Basil, speaks of the continued operation of natural laws in the production of all organisms. So much for writers of early and mediæval times.

As to the present day, the Author can confidently affirm that there are many as well versed in theology as Mr. Darwin is in his own department of natural knowledge, who would not be disturbed by the thorough demonstration of his theory. Nay, they would not even be in the least painfully affected at witnessing the generation of animals of complex organization by the skilful artificial arrangement of natural forces, and the production, in the future, of a fish, by means analogous to those by which we now produce urea.

And this because they know that the possibility of such i The Rambler, March 1860, vol. xii. p. 372.

9 “In primâ institutione naturæ non quæritur miraculum, sed quid natura rerum habeat, ut Augustinus dicit, lib. ii. sup. Gen. ad lit. c. l.” (St. Thomas, Sum. Iv. lxvii. 4, ad 3.)

3 “ Hexaem.” Hom. ix. p. 81.

4 Since the first edition of this work appeared, the notice given of it in the Dublin Review for April 1871, demonstrates how great a mistake those make who think that the strictest orthodoxy is necessarily unfriendly to advanced physical science.

phenomena, though by no means actually foreseen, has yet been fully provided for in the old philosophy centuries before Darwin, or eveu centuries before Bacon, and that their place in the system can be at once assigned thern without even disturbing its order or marring its harmony.

Moreover, the old tradition in this respect has never been abandoned, however much it may have been ignored or neglected by some modern writers. In proof of this it may be observed that perhaps no post-mediæval theologian has a wider reception amongst Christians throughout the world than Suarez, who has a separate section in opposition to those who maintain the distinct creation of the various kinds-or substantial forms-of organic life.

But the consideration of this matter must be deferred for the present, and the question of evolution, whether Darwinian or other, be first gone into. It is proposed, after that has been done, to return to this subject (here merely referred to), and to consider at some length the bearing of “ Evolution," whether Darwinian or nonDarwinian, upon “ Creation and Theism."

Now we will revert simply to the consideration of the theory of “ Natural Selection” itself.

Whatever may have hitherto been the amount of acceptance that this theory has met with, all, I think, anticipated that the appearance of Mr. Darwin's large and careful work on “ Animals and Plants under Domestication” could but further increase that acceptance. It is, however, somewhat problematical how far such anticipations will be realized. The newer book seems to add but very little in support of the theory, and to leave most, if not all, its

Paris, 1868.

Vol. I. Dis.

| Suarez, Metaphysica. Edition Vivés. putatio xv. § 2.

may not be

difficulties exactly where they were. It is a question, also, whether the hypothesis of "Pangenesis” i found rather to encumber than to support the theory it is intended to subserve. However, the work in question treats only of domestic animals, and probably the next instalment will address itself more vigorously and directly to the difficulties which seem to us yet to bar the way to a complete acceptance of the doctrine.2

If the theory of Natural Selection can be shown to be quite insufficient to explain any considerable number of important phenomena connected with the origin of species, that theory, as the explanation, must be considered as so far discredited.

If other causes than Natural (including sexual) Selection can be proved to have acted—if variation can in any cases be proved to be subject to certain determinations in special directions by different means than Natural Selection, it then becomes antecedently probable that it is so in other cases, and that Natural Selection depends upon, and only supplements, such means; which conception is opposed to the pure Darwinian position.

Now it is certain, a priori, that variation is obedient to some law, and therefore that “Natural Selection” itself

Pangenesis” is the name of the new theory proposed by Mr. Darwin, in order to account for various obscure physiological facts, such,

.g., as the occasional reproduction, by individuals, of parts which they have lost; the appearance in offspring of parental, and sometimes of remote ancestral, characters, &c. It accounts for these phenomena by supposing that every creature possesses countless indefinitely-minute organic atoms, termed “gemmules,” which atoms are supposed to be generated in every part of every organ, be in constant circulation about the body, and to have the power of reproduction. Moreover, atoius from every part are supposed to be stored in the generative products.

2 These anticipations of the Author have not been fully realized in Mr. Darwin's most recent work, “The Descent of Man."

[ocr errors]

must be capable of being subsumed into some higher law; and, the Author believes, it is evident a posteriori, that “Natural Selection” is, at the very least, aided and supplemented by some other agency.

Admitting, then, organic and other evolution, and that new forms of animals and plants (new species, genera, &c.) have from time to time been evolved from preceding animals and plants, it follows, if the views here advocated are true, that this evolution has not taken place by the action of “Natural Selection" alone, but through it (amongst other influences) aided by the concurrent action of some other natural law or laws, at present undiscovered. It is probable also that the genesis of species takes place partly, perhaps mainly, through laws which may be most conveniently spoken of as special powers and tendencies existing in each organism; and partly through influences exerted on each such organism by surrounding conditions and agencies organic and inorganic, terrestrial and cosmical, among which the "survival of the fittest" plays a certain but subordinate part.

The theory of “Natural Selection ” may (though it need not) be understood in such a way as to lead men to consider the present organic world to be formed, so to speak, accidentally, beautiful and wonderful as is confessedly the haphazard result. The same may perhaps be said with regard to the system advocated by Mr. Herbert Spencer, who, however, also degrades “Natural Selection” to a subordinate office. The view here advocated, on the other hand, exhibits the whole organic world as arising and going forward in one harmonious development similar to that which displays itself in the growth and action of each separate individual organism. It also regards each such

« НазадПродовжити »