one essential character remains unchanged. It is a peculiar relation of cause and effect operating in time and exhibiting the one essential characteristic of having been directed in the past, and of being continually directed in the present, to some end which is future, the direction being of that nature which we instinctively and accurately call an aim."
In a recent article on Darwinism and Design, in the Contemporary Review, Prof. F. C. S. Schiller concludes his interesting contribution as follows:
"We have discussed so far only mechanical theories of evolution. But in itself evolution is not necessarily bound to be mechanical; it is perfectly possible to regard it as the gradual working of a divine purpose. And once we adopt the evolutionist standpoint, it is clear that the argument from design is materially and perceptibly strengthened: (1) Positively, because evolutionism lets us, as it were, behind the scenes and shows us how means are adapted to ends in the gradual process of evolution. This renders easier and more comprehensive the belief underlying all teleology in a power that intelligently adapts means to ends. (2) Negatively, evolutionism greatly weakens the objection to the teleological argument based on the imperfection of existing adaptations. We are no longer compelled to proclaim everything perfect; it suffices that we can find nourishment for the faith that everything is being made perfect.
"If, then, evolutionism strengthens the argument from design, the latter indirectly owes a debt of gratitude to the theories which have led to the general adoption of the evolutionist standpoint. And among these Darwinism stands pre-eminent. Evolutionism was as old as one of the earliest Greek philosophies; but it was not until Darwinism made it a household word that it could force its way into the consciousness of men at large. And as a philosopher who regards evolutionism in some form as affording the most hopeful method of approaching the mystery of existence, I am inclined to hold that when historical perfection has cleared away the mole-hills we have made into mountains, it will be here that will be found Darwin's most momentous and enduring service to knowledge and to mankind."
From the foregoing it would seem that all unbiased minds should be forced to acknowledge that teleology, far from being weakened or completely eliminated from the circle of the sciences, is, on the contrary, demonstrably in a far more impregnable position than ever before. We have, however, to deal with a certain class of agnostics who insist on reducing everything in creation to force
- Pages 145 et seq.
- June, 1897, p. 883.