Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/737

This page has been validated.

Power, we must not even resort to a "moss-grown fragment from the ruins of another world," unless it is really necessary to invent some such hypothesis. Now, the Evolutionist repudiates the notion of Creation in its ordinary sense; he believes that the operation of natural causes, working in their accustomed manner, was alone quite adequate to bring into existence a kind of matter presenting a new order of complexity, and displaying the phenomena which we have generalized under the word "Life." Living matter is thus supposed to have come into being by the further operation, under new conditions, of the same agencies as had previously led to the formation of the various inorganic constituents of the earth's crust—such mineral and saline substances as we see around us at the present day. What we call "Life," then, is regarded as one of the natural results of the growing complexity of our primal nebula. So that, in accordance with this view, we have no more reason to postulate a miraculous interference or exercise of Creative Power to account for the evolution of living matter in any suitable portion of the Universe (whether it be on this earth or elsewhere), than to explain the appearance of any other kind of matter—the magnetic oxide of iron, for instance. So far, all thorough Evolutionists are quite agreed. This is the view of Spencer, Lewes, Huxley, and others—possibly of Darwin. I say possibly of Darwin, because on this subject it so happens that the language of this most distinguished exponent of Evolution is more than usually tinctured with a previous point of view. Speaking of the probable commencement of Life upon our globe, Mr. Darwin says[1]: "I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number. Analogy would lead me one step farther, namely, to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from some one prototype.... There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms, or into one; and that while this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, have been and are being evolved." Taking into account the phraseology made use of in the above quotation, we have little difficulty in recognizing the views of an Evolutionist, dwarfed and modified though they are by an ultimate appeal to a Creative act only a little less miraculous and singular than the mythical origin of our reputed ancestors—Adam and Eve. Some existing naturalists may perhaps contend that Mr. Darwin ought to have kept more closely to the Mosaic record––replacing his one primordial form by a dual birth of male and female, without whose mutual influence no "biological individuals" can in their opinion come into existence. Such a supposition, it is true, would be as antiquated and unnecessary from the Evolutionist's point of view as

  1. "Origin of Species," sixth edition, 1872, pp. 424, 429.