Alexander Winchell.

The doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings online

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S00541333 J


This book may be kept out TWO WEEKS
ONLY, and is subject to a fine of FIVE
CENTS a day thereafter. It is due on the
day indicated below:

DEC 2 6

50M— 04S— Form 3






fluanoellob of syeaottse tjniversity, author of " 8ket0ue3 of creation,"

"geological chart," reports on tue geology and

puy8i0qbapi1y of micuigan, etc., etc.



Entered accordiug to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


The author of the following essay regrets to give
it to the public in a state so inadequately representa-
tive of the science and philosophy which have con-
tributed to modern discussions on the subject of Evo-
lution. Yielding, however, to the judgment of oth-
ers, he hopes there may be many intelligent readers
who will receive his popular exposition of the theme
as gladly as those who have already become ac-
quainted with it.

As will be at once discerned, it has not been the
author's aim either to defend or attack the doctrine,
under any of its forms, but rather candidly to exhibit
to the inquirer its strongest defenses and its weakest
points. In the method of treatment he has endeav-
ored to think for himself, though it may be doubted
whether a single position has heretofore been omitted
in the amplitude of the discussions on this question.
The favoring arguments, it is to be presumed, have
all been met by objectors, and the objections have all
been handled by the supporters of evolution. Every
one must have noticed, however, that the "handling"



of an adversary is not necessarily Lis eviction from a
strong position ; and so we iterate " objections " which
have been a hundred times " answered."

Should the reader demand categorically whether
the author holds to the doctrine of evolution or not,
he replies, that this seems clearl}^ the law of universal
intelligence under which complex results are brought
into existence. The existence and universality of a
law operating upon materials so various, and under
circumstances so diverse, but always evolving a suc-
. cession of terms having the same values relatively to
each other, is a fact which, to the ear of reason, pro-
claims intelligence more loudly than any possible ar-
ray of isolated phenomena. But the diversity of the
materials with which the law has to deal brings out
a variety of special values for the general terms of
the evolutionary series. Mechanical fierce acts with
uniformity, sj'mmetry, and always in one direction,
producing results congeneric with itself; hence, in the
world of mechanical force, the series are complete,
calculable, and demonstrative. Or, if we penetrate
to the rational element of all force, intelligent will,
we should say that its self-imposed mode of activity
in the mechanical world is one producing series which
are complete, calculable, demonstrative. But obvi-
ously other modes of activity are possible and proba-
ble to intelligent will. When acting in the organic,


instead of the meclianical world, thougli conforming
still to a fundamental law of evolution, its results may
not present series which shall be complete, calculable,
and demonstrative, but incomplete, contingent, and
suggestive. Such seems to be the character of the
succession of animals and plants. The series, as an
evolution, lacks its first terms, and numerous inter-
mediate terms; it presents regressions; it yields to
the demands of physical correlations and ideal con-
cepts ; it betrays everywhere the activity of a force
whose law is not that which dominates in the mechan-
ical world. These modes of force take precedence of
the modes producing mere physical results. The vi-
tal force subordinates chemistry and physics to ends
beyond their compass. The intelligence of which vi-
tal force is a function, subordinates even physiolog-
ical processes to the attainment of premeditated con-
summations. Thus the lungs of the tadpole are de-
veloped while it is yet a breather of water. Thus the
perfect man is developed from the undistinguishablc
ovum. And thus it is possible to be (though we
hold that it is not yet proven) that the process of re-
production, modified to suit special ends, has been
employed by creative intelligence to raise organic
tj^pes to their present status. But we can never be-
lieve that these results have been attained under any
law but the supreme law of free intelligence. Ko


evidence can be stronger than that "wbich convinces
us that every effect must have its adequate cause, and
that conformity to method and correlation of means
to ends imply intelligence.

Mr. Spencer, in stating, in substance, that the effi-
cient cause of evolution is a mode of the Unknowa-
ble, expresses our idea exactly in relegating this ef-
fect to a Power without the sphere of sensible things.
But we differ from Mr. Spencer, toto coelo^ in respect
to his dogma of the Unknowable, holding that the
Causa causarum is revealed qualitatively to every
rational being. The cause of evolution is, therefore,
a mode or volition of the incomprehensible Mind.

The following essay was originally delivered, in the
form of a couple of lectures, before the Drew Theo-
logical Seminary, on the 10th and 15th of Decem-
ber, 1873. This explains why we have appended to
a scientific discussion an inquiry respecting the the-
ological bearing of the positions of the disputants.

The Author.

Syracuse University^ February^ 187-4.




I. Facts of Co-existexce.
11. Facts of Succession.
III. The Succession of Cosmical States an Evolution.


I. Facts of Co-existence.

1. Types and ArcLetypes.

2. Embryological Data.

3. Facts of Intelligence and Instinct.

4. The Variability of Specific Forms.

(1) From the Physical Environment.

(2) From Cross-breeding.

II. Facts of Succession.

1. Geological Succession of Organic Types.

(1) Gradual Advance of the Series.

(2) Structural Relationships of Successive Forms.

2. Projihetic and Retrospective Types.

III. An Evolution of Ideas Exists.

IV. Is THERE A Genetic Evolution of Organic Types ?
1. Theories of Development.


(2) Lamark, Geoffroy St. Hilaire, and others.

(3) Darwin, Wallace, and others.


(4) Author of "Vestiges."

(5) Hyatt and Cojie.

(6) Parsons, Owcd, Mivart, aud others.

(7) Conspectus of Theories.

2. Leading Arguments for Genetic Relationship.

(1) As to the Fact of an Evohitionary Succession.

(2) As to the Causes.

(a) Facts favoring Derivation.

(&) Facts pointing out Physical Influences.

(c) Considerations suggesting " Natural Selection."

(d) Facts suggesting Inherent Tendencies.

(e) Prolonged Embryonic Development.
(/) Accelerated Embryonic Development.
(g) Occasional Abnormal Births.

(h) Partheno-genesis.

3. Prominent Objections to the Doctrine of Specific Deri-

(1) In the Field of the Facts.

(a) No actual case of Derivation known.

(h) Specific Flexibility exists only within Limits.

(c) No known Sterility between Varieties from the

same Stock.

(d) Reply to the Argument that more Time is wanted,
(aft,) Testimony of Egyptian Mummies.

(bb) The Types of the Age of Stone.
(cc) Fixity of Brute Intelligence.
{dd) Testimony of Palseontology to the Constancy
of Species.

(e) Breaks in the Chain of Affinities in the Actual

(/) Breaks in the Geological Succession.

(aa) Difficulties at the beginning of the Record.

(hb) Generalizations of Barrande.
{g) Reversals of the Order of Succession.



(h) The Simi^lest Types of Animals still exist,
(i) Changed Conditious cause Destruction or Migra-
(2) In the Field of the Phj'siological Forces.

(a) Physical Influences acting against Modifications.
(&) Similar Influences not followed by similar Results,
(c) Similar Influences followed by diflerent Results.
((Z) Organic Modifications have regard to Ideal Con-
(rtfl) Diverse Conformation under identical Condi-
(hh) Identical Conformation under diverse Condi-
(cc) Rudimentary Organs.
(dd) Comprehensive Types.
(e) The sudden Acquisition of Organs sometimes

3. In the Field of Abstract Ideas.

(a) A Physical Cause can not jiroduce a varying Re-
(J)) Physical Forces act in Cycles, not progressively.

(c) Natural Selection as a Force incongruous with

the Results ascribed to it.

(d) Natural Selection not a Cause, but a Set of Con-


(e) Numbers required to maintain a Variety in ex-


4. Distribution of Objections among the Theories.

V. Spontaneous Gent:ration.

1. Does not follow from Establishment of Derivation of


2. The Points at Issue in the Controversy.

3. Important Facts established.

4. Archegenesis can not ignore a non-physical Force.


VI. Theistic Bearings of the Doctrine of Evolution.

1. Misconcexitions.

2. Evolution in the Physical "World.

(1) Science does not lead to a Rational hegiuuiDg.

(2) What is Physical Force ?

3. Evolution in the Organic World ;

(1) Teaching of the Historical Unity of Phenomena.

(2) If Specific Derivation be proven, then,

(a) The fact of an Intelligible Harmony will remain.
(&) It will be futile to contend against the Proofs.

(aa) Mistaken Methods.

(hb) Irrefragable Basis of certain Religious Prop-
(c) Creation Mediate, and not Immediate.

(3) What follows from Archegenesis ?

(4) Testimony of Theological Authorities: Moses, the

Fathers, Modern Writers.

(5) Testimony of Evolutionists. — Conclusions.




EvoLUTiox, in the language of Spencer, is tlie
transformation of the homogeneous, through succes-
sive differentiations, into the heterogeneous.* The
type of the process is the development of the embrj'o
within the egg] but it is supposed to be exemplified
in all progress, whether in the development of the
earth, or of life upon the earth, or in the gro^Yth of
society, government, manuflictures, commerce, lan-
guage, literature, science, or art. Evolution is thus
a mode of succession of phenomena — a law of se-
quence. It is not a force, but a plan in accordance
with which force acts. "We may also say, it is the
total result of the action of the evolving; force.

No one can recognize the steps of an evolution
without recognizing the operation of some force act-
ing upon matter and producing motion. Evolution,

* Spencer : First Principles, pp. 148, 140, 216, etc.

North Caro'iria State College


therefore, implies force. Hence the question which
presents itself is twofold: 1. As to the fad of such a
succession of phenomena as constitutes an evolution.
2. As to the nature and mode of action of the/o?'ce
causing evolution. The first question is to be settled
by a collation of many facts. The answer must be
either affirmative or negative. The second question
must be discussed by appeals to facts, physical and
biological principles, and metaphysics. The answers
may be various, as they have been. First, the evo-
lutionary force may be the Divine Will, or some force
of matter or organization, or some force of whose na-
ture nothing can be predicated — a mode of the un-
knowable. If the Divine Will, it may have been ex-
erted initially, and then withdrawn ; or it may have
been exerted continuously. If a force of matter or
of organization, it remains to determine which; also,
whether the force be simple or complex ; also, wheth-
er it be inherent or extrinsic; and, finally, whether it
be ultimate or derivative.

It is a popular assumption, in regard to the doc-
trine and its implications, that it is a device for ex-
plaining the existence of phenomena by reference to
forces whose origin is not traced to the Divine Mind.
Its tendency is, therefore, supposed to be atheistic.
As the phenomena of evolution are alleged to em-
brace the mental and moral class as well as the phys-


ical ; and all pliascs of the evolutionary force are
sometimes alleged to be equivalents of physical force,
the doctrine of evolution is supposed to be material-
istic in its tendency.

For these reasons, it is important to correctly un-
derstand the subject in its data, its principles, its spec-
ulations, and its theistic bearings. All these points
we shall attempt to bring forward in a panoramic
survey. It shall be an impartial, judicial citation of
facts, principles, and theories, from which you shall
be able to form your own opinions respecting the
fact of evolution, and the theories which have been
promulgated respecting the cause of evolution. In
dogmatism and denunciation we shall not deal. If
we are led to dissent from any phase of opinion, we
shall remember that it has been defended by learned
scientists, profound thinkers, honest hearts, and ear-
nest lovers of the truth; and we shall continue to
entertain a profound and sensitive respect for the
honest opinions of every man laboring to enlarge the
sphere of human knowledge.

It would not be necessary, even if time permitted,
to survey the entire field of phenomena which have
been supposed to fall under the operation of the law
of evolution. The facts which lie before us in the
physical and organic worlds will yield us adequate
tests of the nature of the relationships which have


been set up in the system of existence. Cosmogony
and organization, moreover, have been the fields on
which the doctrine has waged its principal contests.
We shall content ourselves, therefore, with a discus-
sion of these two classes of facts.


Common familiarity with the facts embraced under
this head renders it appropriate to confine ourselves
to very condensed statements. We shall make a
hasty reference to two classes of facts having a bear-
ing on the question of evolution.

I. Facts of Co-existence.

The facts of co-existence which possess a bearing
on the theory of evolution are such as sustain rela-
tions of affinity to each other, and suggest, through
their common likeness, a common origin. Thus, the
pebbles and sand accumulating along a sea-beach are
identical in character and associations with those
found in a railroad excavation, and suorcrest that in-
land deposits of pebbles — even those which have been
consolidated into rocky beds — are products of littoral
origin. The trachytic rocks of New Mexico and Ari-
zona are so extremely similar to recent lavas erupted


from the throats of volcanoes, that every geologist
feels compelled to conclude that these extensive de-
posits of trachyte are also of volcanic origin. The
evidences of deep terrestrial heat revealed in volcanic
eruptions are identical with the revelations of thermal
springs, deep mines, and artesian borings; and all
conspire to establish the conviction that such heat
exists; and all these thermal indications together con-
vince us that at some former period terrestrial heat
exerted a melting agency over a great part of the
earth's surface. Extending our observations. in a sim-
ilar manner to the aggregate of terrestrial phenomena,
of the class denominated geological, and we find them
bearing in common, and so legibly, the stamp of com-
mon forces and common modifications, that we can
not forbear the conclusion that the whole physical
aspect of the world has been wrought out as a single
history. The conviction is equally clear that the
agencies in the w^ork have been physical ; that they
have operated in past times according to the same
methods as in the present, and that the forces of fire
and water have been gifted, in succession, with an in-
tensity of energy which has not been witnessed in
historic times.

If we lift our eves to the heavens, we behold with-
m the bounds of the solar svstem more that one hun-
dred and fifty bodies executing motions around com-


mon centres, according to a system so well regulated
that a collision of two of them is not only an accident
which has never happened, but one which is impos-
sible to happen. It is not necessary to enumerate the
various circumstances of forms and motions to render
it apparent, to persons of ordinary intelligence, that
primaries, secondaries, and asteroids are controlled by
one set of forces, and subsist under one physical do-

All that we have learned of the superficial features
of the moon or of Mars — the two bodies nearest our
earth — tends to exemplify still farther the analogies
among the members of the system, and confirm our
conviction of a common physical government over
them. The sun itself, while yielding visible obei-
sance to the controlling laws of form and motion,
yields to the questioning of the spectroscope unex-
pected but emphatic testimony to a material consti-
tution identical with that of our earth, and differing
only in temperature and the conditions which de-
pend upon it.

A further generalization from the sum of phenom-
ena manifested in the solar system convinces us that
its various members are characterized by no essential
differences, except such as result from differences of
existing temperature. It appears that from the largest
body to the smallest is a wide and graduated range


of temperatures, and that each body at the highest
temperature is approximating, through radiation, tlic
temperature of some smaller and cooler body. These
inductive conclusions respecting the relations of heat
in the solar system remind ns of our conclusion re-
specting the former thermal condition of our earth ;
and, combined with it, and other evidences which we
will not take the time to adduce, go far toward a dem-
onstration that all that common history revealed is
nothing more than the record of a process of cooling.
If we raise our eyes still higher, the stellar universe
presents us wath a set of phenomena which greatly
extends the analogies of our system. Uncultured
opinion pronounces each star a sun ; but the eye of
science discerns profounder reasons for regarding each
a globe of vast magnitude, subsisting at a temperature
similar in intensit}^ to that of our solar orb. The
very contrasts in the colors of the stars suggest incan-
descence of different deofrees of intensitv. The tele-
scope discerns some in a state of extraordinary tcnu-
it}^, such as might result from an excessive tempera-
ture. It also brings to light the phenomena of orb-
ital motions, and the presence of those forces to which
orbital motions are due. In the next place, the spec-
troscope testifies unequivocally to three things re-
specting the stars : 1. That their physical state is gen-
erally that of an incandescent fog or gas enveloping


an incandescent liquid or solid nucleus — thus resem-
bling the sun ; 2. That the chemical substances which
form the earth and sun build also stars and nebulae;
8. That the different stars and nebulae subsist at dif-
ferent temperatures. These are wonderful revela-
tions, and almost inspire us with a belief that to pos-
sible knowledge no limits have been set.

Now, when we consider the evidence in our posses-
sion, that gravitation acts in the starry realm as it acts
upon the earth, and that gyrations are actually in
progress among the stars and nebulse; that light finds
free intercommunication between the remotest star
and the earth, and thus testifies to the intervention of
a common, pulsating ether; and that the stellar bod-
ies subsist at intensely high but various temperatures,
we can not exclude the further belief that the law of
radiation is also operative in this common realm, and
that, consequently, the process of cooling, w^hich in-
duction points out in the solar system, extends itself
to the farthest limits of the firmament; and that, in
short, throughout the utmost bounds of the visible
creation, we witness the perpetual escape of heat, not
only into the interstellar spaces, but also, and neces-
sarily, into the unknown spaces beyond the bounds
of the visible system of matter.

Here is an impressive and sublime generalization,
the proofs of which compel the assent of modern sci-


ence, and out of wliicli burst forth courses of reflec-
tion which carry our thoughts in many directions.
Eemembering, however, our main purpose, we shall
confine ourselves to a brief statement of the great
features of the historical panorama which is spread
before us.

11. Facts of Succession.

We said that we look forth upon a universe in a
state of change. The changes going forward are me-
thodical and regulated. They tend constantly in one
direction. We have no scientific ground for assum-
ing that the direction of this tendency has ever been
different, nor for denying that the movement has ex-
tended back into the past so far that each portion of
cosmical matter has existed at the highest tempera-
ture of which we have any knowledge. That tempera-
ture reduces all matter to the state of an incandescent
mineral fog, or, perhaps, a feebly luminous or non-
luminous gas. Science does not answer the question
of the higher antecedents of matter, nor of the au-
thorship of those energies which she discovers resi-
dent in it, or, at least, active in it.

It may be regarded as a mere hypothesis which
predicates this as the primordial state of cosmical
matter, but this, at least, must be said : 1. It explains
completely and beautifully the whole mass of astro-


nomical and geological phenomena; 2. There is no
physical objection which can be scientifically urged
against it ; 3. Nearly all scientific men are in accord
in sanctioning it ; 4. The method by hypothesis is
one of the logical methods for the discovery of truth.
The laws of Kepler were hypotheses till similarly
tested and sustained ; and so was the law of gravita-
tion. In fact, w^e may assert that tentative hypothe-
ses are the usual methods of physical discovery. It
disproves nothing to call a proposition a hypothe-
sis ; and you remain quite at liberty to style it a hy-
pothesis after it has reached the status of an ac-
cepted doctrine, since, like many other physical doc-
trines, it will probably never admit of strict demon-

Now, if every astronomical body in the visible
universe is in a progress of cooling, it is necessarily
undergoing those transformations which accompany
cooling processes before our ej'es ; and, on a still
grander scale, in the physical aspects of the moon and
our sister planets. The present condition of our world
is one which has been assumed from an ancient state
of igneous vapor. In the progress of its cooling it
has existed in an infinitv of intermediate states. At
one time it was a fire mist, like the photosphere of the
sun ; then it was a globe of molten liquid, like the
probable nucleus of the sun ; incipient incrustation


succeeded, and, perhaps, at the same time or even
earlier, solidification began at the centre ; at a later
period it was enveloped in clouds of watery vapor,
and rains descended to fill a universal ocean ; then
primitive wrinkles in the crust emerged in continent-
al germs. As cooling and shrinkage continued, the
series of surface oscillations upraised mountains, de-
veloped continental germs into continents, and shaped,
according to a persistent method, the long foreshad-
owed features of the lands. Some of these past stages
of terrestrial life are pictured to human eyes in the
existing conditions of other planets.

This terrestrial history diverged from that common
history which involved all the bodies of our system
in a common mass and more ancient vicissitudes.
The process of planet genesis, through successive an-
nulations, w^e need not describe. The annular phase
is stereotyped in the single case of the Saturnian sys-
tem ; and it is set forth in the aspects of annular and

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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellThe doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings → online text (page 1 of 10)