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EVOLUTION AND THE ORIGIN OF LIFE.

visible stage of our most powerful microscope, would represent those initial collocations by which alone living matter could come into being—though the "germs" thus initiated may afterward appear as minutest visible specks growing into Bacteria, Vibriones, or Torulæ. We may, therefore, be permitted to remark that, even if it were given to Prof. Huxley to "look beyond the abyss of geologically-recorded time," he would be extremely unlikely to witness an "evolution of living protoplasm from not-living matter." At the most, he might see (that is, if equipped with a powerful microscope) only what he may equally well see now—viz., a gradual emergence into the sphere of the visible of minute specks of living protoplasm. But though he might, when looking back to this remote age, be inclined to consider such appearances as testifying to the evolution of living protoplasm from not-living matter, he would perchance find it just as difficult to convince others of the absence of invisible Salamandrine germs (derived, perhaps, from the "moss-grown fragment of another world") as he is himself difficult to be convinced by similar appearances at the present day. Prof. Huxley seems, for the time, to have lost sight of a consideration justly deemed by Prof. Tyndall to be one of great importance in the interpretation of evolutional phenomena—viz., the enormous difference in point of size between the first constituent molecules of protoplasm and the minutest visible organisms. As Prof. Tyndall puts it, compared with their constituent elements, "the smallest vibrios and bacteria of the microscopic field are as behemoth and leviathan," even though the latter are often less than 130000 of an inch in diameter.[1]

Thus it would appear that a consistent belief in the Evolution hypothesis necessarily carries with it a belief in the continuance of the process of Archebiosis from the remote epoch when living matter first appeared upon this earth down to the present time. The Evolutionist teaches us that living matter is not in its essence different from other kinds of matter, and that it originally came into being, like the various forms of mineral and crystalline matter, by the operation of mere natural causes. As Prof. Huxley says:[2] "Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, are all lifeless bodies. Of these carbon and oxygen unite in certain proportions and under certain conditions to give rise to carbonic acid; hydrogen and oxygen produce water; nitrogen and hydrogen give rise to ammonia. These new compounds, like the elementary bodies of which they are composed, are lifeless. But, when they are brought together under certain conditions, they give rise to the still more complex body, protoplasm; and this protoplasm exhibits the phenomena of life." So that, if living matter has once arisen naturally and independently, the laws of uniformity alone, upon which all science is based, should lead us to expect

  1. "Fragments of Science," fourth edition, 1872, p. 151.
  2. Fortnightly Review, February, 1869.