Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/374

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the same narrow round of combining and separating. The evolution, if evolution it be, is kept within the narrowest limits; the tendency to retrograde is quite as marked as the tendency to go forward; and, as respects evolution, the conclusion to be drawn is even that which has been drawn from the changes witnessed in the pigeon and the dog—this and no other. It may be questioned, also, whether this doctrine of evolution derives as much support as it is supposed to do from the facts belonging to astronomy and geology.

The nebular hypothesis, which may be taken as the real starting-point of the doctrine in question, is certainly very nebulous. The facts upon which it is founded show unity of plan; of that there need be no doubt; but this unity of plan is really a matter quite apart from the nebular hypothesis founded upon it. Besides, where did the heat come from which kept up the nebulous state which preceded the formation of the heavenly bodies of various sorts, and what has become of it since the time of this formation? What real proof is there of the continual cooling which should still be going on according to this view? Like light and gravity, heat may result in the mutual reactions of the heavenly bodies, or be a property of one or other of these bodies; but to conceive of it as independent of these bodies is, to say the least, no easy matter. Indeed, so difficult is it so to conceive of it, that, until the difficulty is overcome, the nebular hypothesis may be set aside as a dream which is as little calculated to give probability to the doctrine of evolution as the evidence which has been already glanced at.

And so likewise with that particular evidence in favor of evolution which the facts of geology are supposed to supply. Endless ages are needed to allow of evolution; and the facts of geology are believed to testify unequivocally to the lapse of these ages. But is it so? If the rock in which the skeleton of a plesiosaurus is embedded had been deposited as slowly as it is supposed to have been deposited, every trace of organization must have decomposed and disappeared long ages before the animal could have been covered up in its bed. For the skeleton to be there at all, indeed, is a plain proof that the rock, at least to the thickness needed for embedding it, must have been deposited before decomposition had time to do its work fully. And so likewise in every other analogous case. Nay, it may even be questioned whether there has been a separate upheaval and sinking to allow of the formation of each coal-seam or limestone-bed, for many of these seams and beds which are parallel may have to be explained as drifts, which have to do with one cataclysm of upheaval and sinking rather than with many such cataclysms, for how could this strict parallelism be preserved if there had been many cataclysms? Moreover, it must not be forgotten that there are not a few fossils out of place in the strata, fossils which ought not to be where they are if living things had made their appearance on the earth in the order required by the doctrine of evolution.