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leathery membrane stretched only from the fifth dig-
it to the hinder limbs. This digit was accordingly
enormously elongated, while the others were of nor-
mal Icno-th. On the doctrine of correlation to ideal
archetypes, these various plans of alar structure are
intelligible and beautiful; but on the hypothesis of
development through the influence of forces essen-
tially physical, the spectacle is inexplicable.

Similar difiicullies arise in the structural diiVer-



78 EVOLUTION, AXD ITS

ences between the pectoral fin of a fish and the pad-
dle of an Enaliosaurian reptile, or a whale; between
the elongated neck of the e^iraffe and the elongated
proboscis of the elephant ; between the provision
of flattened-cylindrical, dentinally -imbedded, enamel-
plates in the molar of the extinct American elephant,
and the simple enamel crust of the molar of his con-
temporary and germane proboscidean, the American
mastodon ; between the provision of a rattle in cer-
tain species of serpents, and the absence of it in their
neighbors. In short, wherever the same functions are
executed by locally associated animals by means of
organs having divergent structures and conforma-
tions, it seems most natural to suppose that these re-
sults have been produced by something more than
material influences. And when, at the same time, we
see them admirably conformed to intelligible ideal
concepts, we feel impelled toward a conviction that
an inner-working force is operating with a view to
ends, and in disregard of the opposition or co-work-
ing of physical forces.

We feel led to carry this point to the extent of sug-
gesting that the absence of any organ in any animal
which has been found subservient to the needs of an-
other animal in the same province, is a circumstance
for which no unequal influence of physical conditions
can be summoned to account. It is not easy to per-



BEARING UPON THEISM. ,79

ceive, for instance, in what respect the squirrel Las
less need of organs for aerial locomotion tlian tbe par-
tridge, or the sparrow, or the diver. Yet tbese all
live together with the squirrel, under identical phys-
ical conditions, but with strongly contrasted loco-
motive apparatus. One would think the porpoise
would be as much benefited and convenienced bv the
faculty of breathing water as his neighbor the stur-
geon is. If the moccasin needs a poison-fang for self-
defense, so does the garter-snake. It may momenta-
rily relieve certain cases to assert that the organiza-
tions and instincts and needs of animals differ; but
why do they differ? That is the problem we are
seekinsi: to resolve.

The true explanation of these phenomena, as of
many others, is the fact that organic modificallons
have rcfjard to ideal concepts as ivell as external condi-
tions. Organic structures, as we have already inti-
mated, are correlated to correlates of two different cat-
egories : 7*Trs^, Phj'sical surroundings; Second, Ideal
concepts. The phj^sical surroundings are, 1. Condi-
tions connected with climate, food, topogra})h3^, etc.;
2. The condition of the orc^ans of the bodv in refer-
ence to each other. The ideal concepts are, 1. Ar-
chetypes or ideal plans according to which organic
structures arc conformed, like the concept of a sub-
kingdom, a class, or an order; 2. Antecedent, rcgu-



80 EVOLUTIOX, AND ITS

lative principles, methods, or laws of activity, under
which organic evolutions are carried on ; as those va-
rious principles or criteria which signalize differences
of rank among animals, and the concept of an animal
adapted to a particular element, food, or station.

!N^ow, the modifications which exist with reference
to ideal concepts are as real and as great as those
which exist with reference to phj^sical surroundings.
Indeed, they are much greater, for they affect and
determine the fundamental structures, while physical
surroundings, by all admissions, impress only the de-
tails. But modifications having reference to an ideal
concept are not wrought out by physical inflaences.
The bird and the butterfly, exposed to the same phys-
ical influences, and urged by the same needs, develop
locomotive organs funciionally similar for these rea-
sons; but they are structuralhj diverse, for no other
reason assignable than that the whole plan of the but-
terfly is fundamentally different from that of the bird,
and the wings of each must harmonize with the plan
of the animal. Thus, also, the porpoise does not ac-
quire the ability to respire water, not because the ne-
cessity is less than in the sturgeon, but because an
ideal concept or principle dominates and constrains
the organization of the porpoise, the whale, the dol-
phin, and the manatee against the analogies and influ-
ences, and, one would almost think, the necessities, of



BEARING UPON THEISM. 81

an aquatic habitat. This ideal concept is the law of
diversity applied to the mammalian class, which or-
dains that nature shall afford aquatic mammals as well
as terrestrial; and some force overrules the predispos-
ing influence of the watery element.

The young batrachian, during a certain period of
its existence, possesses perfectly developed gills, and
breathes water like its neighbor, the fish. After a
time, without the least change in its physical circum-
stances, air-breathing organs begin to undergo a de-
velopment, and the gills begin to be absorbed. This
complete transformation of the tadpole's structural
adaptations takes place without the slightest diminu-
tion of the present necessity for breathing water, with
all the physical conditions opposed to it, and only in
anticipation of changed conditions which are destined
to be assumed in obedience to an internal law of the
creature's being, shaping all its organization with ref-
erence to the ideal concept of an amphibious batra-
chian.

The pampas of the La Plata appear to be admi-
rably adapted to the nature and wants of the wild
horse. But, according to all information, these fx-
voring conditions, existing through a geologic period,
failed to develop any herds of horses, since these
modern herds are derived from individuals escaped
from a state of domestication. This failure of nature

4*



82 EVOLUTIOX, AND ITS

to produce the quadrupeds suited to the conditions is
the more surprising since we know that the equine
type of quadrupeds existed in America from the pe-
riod of the Eocene. AVe are, in fact, acquainted with
the remains of twenty -one species of horse-like ani-
mals ; and the genus of true horses has been traced
down to the times immediately preceding the present.
Here we see that, though the favoring conditions of
equine life did not change, they failed to perpetuate
a type of animals already in existence.

Similar difficulties arise in reference to most of
those types of animals and plants which human
agency has transferred from one continent to an-
other, and which, in their new conditions, have con-
tinued to be perpetuated, in the wild state, with un-
diminished or even with increased luxuriance. These
are evidences that the physical conditions of the coun-
tries receiving the new importations had not been
adequate to develop certain forms of organization
most admirably suited to them, and that consequent-
ly the organisms existing in a country and correlated
to it have not grown out of it, but have been intro-
duced into it by some power from without.

The controlling influence of a fundamental concept
in shaping the organization of animals is further seen
in identity of conformation under diversified condi-
tions. The porpoise dwelling in the sea breathes air



BEARING UPON TIIEIS.Ar. 83

like the ox dwelling on the land. That the porpoise
or the whale should be endowed with lungs requiring
it to rise to the surAice to breathe, is quite as unex-
pected and incongruous as if the buffalo had been
gifted with gills demanding a periodical plunge into
the watery element to perpetuate its existence. Here
is a unity of fundamental type — the mammalian type,
wdiich predestines the marine and the terrestrial mam-
mal equally to certain structural modifications, how-
ever apparently incompatible with the conditions to
which they may be assigned by another ideal concept
— diversity of adaptations under unity of plan.

The whole range of varying adaptations within the
limits of any fundamental tj^pe of structure supplies
an exhaustless fund of illustrations of a similar char-
acter. The vertebrate tj'pe of animal structure is, in
its essentials, identical in animals which walk on the
earth, like the deer; or burrow beneath the earth, like
the mole; or live in trees, like the squirrel; or fly
in the air, like the bat; or swim in the water, like the
whale. It is still the vertebrate type, under another
class-modification, which in its ordinal gradations pre-
sents us with the soaring eagle spying out his prey,
the sparrow seeking the ripened seed, the hummer
balanced over the nectar of a flower, the duck filter-
ing the lake- side ooze, the diver plunging for the
perch, the woodpecker drilling for his grub, the hen



84 EVOLUTIOX, AND ITS

scratching for her worm. Do we realize that this
wide diversity of structures and adaptations among
mammals and birds exists under a single fundamental
concept — that of the vertebrate archetype; and that
an equal range of modifications under the same con-
cept may be traced through the classes of reptiles and
fishes? And do we realize that this conformity to
an archetype is preserved sometimes against i\\e tend-
ency of the environment, and even to the inconven-
ience of the animal ? Now, it has been susfofested that
this general subordination to a fundamental tj^pe im-
plies common descent from some remote ancestor;
but, to say nothing here of missing links, does it not
look more like the influence of an urgent, all-control-
ling power, acting under the guidance of an intelligi-
ble plan which thus holds sway entirely apart from
phj^sical conditions, and with the sole purpose of as-
serting; the dominion of thouo;ht in the org^anic world ?

o o o

There is a lesson to be learned from the existence
of what have been termed rudimentary organs, which
seems to clinch the teaching deduced from the fore-
going group of facts. Rudimentary organs are the
useless rudiments of structures which in other animals
are seen developed into organs actually subservient
to certain needs. Examples of these are seen in the
bone called os coccyofis in the hi2;her tailless mammals,
and in birds; in the rudimentary lungs of the gar-



BEARING UPON T1IEIS.M. 85

pike and the Kedur us ^ and in tlic air-bladders of whole
tribes of fishes. We delight to regard sueh structures
as premeditated intimations of the dominance of gen-
eral plans which continue operative under all the
varying conditions of life. Believers in derivative
development regard them as vestiges of structures
w^hich have become obsolescent through disuse. The
os-coccygis of the human subject is the shrunken
caudal appendage of the lower quadrumana — the
heritage bequeathed from an ignoble ancestr^^ !Mod-
ern discovery has produced a fossil bird which seems
to lend countenance to this method of explaining ru-
dimentary organs. The Archijeopteryx^ a fossil bird of
Solenhofen, had a long vertebrated tail, like a saurian,
with the tail-quills fringing it on either side. Kow
this tail was inherited, they say, from the saurian rep-
tiles of an earlier aQ:e ; and the os-coccv2:is of modern
birds is but its obsolescent rudiment. This certainly
looks plausible ; and we shall accept such explana-
tions when no others commend themselves more
strongly to our judgment, and certain stubborn facts
are removed entirely out of the way.

It must be apparent that the phenomenon of the
os-coccygis, viewed in isolation from other considera-
tions, is quite as explicable on the hypothesis of dom-
inant typical ideas as on the hypothesis of heredity.
The derivative theory has no advantage, therefore,



86 EVOLUTION, AXL> ITS



even in cases like these, where the rudimentary con-
dition of an organ is subsequent to its fullj developed
condition. Bat there is another set of cases which
the hypothesis of hereditary transmission can not
reach. There is, at least, an equal number of in-
stances in which the existence of oro-ans in a rudi-
nientary condition is historically antecedent to their
existence in a fully developed condition. This is the
case with the rudimentary lungs of the tadpole, al-
ready cited for another purpose; and this is more
notably the case with the rudimentary lungs of the
gar-pikes, and o^ Keciurus and other batrachians which
never attain to the condition of air-breathers. Now,
will the derivationist assert that the coarsely vesicular
lung of the perennibranchiate salamanders is the obso-
lescent oroan of some air-breathin2^ ancestor? Then
Nature has witnessed a deofradation of her forms, in-
stead of an advance, and the principle of natural se-
lection must be summoned to account for a regression
in the earliest representatives of this type from a re-
moter and more perfect state, which the testimony of
paleontology assures us is purely imaginary. Admit-
ting that the fittest to survive may have been at some
period an individual inferior in organization to his
fellows, we have not yet passed the most formidable
difficulties. The gar-pike belongs to a tj-pe of fishes
which existed a geological period previous to the



BEARING UPON THEISM. 87

existence of any air-breathing vertebrate. No one
doubts that the internal or^^anization of the existinor
gar-pike fairly represents that of the Carboniferous
and Devonian Lepldosteidce in America; and no one
pretends that we have any inductive evidence of the
existence of air-breathing animals in America at an
epoch as early as these Devonian, or even Carbonifer-
ous, ganoids. It is utterly impossible to expkiin their
possession of rudimentary lungs on the theory of dis-
use of organs belonging to their ancestors. Kow, on
the hypothesis of an overshadowing plan of organic
structure, framed by intelligence, carried into execu-
tion under the guidance of intelligence, behold how
beautiful and how gratifying an explanation of all
these rudimentary structures. The primitive concept
of a vertebrated animal existing in the mind of crea-
tive intelligence was one which should be adapted to
both elements, and should have the structures re-
quired for breathing either air or water. Thus, be-
fore the world was fitted for an air-breather, there
were in existence fishes, which, with their rudiment-
ary but useless lungs, enunciated a conformity to
plan, and became the prophetic announcement of a
tj'pe which should breathe air in a better condition
of the world. Thus, also, the branchiate phase of
even the human embryo, under circumstances where
every form of respiration is superseded, is an idle modi-



88 EVOLUTION, AND ITS



fication, viewed as any thing less than an interpreta-
tion of the common formula of the vertebrated ani-
mal. In the same manner, the retention of the ru-
dimentary tail is an expression of obedience to a gen-
eral concept of the archetypal vertebrate; and, with-
out implying any necessary genetic relationship to
predecessors, it becomes a reminiscence of extinct
forms, and proclaims the intellectual unity of the or-
ganic w^orld.

We are arofuingj that the modifications of animals
and plants have regard to ideal concepts. AVe have
just had occasion to speak of ganoid fishes as pro-
phetic of strictly air-breathing reptiles. We have
heretofore spoken of the flying saurians of the olden
time as prophetic of birds; of marine saurians, in their
structures related to cetacean mammals, and prophetic
of them; and cert.'un land saurians as similarly pro-
phetic of mammals. These several prophetic types
belong to a more generalized category, known as syn-
thetic or comprehensive types. It was the character-
istic of a synthetic type to embody features which af-
terward became differentiated and dissociated in two
or more distinct groups of species. Thus the bony-
armored and froo'-like labvrinthodonts became dis-
solved, in a later age, into two groups of reptiles — the
one, bony-armored, sauroid, and higher in rank ; the
other, without the bony armor, but retaining the frog-



BEARING UPON TUElSiT. 89

like affinities, and, consequently, lower in rank. This
may serve as a single example of a method which
was general in the progress of creation. The point
which we desire to brins^ into li^ht is this: that the
very idea of a synthetic type implies retrogression on
the one hand or the other. If there were even a sj^n-
thetized type in which the two or more components
were of equal rank, the very supposition implies that
the synthetized type, bearing the aggregated rank of
two or more constituent types, was superior to either;
and the resolution of the type would signalize a down-
fall in both directions instead of one. Now, while
these phenomena must be viewed as exceptional un-
der any law of derivative development, they are of
a nature to suggest to the unsophisticated mind the
existence of an intelligible method — that of advance
through synthetic types — in subordination to which
either the ascendino; or descendins; series of forms
comes into existence.

Theories of the derivative origin of species repose
great stress upon the phenomena of types and arche-
types. Very recently the horse flmiily {Eqiiida) has
been made to play-a very conspicuous role. The mod-
ern horse, as anatomists understand, walks upon one
toe; but there is a pair of "splint bones" on either
side, whose lower extremities are marked by the place
of the rough callosities of the horse's fore leg. Some



90 EVOLUTIOX, AND ITS

cycles back, in the Pliocene Age, existed, in the Far
West, a type of horses {Hipimrion) in which the " splint
bones" are represented by real hooflets, like the two
posterior toes of the ox and deer. Still farther back,
in the Miocene Age, existed a horse type {Hippotlie-
TLum^ Protoliippus) in which the hooflets were repre-
sented by fully developed hoofs, and the animal had
tliree toes. In the Eocene Age, still older, existed a
still more aberrant type {OroJnj^pus), which walked
npon/owr toes. These are admirable examples of a
large class of facts which have been amply discussed
by Owen, Haeckel, Chapman, and others. They are
exemplifications and demonstrations of what we have
been accustomed to style bomological relations. We
are deeply impressed and instructed by facts of this
kind. Wc hail them as proofs of a regulative intel-
lio-ence in creation; and we ascribe them to intelli-
gence by a necessary law of our reason. AVe admit
that the succession is an evolutionary one in a large
number of cases. But it is obvious that we are not
compelled to recognize a genealogical relationship in
the succession ; still less to ascribe it to physiological
activities uncontrolled by intelligence. Let us trace
a parallel. Here is the gay and fashionable " lan-
dau," one of the most finished of wheeled vehicles.
We compare it with the "rockaway," and discover
the two to be homologucs. Looking back in time,



BEARING UPON THEISM. 91

"wc perceive the farm-wagon to liave been once the
most perfect representative of the idea of a wheeled
vehicle. But still earlier, or at least lower in the scale,
stand the ox-cart and the drav; and last of all we
come to the wheelbarrow. Now, these vehicles rep-
resent one archetypal idea in the various stages of its
development; they sustain homological relations to
each other, co-existent with obvious special " design "
in the adaptations of each product. But who w^ould
think it necessary to regard the wheelbarrow the pro-
genitor of the ox-cart and the landau? The evolu-
tionary relation is manifest, but each term of the
series is the product of an independent act of intelli-
gence.

We content ourselves with two further statements
drawn from the field of physiological activities. If
the varied or2:ans of higher heinous have been ac-
quired through conative efforts, or the influence of
the environment, or as the accidental results of ex-
traordinary births, or the cumulative products of suc-
cessively accelerated or prolonged development in
the embryo, then it is difficult to account for the ac-
quisition of certain organs with the requisite degree
of suddenness. The earliest trilobites, for instance,
had eyes ready formed, but had no ancestors through
whose long-drawn generations they could have been
developed. They had successors, however, which,



92 EVOLUTION, AND ITS

notwithstanding the undiminished usefuhiess of eyes,
and the undiminished amount of light, were destitute
of those important organs. It is difficult to under-
stand how on any of these hypotheses the fish, when
thrown irrecoverably out of his native element, ac-
quired the lungs of an air-breather with sufficient ex-
pedition to save him from perishing in the very first
stage of his transmutation. Is it not absolutely de-
monstrable that lungs must have been fashioned in
anticipation of the aerial habitat of the animal, anterior
to the possibility of any influence exerted upon him
by external conditions?

So, when the transition was to be made from birds
or reptiles to animals that should feed their young by
a milky secretion from their own bodies, the trans-
formation must have been made complete, toto coelo, in
a single generation. But who can believe that any
phvsical or physiological influence was at work wdiich
could originate, de novo, an organ so peculiar and so
w^idely apart from any structure in reptiles or birds
as the mammary gland, and could originate it func-
tionally complete in the first generation?

(3) Objections in the Field of Metaphysics. — We con-
clude our statement of tlie difficulties of doctrines of
derivative development with some considerations
drawn from the field of abstract ideas.

A physical cause is a definite quantit}^, and can



BEARING UPON THEISM. 93

produce but a definite and uniform result; but ilie
series of organic forms is a progressively varying re-
sult. That force which has produced the phenomena
of organization has developed an infinitude of forms
and correlations to the external world and to the in-
stincts and necessities of animals, and to ideal plans
of structure and ideal methods of activity. It has be-
haved as no material force has ever been known to
behave. It has developed results which can not pos-
sibly be referred to any common category except that
of intelligent, free volition. In the water it gives one
animal lun^-s and another skills. Amono^ insect-eaters
it drives one with the requisite equipment, like the
bat, to seek its food in the air; another, like the toad,
on the land ; another, like the mole, in the soil. It is
a force which acts with discernment, with method,
with usefulness, and with a degree of independence
of the co-operative action of surrounding physical in-
fluences. It has continued to act along unbroken
lines of thought. It produced the pectoral fin of a
fish ; then, still acting on the organ, produced the leg
of a salamander or alligator; then, from the same or-
gan, the wing of a bird or bat, the fore leg of a horse,
the shovel of a mole, the paddle of a whale, the arm
of a man. Can any one assert that this is the mode
of action of a physical cause? Physical forces, in-
deed, have been the instruments which, summoned



94 EVOLUTIOX, AND ITS

to act in varying ratio to each other, have shaped re-
sults to premeditated ends.

In the field of physical forces we find no provision
for indefinite progression, but only for movement in
cycles. The circle of the waters from the ocean
through the clouds to the ocean again; the circle of
the winds in the heavens; the sweep of cosmical
bodies in their orbits; the precession of the equi-
noxes; the variation of a planet's obliquity to the
plane of its orbit ; the waxing and waning eccentric-
ity of their orbits; nay, the very lifetime of a system
or a universe — these are all but periodical phenom-
ena in varied phases of magnitude. But the march
of organic improvement has been ever resultanlly in
one direction. There have been deflections and par-
tial regressions to points at which the march has ac-
quired a quicker step; but never has the world of
life returned to a former status; never has a specific
or generic type, once passed, been summoned again
into being. These are the phenomena of a force act-


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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellThe doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings → online text (page 5 of 10)