« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
rejects—the hypothesis put forth in a book which many, nay, I believe a large majority of sound-thinking men, consider a Divine Revelation,-is more consistent with observed facts, removes more difficulties and requires fewer assumptions, than that which he endeavoured to enforce, with all his skill, on his auditors at the meeting of the British Association.
Not only do I believe this, but by the same laws of thought by which I am compelled to accept those axioms which I acknowledge as scientific truths, or rather as the bases upon which the sciences are built,-I feel constrained to believe that all things, whether organic or inorganic, with which my senses make me conversant, were the works of a Divine Creator.
Mathematical axioms are not the only self-evident truths, or, if not self-evident, truths which must, nevertheless, be accepted without demonstration, before we can raise the structure of any science. Before we make any progress in science, whether abstract or applied, we must lay the foundations of our science on axioms. The man who will not admit these puts himself beyond the pale of science. The man who tells me that he cannot believe that “the whole is greater than the part," or “that things which are equal to the same are equal to one another," cannot step over the very threshold of geometry. Nor are these axioms confined to self-evident truths. Even in the abstract science of geometry, the eleventh axiom of the first book of Euclid is an undemonstrable proposition, as difficult to be received as any proposition for which Euclid has produced a demonstration.
If I were required to show what claims pure science makes on man's capacity for faith, I might refer you to the algebraist who says that anything multiplied by nothing is nothing, but that anything divided by nothing is infinite, while nothing divided by nothing may be something! If not satisfied by these calls on his faith, I might go a step further, and mystify him with the astounding metaphysical assumptions required by the differential and integral calculus. When, however, we take a stride from the abstract sciences to the concrete or applied ones, what do we meet with! The same foundation on axiomatic truths. Are not the three laws of motion axioms on which the whole structure of astronomical and dynamical science rest ? These axioms apply to the motion of physical, tangible matter, yet an experimental, a true convincing experimental demonstration of any one of these three laws cannot be given. They are deduced from a vast crowd of facts, by making some special deduction, or excepting some particular phenomenon from each experimental fact. They are then added to the science of abstract mathematics, as unfolded by the differential and integral calculus, or their representative calculi, and the final convincing proof of the truth of these laws of motion, and the propositions of the calculus, which defy even the power of the most metaphysical of minds thoroughly or satisfactorily to comprehend, is founded on the agreement of profound mathematical analysis, and of calculation founded on these axioms, with the observed phenomena of the movements of the planets and their satelsites. But are there no axioms but those of abstract mathematics and applied dynamical science which force themselves on the acceptance of thinking minds? I think there are. Ay; and I believe they force themselves for acceptance, even with greater power than these.
I would fearlessly maintain that all the works of creation carry with them a proof that they are works of design, that they are the product of an intelligent mind; and that every rightly constituted mind, freely and without prejudice examining these works, must admit that they indicate that they were framed, are preserved, and continued, by the design of an all-wise as well as intelligent mind; and that the admission of this requires no higher, if so high, a call on man's credulity, imagination or reason than those axioms on which every boasted science of man's construction is reared.
He who can read no evidence of design in the marvellous structure of the eye and its adaptation to those laws of light, which certainly were no active agents in forming that eye in the dark recesses of the womb—where its marvellous structure was reared-can certainly make no rational progress in the realms of pure or applied science. He who can see this marked design in the eye, may read evidence as cogent for it, in every animal or vegetable structure. Nay, he may go farther, and find that the most minute particle of dust, if thoroughly interrogated, gives a proof to the rightly educated mind of design not less certain than ihe most marvellous structures of organic life, which are only more striking because more easily read.
Among the discussions of men, reputed to be men of science, why do we find such vain efforts to hide or evade this evidence of design ? and to form the works of nature by some chain of endless
causation, some law of continuity, which shall seem to evade its evidence ? Design implies a designer, as creation implies a creator, and law a lawgiver. Why this effort to evade the evidence of design-why this attempt to exclude a creating power, or to confine its efforts-why this endeavour to make law convey the impression of independence of a lawgiver ?
We may trace it everywhere, wherever it is exhibited, to a manifest impatience of all miracle and all mystery. And here I may remark, how in Mr. Grove's address, as elsewhere, miracle and mystery are confounded. Many things may be mysterious which are by no means miraculous, in the ordinary or generally received sense of the words. These terms are not to be confounded ; our whole existence and everything around us teems with mystery. The power by which I now perceive you, the power by which I convey my thoughts to you at this moment, are mysteries which no human knowledge, no human inquisition, can thoroughly or satisfactorily explain or even penetrate. Take the commonest occurrences of nature. Consider the lilies, how they grow; try to get at the bottom of this common occurrence; though it is no miracle, it none the less leads you ultimately to that which is profoundly mysterious.
If the growth of things be a mystery, if the power of mind over matter be mysterious, if the communication of thought be also mysterious, if the power of investigating the laws which govern these things be still more mysterious, must not the origin of all these mysterious things be itself mysterious ? But there are things not only mysterious but even miraculous; and creation is admitted to be in this sense miraculous as well as mysterious,-a miracle also, in that sense of the word in which it is used in Scripture-a miracle, because a sign, a token of God's own working.
When the Bible tells me that God made all things, that He said and it was done, that He created the earth and the waters, that He commanded the earth to produce the herbs and plants, that He commanded the waters and the earth to bring forth all living animal creatures after their kinds, lastly, that He made man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and caused him to become a living soul, and that after He had done all this by many successive fiats, He rested from the work of His creation; I am content to believe all this. If it be called an apparently extravagant hypothesis, I ask, does it not present a greater consistency with observed facts-does it not require fewer assumptions, does it not remove more difficulties, than any other hypothesis? I maintain, without fear, without shrinking, with every love for truth, with all boldness in investigating the regions of science, that it does. And therefore, on Mr. Grove's own canon, I claim for it the character of being the most rational and philosophical hypothesis.
What proofs have I afforded me for the contrary hypothesis which Mr. Grove has laboured so assiduously to maintain ? Where am I to look for my origin as a man, if I refuse to admit man's special creation ? I am called upon to trace my ancestry, not only through some series of improving apes, but even some myriads of ages back to some zoophyte! Even here I am not to stop, but must conceive that this zoophyte attained its life by some accidental chemical combination of dead matter! And, when I ask for the origin of this matter, I am not allowed to attribute even its formation to creation, but must wait till “philosophy” can discover some less mysterious or non-miraculous origin for it! Hence, at last of all, I am led back only to an unreasoning dislike of the miraculous and the mysterious. But will this extravagant, monstrous hypothesis, for which nothing like demonstration can be urged; this hypothesis, which, while it attempts to evade, does not account for one of the teeming mysteries by which we are surrounded, explain how life, that mysterious, undefinable thing, was communicated to the matter of the zoophyte ? Matter cannot multiply or increase itself one single particle. Yet the hypothesis which would derive man or an elephant from the primeval zoophyte makes me maintain the mystery or the miracle, call it which you please, that the chance combination of certain material elements produced a new power, the power of life, capable under certain circumstances of forcing matter to reproduce this form, ad infinitum. Nay, more than this, that one such combination was the commencement of all those marvellous structures, which evince so much design, without one particle of design being ever exerted by any intelligent agent ! Is this, or is it not, the more monstrous hypothesis ? Am I to be laughed out of my faith by ridicule, by a free translation of the Epicurean poet Lucretius ?
“You have abandoned the belief in one primeval creation at one point of time ; you cannot assert that an elephant existed when the first saurians roamed over earth and water. Without, then, in any way limiting Almighty power, if an elephant were created without progenitors, the first elephant must, in some way or other, have physically arrived on this earth. Whence did he come ? did he fall from the sky, (i.e., from the interplanetary space) ? did he rise moulded out of a mass of amorphous earth or rock ? did he appear out of the cleft of a tree? If he had no antecedent progenitors, some such beginning must be assigned to him.”
Though the point of this satire is levelled against those palæontologists who, till lately, maintained a succession of widely separated creations, I may ask does not this free translation, like the original, satirize every creative act? Is it not as applicable to the creation of a zoophyte as to that of a mammal ?
Can Mr. Grove prove that elephants were not co-existent with the first saurians that ever roamed over earth and water?
Palæontologists have abandoned their theory, because now there is evidence that creatures supposed to be members of successive creations have been contemporary, and, in reality, members of the same creation. Is it not more consonant with the known facts of geology, that the elephant and saurians should have been co-existent, than to suppose the saurian transmuted by the “law of continuity” into an elephant? Where are we to look for the successive steps of this process, not only from the saurian upwards, but further back still, from the zoophyte? We have now the admission that the records of geology, the records of the rocks and strata of the earth, afford no such evidence; and since we may look in vain for the production of a mammal or saurian by the naked eye, we are taught to look for the first step in the creative process of life by the aid of the microscope !
“As we detect no such phenomenon as the creation or spontaneous generation of vegetables and animals which are large enough for the eye to see without instrumental assistance ; as we have long ceased to expect to find a Plesiosaurus spontaneously generated in our fishpond, or a Pterodactyle in our pheasant-cover, the field of this class of research has become identified with the field of the microscope, and at each new phase the investigation has passed from a larger to a smaller class of organisms. The question whether among the smallest, and apparently the most elementary forms of organic life the phenomenon of spontaneous generation obtains, has recently formed the subject of careful experiment and animated discussion in France. If it could be found that organisms of a complex character were generated without progenitors out of amorphous matter, it might reasonably be argued that a similar mode of creation might obtain in regard to larger organisms. Although we see no such phenomenon as the formation of an animal such as an elephant, or a tree such as an oak, excepting from a parent which resembles it, yet if the microscope revealed to us organisms, smaller but equally complex, so formed without having been reproduced, it would render it not improbable that such might have been the case with larger organic beings."
Yet, after all these sage remarks, Mr. Grove confesses that the balance of experiment and opinion is against the spontaneous generation of even the simplest form of organism !
In vain do I look for the grand Baconian system of induction, in arriving at the hypothesis which would substitute the spontaneous generation of a zoophyte, and the development of a zoophyte into an elephant, for the creation of the elephant at once by the fiat of the Almighty, perfect in form, and with every organ of its body, evidencing the wisdom of its designer, fit for the wants of the animal. I meet no array of facts inexlicable on any other hypothesis. No evidence of the com