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The Opponents of Darwinism.
When cultivated men undertake to refute a certain system, it is to be presumed that they give themselves the trouble to ascertain what that system is. As the advocates of Mr. Darwin's theory defend and applaud it because it excludes design, and as its opponents make that the main ground of their objection to it, there can be no reasonable doubt as to its real character. The question is, How are the contrivances in nature to be accounted for? One answer is, They are due to the purpose of God. Mr. Darwin says, They are due to the gradual and undesigned accumulation of slight variations. The Duke's first objection to that doctrine is, that the evidence of design in the organs of plants and animals is so clear that Mr. Darwin himself cannot avoid using teleological language. "He exhausts," he says, every form of words and of illustration by which intention or mental purpose can be described. Contrivance,'' beautiful contrivance,'' curious contrivance,' are expressions which occur over and over again. Here is one sentence describing a particular species (of orchids): The
labellum is developed in order to attract the Lepidoptera; and we shall soon see reason for supposing that the nectar is purposely so lodged, that it can be sucked only slowly in order to give time for the curious chemical quality of the matter setting hard and dry.' We have already seen that Mr. Darwin's answer to this objection is, that it is hard to keep from personifying nature, and that these expressions as used by him mean no more than chemists mean when they speak of affinities, and one element preferring another.
A second objection is, that a variation would not be useful to the individual in which it happens to occur, unless other variations should occur at the right time and in the right order and that the concurrence of so many accidents as are required to account for the infinite diversity of forms in plants and animals, is altogether inconceivable.
A third objection is, that the variations often have no reference to the organism of the animal itself but to other organisms. "Take one instance," he says, "out of millions. The poison of a deadly snake, let us for a moment consider what that is.
It is a secretion
1 Reign of Law. London, 1867, p. 40.
of definite chemical properties with reference not only not even mainly to the organism of the animal in which it is developed, but specially to another animal which it is intended to destroy." "How," he asks, "will the law of growth adjust a poison in one animal with such subtle knowledge of the organization of the other, that the deadly virus shall in a few minutes curdle the blood, benumb the nerves, and rush in upon the citadel of life? There is but one explanation: a Mind having minute and perfect knowledge of the structure of both has designed the one to be capable of inflicting death upon the other. This mental purpose and resolve is the one thing which our intelligence perceives with direct and intuitive recognition. The method of creation by which this purpose has been carried into effect is utterly unknown." 1
A fourth objection has reference to beauty. According to Mr. Darwin, flowers are not intentionally made beautiful, but those which happen to be beautiful attract insects, and by their agency are fertilized and survive. Male birds are not intentionally arrayed in bright colors, but those which happen to be so ar1 Reign of Law. London, 1867, p. 87.
rayed are attractive, and thus become the progenitors of their race. Against this explanation the Duke earnestly protests. He refers to the gorgeous adorned class of Hummingbirds, of which naturalists enumerate no less than four hundred and thirty different species, distinguished one from the other, in general, only by their plumage. "Now," he asks, “what explanation does the law of natural selection give, I will not say of the origin, but even of the continuance of such specific varieties as these? None whatever. A crest of topaz is no better in the struggle of existence than a crest of sapphire. A frill ending in spangles of the emerald is no better in the battle of life than a frill ending in spangles of the ruby. A tail is not affected for the purposes of flight, whether its marginal, or its central feathers are decorated with white. It is impossible to bring such varieties into any physical law known to us. It has relation however to a Purpose, which stands in close analogy with our knowledge of purpose in the works of men. Mere beauty and mere variety, for their own sake, are objects which we ourselves seek, when we can make the forces of nature subordinate to the attain
ment of them. There seems to be no conceivable reason why we should doubt or question that these are ends and aims also in the forms given to living organisms, when the facts correspond with this view and with no other." 1
It will be observed that all these objections have reference to the denial of teleology on the part of Mr. Darwin. If his theory admitted that the organisms in nature were due to a divine purpose, the objections would be void of all meaning.
There is a fifth objection. According to Darwin's theory organs are formed by the slow accumulation of unintended variations, which happen to be favorable to the subject of them in the struggle for life. But in many cases these organs, instead of being favorable, are injurious or cumbersome until fully developed. Take the wing of a bird, for example. In its rudimental state, it is useful neither for swimming, walking, nor flying. Now, as Darwin says it took millions of years to bring the eye to perfection, how long did it take to render a rudimental wing useful? It is no sufficient answer to say that these rudimental organs might have been suited to the condition 1 Reign of Law, pp. 247, 248.