Изображения страниц

most laborious part of Darwin's attempt at reasoning, for it is not true reasoning, — the most laborious part of his logic and reasoning, is intended to eliminate, as perfectly as any of the atheistical authors have endeavored to do, the idea of design. Now, setting revelation aside, the manner in which the unknown author of the 'Vestiges of Creation' treated this subject, satisfactorily showed that the doctrine of evolution was not in itself an atheistical doctrine, nor did it deny the existence of design. So far as I could understand and make out, having carefully read the book at the time it came out and afterwards, and having carefully analyzed and compared it and Mr. Darwin's book with each other, so far as I could understand it, the doctrine of the author of the 'Vestiges of Creation' was simply, that God created all things, and that when He created matter He impressed on it certain laws; that matter, being evolved according to those laws, should produce beings and organs mutually adapted to one another and to the world; and that every successive development which should be produced was essentially foreseen, foreknown, and predetermined by the Deity. His idea, for instance, of the evolution

[ocr errors]

of an eye from a more simple organ was that the ultimate eye- man's eye, for instance was to be a perfect optical instrument, and that its perfection depended on the previous design by the Creator, that at a certain period it should appear in a body quite adapted for its purposes. There is one question, and not the only one, but we must consider it as an important question, whether you can maintain a doctrine of evolution which shall not be atheistical, and which shall admit the great argument of design? That is one thing; but the next thing is, does such a doctrine as that accord either with revelation or with the facts of science? I do not believe that it can be made to agree with what we believe to be the revealed Word of God, and I do not believe that it has in the least degree been proved that the doctrine is consistent with sound science."

[ocr errors]

As to Mr. Darwin's theory, it is obvious from the passages already quoted that he considers its characteristic feature is not evolution, nor even natural selection, but the denial of teleology, or of intelligent control. Mr. Darwin admits the original creation of one or a few forms of life; and Mr. Mitchell, in his comments on Mr. Warington's defence of his theory,

asks, "Why am I to limit the work of the Creator to the simultaneous or successive creations of ten or twelve commencements of the animate creation? Why, simply for the purpose of evading the evidence of design as manifested in the adaptation of all the organs of every animate creature to its wants, which can only be done by so incredible an hypothesis as that of Mr. Darwin. I say fearlessly, that any hypothesis which requires us to admit that the formation of such complex organs as the eye, the ear, the heart, the brain, with all their marvellous structures and mechanical adaptations to the wants of the creatures possessing them, so perfectly in harmony, too, with the laws of inorganic matter, affords no evidence of design; that such structures could be built up by gradual chance improvements, perpetuated by the law of transmission, and perfected by the destruction of creatures less favorably endowed, is so incredible, that I marvel to find any thinking man capable of adopting it for a single moment." It is useless to multiply quotations. Darwinism is never brought up either formally or incidentally, that its exclusion of design in the formation of living organisms is not urged as the main objection against the whole theory.

Principal Dawson.

Dr. Dawson, as we are informed, is regarded as the first palæontologist, and among the first geologists, in America. In his "Story of Earth and Man," he passes in review the several geological periods recognized by geologists; describes as far as knowable the distribution of land and water during each period, and the vegetable and animal productions by which they were distinguished. His book from beginning to end is anti-Darwinian. In common with other naturalists, his attention is directed principally to the doctrine of evolution, which he endeavors to prove is utterly untenable. That Mr. Darwin's theory excludes teleology is everywhere assumed as an uncontroverted and uncontrovertible fact. "The evolutionist doctrine," he says, "is itself one of the strangest phenomena of humanity. It existed, and most naturally, in the oldest philosophy and poetry, in connection with the crudest and most uncritical attempts of the

1 The Story of Earth and Man. By J. W. Dawson, LL. D., F. R. S., F. G. S., Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Montreal. Author of Archaia, Acadian Geology, etc. Second edition. London, 1873, pp. 397.

human mind to grasp the system of nature ; but that in our day a system destitute of any shadow of proof, and supported merely by vague analogies and figures of speech, and by the arbitrary and artificial coherence of its own parts, should be accepted as philosophy, and should find able adherents to string on its thread of hypotheses our vast and weighty stores of knowledge, is surpassingly strange. In many respects these speculations are important, and worthy the attention of thinking men. They seek to revolutionize the religious belief of the world, and if accepted would destroy most of the existing theology and philosophy. They indicate tendencies among scientific thinkers, which, though probably temporary, must, before they disappear, descend to lower strata, and reproduce themselves in grosser forms, and with most serious effects on the whole structure of society. With one class of minds they constitute a sort of religion, which so far satisfies the craving for truth higher than those which relate to immediate wants and pleasures. With another and perhaps larger class, they are accepted as affording a welcome deliverance from all scruples of conscience and fears of a hereafter. In the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »