Vernon L. (Vernon Lyman) Kellogg.

Darwinism to-day; a discussion of present-day scientific criticism of the Darwinian selection theories, together with a brief account of the principal other proposed auxilary and alternative theories of species-forming online

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Online LibraryVernon L. (Vernon Lyman) KelloggDarwinism to-day; a discussion of present-day scientific criticism of the Darwinian selection theories, together with a brief account of the principal other proposed auxilary and alternative theories of species-forming → online text (page 2 of 38)
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and panic on our part. Things are really in no such desper-


ate way with Darwinism as the polemic vigour of the Ger-
man and French anti-Darwinians leads them to suggest.
Says one of them : 5 "Darwinism now belongs to history,
Intemperate ^ e *^ a t ^ ner curiosity of our century, the
anti-Darwin- Hegelian philosophy ; both are variations on the
theme : how one manages to lead a whole gen-
eration by the nose." The same writer also speaks of "the
softening of the brain of the Darwinians." Another one,' in
similarly relegating Darwinism to the past, takes much pleas-
ure in explaining that "we [anti-Darwinians] are now stand-
ing by the death-bed of Darwinism, and making ready to
send the friends of the patient a little money to insure a
decent burial of the remains." No less intemperate and in-
decent is Wolff's T reference to the "episode of Darwinism"
and his suggestion that our attitude toward Darwin should
be "as if he had never existed." Such absurdity of ex-
pression might pass unnoticed in the mouth of a violent
non-scientific debater let us say an indignant theologian
of Darwin's own days but in the mouth of a biologist of
recognised achievement, of thorough scientific training and
unusually keen mind for this expression came from just
such a man it can only be referred to as a deplorable
example of those things that make the judicious to grieve.
Such violence blunts or breaks one's own weapons.

While I have said that the coming across the water of
the more vigorous anti-Darwinian utterances might cause
some dismay and panic in the ranks of the educated reader
really unnecessary panic, as I hope to point out it will
Doubtless occur to some of my readers to say that this fear
(of panic is unwarranted. If the first phrases to come are
as injudicious and intemperate, hence as unconvincing, as
those just cited, the whole anti-Darwinian movement will
be discredited and given no attention. Which, I hasten to
reply, will be as much of a mistake as panic would be.
There is something very seriously to be heeded in the


chorus of criticism and protest, and wholly to stop one's
ears to these criticisms is to refuse enlightenment and to
show prejudice. I have thought it, therefore, worth while
to try to anticipate the coming of fragmentary
^ anc ^ disturbing extracts from the rapidly in-

creasing mass of recent anti-Darwinian litera-
ture by presenting in this book a summary account not alone
of these modern criticisms, but of the answers to them by the
steadfast Darwinians, and of the concessions and supporting
hypotheses which the supporters of both sides have been led
to offer during the debates. I shall try to give a fair state-
ment of the recent attacks on, and the defence and present
scientific standing of, the familiar Darwinian theories, and
to give also concise expositions, with some critical comment,
of the more important new, or newly remodelled alternative
and auxiliary theories of species-forming and descent, such
as heterogenesis, orthogenesis, isolation, etc., and an esti-
mate of their degree of acceptance by naturalists.


1 Dennert, E., "Vom Sterbelager des Darwinismus," Stuttgart,
1903. An intemperate and unconvincing but interesting brief against
Dennett's in- the Darwinian factors, i. e., the selection theories, in
temperate attack evolution. Author fully accepts the theory of descent,
on Darwinism. ^ ut m no (j e g ree t h e Darwinian causal explanation of
this descent. "Was ich in diesen Berichten nachzuweisen suche,
ist die Tatsache, dass der Darwinismus nunmehr bald der Ver-
gangenheit, der Geschichte angehort, dass wir an seinem Sterbe-
lager stehen und dass auch seine Freunde sich eben anschicken,
ihm wenigstens noch ein anstandiges Begrabnis zu sichern" (p. 4).
The valuable thing about the paper is that it is largely given to a
gathering together of the anti-Darwinian opinions and declarations
of numerous, mostly well-known and reputably placed biologists.
Some of these declarations are interpreted by Dr. Dennert in a way
that would probably hardly be wholly acceptable to the declarers, but
for the most part the anti-Darwinian beliefs of these biologists are
unmistakably revealed by their own words. Among the biologists
and biological philosophers thus agglomerated into the camp of


anti-Darwinism are Wigand, Haacke, von Sachs, Goette, Kor-
schinsky, Haberlandt, Steinmann, Eimer, M. Wagner, von Kolliker,
Nageli, Kerner, F. von Wagner, Fleischmann, O. Schultze, O. Hert-
wig, and others. This list includes reputable botanists, zoologists,
and palaeontologists.

a For a recent account of such work, see Morgan, T. H., "Experi-
mental Zoology," 1907.

8 A. Fleischmann, professor of zoology in the University of Er-
langen, is the only biologist of recognised position, of whom I am
An anti-evolu- aware, who publicly declares a disbelief in the theory
tion university of descent. He seems to base his disbelief on the
biologist. f ac j. tnat t h e phyletic (genealogic) series in numerous

animal groups are as yet unexplained. See his book, "Die De-
scendenztheorie," Leipzig, 1901. "Allein je mehr ich mich in die
vermeintlichen Beweisgriinde derselben [the theory of descent]
vertiefte und durch Spezialuntersuchungen positive Anhaltspunkte
fur die Stammesverwandtschaft der Tiere zu gewinnen suchte, um
so klarer stellte sich mir die Erkenntniss heraus, dass jene Theorie
eben doch mehr nur ein bestrickender, Ergebnisse und Aufklarung
vortauschender Roman sei, als eine auf positiven Grundlagen auf-
gebaute Lehre." (From the preface of this book).

4 A curious attempt to formulate a scientific theory explaining
the conditions as we know them in the world of life, to replace the

Friedmann's theory of descent, is contained in a recent small book
theory to replace called "Die Konvergenz der Organismen" (1904),
evolution with by Hermann Friedmann. The author assumes that the
divergence. diversity of organisms is the primary condition, and

that their similarity has been brought about through convergence, as
opposed to the postulate of the theory of descent to the effect that
diversity of life has grown out of primary identity or homogeneity.
I quote (p. 12) as follows from Friedmann : "Diese Annahme, die in
dem vorliegenden Buch vertreten wird, ist folgendermassen zu erlau-
tern. Wir gehen von dem Hauptsatze aus, dass das Leben immer als
ein bestimmter, unwandelbarer Speziescharakter auftritt. Die spezi-
fisch verschiedenen Lebensformen erscheinen jedoch einander
angenahert, bezw. annaherbar, durch drei (Teil-) prinzipien, von
denen das Leben beherrscht wird : Das Prinzip, vermoge dessen
'spezifisch verschiedene Formen solche Ubereinstimmungen auf-
weisen, die wir als primargesetzliche betrachten, nennen wir das
Prinzip der Homologie ; als einen Ausfluss des Prinzips der Analo-
gic bezeichnen wir diejenigen Ubereinstimmungen, die unter dem
Einfliisse gleichwirkender ausserer (mittelbar oder unmittelbar
bewirkender oder selektiver) Bedingungen entstehen; und wir
erkennen drittens die Macht und die Tragweite eines Prinzips der


direkten Konvergenz, welches das Entstehen von Ubereinstim-
mungen zwischen den Genossen einer Biosphare aus psychischen
Ursachen bewirkt. Die drei Prinzipien bilden die Grundlage der

8 Driesch, H., Biolog. Centralb., v. 16, p. 355, 1896.

8 Dennert, E., "Vom Sterbelager des Darwinismus," p. 4, 1903.

7 Wolff, G., "Beitrage zur Kritik der Darwin'schen Lehre," p. 54,,



OUR manuals of zoology and botany contain the names

and descriptions of about 400,000 living- species of animals

and 200,000 living species of plants. There are

Possible p arts O f t h e ear th from which we have collected

modes of origin * j -

of diverse plant as yet only a few kinds of animals and plants,
fJr'nis IUmal merely the larger, more conspicuous or more
abundant kinds ; there are no parts of the earth
from which we are not constantly receiving reports of the
discovery of "new" species new, of course, simply in the
sense that we have not known them before. It is wholly
certain that the number of different species, that is, kinds,
of living organisms must number millions ; various guesses, 1
all unimportant, have been made. Of the extinct species,
those hosts of strange denizens of our changing earth in the
ages gone, the number of recorded forms can at best be but
the veriest fraction of the grand total of species that have
actually existed. Now all these millions of kinds of animals
and plants can have had an origin in some one of but three
ways ; they have come into existence spontaneously, they
have been specially created by some supernatural power, or
they have descended one from the other in many-branching
series by gradual transformation. There is absolutely no
scientific evidence for either of the first two ways ; there is
much scientific evidence for the last way. There is left for
the scientific man, then, solely the last; that is, the method


of descent. The theory of descent (with which phrase or-
ganic evolution may be practically held as a synonym) is,
then, simply the \declaration that the various
desMnTdefaed nvm g as we ^ as the now extinct species of
organisms are descended from one another and
from common ancestors.^ It is the explanation of the origin
of species accepted in the science of biology. (The natural
question about the first species or the first several, if they
appeared simultaneously, will receive attention later; the
theory of descent explains the origin of kinds of life, not
the origin of life.) If such a summary disposal of the
theories of spontaneous generation and divine creation is too
repugnant to my readers to meet with their toleration, then,
as Delage has pertinently said in connection with a similar
statement in his great tome on "Heredity," my book and such
readers had better immediately part company; we do not
speak the same language.

The theory of descent, long before it was fully set forth
by Darwin in 1858 together with a definite and wholly
Pre-Darwin- plausible causo-mechanical explanation of it,
ian recognition had been foreshadowed and even fairly ex-
plicitly formulated by various philosophical
naturalists; among others, Goethe (1790) in Germany,
Erasmus Darwin (1794) (grandfather of Charles Darwin)
in England, Lamarck (1809) very definitely in France,
Chambers in the "Vestiges of the Natural History of
Creation" (1844), and Wallace (1858) coincidently with
Darwin himself had all recognised descent as the only pos-
sible scientific explanation of the origin of species and had
offered explanations of the causal factors of this descent.
Even in the far older writings 2 of the Greeks, most con-
spicuously perhaps in the pages of Aristotle (350), may be
found phrases and pages foreshadowing those of Lamarck,
Wallace, and Darwin. But it was not until Darwin had
backed up the formulation of the descent theory with that


wonderful accumulation of illuminating- and explaining-
facts, and with those always ingenious but ever candid and
supremely honest tryings-on of the theory to the various
fact-bodies, that the Theory of Descent began
Theory of to be spelled with capital letters in the biological
vSy g by en creed - Nor was it merely good-fortune that
Darwin. led to the quick and wide acceptance of the

theory of descent when proposed by Darwin,
while the same theory when proposed twenty years earlier by
Lamarck found practically only rejection. It was because
to the old descent theory the new Darwinian theories were
added. It was because of that explaining Darwinism, which
to-day is being so rigorously re-examined as to its validity,
that the theory of descent took its definite place as the
dominant declaration in the biological credo.

This Darwinism of 1858 and 1859 consisted of the selec-
tion theories ; the Darwinian pangenesis of ^emmules theory
was a product of ten years later. It was the first of the
Darwinian concessions to scientific anti-Darwinism. That
is, it was a supporting hypothesis erected to strengthen a
foundation which was being weakened by the enemy's
attacks. Curiously enough this first Darwinian concession
was made not on behalf of a true Darwinian principle, but
for the sake of a Lamarckian principle which Darwin had
thought necessary to include in his general conception of the
transmission of variations. Even in the formulation of the
true Darwinism, the selection theories, there must also be
recognised the participation of other minds than that of
Darwin. Malthus, who wrote, in 1826, of the over-supply
and the consequent struggle in the human population and
undoubtedly added much to Darwin's confidence in his own
conception of the prodigality of production and the necessary
struggle for life throughout the world of organisms, and
Wallace, who came to conclusions practically identical with
Darwin's at practically the same time, are men whose names


are ever to be associated with the theory of over-production,
struggle, and selection.

Darwinism may be defined, then, as a certain rational,^
can so-mechanical (hence, non-teleologic) explanation of the /

The Dar- origin of new species. The Darwinian explana- '
natioTo^de-" ^ on res * s on certain observed facts, and certain
scent. inductions from these facts. The observed

fafcts are : ( i ) the increase by multiplication in geometrical
ratio of the individuals in every species, whatever the kind
of reproduction which may be peculiar to each species,
whether this be simple division, sporulation, budding, par-
thenogenesis, conjugation and subsequent division, or
amphimixis (sexual reproduction) ; (2) the always apparent
slight (to greater) variation in form and function existing
.among all individuals even though of the same generation or
brood; and (3) the transmission, with these inevitable
slight variations, by the parent to its offspring of a form
.and physiology essentially like the parental. The inferred
(also partly observed) facts are: (i) a lack of room and
food for all these new individuals produced by geometrical
multiplication and consequently a competition (active or
passive) among those individuals having any cecologic rela-
tions to one another, as, for example, among those occupying
the same locality, or needing the same food, or needing each
other as food; (2) the probable success in this competition
of those individuals whose slight differences (variations)
are of such a nature as toeive them an advantage over their
confreres, which resuljjjjm saving their life, at least until
they have produced offspring; and (3) the fact that these
"saved" individuals will, by virtue of the already referred
to action of heredity, hand down to the offspring their
advantageous condition of structure and physiology (at
least as the "mode" or most abundantly represented condi-
tion, among the offspring).

The competition among individuals and kinds (species)


of organisms may fairly be called a struggle. This is
obvious when it is active, as in actual personal
sefe^on le and battling for a piece of food or in attempts to
capture prey or to escape capture, and less
obvious when it is passive, as in the endurance of stress of
weather, hunger, thirst, and untoward conditions of any
kind. The struggle is, or may be, for each individual
threefold in nature : ( I ) an active struggle or com-
petition with other individuals of its own kind for
space in the habitat, sufficient share of the food, and
opportunity to produce offspring in the way peculiar and
common to its species; (2) an active or passive struggle or
competition with the individuals of other species which may
need the same space and food as itself, or may need it or
its eggs or young for food, and (3) an active (or more
usually passive) struggle with the physico-chemical external
conditions of the world it lives in, as varying temperature
and humidity, storms and floods, and natural catastrophes
of all sorts. For any individual or group of individuals any
of these forms of struggle may be temporarily ameliorated,
as is ( i ) the intra-specific struggle among the thousands of
honey-bee individuals living together altruistically in one
hive, or (2) the inter-specific struggle when two species
live together symbiotically as the hermit crab * Eupagurus
and the sea-anemone Podocoryne, or (3) the struggle
against untoward natural conditions as in special times or
places of highly favourable climate, etc. Or for any indi-
vidual or group of individuals all forms of the struggle may
be coincidently active and severe. The resultant of these
existing conditions is, according to Darwin and his followers,
an inevitable natural selection of individuals and of species.
Thousands must die where one or ten may live to maturity
(i. e., to the time of producing young). Which ten of the
thousand shall live depends on the slight but sufficient ad-
vantage possessed by ten individuals in the complex struggle


for existence due to the fortuitous possession of fortunate
congenital differences (variations). The nine hundred and
ninety with unfortunate congenital variations are extin-
guished in the struggle and with them the opportunity
for the perpetuation (by transmission to the offspring) of
their particular variations. There are thus left ten to re-
produce their advantageous variations. The offspring of
the/ten of course will vary in their turn, but will vary around
the new and already proved advantageous parental condi-
tion : among the thousand, say, offspring of the original
saved ten the same limitations of space and food will again
work to the killing off before maturity of nine hundred and
ninety, leaving the ten best equipped to reproduce. This
repeated and intensive selection leads to a slow but steady
and certain modification through the successive generations,
of the form and functions of the species; a modification
always towards adaptation, towards fitness, towards a.
moulding of the body and its behaviour to safe conformity
with external conditions. The exquisite adaptation of the
parts and functions of the animal and plant as we see it
every day to our infinite admiration and wonder has all
come to exist through the purely mechanical, inevitable
weeding out and selecting by Nature (by the environmental
determining of what may and what may not live) through
uncounted generations in unreckonable time. This is Dar-
win's causo-mechanical theory to explain the transformation
of species and the infinite variety of adaptive modification.
A rigorous automatic Natural Selection is the essential
in Darwinism, at least in Darwinism as it is held by the
prefeent-day followers of Darwin.

What auxiliary and supporting factors Darwin considered
possibly or certainly of some influence or effect in species-
Artificial forming we may postpone reference to until
selection. our more particular examination of the natural

selection theory in succeeding chapters of this book. Simi-


larly we may postpone any immediate reference to the facts
of Artificial Selection (so important in any account of Dar-
winism), that process, more or less familiar to us all,
whereby the plant and animal breeders quickly and exten-
sively modify the particular species with which they deal so
as to produce, to order, as it were, manifold new kinds
(races) of organisms. Despite the complexity of methods
used in artificial selection, due to the combining of hybrid-
isation, direct modification by varying nutrition, grafting,
budding, etc., with selection, the basic and all-important
essential is the selecting of a few individuals, namely, those
which show the desired variations, to live long enough to
produce offspring, and -the killing out before maturity of the
thousands of individuals that show unfortunate variations :
(unfortunate, that is, from the breeder's point of view).
In the gardens of that extraordinary plant-breeder, Luther
Burbank, in California, great bonfires of discarded seedlings
correspond to the succumbing of the thousands in field and
forest in the natural struggle for existence, while tenderly
cared for little rows of pots contain the fortunate few which
have withstood the rigours of the artificial competition.

A part of Darwinism, which has already been named as
such, is the theory of Sexual Selection; but the details of
this, too, we may leave unexplained for the
lection* moment in order not too much to trouble the

reader and the author, whose aim just now is
to define the essential thought or conception in Darwinism,
and to distinguish between this essential Darwinism and
the different and wholly independent theory of descent.
Sexual selection is one of Darwin's supporting theories
which has nearly gone quite by the board. It is based on a
postulated particular and limited kind of natural selection,
not involving determination between life and death, but a
determination between going childless and leaving posterity,
which is, after all, the essential determination in general


natural selection. But the assumed choice in the theory
of sexual selection has a much less mechanical and auto-^
matically working basis, involves violent assumptions re-
garding the aesthetic development of birds, butterflies, and
spiders, and as we shall later see was one of the first of Dar-
winian outworks to be sadly breached by attack.

I hope now to have pointed out clearly in the preceding

paragraphs the real distinction between the theory of

descent and the theory of natural selection

Theory of de- (Darwinism). The bases, consisting of ob-

scent and the

theory of natural served facts and logical reasons, of the selec-
^ on t ^ eor y' have been given; perhaps it were
well to state briefly the bases, or sources of the
scientific evidence for the theory of descent^ This evi- *y
dence is derived from three chief sources ; the "study of the
comparative anatomy and structural homologies of organ-
.isms, the study of the prehistoric animals and plants, that
is, palaeontology or historical geology, and the study of
ontogeny, or embryology, that is, the development of in-
dividual animals and plants. The homologies or structural
correspondence, in gross and in detail, which the study of
animal and plant comparative anatomy reveals to exist in
varying degrees among living and extinct kinds of organ-
isms have but one possible scientific explanation : an explana-
tion which serves at once to account for the existence of
this correspondence and for its varying degrees.
Evidences for This explanation is community of ancestry, the
blood-relationship of organisms, the theory of
descent. Similarly the facts revealed by the study of
palaeontology are explicable wholly satisfactorily by the
theory of descent and in no single definitive instance do they
contradict it. Finally, the facts and conditions relating to
the embryology or ontogeny of animals and plants are
similarly wholly in consonance with the theory of descent,
although the brilliant positive evidence for the theory which


the first revealing of the phenomena of ontogeny led bi-
ologists to expect and even to anticipate has confessedly not
been forthcoming in that overwhelming measure hoped for.
The evidence is excellent and positive and there is much of
it, but the proof that man is descended from a fish because
he has gill-slits at one period in his individual development
is not of the sort to rely on too confidently. The recapitula-

\j> tion theory of Fritz Miiller and Haeckel is chiefly con-
spicuous now as a skeleton on which to hang innumerable
exceptions. But the scientific evidence for descent which
embryology offers is neither weak nor slight ; it is only less
overwhelming and all-sufficient than its too sanguine early
friends and sponsors attributed to it.

The specific character of the evidence for the theory of
descent derived from the three chief sources just mentioned
cannot claim our attention here. Knowledge of it is cer-
tainly the attribute of all educated readers. If any one
should desire to refresh his memory of it, he may readily do
this by reading his Darwin, or Wallace, or Huxley, Haeckel,

Online LibraryVernon L. (Vernon Lyman) KelloggDarwinism to-day; a discussion of present-day scientific criticism of the Darwinian selection theories, together with a brief account of the principal other proposed auxilary and alternative theories of species-forming → online text (page 2 of 38)