Изображения страниц




THE purpose of this Essay being to illustrate the Wisdom and Beneficence of the Almighty in the evolution of living things, it might be permitted to the writer to take for granted the existence of a Divine Being, and the possession by Him of those attributes; but seeing that some prominent teachers of Evolution have asserted its inconsistency with Design in nature, or at least with our ability to perceive design, it seems desirable to show at the outset that the endeavour to be made in this Essay is not in its nature destined to fail. It need not be attempted here to prove and illustrate the Divine Beneficence and Wisdom, but only to show that there is no à priori impossibility in the way of proving them, and that the Theory of Evolution may be accepted without banishing the Almighty to the region of the unknowable.

Mr Herbert Spencer asserts that the explanation of the teleologist is untrue, though often an obverse to the truth; that, on the hypothesis of Evolution, it is clear


that things are not arranged thus or thus for the securing of special ends, though it is also clear that arrangements which do secure these special ends tend continually to establish themselves-are established by their fulfilment of these ends.1 Mr Darwin also seems to deny Design, when he says that however much we may wish it, we can hardly follow Professor Asa Gray in his belief “that variation has been led along certain beneficial lines," like a stream "along definite and useful lines of irrigation."2 Professor Haeckel again, Darwin's great disciple in Germany, so disbelieves in design or teleology that he has invented the term "dysteleology" for the study of the "purposelessnesses observable in living organisms. These views are no doubt honestly expressed; but while accepting in the main the teaching of these philosophers on the subject of Evolution, we consider that the Design argument rests on as good a basis as before, and even receives new illustration.

[ocr errors]

The fundamental proposition of Evolution is, that "the whole world, living and not living, is the result of the mutual interaction, according to laws, of the forces possessed by the molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of the universe was composed."3 There is nothing to be afraid of in this; for it is but the application to suns and planets, and to living things, of that which is familiarly known to be true of smaller and not-living things-that there is a cause for the present form and position of each, and a cause of that cause; that every effect has its cause. It is difficult to see why

1 Principles of Biology, i. 234.

2 Variation of Animals and Plants, ii. 432.

3 Huxley, in Academy, October 1869.



Design need fare any worse in the presence of universal Evolution than it did before this philosophy assumed such grand proportions-in the days when the dominion of cause and effect was not known to be so limitless in space and in time.

As the first step in our argument, it may be well to show that the sway of natural law, or the rule that every event has a natural cause or causes, does not exclude the action of human will in some cases, as a force producing a new resultant. At the command of Jehu "two or three eunuchs" threw Jezebel out of a window.1 As the body descended, a philosopher might have remarked that the line of its motion was a parabolic curve, and the velocity of descent constantly accelerated-16 feet in the first second, 48 feet in the next, and so on, in obedience to the law of gravity. The curvature of the line would indicate that, besides gravity, there was a projectile force, which, if it were traced to the muscles of the eunuchs' arms, would by no means bring one to the end of the inquiry. The motion of the muscles resulted from heat, liberated by the oxidation of the muscles themselves, and previously stored up in the arm through the food taken into the stomach. The food grew in the shape of sheep and corn; the sheep were dependent on grass; the corn and grass depended on rain and sunshine; the rain itself was raised in vapour from the sea through the action of the sun's rays-the source of all the motion is in the sun, and the current of successively dependent natural events, from that source downwards, is unbroken. Unbroken but diverted, new-directed; for at some point the stream of events was touched by the volition of the 1 2 Kings, chapter ix.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »