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that I had seen iron frequently thus heated without its being so changed; that, in fact, all iron was thus heated while being manufactured, and that it never had been in a single instance converted into gold. Is there a man acquainted with metals who would not be just as thoroughly satisfied by such negative evidence that the iron would not become gold that as it would not by being thus heated cease to be acted on by the force of gravity, and remain if left without support stationary in the air? In like manner does any one doubt but that the offspring of a sow would be pigs, and not puppies or lambs?
But the evolutionist replies that though these things appear to be true, yet we cannot know what an indefinite period of time might have accomplished; that we cannot decide what millions of years or of ages might effect by means of the "plastic forces of nature." To this surmise, however, the answer is that physical science, that science which deals with material things, proposes to rest on observed facts, and not on mere suppositions, like those of the school-men of the middle ages. Its professors are often designated as positive philosophers, and pride themselves on following facts to whatever conclusions they may lead. How, then, can a hypothesis be maintained which not only has no fact to support it, but to which every known fact bearing on the case is directly hostile? If we may assume a thing to be true merely because it cannot be proved that at some time in the past, or at some place in the world, it might not have existed, then why doubt the reality of Sinbad's voyages, or the wonders of Aladdin's lamp?
It is urged, however, that at least different species may have originated in a common ancestor, and gradually diverged like the branches of a tree. The case is referred to in which from the same stock pigeons of different colors and forms have been produced. Unfortunately, however, for the evolutionist, the birds thus produced are invariably pigeons, and never hawks, ducks, or animals of any other species. If in one case it could be shown, for example, that a sweet-potato when planted had given rise to a sweet-potato-vine from its centre, while from its north end a young oak had sprouted, and from its south a pumpkin-vine had shot out, then there would be a striking fact for the evolutionist. It may be said that it is unreasonable to expect so great a change at a single bound, and that a long period should be imagined to effect such a result, but in the absence of all evidence, upon what basis can such an opinion rest?
These changes are supposed, by the advocates of the "natural selection" hypothesis, to have been produced among animals by their having been placed in situations sometimes in which they felt the want of the particular change. When suffering from cold, one animal would feel the want of hair, and to gratify its longings hair would grow on it. Another, to enable it to reach the leaves above it, by continually stretching its neck upward, and by wishing for it to be longer, would have it gradually extended, and in time become a giraffe, instead of remaining a deer or a camel. The ape, though he had never seen a man, as no man had yet existed, wished, nevertheless, to become one, and, by wishing very energetically, bad his fore
paws converted into hands, his hinder ones changed into the flat feet of a man, his brain enlarged to three times its former size, and his spine made erect.
One of the most earnest and ingenious of the advocates of the evolution theory, however, Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace, finds a serious stumbling block in his way when he considers the changes which the ape underwent while being converted into a man. His hind foot lost its prehensile faculty by becoming like that of a man, and was, therefore, much less useful to him in climbing among the trees, while he did not for a long time at least know how to turn his hands to a good account. The great difficulty, however, which Mr. Wallace encountered was that he could not understand why the ape wished to get rid of the hair on his back when he became a man. All men are destitute of hair along the spine, while savages especially seem to desire to have it on their backs. The ape had it most abundantly on his back, and it would seem ought to have greatly rejoiced in it as a protection against the rain. Most animals, as Mr. Wallace observes, though they have little hair on their bellies, possess it in abundance on their backs, while along the spine especially it is thickest, sometimes taking the form of bristles. Mr. Wallace further states that savages seen especially to suffer from cold on their backs, and, therefore, when they can obtain even a small piece of skip they invariably place it over their shoulders. Some of them, as the Fuegians, are even smart enough to have the skin so tied on that they are able to shift it from side to side, according to the direction of the wind, to protect them from it. As, therefore, the hair was manifestly advantageous to the ape in his original condition, and was equally so to him after he became a savage, why in the world did he wish to get rid of it? And as savages feel the want of it so much, why did not "natural selection" give it back to them again? After casting about for some satisfactory answer, with little success, Mr. Wallace fears it will become necessary to seek for some other principle in addition to "natural selection." Ludicrous as this whole passage appears, one is not less amused with that narrowness of vision, which prevents him from seeing obstacles not less formidable to every part of his hypothesis.
It is also true, however, that while he is not staggered at all by the proposition that the ape, by wishing it, could have his brain expanded from a capacity of thirty-four inches at the utmost up to a bulk of more than a hundred inches, or above three times its original size, yet he cannot understand why the ape should have wished for a moral He cannot perceive any reason why the animal should have desired the possession of conscientious feelings or a sense of right and wrong. In fact, such emotions, instead of being of advantage, would seem rather to have been an incumbrance to him while engaged in such predatory enterprises as our modern apes appear to take delight in. To this view also the objection exists that no organic change seems to have been produced in any animal by its feeling a desire for such a change. As yet it has not been stated that any one of the maimed soldiers that one meets has had his limb restored to him, though from their resorting to artificial helps there is little doubt but that
they desire such restoration. If the "plastic forces of nature" would now supply teeth as they formerly did to the animals wishing for them, would there be as many dentists as the signs on the doors seem to indicate?
If it should be urged that having once furnished the organs to the individuals, the powers of "natural selection" had been exhausted in their case, we may well ask, How is it that no one of the short men we meet, who often manifest a desire to be tall, has, even by the most vehement wishing, been able to add a cubit or a single inch to his stature? If, in truth, the mind of animal or man were able simply by its action to change material things to the extent which the theories of the evolutionists assume, then its potency over matter would be immensely greater than its most enthusiastic advocates have ever claimed for it.
Again, the facts presented by geological science have been appealed to as lending support to the views of the evolutionists. It is said that the animals which existed in the early geological periods were inferior to those which succeeded them in later ages, and that an upward progress has been steady and uniform, from the shell-fish up to quadrupeds and men. Though this fact has been disputed in certain respects, yet I regard it as in the main true, and for the purpose of the present argument will accept it as absolutely true. In other words, after the oyster the vertebrated fish, like the salmon, came, then the crocodile and other reptiles, and in succession lions, horses and similar quadrupeds, and finally man. Does such a succession, even if it were mathematically true, afford a respectable argument in support of the view that each of these classes came from the preceding one, or was a modification of it by the process of evolution? Admit that this succession was invariably upward, does its invariability establish the doctrine of "natural selection?"
Let us suppose that the man in the moon has come down to earth from a laudable desire to learn how matters are managed here. Of course he would be invited to dine with the President. The first dish will be soup, then fish, afterwards roast beef and other meats, the dinner ending with jellies, ice cream and coffee. On the next day he dines with the Secretary of State, and is surprised to find the same succession of dishes. Each member of the Cabinet treats him precisely in the same manner, and so do such of the private citizens as he dines with. Being of a scientific turn of mind, he philosophizes, and is soon convinced that he has divined the true theory of these phenomena. The succession of dishes is invariably the same, and, therefore, it is clear that each dish must have been a modification of the preceding one. In the laboratory of the cook a certain primordial form of matter existed, and through some evolution which he did not precisely understand, it at first appeared as soup. By continuing the operation this substance became partially solidified and took the form of salmon. The action being continued by the aid of time, it was so hardened as to become roast beef. The operation longer persevered in, broke up the consistency of the material somewhat, so that it appeared as jelly and ice cream, while certain watery portions, which could not be even par
tially solidified, remained as coffee. The invariability of this succession left no doubt on his mind as to the soundness of his theory. Had he not in truth all in this form of evidence that geology gives to the evolutionist? On stating his hypothesis, however, he was told that his theory was so plausible that it was not singular that he should have adopted it, but that he was mistaken. That the dinner invariably began with soup and ended with coffee was merely due to the fact that the person who arranged the dinner thought that such a succession of dishes was better suited to the tastes, appetites and constitutions of men than any other arrangement. Does geology furnish to the advocate of "natural selection" a stronger argument than this lunar philosopher had? If at one time the earth, from its warmer condition, was enveloped in an immense mass of cloudy vapors, so that the sunlight was excluded, the creative power might be supposed capable of perceiving that it was in its condition well suited to the existence of shell-fish in its waters. After further cooling its vapors subsided, and permitted the sunlight to penetrate its ocean, and vertebrates, furnished with eyes, could be accommodated; and as the land emerged its marshy surface was well-fitted for the comfortable existence of reptiles. Further hardening rendered it a suitable habitation for quadrupeds, that could be well fed on its luxuriant grasses and other vegetation. At length it acquired a condition fitting it for the growth of the cereals, and man was called into being. Such a supposition as this would not require in the creative power a higher degree of intelligence than the farmer displays, when, after having newly drained a piece of marsh land, seeing it still wet, he uses it for a meadow, and after it has been thoroughly dried cultivates it in wheat.
There has recently been much discussion in relation to the discovery of the "basis of life," or that point where mere matter first assumes the character of vitality. Microscopic examinations show that there are certain minute particles of matter designated as ova, cells or protoplasms, which manifest a potentiality to be developed into plants and animals. They are found to consist of the four elements: oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen; but they become food for plants only in their combinations of carbonic acid, water, and ammonia. In this form they can sustain the growth of the "protoplasms," which constitute plants, while animals can only assimilate them secondarily from plants. These protoplasms seem to be so near to mere matter that Professor Tyndall said in his address at Belfast, that he "passed over" the interval which separated these protoplasms from matter itself. In other words, he seems to regard matter alone as sufficient to constitute vitality in plants and animals, excluding the idea that there is any such thing as life other than as a modification of matter.
But do the alleged discoveries sustain this view? It would be but a superficial view if we were to assume that the knowledge of the fact that the oak came from an acorn, and a fowl from an egg, explained the origin of vegetable or animal life. How it was that the acorn had a potentiality to germinate into a tree, or the egg to be developed into a fowl, would remain still none the less a mystery. The chemist might
place the egg in an exhausted receiver, hermetically seal it, and by applying a moderate degree of heat he could deprive it of its vitality or potentiality to become a fowl. After this had been done, he would have under his control all the material elements of the egg with its numerous dead protoplasms, but no skill of his could restore its vitality. Does not this show that vitality is something more than mere matter, a something to be added to matter before it can possess the potentiality to manifest itself as a living organization? So is it with the protoplasms. Professor Tyndall says he passes over the chasm which separates his protoplasms from matter. So can the protoplasmns also, but when they have thus passed they have crossed a chasm over which they return not again. No man of science can again restore their vitality. Their condition is then as hopeless as would be that of the Professor himself when he once passed from the living to dead matter. Is it not clear, then, that the discovery of protoplasms has not enabled us to understand the "basis of life" any better than men did centuries ago? How they become living organizations is just as much a mystery as the potentiality of the acorn or the egg to produce vegetable or animal beings.
Again, the fact that the microscope does not enable the man of science to distinguish the protoplasms of one animal from those of another, does not tend to establish the identity of different species. It was discovered long ago that animals and vegetables, with slight additions, were constituted of these four elements. But no one ever assumed that because chemical analysis showed that the flesh of men and dogs were composed of these same elements it thus proves that men and dogs are identical in species, or must have had a common origin. The very fact the protoplasms of different animals cannot be distinguished from each other, accompanied by the other fact that the protoplasm of each animal invariably produced that animal, and not any other, indicates that life, which determines species, is something entirely different from mere matter.
The question may be asked, then, "Why is it that such views have attracted of late so much attention, and been adopted by a number of persons?" It must be remembered that the minds of many men of science in the pursuit of certain inquiries, run in narrow channels, and, like the microscopes they use, make small objects appear very large; and thus they attach undue importance to some new discovery. The mass of readers are influenced by the authority of great names, and are also fond of a novelty. Their minds are confused by the use of terms not well understood. "Natural selection," the "survival of the fittest," "evolution," "proptolasms," "monads," "protein," "the physical basis of life," "correllation of growth," "correllation of vital and physical forces," and similar terms disturb their minds, and induce them to believe that there must be something deep and mysterious in such theories, just as the traveler who comes to a stream so muddy that he cannot see the bottom, is easily persuaded that it is of indefinite depth. Such persons, seeing that they have often been surprised by great discoveries in science, become credulous, and ready to adopt new theories, however improbable.