Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/57

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the true law of propagation is based upon a perfect standard in nature, all changes or deviations from that standard or model result from what are properly called laws of inheritance. With this explanation it will be seen at once that a wide and varied field is laid open for their operations, dependent not only on the body itself, but upon external agencies and conditions. But the question arises, Why this "natural selection," why this "struggle for existence," and why the "survival of the fittest "? Do they not arise from a universal law in nature which gives to those possessing this organization in the highest degree the advantage over others?

What is this inherent principle in nature ever aspiring for betterment or improvement? What are the secret forces everywhere predisposing in this direction? Is there not some general, universal law incorporated into organic life which favors such qualities? As this law is primarily based upon a higher or perfect standard, all its inherent or predisposing forces have an upward or improving tendency. Thus all who are so fortunate as to possess an organization of higher grade or better than others have certain advantages. In this way the doctrine of natural selection may be readily understood and the survival of the fittest.

This general law, applicable to all organic beings, resembles in some respects that principle found in the human system called vis medicatrix. It was early discovered by physicians that in case any part or organ in the body became injured or diseased there was a surprising recuperative power in nature of healing or curing. All the sound parts of the body seem to conspire together to help the part or organ affected. This influence to assist seems spontaneous and always healthful. So it is with this law of propagation—it is not only conservative, but improving to all possessing more than an average share of the inherent forces of this law.

Connected with this law of population there are several points worthy of most careful consideration. While it possesses a sure and permanent foundation, there are a flexibility, an elasticity, which are self-regulating, and display a divine wisdom and power. Such is the nature of this law that, in all its varied operations, it does not interfere with the choice and free agency of man. When the character of this law is fully understood, what on the one hand are the penalties attached to the violation of any part of it, and, on the other hand, what are the rewards for its observance, it presents to man the strongest possible motives for his own improvement and the advancement of human happiness generally. If man is created a free moral agent, accountable for all his acts, the law providing for the propagating of the species should certainly be of such a character that he can clearly understand its nature and sanctions. According to those theories on population where its increase and changes depend mainly upon external agents, man is made, in a great measure, a mere passive