Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/748

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of forces at work, adds to the diversity of effects produced. This multiplication of effects is proved to be similarly traceable throughout Nature." Now, if causes like these are inevitably at work upon and within the simplest forms of life, no change in external conditions would be needed in order to insure an increasing complexity of structure, through months or years, to say nothing about long ages of time. But, as a matter of fact, granting that the liability of organisms to increase in complexity of structure "arises from the actions and reactions between organisms and their fluctuating environments," and seeing that these changes in the environment are enumerated by Mr. Spencer as being due to "astronomic, geologic, meteorologic, and organic agencies," organisms never could by any possibility shelter themselves through long ages of time even from the influence of these external inciters of change. Mr. Spencer's explanation of the cause of the existence of multitudinous almost structureless organisms at the present day, therefore, entirely falls to the ground. The lowest organisms can neither escape the incidence of new external conditions (such as we know from actual observation do powerfully modify them), neither, if they could, should the progress of organization thereby cease—since the internal causes of change would still remain active and still continue to give rise to a "multiplication of effects," as Mr. Spencer has himself explained.

Thus, the existence of such lowest and simplest organisms as the microscope everywhere reveals at the present day, is quite irreconcilable with the position that life-evolution has not occurred since an epoch inconceivably remote in Time. Admit the present occurrence of Archebiosis and Heterogenesis, and both the existence and protean variability of the lowest organisms are at once readily explained. We may suppose them continually seething into existence afresh, endowed with enormous plasticity; so that new recruits are constantly appearing, ever ready to fill up the gaps which would otherwise be occasioned by promotion and death. The opposite doctrine, concerning such organisms as the structureless Amœba and the insignificant Mucor now daily appearing on decaying substances, seems opposed to all reason from the point of view of the Evolution Philosophy. As I have elsewhere asked:[1] "Would the Evolutionist really have us believe that such forms are direct continuations of an equally structureless matter which has existed for millions and millions of years without having undergone any differentiation? Would he have us believe that the simplest and most structureless Amœba of the present day can boast of a line of ancestors stretching back to such far remote periods that in comparison with them the primeval men were but as things of yesterday? The notion surely is preposterously absurd; or, if true, the fact would be sufficient to overthrow the very first principles of their own Evolution philosophy."—Author's Advance Sheets.

  1. "The Beginnings of Life," 1872, vol. i., p. 12.