Alexander Winchell.

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ing in a manner generically different from those
wliich play upon the theatre of physical existence.

There exists an incongruity between natural selec-
tion, viewed as a force, and the results which are at-
tributed to it. Natural selection is itself a result co-
ordinated with a certain concurrence of physical con-
ditions. If we recognize it as a result produced by


those conditions, then, since the result must be con-
generic with the cause, we must view natural selection
as belonging to the category of physical causes. It
can, therefore, produce but one category of results.
It can not manifest any of that deliberative, co-ordi-
native, thoughtful adjustment to situations and to
archetypal concepts which we find to characterize
the phenomena of the organic world. Assigned as
a modifying condition, we acknowledge its reality.
Assigned as instrumental means of accomplishing
certain premeditated results, we concede it a legiti-
mate place. Assigned as the efficient cause of results
so clearly premeditated, so clearly co-ordinated in
method, so expressive of the overshadowing presence
of a co-ordinating intelligence, we have to repudiate
its pretensions.

The incongruity between cause assigned and results
produced is infinitely greater stilL Supposing nat-
ural selection to be regarded a physical force, how
vast a disparity in kind between the force and the
moral and intellectual results attributed to it! T\\o
struggle for existence is selfish ; how could it develop
generosity? The struggle for existence excites and
nourishes fear; how could it develop a loving trust
in the Ruler of the universe? The struggle for ex-
istence deals with material wants ; how can it awaken
longings for inimoitality, or an actual faiih in future


life? How can it arouse the consciousness of any
spiritual want, or beget a belief in spiritual truth?

But the deepest fallacy of all is the assumption of
natural selection as a cause.^ It is not a cause at all.
It is only a set of conditions. Selection is an act of
mind, and the selection which takes place in the sur-
vival of the fittest is a method of intellio'ent will.
But we have no proof that this is a method by which
even intelligent will ever causes a transmutation of
species. We have cited many proofs opposed to this
hvpothesis. Neither can direct physical influences
proceeding from the environment be viewed in the
light of efficient causes of biological phenomena.

* This truth has been recognized by Professor Huxley (Critiques
and Addresses ; Am. edit,, p. 270). "On this hypothesis" [that the
struggle for existence is maintained among the molecules of the or-
ganism] " hereditary transmission is the result of the victory of par-
ticular molecules contained in the impregnated germ. Adaptation to
conditions is the result of the favoring of the multiplication of those
molecules whose organizing tendencies are most in harmony with
such conditions. In this view of the matter, conditions are not act-
ively productive, but are passively permissive; they do not cause
variation in any given direction, but they permit and favor a tendency
in that direction ivhich already exists." Now, what is the urging
force in that tendency ? Mr. Huxley, in another paragraph, states :
" The tendency to vary * * * may depend wholly upon internal con-
ditions." Now, tacitly accepting this as Huxleyisra, and not Darwin-
ism, we should like to know if Mr. Huxley regards a conditioning in-
fluence as a real cause ?


They are only a set of conditions ; we may denomi-
nate them conditioning causes, but this implies an ef-
ficient cause. The efficient cause must act in the
organism. Blood and nervous influences must be
sent in such directions as to respond to the presence
of the physical impression. Yital forces must per-
form the work, even if they do it in deference to sug-
gestions from without. The conception of the phys-
ical environment as moulding the organs of animals
is philosophic absurdity. In the actual world it is
" unthinkable." Nor can we entertain the possibil-
ity that the vital forces are mere activities of chem-
istry and physics. "We have said such activities move
in circles, and that they can only produce physic-
al results; while the results which we witness are
thought, conscience, volition, emotion, correlation to
ideal concepts. A correlation between physical and
vital force is obvious, though we deny their equiv-
alence. The efficient force producing modifications
having reference to physical surroundings, is not only
a force actinof within; it is a force actinf]^ intelli-
gently and beneficently ; and if it be demanded how
we dare attribute intelligence and beneficence to a
force so hopelessly inscrutable, we demand of the ob-
jector how he dare dishonor the deepest intuitions
of his own soul, and brave all the consequences of so


There only remains a single thought; and this, it
seems to us, presents a difficulty as formidable as can
be imagined in the way of the Darwinist. That this
theor}^ may be true and sufficient, it must provide
for the appearance of improved forms, not alone
in single individuals or single pairs, but simultane-
ously in large numbers of individuals. Imagine an in-
dividual, or, if it be possible, a pair of individuals,
endowed with a certain improvement in organization.
Now, if they happen to appear in the same region,
which may be probable, and, if they happen to pair
together instead of with the more numerous individ-
uals having the unimproved organization, it is true
their offspring may inherit their peculiar organization.
And then, if the offspring continue to pair together
through future generations, there is a conceivable pos-
sibility of the advance being perpetuated. But how
much more probable that but one individual should
come into possession of a given new conformation ;
and that by crossing and recrossing with individuals
not possessing it, the peculiarity should disappear.
And if a couple of individuals should happen to be
identically gifted, and they should pair together, all
experience teaches that their offspring would show a
tendency to revert to the old form. And if their off-
spring should show no sucli tendency, how great the
probability that they would pair with individuals not


having the peculiarity; and that thus the peculiarity,
by the laws of hybridity, would rapidly disappear.

The only possible way of escaping the necessity of
braving this array of strong improbabilities is to re-
sort to the assumption that a large number of individ-
uals became simultaneously affected in a similar w\ay ;
and then, in addition, to assume that such variation
would be permanent; and that, sooner or later, an-
other variation in the same direction would take place
in a larG^e number of the descendants of these indi-
viduals; and that this extraordinary concurrence of
conditions w^ould continue to be repeated through
thousands of generations and thousands of years, un-
til the variation should amount to a new specific form.
It seems to us, the Darwinist is here placed in an ap-
palling dilemma, and that the only rescue is in pre-
cipitate retreat.*

In offering this array of difficulties which the the-
ory of derivative evolution of organic beings must en-
counter and vanquish, we have not taken the time to
indicate in each case against wdiat phase of the doc-
trine the difficulty more especially presses. We think
it proper, therefore, to state, in general, tliat all the
objections seem to be valid against those forms of the
doctrine which assume a gradual variation, involving

♦ See North British Review^ June, 1867, p. 286.


vast periods of time, and necessitating the interven-
tion of all conceivable intermediate links. That is^
they all rest against the theories which appeal solely
to external influences, like those of De Maillet and
Darwin ; or to external influences supplemented by
internal conative efforts, like Lamarckianism ; or to
progressive changes through prolonged or accelerated
development of the embryo, like the teaching of the
"Vestiges," and of Cope and Hyatt. That form of
the doctrine held by Parsons and Mivart, and per-
haps also by Huxley, admitting of progress by con-
siderable leaps, escapes measurably from the embar-
rassment of supplying complete series of intermediate
forms. Those theories which appeal to the possible
incidents of the generative process seem to be less
vulnerable than those w^hich assiQ:n a set of external
conditions as the efficient cause of organic modifica-
tions. The principle of natural selection, or survival
of the fittest, it ought to be remarked, though inade-
quate to account for the origin of new forms, may be
legitimately appealed to for their preservation when
produced by any adequate means. Viewing specific
types as absolutely constant, with a limited elasticity,
it may undoubtedly be regarded the principle of sur-
vival of the fittest which maintains the s]3ecies at the
normal standard of healthful vigor.


V. Spontaneous Generation.

A few statements seem to be demanded in refer-
ence to the hypothesis of spontaneous generation —
Ileterogenesis, Abiogenesis, or Archcgenesis. This
hypothesis should not be regarded as necessarily in-
volved in that of the derivative origin of specific
forms. The latter is simply an attempt to explain
how specific forms may have descended from one or
more primitive stocks. It assumes organization ex-
istent as a postulate. The gap between vitalized or-
ganization, however simple, and dead inorganization
is vastly greater than that between the summit and
the base of the organic series. None of the reason-
ings of derivationists apply to the task of filling this
gap. They may prove unimpeachably valid within
the domain of organization, where we have an abut-
ment of life on each side of the chasm to be bridged,
and remain completely inapplicable wdiere the chasm
presents, on one side, no such support. The advo-
cates of derivative theories have not generally avowed
sympathy wnth the hypothesis of archcgenesis. They
have, indeed, generally repudiated it.

The opponents of these theories have illogically at-
tributed to them a belief in archcgenesis, as a neces-
sary consequence. If we can trace a genealogical
connection from man, step by step, to the monad, it is


but one step further, they say, to dead matter. We
admit it ; but it is like the step which Milton's Satan
took in his descent from heaven to hell. Monad life
and no life are as far apart as affirmation and nega-
tion. Whether the doctrine of archegenesis be sus-
tained by fLicts, is an independent question to be de-
cided. To its solution many skilled experimenters
are assiduously applying themselves; and opinion
seems to be held in a balance between conflicting evi-
dences. The immediate subject of controversy is the
origin of the organisms which make their appearance
in infusions of organic substances from which efforts
have been made to exclude the germs which float in
the air. The difficulties seem to be, to know certain-
ly what degree of heat suffices to destroy the life of
all germs; to be certain that the filtering substances
employed in some experiments are sufficiently fine
to exclude the smallest; and to know that the non-
appearance of life, in certain cases, is not due to the
absence of certain conditions, rather than the success-
ful occlusion of living germs.

The experiments have resulted in revealing sev-
eral interesting facts belonging to the wonders of na-
ture. The atmosphere and many liquid and solid
substances are populated by innumerable swarms of
living spores, which give rise to the phenomena of
fermentation, putrefaction, and many forms of disease.


Some of these spores are so inconceivably small as to
permeate the finest filters and elude the highest pow-
ers of the microscope. Many of them possess such
tenacity of life as to remain unchanged at tempera-
tures far above the boiling point of water ; while some
of the minutest organisms may be completely desic-
cated at high temperatures, kept for months in such
condition, and then revived by the application of

Should spontaneous generation (so called) ever be-
come established as a mode of origin of primitive
forms, that would not invalidate the reasoning which
proves existent in organization a mode of energy
generically different from that which produces mere
physical results. All the phenomena of life still ex-
ist, with the same demands upon him who attempts
to interpret them. AVe should have the same evi-
dence of the operation of what we style vital force,
and no more evidence that it is congeneric with phys-
ical force, or begotten by it, "We should still demand
what constitutes the essential difference between two
germs which the nicest microscopic study can not dis-
criminate, but wdiich are so antipodally diverse that
one develops into a sea-weed and the other into an
animal ; or between two undistinguishable ovarian
eggs so fundamentally unlike that one becomes a
horse and the other a man?


YI. Theistic Bearings of the Doctrine of


It constitutes an important part of our proposed
discussion to advert to the bearings of development
theories upon theistic belief. This is a subject which
we approach with a degree of composure w^hich, it is
hoped, wmU not be misinterpreted. We can not deny
that an opinion is prevalent that these doctrines lead
directly to materialism and atheism. "We can not
deny that many persons of the unreasoning sort have
eagerly seized hold of these theories to console them-
selves in the indulgence of the God-denying deprav-
ity of their hearts. ISTor will we deny that here and
there a mind accustomed to the methods of patient
investigation has given utterance to the opinion that
there is no God but force; no God but matter; no
source of matter, force, or motion which lies within
the compass of the knowable. Now, it is not need-
ful to assert that the real opinions of such philoso-
phers and scientists may have been misunderstood.
We will arraign the affectation of some of them, how-
ever, w^ho, wdiile hinting that they hold a theistic
faith, scorn the admission that this is any thing with
which science or scientific men, as such, have any
concern. If they can not, as devotees of physical sci-
ence, distinctly avow a theistic faith, it would not im-


pair their scientific powers to avow such failh in the
capacity o^men.

[N'otwithstanding charges and admissions of infidel-
ity as a sequel to faith in evolution, and notwithstand-
ing our own denial that the derivative origin of spe-
cies has been established as a fact, we have a profound
conviction that the being and providence of a personal
God are to no extent imperiled by the admission of
the reality of any form of evolution wdiich does not
expressly posit its initial point in unintelligence. A
form of evolutionary belief postulating such a source
of being we deliberately pronounce an absurdity ab-
solutely incapable of propagation, since the universal
reason rises up in rebellion against it. That any form
of evolutionary doctrine now current in the world is
compatible with a devout recognition of the being and
providence of God, w^e hope to be able to demonstrate.

1. Of Evolution in the Plujsical World.

Let us look first at the consequences of evolution
in the physical world. Let us suppose that the prop-
osition is firmly established that the whole material
history of worlds is a mere evolution of phenome-
na under the activity of energies which we call the
forces of nature. Two conclusions are certain at
the outset: 1. The course of this evolution is finite.
It is an evolution which we trace to an absolute be-



ginning in finite time, and it is also one which can be
traced to an absolute conclusion "within finite time.
The organism of the universe, therefore, is not eter-
nal, and demands a power superior to itself to origi-
nate and conserve it.* 2. It is not a self-inaugurated
and self-sustaining evolution. It does not supply us
with a beginning in ultimate causation. It reveals
no absolute initial point on which reason can rest
satisfied. Science conducts us back in the history
of a world 'to a primitive incandescent vapor. She
calls that a beginning; and may assert that every
physical event of a hundred millions of ages existed
potentially in that. But this is really no explana-
tion of the ultimate and only real cause of any thing.
Eeason demands the cause of this beginning. What
w^ere the antecedents of the cosmical vapor? In the
absence of antecedents, what was the cause of this
fire-mist — of these forces active in it?

Now these are questions of which Keason demands
an answer. She will never be satisfied till the answer
is given. But physical science can trace the thread

* This and the following views have been urged by the writer for
seventeen years or more. See a lecture entitled Theologico-Geology,
published March, 1857, and one entitled Creation the Work qf One
Intelligence^ published March, 1858 ; also, Mich. Jour, of Education^
May, 1858; Ladies' Repository, 1802-63-, Sketches of Creation, 1870;
Geology of the Stars, 1873; Methodist Quar. Rev., 1874, etc.


no further back, and must be dumb to all ulterior in-
quiries. It is true, then, as physicists assert, tliat
their sciences do not mount actually to God. But
Eeason ignores the name of the highway over which
she ascends, and if she fails to reach primordial causa-
tion over the road which you designate science, she
presses on over the highway beyond, wdiich you
may designate philosophy or intuition. She must
have a first cause — a cause of matter and of force.
Now, whether we be able ever to thread the history
of matter back to any remoter beginning or not, Eea-
son affirms that back of the initial point of the suc-
cession of physical phases, was adequate, ultimate, ef-
ficient causation. This is one of the clearest and
strongest intuitions of the human soul, ^fatter and
force are not self- existent, but created. Simultane-
ously with this verdict rises another universal and
ineradicable, and, therefore, necessary instinct of hu-
manity — the intuition o^ primordial causation — self-
existent, intelligent, and eternal. Now Science, in con-
fessing her inability to reach this conception, abandons
the field for the soul's witness, Eeason, with her clear
adamantine utterances, to step in and answer the last
inquiries.. Science, we say, virtually beckons to p])i-
losophy to come to her aid ; and when philosophy
draws aside the veil wdiich separates between sj^irit
and matter, science has no ''bill of exceptions" to


file. This evolutionary ferment is one, then, ■which
began with God. Bereshitli hara Elohim. Every in-
cident of the history runs back to God as its orisina-
tor and real cause. What a picture of the wisdom
and power of God does this lowest conception of his
relation to the universe present 1 Viewed only as a
machine which runs on through chiliads of centuries
how stupendous is the mechanism ! What grasp of
intellect in its Author!

But we have no sufficient ground for placing Deity
in this distant, though causal, relation to his universe.
What are these energies which we style the forces of
matter, and which we discover active in matter in its
incipiency and along the entire course of its evolu-
tions? We sometimes speak of them as energies res-
ident in matter, and inherent in it, and acting without
intelligence or volition ; but a close examination re-
veals the unphilosophical character of such concep-
tions. There is not a shadow of evidence that active
force is or can be an attribute of matter. On the con-
trary, all our knowledge of force presents it as an ef-
fort of intelligent will. We have no knowledge of
the origin of any force, save of that which emanates
from human volition. In the human sphere, in which
we. are able to trace effects to their first causes, we in-
variably find the initial energy exerted by intelligent
will. The sphere of creation presents an array of


mechanical effects not distinguished qualitatively from
those which flow from human volition ; and wc can
not, without violence to our intuitions, refer them to
a different category of causation. We are driven by
the necessary laws of thought to pronounce those en-
ergies styled gravitation, heat, chemical aflftnity, and
their correlates, nothing less than the energies of in-
telligent will. But as it is not human will which en-
ergizes in the whirlwind and the comet, it must be
the Divine Will. It is God^s present power and voli-
tion which draws the apple to the ground and bal-
ances the planet in its orbit. Science has long tended
toward the synthesis of the forces which it recognizes
in matter, and all have been pronounced but forms
of a single force. It only remained for her to dis-
cover the nature of the one protean, panurgic energy ;
and the suggestion has come from the ranks of science
itself that this is simply the Divine Intelligent Will.
Philosophy will not recoil from a suggestion which
she has so long preserved in the royal archives of
thought; and we regard this common datum, elimi-
nated identically from the factors of phj'sics and of
metaphysics, as the long desiderated " reconciliation
between Religion and Science," after which we have
seen Mr. Spencer groping with a result so little com-
forting to our intuitions. Wc come back, then, after
journeying over the long, circuitous, and weary high-


ways of science, to tbe very spot where Abraham and
Moses and Joshua stood in the infancy of our race,
and witness the light of the divine presence beaming
all around us, permeating nature, and bringing man
into near and awe-inspiring and tender relations to
his Father and his God.

All this the doctrine of evolution in the physical
world permits, sanctions, and almost demands.

2. Of Evolution in the Organic World.

But what of the doctrine of evolution in the realm
of life? We are compelled to recognize the fact of
such a succession of oi'ganic forms as constitutes, on
the whole, an evolution. Now, viewing the phenom-
ena abstracted from any theory of their cause, this
developmental relation exhibits a scene of harmonies
and correlations which bespeak a co-ordinating intel-
ligence as vast as time and space. The unity of the
system of facts demonstrates a unity in the directive
intelligence. It demonstrates an anticipation of the
end from the beginning — an inauguration and prose-
cution of intelligible plans through all the history of
organic life, in all lands and all seas and all condi-
tions of existence. It betrays an anticipation of man,
and a sj^stem of beneficent preparations for man. It
is a sublime and ever varying, but alwaj^s harmoni-
ous spectacle of the manifested power, intelligence,


goodness, unity, and eternity of a Personal Existence.
The more firmly we establish the fact of an evolution-
ary relationship in the history of organic forms, the
more convincingly do we establish the exercise of
these divine attributes.

But suppose the old doctrine of specific creations
to become untenable, and the doctrine of a genealogic-
al succession and connection of organic beings to be
established in its place. Suppose it is convincingly
proven, by -and -by, that man is descended from a
monkey, or an ascidian, or a monad. What have we
to say? 1. The fact of the unity of organic history
will of course remain firmly established ; and w^e
shall have all the same facts of correlation and co-
adjustment, and the same necessary evidences of the
exercise of intelligence and other attributes. This
deduction is wholly independent of the instrumental
causes of these correlations. The facts of correlation
and contrivance exist, and reason impels us to deduce
intelligence; and no system of instrumental causa-
tion can be less than a dethronement of reason which
attempts to negative this necessary and universal
deduction. However this evolutionary relationship
has been brought about, it always means the same to
human intelligence. 2. When, according to our hy-

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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellThe doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings → online text (page 6 of 10)