Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/190

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

accepts the reality of spontaneous generation by means of putrefaction and the action of the sun. These philosophers did not hesitate to say that the dogma of creation is an impossibility, an absurd opinion, only fit for the vulgar who will believe anything. According to these elevated views, living beings are merely a movement of matter under the influence of heat. Man himself is like the flame of a lamp, a form or shape through which material substance is passing, receiving supplies, dismissing wastes, and evolving force. As regards transmutation, Al Khazini says that an animal passes through successive stages of development, but we must not suppose that naturalists mean to say that "man was once a bull, and was changed into an ass, and afterward into a horse, and after that into an ape, and finally became a man."

Arabian philosophers had therefore speculated on spontaneous generation, and the conditions necessary for its occurrence; on the development of a germ by the latent force it contains; on the transmutation of species; and the production of the animal series. They had rejected the theory of creation, and adopted that of evolution. They had gained ideas respecting the unceasing dominion of law, but at these they had arrived through their doctrine of emanation and absorption, rather than from an investigation of visible Nature. In the religious revolt against philosophy that took place toward the twelfth century, these ideas were exterminated and never again appeared in Islam.

 

If the doctrine of the government of the world by law was thus held in detestation by Islam, it was still more bitterly refused by Christendom, in which the possibility of changing the divine purposes was carried to its extreme by the invocation of angels and saints, and great gains accrued to the Church through its supposed influence in procuring these miraculous interventions. The Papal Government was no more disposed to tolerate universal and irreversible law than its Paynim antagonist had been. The Inquisition had been invented and set at work. It speedily put an end, not only in the south of France, but all over Europe, to everything supposed to be not in harmony with the orthodox faith, by instituting a reign of terror.

The Reign of Terror in revolutionary France lasted but a few months; the atrocities of the Commune at the close of the Franco-German War only a few days; but the Reign of Terror in Christendom has continued from the thirteenth century with declining energy to our times. Its object has been the forcible subjugation of thought.

The Mohammedans had thus brought the theory of evolution up to that point at which, for any further advance, clear views of the operation of law in the government of the world were necessary. In their speculations in this particular they had been guided by theological