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spiral nebulae in the more distant realm of space.
From the most attenuated vapor to the habitable
earth, and even the frozen and fossilized moon, all
possible stages and conditions of cooling are grandly
held forth to view in the aspects which the nightly
firmament presents to the eye of science."^'"

* The author has discussed this branch of the subject more fully in
a couple of papers in the Methodist Quarterlj Review for April, 1873,



III. The Succession of Cosmic al States an


Is sucli a succession of cosmical states an evolu-
tion ? If the succession and the successional corre-
lation are such as we have indicated, no question can
arise. It is an evolution. Our confidence in this
proposition is measured only by our confidence in
the interpretations which science has put upon the
body of telescopic, spectroscopic, and geological flicts.
These phenomena are connected together by the re-
lation of cause and effect. The so-called forces of
matter are the causes. Condition has been physically
evolved out of condition ; and the conditions of to-
day are determining the changed conditions of to-
morrow. The common consent of scientists renders
these conclusions inevitable. If they are inevitable
we must not shrink from them. It is probable they
represent truth. If so, it is God's truth ; and the

and January, 1874. See, also, his brochure, entitled "The Geology
of the Stars," Estes & Lauriat, Boston, 1873. It is greatly to be re-
gretted that Dr. Christlieb's late "Essay on Modem Infidelity" is
marred by expressions of distrust of the method of reasoning from
the uniformity of nature, and thus ascending toward a beginning of
the earth's history (p. Gl). "We note here, also, the puerility and fu-
tility and detriment to theology of his attempted vindication of the
Mosaic cosmogony (pp. 59-62). In other respects wc regard the
Essay a master-work.


truth of God it is man's religious duty to embrace.
We are bound to admit the existence of a method of
evolution in the physical world.


No determined opposition is likely to be manifested
to the doctrine of evolution as applied to the ph3'sical
world. At least, no such opposition is likely to come
from well-read thinkers. We do not say it is impos-
sible. It is within the domain of organic nature that
the modern controversy chiefly exists; and from the
application of the doctrine here that the most serious
consequences are expected to flow. We had proposed
to devote our discussion chiefly to this aspect of the

In pursuance of this purpose, we shall present, first,
a conspectus of the leading facts which bear upon the
question of the derivative origin of species; then,
havinsj outlined the various theories which have been
thrown before the world, we shall consider the lead-
ing arguments in support of them, and proceed to a
comprehensive survey of the scientific difficulties in
wdiich they involve lis. Finallj^, we shall inquire
into the theistic bearina's of the doctrine of evolution,
whether as applied to the realm of inorganic or to
that of organic nature.


I. Facts of Co-existence.

In glancing about us for the discovery of facts
which may have a bearing on the question of the
evolution of species, the phenomena of types and
archetypes stand forth in great prominence. These
bind groups of animals or plants together in relation-
ships of profound significance, and establish such kin-
ship as must subsist to render the doctrine probable,
or even plausible. We find, for instance, that the
whole animal kingdom ranges itself under four cate-
gories of fundamental structure. Within the limits
of each category, myriads of animals and thousands
of species are knit together by an extended and pro-
found system of affinities. Every vertebrated animal
resembles qyqtj other vertebrated animal in a hun-
dred-fold more particulars than enter into its resem-
blance to a molluscous, or an articulated, or a radi-
ated animal. These vertebrates are all constructed
on a particular plan, insomuch that, differ as they
may — as widely as a fish from a bird — we find limb
answering to limb, cranium to cranium, bone to bone,
and, to a great extent, nerve to nerve, and muscle to
muscle. "We see that all are but modifications of one ;
or, more strictly, that all are modifications of an ideal
vertebrate — an archetype — embodying the essential
and persistent structures of all individual vertebrates.



In the next place, we have class affinities, like tbose
w'liicli unite the mammals in one, or the birds in one ;
and these bring individuals into a closer unity than
the fundamental characters. Following these are or-
dinal, family, and generic characters, bringing individ-
uals into successively closer relationships, though the
size of the groups, as a rule, is successively diminish-
ed. It is this state of the facts which renders a clas-
sification possible. It is this state of the facts which
has suggested to so many minds the possibility of a
genetic relationship among all the animals of a single
group. Whatever interpretation we put upon the
phenomena of types and archetypes, we must confess
that they demonstrate method, correlation, and, con-
sequently, intelligence.

Another group of flicts worthy of prominent con-
sideration is that which embraces the data of emhry-
ology. The beetle, to a casual observer, shows little
resemblance to the earth-worm ; but the infant beetle,
which is a grub, exhibits a relationship so close that
the uninitiated regard it a real " worm." The infant,
or embryo, frog is the fish-like tadpole. The chick
in the egg assumes in succession the aspect of a fish,
a snake, a bird of low degree, and, finally, the simili-
tude of its parent. Even man possesses, at an early
period, the branchial apertures of the fish, and as-
sumes in succession the aspect of a seal, a quadru-


ped, a monkey, and a human being. These embrj'on-
ic affinities reach out to animals of the same funda-
mental type, and strengthen the induction drawn
from corresponding adult structures in reference to
the unity which reigns in what are known as natural
groups of animals; and they are even more suggest-
ive than adult affinities of genealogical relationships
among the species of a group.

The common instincts and the common intellectual
fciculiies^ especially of the higher animals, indicate
close relationships between them ; while the wide
disparity which subsists between the mental faculties
of man and the brutes next below him stands a yawn-
ing interval, which it would seem difficult for any de-
velopmental process to overpass ; and the contrast of
the moral natures renders the chasm still broader and

The facts illustrating the variahility of species have
a direct bearing upon the question of derivation. A
certain amount of variability is a matter of universal
observation ; but what is its extreme limit, and under
what influence is it brought about? Two causes of
specific variation have presented themselves to the
notice of every one. The first, which is perhaps
rather an occasion than a cause, is the j^^^ysical envi-
ronment of the individual. Xo one doubts that cli-
mate, food, exposure, and other material conditions


occasion certain adaptive variations in the color, size,
robustness, covering, or even the form of the animah
Under domestication animals and plants have wan-
dered from their native types to such extent as we
see exemplified in the races of pigeons, dogs, roses,
or apples. One fact, however, needs to be particular-
ly noted. Not a single known variation has extend-
ed so far as to produce, in essential respects, a new
form wdiich naturalists agree to regard as a new spe-
cies. Variations produced spontaneously, under the
influence of external conditions, so flir as observation
goes, amount to no more than varietal forms. Still
more certainly do the confessedly more strongly-
marked variations caused bj domestication tend to
revert to the original type, when the original sur-
roundings and influences are restored. These, we
saj^, are the teachings of the facts observed; and in
this all naturalists and theorists are ao^reed. It is, of
course, admissible to suppose that the long continu-
ance of the chanG^ed conditions would ausrment the
variation by insensible degrees, and create insupera-
ble obstacles to a reversion to the original type, ex-
cept through a reversal of the slowly acting outward
conditions. But the difficulties of such a position are
great, as will be shown.

Variation of species is also seen to be produced by
cross-breeding. The sexual intercourse of two species


generally regarded as distinct is a thing of rare oc-
currence. Nature has established aversions to it
which are difficult to overcome. As a rule, too, such
unions are unproductive. When otherwise, we ob-
tain a mule, which generally bears some of the spe-
cific characteristics of each of its parents. Were it
possible to perpetuate these characteristics, we should
obtain a form which all would recognize as a new
species ; but this is not possible. Two mules result-
ing from the cross between two species are incapable
of continuing their like; and when recourse is had to
an individual of the original stock, the new offspring
manifests a tendency to revert to the form of the orig-
inal stock. Thus the hybrid form disappears. Ex-
perience and observation have, therefore, shown that
it is impossible to introduce through hybridism a
genuine new specific form.

II. Facts of Succession.

The phenomena presented by the geological succes-
sion of organic types are interesting in themselves, and
on account of their supposed bearing on the question
of derivation. The first fiict which impresses us, and
one on which all evolutionists have rested with much
stress, is the methodical graduation of the chronolog-
ical series of animal and vegetal forms. The earliest
animals and plants were comparatively low — very


' low, in rank ; and higher types have been introduced
in gradual succession. First, supposing Eozoon to
have been an animal, conscious life was ushered into
existence in the form of an animated jelly. At a
subsequent period, higher marine animals appeared,
then reptilian air-breathers, and after them birds,
quadrupeds, monkeys, and men. This is a very sug-
gestive procession of organic forms, and ought to af-
ford a most valuable lesson. A closer scrutiny of it
is reserved for another connection.

The next great fact which arrests the attention of
the paleontologist is the unmistakable structural re-
lationsluj) of older and newer forms. We have more
than a gradually improving series; we have a gradu-
ally unfolding plan. The four fundamental types of
structure which we find running^ through the existing:
world are seen to extend back through the whole
liistory of life upon our planet. When the verte-
brate structure first appeared in the skeleton of the
fish, in that remote period when life had not yet been
able to take possession of land and atmosphere, that
skeleton, simple and unpromising as it was, embodied
all the conceptions which have since been evoked
into reality in the vertebrate sub-kingdom. Reptile,
bird, mammal, and man existed potentially in the
primitive fish. Modifications of certain bony ele-
ments have wrought out each type in an admirable



succession, and in the order of progressive derivation
from the ichthjic tj^pe. The pectoral fin of the fish
became the fore leg of the saurian, the wing of the
pterodactyl and then of the bird, the fore leg of the
fleet deer, the climbing squirrel, the digging mole,
the paddHng whale, the prehenso-locomotive arm of
the monkey, and then the instrument to execute the
behests of the intellect of man. Similar relationships
of plan are seen running through the W'hole history
of articulates, molkiscs, and radiates. These facts,
so compatible with theories of derivation, are strong-
ly insisted upon by the defenders of those theories.

These historical affinities are brought out in a strong
light by those geological types known as prophetic,'
retrospective, and comprehensive. It seems to have
been the rule that some important features of a new
type immediately impending in the future should be
incorporated by anticipation among the characteris-
tics of some of the types of the passing period. These
are prophetic types. The class of reptiles afforded
some striking instances. Before ever a bird had ex-
isted, the idea of flying vertebrates was expressed in
flying reptiles. Before there was a whale or other
mammal, the flippers and forms of cetaceans became
the prophetic endowment of mesozoio enaliosaurs.
Paleontologists cite many similar cases. But equal-
ly common has been the retention, in the forms of


the passing age, of some of the features of a dominant
type of the preceding age. The forms wliicli thus
perpetuate reminiscences of the past may be styled
retrospective. Of this kind is the earliest bird (Ar-
chceopieryx), which, emerging from the age and associ-
ations of reptiles, with a long vertebrated tail, bilater-
ally quilled, seems to reveal itself with the characters
of reptiles still clinging to it. Prophetic and retro-
spective types have been conceived by Professor
Dana as incident to the more general method of com-
prehensive types. A premeditated group of affilia-
ted forms was usually heralded by a comprehensive
form, embodying characters of higher forms not yet
existent, together with characters of lower forms part-
ly existent and partly future. In the progress of
time the composite type became resolved : separate
species or genera, representing the higher, intermedi-
ate, and lower forms. This view seems faithfully to
represent the usual mode of succession of organic
types; and it appears, consequently, that a close
scrutiny reveals a series of partial retrodradations in
the resultantly ascending scale of beings.

These general statements might be illustrated in
great detail, but the information is readily accessible
to every reader.


III. An Evolution of Ideas at least Exists.

It is believed, and generally admitted, that no re-
flecting person can survey the phenomena of paleon-
tological history without being impressed by the con-
viction that the succession of forms is, in the main,
such as constitutes a method of evolution. We make
no reference here to the cause of this evolution. To
assert a method of evolution is not to assert a method
of derivation. "We mean that, at least, this succession
of forms typifies an evolution of ideas. The conception
of the vertebrate archetype existed at the advent of
fish-life. It was first expressed in its simplest out-
lines in the fish ; then, with increased complications
and differentiations, in the reptile ; then, with further
differentiations, successively in birds, mammals, and
man. The successive ideas stand in the relation of
an evolution. The successive forms also stand, in
the main, in the relation of an evolution.

lY. Is THERE A Genetic Evolution of Organic

Types ?

1. TJieories of Development

But do we find these forms sustaining relations to
each other so intimate, that it appears rational to sup-
pose the whole line has come into existence by means
of genetic processes alone, or by means of genetic


processes aided or controlled by other influences?
We here reach the great question of the age — great-
er in the estimation of the timid than it is in the e3'es
of the independent thinker. Agassiz and others
maintain that the only evolution pictured in the pan-
orama of life is one of ideas ; and that each succes-
sive typical form has assumed independent existence
through creative energy, prompted by an all-compre-
hending intelligence. The meaning attached to the
word creation by this naturalist, and by most others
who employ it, is, origination by fiat, and with a cer-
tain degree of suddenness. Opposed to this idea is
that of creation in accordance with natural laws, or
the derivation of one organic form from another
through some inherent or imparted tendency to va-
riation, or some susceptibility of variation under ex-
ternal influences.

Among modern propounders of opinion on this
subject, De Maillet* attributed the successive im-
provements of organic forms purely to the influence
of external circumstances. The world having been
originally covered with water, the later emergence of
land was accompanied by the occasional transfer of
marine creatures to the land, where changed condi-
tions gradually transformed their organs into others

♦ De Maillet : Telliamed.


better adapted to the new situation. Lamarck* elab-
orated with the utmost care, and with profound learn-
ing, a theory of transmutation of species, which main-
tains that external conditions, giving direction to an
inherent tendency to improvement, work out gradual
variations of species, resulting in the ultimate devel-
opment of new species, genera, orders, and classes.
Thus, with an inherent appetency toward a more
perfect adaptation to the external circumstances, an
animal under the necessity of obtaining its food by
browsing from the foliage of trees, would finally,
through the continued effort to reach its food, develop
the elongated muzzle of the elephant, or the lengthen-
ed neck and extensile tongue of the giraffe. Theories
like those of Lamarck and De Maillet were wholly in-
compatible with the conception of final cause as en-
dowing the animal with organs adapted to its situa-
tion ; and also excluded, necessarily, the generally
accepted doctrine of specific creation by fiat.

The doctrine of the transmutation of species,f even

* Lamarck: Philosophie Zoologiqtie, 1809, These views were later
maintained by Geoffroy St, Hilaire, and vigorously opposed by George

t Besides the authors cited in the text, a number of others, wiiting
before Darwin, either explicitly avowed their belief in the doctrine of
derivation of species, or indulged in dreams and conjectures on the
subject. Among these may be m.entioned Kant (1790), who, in § 79


at the hands of such vah'ant defenders as Lamarck
and St. liilaire, never succeeded in earning a large
amount of acceptance. Its distinguished and con-
vincing opponent was George Cuvier, the preceptor
of the distinguished opponent of the later phase of
the doctrine. The theory of the transmutation of
species, accordingly, though feebly revived from time
to time, was held in very general disrepute until the
appearance of the memoirs of Darwin and Wallace,*
in 1858, in which these two distinguished naturalists,
laboring on opposite sides of the globe, arrived al-
most simultaneously at the same conclusion. Tbey
suggested that the struggle for existence among ani-
mals and plants, by causing the destruction of the
feebler forms and the preservation of the stronger
and higher, might probabl}-, on the principle of the
selection of the most perfect individuals to breed
from, exert an improving influence on a specific t3'pe,

of "Kritik der Urtheil.skvaft," speaks pretty clearly; Erasmus Dar-
Avin (1794), Oken (1802), Herbert (1822), R. E. Grant (182G), Geof-
froy St. Hilaire (1830), the distinguished advocate of Lamarckianism ;
Goethe (1832), C. E. Bar (1834), Treviranus (1837), Freke (1841),
Schleiden (1843), D'Omalius d'llalloy (1840), Unger (1852), Naudin
(18o2), Schaafhausen (1853), Carus (1853), Lecoq (1854), Buchner
(1855), Baden Powell (1855).

* Journal of the Linnean Society^ London, Zoology (1858), vol. iii.,
p. 45. The views of Mr. Wallace were foreshadowed in an article
in the Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist.., in September, 1855.


which, in a long course of generations, should cause
it to present characters which naturalists would re-
gard as specifically different. These learned theorists
have subsequently elaborated their theories at length,
and Darwinism is now as familiar as a household
word/^ It is Darwin's opinion, like Lamarck's, that
man has not been an exception to the law of varia-
tion ; while Wallace maintains that on the appear-
ance of an animal endowed with mind, the forces of
nature, instead of continuing to exert their wonted
sway, were held in check and made subservient to
the demands of his higher nature. f

Toe hypothesis of derivation by natural selection
was heartily espoused by Dr. Hooker,:}: the distin-
guished English botanist; and our own distinguished
botanist, Professor Asa Gray,§ gave the hypothesis a
cautious adhesion at an earlj^ period. Professor Hux-
ley is a valiant defender of Darwinism, with a visible

* Danvin : The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection;
The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2 vols. ;
The Descent of Man ; The Expression of the Emotions in Man and
Animals. Wallace : Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection.
London and New York, 1870, p. 302.

t Wallace : Natural Selection, p. 324.

X Hooker : Flora of Tasmania, Introductory Essay ; A?ner. Jour.
Science [2], xxix., pp. 1 and 305.

§ Gray : Amer. Jour, Science [2], xxix,, p. 153. See, also, his later
Address before the Amer. Assoc. Adv. of Science, Dubuque Meeting.


tendency to heresy, since Lc intimates tbat tlic ad-
vancing steps must, in some cases, Lave been rather
abrupt — a result for wbicli Darwinism pure and sim-
ple does not account.* He also admits the full force
of sundry serious objections to the hypothesis.

One of the very ablest and most original of the de-
fenders of the theory of Darwin is Professor IIaeckel,t
of the University of Jena. A vast body of facts and
comparisons, interpreted from the Darwinian stand-
point, is presented by Gegenbaur, in his celebrated
works upon Comparative Anatomy.:^ In the English

* Huxley: Lay Sermons and Addresses, Amer. edit., p. 312, etc.
Compare, also, papers in his Critiques and Reviews, 1873.

t Haeckel, Dr. Ernst: Natiirliche Schopfungs-Geschichte. Berlin,
18G8: Fourth edit., 1873. The theoretical positions of this author
are laid down with an audacious degree of assurance ; and he is
sometimes as dogmatical as the dogmatists whom he takes so much
pains to berate. One can not avoid amazement that Darwinism has
never been opposed by a writer worthy of respectful mention, nor de-
fended by one who is not worthy of it. The work lacks candor, and
is garnished with an affluence of ridicule and hard names. See, also,
Ilaeckel's Generelle Morphohgie, 2 Bde. Berlin, 18GG.

X Gegenbaur, Carl: Untersuchungen zur Vergleichenden Anatomie
der Wirbehhiere. Also the very recent work, Grundriss der Ver-
gleichenden Anatomie. Leipsic, 1874. A good text -book on the
subject. Numerous other German writers have recently applied the
theory of evolution to discussions in anthropology, biology, ethics, pol-
itics, and faith — as Carneri, Jaeger, Seidlitz, Spengcl, Oscar Schmidt,
Strauss, Yon Hartmann, etc.


language, Dr. Chapman,* fullowing in the footsteps of
Haeckel, has presented a forcible array of pertinent
facts and persuasive suggestions.

The doctrine called Darwinism, it will now be seen,
is not co-extensive in its meaning w^ith the doctrine
of evolution, nor with that form of evolution through
external influences known as " transmutation of spe-
cies," or Lamarckianism. Darwinism is one theory
respecting the nature of the forces which have caused
an assumed divergence of species from their original
forms. It assigns the principle of "natural selec-
tion," or "survival of the fittest," as the cause; while
other speculators assign other causes of an assumed
derivative origin of species.

There is a group of theories, differing from eacli
other bv sli2;ht, thougjh essential, shades of diver-
gence, which agree in attributing the derivation of
species to some phase of action of the reproductive
process. The author of the " Vestiges of Creation " f
suggests that an exceptional i^rolomjation of the term
of embryonic development may give rise to a form
somewhat in advance of the type of the parents. Mr.
Alpheus Hyatt,:]: in 1867, suggested the idea that an

* Chapman, Dr. Henry C. : Evolution of Life. Philadelphia, 1873.

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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellThe doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings → online text (page 2 of 10)