Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/867

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

his philosophical allies shed any light. An argument is attempted to be founded on the fact that the language used by Herbert Spencer himself in dealing with biological questions shows teleological implications; but there is nothing in this. Mr. Spencer is not a teleologist; and if he were, we should have to consider his reasons for being one, and not stop short with the fact that he was one. Science does not permit such an abuse to be made of authority. The reason why Mr. Spencer's language and all language has a teleological character is that man has been obliged to frame language on lines prescribed by his own mental activity. Man is essentially a designer, and he reads design more or less into everything that he sees.

There is one passage in our contributor's article which seems to evince that his conversion to the doctrine of evolution is not very complete. He remarks that it is "passing strange that those who are so prompt to deny the existence of purpose in Nature when there is a question of teleology, or when theological implications are suspected, are the very first to insist on the evidence of mind or purpose when in their own case it is demanded by the exigencies of argument or discovery"; and he cites as a case in point the conclusions founded by men of science on the discovery of "arrowheads and flint flakes in certain deposits whose age is indisputable." It is a great pity that Palay is not alive to congratulate Father Zahm on this neat application of his own method. The standpoint here is exactly that of Paley which we were given to understand had been abandoned. Arrowheads are not things that grow. The method of their production is known to us; and it is in the light of experience that we attribute their origin to human agency, and by the most necessary inference that we form conclusions as to the age of the human race from the situations in which such implements are found. But if, because we are obliged to recognize purpose in the manufacture of an arrowhead, we are equally obliged to recognize it in the first organic form presented to us, what need was there for amending Paley's argument? Our reverend contributor is making the whole work of Darwin of none effect by his traditions: and yet he preluded his argument by a general acceptance of Darwinism. We fear the new scientific baptism has not yet produced its full effect.

So once more we come round to the real point at issue. It is not disputed that evolution produces results which present a resemblance to the products of human design, in so far as the accomplishment of definite results by definite means is concerned; but where is the proof that mind has guided the action of evolution? Where is the proof that the products of evolution to-day are precisely the results that a superintending mind aimed at? Can Divine intention be quoted with any greater certainty in the "adapted" forms which survive than in the unadapted or less adapted ones that perish? We do not say that the teleological view is false; we only say that it requires to support it something more than a mere partial resemblance between the effects of evolution and those of purposive human action. We are far from quarreling with any optimistic creed or any religious interpretation of the universe; but it is right to protest when facts are put to a strain which they are not able to bear, and when consequently a scientific theory is in danger of losing its scientific value.

Our contributor speaks with disapproval of those who find "in the chance interaction of eternal force